Wish You Were Here
"There are no…
Raindrops on roses and girls in white dresses
It's sleeping with roaches and taking best guesses
The shade of the sheets and before all the stains
And a few more of your least favorite things"
-Panic! At the Disco, "Build God, then We'll Talk"
It was fact, or maybe it was written, or maybe it was said that the world below was the very definition of hell, or at least some sort of manifestation of a more mundane hell. Down there, there were no morals. People stole and murdered. They sold women away. And that's the lighter of their crimes. You shouldn't even think about going there. You must not submit to its siren call.
A new rule was written that if you came down you would be stoned until you are no longer a threat.
And by that they mean death.
The moment before Yukina's feet touched the ground on the mountain, she looked back up at her home, not too longingly. In fact, it was more of a smile of triumph, knowing she didn't need that place anymore. Her fingers still reached up to the ledge from which she leapt.
For a moment, she thought to herself, "Rui might be worried by now." She did leave in the dead of night, outside the period of curfew though there was hardly ever someone out there to make sure everyone kept to that time. Because most people just followed the rules without question, taking in the words of the sacred text without wondering why they were. Of course, Yukina wasn't much of a student. She had penchant for dozing off partway through history and literature lessons and doodling on notes to the disdain of her teachers. No matter how many times they punished her by rapping her on the knuckles with rulers or have her stand with buckets full of snow in the back of the class, she would never break that habit. Rui should have expected it after telling her about her brother, revealing that she was not really Yukina's mother. So all she has now is a short note saying Yukina just went out for a walk (without her coat, to make it seem all the more plausible) and whatever consequences of breaking curfew will come. Rui had her own daughter to worry about anyway, along with herself. That life was left behind, yet…
Yukina looked out in the distance but all she could see was fog. It's like I'm standing on top of the world… Maybe I am at the top. Slightly disappointed she didn't see anything more exciting in her first moments on the World Below, she turned and looked for a path to show her down- there was none. She picked up a rock and tossed it down to keep in mind how long a fall it would be should she get careless. She shuddered at the image of her body lying down bloody like a freshly killed deer. And so she proceeded slowly step by step, practically tiptoeing down, humming a lullaby to try to comfort herself, eyes glued to the ground to watch her footing. Once the ground had leveled off and she made it to the base of the mountain, she took one more glance at where she was, and then turned her gaze to the moon in the sky, barely visible through the fog. Somehow the thought that some of it being cut off by her island bothered her more than anything in the world.
Yukina reminded herself of the Hirui stone around her neck. She put it under her kimono in between her breasts. "If a man touches you, tries to get to that, you should fight as much as possible. Do not let him win. He shouldn't be touching you like that. Not that you'll ever need to meet a man.
"You shouldn't be here."
She shook her head and walked to the nearest tree, crouched to feel the dampness of the soil and sat at the base of the trunk. So this is the world of men. It doesn't seem so bad at all. She touched the soil again, rubbed it to feel the grainy texture unlike the smooth, watery kind at her home. She tried to roll a ball in between her fingers before she realized that it was only making her hands dirty. She looked up at the tree. It wasn't like the evergreens that sprouted everywhere; it was like one that had half its limbs chopped off. There were only branches that hung high above her head. The needles were stretched out, flattened out versions of it. What was it that Rui called them? She couldn't remember… That's strange but… Still, what did I expect?
"It only doesn't seem bad because you haven't met anyone yet."
But if my Mother was able to come home alive and with my male sister and me, then I suppose they're nice people still. There should be nice people here. If we're supposed to be the moral people in this world, there should be exceptions.
"But are they really? Don't you remember the legend?
"The high goddess (Rui didn't know the names and acted as though she had only recently heard it- fancy that) walked on earth before Hyouga was separated from it. The devil-man (the word was at some point merged together she also supposed) followed her and throughout her journey spread evil, disrupting all the good that she gave to the innocent people. The high goddess gave the great race plentiful supplies but the devil-man gave them famine and greed. The goddess gave them truth while he spread lies and ignorance. The high goddess, angry, called forth the devil-man and called the people in the great race to hold a trial.
"'All my loyal subjects,' she said. 'Why do you listen to the Devil-man's words? Are my teachings not the rightful path? Do you not appreciate the gifts I give to you? Why do you stray from my path? Am I not your mother and creator?'
