It is only four in the morning yet Luka was wide awake. She was facing her computer with a glass of warm coffee on the other side of her messy desk. She was not stalking someone's account, okay? Later noon will be the deadline for the proposal of their project so she has to do some research to put up something sensible on the papers. She has waken thirty minutes ago and faced the monitor, fifteen minutes ago, too, but she has already saved plenty of documents about humanoid making. Well, Google has always something to say, hasn't it? Sometimes it's a better talker than anyone. It provides answers although there's no guarantee that it were liable. Screw that.
Curiosity was in flux as her eyes glanced over the hard copies of her previous researches, scattering beside her keyboard. Catching a glimpse of Dr. Hoshine's name under the cover page of the document "Humanoid-Vocaloid Project', the late professor's unfinished project.
Unbelievable, she thought, amazed by the fact that someone as great as the known scientist was not able to finish a big project as this, albeit supported by the government. Again, her thoughts earlier flashed back, she remembered that it took her an entire day to realize how hard it will be to finish an unfinished work of a great scientist.
Her hand shoved the documents neatly on a side and returned in typing the project's name on Google's search box. In a split second, what an amazing internet connection she has, the site revealed various articles related to the research. She can tell. The monitor was filled with numerous hyperlinks, either the exact title of the project was mentioned or Dr. Hoshine's, or the government's attribute, all came out. Blue and bold, names like Hatsune and Honne were attached wherever she saw Dr. Hoshine's name. Pictures of the scientist together with two unfamiliar men were also shown, might be taken during a press conference. Colleagues, maybe. She continued to scroll away and find the most comprehensive article she may find. Luckily, after a not so long search, she spotted one and began to untangle impossibilities. But as she clicked the link, here phone rang and she rushed to answer the call before it may wake her mom. She can't afford to get a ban in using the computer today, not now that she has a deadline.
"Hello?" Came her soft and careful voice, almost whispering like a smooth silk. Does silk whisper?
"Luka?" A equally soft yet mesmerizing voice from the other line recited her name, and she instantly shivered hearing the coolness of that voice. Mentally, she prays that he will not talk this way because he has no idea how much he affects her. Giddy teenage love, she cursed inwardly.
She sat back in front of her computer and as she set an eye on the screen, she was lost with the information she just broke in.
"Gakupo. This is Gakupo. Did I disturb you so early?" His voice seemed guilty but again, there's nothing in him that Luka can possibly disagree or hate in a way. He is really a nice guy.
The sound of his concerned and guilty voice made her smile unconsciously as she casually skimmed the document on the blinding screen.
"No, no. Why did you call? And yes, it is early, but you didn't disturb me," she answered, her tone was somewhat laughing.
"Ah-nothing, ah. Do you want to jog around the village?" He asked.
Does she? She reached and grabbed her glass of coffee and took a sip. It was still dark, yes. But his idea seemed nice, she never went out for an early stroll, she was a coward. Her thin pale lips remained shut tight, still thinking of what to answer.
"Luka? Still there?"
Luka's eyes landed on a certain video included on the same article. Her curiosity was now killing her to watch it but Gakupo was waiting on the other line. Okay, I'll download it. She did not hesitate in converting it to an mp3 format, deciding to listen at it while jogging later.
"Yes, Gakupo. I'm still here. Yup, I'll come with you. Better be there first, I usually don't go out this time. Pick me by the club house in ten." She said, a hand pushing all her paperwork's on a side neatly. Gakupo chuckled sweetly, she hated being dreamy after that resonating sweet laughter, and he bid a 'see you later'. The call ended and she stared at her phone, the wallpaper was too memorable...a stolen shot of him and her last Christmas evening, singing in duet. A smile tugged her lips on corners as she transferred the mp3 file to her phone. She already consumed four minutes so she rushed and changed into something decent, and on a pair of running shoes and dragged her headphones with her. She left her house with a note stuck on the fridge, saying:
"Out for a jogging! -Luka :)"
The dark alleys sent fright to her but she couldn't care less. It seems like a scene in a apocalyptic movie because she walked alone on a freaking quiet street: a street where the noises would be distinct scratching of stray cats on trash cans, the electricity running on the light posts or the horrible orchestra of crickets.
Luka rubbed her hands together and hurried the pace, scared than ever. It was still dark and the orange lights from the street posts reminded her if the pumpkins along the road during Halloween.
"Come on, Luka. Hurry," she mumbled, striding quicker and almost tripping at the moment. At the end of the street, the club house could be seen- being at the center of the village. The lights there weren't orange, and it's brighter and safer there. With no hesitation, she ran all her way , thus, ended panting like a dog. She let her body collapsed on the wooden bench while trying to normalize her heavy breathing. As her eyes darted on the sky, she was awestruck. For all her life, she never realized how pretty stars could be...especially when you are alone.
