Sequel to Not It. Her.
“Look up, Astra.” Mother whispers into my ear, and places me on her belly. “See that star? Next to Algedi.” Mother points up, and I nod.
“Yeah!” I giggle, looking at my favorite constellation, Libra.
“See the triangle?” Mother draws an invisible line, connecting stars.
“...Yeah. What is it?” I ask. Mother envelopes her hand into mine. I stare at it. “Your hand is so big, Mommy!”
She pinches my cheeks, “And your’s is going to be as big as mine one day.”
“When you see that constellation thirty times, Astra.”
“What’s its name?” I roll off of Mother and lay right next to her, the grass poking my back. I wince, and Mother puts her arm around my shoulders, dragging me closer.
“Capricornus,” She whispers into my ear.
“I’m a Capricornus, right?” I grin, proud of myself for some reason.
“No, sweetie. You’re a Capricorn,” Mother laughs. And suddenly stops, muttering to herself. “He was a Carpicorn. He was the one who left. He didn’t care. He couldn’t care, could he?”
“Mommy?” I try to shake her with my little baby hands. “Mommy! Mommy, get up!” A tear slips down my cheek when she keeps staring off into the distance. “Mommy!”
She jerks her head in my direction. “You left me. You left me!” She yells, and raises her arm. Her hand cracks across my face, snapping it back, causing my head to reel sickeningly as it slams into the ground under.
When black dots quit covering my vision, I cover my sobs of pain and betrayal with my hand. “Why would you leave me? Why would you leave her?” Mother shouts. “All we ever wanted was your love.” Her voice softens, cracking in the middle. “Why, why, why, why, why, why, why?” The question fades into sobs. I stand off to the side, wondering what I ever did to make her hit me.
- - -
“Mistress. Mistress! Mistress, your high levels of adrenaline suggest that you were having a bad dream. I thought it best to wake you up,” PA tells me. I nod, and breathe heavily.
“Not a dream. Just reliving a nightmare,” I say under my breath, and sneak a peek at the clock. 7:45.
“What was that, Mistress?” PA asks politely. Or I’m not even sure that is politeness… but whatever.
“Nothing, PA. You know, I don’t really like calling you PA.” I look over at it, and PA frowns with its unusually realistic facial features.
“Then what would you like to call me, Mistress? PA is a good name, the acronym makes sense; Personal Assistant.” PA looks over at me.
“I’ll call you… Isis. Is that okay?” I raise my eyebrows, and Isis nods.
“Whatever you want, Mistress.” Isis ushers me off of the bed, “Get ready, our scientists made another variation of the cure. Or the soon-to-be cure.”
“Did we get another subject yet, Isis?” I ask, pausing at the bathroom door.
“No, Mistress. Ki-” Isis stops when she sees me glare. I’m glad I added reading facial features as part of the program in Isis. “We’re still stuck with subject 27, it’s becoming violent with the androids though. Three were sent to the mechanic last week. Three of those worked in subject #27’s room.” Isis tells me.
“Mm… Remind about this later, after I watch how Kia— Sorry, I meant after I watch how it responds to our latest formula.” Tears spring to my eyes, and I close them quickly, hoping they’ll go away. Instead, one drips down my cheek. I wipe it away quickly, and close the bathroom door behind me.
Don’t cry for someone that doesn’t deserve crying for. Mother’s voice echoes in my head, and I quickly gulp down my sobs and smile. It’s injection day!
- - -
“We used to be best buddies, and now we’re not. Wish you could tell me why… Do you wanna build a snowman?” Kia's voice could be heard from the hallway outside. Mother used to tell Kia that she was going to be a famous singer one day. She would always wink and say, Well, at least everyone knows which side of the family Kia got it from.
That was before she knew what Kia could do. That was before Kia became a teleporter. And that was before Trix.
Mother knew Trix.
Trix was the only teleporter that made herself commercial. And she was the one who failed. Trix tried to save people. She promised to. And the second she didn’t live up to it, they came.
They came and framed her for the worst things possible. Of course no one knows that, just between Trix and me.
It helps that she’s dead. But ever since she came along, teleporters were disgraced. Every time a teleporter was heard of, it was because they died in “accidents”. Thank god Kia had me, or else she wouldn't've survived.
I don’t know why getting rid of it is so hard. I originally thought it was genetic, but neither Mother or Father were teleporters.
Father helped me on these projects. Started making me do them at age 10. He would bring me new subjects every other month, and they would be the highlights of my life.
