This was where it had all started.
She remembered meeting Bob Gunson in one of the many run-down buildings of the Imperial Educational Institution of Paju. He had been one of her teachers at the time, managing a class of students who were mostly ignorant of the skills required to act as a functional adult in a technologically advanced society. Song's classmates had been a mix of Elves, Angels, Demons, and others. Song had been the lone “Taianese” individual in the class, since technologically illiterate individuals of her species were virtually nonexistent. However, the most relevant thing that she had learned from the class had not been how to use a smart-stick or pay taxes, but rather an esoteric revelation regarding a mystifying topic.
She had learned about special powers that certain individuals were gifted with, which allowed them to utilize their minds to alter reality.
It had not been easy (or remotely worth it), but Song had immediately decided that she would do almost anything (apart from sexually assaulting a Star Turtle) to attain such abilities. Bob had refused to help her, but nonetheless, Song remained undeterred by his warnings. However, when the first opportunity to gain powers presented itself to her, Song had rejected it in favor of a far more difficult path, which led to her nearly killing two minor celebrities, becoming a consensual breeding slave of the Sutākame Nomadic Fleet, undergoing a harrowing escape from their luxurious prison, giving birth to trio of squirming larvae, and being held (without her consent) in a classified Interstellar Alliance military “correctional institution” for psychic individuals.
Given the extreme lengths she had went to obtain them, Song was quite underwhelmed and frustrated by the power of her abilities.
After coming back home, Song had returned to find that she had been evicted from her apartment because she was over five months late on her rent. At the moment, she had almost nothing in the way of possessions, save for a small sum of cash from the Interstellar Alliance for work she had done while in prison. When she asked her old landlord where her stuff was, he had told her that a “tentacled monster” had taken them off of his hands and that she had no hope of getting them back.
To say the least, that was the best thing she had heard in over five months.
Twenty minutes later, Song had arrived at Bob’s apartment. Bearing a dead-eyed expression across her features, she pressed her finger on the doorbell and took a deep breath.
This meeting was over four months in the making, yet she had no idea what she would say or do to him when he opened the door.
"Yes?" the Taianese woman asked.
The massive ears on top of her skull twitched as her form stood perfectly still at the door to the apartment. Song was not particularly knowledgeable about the Imperial Military, but like all Taianese individuals, she knew of its most famous heroes. As such, she unconsciously realized that the woman that stood before her was Korui Hoshiko, a legendary war hero responsible for the civilizing of the once savage Tatya Hini through her audacious campaigns and crusades against the rebellious Liangese elves.
Song knew little of the embarrassment the woman had suffered at the hands of the Sutākame. Nevertheless, she was still locked in a state of awe at the war hero’s unexpected presence. After a quiet duration of almost five seconds passed during which Song simply blinked and stood still as a statue, the Rabbit’s tall ears went erect and a high-pitched squeak escaped from her lips as if she were about to say something. However, Song thought better of it and immediately lowered herself to her knees to deliver a low bow, though the motion was a somewhat shoddy rendition of the custom.
On impulse, Song dared to look up at the kneeling Tigress. She was faced with a woman who had the face of Hoshiko, yet possessed an effervescent mien which thoroughly unsettled the diminutive Rabbit. To say the least, she felt like a frightened hare being toyed with by a menacing tiger, who would then sink its sharp teeth into the soft neck of its prey once the poor creature was completely exhausted.
“I-I am Xú Song, y-yes ma’am.” The Rabbit swallowed. “And, uhh...t-that’s great!” She continued. “B-but if I may ask, umm...why are you here?” Song finished as her ears twitched on top of her skull.
"Er, why aren't I?" the short tigress asked, opening the door wider and gesturing for Song to come in. "Bob and I are co-workers. We were doing some stuff in this area, so we rented this place for a bit," she explained. On top of the table was a holo-projector with several images of Hoshiko doing battle against the Sutākame, and despite her noble, determined bearing, her suit was in various states of disrepair as she fought room to room. "Don't mind that, it's just some work stuff," the Taianese woman remarked. "You have breakfast yet? It's still pretty early in the morning!" she offered.
Nevertheless, Song still retained the manner of a supplicant servant. She slowly rose from her prostrate position and stood back up to her full height, which was conveniently a full foot shorter than the high-spirited Tigress. Without a word, Song entered the apartment and slipped her shoes off near the door. Then, while she waited for the woman to close the door, Song looked around the apartment, her gaze drawn towards the screen of the holo-projector on the central table.
“I-I’m sorry, ma’am. I just d-didn’t know that Bob was this...important.” Song said. “I hope my presence isn’t too uhh...inconveniencing, for you, but uhh...breakfast sounds nice.” The Rabbit added in a markedly relieved tone. “May I sit at the table, by the way, Hoshiko-sama?”
If anything, Song was relieved to know that her belongings were safe. Unfortunately, she needed to find a quick resolution to her housing situation. Implicity, that meant that she needed to find a job or attempt to get her old one back.
After the disgusting mess that Bob had left in the bar before she submitted herself to the Sutākame, the Rabbit realized that she might as well never show her face at her old workplace again.
"Nononono!" Feline tail held high and spiky like a bottle brush, the woman frantically spun around, eyes feverishly looking for the high ranking Taianese officer. Failing to find her, the woman in front of Song dove behind the kitchen counter and curled up in a corner. "I've been a good girl! I swears it!" her eyes began to tear up. "Please don't take your looks back - it's all I got going for me!"
The ears on top of her skull went flat as she contemplated the perplexing emotional state of the legendary general before her. She could tell that something was off. However, Song could not exactly put her finger on the cause. The Rabbit did not need to look behind her to know that no one had followed her into the house. She would have felt the vibrations if they had. For a moment, Song wondered if she had accidentally triggered a PTSD episode of some kind, presumably from some unknown horror that the Tigress had borne witness to on the battlefield. If she had, Song knew that she couldn’t leave a war hero to suffer alone. As such, Song quickly moved towards Hoshiko and placed a small hand on the woman’s quivering shoulder in support.
“H-Hoshiko-sama? Is...everything okay?” Song asked. “I-I’m gonna get you a glass of water, alright? D-do you need me to call a support channel?”