He still sleeps in the back bunker. Good, the less noise, the better. The only sounds I hear right now are the beating of my heart and the monotonous drone of the ship’s engines, humming and vibrating beneath me through the metal floor. I see nothing. Meditation proves to be calming, especially after a week of battles.
I have picked up this meditation form from a Namek I fought and killed several months ago. Useless race, the Nameks, too spiritual and simple. Ripped both his arms off, tossed him in the river; I hope the fish got him. The Namek deserves no more, the uncompromising son of a bitch. But he sure did know how to keep his mouth shut, same with all the Nameks, especially when it comes to guarding their own treasure. I still have not found one of the legendary seven.
Perhaps once I find them, I will be able to achieve my life’s purpose. I am worthlessly lost at the moment, just keeping my spirit on a rushing high of slaughter and battle time. Nothing suits me better than that, but sooner or later I will have to change direction. There must be grander things to see, loftier heights to which I can ascend. When I find my goal, nothing will stop me from attaining it.
The so-called prophet told me I would die a most bizarre death, one dishonorable and unworthy of a warrior. Furthermore, he said it would be caused by factors inside of me that I am unaware of and that I cannot control. Heaps of shit, he was out of his mind. Good thing I dispatched him quickly. Maybe Kakarotto inherited his father’s stupidity. He muses nonsense at times, in the middle of a spar, between mouthfuls of food, and even when snoring asleep. He tells me about the scar on his head, perhaps another cause of his retardation, and he fabricates tales of old men in dark laboratories operating on him. Incoherent idiot.
Ah well, as long as I have a decent sparring partner, I will keep him alive. He would never even dream of trying to kill me. His heart is too soft for that.
But I will not tell him that I have just killed his father. There is something deeply disconcerting about that man-child. I cannot quite put my finger on it yet. It is the spark in his eyes that shines only during times of battle, his natural ease at killing that belies his idiocy. I am confident of my own power. But I am careful when dealing with Kakarotto.
I have lost contact with my people. I am a Prince with an empty title. Perhaps that is why I desire to kill so much. Although I may never cross paths with another of my kind again, I still am the most powerful warrior the universe has ever seen. There is none like me.
Perhaps that is why I am empty. Kakarotto would call it loneliness. Bah. A sentiment of weakness. I am solitary, as all Saiyajins are, with the exception of my demented companion. I am at the top alone, looking down on everything and everyone else, and I have no competitors. I should be proud. I have secured my spot as Prince, and rightful King, and if I wished, I would conquer the galaxy and rule as supreme Emperor. No one would question me. No one could.
But I don’t do it. It is not in my heart to do it. I seek something more…something I cannot quite grasp yet. That is why I must find the Nameks’ treasure. I will continue searching forever until I get my hands on them, even if it means digging them up from the core of every planet I visit.
I open my eyes in a snap. Kakarotto has awoken. Probably broke something. Just count on him to disrupt the little time of peace I have.
A minute later I hear him in the hallway outside. He knocks on the door and a dent appears.
"Oops," he begins. I am silent, waiting patiently. "Vejita! I’m hungry!"
"There is food in the storage freezers. Unless you ate it all already," I reply coldly.
"Um…I did…sorry," his voice is sheepish.
Damn him and his innocence. I cannot bring myself to be angry with him.
I am, however, annoyed.
"I guess we’ll have to make a landing for fresh kill." I rise to my feet and walk to the door, ignoring Kakarotto as he opens it for me.
At the controls, navigation tells me the closest planet is Minaro. It is teeming with vegetation and lower life forms, but appears to have nothing in terms of intelligent beings. We will land, hunt, and be on our way.
Another explosion rocks the ship. A repair robot zooms past me and latches onto the ceiling hole, newly formed by a meteorite. Debris is everywhere. Sparks fly from snapped wires, metal chunks the size of pineapples falling all around me. And the only thing I care about is Bardock.
My lab is a mess, with garbage rolling everywhere, containers broken across the floor, and more debris raining from the ceiling. My ears are deafened by the continuous explosions. They won’t stop. Just my luck to be caught in a meteor storm! My hands work quickly to bind down the body. I grab more security rope and lash it around the corpse’s arms and legs, then seal it over into the preservation encasing. Blue liquid fills the case, and I hope I will live to work on this magnificent body another day.
With priorities done, I rush into the controls room and fine it half-demolished. Damn, I knew I should’ve repaired the shields when I had the chance! Evacuation pods are intact, but there is no way I am leaving without all my experiments.
