Chapter 0:


One Thousand Mornings: Chapter 2: Rebirth

     Tap . . . tap . . . tap . . . Wham! She sprung upright, disoriented and confused, fighting to gather her senses and maintain composure. “Fukumori-san! If you’re so tired, there’s a magnificent couch in the Principal’s office that I’m sure you’d take to your liking. Should I show you the way?” Chiasa cleared her throat and fixated her collar before timidly replying “no, I’m alright – gomennasai.” She glanced around the classroom out the corners of her eyes. Everyone remained quiet and held their heads forward trying not to get involved with the situation. Mr. Kuroki, Chiasa’s middle school homeroom teacher, was never too fond of Chiasa’s lack of focus in class. Unfortunately, an aggressive approach was the only means of ever grasping her attention. Chiasa looked up at Mr. Kuroki who was still standing in front of her desk, arms crossed, nose flared, and with a staunch glare in his eyes. She bowed her head slightly as she apologized yet again. Mr. Kuroki gave off a sigh as he returned to the front of class. “Alright everyone let’s continue from where we left off.”

     After class was over Chiasa gathered her things and left ahead of everyone else. As she arrived at her shoe box at the genkan by the front entrance; pausing momentarily to tie back her long silky black hair into a half-ponytail which draped just below her shoulders, her friend Neneka approached her and tapped her against her shoulder. “Hey! We’re all heading over to the mall, wanna come with?”

          “I can’t, I promised I’d help my mother with some stuff tonight. You’re gonna have to head off without me this time. Gomenne!”

          “You always tell us to head off without you, can’t you let off a load from your shoulders even if for one day?”

          “It’ll be impossible for me to back out, Maybe I can go next time. See you on Monday!”

     As Chiasa shuffled her feet into her shoes, she made her way out the entrance while swinging her bag over her shoulder. Neneka slumped her body and held a detested smirk sideways. She watched Chiasa scamper off down the school campus towards the gate, before vanishing behind a tall stone wall. She then slightly shook her head with disappointment before turning around and heading back towards the hallway.

     Chiasa approached the gate of a two-story home situated within the outskirts of the bustling city of Shibuya. It was pampered with an assortment of greenery; artistically ascending and descending, creating a mini landscape that echoed the calmness of an old Chinese silk painting. The small shrubs swirled their way around a glycerin pond fixated right in the center of the front yard. Chiasa grasped the gate handle and pulled it open just enough for her to fit herself through. As she slowly trotted down the stone pathway, the sound of a hollering voice grew in intensity. She recognized the voice as none other than her mother’s. Chiasa stopped in front of the door massaging the back of her neck as though reluctant to let herself in. All the while her mother’s hollering never subsided. What on earth was she so worked up about this time? Chiasa tiringly thought back to herself. Looking down at her watch, it was already 4:35pm. There was a slight breeze bringing with it a chill that ruffled through Chiasa’s thin school uniform. As she reached for the door, her grasp missed the handle as it swung open at the same time. Startled, Chiasa jolted backwards; but before she could catch her senses, her older brother Tetsu darted past her, throwing Chiasa into a fritz yet again.

“What’s going on?” Chiasa bellowed out in frustration. “Ask her, she seems to know more than I do, apparently” her brother barked back. As Chiasa turned towards her mother, she was met with her grueling roar as she yelled out “learn how to take some responsibility.”

     Overwhelmed by the unending back and forth argument, Chiasa held her speech for a moment before asking in an unnerving tone, “. . . what–is–it­?”

Her brother continued walking forward uninterested in hanging around any longer.

“Forget about it Chiasa, you wouldn’t make sense of it anyways” her mother said to her, also having lost interest in dragging the feud on any longer.

Chiasa detested towards her mother. “That’s why I’m asking you…” she said with her usual snarky tone.

     In a plight to put the topic behind them, her mother languidly turned away from Chiasa and made her way back towards the kitchen. “Let’s go; get dressed. We’ve gotta be on the road in less than an hour” she then ordered Chiasa.


