Sailor Moon Fan Fiction ❯ Atonement - Rei's Story ❯ Chapter 1 ( Chapter 1 )

[ P - Pre-Teen ]
Atonement: Rei's Story
by Jason C. Ulloa


Chapter 1

There was a sensation in the air this morning. For some reason, it felt like something was
going to change. Maybe for the better, maybe for the worse, but the feeling of change was
evident in the air.

Hino Rei sat up in her bed and rubbed the sleep from her eyes. She was still tired since
she hadn't gotten very much sleep last night.

Her dream last night had been strange to say the least. It wasn't like any other dream she
had ever experienced in the short ten years of her life, but for some reason, she knew
that this particular dream had some significance to her.

There was darkness. Darkness and pain. It was the pain she recalled the most; it wasn't a
physical kind of pain, but more of an emotional sort. Misery. However, the strangeness of
dream was in the fact that it wasn't her pain she was dreaming about.

In the darkness, she could see a small, lone figure sitting with his or her back turned
toward her. She could see that the figure was young - about her age - and the figure's body
was shaking as if he or she was crying. She had tried to go to the figure, but she was
unable to reach him or her. She had tried to talk to the figure, but he or she wouldn't
listen and just kept sobbing, the figure's short ponytail bobbing along with his or her
shaking form.

Finally - dream or no dream - she started to grow impatient. She started to yell at the
figure, trying to get some response from him or her. If she hurt him or her more, then she
would apologize, but first she had to get his or her attention. However, no matter how much
she yelled at the figure, he or she wouldn't stop crying. She finally gave up and tried to
leave, but no matter where she turned, she always ended up coming back to the crying
figure. Out of frustration, she sat down on the ground and just glared at the figure, his
or her crying slowly beginning to get on her nerves.

"I'm sorry," the figure said after he stopped crying. From the voice, she thought that he
was male. "I know you're trying to help, but I just can't stop. Please, just don't give up
on me...."

The figure slowly began to turn toward her... but that was when she woke up from the dream.

It felt so real. It was almost like somebody was actually there, talking to her in her
dreams. Maybe she would have to talk with her grandfather about this dream. Maybe he would
know what the dream was all about.

She glanced over toward the alarm clock at the side of her bed. She had just enough time to
get ready for school. Her class was going to go on a trip to the museum today. She was
looking forward to it, especially since there was supposed to be an unveiling of a new
display today which her school and a couple of others were going to be present for. It was
almost going to be like being present at a major event in history. It was exciting.

Rei hopped out of her bed and quickly began to get dressed. Once she set her bed and ate
breakfast, her grandfather told her to have a good day as she cheerfully ran down the steps
of the Hikawa Jinja and made her way to school.

**********************************************

"Hey, did you see that boy?"

"Where? Is he cute?"

"Over there, that dark-haired boy with the group from Juuban Junior High."

"Ooh! He IS cute! But I like that boy from Aosora Academy better."

"You said the same thing half an hour ago about that boy from Shikai."

"But that was half an hour ago. This is now."

Rei rolled her eyes as she tried to ignore the giggling of the older girls in her school's
group. A lot of the older girls always seemed to be talking about boys. Of course, the fact
that her school was a girls-only school might be one of the reasons why, but still, there
were others things to talk about.

Still, she had to admit that some of the boys from the other schools were nice-looking.
However, she was here to admire the history of her country on display, not stare at boys.

As group from another school passed her group, a small group of three - two girls and one
boy, all around her age - caught her attention. The small group of three were straggling
behind almost purposely, as if they wanted to get away from them. The idea of just breaking
away from her school for a moment, just to look at things by herself, was tempting. As she
watched the group break away, she made her desicion. She followed them.

**********************************************

"We are going to be in so much trouble when Enohara-sensei finds out we've ran off," the
red-haired girl said with some slight concern in her voice, even though she was smiling.

"You mean, if he finds out," the male replied casually. "The man is so slow, I doubt he'd
even notice until the roll call back on the bus to go home. Of course, by then, we'll be
back with the others."

"You are so sneaky, Ryo-chan," the brunette girl said with a laugh. "I just hope that your
oh-so-devious plan of yours doesn't backfire, or else Keiko-chan and I'll have to beat you
senseless."

