The State of Mind

“Wake up! Wake up!”

I heard someone trying to wake me up. God, my head hurts like hell.

“Hal, call the ambulance! His head is bleeding! Get the others to safety!”

I… am bleeding? Why can’t I move?

“He’s opening his eyes! Great! Have you called the ambulance, Hal?”

“They’re on their way here. Just wait, Alde.”

Ambulance? Oh. I think I remember. There was an explosion, I think. Man, my head still hurts like hell. I tried moving my hand, but God it’s heavy. I’m drained…

Then somehow…

“Holy— God, kid, don’t spring up like that. Wait, how are you—”

Somehow the pain is gone. I could freely move my body now. I stood up, and what I saw was debris all over the place.

“I remember now…” I said as I scan my surroundings.

“Really? Wait, your head was bleeding, how is it—”

My injury worried these two strangers so much…

“Don’t know, don’t care. I’m fine now. I’ll explain.”


“So let me get this straight. You were going to walk back to your friend’s apartment, then the minimarket that you passed by exploded, you were caught in the explosion, and debris struck your head?”

“That’s pretty much it,” I assured them that what I told was true.

“Then… was it a gas explosion?”

“Don’t ask me, duh. I don’t know. Anyhow, I’ll just walk back to my home.”

I left those two behind. Hal and Alde. Their names don’t sound familiar. Come to think of it, I now remember that I had multiple vivid dreams. How did I experience such dreams when I had a head injury?

The dreams were… surreal. I felt like I was in those dreams. It’s like, it has… happened… before.

Wait a minute, I think the dreams were my past experiences… I recalled a birthday party, some urban legend, that one weird crater, and the exquisitely beautiful pink landscapes of Anterra.

I spoke to myself, “The dreams were associated with different seasons. What significance does the four seasons have? Why were they about recalling the past?”

It’s probably because I had a near-death experience. People said that when people get into such situations, they felt their lives, or past experiences, flash in front of them. Could that be the culprit?

Whatever. I’m safe now. I think my brain is fine, too. A new chapter to my life is waiting for me.

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The Petals of a Now Fully Bloomed Look of Madness Adorn the World

Spring. The part where the bright red—you might just call it pink— Kokkino trees bloom. For some it’s a sign of good fortune, for others, a sign of disaster. I’m not quite sure where it came from, but I personally believe they don’t have any meaning. I mean, the petals look great, it can’t possibly have any bad meaning.

“It’s a nice break from life.”

I’m looking at the great landscapes of Anterra, a place where it’s mostly clean. I think it’s because the government enforced the rules properly here, and people volunteer to clean the area.

“This looks like a nice place for me to sit.”

I sat down under a Kokkino tree. The falling petals look so gorgeous. I go here every spring, just doing nothing for hours. It doesn’t get boring somehow.

“Um, hello?”

I heard a female voice coming from behind me.

“Hello. May I help you?”

“Uh, no, I didn’t mean to ask you for help. I just want to say hello. I’m Mariah, I come here every month to check on the tree and clean trash, if any.”

“Nice to meet you…”

I didn’t prepare myself for a conversation with a stranger. I thought I was going to chill here by myself.

“Say, have you ever wondered about the history of this tree?” She asked me a question.

“Well, I only know that some people associate the blooming of Kokkino as good fortune, but for others, it’s a sign of disaster.”

She took a glance at the tree, before setting her eyes on mine.

“This tree has had its fair share of history.”

“Roughly a thousand years ago, two superpowers of the past world had a war on a resource. The resource can only be produced by Kokkino trees, which is native only to this area, and its seeds cannot be planted anywhere else. The reason was quite unclear. Regardless, historians say the resource was so valuable at that time, that both nations went all out for it, and caused destruction to both sides. Millions had lost their lives.”

I can’t believe such trees would have a violent history.

“I’m not saying I don’t trust you, but do you know any sources to back it up? I could look it up myself.”

“’Look it up…’ Yeah, nowadays you don’t need to go to a library…”


“I am the ‘source.’”

“Y-yeah… I’m going to need some—”

“I witnessed it.”

She immediately cut me off. She said she witnessed it, but she looks like a middle-aged woman. Is she delusional or something? Have I just listened to a made-up story by a delusional woman?

“I am 1000 years old, you know.”


Yeah, she’s delusional. A thousand year old human? She’s messed up in the head.

“I haven’t told you about what the resource is used for. It is to stop the process of aging.”

Stop the process of aging? You know what, I don’t buy it. This is madness.

“Look, look, look. Are you… okay? First of all, you witnessed a war that happened a thousand years ago, then you claimed you’re a thousand years old, and that is somehow due to something that’s in this tree that can stop aging. You think I can believe such story?”

She smiled. She f—ing smiled. What is wrong with this woman?

“I can’t make you believe something you don’t want to believe. If you think I am crazy, go ahead. I can only tell you so much.”

She sounded so honest. Maybe I am overreacting? Ugh, what am I doing, I shouldn’t give in.

… Maybe I should.

“If the resource is so wonderful, how come it’s not being harvested today?”

“Because it simply ran out.”

“It… ran out? How? It’s produced by the tree, right?”

“Kokkino trees are unique indeed, but said resource is only produced by this specific tree, and it cannot continually produce it. It ran out, because I used it.”

Huh? So the resource is limited to only a single person? Wait…

“Because you used it? So… the huge war was all for a resource that is enough only for a single person?”

She smiled and said, “Exactly. The war was all for… virtually nothing. This tree serves as a remnant of the past, as its petals adorn the world after a dark period of calamity. I am connected with this tree, and the tree and I will continue to live as long as ‘we’ are alive. ”

I had nothing to say. Initially I didn’t want to believe her, but her tone is honest and sincere, that I had a change of heart, and mind.

“You… I believe you.”

“Thank you.”

She set her sight on the distant mountains. She pointed her finger towards it, and said,

“That is where the war took place. A place that will soon erode by time, but the history lingers for as long as the mountain rocks exist. I vividly remember the day where both nations clashed there.”

This conversation made me ask,

“You said you witnessed it. So you actually saw it happen with your eyes?”

“Of course, what part of ‘I witnessed it’ you didn’t understand,” she giggled afterwards.

She paused for a second and then said, “I lived at the peaks with my sister. We saw men killing men with their weapons. Bloodshed everywhere. I don’t know why they couldn’t just… work together. If they did, maybe the resource could’ve been produced by ourselves.”

“Greed. It is in human nature. Please, continue to be humble. Don’t let greed overwhelm you and cloud your judgment, lest history repeats itself,” she continued.

I ran out of words to say. I am interested in learning the history about the war, so I asked her if there was a name for it.

“What is the name of the war?”

“Haha, it’s really simple. It’s just The Great Kokkino War. A tree that brought destruction to two once powerful nations. Sounds unbelieveable at first that two nations would destroy each other for a single tree, but it happened.”

I’m definitely looking it up once I go back.

“Well, that is enough storytelling. I’ll go back to the peak. Thank you for the conversation, young man. May we see each other once again.”

She then walked away, towards the mountains. A cold breeze blew the Kokkino petals away gracefully. I think that’s enough break for today.

“I didn’t even get to tell her my name…”


Next Chapter: [Chapter 5]

The Cold Breeze of Astrologos

Have you ever heard about the story of the comet that brought desolation to a certain place? Rumor has it that a mysterious power kept the destructive power of the comet localized to a single place. Weird thing is, the impact crater was not hot at all. It was cold, extremely cold.

The mysterious power, in the shape of a dome, kept the temperature of the impact crater extremely low. Instruments made for deep-space travel have shown that the temperatures reached -270°C, extremely close to absolute zero. This means that inside the dome is a vacuum; the atmosphere froze inside, and crumbled to millions of pieces.

“This would be worth it, a journey to the most bizarre place on Earth, what could go wrong?”

There was a flight to the impact crater, which is located near the North Pole. I took the flight, and surprisingly only 3 people were on board as passengers—including me. I thought this would be a unique attraction, at least outside of the dome.

After a few hours of flight, I finally arrived at the impact crater. The dome was transparent and it had a yellow sheen on it. The impact crater was around 250 km in diameter. I can’t fathom how large the crater was.

“Stay away from the dome!”

One of the security guards told me to stay away.

“Yeah yeah, I know. I was just looking into the crater. Looks fascinating.”

“Step back. We don’t want to risk you getting inside the dome.”

