Chapter 15

August 10th, U.C. 0043

Sena arrived outside Aina’s room a few minutes earlier than usual. She did not want to wake Aina so early, but she could not disobey her orders.

Ohayou gozaimasu, Aina-chan,” she called quietly as she stepped into the room. She was surprised to find Momo curled up next to Aina. Sena wouldn’t have minded being the only one to stick by Aina’s side, but it was better for Aina to make many friends.

“Just go more minutes,” Aina pleaded, half asleep.

Dame. Gomen,” Sena apologized. “I need to go wake the others, and you need to be at the genkan by the time I bring them.”

“Others?” Aina slurred.

“We received two new recruits last night. They’ll be joining us from now on. I was told you had been informed.”

“Goshujin-sama said it was a possibility,” said Aina, starting to finally wake up. “But I didn’t know they were already here.”

Omedetou, you’re officially a senpai now.”

“I’d trade it all for a few more minutes of sleep,” Aina complained, hopping down from the bed. Momo, still mostly asleep, rolled over to where Aina had been, relishing the lingering body heat.

“I will bring them both to the genkan at zero four hundred hours. Please be there when we arrive.”

Aina began working before the others arrived. She remembered how much time it took to instruct her on her first day and how much it slowed down the process. If they had to take the time to teach two new meido, they might be late for morning exercises, or worse, for breakfast.

Ten minutes after the appointed time, Sena and her new charges turned a corner and came into view down the hallway. The two new meido walked in front of Sena, dour looks on their faces, making it appear as though Sena was taking them on a forced march.

Aina was dismayed to find that they were normal girls around her own age. For the past month, the only children in her age range had been Mimi and Momo, whose bodies were much stronger than normal humans’, so Aina didn’t have to worry about accidentally hurting them. She still keenly remembered the ostracization she suffered at school, and worried that her new kohai would treat her the same way.

Gokigenyou, Aina-chan,” Sena said as they arrived at the genkan. “Gomen for being late. I did not realize that kodomo could be so difficult to manage.”

“Uwa, they really do say ‘gokigenyou’ here!” one of the kohai exclaimed. She was around Aina’s height, with a round face, brown eyes, olive skin and straight black hair. The other girl was about six inches taller than Aina, with lighter skin, green eyes and short, curly red hair. Her features were rougher, and she had a few scrapes and bruises on her face. Aina thought she looked like a younger Diaho, but without the cat ears.

“Gokigenyou, Sena-chan,” Aina returned the greeting, hoping to impress her kohai.

Futari tomo will be with us starting today,” Sena proclaimed, though everyone present already knew that. “Go on, introduce yourselves.”

Hajimemashite, Aina-senpai,” the darker-skinned girl began. “I’m Jin. I’m a nana-sai first-grader. Oh, I guess I’m not in school anymore.” The girl’s shoulders slumped.

Donmai,” Aina reassured her. “I did the same thing the first time I introduced myself here.” She smiled to try to reassure Jin.

EtouAnou…” Jin recovered. “My hobby is origami. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!”

“Yoroshiku onegaishimasu,” Aina said. She turned to face the taller girl.

“Tch,” spat the girl. “Is this some kind of joke? This puny little gaki is our senpai? How old are you, maki?” Her voice was deep and masculine, but unmistakably that of a young girl’s.

“Nana-sai,” Aina responded. The way this girl talked reminded her of the bullies at school, and she feared that what she thought was an escape from bullying was merely a month-long reprieve.

“Well I’m hachi-sai,” the girl bragged, “so as far as I’m concerned, I’m your senpai.”

“That is not how it works,” Sena informed them. “Aina-chan has been here for a month longer than you, so she is your senpai.”

“A month? That’s it?” the girl scoffed. “Just look at her. I’m obviously a much better fighter than she is.” The girl flexed her right bicep as if to prove a point. “Plus, she’s younger, so there’s no way I’m taking orders from her.”

“That is tough talk for someone who gets creamed every time they get into a fight,” Sena commented.