"That's right," Keiko said with a nod. "Boyfriend or not, if you get me in trouble, Ryoku,
I'll punish you!"

"No fair!" Ryoku said in a mock-hurt voice. "You and Mako-chan can't gang up on me like
that!"

"Do you think it's fair, Makoto?" Keiko asked, pretending to ignore Ryoku.

"I think it's very fair, Keiko," Makoto replied, also pretending to ignore Ryoku. "In fact,
I think we'd better give him a small example of what we'll do to him if he gets us in
trouble...." She paused for a moment as she noticed the change in Ryoku's expression.
"Something wrong, Ryo-chan?"

Ryoku said nothing, but instead, whirled around and stared off in one direction with a flat
expression on his face. His expression then softened as he seemed to see something. "Why
are you just standing there watching us? Are you lost?"

Makoto and Keiko both exchanged looks for a second. "Who...?" Keiko began, but trailed off
as they noticed a dark-haired girl come out of hiding and walk toward them.

"I'm sorry," the girl said as she came toward them. "I saw you three leave your group and
I was curious, so I followed. I didn't mean to make it look like I was spying on you or
anything."

"Oh, that's all right," Keiko said with a friendly grin. "Say, I don't remember seeing you
in our school's group...."

"That's because she's from a different school, Keiko-chan," Ryoku pointed out, then turned
toward the girl. "At any rate, my name is Kino Ryoku. Nice to meet you."

"I'm Kino Makoto," Makoto added as she put a hand on Ryoku's shoulder. "This baka, here, is
my older brother."

"Hey!" he exclaimed indignanly as both the girl and Keiko laughed.

"And I'm Hisakawa Keiko," Keiko added. "We're all from Shirokoyama boarding school."

"My name's Hino Rei," the girl said. "I'm from T*A School for Girls."

"A school for girls?" Ryoku asked. "Mako-chan went to one of those once. It was at the same
time I had to go to Koraikou. It was a boys-only school." He smirked at her. "Are you sure
you want to be sneaking off with us? You might get in trouble...."

Rei smirked right back at him. "Don't worry about me. My teacher's just like your
Enohara-sensei; Otohomi-sensei may be a good teacher, but she's not very observant. I doubt
she even knows I'm gone."

"Well then, shall we go take a look around?" Keiko suggested with a mischevious smile.

"Let's go!" Rei said as she and the others went exploring the museum.

**********************************************

"This is boring," Makoto complained after staring at some ancient pottery for a few
seconds.

"No kidding," Ryoku agreed. "The samurai display was much more interesting."

"You think so?" Rei asked. "It was practically nothing but a bunch of swords and armor."

"Anything that has to do with swords, he finds interesting," Keiko retorted with a grin.

"At least it's not some boring chunk of crockery," he replied facetiously. Makoto and Keiko
shared a glance and rolled their eyes in exasperation while Rei laughed. "What?"

"Never mind," Makoto replied. "Letís just go find something else to look at."

"Hey, wait a minute!" Ryoku shouted and dashed over to a display case across the room.

"What is it, Ryo-chan?" Makoto asked.

"Come look at this!" he called. Rei, Makoto and Keiko dashed over to where he was standing.

"What did you find?" Keiko asked as she stood on his left while Rei and Makoto stood on his
right.

"This!" he said, pointing down at some ancient-looking dagger in the display case.

Rei looked at the dagger. It was a long, curved dagger that seemed to be made of some dark
metal. The dull, single-edged blade was almost black and shone with a dark glow as the
room's light reflected off it. Although the blade looked dull and had no decoration, the
edge looked to be sharp enough to cut through any metal. It was adorned with only one blood
red ruby on the tip of the hilt, which seemed to be made of gold, or some gold-colored
material. The crossbar was made to look like a pair of sinister vipers; the heads formed
the crossbar, while the rest of their bodies entwined around the hilt up to the ruby at the
tip.

"Can't you just feel the evil seeping out of it?" Ryoku whispered in awe.

"Yeah...," Makoto murmured almost to herself.

"I think it is evil...," Rei murmured almost to herself as she stared down at the dagger
as well. Part of her was surprised that Ryoku and Makoto could feel the dark energy
radiating off of the dagger. It was very subtle - just enough for her to sense it - but she
didn't think that anyone other than herself or her grandfather could sense it.