“Look, don’t worry. I’m not that clumsy.”

“I’ve had my fair share of dealing with young, rebellious people today, don’t make it harder for me.”

What’s this guy on about? Seriously.

“Okay jeez, chill. Fine.”

I took a step back from the dome. But suddenly…

“Hey! What the—” The security guard yelled at me, but was stopped by the sight of me getting pulled inside by ‘something’ from inside the dome.

Or is it the dome itself?

“He won’t survive.”

“There’s no use in assembling a SAR team. Even with specialized equipment, the crater is simply too large.”

I heard the security guards talking about efforts for my rescue, or lack thereof. Weird, I’m being pulled away by an unseen force.

Wait, how am I still alive?

I’m starting to lose consciousness.

What… is going on?


I woke up at the center of the crater, inside… something. I keep thinking, how in the living hell am I still alive inside this dome?!

“You have finally woken up.”

I heard the voice of a woman. I have so many questions inside my head. How is she here? What is this place? How is there a building here? Who is she? Where exactly am I?

“You must be confused. My name is Astra. I will answer your questions.”

I took a few seconds to collect myself.

“How am I still alive?”

“Your survival instincts have created an insulating layer around you. A barrier between your world, and mine.”

She seemed to know about my powers or something, but I didn’t even realize I made one myself. That explains why I was still alive during my fall.

“Who are you?”

“I am Astra.”

“No, I mean, who are you?”

She went silent for a moment.

“I came from another planet. A planet where eternal ice envelops the land.”

Then I realized,

“Wait wait, how do you know our language?”

“I’ve studied humans for long enough to understand how your species works.”

I asked another question,

“Where are we?”

“You’re inside my ship. I crash landed, as the core malfunctioned.”

“Why are you here?”

She went silent.

This is nuts. I’m guessing that it wasn’t a comet and the ship that crashed, but it’s only this ship that crashed. And it made a huge dome that envelops the entire crater for some reason. She needs to explain a lot of things.

“The land is no longer habitable”

“Huh? How?”

“The material used for the core of my ship, which is called Neutrium, is what decimated the land. It is usually stable, but when it’s unstable, it causes an explosive chain reaction. Our efforts to use Neutrium to it’s fullest extent is what caused our downfall.”

“And… you’re the only survivor?”

“That I don’t know. We were lucky to have made interstellar travel possible.”

“Alright, I’ll get straight to the point. Why do you have a large ass dome covering the entire crater?”

“Come. I’ll show you.”

I followed her to what seems to be the core room. Surprisingly spacious, I expected the core room to be like in the movies, y’know, huge reactor cores and such. It turns out…

“This is the entire core? A small yellow sphere?”

“Yes. What you see outside is the core ‘protecting’ itself.”

“But how did it create near absolute zero environment outside?”

“Simply put, the core can be used to manipulate kinetic energy, which is why it can be used for interstellar travel. It can only do so much, though, as it can only reach speeds up to 99% the speed of light. It somehow halted the movement of the gasses around the ship, which I assume to be the side effect of the malfunction.”

“Neat. So, what should we do?”

“We wait. It’s stabilizing itself. We should not interfere with it.”

Honestly, everything about this ship looks cool. Straight out of sci-fi. The core with its absurd abilities, the interior also looks great.


“The core is stable.”

“Great, that took a while, so can I get out now?”

“Yes. You can.”

I almost forgot one thing,

“Wait… uh, why did you pull me in?”

She stood there, opened her palms, and revealed dust-like substance that resembles a constellation.

“The stars aligned, and told me to bring you in as a lucky charm.”

“I’m a what? You risked my life because of that?!”

“I did not. I trust the stars that you’ll be brought here unharmed.”

I wanted to go back quickly, so I didn’t bother to argue.


“Look! Look! The boy is fine!”

The security guards of the site saw me climbing back up to the rim of the crater. They must’ve thought that I was dead.

“Don’t worry, I’m fine.”

T’was a great vacation.

Next Chapter: [Chapter 4]

Fallen Leaves by the Wind

A start of a new season. A start of a new chapter. It was an exciting summer, but I’m not getting my hopes up high for this season. Usually there’d be something that I don’t quite like happening this season.

“Yo Aether, did you know about the new urban legend?”

My friend, Telos, asked me about a recently circulating urban legend. I find urban legends interesting, so of course I had already known about it.

“I thought you already knew me well! The urban legend where at a certain time after midnight, before dawn, a person could be found standing on top of a tree branch and playing some sort of wind flute.”

“Exactly. Rumors say the melody can hypnotize anyone who happens to be walking nearby, and oh boy it sure sounds interesting.”

Urban legends like these do sound interesting to me. Sometimes I want to find out if it’s actually real, or it’s just some baseless rumor, and people just want to mess with others.

“So, want to find out?”

And oh boy, I did not expect my friend to ask that question.

“You reading my mind? Of course I’d like to!”

It’s still 3 PM though. We still have a ‘long way’ to go.

“First we need to search for more info. Where it likes to appear, when it will appear, and how the melody sounds like. I’ve read that someone recorded a video of said person with the melody, but the quality was so bad it feels like I’m back at the 90s.”

“You weren’t alive in the 90s,” I replied.


I’m back at my house. Telos tagged along with me, so now we’re going to search for it on the internet.

“Here it is, ‘Voices Among the Leaves’ is the title of the urban legend. Such a silly name.”

“Hahah, true. Although we should find the name of the ‘person’ though.”

We scrolled, opened numerous websites, watched multiple videos, but no one on the internet seems to know the name—or rather, give it a name. Every article written about it keeps mentioning the apparition as “the person,” which is kind of a bummer, to be honest.

But that means we get to name it. I think.

“We should record this and give it a name for the person.”

“Or better, we should communicate with them.”

And I agreed.

“Found the location, it’s regularly spotted near an old, big tree on Dame Street, should be easy to find.”

The ‘investigation’ seems to be going perfectly.

“Take a listen to the melody, it’s bad, but it’s audible.”

I was mesmerized with the sound. It felt ethereal, something that’s… out of this world. Like someone brought a melody from another world to this world.

“The charm of the melody is quite strong, huh. It’s like it can… change, a person’s mind and heart. A divine, empyrean melody that is blessed upon this sinful world.”

I did not just utter those words. My vocabulary isn’t that expansive, you know.

“Notice that you’re being poetic? That’s the ‘effects’ of the melody, apparently.”

This got me obsessed. We have to find the ‘person’ or ‘thing’ behind all of this.


It’s now 3 PM, and we’re walking down Dame Street to the big tree.

“Alright, I’ve started the recording. Let’s go find this person,” I said to Telos.

“Great, let’s go.”

We finally got near the tree. The moonlight, dim street lights, and… blue fireflies?

“What? Blue fireflies? Do they even exist?” My friend asked.

“That is certainly strange, but I think they do. It’s just that they’re extremely rare and unique to a certain place, I don’t know where it is, but it’s definitely not here.”

Then, I heard what we were searching for. The sound of a wind flute. And the ‘person’ standing atop the branch.

My eyes locked to… him. I can clearly see a male figure with long, silky white hair, with his eyes closed, as he played the wind flute. I checked the camera, and it’s still there. Is this an actual person?

“Hey! You over there, may I know your name?”

His eyes opened, revealing noctilucous, heavenly blue eyes. The charm of this person is extraordinary, and he hasn’t even said a word.

“The wind knows my name. Listen, and may you find the answer you sought after.”

That ‘blew’ me away. I somehow subconsciously knew his name.


That doesn’t sound right. It sounds like a feminine name.

“I know what you’re thinking. Such unfitting name. Though let it be known that I have been bestowed upon this name as a gift from God.”

He leaped from the branch, and flew down towards us. Wait a minute, I forgot about my friend.


Well he… was shocked? Either way he’s not responsive, possibly stunned by his appearance.

“You’ve spoken my name. Thank you, Aether.”

Wait, what?!

“I don’t remember telling you my name. How did you know?!”

“The strings of our intertwined fate have all the answers one might seek. Although it is with pity that I cannot prolong this encounter, follow your heart, and there you may find me.”

He walked behind me, out of vision and out of the FOV of my camera. I looked back, and he was gone. What a mysterious figure.

“Aether?! Hey!”

I was shaken by my friend, who happens to be conscious now.

“You were out for so long! What happened to you?! The person disappeared just now!”