          “. . . What?” her mother eerily questioned.

          “Where exactly are we going?”

          “To meet with your father. He’s having some kind of a press conference.”

Chiasa slowly stepped in through the doorway, standing with her feet at the edge of the genkan. “So, he actually wants us to be around him at work; is what you’re telling me?”

          “Is that strange to you?”

     “Think about it, unlike every–other–time when we’re always forced to stay out of his business, suddenly he’s changed his mind? We don’t have anything to do with his stupid company. There’s literally no reason for us to go hang out in the crowd of a press conference.” Chiasa uttered in a very unswerving manner.

          “I’m sorry Chiasa, but right now this is what we have to do. If I had much of a say in this, I would want some changes also, okay?”

          “You sound helpless.”

          “And you sound immature! Your father has got a lot of eyes on him right now and that affects us; the least you can do is try to act like you’re a part of this too.”

          “A part of something that I don’t know anything about! When the hell is somebody gonna start asking the real questions around here? . . . “Why can’t I make my own decisions? Do the things that I want to do! “I have to lie to my friends all the time so that they don’t ask me questions about my own father! And people are always fucking staring at me!”

          “Shut up, shut up, shut up! Just shut up, Chiasa, and just–get–ready!”

     Chiasa’s mother maneuvered her way out of sight from the semi enclosed genkan where Chiasa stood, having not taken off her shoes yet.

          “Perfect, I’m glad I made my point clear!” Chiasa hollered in a final stance of defiance.

     Chiasa and her mother sat in the back of a car clad with black leather seats and deep tinted windows. Chiasa sat firmly on the left-hand side with her legs crossed at the ankles as she indulged herself within the city life that existed outside the car window. A chilling silence wafted through the vehicle as neither she nor her mother said a single word. As the car made its way through the streets of Roppongi, Chiasa gravitated her sights onto the Tokyo Tower lurking behind the city landscape. The way in which it towered over the other buildings always filled Chiasa with an ominous essence. It resembled a captor glaring down on its prey, surging Chiasa with a feeling that something; or someone, was watching her. As if there was a presence sitting right on top of her shoulders. The thoughts ruffled her skin unpleasingly and urged her to look away from the window. As she glanced over at her mother who was dressed in a black one-piece ornamented with gold jewelry, with her eyes hidden behind her dark shades effectively obscuring her expression, the car came to a sudden stop; jolting everyone forward. Chiasa bounced her head against the front headrest nearly slipping off her seat. “Ita!” Chiasa howled in pain. Her mother swiped her sunglasses off her face and leaned forward towards the driver. “What’s going on?” – “Someone just got ran over up ahead” the driver informed her. She then glanced out the window to confirm that there wasn’t a crosswalk for about another 5 meters in both directions. “Where exactly did this person get hit again?” she queried. “About two cars ahead of us in the next lane over. I saw a girl sort of appear out of nowhere right in front of that Yamato transport truck right there; a second later everyone jammed on their breaks. I almost rear-ended this guy in front of us, I was so fixated on that little girl in the middle of the street. Maybe she was lost or something.”

          “It wouldn’t be a surprise, we’re in the middle of the city. It’s filled with carelessness,” Chiasa’s mother inputted.

     As she leaned back into her seat, Chiasa; massaging the side of her head, noticed something a little unusual. “Okaa-san, look over at the truck driver.” – “What about him?” her mother asked with an unassuming expression. “Why is he looking around as if he’s searching for something?” Chiasa’s mother then leaned in a bit closer and scanned the man’s behavior. The truck driver had exited his vehicle, alongside a few pedestrians and other nearby driver’s that witnessed the accident; however, they all seemed to be stupefied. Somehow, it didn’t feel right in the atmosphere. Things felt off. Each and every single one of them seemed to be searching for something. Looking beneath the truck and searching nearby cars; the diver himself even crawled partially underneath it as though eager to check every single crevice and corner. Some simply twirled around with their chins resting in the palms of their hands, as if they were utterly boggled by what was going on. In a similar fashion, watching the scene unfold, Chiasa too was a bit confused.

