Chapter 11: In which I receive unwanted character development.

Location: A part of my mind that resembles the church of Midgar

Copyright: Tite Kubo, Squeeeee-nix.



"It was just an illusion, Myrthe. It's alright now. It will be alright now. It was not real."

Slowly, I became aware that two hands had been resting at my shoulders for a couple of minutes now. A nice voice had been speaking to me, a friendly, familiar one. A very familiar one.

"It's ok."

I slowly became aware that all this time, I had been keeping my eyes shut as tightly as possible.

"Everything is fine."

I slowly, very slowly, relaxed m eyelids. A bit of light peeked through. It seemed not only to peek through my black sight, but to switch on a little light inside my head as well. As if I woke up. I became aware of the grass that tickled my ankles. The cool breeze blowing in my face. The priceless feeling of sunshine on your bare skin. The fact that I seemed to be sitting on my butt in the grass, all slumped over like a smashed bag of potatoes with too much sense for gravity. The stickiness of my hands. Now that I mentioned it to myself, there seemed to be a lot of stickiness of my face as well, even on skin that felt like it was covered by cloth.


I opened my eyes a little more, curious what the sticky stuff could be. Even more light peeked through my eyes. Shapes slowly found their way into my brain, no more sharp than the blurbs on a photo taken by a hyperactive badger. A lot of white (O rly?) and a different, darker something. It was all very blurry, but as it became sharper, I decided to look at my hands why they felt so wet and sticky. I held them before my face, in the bright sunlight.

My hands were covered in blood.




My hands became blurry shapes again, the dark, dark red shifting in my sight. They trembled. A single drop of blood got away from the rest and, with an impeccable instinct for drama, slowly slid down from my upheld hand, until gravity grasped it and pulled it from my wrist. It fell on my left knee. It joined the dark shapes that turned out to be bloodspots as well. Suddenly, all I could see were bloodspots. On my knees, the whole way down my dress, the whole way up my dress, I saw red stickiness ruining the strands of hair hanging in my eyes, I realized that stickiness on my face couldn't be anything else but-

I instinctively covered my eyes with my hands, but the feeling of the stained hands and the feeling of fresh, wet fluid against my face only made the panic worse. Adrenalin shot through my body, I was paralyzed, all I could think was-

BLOOD, everything sullied with blood, red on silver, red on black clothes, red on white clothes, red on white walls, the white floor, red gushing through the air, cries, a scarlet-spotted scenery, a panic that felt like the colour red itself, fear, unthinkable wetness on my hands, splatters on my face, I didn't want to do it, couldn't-

"Hush now, hush now, you're safe, it didn't happen."

I was being hugged gently. Only at that moment I realized that while I was having a very nasty flashback, I had been screaming for probably en entire minute, a high, off-key wail ripped to pieces with short sobs. I could feel how some tears mixed with the splatters on my cheeks. They tickled my face as they went down.

"It was just an illusion."

I finally looked to the direction the sweet voice came from. A young woman whose entire appearance screamed 'friendly' and 'harmless' smiled reassuringly back, squatting in front of me and holding her hands on my shoulders as if she could stop them from trembling by touch. She had a kind-looking face, wore a very cute pink dress that matched with the even more cute ribbon in her auburn braid. She had a striking similarity with a familiar character.

"… Aerith?"

She smiled again.

"Alas, it's the weird thing inside your head, I'm afraid."

I should've known it.

"I searched for a character you associate with harmlessness and comfort. First, I wanted to take on the form of your mother, then your little brother, but I figured you'd probably just freak out."
She (for the sake of my sanity, let's pretend/assume it's a she) was right; I probably would've lost what little sanity I had left if I would find my real family inside a screwed up different universe consisting of what I thought to be fiction.

"It's ok now" she repeated reassuringly. "It's ok. It's alright. It wasn't real. It did not happen."

I desperately wanted to believe her, so desperately, I really did believe for moment that it had been another sick trick, not real, out of thin air, but the evidence dripping off my hands smashed the hope to a million scarlet pieces.

