Accepting the invitation to the temple was a bit of a gamble on Kimiko's part. On one hand, she was someone who enjoyed new experiences, new environments, new…anything. That's what happens when you happen to be the daughter of a megacorp tech tycoon. Kimiko's father may hold a child's heart, but he also held a businessman's acumen. After all, you couldn't really head a billion dollar corporation by simply acting like a kid. You had to notice trends. Keep on the cutting edge. Develop better systems and deliver to the public the things they want. As well as convince them to buy the things they hadn't thought about wanting before. Don't stand still, her papa would say. It makes you an easy target for your competitors. He probably didn't mean that literally, though.
On the other hand, she knew that accepting this invitation meant accepting responsibilities. Responsibilities that weren't exactly well-defined. (Don't take contracts that aren't clearly stated; another thing her papa told her.) It meant leaving her prestigious school and the friends she had made, her family, her life. Keep on the cutting edge, sure, but changing everything was perhaps a bit too far.
And also, her room had no door.
"I don't have a door," she told Master Fung on her first day at the temple. He told her that he was very concerned about her comfort and had invited her to deliver any complaints to him. Since she took the first invitation, she might as well take this one too.
"Yes," said Master Fung. He was sitting in his room. On the floor, she noticed. There was a perfectly fine chair next to his perfectly fine desk.
Master Fung said nothing else, apparently having nothing else to add such as 'I am sorry for the mistake' or 'Let us fix that right away.' Kimiko tried very hard not to talk like an exasperated tech support. "Can I…have one?"
His legs were crossed in a way that made Kimiko's eyes bend watching them. She considered herself quite athletic, but she had to say that flexibility and meditation weren't exactly her strong suit. Master Fung steepled his hands and rested his fingertips against his chin. "It is traditional for monks to live modestly and openly." Yeah, says the guy in a distinctly larger room with a distinctly functional door.
"Okay, look. I'm not sure if you've noticed or not, but I'm a girl. I'm about to live in an entire temple full of guys." Kimiko leaned forward so that her head wasn't looming above Master Fung's. Her arms were crossed loosely, which clearly conveyed that she was disappointed with something, but not so upset that they couldn't patch things up and go out for ice-cream later, at least so her papa said. "Y'see the problem?"
Master Fung closed his eyes. "I do admit that the temple was not built with housing members of different sex in mind. Nor have we been the most…inclusive. And while I do understand your concerns, I do not believe that there is a dire need to install a door for you and you alone."
Kimiko slowly uncrossed her arms and instead placed her hands on her hips. Thus going into the 'we are not seeing eye-to-eye and there may be a problem forming here' stage. But before she could form a retort, Master Fung held up a hand that silenced her despite her bubbling fury. "You must understand. You are now part of a team. That means building trust. That means keeping nothing hidden. It also means, however, respecting each other's space. If the others bother you or in any way make you uncomfortable, tell me at once and I will handle it. Trust me when I say I will not tolerate such behavior. However, there will be no doors installed."
Papa had not told her a gesture for this situation. She felt a little silly just standing with her arms akimbo and nothing to say, but when she dropped her arms, she just felt even sillier. Still, she found a way to keep protesting, although she had to admit that it wasn't the strongest negotiation attempt. "B-but my privacy…"
Master Fung finally got to his feet and Kimiko was no longer able to stand over him. However, he didn't take the chance to loom. Somehow, he managed to be taller without feeling tall. And for some reason, Kimiko appreciated that.
Looking down at her, but not looking down at her, Master Fung said, "There is a reason that I do not think there will be many problems, Kimiko, and I do not think that I will get many complaints about the sort of behavior you are worried about. The other Dragons-in-Training will respect you and your space because you have a certain sort of strength. Remember that."
"Have any a' y'all seen Dojo?"
Raimundo paused and let his soccer ball drop to the ground. Kimiko looked up from her PDA. The longer the silence went on, the harder Clay bit his lip. Before the Texan was in danger of drawing blood, Raimundo said, "I don't think I've seen Omi either."
There was a sudden surge of movement towards Master Fung, who looked up at the sound of the stampede with bemused alarm. For the past few days, the only sound had been that of a brewing brainstorm as all the young monks struggled to come up with ideas for a quest. Master Fung had considered this a blessed relief, especially now that the rafters were shaking with three different voices trying to tell him the same thing at once. He eventually managed to get an idea of what the story was, but only when everybody stopped babbling at once and started speculating about what could have happened.