Keiko looked at the three of them. "I don't know about feeling anything, but this thing
sure looks evil," she replied and turned to leave.

"I wonder where this thing came from?" he wondered aloud.

"I don't know, but I think I'd rather go look at some other stuff," Keiko said uneasily.

"Sounds good to me," Rei agreed. She didn't like being next to anything that radiated evil,
even if it was a museum artifact.

As they left the room, they heard the sound of glass breaking and the burglar alarm
sounding.

"That came from the room we just left!" Ryoku exclaimed and stopped abruptly.

"Ryo-chan! What do you think you're doing?!?" Makoto shouted as he ran back toward the room.

"No, Ryo-chan! Don't!" Keiko shouted and ran after him.

"Are you crazy, Ryoku-san?" Rei shouted as she also ran after him. "Leave this to the
museum's security guards!"

"Keiko-chan! Rei-chan!" Makoto shouted and ran after her friends and her brother.

As soon as Ryoku ran into the room, he saw a red-haired man drawing out the dagger he had
been staring at a while ago, and sliding it into a long curved sheath at his belt. It was
almost as if that sheath had been made for that dagger....

"Hey!" Ryoku shouted, getting the man's attention. "What the hell do you think you're
doing? You can't just take that dagger! It doesn't belong to you!"

"It does now," the man replied as he turned to regard Ryoku. The man's red hair was short
and very close to Keiko's hair color. He wasn't very tall, but his height was above average
and he was slightly muscular. "I suppose you would like to stop me from taking this
dagger?" the man asked, raising one eyebrow in amusement. "You are welcome to try, provided
you are ready to forfeit your life." He spread his arms open toward his sides as he slowly
began to walk backwards. "Well?"

"As you wish," Ryoku replied and rushed at the man just as Keiko and Rei rushed into the
room.

"Ryo-chan! No!" she shouted, just as he leaped into the air.

"Don't be stupid, Ryoku-san!" Rei shouted. "Come back here!"

"Keiko-chan? Rei-chan?" he said in surprise, losing his concentration as his gaze slid over
to them.

"Look out!" Keiko shouted before the man backhanded Ryoku, sending him crashing into the
display case and knocking it over.

"What poor form," the man commented mockingly. "You're lucky I didn't kill you, boy. If
you're going to attack someone, then you shouldn't take your eyes off your enemy."

"Leave him alone!" Keiko shouted angrily as she stood protectively in front of him.

"Keiko-chan, what are you doing?!?" Rei shouted concernedly as she glanced from her and
Ryoku to the man standing in front of them. Her expression turned grim as she ran over and
stood by Keiko's side against the man.

The man chuckled at her defiance. "What brave little girls you both are," he said
condescendingly and reached out, grabbing them by the cheeks with one hand each. "Do you
think you can protect your little friend all by yourselves?"

"They're not the only ones!" Makoto shouted as she lunged forward and punched the man in
the nose. "Don't you dare hurt my friends or my brother!"

"How scary," the man taunted as he felt his nose. "Quite a punch this little one has." The
man paused as he heard the sound of approaching footsteps. "Ah, the guards are here. I
wonder what took them so long?" He glanced down at the children and smirked as he noticed
that Ryoku was on his feet again and was standing protectively in front of the two girls.
"Well, I've had my fun, but now I must be going." He reached out and grabbed Keiko by her
arm. "I hope you don't mind if I borrow her for a little while. I wouldn't want anyone
getting in my way as I escape, so I need a hostage. Behave and perhaps I'll let you live,"
he told her as he ran off, carrying her off with him.

"Ryo-chan! Mako-chan! Rei-chan! Help! Ryo-chan!!!" she screamed as she kicked and struggled
to free herself.

"Shut up!" the man shouted and punched her, knocking her unconscious.

"Keiko!!!" Ryoku screamed in fear and rage and began to chase him, leaving Makoto and Rei
to get help.

"Ryoku-san!" Rei shouted as she watched him run after the man.

"You can't stop him, Rei-chan," Makoto said as she turned toward the guards who were
hurriedly approaching them. "Now that Keiko-chan's in danger, nothing will stop him until
she's free."

Rei gasped as she listened to Makoto tell her this calmly as her brother was running off to
stop a dangerous kidnapper all by himself. "You can't be serious.... He'll get himself
killed!"

