Mvmt II. Affannoso (With Anxiety)
"YAAARRRGGGHHH!!!" The man swung down with the hoe.
Ranka dodged it. The hoe dug itself into the ground. She
tried to get past him and run into the orchard, but he managed to pull
the hoe out and swung sideways. She backed off and had no choice
but to run up the stairs. Desperately, she looked around for a
possible escape route but did not notice any.
The man followed her up. He sneered at her menacingly.
"I've got you now..."
She trembled at his approach. He lifted the hoe to strike.
Although it was a futile effort, her arms attempted to block the attack.
But the attack did not come.
"You not hurt Ranka," said Ai who stood behind the man with her right
hand on the shaft of the hoe.
The man turned and tried to pull the hoe away from Ai, but the Vajra
held it fast. Ranka took the opportunity to run behind Ai.
"Leggo, bitch!" yelled the man and he punched Ai in the face.
Ai recoiled with the punch but did not let go of the hoe. "You
enemy. In name of justice, I punish you." She pointed her
left index finger at him. "Shiny finger!"
The Vajra's eyes glowed purple and a bright yellow beam erupted from
the tip of her fingertip. The beam punched a hole about the size
of a grape in the man's right chest. Blood spurted out and rained
down, tainting the grass red. His hand slipped off the hoe and he
crumpled to the ground.
A trail of dust formed between the trees in the orchard. In a
blur of motion, Brera ran past them and placed himself between them and
"You ok, Ranka?" asked Brera with no hint of fatigue in his
voice. Below the stairs, the cloud of dust that resulted from his
bionic sprint began to settle.
"Y-yes..." replied Ranka in a quivering voice. Then she
fainted. Ai caught her as she slumped down.
"Ai-chan, can you watch her until help comes?"
Brera checked the man. He was still alive, but bleeding
profusely. He called the police and explained the
situation. Then he called the director to send help for Ranka.
When Ranka woke, Nanase, Brera and Ai were sitting around her
bed. She sat up.
"Are you alright?"
"How do you feel?"
She was bewildered by their concern. "I... I'm fine... why are
you all here?"
"Don't you remember?" said Brera. "An escaped convict attacked
For a few moments, Ranka just sat in silence. Then her eyes grew
wide and her hand leapt to her mouth. "Ah! I remember
now!" The scene replayed in her memory like a bad horror
movie. "Is the man ok?"
Brera was surprised at her question. How could she show concern
over someone who tried to hurt her? But this was Ranka. His
sister was not the type who would wish harm on others. "Yeah, the
paramedics patched him up. The police searched the mansion
grounds and caught another one a couple of miles away," he replied.
"Thank space..." Then she turned to Ai. "Ai, thanks for
saving me, but don't shoot humans like that!"
"What did she do?" asked Brera.
Ranka explained what happened when Ai stopped the man. To her
surprise, her brother scolded her.
"You've been relying on the TV too much! You're her
guardian! You should be teaching her about what's good and bad
about human culture. Instead, she's been getting strange ideas
from TV shows."
He turned to Ai. "Ai-chan, don't copy Damgun or Cute Soldier Lune
Ai looked confused, but agreed. "Ok."
"We saved you some dinner," Nanase lifted the silver cover off
the tray on the desk. "You must be hungry."
Ranka glanced at the clock. 8:12 PM. Now that Nanase
mentioned it, she was. "Thanks for watching out for me."
"No problem. Anyway, Robin said that she could come over to do
homework after you eat dinner. So give her a call when you're
"I will. Thanks again." With that, Ranka went to the desk
to eat. While she ate, she remembered the note. "Nana-chan,
weren't you supposed to meet me at the overlook?"
"No. What gave you that idea?"
"Someone handed me a note in composition."
"Where's the note?"
Ranka got the note and gave it to Nanase.
"I didn't write this," concluded Nanase. "Also, I went to the
dining hall right after class."
Brera came over and took the note. His pupils dilated and
refocused as they analyzed the surface of the paper. "Can I
borrow this? I'd like to send it to the lab and have them run
some tests on it. Maybe I can figure out who wrote it."
