Kimchi ran through the factory, dodging his way out of the children who were slaving away with machinery that, with one small mistake, could end up eating a kid’s finger off. Trying to get past the slave and worker quarters, Kimchi ran past cells that contained a thin cot, a moldy sink, a foul stench toilet, and a small and pitiful window lined with metal bars. Getting to the last one on the left row, laying on the cot, was his unconscious albino older sister who was beginning to stir.
“A-Aiden?” Luna called out weakly as she gained consciousness. Kimchi bit his lip and closed the cell door behind him, holding a bucket of water. “Don’t move Sis, please…” He pleaded. Luna grunted and buried her face in the pillow. “It hurts!” She cried, feeling several thin deep gashes burning her back with a fiery sting. Kimchi’s brown eyes filled with sorrow as he huffed his dark brown hair out of his face, walking towards Luna.
“H-Hey… Wh-What… Wh-What happened..? H-How did I get like this..?” Luna asked, her pain getting numb as Kimchi healed her wounded back. He learned how to cure wounds from watching Luna heal the other kids that worked with them in the factory. He began to recall how one of the stubborn kids would try to rebel against their “keepers”. Many of them were punished by whiplashes. Luna was one of them, but in a more unusual way. Kimchi sighed, getting back to Luna’s question.
“You spoke out of term…” He replied. “Gil was having a heat stroke during assembly, and you ran to help him. One of the keepers told you to get back to your spot and you…” Kimchi then noticed that he was getting excited over this, despite the outcome of it.
After the pause, Luna glanced over.
“Oh, right. Sorry, I lost my train of thought. You said, “I’m going to help him, whether you like it or not.” Then you stormed off, carrying Gil in your arms.” Kimchi explained, then looked over her wounds and flinched.
“After that… They gave you-”
“50 whiplashes… I remember now.”
Kimchi placed a few bandages on Luna’s back, a bit sad.
“Sis… We need to do something about this…” Kimchi began. “Sooner or later-”
“Don’t worry about my wounds, they’re not infected.” Luna replied, causing Kimchi to sigh. “That’s not what I meant…”
“I know, Kimchi.” Luna sighed as well. She painfully sat up, and looked at him hard. “You know we can’t rebel against them. They’re an entire mafia, and we’re just a couple of kids. We could escape, but how? We would need a fool-proof plan, and someone to make sure that everyone knows about the plan. And what if it backfires? We would all be executed!!”
Luna’s eyes widened and she became silent as a guard passed by them, checked on them, then walked off. “We can’t do anything right now,” Luna whispered. “Not now, but later we will have a chance.” Kimchi frowned.
“But Sis… What if we don’t ever get the chance..?” He asked quietly. “What if-”
“I know our chances right now look very small. But even so, things will change over time and things will surely get better.” Luna said with a small smile. “We’ll get there, we just need to be strong.”
Kimchi stayed silent, and nodded after a while. “Yeah… You’re right. Let’s go to sleep. I’m tired.” Luna nodded and laid down on her stomach as Kimchi sat next to her.
“… Night Sis…”
Kimchi thought instead of falling asleep. He needed to save his sister before they execute her the next day. He knew he should’ve told her this, but he didn’t know how she would react. She could try to go on and make an escape plan for her and the other kids, but there wasn’t much time left. Or she would accept her fate, and say a sorrowful goodbye to the group of kids who’ve been raised by her…
Kimchi pondered over this for an hour or so, trying to figure out how to solve the problem. Kimchi quietly got out of the cell, unlocking the door using a small pin that he always had under his bed. Locking the door behind him as quietly as he could, he started to head towards the others’ cells. Once he did, he looked in one of the cells and began to make a bird call. A few minutes later, several bird calls were returned. Kimchi sighed silently, and headed towards one of the cells where he was sure that everyone was in there. He unlocked the door with the pin and entered, before being greeted by several kids from ages 5 to 16.
“Aiden! What are you doing here??” All 13 kids asked quietly at different times, all excited and curious. “Guys, I need to tell you something…” Kimchi said with a soft tone, getting a pillow and sat on the cold stone floor as the others followed.
