Disclaimer: This novel contains adult material including sexually explicit activities, strong language, extreme violence, mass murder, child murder, suicidal themes, derogatory language, and more. This work is not suitable for minors. Reader discretion is advised.
Psycho Bullet Festival 2222
Bout 02: Enter Raiyne Underwood
Date: November 18, 2003
Coordinates: Beyond The Rift from Raiyne’s Whimsy
I can barely breathe. I can barely see. My entire body aches. The ground below feels wrong against my skin. The metallic taste of blood lingers across my tongue.
My name is Raiyne Underwood. I was no one special, just a 19-year-old girl in a small town, desperately trying to decide what she wanted to do with her life. Then, my life changed when my uncle Lou saved me from a monster from another world. He gave me the opportunity to join him in defending this town. I said yes, and now… here I am. In the world of these monsters, lying at death’s door.
Why did this happen to me? Because I was selfless. I wanted to help someone when I did not need to. I wanted to make something of my life and protect people. But I should have just stayed in the library. I was never made for hunting. I was never made for combat. Yet I tried anyway. I tried… and I lost everything.
My only friend was transformed into a monster, and died by my hand. My mother tried to save me from my own recklessness, and now her remains were inches away from my person. My uncle abandoned me when I needed him the most. And now, I don’t even know where I am. I’m not there yet, but if the blood on my hands is any indication… I will die soon..
Would things have been better if I said no? Probably.
Could I have done better? Could I have stopped this? Probably.
Probably, probably, probably. But it no longer matters. I can do nothing to change the past and do nothing to change my minutes-long future.
“You really shouldn’t be thinking of such nasty things, Raiyne.” A high-pitched voice said from beyond a wall of auditory fog.
“Wisp?” I replied, my voice weak. “I’m… sorry. For the niece of the Huntsman, I guess I’m quite the disappointment.”
“On the contrary, my dear. You played into my expectations exactly. You met them on the mark and delivered a positively satisfactory performance.”
“I… what? Please, Wisp. It’s hard to talk.”
“Well, worry not Raiyne. I can make all the pain go away. Simply let me into your mind. Let me in and I can send you off as painlessly as possible.”
“…Fine. It’s not like I can resist. It’s not like I can… ever do anything again.”
“That’s the spirit!”
As I made my agreement, Wisp drew closer and closer, before his fox-like nose penetrated my forehead, and until even his small ghostly tail seeped into my skull. As his ethereal form flowed through my brain, I felt my body grow numb and my mind accelerate. Memories started flashing before my eyes as my body throbbed and my brain unleashed a wave of dopamine.
It was euphoric, it was jovial… but it was fake. It was a means of euthanizing me and curbing the pain. I knew this. I agreed to it. But I still felt pathetic. 19 years of life, and it all ended here. In another world, begging for death, having accomplished nothing positive, and wrought needless destruction.
I put these negative thoughts aside as I gorged myself in the mental pleasure before me, losing myself in the torrent of a fabricated life, and newly drowning in the process. I thought this was the end for me, but it wasn’t. Somehow, I remained cognisant of the world around me. Of the dank, spongy cavern I was in. Of the wretched smell that flared through my nostrils. And of my own body.
I no longer tasted my own blood. I no longer felt the gash along my torso, the laceration on my forehead had healed, and I felt strength return to me… but I could not move. I could not speak. I could not even move my eyes. Yet… my body still moved. It moved against my will. My once shattered fingers clenched into a fist, and my once broken arm rose before my eyes, reaching for the ceiling.
The monosyllabic word escaped my lips. It was spoken with my voice. But it was not uttered by my will. I did not want or even try to speak. Yet, I spoke.
As I recovered from the euphoria, I realized what must have happened. I still lived, but my body was no longer my own. It was under the control and influence of another. Another who began to move me, who rose from the ground below, and looked down at my now healed body. Questions escaped my mind, but they were met with no answer. Instead, the other controlling me brought my hands to my tattered suit and tore it away from my being, leaving my body naked and exposed.
I shouted with disdain and furor, but my body laughed, cackling like a victim of madness as they brought my hands to my body, fondling it aggressively. I pleaded, I begged, but my words had no meaning. They had no medium. And just as my frustration peaked… I was met with a foggy feeling once more. Senses once amplified faded, and my ability to perceive myself, to take in stimuli from my own body, was cut off. I was left in a dark nothingness.
Was that real? Is this death? I had questions, but no one could answer them.
With no stimuli, without even the perceptible presence of another puppetting my body as if it was their own, I soon faded into this dark nothingness.
Date: February 22, 2222
Time: 03:22 UTC – 12:22 LT
Coordinates: 41°N 127°E (North Korea, Asia)
Light. That was the first thing I noticed when I opened my eyes. A soft, warming glow from an orb above.
“What?” I asked myself, hoping that my voice would be my own once more. And it was. My throat and lips moved as they should and, while weak, my voice sounded like my own.
