Miranda is going to kill me.
Before you take that the wrong way, let me just go ahead and say it. Aurora and I spent last night together at the Sakura Hotel in Ikebukuro.
We were only looking for a private space so we could catch up, and in the end we choose the nearest location I could vouch for, with beds and walls.
It’s not that far from my home, but I didn’t want my Mom to intrude in our reunion.
Oh – I’m sorry. I think I may have lost you a few paragraphs ago. Let me start over.
Aurora was resurrected a few weeks ago in the empty Agartha Labs office, over Satomi’s nearly dead body, as the rest of Die Database and I watched. Perhaps you remember the floating energy spheres and blood coming out of out our noses? That wasn’t just a light show – Ai fetched her spirit out of the White, and Aurora took care of the rest.
I spent the last week doing all of my favorite things, since I’m convinced that my autonomy won’t survive what the Nameless has in store for me tonight.
It sounds silly, but most of that soul searching took place in various stores, pouring over all of the cute products I’d no longer be able to buy. Living with the broken Structure means I have more attachments to things (which come back in each Variant), than to people (who simply can’t understand what I’m going through).
Aurora found me yesterday on the TV floor of Bic Camera near Ikebukuro Station, as I poked around the latest 3D sets.
“I’ve been to every dimension there is, but I still can’t see in 3D.” A striking beautiful girl stood next to me, long black hair streaked blonde, wearing a white sun dress and fussing with some cheap plastic bracelets. She looked part Japanese, and reminded me of Yuma a little bit.
I didn’t know what to say, so I smiled weakly before turning back to the TV.
“Do you prefer platinum, or gold?” She held out one plastic bracelet in each hand. Suddenly all of the TVs on the main floor went black for a few seconds, and the neon green bracelet in her left hand turned to platinum, and the orange one on the right became solid gold.
I turned around to look at her again – I didn’t just see Yuma in her, she had Masae’s grin and my nose, plus the always stunning blue eyes of Aurora.
“Fuck you Tokie, give me a hug already.” It could have been one of those spinning in a field of wildflowers moments, but we kept it down to a good 30 seconds of moderated elation.
The way the resurrection cloud works is that it takes nearby organic and inorganic material to (re)construct a body. All spirits have a record of their former body’s DNA, but to get the process working quickly, blood or tissue samples from the nearest live bodies are essential. So, when Aurora came back to the Earth, she cobbled together a Frankenbody using all of our blood as a template.
“At first I looked like the walking dead or something, all sagging skin and liver spots, so I had to cloak myself as I exited the office into Shibuya.” Aurora told me her tales of reconstitution over some pizza at Shakey’s – she said she needed a bunch of milk fat, stat. “I didn’t have any money or clothes, so I would pick random passers by to hit the stores, and leave the bags at my invisible feet.”
Since Aurora is the avatar of Energy, she has an unlimited reservoir, and can cloak herself from every living being without breaking a sweat. She doesn’t even have to push minds – she can just order the light to bend away from her, or she can transmute her being into forms of EM that no one can see, like radio or microwave. She can even change Matter into Energy, and vice versa, at moderate scales – she solved the deadly radiation problem years ago, so no one has to get cancer when she shows off.
“It took a few days of alternatively gorging myself and meditating before I looked presentable enough to decloak, and I found that I looked pretty damn awesome – the Die Database girls are sweet.” She started on her 6th slice, and I just sipped my cola. “Everywhere I went I would get triple takes, especially from Yuma fans, but they would stop staring after a few seconds – clearly I wasn’t just quite who they thought I could be. So I decided to fully reconstruct my old body, but it’s taking a few weeks to put everything straight.”
I still couldn’t quite believe it. “Do you even remember what happened to you after the Fourth Event?”
She stopped eating for a few seconds, took a sip of water, then took off her newly gold bracelet and put it on the table. “Number 12 really doesn’t fuck around. She must have sensed that Ai still had me on a tight leash, and hadn’t awakened my full powers in this Variant. So she used the power of the fracture to kick Ai out of my head, and turned me on long enough to force my body to transmute into a diffuse EM burst, after she cleared my chakras and stuffed me into a corner of the White. I was a light month away before I started to regain control.”