"Sure," replied Ranka. Then her forehead creased in
confusion. "But why would anyone impersonate Nanase?"
"Someone who knows that the man was there and wanted to get you into
trouble," concluded Brera. "And then there was the broken shoe
and the ripped dress."
"What broken shoe and dress?" asked Nanase.
Ranka told her what happened in acting class. Nanase's usual
gentle face melted into anger.
"I betcha Miranda's behind it! Nobody at Mihoshi will mess with
Brera smirked. With a little 'encouragement', the Ranka Fan Club
intercepted all the stalking and bullying directed towards Ranka.
They had done an excellent job so far. He put the note in his
pocket. Then he searched his memory and archived the images of
Miranda and Sharin. He would check their background later.
One way or another, he would find out who wrote the note.
"Ai-chan didn't fill her schedule, right? Can you ask the
instructor if she could be with you during her free time? If
she's watching, there's a lesser chance they'll try something,"
suggested the cyborg.
"Yes, but... I left those times open for her to study."
"She's been keeping up with drawing and painting so far," said
Nanase. "I think your safety is more important.
"I stay with Ranka," said Ai.
Their concern warmed her heart. "Thanks."
Before going to bed, Ranka did a few yoga exercises to calm her mind
before seeing Sheryl. She did not want her to worry. When
she was ready, she put a smile on her face and reached out in the
link. Sheryl's smiling face appeared and put her at ease.
Their hug lasted longer than usual and the Fairy's kiss melted her
insides like wax on a lit candle.
"How's your shoulder?" asked Ranka.
"Getting better. But I'm not the one who's really hurt. The
vice-captain has an injured ankle. Even with this, I can walk and
run, so I won't slow the team down. But it looks like her ankle
is more injured than she thought, so the captain slowed our
"Do I know her?"
Sheryl shook her head. "I don't think so." Then her eyes
lit up with an idea. "Let me try this..."
An image of a tall red-haired meltran with a braided ponytail formed
before them. She had pale gray eyes and a generous chest typical
of a meltran her age. Ranka felt very inadequate in seeing her.
"This is Tadyana Agreu. She's a third-year and the vice-captain
of my squad."
One by one, Sheryl introduced each member of the squad. Ranka
looked at their faces. The meltrandi and the captain looked very
"Are they nice to you?" asked Ranka with concern. To her relief,
"They're nice enough." Sheryl turned to the images.
"Hmmm... Oh, I see..." With a wave of her hand, she
adjusted their somber faces so that they were all smiling.
Ranka giggled. Her teammates did not look menacing anymore.
The Fairy walked to each one as she described them. "The
captain's a really fair person. Kanagi is shy but sweet.
Tadyana... well..." Tadyana's braided ponytail disappeared from
the nape of her neck and reappeared on both sides of her red head like
horns. The Cinderella laughed at the sight.
"She's been bitchy since I started Mihoshi, but she's bitchy towards
Eriko too. She's got a mouth on her, but she doesn't hit me or
anything. Aris is ok. I don't know her that well yet.
And you know what?" The cadet grinned as if she discovered
Ranka leaned forward in curiosity. "What?"
"I think Tadyana and Aris are an item."
Her hand leapt to her mouth and she stared at the images of Tadyana and
Aris. Her impression of them changed. "Really?"
Her Fairy nodded. "They're always hiking together. And Aris
fed her a berry once with her fingers. Then there was a time
Ranka was glad to hear about another lesbian couple in school.
She listened to the gossip and enjoyed this relaxing moment with
Sheryl. They chatted for a while until their tired bodies prodded
them to sleep. With a good night kiss, Ranka entered the realm of
dreams. Once again, she sat in front of a mirror...
It was hard to miss the teams of police scouring the mansion grounds,
so the news spread like wildfire overnight. When they arrived in
the dining room for breakfast, everyone asked questions about what
happened. Brera fielded their questions by saying that he fought
the man and excluded Ai's role in the entire affair.
Given the various interruptions, they finished breakfast as quickly as
possible and headed for their respective classes. Still,
questions kept coming throughout the day.
