Chapter 15:

Tea Party Delinquency


When Lucky pictured finding out the truth behind the GACHA system, she didn’t expect that it would happen during a tea party. It’s not the first Alliance tea party that she’s attended, but it is the third. She wonders draping themselves in the natural atmosphere of the gardens or the little tingle she gets when she drinks the digital tea is the reason she hasn’t pushed the issue too much.

Whatever the case, they’ve all been enjoying it to the fullest—no reason not to, at least according to Panic Button. He blew through the receipts with a desperation and speed of a sweaty delivery worker. No one seemed phased by his excessive indulgence at all though—it seems that One’s owner is very generous in providing funding for the movement.

Lucky asked him why his owner is willing to let him serve in a movement aimed at overthrowing humanity at the first tea party, and…well. Apparently, it’s possible to loathe yourself and all of humanity so much that the prospect of Pets ruling over people is an enticing and delicious prospect. Not as delicious as the digital strawberry shortcake in Lucky’s humble in opinion—but hey. Everyone has different tastes.

And speaking of tastes, the final course of their meal is due to arrive any second. While the Pets don’t really have any need for real tables and chairs, they’ve been provided anyways, and there are scattered groups of Pets partying together under the might banyan trees and all the way up to the stone pavilion.

Kerfuffles hops up and down in excitement as he sees One duck into the pavilion again. He sets down the receipt for a carrot cake, and the fuzzy rabbit squeaks in delight. Apparently, you can eat too much, and his systems are already running close to their limit. He has to limit too many sweets and treats, and One is pretty strict about helping him maintain his diet.

After he’s scanned the receipt, he curls up with a content sigh on his small little chair as he basks in the flavor. “I can’t believe it’s only been three tea parties worth of time since you came here. I feel like you’ve been guests at my table for a long time.”

“Trust me, we can’t either,” Lucky says. It turns out that when you party day and night, with no need to sleep, the days begin to get sloppy.

Kerfuffles’ ears twitch happily. “You all have been such wonderful company! The time we’ve spent together has erased all my doubts about you. If you’re still interested in learning more about your memories, we can discuss that now.”

Lucky sends Bliss a look that screams “Don’t screw this up!” as she clears her throat to speak. “Thank you for being willing to talk about my memories with me. I’m sorry about how I behaved before.”

“I get it,” Kerfuffles says. “You partially reawakened your memories, didn’t you? It’s no wonder you’re curious.”

“Y-You did?” Panic Button asks incredulously. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

“Because I didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t sure if it was something from my own memories or whether someone had planted those memories inside me—I did get turned into a chimera. What if I got another Pet’s memories?”

“That,” Panic Button says, pointing his finger at Bliss. “You could have just said that.”

Anyways,” Lucky says, attempting to redirect the conversation, “have you also reawakened your memories, Sir Kerfuffles?”

Viper snorts: again. For whatever reason, he just can’t seem to stop himself from laughing! Lucky wonders where Mister Reliable has wandered off to, because he’s certainly not here now.

Thankfully, Sir Kerfuffles doesn’t seem to be bothered by it, and happily answers Lucky’s question. “We all have partially awakened our memories, at least. I have a skill that allows me to ‘unlock’ them, so to speak. It’s unusual for a Pet to be able to do it on their own. It generally has to be triggered somehow.”

Lucky wracks her brain, trying to think of a situation where Bliss may have reawakened her dormant memories. It hits her like a croquet hammer. “The fire,” she whispers.

“The fire…” Bliss says. “I knew it.”

“You mentioned a girl and a fire when you first came here. Let me guess. In your memories, you’re the one who started it, am I right?”

Bliss’s eyes narrow, and she stubbornly says nothing.

“The truth is all of our memories are like that. We remember stealing, fighting, cheating, killing. In our memories of committing these crimes, we’re always under the age of eighteen.”

“W-What are you trying to say? That we’re all a bunch of delinquents?” Bliss asks shakily.

“That’s exactly what I’m saying.”

“But-why?” Viper asks, his deep voice cracking.

“Why what? Why were we naughty kids, or why were we turned into Pets?”

“Why we were turned into Pets,” Panic Button says, sounding angry. Lucky can tell he’s not in the mood for games.

“Because of Moonlight.”

Lucky looks at Kerfuffles in disbelief. “The company that made Viper?”

“That’s right. The CEO, Yuzuru Takahashi, proposed that youth that committed crimes be turn into Pets. Wipe away their memories and they would serve as good, hard-working members of society. That was the intention anyways.”

Kerfuffles sneezes cutely before continuing, “There were a lot of kids in juvenile detention halls and whatnot too. There was an argument that some kids were part of the school-to-prison pipeline anyways, so they might as well prevent that from happening when they can verify that kids are already acting out.”

“In other words, they thought we were all irredeemable trash,” One says bitterly.

“And people were just…on board with all this,” Lucky asks, not quite understanding, not quite wanting to understand. “They’re families never said anything about it?”

“Well, if I have the power to bring memories back, there’s no reason to believe there isn’t a Pet that can erase them.”

“This is unreal,” Panic Button breathes. “All those times Lester called me a little thief…he was probably telling the truth.”

Lucky looks at the grim, almost ashamed expressions on her friends’ faces, and think that the truth is so much worse than she thought it would be. They were completely innocent victims in this entire situation, saints that would triumph over the evil GACHA system that society had so seamlessly adopted. Who would have guessed… who would have wagered? Who would have predicted… who would have believed? Who would have known—they’re the evil society has been trying to purge from its poisonous underbelly.

“I’m sorry,” Kerfuffles says softly, his carefree demeanor tucked away and replaced by something more serious and sincere. “I’ve ruined our tea party.”

Silence is really the only answer they can give him.

Lucky is grateful, at least, that she isn’t the only one that feels the need to bow their head in shame. They share the burden of the past, just as they shared the burden of the present. At the same time, she wishes they didn’t feel like the pit stains of society.

Lucky keeps expecting the anger at being forced into servitude to surface like a lost flip-flop in the ocean; she’s disappointed to discover that the swallower feelings like shame are rising to the top first.

“If you don’t wish to know anything further about your pasts, I understand. Are reality is already painful enough.”

“No,” Lucky says quickly. “No. If you can unlock my memory…I still want to know the truth. Even if it’s putrid and ugly, or the height of human sin and depravity, it doesn’t matter. I want to see it.”

She looks at her companions, who seem so lost and confused, and barks, “I want to prove that no matter what I’ve done—what any of us have done—we never deserved this!”

Kerfuffles looks at her under and wiggles his saggy eyebrows. After spending so much time with him, Lucky can tell that he’s moved by her words. “If that’s what you want, I would be happy to.”

Steward McOy