"The devil-man laughed, 'You are a fool, woman. You bear children, you have no right to bring authority! Why, without me, you would have no children to govern.' And the devil-man scoffed on and on and all of the people of the great race listened to him.
"The high goddess struck him on the head with (was it a blunt or sharp object?) and his blood melted some of the land away. The high goddess walked onto the land as it began to separate from the earth and she called to the people, 'All you who are pure of heart, come with me so that you won't be tainted by the world the Devil-man has created.'
"And all the virtuous women- the men were all followers of the devil-man- came onto the goddess's land. And she lifted them all to the sky she took one last look at the ground below and shed tears for those who forsook her and her tears became the snow that covers the land. And so she gave the women the joy of childbirth without men and they lived happily on the island of Hyouga, hidden from the World Below by the goddess's protection.
ALL OF THE MEN, YUKINA."
No, no, no, no, no! That's… An animal with a stripped tail walked by and looked at her for a moment before going on its way. It made her smile. That was something to believe in.
The sun had begun to rise when Yukina woke up. Or she supposed it did because it was lighter. (Considering that Hyouga always seemed to be forever in a gloomy state of semi-darkness, she couldn't really say whether it was time for bed other than the coming of the curfew hour.) She looked at her surroundings again as she walked on between the strange trees. The dirt had some sort of coarse green hair, slightly itchy to the touch, which gave her a paper cut when she touched it a certain way. Rui said- and she took these little bits of wisdom from Hina- that the World Belowers called it grass, but she had no idea what it did and that it apparently leaves a dreadful stain on your clothes if you fell in it a certain way. Walking through the longer stalks of it was pleasant enough, though. At that moment, she thought about Rui and it sank in when- No, I'll think about that later.
She analyzed the soil some more, looking back and forth, noting with her heart nearly skipping a beat that there was a path at last. All paths lead to somewhere. You come cross them for a reason. They way you go will lead you to your destiny and it's always waiting for you. And what else do they say? Journeys end in blessings received. She looked to her left and then to her right. Was it the left hand of the devil-man and the right hand of the goddess or was it the other way around? She sighed when she finally remembered the Elder scolding a friend for attempting to write with her left hand. So she went left.
As she traveled through the forest, she stopped occasionally, mainly out of lack of experience in traveling down slopes, but also to continue to take in the scenery. ("Because you know soon enough this will stop being beautiful. Just remember that the devil-man…" I need to stop!) Slowly she became more and more acquainted with the stubby trees called bushes low hanging branches on some of the trees, trying hard not to see compare them to the hands of an old woman. She had reached the end of the forest when she saw the sparkling lights of a city down from the hill she was standing on.
It looks so magical… I wonder if he saw this, too… "Never mind that, fool! The Devil-Man tempts you by using splendor to draw you in and when he catches you there's no turning back." …A little caution might not hurt, I suppose. She sighed and continued down the hill, stopping once to watch the grass flow in the wind like the waves in a bathtub or long hair in the steady wind. For a moment, she allowed herself to think that if the Devil-Man was hiding in the grass, she wouldn't mind letting herself be taken away.
Once she was closer to the town, she came across a cracked stone road. She paused to inspect it, not entirely sure what she was looking at. She thought she saw similar material used in fireplaces, but this wasn't as brittle as what they used in it. In fact, it appeared to be a massive slab of stone. (Why, that must mean they have giants that cut mountains!) At home, the stone paths that were there were broken up stones, cobble stones they were called, but they were only used to make a path towards the village elder's house or the temples of the goddess. Occasionally there was one going towards the cemetery, but that was only in the case of villages made up of the most honorable women… But this material here was used everywhere. In fact, even the buildings seemed to be made by more or less the same material, except with more cracks from apparent wear and tear and the planks that were forced on the windows. Looking down the road she saw lines and lines of blackness and grey in contrast to the beautiful greens and browns that she passed in the forest. There weren't many trees that she could see, and the ones that were there were practically bare. She stepped further down the street and stopped next to some sort of metal carriage. There were roughly ten that she counted within thirty paces of herself. She has only ever seen a carriage once in her life and that was used because the visiting elder was beginning to feel the onsetting of arthritis. Maybe most people here have troubles with their legs?