"I mean, they wouldn't leave without telling us, right? Someone musta kidnapped them!"
"Who coulda snuck in an' nab 'em, though? 'Specially with nobody noticin'."
"Dojo's tracker isn't working…the only reason that would happen is 'cause he's travelling in an environment with extreme temperatures!"
"Like a volcano or something? How would anybody drag them to a volcano? That's gotta be like a million miles from here!"
"I reckon we're makin' a big assumption sayin' they're kidnapped. I mean, no noise, no struggle? We passed th' vault on th' way here, it weren't even busted. What if they jus' lit out without so much as a how-d'ye-do?"
"But the fact that we didn't notice anything means something's up, dude! Okay, maybe they did leave without saying anything, but we should have seen them at least, right? I mean, Dojo's real hard to miss!"
"Maybe they didn't – "
"C'mon, there's no way – "
"Guys, guys. Remember the last time Dojo went missing and we couldn't track him down? Remember where he was?"
Clay snapped his fingers, eyes going wide with realization. "Chase Young."
Raimundo's eyes also went wide, but for a slightly different reason. His stomach twisted and went limp. His tongue felt thick, as though it had absorbed all his anxiety. It was amazing that he was able to say anything. "He kidnapped them."
"Or they went ahead an' gone t' him. Omi coulda made 'fighting Chase Young' his quest."
"Either way," Kimiko said, shutting down any further arguments, "we gotta go find them. Right, Master Fung?"
During the deluge of words, Master Fung had closed his eyes. It had the effect of making him look pensive, but in actuality he had closed them in an attempt to nurse his headache. There were times when he wished the world would remain tranquil and balanced and he did not have to burden his students, his young students, with worries about the fate of humanity, or even just the fate of their friend. But he supposed he took the wrong job if he didn't want to worry.
He opened his eyes and the monks held their breaths. "Clay's hypothesis is very plausible. If Omi has indeed taken on this quest, for us to interfere would be – "
"This isn't about the stupid quests!" Kimiko shouted, throwing her arms downward with such force that it almost seemed that she would throw her PDA to the floor. Both Clay and Raimundo took a step back. "You of all people should know that nobody should try to deal with Chase alone. He's already tried to eat Dojo before, and who knows what he could do to Omi! How can you even consider just standing by, just waiting and hoping he'll come back in one piece, or at all? I don't care about the quest and I don't care what you say – I'm going out to look for them, no matter what you tell me to do!"
The last word resounded in the walls, and the entire temple settled down into calmness once more. Both Clay and Raimundo stood as still as death. They were in wholehearted agreement, and would have definitely shown support for Kimiko if it weren't for the fact that she seemed to have given herself plenty support already, and then some. Not to mention the fact that she had raised her voice to Master Fung. To their slight mortification and immense horror, she had even jabbed her finger at him. They had watched the perfectly manicured nail poke Master Fung's untouchable shirt. They certainly would have liked to show support, but they were too busy looking around for a hole to hide in.
Kimiko stiffened as the past minute caught up to her, and her face that had been so full of righteous anger slowly shifted to the face of someone who had tossed a drink in her ex-boyfriend's face but it turned out that it wasn't her ex-boyfriend but her boss and was now trying to figure out what to say because she couldn't exactly claim it was an accident and the truth sounded too much like a sitcom to be true. So she could only stand still, her arm still raised with a reprehensive finger.
An eternity later, Master Fung gave one of his rare smiles. "I did not say I was opposed to the idea of a search party."
Chase's door had been closed, but Chase's door was also made out of rock. Clay pushed it down. It wasn't the stealthiest entrance, but frankly, Kimiko didn't know if anybody could be stealthy enough to get by Chase. So might as well be loud.
The draconian villain they were looking for was looking imposing as always, standing at the top of his ridiculous stairs. As his undoubtedly costly door turned into piles of rubble and expensive opening mechanisms, Chase Young continued to stand with his arms crossed, looking very unimpressed in his probably recently-shined armor. He probably slept in the damn thing too, just so that nobody would ever catch him out of it. If he even slept at all.
"I see that you haven't been taught any manners," he sneered. Everything he said was some sort of sneer. At least Jack whimpered sometimes. With Chase, it was constant condescension. Kimiko's scowl deepened, even as Chase's ever-present jungle cats started striding out of the shadows. "To what do I owe this…visit?"
Even as a pair of tigers eyed her hungrily at the foot of the stairs, Kimiko kept her gaze focused on the figure at the top. "You know why. We want Omi and Dojo back."
