David pulled out of the driveway hurriedly, Nani in the front seat of the buggy with me in the back. I looked back momentarily seeing Lilo watching us drive away from the porch. I know why Nani and David had made her remain there, though.
I looked out of the window when I realised something – David was driving up the same street that Lilo and I had walked up just shortly before. It was a shortcut street that led to a lot of central locations but I doubted that David knew about the hole.
And he was speeding. Bad idea. Sure enough, the hole came into view and our buggy was headed straight for it.
"WATCH OUT!" I shrieked from the back, quickly flinging myself over into the drivers seat and slamming my foot on the brake. The car screeched to a halt, just centimetres from the shoddy construction tape barrier. Nani and David were left breathing heavily, shaken up but okay.
"What the heck is that?!" David eventually found his voice. "When did that happen?"
"Naga nota..." I responded, pushing myself out of his lap and jumping into the back of the buggy. "Careful. Don't speed."
David let out a sigh. Nani looked back at me. "Are you okay?"
"Are you?" I simply responded.
She nodded shakily. David took a few moments to compose himself, but eventually reversed backwards and headed up another street, this time not speeding. I was glad. He shouldn't be doing so in the first place with a pregnant wife.
Nani was quiet, I could tell she was in mild shock. She had her hands firmly pressed against her stomach.
Shortly after we pulled up outside of Mr Kuakini's store. I leaped out before my family did and tried the door but it was locked considering the store had just closed for the day. I put my ear to the door, twitching it until my eyes widened when I sourced a mild, very muffled cry for help on the inside. Nani and David watched me.
I broke the door open easily, kicking it open with my foot before running inside to the back. I ended up screeching to a halt instead.
Nani and David came in behind me, observing the sight for themselves after also screeching to a halt.
"Oh my god..." Nani gasped in horror.
The place was a mess. From what I gathered upon inspecting the scene, one of the tall metal frameworks that had housed stock had collapsed and everything had piled onto the floor as a result. Assorted fruits and vegetables were smashed all over the ground, as well as broken glass from bottled fruit juice that had spilled all over the place. I could hear a muffled voice calling out for help despite I couldn't see Mr Kuakini himself. I stepped forward slightly only to hear a crack underneath my foot and looked down to see splintered floorboards. It was a hole, I realised. And Mr Kuakini was down there. With how much stock had fallen on top, as well as the broken metal shelves piled up around it, I realised he had no way to get out of there. It had been blocked off.
"Get back!" I told the married couple, before picking up the metal structure and shelves, throwing them all aside and creating numerous loud bangs, shaking dust from the corners of the old building. Nani and David clung to each other, the noise making them jump in fright. I had a feeling I still somewhat scared Nani when I exerted my strength in front of her.
After clearing away broken fruit boxes and bent crates I eventually saw the main point where the wooden floor boards had completely given way beneath the pile from the impact. There was a narrow section, which he'd fallen into. I didn't hesitate to jump down there, Nani calling after me to be careful.
It was dark.
Turning on my infrared vision I saw Mr Kuakini beside me. He was lying on the ground, lodged between some crates that must have fallen down with him. Those crates had cushioned his fall, I realised. I put my arms up to him.
"You came..." he said quietly but I could tell he was very happy, if not relieved, to see me. I paid no mind to how he addressed me.
"How did...?" I asked, looking around the dark cavern underneath the store. The low light down there made it hard to see anything but I figured it was some sort of basement level that had been sealed off.
He coughed. "I don't know. I heard a noise out back as I was about to leave. When I came back to investigate one of the shelves suddenly collapsed in on itself and when I tried to hold it up, it toppled down and broke the floor apart from the impact. I went to have a look but a section of the floor also gave in and I fell down into here. Must've been from the flood damage rotting away the wood." He grunted, and I looked him over worriedly. "Scared the absolute crap out of me when the ground started giving out, I'll tell you that. Thought I was going to die when all that stuff piled around the top but by a miracle it just missed me. That's how I was able to call but my arm is stuck. It was hard."
"Are you alright?"
"Couple of bruises, but nothing's broke I think. Check if you like though, would put me at ease."
I did. I switched over to my x-ray vision and looked over his skeleton. I didn't know too much about human anatomy but from what I could tell nothing was broken or damaged. I stared for a moment at seeing what looked like screws and a metal plate in his leg and was puzzled but he snapped me out of it when he asked if anything was broken. I informed him he was in the clear.
"Let's get out of here."
He was quick to comply at hearing that. I helped him out from where he was stuck and he grit his teeth. His arm had a wound on it and was bleeding. I looked at his shirt upon seeing a rip across the front of it, so I tore off a piece of fabric and tied it around the injury. He didn't say anything. Once it was tight enough, I looked up. I was too small to reach up and above us to widen the gap.
"Will you be able to help me out?"
"Ih. But you need to lift me," I pointed up. "I can't reach."
