IN SATURN'S SHADOW
Fragment 1: Shadowfall
This is not how things were supposed to be. This is not where I belong.
A solitary soul floated in space, looking down at the magnificent green and blue planet that spanned her vision. Something down there drew her inextricably closer, bringing her back the world she so despised.
I was supposed to be free. I should be home now. Who dares call me back?
She fought against the pull, but the effort was in vain. The warmth of a human body settled around her, and she yielded to it, too tired from the long hard struggle to fight for the moment
I was supposed to be free. But again I am drawn back.
You cannot keep me here. I will be free.
I am no one's tool.
* * *
Pale lavender eyes flashed open into the blackness of night. Her head felt thick and achy and her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth, dry as cardboard. Rolling over onto her stomach she groped for the alarm clock and pressed the night light button. The aquamarine glow cast hazy shadows over her skin.
"3:00 AM?" she groaned tiredly. "Ulg I need some water."
She tossed off her covers and stood, grumpily plodding barefoot to the bathroom. Her hand slapped around the wall for a few minutes, blindly searching for the light switch. Moments later the room was awash in florescent light, the hum barely noticed by the black haired girl. She was on a mission.
She greedily gulped down three glasses of water before she looked up again. Slowly she inspected her reflection in the glass. There were purple smudges beneath her eyes and she looked overly pale, but she just chalked it up to working too hard. Being a senshi wasn't all glamour and manga bishounen
Running a hand through her black hair she glanced up, about to turn the light off, when she caught a glimpse of ghostly white and a pair of deep violet eyes glaring at her but then they were gone at a second glance. Tskui shook her head.
Crawling back into the warm cocoon of her bed, she snuggled her way into Aidan's arms and went back to sleep. Hopefully she would feel better in the morning.
* * *
BEEP!! BEEP!! BEEP!! BEEP!!
Tskui reached over to the alarm clock and switched it off. For a few minutes she just lay on her back, staring sleepily up at the ceiling, then she groaned slightly and got out of bed, being careful not to disturb Aidan. She trudged to the bathroom, gasping with shock as her bare feet contacted the cold floor. Winter was definitely on its way.
She rubbed the sleep out of her eyes, and looked at her reflection in the mirror. She was almost shocked to see how pale she looked. But then again, considering that she felt like she had been beaten up... Looking this pale should be expected. I must be coming down with a cold or something. Just what I need right now. She reached into the cupboard behind the bathroom mirror, and grabbed a couple of aspirin from a bottle.
Sailor Pandora, fighting evil and the common cold, Tskui mused with a half smile as she got into the shower, and cranked on the hot water. Almost immediately she could feel herself relaxing and waking up as the water pounded on her aching muscles. She regretted having to get out.
The shower and aspirin had taken their effect; the aching had subsided to the point where it could barely be felt. Tskui stretched her arms above her head for a moment, and then set about with her morning routine. She dressed in the Jyuuban summer fuku, and put on her makeup. Her face was still on the pale side, so she brushed a small amount of blush onto her cheekbones. "There. Much better," she murmured.
A quick glance at the clock informed her that she still had almost an hour before she had to leave for school. Tskui plopped down on the chair, and reached to pick up a book that Tengai had leant her the week before, but paused before she touched it. She should really practice her violin.
But then again, I shouldn't disturb Aidan this early. And I need to return this book to Tengai soon. She picked up the book, and opened it to the page where she had marked it. Five minutes later she was engrossed in a tale of sorcerers, magical creatures and strange, far off lands.
A gentle kiss on her cheek brought her back into the real world. Tskui looked up and smiled at her boyfriend Aidan.
"Good morning, Kui."
" 'Morning," she replied, moving the bookmark to its new spot, and setting the book down on the stand by the chair.
"You're starting to scare me 'Kui. You were so lost in that book that you actually let me sleep until my alarm clock went off. Losing your touch?"
Tskui just grinned up at him from where she was sitting, and then reached over to poke him in the ribs. " 'Course not," she replied, getting her another kiss from Aidan before he went off to shower and get ready for school.
Tskui looked out the window. It looked like it would be another beautiful autumn day. The sky was a clear blue and there was not a cloud in the sky. The vivid red and gold leaves stood out against the sky, occasionally drifting to the ground with a passing breeze. She looked down at her watch. 8:00 AM.
