1

(Mild R-18, but only in the beginning)

"One more round." Varian flipped Sia and held her up by her hips.

"Eh? Arghh~ I-I'm dying…" Sia groaned and involuntarily let out powers of darkness, gravity, and mind.

A veil of darkness covered Varian's face, but he didn't mind and kept moving. But suddenly, he felt something change.

The skin changed. It was still as soft but had a different texture., The weight changed slightly, but his super senses were very clear on the change.

But more importantly, the 'sensation' completely changed. It's as if it's not Sia but someone else.

"W-Wait a minute," Varian stopped moving and dispersed the darkness covering his vision with a trembling hand.

Staring up at him was Enigma, her face flushed and her eyes moist.

"F-Fuck!" Varian hurriedly pulled out and left her hips.

"Ah?~ Eh? Arghhhh?!"

Enigma felt a jolt of pleasure up her spine and her toes curled up. She bit her lips and tried to hold in it but ended up moaning.

As her body shuddered, without Varian holding her up, Enigma limply fell on the bed, naked and sweaty.

Ignoring the beautiful body in front, Varian sat on the bed and opened his mouth. He wanted to say something but he was too overwhelmed to do anything.

What the fuck is this fuck?

On the other hand, Enigma stared at the ceiling for a moment before shifting her gaze to Varian. The silence gnawed at her soul and made her restless.

Slowly opening her lips, she said in a faint voice. "W-We should treat this as it never happened."

"As if." Varian sighed.

Since he was facing the otherwise, only his back was visible. But Enigma could picture his face. What kind of expression was he having now?

Annoyed? Angry?

Enigma wondered.

No, shouldn't she be wondering what she should be feeling now? By suddenly being thrown into something like this.

Why wasn't she getting angry at Sia? Why was she even staring at him, like she was waiting for something? Enigma slowly placed her hand on her chest and felt her heart thumping hard.

"First of all," Varian waved his hand, and the next second, the two were cleaned and dressed up, now sitting in a different bedroom.

Varian brought his hand closer to Enigma's face and the latter tensed up and closed her eyes shut. But when she felt a gentle tap on her forehead, she opened her eyes, disappointment she didn't even realize showed up on her face.

"Ah? Why am I here?" Sia, no, it could only be called a phantom of Sia, appeared on the chair next to Enigma.

"Where are my clothes and what's happening?" She covered her naked phantom body and glared at the two.

Varian crossed his arms and stared at her in silence. Enigma didn't know what to do, so she followed his actions.

Sia stopped acting embarrassed and sat on the chair with crossed legs. "Power of Spirits is convenient, right? It can connect with souls and allow you to view me as a phantom. And it allows me to connect with Enigma and push her out in my place."

"But why?" Varian sighed and pointed to Enigma. "I don't even know what to say to her. It's hella awkward. And I feel terrible for Sarah. I didn't like this surprise."

"…Because you're both pieces of wood." Sia pointed at them with a defeated expression. "And Sarah came up with this idea even before our wedding."

"You girls are crazy." Varian was dumbfounded.

Enigma nodded furiously. Her face which usually was indifferent and cold now still maintained traces of the heavy blush from just a few seconds ago.

"Sarah is crazy. And clever. She's scheming to break up my time with you into two." Sia said like the detective who found a big conspiracy.

"Oh please," Varian rolled his eyes.

"But seriously, I think Enigma likes you." Sia shrugged. "Sarah thinks so too."

"…Do you?" Varian looked at her with a look of surprise.

"Do I?" Enigma opened her mouth with equal surprise.

"This is why!" Sia covered her face.

Thinking that a girl likes you was a delusion 99.999% of the time. But this was one of those ultra-rare cases when the hunch that he was pushing away turned out to be right.

"Er, sorry, this won't work now."

Enigma's breath stopped for a moment before it grew disordered. The faint smile on her face disappeared and her aura went chaotic.

Sia too looked at Varian with disbelief. "What did you just…"

"I see." Enigma's voice was heavy.

"No." Sia looked at Enigma's pale face and her clenched fists. Even though she didn't realize it herself, she was trembling. And her eyes were slowly growing moist.

Enigma looked at Varian with a cold and indifferent expression. She'd seen him laugh, cry, fight, and grow from a little boy to the ruler of his race.

Since waking up from that endless darkness, she had 'grown' up with Varian. He's her childhood friend that she could never meet.

She didn't know if she liked him. But she felt close to him. And wanted him to smile. And be happy. That's all. She'd been used to being the background all the time.

So, this too should be fine.

But why?

Enigma's voice was cold and indifferent. "It's fine. I never said I li—."

"He didn't it mean that way, Enigma. Your hurt reply will only make things worse." Sia stopped her from going down a road of misunderstanding.

