Chapter 3:

Gossip Girl

The Underwriters

Three bodies were staring at each other with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Hibiki was uncomfortable under the overly interested stare of Mr. West. Luckily, her commander stepped in before things got too tense.

“Now, Mr. West. We came here to get more information on the situation before we begin our search. Please, start from the beginning and tell us how your daughter has gone missing.”

“Right. Well, Seela is in that phase where she wants to ‘explore the world’ and ‘find herself’ like every other college student. She was supposed to come home during her school break, but she decided to go on a trip with her friends.”

Hibiki opened her holopad and began taking notes. Yui started to activate her voice recorder before noticing Hibiki’s actions and pausing. She let a small smile slip before returning to her stoic mask for Mr. West.

“And what happened next? Where was she planning to go?”

“Well, the plan was to hit up the islands of Galileo and Copernicus before visiting Gravity Falls. She was going with her two best friends, Holly and Cynth. The trip had just started yesterday, and she messaged me as she got on the private jet. That was the last I heard from her.”

“So, when did you first realize she was missing?”

“I found out from her friends. They contacted me early this morning crying, telling me that they couldn’t find Seela. I immediately tried to call and message her before contacting you.”

Yui nodded before slightly tilting her head to watch Hibiki’s reactions. Hibiki was completely unaware of this as she kept her head down and devoted herself to note-taking. Yui could barely see an annotated map of the three mentioned locations that Hibiki had brought up on her holopad as well.

“Thank you for all of that information. Is it correct to assume that Seela’s friends contacted you from Galileo Island?”

“Yes. That’s right.”

“And did they say that they lost track of Seela before or after they got off of the plane?”

“They. Well, they said that they got to the resort on Galileo just fine last night and then found Seela’s room completely empty this morning.”

“How did they enter her room?” A chirp caught Mr. West off guard. He looked down at Maya and squinted before Yui coughed.

“That would be Maya, Hibiki’s companion, and replacement voice. Hibiki raises a valid concern. How exactly did Cynth and Holly know that Seela’s room was empty?”

“I. I think I remember them saying that they all had added each other to the approved visitor list on their rooms’ smart face scanners. And when Seela didn’t answer her holoband or their knocks, they used the face scanner to enter and found it completely empty.”

“Was anything left behind? Like luggage or her holoband?” Hibiki questioned.

“No. Well, yes, but nothing important. All of her clothes were still there, but her holoband was gone. She probably took it with her since she rarely takes it off.”

“Got it. Thanks for all of your cooperation, Mr. West. We’ll get started right away. If we have any further questions, we’ll be in touch.” Yui pulled Hibiki’s chair out for her and nodded for her to follow. Hibiki hopped up and turned to respectfully nod at Mr. West before following behind her commander. Once their backs were turned, Mr. West’s eyes briefly clouded as his smile dropped.


Back in the hover car, Hibiki typed a couple more times on her holopad before sending her notes over to Yui.

“These are some fine notes, little bird. Very detailed.” Hibiki was stunned before seeing that Yui had taken her hands off the wheel and was rifling through her own floating screens. The wheel subtly continued bouncing slightly left and right as the AI driver took over completely.

“I’m just glad I was useful.”

“You were very useful. You asked some incredibly important questions that I almost forgot. What made you think of them?”

“I heard it.”

Yui turned her entire body and leaned towards Hibiki. Flicking her holographic screens out of the way, she gave her full attention to the girl.


“I overheard a maid on the other side of the mansion gossiping. She said that Seela always took her holoband with her, so it should be easy to find her.”

“Not necessarily. Holobands are highly encrypted. If we can’t get into contact with Tomoe to work her magic and find any recent location data, then that would be a dead end.”

“Yes, but the maid also said that ‘I don’t know why Mr. West doesn’t just use the tracking software he downloaded to find her that way.’ So, there should be a backend.” Hibiki gulped as she peered through her lashes to look at Yui, hoping that she could prove her usefulness to the team. Despite Yui’s teasing, she was still well aware that she was not an official member of The Underwriters yet.

“Hmm. Interesting. And Mr. West conveniently left that part out. Good looking out Hibiki. I’ll send a message to Tomoe to see if she can find that backend and get access to that tracker. In the meantime, it’s time to get started.”

“Um. Will we be heading to the island of Galileo ourselves?”

“Yep. At least, to start off, but who knows if Seela is still on the island. I’ll drop you off at your house to pack a bag and then we’ll head on out.”


The AI driver continued coasting towards the Outskirts. Hibiki’s head began to bob up and down as she drifted off into a nap. This car ride was so soothing in comparison to the taxi she took to Newton that it made her sleepy. Yui took off her camo jacket and placed it over Hibiki’s body. Pressing a finger to her lips, she reminded Maya to be quiet. The bird nodded her head affirmatively before folding into a blob and taking a quick nap as well.

Yui stared for a bit at Hibiki, taking note of her thick pigtails and rich brown skin. Hibiki’s pursed lips softened as she rested, making her seem so much calmer. Leaning back, Yui closed her own eyes for a brief moment while waiting for the ride to end.


The abrupt stopping of the car jolted Hibiki awake.

“Sorry, little bird. I don’t want to wake you up, but we’re here.”

“Oh. Sorry for falling asleep. I’ll be right back.” Hibiki shook her head to try to cover up the rapid warmth flooding her cheeks. A jacket slid off her body and she picked it up before sheepishly handing it back to her commander.

“Thanks.” She fled out of the car, leaving Maya behind in her seat for a few moments while she packed. Yui pulled her jacket back on while watching the now awake bird fluff its feathers.

“Your owner is a shy one, huh?”

Maya pecked a couple more unruly feathers back into place before turning towards Yui. Hopping towards that side of her cage, she leaned her beak out to reply.

“Mmm hmm! She’s shy but super cute! The cutest and best owner in the world!” Yui used a finger to stroke Maya’s chin as she nodded her head. Hibiki was definitely adorable, that’s for sure.

Once Hibiki returned with a stuffed backpack in tow, the trio set off towards a small private airport where their plane awaited.

“Our big boss, Madam Mono, has connections with a lot of big dogs who let us use their jets whenever we need.”

“Madam Mono? That’s an interesting name.”

“Everything about our boss is pretty interesting. No one knows her background, why she started The Underwriters, or even what she looks like.”

“You mean you’ve never met her in person? Even though you’re the team leader and everything?” Hibiki asked incredulously, as her jaw dropped slightly.

“Never. We only ever communicate through text or voice.”

“And you trust her?” Hibiki kept walking towards the plane before stopping to prevent another collision. Yui had stopped moving and turned her head just enough that Hibiki could see the corner of her piercing eyes.

“I never said that.” Yui continued walking up the steps of the jet while Hibiki ran to catch up. Commander Yui’s words rang throughout her head. Hibiki decided to ignore it for now but kept a mental note for the future.

Settling into their seats, Hibiki peered at her commander once more. A layer of frost seemed to cover the silver in her eyes. Hibiki shivered as the entire plane seemed to be coated in a freezing cold, but warmth quickly spread as Yui grabbed her hand.

“It’s fine, little bird. You didn’t do anything wrong. Just remember to be careful who you trust.” Yui looked down at the girl and felt her chest relax as Hibiki stopped trembling. Then, she watched as Hibiki’s dark eyes captured her gaze directly for once.

“Then, is it okay for me to put all my trust in you?”

The frost fully receded, and a comforting warmth entered the plane instead. Yui’s eyes seemed to glow as her mouth curved upward.

“Yes. Always.”