Apparently that only happened in my mind. All of it. Not even Telos knows. It is as if I was transported to another world just then. The recording was also missing, which made it even more bizarre. I felt the conversation happen, though. It was real. Now we both head back to my house, coming back ‘empty-handed.’

At least I had an experience no one has.

“Intertwined fate.” May we meet each other again.

Next Chapter: [Chapter 3]

The Sun Shone Brighter than Ever

It’s currently 9 AM. I just woke up after yesterday’s “party” at my house. It’s the start of summer, and I have nothing to do at the moment.

My friend just messaged me, “yo, wanna go to [a friend]’s house?”

“Nah, I’ll pass.”

“It takes a few seconds from your house to his, you can literally fly.”

“Like hell I’d do it in public!”

You might be confused… I haven’t even introduced myself yet. My name is Diuturna Aeternitas, you can call me Aether. I’m 17 years old, and I just recently graduated high school. I’m what you call a “Soul” user. I basically have abilities that no other people have, and that is to control vectors. Y’know, like vectors of forces.

Anyhow, I’m not like a superhero or something. I just want to live a somewhat ordinary life. I don’t particularly want to show off my abilities to the public.

“You know I don’t want to show off in public, right? I don’t want to be interrogated by a thousand people asking how I do this and that,” I added.

“Alright then. Well, see ya sometime, I’m going to go offline.”

And there he goes.


I don’t live with my parents. Well, it’s not like they live somewhere far away. My parents divorced when I was 12, and I’m closer with my mom, so I went with her.

“Hi mom,” I tried to call my mom. I call my mom sometimes, for no particular reason.

No response.


Still no response.

I sighed and ended the call. “That was weird, my mom answered the call but there was no one ‘answering’,” so I tried calling my little sister, as she lives with my mom.

She answered the call. “Solla? Hello? Is mom there?”

Still no response…

“God, this is troublesome. I’d hate to go back, it takes like 4 hours to get there,” I exclaimed.

“There’s no way I could—”

Then I heard 3 loud knocks from the front door.

I quickly went down the stairs from my room to the front door and opened it without any second thought.

“Happy birthday!”

It was… my mom and my sister. I didn’t realize today was my birthday. How could one forget their own birthday, you may ask. I simply don’t see it as important.


“It’s your birthday, big bro,” said my sister.

“Wait, is it? I don’t keep track of time that well,” was a shi—bad excuse I could make on the spot.

“I know you don’t find birthdays interesting, but this is your birthday, at least you should care about your own,” said my mother. Maybe I should start caring about it…

“Why is your house so messy?” asked my sister.

“Yeah, yesterday my friends came over. I was too tired to clean it up. Don’t worry, it’ll be clean in just a few seconds.”

“’Just a few seconds?’ Are you going to use your abilities? Why use it on simple tasks?”

I always use my abilities for mundane tasks. I don’t want to play hero or something like that, so I only use it for my own benefit.

“Yeah, why?” Everything is flying around as I clean the entire house, and I threw it all to the trash bin. Done in just a few seconds.

“See, it’s easy and efficient.”

We talked and played around for the moment. Unknown to me, my mom also contacted my friends to come by. They barged in from the front door.

“Happy birthday!”

“Can’t you just get in like normal people?”

They all laughed it off. Well, what can I say, it’s the start of summer, might as well enjoy the moment.

Next Chapter: [Chapter 2]

The 5 Season

“The dreams were associated with different seasons. What significance does the four seasons have? Why were they about recalling the past?”

Follows the story of Diuturna Aeternitas, a lone boy retelling the lives he lived and the encounters he had along the four seasons, and another one.

Chapter 1 : The Sun Shone Brighter than Ever
Chapter 2 : Fallen Leaves by the Wind
Chapter 3 : The Cold Breeze of Astrologos
Chapter 4 : The Petals of a Now Fully Bloomed Look of Madness Adorn the World
Chapter 5 : The State of Mind

Submitted as part of TA GST 2021. You can check out the published version over here (also contains the rest of submitted works from TA GST 2021).

The 5 Season (PDF version)

Written by SoraTsuki – G’21
Illustration by Shawky – G’21

beauty and the immortal beast.

“Apa itu manusia?” 


Tolong beri tahu aku. 

Definisi dari entitas yang mengerikan 

di bawah nama ‘manusia’ 

dan segala kuasa 

di bawah telapak tangan mereka 

yang penuh dengan darah. 

“Apakah … aku juga … manusia?”

“Jika kau terus memakan sesuatu yang terlihat busuk seperti itu, kau akan mati muda, kautahu?” ucap seseorang yang untuk kesekian kalinya kulupakan namanya. Lebih tepatnya, berusaha kulupakan. Tidaklah baik menyimpan hal yang tidak terlalu krusial di dalam memori otak yang sudah kusam dan suram ini. 

Mengedikkan bahu, aku kembali memasukkan tanganku ke dalam bungkus makanan yang entah kapan kubeli. Selama tidak membunuh, sesuatu adalah makanan. Prinsipku tidak akan dipatahkan oleh seseorang yang dalam beberapa detik lagi terlihat akan berteriak― 

“ERINA!” Aku mendengus dan memutuskan untuk angkat suara. “Oh, diamlah kau … ah, er … um …?” 

Sial, mengapa ia terlihat setengah ingin menangis sekarang? “Anne! Aku Anne Justitia! Kurang ajar! Berani-beraninya kau melupakan namaku! Kau bahkan tidak ingat nama belakangku?! Kau sangat jahat! Erina, kau jahat, jahat, jahat! Dasar menyebalkan!” rengeknya sambil menarik-narik luaran bajuku di bagian lengan. 

“Justitia, kalau rajukanmu sampai menjatuhkan makananmu, aku akan benar-benar membunuhmu.” Perlahan, goyangan yang kurasakan di bagian kanan tubuhku melambat dan berhenti sepenuhnya. Meskipun terlintas sedikit ketakutan dalam dua iris berwarna biru laut itu, namun rasa kesal masih terpancar dari bagaimana ia sedikit memajukan bibirnya karena kekalahan dan ketidakpuasan kecilnya. 

Aku memutar mataku dan mulai mengambil langkah, pergi dari pojok salah satu jalan di kota ini. “Aku tidak akan menunggumu, lho.” Kembali lagi kudengar jeritan kecilnya yang berlebihan itu, aku yakin kaki-kaki yang pendek itu sedang mengejarku sekarang. 

Namaku Erina. Erina Millen. Dengar, aku tahu namaku terdengar sangat datar, hambar, tidak menarik, katakan saja apa maumu. Gadis menyebalkan yang sekarang ini sudah nyaris menyamai langkahku―tentunya dengan terengah-engah―dan berisik sedari tadi bernama Roseanne Antoinette Justitia (hal sialan kedua, aku sejatinya masih ingat). Harus kuakui, itu adalah satu nama yang lumayan … menghabiskan waktu untuk diucapkan. Tidak buruk, namun tetap saja merepotkan. 

Tentu saja. Dia bukanlah orang yang berada di kasta yang sama denganku, bukankah dari perbedaan nama kami saja terdengar? Jika kau berpikir dia adalah putri atau semacamnya, mungkin saja memang begitu. Aku tidak terlalu peduli dengan sebagai siapa dia ketika dia sedang ada di seberang sana, yang pasti setiap ia berkunjung ke sini, ia selalu menggangguku, 

“Erina, aku akan membelikanmu makanan yang enak, jadi berhentilah memakan sampah itu! Aku khawatir, tahu!” 

“Diamlah. Ini bukan sampah. Lagi pula, aku tidak membutuhkan bantuanmu.” 

“Kau sungguh keras kepala! Aku tidak bermaksud begitu!”

Kota ini memiliki banyak belokan jalan. Ah, aku menyebut ‘kota ini’ sejak tadi. Daerah yang penuh dengan rongsokan ini bernama …. aku lupa. Dimulai dengan huruf … H. Hymeath. Sesuatu semacam itu, kurasa. Setiap orang yang tinggal di sini tahu bahwa arti dari Hymeath adalah ‘yang tidak diakui’. Perspektifku sendiri mengatakan bahwa filosofi itu tidaklah salah. Seberapa keras pun orang-orang di sini menyangkal, mereka tidak bisa memungkiri bahwa kami―aku tidak terkecuali―adalah bagian dari bangsa yang tidak jelas asal-usulnya. 

