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Without You

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It was the first Sunday evening of the banquet. Kacho paced around the banquet room, once in a while humming the tune of the song they're planning to perform.

"Next up is Keeni from Hunter Association! He will be performing three songs. Please give him a round of applause!" Rounds of claps were heard all across the room, as Keeni took a seat in front of the piano and started playing.

"We're up after the next performance," Fugetsu mumbled, her palms clasped together in front of her chest. "Aren't you nervous, Kaa-chin?"

"Not really," Kacho replied, her left hand reaching Fugetsu's right palm. "I'm not the type that ever thinks about failure..." Her voice trailed off, as she squeezed her twin's hand. It was sweaty, Kacho noted, and trembling so violently. She could hear the failed attempt on hiding the subtle sobs coming from her side, prompting her to put on the determined face. It wouldn't do if both of them look vulnerable, would it?

Kacho's train of thought brought her to the day her father announced the battle royale. She remembered how Benjamin and Tserriednich, the first and fourth princes, looked like kids who finally got the toys they had begged their parents to bought. She recalled how Woble, the fourteenth prince, immediately wailed in Queen Oito's arms, as if able to understand the gravity of The King's words. But what she remembered most vividly was Fugetsu, who went pale as if all blood had been drained from her face.

She had cried herself to sleep ever since that day.

"And coming up next, we have a flute performance by Miss Melody, from Hunter Association!" The announcement brought Kacho back to the present day, feeling Fugetsu's hold tighten along with the audience's enthusiastic applause. Melody walked up to the stage, bringing the flute along. Kacho brought out her earphones, while Fugetsu followed suit. The guard eyed them suspiciously, and it took Kacho's crude claim that they were only planning to rehearse their song before the guard averted his eyes from them.

Kacho paid full attention to the stage, as Melody bowed to the audience, bringing her flute close to her mouth. One second into the performance, and the audience felt a wave of calmness they had never experienced before. The cool breeze of a flowery meadow, with nothing but peaceful air surrounding the scenery. A serene flute melody filled the place, entrancing each and every one of the audience into a deep trance.

With everyone but a few people dropping down unconcious, Keeni led the twins into the launch bay for the life support boats. He ran into the door, pointed the way for them to follow. They ran, and ran, and ran as fast as their feet were capable of.

About two minutes passed, and they had finally reached the emergency room. There were several life boats, each of a spherical shape with what looked like safety floater surrounding the round boat. Kacho opened the door. Having bowed to Keeni and thanked him of all his help, they entered the boat, and closed the door. Kacho operated the boat and set it to run at a high speed.

The emergency exit of the Black Whale was quite long, seeing as ten minutes had passed without the exit to be seen. Finally, the window showed the deep sea outside. "We're almost at the exit!" Kacho exclaimed. "The plan worked!"

Both of them sighed in relief. Fugetsu, who had been grabbing the pole inside the boat tightly, quivered. "Kaa-chin! We..." She paused, sounding unsure. "We won't ever have to be apart again, right?!"

"Of course not!" Kacho proclaimed, her hands maneuvering the control furiously. "We'll always be together! As long as we've got each other, we'll be fine, no matter what!"

Kacho felt a wave of emotions emerging inside her. Relief. Worry. Determination. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she could no longer suppress her feelings anymore. "Fuu-chin, I..."

"I know," Fugetsu smiled reassuringly. With that, Kacho sped up the boat. "Here we go!" She proclaimed. "Hang tight!" With each seconds passed, they were getting closer to the outside of the Black Whale. Closer to the outside world.

Closer to their freedom.

And the boat finally exited the Black Whale. They did it. They managed to escape.

Out of a sudden, Kacho felt a terrible premonition. She frowned. What could possibly go wrong this far out? She looked around in panic and saw black, ghostly hands reaching for them. Not just one or two, but hundreds of them.

It can't be... Leaving the ship doesn't lead to escape... but death?!

"Fuu-chin!" Kacho yelled desperately. "The door!" She shook Fugetsu's shoulders, who was still dumbfounded. "We're going back to the ship! Hurry!"

Fugetsu did as told, and opened her magic door. She rushed inside the door, back inside the Black Whale. One of the hand slammed the door shut, leaving Kacho outside.

The black hands grabbed Kacho's limbs, rendering her immobile. "I guess this is it..." She mumbled, almost inaudibly. As the hands reached for her neck, she thought of Fugetsu. Oh, who would protect her beloved sister now that she's gone? How would she survive without---

The hands disappeared, having finished its job of silencing the escapee. A nen beast emerged from Kacho's lifeless body, slowly taking the form of its late master. The nen beast opened Fugetsu's magic door, greeted with cries of relief by the girl at the other end of the door.

'Kacho' smiled. Time to stay by Fugetsu's side and protect her until death.