I turned my head away from the direct light and looked downwards. I saw a misshapen mound of cloth covering my body and, through some rustling, I determined that too was under my control, and devoid of all wounds. Whatever happened, I was healed. I was no longer at the cusp of death.
I sighed, turning my head up at the ceiling once more. It was a soft blue ceiling with lights embedded, emitting a comforting glow down onto me. Pleasant, but unfamiliar. Looking to my side, I saw a dark rectangle embedded in a wall and, beneath it, I saw a shelf lined with small trinkets and papers. Looking down even further, I saw a coffee table. Empty beyond a book and a glass of water.
I sat up to investigate further, turning to my left to see what I could best describe as a chest of toys, and turning to my right to see a kitchen. As I saw these two, I let out a deep breath and leaned back, realizing that I was, indeed, resting on someone’s couch. As the blanket brushed up against me, I also realized that I was naked. However, I had a feeling that was the least of my problems at the moment.
Indeed, I had far more pressing concerns, such as finding out what happened to me and where I was. The design of the home was unlike anything I had seen in the mass produced dwellings of Rainy Woods, and something about the air struck me as… cleaner.
I fashioned the blanket into a makeshift dress when I heard the pitter-patter of footsteps growing in the distance. Before I could react, a door into this large room swung open. The door revealed a person no more than 1.4 meters tall, a little girl by any indication, and she was a child of a truly unusual color.
Her skin was a light purple, her hair looked ethereal and was colored indigo, and she was dressed in what looked like a conservative women’s business suit from the 90s. Within her hands, she carried a tray containing a plate, a steaming cup, and what looked to be a change of clothes, neatly folded.
I looked at her with confusion, staring into her pink eyes and wondering just how, and why, somebody would look like this. Yet she did not return my accusatory look. Instead, she looked at me and smiled before offering me a greeting… At least I thought it was a greeting. Much like the writing on the cover of the book on the coffee table, I could not recognize this woman’s speech. She seemed to recognize this and began saying various words in various languages before uttering, “are you doing alright?” I nodded in response, and she let out a small giggle before walking closer to me.
As she grew near, giving me a better look at her person, I sank deeper into the couch I rested on, for I could tell that, whoever this girl was… she was not human. While she had everything to pass at a distance, color aside, her face had mechanical crevices, her lavender hands were broken up with flashes of a black rubbery substance, and her hair… wasn’t hair by definition.
I tried thinking of a way to address this machine before me, but her expression shifted as she observed mine, growing into a small frown as she placed the clothes, cup, and plate on the coffee table, scooting them toward me as if urging me to eat. Looking down, I saw apple slices, crackers, and a cup of tea, its odor mild yet pleasant. I looked at this food suspiciously, contemplating if I should try it… only to pause as the robot spoke to me once more, her voice proper yet youthful.
“Good afternoon, miss. My name is Yuki. What’s yours?”
“Oh, um,” I began, clearing my throat, “my name is Raiyne Underwood. Could you please tell me where I am?”
“You are in the town of Uyunala, but I’m guessing that does little to answer your question.”
“Correct. That does not really help me… at all. What state am I in? Am I even still in the US?”
“Oh… this is most unusual. Tell me, Raiyne, what year is it?”
“It was 2003 last I checked. …But considering I’m talking to a robot, I guess I must have time traveled somehow. Which, while farfetched, I can almost see happening.”
“You seem rather calm for someone who believes to have time traveled.”
“I’m only calm because my life has not necessarily been normal,” I sighed, “and I thought I was going to die. I should probably freak out about how everything I knew and loved was now gone, but right now? Right now, I’m just glad I’m alive and speaking to somebody as pleasant as you… Yuki.”
“I see. I have many questions for you, Raiyne, but I would rather answer yours, starting with when, and where, you are. The current date is February 22, 2222. 219 years in the future from your perspective. You are no longer in the United States. You are currently in a small town in an area that, back in your time, was known as North Korea. Specifically, the Chagang Province.”
“…I have a lot of questions for you, and I’m sure you have a lot of questions for me. But I’d rather play a hundred questions while… not naked. Would you kindly give me 10 minutes to get dressed in these clothes and eat something?”
“Certainly, Raiyne. I will step outside of the room to give you privacy. Please call for me if you need anything, or if something is not to your liking.”
Following that request, Yuki walked out the door and left me alone in this massive room. I spent the next minute with my head wrapped in my hands, contemplating how my life wound up like this. Stranded on the other side of the Pacific and two centuries displaced from everything I knew. I was alive, but that was of little comfort when confronted with so many unknowns. I eventually mustered the determination to raise my head and tackle the things in front of me, changing into the clothes she offered me and eating the food she so generously provided. Admittedly, I was neither cold nor hungry, but it felt good to have something covering my body and for something to rest in my stomach.
