And here’s a late Christmas present for all of you: the long-expected next chapter of this fanfic!!! :D I was planning on finishing this first seasonal chapter by Christmas but unfortunately my writer’s block had other plans... But better late than never I guess, so here it is, I hope you’ll all enjoy it! :) This is the first of two Christmas Special chapters that I had planned, so you can expect at least another merry chapter, hopefully still at some point during the holidays, to keep things more or less in the seasonal mood ;) It’s sort of a sequel to my Christmas fanfic from a couple of years back, Amoyan ChristMass, but you don’t need to have read that fic to understand most of what’s going on in this chapter.
CHRISTMAS SPECIAL in which Mimea somewhat wistfully ponders the meaning of winter, Iason is merrily plotting yet another scheme and Riki has a very unexpected chance encounter with someone from his past.
Opening theme: The Birthday Massacre – Shiver (Tyurru’s nightcore cover) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpBic6JyhXQ
Ending theme: Jan Wayne – Christmas Time
Rating: M I guess, cause there are references to past sex and as usual there's some serious swearing in Riki's lines as well ;-)
Winter always reminded her of falling.
Gazing out the window, warm eyes beheld frosty diamonds falling from the sky, their sparkle even more alluring because of their transient evanescence. For once caught they would perish quickly, their sparkling wonder melting into nothingness. It was impossible to own a snowflake without destroying it, so one could only glance at their beauty from a distance. Like fragile flowers that would shrivel away soon after picking. In a way snowflakes were the very definition of everything living.
When sufficiently low temperatures were reached, winter also offered the possibility of ice skating. Although initially captivated by the elegance of the ice dancers, she soon learned that in order to gain the skill of ice skating one was required to fall. Again. And again. And yet again. The more she fell, the more painful it became. Yet somehow getting up seemed to get easier every time. She had always admired skills that could only be learned through pain and determination. Somehow a skill that was easily acquired didn’t seem like much of a skill at all. If it came without any effort then what was the point of it? How could one be proud of something one never needed to do anything for? To her, beauty was not about her own skill but about her maker and Master’s. If she wanted any talent of her own to be proud of, she would need to make an effort.
Skating round and round the circular limits of the ice rink, as in a repetitive loop she would see the onlookers’ expressionless faces. Big bright eyes, always watching. Perfectly blank canvases, unaffected by her efforts.
A painting for every face
Every time she lost her balance while practicing and fell down again, they would simply continue to stare at her, their faces unreadable. Like masks with nothing but emptiness behind them. None of those observers ever attempted to help her up, from nothing in their reaction did it become evident that they had even noticed her fall.
No correction, just cover up
If anything it often seemed as if the crowd took a twisted kind of pleasure in witnessing her pain. So in response she set out to become the very best at ice skating, through many chilly afternoons spent bruising her delicate behind on the mercilessly hard surface of the ice and shivering in her skimpy outfits until she felt numb to the bone.
She can’t afford to come off
Hard cause she’s too cold to shiver
She had read in the transcript of an old book that falling stars were often associated with this time of year as well. Apparently when one witnessed a falling star, one could make a wish. Unfortunately she had never seen a falling star and therefore had always kept her wishes to herself, forever silently locked inside her heart. Never finding the courage to voice those thoughts that she feared her cold world would never allow her to have.
Too cold to shiver
Too cold to shiver
In this cold
She’s too cold to shiver
Another book had mentioned that long ago at this time of year angels had come down from the heavens to bear witness to the birth of the Son of God. This had surprised her, for she had always assumed that the festivities were in honour of Jupiter herself rather than in honour of her Children. It had never even occurred to her that perhaps the book referred to a time long before Jupiter and her Elite. For what else but the wonders of technology and informatics could possibly be divine?
The passage had reminded her of another tale of angels, particularly a tale of one such angel who had rebelled against his god. Yes, the treacherous angel had been cast out of heaven and had thus fallen down to earth. His name was Lucifer, bringer of light.
Nobody understood the meaning of falling and more particularly falling from grace better than she did. She knew all too well that once one had crossed that threshold, one was utterly and completely alone on the long way down.
All the hands along the wall
Taking time to break her fall
However the fallen angel didn’t despair for long, for soon he appeared in the paradise that was called the garden of Eden to tempt man to join him in his rebellion. But man did not yield, having not yet learned of the domineering nature of his Creator and the wrathful shadows He could bring.
Minds divide the heart in two
Empty as the shadows walking over you
Until Lucifer dared them to search for knowledge their tyrannical god had deemed them unfit to possess, after which they too were cruelly punished but still given a chance to redeem themselves. The fear instilled in their hearts sufficient to keep them in line for generations to come. The divide constructed between man and woman sufficient to keep another rebellion from stirring.