He complied and lifted me up as high as he could manage with his sore arm and I made the gap larger by punching away some of the floorboards. Once it was large enough I gripped onto the edge of the splintered wood with my claws. It didn't hurt me.
"It's rotted," I explained. "It's breaking... gonna have to do this quick," I told him. "So hurry."
I picked him up under his arms with my lower arms as quickly as I could and then hoisted us back up. Nani and David went to rush over to help pull us up but I cried at them not to as the floor was continuing to give way.
After Mr Kuakini was up beside me I quickly pushed him out of the way back onto safer ground just in time; I yelped loudly as I ended up falling down again when the floorboards finally gave way. Nani and David both screamed out at that and Mr Kuakini roared out for me.
"Stitch! Are you alright? Are you hurt?" I heard Nani call down to me.
"I'm fine," I called back up to her. Now I was stuck because I was too small to jump and grab the floorboards to hoist myself up. "I'll find way out."
I looked around with my infrared vision and started to make my way over to what looked like the brick foundation. Man it was creepy down here.
As I headed towards a wall, I thought I heard a noise behind me and turned around quickly, only to see nothing. My heart pounded slightly and I quickened my pace. The wall seemed like it kept getting further and further back the more I approached it.
I started to run. And run. But I couldn't seem to get any closer. And then, laughter echoed in my ears. Loud, obnoxious laughter.
I froze as a pair of glowing eyes appeared before me. Then another. And another. All around me... closing in on me. I backed away. "No... no!"
And then the chanting began.
"I WILL NEVER JOIN YOU!" I screamed.
A huge black hand came towards me. I screamed and covered my eyes, shaking. Thankfully I didn't black out this time. Instead it was almost like somebody had hit pause. The voices had stopped chanting and everything was quiet.
When I finally was able to make sense of my surroundings I felt something cold and wet on me; I could feel it moving across my stomach. I screeched in horror, reeling myself back and I ended up hitting a wall. The green eyes had gone and it was silent but a glint of smaller black eyes made me scream out until I realised that it was a rat was on top of me, staring at me and I quickly flung it off.
Yuck. I could see a bunch of them, scampering about in the corner. At least it wasn't a huge spider.
I felt behind me. The wall! And this one was real this time, not a hallucination.
Wasting no more time I scaled up it by ploughing my claws into the concrete and then I punched the floorboards above me outwards to create an opening, making the humans scream. I crawled up the wall once the dust cleared and then across the ceiling, finally landing back down beside them.
I stared for a moment, shaking my head to snap myself out of it when I realised the others were walking towards me.
"Naga step there, dangerous..." I told them, pushing them back into a safer area.
Mr Kuakini gasped as he stepped out and Nani went to hold him worriedly while I just stared into the distance with that damn chant ringing in my head.
"Are you okay?" Nani asked him.
"I'm fine... just had a bit of a rough landing," he flinched and I heard a sharp intake of breath as he rubbed at his hip. "Ooh, that's gonna be sore for a while."
"Here sit down..." She pulled out a chair behind the counter at the front of the store. I snapped out of my thoughts and helped him as well, watching him sit before going over and analysing the back area thoroughly as Nani continued speaking to him. "Do you want us to take you to the hospital?"
"No thanks, I've had worse."
Worse. His leg...
I looked back at him at that for a moment before inspecting the area again for a few moments.
"Need whole area replaced." I rejoined them once my assessment was complete. "Whole floor rotted away, isa why I fell back in. Wood water damaged."
Mr Kuakini looked broken. "Ah. Well. I have no chance of paying for this damage right now. All my money went to paying out this area. Now I have nowhere for my stock to go."
My ears lowered. "Sure Jumba will help. Main thing you okay."
"Yeah. Suppose it was a good thing Alanna surprised me with this, huh?" He held up a cell phone. "She got me it about a week ago. I just need to sit here for a bit. Come to terms with this."
I stared at him. Without that phone he might've been trapped down there far longer, I realised. It made me feel a little sick but I could also feel a very strong longing sensation in my chest. It hurt to the point I felt an onset of tears and quickly wiped my eyes. What was...?
"Mitch? I scared you, didn't I?"
Mitch. The feeling wasn't mine.
Nani and David had looked up at hearing that. I saw David look a little confused, but Nani had a look of wonder on her face.
The feeling was overwhelming. "Ih. Just glad you're okay." I told him.
I wasn't going to bother to correct him calling me Mitch. Seeing his leg made me think he'd suffered through more than just losing his son.
Nani looked between us. "Mitch? So I guess it's true then?"
"Huh?" Mr Kuakini asked, and I gave her an affirming nod beside him.
"Stitch told me a few things last night. About your son that involve him."
"Ah yes," he smiled. "My boy is within him. Must sound crazy, I know. Wouldn't blame you if you don't believe it, but my son died three years back and somehow his soul found it's way into Stitch. It's a long story but there was a lot of signs and connections that just have no explanation or level of rationality to them."
