Nighttime, outside of Astra’s window.
The masked man’s expressions were hidden. Black vines and scarlet blossoms were etched onto the mask, chaotic yet mesmerizingly beautiful, entwining on the cold metal surface like an untamed thicket of wild roses, giving an air of mystery and danger to the man behind the mask.
The code that Roux spoke of was none other than the one that Linus had just deciphered.
Instinct told Astra that the man in front of him was very dangerous. Slowly, he retreated two steps, readying himself in case Roux decided to enter through the window.
The man outside the window laughed. He extended an arm and knocked on the glass window. His graceful hands were encased in a pair of pure white gloves that made soft thumps upon the impact of his knuckles on the glass. “Are you scared of me?”
The words were spoken slowly, as if he wanted the person inside the room to hear more clearly.
This was a challenge to Astra.
Scared? As if.
Astra walked to the window and raised his palm to press it against where the Masked Pirate had knocked on the glass. “We don’t welcome strangers here.”
“My name is Roux.” The Masked Pirate’s deep gaze seemed to hold the darkness of an entire universe as he stared straight at Astra. His tone was teasing as he spoke to the boy in front of him, “Darling, do you know of me?”
His name had appeared too many times in the last few days. Astra glanced at Wen’s bed. The male lead was still buried under the blankets, sleeping like a log.
“My sweet,” The Masked Pirate tilted his head like a bird as he regarded Astra. The scarlet flowers on that fabled mask looked like blood under the moonlight. “It’s so late already. You should go to bed.”
The hand that was knocking on the glass suddenly stopped. The pirate tapped the glass with a fingertip, and the windowpane splintered with an audible crack.
“Bring it to me.” Roux’s voice sounded strange, as if his throat had been injured before. A slight accent made his words seem especially graceful as the syllables rolled off his tongue like honey. Paired with the smooth words, the gravelly undertones of his voice sounded unexpectedly attractive. “As a gift in return, I can give you a signature.”
Astra cringed. Why were all the pirates so narcissistic in this day and age?
Roux’s voice was gentle. “Go on, bring it to me.”
Cracks formed on the glass like spiderwebs, growing outwards from Roux’s fingertips. Solaris Academy’s special tempered glass seemed like tofu beneath his hands.
Astra’s expression chilled. He looked deeply at the pirate before he opened his computer device and projected the code in front of Roux’s eyes.
But Roux shook his head. “I want the original code.”
Fuck, Astra swore under his breath, but nevertheless he quickly found the piece of skin that they took out of the Medicine Man. “How are you going to take it?”
Roux, “Throw it down to me.”
Astra opened the cracked window. From this vantage point he was able to see Roux standing on an arc-shaped hoverboard. The pirate had his arms crossed as he waited on the side, as if waiting for Astra to throw the object down.
Astra didn’t even bother to look at the pirate’s face. He threw the object down and immediately closed the window before he turned to find a weapon.
All the lights in the room went out at curfew, only the small yellow lamps at their bedsides were left as a source of illumination in the room.
Astra stood rooted to the spot. Different expressions flickered across his face. This was the first time that he had felt so weak and helpless.
He took a deep breath to calm himself down before turning abruptly, and walking to Wen’s bed.
There was something that he needed to confirm.
Just as he took no more than two steps, the glass of the window suddenly broke with a loud crash. The cold night air flooded the room in an instant.
The alarm finally responded, blaring out its high pitched signal repeatedly. Not far from their apartment, the lights in the watchtower lit up. In the next second, a team of armed guards rushed into the apartment building.
The forcibly closed curtains billowed in the wind, exposing the broken glass on the floor.
Astra walked to the window once more, his gaze was immediately drawn to the ‘gift’ that the bold pirate had left for him.
There was only a small corner of the glass remaining in the empty frame. Someone had fogged up the glass with their breath before drawing a series of strange, interconnected symbols on the glass surface.
This was proof that Roux had been here.
Astra opened his computer device and took a video before the fog on the glass could disappear. When the guards arrived, the first thing they saw after entering the room was the glass sparkling like stars on the ground and Astra standing in front of the open window as the curtains billowed in the night breeze.
The guards arrived just in time. The strange writing on the fogged glass had yet to fade completely, so Astra pointed at it absentmindedly as he continued to think about his bizarre encounter.
This Masked Pirate was a wild card. Astra knew and understood nothing about him. Roux was undoubtedly very powerful, but he was also very mysterious. Astra didn’t like this feeling of not being in control.
Even on the Academy’s campus grounds, Roux had the gall to do something so outrageous. Did he really need the Medicine Man’s code that badly, or was there something else that he was planning?
The guards looked towards the direction Astra was pointing at, before their faces morphed into expressions of shock. Some of them had to squat down when the shock made their knees weaken. All of them looked like they were re-contemplating life as they loitered haplessly, unsure of what to do next.
What was this?
Why did it look so much like the language from the Masked Pirate’s mother planet?
After making sure that the symbol was indeed left by the Masked Pirate himself, the leader of the guards called the military with a grim expression on his face.
The commotion had startled the other inhabitants of the apartment. Simon, Jiyu, and Linus hurried into the room and gazed at the chaotic scene in shock. “…What— what happened here?”
“Just hold on for a minute.” Astra came back from his thoughts and walked to Wen’s bedside. He didn’t explain anything as he yanked back the blankets in a single, swift motion—