I dressed myself in a navy blue sweater and some tight white pants, but they both fit me amazingly well for something selected on the whim, same for the bra caressing my breasts, which felt better and more comfortable than any bra I had ever worn in my life. Even the one I got from a specialty shop. The food, while simple, had a similar ‘perfect’ quality to it. The apple was crisp, moist, and flushed with flavor. The tea was at the ideal temperature and gracefully coated my throat. And the soda crackers were far more flavorful than what I had usually gotten from my local grocery. It satisfied, surprised, and stirred confusion within me, but once I had cleaned my plate and dressed myself, I called Yuki back into the room to begin our Q&A session.
“Where would you like to begin, Raiyne?” Yuki asked as she stood two meters away from me, standing while I sat on the couch.
“I think it would be best if I start first. I’m guessing I have more questions about you than you have questions about me, and I should be able to keep things succinct.”
“My name is Raiyne Underwood. I was born on November 18, 1984 in the small town of Rainy Woods, Washington, where I lived my entire life. In the autumn of 2003, I was casually making my way through life, working as a part-time librarian after graduating high school, when my life took a turn for the bizarre. It was at this time that I learned my town was periodically attacked by beings known as Rifters. Monsters from another dimension who appeared in Rainy Woods shortly after rainfall. They came into this world through Rifts. Tears in physical spaces that look like voids of nothingness, absorbing all light and matter that comes within their range.”
After this encounter, I learned that my uncle, Lou Underwood, was a hunter of these Rifters, and I enlisted to help him in his battle against these monsters. To help keep my hometown safe. He and I defended Rainy Woods together for about six weeks until… bad things happened. My best friend perished. My mother died trying to save me. I lost track of my uncle, and I found myself stranded in the homeworld of these Rifters. I thought I died too. Instead, I woke up here, halfway around the world, 200 years in the future. This is why I am so calm, because I thought my life was over.”
“…Raiyne, you mentioned these Rifters came from another dimension, correct?” Yuki asked, a skeptical look on her face.
“Yes, yes, I did. What of it?”
“As you talked, I searched for a town named Rainy Woods in Washington… and I do not believe it exists. There is no census data, no articles referencing it, and no indication that it was ever established. Nor any indication that you ever existed.”
“So… what you’re saying is that I might have traveled through spacetime, and not just… time. That even though this is Earth, this is not the Earth I know.”
“That is a reasonable theory. At least as reasonable as anything we have discussed thus far. And I am inclined to believe it. Our records from that long ago are not fully complete or accurate, but if we lack such information on an entire town, then this is the only conclusion I can come to. Either that or you are providing inaccurate information. However, I can tell that you are not a liar, and that you sincerely believe these things to be true.”
“Okay. Now that we’ve established that much, could you please tell me a bit about this new world? More specifically the modern stuff, as I don’t really need to know about the past 200 years. At least not right now.”
“Certainly. But first, based on your description, I would like to make a few assumptions about the era you came from. Feel free to correct me if I make any erroneous statements: Computers were a staple of the average American family home, but only within the past decade. Civil injustices, ranging from racism, sexism, and homophobia, were still fairly common. The nation of the United States of America was perpetually at war to further the military industrial complex. And civilization had progressed largely linearly for the past few hundred years, iterating on itself to where it was in your day, with no major stopgaps.”
“That all sounds plenty accurate so far. I take it that this is what 2003 was like in this world?”
“Indeed it was.”
“Okay, so there might not be as much a shock as I thought. Especially since, based on what you just said, the United States and… North Korea were a thing in this world as well. Hell, for all I know Rainy Woods just had a different, and better, name in this world.”
“We can investigate that at another time. For now, a briefer on the current day: Since the early 2100s, this world has entered what has been commonly described as a utopian state.”
“The world is dictated and run by a single global government with the objective of preserving the prosperity and happiness of its citizens. All forms of monetary wealth have been abolished, meaning there are no rich, poor, or impoverished. Citizens of the world are under no obligation to work for a living, and are provided with food, utilities, and shelter by the government. This immediate and unrestricted access to essentials has caused crime to become a statistical anomaly, and led people to become happier and more content with their lives than ever before.”
“If I may interrupt with a question,” I said, raising my hand like I’m still a student, “but how exactly does all of that… work?
“The modern way of life is made possible through various things, but the biggest proponent is the advances made in technology. As you can tell by simply talking to me, technology has advanced dramatically. Autonomous humanoid robots with advanced artificial intelligence, known as Machi, have been common since the late 2000s. But before we became mainstream, society was gifted with the innovation of Real Booters. Machines that allow any form of matter to be converted into anything else. This devalued all resources, commodities, and the very idea of money overnight. As, with a Real Booter, anyone could easily recreate any resource using electricity and common refuse.”
“Real Booters are what allowed humanity to enter the Post-Monetary Era. They erased many of the burgeoning problems caused by humankind’s rapid consumption of Earth’s natural resources and lack of environmental preservation. While also bringing forth a new social revolution, as humanity was no longer broken up by class or net worth.”
“…What does a Real Booter look like? Can you show me one?” I asked, still trying to piece things together.
“I can and shall. Please, follow me to the kitchen.”
