Arms are hugging me when I slip out of sleep. And a body behind. A leg between mine. There’s no heat, but there’s energy. A super kind of energy. It’s Ms Pink’s energy and I revel in it. Rolling over in her arms, I bury my face in her hair and inhale. The scent reminds me of Ms Pink and her castle. A little musk, a little ash, a little fire. The smell of home.
“Why are you sniffing me?” a husky voice asks.
A smile plays on my lips. “You smell nice.”
“It is the smell of dirty sex from the night before.”
I break into laughter. “Dirty sex? That was dirty sex?”
Arms tighten around me and legs lock around mine. “It was dirty sex.”
“Mmm, did you like it?”
“You did well.”
Pushing up on my elbows, I look into Ms Pink’s eyes and grin. “I punished you well, didn’t I?”
Ms Pink smiles. “It was a good punishment. I should be careful about what I challenge you to in future.”
I lean in and plant a good, long kiss on her lips. “I love you.”
The pink phantom flame appears in Ms Pink’s eyes lingers as she leans her forehead on mine.” Stupid human.”
After another round of intimacy on our bed and in the bathtub, we are seated at the dining table laden full of bloody dishes. Ms Pink digs in while I watch.
“Do you feel weak or hollow?” she asks me after swallowing a blood cube.
“I’m not weak. Why would I feel weak?”
“As an immortal, you will not feel hungry like a human. The hunger that you used to know is no longer.”
I think for a moment before shaking my head. “I don’t feel weaker or hollow or anything bad. But like you tested before, I’m not into blood, so what should I eat instead?”
“You are an unprecedented hybrid being. We have to observe your habits from scratch.”
“Actually, I was feeling a little hollow last night, but I feel totally restored this morning like I just had a buffet and I don’t know why.”
Ms Pink frowns. “Something you ate last night has satiated you.”
“Er, I ate strawberry jam . . .?” I offer helpfully.
“You licked strawberry jam,” Ms Pink repeats with a roll of her eyes.
I blush. “But I didn’t eat that much strawberry jam. It was just a pinch of it on your breasts and a little bit more below which was less than a quarter of the jar so I don’t think—oh wait.” My eyes widen at the thought that just struck me. “No way . . .” Ms Pink begins to smile as I fluster. “No . . .”
“It is likely.”
“But if it’s true, what does that make me? Some kind of sexual monster?”
“It is convenient.”
“Convenient?” My voice is rising in both pitch and volume but I don’t care. “I can’t believe you just said it’s convenient.”
“You are fortunate it is not something else like blood.”
“It is much easier to find a willing sex donor than a blood donor.”
I clamp my hands over my face. “Oh my gosh, don’t say it like that.”
“We have to verify it. Right now, it is mere speculation based on circumstances. I will have Seo examine you to get reliable information.”
“Your energy and essence levels.”
“Oh. So it doesn’t involve any poking down below?”
“Stupid human.” Ms Pink laughs. “I will do that. Not Seo.”
Seo arrives shortly after Ms Pink finishes her bloody meal and we move into the study room where Ms Pink starts pouring over the collection of logbooks her father left behind. I would like to help, but not before Seo takes all my vital statistics and records them in her hi-tech device that I have never seen before.
Positioned at the other end of the room from Ms Pink, Seo holds up something that looks like a metal detector scanner and moves it around me, front to back, left to right.
“What does it do?” I ask.
“It will copy a 3D image of you in the program and we will use that to record your energy and essence levels in your body.”
“Technology is a good thing when it is used well.”
I get the feeling Seo is unhappy about some kind of technology misuse but I don’t want to drag this out. “Yeah.”
Seo points to a flat square steel block on the floor. “Please stand on the scale.”
I obliged. “So, how much do I weigh?” I ask a moment later when Seo is typing on her tablet.
Confusion sets in Seo’s eyes for a second. “The scale does not take your weight. It is reading your energy and essence levels.”
“From my feet?” I ask, even though I have a feeling I’m going to feel stupid soon.
“From the top and bottom.”
“Top? What to—” I cut my words short when I finally notice the twin steel block hovering inches above my head. “I-I didn’t see that.”
“You don’t see a lot of things.”
“What do you mean?”
“Do not let her do anything stupid.”
My eyes are blinking at the speed of light from the most unexpected thing I have ever heard from Seo. “W-What?”
“I heard that, Seo,” says Ms Pink from the other side of the room.
“Ms Pink, I worry for you.”
“I will not die again.”
“You have taken so many risks.”
“They are calculated risks. You calculated them.”
“Ms Pink, calculations can turn out wrong.”
“The Federation is in shambles. Kharne and Sintix are barely holding it together. The Sovereign and Parliament are watching. She is waiting. If it was her, I cannot let her succeed.”