She’s walking over you
Breaking her fall over you
Even when she was but a young girl, she had often felt as if her entire life was basically one long fall towards oblivion. The life ahead observed as if from the top of a cliff, gazing down into the dark depths of the abyss.
Moreover said life wasn’t even truly hers, and apparently everybody who looked upon her wanted a piece of her. Every hungry stare in her direction another piece of her heart snatched away, until eventually there would be nothing left. Every glance in the mirror another piece of her soul lost forever, the focus on her physical form’s perfection condemning the very notion of spiritual beauty.
Minds divide the heart in two
Every picture taken adding to the gradual disintegration of her humanity, rendering her more monstrously selfish and vain. Like Dorian Grey’s painting disintegrating in the attic while his attractive body never aged. Only she didn’t even get that form of compensation for her shattered spirit and lack of genuine social interactions. Always her reputation to think of, always the charade to perform.
Pictures for every place
Every smile rendering the words from her mouth more and more obsolete. Who cared what she said? She was a desirable Pet, a true artwork of beauty. Such a painting did not require any music to accompany it, if anything a less than perfect melody would only serve to break down its splendid aura. Her words often deemed inappropriately intelligent or critical, she soon learned to keep quiet.
Just shut her up
She can’t afford to come off
Hard cause she’s too cold to shiver
Her eyes being drawn back outside the window, she contemplated how very appropriate the cold weather was in an environment as lonely and as unforgiving as Tanagura.
Too cold to shiver
Too cold to shiver
Thinking back on her own eventual fall through the thin ice she had to conclude that it had simply been inevitable. Her magically enchanting dance across the ice of the Tanaguran winter wonderland had simply come to an end sooner than it did for most others. As if in a dream she vaguely recalled her utter astonishment when she saw the smooth ground beneath her very feet crackle and break into a thousand pieces, the heavy weight on her shoulders quickly pulled beneath the shifting ice by merciless gravity. Reality hitting her full force, like the shock of icy waters closing overhead and surrounding her in cold, liquid black.
In this cold
She’s too cold to shiver
What did she care that everyone she knew had loudly gossiped of the terrible shame of her transgression as she was led out of that cursed, white palace of glitter and glamour called Eos Tower? They were all just glad that it wasn’t them, all shifting negative attentions to someone else to better cover their own short-comings. Always looking for someone lower on the food chain to bully to make themselves feel better, to momentarily forget about the ever-present fear of old age and their Master’s displeasure or boredom.
All the eyes behind the wall
Taking time to watch her crawl
The irony of it was that all those things they fought so hard to keep and were so terrified to lose, weren’t things worth having at all. If one looked close enough, one saw no real prospects whatsoever in that fake place, only deceit, betrayal and unavoidable execution. No human connection or friendship was ever genuine there, it was all just part of the ongoing show of deception.
Broken hearts are never true
Empty as the shadows walking over you
Everyone so busily obsessing over their own pile of shiny wrappers that they didn’t even notice that those wrappers were empty. That they were carefully, individually wrapped pieces of nothingness. Nothing but smoke and mirrors. They were sacrificing their humanity for nothing but lies and they couldn’t even see it.
She’s walking over you
Watching her crawl over you
After what had seemed like an everlasting banishment beneath the icy surface, without anyone throwing her a lifeline, she finally learned how to swim. To swim through the freezing darkness and back into the light, her lungs hurting as air filled them once again. Burning pain in her frozen limbs when they had to readjust to the warmth. Yet she could never forget that the fluffy, sparkling snow was nothing but a thin layer covering the hard, slippery surface of swallowing depths.
Broken hearts are never true
“And what – if I may enquire – are you reading with such a deep frown upon your pretty face, my dear?”, a voice as clear as the chiming of bells awakened her, like the bright light of day pulling her from below the surface of her dark reveries.
Looking up from her window seat – now noticing that the snow outside had finally stopped falling – said pretty face lit up with a smile as Mimea held up the cover of the volume she had been reading.
“Paradise Lost by John Milton? An excellent choice, as usual. If you keep up this industrious reading of high literature you may one day become a brilliant politician yourself”, Iason Mink subtly praised her, as he gracefully folded down his long limbs on the opposite side of the window seat and looked upon his friend’s slight form with well-concealed affection.
“You’re just flattering me, Iason”, the young woman responded with a knowing chuckle. “It’s only a fictional tale to pass the time while being stuck here.”