Sebagian orang mengatakan bahwa salah satu leluhur kami adalah keturunan dari petinggi Kerajaan Zwede, mungkin saja salah hasil dari salah satu wanita simpanan orang dalam Zwede. Lagipula, mereka bajingan dan orang-orang yang ada di sini pun tidak jauh lebih baik, aku bisa melihat pola dan kemiripannya jika ternyata cerita itu sungguhan. Sebagian yang lain masih bersikeras bahwa tidak mungkin itu benar, sebab leluhur kami (paling tidak, sebagaimana yang mereka percayai) adalah orang-orang yang pelarian dari negara Deinusia sebelum bangsa asli di sana berubah menjadi sesuatu yang … lain. Lagi-lagi, jikalau itu benar, aku pun tidak akan terlalu terkejut, toh, memang sangat banyak pengecut yang tidak berani melakukan apapun selain lari dan kabur dari sesuatu yang mereka awali. 

Apakah aku terdengar sangat sinis? Bukan salahku. Cobalah hidup di sini kurang dari satu minggu dan tebas leherku kalau deskripsi yang pertama kali muncul di kepalamu bukan tentang bagaimana penduduk di sini adalah serendah-rendahnya manusia yang bisa hidup di jagat raya, entah bagaimana caranya. Aku sekali-kali berpikir bahwa dengan ketidakbergunaan mereka, seharusnya lebih dari setengah penduduk Hymeath seharusnya mati ketika sedang keluar-masuk perbatasan kota. Dengan penampilan seperti residivis dalam pengejaran, tidak aneh jika sistem keamanan kota lain menembak mereka dari jarak jauh dengan dugaan terorisme. Ada kalanya otak kriminal sekaligus kebodohan mereka menyelamatkan nyawa pemilik tubuh masing-masing. 

Perempuan itu masih saja mengoceh. Aku terus berjalan sambil membuang bungkus makanan ke pinggir jalan, mengundang decakan kesal darinya. Dasar payah. “… hm.” 

Mereka yang duduk manis di taman kerajaan, 

mereka yang meminum teh setiap pukul tiga sore, 

mereka yang menabrakkan gelas kaca penuh anggurnya, 

mereka semua 

tidak lebih 

dari kekosongan 

yang dilapisi emas belaka. 

“Erina, menurutku, mereka payah. Ya, orang-orang di pusat Eindernesia itu.” 

“Mereka memiliki semua itu tanpa bekerja keras, bukankah itu tidak adil?” 

“Karenanya, jangan sampai menjadi manusia seperti mereka, apa kau mengerti?” 

“E-Erina …”

Aku memanggilnya, namun ia tidak berhenti melangkah. Aku tahu, ia memang sering merasa kesal dengan keberadaanku, namun ia tidak pernah benar-benar mengabaikanku, jika tidak ada apa-apa. Terutama, tidak dengan sorot mata yang menggelap tadi. Kami hanya berjalan, menyusuri salah satu jalan di Hymeath, tanpa gangguan. Aku tidak tahu apa yang terjadi, namun ia membuatku takut. 

Tanpa berpikir panjang, aku menarik bahunya dengan sedikit kencang agar ia menoleh ke arahku. “ERINA! Erina, sadarlah! Ini aku, Anne! Jawab aku!” 

Aku siap dengan segala caci maki yang biasa ia keluarkan, asalkan kesadarannya kembali. Aku menatapnya lekat-lekat untuk satu sekon saja. 

“ … ah.” Erina menutup matanya, ia tidak menolak sentuhan yang kuberikan. Napasku masih memburu, aku―“…” 

“Anne? Hei, ada apa denganmu?” ―aku sangat takut. Ia meraih tanganku yang tadinya ada di atas bahunya, meski tidak hangat karena terhalangi oleh sarung tangan kainnya yang tebal, namun aku bisa merasakan ia sedikit mengeratkan rengkuhan tangannya pada tanganku. Ia bahkan memanggil nama panggilanku, sesuatu yang hanya ia lakukan ketika ia tidak bisa mengendalikan sikap dingin yang selalu ia pasang ke semua orang. 

Aku tidak bisa menghentikan air mataku. Sungguh menyebalkan. Situasi ini, mengesalkan. Ia memang bukan orang yang pandai dalam menyampaikan perasaannya. Sebut aku sok tahu, namun aku yakin ia adalah orang yang sangat baik. Aku tahu di saat ia benar baik-baik saja atau berpura-pura. Aku tidak bisa membayangkan jika melihatnya kesakitan lagi seperti hari itu. 

Hari itu adalah hari pertama kali aku bertemu dengannya. Hari di mana aku merasa bahwa aku menemukan seseorang yang berarti sama seperti hidupku sendiri. 

Di bawah langit mentari senja, 

Anne baru menyadari bahwa ia berlari terlalu jauh dari Valorea. 

Sendunya bunyi derik jangkrik yang mulai terdengar, 

gadis itu memeluk dirinya sendiri tanpa menghentikan perjalanannya. 

Jalan setapak ini terasa sangat gersang, 

berlainan dengan rumput segar dengan bunga di sekitar yang ia lewati tiap hari. 

Namun, hatinya tidak membiarkan ia berhenti. 

Tanpa sadar, ia sudah memasuki hutan yang ada di perbatasan kota. 

“Bukankah ini … berbahaya?” Anne menelan ludahnya dengan kasar. “Aku …”

Entah di mana ia berada sekarang. Satu-satunya hal yang dapat ia tangkap adalah di luar Valorea, terdapat hutan yang penuh dengan pepohonan rindang. Jujur saja, Anne tidak merasa sesak, sebab kini ia sedang berada di jalanan mendatar yang tidak terlalu buruk. Tanda tanya memang menghiasi kepalanya, pertanyaan seperti mengapa jalan seperti yang sedang ia lewati harus disiapkan di dalam hutan yang agak dalam seperti ini tentu saja langsung ada di pikirannya. Apakah ada suatu rute yang memang disiapkan dan akan mengantarkannya ke suatu tempat? 

Hal yang aneh bukan hanya jalan ini saja. Sebelum membahasnya, akan lebih baik untuk melakukan kilas balik kecil akan apa yang Anne sedang lakukan sebelumnya. Sore itu, ia sedang menikmati pemandangan Valorea di kala petang. Di samping memiliki kecanggihan yang tidak terbatas, ibu kota negara Eindernesia yang kini ada dalam perjalanan menuju puncak kejayaannya itu masih melindungi berbagai komponen alamiah yang mereka miliki. Bunga-bunga yang tumbuh mengelilingi kota termasuk ke dalamnya. 

Setelah merasa cukup, tentu saja ia pun berpikir untuk langsung pulang ke rumah. Anne adalah salah satu putri dari salah satu bangsawan penasihat Raja yang saat itu memimpin Eindernesia, tidak lain dan tidak bukan, ada peraturan yang perlu diikuti seperti jam malam yang menjadi batasan waktunya dalam berkeliling kota. Penduduk Valorea merupakan manusia-manusia yang memiliki akal budi dan hati nurani yang lebih baik dari siapapun di Eindernesia, namun hal itu tidak menjadi jaminan bahwa Anne akan selamanya baik-baik saja jika selalu ada di luar pengawasan para penjaga. Ia juga perlu melindungi dirinya sendiri dari kecelakaan atau hal tidak beruntung lainnya yang masih bisa terjadi. 

Hamparan bunga yang ada di pojok jalan itu … menariknya untuk pergi lebih jauh lagi. Bunga-bunga yang tumbuh memenuhi petak demi petak itu terlihat sangat indah dengan wanginya yang membuat Anne menjadi seperti sebuah lebah. Terdapat satu jalan di mana hamparan-hamparan itu terus berlanjut. Anne pikir, di akhir jalan, di suatu tempat, akan ada taman yang lebih besar dan cantik, lebih dari semua ini. Karenanya, ia berlari. Dirinya yang inosen berpikir bahwa makin cepat ia berlari, makin cepat ia akan sampai di tempat tujuannya itu. 

Ia tidak pernah berpikir bahwa setelah ia terbawa jauh, hamparan-hamparan bunga itu bahkan sudah tidak ada lagi. Berganti dengan sebuah jalan dengan sisi-sisi yang kosong melompong dan mengarah ke hutan―ke tempat yang sama sekali belum pernah ia dengar atau lihat sebelumnya. ‘Hal aneh’ yang sempat dibahas sebelum ini dimulai dari sini. Hutan yang berperan sebagai perbatasan kota dan sebuah jalan untuk masuk ke dalamnya mungkin tidaklah seganjil itu, tetapi … deretan tiang dengan lampu yang ada di masing-masing ujungnya? Di sepanjang jalan ini? Untuk apa gerangan? 

