Yuu's kick caught Miles by surprise, sending him stumbling backwards until he bounced off Archie's chest, which felt like bumping into a concrete wall. The muscular red-headed doll looked down at him with annoyance. "...watch it." She stated. Miles glared at her for a second, but turned his attention to Arachne, with Marika beginning to attack him. "Wait, don't do that!" Miles yelled at her, but it was too late. Marika would feel her arm being stopped by an invisible force wrapping around her arms, like she had stumbled into a mess of wires. If she looked at what was holding her back, she'd see a shiny silver thread that was looped around the ceiling fan, with the other end held in Arachne's right hand. "You think I'd not take some precautions? Hah! Yuu, stop. I don't want to waste more of my time fixing you later." He stated at the older doll. After which, he looked at Marika with amusement. "So...what to do with you..." His gaze then fell upon Miles.
"Let's make this easy, shall we? You don't get aggressive with me or my dolls, and Marika gets off the hook without a scratch. Do anything funny..." Archne's other hand gripped a single silver thread that was wrapped around Yuu's broken arm. He sharply pulled on it, and everything below the elbow was completely severed, dropping to the floor with a sickening 'thud'.
Yuu picked herself up while Miles recovered from her kick. She readied herself for attack, but her guard dropped when she saw Marika get caught. "Marika! No!" She reached out her working hand, but it quickly shot to her other arm when pain shot through it. She saw her hand on the floor and couldn't quite comprehend it. She took a few stumbling steps back, shock setting in. This was too much... their home invaded... Marika captured like this. "Miles... surrender." Her eyes pleaded. She didn't see another way.
Marika thrashed, screaming at the top of her lungs. Chelsea twitched all over, trying to leap forward and cut her down, but she couldn't. Arachne's command was mightier than both Marika's will and her own. Martha just chuckled, the first noise that wasn't angry grumbling or yelling since she was tied up. "Turn the fan on!" She yelled, rocking back and forth. She was tied up and miserable, and her sisters were at risk, but at least everybody she hated most was involved too.
"Wait...what?!" Miles yelled out when he saw the situation Marika was in, his eyes growing wide when Arachne demonstrated what his threads could do. He glared at Yuu, then Arachne, then swept his gaze around everyone in the room. Would it be possible to summon enough explosive petals in time to save Marika...no, the moment he saw one, she'd be dead. Could he throw his knife at the guy...no, that'd take too long. A feeling of helplessness and anger washed over Miles, clenching his fist at his inability to do anything. "...fine. I surrender. Let her go, and we can talk." He spat at Arachne. The dictator smiled back at him, happy that he'd finally admitted he won. "Wonderful! Now...I don't trust either of you not to throw a pair of scissors at me when I'm not looking, sooooo..." He snapped his fingers loudly. "Chelsea, restrain Marika. Martha, restrain the other one. You may not kill him." Arachne let out a loud laugh as he sat back down onto his chair, putting his fist against his head as he prepared to watch the two be restrained. He had let go of the thread, letting Marika fall back to the ground like a bag of flour being dropped from a window.
Yuu lowered her head, avoiding anybody's eyes. I'm sorry, Marika. Her darling screamed when she suddenly dropped, whimpering upon impact. "Marika!" She ran to her, cradling her in her arms. Martha chuckled again as she stood. She gave Arachne a begrudging grin. Jane quickly hopped up to help her with the knots as she bound Miles' wrists behind his back. Martha wasn't a big fan of killing, but there was a part of her that was holding out that Marika and Miles were being executed. Chelsea walked up beside her to kneel at Yuu's side. "Sorry Marika. I can't stop." She drug the already tangled Marika out of Yuu's arms, leaving her trembling and sobbing before Arachne. Martha roughly shoved Miles up besides her to face him alongside her. The dolls waited like knights at the beck and call of their king, ready to kneel at a moment's notice.
