There's a knock at the door.
Eirin hits the mute button. We sit perfectly still. I can feel my chest squeezing. No one knocks on our door, ever. We say nothing. The knock repeats itself. It is gentle but insistent.
Eirin looks at me, putting a finger to her lips. She slides out of bed, and pads slowly towards the door. My hands begin to feel very warm. I am ready to unleash danmaku, even in this tiny apartment, if that's what I need to do.
Eirin leans towards the door, an open eye towards the peep hole. Her mouth drops open slightly, and a gasp escapes her throat. She turns to me, her hand on the knob, looking at me, her eyes opened wider.
"What?" I mouth to her.
She opens the door.
A person wearing a black hoodie, jeans and boots, standing a head shorter than Eirin, walks into the room. Eirin quickly closes and locks the door behind the person, then grabs her by the shoulders from behind, pushing her to the floor. I stand up on the bed. The person turns over, onto her back and elbows, her hood falling away. Her long white hair falls out, two crooked rabbit ears standing up.
I feel my heart hammering against my ribcage. A moon rabbit.
"Who are you?," Eirin says. Her hands are shaking.
"Don't hurt me!," the moon rabbit implores. "I came alone."
Just looking at the moon rabbit's terrified eyes brings it all back to me - the spacious palace I called home centuries ago, the pure sea as flat as a mirror, the smiling eyes of courtesans who would later be my accusers, my judge and jury, casting me away with disgust and shame. An old wound is being slowly torn open.
"Why are you here?" Eirin hisses, her fists clenched. "Hm? How did you find us?"
My palms break out in cold sweat. They know where we are. We stayed here too long. A solid, heavy ball begins rolling in my stomach.
"Look, I just-" the moon rabbit begins. Eirin kicks her in the side, hard. She cries out in pain.
"I have no qualms with ending your life right where you lie," says Eirin. "I have killed before, remember. I would lay down my own life for the Princess. And anyone else's. So I'm going to ask you again: why are you here? Choose your answer carefully."
She holds up a pleading hand. "I came here to warn you. And to help."
I can feel a wheel turning in my mind, accelerating, unsteady.
Eirin laughs humorlessly. "You lying little-"
"Stop!" I shout. "Beating this rabbit isn't going to help me. Shouldn't we at least listen to her?"
Eirin looks at me, breathing deeply through her nose. She turns back to the rabbit. "Who are you?"
"I am Reisen, Mistress," she says with a shaking voice. "I am a friend. You have to believe me. I have important information that may save you from the Lunarian's wrath."
Eirin crosses her arms. "Alright. What is this information?"
"The Lunarians are planning another attack of the Earth."
Eirin snorts derisively. "They tried that before, didn't they? They don't stand a chance."
"Maybe, maybe not." says Reisen, sitting up. "But they will be sending many emissaries to Earth. You can't afford to be careless anymore."
I get down from the bed. "How many are coming?"
Reisen turns to me. "Thousands. Maybe even tens of thousands."
"And just how do you know this?" Eirin asks.
"I still have a few friends on the Moon. Friends who would never betray me."
"How fortunate for you. But we're not too keen on having the company of friends of Lunarians. Why should we trust you?"
"Because I'm running from them, too, alright?" The moon rabbit's eyes flash with the fear of a cornered animal. "I've been running from them for over 40 years."
Eirin laughs. "Is that supposed to impress us? Do you have any idea just how long we've been walking this planet?"
"I do. I didn't want any part of the last Lunarian invasion and fled here. It hasn't been easy. But all this time I so hoped I would find you again. I can't tell you how hard it was. But you're here." She turns to me. Her red eyes are welling with tears. "Princess," she says, and lowers her forehead to the floor before my feet, her hands on either side of her head. "I cannot tell you how happen I am to see you again, and see that you are well. I see the Mistress has taken good care of you. I beg you, as a lowly, undeserving subject-"
"Quiet," I say. "Sit up." I don't want to hear this kind of talk. I don't want to see anyone grovel at my feet. The child I used to be would delight at this behavior. That child has evaporated into the darkness of space centuries ago.
Reisen sits up obediently.
"Look at me," I say. Her eyes meet mine. In their depths, I see the terror of the chased, the panting of the fugitive. I know it well - they're the same eyes that look back at me when I look in the mirror. I turn to Eirin. "This rabbit stays."
"Princess, you can't be serious," Eirin says incredulously.
"I am. She stays." I turn to Reisen. "But in exchange, you have to help us."
The moon rabbits readily nods. "Of course. Anything you want."
Eirin sighs. I know she disagrees with me entirely, but she isn't going to go against me. Reisen's contact with the moon might aid us in staying out of sight when this invasion begins. At the same time, I know Eirin will have one eye on this rabbit at all times, and will react with swift finality should she prove untrustworthy. This delicate balance can only work to our advantage.
"Good. Now then." I lean closer to the rabbit. "You will tell us everything you know."