“Mistress?” Isis puts a hand on my shoulder. I flinch away from the hand's unnatural coldness, and regain myself.
“Yes?” I meet Isis’s gaze.
“Would you like to talk to the subject? Maybe ask her to stop hurting the staff?” Isis politely suggest, and I stare into those peculiar eyes of her’s. It’s. Isis isn’t a human being, and I don't know why it seems like she is.
“I-” I hate myself for hesitating and answer, “Of course.”
“This way, Mistress.” She leads me to the bigger lab, one I haven’t gone to often.
“We only have each other. It’s just you and me…” Kia’s voice falters as she sees me enter the lab, and finishes the song. The few scientists in the lab clap enthusiastically, and I take note of that. She’s been getting comfortable.
“Mistress, are you going to..?” Isis’s voice trails off, but I can tell what’s implied.
“Kia. Have you been enjoying the facility? I made sure your room looked like your apartment,” I stop myself before showing her that I care.
“I enjoy it as much as a prisoner enjoys a nice prison. Oh, but I guess I am the prisoner. And this is the prison,” She gives me a sarcastic sweet and innocent smile.
“It’s not-” It’s not a prison. “Kia, I know you’re hurt. I know you don’t like the way people look at you when you introduce yourself at conferences. You want them to think ‘Oh, she’s that famous scientist!’ and not ‘Oh, she’s that teleporter. Hope she doesn’t decide to kill us all.’” I say gently. “So let me help you, Kia!” My voice cracks.
“Go away, Astra. I don’t need help from anyone, much less you of all people.” The disgust on her face makes me wonder what I did to make her hate me.
“What ever happened to you, Kia?” I reach out as if I was going to touch my little sister’s cheek, and draw my hand back when she turns away.
“Nothing. You know, actually, I do know. I realized that you never loved me. You’re just like Mother.” I flinch away as if I’ve been slapped. Why is that phrased as an insult, never mind how she said that I never loved her.
“You know nothing about Mother. After all, you were the one who ruined her. Ruined her career. Ruined her relationship with Father. Ruined her life.” I walk away, and watch her behind a wall with a window.
“I know enough to tell you that she never loved you.”
How does she know that? Well, she doesn’t. Then why does the world suddenly stop moving?
Maybe because you know it’s true.
I clear my throat and turn off the mike, “Inject her please.”
“Yes, ma’am.” The scientist places the syringe into an android’s hands and tells it to “administer the cure.”
I scoff, why use such big words to describe the same thing? “Ma’am, this should go into effect immediately, I suggest you watch,” The scientist next to says. I look over and narrow my eyes. Dr. Ross, he was just recently acquired. Let him learn the easy way that no one tells me what to do.
The android injects and Kia starts screaming immediately. I look over to Dr. Ross and he nods, “She’s not faking it. She’s in pain.”
“She?” I keep the growl out of my voice. One of the servants mouths it to him, must be his friend.
“Sorry, ma’am. It.” He presses a few buttons, “It’s not faking it.” I look over at Kia, she’s still screaming.
“Then get her a painkiller!” I bang my fist on the table. Do they really think so low of me? I am not the villain here! I won't go so far and say I’m a hero, maybe a sidekick… “ What do I pay you for?” I mutter as the same android rushes to give her a painkiller.
The shrieking stops, but she pants heavily. I turn on the mike, “Are you okay, Kia?” I look at Dr. Ross, “Is she okay?”
“No.” Dr. Ross says at the same time as Kia says, “Yes.”
“What’s wrong?” I ask.
“She just suffered the pain of a thousand needles pressed into every part of her body! She cannot be okay,” Dr. Ross exclaims.
“Doctor, I ask for evidence. Does she show any signs of lingering injury? Anything at all?”
“No, ma’am. But-” I shush him.
“Isis, give Dr. Ross a 2-day break from his work. He’ll come back when he learns how to behave around me,” I say, my voice hardening.
I look for a replacement. “You there!” A boy, can’t be more than eighteen is walking down the halls.
He stops and points to himself, “Me?”
“Yes, you. Come here.” I demand.
“Who are you?” I say, keeping my tone light.
“Niko Ito. I’m an intern here, about to finish my internship in a week.” His face lights up at the mention of that.
“Well Niko, how would you like a job?” I ask politely. He nods, and I tell Isis to tell him what to do.
“Kia, try to teleport into that spot,” I demand from her. She nods, I have no idea why she suddenly is agreeing.
She stands still. “Kia?”