From down at the bottom of the stairs, Kimiko could clearly see Chase's eyebrow rise. It was easy enough to notice, mostly because his face was normally so impassive that any sign of emotion would have been noticeable. "And what makes you think I know where they are?"
"Because," said Kimiko, but she didn't continue because all of a sudden, her reasoning sounded stupid. It seemed to her that Chase had that sort of effect on people. Another reason to hate him.
When Chase descended the stairs in one leap, the monks instinctively slid into battle-ready poses. He landed silently, hands folded behind his back. Kimiko still said nothing. In frustration, Raimundo took up the flag.
"You can't seriously say that you don't know anything! I mean, you had that whole creepy…thing going on with Omi, dude."
Chase's unimpressed frown deepened into an unamused scowl. His eyes narrowed, and as though attuned to his every facial expression, his large felines circled ever closer. "Surprisingly," he drawled, sharp eyes digging into Raimundo's, "I have much better things to do with my time than to constantly keep tabs on one small child."
Somewhere behind her, Kimiko could hear Clay mutter under his breath to them. "I reckon Chase's 'bout as crooked as a barrel fulla fish hooks, but…I think he's tellin' th' truth here."
"C'mon, man, we can't just back down!" Raimundo hissed back, although when Chase began to stride towards the group, he took a step back along with the others.
"He's gotta know something," Kimiko added, her eyes sliding around the room from Chase to the approaching lions to the exit to Chase again. For a few seconds, there was only the rising, suffocating tension that usually goes hand-in-hand with being surrounded by eager-looking tigers and lions while your worst enemy is walking towards you. After a point, Kimiko was unsure if she was even breathing anymore.
And then Clay clapped his heavy hands on both Kimiko and Raimundo's shoulders. "Welp," he said, his voice ringing out in the surprisingly hot cavern, "Thanks fer yer time, sir, sorry t' be a bother, we'll be takin' our leave if y'all please." Kimiko and Raimundo were so stiff that when Clay tried to drag them backwards, their heels dug into the ground rather than take steps backwards.
"Oh no, since you went through all the trouble, please stay. I insist," Chase replied, snapping his fingers. Another door slid down to replace the one that Clay broke open. The cowboy took this as a cue to pick his teammates up under each of his arms and start legging it towards the closed door, because even if it was closed it was still made out of stone. The jungle cats around them uncoiled like springs and started leaping towards them like party poppers, if party poppers shot angry, furry things with teeth and claws instead of confetti. Clay managed to dodge several of them without slowing down. In fact, with all of these cats popping out at him like ghosts in a haunted house, he felt encouraged to speed up.
"Th' Silver Manta Ray!" he shouted, and when Kimiko and Raimundo continued their stunned silence, he added, "Use th' Silver Manta Ray!"
"Oh, right," said Raimundo, and he fumbled around in his pockets for the bulky Wu, which was hard to do while being carried around under the arm of a guy who was dodging tigers.
It also turned out that it was hard to dodge tigers while having someone under your arm fumble around in his pockets, because as soon as Raimundo got out the Silver Manta Ray, a tiger finally managed to dig its claws into Clay's back and the whole group went sprawling while their only means of transportation skittered away. A jaguar picked it up in its mouth and leapt away to some darkened corner.
Kimiko was the first to get up and ignoring her stinging knees, she delivered a roundhouse kick to the tiger on Clay's back. When it landed, it didn't retaliate, but rejoined the circle of wildcats that swirled around them like a hurricane. Raimundo got to his feet, his mouth full of rocks and Brazilian words that Kimiko was sure she didn't want to be translated.
Standing with them in the eye of the hurricane was Chase Young. His expression said that the eye would become a whirling, clawed tornado of hurt and pain, and that it would happen very, very soon. "Did you really think," he said, "that I would tolerate this trespass on my sanctuary? This inane questioning? That I would accept it without due retribution?" Clay was having a harder time getting up, and when he actually got his balance, his breathing seemed shallow. Very slowly, he slid the Fist of Tebigong onto his hand. "Let it be known that this is what happens to all unwanted intruders."
Chase snapped his fingers again, and the jungle cats pounced. Kimiko pounced at well, but at a different target. Chase dodged her punch, as well as the follow-up kick. She launched a stream of continuous attacks that weaved together in desperate ferocity, not thinking about the jungle cats, who backed away from her with a glance towards Chase, not hearing Raimundo say, "What are you doing?!" nor hearing the sounds of battle behind her favoring one side. There was only stupid Chase's stupid face in front of her, which stupidly refused to get punched.