Explaining the whole situation to them wasn’t easy. He knew it was for the best for all of them, but he couldn’t bear to think about leaving his friends behind. “Guys, I swear I’m going to come back for you. We just really need to get out of here and-” “We want to save Luna, that’s a very good reason!” Gil exclaimed. “Do what you gotta do, Kimchi. We’ll wait as long as you need. Right guys?” The rest of the group nodded silently. “Do us a favor,” Ansoni, one of the younger kids, requested. “Don’t lose the polaroid picture, okay?” Kimchi’s eyes widened. He choked back his tears that were starting to creep up his throat. “O-Of course not! I-I’ll keep it safe…” He replied to the young 6-year-old. “A-Alright. I should go now… I’m g-gonna miss you guys…” Aiden began to get teary eyed. These kids weren’t just his friends. They were his family, just like Luna. They’ve been through everything together, all good and bad. Just the thought of leaving them… In the factory, with the keepers?! Remembering back, Luna had stolen the mafia’s seal just so they can survive… She cared so much that she risked her life in order to make sure they got food. At first, they didn’t understand and they doubted her for a while when they were captured by the keepers, Luna being the one who offered their help. But later, Luna had explained that she was the one who stole the seal, and she did it so they would capture them. Sure, they now worked without pay, but they had food. Luna didn’t want to tell them her plan, so she is risking being killed. So far they hadn’t found out yet, but it didn’t matter now with Luna being executed the next day. Kimchi pulled everyone into a tight and sad group hug. Some of the kids began to cry and it made him even more sad. “I’m coming back… I-I promise I will, if it’s the last thing I do!” Sobbing, the group of kids stayed in the hug for a very long time. Sooner or later, Kimchi finally let go. He said goodbye to every single one and walked out of their cell quietly, taking one last good look at them with tears in his eyes. Sneaking past a couple of hallways, Kimchi quickly pulled down his long sleeves once he got to a locked door. Looking over the doorknob, Kimchi grunted under his breath. “Key card…” He groaned, giving himself a facepalm. Quickly looking right, then left, he sneaked past another hall to the right of him and found the soldier’s quarters. Kimchi hid in the shadows, looking out for any nearby cadets or officers. He sprinted inside one of the offices, and pulled his sleeve all the way over his hand, took the lanyard and keys from a nearby hook. His hands shaking slightly, Kimchi ran behind the desk and rummaged through the cabinets with both hands covered in his sleeves. “Gloves… Gloves… Gloves… Glo-” Kimchi murmured before finding a pair of rubber, surgical gloves. “Yes!” Donning them on while looking around, he quickly left like he came in. Kimchi walked back to the locked door after putting the keys in his pocket. Swiping the key card through the slot, the door quietly clicked and the light shone green. He took the key card back and cautiously entered, the room was filled with guns, large incubators and ice boxes. Racks filled with test tubes were filling up the shelves that lined the wall. Kimchi walked over to them, carefully inspecting each and everyone of the test tubes before coming across the needle sections. “Hm… It should be right around here…” He whispered to himself as he walked. He then stopped to a needle that read “Pigment Transfer”. He swiftly took the needle out of its spot and placed it in his cargo pockets carefully, despite the needle having a safety cap. He looked around once more and walked deeper into the room, going to the more lethal equipment. Taking a gas mask and strapping it inside his jacket, he quickly skimmed through the gases in pressured cans. Finding the one that said “Amnesia-Sleep Gas”, he takes it and stuffed it inside his jacket. Kimchi shakily checked his pockets, trying to keep calm and not forget anything. Stepping back a few steps, he accidentally stumbled over a table and grazed his arm on the sharp edge, knocking a test tube to the floor and caused it to break. The liquid slowly seeped out and it began to release a gas. Kimchi’s eyes widened and without a second thought, covered his mouth and nose and fled, as the alarm sounded, telling everyone of the small incident. It wasn’t until he arrived at the quarters did he realize that he had left his mark there. Kimchi’s face began to pale as he hastily fumbled over the locked door their cell. Luna was woken up by the jingling and clacking of the keys and door, and the faint siren. She looked at Kimchi tiredly before realizing what he was doing. “K-Kimchi?? What are you-” “I’ll explain later, just please get up and come with me!” Kimchi whispered loudly as he stepped inside and began to warily help Luna out of bed. “But Kimchi…. What are we doing??” Luna asked again, more alert now. “Where’s the others?? Are they okay??” Kimchi stayed silent for a few minutes, biting his lip, trying to pull Luna along by the hand to a nearby exit. “Th-They’ll be fine…” He replied after a while. Luna frowned, noticing the nervousness in his voice. “Kimchi, what’s going on?” She asked sternly, a tone that Kimchi didn’t like to hear from her. His instinct was to cringe, and he slowly looked at her. “Sis… J-Just trust me… I-I know what I’m doing…” He requested with pleading eyes, before hearing the footsteps of soldiers. Luna’s eyes widened. Kimchi looked up at the ceiling and pointed to an air vent. “Sis, boost me up!” “What?? Kimchi, why-” “Trust me on this! I’ll pull you up Sis! We gotta hurry!!” Luna bit her lip, but got on position with Kimchi getting up on her linked hands. With a fast grunt and push upwards, Kimchi got up the vent and began to help Luna up as fast as he could. Being in the safety of the vents, Kimchi let out a sigh of relief and began to crawl on his hands and knees. “This way, Sis. I’m pretty sure I can figure out my way from here…” Luna took a deep breath. “Kimchi… This is an escape attempt…. isn’t it?” Kimchi continued to crawl. “Y-Yes… You.. I mean… I… We didn’t have a choice!” He whimpered. Luna looked down, then gently ruffled his hair. “Thanks Aiden.” Kimchi stiffened up a bit, then slightly blushed and kept crawling. After a few turns, Kimchi slowly stopped in front of a hatch. “Th-This is as far as we can go…” He explained. “If we go even further, we might either burn ourselves or fall in a hole of some sort…” Luna nodded and went next to Kimchi. “So, down we go then?” Kimchi nodded, then opened up the hatch and jumped down, with Luna following close.