"It was an illusion, Myrthe."

"Then why" my voice rose as I couldn't control my panic "am I s-still cov-covered in b-BLOOD?" Saying it out loud didn't calm me at all. In fact, it somehow managed to panic me more. As if it hadn't existed until I spoke the word out. Blood. As if I had summoned the stuff myself with a curse. I was still covered in red fluid. Fluid that should have disappeared the second I had appeared here, if it had been an illusion. My hands started to trembles even harder.

Aerith let go of my shoulders and stood up. She had a very realistic, pitying look in her eyes. "Somehow, he got real blood on you for maximum psychological damage." She paused to watch me tremble and cry and mutter how I hadn't wanted to and hug myself in a most pathetic way.
"Seems like it worked pretty well."

"I didn't want to."

"For the hundredth time, it was an illusion."

"I didn't want to."

"Stop rocking back and forth like a stereotypical trauma victim."

"I didn't want to."

"Stop it!"

"I didn't-"


"To think I had to use such an overused trope to get you back to your senses." That was no longer Aerith' voice. That was another awfully familiar voice. Lady Yoruichi towered over me, her cat-like eyes ablaze with feline annoyance. My cheek burned.

"You are going to listen to me very, very carefully" she said with a deep but bossy voice "I pity you for what happened. It was a dirty trick. But you have got to get yourself together. You can't break down like that because of an event that didn't even take place."

Didn't even take place.

I started to laugh. This was just fucking insane. I was fucking insane, SHE was fucking insane, I was insane, I was insane, I was fucking insane, I am insane, I am nothing but an insane little girl who had just- Laughed. And laughed. I threw my head backwards and let the hysterical sobs shock my shoulders. Didn't even take place. Hysterically hilarious. Insanely hilarious.

She slapped me again. Shook my shoulders. I only laughed louder, tears of laughter running down my cheeks, howls of laughter echoed around, and pretty much my entire body trembled because the world was so FUCKING funny.

"Didn't… even… take… place" I managed to spit out between my wails of humour "go… to… HELL!" And I tried to shake her off. While laughing.
"Stop crying, for fiction's sake!"

I wasn't crying, I was definitely laughing from all the hilarity that had taken over my mind.
"Cut it out! Sweet William Shakespear, you're out of it! STOP THE CRYING!"

I was most utterly definitely surely not crying, I was laughing. Though at this point, I somewhere realized I should point out how incredibly comical things were. While still gasping from the hysterical laughing fits, I tried to explain.

"You're saying… It didn't t-take place" I sneered.

"Because it didn't! Hell, did you seriously think you had the verbal skills to waver their resolve? That you could dodge an arrow of Ishida? That you could survive for more than two seconds while surrounded by top-notch warriors? That you could actually handle a-"
Before she could finish, I made a panicked 'nyieuww'-y sound, the first sound my panicked throat could produce to prevent her from completing that sentence. I wasn't ready for that punch line yet.
"Ergo: it was an illusion, and a plothole-filled one too! Now stop letting it serve its purpose, reclaim your sanity and for all that is holy and written, stop those pathetic waterfalls!"

"What does it matter it was an illusion!"
She blinked surprised, not seeming to grasp what my point was.
"I did it! I did it!" I somehow regained breath. "Who cares if they were fake? Who cares if they didn't really attack me! What I did wasn't fake! I did it! I crossed the line! I went past the Moral Event Horizon! I got blood on my hands even if it isn't real! I FUCKING DID IT!"
And I broke down in another laughing fit. Yoruichi!Thing remained quiet, seemingly pondering my inconveniently obvious truth.

"It's even worse than I feared" she muttered eventually. She squatted down before me and gave me a soul-piercing look. "That is the look of a batshit insane civilian all right. I didn't think of this when I said 'maximum psychological damage', but I should've known." Something along the lines of pity showed up in her feline features. Followed by another far-off, pondering look lasting several seconds before a determined, serious face returned, as if she had made an important decision.
"I can make a deal with you."