Ai was permitted to stay in the dance and composition class as an
observer. The tactic seemed to work and nothing unusual happened.
That evening, Ranka and Robin worked on their homework on variations on
a theme. The assignment was to compose a short variation based on
Bach or Paganini.
"Variations are pretty popular," explained Robin. "Take
Pachelbel's Canon in D. There are so many songs that use its base
melody or variations of it." She looked at Ranka directly.
"As another example, you sang two variations of the same song."
It took several seconds for Ranka to understand what she meant.
"Oh! You mean 'Aimo, aimo'!"
"Yes. Personally, I liked the movie version better. The
arrangement was more symphonic and..." She closed her eyes.
"The notes were warm and gentle, like a hug..." Then she blushed
and cleared her throat. "The rock version wasn't bad
either. The fast and energetic beat of the instrumentals spurred
you into action and the background harmony meshed well. It was a
direct opposite of the movie version. Why did you recall the
single? It seemed pretty popular."
Ranka gripped her pen as she explained her reason and her pain.
"I... I just couldn't stand it... That song was used to kill
Vajra. The idea of me singing it like that... It's a love
song! I don't want anyone to listen to it!"
"I see..." said Robin softly in understanding. "A song for love
shouldn't be used for war. I'm sorry I brought it up. I
thought it would make it easier to talk about variations with an
example that you know. Let's just analyze Pachelbel's Canon
"It's ok." However, her thoughts were still on Robin's
description about the movie version. Sheryl did that arrangement
specifically for her to sing.
"For me to sing..." thought Ranka. In a sense, Sheryl was the
composer. She thought about the lyrics that the Galaxy Fairy
great, great affection that
sleeps in my
It is slowly waking up from the
warmth of your hand.
aimo aimo neder rushe
Long ago, everyone in the world was
Come on and step into this warm
Ranka only remembered that 'Aimo, aimo' was a love song at the end of
the battle. From the movie lyrics, it seemed that Sheryl was able
to figure out that it was a love song. In class, the instructor
often told them to analyze what the composer wanted to convey.
"Frontier to Ranka... Frontier to Ranka..." Robin waved a
hand in front of her.
"Oh... sorry... I was still thinking about 'Aimo'."
"I should be the one apologizing for bringing it up. It didn't
know that it would upset you."
Verdant locks swung from side to side as she shook her head.
"Don't be. In fact, I'd like to talk about it more. There
are actually three variations of the song."
Robin's eyebrows rose. "Three?"
Ai rose from the floor where she was drawing. "Want me?"
"Ai-chan, can you sing 'Aimo, aimo'?"
"Ok." Ai sang it like the mother queen did.
Kreto verabra duzhka
Sepereru tu hivari noina dano
Heperu mori juzhtu raankazha linaa
Moye verabra duzhka
"Any instrumentals?" asked Robin.
Ranka shook her head. "None. It's just a capella."
"I see. The tempo is slower. The measures for 'We are in a
warm ocean.', 'The dancing larks in the sky are waves.' and 'You are a
young and gentle child.' have different lyrics. The last chorus
is missing. Is this the original?" asked Robin.
"Yes," replied Ranka. "Thanks for the help, Ai-chan."
"Ok." Ai returned to her drawing.
"Anyway, I'd like to talk about the variations between the original and
the movie version." Ranka felt that if she and Robin talked about
it, she might get more insight into what Sheryl was thinking when she
composed the additional measures.
"Alright then..." Robin searched for the movie version and
displayed it on her digipad. "Sheryl Nome wrote this? Not
bad..." Then she played the music on the digipad's speakers.
When it finished, the contralto put down the digipad and leaned her
forehead on her palm. It was a habit that indicated that she was
thinking deeply. "It's quite a variation alright. She put
her own spin on the instrumentals. It blended together well, her
music and your vocals." She looked at Ranka directly. "What
do you think?"
"Why are you asking me?" asked Ranka apprehensively, scared that Robin
suspected their relationship.
Robin gestured towards the poster on the wall. "You seem to be a
big fan of hers. You'd know her more than I do. Besides,
the original's lyrics are in some language I don't know. Does she
know what it says?"