Nani looked bewildered but David just looked stumped. "Wait, what are you talking about?" he asked.
Mr Kuakini gestured to me and I moved slightly closer. I wasn't expecting him to suddenly pull me into his lap and I gasped. He noticed. I felt a little tense for a moment or so but I allowed him to hold me like that without resisting it.
"Apparently Stitch has a human soul. That's why he is the way he is," Nani told David, and David reeled back in sheer astonishment.
"Um. Right?" David had to find his voice and cleared his throat. "Well, that's something I never thought I'd hear in this lifetime." He put his hand to the back of his head. "But that sounds pretty cool if true."
I smiled. I loved how relaxed David was about literally anything; he never questioned things, just accepted them.
Mr Kuakini put his hands on my shoulders. "We talked a lot about this. When he spent the day with me, he actually remembered a few things from pictures I showed him. Incidents that my son had been involved in... and he just knew them and recited them like he'd been there himself. He even knew what disease my son had despite I'd never told him. It was incredible."
Nani looked astounded. "Wow."
I looked up at my apparent former father, and he smiled down at me.
"Well, things should get moving before anything else happens," David spoke up. "I'll go and inform the others." He kissed Nani gently before quickly heading out, leaving me and the older Pelekai sister there with Mr Kuakini. While Nani went over to inspect the back again—without getting too close—he rubbed my ears.
"Have you had any more memories? About your mother and sister?"
I sighed at hearing that. It still felt uncomfortable for me for him to speak to me as though I really was Mitch, but I'd already put myself into a position that I'd pretended I was the kid and I couldn't back down on that. Especially right now.
"Oh. Well, I'm amazed at how you managed to punch through the floor like that."
"Strong. Not hurt me. How arm?"
"Sore. I'll have to give this a good clean so it doesn't get infected."
He gave me an odd look. "Uh, my leg is fine I guess? It's my arm that I'm worried about."
I jumped down from him and went into the bathroom, climbing up onto the sink and pulling out the first aid kit installed on the wall there. After sifting around I quickly found what I needed and went back out to him with a wet cloth. He was quiet, just watching me as I pulled off the makeshift bandage and started cleaning the wound. It wasn't too deep, thankfully. He hissed out when I put on some antiseptic before applying some adhesive strips to shut the skin together and wrapped a fresh bandage around it.
"Good job Mitch," he put his hand on my head.
I just stared at him. "What happen to stock?"
He sighed. "I really don't know. All of this will need to be renovated and repaired. And until that's done, I guess I'll just have make use of any extra space out here but it's going to cost me to replace those goods too."
"Thank you for coming. Without you I might not have been able to get out as soon as I did."
He hugged me and I smiled at him. After a little while I jumped down from Mr Kuakini's lap and looked around as he and Nani talked. I was the main topic for a while as I heard him explain everything to Nani about Mitch and the journal. Eventually he rang his wife and daughter and Nani walked over to me as I was idly picking up a can of beans to stare at it. She sat down cross-legged beside me.
"So what were you going to say?"
"Hm?" I acknowledged her.
"Before he called. When I said no more secrets."
Nani took the can of beans out of my paws and set it aside, making me look at her.
"Stitch. You need to tell me."
I sighed. "Is... not easy."
"I can tell it won't be. But I'm prepared to hear you out."
I looked off to the side and could see Mr Kuakini looking at his leg. I looked away from that and back at her.
"Yes, I know. I saw you."
I shook my head. "Naga, what you saw minor."
She stared at me at that.
"But... when you ripped out the trees... that was like nothing I'd ever seen."
"I'm stronger than that. Much stronger."
"But... how? How can..."
I took her hands into my paws, leaning forward and looking her in the eyes.
"Naanee. I demolished an entire planet."
The colour drained from her face. "I-I know, Jumba told us that but... there is something else. Something I need you to tell me and I know that YOU know you need to. So what is it?"
I looked away from her again. "You saw me, in bathroom, ih? Is not real me. What really am."
"Then what are you really? Jumba said you were like Godzilla."
The woman tried to comprehend what I was saying to her. I could see her eyes darting about frantically. "What are you, Stitch?"
I stared at her. Just as I was about to respond, Alanna and Kalia ran in with David and the police. They looked at us but ignored us and focused exclusively on Mr Kuakini—which was understandable—and I saw a paramedic come through as well.
"Come on." Nani said to me quietly, picking me up and we headed outside, David following.
Nani didn't go to the buggy. Instead, she began walking up the path with me. I had no idea what was on her mind and neither did David; he just followed quietly.
She entered the clearing I'd been electrocuted in and put me down. It was quiet in the area today so there was nobody about. I walked over and stared at the area where it had happened. Nani sat down on the bench beside me as did David and as they both looked at me, I realised why she'd brought me here.