Call me crazy.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
The collisions knock me off my feet and into a panel of glass. It shatters, jagged shards digging deep into my back.
"AHHHHH!!!!" I scream in anguish. My resolve hardens as I grit my teeth and push myself up on gashed hands. I must reach controls, but most importantly keep control of the oncoming panic, rising like a steaming pot in my head. Blood gathers in rolling puddles on the floor where I step. No, I will not give up! I—have—to—
One hand gets a hold of a lever on the panel. I force my eyes to see straight through the overpowering nausea I keep fighting down. Backup shields, switch on! They can hold out long enough for me to right the ship. Emergency engines kick in to steady the ship, and the sudden jolt almost knocks me over again. My fingers fly frantically across the panel, my mind working desperately to set a survival course for this ship.
I look up to the viewing window. I am headed straight for a planet, and it is already too late to pull out. The meteor storm is passing, the concentration of impacts lessening, but this new obstacle is much more devastating. I am not prepared for landing, or even entrance to the atmosphere.
Gravity has a steady grip on the craft already, and the best I can do is to tilt the course so I don’t make a nosedive into the pole. With several codes punched in, I stumble back through the debris-covered room and head straight for the lab. My treasure. A great sigh escapes me, and I hardly realize that I have fallen onto the encasing that contains him. My blood pools over the glass as I stare down at his perfect face. Well, perfect below the forehead. I wish I had had time to take care of the delicate brain…pieces of it are drifting…
All your fault, Bardock. For trapping me in you. Giving me the lead. I took the bait, and was so ignorant that I let my ship run into-
The ship begins shaking violently as it reaches the atmosphere. My chattering teeth bite through my tongue. I can barely even feel the pain now. Somewhere in the back of my fading consciousness, I know that I will die.
"Bardock," I whisper as the turbulence tears my body away from the bloodied glass. I sprawl against the wall and close my eyes like a tired child. My head aches and my mind is shutting down from the weariness.
Save my soul.
Blackness engulfs my vision. I hear nothing. I feel nothing. Am I awake, or is this a dream? A nightmare? Or am I dead?
I cannot even tell if my eyes are open. It is the blackest of black swallowing me whole. I feel like I am floating, I can touch nothing. Or maybe I just don’t feel anything. I don’t know anymore. I don’t even know if I can move. If I’m not moving, then I’m not touching anything. So maybe if I move, I’ll feel something. Confusing. Am I dead?
The pain is numbed. As if I am disconnected wholly from it. My body is detached from my mind, a loose thread hanging between them.
I survived? Why am I in darkness? I try to move, finally. Then I awaken from semi-awareness, the type of trance that one lies in when he has just woken from a dream. I am sitting up in the dark, my hands groping about for anything tangible to hold. The bed sheets rumple from my movements.
"Hello…" My mouth feels dry, as if my dentist just sucked all the saliva out of it with that little pipe.
Click. A single light directly over my head illuminates the room in a second. I jerk in surprise, and shield my poorly adjust eyes with my hand.
"Hello, Bulma Briefs."
The voice is low, soft, solid, acute. Somebody knows my name.
"Who are you?" My eyesight is starting to clear up, and I make the outline of a man sitting in the far corner of this empty room. My bed, oddly, is in the center of it. I feel like I am in an interrogation chamber, about to be whipped.
"My name is Gero," he states simply. Long white hair like sheets of spiderwebs over his shoulders give him a primal appearance. His sharp blue eyes meet mine and lock into my gaze.
He sees my loss for words. "You made a rather unclean touchdown on this soil. Your ship was destroyed."
He pauses for a second and smiles. The shadows make him look scary.
"But, my dear, you lived. A strong build of a body, you have, though it seems delicate."
Blush fills my cheeks. Normally, old men with Barbie doll hair do not compliment me on my body. It is unsettling. I hope he does not see my embarrassment, but with this light shining right over me, he can see everything.
"All the stuff on my ship is gone?" I venture.
"Yes," he replies. I can hardly see his mouth move under that thick white mustache. "All gone."
My heart falls. My life’s work. Wiped out. And that beautiful Saiyajin…
"You lost a large amount of blood. Shrapnel was lodged in several places across your back. The palms of your hands were slashed. You suffered a concussion. Your hip bone was shattered, along with several others."