A woman grumbled something vulgar as she shoved Yukina out of her way. A graying woman with a large wart on her neck, and strange greenish grey scales that served as her skin, dressed in the oddest robes Yukina had ever seen, practically painted on her, saving space only at her rear for what looked like- dear goddess, is that a tail? She heard a sniggering coming from her right, turned to see a group of four ragged looking men staring at her with what she hoped wasn't hungry eyes.
Fancy that, so that's what men look like. She was imagining some odd appendages attached to their every limb, but from what she could tell, everyone had that in some way or form. (Granted there were maybe two faces she saw so far that appeared to be somewhat familiar.) She sought out the one that was most familiar in terms of body structure and tried to compare their body shapes. So men had hair on their faces (more than the bits of fuzz Yukina's friends always seemed to be anxious about for some reason) and they had broader shoulders and narrower hips. Plus or minus some extra waist space with the kinds of pants that they wore. They lacked breasts for some reason. Then she couldn't really imagine what else was different that she couldn't see. (Filthy girl! What are you thinking?) She blushed a little when the man noticed she was staring, and she started walking down the street too fast, hoping he didn't have a clue of what she was thinking.
She stopped at the end of the street, unsure of whether to turn or to keep going further. The city seemed to go on forever and the rest of the city looked the same. Her heart pounded at the thought of getting lost, not that it was never a possibility to begin with. In fact, as far as she was concerned she had to know where she was to be considered "lost."
Yet a voice called out to her, "Hey, you, babe. You lost or something?"
Yukina turned around and saw a couple of men, roughly around the same size which was no wider than Yukina but skinny as old sticks. One was wearing a round black hat to cover his greasy, ragged looking hair, but not enough to hide the long pointed ears. His face was sunken in like he hadn't eaten in a long time and his eyes looked like they were going to pop out, framed below by dark bags under his eyes. He had an awkward trace of facial hair, some hairs here and there, but not enough to make the bushes on his face like the other men. His clothes hung loosely around him- a large black jacket over a red and blue striped shirt and his baggy blue pants (sagging on his waist so his tail could come out) barely concealing large boots. The other man was dressed in a sleeveless shirt which was brown, or some sort of old dusty grey that Yukina assumed wasn't the natural color of the material. His pants were also loose on him, dark brown with splotches of white like they had been ruined in the wash. And he also wore a pair of tick boots, though his were shiny like they had metal on the toes. He was better clean shaven than the other man, in fact he was completely bald, with horns lining the bumps of his head and a couple of wolf-like fangs sticking from his mouth. She noticed his nails were thick like an old woman's and they were also long like a beast's. His skin was an odd shade of blue. His face was also sunken in like he was starving and he had an anxious air about him, his arms shaking when he wasn't tapping a toe. Just when she took a closer look at his eyes, red tinted at the corners was all she saw, he slipped on a pair of dark glasses.
The man in the striped shirt took out a small box from his pocket, offered it to his friend who didn't take it, took out a small stick and lit it with a small switch so it would smoke softly. She smiled crookedly, his eyes not joining in the expression as he breathed out smoke and flicked out ashes. "Yeah, I was talkin to you. You lookin around like you're not from round here so me and him get to thinkin you're already lost."
She knew it would be rude to ignore him just for being a man. Besides, he doesn't look like he was threatening at all. He could probably help her out, and they even looked like they were the kinds of men who know about everyone in the city. It wouldn't hurt to try. "Why, yes, I am. New in town, I mean. So as you can see, I haven't a clue as to where I should go."
"Hm…" He inhaled more of the smoke. "Well, where you wanna go then?"
"I… I don't know, actually."
He chuckled, elbowing his friend who briefly laughed as well. "Well, I dunno what to tell you then. Hey, Slick, my man, whadya think? You think we take her round town then? Show her all there is to see here in Capital City?"
The man in the glasses, the one called Slick-was it? What an odd name!- looked at Yukina for a long while, the edges of his mouth perking up. "Yeah, why not, Al? Could use some good karma, can't we?"
