The kitsune sisters blinked in confusion as they looked at the man standing in front of their door. Clearly, they were already awake, but it was surprising to have him show up in the middle of the night. More so, they knew that he did not have the habit of maliciously spying on people, so the odds that he showed up because of their recent conversation was rather slim.
Thea was the first to react, putting on an amiable smile as she looked towards their boss. “Not at all. Please, come in.” She didn’t want the two of them to simply be standing with the door open while they were in their nightgowns, so the easiest way to resolve this was to invite him in.
With a small nod, James stepped inside, moving towards the living room of their humble abode. “Sorry for coming to you so late. But, there is a new research project that I can only entrust to the two of you, for now.”
When they heard that, the two sisters glanced towards one another with uncertainty in their eyes. They had trained for numerous different types of missions as ninjas, and were prepared for a wide array of situations. Coming in the middle of the night to the residence of two beautiful sisters like themselves, saying that he had a special job that only they could do… however, they instinctively wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, as James had never shown himself to be that type of person.
“What’s the project?” Nora asked, testing the waters. Even as she asked that, she leaned forward slightly, watching his eyes.
Eyes that never seemed to waiver from looking into her own. At least, until he closed them to let out a small sigh. “The Keeper sent another energy request down, and this one comes with another class, just like Pilot. It’s… the Perfect Soul. I know a little bit about this energy, and I can say that anyone who has already reached perfection in the body can’t seek perfection in the soul. Out of my team, that only leaves the two of you as possible candidates.”
Thea’s eyes went wide, glancing briefly to her sister. However, a troubled expression fell over her face as she considered his words. “We were actually just discussing using the chambers tomorrow. While we appreciate you looking for us, we would rather reach perfection in the body as opposed to the soul.”
Her response was reasonable. Under the assumption that the two were mutually exclusive, they would naturally choose to perfect their bodies. While perfection of the soul would undoubtedly bring them benefits of its own, only perfection of the body would ensure true agelessness.
“Huh?” James looked towards Thea in surprise. “I think you might be misunderstanding something. I said that people who have achieved perfection in the body can’t seek perfection of the soul. But… it doesn’t hold true the other way around. In fact, perfection in the body is easier to achieve after perfecting the soul. Think of it like the three steps to divinity.”
“While someone can seek perfection in one of the three steps out of order, they can never go back to handle the preceding steps. After you train the soul, you can do the body next without any trouble.”
Hearing that eased the worries of the two kitsune, who glanced towards one another. Now, there was less hesitation in their eyes, and more curiosity. They had confirmed that their earlier worries were unfounded, and regained their confidence in front of their boss.
Nora put on a small smile, moving over to sit on the couch. “What about the matter of children?” She asked, as that had been something that had been troubling the ‘perfected community’ for years. “If everyone in the world eventually seeks perfection, won’t we stop being able to have children?”
In fact, everyone had simply taken this as a natural consequence of perfection. A cost that had to be paid to achieve eternity. It had not been brought up as an issue to the researcher only because people believed that there was nothing to be done about it.
James, meanwhile, raised his eyebrow in confusion. “Huh? Who said anything about that. You can still have children after undergoing the procedure. Even a god can bear a child, so why couldn’t someone on the path of perfection?”
Thea blinked, having not expected that answer. She knew that Nora was just trying to rile James up in an attempt to get back at him for his misleading manner earlier. “What…? But…”
“You mean the current lot? They haven’t had kids because they don’t know the way.” James gave a long sigh when he said that. “It’s like teaching kids all over again… Once you achieve an energy body, you can only conceive a child with someone in a similar state. For instance, perfection can only pair with perfection, and divinity with divinity.”
“As long as you find someone in the same energy state as yourself, all it takes is a special mingling of your energies to produce the spiritual embryo. Of course… the child won’t have the full state of the parents, but it won’t be a child of flesh and blood, either.”
Nora thought about it for a moment, before quickly shaking her head. “If you knew about it all this time, why didn’t you say something earlier?”
“Nobody asked.” James admitted with a small shrug. “I thought that they wanted to figure out the method themselves, so I didn’t get involved. I might be a researcher hired by the Keeper, but I’m not just going to go around solving everyone else’s problems for them. If I did that, then wouldn’t there be no need for others in my field? I’d rather stimulate the growth of the scientific community, and only step in when I am personally requested, or if I find a subject that arouses my own desires for research.”
They couldn’t really argue against that. The problem was that there were not many people looking into this problem in the first place, because everybody had assumed that it was simply a natural effect of evolving into a higher state of being. Without the restrictions of time limiting their lifespans, they would simply overpopulate a world if they were still allowed to breed.
