The La-Iin Series
“Device of Choice”
Mit-Sun sat in the living room, stroking Choungetsu, who rolled over and made contented grunts. She stared at the door curiously. Above the house she heard the sound of wings flapping.
Just yesterday Asul-Zenza had contacted Mit-Sun about something he wanted to show her. Since she was in a good mood, she had decided to let him come over. That hadn’t been her only reason for accepting, however–since Friday, she had noticed that La-Iin had seemed incredibly sad.
‘She never told me what happened with those boys, but they looked pretty upset too. Maybe after Asul-Zenza shows me whatever it is he wants to show me, I’ll let him take her out. That might make her happier.’
Mit-Sun sighed. ‘What am I thinking? I should be able to make her happier, not rely on Asul-Zenza to do that. But he can make her happier. I should still contribute in my own way, though! I know, I’ll make a dinner she likes tonight, and then I’ll do an activity with her. I wonder what she might be in the mood for. Well, there are plenty of things I can do with her, and if she doesn’t like one, I’ll just try another!’
A knock sounded at the door. “Come in!”
Asul-Zenza walked in, a small box in his hands and a smile on his face. “Hello there, Mit-Sun. How have you been today?”
“Fine. Alright, Asul-Zenza, let’s see what you have there.”
Asul-Zenza nodded. He set the box down in front of her and opened it up.
“What is that clunky thing?”
“This is a prototype of that device I told you about all the way last year, remember?” Asul-Zenza said. “I’ve been keeping close tabs on it, as you know. San-Kyung seems like a good boy, so I’m not as worried about him anymore, but don’t think I haven’t heard the reports that Bledger is becoming a more dangerous place to live. I mostly have faith in La-Iin, but I’m not sure I trust the world.”
“You’re sure keeping up with current events.”
“It’s something to do when you’re bored. And if it has to do with my daughter, I want to know about it.” He handed her a round device. “This is where you set the settings for when you want the alarm to go off. As you can see, some of the settings are obviously designed for overprotective parents.”
“Geez, I worry about what La-Iin does sometimes, but this is ridiculous,” she said as she looked through the settings. After checking them, she pointed to the other items in the box. “Now, what about those other things?”
“Those are for alerting you. So when you have La-Iin wear it, if something happens that is counted as dangerous by your settings, it should alert you. Of course, since it’s a prototype, it will just give an alert sound that varies depending on the type of danger she’s in, and won’t actually give you an idea of where she might be. This device isn’t designed for tracking so they’re still working out that sort of situation. But who knows, this could save a lot of young lives….or lead to mass surveillance depending on the country it’s used in. I have some hope for this product, anyway.”
“You don’t have to keep running your mouth about it, I get it. So what’s the reason for giving me a prototype?”
“They’re releasing prototypes to some devoted followers of the product so that it can be tested out. Of course, since you’re La-Iin’s primary caretaker, I figured you would be the best person to test it out. You’d have to tell me how it works so I could tell the company what I thought of it. At least, they’ll think it’s what I thought of it.”
“I see.” She examined the device. “What do you say we take it for a test run now?”
“You could take La-Iin out and put her in simulation dangerous situations. Like….high power usage. I think this one’s a little overprotective, but who knows? People have killed with powers before. Still, how exactly can they track this?”
“I suppose if I transformed into a bat and used my blood power, that might count.”
“Then we can test it out and La-Iin gets to spend time with you. When was the last time she did, anyway?”
“I think it was last month,” he said. “She did invite me over to meet San-Kyung. But definitely, I’ve been neglecting my chances. Ironic given you’re finally being more forgiving.”
“That’s not my fault,” she said. “Anyway, in order for us to test this out, we need La-Iin. HEY, LA-IIN! COME DOWNSTAIRS, I NEED YOU TO DO SOMETHING!”
Mit-Sun and Asul-Zenza waited for La-Iin; once she came downstairs, Mit-Sun was surprised to see how depressed she looked.
“What do you want?” She said, then glanced at Asul-Zenza. “Dami?”
“Hello there, La-Iin! Are you feeling alright? You look a little sleep-deprived.”