"Pvvt, like we ever did anything wrong. All right, then, babe, just so you know we ain't the goodest tour guides in the world but we do know our way round here good." He motioned for the two to follow him, Yukina between the man called Al and Slick. She couldn't help but feel Slick's gaze locked on her and fought the urge to shudder. "By the way, name's Al Capone. Heard some guy on the other side was called that and I think he got a classy name. And my buddy here is Mr. Slick. Geddit, cause he's got no hair so he looks real slick? So what's your name and where you from?"
"I'm Yukina and I'm from Hyouga," she answered, a simple smile crossing her lips before she realized what she had done.
Al Capone paused. "What? Where?"
"Hyouga. It's… It's an island in the sky." Oh goddess, I need to stop! I'm telling him too much! What if something bad happens when I-
He stared at her like she was crazy before bursting with laughter. He clutched his stomach as he asked, "You're yanking my chain, right? That's just some crackpot theory. Seriously, where you from?" She was slightly relieved and equally confused as she repeated her answer. "Man, you are a joker. Come on, seriously, where you from?" She didn't answer him that time, knowing even if she told him and thousand times it would still be a joke. He was about to ask her one more time but a man in a strange black uniform approached them, sucking away all of Al's jovial attitude. He straightened up and puffed out his chest, which only added about a couple of inches in his girth, as he sucked in more smoke. Slick on the other hand just slouched and looked away.
"Stirring up trouble again, Capone? You just got out on parole, too. Don't think we can't lock you up again," the man in the uniform said.
"We ain't doin nothin, see. This gal comes along and says she's new in town and we're just showin her round here. It's called, what is it called, Slick? Oh yeah, it's called community service, man! Is that a crime, Mister Officer?" He flicked some ashes at the man, grinning widely at his own wit.
"You sure she's from out of town? Miss, where are you from?" Mister Officer asked, turning to Yukina.
"She's from a couple towns over. From the slums. Beaut, ain't she? Big old tale of a flower growin in…"
"I was talking to the girl, Capone."
Maybe this man knows something these two know. He doesn't seem like he means me any harm, either. "My name is Yukina and I am from a place called Hyouga." She glanced at Slick and Al and her stomach dropped. Slick choked on air and Al's eyes grew shifty as though he was looking for an escape. Even Mister Officer started to look angry. Well, might as well sleep in the bed that she made. "I'm telling the truth. I could show you where…" No, she couldn't show these men where she came from. It was too soon for that and they weren't the right men. "Well, I walked down from a mountain nearby. It's down the path. It's very close to my home."
Mister Officer turned to Al. "You drugged her."
"No, I didn't. She says to me, 'I'm from Hyouga,' see? I thought she was screwin with me but if she's high then it ain't my fault," Al replied. "Back me up here, Slick." Slick just nodded not entirely committing to the whole thing.
"Well, you clearly lied to me, then. Boys, you're coming with me, and you miss, you're getting tested."
Yukina looked around and saw there were people gathering around them, watching. She felt embarrassed and stared at her feet, but she knew they were all looking. She felt a hand on her shoulder, turned her head a bit and saw it was Slick trying to comfort her, though he wasn't looking at her. She wanted to shake off his hand, feeling he had an ulterior motive somehow.
"On account of suspicion of you smuggling in illegals now. What else do you think?" Mister officer grabbed Al by the arm and waved his stick around at the people watching. "Hey, hey, hey! Get on with your business! This isn't a show. And don't make me shock stick the both of you, damn low class mongrels. People like you make me glad I'm taking this job." Al growled under his throat but Slick waved a hand. They all were crammed in the back of a metal carriage. Yukina, though fastened by a sort of thick belt attached to the seat, leaned forward to touch the window covered with a black metal lattice. She wished she could have inspected how Mister Officer operated the vehicle. In fact, she would have been more fascinated and excited at the chance of being inside it, but her mind was focused on one thing and one thing only.
"Um, Mister Al Capone?" Yukina asked. He grunted to indicate he heard her. "Is… Is the test hard?"
"The test. I don't bring anything to write with and I'm scared I might fail. What happens if I fail? Do I get a beating? I'm so scared, I'm not sure how to ask about what to study."
"It's a drug test, you know that, right? What the hell kind of country town you from?"
"Drug test? I don't know anything about drugs. Do you know what kinds of questions they ask you? Could you help me study or is that cheating?"