“I’m trying, Tri!” Tri? She hasn’t called me that since six months ago, the last time I visited her. Before I brought her here. “It- It’s not working, Astra. Astra, why am I here? I don’t remember how I got here…” Kia looks around. “Astra, where am I? Why am I behind a wall!” Her voice rises with worry, not anger.
“Kia… You don’t remember anything?” My voice wavers. Is this good, or bad? My eyes flit over to Isis. I turn off the mike again. “Isis, what’s wrong?”
“I- I don’t know, Mistress.” She stuttered. Oh right, I added that in the code… for signs of uncertainty. “We have to do MRI scans first.”
I stare at her, frowning. “Then do them. Take her away. Actually, give me a second with her.”
“Yes, Mistress.” She leaves the room, and I glare at Niko until he leaves too. The room is silent, and I open the door.
“Kia… you really don’t remember anything? You’ve been here for about a week,” I whisper, frowning.
Kia disappears in a flash of light and reappears on the other side of the room. So much for the cure.
“Woah, is this your lab?” She asks. “Finally you brought me here! Mother said a long time ago that in the future, I would have to ask you exactly 16 times for something. And she was right! Sometimes I think she can see the future, you know?” She grins like a little kid.
“Yeah, I know,” I smile back, instead of shutting myself out like everytime she mentions Mother.
“She took me on those camping trips that you would go on every month, just once though. That was the day I learned I could teleport, remember?” She flashes next to me again.
“Geez, you have to stop doing that!” I laugh. “Yeah, you jumped off a cliff, how could I forget?” That was the month before Mother left.
“Well, at least we stargazed. She loved astrology, you know? She said she wanted to name you Selene. It’s the goddess of the moon, from Greek mythology. But you were Father’s child, they apparently had an agreement for who’s going to name who.” I smile nostalgically, Mother would place me on her stomach and tell me stories all night while watching the stars.
I know enough to know she never loved you. The Kia I know would never say anything without being 90% sure. Well, that Kia wasn’t my Kia. Maybe this one is.
“Ki?” I look around when she flashes away.
“Yes? Sorry, I miss teleporting everywhere.” She pops next to me and disappears in the next second. “Astra, why can’t I get out of here?” Kia asks.
“Oh, you can’t?” I act surprised. “I soundproofed these walls with a fiberglass, maybe that’s stopping you?”
“Maybe… You have to show me around!” She says, her eyes glinting with excitement.
“Ki, do you think Mother loved us?” I blurt out. She frowns.
“Do… Do you want the truth or a comforting lie?”
“I,” I don’t know why I hesitate. “The truth.”
Kia’s face is full of emotion, but all unreadable. She waits for half a minute before saying, “Of course she loved us, Astra.” I let out a breath I didn’t know I had been holding. “Now show me around!”
Someone knocks on the door, and I let them in. “Isis?”
“Mistress… The MRI scan? I have some theories, maybe some way to reverse it?” She suggests, her robotic eyes darting from me to Kia. “Is it ready? Are you ready?” Isis means if I’m done with Kia, but there’s deeper meaning there.
Niko pops up behind Isis, “Thanks for the job!” He mouths to me, and a woman who I’m guessing is his mentor frowns at him and shoos him away.
This time the mentor mouths Sorry! At me. I crack a smile, I’ll definitely keep my eye on Niko. “... Astra, were you even listening?” Isis says, frowning.
“Yes. Er… No?” I say just to make Kia laugh.
“What is Isis talking about anyway?” She says, tilting her head.
I smile, “Nothing.”
“And who’s that college student that said thank you?”
“He… recently got promoted. Why?” I tease raising my eyebrows.
“No reason,” Kia says quickly and she turns red. Oh… How I miss this. The thing I would do, and the lengths I would go to keep this forever.
“Isis, prepare the grandest room for a special guest. Kia’s staying with us, for at least a month.”
“Mistress… the tests?” Isis looks hesitant, even for a robot. The people around me are human, and Niko certainly reminds me I am. But in this lab, yiu have to act like my servant.
“Shut those down for now,” I say and lead Kia out of the lab and into the my room, on the highest floor, with a full glass roof. Designed to allow me to stargaze. And wake me up as soon as the sun rises.
Kia lays down on my bed, me next to her. “You know what, Astra? This view is better than Mother could’ve ever shown us in the cityside.” She yawns, and closes her eyes.
I’m sure it is. Because I know you were lying when you said she didn’t love us. No one lies to me. Especially when I tell them not to.
I reach into my pocket, and see the cold blade glint against Kia’s skin. No one ever lies to me. So I’ll make sure it’ll never happen again.