Battle Athletes Fan Fiction ❯ Pariah ❯ That was then, this is now ( Chapter 2 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]


by Vosburg

Part Two: That Was Then, This Is Now

Disclaimer: No, still don't own Battle Athletes.

Finally, I manage to get out of bed. I head to the washroom, throw some cold water in my face.

I look in the mirror, to see a much older woman gazing back at me.

Has it only been five months? Unbelievable that so much could have happened since I came back to Earth.

Slightly more awake now, I stretch, then return to the bedroom, where I begin a series of exercises (more accurately, I *make* myself do them). I have to keep in shape, I tell myself. If only I could believe it. The only reason I've been able to keep going is that I thought (deluded myself?) that there might be an opportunity to get back in the running, work my way through the training academies, petition for readmission to the Satellite.

But as the months have gone by, that idea seems more and more remote. Every place I've applied to has either rejected me outright, or ignored me.

I suppose, from an objective viewpoint, I can't blame them. At some campuses, there have been students who have flatly stated that if I attend, they will not. In some cases, the parents threaten to pull them out. Given that kind of choice, it's only reasonable that my applications have not been accepted.

Not that that helps me any.

I push the thought from my head, and continue to exercise.

Stretch. Twist ninety degrees at the waist, arms outstretched. Bend and touch toes.

It's about midday on the Satellite. She must be in the pool now. She always did like to do a few laps before lunch.

//No. Stop that. You have to concentrate.//

That is the rational section of my brain attempting to keep focused on what I'm doing.

Stretch, twist, bend.

She usually spends half an hour in the pool on an average day.

//You haven't the time for reminiscing. You have more applications to send out. You have to find another hotel to stay at.//

Stretch, twist, bend.

I try to keep at my exercises, without success.

Just to watch her train again would be wonderful.

I remember the day I first left for the Satellite.

There were thousands of spectators at the shuttle station, waving at me and the other two who had qualified for Battle Athletes. At fifteen, I was one of the most promising athletes in France. One of the few considered most likely to win the Trophy which had eluded all of Europe for over a decade. Our departure was filled with banners, dignitaries, and citizens throwing roses.

I paid no attention to any of them.

As far as I was concerned, it was all unnecessary noise from insignificant people. The only reason I troubled myself to wave was that my mother insisted it was necessary for 'propriety'.

During the flight, my companions made use of the rare opportunity to see the Earth from space.

I barely noticed it. I was thinking about the level of competition I would face on the Satellite. In a way, I'm sorry I didn't really look around me at the time. When I got around to it (several trips later), I realized it really was breathtaking.

We arrived at the Academy along with dozens of students from the Earth, the Moon, colonies from planets barely settled. As we made our way to Assembly, I began to size up the competition. In general, I was not impressed. For all the talk of these being the best that humanity had to offer, the headmasters still seemed to have accepted a few that didn't know what they were about. Those who were already counting the money they would make from endorsements after they left. The ones who considered it 'enough just to have gotten here'. And the ones I had the most contempt for, the vaporbrains. Always nattering that they wanted to impress some boy back home, or that their half-wit friends would be so impressed when they 'saw me on The Satellite'.

Pathetic creatures who simply put in their time at the Academy until they got tired of playing and left.

Even among the majority of students, it did not appear that there was much to worry me. They lacked the stamina, the inspiration, the talent that could challenge me.

As we began to fill the Assembly room, I stood to the side of the mass. The others were talking amongst themselves; by and large, I chose to have nothing to do with them.

Then I saw you, Lahrri.

At first, I didn't know it was you. I heard voices buzzing near the back of the room; I turned to look because there was nothing else to hold my attention. Some of the girls were pointing; some gaping.

Suddenly, as if by command, the crowd at the back separated.

And you strode through them.

I'll never forget that instant. It was like watching gazelles scatter before the cougar, sparrows before the eagle.

You strode not with bravado, but with strength, concentration, assurance. It was as if the rest came merely to compete and you alone came to win.

I couldn't tear my eyes from you. Even the vaporbrains, the ones whose heads were mostly untroubled by thoughts, were able to see that their superior had arrived.

I could barely keep from looking at you when Headmaster Oldman was giving his 'welcome to the Satellite' speech.

I only half listened to it; that was not what mattered to me at the time. What mattered was that I had found a true rival, a worthy opponent.

No, there was more to it than that. I felt more aware, more.alive than I had in my entire life. It was like everything I had done until that time was irrelevant.

That first night in my dorm room, I could not sleep. All I saw was you: sure, strong, with the beauty of the tigress.

I wanted to conquer that tigress.

That one thought dominated my years at the Satellite. I ran faster, became stronger that I ever was before. I surpassed even what I thought myself capable of. All for you. Sure, I said it was for myself, but I knew that I was trying to gain your approval. It's odd that, considering that I was so scornful of those girls who did this to impress a would-be paramour, I realize now that I was essentially doing the same.

Yet, I could never keep up with you. I always fell short by a few centimeters, I was always slower by a few seconds.

It simply drove me to push myself even more. I vowed I would make you recognize me as the only one worthy of you.

Would it have hurt you so much to notice me, just for a while?

You spoke to me so rarely, looked at me so few times. Do you know how I felt, how much it hurt? I might not show it often, but I do have feelings.

Just to run around the track a few times, swim a few laps, the two of us.

My thoughts return to the present, to my dismay. I have to go through my mail for the day (even if I know most of it consists of rejections) and send out more applications (however, with the likely results, I'm beginning to think of myself as a masochist on that count).

Moreover, I've got to find a boarding house or hotel to stay at. I've been here over two weeks - somewhat of a record for me lately. With my computer, I have located several potential hotels in the city. Finding a suitable (and accommodating) one will require several attempts - and much travel. I mentally divide the city into roughly three sectors, giving myself roughly a day in each to find a room.

I recoil from the thought of having to ask for a room again, knowing I'll likely see several doors slam in my face before I find one. My mood is not improved by seeing the usual cluster of rejections in my email. But, as the search must be done, there's nothing for it. I dress and leave the hotel, determined if not hopeful.

I return after dark, with nothing but failure to attend me. My main accomplishment is that I've kept my legs in condition with all that walking. Silently I throw my cloak on a chair, and stand close to the bed, where I usually do my exercises.

I then decide to shower first.

I return to the bedroom, and prepare for my exercises, when a wave of despair hits me. For a few seconds, I keep my stance, determined to do my nightly routines, but.all at once, the energy seems to leave.

I hurl myself onto the mattress, half pull the cover over myself, and sleep fitfully.

Notes: If you are confused about Mylandah's having a laptop in this story, not to mention a lot of personal wealth, the reason is this: From the OAV, she gave the impression of being from a family of some status. Not only because the disdain she showed most of those around her , but from the scene in the control room in episode 6, where she says that Lahrri cannot lose to someone like Kris (implying that she objected to Lahrri losing to someone who was athletically/socially inferior.

Comments appreciated. Even though I had this story plotted in its entirety before I wrote the first part, it seems to grow every time I write it.