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My common sense wasn't letting me keep up with the weird conversation.

Millie said we were inside the core... who looks like Gilda... and I killed... but didn't kill. A lot about this situation didn't add up.

"So... we're... inside her... now?"

Millie on the other hand seemed to be puzzled by my difficulty processing what she was saying. She seemed to think this was the most normal situation in the world.

"Just look around you, William. Does this look like anything you would see outside of a core?"

I had to give her that. Whatever a core was, the environment here was clearly unnatural. It felt like it was indoors, but with no walls or ceiling, just endless white. Even the ground (or should I call it the floor?) was a pure glowing white. To be honest, it looked like what heaven in movies or on TV looks like.

"No ma'am, I guess not. I'm not sure what a core is, but I'd suppose this is the inside of one..."

"I'm not sure how I feel about the "ma'am" you slipped in there. But, putting that aside for the moment, are you saying you don't know what a core is? Didn't you see it before you came here?"

"See what?"

"The core, silly boy."

We were definitely having some sort of miscommunication.

"The only thing I saw before coming here was a room on a spaceship. There wasn't anything in there but a few terminals and a glowing orb."

"Uh-huh, that's her."

"Who?"

"The core! Geez, how dense can you be."

Apparently, I was too slow on the uptake for her. It seemed the red glowing orb was actually a person. A person who looked like Gilda. Obviously, there is some information I was missing here.

"So the orb... was the core... which looks like Gilda?"

"Yep! But that was just the form she was using. She doesn't usually look like that, silly."

"Oh? So, what does she usually look like?"

"Like me, kind of. She's actually really cute. Too bad her attitude ruins it."

Things were getting weirder, but if I was going to make it through this situation I needed to just learn to roll with it.

"Yeah, I can't say her attitude was very good..."

"But she's not really a bad girl. Mostly she's just following orders. She's as much a captive as I am."

The conversation was veering off in a weird direction. I really didn't want to talk about that woman's personality right now. It was clear Millie walked to the beat of her own drummer. I needed to redirect this conversation back towards getting the information I could use.

"So what's a core do anyway?"

"Everything, I guess. I don't remember the outside world, but others who came here told me all about it. Cores allow travel between worlds, which is why the Demon Lords enslaved them. Those Demon Lord people really are the worst. Nobody likes them."

That last bit was said as a conspiratorial whisper as if she didn't want anybody to overhear. There were a lot of interesting tidbits in there, but none of it addressed the immediate problem. I needed to know what the core was and how to get back to Gilda. Her life was in danger and any more time I wasted here was potentially lethal to her.

"Can you get her to come out again?"

"I doubt that. Whatever you did to her must have hurt a lot. I've never seen anything like that, but I doubt she wants to see you again."

"Right..."

This was a problem. Millie wasn't equipped to answer my questions and talking to the core seemed to be impossible. I thought about it for a little while and decided to drag her out using threats.

"Hey, Millie?"

"Hmm? What's up cutie?"

I had to stop for a second. This woman really moved at her own pace. It was admirable in a way, but I could almost see why the core treated her like an idiot.

"Umm, we're inside the core right now, right?"

"Uh-huh."

"Do you think she can hear us right now?"

"Wouldn't you be able to hear it if somebody was talking inside of you?"

"Uh... Yeah, I guess."

Roll with it. Just roll with it.

"Core lady, I know you can hear me! Come back out now, or I'm going to have to get rough again."

Nothing. No response at all. Millie looked at me, not bothering to hide her curiosity about what I had planned.

I crouched down to touch the ground.

"Last chance to resolve this peacefully! I'm going to count to 3..."

"1..."

"2..."

"Wait!! I'm here! I'm here!"

Well, that worked.

A woman who was most definitely not Gilda appeared out of thin air a few feet in front of me. She looked terrified like she would rather be anywhere else in the universe than here facing me.

"Thanks, for coming out. I'm glad we could talk about things like civilized folk."

"Civilized? You just blew me up! How is that civilized?"

"Wait. You're the one trying to torture me like some kind of POW... how did I become the bad guy here?"

She didn't seem to have an answer for that. She struck me as having an unreasonable personality. But something else was bothering me more right now.

"Hey Millie, you said she looked like you right?"

"Uh-huh. She's a cutie right?"

I turned back to the core. She kind of looked like Millie... maybe. Something didn't add up here though.

"Uh, I guess. Anyway, what's up with the wings, horn, and tail?"

Millie looked shocked for a second. Like even she couldn't believe how obvious my question should have been.

"Oh, silly me. I forgot I had changed my form before we met."