Anne memiliki opsi untuk memutarbalikkan badannya dan pergi pulang sekarang juga. Sayangnya, tidak seperti jalan ke dalam hutan yang dihiasi dengan lampu-lampu itu, jalan untuk kembali ke Valorea …. sangatlah gelap. Ia tidak tahu … apakah hanya ada orang kota saja di sepanjang jalan kembali. Bila sampai terjadi sesuatu, ia tidak akan bisa melihat apapun. Pada akhirnya, Anne akan tetap mempercayai satu hal. 

Tidak mungkin lampu-lampu ini disediakan tanpa ada gunanya. Mungkin, intuisinya sejak awal memang benar. Benar, memang bukan ladang luas berbunga yang ia dapatkan, namun ia tidak salah mengenai adanya suatu tempat di ujung jalan, bukan? Menyusuri jalan ini hingga akhir bisa saja akan membawanya pada jawaban semua keanehan ini.

Takdir. Semua ini jelas terjadi karena takdir

Anne menganggukan kepalanya sebagai validasi pada diri sendiri. Dengan sedikit berdesis dan menyiapkan hati yang kini berdegup kencang, ia merengkuh tubuhnya sendiri dan melangkah, masuk ke dalam dunia asing yang tidak ia ketahui. Belum ada yang mengejutkan atau menyeramkan untuk beberapa saat. Anne sangat positif untuk mendapatkan hasil yang baik dari perjalanan tiba-tiba ini. Apakah sebenarnya ada kota lain di sisi kiri Valorea? Selama ini, ia selalu mengira bahwa daerah ini tidak terisi oleh penduduk atau kehidupan yang berarti. Apakah akan ada jawaban lain? 

Tenggelam dalam imajinasi liarnya, Anne tidak mendengar derap langkah kaki yang dengan cepat seperti akan datang ke arahnya. Menyadari bebunyian yang keluar dari arah kanan, Anne baru saja ingin menoleh, sebelum sebuah siluet berwarna ungu―rambut seseorang?―menarik pinggangnya dalam satu gerakan, seperti mengangkatnya di udara dengan satu lengan dan membawanya sangat dekat bersamanya. 

Jantung Anne berhenti berdetak untuk beberapa detik, dengan tangannya yang sudah tidak lagi cukup stabil untuk tidak gemetar hebat berusaha untuk menyentuh punggung dari orang yang seperti sedang memeluknya itu sekarang. 

Darah. Anne membelalakkan matanya. Darah, darah, darah. “A-Apa yang―!” 

Dengan posisi seperti ini, ia dapat mendengar jelas bagaimana deru napas lawan bicaranya yang masih membisu itu terdengar. Anne kembali menurunkan tangannya untuk menyusuri punggung perempuan yang ada di rengkuhannya dan menemukan sebilah panah menancap ke tubuhnya. Ia tidak tahu apa yang harus ia lakukan sekarang. Ia membeku. 

“Aku tidak akan mati.” 

Suara gadis itu menyadarkannya dari kekalutan yang sedang terjadi di pikirannya saat ini. Ia terdengar … sangat lemas, namun di sisi lain, Anne menemukan ketegaran dalam ucapannya. Suatu … keseriusan. 

“Kau tadi nyaris mati. Kau bukan penduduk Hymeath. Mengapa kau ada di sini?” Sosok itu melepaskan tubuh Anne dari tangannya, sedikit mengerang dengan darah yang bercucuran dari ujung bajunya yang tertutup oleh jubah, kemudian dengan sekali tarikan, ia mencabut panah itu dari punggungnya. Meskipun terlihat tidak terlalu dalam, Anne yakin itu sangat menyakitkan dan … apa memang normal jika seorang manusia bertahan hidup setelah melewati kondisi seperti itu? 

“Pulanglah. Jika pergi lebih jauh lagi, akan ada pelarian lain yang kembali melukaimu dan membawamu untuk dijadikan pelacur mereka. Berita buruk setelahnya, mungkin kau akan dijual ke luar Eindernesia. Cepat.” Seakan tidak ada apa-apa, perempuan bersurai ungu dengan disatukan dengan kepangan panjang ke belakang melempar panah itu ke sembarang arah menuju hutan. Ia mengambil lentera listrik yang entah sejak kapan terkapar di salah satu sisi jalan, sepertinya gadis itu menjatuhkannya ketika sedikit mengangkat tubuh Anne tadi. Ia memberikan lentera itu pada Anne. Kini dengan jelas, Anne dapat melihat iris hitam yang gelap melihat ke dalam mata miliknya.

Mata itu … “T-Tapi … kau terlihat kesakitan!” 

Apa yang ia katakan? Bukankah sepatutnya?! Gadis ini sama sekali tidak mengenalnya, namun ia telah menyelamatkan Anne dari entah hal buruk apa yang bisa saja terjadi jikalau ia menariknya tadi! Anne mungkin bisa menjadi gadis penakut dalam banyak kasus, namun ia masih tahu diri untuk memberikan rasa terima kasihnya pada orang ini. 

Sunyi untuk beberapa saat. Kilau lampu jalanan seakan menjadi saksi bisu atas ungkapan Anne tadi. Gadis dari Valorea itu menunduk sedikit, apakah ia lancang? Sinar itu terasa sangat terang dan mungkin sekarang membuat rambut pirangnya tertutup cahaya. Anne menutup matanya erat-erat. Apakah memang seharusnya ia mendengarkannya saja dan pergi dan― 

“… baiklah. Peduli untuk membantuku?” 

Ia tidak pernah terlihat lagi setelahnya. 

Erina menghilang. 

Pertemuan setelah Erina mendadak kehilangan kesadarannya adalah kali terakhir Anne melihatnya. Hanya ada satu hal yang Anne ingat. 

Selamanya akan ia ingat. 

Ia merogoh saku yang ada di dalam gaun tidurnya, 

menemukan secarik kertas berwarna kecoklatan, layaknya daun kering, 

tulisan yang berantakan menghiasi permukaannya, 

bersamaan dengan beberapa tetes darah yang sudah lama mengering. 

“Aku tidak akan pergi jauh. 

Aku akan segera menemuimu kembali di Valorea. 

Bertahanlah dan jangan pernah kembali ke Hymeath. 

Aku mungkin akan melakukan sesuatu yang dapat mengubah takdir

Tetapi Anne, perasaanku tidak akan berubah. 

Tunggu aku melewati lautan yang abadi ini. 

Aku tidak akan mati. 

Tetaplah menjadi manusia, Anne.” 

―surat terakhir darinya, 

Erina Millen.



They took care of me, they trained me, they cared for me. But why? Why did they care? 

My codename is Zev, I don’t know my real name, I was taken by a group of soldiers and scientists. They said they found me abandoned inside a wardrobe in a hut in the middle of a deep forest somewhere in the outer border of Deinusia. They took me into their secret bunker where the remains of the country of Deinusia reside. I have lived and trained most of my life in this bunker and this week will be my first time venturing the world outside.

The bunker accommodates a small number of scientists and two platoons of soldiers, A and B which each consists of three squads and each squad having eight soldiers that splits into two teams. I’m in the second team of the third squad of platoon B so I live in Section B-III. My team consists of four soldiers, with one being an officer, my team’s leader, a Felinoan man with an athletic build and a scar under his right eye, his name is Luther von Tor, codenamed Oz, and the rest being junior enlisted soldiers. 

Life in the bunker is well-organized, just like in the military, we are given schedules and routines that we have to follow every single day from waking up until five in the afternoon and we get rest every evening and Sunday. After waking up, the first thing we do is to make our bed and get ready for morning exercise. My whole squad gets exercise in one of the gym rooms, there are machines and tools for us to exercise with, we also sometimes get trained in martial arts by the staff sergeant. After exercising, we get our breakfast and shower, after that we all go to our chosen jobs that we pick, since I am still new, I get to try each of the jobs first before deciding on one. 

