“Huh? What? Where am I?”
I opened my eyes and looked at Kiera who was clinging to me. The lingerie she was wearing wasn’t at the level of sexiness that my world could manage, but compared to what was normally available in the apocalyptic world of Argos city, it was the best they could muster. However, seeing it there on a girl clinging to me as I stood in my bedroom gave me complicated feelings.
Although Kiera wasn’t as beautiful as Katarina, she was an attractive girl who cleaned up nicely. There was a certain degree of roughness to her, but she was undeniably a pretty girl within a few years of my age. She was in my room, and she was half-dressed. Something about taking her out of the surreal world of the apocalypse and dropping her into my mundane room seemed to just break the balance, and I began to come to terms with everything.
Kiera was staring at me with a questioning look. Her eyes seemed to hold trust, but also a slight hesitation. I shook my head and immediately focused on what was important once again.
“My secret toward getting my resources lies in my Perco,” I explained. “I have a sorcery function which allows me to teleport.”
“The military seemed to have been studying it right before the apocalypse happened. You need to use a power source, mana, and you need to have a sorceress ability. The mana is sort of like the fuel. You get those from the crystals you can dig out of mutants. Your Perco uses an algorithm to cast a spell, and your body must have a certain affinity to mana to allow it to pass through your body… which, actually makes me wonder about the source of the virus that wiped out your planet. Considering the fuel Perco’s use to cast spells predates the fuel source, couldn’t it be that the virus was released as an attempt to either manufacture the fuel or to increase the sorcery in people? That would explain the mutants and…”
I realized that as I was speaking, Kiera was staring at me blankly. She didn’t understand anything I was talking about. Katarina might know more, but she was colony-educated. Kiera was born a Wastelander desperately trying to survive and ended up a slave who had to go through a lot of brutalities. She probably only knew the barest about anything from before the war, let alone military-grade secrets. Most of it I had only guessed based on what Katarina and Cecelia had told me.
I took a breath and smiled and Kiera. “This is a safe place. This is my home. I was able to bring you here because of your Perco.”
“D-don’t we need to find your missing…” She stopped as she came to realize she still didn’t know what was wrong.
“My sister… the Cock and Balls took my sister.”
Her eyes widened. “You have a sister?”
I nodded. “I do, and she’s in a lot of danger. If I don’t save her immediately, then I’ll never be able to forgive myself.”
“I see…” Kiera nodded, her expression showing the same determination she showed when I first told her to go to my room. “Then what do you need from me?”
“I need you here,” I responded, as I let go of her and pushed open the door. “Caleb?”
I had heard people outside in my apartment, and I had predicted that was likely Caleb and his cronies.
“Boss? You’re here?” A head peeked into the hallway where I was standing in the door.
“Stay, what do you mean?” Kiera followed me, stepping into the hallway.
When she saw Caleb, she made a startled sound, grabbing my arm. In the Wasteland, all strangers were dangerous, so it was only normal that she’d react to Caleb with a bit of hesitation.
“Boss!” Caleb’s eyes turned wide. “I didn’t know you had company.”
His expression turned extremely odd, and it took me a second to realize what he was looking at. A girl in my room wearing nothing but a nightie. I grabbed her and shoved her into my room.
“Stay.” I closed the door and then walked over to Caleb. “You’re going to forget you saw her.”
“Boss… I don’t make it a habit questioning what you choose to do.” Caleb looked reluctant. “But do you need to force a girl in this way? I’m sure there are plenty of ladies who would be interested in even you.”
“What do you mean even me?” I frowned, and then I realized what his problem was. “Oh, she’s not my… I mean she is. Look, she’s not a sex slave, you understand?”
“Sure… yeah, I get it.” Caleb held up his hands in an exaggerated fashion, but he didn’t look like he was convinced.
I let out a sigh. “Look, just finish cleaning this place up and I’ll get the mirror.”
“What happened here?” Caleb asked. “Where is Hazel?”
“What do you know of Hazel?” I shot him a glare.
He turned white. “She’s always here! She paints on the balcony. I’ve run into her a few times while you’ve had me on chores! She’s a nice girl is all.”
“You need to forget her even more,” I growled, not liking the way he just said that like he was familiar with my sister.
“Got it, Boss! Your sister is your girl! No guys can get close to her!” He backed up a few steps like he was afraid I’d blow off his head.
Well, if he had any intentions toward her, I would activate his collar, so maybe he had reason to be worried. It wasn’t like I would stop my sister from dating or something. I wasn’t some creepy obsessed brother. It just wouldn’t be some guy like Caleb. As for Marsh, he had already signed his death warrant. I would make sure that was filled out immediately.
I finished up with Caleb, and as I returned to my room I lifted my Perco. “Emails from Lily and Mizuki?”
“Both have given their assent for rescheduling. Mizuki warns you about your exam on Friday.”
“Send her a message. She needs to keep mom and Gabriella busy for a week. I don’t know, make something up. Mizuki needs to find a way to keep them from coming home for a week, and she needs to excuse Hazel’s presence and my own. Tell her if she does this…”
I stopped as I reached my door. I was going to say that I’d give her the cancer pills if she did this for me. However, part of me felt reluctant to do so. After a second, I just shook my head.
“I’ll come up with something.” Cecelia sighed. “To think that an advanced military base AI would end up becoming a secretary.”
I ignored her griping and instead opened the door. Once again seeing Kiera standing there in my room left me feeling strangely complicated. Had it been another time, I definitely might have considered sharing the bed with her. However, at that moment, such things were the last thing I wanted to think about.
“I need you to stay here for the next couple of days. You can go out into the other rooms, but you must stay in this location. I have left some food. I believe you can probably figure out your way around the kitchen.”
“This is my house. If anyone comes, hide in my room.” As I spoke, I opened up the closet again and brought out the mirror.
I looked at the thing that had allowed my sister to get kidnapped and felt anger and regret. I should have sealed it and made it impossible for them to get through. As I pushed it out into the hallway, Kiera was still staring at me with a bit of confusion on her face.
“I don’t really understand.”
“The way the teleportation works, your transport to the last place you were at. The code requires two parts, a lock, and a key, although you can also see it as a starting point and a destination. The algorithm can determine the starting point, but the destination needs to be a fixed point. To work, it uses the last point you were at from the other side. In other words, you can only return to the spot you came in from.”
“I see…” Kiera had her brow furrowed cutely like she was trying to understand.
“I barely understand it myself. You’d think you could just save any destination and use them at will, but Cecelia says that it doesn’t work that way because the location is always changing, a rotating planet revolving around the sun. Whatever, the point is that I found a loophole. If I return and leave you here, then I can continue, and if there becomes an issue where I need to return to the base instantly. I just need to come here and use your return signature to be able to cross space instantly.”
Kiera thought about it for another moment and then nodded. “Whatever it is, I want to help Master!”
Although I did think of this plan and it was part of the reason I brought her here, I had other reasons too. The simplest reason was that I wanted her safe. I didn’t want to lose anyone else. If I died in the process of saving my sister, then at least I would have saved one person who could go out and live a better life in this world. If the base was overrun, she wouldn’t need to risk being captured and enslaved. Raven and the rest were raiders that could look after themselves. Even Katarina had her strengths. Only Kiera was truly vulnerable, and after what she had been through, she deserved a chance at a normal life. She might even be able to explain a bit of what happened to me and Hazel to my mother.
With that morbid thought, I wished Kiera farewell and returned to Argos city.