With a sigh, Tskui set about gathering what she would need for the day. She grabbed her textbooks off the table and stuck them in her bag, along with her lunch. She picked up her violin case and swung her bag over her shoulder.
"Aidan!" Tskui called out from by the front door. "I'm going to walk to school this morning. Are you still going to drive?"
"I'm going to have to. I'm not quite ready to go yet. But I'll see you there," came Aidan's voice from the bedroom.
"See? That's why I have to wake you up. See you at lunch, I guess." Tskui left the apartment, and walked down the stairs to the sidewalk, the morning's ills already a fading memory
* * *
When Tskui arrived at Jyuuban High School 15 minutes later, she was seriously regretting her decision to walk to school. Yes, it was very pretty outside, but it was also very cold. Definitely the kind of weather where wearing the summer fuku was inconvenient. "And still almost a month before we can wear the winter fuku. I'm going to freeze in P.E.," Tskui muttered to herself as she entered the school building.
After swinging by the orchestra room to drop off her violin, Tskui headed to her classroom. She sat down at her desk and looked around to see who was in the room already. Sure enough, Ami was already there, her head bent over some book or another.
"Ohayou, Tskui," Ami replied, only looking up from her book for a brief moment. Apparently whatever it was she was reading was very interesting - to Ami at least.
Tskui felt a strange brush at the back of her mind and she suddenly found herself thinking of when she first met Ami It confused Tskui Why would she be remembering that all of a sudden? The feeling passed, and she shook her head slightly. Nothing to worry about.
Class started shortly thereafter and soon Tskui didn't have time to think about what happened, as her mind was kept busy by English class.
The rest of the morning passed relatively uneventfully, though she felt that strange brush from time to time and the aches returned later on in the morning. They weren't as bad as they had been that morning, but they still hurt. Thankfully, it was almost lunchtime. She could take some more medicine then
"Kiritsu." The teacher called. Every student in the class stood.
"Kyotsuke." Tskui stood tall, her muscles screaming in protest.
"Rei." Everyone bowed. Tskui's head swam as it bent low.
"Chiyakesaki." Nearly collapsing into her chair, she had to lower her head to her desk for a moment. She could hear the sounds of the teacher rifling his papers and putting them in his bin so he could move on to his next class room.
Her mind couldn't focus, and when Ami came up behind her to place a hand on her shoulder, she yelped in surprise.
"Dai jou bou ka, 'Kui-chan?" She whispered.
"H-hai" Tskui replied, forcing a grin. "Just lost in thought, and maybe a little hungry Are you ready to meet the others for lunch?"
Ami just rolled her eyes and smiled.
"Am I ever ready for that bunch?"
"Iie," Tskui laughed. They nudged each other, smiling at their shared joke and made their way to the 2B room to meet up with Usagi, Minako, and Makoto.
* * *
"Ne, should we eat outside today?" wondered Makoto out loud. Over her shoulder she held a huge bento. Usagi, blue eyes huge, followed its every swing. The small odango wasn't even paying attention to the food she carried, but with Mako's cooking who could blame her?
"No! It's too cold!" whined Usagi.
The short blonde's pigtails were bouncing along with her springy step. It was on days like today that Tskui envied Usagi. She had a normal family life. Her beautiful mother packed the bento she carried, wrapped in her cute bunny satchel. And the girl didn't even appreciate it!
Jealousy jabbed through Tskui for a moment. The black haired girl shook her head violently. Such thoughts were not worthy of her. This girl had dared to befriend her when no one else had. Just because Tskui's mother had died in a horrible way and her father with his eyes staring at noth-....
The brushing sensation was very strong; it felt like fingers were flicking through a filing cabinet in her head. Tskui had to stop and lean against the lockers for a moment. She didn't want to remember Seattle. She didn't want to remember the day she awakened. Tskui held back the futile tears that pricked her eyelids as the group walked on with their perky chatter. Just what the hell is wrong with me?!
Three minutes later, Tskui found herself in a group of an even dozen. The people were clumped off in groups, but still together and the laughter, whining and hilarity that was lunch at Jyuuban High ensued.