I’m not a scientist, but I was mentally able to translate what she was telling me into something that I could grasp. Cathy blew up Aurora into various waves and fields, and hid her soul so it would take months before she could be put back together. No one can permanently destroy a elemental force of the Structure, but they could make it very difficult for them to manifest agency over their powers.
“So anyway, this bracelet represents my old body, now in the process of being hardened as I remember my role in things.” Picked up the gold and handed it to me. “I remember everything now, starting with lying in that bathtub as a 5 year old weeping bundle of energy.”
“Have you been back to see Ai? Miranda?”
“Well, I was able to attend Ai’s 16th birthday, but not in the way you might think. I can’t get more into that now.”
“You must have read the blogs, right? You know what’s happening with Miranda and her mother?”
“Yeah, yeah – don’t believe everything you hear.” Started on another slice. “I know she wants you to believe that neither Ai nor the Nameless should be followed, but I’m afraid we don’t have that luxury. Even Number 12 has to choose eventually. And we all know what she’s going to select.”
“I’m not convinced that we do know – that or anything else.” I waived to the waitress for the check.
“What? Are you trying to come between me and my pizza?” She smiled as she gathered the remaining slices with a circle arm sweep. “Don’t even think about it, I’m eating for two now – me and my shadow.”
“When are you going to be back to the Aurora we all love to hate?”
“It’s OK – I’ll be ready in time to escort you to the Suspender concert. Plus one, right?”
“You got that too, huh? I think it’s clear what S.OS wants to do, but it keeps beating around the bush.”
“Have you even been thinking about this? It can’t act until after the Fifth Event, when Miranda is fully joined to the Nameless. Any rash actions before then could jeopardize the whole Chosen Light thing.”
“Yeah, I know – it’s not that.” I waived for the check yet again. “If you wanted to rule the universe, why not do what Cathy did – squeeze out the souls and suck the power from all of us.”
“I had months to think about this. I have a good theory, and a terrible one. I won’t know which one is which until we attend that concert. Is everything ready?”
“We think so. Joey really came through in the end. Still, we’re cutting it ultra close – the thing we’re talking about hasn’t even been properly tested.”
“We’re only going to get one shot at this.” She finally crumpled her napkin and put it over the remaining crusts. “Don’t worry, it’s already happened, from the very beginning. We just have to tie the bow and present the package.”
Somehow, I managed to get her out of Shakey’s, and so we spent the afternoon and evening randomly touring around Ikebukuro. Aurora has never been that into anime, but she tolerated my pilgrimage to Animate.
“You better not be thinking of buying that figma.” She tried to block my hands and I massaged the box. “We only have a short time to pack everything up at your place, and prepare for the extraction team.”
“It’s cool – Ai let my Mom remember enough that she’s finally ready for me to leave home for good. She only cried for a few hours yesterday, and then she forced me to eat masses of her great food.”
“Hey, do you want to see Miranda? They’re still in hiding, but I can show you what she’s up to. OK?”
It was weird, because I remembered the part I desperately wanted to forget – Aurora was going out with Miranda before the Fourth Event. She stole her from me.
“OK, let’s go visit.” I was still jealous, but I also hoped beyond hope that it would all work out in the end with me in Miranda’s arms instead.
This is point where we debated what hotel to barge into, but since the Sakura Hotel was just on the other side of the train station, it seemed like a good choice.
It took us about 20 minutes to walk from Sunshine 60 Dori, through the station, past McDonalds, and a few blocks further down to the hotel. It takes up two buildings on either side of a small street, and has a small cafe on the bottom floor, with an red awning covering the tables and the reception area. We didn’t even stop at the counter; as we walked past the computer area and large luggage room, the night clerk immediately jumped up with a key, and followed us into the elevator. I didn’t even have to pay attention to the floor or room number – we just followed him to the empty room, and he ushered us inside.
As expected, the bathroom was small, with barely enough room for the toilet to occupy the same closet as the shower. The bed was small and low to the carpeted floor, and at the foot was a chair and some counter space that went from one side of the room to the other – perhaps 8 feet tops. The TV was small, the mini-fridge was appropriately mini, and the window had a perfectly boring view of the other hotel building.