"Jumba told us a lot Stitch. He never mentioned who you really are exactly, other than that you're a monster of course, but we want to know what that actually implies. Why you started to change like you did." She rubbed her hand through her hair. "So tell me now. What happened here that day? What caused you to change?"
Nani and I stared intently at each other. I could tell she'd been thinking on this for a while. I simply sighed and pointed to my head.
"Remember GPS chip? Pa installed?"
She nodded. David looked at me anxiously. I sat down in front of them.
"621 modified it to have tracking device," I began. "How found me. Back when Stitch fall, down hole, it moved chip in head, jolt device. But here... right here"—I pointed to the ground—"chip change. When I electrocuted. Damaged."
"And what did that do?" David asked me.
"Made chip send out feq... freequa..." I rubbed at my head. Come on, think! "Frequency. Tampering make it reach cell... in here." I pointed to my chest.
"That glowing thing? Was that the cell? Your whole chest was..." Nani started but trailed off.
"Ih, that. Alter cell. Was what made it switch. Alter me. Stitch," I tapped at my head. "My brain."
Nani was quiet. David gripped her hand.
"Made me... well..." I pulled my ear down and pointed at Nani. "You know. You saw me."
"Violent. Scary," was her response, her voice quiet.
My eyes closed.
"Not you. At all. A different Stitch. Right?"
"Ih... " I breathed out before I clenched my fists tightly and looked up at her. "Do you get it Naanee?" I exclaimed. "Do you finally actually get it now?"
She looked away from me. David did as well.
"You said the cell switched." She spoke up eventually. I looked at her.
"What does that mean?"
"It means..." I drew in a stuttered breath. "It means am becoming monster."
"Like in the bathroom?"
I shook my head. "Like on Turo."
I put up my paw. "Don't understand?" I walked up to them, looking up at them both. "I'm turning into the same monster I was in past. When wiped out Turo. And when I become that, y..." I almost couldn't get the words out. "Y-you all die."
Nani choked. "No... No! NO! You CAN'T!"
"Stitch... sorry. There is no stopping it."
David was speechless. "But..."
"Is NO stopping it," I repeated. "Only way is for me to die."
Nani seemed to jolt up at that, her eyes wide in realisation. "You mean, the cliff was... a-and in the bathroom with the full sink...? That was...?"
"Me trying to kill myself to save you."
"Oh my god..." Nani was shocked to the core. "Can't you just take out the cell?"
"Will kill me. I asked Jumba to. He refuses. Refuses to let me die."
"...Because he's your father," David said. "You're his son..."
"Ih. Exactly. Won't let me go because I am his son."
Nani put her head into her hands. David looked utterly miserable. "Stitch... are you absolutely sure about this?"
I had no answer to that. He seemed to understand. But then he said something interesting.
"Can't Jumba just put you in a ship or something and send you off the planet until it stops?"
"I want that. So much..." I told him. "I not want to change... believe me..." I told him. "But... ultimately means I be that way forever. Programming is permanent. When cell is green, stays green until either cell dies or is forced off. Is not easy to force off and Jumba lucky he manage to turn off last time but he almost die. If I go off in ship, in outer space, I could never come back. I would probably go on to destroy other planets. If Turo destroyed, then others... well, they have no chance against me."
"So the only way to stop it is for you to..."
I turned around at that voice, as did Nani and David. Jumba was behind us.
"And that is not happening. Is down to luck or a miracle to save us."
Silence. Jumba looked at me and I looked away. He came forth and stood beside me. "626 is wanting to die. He knows. And he's tried for a while." My father looked at me. "Tried to dehydrate himself in front of me and as you know, Nani, tried to go off cliff."
He looked at David. "Suggestion of sending 626 out into space is smart idea, yes. But would be basically condemning him to death. Universe to death. Our home planet's military would attack, try to kill him. After all, should we be in proximity to home planet for any reason whatsoever, would result in instant execution. However, military would be wiped out and 626 would just go on and on, carrying out what he did on Turo to other planets. Is basically death sentence when just like machine running program. There is no heart, no emotion. And when out there nothing is left to destroy, would come back to Earth."
"And wipe out here too..." David sounded breathless.
Jumba nodded. "Yes. And once that is gone, is nothing. An eternal damnation. All because of how I created him and that was to be that way." He looked at me. "A prisoner of his mind."
"JUMBA JOOKIBA!" Nani stood up and roared, pulling my father's collar towards her so that they were face to face. "Is there REALLY nothing that can be done about this?!"
He stared at her before looking away. "I've spent entire life keeping cell off. Every single moment, every single HOUR of day, my brain is figuring out things. Trying to find new solutions... solutions to my programming. My networking. My wiring. My very CODING of 626. I outdid myself to such a level I could never undo what I did. I made 626 too perfect a design, too impossible to change. I set him up so that removing what I implemented was not an option. I made the BIGGEST mistake in not only this world, but the ENTIRE. BLASTED. UNIVERSE."
Nani let go.