Sneaking past the hall, a giant door stood before them. Luna and Kimchi both pushed the door open and silently gasped at what they saw. The entire frontline army of the mafia, all surrounding them with guns and angry glares, running to them. “Stay where you are!” One of the commanders ordered. Kimchi swiftly took one of the pigment needles and stabbed himself, taking away his own color pigment. He took Luna’s arm and injected the pigment into her, his hair progressively growing silver. Luna gasped in pain as she saw her hair turn brown, feeling a sting in her eyes. As Kimchi threw the needle and shattered it, he quickly took out the can of gas. Luna’s eyes were tearing up slightly, and she looked over at Kimchi. “K-Kimchi?!” She called out as her vision began to clear up and the sound of footsteps grew closer and louder.
Kimchi had already put on the gas mask, taking the can and a pocket knife from the inside of his boot.
“See you later, Sis.”
With that, Kimchi punctured the can with the knife and the gas escaped, spreading like a virus.
Luna began to gasp for air, inhaling the gas and coughed. Soon, the rest of the soldiers began to do the same, some even falling to their knees and held on to their throats. Eventually, all of them, including Luna, passed out on the floor.
Kimchi watched it all in disbelief, his hands shaking as he attempted to cover his face with them.
“I-I did that…” He whispered, then ran over to Luna and began to pick her up. So many scattered thoughts and feelings were going through his head, though his only priority was to get away from there as quickly as possible without leaving any evidence. Struggling a bit, he managed to carry Luna onto his back, and slowly but surely, sneaked his way out of the base, being wary of the fallen soldiers.
Luna slowly opened her eyes to a bright and colorful atmosphere. She blinked, and saw that she was underneath a huge apple tree, the light seeping through the leaves and branches. Getting aware of her surroundings, Luna immediately jerked herself up, getting on the defensive. Just as quickly, her now brown colored hair flipped over her face, which made her pause. Very carefully, she took a lock of her hair and examined it closely. As soon as she did, she noticed the sting in her eyes. She winced and rubbed her eyes before hearing a tired, familiar voice.
“You’re awake now?”
Luna gasped, and turned to Kimchi, her eyes wide. Kimchi was still in the same clothes as before, but his hair was silver, and his eyes were deep blue. He was eating an apple, looking at her with a mature look.
“I look different, but you should look at yourself too, Sis.”
Kimchi took her hand and helped her up, taking her to a nearby pond. He motioned her to look at the reflection, and hesitantly, she did.
The first thing Luna noticed was her hair color. Then slowly, her eyes fell to her rich brown eyes, which was Kimchi’s original eye color. She looked ay her pale skin, which was beginning to get darker, but only slightly.
Seeing that Luna was silent, Kimchi spoke.
“It’s not the best hair and eye color… But it’ll help us stay hidden, somewhat. You don’t have to be albino anymore, but… yeah… I’m gonna be albino so.. switched appearances, yeah?”
Luna stared at her reflection for a while before looking at Kimchi, who began to mess with his hair, getting a lock of it and looked at it.
Kimchi paused his motions and glanced over at her. “Hm?”
“You… are the coolest kid I know.” Luna said with a small smile.
Kimchi returned the smile and hugged her. “We should keep going, Sis. They might track us down or something…” He advised, letting go of her.
“I walked around a bit, and I found a place where we can get food. Come on, let’s check it out, yeah?”
Luna nodded, then slowly stood up, following Kimchi.