Gero pauses again. I ask, "How did I survive? If you did some…"
"Do not worry about all that, dear. You are in fine condition once again."
Why does this man keep looking at me with that stare? When he speaks I feel as if he knows me inside out and still desires to know more. He wants something from me. And he seems only to care about my body.
"Are you a doctor?" I push myself off the side of the bed. I still feel numbed pain in some areas of my body, but otherwise I am perfectly fine.
"Yes, I am a doctor," he answers briefly. "And you are a brilliant scientist of sorts, Miss Briefs."
I laugh uneasily, but feel alarm tingling at the back of my brain. There is something wrong with this man.
"The data files of your ship’s computer were left intact. It seemed necessary to know your blood type and other vital health information…and I found your name and title on the side," he explains.
Yes. On the side.
"Oh. So…where am I anyway?" I ask. Intuition keeps me on guard.
"Xethyros. A sparsely inhabited planet. Resourceful, though."
I begin to weigh in my situation. My ship: destroyed. I will need a new one. Myself: perfect health. Perhaps about to be detained for quite a while by this doctor. My experiments: gone. Communications: perhaps available.
Bardock: gone. My spirit is immediately crushed. There is so much more I could have discovered from him!
But wait. How much can I trust this doctor Gero?
"May I at least see the remnants of my ship? Wherever it crashed…"
"Certainly. But I believe you should I have something to eat and rest up. Then I will show you whatever you want," he says.
"Thank you." I think.
"There are many things a scientist like yourself would find interesting here. We’ll have a lot to learn from one another." He smiles.
I smile back. I still do not have a good feeling about all this. The sooner I get off this planet, the better. My immediate gratitude for this man’s help has been replaced by a standoffish wariness.
I feel like hunted prey. Or at least scavenged prey.
The key to hunting efficiently is to kill efficiently. The prey here is weak but fast. The last time I saw big animals move this quickly was when I met Nappa. Large ki blasts are unnecessary to kill. Ki is unnecessary altogether.
A boar, ten feet in length. Sizeable, lots of meat. My senses are trained to their highest level. I can hear its labored breathing as it runs pell-mell through this thick forest. With every footfall the ground underneath shakes. A tree splinters and cracks as the animal hits it dumbly, blind in its rush. Birds scatter to the skies, squawking. All the brush is trampled in the brute’s path.
Why do I bother with this waste of time? I still wait here in this tree as my prey runs away. I sigh. I am bored. So bored.
My movement is effortless. In a split-second I slice across its path and watch it skid in muddy ground as it tries to reverse direction and escape me. It lets loose a wild squeal of a trapped animal. It knows it will lose. In another split-second it is dead. I raise my hand from its broken neck. A giant boar like this should keep Kakarotto and me satiated. I wonder if the fool has been hunting well during all this time.
The gargantuan carcass slung over my back, I return to the ship and slice it up outside. It cannot fit through the door otherwise. Meanwhile, I feel for Kakarotto’s ki. It flares up, then down, then dips and rests. What an idiot, toying with his food again. Well, that leaves me with time alone. I proceed to cut up the boar and incinerate unwanted portions. I store it all inside the ship, in a freezer.
Where will I go now? I am in dire need of a challenge. Everything bores me, and I am losing patience quickly. Where is my imminent death? I have not forgotten Bardock’s final sermon, moving, albeit short, before he had fallen.
You will die of the uncontrollable weakness inside of you, cursed prince.
You will die with shame and shattered pride.
You will be defeated, and you won’t even know what hit you..
It had seemed that the only thing keeping the bastard alive had been the determination to finish those words.
"Dead men spew their own shit," I had said disdainfully.
His smile had been crooked. "And so will you. Soon."
My boredom eats at me so gratingly that I am beginning to consider this crazy seer’s prediction. Death I do not fear. What is it that vexes me, then? Fear of weakness? I am the strongest warrior alive. No one can touch me. I have no weaknesses. I care for no one and nothing. The desire for battle drives me on, the desire for perfection burns as the power of my soul.
It must be something else, or someone else, that may cause my death. An outside force that weighs me down.
Kakarotto, I realize. He must be the liability.
He would aid me in a hopeless battle. He would unquestionably follow my command. He would trail in my footsteps without a backwards glance. He would go to Hell and back if I told him to. Perhaps he—this boyish, pitiful excuse for a warrior—will bring my demise.
I laugh aloud suddenly. I am still standing outside the freezer that holds my fresh kill.