After several minutes, Arachne had finally set up a spare bedroom as his holding cell for the both of them. Marika was tied to the large wooden dresser at the back of the room, while Miles was chained to the radiator on the other side. Both had their hands behind their backs. Arachne was busy milling around the room, straightening out the wrinkles on the bed and even the hate dolls. His looked annoyed as he worked around the room, until he finally made everything to his satisfaction. "Phew...ok, now that this room doesn't look like a travesty anymore..." He smiles and claps his hands once to gain everyone's attention. "Let's begin! I just have sooooo many questions I want to ask the two of you." The dictator pulled up a chair and sat backwards against it, resting his arms on the backrest.
In a particularly large beachfront house, Haruko Miyata stood in her kitchen, slicing pieces of chicken from a breast that sat on her cutting board. "How's the green onion coming along, Kate?" She asks the orange-haired person next to her. "Nearly done! See?" She points to the small pile of green vegetables on her own board. A few feet to Haruko's other side, her other kid was busy adding cheese to a pan filled with rice and garlic sauce for the chicken casserole Haruko was making. "How about you, Cosmina? Any issues?"
Cosmina scanned every scrap of soft cheese that fell into the pan. There needed to be the exact right amount. That was the only way to outdo Kate. "Nope, just adding the perfect amount of cheese. Not too much, not too little. You can only do that when you have perfect measurement abilities you know." She sprinkled in the last bit of cheese and sealed up the bag. "See? Perfect! And I have time to fix those onions Kate's butchering." She gleefully poked at the vegetable chunks Kate was working on.
"Butchering?! Hardly! Sure you can see everything really well, but I'm better at cooking stuff." Kate said, sticking out her tongue at Cosmina. Haruko shook her head slightly and glanced between the two of them "Let's not fight, ok? You're both doing a great job." She finally finished chopping the chicken, scraping them into the pan Cosmina was working with. Kate squinted with annoyance at Cosmina when she scraped her onions into the pan as well. "That's it! Now we just pop this into the oven for 30 minutes, and it'll be done." Haruko said to the two of them, opening the oven and placing the pan inside after stirring up the contents. While Haruko worked on setting the timer, in the pool just outside the house...a strange figure appeared out of nowhere and landed directly into the water. Kate heard the noise and turned to Cosmina. "Did you hear...?" She asked.
Cosmina flipped Kate off when Haruko wasn't looking. "Yes, Mooooom." Cosmina perked up before Kate even mentioned the sound. "Of course I heard it, I have way better ears than you!" Click click. Cosmina raised a leaf-colored eyebrow. "There's a strange lady in the pool!" She yelled to her mother, leaning out of the kitchen to look at the back windows, hoping for a glimpse of the weird stranger. She lowered her glasses back over her face as she clicked again. "She's got a heart beat. She's not a doll." Cosmina breathed a sigh of relief. That made her much less likely to be a threat. Probably just some drunken partier walking home and stumbling into people's yards.
Kate glared at Cosmina when she flipped her off, reciprocating the gesture when Haruko was looking out the window. "I thought I said no fighting, you two." Haruko said more sternly. She looked out the window to see a strange figure climb out of her pool. The girl looked around 24 years old, with long pink hair that went down to her hips. She wore a sky blue dress, now soaked in water as she began to wring the water out of her hair. "Erm...I'll go talk to her. Mind keeping your phone ready should we need to call the police?" She asked Kate, who nodded her head. "Of course! I am the responsible one here, after all!" Kate exclaimed. Haruko rolled her eyes and opened the sliding door leading to the pool.
"Excuse me. This is private property. Are you alright?" Haruko asks. This made the girl perk up and dash over to meet them. "Hey! It's really you!" The girl, now revealed to be about 6 feet fall, grabbed Haruko off the ground and wrapped her into a tight hug. "You're still small! It's amazing! Oh...?" The girl looked over to see Cosmina in the doorway. "Wow, you're super tiny here!" She let go of Haruko and prepared to run for Cosmina...until she felt her arm get yanked back. Haruko held onto it, a more stern look on her face, her body now slightly damp after the hug with the waterlogged girl. "Not another step until you tell me who you are and why you're here." Haruko said more sternly. The girl's face grew flush with embarrassment. "Oh...sorry, I shouldn't have been so enthusiastic! Erm...first thing's first! My name is Melody! And I'm uh...how do I say this..." Melody looked around the room, seemingly becoming distracted by a passing bird until Haruko snapped her fingers. "...right! I'm kinda...from the future! Here on important business!" Melody explained. Haruko made a small wave to Kate, the orange-haired girl beginning to dial 911.
