Energia, Web Novel

Chapter 43: A Bird in a Cage

Energia: Titans of Verità
Table of Contents (For Catching Up)

Hinata Kurosaki wanted to rip her E-Suit to pieces. She had wanted to for a long time now. Every day, when she put it on, she felt sick and exhausted. Throughout the day, whether she was patrolling in or out of the city, it made her queasy. When she finally took it off at the end of the day, the relief she felt was intoxicating. No sooner was she out that she would practically drown herself in the shower, then pass out on her bed. Then, the next morning, she’d do it all again.

For years and years that went on. She had wondered when it started. Two years after she started? Three? Later? Sooner? Did it even matter? She didn’t know. Soon enough, she was just as dispassionate about it as she was for her work. Whenever the question came up, she felt an overwhelming urge to run. To escape.

Then one day, it dawned on her. Escape. I want to escape!

Suddenly, she realized why she loathed her E-Suit so much. It wasn’t a suit of armor. It was a cage. Perfectly built for her frame. Designed with the sole purpose of imprisoning her. No one else could fit within it. Only her. And once she had stepped inside, there was no escape. A small cage for a small bird.

And she knew exactly who built it.

But Hinata was no bird. She would not be locked away in a cage. Not even one perfectly designed for her. I am the Shinobi. There is no prison I can’t escape. No matter what my father- no, my warden, might think.

Only one question remained: how? How does a little bird escape a cage built for the sole purpose of keeping it inside? Hinata thought long and hard on this. It quickly became the only thing to fill her mind. Work had become instinctual to her, requiring no thought to complete. Day in and day out, she dedicated herself to one purpose: escape.

Leaving ORDER wasn’t hard for normal people. Not nearly as hard as getting in. Once you’d turned your E-Suit to metal slag and signed documents swearing to keep all ORDER secrets to yourself under penalty of death, you were free to go. It might seem a shallow thing to most. But few people would consider breaking that contract. No one wanted to wake up in the middle of the night to seven Operatives turning your house upside down and putting a weapon meant for giant aliens into your face.

However, Hinata wasn’t a normal person. She was a Kurosaki. A daughter of an ORDER family. She was raised almost from birth with the sole purpose of becoming an Operative. By rule, they were allowed to leave just like everyone else. But when the family found out, there’d be worse trouble than for one who was open with secret intel.

At best, I’d be excommunicated from the family. At worst, they’d… discipline me. Then right back into the cage I’d go.

There had to be a way out. There had to be a way! And Hinata would find it, no matter how long it took or how impossible the task. Even if she had to tear her house down or rip a hole in the wall of Unity. So long as she could go where she pleased and do as she wanted. No matter the price of her freedom, she would take it.

It was nearly time. All of her preparations were made. In only a few months time, she’d hand in her resignation, throw her cage into an incinerator, then leave Unity on a cargo ship. Maybe she’d head for the colony on Beronis. It may be three galaxies away, but that was fine with Hinata. The further she got from Verità, the happier she’d be. Besides, Beronis was a tropical colony. Even if the rest of the planet was basically a giant ocean. All she had to do was to get on the ship.

Then Anna Ironchase arrived.

Something about the girl felt familiar to Hinata. Her stubborn pride that bordered on arrogance. Her determination. Even her blind recklessness. She stirred something in Hinata like sand at the bottom of the river. The Ironchase girl was like a violent current. One that would only grow harsher and quicker come a storm.

Hinata was determined to avoid that storm. Maybe because she was afraid of how much it would stir. Or perhaps she was terrified that she wouldn’t want to go. She didn’t know. Nor did she care to find out.

She was only two days away from leaving. She didn’t bother packing; she had no doubt that her father would find out and she had no special attachments to her belongings. All she had to do now was finish two days of work, then she would be free. All she had to do was finish one or two more patrols.

That’s what she thought. Until she found a giant monster rampaging in the city.

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