"How pretty... You are so pretty," she inwardly squealed like a child and stretched her hands up as if she could reach the glowing orbs with her fingers.
The stars were like grains of sand sowed in the air. Millions of dots were glowing up there, creating illusions and images like what the myths had told. Simply, this was the prettiest thing she saw.
"You're adorable! If only you're not hot mass of gas, I want one of you in my room," she said although it looked like she's talking to herself not with the stars. Talking to the stars was fun, surely, the feeling was refreshing.
Amidst of admiring the luminescent figures on the sky, she remembered the mp3 file she downloaded a while ago. Luka sat straight and put on her headphones to play the file. She couldn't waste time without doing their project.
"Luka!" A cool familiar voice called out from behind. There was Gakupo in a jogging attire; his long hair caught up in a high pony. Luka instantly stopped the file from playing and turned to his direction. Her pretty face lit up in a genuine smile, seeing him already here.
"I'm sorry," his first words reached her as he scratched the back of his head.
Was it just her, or this whole set up looked like they were high school awkward couples?
We're not even couples, Luka shook the thought from her mind.
"It's fine. I enjoyed the scene!" She chuckled- it felt like wind chimes rang to his ears, as she pointed to the sky above them.
Eventually, they began jogging in a rhythmic pace. Their feet slammed against the hard ground as they went through the dark alley. The orange lights, again, succumbed the creepy streets.
"So," Gakupo broke the silence between them. He casted glances at her, quietly admiring how pretty she is-even if she has freshly waken, or if she has tidied herself for school.
Luka was looking up the sky, feeling like the stars were jogging with them too. She beamed into a heartfelt smile that almost melt Gakupo, not that she knew that. Acknowledging the smile as signal for him to continue, he began.
"What happened with your Operation: Be friends with Kaito? Turned out well?"
She shifted her stare from the stars to the ground, hiding the blush across her face. He couldn't tell if she was embarrassed or what, but he didn't care, of course. He was asking about her and his friend- about his first love and his friend.
"A-ah, w-well... It's a kind of...ugh, short talk, Gakupo. Yes, that's all." Stuttering like that made her feel more embarrassed rather than being asked- that is because, Gakupo has no idea why she wanted to be friends with Kaito. Simply, it's not about Kaito. It's someone she and Kaito knew in common. It's someone, maybe at the back of her head, she loves truly.
"Haha! Don't be so nervous! Fine, I won't pry." She can feel his smirk with that statement.
Am I being obvious? She won't answer her own question.
The cold breeze brushed against their faces as they made a turn to the secondary street. It's already five in the morning. Thus, the stars began fading away. Some stores began to open and some houses turned off their lights. The quiet ambiance will soon die out.
As the two of them jog in serenity, she is thinking of something like...something like she forgot. Nibbling her lower lip to arrive in a conclusion and recollection alike, alas! She remembered.
The mp3 file of the video about HVP.
With no hesitation, she put on her headphones. None of them are speaking that's why this is just a perfect timing to do her project. It didn't take so long to get her mind blown with the information she is hearing, feeling more puzzled than ever.
[Protests are being held at the Hatsune residence. Senator Hatsune, the proponent of Humanoid Vocaloid Project or HVP- a technology being developed by the government, has been questioned by the mass. Together with the main researchers, Dr. Hoshine and Dr. Honne, their technology is being feared by the opposition for its possibility of outscoring the human race.]
"Outscoring the human race? What's this, a robot invasion? Are these people sane?" Luka thought, completely zoning out as she took her steps slowly... She can't concentrate if she jog and listen carefully at the same time.
[HVP uses a next generation artificial intelligence which stores human memory as a database. HVP is said to be the government's strong battalion of prototype soldiers- humanoid soldiers who will be used as a substitute from real soldiers in the war to reduce mortality.
'That is not sane! The project aims to replace the soldiers so that the government will get the full control with the budget of security and defense! What will happen to the families who depend on our army!?'
'The project dreams immortality! An outlaw of God's rule! We can't achieve an immortal life by replacing us with tin cans shaped into humans, they are emotionless robots!']
Various voices screamed different thoughts against Luka's ears, giving here a bizarre deja vu. 'There's a connection...the project never failed...'
[The protests groups are getting furious as the Bureau of Science and Research announced the completion of the humanoid. 'Almost a perfect human,' as what Dr. Honne described during the press conference. However, the first humanoid, code named CV01, still looks for a certain donor of memory to be fully operational.
The HVP uses human memory as the basis of decision making for independent thinking. Despite of the fancy futuristic concept of this project, the religious and economic groups are getting- wait! We have a breaking news! The protesters broke in the Hatsune residence! The camera caught sight of Senator Hatsune and his wife fleeing from their mansion!