"All because of my desire for revenge against a woman that took twelve years of my life from me. A family that never loved me. And others... friends, that used me. People I put my heart on sleeve for that abused my trust for years. That stole from Jumba, laughed at him. Mocked him. I wanted everybody to suffer for that and I didn't care who it was. I wanted the universe to feel the pain I went through because pscch, the universe didn't care for me! Not one bit!"
He looked away. "If there was something that could be done, it would have been done long ago. I have invented nuclear weapons and rockets powerful enough to destroy Earth hundreds of times over. My technology is known around the galaxy and I have improved so many alien lives due to my smarts. And while I can uninvent everything else... I do not care what it is, whether it be another one of my experiments or an important necessity... I cannot and will not uninvent my son."
Nani thought about this. "If what you say about him being that powerful is true, then you would sacrifice us all just to save him? Every living creature?"
Jumba went quiet.
"Everything that lives, anywhere. Any planet... any form of life, and you have the option to prevent that by killing him," she continued quietly. "My child could live, Lilo could grow up. That would ALL be gone. There would be nothing left. No aliens or humans. Only you and him and a black void. Is that what you WANT Jumba? To wipe out everything that exists so that one single creature can live?"
I froze at that. Jumba was still quiet.
"Is it really worth letting him turn into that and letting him destroy other planets? Wipe-out entire species and civilisations before they even have a chance to thrive? You killed him before, didn't you?"
"So would you not just kill him again?"
Jumba's eyes narrowed at that and I saw his lip curl. "Would you?"
Nani paused at that. She looked at me. Before she could react Jumba reached around to his back and pulled out a gun.
My gun. The blue one he'd given me for my birthday.
He tossed it to the ground beside Nani.
"Here is chance. You know the consequences of letting him live so here is your chance to save us all. Little girl, your son. Or daughter," he spoke slowly. "One shot is all it takes and all is over. After all, that gun is powerful enough to kill him in this proximity considering was based on previous design of gun I used point blank on him in past." He shrugged. "There you go, Earth saved and universe safe. Simple as that."
I felt a cold sweat at hearing that. My father avoided looking at me.
Nani looked at the gun there beside her on the ground in disbelief. Jumba crossed his arms and moved backwards, a stoic expression on his face. David's hands were at his mouth.
She hesitated. And then she stepped forward and picked up the gun. I could see her shaking a little as she did so, but then she suddenly turned and aimed it at me, looking deadpan. Jumba's lip curled again.
My eyes widened and my heart sank into my gut but I remained as I was. I'd had enough guns pointed at me in my life to no longer feel afraid of them. But this time it was much more than that.
I felt scared this time.
There was silence. Nobody spoke, nor moved. It was just me, Nani and the gun pointed at my face.
I didn't look away from her. I didn't move or try to defend myself. Part of me was shocked but another part of me was kind of accepting too. I'd wanted this. I wanted to save them all. I'd had enough of the pain. Enough nightmares haunting me on a day and night basis of what I'd done on Turo. I didn't even remember how it felt to die the first time I'd died by gunfire at the hands of my father although I did remember the second, when my glitch burned out my circuits and killed me. That was a pain I'd never wanted to feel again.
Right now my heart hurt just as bad, if not worse.
Nani walked closer to me. I looked up at her. I wasn't a mind reader but I could tell her head was a mess; her mind was trying to calculate the best choice and her eyes reflected that. I heard the creak of the trigger as she started to pull it.
I could see my angel's face in my mind for a fleeting second before it was replaced with the cold brown stare of Nani's eyes as she looked directly into my own. I'd lost track of time but a fair while had passed by at this point despite her frozen in position. It felt like an eternity, as things like this do. The gun was a foot away from my head now.
I hadn't broken eye contact. I heard another small creak as she depressed the trigger a bit further.
I've hurt her too much.
Her eyes widened slightly. But I had already closed mine. Another creak.
No bang? Or did it already happen and I'm dead?
I could feel my chest rise. No, I was still alive.
But... no pain? I cracked open an eye.
Nani was on her knees, eyes wide and tears flooding her face. She was still holding the gun but it was away from head and down by her side. She was shaking much worse now, staring into my eyes and her grip loosened on the gun; it fell to the ground with a soft thud and Jumba was instantly at her side, picking the weapon and placing it back into the holster. I could tell he was furious. He bent down in front of Nani and looked into her face.
"NEVER EVER QUESTION ME AGAIN ON WHY I WILL NOT KILL MY OWN CHILD."
Nani froze up as he roared into her face. My father walked over to me and picked me up. I was in too much shock to even comprehend my surroundings at that point and like back at the wedding, I was seeing the world through a blurry camera lens. He sat down on the bench with me while David consoled Nani. It remained that way for a while. Eventually they both faced us. Jumba was still mostly stoic but I could hear him mutter curse words in both Kweltikwan and Tantalog a few times. They got louder.
