Separate Ways by carlsojos

With today's sunset only a memory, a bearded man gets out of his chair in front of his shop, turns off the open sign, and steps inside to do a little cleanup before he heads towards his home, where his wife is likely making a delicious dinner for him. As he activates his automated vacuum, he hears a chime telling him someone just stepped into his weapon shop. "Sorry, I just closed for tonight."

Suddenly, he feels a hand grab at his hair, and finds his face smashing into the display case in front of him. The bullet-resistant glass refuses to yield like his nose, and the assailant throws him to the floor. "Tell me the combination to your weapon safe!"

The man rolls over, and finds a young woman wearing a hooded cloak to hide her face standing before him. Is she one of those scoundrels he's heard about from way east?! "I-I can't tell you!"

The woman smacks him, and presses her hand against his throat. "If you don't tell me, I will kill your wife, then your son, and only then, once you've fully felt the pain, I will finish you off. Tell me the combination."

He feels the air rush into his lungs as she releases her hold slightly. "...2...8...3...9...."

"You'll pay with your blood if that combo's wrong." She clamps down on his throat once more, and waits until he stops moving before she stands up again.

In the back room, she enters the combination to the safe, but when the final digit registers, "TIME LOCK" flashes across the LCD on the keypad. Unfazed, she pulls a mobile terminal from a small bag, and turns it on. "Mother Brain, I need you to change the system time for me."

"What do you need it changed to, Neifirst?"

The Numan looks at a time clock in the corner, and pulls a punch card out to read it. "How about seven in the morning?"

She watches as the clock on the wall accelerates until it attains her requested time, and punches the combination into the safe again, this time hearing the sound of a servo retracting the steel bars into the door to provide access. "Thank you. I'll let you know when I'm done."

"You only have a couple minutes before the next security patrol passes by that location." After putting away her terminal, she turns her attention to the collection of blades and firearms within. Picking out a variety of the best weapons, she stashes everything away in her bag, and carries it back to the front.

A sudden sting of guilt attacks from the back of her mind. "Nei, I am not going to forgive what they've done to me, you know that." The girl in her mind refuses to relent, so Neifirst turns back to the limp shopkeeper, and presses a finger against the side of his neck. There's a pulse... "Happy? He isn't dead, so stop harassing me!" She grabs one of the stolen knives in her bag and slowly presses it into her thigh until blood begins to trickle down her leg.


"Then be a good sister and stay out of this." Neifirst is glad she has a greater tolerance to pain than her sister does, giving more control over her other half. She makes good her escape a scant minute before the first security bot arrives at the scene.

At an old mansion in Paseo, a group of scientists is talking over dinner on a series of problems they've been running into since the closing of the Bio Plant. While Mother Brain had offered a variety of sophisticated equipment such as laser microphones and wireless bugs, Neifirst chose the method of sneaking through the bushes to get within earshot of a window instead. She carefully peers into the only lit room in the back of the house.

"Director, how much longer will the Bio Plant be closed? I fear one of my experiments might be invalidated by my absence."

"Unfortunately, Mother Brain has yet to complete her investigation, and we won't be let in until what happened becomes clear."

"Speaking of which, what do you know about the situation? All I know is that one minute, I'm looking at a possible new strain of fruit, and the next, the security alarms are going off."

Neifirst, content that her target will be busy for the next while, grabs at the aging wall, and content that it can hold her weight, begins to scale it to the top floor. A quick punch shatters a window, and she pulls herself through.

"Where would an old coot keep his paperwork?" Neifirst explores the third floor until she comes across a terminal in a bedroom. She connects her own terminal to it, and after copying everything she could, proceeds to delete every file that has the word "Nei" in it.

Wait, what's that sound? Neifirst pauses as she hears footsteps on a flight of stairs nearby. She mutters a curse under her breath as she realizes that the director person is retiring for the evening. She slips under the bed with her equipment, and silently pulls a sword from her bag as she watches a pair of legs step into the room, as the elderly man changes into his nightwear.

"Keep it together, First," she whispers to herself as the bed sags dangerously when the man slips under the covers. The Numan silently counts from 300 in her head, to give the man time to start dozing off. When she reaches zero, she turns on the laser emitter for her stolen weapon, and begins to creep out from under the bed, ready to claim her vengeance...

"Don't do it!" An imaginary hammer bashes her skull as Nei makes her protest, and the sudden splitting headache causes Neifirst to flinch, bumping into the mattress overhead. She can hear the disturbed scientist stir, and roll off the bed to see what bogeyman is haunting him.

Neifirst rolls out from under the bed, blade drawn as the Bio Plant Director reaches at a dart gun. She charges, but Nei again wrenches against her, and the resulting shock startles her enough that she drops the sword as a tranquilizer round strikes her shoulder.

Even with the fogginess of the chemicals quickly taking hold, the Numan refuses to surrender. "I'm NEVER gonna be taken alive!" She grabs her bag, and out of desperation, throws her body through the window to the ground three stories below.

The pain.... Neifirst is familiar with pain, but never before has she felt it so intensely, not even when she was a test subject within the Bio Plant. Battered, bloody, and partially tranquilized, she knows she can't fight back if anybody finds her in the bushes beside the house she just escaped from. Yet, she can't bring herself to move; every time she tries to, even more pain courses through her body. Instead, she simply lies on the ground, waiting for a reason to come through her mind to explain what is happening to her.

She closes her eyes, inviting the dart still in her shoulder to calm the pain away. She dreams of a bubble, floating in infinity, defying logic by just existing. As the bubble comes under attack by unknown forces, it begins to quiver in the now turbulent air, threatening to break up, as the unseen sharps grow more aggressive. Instead, another, smaller bubble forms within the first and the winds turn calm again.

Yet, the older bubble continues to quiver. Its shaking continues to grow more violent, until the point where the smaller bubble is expelled from its creator. They begin to float separately for an untold time, until the winds push them back together, causing both to burst.

Neifirst opens her eyes to see daylight filtering through the hedge she's hiding inside of. "What in the world happened?" She plucks the dart from her body, and looks down at her torn clothes. Of further interest, however, is a newborn that appears to be lying in the dirt beside her.

The Numan sits up, and carefully inspects the infant. It remains silent the entire time, and a glint of fear and defiance shines in its eyes. After a moment of thought, she realizes exactly what the baby is. "Nei, you've chosen to leave me?" There is no response in her mind.

The infant closes her eyes, apparently expecting to be killed at this point, but instead, Neifirst wraps her inside her torn cloak, and after putting on a new set of clothing to hide the cuts she attained from jumping through a window, carries everything to the front of the mansion. She puts the child on the doorstep, presses the doorbell, and walks away. "Farewell, my sister. May we never meet again."

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