Chapter 4:

100 Jules Too Many

The Underwriters

A beautiful flight attendant marched down the jet’s aisles, her mechanical eyes following every move Hibiki made. With a gulp, Hibiki tried to avoid looking into the red bulbs marking the flight attendant’s android ancestry. If it was not for the unusual color of her eyes, every other part of the android looked uncannily human.

“Would you like any snacks, Madam? Water? Some pretzels?” A cloyingly friendly voice came out of the forced smile on the flight attendant’s lips.

Yui noticed Hibiki starting to curl in on herself and grabbed her shoulder before speaking, “Thanks, but we’re fine. You can leave us alone for now. I’ll call if we need anything.”

“Thanks, Yui. I know they mean no harm, but I don’t have much experience with androids.”

“Are cyborgs a problem for you too, little bird? Or am I just special?” Yui winked while Hibiki covered her face with Maya’s cage. Peeking around the edges of Maya’s bulbous form, she saw a dazzling smile and retreated again until she regained control of herself.

Hibiki opened her holopad and looked at the map of Galileo Island once more before turning to her commander. “So, what is this island like, anyway?”

“I’m guessing you haven’t traveled much before, right?”

Hibiki shook her head no while looking down.

“Hey. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. If it wasn’t for work, I wouldn’t even be anywhere near Newton City. But as for this island. It’s basically a playground for rich kids.”

“A playground?”

“That’s right. Do you know what the cheapest resort costs per night?”

“Um. I don’t know. 100 Jules maybe?”

Yui sighed and leaned even closer, her silver gaze making note of every detail on Hibiki’s face. She really wanted to treat the girl to everything she had missed out on before.

“Remind me to take you out to stay in some of the nice hotels in Newton when we get back. You’d be lucky to stay at any place in Newton for 100 Jules a night and still leave with your kidney intact.”

“Really? They’re that much more expensive? I never knew. I’ve been so focused on dad that well…” Hibiki began counting on her fingers. If 100 Jules was cheap, then her dream of moving into Newton with her dad was nearly impossible.

“Well, don’t worry too much. We take good care of our team. Just do your best on this case so you can hurry and join us. Okay, little bird?”

Hibiki nodded, her eyes flashing with a renewed light. Maya also began hopping all over her cage, ready for action.

“I won’t let you down!”

“Good! I’ll hold you to that. Oh, look out the window. We’re gonna be landing soon.”

At that, Maya chirped until Hibiki leaned the cage and her body closer to the window. Hibiki tried to ignore the sensation of brushing past Yui’s body to look outside, but a certain smirk was a little too hard to completely ignore.

The outer world showed a glowing island paradise. Even from the skies, Hibiki could see the clear pools of water, rushing waterfalls, volleyball courts, beaches, restaurants, and shops galore.

“Wow. This really is a rich kid’s paradise. I can hear at least six different waterfalls.”

“You can hear that from here? Maybe I should start calling you little bat instead of little bird.”

“Don’t even think about it!” Hibiki’s cheeks puffed again as she tried her best to glare angrily at Yui.

That quickly failed as Yui leaned her head into one of her hands and said only one word, “Cute.”

Turning her head away from her irritating commander, Hibiki pulled up the information they currently had available on her holopad. She ignored the woman sitting next to her as she asked, “So, where are we starting our search? The resort or with the GPS tracker she was wearing?”

“Well, Mr. West gave us the name and the address of Seela’s resort, so we’ll start there. That’ll also give us the chance to interview her friends.”


“If you think of anything important to ask, feel free to just say it. No need to wait for permission. I’ve got your back, okay?”

Hibiki finally turned to look at her commander again. Silver met black as she felt the tension leaving her body. She bobbed her head and smiled.

“I know. I trust you, remember?”

Yui smiled and patted Hibiki’s head once again. “Mmm. I won’t ever forget.”


Starlight Resort was the crème de la crème of the entire island. Only the most powerful customers were even eligible to stay there, making the disappearance of one of their guests fatal to their reputation. As soon as Hibiki and Yui stepped foot into the lobby, the manager whisked them away to a backroom. Hibiki typed away on her holopad before discreetly sending a message.

Yui used her peripheral vision to look at the girl looking completely undisturbed, in contrast to the message that she viewed on her eye’s built-in screen to avoid monitoring.

I overheard them talking about how to get us to leave so we don’t scare off the other guests. They plan on lying about Holly and Cynth already leaving.

Yui blinked to clear her vision before smiling at the manager in front of her.

“So, do I need to get Mr. West involved and let him know you plan on hindering our search for his missing daughter by lying that her friends have left? Or are you going to actually tell us the truth and give us access to Holly and Cynth?”

The manager’s mechanical eyes almost bugged out of his head. Electric stuttering was heard as steam practically came out of his ears while he looked for an excuse. Other employees looked shocked as they wondered how on earth Commander Yui knew their plans.

Finally, the manager stood up and grimaced while saying, “Please follow me and I’ll lead you to their suites.”

A quick elevator ride took them to the top floor where the combined three suites of the girls were located. The manager turned to look at Hibiki and Yui before making a plea. “All three rooms are located on this floor. Please leave using this employee elevator once you’re finished to avoid contacting any other guests.”

“That depends on if we need to talk to any other guests or not. Unless you don’t want Seela to be found?” Yui was clearly smiling with her lips ticked up at the corners, but her eyes made the manager feel a chill deeper than that of the middle of winter.

“Understood. Please let us know right away how we can help!”

Practically running away, the manager’s retreat caused Hibiki to giggle.

“Why, is that your voice, little bird? It’s absolutely adorable.”

Hibiki covered her mouth, but for once, she didn’t mind someone else hearing her voice. It had been a long time since she had last laughed.

“Let’s go get started, shall we?”

“Got it! I’ll keep an ear out.”

“I’ll be relying on those ears of yours from now on, so let me know if you hear anything at all of importance.”

The trio began to make their way down the hall to the first room when two frazzled teenagers practically pounced into their arms crying. Hibiki and Yui looked at each other before ushering the girls inside Seela’s room.

“Okay, let’s start with some introductions, shall we?”

“We already know who you are. Mr. West told us to stay put until you got here.” A sobbing redhead, Cynth, clawed her clenched arms as if they were the only thing holding her together. Holly leaned on her shoulder, ruby earrings bouncing as she tried to muffle her tears.

“We understand that this is difficult for you, but any information you can give us will help us find Seela faster.”

“Of course. We know. We just can’t believe. Can’t believe.” Cynth bust into tears once again with Holly following soon after.

“Um, maybe Maya can help you calm down a bit.” Yui, Holly, and Cynth turned to the chipper voice and watched as Hibiki opened Maya’s cage. A fat blob sputtered out and landed on Holly’s lap. Then, the beak opened, and a lullaby came out. The soothing frequency of the bird’s song quickly relaxed the two who stroked Maya’s feathers.

“Thank you so much. I haven’t felt this calm in forever.” Cynth raised the singing Maya out of Holly’s lap and gave her a kiss. Maya nuzzled her briefly before flying back to her owner.

“Okay, girls. Now that you’re feeling a little better, what can you tell us?”

“Well, like we told Mr. West, we all were super tired after our flight.”

Cynth nodded at Holly’s words and added, “We spent the whole flight drinking and living it up, you know? This is our first trip as college girls, so we were mega excited.”

“Yeah, we were almost falling asleep by the time we got here.”

“So, tired.”

“We just all added each other to the face scanner thingies and said g’night. And that’s it.”

Hibiki and Yui looked at each other as the two girls practically finished each other’s sentences.