“Not every time!” protested the girl. “I win every now and then.”

“Name one person you have beaten,” Sena countered.

“I don’t keep track.” The girl’s bluff was transparent to all present.

“Well, Aina-chan has killed a Soviet monstrosity,” Sena bragged.

“Big whoop. Am I supposed to be impressed?”

Maa,” Aina interjected. “We’re not here to fight. We’re here to clean shoes. Do you have much experience with that, etou…”

“Tsukasa,” the girl grunted. “And what kind of question is that? Of course I’ve never cleaned shoes before.”

“Tsukasa-san. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu,” Aina bowed. Tsukasa flipped Aina off in response. “Since you’ve never done it before, will you let me teach you?”

Saitei,” Tsukasa complained.

“Are all kodomo so poorly-behaved?” Sena asked.

Iie,” Aina answered. “Jin-chan’s a good onna, ne?” Jin blushed slightly and looked at the ground. “Demo, many of them are.”

“We won’t finish on time if she refuses to cooperate,” Sena stated. Aina saw Tsukasa’s face light up with a look of glee. Sena had just given Tsukasa power over the situation.

“Not really,” Aina said dismissively. “I started early, so we should be able to finish in plenty of time, even without her. Besides, we still have Jin-chan to help us out.” Jin looked nervously between Aina and Tsukasa before nodding her head silently. “Good, then come over here and I’ll show you how to do it.” The two girls and Sena walked over to the shoe locker and began to work, leaving Tsukasa in the hallway.

“I’m going back to bed,” Tsukasa announced. “Robot, tell me how to get back to my room.”

“She’ll come around if we ignore her,” Aina whispered to Sena.

“She is a homo sapiens. I am programmed to respond to her orders,” Sena whispered back.

“You can ignore her if you want to,” Aina assured her, and to Sena’s surprise, she found that she could. She wasn’t sure if it was because Aina had given her permission, or if it was because such an action would help in carrying out Naomi’s orders.

“Did you just order her not to tell me?”

“Iie,” Aina said.

“Demo, Aina-chan,” Sena said, “if Tsukasa-san does not help—”

Ee,” Aina spoke loudly enough for Tsukasa to hear this time, “they won’t feed her. Demo, shikata nai wa ne? If she doesn’t want to help, we can’t force her.”

Hontou?” Jin asked, wide-eyed.

“Those who don’t work don’t eat,” Aina quoted, without actually answering the question.

“I’m not hungry anyway,” Tsukasa sulked.

“That is not what you said earlier,” observed Sena.

“Go to Jigoku,” Tsukasa scoffed. She walked past them towards the door to the courtyard.

Doko’re you going?” asked Aina.

“Anywhere but koko. I’m not going to stick around and get made fun of by a robot and a gaki.”

“You will be punished if you try to leave,” Sena asserted.

“Can’t be any worse than this. Besides, I’m not sticking around anyway.”

“Deserters are subjected to torture and death,” Sena informed the girl. This was news to Aina.

Uso,” gasped Tsukasa.

“I am a gynoid. I am incapable of lying,” Sena lied.

Kamawan. They won’t catch me anyway,” Tsukasa said. Aina set down her shoes, and with a quick leap, placed herself between tsukasa and the door.

Nani—“ Tsukasa reeled. “Out of my way!”

“If you can’t get past me, how do you expect to get past the adults?”

Tsukasa pulled back a fist, but Aina gently pushed her in the chest, causing her to tumble over backwards into Sena, who caught her before she hit the floor, and placed her back on her feet. Her tough facade buckled, and Aina could see tears begin to form in her eyes. Covering them with her forearm, Tsukasa turned and fled down the hallway. Sena stood up to follow after, but Aina grabbed her hand. Tsukasa turned a corner and vanished from their sight, but didn’t venture any further. The three of them could hear her sobbing just around the corner.

“Why don’t we give her some time?” Aina suggested. She returned to teaching Jin how to clean the shoes, and for a few minutes, they worked quietly as Tsukasa got her emotions under control. She emerged from around the corner, eyes slightly puffy, and approached the group, trying to act as if nothing had happened.