I paused my maniacal laugh. "A deal?"
"A deal. In fact, I can offer you two deals. You can only choose one." She gave me another penetrating look.
"First: I can make you forget what just happened. All of it."
Well, that's fairly easy. But I had played way too many videogames to forget that if you didn't have any skills, you had to carefully examine every single option you got.
"Second: You keep the memories and the rather overblown trauma you obviously developed because of it."
"I want-"
"Let me finish. Do you know that skipping dialogue in a videogame makes you miss crucial information? In return for keeping those nasty memories, I can grant you power."

That certainly changed things.

"No power is ever obtained without paying a price. You know, balance and karma and stuff. Even I have rules to obey. The price for this power is to keep those scars with you for the rest of your life. And believe me, time won't heal those scars. You are far too mentally unstable to heal those wounds on your own. Also, power can come with some side-effects, but they are unimportant when compared to the advantages of being able to defend youself."

I said nothing.

"…I-I don't know."
"You don't know." She pulled up one eyebrow. "I do not that many people who don't know if they want power or not. And believe me, I have seen even fewer people who needed power more desperately than you."
"I don't know."
"Well peppermint, hurry up with knowing! You can't sleep forever, I can only help you this much! You can't just-"
"WHAT! JUST WHAT CAN'T I? CAN'T I JUST PULL MYSELF TOGETHER? CAN'T I JUST BE A REGULAR HEROINE LIKE EVERYONE ELSE? CAN'T I JUST BE SOMETHING BESIDES A WORTHLESS MONSTER?" The screaming felt too good to stop, even if it was suddenly Aerith again, was looking at me sadly.

"You're not despicable." Once again, tears of laughter flowed down my face. I put as much hateful cynicism in my laugh as I could.
"You're not despicable" I echoed mockingly. "You're a special little snowflake, and aren't we all made of a fucking ray of fucking sunshine today! Who are you trying to fool here? You, of all things, should know better. Don't play it nice with me now. Don't lie like this. It makes me sick." It really did. I felt nauseous. If she had just flat-out said how horrible my deeds had been, I hadn't felt great either, but pretending it didn't happen and didn't matter- it was worse, sickening, like some heinous poison instead of a simple punch to the face.

Aerith no longer looked at me sadly. Her face was hard to read. Not that I've been able to read people's faces well ever, I never have been that kind of people-person, but it was like all the muscles in her face had turned to stone. A mask, even. The lips parted and moved without showing a glimpse of emotion.

"Your time is limited. There isn't much left of it. This will be the only time I will give you this offer."
There was just too much pressure, and too little time for me to wrap me head around what was happening. It went too fast. I didn't like taking quick decisions- and I hated taking important decisions like these. The pressure was too much, the importance was too much, and I had too much blood on my dress.

"I'm just not ready for this" I mumbled helplessly. I didn't want to decide now. I didn't want to decide, ever.
"You'll never be fully ready" it said "and I know you're bad with taking responsibility for big decisions, which is why you don't want to make them. I know what you want, but alas, I can't decide for you. You must choose in order to obtain something. Choosing is as essential for an exchange as the payment. Choose. Think. Think what matters more to you: a relatively painless path to certain death, or a relatively very painful path to uncertain survival."

It started to fade. I started to scream. I didn't want it to leave, the only life-form that hadn't treated me like complete crap in the past few days, the only place I didn't get the shit beaten out of me, the only moments I didn't have to fear to my life. My sanctuary.
"Choose" it once again said, more pressingly. "I can no longer help you if you do not choose."

Don't leave me-
I don't want to go back there-
"Choose, Myrthe."
I don't want to die-
"I ACCEPT!" I screamed desperately. "I choose the power… thing! HELP ME!"

