Sitting comfortably at the bucket seats for her last mission, Erza's thoughts wandered just as they were about to land. Retrieving satellites from far away planets and and dangerous moons wasn't the kind of work Erza dreamed about growing up, but it pays the bills. Soon she will have more than enough to pursue her dream job.
The two suns of Planet-H are notoriously hot. As unsuspecting visitors immediately find out, it leaves a burn mark and the smell of burning flesh as soon as their skin was exposed to it. Luckily, Erza isn't an ordinary human being; she is a Babailan Princess with an interesting ancestry - a descendant of royal blood with the power of healing and the courage of a warrior.
With the fallen satellite at the shuttle's cargo bay, Erza went back to collect a few rock samples and gems for her collection.
"It might be a while before I go out on an expedition like this again and that rock formation looks promising. I say go for it." Erza's thought.
"Hey, Captain Garcia. Can I make a short detour to get a few rock samples from the sand dune half a klick due East?" Speaking to the captain on her earpiece.
"Sure. We're still warming up the engine. You have ten minutes, Er." The Captain replied.
"Fantastic! I'll be back in a jiffy." Erza quickly turned back.
Whirrr... She could hear the Shuttle engine start up through her earpiece. She had to hurry up.
"The Earth looks magnificent, Cap! I'll be there in five." Samples in her bag, Erza trotted back to her ship.
The tingling sensation signaled danger. Erza began to run faster, then her intuition told her to duck for safety which saved her life.
Zap! The laser beam hit her bag of samples causing it to burst into flames.
Ugh. Erza threw the bag away and ran faster. She's not waiting for a strange-looking creature with a stranger looking weapon to catch her in its sights.
The mad dash towards the landing bay entrance could have set a new world record. Erza pressed the red button to close the hatch. And, they were on their way home. The sight of the Blue Planet getting bigger made Erza smile. She strapped herself in on her bed and fell asleep.
Ezra stepped on a plastic spork as he got off the Jeepney on the way home.
"These people are pathetic; can't even put their trash in the trash can one meter away." Ezra remarked to himself.
His thoughts returned to the message written on the fortune cookie earlier.
FIND THE ANSWER YOU SEEK AT THE FORK IN THE ROAD.
The five minute walk towards his penthouse apartment seemed more romantic with the full moon.
"Damn, these busted street lights." Ezra sighed.
Half-asleep while watching a movie on Netflix, Ezra's thoughts went back to the fortune cookie as memories and reflections interspersed in his mind.
"It's a stretch, but I'd argue that a spork is half a fork that I stepped on in a forked road, and it's only a coincidence... Emily Blunt was bad ass in this movie and Tom Cruise was funny... That Chinese restaurant served the best lauriat meal in the city..."
Knock, knock, knock. The loud banging on the door roused Ezra from his deep slumber.
"It's five o'clock in the morning. What the heck?" Ezra grumbled.
"Who is it?" He the shouted through the door.
"Open the door, Ez. It's cold out here." was the terse reply.
"What the heck, Erza. I thought you were out on a mission." Ezra fumbled to open the triple lock.
"I'll tell you all about it over breakfast. Hurry up." Erza gave her big brother a hug and promptly made her way to the bathroom to freshen up.
"Wow. These #vegan sausages are much better than the capsules I've been eating in space." Erza said while savoring the food. "This is the first time I've had real food in ages." She continued.
"So, what happened?" Ezra asked politely.
"I finished my tour of duty and I have enough saved up to quit." Er said enthusiastically.
Ezra paused for awhile, looking at the people walking on the streets outside.
"You know, this might be a good time to do what we've always wanted to do when we were young." Ezra thought aloud.
The Prince and the Princess
Ezra and Erza trained in the martial arts as children growing up. Every child born into the three kingdoms of the northern island did the same; doing otherwise was travesty.
Ezra excelled at everything. Having the power of foresight made him a formidable competitor in martial arts. He would have been provincial or national champion if not for injuries.
Erza also excelled, her power of healing and rejuvenation allowed her to compete at a high level and was a celebrated multi-sport athlete during her university days.
Ezra graduated with an MBA and wanted to be the Mark Zuckerberg of Asia. Instead, he got into crypto with the geeks and reaped a windfall when Bitcoin blew up.
Erza was recruited by the BIG Corporation immediately after graduating at the top of her class with an engineering degree. She decided to join BIG Corp. because it was the only one that offered space travel and the best contract among those who wanted to recruit her to their fold.
"Do you want to watch a movie? Ezra asked nonchalantly.
Erza smiled. "We used to watch movies with Mom and Dad on weekends. I'd love to."
Inside the movie house, Erza yawned while looking at her watch. "Twenty minutes seemed like two hours already." She let out a long sigh.
With people slowly trickling out of the half-empty movie theater, the siblings were thinking of doing the same when something seemed afoul. The siblings looked at each other and took action.
"Let's go. Follow me." Ezra already knew what was about to happen.
Ersa felt her intuition tingle in anticipation and followed her brother out the emergency exit.
Suddenly, the crowd began running back inside the movie house in a frenzy.
Ping, ping, ping. The sound of bullets hitting metal objects can be heard as two armed men with bad intentions stormed into the dark movie house.
People crashed and stomped into each other as the two men walked confidently towards them.
The split-second needed for their eyes to adjust gave Erza and Ezra all the time they needed to subdue the hooligans brandishing high-powered weapons. They held off the attackers in an MMA hold until the security personnel arrived.
The police finished their investigation and the mall management was extremely happy that no one died because of the siblings' heroics. They gave them not a few gifts and surprises to show appreciation for what they've done.
"We still have it." Erza's comment came out of the blue while having snacks before they went home.
"What?" Ezra was confused.
"We used surprise and overwhelming force to get those bastards. We were awesome." Erza said matter of fact as she let out a sly smile.
Ezra remained silent and smiled back, nodding his head while looking outside at the school children crossing the street towards the parking lot.
TWO SIDES OF THE SAME FORK
The mall manager was kind enough to send the siblings home in his car. Ezra did not like driving around although he owned a couple of nice cars. The two walked up the stairs instead of using the elevator which let them burn out some of the adrenaline rush from earlier.
"You've been extremely quiet. Are you OK? Erza inquired with a concerned tone in her voice.
"I think we should do it, Er." Ezra blurted out.
"What are you talking about?" Now, Erza is the one confused.
"When we were kids, we often talked about doing something awesome with our life when we grew up. We are now adults with vast resources and the training to handle difficult situations." Ezra hadn't finished his explanation when Erza cut him off.
"Yes. I'm in." Erza interjected.
"Whaaa?!... Do you even know what I'm talking about, Er?" Ezra asked in surprise.
"Whatever it is, I'm in. I liked the way we handled ourselves today. Besides, I'm an unemployed yuppie whose afraid of boredom." She doubled down.
The next day. Arranging furniture and bringing in hi-tech equipment in one of the office spaces across the street that Ezra owned, the siblings started a journey that would take them all over the world. The non-profit they registered was the perfect front for what they wanted to do - to do good things for those who have less in life while on a crusade against the bad guys of the underworld.
Erza and Ezra worked well together. Ever since they were children, they complemented each other. Now, they will need this chemistry more than ever as they plan on taking the underworld's biggest names together.
Will they survive?