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Where modesty's ill manners, 'tis but fit that impudence and malice pass for wit.
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((Eiko Haraguchi continued from Feral Intelligence))

For the second time in Eiko’s life, she found her destiny radically altered. Machinations of powerful men beyond her control had diverted her from a path she had found all but certain twice now, and the experience had left her drained and listless.

Years and years and years ago, Eiko began her ascension into the business world. Somehow her father had pulled off a miracle, applying just the right amount of guidance to following in his footsteps. Any more pressure and it would obviously feel like pressure, turning Eiko into a burned-out rebel and a loser destined to obscurity and a wasted, undignified life. Any less pressure would have withered Eiko’s work ethic, turning her into a slacker, no doubt a filthy otaku as well, and giving her much the same future. But Masaru did everything right, and they worked together to make her the best student she could be.

When every other student slacked off, Eiko persevered, cramming with the best of them, and excelling even by Japanese standards. She didn’t mean to insult her new American friends, but their curriculum was a walk in the park by comparison, and if she didn’t end up graduating as valedictorian, she would have been astounded. Not that she would ever know, of course. Just when she reached her highest point of triumph, when she was on the cusp of entering the Ivy League, a one-in-a-million chance robbed her of her future, and took her to a world that didn’t care about grades or networking or anything else she excelled at.

Each day weighed on the last, crushing her like slabs of stone. The more time passed, the more her goal of preserving her reputation looked like an absurd pipe dream. She knew enough about the game to know that the good died quick and the rest compromised and compromised until they were damned.

Eiko was no exception. She lost her composure. She neglected her hygiene. She became callous instead of gregarious, calculated how much her allies, other human beings, were worth to her, and in the end, she started thinking about how to be cutthroat. She made a mad dash to get a glorious weapon, abandoning all pretense of civility and acting like a vulture, but was beaten to it by a far stronger predator.

Hartmann broke her, and after she broke her boat anchor of a weapon, she committed herself to the darker path. Hypothetical scenarios ran through her head, of the sort of students she would run into, predators she would have to run from, less hardened students with weapons they weren’t using, weapons she could steal and use on them. She didn’t care anymore. Anything that would help prove that she was better than Harris, better than Hartmann, better than anyone on the island, anything that would help her get revenge on them, that was fair game. She’d seen death. She’d make herself kill. Or so she thought.

If circumstances had changed, if she found easy prey, if the rescue boat had arrived a day late, if Eiko hadn’t felt the overwhelming need to sleep, if she had been shot as she slept underneath a tree, she wouldn’t have gotten a second chance. But she was spared, and when she heard the news, she didn’t believe it.

She didn’t have to kill after all?

At first she thought it was a trap, or a sick hallucination, the last gasp of her sane and rational mind attempting to save her. But no, she realized the minute she set foot on the beach. It was really there. If she was sane, she would have run toward it with tears in her eyes and thanked the soldiers profusely.

Yet still she sat, standing like a ghost on the horizon, wondering about the dreams she had. The dreams were dark and vivid, and she hated to admit, but they were some of the best dreams she’d ever had in her life. Could she really deny that part of her? Did she really want to abandon the pursuit of sweet revenge?


Eiko frowned and glared at her feet, her hand and face stinging from the impact. Was she mad? In that moment she’d forgotten where she truly belonged, and it wasn’t here. As she walked over to the boat, stumbling on the occasional sand dune, she started to smile.

Soon she would see her father again.
Edited by Solitair, May 26 2011, 10:33 PM.
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