I wonder what will happen to their children now; aren't the Hatsune kids isolated from media and this type of mob...BEEP-]
The sound clip was finished, leaving Luka gawking in surprise. She could remember this incident six years ago. She's just 12 when the news about Senator Hatsune and his wife's death has become the talk of the nation. Now that she finally understood why he was killed, she couldn't stop being hypocrite. He couldn't die just because of a research, could he?
Luka is not aware that she is barely walking. Similarly, Gakupo is unconscious of Luka's absence. He already crossed the pedestrian while she was left on the other side, about to cross the pedestrian lane, not noticing the blinking red and green lights (since the audio has just finished).
A loud horn echoed along the high way. The early birds snapped their heads to where the sound was from. Gakupo turned around and everything...everything seemed to be in slow motion before him. His eyes widen in horror, so as Luka's blue orbs, seeing a 16-wheeler truck speeding towards her. She was halfway done crossing the road; her head staring at the truck; her feet seemingly glued on the ground. Her life suddenly flashed back in a matter of second.
Shrieking tire breaks were heard for about several seconds and the truck stopped exactly where Luka was standing a while ago. Every person who happened to be out in the street rushed to the scene. Gakupo quickly brought himself there, his body obtained a mind of its own. He checked the bumper to see if a pink head was lying near there, but there's no one there. He ran to the opposite side and there he saw, Luka, lying on the ground, her head shielded by the arms of a white haired guy.
"Luka!" He called out, rushing by her side. The white haired guy's eyes fluttered and the pain materialized in his senses.
Shoot. The guy began wincing in pain and attempted to stand but he just laid back. The pain is pinning his whole body down. Luka winced and saw the faded sky. She breathed slowly and realized where she is when the whispers are growing loud around her.
Hearing the grumbling sounds, she jolt up to a sit and saw Gakupo crying while staying at her. Unable to react, Gakupo's arms were thrown around her.
"I thought I lost you!" He screamed against her hair, careless even if his tears are soaking her silky hair. She smiled, then patted his back. It was a heartfelt message from him and she appreciated it. Why not? She thought of the same thing.
Gakupo pulled away and said that he couldn't stop crying. "I'm just worried and all,"
She flashed a pained smile and snapped her head around, only to see an almost unconscious white haired guy lying beside her. The way he was dressed and the look on his face gave hints that maybe he's around of their ages.
"Oh jeez! I'm sorry, sir!" Luka quickly tried to sit him up. His eyes were half closed as he tried to smile at them.
"Sir! Shall we call an ambulance now-"
"Gakupo! You shouldn't be asking! Just call, now!"
"Please, no." The guy interrupted courteously, chuckling for a short moment. "Just assist me on that bench because I left my responsibility there. She'll be mad if I didn't get back soon. And, don't worry. I'll be fine, just a little rest will do good."
Gakupo and Luka quickly helped him up and walked him to the said bench, about 20 meters away from them. It was located at the entrance of the village's playground and a black haired girl seated on a wheeled chair was near there. Luka instantly adored the girl, those ebony black hair cascading down to her waist seemed unnaturally lustrous; and her dead white skin made her look that she was never acquainted with the sun before. The girl's clothing- white sweater and toe-length black skirt, has given her an intimidating aura, including the way her enigmatic eyes were staring at them.
"Is she your responsibility?" Gakupo asked, equally curious as Luka. He couldn't admit that he's quite scared seeing that girl under the tree. 'What an odd pair they make,' he thought. 'A white haired guy and a sadako-like girl. Are they goths or what?'
The white haired guy too his steps rather slowly for every pressure he exerts so he could walk, shoots pain through his legs. As they close the distance, the tried to smile at the girl but he just saw her drop back her eyes. 'Cocky,' thought he. He remembered that this couple assisting him just let the truck driver escape, 'So maybe, god bless that driver. ' he thought again, Gakupo and Luka has seated him on the bench.
"Thank you for saving my life," Luka said warmly.
The guy nodded in acknowledgement. It is getting bright already and he knew that his 'responsibility' wouldn't like to be exposed with the sun.
"No problem. Everyone will do the same. You're...?"
"Oh! Luka! This is Gakupo." She introduced and shook hands with him. The guy smiled at the two and introduced himself as 'Dell Honne'.
Sooner, Dell and the girl left. Gakupo and Luka watched the two disappear at the corner of the street. Right then, they walked back home.
It's already six in the morning and the earlier incident left the two energy deprived. They walked in silence, their manner of walking scraped their running shoes. Everything bathed with the morning glow. Smiles are painted on their lips as they walk side by side.
"You know," Gakupo said softly.
The birds chirped and flew above them, making Gakupo look to the crescent moon peeping even the sun has already taken its place.
Even the sun and moon can be together.
"I really thought I'll lost you," he said, his voice was so serious that made Luka stiffen for a moment.
She doesn't speak a word in response. They just walk in silence. They speak no words, contented with serenity. They are both alive, no worries, no doubt.
Soon, they found themselves walking hand in hand.