Tskui sat a bit apart from the proceedings, picking at her rice and mochi, just trying to think through the fog. She sat in the grass, knees drawn up to her chest. Her bare arms were covered in goose bumps from the cold wind blowing through the courtyard.
What's wrong with me? I shouldn't ever feel jealous of Usagi She's been through so much more than I could ever dream of. Who am I to be jealous of her for? She is the High Princess. She is the reason we were all reborn.
And why think about my parents now? And in such a way? I should honor their memory by remembering their life, not their death... God, I miss them so much...
Tskui looked up when she saw the door to the building swing open. A small girl with a runners figure and a golden smile came trotting out. Her short orange hair, flipped out and up, ruffled in the light wind. She didn't seem to feel the cold and was as bright as the sunshine. Behind her, Aidan followed, his long legs making quick work of the ground below.
"Hey, Tenny." Tskui could hear him say as he passed the redhead on the way to his girlfriend's side. He plopped down on the grass beside her; kissed Tskui's cheek and proceeded to tear into his sandwich with the enthusiasm only a teenage boy could muster.
Tengai, however, noticed the wan, pained look on her best friend's face and wrapped an arm around her.
"Are you ok?" she asked in her sweet alto voice.
Tskui just looked up at Tengai and began to cry.
* * *
Everything was dim and warm. From time to time, flickers of memories long past would appear in the air, only to disappear. So much pain, so much suffering for one so young.
Yet, there is much power already here. And this vessel is already weak.
A single crack of light appeared on a wall, quickly branching and growing until the entire room was a network of glowing fractures. A moment later the fractures dimmed and slowly disappeared from view.
You will not be able to hold me here for long. I will tear this vessel apart if that is what it takes.
Another vision flickered into view. A younger girl, with bright orange hair, and a heart warming smile. Emotions washed through, accompanying the memories. Happiness, joy, a sisterly love. And a name --Tengai.
She is the link. I am certain of it. She is what keeps this vessel together. She is what is standing in my way.
But for now, I must rest and learn. There is much to be done.
* * *
All around her, her friends gathered in shock. Even Michiru and Haruka moved toward them. The group's facial expressions ranged from shock to empathy to bewilderment. As sad as she was, Tskui never cried. And everyone wanted to know why she chose this moment to burst into tears.
Tengai gently brushed back Tskui's bangs from her face, sitting cross legged in the grass. She held her body close, rocking back and forth, trying to soothe away whatever was hurting her friend.
"Shhh... shh... It's going to be ok, 'Kui It's ok" Tengai cast a bewildered look up at her spectators. Her 'what-the-heck-is-going-on' expression caused 10 heads to shake in bewilderment.
Chibi-Usa crept up on all fours and placed a hand on Tskui's shoulder.
"Ano... 'Kui-chan what's wrong?" she asked softly.
Tskui looked up into the pink odango's eyes and shook her head.
"Something is wrong with me" was all she could muster.
The silence broken, all of the girls crowded around Tskui for a group hug.
"Whatever's wrong," Minako quipped. "We can fix it together. After all, there is no 'I' in 'fix'!"
Ami just shook her head sadly, and everyone else looked anywhere but at the bow-decked blonde. Leave it to Minako to break the tension ...
Tskui smiled a little and wiped her eyes, trying to look happy. Tengai gave her a look that said: "I don't buy it".
Aidan reached out a hand and helped her stand. Wrapping his arms tightly around her, against school policy, he whispered in her ear. "We'll talk about this later," he remarked. Tskui nodded against his neck.
The bell rang, sounding the end of lunch. The group filed past, all looking rather bemused.
* * *
Somehow, Tskui made it through the day. She remembered little about her classes. The Orchestra director had been forced to tap the top of her head with his baton twice to get her attention. In P.E, she had felt the tingling sensation in her head again just as a ball was being pitched to her.
She rubbed the nice purple bruise on her knee as she pulled on her school shoes in the girl's locker room.
"Baka." Tskui admonished herself. "You are probably just imagining things. You just need some sleep. That's all"
The black haired girl made her way to the commons and put her P.E shoes into her slot. Picking up her satchel, she walked out the doors to Aidan's car and climbed inside.
* * *
For now at least.
I am already getting stronger. This vessel's pain gives me strength. How ironic that it will be used to destroy her.
Let it begin...
And The First fragment shatters...
On to Two?