The young girl was in shock. Her brother was inches away, lying in a pool of his own blood. Somehow, the car had crashed into one of the walls of the bridge. Her mother and father had somehow turned into coffins, and the contents… could only be described as something out of a horrible nightmare.
This was a nightmare. Yes, all of it had to be a dream. It was the only possible explanation for the green skies and eerie moon that loomed with a ghostly green hue.
In a daze, she shifted through the wreckage of the car, through the glass and broken bits of metal that lie scattered about, pulling out her elder brother out of the pool of blood. Upon closer inspection, the blood was not his own, however he was cover in cuts and bruises, having shielded the girl from the full brunt of the crash. It was only a matter of time until he would fade from the pain.
In the midst of the nightmare, two figures were in the distance. The girl watched silently, holding her brother's limp hand thinking nothing of the two fighting. It was as if they were dancing in the moonlight, but in reality, it was clear that neither could overcome the other. Explosions followed the duo to the point where the bridge itself shuddered, threatening of collapse, yet no such thing occurred.
She wanted to scream for help, yet her throat was dry. She wanted to break down and cry, but she was shaken. Looking back at the wreckage of the car and what she refused to believe were her parents then back at her brother, she squeezed his fragile, limp hand. Her eyebrows furrowed as she began squinting in the direction of the two figures, before glancing at her brother. Maybe if she asked nicely, they could save him. That was all she wanted…
"He…lp…" She muttered inaudibly, wishing to anybody out there that someone, anyone would save them. Or save her beloved family at least…
She couldn't bear to be alone.
As she half dragged and carried her brother with her small frame, one of the figures stopped to look at her.
I'm sorry for interrupting… She wanted to say, but the words could not form in her mouth. Helplessly, she gazed at the figure then glanced at her brother, whose breath began to grow faint.
"P-Please…" She cowered helplessly in the presence of these figures, her eyesight flickering as the white figure drew closer.
"…Identified. Two suitable vessels. The other has sustained fatal damage, thus inappropriate. The other… has sustained severe mental trauma, and minor physical injuries." Her voice was a cold monotone, like a machine's. Ignoring this, the girl stared up at her with rapidly fading vision.
"…Save him…plea...se…" She gave a pleading look to the white figure, who on closer inspection was a woman who had eyes the bluest of cerulean. She didn't quite understand what she was doing as she walked up to both of them before glancing back at the black figure in the distance.
"I cannot. His physical state is too severe, and there are no tools that can be used proper treatment nor for first aid. Chances of survival are 0.739%…"
Weakly looking at her brother, she glanced back at the girl questioningly as she wrapped herself around her. Suffocating her, to the point where she let go of his hand.
"Please… forgive me."
The woman's voice was a soft whisper this time as the girl's vision faded.
At that moment that girl, 10 years later, snapped her head up from that startling nightmare. Breathing heavily, she glanced around wearily before finally relaxing.
"All a dream… it was just a dream…" She furrowed her eyebrows as she shut her eyes tightly. Rubbing her temples, she inclined herself to the side of the bed, stumping to the mirror that lay on her wall. Sweat beaded on the sides of her temple, and her bright red hair a mess. Groaning slightly, she rubbed her head and glanced at the calendar that rested on the wall above her bed.
"…September 4th." Grabbing the brush that lay on her dresser, she ran it through her hair several times before deciding it was neat enough to tie in her usual style. After getting dressed in her summer attire, she sighed before making the last touch of putting in her hairpins.
Grabbing her schoolbag (which had not been touched after she threw it on her desk the night before), she rested her hand on the doorknob before glancing back at her empty room.
"…I'll be going now, Onii-chan."
Smiling weakly, she turned the doorknob, before shutting the door.
Upon walking back to the dorm, she immediately was greeted by Fuuka, with a usual note from Junpei that he wanted to go to Tartarus.
…Frankly, she wanted to go as well. There were many members of the team now, thanks to the newest additions to the team. Shinjiro Aragaki, who seemed kind despite his rough exterior, and Ken Amada, who seemed quite mature for his age. Of course, new members meant that they need to be equipped, and what kind of leader would she be if she didn't look out for her teammates?
After slipping outside of the dorm, she made one of her late night excursions into the Paulwonia Mall towards the police station, thinking of how in the world Officer Kurosawa managed to smuggle these sort of things to the SEES members. Perhaps that's why some of the things he sold (Aigis' equipment in particular) were so expensive. Sighing, she emerged out of the Police box moments later carrying new equipment and weapons alike, then out of a whim, she decided to go to the Velvet Room.
Pushing open the door, she found herself back inside the eerily soothing depths of the elevator-like room that let in flashes of bright light every so often. Taking a seat, she was greeted by Theodore, or Theo as he preferred to be called.
"Welcome to the Velvet Room, Master Hamuko." He bowed, was he walked up to her in his frank and usual manner.
"What might I help you with today?"
"Do you have any new requests?"
"None in particular, Master Hamuko. Or rather, why don't you take a glance through them yourself?" He said smoothly as he handed her the compendium.