Kakarotto, kill me? I must truly be going insane now.
I fly out to find the idiot. True to my earlier assumption, he is playing. He is swimming with the fish, chortling and splashing around like a three year-old not yet aware of the moon.
"Have you killed anything?" I shout at him. I feel like an idiot myself, levitating next to his playpen and getting sprayed with water. He continues to frolic as if he has not spotted me. My eyes narrow. Why must I deal with this fool? I shoot a ki blast at the water.
"Yaaaaahhh!!" It sends him tumbling across the muddy bank. I grab him by the vest and jerk him up to his feet.
"Moron," I sneer. "Didn’t you say you were hungry? You think I landed the ship down here so you could take a dive?"
"Uh…sorry, but don’t worry, I’ll get some food. Sorry!" he apologizes with a cheerfulness that makes me sick.
Again he dives into the water. I look away, exasperated, folding my arms across my chest and waiting. After several seconds, half a dozen fish are piled at my feet. I look down at the weakly wriggling things with disinterest. He takes a minute to catch more, and then lifts them all into the air with telekinesis.
"Let’s go eat," he says, and without another word, flies off to the ship. He is trailed by two dozen dead fish through the sky.
Sometimes I wonder why I never shot him in the first place.
The hunt is done. We should have enough food to last for a while. The craft rises, and I take my meal silently as we leave Minaro.
"Vejita," Kakarotto says, breaking the silence.
I glance at him briefly.
"Do you miss being a prince?"
I do not look at him again. I do not answer.
He is down before he knows it. My left hand grips his throat like a vise, my knee jammed into his stomach, my other hand in a fist above his head. I bring my face close to his, and I see the innocent fear in his eyes.
"What makes you think I ever stopped being the prince?" I hiss dangerously.
"I thought—I just thought that you lost your palace…and the planet-"
"Fool, you do not challenge my authority. Oh no, you do not challenge me."
"I wasn’t trying to! I just wondered because-"
"Sometimes I wonder about you, Kakarotto. How someone so utterly stupid," I force my knee hard into his gut, "was ever accepted as a royal servant!"
I step off him and let him breathe. I continue eating in silence. Out of the corner of my eye I watch Kakarotto resume his meal also. He stares at me, still confused about what he did wrong. I must make his idiot’s mind learn how to respect a prince.
He actually ventures to ask me another question.
"Where’s my father?"
"I know the last time I saw him was pretty long ago, ‘cause then I had to come work for you, and he told me he’d come find me one day, and train me properly, and since my mother was dead, he would—Vejita? Are you listening?"
Well I’ll be damned. He has just asked me if I was listening.
I answer. "I don’t give a fuck about your father, Kakarotto. And I don’t give a fuck about you, either."
He is silent and eats the rest of his meal relatively quietly. Then he gets up and begins to step towards the door. He stops, and stares at me for a good long while. I pretend not to notice, and I do not meet his gaze. There may be something there I do not want to see. When he finally walks away, I glance at his back. And for the first time, I think I see something Saiyajin in his stance.
I lay silently for a long time, going over everything Gero has discussed with me. He really is a brilliant scientist, and for the first time in my life I realize my arrogance and single-mindedness; Gero is a genius. I am just a rash, idealistic girl who is still stuck pondering the dead minds of corpses, while he has begun growing human organs already.
With those, androids should soon be existent.
Why wouldn’t he elaborate on the details of his prototypes? I smile to myself. If I were in his place, I would keep my breakthrough discoveries a secret, too. Especially when people like Bulma Briefs were around to snatch it all away.
I feel guilt for bearing such suspicion towards Gero earlier. Scientists are supposed to be strange. I can just look at myself and agree. I cannot wait for tomorrow, another day during which I can uncover even more of what I have yearned so much to find. The composition of the soul, the root of emotions, perhaps even the mystery of conscious thought after death. The mere thought of the endless possibilities that I will have before me makes my spine tingle.
I have only constructed robots so far, like that worthless contraption Aimio and her series. Their systems are complex and they are capable of thought processing, but their boundaries are so clearly limited. They are merely machines and nothing more. Now androids, on the other hand…
I play with a few strands of my hair absently. Androids would have hair. Hair that grows like mine, and causes pain when it is yanked. They have eyes that hurt under sunlight, that have to adjust to the dark. They have taste and pleasure and fear and apprehension and joy…and souls.