“I just made a stupid mistake recently, that’s all,” La-Iin said. “I thought you were gonna ask me to do something annoying, but if Dami’s here, it can’t be all that bad. So what is it?”
“Your father got a prototype product he wants you and me to try out, but I figured since he’s the one who got it, all three of us could try it out.”
“What is it? It looks clunky.”
“It’s for tracking danger.”
“Tracking danger?” La-Iin’s eyes widened. “I don’t like the sound of that.”
“You probably don’t, knowing you. But we’re just testing it out.”
“This product is still in the prototype stages, although we repeated that enough already for you to figure that out,” Asul-Zenza said.
“He has to report back to the company his opinion on it. So what I want you to do is put this on–” She handed the round part of the device to La-Iin. “Then, I want you to go out with Asul-Zenza and try and set off all the security warnings. That includes the overprotective ones I’d never use.”
“Are you sure you’d never use overprotective settings? You don’t trust me.”
“I don’t trust you in some cases, but I trust you enough to go out so long as you’re with someone, and that someone has even been Choungetsu before. If I didn’t trust you at all, I would take you to school and I wouldn’t let you go outside without me. Interacting with San-Kyung outside of school, which I’m sure you’ve done before, wouldn’t even be possible. So say what you want, but I trust you more than you think.”
La-Iin looked down at the device. Mit-Sun noticed that she was starting to smile a bit. “So we have to make the alarm go off for all the dangers?”
“If we do that, then we can examine whether or not it works at all. It would be helpful to report back to the company if only some dangers are setting off alarms.”
“This could be fun.”
“Take the instruction manual. It lists all the dangers. You’re only going to simulate these dangers. Oh, and take this too.” Mit-Sun tossed Asul-Zenza the backup alarm.
“You know, I don’t want this to break.” Asul-Zenza said.
“I know. I figured you would catch it. It’ll also help if you find out if some work in closer proximity than others.”
“Proximity?” La-Iin questioned.
“She means if only the close alarm sets off and not her’s,” she said.
“So you’re not coming with us, Mama?”
“Why, did you want me to? I figured you’d want to spend one-on-one time with Asul-Zenza.”
“I do, I just thought you wanted to come.”
Mit-Sun shook her head and smiled. “No, I’m fine. This is the best way we’re going to get a report for Asul-Zenza, and anyway he’s the one with powers. Tipping off power-related signals would be easier with him.”
“Of course.” La-Iin affixed the device. “Come on, Dami! Let’s get in trouble!”
“It will be simulated danger, alright?”
“So you say.”
As Mit-Sun wrote down the signals on a piece of paper, La-Iin and Asul-Zenza checked the various ways to tip off the alarm. Once Mit-Sun had them all written down, they left the house, flying high into the sky.
“So what should we try first!?” La-Iin exclaimed.
“First we should head far away, for that’s one of the ways to tip off the signal–heading far off.”
The two flew over downtown and a forest, looking for an area neither of them recognized. Before they made it there, La-Iin became tired and Asul-Zenza held tight to her. They landed, and Asul-Zenza checked his signal.
“Well, I suppose it wouldn’t be giving off a signal if it’s so close by the main device,” Asul-Zenza chuckled. “I’ll ask them about it, though. In the meantime, let’s try something else. Are there any blood vendors nearby?”
“I don’t know where blood vendors are.”
“Well, we can look for some. One of the things that tips this alarm off is injury, but I’m not sure how to simulate that…”
La-Iin bit into her arm. “La-Iin!?”
“Don’t worry Dami, I’m used to this by now. In case you hadn’t noticed–” La-Iin shut her eyes tight as the transformation completed. “–I’ve found a use for doing this.”
The two heard a rapid beeping noise. Asul-Zenza checked his device. “Seems to go off for that,” he said. “Are you sure you’re alright?”
“With the power I gain through this ability, I always feel one hundred percent,” she said with a smile. “What do we try next?”
Asul-Zenza checked the manual. “Apparently, the lack of presence of other people is also something that can tip off the alarm. Will you be alright by yourself for a little bit?”