And then, he snapped. He pushed me down and ripped up the bench from it's foundation, slamming it into the fence.
Nani and David backed off as he unleashed a string of loud, furious Kweltikwan in their direction. He eventually stopped, panting. I clutched his hand.
"I'm alive... I'm ALIVE!" I reassured him. I knew this would have been triggering memories for him of when he had his gun pointed at me. He eventually came around and hugged me tightly.
After more looming silence, Nani finally stood up. She came over to us.
"What?" Jumba snapped.
"I couldn't. I couldn't kill him to save the world."
"Just as you would not kill Lilo if was her in situation 626 is in. Is SO easy to say you would do something, but when actually faced WITH doing it is another story, ey?"
Nani paused. "Of course not. But you killed him though. You actually did it."
"You want to be like me?"
That shut Nani up. She had no response for it at all.
"Do I deserve to die?" I asked her quietly during their silent standoff.
She looked at me at that. Jumba looked furious again but he didn't say a word.
"No," she finally responded. "Of course not."
"Damn straight he doesn't when is my fault this is happening."
"...But what if I want to die?" I added quietly.
They both stared at me at that. Jumba put his hand to my mouth and covered it. "Stop that. Is not happening, is never happening and do NOT be mentioning it again."
I sighed. "You can't let go of me," I said over his shoulder as he put me over it. "I keep you going."
Jumba was quiet for a moment. "Not just me, 626. You keep us all going."
Nani and David just looked at me as my father said that. I felt my heart sink once more.
Did I really mean that much to them? I didn't have to ponder on that for long because I got my answer after we arrived back at the buggy – just before I climbed in, Nani and David hugged me tightly, my father watching with a slight glint to his eye.
The ride home was quiet. Until David spoke up again.
"Stitch, you said that Jumba was able to turn off the cell last time. How?"
Jumba sighed at hearing this. "Believe me, was lucky. I was in specific type of cruiser I had access to via GDI. Back when I had access to their technology. I activated hyper-drive and rammed it into 626's head to knock him out as mentioned. It was miracle my plan even worked."
"..." David looked shocked. Nani looked up at that. She'd been consoling Lilo when she'd fainted at the time Jumba had explained this to the family, so I hadn't been sure if she was aware.
"I used hyper-drive on him. Was just enough force to knock him out and initiate shutdown of cell. If system shuts down, cell does, as is tied to him. I had to lure him into ocean to pull off. A lot of luck was on my side that day."
"It takes that much force?!" She was in disbelief.
"Isn't a hyper-drive faster than the speed of light? How is that possible?" Nani questioned.
"It is very possible. Our ships have engines that can reach mach 1000 meanwhile your species hasn't even figured out how to time travel or teleport yet. But yes, in terms of giving you idea of what it takes to knock 626 in Metamorphosis out that is what it takes. Is having energy of two planets inside of him. Layers of the hardest titanium and irons in the universe line his bones and his muscles are stronger than the steel of the strongest building structures on Earth. Now imagine that power and strength he has, all combined together, bigger than a city. You are facing the impossible," my father explained to them. "Because I made him impossible. And in order to even penetrate to a point of knocking him unconscious would need a ship—or GDI cruiser in my case—with not only the most advanced hyper-drive system ever built, but an engine able to exceed mach 500 or more in a single second. Those two factors combined was what knocked him out."
"Good god..." Nani was holding her head. "Are you sure that is even physically possible?"
"Let me put it to you straight. Little girl and 626 went to moon night took cruiser out on so called 'joy-ride'. Does that answer your question?"
"THEY WENT TO THE MOON?!" Nani screeched.
Nani held her head. "The moon. THE MOON."
"YES, is what I said! The moon!"
"So what speed is that cruiser then? The one at home?"
"Mach 310. Very standard issue. 626 would have used hyper-drive to activate it and reach moon."
"And how long would it have taken them to get to the moon with that?"
"An hour max. Took him only three hours to reach Earth in that ship once had escaped from imprisonment using same drive."
"Well if that other cruiser was enough to knock him out... and he goes into Metamorphosis like he did back then, couldn't you just—"
"Was one off," Jumba responded to that, sounding blunt. "Different technology, far more advanced as I said. Entirely different components and system. Not possible to happen again without and basic cruiser would not have force required to knock 626 out. First time, I nearly died. Still bear the scars from it due to half of my side being melted."
Both of them went quiet.
"As was saying, it was pure luck things lined up. This time, there is nothing I can do. I am sorry."
"So... what happens now?"
"Start praying for a miracle, that's what."
I looked at my lap.
They went home. I ended up not going with them. I had jumped out of the window of the buggy and ran away before they could stop me just as we'd turned up the street leading to our home.