Thea and Nora shared a look with one another, before the two of them let out a small sigh. “Alright…” Thea spoke up first, seeming to come to some sort of silent understanding with her sister. “If you publish the method for energy beings to have a child, we’ll go along with this Perfect Soul research.”
James couldn’t help but smile when he heard that, quickly nodding his head. “Wait.” Nora spoke up next, suddenly thinking of something. “Does this mean that it’s possible for martial spirits to have children as well? Without their pact business, I mean.”
“Of course. They’re energy bodies with a spiritual component, so this method would naturally work for them as well.” The kitsune sisters stared at the dark-skinned researcher after he casually admitted that fact, their eyes faintly twitching.
“You realize that they’ve been killing their own contractors for hundreds of years simply because that was the only way that they knew to reproduce, correct?” Nora asked slowly, to which James nodded.
“It was a system that both parties agreed on. And, like I said earlier, the alternative method will result in an ‘incomplete’ state for the child. In a way, the method that the martial spirits use creates a more perfect offspring. It’s just that they are limited in their selection of ‘mates’.”
“What’s this incomplete state, then?” Thea asked in curiosity. At this point, she was just trying to get as much information out of him as she could, while he was in a talkative mood. “I think we should know that before we can make an educated decision.”
James shook his head, moving to pace back and forth within the living room. “The exact specifics vary between the different types of energy bodies. But, in general, the incomplete state is exactly that. For those that achieve perfection, it means that their children will be ‘pseudo-perfect’. They will be in a degraded energy state for their early years, and will naturally reach perfection as they mature.”
“For gods, on the other hand, their children will be born as a demigod with a mostly spiritual body. They will have to cultivate their own divinity like anyone else, but will have certain advantages due to their heritage.’
“Wait, that doesn’t make any sense.” Nora interrupted, raising a hand to stop James. “Everyone knows that the Eternal Princess was the child of Tryval. But, she was born of flesh and blood. Doesn’t that mean that your story sort of falls apart there?”
James shook his head, refuting Nora’s claim. “That’s because he’s part of what you call the ‘Greater Pantheon’. Their composition is more unique, and they are able to ‘mingle’ with mortals more than their normal divine counterparts. That’s the only reason why Alme was able to be born in the first place, because her mother was most certainly not a goddess.”
Nora lowered her hand when she heard that, thinking it over. “I suppose that makes sense… for this Perfect Soul that you want us to train… will our extra tails get in the way of it?” She glanced back towards her nine swaying tails, not wanting to give them up just yet if she had the choice.
“Not in the slightest.” He confessed with a smile. “In fact, after you reach perfection, you could safely create a tail of your soul. It would be highly resistant to physical or energy-based attacks, and damage to it would not be transmitted to the rest of your spirit.”
Nora nodded her head in relief, just about to speak up again when she heard another voice. “So that’s where you were.” A small, feminine tone spoke up, one familiar to all three in the room, causing them to hold bitter smiles on their face.
When James turned, he saw Chel standing in the hall, her hands propped up on her hips. “Came by to play with the tails, huh?” She asked in a knowing tone, clearly having the same thoughts as the two sisters. However, James could see a spark of amusement in her eyes.
He had already told Chel about the Keeper’s plan to release the Perfect Soul class, so naturally she would have known that he was going to seek out the two sisters. However, the sisters themselves weren’t aware of that, their cheeks immediately dyeing themselves red with embarrassment. “It’s not like that!” Nora called out, ducking her head down low, which did not exactly help her claim.
Seeing that, Chel raised an eyebrow, her lips curving upwards. “Oh?”
“That’s enough, Chel.” James rolled his eyes with a grin. “You talk to your parents?”
“Working on it now. This is just an avatar.” Chel stuck her tongue out at James before looking at Nora and Thea. “Thought that these two might need someone to save them from your indecent hands.”
“Since when have my hands been indecent?” James asked in a hurt tone, looking down at his palms in shock.
“Should I ask Tsubaki that?” Chel asked, grinning. James cleared his throat, glancing away with a guilty expression.
“I might have lost control a bit at that time.” He at least was willing to admit that, not that Tsubaki had ever approached him again for him to deliver an apology to her directly.
“Right…” Chel shook her head, walking over towards Nora on the couch. “Did he explain the situation to you two already?” She asked with a gentle smile, receiving a nod in return.
“I’ve already had the procedure, but I’ll be bringing in… let’s call it a replacement in a few months. Until then, I’ll help the two of you get a feel for what perfection means.” She pat Nora’s shoulder as she said that, before looking at Thea and giving the other sister an understanding nod. “My goal is to have both of you ready by the time she gets here.”
“Who…?” Thea asked, confused how anyone would be able to replace Chel in James’s eyes.
“The other me.” And those words certainly didn’t help her understand the matter.