"No," replied Ranka. Through research, her mother understood
enough Vajra to translate some of the lyrics in the song. She did
not dare ask Ai because she did not want to explain why Ai could
understand. Alarm filled her heart with the possibility that
Robin might ask Ai. She immediately opened her mind and told her
charge to deny that she understood the lyrics. Her premonition
was rewarded when Robin did ask.
"What about Ai?"
Ai looked up and shook her head. Then she returned to drawing.
The contralto sighed. "Since the lyrics don't give any clue that
it's a love song, I can only assume that she thought it was, or,
someone told her that it was. Did the director tell her that?"
"No, I don't think so. The director just said that he wanted my
song in the movie and she used it as a theme."
"I see... So the question is, whom did she write it for? No,
that's not the right question. It's obvious that she wrote it for
you to sing. What I meant is, who is her intended recipient?"
Now it was Ranka's turn to think. "Was it for Mao?" she
thought. Then her hand covered her mouth. What if the words
were meant for her?
"Why that sneaky little..." thought Ranka. Then her eyes widened
when she realized another possibility. What if Sheryl did not
know it was a love song? What if she decided to use it to convey
her own message? "She was trying to tell me back then...
Ah! Why was I so dense!?"
"Looks like you got an idea," said Robin who noticed a change in her
Ranka could not possibly let her know what she really thought.
Frantically, she tried to make up an answer. "Well... I was
playing Mao... so she probably wrote it from Mao's perspective.
Maybe... it was Mao's way of singing her love to Shin."
"Hmmm... good point. Now let's look at the composition
itself." Robin's stylus danced over her digipad. "Here's
the main thematic melody. The strings come in later, so the
singer is sort of given a solo. The listener is drawn towards
your voice. When the strings join in, notice how the notes form
harmonic progressions with your vocals.
Although tried her best to listen, Ranka was still reveling in her
discovery. "She wrote it for me," thought the quarter-meltran as
she stared at Sheryl's lyrics. "Not for Mao. For me..."
great, great affection that
sleeps in my chest,
It is slowly waking up from the
warmth of your hand.
"Even back then... you had feelings for me... When did it start,
I wonder?" she mused.
on and step into this warm universe.
Undoubtedly, that stanza was an invitation. "I thought that you
wanted me to step into the world of show business... to fulfill my
dreams and be a star. But now, I realize what you really
wanted. You wanted to share your world with me."
Despite her distraction, Robin patiently explained the structure of the
composition. Ranka was grateful for her diligence.
"This measure with the birds and maracas separates the main theme and
the secondary. But it also gives a feeling that nature is
involved," explained Robin. "The secondary theme is just a
variation of the main motif."
They discussed the finer details. After that, Ranka felt more
confident in tackling the homework. "Thank you. I think I
understand now. I'll do a Bach variation. What about you?"
"Paganini. I can stay until 11 tonight if you want me to look
Ranka grinned widely. "Thanks! Please do!"
After Robin left, she asked Ai about the song.
"Sister-mother teach Ranshe song. Ranshe taught sister-mother
about humans. Then sister-mother teach egg-sister. Then
egg-sister come and teach Ranka and Sheryl.
Her hand flew to her mouth as she remembered lying on her mother's lap
while she sang it. "So that's how Mom knew..." Still, parts
of Ai's explanation confused her. When she mentioned the word
'sister', Ranka knew that she was talking about another queen.
All Vajra queens other than the great mother queen were called
"The egg-sister... that's the queen that came here, right?"
"Why is she called egg-sister?"
"Sister-mother and egg-sister hatch from same egg."
"I see... twins... And why is she called sister-mother?"
"Sister-mother laid my egg."
"Oh. That makes sense. Have I met your mother before?"
"Yes. Ranka found sister-mother. Sister-mother bring Ranka
The green-haired girl paled. "It can't be... your mother is the
queen from Galia IV?"
Ai replied sadly, "Yes."
Her heart ached at the memory. "I'm so sorry, Ai-chan! I
tried to stop Alto!"
