Space Century 351.99

When she first stepped into the big city, she did not know where she was. She didn't even know where she came from.

Her arms were wrapped across her chest as if she were covering herself or trying to keep warm, but she was not cold, despite the fact that it was a chilly morning and she was only clad in a purple jumpsuit which matched the shade of her hair. Reaching up with one hand, she pulled back a few strands of her purple hair and tucked it behind one of her yellow rabbit-like ears as she looked in amazement at what she didn't know was a Control Tower, linking the city she didn't know was named Paseo to a computer called Mother Brain.

Oh yes, she knew all about Mother Brain. It was one of the few things she did know about.

She had managed to travel so far from the sterile laboratory walls which, until recently, were home, if such a place could be given such a name. She had heard her First mention a name for the place a few times, whenever she talked to Mother Brain. Biosystic...? Bio-stems...? Something like that.

But now that was all gone. The sun she had never been allowed to see before was now rising over this strange city. When she had first started to explore Biosy... home, she was amazed at how enormous it was. Now, this town seemed to be even larger. It was a whole new world for her to explore, and the First was nowhere in sight. It was like a dream come true.

The girl started to run, her eyes still scanning the fluffy white clouds high above. As she ran, she caught a whiff of a scent from a nearby store -- a scent she didn't know was fresh-baked bread -- and she turned her head in that direction to get a better smell.

"Oof!" she cried as she ran into the man carrying a cartload of apples towards his street cart. When she realized what she had done, she gasped and covered her mouth, then she quickly began to help the man up to his feet.

"You should watch where you're going, little miss," the apple salesman growled.

"Oh, sir, I am terribly sorry," the girl frantically apologized. "I was just so excited! This is my first day here in... Well, I don't even know where here is! Could you tell me, sir?"

By this time, the girl had pulled the man to his feet, and he began to dust off his jacket. "Where do you think this is?" he sneered to the purple-haired girl. "This is Paseo, capital of Mo--"

The girl was taking yet another look at her surroundings, but when the man suddenly stopped talking, she looked back at him. She was just in time to see him let out a gasp of his own before pointing at the yellow protrusions coming from her head.

"What...?" His words stumbled across his tongue as they came out of his mouth. "Those... horns!"

"These?" The girl ran her hands across them and giggled. "No, not horns. These are my ears."

The man's face had turned almost white. "Biomonster..."

That was another word the girl had heard the First and Mother Brain use. It instantly sent a tingle up her spine. She knew right then and there that she had to leave, very quickly.

"I think I should be going now, sir..." she said quietly.

"Biomonster!" the man yelled. "Biomonster in the city!"

The girl spun on her heels and pounced off her feet into a dead-run back towards the city's gates. She was so focused on escape, however, that she didn't notice the large baker step from his shop and into her path. Bumping into him hard, she fell to the pavement beneath her as the baker leaned over her.

"You think you can come into our town and get away with it?" the baker snarled. "You can kill our people out there in the woods when they're defenseless, but in here, in Paseo, we outnumber you!"

Her entire world filled with terror, the girl tried to crawl backwards and get to her feet, but she quickly found she was surrounded by angry, yelling townspeople. She could not escape; she could only look into their fear-filled faces, each of which was covered by a mask of anger. All she could do was hear their incensed yells. All she could do was cry and cower in fear.

"Kill the beast!"

"We'll show that Biomonster!"

"Get her! Get her!"

But then, there was another voice, and this one forced itself above all of the others.


The murmurs and yells from the mob instantly stopped, the sea of bodies parted, and at the other side, the girl saw a blue-haired man in a blue uniform, with a bright yellow headband tied across his forehead. Once the angry townspeople had moved out of the way, he began slowly walking towards her, but she instantly saw something in him that was very different from the other townspeople. She saw kindness, understanding... friendship... and safety.

She jumped to her feet and ran towards the man, who stopped, his face looking like he was trying to decide whether or not she was about to attack him. But before he could decide, she was there, and she threw her arms around him in a tight hug, crying on his shirt sleeve.

"Please help me," she murmured softly. "Help me. Help me."

The man gave her a brief nod, then turned to the rest of the crowd. "All right, everyone. The show's over. Go back to your homes and shops."

"But Rolf," the apple salesman called out, "you can't just let that Biomonster roam free throughout our city!"

"Look at her, Kitze," Rolf called back. "She looks more like a girl to me than a Biomonster."

"But what about those ears?" another voice in the crowd called out.

"Let's put this another way," Rolf responded, his voice hardening with authority. "Everyone has a choice. Either go home, go to your shop, or go to a holding cell in the Central Tower. Do I make myself clear?"

The mob grumbled but soon departed back where they belonged, leaving the girl alone with the man the crowd had called Rolf. He looked into her eyes and smiled, and she quickly returned the smile back, seeing more of the things she'd seen on his face before: kindness and safety.

"Hi there," he greeted her. "My name is Rolf. I'm an Agent here in Paseo. Do you have a name?"

"Nei," she smiled back at him.

"Nei..." he repeated, trying out the name. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Nei."

Rolf fixed her with another smile, and she in turn giggled at him. She stood totally upright, all of the tension and fear in her body now gone. Rolf gently put a guiding arm around her and led her in the direction of what she soon learned was called the Central Tower, all the while asking her questions about who she was and where she came from.

Nei did not hesitate to answer, because even though she had only known Rolf for a minute, she knew he would always do everything he could to keep her safe.

And the rest, as they say, was history.

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