Suddenly, it stopped vanishing and reappeared in a bright flash, having taken on the form of a richly decorated Venetian-like mask. A bright light that shimmered in a dozen colours like inside a prism fluctuated behind the empty eye sockets. The painted grin extended from cheek to cheek, and when the bright red lips parted, the same prism-like light shot forth as a small, concentrated beam and blinded me as it seemed to aim for my throat.
A split second, it felt as if someone just touched my throat with a scorching hot iron ball, but before I could scream, the feeling and the rainbow laser were gone. The mask however remained, its almost devilish grin extending ever further.
You now have power, the power now has you. The contract has been sealed. Adieu.
Then it was gone.


White. Again. I felt the white press down on me. If there was a way to feel claustrophobic in a wide, white hall, I had found it. I might be developing white… phobia. Among the numerous traumas and psychological problems I already have.

"Well, look at the bloody little lamb, Loly. Isn't she despicable when she's waking up?"

Sure, it had sucked when I heard Dr. Fabulous' voice the last time I woke up, but this was worse. This voice meant psychopathic verbal en physical harassment. Panic rushed through my sleepy brain cells, ringing the alarms, screaming in terror, mobilizing the adrenaline unit.

Keep still. Don't move. Lie down. Pretend you're still asleep. Eyes closed. No movement. Sleeping. Steady breath. Eyes shut. Body motionless-

Then someone kicked me in the stomach. A sharp pain forced me into instant-fetus position, made me gasp with a ragged, hurt wail.
"Listen how it bleats" a different voice said even more hateful. According to the footsteps, the darker shade of black inside my closed eyelids and the goosebumps all over my body, someone was now towering over me.
"It seems more like a dead, rotting fish than a lamb to me, Menoly" the voice continued. "It even smells rotten."

Next thing I knew, someone grabbed a handful of my hair and pulled me upwards, grabbed me by the arm and held me in some sort of locked position. And then proceeded to sniff my hair. I was too terrified to be surprised.
"The smell of fear… A bit like a rotten guppy" my attacker hissed softly in my ear. At last I regained some of my instincts and began to struggle to get free. To my own amazement, I found myself free immediately. I then found myself on the floor again. This time, I lay on my back, facing the two female silhouettes that towered over me. Grinning with a curious mixture of both psychopathic delight and distaste, they looked a remarkably lot like when they had beat up Inoue.

"Just look at it" Menoly spat. While she seemed more annoyed with my general scared attitude, Loly looked at me with pure hatred.
"I can't believe that Aizen spends more time with this rotten guppy than with us" she hissed between her teeth. Crazy jealous bitch alert. Can't blame Aizen for not hanging out with them.
"Listen" I squeaked, desperate to find myself a way out of this mess "the only thing he does when he spends time with me is treating me like crap."

The slap she gave me gave told me that that wasn't the right thing to say. She slowly sat down next to me. Her hand suddenly swooped down and grabbed some of the red-white fabric at the front of my dress, and pulled me close to her face.
"Listen to me very carefully, guppy" she whispered dangerously. When I didn't give any reaction besides even more fear on my face, she grabbed my face with her other hand, her sharp nails digging in my cheeks.
"ARE YOU LISTENING?" she screamed, her nails digging deeper in my flesh, my ears ringing from the sudden noise after just becoming accustomed to her whispers. I cringed for as far as I could move.

"Yes" I whimpered "I am, I am, I am listening, yes." Her blazing eyes were uncomfortably close.

"Good, because what I am going to say, is very, very important for you to understand. Ok?" Her nails seemed to penetrate my skin when they dug even deeper.

"Any treatment that Lord Aizen gives you" she whispered so softly I could barely understand her words "anything he does to you, is kinder, softer and friendlier than you. Will. Ever. DESERVE!" The last word left me deaf for a few seconds, after which I could hear Psycho Pigtails' voice whisper to me "… and thank him with all your heart for his forgiveness."

She waited, looking at me as if expecting an answer. When I opened my mouth to agree with whatever she was saying, her eyes darkened again and suddenly, the nails no longer dug into my cheeks and I was suddenly freed from her grasps- and I violently hit the floor after she had given me a rough push towards the floor, pain shooting through my spine to my head. I shrieked. White ceiling. I hate white.