"What do you mean, I didn't do anything." Cosmina scowled at Kate. It was her fault Haruko caught her making rude gestures. She crept towards the back door, leaning around to get a good look at the woman standing by the pool. She looked like a giant next to Haruko, at least as tall as family friend Dan Drake. Her hair was the exact shade of dark pink as Haruko's, but strikingly long. That was all Cosmina could get on the surface, so she closed her eyes and reached deeper.
Click click click.
The strange girl wasn't carrying a phone, but Cosmina picked up on a wallet in her left pocket. Digging deeper, Cosmina found her to be almost entirely human. All the usual organs were in place and looked healthy. However, there were a few details out of place. First, Cosmina could see alien structures at certain points of her body, spots that sweated profusely in humans. Cosmina had seen the same structures in John, but more extensive. Melody's looked almost incomplete or vestigial they were so small. There was a similar story to the other features Cosmina found hidden away inside Melody's body.
The strange woman had a tail pressed against her spine and wings folded along her back, obviously capable of pushing free if needed. Again, they resembled John's, but smaller and poorly formed. Cosmina opened her eyes when Melody moved at her, diving behind Kate. Her hair was standing on end. Who was this woman? She obviously had sex demon ancestry, but why was a demon hanging out in their pool? Was she just crazy? "Yeah, have Aunt Aria come get her!" There was a tiny hint of curiosity about what Melody had said to her. She would grow? No, of course not. She's not really from the future, she's just nuts.
Melody's eyes widened when Cosmina said to call 'aunt Aria'. "Wait wait wait wait!" The tall girl stammered out, waving her hands in front of herself. Kate looked at her with more confusion, almost done dialing the number. "No need to bring her into this! Uh...I can prove it!" Melody held out her wrist, which had a strange grey metallic watch onit with a rectangular display on the top. "This is how I got here! I just set the coordinates, and I'm here! Poof!" She put her hands together, then spread them out to make it look like an explosion. "I...see..." Haruko said with suspicion. The watch did look strange...but considering how odd the Hidden World was, that wasn't enough to convince Haruko. "Uh...you don't seem to believe me still. Um...uh...huh..." Melody patted herself down to see if she had anymore proof. Her face lit up when she felt something in her right pocket, pulling out a light brown wallet with little gold and silver beads stitched into the fabric.
"Here! I got proof right here!" Melody exclaimed as she opened it up. The wallet didn't have much inside; an ID card on the left, some paper inside that Haruko figured was money, and a small photograph that the strange woman took out and offered to Haruko. "See, this was me as a kid!" She said with excitement. The seamstress tentatively took the photograph and held it up so both Kate and Cosmina could see it. The picture displayed what appeared to be Haruko...only a little older than she is now. She wore a stylish blue t-shirt with her signature black jacket and pants on. To her left was woman with long green hair, styled into a crown braid on her head. She wore a mint green dress with a flower pattern on the upper part, and had large foot-long horns on her head, which had a yellow sun hat on. To the far left was an orange-haired woman that looked roughly the same age as the previous person, wearing a simple black t-shirt and blue jeans. To the right of Haruko was an attractive man with long black hair tied back behind his head, wearing a stylish black suit. In front of Haruko was another pink-haired girl, though significantly younger than the one before them. She looked around 14 years old, wearing a pink dress and smiling at the camera.
"Is this...?" Haruko began to say. Could this really be themselves in the future? The man looked like an older version of John...was it possible she was from a timeline where they didn't break up? "See, I told you so! I have important stuff to tell you!" Melody stated with determination. Haruko looked down to her two kids to see what they were thinking about all this.
Cosmina clicked at the watch again, but she didn't understand any of its inner workings. It certainly didn't look like a regular watch though. Her eyes went to the photo Melody pulled from her wallet. Her eyes narrowed on the green haired woman on the left. The style, the facial structure... it couldn't be anybody else but her. But she looked 30! What sort of photoshop skills would it take to make this? Would somebody crazy be able to even think of it? She looked at the other images. They were consistent. Haruko looked older too, but she was clearly cleverly hiding it with makeup. Cosmina already knew the tricks she used. They just scaled up for her greater age. And Kate! It couldn't be anybody else!