"They don't ask you questions. It's not that kind of test."
"Oh, what kinds of things do you do on this one?" Mister Officer told them all to shut up.
Slick sighed. "They give you a cup…"
"Don't tell her! Just sit the hell down and shut the fuck up!" Mister Officer screamed at them. Under his breath, he mumbled, "Shit, they don't pay me enough for this."
When they reached the station, Mister Officer took Yukina into a waiting room. It wasn't different from the ones at home, except that it had a sick sort of smell to it, especially when you really sat back in the chairs. There were also boxes with windows that showed tiny people talking, wearing strange clothes. Mister Officer cleared his throat and she blessed him so his soul wouldn't crawl out from his throat. He told her that he was going to escort Al and Slick away into the Immigration Department and that he was going to leave her with a young man he called Recruit so they parted ways. Al threw Yukina a small thumbs-up sign and Slick gave her a brief wry smile. She sighed, feeling as though she was losing her first friends.
A woman called Yukina to the counter and Recruit followed her there. The woman gave her a plastic cup. Yukina held it up, cocking her brows.
"But it's empty…" she said.
"Of course it is," the woman replied apathetically.
"Is there somewhere I have to go, like getting a potion and I drink it and that's how I pass?"
"Bitch, you stupid? You fill it up and you bring it over here?"
"With what exactly?"
The woman rolled her eyes at Yukina. "First time, huh? Look, lady, you pee in it. You know what that means, at least?"
"But that's so indecent." She could see Recruit laughing into a balled fist in the corner of her eye.
"You see this nametag? Does it say I'm certified to give a shit? No? 'Cause I don't give any fucks about what you think. I don't make the rules here, got it? Bathroom's down the hall, to the left. Bring that to me when you're done with that." Yukina took it, feeling blood rush to her face. After a few moments of fighting with herself, she came back with the deed being done. "Not so hard, now is it, princess? Go down the hall to the right and have your blood drawn. Now skedaddle with your boy here."
It wasn't until Recruit was tugging at her arm to lead her that she realized her feet were planted on the ground, taking the woman's insults, though not really hearing or understanding any of them. They were going to take her blood. What could that possibly mean? How do you take out someone's blood? And moreover… Isn't that how the Devil-man possesses people- by taking their blood or hair or nails? (Hence blessing a person when they get cut and burning your hair and nails when they're cut, sweeping them away as fast as possible.) Then again, the Devil-man…
"Right here," Recruit said as he grabbed her arm and then she realized she was following him without a second thought. He told her to sit down and she did so slowly. Just then a woman in a scandalously short white dress and a hat with a red cross on it walked in, pushing a creaky cart that clattered with the sound of what sounded like glass cups. She snorted and asked in a sinus congested nasally voice, "Name?" Yukina gave her name and the woman took a chunky pen and scribbled on some sort of glass tube on which was attached a needle.
This couldn't be the Devil-man, couldn't it? The Devil-man disguised as a woman? Or could she be one of his accomplices? She really wished she paid more attention during school but she was too busy staring out the window back then. As many times as they discussed the Devil-man and the Hell Downstairs she couldn't remember a single bit of it at the moment. Still, she feigned trust and gave her arm when it was ordered that she do so. When she saw the needle approaching her arm, she shut her eyes tight and turned her head away, clenching her hands and teeth, and crying out when it pierced her skin.
"It's over, Yukina," the woman said as she put the tube on the cart. "Nervous one, eh? At least we know you don't do crystal, ain't that right, boy?" She looked at Recruit in detail. "Hm… Real looker you. You wanna give me somma that?"
"Oh shut up, you hag." Recruit waved around his middle finger.
Recruit left her at a prison cell. It was just enough room to give her walking space, though the floors were stained with something that was a cross between orange and brown. There was a sink that continuously dripped no matter how many times she shook the knob, and she tried not to think about the awful stink or the green stains and hairy substance that lingered around the drain. The toilet was also left out in the open, so she felt paranoid when she needed it, scared that someone would come in at some inconvenient time. The walls were white, or she assumed they were supposed to be but years of wear and tear and dirt and grime made it more of a dusty off white, even more obscured by spider web like cracks that occasionally traveled around the walls. There was one window in the room but it was too high to see because of her small stature. She wasn't entirely sure if it was unclear because of the cracks on it or if it had bars in it. The bed looked filthy like it hadn't gotten washed since the last time the walls were painted and it creaked incessantly with the slightest movement. She still made the most of it in her mind. At least there was a bed, toilet, sink, and window. And at least, they left her alone in the room- no man to do her what the Devil-man did to women. Whatever that was. The elders were never entirely clear as to what would happen should a man get near you- it just somehow produced a son.