I found that I couldn't look at or face Nani without seeing her standing there aiming a gun in my face. I understood what my father was getting at by making her do that, but it still had broken my heart it had to even come to that. That she would bring up the possibility that my life ending would be better. Of course, I'd wanted that too but it was different hearing it from another directed at me. I didn't know how to describe it. It had made me feel like she wanted me dead. And the way she'd said it had sounded so... casual. Like it was just so easy to consider doing. Ending my life to save the world. Of course, I could have just been paranoid and assumed such a thing with my heightened emotions, but that's how I'd felt. I didn't want to believe that she would want me to die so easily. It just couldn't be real. She cared about me, didn't she?
Nani and I had made up. It had taken us a long time to get back on good terms with each other. But that display made me question everything again. Humans turned so quickly. They thrived on any chance of power they could get. They were in it for themselves.
All of them except for Lilo.
The universe, or me. It was a seemingly simple choice. Of course, I knew the latter was not important. My life was not significant at all compared to the survival of mankind and alien-kind. That didn't change how I felt about it though. I didn't want to die because I had this burden placed on my shoulders. It absolutely wasn't fair.
My life was decided for me. So did that mean I had no choice in who ended it either? I wasn't allowed to decide for myself that my life was important?
Did I not have the right to live too? Even though I was a doomsday device?
My father knew what he was doing when he'd given Nani that momentary power complex. He's heard it all before. Seen it all before. How greedy aliens can be. Whether it be for money on the line or not. He had good reason for doing that and I truly hoped it had made her open her eyes. I hope she felt how I did when I was forced to kill other aliens that had guns pointed at me. The difference was, they did shoot.
Nani knew my life was in her hands when she had that gun aimed at me. She knew I was helpless. When you're in control of whether somebody lives or dies it's not an easy choice to make. And she experienced that first hand today. She could easily speak of me dying, but to actually go through with it and take my life away from me was another story altogether. Nani had a child growing inside her. She knew I was a child too and deep in her heart it was wrong.
I didn't know how to feel at that point but I was glad she didn't shoot.
I was well aware that I didn't have long now. I could feel a blackness starting to surround me and I could see it seeping around my paw as I held it up to my face. The corners of my vision were going out. So I went to the only place I could go.
The home that never was.
Alanna smiled and let me in when I arrived. I guessed they'd been expecting me at some point. Mr Kuakini was on the couch and his arm was wrapped in a bigger bandage than the one I'd used and a sling. Once inside I went over and jumped up beside him.
I looked at him. "Hello."
He reached over his good arm and scuffed my head. "Thanks for saving me, Stitch."
My ears perked at that. Stitch? I had been expecting to hear Mitch—until I realised that Alanna and Kalia were in earshot. That was right, he'd said he'd never tell them. Our crazy secret.
I thought about his leg and what I'd seen just before. Those screws had bothered me. It made me realise just how fragile and weak humans were if they needed screws to hold their bones together. For a moment I thought about Lilo's broken wrist.
He noticed me staring at it and pulled up his robe to expose his leg.
"See? Fine. As I said, it was my arm that was damaged."
He leaned down to face me. "Why... did you ask that, Stitch? About my leg?"
I sighed. "What happened to you?"
"Huh?" he looked confused.
I jumped down from the couch and walked over to his ankle, pointing to where I'd seen the screws. "Right here. You have screws. In bones."
His eyes widened. "Oh those! No wonder you asked me, you must've seen them with your vision."
I nodded. He laughed, but I didn't see what was so funny about the situation at all. "I'd been wondering about that all afternoon."
I just looked at him.
"When I was younger I was stupid. A friend loaned me his motorbike and kept nagging at me to try going at faster speeds. I listened to him and I took off on it to speed around the hills, near Mt Waialeale. And of course, I had a crash. I couldn't control the bike as well as I thought I could and I was flung from it. I ended up slamming into a tree. The impact shattered my ankle and I broke three ribs as well as my arm. I almost died, Stitch. I guess after that, I had a wake up call because when you're young you think you're invincible to anything. I decided to turn my life around and it took me almost two full years to walk normally again. Cut contact with that friend and worked on bettering myself. Started up my shop. It took a long long time to pay off that debt and I struggled hard. One stupid little incident like that where I thought I was unstoppable changed my life."
He sighed. "I'd actually forgot about it up until now as it's been so long. That happened when I was nineteen."
I was in disbelief. I reached out my paw and felt his ankle gently. He smiled as I did this.
"I'm lucky to be here. That was why Mitch was so important to me." I looked at him as he said this. "I nearly had my ability to walk taken away from me due to my stupidity. But he was born with it. He lost the use of his legs naturally. It made me realise how important things are, not to take them for granted."
I sat down and curled up on the floor. It hit me hard hearing that from him.
Alanna came over to me and put her hand on my back. "He's fine, Stitch. After that I was around to keep him in check."
Mr Kuakini laughed. "Yes. Alanna and Kalia were the best things to ever happen to me. They kept me strong. Mitch gave me reason to keep up the shop, even during bad days. To not give up."
Darn it all...