“I don’t get it; did she not get hit?” Chiasa’s mother questioned. “It does indeed seem like something strange is going on” replied the driver. Still observing the situation, Chiasa noticed a few people analyzing the front of the truck as if it was the root of their unanswered questions. Curious, Chiasa quickly jumped out of the car looking to make her way over and check for herself.

“Chiasa!” her mother’s voice rang out from inside the car, but Chiasa had no intention of turning back around.

     As Chiasa got closer to the scene of the accident, she could feel her heart begin to race. Her inner anxiety of finding something she would rather not want to see had begun to surface. Time started to slow as she navigated through the hordes of faces with their expressions soaked in confusion. She slowly stepped her way from the side of the truck and bended around the front end where the truck driver stood, staring with his sights fixated straight forward. She watched him with his hands firmly placed on his hips, and his eyes squinted ever so slightly. She then followed his line of sight to her left, but the questions only dug deeper from there.

     Deep red blood painted the front bumper and stretched from as far up as the lower half of the windshield. Dripping down into an even larger pool of blood on the pavement directly below it. It was distressing and felt dense. It induced a cringe without second thought; but it wasn’t the sight that Chiasa had reluctantly been expecting. Something was missing from this image.

There was no body.

     Chiasa looked back towards the driver who was still standing in the same position as though frozen in time. “This makes no sense,” the truck driver said out loud to himself, “no sense at all.”

Chiasa slowly began bending down; inch by inch, creeping closer and closer to the underside of the vehicle. Right before passing below the bumper, Chiasa closed her eyes, afraid that her curiosity might leave her with regrets. Once she mustered up the courage, she dipped down lower and opened her eyes. To her surprise, there was still nothing there. She cautiously retreated upwards before asking, “Where did she go . . .?”

          “Young lady, I have no idea . . .”

Chiasa felt a hand grasp her arm, and as she looked back, saw her mother standing behind her. “Let’s go, we’re walking. It’s only a few blocks away.” Her mother told her. Chiasa glanced back at the pool of blood on the floor, having not the slightest clue as to what was going on. “Come on, this isn’t our problem to handle” her mother mentioned before walking away through the growing crowd of people. Chiasa stood back on her feet and gradually began following her mother. Leaving the strange mystery behind her.

     Swaths of people cluttered the event space on the first floor of the Quantum Ten headquarters. Though Quantum Ten has held many press conferences throughout each year, none has ever attracted a crowd quite like this. In the past, most conferences were to announce the release of new technology, discuss annual earnings reports, or present new research. However, this time around, Quantum Ten’s CEO; Shinzo Fukumori, would be holding a conference in order to assuage growing public concerns of Quantum Ten’s involvement in government cyber warfare. After a whistle blower released sensitive documents over the internet detailing classified research and developments of unpublicized technology, keywords that indicated “government” and “American military” involvement cascaded the company’s once respected image with that of an untrustworthy nametag.

     Chiasa and her mother were never invited to attend these press conferences in the past as her father often tried to keep his family out of public eye; but for some reason, this time was different. He wanted them there, but to Chiasa it felt more like a PR stunt. Chances are he would leave the conference room with his daughter and wife close by to paint a picture of him as a family man. It not only would make him appear more human, but it had the added effect of allowing him to skate away from the cameras and mics as quickly as possible without seeming dodgy. It was these exact sorts of stunts that Tetsu despised; and now that argument earlier on began to make more sense. Equally so, it was things like this that quirked Chiasa the most whenever it came to her father. For the most part, Chiasa had a lot of respect towards him as he often treated her with a lot of care and love, but his secrecy towards his business and strange maneuvers at times always kept Chiasa wanting to know more. Leaning over towards her mother who sat on her left-hand side, Chiasa whispered, “how long do these things usually take?”

          “Will you give it a rest already?” Her mother retorted in a fed-up tone.

          “No, seriously look at this place, why does he want us here with this insane group of people? What is he planning?”

