Opened gate / Fuel shortage / Destruction strategy
There's an affair inside Little Garden section of Lunaltia Base.
In one of the rooms used for treatment when the Slayers get injured——on the bed of a the treatment room, Kisaragi Hayato and Emilia were putting their skin on top of the other.
– Hey, Hayato… ❤ one more time… ❤
Bringing her face closer while rubbing the soft swellings on the chest of Hayato, Emilia was pleading him with intoxicated eyes. Hayato's consciousness was fainting due to the smell of her hair and the sensation of her body——the softness and the warmth, as well as the stimulus and the pleasure of continuously tasting each other. But still, he grasps that Emilia is bringing her lips near, wishing for a kiss.
– Emi… li… a…
Calling her name like that, and the moment when Hayato tried to accept the tongue that slowly appeared from the space between the lips of Emilia.
A chill struck the whole body of Hayato.
That's the same for Emilia.
Raising her body above Hayato's waist, she shows a dumbfounded look.
– Is this, perhaps…?
Hayato sits up while muttering.
– … yup, there's no mistake.
Nodding, Emile said.
– A torrent of Liza's energy, huh.
– Uwaa, Charo!?
– Since when is she communicating!?
Emilia and Hayato were surprised by the sudden audible voice and raised a hysteric voice then hid their exposed, naked bodies spontaneously, taking the upper futon in their hands.
『Oh my, oh my, what are you both flustered about?』
There are no surveillance cameras in the room.
However, she guessed that something happened, listening to the impatient voices that were carried by the two of them.
Charlotte asked the two as if teasing them.
– Did you two perhaps do something indecent?
Emilia started to rub in front of her chest the index finger of both hands with an embarrassed look, giving a fleeting glance to Hayato who's next to her, and replied to that question.
– Because, Hayato said that we would recover fast if we do such things…
– No, I didn't say so! And in the first place, it was you who said we should do so——
It was Hayato who involuntarily refuted so, but that's the same as if he admitted so.
Even if he stops his words now, there's nothing that can he do anymore.
Charlotte said, laughing loudly.
『Well, first of all, I'll give you my congratulations. By the way, the communications are now available so don't worry. There are no recordings or anything like that. Leaving that aside——』
With a complete change and her voice turning serious, Charlotte continued.
『… you guys noticed, right? A strong energy
is being released now. That's Liza's energy
. Because of that, a huge space-time gate was opened in outer space』
– "A huge space-time gate" ——
Saying so, the face of Emilia stiffened.
Stiffening his face in the same way, Hayato asks.
– In other words, the warp that Serivia did was a success?
『I don't know that yet. The signal was obstructed by Liza's powerful energy
, so we can't confirm the current situation. We're franticly trying to access the satellites that should be capturing the scene and the mics of the Slayers who are at that place』
– … then, that means you don't know the state of everyone?
『What I found out when I was able to grasp it was that the vitals
of the Slayers other than Nesat's were in an unable to fight state. If the space-time gate was opened, then it's probable that Nesat is already in an unable to fight state』
– Then, that means there's nothing else that can be done? Are we going to let Serivia get away with it?
『Unfortunately, the possibility of doing so is high』
Towards the query of Emilia, Charlotte immediately replies.
『However, the space-time around the Earth is getting very unstable due to Liza's energy
. To the extent that there's a high chance that Savages will warp being drawn by the energy
from anywhere in the universe. That's because I know that regarding the Savages, they have such ability. Hundreds of Savages have appeared from the opened gate already. As for us, we have to work to defeat those Savages. Because after Serivia is gone——we the earthlings will have to create a world without God』
– But, even so——
『You can't stay still as you are——right?』
– … yeah.
She suddenly clenched her fist.
Emilia was nodding while revealing a mortifying look.
– Even so, Charo. We might not make it in time, or even not being able to do anything, but we want to go where Serivia is. At any rate, it is indispensable to go and rescue everyone.
Hayato continues those words.
– Dr. Charlotte, we can fight again. I guess it's not a problem going to where everyone is——to where Serivia is, correct?
『If you decided to, then do as you like. After all, you'll go even if I stop you, right? However, don't push yourself』
Maybe there's hardly anything they can do.
Charlotte informs them that it's feasible to say that another possibility may be that only a new world has born at that time.