Before my eyes, Millie morphed into something resembling a twin of the Core. They both were slender and a bit shorter than me. With curved horns coming out from their temples and long straight hair. From just below their shoulder blades small bat-like wings stuck out to each side. For clothing, they wore an oriental looking sheer and tight dress and high heels. But possibly the weirdest thing was they both had a whip-like tail, that had a single barb at the end.

These were definitely demon girls. The only difference between them was Millie was dressed in purple with purple hair. The core was dressed in pink, with pink hair. Twin demon girls...

"OK, Miss Core, I've been wondering this for a while. How did I understand both of you without my translator?"

For some reason, the pink devil girl started acting smug.

"A simpleton like you could never understand."

"Ah. I see."

I raised my hand like I was going to touch her and she panicked when she saw the look in my eye.

"Sorry! I'm sorry!"

"No problem... Let's try again. How did you do that?"

"It's a dungeon function. All speech is automatically handled by the dungeon translator. I don't know how it works!"

I stopped my forward motion, which seemed to calm her down a bit.

"What do you mean dungeon function?"

"I'm a dungeon core, you dunce. Of course, I can use dungeon functions... any idiot could figure that much out."

I left out a heavy sigh despite myself. This dungeon core lady couldn't seem to help running her mouth.

"Sure. Right... OK, so you're both dungeon cores then?"

"Pfft! As if! This harlot is just a lowly succubus."

I really had to hold it in. Dealing with these two wasn't going to be easy. However, at least I was making progress. The pink demon girl was a dungeon core and Millie was a succubus. Actually, just calling her dungeon core all the time was going to get old quick.

"OK. So Miss Core, do you have a name?"

"I will grace you with my full name. I am Core 00976."

Great. A number... not helpful. And why does that number feel familiar?

"Yeah, that ain't gonna work for me. You're a core so, cor... cor... Cordelia. Yep, that'll be your name now."

The newly minted Cordelia seemed to be crestfallen that I'd discarded her glorious number and slapped her with a new name unceremoniously. But, at this point, I didn't give a damn. Millie seemed thrilled, however.

"Oh! Hey, you got a name too! I'm Millie now. Nice to meet you, Cordelia!"

Cordelia did an actual facepalm.

"I already know that, you simpleton."

"No, it's not Simpleton, it's Millie."

I felt like doing a facepalm myself. Watching these two was like watching a bad comedy routine. I needed to get things back on track. I fixed my eyes on Cordelia.

"Were you the one behind the attack on the spaceship I was on?"

"Hah! Yeah, your sorry little ship wasn't even a challenge."

I took a step forward again. Cordelia immediately tried to back away with panic in her eyes.

"Ah! I'm sorry. It's my job. I'm just doing my job!"

By this point, I really was thinking about just breaking out of this place by force.

"So, here's what's gonna happen. You are going to release me and stop the attack on my ship."

"Pfft! why would I do something that stupid?"

I took a step forward again.

"Because, if you don't, I am going to rip you apart from the inside with my bare hands."

Her eyes round with terror, she nodded her head. However, Millie burst out laughing.

"Hahahaha. He told you! Serves you right for always being so mean."

Ah, that's right. Millie. I can't just leave her here can I?

"You're also going to release Millie."

However, the level of terror Cordelia was showing now was on a whole other level. Her face was white, like she had seen death itself.

"NO! I can't! Millie is bound to me, if you take her away we'll both die!"

Almost at the same time, Millie responded with her own desperate plea.

"Cordelia is my oldest friend. I've known her my whole life. Anywhere I go she has to come too."

Crap on a stick. I don't have time for this. I can't trust Cordelia and I don't want to leave Millie behind as a potential hostage. For right now I needed to ignore Millie.

"I'm not leaving Millie here. You can say whatever you want. I don't trust you."

Cordelia looked desperate. Finally, she hung her head.

"I'll come with you too. As long as we're together it should be fine..."

Millie seemed overjoyed. She hugged Cordelia, who looked uncomfortable as she blushed. Millie took a step towards me, looking like she wanted to hug me too, however, she stopped herself and bowed her head instead.

"Thank you, William. I've always wanted to see the outside world."

I hadn't actually made the decision to let Cordelia come with us, but Millie seemed to think it was a settled matter. I really couldn't keep up with her. No time to mess around though, I needed to hurry.

"Fine. Cordelia, if you misbehave, you go boom again and this time I'll make sure I finish the job."

The color drained from Cordelia's face, but she nodded. I went over and put my arm around her shoulder. She flinched but didn't try to move away.

"If that's settled, then get us out of here."

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About the author

Half Life

Bio: I'm an artist having fun moonlighting as a writer.

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