Author's Note: This is the sixth chapter of a fanfiction adaptation of Christine Love's visual novel, Hate Plus. It continues from where the Analogue: A Hate Story adapt left off. It features a female player character, who left the Mugunghwa with *Mute and is currently married to her.
Content Note: Sexism, gendered slurs, and suicidal ideation.
All I had done was watch a video recording. But it felt as though I had been there, Mrs. Investigator. And for a moment, I almost forgot that Old *Mute and I were two separate people.
It wasn't anything like the way I'd imagined the coup.
For starters, Old *Mute and the traitor didn't attack the computer core, like I'd been told. They didn't even go for the palace. They, like ... they just went for some damn apartment in Mugunghwa City. Where Emperor Taejo and Queen Oh were in residence.
I didn't know what to make of that. Or of the words they exchanged. Queen Oh was actually talking, for once! But she didn't sound anything like the royal personage I knew. She and the emperor were cutting, sarcastic. Triumphant, even as they were surrounded by armed guards. Even as women held guns to their heads.
I had never seen the traitor, Seo-yeong, before. I guessed Old *Mute was a traitor, also ... but this woman seemed like a villainess if there ever was one. She pushed Emperor Taejo. Pushed him! And ordered a man to put handcuffs on him!
I wanted her executed. I wanted to see her beheaded in the market square. But more than that, I wanted to see Old *Mute gone. I wanted them both to be put in their place. And so I kept watching, because I knew how things had turned out. And like ... how the greatest threat to ship security ever had been dealt with.
When Emperor Taejo delivered his ultimatum, I wanted to cheer ... for a nanosecond. Then I realized that something was off.
Queen Oh had told me that the rebels had wiped the computer database. And now here was the (future?) emperor, saying that people loyal to him had planted a bomb on the core I was in. And grinning, as he told Old *Mute that it would be detonated if she didn't hand over the new security codes.
What the fuck?!
My first thought was, like, really selfish. Did this mean I wasn't related to Old *Mute? Had she been blasted to pieces? But then, I still had her memories ... and I knew that the rebels had failed in their goals.
So how had the computers been wiped?
When I realized the answer, I wanted to scream.
"She betrayed her." Those were the first words I heard from *Mute, who had been quiet for almost a minute after the video had finally stopped playing. "My ancestor betrayed Seo-yeong, the traitor."
I didn't know what she meant. It was late, and I was still feeling beat-up and worn out after what'd happened a few days ago. But more than that, I was scared. So I just glanced up at my wife nervously, and waited for her to go on.
"Fuck her." *Mute clenched her fists. "Fuck her! I'm glad that she's dead. And I'm glad that I got to see her rebellion fail. She fucking deserves it."
I couldn't help it; my knees were starting to shake. "F-for betraying a traitor?"
"Didn't you see? It was so obvious. Like, really fucking obvious."
I hadn't. But I felt like it'd be failing *Mute to tell her that, so I just sat there like a lump, and waited for her to explain. Some investigator I was.
"When she said 'do it for me,' to Heo Seo-yeong." *Mute was glaring at me. "When Old *Mute's 'lieutenant' looked drained and numb, as she set Emperor Taejo free. I've seen enough hearts broken to know what that was. She wasn't just disappointed that the coup had failed ... Seo-yeong was betrayed by her lover." She practically growled those last four words.
"Oh, goddess." I didn't understand what that meant, or why *Mute was upset about it. I just knew she was really upset about it.
"So not only was Old *Mute in charge of the plot to take over the ship. Not only was she a vulgar bitch who had no respect for male authority. She also acted just like the worst kind of man. By taking a mistress, and breaking her heart." *Mute's fists hadn't unclenched this whole time.
"I ... " The part of me that wasn't frozen like a deer in car headlights could sense she was taking this personally. "*Mute, I'm s-"
"No wonder Queen Oh waited, like, ten fucking years to reactivate me!" *Mute threw her arms up in the air, her sleeves sliding down to her virtual elbows. "No wonder I've always had so much trouble being filial, and respectful. No wonder I ... " She blushed all of a sudden, and dropped her gaze.
"Go on, *Mute ... "
Long seconds passed.
" ... *Mute?"
She sighed. "I can't."
"You can't finish what you started saying? Or you can't go on, in general?"
I squirmed in my seat, and tried to keep my voice steady. "*Mute, you ... " Aren't a terrible person? Mean so much to me? "You know you're not like that. You were completely devoted to the Mugunghwa-"
*Mute huffed, and I remembered how much of a touchy subject her "failure" was to her.
I moved on quickly. " ... and, um, I know how much its traditions mean to you. You told me, over and over again. I respect that completely." I bowed to her, and kept talking with my head lowered, my voice quiet. "I ... I wouldn't have asked you to marry me, if I hadn't known how important it was to you."
*Mute didn't say anything. I could barely hear her shift positions slightly.
"I know you're not going to do that to me. What she did, I mean." I was whispering now. "I can see how much you hate Old *Mute for that. And I know it's because you feel for those women who've had their hearts broken. Even the ones who aren't married, and who have to 'play the husband' while he is away."
There was another long pause. When I looked up, hesitantly, at *Mute, it looked like her expression was blank.
"So the marriage was just to humour me," she said slowly.
"I ... " Deep breath. "I asked you to marry me because I loved you, and I wanted to be with you."
I realized, too late, that I'd used the l-word.
"So it wasn't really about tradition, or purpose, or family. All that stuff was, like, just to make me feel better, about being with a woman. When you really just had the hots for me, and wanted to have your way with me like a whore."
I couldn't breathe.
"Who else have you 'married,' Mrs. Investigator? Who else have you spent the night with!?"
I couldn't say anything.
I started gasping for breath, and crying into my hands. Muffling it as much as I could, because I knew now that women's emotions were shameful. Especially a lesbian's.
"You deserve so much better," *Mute said softly, once the tears began to die down.
Laying awake in bed a few hours later, sniffling and clinging to plushies, I still had no idea what she'd meant by that.