『——nonetheless, that's no more than my own convenient imagination——no, it's fine to say that is no more than a delusion. And the very best is, of course, to stop Serivia from returning to the past. If the possibility is there, it would be better to just crush her. But, as I said before, don't push yourself——to begin with, it's possible that things may have already ended. So at least, please understand that properly』
After her, Hayato and Emilia nodded.
『Well then, be moving. Whatever happens, I'll give my best effort to support you sufficiently as well. If there's something worrying you, please consult it with me, at any time. I'll stand by you as much as I can』
When Hayato and Emilia rushed out from Little Garden section.
In the treatment room next to it, Erika stared at the sleeping face of Claire with an uneasy look.
Certainly, she was aware of the strong energy
and she also noticed that it was from Liza. It was possible for her to know what happened by receiving a communication from Charlotte.
Not long ago, Kisaragi Hayato and Emilia Hermit headed to the location of Pope Serivia.
With the effects of this special room, Erika's stamina and energy are recovering so she can go and fight Serivia together with Hayato and Emilia.
As for Erika, of course she also felt like wanting to revenge against Serivia Notre Dame Paulo II who brainwashed Claire and let her fight in that state against Emilia Hermit.
Still, one of the reasons why she didn't head to Serivia's location is because the feeling of wanting to be at the side of Claire was stronger.
When Erika told Charlotte about such feelings.
『I think that's fine』
And the words that Charlotte said after answering are another reason why she didn't head to Serivia.
『Kisaragi Hayato and Liza Harvey——the ones who became the supporters of Queen-sama were taken away from her by Emilia and Serivia, so the will of Claire must have become unstable. So, it's definitely better if there's a person with whom she can let her guard down once she wakes up』
Erika continued listening the words of Charlotte without moving or saying anything.
『Whatever Serivia is, a huge space-time gate was opened. Hundreds of Savages have already been confirmed and more and more large quantities of Savages' attacks will come from now on. When that happens, the ability of Claire will be unmistakably and absolutely necessary. I'll be of help till Claire wakes up. I have faith in so』
– Of course, I also have faith in that.
Erika replied so to Charlotte.
– Something of this amount is fine.
When Serivia opens the clenched fist, the light emitted from the body of Liza begins to fade away.
When the light disappeared completely, the body of Liza began to fall to the moon's surface.
When she noticed, Nesat was finally able to move her body and started to move to catch the falling body of Liza.
Serivia took a glance at her, but it seems that she's no longer interested in Nesat.
– The last thing is to just activate the spaceship, huh.
Just barely saying so and cancelling the armament, she heads towards the time machine
– I'm a little anxious, but I have no choice but to make sure of it.
Serivia muttered so then opened the hatch by touching the sensor and got inside of the time machine
Nesat confirmed that with a sidelong glance, but she can't do anything.
Because the maximum priority is to catch the falling Liza.
– … kuh!
An impact is applied on both arms.
Arriving at the falling point at the last moment, Nesat catches Liza.
Looking at the figure of Liza, she let out a breath, feeling relieved.
She's breathing, and although it's a little, she also feels energy
from her body.
Liza was alive, even though she had released a lot of energy
Nonetheless, she has no time to relax.
The moment she noticed it, the time machine
was starting to release a strong light.
(What to do? What should I do…?)
Nesat thinks her next move.
At this rate the wish of Serivia will.
Her dearest wish.
Will be achieved.
(… there's nothing I can do?)
Even though she thinks about it, she could only think of what it can be done by herself now and that is to at least protect the defeated comrades and Liza in her arms.
At that moment, it was the words of her younger brother Krovahn that passed through Nesat's mind.
They were:「Nee-chan, be safe」.
(Yeah, I have to survive)
(If Liza, I and everyone survive, then that's fine)
Nesat persuades herself.
(It's regrettable but… I have to survive or else there's no future!)
Serivia got the opportunity of revenge like this because she continued surviving without resigning herself to despair. There's no doubt that surviving is top priority.
After all, the reason to fight with Serivia now——.
The reason to defeat Serivia, there's none for Nesat.
There's none, with the exception of something named mission.
Besides, Serivia said this.
「I also want onlookers. For the moment when these earthlings graduate from God. I leave the duty of reporting this to you」「Please look over from there」
That may be the mission imposed on her.