I am letting my imagination run wild again. I turn listlessly on my side. The bed is no longer comfortable, for I have been lying awake for too long. My throat is dry. Where did Gero say I could get water? My head gets dizzy as I sit up and swing my legs over the side of the bed. The soles of my feet touch the floor, and I walk through the darkness towards the door.
It is so quiet here. The hallway is dark and somehow foreboding. I expect to hear echoes of my footsteps reverberating off the walls, but there are none. I am barefoot. I don’t know what time it is. Come to think of it, I don’t even know how this planet’s time system works.
I think Gero told me to take a right for the kitchen. Or was it straight ahead? I try the first door I see. It creaks open, and as soon as I enter I can tell the room has not been used for a while. The dust makes me sneeze. I turn to leave, and then stop.
The hallway is silent. However, there is a droning sound in this room, underneath the floor. Perhaps it is just the air-conditioning. But I am curious, so I put my head to the cold tiles and listen. Now I hear more than just a drone. I hear irregular beeps, like the sounds an oscillometer emits. I strain harder. I think…I think I hear typing…
Gero must have another lab underground, where he conducts his more important experiments. I feel a rush of anticipation as my curiosity is set alight. I have to find the stairs; I can wait for Gero to go away or something…it’s late, so it would make sense for him to go to bed around now.
I explore the hallways with painstaking scrutiny, but find no stairwell or elevator. How am I supposed to get down there? Again I return to the dusty room and listen. I hear footsteps receding toward the left wall. Immediately I leave the room and keep listening against the floor, following Gero’s footsteps until they stop. A door faintly swings open, and the footsteps now begin on stairs. I have traced them to the middle of the corridor. They are nearing me, ascending…
I dash as quietly as I can into the adjacent room, where I wait, breathing excitedly. A hole appears in the wall, and Gero comes into my sight. I hold my breath and tense up as he passes by, a few inches from where I stand in the semi-darkness. He turns and points a remote at the wall, and the hole disappears. I stay completely still until I hear a door shut down the hallway.
My sweaty feet stick to the floor as I sneak out of my hiding place. I put my hands on the seemingly solid wall. I gasp as they sink through. My arms up to my elbows are inside the wall.
The hole must have been a hologram. I take a breath as if I am about to jump into a pool of water, and then I move the rest of my body inside the wall. My heart hiccups as I trip down a stair. I did not expect the stairs to start right after I stepped through the entrance. I grope my way down, clutching at the walls. I get down to a door, and find that there is no handle. A small red light flickers on the wall. It is a security device that prompts me for a code. Well, this should be easy enough…
In a minute I actually manage to break Gero’s complex system of access codes. With an almost silent whoosh the door opens. I step inside.
The drone I heard upstairs is louder here, coming from the far back of the lab. I begin walking toward it, but scan my surroundings for anything interesting. I almost trip over some large object on the floor. My foot meets something wet and sticky. I look down, and cover my mouth before I can scream. Skin and mangled flesh are ripped over a robotic torso, the chest cavity broken open, revealing snapped wires and various other mechanical wrecks. My feet are both bloodied.
I force my eyes away from the appalling sight and look around myself again. Several tables are lined up in rows with typical lab instruments strewn across them, but they seem like they have been untouched for quite a while. Gero must be moving on to bigger and better things, like synthetic flesh, I think bitterly. I cannot believe I am actually jealous of a man who has created a robot with flesh and left it on the floor in shreds.
I wipe my feet on the floor and keep going, walking past a gigantic computer that I toy with a little. All the files on it are heavily encrypted, and I do not feel like figuring them out just yet. I go on to another set of doors, and again I take a minute to gain entrance through the access device.
I step inside this back room, my gaze on the floor for any more surprises. My eyes slowly work their way along and stop at the bases of two pillars. Then I freeze.
Two glowing tubes, stretching from floor to ceiling, two bodies inside of them, submerged in bubbling yellow liquid, glowing with the only light in the room. My feet carry me forth to them, my mind transfixed. Gero was successful. These are actual androids.
My hands are shaking. I place my palm on the glass of one tube. My eyes are mesmerized by the floating form dormant before me. Her light hair flows in waves around her flawless face, her eyes closed, her arms spread, her full breasts suspended above a thin stomach and waist, her legs afloat and her toes pointing downward. My hand trembles again. The android created by Dr. Gero is so utterly beautiful. I pity her.