I squeezed my fist tightly, tears threatening to overflow. I thought of my father and how he'd never given up on me.
Why did this have to happen? Why did 621 have to ruin everything and make my life hell just because he was jealous? Things had finally been looking up for the first time in a while. Was I never supposed to have happiness? Ever?
I stood up and quickly left the room because not only did I not want them to see me crying, I also didn't want to leave just yet and so abruptly (even though I knew I probably would soon enough) so I went into the bathroom and shut the door behind me. I could hear them talking amongst themselves out there, wondering why I'd did that and what was wrong with me.
I gripped the edge of the sink and looked at myself in the mirror. The sight of stress greeted me; my eyes had dark circles under them, visible through my fur. I not only looked different, I felt different too. I felt exhausted and I was tired of it all. I just wanted it over and done with by that point. For the change to happen and the outcome to just... come. I was tired of mulling over it and stressing myself out not knowing what it was going to be. Of course, if I was dead then I'd have no clue about it. Nor would everybody else if I ended up slaying them all in my big, horrible ugly monster form.
The minutes passed. I had been resting my head against the wall when there was finally a knock on the door. I didn't move.
"Stitch, you okay? Look, I'm coming in, alright?"
It was Mr Kuakini. I didn't care at that point. He opened up the door a little and peered in at me. I could hear Alanna and Kalia behind him, but they didn't come in. I heard the man asking them to go back into the living area.
He closed the door and approached my side, sitting on the side of the bathtub. It was a small bathroom so his foot hit against my boot.
"What is it, Mitch?"
At that, I flipped my head up to look at him. "Why?"
"That," I said. "Why do you call me Mitch all the time?"
He looked startled. "I-I don't know. I can stop if it bothers you. It just makes me happy that it's you in there because we proved this, as you know."
He sighed when I just looked at him. "It keeps me going I guess. Not relapsing and hiding from my past like I was before. I can face it now and I feel much happier and that was all because of you. "
I looked at the floor.
"Well, do you want me to stop?"
I shook my head. "Do what you like. Doesn't bother me."
"Are you sure?"
It did bother me a little, but I would never tell him that. It didn't feel right, and after learning about what had happened to him in his past, I couldn't bring myself to ever tell him that.
"So then, what is wrong? Did my leg story really bother you that much?"
I stared at him. "Just... things."
"Want to talk? We can go outside or something, doesn't have to be here."
Want to talk Stitch?
Want to talk 626?
That was all that I seemed to hear lately. I felt like every time I did open my mouth and talk it was just me piling my problems onto somebody that didn't need it. I'd already come here numerous times before to escape from arguments at home. Disrupted him and his family.
I was just a burden. To everybody. To Mr Kuakini.
How would he handle knowing the secret of my deep dark past? Who I really was and what I was becoming? He thought I was his son. And I was. How was he going to cope hearing what I'd done?
Learning what I was starting to change into?
I stared up at him sadly. I just couldn't bring myself to answer him. He got down beside me on his knees, looking directly into my eyes.
"You know something Mitch? You were terrible at hiding stuff. Utterly terrible. And I can see that hasn't changed at all because if anything, your eyes just give it away more now."
I felt myself go red. I looked away from him but I felt him pick up my paw.
"So you can either bottle it until you explode or you can just spit it out and tell me."
Tell him I'd destroyed an entire planet and was about to do the same to Earth? That a member of my own family had a gun to my head today? Hah. That would go down well.
Tell him that his once human son was a mass murderer.
I shook my head. I felt sick. "No. No I can't be here... I need to go."
I stood up and made for the door, opening it and running out. He quickly got up and followed me as I did so. I barely noticed Kalia and Alanna as I made my way to the entrance. They stood up swiftly and followed, alarmed at the sudden change in situation.
I didn't turn around. I was about to open the front door and run out when Mr Kuakini grabbed my arm and pulled me back. "Wait, let's just talk about this! Whatever it is, I'm sure I can help!"
"Naga. You can't." I pulled my arm away and went to leave again.
I wasn't expecting him to chase me out but he did. He grabbed at my vest and ended up tripping slightly.
"Stop it!" I cried, tugging away. "You'll hurt yourself more. I need to go."
I froze up stiff when he grabbed my tail. I hadn't been expecting it. He was on his knees on the grass at this point and we were by the road.
I growled. I really wasn't happy about that and he let go pretty quick.
"M-Mitch? Please. You helped me out so much... now just let me help you."
Briefly, I turned to look at him before closing my eyes. And then I bolted away as fast as I could on all fours.
I heard him shouting out after me—pleading me to go back—but I didn't stop. I couldn't go back. I felt awful, but I wasn't going ruin his life once he'd just got it back. I just couldn't. I couldn't tell him what was going to happen to his home and his family.
That I would be the one to destroy it.
That same darkness shadowed my vision again as I ran and I felt a tear stream down my face, blowing back in the wind.
I knew I didn't have long now.