Taking it from his gloved hands, she began flipping through the pages halfheartedly, barely glancing at all of the reflections of her soul before closing the compendium and resting her hand on her cheek.
"If I may ask, is something on your mind?" Theo asked nonchalantly as he placed a cup of tea in front of her, which barely moved despite the fact that the Velvet Room itself was a goddamn moving elevator. Sighing, she placed the compendium on the table and glanced at Theodore.
"I had a dream last night."
"Oh really?" He replied in his quirky tone, that usually implied that his interest had been caught. Glancing at her as well, the platinum blond assistant stared down at her. "If it isn't too much trouble, might you tell me about it? We who dwell in the Velvet Room cannot dream, due to this place's existence lies in between dream and reality."
"Makes sense." She nodded, picking up her cup of tea and taking a sip before continuing. "…Did you know, a long time ago, I had an twin?"
"Is that so?"
"I had a dream of him. Or to be more specific, a flashback of the day I lost my entire family."
"A Flashback? A flash of light behind one's back…? No, I merely kid. I know exactly what you are referring to, so please, do not make such a face at me." Theodore said chidingly as the slightly annoyed look on Hamuko's face was replaced by a somber look. "If I recall correctly, you are orphaned, correct?"
She nodded slowly.
"I see. I believe I've mentioned at least once or twice to you about my elder sisters, correct?"
"Mhm. Why is it that I never see them around?" Hamuko asked indifferently, as she gave Theodore a curious look.
"W-Why, it is because they are attending to other pressing matters at hand! Yes, I'm absolutely sure of it." He supposed somewhat in a shaky manner. "But that aside, would you care to tell me more of this twin brother of yours?"
"…" Looking up at the restless clock that laid on the wall, Hamuko briefly sighed again as another flash of light flickered through the grate. "Despite us being twins, we looked nothing alike. But it's somewhat expected for fraternal twins to end up that way. Onii-chan was a quiet person. He was really good at everything he tried, even if he didn't have an interest for it."
"Gifted. Much like yourself, Master Hamuko."
"Are you flattering me again?" She asked with a slight smile as she continued. "Anyway, back when I- when we were seven, I was learning how to make Origami cranes. Onii-chan managed to make more than I could after looking over the instructions once or twice. It was so long ago, I can't remember anymore."
"…Ten years ago…" Theodore mumbled under his breath.
"Did you say something?"
"Ah no! Please, take no notice of me. Keep going! I wish to hear more!"
"Whatever you say." She shrugged as she took in another breath. "…I didn't realize it back then, but it's because of him that I'm still alive. I can't remember how, but we got into a car accident… and the car crashed into the wall. Onii-chan was the one who shielded me from the full force of the crash. Everything's fuzzy after that…" She sighed again, and closed her eyes as a gentle smile grew on her face.
"Lately, I've been wondering how he'd be like if he were still alive. He was never much of a talker, so I bet he'd be even more quiet than he was as a kid." She opened her eyes as she stifled a joyless chuckle. "But, he was much more considerate. He'd always try to find ways to make me happy and stuff, even though he was quiet most of the time. He always went along with whatever I wanted, so much that it makes me regret not doing anything that he wanted to do. I love him very much, even though he isn't here anymore…"
"Why so curious today, Theo?"
"Does it seem that way? I am always curious to know more of you, our valued guest." He spoke softly as he handed her the compendium with a smile. "Now that you seem to be in a lighter mood, perhaps you would take full account of what the services of the Velvet Room offer today? Please excuse me for a moment…"
She blinked only once after he left.
Was he trying to cheer me up?
Shrugging, she picked up the compendium and glanced through its pages more thoroughly. There were new requests, as she thought. Nothing seemed much out of the ordinary when her eyes fell on a simple request. So simple, it made it out of the average request he usually asked of her. It laid on its page, as plain as day, despite the fact it was hidden by several walls of text that described her Personae and their backgrounds.
"There is something peculiar about the room at the end of the hallway on the second floor of your dormitory. Could you please investigate this for me?"
There was no deadline. How Theodore knew these things, she didn't know. One of these days, she would ask, but until then, she waited for him to return, so she could accept this request. When he did comeback, he stood prudishly as per usual, taking no heed of her surprise at this request.
"Ah, I see you've taken the latest request."
"Yeah. About that." She began to say as she gave him a curious look. "What exactly is wrong about that room?"
"Nothing at all, I suppose. It's caught my interest, is all. That is why I am asking you to explore it for me."
Raising her eyebrow skeptically, Theodore gave her another chiding tut as he beckoned for the compendium, which she handed over with no qualms. Once the leather bound book laid safely in the crook of his arm, he looked toward Hamuko with an earnest smile.
"This request does not have a deadline, but do take care not to take too long to complete it, Master Hamuko."
"Right." She nodded, returning his smile with one of her more gentle looks as she stood up, and began heading toward the exit as Theodore bowed slightly.
The door illuminated everything with a brilliant flash as she stepped back into her reality.