"Let us go," she screamed, punctuating each word with some sort of rage-fueled attack. The worst part was that he remained stoic throughout it all, even when she whipped out the Star Hanabi, even when he grabbed her arm and twisted it to the breaking point, forcing her to let go of the Wu, even when he tossed her to the floor and pinned her down with a foot, applying pressure until he broke a rib.
"You may wish that you have any sort of control in this situation," he said, pressing down harder until she choked on her tears, "but in reality, you are powerless." Even with her heart pounding in her ears, Kimiko was suddenly aware of the utter silence. No more sounds of fighting. She couldn't even see the wildcats anymore.
"I could break all of your limbs and leave you lying in a pool of your own blood." Chase kicked her in the side, sending her back towards the prone bodies of Raimundo and Clay. "But someone needs to take out the trash." The sound of stone grating against stone indicated that the door was now open.
Through the haze of pain and internal bleeding, Kimiko saw Chase turn and head back up the stairs. "The…Silver Manta Ray…"
Without even pausing in his ascent, Chase replied, "I'll be sure to send it back…eventually. For now, I believe you have a long walk ahead of you."
It was a long while before Kimiko found the strength to stand up again, and even longer still for her to carry out the two boys. When Jack Spicer came across them during his daily routine of knocking pathetically at Chase's door, she was still struggling to hold back tears.
"Woah. You guys look jacked up. Are those guys unconscious? Christ." If her arms hadn't been occupied, Kimiko would have probably punched the grin off his face. But as it was, she was secretly grateful for his appearance. The noise of his helipack blades thrumming in the air was much better to listen to than the sounds of her own sobbing.
She swallowed down a hiccup and dragged her feet along the ground. The air was hot and dry, the ground rocky and uneven, digging into the soles of her shoes. Clay's body weighed down on her shoulders, heavy with sweat that stuck to her neck, and his blood ran into her hair and down her sleeves. It was drying up now, but that just added to the gross, crusty feeling on her skin. She tried to focus on remaining steady because Raimundo was balanced delicately on top. Getting him up there had been an amazing feat and Kimiko wasn't sure if she could do it a second time.
"Did Chase do this? Did you try to take him on?" Jack let out some gross laughter that crawled up her skin and laid eggs in her ears. "Man, he got you good."
Kimiko continued walking. Soon enough, Jack quieted down and the only sound was the thrumming of his hovering blades as he kept pace without keeping a pace.
"Say, where's the cheeseball?"
"Go away, Jack."
"Did you lose him? Again?"
"Go away, Jack."
"You really could stand to be a little nicer to me. I am the only person for miles around. And, y'know, I could probably just…"
"Touch them and you're dead."
Jack retracted his hand. "Okay, fair enough. Aaaaanyways."
Kimiko sent out a silent prayer for Jack to get hit by a bolt of lightning. Or at least get bored and go home. But he continued to glide next to her, a grin on his face that threatened to break her creep-o-meter.
"Y'know, I could give you a ride back to your temple or whatever."
Kimiko tried to send waves of pure thought through Jack's thick skull in the hopes that he would sense her growing temper and go away.
"All you'd have to do is give me all of your Wu," he continued, trying to emulate Chase's level of smugness and falling short.
She didn't even stop walking.
"Okay, half your Wu."
Didn't even hesitate.
"…A quarter of your Wu?"
"Jack," she hissed between even breaths. "If you don't leave right now I am going to reach out and snap your neck I swear to god."
Jack raised both hands in a pacifying pose and started to back away. "Okay, okay! I'm going! Jeez, touchy much?"
The sounds of his helipack soon faded away, and Kimiko was alone with her self-loathing again.
Time started to blend into something immeasurable, bleeding into the feeling of her sore legs and the dull pains in her chest and the weight on her back that felt heavy and light at the same time. At the cusp of her awareness, she heard a fuzzy sound that seemed to take on the shape of her name, and she shook off the heavy fog around her head. She hadn't even realized she had zoned out.
"Kimiko." She could feel Raimundo trying to move and look around at where they were. "Let me down."
Raimundo quickly saw that there was no way he could get down without falling painfully, unless Kimiko actually stopped walking. "Let me down," he repeated. "I can walk now."