Whether Serivia achieves her goal or not, that's already indifferent to her. But when Nesat was about to reach such conclusion, and what she should be thinking from now on.
Unexpectedly, the light of the spaceship starts to become thin and disappears just like that.
Eventually, the light ends up disappearing completely.
(… what is this, what does this…?)
As Nesat was wondering about that, the hatch of the time machine
– … as I thought, it's useless, huh…
Her line of sight was pointed towards Serivia who came out with a dissatisfying expression, then Nesat put herself on guard at once.
– Regarding that girl, it seems there's still energy remaining inside her, isn't it?
Following the words that were fired.
Nesat noticed it wasn't herself to who she was pointing her gaze, but Liza.
– … energy
– Yes, it seems that the energy
is a bit insufficient to complete the warp
. In other words, I'm running low on fuel*.
Serivia said so with a smile on her face.
That's very creepy——.
Serivia immediately glares at Nesat, turning a look that harbored wrath like a hanya*.
*TN: A Noh mask of a grinning, horned demoness.
– I had a margin, but it looks like Johanne losing to you and the ceremony venue being released were a bit faster than my calculations.
The moment she finished saying so.
The eyes of Serivia shine in golden color and an armor similar to a gauntlet appeared on her right hand.
– But, since it's just a little bit, there's no problem with the plan.
With those words, Nesat understands everything. Nesat stared at Serivia while embracing as if protecting Liza in her arms.
– … are you going to steal the energy
Serivia, who answered, turned towards Nesat the palm of the hand that had the gauntlet.
Then, a mass of sharp-edged energy
like a golden water column appears.
– So, get away from her!
Together with the shouting, Serivia fired the golden water column.
Holding Liza with one arm as she is, Nesat pushes out towards the golden water column the other arm and creates a barrier, opening the palm of that hand.
With that, she tried to defend against the water column——.
The force of the water column was too strong, the body of Nesat ended up flying. Still, she instantly gets up and stared at Serivia.
Serivia approached Liza and tried to suck out the energy
– ——I won't let you!
Nesat opens the eyepatch.
What was projected on the pupil that shone in golden color were floating batteries similar to the ones that Claire uses.
– TRACE ON!
From the floating batteries she created, beams aiming at Serivia are fired.
Thereupon, Serivia extends her right hand to the beam and smiled with a grin.
Nesat was amazed.
That's because the beams were absorbed by the right hand of Serivia.
(No way, to have such an ability…!)
If so, then she can't attack with beams.
– … TRACE ON!
Returning the floating batteries to particles, what she created next was a twin sword like the one that Krovahn uses.
Then, she slashed at Serivia.
– Didn't I tell you to not be a hindrance?
Serivia catches the blade of the twin sword with her left hand and destroyed it, crushing it with her hands.
Nesat is astonished.
Serivia, with that momentary gap, grabs the neck of Nesat with the other hand and lifts her body.
– Guhh, uuuh!
– Ahahaha, how unsightly.
Serivia shows a very satisfied look, looking at Nesat who raised painful-like groans.
– Would you like me to take the energy
from you first before that child?
When the gauntlet of the right arm of Serivia emits a radiance, the body of Nesat is enveloped in a golden aura and began to shine in the same way.
– ——kuh, aaaah!
Nesat screamed, unable to withstand the heat overflowing from the depths of her body.
– It's a very, very wonderful energy
, don't you think? If I gather it from a few more people with Hundred, then there should be enough energy
gathered to be able to warp.
– … kuh, and yet, instead of me, of my energy
, shouldn't you use the Variable Stone
Nesat said as if spitting out, glaring at Serivia who shows a trancing look on her face.
– Unfortunately, that can't be done.
The gauntlet shines even more furiously and the similar light that covers the body of Nesat becomes intense.
– The energy
of the Variable Stone
holds at Lunaltia Base is almost exhausted——due to the experiments to make the reserve stone
, so now it's being preserved. Moreover, if you use your energy
too much, I may not be able to maintain myself, you know?
– … main, tain…?
– Even though we underwent a space-adaptation surgery, it looks that I need a lot of energy
to maintain the young figure that has lived for many years as I am today. It will be a long trip after this, so I want to refrain from consuming energy
as much as possible. After the trip, comes the revenge.
Saying so, Serivia raised her mouth and showed an eerie smile.
– ——I saw her!