"This... it looks real, mom." Her voice was hollow with shock. This woman might actually be from the future... her little sister from the future! And with that jerk John! Wait a second... "You can't be from the future! Mom dumped John! You just picked up an outdated tabloid!" Cosmina accusingly jabbed her finger at Melody's nose, tears beginning to form in her eyes. This woman really was just nuts, and she was dragging up bad memories. A stranger was in her house, a stalker who thought she was her sister!
"...wait...jerk?" Melody's eyes went wide with shock again. She remembered her family being happy together...at least until things went horribly wrong. "I swear I'm telling the truth! That was taken when I was 14, ten years ago in my time!" She tried to explain. Haruko continued to look at the photograph with suspicion. "Hm...if what you say is true...then at some point, the timelines split. I stayed with John...somehow, and you were born." This was all surreal to Haruko. There was still the possibility that this...Melody was a spy of some sort. "Let's try something different." Haruko reached into her shirt and pulled out her necklace, a shining pink opal attached to the end. "What is this, and what can it do?" She asks.
Melody's eyes lit up when she saw the gemstone. "That's your uh...you didn't give it an actual name, but it's the thing you use to transform into a magical girl! Opal...Song I believe was her stage name? She was super tall like me! Has a cool dress on that has bits that light up!" Melody motioned to her arms, parts on Opal Song's dress that lit up. "You always kept that identity a secret from your own! Something about not wanting fans knowing who you are. Am I right? Huh?" She looked at Haruko with pleading eyes, hoping this wasn't another example of the timelines diverting. Haruko looked on and nodded her head. "Huh...you are absolutely right. Only a handful of people know that form of mine." The pink-haired seamstress looked at her with less suspicion. "One last question..." Haruko looked at her with confidence. "Where is my second workshop?" She asked. Melody cocked her head slightly. "Second...workshop?" She looked around the room. If this was her first workshop...and Cosmina's too young to have her own shop yet...there was only one other possibility. "Is it your Kaspa? That cool room with all the fish?! That place is so cool! It's like a nightclub, only without the dirty floors and loud music!" Melody enthusiastically described.
Haruko nodded her head, giving Melody a smile. "That's right! I think we can trust her you two. I almost never use my Kaspa outside of this house, and she knows Song's identity." There was still an tinge of distrust...but this seemed like information that even a stalker wouldn't be able to find out. Nobody could enter her Kaspa without Haruko knowing. Melody's face lit up when Haruko accepted her story. "Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay!" The tall pink-haired girl rushed over and hugged Haruko once again. "Thank you thank you thank you! Oh my god, I have so many things I need to tell you guys!" Melody's face darted to Cosmina, then Kate, then at the rest of the room. Her attention span didn't seem long. Kate leaned over to Cosmina, unsure of what to do. "Uh...what do you make of this...?" She asks.
Melody's story was clicking. Melody was very obviously part succubus, something she couldn't possibly fake. "Tons of people know about Opal Song! Kusuri, Ariana, Warden, Dan, Arthur, Aria, Erin, Elyssa and Alex! Your kaspa too!" Cosmina loudly rejected the explanations given. "She's just a better spy than we thought and she is not my sister! Right Kate!?" She desprately looked to Kate. She was losing Mom to this impostor!
Kate leaned back away from Cosmina when she heard the protests. "Erm..." She stammered out. Should she believe what this strange girl was saying? She just...appeared out of thin air, landed in their pool, and acts like they are long lost family? Haruko seems to buy her story...but is that the right decision. "Well...we should hear her out, right?" Kate asked. Haruko nodded her head and approached Cosmina, kneeling down to be at her level. "Look, Cosmina. I love you, you know that? Let's just hear what Melody has to say, and if she doesn't convince us...we'll send her away. Ok?" The seamstress asked. Melody looked on with a hint of disappointment in her face. The Cosmina in her timeline was so nice, generous, funny...until the day that ruined everything. A small hint of sadness crept into Melody's expression as Cosmina began to remind her of her own past.