This week, the job that I get to try is the technical engineering job, the job where my team leader works in. Technical engineering specialists conduct land surveys, make maps and prepare detailed plans and drawings for construction projects. They occasionally provide maps that are used to locate military targets and plot troop movements. My leader brought me along with him to the technical engineering office and introduced me to the work team. 

The leader started to introduce me. “This is Zev, 14 years old,” he pointed, “he will be joining us with our training. Zev here has good eyesight with superior natural night vision which would make him really useful for surveying the land outside at night, and he’s quite nimble.” he explained, “I personally think he would be perfect for this type of job.” He added. 

“Whoa, night vision? Are you part Felinoan? I can’t see your ears or tails” asked a curious member 

“No, Professor Harper says that I might be a similar case to that of a Felinoan but I share more abilities with canines and not felines” I explained

“Yes, Zev here has capabilities and abilities similar to that of a wolf, but he looks entirely human. Anyway now,” the leader clapped, “we shall get ready to venture outside, everyone go prepare!” the leader commanded 

Everyone rushes to make a line and each is provided with a bag of equipment. The leader gave me a bag, inside there are hydration packs, food, survival essentials, and a device to take an image of the surroundings and record it topographically. The leader then walks up to the front of the line and turns towards us. 

“Alright, everyone, remember, we will be venturing outside the bunker, outside the bunker are the remains of the country of Deinusia, it was obliterated by the second Corday, the creation of the Empire. They are our enemy and they are wary of us so they would carry out patrols around the area. If you encounter or catch sight of a Zwede soldier, just flee to your team and report. Don’t engage, I repeat, don’t engage. Our only job is to scout the area and record any environmental changes.” The leader explained 

All 18 of us marched along through the bunker towards the entrance, the entrance gate standing three meters tall started opening up, radiant light of the sun seeped through the opening, everyone marched together outside. The warm sun gently fell on my skin as I marched. It felt comfortable, like a warm blanket enveloping my entire body. I started to see my surroundings. In every direction I see, there are only ruins covered by vegetation and trees, which looks like the perfect illustration of a forest from a book. Seems like the ruins of Deinusia were abandoned and never was restored into another country. I look back from where I come from and I don’t see anything resembling a bunker, it just looks like another demolished building, the scientists really did a great job at hiding it. 

The leader splits us into three groups and makes each group go in a separate direction, I get to go with the leader towards the North. 

“So, how is it Zev?” asked the leader 

Then I say with excitement, “Everything feels new, the warm sunlight touching my face, the smell of fresh air straight from the

lush green leaves, the squishy feeling of dirt under my boots. It’s really calming,” I sighed “I wish I could live out here.” 

The leader smirked, “Well, if you stay in this job, you would get out a lot, I personally already memorized the area two kilometers North of the bunker. Now, I have found a place for us to stop and take some time to rest. If we just keep walking at this pace for another two hours, we would arrive there in time. When we arrive, everyone should take some rest then start investigating the area when it’s darker.” Said the leader 

Everyone continues to walk, having small chatters while also still being aware of our surroundings. I asked the leader if he had ever been married, he told me that he had a wife and two beautiful twin girls. Before the rebellion of Deinusia broke out, his wife was disagreeing in how her husband thinks of the Zwedeans and she left with both twins to the Empire of Zwede, leaving him alone in Deinusia. He then revealed that he actually was a high-ranking soldier in the rebellion, he was on a mission outside of Deinusia when Svitia Sukrasses was caught and when the country was obliterated by Maria Suendi. The moment he came back, it was all gone. He was wandering around the ruins until suddenly he heard a human calling him out, a scientist. The scientist knew who he was and invited him to the bunker, where he started to live and train other lost soldiers wishing for the best to come. Then he started asking me 

“Zev, what is your goal in life?” 

“Mine? Hmm, I want to explore the rest of the world. I want to meet people, go to other countries, go to a beach, see a sea, with the people I met along the way. That would be my goal in life.” I explained 

“Hopefully this war ends soon.” Said the leader 

After a few more steps we have arrived at the site the leader has found before. It’s the perfect place to take some rest, there’s a flowing river for us to refill our water for the way back and a few sitting spots for us to take a break. After a 15 minutes break the leader goes up and briefs us once again about the operation. After the briefing everyone goes out in pairs in every direction, and I get to be with the leader.

“You’ll be with me.” 

“Where are we going?” 

“I saw Zwedean soldiers roam around a spot nearby the last time I was here, so we have to check there” 

The leader led me to a part of the forest where he saw the soldiers. We then proceeded to check around it and found nothing. We checked on the trees, I found some weird looking symbols on the bark of the trees, so I called out to the leader. 

“Hey Oz, come see this” 

“Hmm, I never see this symbol before, they probably have a secret code that tells us what they hid here, let’s go deeper,” said Oz 

We begin to move deeper into the forest, I started to smell something, something pungent, a weird vapor that has a familiar scent, somewhere in the bunker. 

“Do you smell that?” I asked 

“Umm, no. You do have better sense of smell than me, what is it?” asked the leader 

“I’m not sure, it smells familiar, I swear I have smelled it before at the bunker” I said 


“Oh, I found something here under the dirt” I said while kneeling down. I started sweeping off the dirt and it showed a sign, the text on the sign started to reveal itself. Then I realized that it read 


Suddenly, the weird scent started to be clear, I started to remember where I last smelled the scent, it was the smell of TNT. My mind went blank, I started panicking, turned around to see my leader and saw myself get launched by an explosion from the landmine underneath. I was launched to a nearby tree. The last thing I remember seeing was my leader’s shocked face from above me when I was

lying down a couple meters away from the explosion under a tree. I didn’t suffer any other major injuries other than losing my right arm. My leader quickly stopped my bleeding and carried me away while calling on the other pairs to retreat to the bunker because the Zwedean might try and inspect the area. 

The operation ended early, everyone retreated back to the bunker, it was around midnight when we arrived. I was brought to medical care right away, Professor Harper immediately worried about me and personally treated me. Professor Harper has been a father figure for me in this bunker, he was the first person who took care of me ever since I was found. He taught me everything I needed to know to live and socialize in the bunker. 

Professor Harper says “You’re really lucky, if you weren’t so tough you would have lost more than an arm, I have made an artificial arm from my own research in coronium engineering. I just need to tweak it a bit to make it fit your size. I am hopeful that you have the capability of using a Coronium device. You are a unique specimen after all, you do have Coronium inside you, it’s the reason why you have the abilities of a wolf while looking completely human. That arm would give you abilities that are out of this world, abilities to manipulate Fate energy. I just wish you are able to use it for good. 

For the next couple days, I continued my original routine, waking up, exercising, eating breakfast, but I go straight to Professor Harper’s laboratory right after, for him to examine me while waiting for him to finish his research, my leader visited me one time, I am glad he is safe, I have also thanked him for saving my life. He told me that a couple minutes after the explosion happened, a bunch of Zwedean soldiers started to investigate and patrol the area. The leader hid inside the bushes while also covering me, waiting until other pairs started to arrive and help us flee the area safely. After the incident, the technical engineering work team has been having difficulties with more and more Zwedean soldiers patrolling the area outside, thankfully the bunker is really well hidden. 

My artificial arm surgery was performed just the day after the leader’s visit. I woke up two hours after the surgery, I can feel my new arm, but everything else feels different. I can’t think straight, I can’t control myself, I feel like I am lacking free will.

“Oh, you’re awake. Hmm let’s see, your vitals are great. How are you?” said a familiar voice 

“My body feels fine” I said 

“Can you move your right arm for me?” 

I lifted my arm, it feels so light it’s as if there’s nothing at all. The arm looks so real, no one would even think it’s fake by just looking at it. 

“Alright, I will let you rest for a day, then I will do experiments on you.” 

The day after I was brought along to the firing range, they wanted to see me use a gun. I picked up a pistol and started aiming, suddenly I felt as though my eyesight was enhanced, my arm felt stable and when I shot, my arm could stop the recoil of the gun. I shoot with astonishing precision and accuracy with only a brief moment between shots. Professor Harper was amazed, and so was my leader. I get more training in martial arts for close quarters combat, I move way more agile than before, my body feels light, and my right arm possesses superhuman strength, it can punch through a concrete wall if I try. 

After a few days of rehabilitation and training, my leader said I am ready to be given a special order. The technical engineering work team has spotted and marked the locations of Zwedean soldier’s campsites; they have been staying in the wilderness ever since the landmine incident. They are ordering me to kill them all, I have never even faced an enemy before let alone kill any. But as a soldier I am forced to follow orders from my higher-ups. 