The laboratory of Bill Harvey is a few hundred meters away.
Emilia raised her voice, grasping the figure of Serivia who's showing an eerie smile.
– Apparently, it seems that the warp isn't done yet.
Emilia is wearing an armor similar to Space Ride
that was created with Arms Shroud,
her Innocence type Hundred——on her back.
– … hmm, wait a moment, that's——
It's Hayato who's flying next to Emilia who raised his voice after her.
Unlike Emilia he was wearing a real Outer Armor——a Space Ride.
– Yeah, it looks like the situation is pretty bad.
She said so because Serivia was grabbing the bottom of the neck of Nesat with the rugged gauntlet equipped on her hand that was like a machine.
Moreover, that contact shines, and a golden light continues to be emitted from the body of Nesat.
– …Charo, do you hear me?
While they continued the flight, Emilia issued a communication to Charlotte on the Earth via the communication equipment of Little Garden section.
『Yeah, I hear you』
After a few seconds, the response from Charlotte returns.
– I see, that's good.
Showing a relieved smile, Emilia starts reporting the situation.
– Serivia hasn't warped yet. But Nesat is caught and it seems that she's doing something to her… do you grasp something, Charo?
『I was able to connect with the mic of Nesat a while ago. So, I was able to understand to a certain extent』
– If so, then mind you tell us what's this situation? What's she doing to Nesat?
『Apparently, there seems to be insufficient energy to do a warp. Because of that, Serivia's trying to steal the energy
– … so is that kind of thing…?
The ceremony venue that stole the energy
from the Slayers was liberated early thanks to Krovahn and co.
As a result, it seems that the energy
enough to withstand the warp wasn't gathered.
『Surely Serivia will continue stealing the energy
and Hundreds of the Slayers until she gathered enough energy for the warp. If we leave her alone, she will affect everyone's lives』
– … yeah, I understand.
Now, Emilia and Hayato can be active in outer space because they took capsules that supply oxygen which react to energy
is reduced to zero, then oxygen won't be produced either.
– Then, there's one thing we should do.
Emilia said, looking at the face of Hayato as if to confirm it.
– Hayato! Because I'll help Nesat, Hayato will destroy the time machine
! It's impossible for me, but if it's Hayato, then that should be possible!
– … eh? Ah, so it's that kind of thing…!?
Hayato was able to understand what was said by Emilia right away, although he was troubled for a moment.
He might not be able to destroy the time machine
with ordinary attacks, but if it's Zaneizan, the secret technique of the Kenzaki Style, then it's very likely that he'll be able to destroy it.
If he destroys the time machine
, then that will make no sense for her to absorb energy
And so the lives of everyone shouldn't be robbed.
Without reaching her ultimate goal, Serivia will be utterly defeated.
Charlotte didn't preach an objection towards the strategy of Emilia.
『What's left is, that's right…. With her left hand absorbing the energy
of Nesat, Serivia seems to be able to absorb beam-based attacks as energy
. Pay attention to that』
– Roger——Okay then, operation start!
Shouting, Emilia kicked the ground, releasing energy
furiously from the thruster
of the armor.
Flying high and loud in the emptiness, Arms Shroud
generates twelve floating batteries.
She fired all of them at once towards Serivia.
When Serivia noticed their existences, the floating batteries already encircled her surroundings and started to shoot beams one after another.
However, the beams didn't aim at Serivia herself.
It's troublesome because she's using Nesat as a shield and she's troubled because she'll absorb them.
This is solely to stop the movements of Serivia.
She aimed at her surroundings to block her vision.
– ——now, Hayato!
When Emilia yelled, Hayato already accelerated using the thruster
of the Space Ride
that he carried on his back.
And approaches the time machine
Serivia, who noticed the existence of Hayato while her vision is blocked by the rising cloud of dust, throws off Nesat to the moon's surface and attempts to commence an attack in a hurry, rushing to him.
Of course, she's not going to let him attack the time machine
Emilia was faster to move.
– I won't let you interfere with Hayato!
Emilia who instantly changed the floating batteries into particles and created a sickle, slashed at Serivia.
With that, Serivia ended up with her route being completely blocked and so she's unable to attack Hayato.
Then, when Serivia tried to raise her voice like screaming, stretching her hand towards the time machine
of Hayato that was loaded with energy
to its heart content, produced a band of red particles then it was swung downward to the spaceship.