“Many a historian since Milton’s time has confirmed that this supposedly fictional tale of tyranny and rebellion spoke of very real political oppression and Milton’s own struggle against it. Some even go as far as to claim that Milton’s work lay the very foundations of the political system that later became known as democracy”, the Head of the Syndicate informed subtly, not in the least implying that the two of them ought to start a similar revolution of their own.
Mimea raised one of her finely-trimmed eyebrows in surprise. “I had no idea this book was that old! In fact I was convinced that the author was referring to Jupiter’s reign, Ceres’ rebellion and Midas’ betrayal of said rebellion...”, she trailed off, slightly disappointed that it meant one less person was of the same opinion as she. One less supporter in their cause against the Tanaguran system.
“Hmm, it is strange indeed how sometimes the oldest of tales turn out to still be so relevant at present. But pray tell what did you mean by your comment on ‘being stuck here’?”, the blond asked, without even a trace of concern in his steel-laced voice.
“I merely meant stuck inside, because of that dreadful weather out there”, Mimea assured, only now realising how it might have sounded to the lonesome Elite. No wonder he had abandonment issues. During the months they’d spent together the former Pet had learned to read him better than everyone else. Well, perhaps not better than Katze, his old faithful Furniture. But still, she knew enough to tell that the icier his demeanour became, the more emotionally involved he was.
“Nonsense, a little bit of winter chill is no reason to remain indoors during the busiest and most festive time of year”, her Master chided good-naturedly. Apparently he was in a far better mood now than he had been over the last few months, impatience and a faint shadow of jealousy adding to his ever higher demands of his new Pet.
Mimea wondered why he was all of a sudden so cheerful – well, not exactly cheerful, of course the detached Elite’s mood could never be described as such. But how could this terrible weather and all that bother with organising festivities and all that came with it possibly make any improvements in the Blondie’s mood? Unless of course one thought he was very dedicated to his cyber goddess and thus immensely excited to prepare a celebration in her honour, but Mimea knew better than that.
“That’s easy for you to say, as you’re actually allowed to wear proper clothing”, the revealingly-clad Pet pointed out, looking at his long-sleeved attire with envy.
“No one but me has the authority to determine what you can and cannot wear, Mimea. And I will not have you feel like a prisoner in here or have you get pneumonia from going outside without proper attire. Your mental well-being and physical health is my responsibility after all”, he pointed out. Always rationalising away any personal motivation for his actions.
“It’s OK, Iason, you don’t need to explain yourself with me. I’m truly touched by your concern, thank you. The only problem is that I do not currently own anything that is even remotely warm enough to tackle this blizzard in.”
“It’s hardly a blizzard, Mimea, there hasn’t been an actual storm within the perimeter of Tanagura in centuries, not since the installation of our weather control technology. And as for your lack of clothing, I have already anticipated and remedied that problem”, Lord Mink vaguely gestured in the direction of his until-then-unnoticeable Furniture, who had been excellently concealed right behind one of the decorative pillars in the main lounge area.
“When did you get this optimistic? No offence, but I wasn’t expecting any of this Jupiter Mass hypocritical bullshit to actually improve your state of mind”, Mimea couldn’t help but curiously question. She wasn’t worried at all about his reaction to her use of the term ‘hypocritical bullshit’ or her impudent prying for that matter. For she knew that when her Master and partner in crime was in a good mood he couldn’t care less about Tanaguran propriety, in fact she had even become convinced that he even liked her occasional bluntness and Ceresian-style cursing.
Cal quickly but subtly approached, holding out a white box decorated with an artfully arranged golden bow. Iason took the box without even acknowledging the young boy’s presence and personally handed it over to his surprised Pet, continuing to thrust it upon her until after several long seconds her slim, manicured fingers closed over it.
“A Mass offering? Seriously, Iason, the concept never did particularly appeal to me, although of course I realise that it’s an honour hardly ever bestowed upon my class.”
A rare, delicate smile appeared on the other’s artificially perfect face, completely ruining its aesthetic balance but working miracles for the humanity of its countenance. “This is no Mass offering, Mimea. It’s a Christmas present.”
“A what?”, she asked, the surprised expression on her face somehow rendering it even more appealing, for a perfect face without any expression was after all just another boringly perfect face.
“Until last year I too did not realise this intriguing origin of the Mass offering. But apparently a long time ago on Earth – long before Jupiter’s creation or the exodus to Amoy – this celebration already existed and was called Christmas.”
“Christ Mass? I think I read about someone called Christ in one of your books once, although I can’t recall exactly...”, she started uncertainly, absolutely clueless as to where the mercurious Elite was going with this. The look on his face appeared to suggest that this effort was meant to reward her, yet she couldn’t for the life of her understand how handing her an offering would achieve this purpose.