          “I–DON’T–KNOW, Chiasa. Your guess is as good as mine. Just stay quiet, and wait it out, will you?”

     Chiasa finally gave in to the fact that she and her mother just didn’t share the same level of curiosity towards her questionable father. Without any other choice, Chiasa slumped her head over, gave off an elongated sigh, and stared down at the floor in between her feet. Blurring the passage of time, Chiasa kept her eyes closed and let her mind wander off into a stream of silenced voices and vacant minds. There was a strange ether passing through the corridors of her inner thoughts, locking away her freedom to think freely. She felt trapped within her own mind, without a shred of light to stretch forth a sliver of hope. It was like staring into a pool of nightmares. The lingering question was; why couldn’t she pull herself away from it?

     Chiasa’s chair shifted forward jerking her back into the real world. A scuffle had broken out between two reporters in the row behind her and had alerted the attention of the guards. As security rushed over to break up the mayhem, Chiasa noticed that one of the men was carrying a pistol strapped over his chest, hidden behind his suit jacket. Soon after the scuffle was taken care of and the two reporters escorted out of the building. With only a few minutes until the Quantum Ten CEO would make his appearance, the crowd began to settle down in eager anticipation of his presence.

A feeling ruffled over Chiasa’s skin. Just like the scene she’d parted from not too long ago where the girl’s body had suddenly went missing, a strange follicle in the air tickled her suspicion. As though hinting at something being wrong and not fitting of the environment; but it was too obscured to be seen. Chiasa glanced over at her mother who was busy flipping through a notepad she’d pulled from her handbag. Chiasa decided to just let the thought fade off rather than asking her mother about it; knowing that she wouldn’t care much to listen anyways. Besides, Chiasa was more than likely just overthinking everything.

     Eventually an older man bearing slick black hair stood up to the podium and the entire room dropped silent. He fixated the mic to his height; which was taller than most average men, then briefly glanced over to his right before beginning his speech.

          “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to today’s press conference here at the Quantum Ten Headquarters. My name is Mr. Kanzaki and I am the Vice President here at Quantum Ten. Our CEO, Mr. Shinzo Fukumori, will be with us shortly to make a statement and answer a few questions. By few, we mean five, no more, no less–

     Before Mr. Kanzaki could continue, the crowd went off into an uproar. People were screaming on top of each other to a point that the noise could no longer be interpreted as a sound. “Settle down, settle down!” Mr. Kanzaki hollered out to the angry reporters. After lowering their voices, he was then able to fit in a following statement.

          “This conference may have been open to the public, but please take note that such measures were only taken in order to ensure transparency to the public and keep everyone well informed. However, as originally planned, questions will be limited to the major news agencies whom of which were personally invited to this event. We will leave room for one question from the general public that have come to join us here today. That is the set up for today’s event, and that is final. We will not be making any further statements about it.”

     Unwilling to accept the obviously unsavory means of avoiding unwanted questioning, the crowd pushed on with their rants and hollering, but as Mr. Kanzaki stepped back away from the podium and bowed his head, it became less and less likely that their voices would be heard. Soon after, the doors situated beside the stage echoed throughout the conference hall, simmering everyone’s voices to a silence. Two guards appeared through the doors and behind them another man clad in an all-black suit with a crimson red and light red striped tie. They escorted him up to the podium and the crowd of reporters calmly took their seats. With his posture stern, the man walked up to the mic and looked over the massive group of people that filled the conference hall from corner to corner. He panned his sights across the vast number of people before settling down briefly upon Chiasa sitting in the front row. He straightened his already perfect tie and cleared his throat. Resting his hands onto the podium, he leaned into the mic and formally introduced himself. Good evening, my names is Mr. Shinzo Fukumori; the CEO of Quantum Ten. Yet again, the crowd went off, but this time it didn’t take a loud voice to silence the room, but instead, an assertive aura. “I’m sure you ladies and gentlemen are well aware of how we will be conducting this conference here today. I was made aware of one incident already; I’m not willing to have a second. If you all calm down, then we can get to the questions more quickly.” The room was quiet in an instant, as though Mr. Fukumori had dispensed a calming essence through the sound of his voice. As though he had some kind of mystical atmosphere to his tone of speech. It was almost daunting in a sense; and Chiasa was not surprised at all. She was well aware of her father’s charisma, and how it could often be used to work the environment in order for him to get his way; besides, the biggest victim of that skill was sitting right next to her.