I went out of the bunker alone, with only a bag of food and water. They placed a tracking device on me so I couldn’t roam outside my designated area. I arrived at the camp closest to the bunker, I saw three Zwedean soldiers chatting with each other, I aimed my pistol to one of their heads, pulled my trigger and time slowed down, my aim glided to the other’s heads and I pulled the trigger again, and again. I shot all three soldiers in less than a second. All of them got shot in the same spot, this camp is clear, just four more to go.

I went to the other camps and killed more soldiers, the more I kill the less I feel human, I really hope this war ends soon. After finishing the last camp, I got called out to the bunker to let the clean-up team get rid of the corpses. 

When I arrived at the bunker I was rewarded and highly praised. But I don’t feel right, I don’t know if that’s what I wanted. 

“There’s my boy!” said Professor Harper, “How was it? Should be really easy for you, eh? It is my proud creation after all. Now, would you mind coming to my laboratory for a minute.” 

I arrived at the laboratory and Professor Harper said he would like to sedate me and take some of my blood for an experiment. I find it quite suspicious but I can’t help but comply. I feel like I am being controlled by something. The Coronium in my blood resisted the sedation, I am pretending to be asleep. I heard Professor Harper talking to himself 

“It seems like he is unable to disobey me, I might have succeeded, I just have to try and make the other soldiers into more dolls.” 

He is treating me as a crafting material. He saw that I have the potential to be compatible with his coronium research so he sought me out. It’s why he cared for me. He just wanted to use me as a tool for his own selfish gain. 

I immediately stood up, before he could even speak, I grabbed and held onto his throat, choking him and finally killed him. I grabbed my equipment and started running towards the exit and smashed through the door, the alarm started blaring, the guards started to attack me, trying to neutralize me. I could avoid every single bullet being shot at me. I ran straight towards the gate of the bunker and fled. 

Under a tree somewhat far from the bunker, I removed the tracking device inside my chest and went towards the South. I am going towards Eindernesia, hoping I can find people I can place my trust on.




Is this thing working? 

I hope it’s recording right now. 

Alright, the name’s Pradja, Pradja Adhi Suryanto. You probably already knew me by now since it’s not that hard to find the only anthropomorphic fox working among the humans here. 

In this recording, I’ll try to recount a short story from a recording I have from my life before I serve aboard this vessel. I made this recording at the last minute before having to submit it for the crew bonding event. So, yeah, don’t expect a bombastic tale of some sort out of this. If you’re looking for one, you better check out stories from the other crew members.

With that out of the way, I’ll recount the last dinner date I had before I boarded this vessel. The vessel with a mission to turn the tide of the war, a hail Mary of some sort. Well, I think you all know how that mission went by now. 

Okay, I had dinner on the night before I got shipped off for this mission with my girlfriend, the loveliest fox I’ve ever met, Arunika. It was in the same cafe where we first met each other a few years ago. We were in a long-distance relationship for more than a year before that. 

I asked Arunika to bring the PDA that looks like what I’m using now and asked her to record our conversation just in case it’s the last one we’ll ever have. Yeah, unfortunately for both of us, that was indeed the last conversation we ever had. He gave me a copy of the recording, and I still have it here in my PDA. I’ll play the recording and maybe try to give my commentary on it just like those old videos we had back then. I can’t believe we don’t have the internet anymore; I took it for granted back then. 

Okay, let’s do it. 


Pradja: “Is it recording yet?” 

Arunika: “It is; we can continue our conversation now,” 

Pradja: “Sorry for the inconvenience; I feel like we might want to do this, in case, you know, the worse does happen to me later, well hopefully not,” 

Arunika: “Look, do you want to do this? Can you stay here with me? I feel like you’re lying to yourself by forcing yourself to do this,” 


Yeah, I think it’s fair for her to point out that I might’ve lied to myself back then about wanting to fight for my country. I don’t know what was on my thought when I signed the recruitment paper; maybe it’s just a random impulse decision from me. I might’ve bitten more than I can chew in retrospect. 

Impulse or not, I’m stuck with that contract even until now. Whether I’m happy with it or not, well, it’s still up for me to decide that. I still wonder what would have happened if I didn’t take the offer that time. Will I even survive the catastrophe that happened after the core implosion? Did Arunika survive it? I honestly don’t know, and I don’t want to think about it right now, so let’s just continue this recording and get this over with.


Pradja: “I think I have to,” 

Arunika: “Why would you want to fight for the country that oppresses your people? Our people,” 

Pradja: “Are we going to have this discussion again? I thought that we had been over this before. We come here to have a dinner together, not to bicker over this,” 

Arunika: “I’m trying to help you. Pradja, please. 

Pradja: “Arunika…” 

Arunika: “Look, I’m not trying to be rude, but I feel like you’re being too naive right now. You’re no different from those young people back in the early 1900s who signed up for war thinking that it’s a romantic thing to do, only to die off in the muddy trenches of world war one.” 

Pradja: “Arunika, I am well aware of that. War is not a nice place, I know, it’s war god damn it. There is no need to remind me of it all the time. But what if it’s for the greater good?” 

Arunika: “For whom? For whom exactly is this greater good for exactly? Not for us. Let’s not lie to ourselves about that fact. They never care for us. They don’t even want to acknowledge our existence. They saw us as a mere pest.” 

Pradja: “Look, let’s just enjoy our food first before I lose my appetite and keep this discussion for later, alright?” 


Yeah, the conversation got too hot for me to handle. We ate our dinner in silence after that. We tried our best to avoid eye contact for the entire duration of it. It was so awkward for us to do that. It was supposed to be this romantic dinner night, like any other we had before. I think I botched it by trying to avoid answering his question. Maybe she was right from the start; I should’ve stayed with her there than be in this damned mission. 

We had our ups and downs from time to time. It’s just sad to me that on the last day where we ever saw each other ever again, it had to be like that, a date filled with bitter arguments. I wish that it doesn’t have to be like that, but, oh well. Like they say, c’est la vie, I guess.

It already happened, and I can’t do anything about it other than dwell on it for the rest of my life. The life I’ll be spending inside this damned vessel that can’t even do her job right even if the world is depending on it, just like me perhaps. 

Anyways yeah, awkward dinner with my girlfriend, how fun of a story it is. I already warned you, if you want a more exhilarating story, just check out the stories from the other crew members. Let’s just skip to the part when we’re talking to each other again. Unless you’re one of those weird ASMR or mukbang folks, no offense, but you folks kinda creep me out, but, yeah, you will not find the sound of two foxes eating their meal with a backdrop of a busy downtown cafe amusing at all. 



Pradja: “You remember the first time we met here? What a night,” 

Arunika: “Yeah, I also teach you how to kiss after that,” 

Pradja: “Yeah, t, that, was indeed an unforgettable night. The fact that we managed to do it secretly in the hotel room while my family was away still managed to amaze me to this day,” 

Arunika: “Is your family still in the dark about you dating me?” 

Pradja: “What kind of a question is that? Of course, they still are. There is no way they’re going to accept you.” 

Arunika: “Fair enough. Well, yeah, so do I; to be frank with you.” 


The two of us managed to keep each of our own families in the dark about our forbidden relationship. Even to this day, I’m thankful that they never found out about it; and by looking at the state world right now, they probably never will. 

I always wish that they’ll be able to accept me as who I am. Sadly, it’ll never happen, and in the end, it never does. Sometimes, I wonder to myself what’s going to happen if I had come out to my family back then. I mean, they are probably going to hate me for it; hell, my parents might even disown me for it. It’s not that hard to see why and the chance of it actually going down like that is pretty much high. 

If I remember correctly, the next part will be a rollercoaster of emotion. I’ll just play the rest of the recording from now on and give my commentary later after it stopped. Anyways, yeah. Let us continue.


Pradja: “I really wish that it doesn’t have to be this way, I really want people to know our love for each other.” 

Arunika: “I swear to God I feel the same way as you do, but what can we say? For the moment it’s the only way to keep ourselves accepted within the society while keeping our relationship intact. I wish I can get out from here, together with you, but God decided to screw us up by fucking presenting us as an aggressive megalomaniac country But it doesn’t mean you’re also the one person that has to sign up for this war.” 

Pradja: “Why do people in our country still follow these stupid rules anyway. I just don’t really see the point and our society clearly passes the point where we need it.” 

