Leave the Monster alone Chapter 59
"Mr Mark" being assaulted by a kid as soon as you enter was not how Mark had expected the meeting to go.
The momentum buildup by Maya as a result of her dash was almost enough for Mark to fall victim to, but he somehow did manage to hold onto his footing while the small body slammed into him.
The place they were currently situated was built to be an indoor greenhouse, sun shining from above and the green plant species filling up the empty space. It was a beautiful garden, full of flowering and fruiting trees in the periphery, only for the elite.
"Hey, What about me? Where is my hug?" En complained as he entered from behind Mark, an almost offended expression blooming on his face which caused the child to giggle.
Kuro, who had jumped down in fright as soon as the child had sped up, did not seem to find it funny at all. The raised fur and small hiss in her clearly indicated a warning.
It seemed like the kid would not let go of him anytime soon and Mark was getting uncomfortable now. But Maya did let go of him and Kuro jumped back into his arms with a smug air around her.
If Mark had any thoughts of Kuro abandoning him, they vanished into thin air. Unknown to him, all the tension he was carrying just blew out of his body in an instant.
At least this second meeting was not a complete disaster as he imagined.
"Oh, a Kitty'' Maya's attention finally snapped to the small kitten in his arms who seemed content to ignore the child. Kuro tried to make herself even smaller by snuggling into his arms and Mark pushed down the instinct to giggle.
"She's Kuro, a divine beast. She's not a kitty" Mark stressed at the fact but he could tell that the child was not interested. She seemed really taken with the small black body but Kuro did not seem to find it as fun.
"Can I hold her? I promise I'll be careful. Liam promised me a kitty too but then he said that it did not like me so I can no longer have it" Maya's voice seemed to go sorrowful at the ending note which made Mark feel bad.
Initially, he had no intentions of letting Kuro spend more time with Maya but with her lost tone and the guilty feeling he was feeling, he felt himself relent and lowered Kuro toward the child who let out a happy laugh.
Kuro was not impressed at his choice, her displeasure could be felt clearly by his senses and the closer the child got to her, the worse her mood got. At this point, Mark was almost sure that the kitten would actually attack the other.
That would not be good at all, so he ran his hands through her fur in a silent apology but he did lower her enough to be petted by the child.
"Be careful and don't do it too hard" Mark tried to caution her but by the flinch Kuro gave, he could tell that she was not enjoying this at all.
Weird, she did seem to enjoy Alan and had tolerated Rika to a degree. Then why this disassociation with Maya? Her discomfort was leaking out and her body seemed ready to snap at any time.
Maya, though, seemed to be taken in with the kitten. Her wide eyes looked at Kuro in longing and want, which really made Mark worried. Would this have a big effect on the future then? Had he really messed it all up as Liam and En had been arguing?
"Let him go Maya" the child almost flinched at the voice, her body going tense but relaxed as easily as it had tensed. En's voice held firm and came out all of a sudden. To be honest, even Mark forgot the other had been in the room with them till now.
And it did enough to startle Kuro who finally let out a hiss and her nails dug into Mark's unguarded arm. It was a near thing - to not flinch at the assault and pretend that his blood had not been drawn by that injury.
"It's alright now, calm down Kuro" Mark tried and it did seem to have an effect on the kitten now. Maybe it was the smell of his blood or the tone of his voice, he would never be sure now.
"Can I have the kitty, Mr Mark? It gets lonely here and a kitty seems fun" there was a small tug at his clothes before he was faced with wide begging eyes that seemed a little moist.
Oh no, he had to shot Maya down before she could really get it inside her head to have Kuro for herself. The child was not aware of just what kind of danger she was inviting.
"No" En shot her down and Mark could pinpoint the exact moment that started the waterworks. The sharp sound hurt his ears and he had to cover them to be able to focus.
"Maya, please calm down" Mark tried but even he himself could not hear the words that were uttered. Really, he did not remember the child being like this.
Her profile had said that she was a calm and composed child, willing to listen and control. '
Just where was the calm and composed part? She was acting like a child, 'a real one' with simple emotions and fits. It was like her AI was damaged and had corroded her character.
"She was not like this before that distortion and the upgrade. Do something Mark" so this was another change that that had happened and it did help in his hypothesis a little.
People were gaining awareness and evolving further than their role in the AI specification. They were becoming real people with their self-awareness.
"Forgive me Kuro but it's for the survival of our ears" Mark apologised before the kitten was held in front of the crying kid. Maya opened her eyes, almost as if she sensed the kitten and slowly her small hands came to grab the kitten.
Which did not amuse Kuro at all and she tried to take a small jab at the kid with her sharp claws.
"Kuro, no" Mark entended one of his arms to stop swipe, which made his hand bleed and Kuro go silent.
"Mark, what are you doing" En almost snapped, his worried eyes looking at the flowing blood on Mark's hand but Mark was more concerned about Maya who looked on in fascination at his bleeding hand.
Her small hands twitched, almost changing their direction to come near his blood before a hiss stopped her in her tracks.
Mark held Kuro back and made sure she was out of Maya's reach. This could have been very bad if he had not been fast enough.
"Sorry kid looks like the kitten is too feral for you. How about we find you something else to do instead" Mark commented as En finally took his injured hand and treated it.
Kuro was still held in his other hand, her body vibrating with barely concealed irritation which should have been the first clue that something was wrong. But with everything going around them right now, Mark could just not find it in himself to care too much.
"I advise you to treat it well. There is a bench near us, you can use that" En advised, doing his best to stop the bleeding. Mark gave a nod and then began walking away with the kitten in his arms.
He put Kuro down who tried to give him a small lick right at his injury but Mark stopped her with his other hand. He was not really in the mood and it was unhygienic right now. Kuro's claws were not the most sanitised thing in the world.
And then Kuro hissed once again, her hair raising all over her body and Mark tensed at the feeling of being watched.
Now he was sure that there was something that was going to go wrong here. The ding from his system was the final nail in the coffin for him to believe that not everything was right.
Main mission unlocked: Help assist the flow of the story - retrieval of the objective for an old friend (continued mission part 2)
Parameters: Distract and help the invasion and retrieving the dual cores
Failure penalty: Distruction of mission core and destruction of the base
Reward: Stabilisation of important assets. Shop upgrade available
Mark could only look on in confusion, his brain trying to take in all the available information presented to him and yet he could not make anything out of the information being provided to him at this point.
One of the bushes shook, that moment causing his eyes to turn toward it and become alert.
"Show yourself" Mark was now more than sure that he was being watched now and he made sure that the other was aware too.