When I diverted my eyes from the scary ceiling, I saw those two still grinning crazily. I was so scared.

"Look at it" the short-haired lunatic said to the pigtailed psycho, "trembling like a fish out of water." Her companion agreed. "Disgusting." She seemed ready to slit my throat.

"I can't believe that those people are actually coming here for this and the princess." Menoly's face changed from insanely amused to panic. "Loly!" she hissed, apparently upset by her friends remark. My mind went in hyperdrive. They're coming! I screamed inside my head, they're coming for me! Meanwhile, Loly seemed to realize what she had said. Not that she showed any concern. He friend did, though.

"We weren't supposed to speak about that" she became more panicked as she tugged at Loly's arm, trying to get the message through "it was the only thing we weren't allowed to do!"

The only thing not to do? To me? Which means everything else- at that point most of my relief melted away. I became aware of my current situation again. I was in the presence of two jealous, unstable psychopaths. They had said that they were coming, not that they were here, which meant that at this very moment, there was nobody to save me. Furthermore, they were apparently allowed to do whatever they wanted with to me. And I was unarmed.

Or am I? I suddenly remembered the last words of the thing in my head. I now have power.

But what can I do? It hadn't bothered to tell me which weapons I had, or how to get them, for that matter. If only it had-

My internal conversation was rudely interrupted when Pigtails suddenly grabbed my hair and pulled me upwards. By the time I was sort of on my feet, I felt how she let go, pushing me in another direction, I felt how two other arms caught me in my backward stumble and locked away my own arms in an iron grip. While I tried to trash myself out, I heard a demented giggle somewhere in front of me. Ignoring my instinct, I looked up and was suddenly far too close to Menoly's face, that smiled even more insane than before. When I tried to look away, terrified by the complete madness that dripped off her features, she reached out and held my face right in front of hers, her nails digging into the same sore spots where she had held my cheeks before.

Make it go away I pleaded desperately, all the hope I had had a moment before gone without a trace, please make it go away.

"Poor guppy" Menoly said mockingly "did you just hear what I said?" Her nails dug a little deeper and she moved my head up and down, like a nodding puppet. "I just said that your fishy friends are coming this way. Doesn't that make the little guppy happy? I told it just for you." She paused, looking at me expectantly. I remembered the treatment she gave me when I answered last time, so I kept quiet.

The slap she gave me told me that I should have answered instead. "ANSWER WHEN SOMEONE ASKS YOU A QUESTION, YOU ROTTEN PIECE OF CRAP" she screeched, slapping me again. My face felt like an open wound by now, stinging everywhere. I could feel that I was bleeding where her nails had pierced my skin. "I'm sorry" I squeaked quickly "I'm so sorry!" I closed my eyes for the next hit, but flinched when I felt two fingers trace my cheeks instead. The fingers went up from my jaw line along my cheeks, slowly upwards towards my temples, followed my eyebrows towards the middle of my face, and stroked ever so softly over my closed eyelids. She and her psychopal were both completely quiet, and I could hear how my breathing became superficial and ragged from fear. I kept my eyelids firmly closed. This was somehow far worse than the slapping. It was like the silence before an inevitable storm. The fingers had stopped tracing my lashes. Suddenly, they pulled up one of my eyelids. At first I saw nothing, and then I saw that her face was closer than before, filling me entire sight with her demonic expression. I shrieked. The fingers, that had moved towards my right temple, suddenly twitched, and I screamed again when hair nails suddenly scraped down from my temple to my chin, following the same jaw line she had just caressed. She didn't become angry this time, she just smiled gleefully.