          “Allow me to clarify the most lingering issue that everyone wants settled here today.

          “Quantum Ten has worked alongside governments for quite some time now. We provide consultation about growth in the use of digital technologies not only in the home, but as a service as well, and how that effects the economy. We provide; and propose, innovative, energy efficient technology in a multitude of sectors throughout this nation. We also brief the authorities on cybercrime, and the growing threat of cyberwarfare and how that can affect public privacy and safety. We do not; however, provide and develop weapons for the military. And we are absolutely not taking advantage of the privacy of the people of this nation. With that being said, we will begin answering some questions now; but please choose wisely, as we will only be answering five.”

     Following the questioning presented by the major news agencies; all of which was uncoincidentally posed to scrape the surface, avoiding any direct targets and purposefully strung together by vague terminology, it was now time for one question to be asked by an attendee chosen from the general public audience. Aware that this was also another ploy to dodge any lethal bullets, everyone once again raised their voices. Shouting out questions; not in an attempt to receive an answer, but to make the irritation, and positioning of their mindsets heard by anyone whom it could affect.

Of course, Mr. Fukumori gave the ruckus not even the slightest of his attention, and simply gestured his hand outwards, calling upon a young lady standing two rows from the back.

     As the young lady was chosen upon, she then immediately sat back down, causing the CEO to grow an eschewed look upon his face. “Allow me to make a statement in her place, if I may,” called out a voice from the crowd.” Eventually a man looking to be in his mid-30’s stood up and stepped over to where the lady was originally standing. As all eyes turned to focus upon him, he continued on with his statement. “This reporter that was so luckily selected upon is an independent reporter that works for NHC NEWS; a notable agency that has been reporting about the modern day of tech within the Shinjuku Times for about a year now. They are a subsidiary of the New York Times working exclusively here in Tokyo. As he spoke, he paced back and forth with one hand in his pocket while the other was used to gesture out his words; like a professor in mid lecture. “Now, I ask you men and women here today. Who within the past year has invested largely within the New York Times?” he asked, then took his hand and pointed his finger firmly upon Mr. Fukumori. “Quantum Ten!” Small chatter began to bubble over amongst the nearby reporters as they pondered where this was all leading towards. “It is not a coincidence that this young lady was chosen, but instead a set up! They made sure that the right questions would be asked here today my friends; they made sure not to miss a beat” he accused as he repeatedly jabbed his finger forward towards the CEO himself. He then pulled his hand back and held the finger straight up before continuing. “Except for one mistake. Allow me to tell you a short story.” The security guards at the venue began surrounding the outer corners of the man’s seating section, constantly trading eye contact amongst each other as they plotted to try and keep the man from speaking any further. Aware of his imminent fate, the man bounced his sights from the corners of his eyes as he patiently waited for the guards to rush in on him. Nonetheless, he continued. He slowly dropped his finger and pointed it back upon the young lady sitting in the seat beside him. “This young lady began working for NHC NEWS about six months ago, . . . because I urged her to.” Her name is Naoko Matsui, and my name is Takeya Matsui, former lead engineer of none other than Quantum Ten Technologies.”

     The room was imbued with overflowing chatter and heightened suspicion. Camera flashes glittered the venue as reporters descended upon the former employee to get a closer dig on the breaking news. Chiasa twisted her neck over her shoulder and lifted her body up over the back of her seat to get a better look at what was going on. “What is this all about?” the young Chiasa curiously asked. “I’m honestly not really sure,” answered her equally curious mother. Chiasa looked back towards her father. He had turned away from the excitement, consulting with one of his associates up at the podium.