"That's the way he is," she replied. "Ryo-chan's very protective of those he cares for.
He can be very stubborn about it, but I trust him. He'll save Keiko-chan. I know he will."

Rei stared down at the broken glass lying on the floor as Makoto started talking to the
guards. It was crazy. Crazy, foolish and just plain stupid. He couldn't be any older than
she was! How was he going to save Keiko from a man probably three times his own age?

"Stupid Ryoku-san...," she murmured quietly, so that Makoto couldn't hear her. "Don't get
yourself killed...."

**********************************************

The man was fast, but Ryoku managed to keep up with him. As they ran down one street after
another, he began to get a stitch in his side and his breathing came raggedly. Despite the
pain, he didn't slow down. Keiko's screams and struggles were enough to give him the
strength to continue.

After several minutes, Ryoku began to hear the sounds of police sirens in the far distance.
'About time!' he thought and increased his speed a little to catch up with the man. The man
apparently heard the sirens as well, since he began glancing behind him every few seconds.

Near the Tenth Street bridge, Ryoku could hear police cars coming in their direction,
obviously in hopes to surround the man. The only option left was to head for the bridge.

As the man headed onto the bridge, he saw that there were police cars already waiting on
the other side. He was trapped.

"Hah!" Ryoku gasped in triumph as he approached the man on the middle of the bridge. He
kept himself from holding his side, where the pain was torturing him. His heart was beating
enough to burst and it took almost all he had to remain on his feet and keep his breathing
normal. "No where to go, is there? Now, let her go!"

The man grinned wickedly. "I'm far from trapped, boy," he replied confidently. "As long as
I have your girlfriend, I can still get away."

"Don't try to stop him, Ryo-chan," she told him as she gazed at him with worry in her eyes.
"You'll only get hurt. Please, just leave him alone and let him go. I'll be all right."

"Young man!" a voice sounded through a police bullhorn. "Young man, please step away from
the suspect! Young man!"

"Is that what you believe, Keiko-chan?" he asked, ignoring the police as he continued to
slowly approach the man. "Do you truly think that I'm unable to protect you? I can't stand
idly by while you're in danger! I love you!"

"I love you, too, Ryo-chan," she replied, as a tear slowly began to roll down her cheek.
"And I do believe in you." As soon as she said this, she stomped down hard on the man's
foot and bit hard on the arm that held her.

As the man bellowed in pain, Ryoku quickly moved forward. The man recovered quickly and
drew the dagger at his side. "Die, boy!" he shouted and slashed at him. He tried to dodge
the dagger, but didn't get far enough away as he received a long, thin gash across his
chest. He tried to ignore the pain as he struck the man in the neck and the groin
simultaneously, then pushed him backwards while grabbing Keiko's arm. The man tumbled back
against the bridge railing and started to fall backwards over the railing. Ryoku and Keiko
were just about to run away from the man when he felt her being pulled backward. Despite
biting down hard on the man's arm, he had not entirely relinquished his hold on her.
Instead, he had managed to grab onto her school uniform and was dragging her back with him.
As the man fell over the railing, Keiko was pulled away from Ryoku's grip and was being
dragged with him.

Ryoku quickly dove at her and managed to grab onto one hand as she fell over the side.
Below her, the man had managed to thrust the dagger into the bridge itself, stopping his
downward plummet, and was now hanging by the dagger several feet below.

"Ryo-chan! Youíre hurt!" Keiko said concernedly as she stared at the gash in his shirt and
the blood dripping across his chest.

"It doesnít matter," he replied as he held tightly onto her hands with his. "I'll try to
pull you up." He tried to pull her up, but the long gash across his chest was preventing
him from pulling with all his strength. "Keiko-chan, try to climb up! This wound is
hindering me!"

She tried her best to climb up, but the metal was too slick for her to get a good grip.
"Ryo-chan, my grip is slipping!" she shouted fearfully.

"I won't let you go!" he shouted back determinedly as he leaned forward to get a better
grip, coming dangerously close to falling over himself. "I promise I'll save you! I
promise!!!" He tried again to lift her with all his will and might, and still failed.

"Ryo-chan," Keiko said, suddenly calm. "Will you promise me something?"