"Poor little guppy" she purred dangerously "you were happy when you heard that your little friends were coming here, weren't you?" Having learnt my lesson, I nodded quickly, multiple times. Her smile broadened, then her face suddenly twisted into a mocking, dramatic sad mask. "Oh, did you get that, Menoly? Guppy is happy that her fishie friends are coming for her!" Behind me, someone chuckled. The drama queen in front of me continued. "Isn't this just tragic! She must be thinking that they are coming here to save her!"
What. You're saying they aren't? Forgetting the fact that she was manipulative and mentally deranged, I panicked again at her words. And she saw that.
"Oh Menoly, you should see the look on her face!" She dramatically covered her eyes with the back of her hand. "It's just too painful!" She turned towards me again, psychopathic enjoyment overshadowing her fake pity. "Oh, but guppy, didn't our great Aizen tell you before? Your friends are coming here to kill you!"

That set off a rather nasty flashback. Trying to suppress the images of black clothes and silver swords whirling around me, I desperately reminded myself that it had been an illusion. That it had been an illusion, and nothing more, that it had been fake, staged, not real…
"To kiiiiiiill yoooooou~" she hummed happily in my face. "They aren't happy with what you saaahaaaid… Not happy at aall. As soon as they find you will be his-to-ry." With every vowel, she poked my right cheek.
She's lying I desperately told myself, she just screwing with you. They're coming to save me. But somehow, I didn't believe myself. Somehow, I felt something cringing inside me. Somehow, I was quickly losing my remaining hope for a miraculous rescue.

"Is the guppy sad now?" She tilted her head like a curious puppy. Her eyes darkened again. "IS SHE SAD NOW?" she yelled angrily, her hand ready for another slap. I nodded feverishly, nodding until she nodded as well. "Yes, she is" she purred. "Look, she's even crying!" She sounded excited. It somehow angered me more than all the other things she had done. If I was crying, she shouldn't see it. Nobody should see it. My tears were only for myself to see, my private weakness. She shouldn't just point them out and laugh at it, it was shameful enough already. I tried to suppress the tears, to blink them away.
"Aww, but guppy, don't stop it know, your tears make you seem cute! Come on, cry!" If I hadn't wanted to cry before, this made my refusal definite. I blinked even harder.
She didn't like that. "I SAID CRY, YOU FUCKING IDIOT!" Instead of slapping me, she punched me in the stomach. I cried out in pain; I would have cringed if Menoly wasn't still holding me from behind. I could hear Loly laugh, delighted. Then I felt a second punch. I cried out again. I felt a kick, and all air was suddenly gone; instead of the scream that got stuck in my throat, I produced some sort of off-key squeak. My face burned, my stomach hurt like hell; and I could barely process anything else than the pain. Sadly, the mentally deranged cackle that Pigtails produced was so loud that it somehow came through. Menoly's laughter joined in from behind, and the two laughed even harder.

Although still half numbed by pain (or maybe because of it) I suddenly saw my chance to escape. The fun they were having had lowered Menoly's guard, and she didn't hold my arms nearly as tight as a moment before. Wishing myself good luck, I limped a bit more and then started to trash about with all that was left of my strength. It worked; both the lack of attention power she had put in her lock and the surprise when I suddenly moved made her let go of me. I stumbled forwards, ducked sideways to avoid Loly in front of me and dashed away. Half stumbling, half running I went towards the end of the corridor, my heart racing, stress activating every single cell in my body. I could hear an angry shout behind me, I could hear running footsteps, but I just raced forwards, not knowing where I was going, just knowing that I had to run run RUN, my respiration reaching a dangerously fast level, my eyesight blurred from panic and continuingly shifting, my ragged dress fluttering around my legs, my muscles protesting, my stomach still aching, the scrapes on my face throbbing, my whole body tensed and giving its all to GET AWAY FROM THEM.

And then an undefined shape seemed to teleport in front of me.
And then I literally ran into someone.
And it was Loly.

Then things went really fast. One moment I was still retreating from the subject I head-crushed into. Then I felt a cold claw around my throat. Then I felt my head being smashed against a wall along with the rest of my body, a hand still around my throat like an iron chain.

"How DARE you" Loly hissed furiously, pressing me harder against the wall as if she tried to push my head through it. "How DARE you!" She punched me with her free fist. I tasted blood.

"I'm sorry!"