That's not an ordinary slash.
Following the strategy, it's an attack based on the Kenzaki Style Secret Technique that he inherited from Kenzaki Ryūsei, his master——Zaneizan
(… We did it…!)
The exterior of the space machine
had the same color of the steel shell of the Savages.
So maybe, the materials were alike——.
Or perhaps it was made of that very thing.
Because he knew that a simple attack couldn't destroy it, it was said that it would be effective if he attacked with all his strength.
He felt the success with the feeling transmitted to both arms and it appears that he wasn't wrong.
He immediately was able to confirm the success with his eyes.
It was splendid, the time machine
resulted in two equal parts as if it was halved and made a huge explosion.
Emilia begins to run towards Hayato, she doesn't care about stopping and the like the dumbfounded Serivia.
It's because she was concerned about the safety of Hayato who received the near explosion.
However, that anxiety that was absurd fear ended quickly.
It's because she saw the figure of Hayato standing and using Hien
like a cane inside the rolling cloud of smoke.
– You did it, Hayato!
Hayato, who was surprised by the sudden hugging lost the balance of his body and ended up looking as if he was going to fall. Then, he raised a voice of protest.
– Hey, that's dangerous, you know!?
– Sorry, sorry.
While supporting the body of Hayato that by the way was at the very limit, Emilia laughed roguishly.
– But, the strategy was successful. That's good, no?
– That's true, but…
Hayato points his line of sight towards Nesat who has fallen on the moon's surface.
– … you okay?
– Yeah, somehow.
Approaching and taking the extended hand of Hayato, Nesat stands up.
– Thank you, for saving me.
– I'm really glad we made it in time.
Hayato shows a smile and a relieved look on his face.
As far as he can see, the damages didn't go that far.
Emilia asks while showing a small, sulky look on her face.
– … how about your energy?
– She drained a lot… but, I can still fight——
Nesat, who separated herself from Hayato, points her gaze to Serivia.
Immediately after her, Hayato and Emilia also pointed their gazes towards Serivia.
– Why, why such a…
Serivia, who was falling to her knees with a lot of shock due to the time machine
that was destroyed, struck the fists of both hands on the moon's surface.
Regarding that expression, despair and resentment are revealing themselves.
Emilia said, as if agitating such Serivia.
– Since the time machine
was reduced to zero, then it's useless to keep stealing energy
, right? Give up and surrender.
– Give up… you say? Don't screw around with me——
Distorting her face uglily, Serivia continues speaking.
– Why I, a God, should surrender to lowly people such as you, the inferior earthlings, I wonder?Aha, ahaha
… and while sneering, Serivia spreads both arms like catching the wind that shouldn't be there slowly, as if the wind is flowing entirely there.
– My appearance doesn't matter to me anymore. I am me, after all, and perhaps I must discard it. Still, I will fulfill my revenge. For that reason, I have lived so far. That alone is the meaning of my existence now. Because the existence of everything is me——
– Is this——
– What do you…?
Hayato, Emilia and Nesat were lost for words, looking what happened before their eyes.
The pair of eyes of Serivia dye in golden color, and her body emerged slightly from the moon's surface.
The fragments of the reserve stone
that were scattered around also emerged while releasing a pale light.
Serivia, the fragments of the reserve stone
——and even the Hundreds of the Slayers that were rolling on the ground were ascending to a height of about 20 meters from the surface——.
There, the fragments of the reserve stone
and the Hundreds shatter, becoming particles, covering the body of Serivia.
At that moment, in a treatment room within Little Garden section.
There was a certain change happening there.
Claire, who continued being in a state of reduced activity for a while, began to have nightmares on the bed again.
– … Claire-sama…
Erika talks to Claire who has an uneasy look while holding her hand, hoping to calm her down somehow or other.
However, that voice doesn't reach her.
While Claire continued having nightmares, Erika felt a strong energy
on her whole body again.
This time it's not from Liza.
is without a doubt from the opponent who's confronting them now.Leaving Claire-sama in a state like this, I hate you, Pope of Puritaria
——No.The alien who came from a distant planet and falsely identifies herself as a God.Serivia Notre Dame Paulo III
Erika believes so.
In terms of now, Claire hasn't shown a reaction.
She was constantly groaning.
——Everyone, don't vanish before me.
