Violet: No. 02189
All the colors and brightness of the city are reflected in 02189’s eyes. He could never imagine that a city so big and developed like that could even exist underground, especially outside Violet’s jurisdiction. Calling it a ‘city’ doesn’t make justice for the size and complexity of the place. It was truly a subterranean metropolis.
The area was for the most part coated by skyscrapers that covered the ground up until the horizon. Despite being on a cliff, 02189 could not see the end of the city.
Magenta and indigo were the most common colors on the signs and holograms that wrapped up most of the buildings, which ironically, caused a certain degree of discomfort to the young man, as such colors being one very similar to the color he grew up with and the other, the one that represented his enemies.
Vehicles also occupied the streets entirely, much like in 02189’s hometown but, in a messy frenzy that he never had seen. The city as a whole had this chaotic atmosphere that 02189 couldn’t help but feel anxious about.
While he continued to watch in awe the townscape, Kaede circled around the young man, finding amusement in his wonder at the scenery she was so used to seeing.
“So, that must convince you this place is not part of the Blue or whatever you said before, right? – Asked Kaede with a smug smile on her face.”
“Well, while it certainly doesn’t match the characteristics of that place as I was told… I’m still very confused about how this place works and where it stands as far as the war goes.”
Kaede’s smile instantly fades away as she hears those words coming from 02189. She then turns away and begins to walk the way back, before suggesting in monotone:
“If you are interested in how the city works, maybe you should talk to the professor”
02189 follows the girl while accelerating his steps.
“I heard you rambling about this ‘professor’ when we fought, is he the old fellow from before?”
“Hahahaha! No way in hell he could be! Gramps is a good man, but he’s about as sharp as a marble!”
After saying that, Kaede seemly out of nowhere stops and looks over her shoulder with a somewhat disappointed look toward 02189.
“You know, after we exchanged some words and fought together, you never struck me as the kind of guy who’d get along with the professor”
“I don’t get what you’re trying to say. I’ve not even met this professor; you talk so much about”
“Guess that’s true, but I was hoping if you joined our team, I’d have an ally”
02189 only gives a surprised expression as a response while they continue to make their way back to the cafe.
This girl sure is a weird one, but I don’t think she’s hiding anything from me. The simple fact that I’m still alive right now is because she didn’t leave me to die back there. So maybe I shouldn’t be so wary around her.
“I’m meaning to ask you something since the time I woke up”
Kaede tilts her head in 02189’s direction in an enthusiastic motion while waiting for the young man’s follow-up.
“Why did you say to me to ‘not die’?”
The question takes Kaede completely off guard. First, she blushes, embarrassed because she didn’t expect that 02189 had heard her say that, but after a few seconds of thinking about the meaning of the young man’s question and her answer, Kaede takes a serious posture and expression before responding:
“I just did not want you to die, it’s as simple as that”
02189 makes an even more confused expression and looks firmly at Kaede’s eyes.
“You know when we fought, I was seriously trying to kill you, right?”
Kaede looks away.
“You say that, but you still didn’t kill me when you got the chance. I could ask you the same question. Why did you decide to spare me!?”
As Kaede was putting together her words, she also began to gesticulate and slowly raise her voice, while gradually looking back at 02189 and returning the intense glance to him.
“I just realized, as you were saying you were not my enemy… I hadn’t a reason to kill you”
“Ok so that end-”
Kaede tried to wrap up the subject, but 02189 kept talking.
“Actually, our situations were very different, that’s why I’m trying to understand your reasoning”
“When I spared and helped you, I was only retracting an error for my part, but you actively saved me and brought me here, to what I assume is your home”
“If you don’t have any ulterior motive behind this gesture, I can’t understand why you did that"
Kaede stretches as if in a way to relax in that uncomfortable situation. She mentions answering one time before really doing it afterward:
“So, you’re saying after we fought together, if our situations were reversed, you’d leave me there bleeding out, and just call it a day?”
I hadn’t thought about this at all. In truth, our circumstances were too different to be equated with a simple role reversal. At that moment I had nothing more to lose, so anything I could gain from Kaede was an advantage, no matter how small. The opposite, however, was not exactly true, as she could simply have taken the equipment of the two corpses with her and never looked back.
“Well, I don’t think I could have left you behind too”
“There you go, you see!? This whole conversation was just a waste of time!”
The way she thinks is very different, she seemed annoyed with the simple fact I suggested she could’ve helped me with an ulterior motive. In Violet, it would be expected to gain something in return after helping another one. I’m still not sure she’s being entirely honest with me, even more with this ‘team’ and ‘professor’ talk she had before, but if she indeed is being sincere…
Nearing the cafe’s entrance Kaede once again stops and turns toward 02189.
“Not even close”
“Now you’re just adding more numbers randomly, aren’t you?”
“Ahhh… Whatever! It’s impossible to keep calling you by this long-ass number! Let’s go over to Mayu-chan’s place! She’ll give you a proper name!”
Kaede once again grabs 02189 by his wrist and runs with him passing by the little garden on the right side of the yard.
The two run off as some people who pass around give them looks of amusement and surprise. Kaede stops before a red portal identical to the one that had caught 02189’s attention before.
“So, what is exactly this structure? It isn’t connected anywhere. What is its use?”
Kaede jumps a little from the unexpectedness of 02189’s question, before remembering that even she didn’t know much about portals before working in the cafe.
“It’s a shrine gate, when you pass through it you leave the bad spirits behind!”
02189 seems very surprised by Kaede’s explanation but just raises one eyebrow without revealing much of his thoughts and immediately crosses the gate.
“Waait! You’re supposed to bow before entering… or should I clap? Damn it! I always forget!”