"Kate? Please, Kate... back me up here." Tears started to run down Cosmina's cheeks. "She's a doll... she has to be... Marika had to have sent her..." Cosmina desperately grabbed Kate. It was too late. Haruko had been convinced. Cosmina and Kate didn't have a chance. Cosmina remembered the moment Haruko signed her adoption papers, that rush of joy when she went home with a great mom. It was slipping away now, spiraling into a black hole, never to be returned.
Cosmina's outburst made Kate even more confused as to what was going on. Haruko understood what was going on though, and pulled Cosmina into a hug. "It's okay, Cosmina. You're not going anywhere. Even if she is my future kid in some timeline...that doesn't mean I love you any less. So how about we go see what Melody wants to tell us, and go from there?" Haruko suggests in a kind manner. Kate's opinion had finally set in stone. "Yeah...let's hear her out. Why not? Just uh...one second." Kate walked inside the house, and came back out with a large blue towel made out of a strange fuzzy fabric. "This absorbs water super well. Just dry yourself off before you go inside." Kate states, tossing over the towel. Melody catches it and wipes it across her arm, the water being absorbed easily. "Whoa...this is awesome! Thanks Kate!" Melody rushed over and gave Kate a hug too, leaving the orange-haired girl with a small wet spot on her shirt and pants. "Great..."
"You... you mean that? You still love Kate and I?" Cosmina's tears slowed and she sniffled. A moment passed and her face crumbled into twice the misery. "Oh my god I'm so sorry, I thought you were like Marika and you would just let me go when somebody better came and how could I think that!" Cosmina bawled into Haruko's chest again for a minute before stepping back and sniffling. "I'm sorry. I'll calm down now." She gripped the base of her shirt tight in her hands, biting her lip to hold back further noise.
So this was the root of the issue...Marika would abandon her if someone better came along. Haruko patted the top of Cosmina's head once more and stepped back. "It's alright Cosmina, you were just worried for all of us. You can talk to me about anything." And with that, Haruko motioned Melody toward the towel in her hands. "Now, please wipe yourself off like Kate said. I don't want you tracking water in my house." The seamstress stated. Melody quickly moved the towel around her hair and clothing, the water easily being absorbed by the material. She handed it to Kate once she was done, who dried the spots off herself too. "Alllll done! Let's go!" Melody excitedly said as she opened the door. The inside of the house was a little different than what she remembered. For one...it was still built for people much shorter than herself. Melody went to inspect the cabinets and smashed her head against the side of the structure.
"Oooooooooow! This was higher up..." Melody weakly said as she held the side of her head. Haruko looked on with a mixture of confusion and concern. "Are you alright?" She asked. Melody nodded her head and began to look around more. "Man...this place is so cool! It's so retro!" Melody excitedly observed. Haruko felt a little strange, thinking the modern design of her house was retro. "So Melody...what is it you wanted to tell us?" Haruko asked. Melody peeked out from the supply room and ran around the corner, plopping down on the couch. "Right! Sorry, my attention span is kinda...bad. Great for multitasking though! Helps me as president of the HWIC!" Melody explains. Haruko's eyes widened with surprise when she sat down on a large brown chair in the living room. "Wait...president of the HWIC?" She asks. Kate took another seat on a couch next to the one Melody was on. "Oh, yes! Sorry, getting ahead of myself again!" Melody says. She took a deep breath to clear her thoughts before she started explaining.
"Yeah, soon I'll be tall enough Haruko will have to raise the cabinets." Cosmina boasted, still remaining close to Haruko and away from Melody. When Haruko at on the chair, where she couldn't sit beside her, she instead clung to Kate, hoping she wasn't pushed away. She didn't exactly mistrust Melody's story anymore, not on an intellectual level. She had presented too much evidence for that too fast. She was just spinning from the revelation and her own emotional meltdown. She was snapped back to full attention by Melody's future job. "Wait? Did Aria retire finally? Or... die?" This was much worse than just thinking she was crazy! She was going to learn bad things that happen to people she liked!