She sat on the bed and spent the next two days, humming rhymes and reciting fairy tales until they made her feel sick.
Two days after, a female guard came in and she said Yukina passed the test but she had to take her to an interview in the City Hall. She took Yukina in another one of the metal carriages and took her downtown without answering any of Yukina's questions about where they were going. She stared out the window and watched the rundown buildings and people go by, a few of the people turning heads to which she turned her face away, though knowing they couldn't see her face. (And even if they could, they wouldn't know or care it was she.) They stopped in front of a large grey building. There wasn't any sign on it. Just numbers in rusted silver metal, none of which meant anything to Yukina. (Except there were four numbers, one of which was the number four, which she remembered was unlucky.) The female guard opened the door for Yukina and led her to a gated door where she pushed a button on a box attached to the wall. The female guard spoke into the box, "Good afternoon, this is Comrade Kataoka, bringing in the supposed illegal alien named Yukina for her scheduled appointment with Comrade Kirin."
The box answered, "Request confirmed, comrade."
The gate pulled away and the female guard, Comrade Kataoka led her inside the building where a large man, about twice Yukina's size by weight and height, with a silver mask through which wisps of white-silver hair (or she assumed that it was anyway) leapt out from wildly. In one hand he held a clipboard and a box with buttons and the word SONI written on it. With his free hand, the large man exchanged a gesture with Comrade Kataoka, a rigid gesture where they held their hand next to their eyes as though they were trying to chop the air with their hands, and then Comrade Kataoka left the two.
Yukina glanced at the man, deducing that this must the Comrade Kirin. He didn't say anything as he led her down the halls. She felt as though she was walking through a hospital because the walls were white as was the flooring. (She wished her cell was as sterile looking as this hall was.) She felt so uncomfortable walking the halls that she couldn't even laugh at the way the man walked, taking heavy steps and his shoulders turning with his legs with every step like a bear. He was probably what the Devil-man would have looked like (since Yukina always imagined a cartoonishly large bearlike man) but she still didn't think she should be afraid of him.
She walked into him and blushed, realizing that once again she was lost in her own thoughts again, and she hurried into the room as soon as Comrade Kirin opened the door. They sat across from each other at a cold black square table of which Comrade Kirin could barely fit himself in, and there was a small lamp overhead. Yukina looked around the room. Yet another white room that seemed as sterile as a hospital, if it weren't for the cracks. (She could have sworn she saw that the cracks were actually plaster used to cover holes in the walls. Then again, why would there be holes in the…. Oh dear…) There was a mirror on one wall, though she felt as though people could still see through it. Well, anything's possible in this world, I guess. On the wall opposite the mirror was a picture. It was the oddest person she could have imagined, right next to Comrade Kirin here. It was a black and white picture of a person whose face was covered up with bandages and some sorts of talismans, save for one large eye, which peeked out from in between. He (or maybe she, as it is possible, right?) was also wearing a vest and a white shirt.
Just as Comrade Kirin started to clear his throat to get her attention, Yukina asked, "Who is that?"
He looked over his shoulder. "What? You don't know who that is?"
"I'm sorry, but I don't. Are they sick?"
"S- That's our King Mukuro, you're talking about."
"Why is he- or she…"
"Rest assured, Lord Mukuro is a man."
"…wearing bandages like that? I could heal him if he's ill. He looks like a good man but if he's sick… That's so sad."
"Rest assured, he is not. Let's get down to business, shall we? Give me your name and where you were born to start with." He pressed a button on the SONI box and a small light turned on as gears started to move within it. He started to twirl a pen around his finger, as a habit from what Yukina was picking up from him.
"My name is Yukina and I come from… I come from Hyouga."