She seemed taken aback by my hasty apology. For a moment, her grip around my throat loosened. It slowly slid a bit downwards and lightly ran across the white ribbon-necklace-thing that was tied around my neck, Aizen's gift. Her face was hard to read, but somehow, I felt even more afraid, knowing from fiction that psychopaths were the most dangerous when they were calm. The slender fingers caressed the silver bell that was attached in the middle. The clear, happy chimes it produced were the only thing, apart from my heavy breathing, that made a sound in the vast, empty hall.
"Such a pretty thing" she said with a strange voice, her eyes almost seeming hypnotized by the bell that protected my life. Then, ever so slowly, she looked upwards and met my terrified eyes. "Worn by such a MONSTER!"

Then, I no longer stood with my feet of the ground. She held me pinned against the wall, about 8 inches off the ground, as if I weighed nothing. The savage look returned in her eyes. But this was a different kind of savage, even I could tell. Her eyes no longer had that jealous, sadistic, joyful look. This was just pure disgust, contempt, hatred, resentment, as if she looked at some sort of inhuman and hideous abomination of life.

"You're disgusting!" she screeched madly, tightening her grip a bit more. It became harder to breathe; I had to force the air up and down my throat.
"MONSTER! DISGUSTING MONSTER!" She punched me in the stomach. I would have doubled over if I hadn't been hovering in the air.

Need- more- air- now-

I tried to speak. To beg her to let me go. Instead, I produced some pathetic, shallow rattle without any sound to it.

Need-more-air- I still could breath, but I couldn't breathe enough. It was like I had to breathe through an extremely narrow reed; I had to take short gasps to get some oxygen inside, but my lungs screamed for more. Panic was multiplying every second, shooting through my veins, alarming every single cell that I NEEDED OXYGEN. I started to trash uncontrollably, my body fighting as if it had a mind of its own. Loly replied by cutting off a bit more of my air supply; I could hear Menoly scream something at her with a warning undertone. She didn't seem to listen and only dug her nails deeper in my skin. I slowly lost connection with my body; it just fought for its life while I barely felt how it kicked and punched the air. All I felt was that I NEEDED THE AIR. I had never been this scared in my life; no; scared was not the right description, this was something way beyond being afraid. This was a primal fear that took hold of me, a blind, uncontrollable panic that paralyzed my thoughts and kicked adrenaline through the rest. I was just FREAKING OUT in the most basic of ways, because I was on the verge of dying, and my body knew it.


She cut off my respiration completely. At that point, I lost it completely, I couldn't scream but I did, inside my mind I screeched, I was in complete state of panicked shock and complete terror was all that I felt, a terror I didn't know that it existed, but-


It was the only thing I was thinking off, terror having numbed out every single brain activity besides-


And suddenly, there was air. Real air. Air that worked its way down my throat arduously. My throat rattled in pain as I forced the precious oxygen into my lungs; my lungs were in ecstasy, but to my air pipe it felt as if I was swallowing humongous needles instead.

For the first few seconds that I was lying on the ground –when did she drop me?- all I could think of was that I could breathe; and only when I had finally processed this essential information, I reopened my eyes that I had pressed close when she had been strangling me.

In front of me was a giant rat.

Brain lacking oxygen be trippin'.

It had the size of a pony. Its fur was of an incredibly ugly shade of dark grey, its tail was a dirty pink. It turned around and I saw its face, which wasn't a usual sight either. A pattern of black-and-grey diamonds went like a superhero mask from one big black eye to another; its ears were unusually big, as were his whiskers and nose. It was an ugly thing, and I wasn't scared of it.
In fact, it felt like it was a part of me. Still dazed from the near-death experience, I barely questioned this weird feeling that immediately made me trust this ungodly creature that would have scared the shit out of me otherwise.

"Arlechinno" it sounded through my head. That was his name. He was Arlechinno, and he was me.

It was as if we shared one mind, as if all the things that I thought were his thoughts too, all his ideas were mine. This weird connection that I didn't bother to question led me to instinctively grabbing his fur and clumsily climbing on his back.