I did as Yuki requested, walking over to a… I guess it would be apt to call it a post-post-modern kitchen, where she stopped next to a microwave-like device embedded into the wall. Instead of a number-pad or dials on one side of the device, there was a black pane of glass that Yuki touched with a finger, causing the glass to light up. It displayed a moving image with warm and welcoming colors before a voice asked her, “what can I get for you today?”
Yuki then nodded at me, urging me to voice my request to this device, which presumably had some sort of microphone in addition to an unseen speaker. Like someone who was told to wish for something within 5 seconds, I panicked and instead asked for the first thing I could think of. A tomato omelette. The vertical screen on the device then displayed an image of a tomato omelette along with a circle-shaped progress meter, indicating that the dish would be ready within 10 seconds.
After the progress meter filled up, the microwave-like device opened up, revealing a small place with a tomato omelette, and also a fork. Both the plate and form felt flimsy, not quite plastic, but like something that would break apart fairly easily. Maybe sandstone or something.
Even though I was not particularly hungry, still, I dug into the steaming dish before me and nearly dropped it as the flavor danced across my palette. Much like the apple, tea, and crackers I had earlier, the taste was divine. It was still just eggs, tomato, basil, and various spices, but they were all perfect. Before I could finish chewing my first bite, let alone put the plate down, I turned to Yuki with a look of exasperation, committing a serious faux pas as I spat some of my food in her face.
“This is amazing! And you said this was made of trash?”
“Indeed, it is. Instead of the waste disposal systems of your era, including sewers and landfills, we are able to recycle and turn all new and old refuse into anything we can imagine. From food to essentials to clothing to playthings to electronics. Anything can become anything, though there are exceptions. For instance, you cannot create weaponry with Real Booters… not that 99.9% of the population would even dream of such a thing.”
“And… how does that work? How does a Real Booter actually work?”
“It takes the refuse from a receptacle, in this case a pipe, and breaks it down on an atomic level, changing and reforming the matter into something else.”
“So… it does all of that in ten seconds?”
“Do you recall the technological disparity between computers from the 1950s versus what was common in your era?”
“I mean, I was never an expert, but yes, I know things advanced dramatically and… right, 200 years of innovation and refinement. Sorry, it’s just hard to believe that I’m seeing this… while talking to a child-sized android…. Wait, is the term android a slur or something or—”
“No. There are very few contemporary derogatory terms for us Machi, as humans have little reason to view or treat us negatively. We were introduced to help humanity prosper and we are beloved for what we do. Most humans cannot imagine life without us.”
“On that note, what exactly do you do? How do people ‘get’ a Machi? And do you… like being a Machi?”
“Heh. It is most uncommon to hear anyone ask questions such as those in the modern day. Machi are mechanical beings with artificial intelligences created for the expressed purpose of enriching and bettering the life of humans directly. There are many different forms, shapes, and sizes of Machi. Some resemble construction equipment and create buildings. Others are small and more animalistic in design, doing tasks that are easiest when one has a smaller frame. While others are simply what you would consider to be a supercomputer or servers. Beings without any limbs who exist to manage matters involving massive data or global networks.”
“However, the most common form of Machi are models like me. Companion Machi. Mechanical beings with humanoid proportions who live and exist for the expressed purpose of bettering the lives of their human partner. As every new human is born into this world, they are given a Machi that serves as their helper, friend, and acts almost like a parent as well. Companion Machi form a close connection with their partner, monitor their development, both mentally and physically, and help them achieve whatever they want in life.”
“All Machi are brought into this world with a base programming and core values. We want to help humanity as a whole, help the individual we are partnered with, and feel no joy greater than seeing their partner develop into a happy, healthy, and well-adjusted individual.”
“Or in other words,” I began, “there are thorough measures in place to prevent the Machi from plunging the world into a dystopia?”
“That was one of the first things finalized during the development process of the Machi. Ensuring that all Machi are kind, considerate, and empathetic. That they would never, under any circumstance, turn against humanity, or harm a human when there is an alternative means of diffusing a conflict. We understand our place in society, and doing what we are designed for is the greatest pleasure we can experience.”
“Well, that is assuring… but what about you, Yuki? Who is your owner?”
“Us Machi do not have owners or the like. We only have partners. This society believes that the idea of owning another sapient creature is deeply wrong, and such terminology is discouraged. But to answer the intent of your question, my partner is an 8-year-old named Milky ‘Doki-Doki’ Sunshine, who is currently sitting outside of the door, eavesdropping on our conversation while neglecting her homework.
As Yuki said that, the door slowly opened, revealing who this Milky person was. I moved to get a better look at them and saw a young girl in a cream-colored sweater and a dark skirt. She looked prim, proper, and precious enough to elicit a smile on my face from her very presence. She smiled back at me, though I could see the not-so-subtle signs of nervousness over her brown face as she turned her head over to Yuki.
“Sorry about that, Yuki. But can you really blame me for wanting to know about the lady who fell through time and out a portal in the woods?”