"What?" he shouted frantically as he felt her grip slipping away. "Keiko-chan, please! Try
to hold on!"

"Please, promise me that youíll never forget me?" she asked as tears began to form in her
eyes.

"What are you talking about?" he replied as he tried again to lift her up onto the bridge
and failed again. "You don't have to worry about that! I'm going to save you!"

"Please, Ryoku!" she begged earnestly. "Please, promise me."

"Yes, Keiko-chan, I promise. On my honor."

A look of complete peace spread across her face. "Thank you, Ryoku, my love," she whispered
softly as her hands slowly slipped out of his.

"Keiko!" he shouted as he reached out toward her as she plummeted to the river below.

"Never forget me!" she shouted just before she hit the water, hundreds of meters below.

"Keiko!!!" he screamed as he tried to climb up over the railing and leap in after her, only
to be stopped by several policemen pulling him back. "No!!! KEIKO!!!" Realizing that it was
now too late, he slumped lifelessly to the ground.

"Ryo-chan!" Makoto shouted as she and Rei broke though all the policemen and ran to his
side, Makoto hugging him tightly as Rei stood silently by, watching him concernedly.

"Mako-chan.... Rei-chan.... Keiko-chan is... she's...," he whimpered pathetically.

"Shh... I know," she murmured, tears flowing down her cheeks, joining with the tears
rolling down his cheeks.

"I'm... so sorry, Ryoku-san...," Rei murmured as she stepped forward, bent down and hugged
him as well. "I haven't known you all very long, but I can tell how much she meant to you."

"Hey, boy!" a voice shouted from beneath the bridge. "Looks like you failed to protect your
little girlfriend! I feel so sorry... for HER! Having a weak boyfriend like you, unable to
protect her from danger. Iíd hate to be in the shoes of the next girl you fall in love
with!"

"That... jerk!" Rei exclaimed angrily as she and Ryoku both jumped to their feet.

Ryoku looked over the side of bridge and glared hatefully at the man. "It's your fault this
happened to Keiko!" he growled furiously, pointing an accusing finger at the red-haired
man. "You bastard! I swear I'll kill you for this!"

"A weak little boy like you is going to kill me?" the man scoffed. "Don't make me laugh,
boy. You couldn't even protect your girlfriend and you think you're going to kill me? Who
will kill who, boy?" The man then pulled the dagger out of the bridge and plummeted down
toward the river below.

"Who will kill who, boy?" the man shouted again before he hit the water... or, so he
thought until he realized that the man made no splash like when Keiko hit. It was almost
like he disappeared into the water.

"No way...," Rei murmured as she watched the man disappear as well. She turned to see Ryoku
slump down against the wall of the bridge again, all the anger that had surged inside of
him disappear. "Ryoku-san... don't worry. I'm sure that Keiko-chan must've survived. Don't
lose hope."

She almost flinched at the pain she saw in his eyes, but she did see a glimmer of hope
there. "I hope so, Rei-chan," he murmured weakly. "I don't think my heart could take it if
she didn't. I'll believe in her. After all, she believed in me."

Rei watched as medical personnel came and took Ryoku to an ambulance to give his bleeding
wound medical attention. Makoto demanded to accompany him, which the medical personnel
reluctantly agreed to. As she watched the police begin to organize a search for Keiko, she
began to feel very tired. A lot had happened today and all she wanted was to go home. She
was probably going to be in trouble with Otohomi-sensei, but right now, she didn't care.
All she knew was that one of her new friends might possibly be dead, and another one was
hurting in the worst way possible.

A realization suddenly struck her - her dream! The male in her dream with the ponytail....
Ryoku had a ponytail, and he was around her age, just like the boy in her dream. He had
also been crying, just like the boy in her dream....

Suddenly, she realized that the chances of Keiko surviving seemed very, very bad.

"Oh... Ryoku-san...," she whispered sadly as a tear slowly fell down her cheek. "I'm
sorry...."

**********************************************

Disclaimer: All original materials belong to their respective owners. Sailor Moon belongs
to Naoko Takeuchi and a bunch of big companies. No copyright infringement is intended. This
story belongs me, so I would appreciate it very much if you would ask for permission before
posting it anywhere else. Thank you.

The Question and all stories included are:
Copyright © July 6, 2001 Jason C. Ulloa.
All Rights Reserved.