And we ran.

I could hear Loly cry out in surprise and fury; followed by footsteps that told me they were following us. When the sounds of footsteps could no longer be heard and instead I heard several 'whoosh'-y sounds, I realized that Arly (I had immediately dubbed him Arly) could never outrun an Arrancar using her Spanish alternative for Flash Step. I, however, had not anticipated that Arly would suddenly start to run vertically along the white walls. Or along the ceiling.
Most of all, I really hadn't anticipated that within an adrenaline-pumped minute, the 'whooshes' had stopped, as had the frustrated screams behind me.

I'm safe.

Right after my obvious conclusion, Arly suddenly stopped, made a physically implausible flip flip in the air and landed safely on the ground. I clumsily climbed off again, thinking how being able to climb down in peace was so much better than being chased by psychopaths while defying gravity for no obvious reason, it was a nice change.

As I stood with both feet on the ground, I finally took a deep sigh- and immediately coughed in pain; my throat was still extremely sore from the iron grip it had been in; I hadn't felt the pain before because I was too busy with freaking out. The cough rattled about as if it deliberately tried to scratch the flesh from inside my air pipe off- I decided to keep my talking to a minimum. I softly reached for the place where Pigtails had cut off my life support, and winced. I couldn't see them, but I knew that there would be some serious bruises around my throat for some time.

I settled down, as did Arly. Though he smelled a bit like sweat and his fur was ruffled and rough, he made a nice giant-rat-sized pillow.

I didn't really plan to go to sleep again; how could I when I was awake for only one hour max and been though extreme amounts of stress? But Arly had already made himself comfortable on the ground, and because he was me, I knew that we wanted to lie down and catch some rest together.
Yet as soon as I had snuggled myself comfortably against his warm body, he was gone.
No flashy explosions, no sparkles, no Pokéballs, just there one second and gone in the next. As you can imagine, my reaction was too slow and I fell backwards. As I hit the ground it was as if I was hit by an invisible wave. I wanted to sit up but not a single muscle moved; my body felt extremely heavy, and all my limbs had limped without permission. Even my head could only lie still as if there were no such thing as neck muscles, and an extremely annoying high tone started to beep around in my head. All I could do was gaze upwards.

Leukos, I suddenly remembered as I looked at that wretched white ceiling, leukos means white. I produced a weak smile when I realized that there were, in fact, things I did know for sure. Leukos is white.
I'm developing Leukophobia. So tire-

F!Myrthe: Y'know, it gets kind of boring if I fall asleep at the end of EVERY SINGLE CHAPTER. Why did you make me faint again?

Me: All things that are unclear now will be revealed later on.

F!Myrthe: Such as why there is a HUGE GAP between last chapter and this one? Which contains the reason why you made me go batshit insane, which is something I'd really like to know? And what is up with that Rattus Ex Machina at the end?

Me: Believe me, much will be revealed next chapter. Nothing like keeping important plot information secret to annoy your scarce readers and to create fake and enforced tension in the story, after all!

F!Myrthe: Did I mention you're not a nice person?


*~*~*~*~*~*~OPINION WHORE SECTON~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

So, last chapter I talked about how my story, and especially the beginning, sucked. I'm still working on rewriting some, but it's pretty hard having to rewrite old and boring stuff TT^TT.

But now for this chapter's Opinion Whore Topic: There are A LOT of plot holes in this story, I know. But sometimes, things that seem illogical actually do have logic behind them. It's just not always good to explain how some stuff works- it'd take too much time, it would slow down the story, or it would be too complicated for F!Myrthe to understand etc etc.
So my suggestion is: if there are any headscratches or outright plotholes, please mention them to me.

It'd be a win-win-situation: Either you get information you need about something you didn't understand before, or I get information about a plot hole I have to work on. So please, do spam you annoyances about this story!
If it's about the Rattus Ex Machina Arlechinno: That's going to be explained next chapter. I already have it written, but I decided that if I added that to this chapter, it'd be too long and boring.