"But I'm not. Why does everyone think so?" Should it surprise me though? It just means that we went into isolation successfully. That's a good thing for them…
He sighed and took a small clock out of his pocket. "You really don't know, do you? You seem to be sticking to your story. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt right now." But she could tell by the tone of his voice that he still didn't believe her, that he should play her game. "Okay, so some four, five hundred years ago there was this text by one Yukio Kaku who wrote of a floating island in the sky which accounts for ancient texts which discussed a land mass which suddenly lifted into the sky. Depending on your religion it was either a punishment or a way to save a chosen people. Most of his text was on the basis of myth, really. Though he also mentions that there are zones on this world that do have periodical mists and there have also been reports of a mysterious white meteor that lies at the center of the mist. There are no records of people ever coming down these peoples or people going there which makes the whole thing more unbelievable. There have been claims that every so often a young female child or a male infant is found dead by dropping where it is impossible that such a thing could happen, but we have that under close investigation. In short, this is no more than a conspiracy theory linked in with apparent abuses of children and infants,"
"And you know nothing of my people?"
"Assuming you are what you say you are, then no."
"Could you…" She inspected his uniform. "Is that a pin on your shirt?" He nodded. "Let me have it. I will find a way to convince you then." He hesitated before he took the star shaped pin from his uniform. She cradled it in her hands before apologizing and driving the sharp end of it into her palm. She felt the tears race to her eyes and the blood rising from her wound. The tears dropped on the table and the floor with a light plinking sound like a large button hitting the ground. She looked at Kirin and she knew by the look in his widening eyes that she had proved her point. "They're called Hirui stones. My people make these when we cry. I don't know if anyone else in the world makes them too. You can have them. I don't need them."
"I've never heard of… Never in my life…" He picked one up, inspected it, and then he regained his composure. "I'll have to take these in for further research of course. So clearly you're a foreigner that somehow crossed our borders."
"Which is bad?"
"No one can cross into the other kingdoms. We made that agreement in the Treaty of Gandara of 1542."
"Why not? Why can't you cross the borders regardless? What harm does that do?"
"You just can't. We agreed to it for us to stop warring over borders. The ones who still cross are most likely spies or somehow well- No, they're just horrible spies that must be stopped. Everyone is documented so we know who's from where."
"Everyone? Even babies?"
"Yes, as soon as you're born you're given a license number. Where do you come from? Don't you do this in whatever alien country you're from?"
"Hyouga? No. Everyone knows everyone, actually. It does get quite dreadful when someone's done something wrong or let something nasty about someone else slip, you see. But does this mean you would know my male sister if he's here?"
"You mean your brother? I suppose."
"He's…" She realized she didn't have a clue what his name was or what he looked like. "Well, he has a fiery aura that makes it impossible for you to touch him, supposing he hasn't gotten that under control yet. And he's my age."
"Hate to say it, but that's extremely broad. Do you mean that you have a sister who's male or that she wants to be male? I'm not sure what you're asking me."
"Male sister. A sister who's a man."
"So you do mean brother."
"I don't know what the word is."
He sighed irritably. "Your time's up. This has been enlightening to say the least. Well, you're going back to your jail cell since it appears that you came here on your own unaided by those delinquents."
She nodded, still not seeing what was so dreadful about being in this country when she apparently posed no threat. At least she could think of a better strategy while waiting in the room. "Um, one question. Do you know the king?"
"I work with him, yes."
"Take care of him, please. I see the picture and I think he looks so sad. I get the feeling as though he had a hard life. So please, help him so that he could be happy." He nodded and she knew that he thought those were the words of a madwoman. "And another thing, Comrade… Kirin… You have such kind eyes. I know that you're a nice man. I know I'm not supposed to trust men, but I think you're a good person through and through."
"Don't say that. Oh… You're one of those…" He sighed and shook his head. "What a crying shame. People like you always make me regret that you're going to be put to death."
He mumbled something else. Maybe it was her imagining or hoping, but what she heard was, "I'm so sorry."
"Hey Little Sister, what have you done?
Hey Little Sister, who's your only one?
Hey Little sister who's your superman?
Hey Little Sister, who's the you want?
...There is nothing fair in this world.
There is nothing safe in this world.
And there's nothing sure in this world
And there's nothing pure in this world.
Look for something left in this world."
-Billy Idol, "White Wedding."