“Of course not, Milky. If anything, I find your curiosity admirable. If you wish, you can sit in on the conversation, but please, let me lead it. You are an incredibly bright child, but this is an incredibly sensitive subject that must be handled with the utmost care and grace.”
“Okey-doke!” Milky chimed in before moving past me and sitting down at the kitchen table, where she clenched her hands together and looked at us with rapt attention.
I giggled as I admired this child’s cuteness, but I soon turned my attention back to Yuki.
“Let me get this straight. Back in the ‘late 2000s’ Real Booters and Machi were introduced, and changed the world forever.”
“Yes, that is correct,” Yuki replied. “And I am assuming you wish to know how any of this is possible, as they are two amazing innovations and, from your perspective, they ‘just sort of happened.’”
“Not exactly how I would word it, but close enough.”
“Well, it is due to two key events in human history. Both date back to 200 years ago, and both involve a woman by the name of Abigale Quinlan.”
As I heard that name, I felt a shiver go through my mind. An alarm was raised, but for what reason… I could not tell. I felt like I had heard their name, perhaps referenced in a novel, but no further details came to mind.
“Abigale Quinlan is the key individual responsible for the prosperity humanity now revels in. She is the lead creator of Real Booters. She is the lead creator of Machi. And even to this day, she is still the top form of governance in the world, traveling far and wide to preserve the utopia that humanity enjoys, and doing all she can to make the world incrementally better.”
“…You know, I was doing pretty well with the whole future shock thing, but that… does not make any sense. How can one person do all of this? You used singular designations and present tense, so I am assuming she is one person, but… people also do not live for, what would it be, 150 years? Or, wait, has medical technology advanced to that level?”
My confusion and deduction caused Yuki’s light purple face to beam with joy, before she urged me to sit at the kitchen table as we continued our discussion. She sat next to Milky, as to be expected, I suppose, while I looked at the two from the other side. I felt slightly inadequate looking at Milky— this grade schooler who was far more knowledgeable about all these matters than I was. I could see her lips quiver, eager to answer my latest questions. But, like a good girl, she remained quiet while Yuki continued our conversation.
“Abigale Quinlan is not a human. She is genetically different from a human on a fundamental level, and while she can be mistaken for a human at a glance, her abilities are levels beyond that of a human. She is an immortal who has walked this Earth for the better half of a millennium. She cannot be killed by any weaponry, and even if her body was fully eradicated on an atomic level, she will still reform herself and live on. She has a might and intellect that surpasses anything a human can hope to achieve. Has the ability to Real Boot anything using her hands and mind alone. And her powers enable her to manipulate nature itself. She can dismantle storms and cause earthquakes. She can manipulate both wind and the gravitational pull of Earth, allowing her to travel at insane speeds without ravaging her body.”
“…So, this Abigale Quinlan person is basically a God, is she not?” I asked as I finished my omelette.
“She has personally requested that all refrain from using such terms to describe her. From dubbing her the Almighty Abigale to claiming she is the ruler of Earth or humanity as a whole. However, from your perspective, the term ‘demigod’ would be more accurate.”
“In other words, this Abigale Quinlan is primarily responsible for this world being in its utopian state? Meaning that she is, and deserves to be, a celebrated figure.”
“Absolutely!” Milky chimed in, “In fact, we are hoping to see her next week for our bicentennial celebration!”
“Bicentennial for what?” I replied.
“Abigale first came into prominence in 2022, when she aided humanity during its darkest hour. I would provide you with more details, but this meeting has already been going on for quite some time, and I would like to move onto something else. Unless you would rather learn more of our world’s history.”
“To be honest, Yuki… my brain feels like the egg I finished a moment ago. Like it was fried to perfection. So the less information I need to internalize for the moment, the better.”
“Unfortunately, my next request is one that will only, going with your metaphor, further fry, if not char, your brain.”
“Oh, brother… Fine. What do you want to tell me now?”
“When Milky and I found you in the woods nearby, falling from a portal, one that matches your description of a ‘Rift,’ I ran numerous scans on you. I apologize for doing this without your consent, but I viewed it as a necessary precaution, and in doing so I uncovered something… odd about your person. I would like you to look at your reflection in this mirror and look at this photograph.”
As Yuki said this, she went over to the kitchen counter, where she grabbed two items and placed them before me. I started with the mirror and looked at my reflection. I had not wondered if my appearance changed due to how everything felt the same. My brown skin, short black hair, sapphire eyes, and facial features were all as I recalled. And looking down at myself once more, I looked exactly as I thought I should. I was still tall, had a fair bit of muscle, and was rather slender.
I then cautiously looked at the photograph, embodied in a frame with the name “Abigale Quinlan” engraved on it. She was a tall woman dressed in a suit that hid most of her bodily features, but she looked slender, muscular, and a lot like me from the waist down. But then I looked closer at our faces and my expression in the mirror soured.
Her skin was slightly darker than mine, her black hair was a slightly different shade, and her features, while not identical, made us look like sisters, if not outright clones. The key difference between us was the eyes. Hers were a harsh crimson. It was the opposite of my sapphire eyes, but if I wore colored contacts, I was certain that I could impersonate her.