“Can you confirm that statement Mr. CEO?” balked out a reporter. “Suddenly the room stood still as everyone awaited his reply. He cleared his throat and shuffled his tie before answering with a low toned “yes, Mr. Takeya Matsui was a recent employee here at Quantum Ten, but that is no longer the case anymore.”

          “What the people really want to know sir, is why. Why am I no longer an employee at this magnificent castle?”

     Mr. Fukumori held his tongue, simply looking down upon Mr. Matsui. You could feel the atmosphere begin to boil with tension. Everyone at this point was on edge, waiting to grab the scoop of something major.

          “I was fired; people of Japan, because I believe in morals. Fired, because I believe in freedom, and the natural born rights of man. Fired, because I am still human.

          “During my six years at this company I was assigned a project. This project was dubbed ‘The Initiative’ and its existence was only made known to a handful of us employees. I was forced to sign a confidentiality clause and had to basically sign over my entire life to make sure I kept good on that agreement. But there are just some things that can’t sit well in this world… if you’re human that is.

          “At first, I hadn’t been aware of what exactly it was that I’d been working on; given that the project was compartmentalized into portions seemingly unrelated to one another. But I was able to connect the dots. People of Japan, if there was ever a time to be afraid for your own safety, now would be that time. Save for the unnecessary details, allow me to tell you what it is that I was tasked with. Quantum Ten Technologies; under the leadership of current founder and CEO; Shinzo Fukumori, is developing a–

     Like staring into a confined space, the world felt enclosed. As though hope had receded back into the basin of a lost reality, leaving only a vacant cognizance dominated by walls of fear and tragedy. Within a single moment, everything had become distorted and swayed, making the world feel as if it was atop a dreidel. Constantly spinning until it would all come falling. Mayhem controlled the environment. People could be heard desperately crying out for help. Screaming at the top of their lungs, their voices were but the sound of a pin dropped within a vacuum. Chiasa laid on the floor crouched into a ball with her hands cased over her head. “Remain calm,” yelled a voice from afar. “We need you all to stay calm.” Chiasa lifted her head and slowly looked upwards. All the people surrounding her, which had been the furthest from the explosion, slowly began doing the same thing. As they began to stand to their feet, the horrifying image came into full view. Just as Mr. Matsui was about to reveal his secret, the entire lower half of his body had been blown off by an explosion of some sort. Chiasa stood dead center looking upon the grueling scene. Mr. Matsui’s upper torso was slouched against the back of the chair two rows from where he stood. Blood glittered the venue like sauce atop a bowl of spaghetti. His intestines drooped from his body, continually spewing out blood like a broken water pipe. Those who stood nearby suffered injuries as well, while some were more than likely just as dead as he was.

Chiasa stared into Mr. Matsui’s eyes, whose face was pointing directly at hers. They were vacant of life but were stained with the presence of disappointment. His mouth hung low; incapable of speech but held the essence of an unspoken word. He truly didn’t see it coming, but at some point, before he’d become a lifeless corpse, Mr. Matsui was hit with the realization that he would forever regret not being able to reveal his secret; even in death.

     Chiasa stumbled backwards when suddenly a hand reached out and grabbed a hold of her. Her mother was being dragged away by Quantum Ten security guards and latched on to Chiasa’s arm, desperately trying to get her away from the unfolding mayhem. Soon after, another guard stepped in front of Chiasa and began escorting her away as well. Still with her mind in a loop, Chiasa lost all feeling in her legs, causing her to stumble to the ground. Struggling to keep herself up, she peered a few feet ahead of her and found a hand lying across the floor; separate from its body. About a quarter of the wrist had still been attached to it, and a piece of the bone protruded out from the severed portion, slightly covered by charred flesh. Her head convulsed, and her stomach churned. The urge to vomit yanked at her throat as she clenched her hand over her mouth and squeezed her eyes shut trying to fight it off.

She swallowed forcefully and let out a gush of air through her nose. “Are you okay?” questioned her mother who was sitting beside her.