As Kaede scolds 02189 she also passes through the gate without bowing.
“Kaede-chan!! Mggh~ Don’t say such bad words while entering the shrine!”
Right before the duo, a girl stares at them with a judgmental look and a pout on her face. She wears red hakama trousers and a white kosode, while also having her black hair down on her shoulders, with red lace on the back of her hair holding a ponytail.
Immediately after reprehending Kaede, she notices the girl still holding 02189’s hand. Her face blushes and in a series of disjointed movements, she bows to the shrine gate and hastily passes under it, leaving the shrine grounds.
Kaede and 02189 both look puzzled at the girl's attitude, but before any of them could react in any way, the maiden spoke out first.
“K-k-k-k-Kaede-chan!? D-did you got a boyfriend!!?”
At a comically slow pace, Kaede looks at her hand holding 02189’s, and her gaze goes up until she stares at his face already looking at her. Kaede immediately lets go of his hand and looks away ashamed.
“He’s the guy I told you about… the one that fought alongside me…” – Says Kaede in a very low and shy voice.
The cryptic nature of the comments of the two girls left 02189 in a tough spot. But that served to confirm one thing for him. The people of this place are definitely very different from the people he grew up with. Kaede, the old man, and now Mayu, all of them portray themselves in a very peculiar way, from their clothes to their talking pattern and mannerisms, it’s all very strange for 02189. Also, not only them but the few people he saw in the cafe and in the yard, they all seem to behave in the same strange way.
Clearing his throat in a way to disrupt the bizarre talk between the two girls, 02189 decides to make a remark:
“So, you said something about me needing a name of some sort, what’s up with that, anyway?”
“True, I almost forgot! Mayu-chan, he needs a name!”
“Kaedeee, you’re being rude! Just because his customs may differ, you can’t treat him as a pet!”
“No, it’s not that! It’s just… haven’t I told you he has some weird numbers as a name?”
02189 sighs heavily with the girls chattering and once again decides to intervene.
“I’m called 02189. For some reason, Kaede finds it hard to remember, so to avoid inconveniences and keep our communication easier, it would be preferable to have myself be ‘named’ as you are”
Mayu is taken aback by 02189’s neutral and formal way to address the situation but continues with her energetical tone as she does little nods with her head while hearing what the young man says.
“I see, I see, so that’s the picture”
“You’re called 02189…”
While thinking, the girl begins to walk around in circles with her hand on her chin while grimacing with her eyes forcefully closed, and occasionally spilling some words.
“0 … maru…no..”
“1… Ichi… that’s too common… but-”
“Is she okay?”
“That’s normal for her, she begins to overheat if she thinks too much, so she walks in circles to cool down her head”
“I see, what a peculiar girl”
He didn’t seriously believe that, did he? – Kaede questions in her mind while looking perplexed towards 02189.
“That’s it! Your new name is Renichi Haku!”
“I don’t understand the logic behind it, but if that’s easier for the people here to say, it’s all right for me”
“Allow me to explain the 're' comes from the ze-”
“Nobody wants to hear that, Mayu-chan” – Kaede immediately shoots down what Mayu was so enthusiastic to say and blocks the girl’s face with her hands.
“Renichi Haku… hmm… Renichi should be the family name but seeing you didn’t have a family name, to begin with, maybe there shouldn’t be a problem”
Both Mayu and the young man look bewildered at Kaede as she continues her tirade.
“You don’t exactly seem like a Haku, it’s not a bad name for you, but…”
“I’ll call you Ren!”
“Oh, I like that! Nice idea Kaede-chan!” – Exclaims, the now excited Mayu.
“By the way, we have not yet formally introduced ourselves, did we?”
Mayu looks at the young man and bows her head briefly before finally introducing herself.
“I’m Amano Mayumi, the Shrine Maiden of this temple, it’s nice to make your acquaintance”
“You also can call me Mayu-chan ~ ❤”
The young man looks amazed at the change of posture of that girl. Just moments ago, she looked like a crazy airhead, and now she talked and acted in a way so gracious and proper that left him enthralled for a few moments.
Even if 02189 was not sure if he should do the same, he just copied the way the girl introduced herself and tried to mirror her movements before saying his lines.
“I’m Reinichi Haku. It’s also a pleasure to make your acquaintance Mayu-chan!”
“Ehehe! So, I’m goin’ to call you Ren-kun!” – Responds the teasingly shrine maiden.
“Ok, ok enough with the introductions! My lunch break is almost over, and I still haven’t got you to talk to the professor!”
“If you don’t mind, I can do that for you”
“It’d be a great help!”
Kaede gives a heartily smile as she leaves the two on the shrine and goes back to the cafe.
A few minutes get by and Ren begins to follow Mayu inside the temple.
“So, this professor lives in a place like this? With all due respect, this doesn’t seem much professor-like”
Oops... Maybe I said too much, she even stopped walking, did she get angry by that!?
“Fu-ahahaha! You’re absolutely right! I keep saying that to him! But that fraud simply refuses to move! And he doesn’t even pay rent!”
“Honestly, Mr. Amano is just too kind…”
Ren seems somewhat surprised by the lighthearted response and gives some thought to what the girl said, but without voicing his mind, he gives a simple response:
After walking some good minutes through the temple, Mayu and Ren entered what seemed to be an abandoned room. It had some heavy dust and spider webs around, with a bunch of tools scattered on the ground.
Underneath a carpet in the center of the room, there was a wooden trapdoor, that Mayu immediately opened with a key she carried with her.
Ren thought about questioning the girl about the circumstances of that place, however, both of them got startled by a loud bang that echoed not only inside that room but to the entire temple.
“What was that-”