Chapter 6: Don't You Remember Me?
Are you sure you want to delete this post?
That question, thought Zima, crouching low atop a tree branch as he gazed into the second floor window through his headpiece, was redundant. While the kid didn't know it, he and his partner had been keeping an eye on his persocom ever since her fateful arrival at the Mikage household. They saw his sister's persocom's failed attempt at analyzing her, and eavesdropped on the 'lessons' he'd been teaching her.
And ever since then, they'd begun to watch every move the boy made as well – like that forum post just earlier. Zima snorted, musing on how ill-advised such an act was on his part.
Really, mused Zima, one would think he'd know better than to disclose sensitive information where everybody – and by 'everybody' he meant 'his persocom's evil former owners' – could potentially see it. In his mind, it was tantamount to giving those former owners an open invitation to take her back.
Shaking his head, Zima proceeded with the deletion of the post in question. If they were lucky, or if her pursuers were careless, no one had seen it yet. If not…
"That girl again?"
Zima looked up as he was joined by his partner – bodyguard, rather, a petite, short-haired girl with fiery red eyes matched only by her temperament – before reaffixing his gaze at their target. Both of them were clad in matching black outfits, hinting at their affiliation to an organization of some sort, which indeed they were – though this particular excursion was Zima acting alone, and dragging his partner for the ride. No doubt it was fortunate that they had yet to be spotted, lest the target they were shadowing mistake them for the latest of her would-be captors.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
"Close, dear, but not quite," Zima answered the query his partner had just posed. "You could say they're twins, though. In fact," he added, almost as an afterthought, "A certain someone we've encountered even refers to them as sisters."
It was true that their methods weren't that far removed from that of the persons in question, but that was all they had in common – at least, from the vantage point of Zima and his partner. They, at least, wouldn't dream of prying her away from her new family.
At least, not for now.
First of all, they'd have no reason, no incentive to do so. Flippant and mischievous though Zima was, he was not even remotely evil, ruthless or malevolent. His partner, despite her hotheadedness – an aspect of her character that spoke louder than her constant insistence of persocoms being devoid of emotion – likewise held no real malice in her artificial heart. Such an act would be pointless, needlessly difficult, and uncalled for on their part.
And besides, he thought, I don't hold with those who do things – what was the term again? – 'for the evulz'.
More importantly, given the things they knew she was capable of, to try and capture her for whatever reason would probably the most epically stupid thing for them to do – not to mention suicidal. On top of the already phenomenal capabilities their current target doubtlessly shared with her twin sister such as remotely shutting down all persocoms in the surrounding area – Zima spared a glance at his partner as he recalled the incident in question – the data they received from their source gave them even better cause to tread lightly.
This girl, it seemed, had been the brainchild of an attempt to create the ultimate persocom and the ultimate assassin.
The thought was one that provoked equal parts disgust and fear in Zima.
Disgust, because of how he was sure she had not asked for this – and more importantly, because of how those responsible for what had been done to her had almost certainly committed the persocom equivalent of graverobbing just to get their way.
Fear – yes, he admitted to himself, he did feel fear – at the knowledge of exactly what this girl was capable of. If he and his partner ever got on her bad side, they could very well be next on her list of casualties.
Zima himself, not to mention his partner, had been programmed with at least rudimentary combat skills, enough to fight back against most attempts at capture. Despite that, he remained convinced that there was no way either of them would prevail against her in a direct confrontation – not even together. The footage he'd stolen and then viewed showed him, in loving detail, exactly what the girl had done to the ones who had first attempted to restrain and capture her.
Zima smiled grimly at the images flashing through his head.
Not pretty. At all.
Regardless of how stupid it might have been, though, he himself had his own reason for taking an interest in her. The difference between them and Abstergo, he thought – and he did know perfectly well who had vested interests in this girl – lay in their intentions, though the methods they employed weren't that different from each other. Incredulous as it may have seemed – especially given their run-in with their current target's 'twin sister' – they actually sought to help rather than harm her.