“Oi, gaki, show me what I need to do to get food around here,” she demanded.

“I’m helping Jin-san right now,” Aina replied calmly. “Sena-chan, would you please help Tsukasa-san?”

“Of course,” Sena replied.

“Gross! I don’t want to work with that thing!” Tsukasa protested.

“Take it or leave it,” Aina shrugged. “Demo, Sena-chan is my tomodachi, and I’ll thank you not to disrespect her.”

“Aina-senpai,” Jin whimpered, “don’t you think you’re being a little too hidoi?”

“Hey, yeah! You’re being hidoi!” Tsukasa shouted, pointing her finger at Aina. In one quick motion, Aina grabbed Tsukasa’s arm and twisted it into a wrist lock. “Ow! Ow! Itai! Hanase!”

Ki wo tsukete, Aina-chan,” Sena warned. “You’ll break her arm.”

“She’ll survive,” Aina said. “Ano ne,” she said to Tsukasa, “I’ve been much nicer to you than you deserve. Now do as your senpai tells you and work with Sena-chan, or I’ll rip this arm off. Wakatta?”

Aina was enjoying hurting the older girl. For years, she had bottled up her feelings towards her bullies, and now she was letting them slowly pour out. It’s not that her bullies had ever hit her—they were all too afraid of her—but she had wanted to hit them to stop their relentless teasing. She had actually punched a bully once and it had been a big deal. He ended up in the coma ward with a fractured skull, and she was forced to transfer schools. But she had guessed, rightly, that Tsukasa was a bit tougher than the average eight-year old, and she had learned from Naomi how to better control her strength, so this was a perfect opportunity to vent some of her frustrations. The thought that she might break the girl’s arm actually excited her, and she twisted it further.

“Ow! Alright already!” Tsukasa yelped. Aina let go, and Tsukasa lurched forward, out of Aina’s range. Sena held out a pair of shoes for Tsukasa, who took them and threw them against the wall before reluctantly picking them back up and sitting next to Sena.

“Saitei,” she complained, as Sena began to show her how to clean the shoes. “Saitei, saitei, saitei! Baka freak. Baka robot. Baka dress. Baka papa. What kind of parent sells his own daughter?” At that last remark, Jin began sniffling, and before anyone could do anything about it, the two kohai were crying uncontrollably.

Despite the difficulties of managing the two new recruits, they managed to finish their work before the morning exercises. Karin was the last to arrive to claim her shoes, and Tsukasa handed them directly to her.

Arigatou, Tsukasa-kun,” Karin thanked her. “That dress looks good on you.”

“I hate it,” Tsukasa grunted, punching Karin in the arm.

Warui, warui,” Karin apologized.

“You know each other?” Aina asked.

Betsuni,” Tsukasa sulked.

“We met yesterday,” explained Karin. “I picked her up and brought her here.”

“Did you scout her too?”

“Iie. They sent me because, well, not everyone adapts as well as you did, Aina-chan, and they thought it might have been easier on Tsukasa-kun if she was picked up by… someone like her.”

“You mean a fellow otenba,” ventured Aina.

“Am not!” Tsukasa yelled, but she didn’t punch Aina’s arm.

“That was the idea,” Karin admitted, “Demo, it didn’t work out too well. I had to drag her here kicking and screaming.”

“Karin-sama,” Sena said, “I had great difficulty keeping these kodomo focused on the task at hand. Could you offer any advice on how to deal with them?”

“You’re asking the wrong person. Besides, isn’t it always like that with the young ones? The first few weeks are rough. I can barely remember it, but I was a little bakemono myself.”

Shirimasen. Aina-chan was my first charge.”

“Sou ka? You should ask the other gynoids then. They can probably give you better advice.”

“Sena-chan, earlier, why did you say that Tsukasa-san loses most of her fights?” Aina interjected. “She seems pretty tough to me.”