Arunika: “Not simply just fucking rules, it’s already deep in the root of our socio-cultural norm.” 

Pradja: “Anyways, yeah, I don’t really know how to answer your question, to be honest, I feel like this is my calling, to make myself useful for once.” 

Arunika: “A fucking calling of what? For the people that hate us?” 

Pradja: “What if it’s for the best? What if this is actually the right thing for us to do?” 

Arunika: “I understand, although it sounds propaganda-ish one, about “GREATER GOOD”, but you have to look for yourself first, of ourselves, even the needs and safety of our family, not just by pure naiveness.” 

Pradja: “I do it so you guys can be safe. I don’t want to see you all be ruled under the dictator’s iron fist. I want to make sure this country stays free.” 

Arunika: ‘If you’re conscripted then I can’t say much, it’s forced upon authority, but straight-up volunteering without deep consideration and thought? It is just straight-up idiotic just to be blunt with you, the dumbfounded foundation of idealism without knowing the consequences.” 

Pradja: “What do you think I’m fighting for here. I’m fighting for you all god damn it.” 

Arunika: “Not if it is not yet NECESSARY. We’re fucking minority, sure we all have equal chance to be in the military, but do you even realize yet the GODDAMN pressure both internally like discrimination and racism within the military and both the fatigue of war?” 

Pradja: “Don’t you feel some kind of duty to do the same? I don’t know, have you ever thought of that? Don’t you feel any guilt, at all?”

Arunika: “Not until I have to, and while ideally, I should, but I can foresee the consequences just by looking back through history.” 

Pradja: “This is our hail Mary, you must understand that we could turn the tide of this war forever. Tell me then, what consequences are that to be exact?” 

Arunika: “‘Forever’, huh, so you’re implying the war will be a perpetual one. I rather fucking escape and find a safe haven than be in this continuous crisis.” 

Arunika: “YOUR OWN FUCKING SELF OF COURSE. That’s the main concern that’ll impact other critical things in your life. You’re not even in the military since we graduate from higher education. How can you suppose to have the same mentality as the one that’s already trained and experienced it.” 

Pradja: “The entire world is in a crisis mode god damn it if that god-forsaken country doesn’t stop what they’re doing right now, the entire world as we know it is at risk. I have a skill that I can lend to this war effort, my skill is required.” 

Arunika: “Ah, so you’re the superhero. The one that can turn the tide of war because of your sheer will and determination for your country and its ideals.” 

Pradja: “No, look, god damn it, I won’t be the reason we’ll win this war, i is just straight-up impossible, I think you’re well aware of it by now. I won’t be the sole reason, I’m just a part of it.” 

Arunika: “Skills. Fair enough. But your skills can be much more invested than something than FUCKING GOING TO THE BATTLEFIELD AND THINKING IT’S VIETNAM CARNAGE WITH YOUR SO-CALLED SUPERWEAPON. You realize it’s straight-up impossible, yet you’re thinking you’re responsible to stop them. If we really do have the responsibility for that, then why can’t we just help through other means but war?” 

Pradja: “Shhh, don’t say it out loud, that is supposed to be a piece of top-secret information, Arunika, You know that I should have not even told you about my mission, let alone the fact that we have a superweapon.” 

Arunika: “No one fucking cares, holy shit, everyone knows it, it’s on the news right now, that “secret” it’s already LEAKED GOD DAMN IT! So much for this country hail Mary, huh?” 

Pradja: “Fuck, I should have not even been here, I risk myself going to prison for the rest of my life. I’m looking for a romantic dinner with you and this is what I got? An argument? This was supposed to be our time for god sake.” 

Arunika: “I swear to fucking God can’t you just help the country on the war purpose by other means? Propping up the economy perhaps, providing materials and support, et cetera. Fucking other things that are also critical to keep OUR country, if you want to

say so, or perhaps I should stress it, OURSELVES, alive and intact in midst of this crisis? Have you ever thought of that, Mr. Smartman?” 

Pradja: “I expect a good time tonight yet we’re having an argument in a cafe, really? We’re better than this, and you know that for a fact.” 

Arunika: “Yea, our last time, very much indeed,” 

Pradja: “What? Now you expect me to die later? Come on now, why would you even think of that? You want me to die now?” 

Arunika: “Can you guarantee me that you’ll be back alive then? I never wish you to be killed in action later. I’m just asking for your accountability. Accountability on your decision, your life, even your love life if you even still care at this point. I just don’t want to lose you.” 

Pradja: “Look, Arunika, as much as I want to say that, the fact is, I can’t, I really can’t. I can’t. I just can’t. It is war in the end.” 

Arunika: “Then why go? I still don’t see the point. Be honest with me, please. I’m scared. What if this will indeed be the last time we spoke and met with each other?” 

Pradja: “I’m scared too, believe me, I mean it Come on, it’s a war we’re talking about. We’re talking in a circle at his point. 

Arunika: Scare of what? Dying? Trauma? Then don’t go until you’re even ready. Just, I don’t know, stay here with me.” 

Pradja: “Arunika, I just want you and those who I love dearly to have a chance for a better future. That’s all I want. That’s probably honest to god reason why I signed that volunteer paper.” 

Arunika: “(sigh) Then stay… (eyes sobs) Stay while you can We’re not at the end of the line yet dear… If you have to die, then I have to die alongside you.” 

Pradja: “Please, just let me enjoy this night, Arunika, please just for this once, there’s a reason why I told you to record this conversation. I don’t want you to die, I want you to live for the love of God.” 

Arunika: “Then what would I be without you? I swear I want to see the future to be ours, not just mine and you’re just one of many new names on a grave. I want you to live too.” 

Pradja: “Let’s be real for now, and hopefully for the last time. If it’s really the last time we’re going to meet each other, then please let this be a nice one, that’s all I want this

to be. A feel-good moment with you before I might not be able to feel it again, forever.” 

Arunika: (suddenly kisses Pradja) 

Pradja: “Then let it be (Embrace you) I love you Arunika, I really am. I want to be with you forever, but I don’t want to lose you either to this.” 

Arunika: “If this kiss is the last one, then remember it as our unbreakable pact. I still disagree with all of this, but then again… I wish… I wish it doesn’t have to be like this But I can’t revert this either. Just promise me one thing.” 

Pradja: “What is it, my dear?” 

Arunika: “I just want to see you return, alive and well. Although I know a lot of people can’t keep that promise, I just… I just want you to always remember that in your heart and mind, alright?” 

Pradja: “I will, I will always do that, be it here in this cafe right now where we first met with each other, face-to-face, or on the battlefield, I will remember that.” 

Arunika: “Alright, I-I need to go.” 

Pradja: (hugs Arunika) 

Arunika: “My mother needs me, you know my younger brother can’t take care of her by herself (hugs you back) (really tight) (tears) please dear, take really good care of yourself, mentally and physically.” 

Pradja: “I will, and please, take care of yourself when I’m away, I’ll be seeing you soon, I will.” 

Arunika: (releases hug) “Goodbye and see you again, my love.” 


Damn. That was indeed one hell of a conversation. I still don’t know how to feel about that even to this day. It’s both infuriating and caring at the same time. She clearly didn’t want me to go on this mission and risk my life for basically nothing. 

Is there even a word to describe the feeling this recording gave off to me? Bittersweet, maybe? Probably. At least it feels like that for me. 

God, I really miss her.

I expect that parting to be the usual “see you again” type, yet, it’s our goodbye, forever. I hope she did survive the whole catastrophe back then and now living off in relative peace somewhere on the surface of this now barren planet. I know it’s rather wishful thinking. But, hey. One can always hope, right? There’s nothing wrong with it. 

I don’t know, it’s been hard for me since then. I don’t know if this is a healthy coping mechanism at all, honestly. 

Fuck. And now I’m starting to regret doing this story. It brings back too many awful memories. I’m literally on my edge right now. I don’t know how many days, weeks, months, or even years I can spend in this vessel anymore at this point before I just snapped. 

Oh well, I guess there’s not much to say anymore. We’re never going to meet each other anymore ever again. Dammit. 

I’m so sorry to have ended it in such awful notes. I really didn’t mean to. Maybe I just need to vent. I don’t know. Just end it. 

And Arunika, wherever you are now, I wish you still held your love for me like I still held my love for you right now. 

Pradja, signing out. 

[Recording Stopped, Saving…]