Chapter 16:

Memories Unleashed


“Lucky, do you mind if I go first?” Bliss asks as Sir Kerfuffles leads them to a more secluded part of the gardens. There’s an old unused entrance on the east side of the gardens, and while the inside is a little cluttered, it offers some much-needed privacy.

“I don’t mind. It’s probably driving you crazy since you already know a little.” Lucky’s also used to talking a big game. Maaybe she’s not ready to do this as she thought.

Bliss, the sensitive soul that she is, must have noticed the stiffness in her steps on the walk over and decided to give Lucky an out. Lucky gratefully accepts with grubby, greedy little paws. Bliss smiles at her and nuzzles her in reassurance.

Kerfuffles clears his throat to get their attention. “Now, I know the girls want to go through with this—but what about you two?” Panic Button and Viper both look troubled by his question.

In the midst of all this, Lucky hasn’t considered how they feel about their memories: she should have. Panic Button is fluffing his tail as if trying to pretend he didn’t hear the question. Viper releases his claws and detracts them, similarly distracting himself from having to give him any answers.
Lucky twists her tail around Panic Button’s before leaning up to nip at Viper’s ear. “Be honest. Do you not want to know the truth?”

Panic Button closes his eyes and puts his head in his furry hands. “I don’t. I just—have a feeling that it’s better off not remembering. I’m—happy, with how things are. Being with you guys is so much fun, I’m happy to have this much for myself.”

“And you?” Lucky asks Viper. “Are you happy with how things are?”

“Not completely,” he admits. “Being under the thumb of the system and living the rest of my days doesn’t make me happy at all. I’ve been controlled by the system enough—I don’t want my life to be dictated by my memories moving forward.”

Their reasons are totally different, but the root of their excuses is the same: they’re afraid. Lucky gives them both a kiss on the cheek. “That’s okay. You don’t have to remember now, or ever. Not unless you want to.”

Viper looks like he wants to cry at her words. “Are-Are you sure that’s okay?”
“Of course it is. You haven’t been allowed to make any choices before now, and I have no intention of taking that freedom away from you.”

“You’re making this way too easy for us,” Panic Button says. “Giving us permission to slack off like this while you and Bliss take on all the hard stuff? How can I just say no?”

Lucky tilts her head. “By saying no, silly. I’m not gonna force you.”

“And neither will I,” Bliss adds. “We may bicker and argue a lot, but I promise you that when it comes to our pasts, I won’t even mention it unless you bring it up.”

Panic Button seems touched by her words, and for the first time Lucky wonders if they would have made a good couple. It’s a fleeting thought, and it disappears just as quickly as the perfume on a strip of testing paper.
Panic Button and Viper turn to look at Kerfuffles again, who has been patiently waiting for their answer throughout their entire exchange. “I don’t want to know,” Panic Button says confidently, the tone of his voice almost boastful.

Viper simply shakes his head at the bunny rabbit, and Kerfuffles nods in acknowledgment. “Ho, ho, hoooo, then let’s get started, shall we?”

The process of retrieving memories inside Bliss is surprisingly short. There’s a scan, a click, and then her memories become free for her to access. It hurts to think how painfully easy it was for Kerfuffles to give them what they in the time it takes a lightning bolt to strike.

“Bliss? Are you okay?” Panic Button asks tentatively.

“I—” Bliss collapses in on herself, her mighty visage shriveling before Lucky’s very eyes. There are tears in her eyes. “Dad…”

Panic Button rushes to her side before the tears even have a chance to fall. “It’s okay. You’ll be okay, alright? Won’t you?”

“I hope so,” Bliss says. “To be honest, I’m relieved. I thought I did something far worse.”

Bliss begins to explain her memories to them in a slow, thoughtful cadence. She—that is, Motsara Auguste—is a Haitian American teen who lived with her single father after her mother died in childbirth. He loved her a lot and encouraged her daily when she faced bullying for her vitiligo. He told her she was beautiful, that she was worthy. All the right things. Yet on at the same time, he was obsessed with finding a treatment for her condition.
He took her to specialist after specialist, wracking up thousands in bills for treatments that didn’t work. He never said a word about the cost and avoided talking about money whenever she asked. Truth be told, she couldn’t understand him at all. If she was beautiful and worthy, then why was he so desperate to find a solution?

Bliss didn’t know, but when her father was yanked from their dining room table and shackled in handcuffs, she knew something had gone horribly wrong. With the help of another high school kid who was always in the know, she discovered that the loan sharks her father was indebted to forced her dad to take the fall for one of their many crimes. Thus, he ends up in jail, and Bliss ends up a borderline homeless teen with a vengeance in her heart that could burn the world down to its core.