“Dami, is this stupid alarm making you overprotective? I’ve been fine in the past. I will be fine now.”
“I just wasn’t sure if you felt like being alone right now is all,” he said with a smirk. “I’ll be right back, La-Iin!”
La-Iin nodded and watched as Asul-Zenza soared into the sky. ‘Dami not only can fly a lot higher than me, but he has a lot of stamina. I should try flying even more than I already do. If only Mama didn’t call on me for flying in the house, I could practice all the time!’
As she waited for Asul-Zenza to return, her transformation wore off. She checked the device. ‘This thing is really clunky. Do Mama and Dami really want me to use something like this? Does Dami want it for something else? He does live on his own.’
Asul-Zenza returned a moment later. “That was a great fly. I feel refreshed.” He stretched. “So, what shall we tip off next? Want to look for a blood stand?”
“Okay. They also sell blood at the store.”
“Good idea. I hope there’s a store nearby.”
“Dami, can I ask a question?”
“Do you want this for me, or do you want this for yourself? Since you live on your own, I mean. Did you want us to know if you’re okay?”
Asul-Zenza’s eyes widened. “I didn’t even think of that being a possible usage. But that’s a great idea!” He started to smile. “You know, La-Iin, something I always worried about in the past was the possibility of something happening to me and nobody knowing. When I heard about this device, I thought it could come in handy for keeping tabs on you since you had just become friends with San-Kyung.”
“San-Kyung’s fine, you know.”
“But you saying that has lightened some of my fears. I could give one of those to you, and to Mit-Sun and my parents and my friends at the book club! Then I wouldn’t have to worry if something happened to me. If the people developing this product can make it work, then you all will know if something happened. I won’t have to worry about dying alone.”
“Oh look, there’s a blood stand over there!”
“Are you gonna use your blood power, Dami!?”
“I’ll try. Remember, I’ve only used this once in the past before. I don’t know what will happen now. Say, what power would you like me to try?”
Asul-Zenza chuckled. “I should have known you’d suggest that. Two cartons of Animated Pumpkin, please.”
The man happily handed Asul-Zenza the cartons, and Asul-Zenza gave him his vuyong. “Now, let’s see if we can get this to work.”
Excitement coursed through La-Iin as Asul-Zenza began to down the blood.
Mit-Sun relaxed at home, waiting for Asul-Zenza and La-Iin to come back. ‘They’ve been gone a long time, and dinner’s almost done. This is ridiculous. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s taking advantage!’
As if on cue, both entered the house.
“Hello, Mit-Sun! How were your results? Mine went off a few times, but not for everything. I wonder if it had to do with proximity.”
Mit-Sun huffed when she noticed La-Iin was holding a carton of blood. “Terrible. It barely went off for anything, and it only went off for one thing I’d be worried about with her. Everything else it went off for is something I’d never set it for.”
“I’m sorry, Mit-Sun. But the product is still in development. I’ll contact the company tomorrow.” He sniffed the air. “What smells so good?”
“Hey, there’s no need to resort to insults. You and I have been on more amicable terms lately.” Asul-Zenza sighed. “Mit-Sun, if I bought one of those devices for myself, would you hold on to one of the alarms?”
“Er, never mind, I’ll talk with you about it later,” he said. “I suppose I should be going now. I’ll see you, La-Iin.”
“See you, Dami.”
Asul-Zenza collected the pieces of the device, waved, then opened the door and flew off.
“If only you two had arrived earlier. I planned on taking you for a walk downtown.”
“You suck, Mama! Why don’t you tell me about this stuff earlier!?”
Mit-Sun chuckled. “I didn’t want to break into your time with Asul-Zenza. Even I have my better days. Especially now that I’ve got a person who’ll lend an ear for me at work.”
‘Haner!?’ La-Iin kept the sentiment to herself.
“What do you say we have dinner? It’s got to be done by now.”
“What did you make? Something nasty?”
“Actually, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
‘Well, whatever that device did, La-Iin certainly seems a lot happier.’ Mit-Sun felt light as she walked into the kitchen with La-Iin.