His partner calling his name a second time jolted him from his rambling thoughts. He looked at her, a half-quizzical, half-amused look on his face. "Yes, Dita dear? What is it?"
"Quit spacing out on the job, you idiot!" she admonished him, jerking her head in the direction of the window. "Wasn't it you who had the genius idea of following them around for how many days now?"
Though Dita was somewhat annoyed at the term of endearment he constantly used just to get on her nerves, her playful tone of voice was somewhat at odds with the epithet she'd just called him. On the contrary, one who saw how they would get at times could have used the word 'intimate'. And while she would outwardly scoff at such a notion, she knew deep down that 'intimate' was the plain and simple truth of their relationship.
Not that she would ever admit it, in denial as she was that she did, in fact, possess real emotion.
Not that she'd ever allow the idiot who'd dare use such a description get away from her unscathed.
"Ooh, look," said Zima suddenly, recalling Dita to her surroundings, in a reversal of what she had done to him earlier. "Dita, pass the popcorn, will you? Things seem to be picking up."
"Zima, you're a jerk, you know that?"
To which he chuckled softly. "Yes, Dita dear, I know."
Both of them then shifted their attention to the drama that was sure to unfold.
…Freya practically leapt from the couch, looking as though she'd just received a huge electric shock. Rei remained seated, but the look on his face made it very clear that he was thinking along the exact same lines as his persocom. The other guests Minoru had spoken of just minutes earlier had just arrived, standing frozen in the doorway.
One was a slightly older woman with dark hair and amethyst-hued eyes, looking on the verge of tears in spite of the half-smile on her face. Meanwhile, her male companion – a youth with unkempt hair that looked around his age – wore a thunderstruck expression identical to Rei's own.
But it was the third new arrival that had caused Rei and Freya to react in such a manner.
A persocom, with pink and white housing in place of ears and long, white-blond hair that reached to her ankles.
Her attire – an outfit that somehow resembled the uniform of a high school girl – wasn't something he'd ever seen or imagined Freya wearing. Also, this persocom lacked the bracers he had never seen Freya take off.
Everything else about her, though…
There was no question about it.
Standing before them was an exact replica of Freya.
"You… Who are you?" Freya broke the silence, clearly as disturbed and uneasy as it was possible for a persocom to be as she addressed their fellow guests. The half-pleading, half-horrified note in her voice wasn't lost to Rei.
Not that he blamed her for feeling that way. Persocom or not, it was probably more than a little disconcerting for Freya to come face-to-face with an exact doppelganger of herself. And even taking into account how common it was to see identical but unrelated persocoms walking around the metro, Freya had just been all but assured and convinced of her status as being 'rare', 'unique' and 'one of a kind'.
This time, it was the woman who spoke. Next thing Rei and Freya new, she instantly closed the gap between them, taking Freya into a tight embrace not unlike a mother reuniting with her child. Freya still looked too shocked to react, her hands remaining limp and motionless at her sides.
Her loving visage, her kind, lavender eyes… Freya was so sure she had met this woman before, in her previous life.
Exactly how they had met and who this woman had been to her, though, remained unclear to Freya.
As did the woman's name.
"You… I know you…"
"How do you know my name?"
"Who are you?"
The woman quickly let go of Freya, seemingly jolted from her joy at these words. Her smile did not completely fade, but it did thin slightly as she looked back at the persocom, not quite believing her ears.
She gripped the persocom's shoulders tightly.
"I'm your mother."
She looked down in disbelief, tears continuing to leak out of her eyes.
"Don't you remember me?"
This she said with a melancholy smile on her face as she gazed back up at Freya. As she again held her daughter like she wanted never to let go, Minoru and Yuzuki observed the whole scene, both of them feeling sympathy for all parties involved.
The mingled look of shock, fear, loss and sorrow never left Freya's face, in stark contrast to her twin, who simply looked confused and clueless.
Meanwhile, above the two ladies, Rei exchanged identical, hard looks between him and his counterpart. He could tell they both wanted the same thing.
And only the mother and child pair currently with them could provide that.
We're all willing to help you, Freya.
But we can't help you if we don't know how.
Please, open up to us more...