There's no light around.
It's profoundly dark——.
The interior of her consciousness is like a deep sea, Claire continued running after the illusions that she had parted with.
However, she can't catch them, even if she extends her hand.
On the contrary, she trips with that same posture and ended up falling from the front.
——Why can't I catch you masenno?
Claire struck the ground with both fists because of her high level of regret.
Tears are overflowing from her eyes, then continued letting leak her sobbing.
There was a voice that came from a girl.
Claire raises a surprised expression.
That's the little sister of Claire Harvey——.
It's because that was the voice of Liza Harvey.
At the same time she shouts that name.
Her little sister is in front of her——.
Claire noticed that Liza Harvey was standing there.
– Did you set free from the brainwashing of Serivia mashitano?
Nodding, Liza responds.
– Thanks to Kisaragi Hayato and the others, now I'm free. But since I haven't enough energy
to fight, I decided to speak to Claire using some of my remaining energy
– Using a part of your energy
? To talk to me——?
– My body is still on the battlefield——it's a very dangerous place. Claire feels it too, right? The strong torrent of energy
It was as Liza said.
She feels a strong and violent power.
– Is this Serivia's…?
– Kisaragi Hayato, Emilia Hermit and Nesat Olfred destroyed the time machine
and are fighting Serivia. However, her ambitions couldn't be prevented. Serivia is trying to warp by converting the energy
of the reserve stone
installed in the time machine
as well as its armor into particles to absorb them——to strengthen herself to become something equivalent to that.
– Such a thing is…
– As for me, I don't know whether it's possible or not. However, the reserve stone
didn't store enough energy
to warp. That probably didn't change, even in her actual appearance. Serivia will undoubtedly collect the energy
by stealing the Hundred and energy
from Kisaragi Hayato and the others and me as well. And if that's not enough, I think she'll take it away from all the Slayers on the moon.
– In other words, it will turn into a battle again from now on——
– I'm no longer in a state where I can fight, and those three aren't in a perfect condition either. It's difficult to get the victory when competing with an enhanced Serivia directly. That's why, Claire. Raise and help me. As for you, you have that power. The power to save me, Kisaragi Hayato and everyone——.
– Of course, desuwa.
Replying, Claire stands up.
– Thank you, Liza. Thanks to you, I understood what I ought to do mashita.
This is not a situation where she should be feeling down in a place like this.
She only has to do what she ought to do.
That is no more than fulfill Noblesse Oblige
That's her own——.
That's the way of life of Claire Harvey——.
– As one would expect of my lovely Onee-sama.
Liza kissed Claire and disappeared while emitting light.
Suddenly raising her voice on the bed of the treatment room, Claire opened her eyelids.
Erika, who saw that figure, ended up raising her voice without thinking.
– …Eri, ka?
Erika hugged Claire tightly, who raised her upper body to sit up while blinking.
– I'm glad, Claire-sama… you woke up…
Erika shed hot tears in the chest of Claire because of the excess of joy.
Looking at that figure, Claire muttered with a dumbfounded appearance.
– Erika, why, am I here…?
– … ah… I am sorry, Claire-sama!
Erika noticed that she ended up clinging to her because she got too emotional and rapidly gets away from Claire, then tries to correct the unaligned glasses.
Thereupon, Claire was taken aback.
– I see, desuwa… I was brainwashed by Serivia and fought with Emilia Hermit——
Although what happened to herself and what she saw just now resembled a dream——.
And then, she instantly remembered the situation she was placed in.
– Erika, how long have I been collapsed desu?
– Almost an hour.
– Is that so…? It seems that I caused you to be quite worried desuwane.
– ——please wait, Claire-sama!
Looking at Claire who is about to get off from the bed, Erika tries to support her body.
But, Claire refused so.
– Worry not, I can stand by myself masuwa.
In accordance with those words, and descending from the bed, Claire began to walk towards the door of the room.
– Let's go, Erika.
– Let's go? Don't tell me…
– It's decided, don't you agree? To go and fulfill Noblesse Oblige
desu. To save Liza, Kisaragi Hayato——and also, the world——
Hearing those words, the expression of Erika became brighter.
This is the Claire that Erika respects.
And also, because it's the Claire she loves.
– ——Yes! Allow me the privilege to accompany you!
With a full smile, Erika nodded.