Aurora sat down on the bed near the hard pillows, and patted the space in front of her. “Come on, I’m not going to bite.”
With that, the light in the room suddenly went dim, and the windows went pitch black. She was stealing as much light as she could, and quickly constructed a hologram of Miranda, asleep beside us on the bed. The sun had not yet risen in the US, and she was resting soundly, with slight twitches every few minutes.
“Right now they’re in a city that can’t be named, and she’s actually doing pretty well. Her powers are completely suppressed, and after a full month of camping through various Western states, they’ve been staying in motels and hotels. It’s not awful by any means, but she definitely misses Portland.”
“You mean she misses you.” I couldn’t help but lash out a bit.
“I mean she misses everything, including us. And I don’t think your little visit after the Fourth Event helped that any.”
My few minutes with Miranda and Cathy in their bathroom hardly ever leaves my mind.
“She was so pissed off at us.”
“It can’t be helped – we lifted the scales from her eyes, and the truth wasn’t pretty.”
“But that’s not our job, playing the reality police and correcting misconceptions.” I kept staring at the image of Miranda as she slept – she looked even more peaceful than I remembered.
“No, but who’s job is it? The imaginary angels, or the fictional devils?” Aurora waved away Miranda with a flourish, and the lights went back to normal.
“Hey! Fucking bring her back!” I couldn’t help myself, since this Variant was one long exercise in frustration.
“You better your shit together, and fast.” She reached over and took my right hand – her touch was beyond electric. “I don’t think you got the memo. Miranda will never be yours. She’ll never be mine, either. She’s the Chosen Light, OK? Selected from birth by the Nameless to be its final vessel.”
I turned to look out the window, at the world in shadow, and she yanked my hand towards her.
“Listen already. Ai will never allow you or I to get anywhere near to Miranda. She made a deal with the Nameless ages ago – Miranda is the bride, and the universe is her dowry.”
Aurora grew translucent for a moment, like a muted stained glass window, and then brought my hand to her chest.
“If we chase after her, we’ll never succeed.” I could feel her heart beat strongly through her dress. “The only way we’re going to win is if we work together.” Beating faster. “If we are together.”
The room felt even smaller, all of a sudden, like a warm blanket wrapping us closer. I wanted us to be closer, for once, and yet I didn’t know what to do about it.
“I’ve had months of always nights to think about it, after I grew bored hiding amongst the stars.” She wrapped her right hand around the hairy nape of my neck. “Miranda and I are two sides of the same coin. Our burning love is nothing more than mirror recognition.” Pulled me slowly into her, wrapping her arms around and through like a favorite jacket. She smelled like dawn poking past curtains.
“What are you doing?” I whispered, as I moved my hand to cup her right breast. “What are you getting us into?”
“I’ve had lonely months to think about you, about this.” Her hand firmly traced the small of my back, and slid up my t-shirt. “I just want something real. I don’t care if we shine so brightly that we won’t make it to the morning.”
I answered with a kiss that burned away our clothes. I could feel her naked stomach next to mine, her bare soul brushing against my spine.
She didn’t hold back one bit, and the world stopped for what seemed like weeks. As I tasted her salty skin, I was swimming in the power that connected everything. Our nerves caressed like glowing roots, and as orgasms filled our lungs, we moaned prophecy.
It was like fucking a galaxy.
So yes, Miranda is going to kill me, but I couldn’t care less.
I don’t even know if Aurora and I could ever be together, a mere woman consorting with the sky.
No matter. We spent the last day in that hotel room, exploring each other and planning our next moves.
I don’t want to let her go, but if I must, at least I had those prolonged moments of transcendence, that made my heart bloom.
I can only imagine what it would have been like if I was etched. Maybe it would have been too much to handle. Maybe it would have felt like the whole Collective was watching us.
Whatever. We checked out a few hours ago, to consult with the extraction team. Then we went shopping for our outfits.
Tonight we shall meet our maker at the Universal Prom. I just hope enough of us voted for the right King and Queen.