"No," Kimiko choked out, because she had seen his legs, torn up and mangled by countless teeth and claws, broken and twisted until he had simply passed out. Before she tried dressing all the wounds, there had been more blood than legs. And thinking of that again, to her immense embarrassment, Kimiko stopped and cried.
Kimiko didn't know why, but Master Fung looked out of place in a hospital. It was in his calm countenance, perhaps. Instead of quiet chatters, ethereal smiles, or poignant gestures of sadness, he kept up his distinguished airs. He made no extraneous gestures as he sat primly in the provided chair, and the only sign of a greeting was a small nod of his head. Forever the teacher, she supposed.
"How are they?"
"The doctors believe that Clay will regain consciousness soon. And I have been told that Raimundo is recovering well."
Kimiko closed her eyes, the bandages around her chest feeling tight. The image of Raimundo's mangled legs had flooded her mind once more, almost drowning out Master Fung's voice. She struggled to shove it aside.
"And how are you feeling?"
"Terrible," she replied. "Awful. I screwed up. Maybe if we had just left…then…hey. Wait." Her eyes fluttered open again, searching for Master Fung's face. "Who's guarding the vault?"
"Do not concern yourself with that," he replied, closing his tired eyes momentarily. "Please focus on resting – "
"I will, okay? But 'concerning myself with that' is pretty much my job!" Forgetting herself, Kimiko sat up because it was hard to make expressive arm movements while lying down. She regretted it immediately. With a gentle hand, Master Fung helped her back down. "Look, I'll get my rest, but we can't just leave the vault unguarded. I mean, not that I don't mind the visit, but – "
"When I said you need not be concerned with the vault," said Master Fung, "I meant that I have already contacted Master Monk Guan and he and several friends are guarding the vault as we speak."
"Oh," said Kimiko, once again wishing that the past minute hadn't happened.
"But there is an important topic that we ought to discuss, and that is the question of leadership."
Despite her recent track record of talking back to Master Fung, Kimiko couldn't help but say, "This really doesn't seem like a good time."
"Indeed. The team is now unbalanced, and there is much uncertainty surrounding whether Omi and Dojo will come back or not. This is a rather tumultuous time. Which is exactly why assigning a leader is more important than ever, don't you agree?"
Kimiko's head was starting to sink back into the pillow. Her body was heavy with painkillers and hospital malaise, and she really wasn't in the mood for thinking about serious things like this. Especially since the fact that Master Fung was bringing it up with her in particular reeked of trouble from a mile off. She glanced to the side. "I guess."
"At this moment, I believe I have enough information to choose a leader."
He was looking at her. She could feel his eyes trying to focus on her face, even as she turned away from him. Kimiko stared at her sheets until they sizzled. "If you're going to say what I think you're going to say, then you're wrong."
"Oh? And why is that?"
The starched hospital blanket was starting to burn in her fists. At this point, she couldn't tell whether she was about to cry again or if she was about to set the whole hospital on fire. "Because I screwed up. I didn't find Omi. All I did was land everybody in the hospital. What kind of leader does that?"
"You do not only find great leaders in times of success, Kimiko. You also find great leaders in times of failure as well." Hearing this, Kimiko rolled her eyes. Was that really supposed to make her feel better? "I realize that you do not look favorably upon this recent experience, but consider this. Out of compassion and concern, you wished to find Omi and Dojo. For similar reasons, the very first question you asked me was about the wellbeing of Clay and Raimundo. You reflected upon your mistakes, but did not drown in them; instead, you turned your mind towards the future and on plans to move forward. To me, these are all signs of a leader."
No, they were all signs of being a decent person. But Kimiko decided not to say this. She was now so settled in her pillow that she was sure it would consume her. The hospital malaise had certainly consumed her mind already. She could tell because it was traitorously considering the idea of being the leader.
She tried to tell herself that it was a horrible idea.
"Kimiko," Raimundo said under a shower of Jack-bot parts. "What. Was that."
Nowadays, Kimiko was able to look Raimundo directly in the face. The image of his bloody, mangled legs no longer blurred her vision – or perhaps she simply got used to it. The only reminder of that time was his limp. He told her that he didn't blame her for anything ("And besides, I can still play soccer just fine," he had said defiantly, daring anybody to disprove him although nobody was willing to try). She believed him because she wanted it to be true. But still, when the winter chill settled in the temple and his limp became more of a hobble and he complained of pains in his knees, when Clay suggested getting a cane or maybe a staff and he replied with an insistent no, Kimiko couldn't help but feel the tendrils of paranoid guilt wrap thorns around her heart. Every complaint about the cold, about the pain, about having to run too fast, all of them felt directed at her. And she accepted them.