“Are you sure she wants the Federation’s throne?”
“Seo, you have never questioned me like this before. What are you holding back from me?”
Seo lowers her head, shocking me. She seems to have done some things without Ms Pink’s knowledge, which is nothing like the green-eyed vampire secretary who always obeys orders from Ms Pink. “She visited Sogok’s castle yesterday.”
“Why did you not inform me immediately?”
Seo points at me. “You needed the time with her.”
“Seo, what did she do there?”
“She drank of Ttrowtos’ essence.”
Ms Pink shoots from her chair, then sits again. “Why is Ttrowtos’ essence still in Sogok’s castle?”
“The Federation was too busy with the dissension in the Sovereign and Parliament to send any member to extract it.”
“Are you saying this was her doing?”
“All this time, we have been convinced someone wants to control the Federation and reign supreme over all three institutions. But perhaps, we got it the wrong way round.”
“What do you mean.”
I look to Seo, staring at her eyes flashing bright green.
“I cannot say my deductions are fully accurate.”
“Seo, tell us now.”
Us! Including me! My heart swells at being included in this exchange.
“According to my deductions, she might be trying to tear down the Federation, Sovereign and Parliament.”
“We already know about the attempts to tear down the Federation by many.”
Seo shakes her head. “But we are mistaken about the intent. We thought the attempts to tear down the Feds are so a new leader can rise up to rule them all. She has always wanted you to join the Feds so we would never have guessed her true intention is to destroy all the institutions completely so that the treaty will be dissolved and anarchy may reign once more.”
Ms Pink is silent for a long time and I know it is not a good time to ask questions. Instead, I keep my whirling thoughts to myself and try to sort the confusion in my mind.
“If your deductions are accurate, everything will make more sense.”
Seo nods. “That is what I thought too.”
“The treaty was signed while I was still a human. I remember when she told me about it. She did not appear to dislike the treaty. But years later, she began to speak badly of the Feds and the others. It was during that time that she converted me into a vampire.”
“She never did tell you why she saved you from him. And why she did not kill him.”
Ms Pink looks at Seo. “Tatua claims it is her. Erika said the tattoo she saw on Malvico’s neck is on Tatua too.”
Seo frowns. “What does it look like?” she asks me.
“I’ll draw it.” I am about to step off the steel block when Seo stops me.
“Wait a moment. The profiling is almost complete.”
I stand still until Seo tells me it’s okay to move. “Do you have paper I can draw on?” I ask Ms Pink.
Ms Pink pulls out a tablet instead and hands me a stylus. “Draw it here.”
I sit on Ms Pink’s chair and proceed to draw the tattoo exactly as I remember it. Triangle, circle, diamond. It doesn’t take me long and Seo’s eyes widen upon seeing the completed drawing. “Have you seen it before?”
“The shapes are not uncommon. But put together like this, brings up one particular tribe from ancient history. The triangle is not pointed up, but down. That is the symbol of the Father and the sun, Solar. The triangle also represents magic and the number three. The circle commonly symbolizes eternity, the cycle and a higher being, like a god. Since the circle is inside the triangle, that represents the existence of eternity in the Father. And the diamond points face north, south, east and west. It symbolizes the creation of life itself. It is in the circle of eternity—eternal creation of life.”
All this is a little too much symbolism to take. “So what does it mean when all of them are put together like this?” I ask.
“It represents the Father who bears the magic of the sun. The Father who has eternal magical powers to create life. A god, essentially. The Sun God.”
“The Sun God tribe?”
“They worshipped the Sun God and tattooed this on vital parts of their body as a rite.”
“Which means Tatua and the assassin come from the same tribe?”
“They descended from the same tribe by way of conversion.”
Ms Pink is pacing up and down the study as Seo analyses everything when she stops in front of us abruptly. “The Sun God tribe. The Sun.”
Seo nods, seemingly sharing the same thoughts as Ms Pink while I’m clueless as usual.
“Fire,” says Ms Pink.
“But I do not have this tattoo on my body.”
“A visit to High Society might be fruitful.”
Ms Pink looks at me and back at Seo. “Do you need Taeyeon for anything else?”
Seo shakes her head. “No, I have everything I need to assemble the model.”
“Send me the report once it is ready. I will bring Taeyeon with me to High Society.”
Seo clears her throat. “Please avoid any intimacy for the next twelve hours. I need to take another reading of her energy and essence levels for comparison.”
A dash of pink flares in Ms Pink’s eyes. “Is it necessary to wait twelve hours?”
Seo clears her throat again. “Nine hours is sufficient. Twelve hours is optimal.”
“Nine hours. I have no wish to wait that long.”
“Yes, Ms Pink. I will be here nine hours later.”
With that, Ms Pink takes my hand. “Come.”
I follow with blushing cheeks.