“It was in her file,” Sena replied. “We run background checks on prospective recruits, and hers showed that she often gets into fights with groups of children, and almost always gets the worse end of it.”

“Can I see this file?” asked Aina.

“Gomen, Aina-chan,” Karin interjected. “Those files are on a need-to-know basis. Soshite, you don’t need to know.”

“Demo, I helped! Sena-chan would have had a much harder time without watashi.”

“That is true,” Sena admitted.

“I can’t show you her file,” Karin said. “It wouldn’t be fair to Tsukasa-kun.”


“Let’s take a little walk, Aina-chan,” Karin said. “Take the others to the track,” she ordered Sena. Tsukasa stomped her feet, but lined up in front of Sena. Aina offered her hand to Jin, who had been sitting throughout this conversation. At the sight of Aina reaching for her arm, Jin shrieked and pulled away. Aina pulled back, remembering how easy it would have been to accidentally harm the girl.

“Let’s go, Karin-onee-sama,” Aina said hurriedly, trying to brush over the incident.

“Nani was that about?” Karin asked after they were far enough away from the others.

“I, uh, had to twist Tsukasa-san’s arm to get her to help. Literally.”



“Aina-chan, you could have seriously hurt her,” admonished Karin.

“I am well aware of that.”

“Promise me you won’t do anything like that again. Next time you might not be so lucky.”

“I promise,” Aina said, though she wasn’t sure if she meant it.

“Look, Aina-chan, about Tsukasa-kun… She was bullied a lot in school. Normally, I wouldn’t tell anyone about this. Demo, I think you can relate.”

“Sou ka? She seemed more the bullying type to me.”

“She did her fair share of bullying,” Karin admitted. “Demo, Aina-chan, didn’t you ever want to hit your bullies back?”

“Every day,” murmured Aina.

“Well, Tsukasa-kun is what happens when you hit back.”


“She looks like an otoko,” Karin said bluntly, “and the otoko in her neighborhood teased her for it. She probably just wanted the teasing to stop, and was willing to do whatever it took.” Aina nodded in understanding. “Demo, nothing worked. When she tried to make herself look more like an onna, they teased her even more. When she gave that up, they just teased her about that. One day, I guess she’d just had enough, because she beat the shit out of one of her classmates. That probably stopped the teasing, but a couple days later, the boy she beat up returned the favor. After that, neither side would back down, so they got into fights on a daily basis.”

“I still wakarimasen,” Aina shook her head. “Naze does that have to do with her being a bully? She was even pushing Jin-chan around for no reason.”

“Those who are bullied often become the worst bullies.”


“Aina-chan, did you ever find a way to make your bullies stop teasing you?”


“Soshite, if you thought that hitting them would make them stop teasing you, would you do it?”

“I would,” Aina said.

“Soshite, if the only way to keep them from teasing you was to keep hitting them, to make sure they stayed afraid of you, would you do that?”

Un,” Aina confirmed after a slight hesitation. She didn’t like where this line of reasoning was going.

“Soshite, what would that make you?”

“A bully,” Aina realized aloud.

Pinpon! Now, if that was the only way you knew how to control people, and you found yourself in a new place, with new people, and you desperately wanted to make sure they didn’t tease you, what would you do?”

“I see.”

The feelings that Aina had kept bottled up for years, and had only begun to pour out hours earlier, quickly evaporated, leaving behind only dregs associated with Mari, who had bullied her more relentlessly than anyone.

Demo saa, most kids grow out of it. In a few years, Tsukasa-kun wouldn’t have had anything to worry about.”

“Because she would have grown oppai?”

“Nothing gets past you, does it, Aina-chan? You’re right: It’s hard to tease someone for looking like a boy when your dick gets hard looking at her chest.” Karin’s frank language embarrassed Aina, partly because she didn’t feel mature enough to discuss such things, but mostly because, while she understood the basics of sexual intercourse, she often didn’t understand what Karin was talking about. Given the way that some of Karin’s jokes grossed the older meido out, Aina wasn’t sure she wanted to understand it. At the same time, she hated it when Karin tried to float subtle innuendos past her as if she were stupid, so she made a habit of always calling her on it.