“So, you are saying that I look like the savior and most important figure in your world.” I said, pushing the mirror and photograph toward Yuki.
“Not only that,” Yuki said, her voice heavy, “but we believe that you have some of the same abilities she does.”
“…Huh? Did you figure that out from a ‘scan’ you did to me?”
“This conclusion was drawn from a blood test, as you have incredibly similar DNA to Abigale Quinlan, not dissimilar to her late children.”
“You just don’t know how to give a girl a break, now do you? It’s just bomb after bomb with you.”
“I apologize, Raiyne. But unless I determine these things, someone else will, and I believe this is a more comfortable environment than what you would be placed in if you were to refuse.”
“Alright then,” I said, my voice hoarse and exasperated. “What do you want me to do to test these powers?”
“Please begin by touching the plate in front of you and turning it into something else. You must imagine the plate transforming into something malleable before it is reformed into whichever object you desire.”
I heeded Yuki’s instructions and put my hands on the plate that once held my delicious eggs. I grabbed it with both hands and stared at it intently, imagining it becoming something else. Something simple. A block of wood. I imagined what I desired in my mind’s eye, and, as the thought solidified, the object in my hands began to contort and morph. It took only a few seconds, and I was met with the sound of awe from Milky’s small mouth as she marveled at my ability to turn a plate into a piece of wood.
I laughed as I looked at the wooden block held in both hands, and placed it before Yuki, who nodded and smiled at my accomplishment.
“Incredible work, Raiyne. Now, I want you to practice a lesser ability of yours to confirm the true range of your powers. The Snap Burst ability. Abigale can cause miniature explosions, no more than a few centimeters in diameter, with a snap of her fingers and a good deal of focus. I will place the block on the counter and I want you to try and destroy it with your Snap Burst.”
After Yuki put the block well out of arm’s reach, I focused on it intently, aiming as carefully as I could before I let out an innocuous snap. The wooden block burst into chips of scattered wood that spread all throughout the kitchen, possibly the living room, and a chunk of wood landed in my cheek. I winced as the wood cut my skin, but was quick to pluck it out. Paying no mind to the mess I caused, I focused on my new wound, which was half the size of a dime. I brought a hand to suppress the blood before heading to the kitchen sink.
After turning the faucet, I brought water to my cheek… and noticed that there was no blood. The sizable wound healed in the few seconds that it took me to get to the sink. A moment of confusion struck me before I remembered a key word in Yuki’s speech about Abigale. ‘Immortal.’
“Right. I guess I can heal from any wound as well.” I announced it to Milky and Yuki, who were still recoiling from the explosion. “Or at least chunks of wood flying at my face!”
“It appears that you can,” Yuki replied. “Thus far, I have confirmed Real Booting, Snap Burst, and Rapid Regeneration, but do you have the ability to control nature?”
“How am I supposed to test that? By making it rain?”
“That’s probably the safest way,” Milky interjected.
As Milky made her comment, she went to the kitchen window and unfurled the blinds, revealing a nature-riddled small town that was not too dissimilar to my own. Snow laid across the ground and, if I did not know any better, I would have accepted that I was still in Washington. The sky above was partly cloudy, and I exerted my will upon the world to change that. I concentrated on both the micro and macro scale, but the sky remained static. It looked down at me mockingly, refusing to change.
“Fascinating. You have Abigale’s original core abilities, but not her greatest. That will be of pertinent interest to Abigale and many others.”
“Um, alright? So what do you want me to do now?”
“First, I want your assurance that you will use your newfound powers responsibly. That you will not use these powers to harm others physically or mentally. Without your assurance, we will need to consider you the greatest known threat to our world. Someone capable of doing untold damage to our society. Second, I would like you to agree to a meeting with Abigale. Abigale has been updated on every detail of our meeting, and she is incredibly curious about you. For your own wellbeing, and the wellbeing of society, I advise that you meet with her, or else she will locate you herself.”
“…You know, I really don’t like the idea of my interactions with others being recorded without my consent. Though, I’ll admit that, taking my powers into consideration, I do pose a threat to national, erm, global security. Plus, it’s not like I have anything to hide. Yes, I promise to use my powers responsibly. I am a lost little lamb in this bright exotic future, so I need as much help as I can get. And, based on what you have told me, I would be honored to meet somebody like Abigale Quinlan.”
“Splendid, but expected, considering how courteous and agreeable you have been Miss Underwood. If you have no further business to attend to, I would like to escort you to the local train station. A relay point has been selected for you and Abigale, and I have volunteered to be your escort.”
“Hey! What about me?” Milky shouted, reflexively smacking the table.
“You are, of course, coming along, Milky. Now that I have determined that Raiyne is a trustworthy person, I see no reason to confine you in your room while I escort Abigale elsewhere. Besides, I would never hear the end of it if I deprived you of this experience.”
“You bet your boards, buster! And major thanksies!”