“Indeed, originally the celebration was meant to remember the birth of an important religious figure called Christ. From what I understand he was a benevolent demigod destined to save the human race. Hence the celebration of Christmas itself was associated with caring for others and establishing peaceful relations. More specifically, it became a time to share with others through an exchange of so-called presents or gifts”, the Elite’s encyclopaedic explanation sounded.
“Sharing? Presents or gifts?”, the fire-haired siren asked, all those concepts completely foreign to her Tanaguran-bred mind.
“Throughout the centuries the concept has been forgotten in Tanagura and Midas, however it apparently still persists in Ceres. A present or gift is simply something – usually a material possession – that you give away to someone else without expecting anything in return. A kind of trade without a profit, meant to show someone that you like him or her.”
“So you just.... give something... to someone else, but for no apparent reason? Simply because you feel like it, because you want to show that you like them?”, Mimea asked, her warm smoky eyes now glued to the box in her hands as if it had suddenly taken on magical proportions, oozing a mysterious atmosphere from ancient times.
“A most unusual and down-right puzzling idea, isn’t it? Ever since I learned of the existence of this exchange I have found it most intriguing.”
“But wait... Then why did Riki feel like he was indebted to you after you saved his ass from the cops? Why didn’t he interpret it as a present from you, to show him you were interested?”
“I suppose he wasn’t used to applying the concept to unfamiliar persons, especially those outside of Ceres. Also I have been told that the exchanging of gifts often occurs at specific times, for example on Christmas or on the day one was born.”
“Maybe it’s because your present wasn’t a material possession wrapped up in this manner? You should try again, only like this!”, jumping up from her seat the girl excitedly danced through the room while holding up her present to better inspect it.
Smiling almost unnoticeably at the young Pet’s enthusiasm, Iason said: “Actually I already did, at Christmas last year, when I first learned of this tradition.”
“For real?!”, Mimea shrieked and turned around as swiftly and elegantly as a pro ballerina twirling on the top of her toes. “What did you give him? Iason, you must tell me right away!”
Seeing how the Elite raised one of his fair eyebrows at her commanding manner of speech, she quickly added: “Please?”
For a moment he hesitated. So far he had told his newfound companion everything and anything that related to his feelings for Riki.
However what he had shared with Riki on last year’s Jupiter Mass Eve was personal. Very personal. Revealing those events to Mimea might undo whatever remained of his authority over her. Not that he was afraid she would talk, for even if she did nobody would ever believe her. Yet he was afraid of losing her respect if he revealed too much weakness. Not a single blond hair on his head would have thought of revealing said information to Raoul, but somehow Mimea’s understanding of his recently awakened emotional side combined with her social non-existence gave her a reassuring and non-threatening air. Especially the way she was staring at him now, throwing all of her cutesy charm into her efforts.
“I gave him a ring”, he purposely teased, giving her just enough information to arouse her but not nearly enough to sate her.
“A ring? What, like a Pet ring? I thought he hated that?”, the curious nymph questioned eagerly.
“No, more like a Master ring”, the blond devil smiled mysteriously as he held up the ring on his finger for her to see.
“You gave him your Master ring?! Whatever for?”, she continued to pry ceaselessly, her extreme disbelief undoing the effect of her carefully-applied dark make-up and emphasizing the round largeness of her genetically-engineered doll’s eyes.
“To set us on an equal footing, if only for one night”, Iason finally admitted, masterfully hiding his insecurity at revealing such a thing to a mere discarded Pet.
“What do you mean on an equal footing? Wait, you don’t mean... By Jupiter, Iason!!!!”, she gasped, nearly choking as she fell right out of her chair and lay there on the floor, panting in shocked disbelief like a red koi fish on dry land. Sitting up and spreading out her arms like an angel in prayer, she continued: “Don’t tell me this ‘equal footing’ extended to the bedroom?! For then he would have to be some kind of idiot to run off again!!”
“I believe the problem with the deal was that it was only for one night, for he left no sooner than the break of dawn, while he thought I was still asleep”, the android responded in a perfectly even voice, yet the wistful depths of his blue gaze were as tumultuous as a storm at sea. “But if it’s any consolation to you, his manner of leaving was rather hesitant and undecided.”
“Rather hesitant and undecided?! Honestly, what more does he expect you to do?!”, his match-making co-conspirator cried out in exasperation.
“That, my little firebird, is what I hope you can extract from him with your sly, gentle, little fingers. Now, how about you open your present now, you will be needing it to go out and participate in my latest scheme”, he cunningly changed the subject.