“Arigatou, Karin-sama. I learned a lot from this conversation. Demo, shouldn’t we join the others? It looks like they’ve already started.”

Ki ni shinaide,” Karin reassured her as they changed direction to meet up with the group. “You were with me, so you won’t get into trouble.” As they reached the others, Aina joined her kohai near the rear, while Karin fell in next to Chikako at the front.

De, what were you talking about?” Chikako asked.

Chugakusei otoko getting uncontrollable stiffies when they look at onna’s chests.”

“Ha, what were you really talking about?”

“Heh,” Karin smirked in response.

“You’re unbelievable,” Chikako sighed.

Shortly before lunch, Aina reported to Naomi’s office to receive her punishment. She came alone, leaving Sena alone with Jin and Tsukasa. They had been more obedient after breakfast, but Aina still worried that Sena wouldn’t be able to handle them alone.

“Come in, Mme Aina,” Naomi said coldly, opening the door to her office as she heard Aina approach. She shut the door behind Aina for dramatic effect. Chikako stood next to the coffee table by the window.

“Gokigenyou, Aina-chan,” Chikako greeted dispassionately. Aina returned the greeting.

“Mme Aina, I am afraid we are at a bit of an impasse,” Naomi said. “I have been unable to think of an appropriate punishment. Luckily, you have had four days to imagine all kinds of punishments that you would hate. I will allow you to suggest your own punishment. If any of your suggestions have merit, I will use it. Otherwise, I will be forced to implement a punishment which I guarantee is much worse than anything you could imagine.”

“Gomen, Naomi-sama,” Aina said with a smile, “I’m afraid I didn’t think about my punishment at all.”

“Don’t lie to me,” Naomi said. “You’re in enough trouble already.”

“It’s no uso. Your plan was obvious from the start. My punishment was to live in fear of what you would do to me. The punishments I would imagine would truly be things I fear, so afterwards, you’d offer me this deal, and I would know you now had a list of scary punishments to use against me, so I would be more obedient in the mirai. You could even use one of them now to cover up your keikaku. Sate to, since we both know you can’t punish me, how about giving me a slap on the wrist and letting me get back to work?”

Aina was obviously pleased with herself for outsmarting Naomi, but she hadn’t actually figured out Naomi’s game until the previous night, when after forgetting all about her impending punishment, she realized how much better she felt.

“Oh, Aina-chan,” Chikako let out a disappointed sigh.

“I can see you still haven’t learned your lesson,” Naomi said. “If you had figured that out, you shouldn’t have told me. You should have invented some punishments you wouldn’t have minded and fed them to me.”

“I didn’t think I could fool you,” Aina shrugged.

“You couldn’t, but I would have admired the attempt. Instead, you revealed your hand to the enemy, which was not a clever thing to do.

Wakarimasu. Demo, it doesn’t change the situation. You still have no idea how to punish me.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, Mme Aina. I was not bluffing.” Before Aina could react, Naomi grabbed the top of her head and began forcing her spiritual energy into Aina. Aina screamed as Naomi’s energy stimulated pain receptors all over her body. Chikako winced, having been subjected to this technique once before.

“It burns!” Aina squealed. Naomi quickly rotated to a different set of pain receptors to keep Aina from getting used to the pain.

Aina began to fight back, using her own energy to force Naomi’s out. Naomi was surprised by Aina’s strength, which was much stronger than she expected. But Naomi was still stronger, and she increased the pressure of her attack. Aina fought back by forcing her energy in between gaps in Naomi’s, tearing off small chunks, surrounding it with her own, and annihilating it. Again, Naomi was surprised, this time by Aina’s expert control of her spiritual energy, but Naomi was superior in this area as well, and it wasn’t long before she had beaten back Aina and was forcing Aina’s own energy to stimulate her pain receptors.

“Ki wo tsukete, Naomi-chan,” Sena warned. “You’ll break her.”