While it wasn’t quite as dramatic in reality, she gassed the loan shark’s building and torched the place with a flamethrower in revenge. Once police finally arrive at the scene, she’s out of breath, and out of fuel, but never out of spirit. She fought them tooth and nail as they took her away, but with one needle in the neck and she was gone.

After Bliss finishes telling her story, Lucky is at a total loss for words. How do you comfort someone with such a dramatic background?

Unfortunately, she doesn’t even get the chance to try before pink flamingo police officers are bursting through the doors. Lucky jumps into a hunched position and growls. Her friends don’t respond nearly as quickly, and just like that, they’re gone, only leaving her and Kerfuffles behind.

One of the officers picks up her walkie-talkie and says, “Units apprehended. Proceeding to capture the main target now.”

“Where did you take them!” Lucky cries, laser bursting from her eyes in place of panicked tears.

“They must have a Pet with a teleportation skill helping them. Don’t worry, we’ll get them back later. For now, we need to hop!” Sir Kerfuffles cries, dashing between the legs of one of the officers, who twists around in confusion trying to look for him, to no avail. Lucky follows not far behind, shooting off lasers ta the two of them before breaking away from the old entrance in search of a hiding place. She quickly finds a ditch that leads to the stream that will serve her well and jumps down into it. It’s a good ten-foot drop at least, but she doesn’t even break her stride when she lands and continues to run until she’s sufficiently hidden in the cramped, dark cave.

The time passes slowly after that. The scent of damp earth fills her senses and the way that droplets of water drip from the ceiling in a steady rhythm tell her that the time is passing by excruciatingly slow. At some points, she hears the sound of the patrol officers shouting and hunting them down, Pets of their own no doubt in tow to aid them. At the same time, she hears the cries of the members of the resistance movement. As powerful and sophisticated machinery, it fills her with great relief to know that they’re on her side.

She should be out there fighting alongside them, but the shock of her friends being snatched away from her, and the devastation she feels at the thought of being caught is too much to bear. If she couldn’t save them because she got caught in this conflict, she might never see them again. So, more than her feeble loyalty to the Alliance, she stays where she’s at until the sounds of fighting stop completely.

When she finally emerges from her hiding spot, One is there to greet her; he looks grim. “C’mon,” he says. “We managed to push them back for now, but just barely. If we don’t take this chance to strike at them now, we may be wiped out if they decide to bring more enforcements.”

“And what about my friends? Where did they take them?” Lucky asks anxiously.

“The mansion of the CEO of Moonlight, I’m sure. They want to lure you out by any means possible, and they haven’t managed to catch you, even with Barkley on their side.”

Lucky’s ears droop, and One’s eyes soften. “Don’t start thinking this is all your fault. We’re an active resistance movement; they were bound to find this place anyways.”

Lucky nods, but it isn’t genuine in the slightest.

Eventually, Lucky finds herself in the stone pavilion once again, except this time the structure is half destroyed, and there are no tea parties in sight. Sire Kerfuffle is pacing, hopping back in forth with such force it seems more like stomping at this point.

Once he notices their presence, he stops. “Is she the only one who made it?” Kerfuffles asks.

One nods solemnly. “They’ve destroyed about half of us and kidnapped the rest.”

The rabbit snorts. “How foolish am I to think I could take on Moonlight with numbers like this? I’m an idiot to give everyone such false hopes. Telling them we would world over humans? Pah! I’m embarrassed at myself.”
“If that’s how you really feel, then you need to do everything in your power to rescue them!”

“What, the three of us against a mega-corporation CEO who has access to the most advanced Pets in the world? It’s impossible.”

“Weren’t you the one who said that I would turn the GACHA system upside down?” Lucky asks, feeling annoyance leeching at her patience reserves. “If you mean that, then help me do it! My ability, Call of the Wild, has a massive amount of potential, doesn’t it? Stuff me with food and see how much I can develop it. If everything works out, you won’t even need to do anything to fight at all.”

Sir Kerfuffles stands on two legs. “You really think you can do this?”

“Yes. And one thinks so too, don’t you?” Lucky looks at him pleadingly, her cute and sparkly eyes looking up at him expectantly.

She finds out very quickly that this method is quite effective, and before she knows it, One is agreeing, an embarrassed hand raised to his face. “See? Even he thinks we should go for it. What do we have to lose?”

“…Alright. We’ll go. However, if I don’t think your power-ups will be strong enough to get us through, then I won’t let you go. Sound fair?”

Lucky nods. There’s nothing she wants more.

Kerfuffles blows air out of his mouth, causing the fur on his eyebrows to lift, giving her a better look at his eyes. “I’m glad One didn’t let me eat too many carrot cakes. If you eat all of them, you can raise your levels so quickly you won’t even believe it.”

“Try me,” Lucky says.