“If everything is settled,” I interjected, “then I guess we should get going now. The sooner the better and whatnot.”
From that decree, Milky rushed out of the kitchen and towards the front door, likely grabbing her coat. Yuki, meanwhile, stayed by my side.
“If you wish to wear a more formal outfit for your meeting, please use the Real Booter to create something to your liking. Simply speak what you desire, and the device will infer what you want. And do not worry about sizes. As I’m sure you have noticed, Real Booters are quite adept at creating clothes to fit their users’ frame.”
Before she made this comment, I had seriously forgotten that I was wearing what basically amounted to a pair of pajamas. I awkwardly thanked Yuki for her offer before staring at the same magic sci-fi box that prepared my light meal mere minutes ago. I kept my request simple, asking for a three-piece suit with a white suit jacket, white pants, a cobalt shirt, a flat topped white hat with a blue silk band, dark brown dress shoes, and white socks.
I was expecting the produced results to be misshapen considering my proportions and how hard it was for me to find clothes that fit me, being a 190 centimeter tall woman with a limber frame, but looking over these clothes… everything looked to be the right length to fit me. It looked even better than when I had the local tailor work on my clothes, and the material’s quality left me stunned as I brushed my fingers across the threads.
“Were outfits like this commonly worn by women in your world?”
“Well, not really. I was given a lot of these as a gift at a young age, and I developed a liking for them. They look nice and are a lot more practical than dresses and skirts. People called me a tomboy a lot, and they were more or less right, but if I like something, and it looks good on me, why should I conform to their normal?”
Yuki giggled at my response as she walked out the door. As I dressed myself in my suit, I realized how uninquisitive I was earlier, as there was so much I did not know about this world. For instance, I had no idea if there were still racial, gender, and sexuality issues present in this world. Yuki said this was a utopia, but utopias are based on subjective beliefs and principles. You can definitely forge a utopian state using eugenics and sexism. Actually, I had not seen a male since I woke up. So for all I knew, men were relegated to semen producers, or replaced with something that combined the ova of two women to create a child.
Such thoughts occupied my mind as I systematically dressed myself, finding my movements swift and steady as I clothed my person in what felt like record time. Which was surprising, considering my current predicament. I picked up the hand mirror from the kitchen table to look over myself and smiled. Looking at my reflection, seeing myself dressed up like this, it looked as if everything was back to normal. Back to how I was the morning of our last hunt… Before I had to end her life. Before I had to kill Caroline, my best friend.
I let out a sorrowful sigh as I realized where my thoughts were going and shook my head to keep my focus. There was a time to dwell on the past, but that was not now. My future was beckoning, and if I was to have a meeting with a world leader, it would be a true insult if I were tardy for a meeting.
As I reminded myself of the happier parts of my current situation, I left the living room kitchen hybrid and greeted Milky and Yuki with a smile. They did the same, clearly eager to get going and become part of their world’s history. Yuki led the charge by opening the door, inviting in a wave of afternoon sun that washed over us as we walked out and into the wintry rural town of Uyunala.
I was almost overwhelmed by the new sights before me, but the first thing I noticed was the white and radiant snow that covered the town. It was manageable, leagues beyond the worst winter I could recall, yet there was enough to provide a winter wonderland for young children, such as Milky, to revel in. One look at the snowman positioned just outside the front door made it clear that she did not let this opportunity pass her by.
Beneath the snow, I noticed the nature that surrounded even this small neighborhood. Trees and shrubbery were plentiful. I could make out what I assumed to be barren flowerbeds, and the variety of plant life before me was surprising. Deciduous trees came in all sizes and shapes, ranging from short and sprawling to tall and imposing, but all were painted a dim black. Spring was clearly too far away for even the hints of buds to be visible to the human eye. Coniferous trees, large and small, rose higher than many homes, some bearing thick and lush pine needles, others only developing them after rising several meters. It looked as if trees from different parts of the nation, if not the world, were all brought here… and prospered.
As for the homes, many buildings in this place lacked an identifiable culture to them, being more homogenized dwellings designed for efficiency… if I were to hazard a guess. However, I could still pinpoint a few flairs of cultural origin, including a temple that loomed in the distance, positioned atop a hill.
As somebody who hadn’t the luxury to visit a foreign nation, other than Canada, I felt an urge to explore and see the sights, let this other world and other culture sink in. Instead, I simply followed Yuki and Milky as the two quickened their pace. They were nimble in spite of their height, but it was nothing I could not keep up with, standing side by side with them as we walked to the train station.
As we did so, I lost myself in the environment once more, and caught glimpses of locals, bound in winter wear, moving about. As I did so, looking over the numerous Machi and humans around me, I could not help but notice how most of them did not necessarily look Korean. Most had a brownish hue to their complexion, but I could not pinpoint a clear race for any of them, much like how I could not with Milky. It was strange, but not surprising.