But when it came to complaints that were actually directed at her, she bristled. It was happening more often. She even knew what Raimundo was going to say next.
"I had that one! I literally just said that I had that one! Do you just go out of your way to make sure I don't do anything or something?!"
"What, are you saying I couldn't handle it?"
"I think we can safely say that you got things handled," Raimundo spat, gesturing at the scrap metal littering the ground around them. "So handled that I don't even know why I'm here! Why do you even bring me and Clay along if you're just gonna do everything yourself, huh? Do you think I can't handle it?"
It was at this point of the argument that Clay usually stepped in, trying to cool things down while also telling Kimiko that maybe Raimundo had a point, that it wasn't just about him wanting to punch something but about them being a team and how she kept straining herself by trying to do everything, as though she didn't trust them anymore, and he never said it explicitly but she could tell in his eyes that it pained him, not being trusted. And she would say of course she trusted them, after everything they've been through together she'd trust them with her life and then Raimundo would mutter something that would just start another argument and Clay would end up driving the Silver Manta Ray back to the temple, saying nothing.
But this time around, Clay was busy chasing after Jack. They had been doing that a lot lately, without Dojo to tell them when new Wu were activating. It was a struggle to even get there on time, not to mention even getting the Shen Gong Wu at all. But this time, Jack was still here and there was still a chance to not make this whole trip a waste. A chance Clay wasn't about to let go of, bickering teammates or no.
Which meant he wasn't there to stop Kimiko from saying, "Well, maybe if you were faster, you'd get to do something!"
Raimundo opened his mouth, but no sound came out. The frustration and anger that had been in his eyes withered and dulled. Kimiko could have probably gotten the same reaction out of him if she had physically punched him in the stomach.
"So that's how it is."
No it wasn't. Really, it wasn't. It was because as Jack realized that Omi wasn't coming back anytime soon, he reminded them about it every chance he got, every instance of verbal abuse getting meaner and meaner as the years went on and Kimiko knew that out of all of them, Raimundo was taking it the hardest. Because as his taunts got meaner and meaner, so did his robots, robots that robbed banks and shops so that he could make them even meaner. Kimiko could see that Jack was actually starting to follow up on his boasts about taking over the world, and it was scaring her that he could actually conceivably succeed. That one day they would fight him and…
But she didn't say any of this because she was the leader. Leaders didn't break under stress, didn't start crying out their worries to their subordinates as though they were her therapist. Leaders were supposed to be strong.
Clay came back empty-handed. The ride to the temple was done in utter silence. He found that he preferred the arguments.
At the age of thirty-seven, Jack took over the world. It took him ten years. For five of those years, Kimiko had been in one of his many cells, so the only reason she knew that Jack now had the whole world in his palm was because Jack himself strolled by to gloat about it.
It was during one of the rare times that she was clear-headed. Or as clear-headed as she got nowadays. When she saw Jack through bleary, tired eyes, she hadn't realized it was a special occasion. She pleaded as usual. Begged him to tell her what he had done with the others, just tell her, it's been years already, it's not like she can do anything. Bargained even though she had nothing to bargain with, not anymore.
Back when the temple fell, when everybody was captured and separated, she used to demand. Not anymore.
Jack stood in front of her, leering in between two giant Jack-bot guards. "I suppose since I'm in such a good mood today…I'll give you a hint."
He told her three names. Shadow of Fear. Wushan Geyser. Mind Reader Conch.
"Anyways, I'm gonna be busy for the next few days. Ruler of the whole world and all. Impressed? Think I'm just some whiny loser now?"
Kimiko didn't answer because her head was buzzing with the new information.
They were alive.
She cried because they were alive! Somewhere, they were breathing, and maybe in the future she could see them and tell them that she was sorry, so sorry that she was a screw-up. And she cried because they were alive…they were alive to deal with the entire five years of psychological torture, of Jack methodologically wearing away at their spirits until there was nothing but dust, and then wearing that away into nothingness as well.
Jack stared down at her, brow furrowed in disgust and disappointment. "You've gotten pathetic. But it's time for your hourly dose, isn't it?"
Her mind would be gone soon, but she didn't want to forget. She wouldn't let herself forget. This was too important.
They're alive they're alive they're alive they're alive they're alive they're alive they're alive