Mimea’s orange eyes suddenly lit up with a mischievous spark. “Your latest scheme? And what exactly does this scheme entail?”, the red-haired imp asked with an almost evil grin as she started impatiently fiddling with the golden ribbon around her present.
“Better not to share the details of it in advance, as to allow you to play your part even better. All you need to know is that I need you in your apartment in Midas and ready to answer Riki’s call.”
Excitedly exiting the penthouse, Mimea had to refrain herself from racing down the corridor, her footwear actually being practical enough to allow it now. Apparently the only way for a female with miniature feet to get decent flat shoes on Amoy was to have them customised using the Mink name. Shiny, flawless black leather boots without even the hint of a heel now adorned said tiny feet and slender calves, practically begging their wearer to dance her way to the elevator.
The cheerful, newly-attired girl had bounced halfway there when she became instinctively aware of another person walking in the vicinity with a soft, decisive footfall. Still too loud to be a Furniture. Far too heavy to be a Pet. Yet altogether too pronounced and too subtle to be any other Elite but one.
Fixating her eyes on the shiny glass door of the elevator ahead she urged herself to look at and think about nothing but her goal.
You can do this, Mimea. He means absolutely nothing to you now, so you might as well act as if he is nothing.
Thus ignoring her former Master and creator entirely, she brusquely walked right past him, not even glancing in his direction but making sure to daringly flaunt the mink fur of her brand new winter coat in his face, in doing so emphasizing her connection to the Mink household.
Take a long, hard look at what doesn’t belong to you anymore, you selfish prick.
Just as she was about to step into the elevator, the old familiar voice called out softly. Ever such a caring and gentle voice, like honey poured over velvet. “Mimea”
After taking a second to get over the nauseating nostalgia brought on by that sweet spicy timbre, the petite woman turned around, red hair swaying aggressively as she looked her adversary straight in the eye. An endless jungle of bright green, moist and passively waiting regarded her quietly. Like a seemingly dazing big cat, in reality waiting to pounce.
Not wishing to wait and give him the opportunity to be the first to say anything, she announced in a chipper, mocking tone accompanied by a down-right evil, sweet smile: “Strange, isn’t it? How people can surprise you and turn out to be so very different than how you first perceived them to be. For example those you believed to be most loyal to you can be the very same ones to stab you in the back on a whim, another’s whim at that. Yet those you believed had most reason to detest you can later be revealed to be those who sympathise most of all.”
After a long pause that did absolutely nothing to hide his shock at the way his former Pet had just addressed him, he responded, voice annoyingly serene, belying his own uncertainty in how to approach her. “If you believe that earning Iason Mink’s sympathy might be anything but a burden, you clearly haven’t been around him for very long, my de...”
“Don’t you DARE to have the audacity to call me that! Not anymore!”, she snapped, like the jaws of a crocodile suddenly snapping shut over an unsuspecting prey. Pointing her accusing, manicured finger at him almost as if it were a weapon of mass destruction, she continued her assault at full force: “Not ever again may you call me that! You lost that right when you just sold me off to that hellhole as if I meant absolutely nothing to you! Like the idiot I was I trusted you, for you were my Master, even more than that, you were my father! Yet that didn’t stop you! That didn’t make you stand up for me and protect me like you promised, did it?!”
“I’m sure in time you too will be driven mad by his random whims and impossible demands”, the scientist calmly tried to reason with her. It was this almost resigned kind of calmness that now did drive her mad, mad with rage aimed at her former Master.
Staring at him momentarily she then laughed cruelly, the shrill sound echoing through the empty hallways of Eos. “You don’t honestly think that he has even an ounce of respect for those that just follow his every command and simply give him what he wants? For what he truly wants is someone who knows when to refuse him. Tell me, is there a spine somewhere within that metal framework of yours? Or do you just bend over like a good little pussy cat whenever he asks?”
“You may believe yourself to be in a position of privilege now, but as your maker I must warn you that both you and your new Master are heading down a very dangerous road. One that I would hate to see you fall victim to as well, my daughter.”
“If you would really ‘hate’ that so much, then why don’t you join us and make sure we don’t take a wrong turn, hmm? But wait, I almost forgot, it’s not quite that you don’t know what’s wrong with this fucked-up society – oh, you do, you probably realised even long before Iason did – but you’re simply too much of a coward to do anything about it”, then putting all of the rage she had suppressed for years into one single movement, she hit the elevator button for the ground floor with a loud slap and watched Raoul Am’s astounded face for several long seconds before the elevator doors closed with a sense of finality.