Enigma turned her gaze away from Varian and looked into the distance with a lost expression.

What was she expecting? All the experiences she 'had' with Varian were one-sided. He never saw her cheering him up when he was in a school competition. Nor did would he ever hear her whispering her hardships to him when he's gently stroking Sia's hair, thinking it's her own.

If there's anyone who could understand Varian the most, it's her. If there's anyone Varian wouldn't know the least, it's her.

Enigma turned to Varian again. Her cold expression melted away but all that remained was a sad calmness. "I don't need anyone to like me nor do I need to like anyone. I've always lived alone. I can live alone. I'm happy to see the sunrise every day instead of darkness."

Sia bit her lip hard and said. "Enigma, please. You're the reason I was able to get through a lot of tough times. I want you to be happy. You're closer than a sister to me."

Enigma looked at Sia's teary eyes and felt her own eyes growing moist.

Looking at the two teary girls, Varian replied with a speechless expression. "Woah, woah, woah! To paraphrase my own reply, 'It won't work now'. Emphasis on 'Now'.

That's because I'm on a fucking deadline to get those creatures before other civilizations find humans. I can't afford to spend weeks with her now."

Enigma looked at him with shock. Then was that a yes?

"Why can't you phrase it properly?" Sia pouted in protest and glared at him. "You made Enigma cry."

"I didn't cry." Enigma shook her head with teary eyes.

"A relationship needs time. I can only spend some quality time with her after I solve this danger." Varian looked at Sia with a thoughtful expression. "To be honest, I was expecting this in the future…"

"Huh?" Sia titled her head at his words

"Sia is a three-in-one package after all." Varian laughed.

"That's a horrible analogy." Sia beat him with a pillow thanks to her spirit power.

"Sarah made that joke that day. Not me. I just remember it well." Varian pleaded innocence.

Enigma calmed down and the corner of her lips went up a little. In a low voice quieter than a fly flapping its wings, she said. "…I'll wait."

Sia looked at her in surprise. "That's really bold, coming from you."

Enigma blushed and lowered her head.

"I guess even icebergs can melt and change, eh." Sia nodded with a thoughtful expression.

Varian turned to Enigma. "No need to force yourself. Take it slow."

"And deep." A mischievous voice added and changed the entire meaning of his words.

"Here comes the girl of bad jokes." Sia rolled her eyes.

Sarah appeared beside Varian in her training clothes.

The aura of a celestial was still leaking from her as she leaned on him and chuckled at Sia. "So, when are they getting married?"

"He didn't agree. Your plan failed." Sia shrugged.

"So next week, wait, what?" Sarah turned to him with a look of astonishment.

"Wait, was there any misconception of me here? Did you think I'm a horny pervert who'd say yes without a second of thought?"

Sarah and Sia nodded at first with innocent expressions but then quickly shook their heads.

"What the…" Varian clutched his broken heart.

Sarah elbowed him in the ribs. "Don't act innocent, mister. You're smiling on the inside."

"I'm not," Varian said with the most honest expression he'd ever given in his life.

"Do you believe him?" Sarah asked.

"No," Sia replied instantly.

"Come on!"

In the end, Varian congratulated Sarah for her breakthrough in bed and also made her admit that he was a gentleman. Sia also joined the ceremony. And the three had a short Synergy session.

By the time they returned to the forbidden zone, Neihor, and his gang were on the verge of insanity.

Two of them were fighting each other. Three were contemplating suicide. Only Neihor and a peak rank 2 were fine. But they too were terribly exhausted.

"Now is the time." Varian snapped his fingers and seven beams of light from the sky enveloped them.

Since Varian himself was still two ranks below Neihor and weaker than him overall, he wouldn't be able to create a rank 3 completely.

But making three or four rank 2s from him should be possible. But he decided on a more efficient approach and strengthen the rank 2s through his power.

Royal Secretary Alison, Grand Admiral Bali, Chief of Staff Kevin, Prime Minister Irene, Chief Counselor Vanhoff, and the unexpected Evander Steelheart all gathered on the military grounds, confused at the notice to appear here urgently.

All of them had different thoughts on why the notice was issued.

Bali: "War?"

Irene: "Did the Zions find us?"

Vanhoff: "Did the foreign races rebel?"

Kevin: "Are we getting some new treasures for the military?"

And finally two special cases…

Alison: "Work? More work? Most work!"

Evander: "I finally got my grandchild?"

The four distanced themselves from the crazy two and waited. Before they could get into a discussion, six lights from the sky enveloped them and the ritual began.

Exactly six hours later, Human Empire gained six peak rank 2s.

And the Emperor responsible for this, left for the final material of the artifacts.

It was a lonely journey. But one only he could take.