Before Chiasa could answer, her chair was shoved forward, jerking her back into the real world. A scuffle had broken out in the row behind her between two reporters and had alerted the attention of the guards. As security rushed over to break up the mayhem, Chiasa noticed that one of the men was carrying a pistol strapped over his chest, hidden behind his suit jacket. Soon after, the scuffle was broken up and the two reporters were escorted out of the building. With only a few minutes until the Quantum Ten CEO would make his appearance, the crowd began to settle down in eager anticipation of his presence.

     Chiasa glanced over at her mother who was busy flipping through a notepad she’d pulled from her handbag. Chiasa let her mind fade off as a festering headache began gnawing at her ability to think clearly.

     Eventually an older man bearing slick black hair stood up to the podium and the entire room dropped silent. He fixated the mic to his height, which was taller than most average men, then briefly glanced over to his right before beginning his speech.

     “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to today’s press conference here at the Quantum Ten headquarters. My name is Mr. Kanzaki and I am the Vice President here at Quantum Ten.”

     Once he’d finished his preliminary announcement, The CEO finally made his appearance.

As he walked across the stage and made his way to the podium he slowly peered over his shoulder into the front row of the audience. He made eye contact with Chiasa and their glares embraced each other’s. Thump, thump, thump. His steps bellowed through the weighted air and his presence hawked over Chiasa like a predator eyeing its prey. Chiasa sat up straight in her chair and tried to relax the tension from her shoulders. For some reason, she had a hard time looking away from her father; and it certainly felt off. After he approached the podium, he swiftly straightened his tie and commenced the conference.

     After the conference ended, Chiasa and her mother exited the building and headed straight for the all black Toyota crown that would chauffeur them back to their home. It was about 8pm and the streets were busy as usual. The sun had dissipated long ago, and the illumination of the city lights lit up the night sky of Minato. Chiasa usually preferred the calmness of the less urban environments, and particularly disliked the late-night city atmosphere. She looked up towards the sky and noticed not even a single cloud floated above. It was nights like this, back when her family spent most of the year at their home in Kyoto, that Chiasa would sit halfway out the back door beside her father and listen to him speak about Taoism and the teachings of Confucius. She was never much of the philosophical type, and to be honest she didn’t know much about the history and teachings behind Taoism either; but what always caught her spirit was the idea of everything in the world being unified through one passage of energy. “Feel the wind, Chiasa. Feel it as though it’s an energy not blowing past you, but through you. This calm breeze is the essence of nature; of life.” She recalled her father saying to her one time. “Let it pass through you and touch your spirit. Allow it to lift your senses and merge them with the environment around you. Can you feel it, Chiasa?” He’d asked her as he leaned backwards onto his hands and peered up at the empty night sky. “Not really,” Chiasa had replied. They both turned to each other and drew smiles on each other’s faces. “Me either, her father followed.”

     That was a few years ago, and it was back then when things just seemed easier. Now with her father constantly away, and her brother growing more and more distant from the family each passing day, Chiasa too, had trouble holding onto those connections she once had with her family.

     The car door opened, and the driver stood behind it, firmly holding the door as her mother stepped inside first. As Chiasa followed behind, the light feeling of someone pressing their hand against her shoulder pulled her attention. She turned around assuming it was a guard, or one of her father’s associates; but instead, no one was there. Assuming it was none other than a stranger passing by on the crowded sidewalk, Chiasa continued to enter the car behind her mother. Until suddenly, a strange sense of reluctance showered over her, stripping her of her ability to move freely. She stared forward into the car, but everything around her seemed to oddly stretch farther away. A weight had fallen into her chest and her heart ached as her feet felt as though they were sinking lower and lower into the ground. As a sharp pain pierced through her head Chiasa collapsed to her knees, still unable to move a single muscle. Time began to slow, and her vision grew warped. Her mother darted out of the car and ran over towards her, but Chiasa could barely make out a thing, even if it was right in front of her. She managed to take a deep breath inward before screaming out louder than she’d ever had before. Her voice carried on nonstop as her mother and a few guards grabbed hold of her, trying to calm her down. For a moment, it felt as though she had lost her mind.