I turn to the other tube. First I notice the raven-black hair, stark in contrast against the pale white skin. His face, too, is perfect, identical to the female’s. His body is a work of art, his torso in perfect proportion with his legs, his arms muscled, his chest tight, his hips straight and taut around his manhood. He and she must be twins. A spark of anger burns in my heart when I remember they are Gero’s creations. What will he do with them? Life does not deserve to be manipulated at the hands of a sick old man!
I think back to my Bardock Saiyajin. He is gone and I will never see him again. I wonder what kind of a soul he had. He was mystical. He had actually talked to me and formed some inexplicable bond with me. I have a feeling that he was not a normal Saiyajin. Now I see these two man-made humans. Do they really have souls too? Are their brains even mature, or are they like newborn children? I take my hand away from the glass abruptly. For some reason I am suddenly afraid that their eyes will open and look at me.
I move away and sit down at a computer console. A blueprint is open on the screen; Gero must have forgotten to close it. It takes me a few seconds to make sense of all the lines and miniscule lettering, but soon I am studying it with full zeal. Shockingly, almost all of the body consists of real human tissue.
I study the blueprint harder, and get a closer look at the brain. Recently added parts are highlighted, and the word "Saiyajin" catches my eye. I read everything carefully. There are definitely Saiyajin components in the brain. I jump quickly to conclusions. Gero had stolen Bardock from me, and lied. He had told me only lies. Fear quickly replaces my anger. The more I look at these diagrams, the more terrifying the concept of artificial humans becomes. There are some parts that I don’t even understand, but there is some strange biological energy inside these two androids. It is impossible for natural power to be so vast! Theirs is almost limitless! Gero must be crazy to toy with power like this!
It seems there is some type of explosive inside the chest cavities of the androids. They are on a joint circuit, which means that both would blow if the circuit were to switch on. Why would-
I jerk away from my seat and whirl around immediately.
"It seems you have discovered a little more than you have asked for," Gero says darkly. He stands in the light of the doorway, his eyes burning.
"I—I…" I am too shocked to speak. The fear pounds inside my chest, growing tenfold as I am forced to look into Gero’s eyes.
"I don’t think it is proper for you to be knowing all that you know at the moment," he says, a sinister grin spreading across his face. "I could use another android."
Suddenly I find my voice again. "Bastard. You’re just sick."
He ignores me and walks nearer. Oh, damn, how will I get to the door…
I kick the chair in his path and run sideways, trying to get around him. Hands clamp on my shoulders and throw me back across the room. I never knew an old man could move so fast. I slam into one of the incubation tubes, and I immediately scamper to the table, wincing from the pain in my back. My hand grabs the first thing it feels on the table, and I hurl it at Gero. The small object hits him and clatters to the floor. Then all of a sudden he isn’t so bent on killing me anymore. His eyes widen in horror as he falls to his knees and fumbles with the little remote control I threw at him. Just as he picks it up, a faint beep is heard, followed by another. I look at the dormant androids, and scream as their glaringly blue eyes snap open.
The glass shatters instantly, showering me with shards and foul-smelling liquid as I am blinded by the unbelievably bright auras around their bodies.
"Oh no, oh no," Gero moans in despair. "Not yet…not now…"
The male looks at him once in disdain. It speaks. "Oh, you. I hate you."
I scream at the horrifying squelch of Gero’s head being crushed against the wall, already severed from his body. I cannot stop screaming, cowering against the leg of the table and quaking uncontrollably. Blood flows everywhere on the floor from the dead body’s throat, pooling around the android’s feet. His face is perfectly calm, even amused as he looks at me. What kind of monsters has Gero created?
The female walks toward me, her hands on her hips. I shut my eyes and whimper, waiting for that spontaneous blow to fall and end my life.
"Eh, Juunana, she’s so scared of us." Her voice is flat, but her cackle sends shivers down my spine. She bends down so her eyes are level with mine. I open them and stare at her face, and I know she is enjoying the fear she sees in my eyes.
"Listen, sweetie, all I need are the clothes you’re wearing, all right?" she coos as one would to a child. I do not move.
"What—what are you…" I manage to gasp, my voice trembling. The male looks away in disinterest as his twin grabs me by the shirt and lifts me effortlessly in the air.
"My name is Juuhachi, and this is Juunana," she says with a smile. "I don’t want to know your name, though. I just want your clothes. Are you gonna give ‘em to me?"
And her sweet laughter is the last thing I hear before I hear no more.
* * * * *