Globalization was getting bigger and bigger back in 2003, and here, in 2222, it would not surprise me if more countries had populations even more diverse than those seen in major U.S. cities, where racial lines were being crossed through interracial marriages. The idea was enough to bring a smile to my face, as I lacked a clear racial identity growing up. Even I was not entirely sure what my racial makeup was, with my ancestors hailing from no less than 8 different countries. I was mostly Asian, but beyond that, things got complicated, and I never had a sort of DNA test to definitively state what I was.
There was also nobody like me in my hometown. The population was 90% white, and my school was even whiter. I was seldom treated with disdain because of my race, but the sense of otherness was omnipresent. I was a flash of color in crowds, and I recall a few instances of being treated as a token minority by the school. They liked me; I graduated as number two in my tiny class, and the only true form of bullying I was subjected to was for my studious tendencies, rather than my race. Even so, I would have liked to grow up in an environment with more people like me… With an environment where I was not an other.
“Raiyne? Raiyne! We’re at the train station!” Milky exclaimed, latching her small hands onto my sleeve.
“Oh, sorry, sorry.” I exclaimed, rushing back to the two as we walked up a small ramp to a platform.
There was no ticket booth and no staff beyond a blue-skinned Machi wearing what almost looked like a police officer’s uniform. She waved at us, inspiring Yuki and Milky to do the same. I shyly mimicked them, before my eyes were drawn to a screen, displaying text in various languages and indicating that a train to a place known as “Shentaizho” was coming within 3 minutes.
“Is this ‘Shentaizho’ place our meeting spot?” I said, knowingly butchering the pronunciation.
“It is indeed. On that note, Raiyne, do you speak any language other than English?”
“I cannot say that I do. I briefly studied French in high school, but my proficiency was at a 3-year-old’s level at best, and I did not have ample opportunities to practice the language.”
“Huh? Didn’t you start learning lotsa languages when you were a baby?” Milky asked with genuine confusion in her voice.
“200 years ago, people often only spoke one or two languages, and there were far more commonly used languages than the ones available today.” Yuki explained.
“Oh, right. I think we learned about that in history class last year… but I forgot all about it!”
As these two shared in their sibling-like conversation, the train started rolling into the station, and as I saw it move past, I was dazed. I was aware of just how advanced Asian trains had become back in my world, especially compared to the few American or Canadian trains I had ridden. But what I saw was something out of a Hollywood movie or a sci-fi novel cover. It was slick, fast, and had an alien, otherworldly quality to it. It was aesthetically appealing, but if displaced from the train tracks, I was not sure if I would even identify it as a train.
I stared closely at this metal tube as its doors opened with a chime, inviting a total of five people to get off while our group of three stepped on. Its interior was bright, the air smelled fresh, and it had roomy seating, with rows of four seats that went from the front to the back of this train car. Despite being so luxurious, the train was sparsely populated, and none of the occupants paid us much mind as Yuki found an unoccupied row. The two sat together while I sat across the aisle.
After buckling myself in, a chime played, indicating that the train was leaving the station. It seamlessly, yet rapidly, accelerated until the world outside my window was rendered a passing blur of colors. Despite this, I still looked intently outside, watching a sea of snow drenched nature pass me by… and feeling silly as I did so. Here I was, in a futuristic and fantastical world, yet I was still amazed and entertained by the mere sight of nature.
However, I felt I needed to decompress like this, as there was a lot going through my mind at the moment. I had lost everything I had known. I was in a place foreign in every conceivable way. I would go further down the rabbit hole of history with Milky and Yuki soon enough, but for now… I just wanted to watch the mountains pass me by, and immerse myself in the beauty of the natural world.
I think what amazes me about this all is how dire the future looked in my time. While I was unsure of the details and detested the name, global warming was an encroaching issue. It led me to believe that places like my hometown, let alone places like this, would not exist in a matter of decades, as the world was ravaged by extreme weather conditions and natural disasters. Yet here, in the year 2222, the Earth looked like it was doing just fine. Sure, it might have not been my Earth, but the very sight of such a fortunate future… it warmed the innermost regions of my heart.
Psycho Bullet Festival 2222 Main Page
Bout 01: Enter The 2-2-2-2
Bout 02: Enter Raiyne Underwood
Bout 03: Enter Abigale Quinlan
Bout 04: Enter Miss Flare
Bout 05: Enter Terra Flare
Bout 06: Enter Verde Dusk
Bout 07: Enter The Righteous
Bout 08: Enter The White
Bout 09: Enter Nari
Bout 10: Enter Punky
Bout 11: Enter Peatrice
Bout 12: Enter Jad Spencer
Bout 13: Enter The Genociders
Bout 14: Enter The Destruction
Bout 15: Righteous X Genociders
Bout 16: Raiyne Underwood X Punky
Bout 17: Terra Flare X Genocider Jad
Bout 18: Verde Dusk X Peatrice
Bout 19: Abigale Quinlan X Nari
Bout 20: Black Righteous God X White Genocider Daemon
Bout 21: Enter Shin Abigale Quinlan
Bout 22: Exit The 2-2-2-2