“She’ll survive,” Naomi said. It wasn’t until she felt the last ounce of Aina’s resistance fade that she released the girl.

Wild-eyed and heart pounding, Aina frantically searched for an escape. Naomi stood between her and the door, so she leapt for the window. Chikako snatched her out of the air and threw her back towards Naomi, who opened the door and tossed Aina out of the room. She slammed into the hallway wall hard and fell to the ground.

“Don’t do anything that stupid ever again,” Naomi commanded. “And no books for a month,” she added, smirking.

Moushiwake arimasen, Naomi-sama,” Aina grunted, picking herself up off the floor. She looked up to see the horrified faces of Jin and Tsukasa staring at her. Sena stood behind them, a blank expression on her face, as always.

“A—A—Aina-senpai, daijoubu?” Jin stammered.

Ee, daijoubu,” Aina replied.

“You must be the new ones,” Naomi said sweetly. “I’m Naomi, the headmistress. What are your names?” Jin shrieked and hid behind Sena.

“I’m Tsukasa,” Tsukasa said, drawing herself up to look as tough as possible.

“And this one is Jin,” Sena said flatly. “Please forgive her, Naomi-sama. She is just a kodomo.”

“She is wise to fear me,” remarked Naomi as she walked back into her office. “Work hard, you two.” And with that, she shut the door.

“Tsukasa-san, about this morning, gomen,” Aina apologized. “I shouldn’t have bullied you.”

“It looks like you’ve got bully problems of your own,” Tsukasa observed, referring to Naomi. “Just don’t do it again.”

“I won’t. Soshite, I won’t call you an otenba again either.”

“Is that a yakusoku?”

“It’s a yakusoku.”

Ii wa yo,” Tsukasa replied after thinking about it. “I’m going to hold you to it.”

September 1st, U.C. 0043

The following letter was addressed to:

Jeanne Dufort and Jacques Samson
c/o Yasuko-onee-sama

Dear Mama and Papa,

Genki? I’m daijoubu. I still miss you every day.

Ni new onna arrived this month, and we are now tomodachi. It was hard at first to get used to being around normal kodomo again. I got into a fight with one of them on the first day and almost pulled her arm off. Donmai, nobody was hurt. Demo, I got scolded for it.

The one in charge here is really kibishii! I messed up and did something I shouldn’t have. Soshite, even though it wasn’t a big deal, they took away my books for a whole month! She also hurt me, though not enough to injure me.

I still like it here better than school, because I actually have tomodachi here. Demo, you are the best parents I could ever have. Can’t you come live with me here? We would be safe here. I would even use my salary to pay your room and board. I know your work is important, but please consider it!



September 2nd, U.C. 0043

The reply was simply addressed to:

Our Aina

Dear Aina,

We were very shocked to read about what has been going on in your life. As you can imagine, we had quite a few questions for Yasuko-san, and she explained what happened in more detail. We understand that you can’t write those kinds of details in your letter. Demo, please try not to scare us so much in the future.

First, under no circumstances do we agree with taking your books away. You know how important we think your education is, and those books are your only access to education for the time being. We will be writing to “the one in charge” asking them to refrain from such actions in the future.

Second, we don’t approve of corporal punishment. Demo, Yasuko-san assured us that, in your new line of work, discipline can be the difference between life and death. While this worries us greatly, we believe her when she says that this punishment could end up saving your life. In our view, it would be best if you didn’t get into any more trouble. That way, they’d have no reason to punish you.

Third, what have we always told you about touching other kodomo? We are glad that you were able to make new tomodachi, but we don’t ever want to hear about you “almost pulling the arm off” someone again. Don’t you remember what happened to poor Ryosei-kun?

Finally, we love you very much, sweetie. Demo, it is not safe for us to live with you. The Soviets are still after us, and if we tried to leave, we might lead them right to you. Besides, our work is very important, and we can’t complete it where you are. We know how tough this is for you. Please believe us, it’s just as difficult for us.


Mama and Papa