"Is ok. So Ranka not sad."
Ranka felt relieved to hear those words. "Ai-chan, if the queen
was on Galia IV, how'd you get to Frontier?"
"Many eggs steal from sister-mother. I hatch on Frontier.
Then helpers find Frontier. Sister-mother send fighters to get
It was probably Grace who stole the eggs and caused the Vajra to attack
Frontier. It also explained the groups of stage 2 Vajra that
suddenly appeared during her first concert. "Say, Ai-chan, why
didn't the queen teach you how to speak like us?"
"Egg-sister want you teach me. Learn like human."
Red-orange eyes filled with concern. "Am I teaching you enough,
"Yes." The Vajra hugged her. "Ranka the best. Take
good care of me when little."
The quarter-meltran hugged her charge in return.
Later on, Ranka was so pleased with her discovery that she tackled the
Galaxy Fairy in the link. Sheryl fell backwards onto the soft
grass of the meadow. Then Ranka trapped her face between her
hands and kissed her playfully.
"You seem happy..." said Sheryl as she ruffled her hair. Her
voice and demeanor seemed tired but there was an upbeat note in her
"I figured it out... what you did in 'Aimo, aimo'," declared Ranka
The Galaxy Fairy chuckled. "Just now?"
The quarter-meltran pouted. "But you made it so difficult!
Sneaking it into the song like that!"
"Well... I wasn't sure about your feelings," said Sheryl. "I
hoped that you'd realize it back then. But since you didn't, I
was content to have it there for anyone who watched the movie.
They'll hear it." She leaned forward and whispered in her
ear. "My song for you." Then she nibbled lightly on her
earlobe, causing Ranka to shiver at the sensation of those warm
lips. "Still, I'm happy that you finally figured it out."
"Ah.... ahh!" moaned Ranka as her beloved showered her with
affection. Despite her obvious fatigue, Sheryl was in a good
mood. When the Galaxy Fairy finally stopped, Ranka asked, "Did
something good happen?"
A dazzling smile bloomed on her face and she held up her fingers in
victory. "We passed!"
Her eyes went round. "You finished the survival test already?"
"Yes!" Sheryl told her that a giant plant attacked them and that
they managed to ride it across the heavily forested terrain. "We
had a bit of trouble with some catbats, but we made it safe and sound,"
concluded the cadet proudly.
Ranka hugged her tightly. "I'm so happy for you!" When she
drew back, her eyes glinted with mischief. "This calls for a
celebration." She captured the Fairy's lips.
She willed Sheryl's clothes to disappear and pressed that lithe body
against hers. A contented sigh escaped from her lips as skin
caressed skin. Her Fairy's skin was so smooth and warm.
Hands wandered over that curvaceous frame, feeling and stroking
sensitive spots. Meanwhile, an impatient tongue slipped from its
berth and sought its mate across ruddy lips.
Her hand crept to her beloved's chest. With nimble fingers, she
touched her. Sheryl moaned into her mouth and arched against
her. Encouraged by her reaction, Ranka's lips journeyed down her
throat, past her collarbone and arrived at its destination. With
the tip of her tongue, she licked. The Galaxy Fairy's whimpers
filled her ears with joy and fanned the growing desire between her
thighs. She opened her mouth and sucked.
Sheryl threw her head back and slender fingers pressed against the back
of Ranka's head. "Aaaah... haaah... aaahhh!!!"
However, in less than a minute, the Galaxy Fairy's hands pushed the
super-dimensional Cinderella away unexpectedly. Her pale blue
eyes filled with sadness. "I'm sorry, Ranka... I don't think I
can handle it. You see... I'm sleeping in this cramped room in a
trailer with the squad. I've already woken up Aris."
"Oh..." Verdant locks drooped down with disappointment.
Sheryl interlaced fingers with her and kissed her deeply. "I
really appreciate it. I feel much better already." She
kissed her forehead. "You need to sleep too, right? You
have class tomorrow."
Ranka sighed. She still did not want to let her go. "Can we
just hold each other until we fall asleep?"
The Fairy's eyes lit up. "Sure! I can handle that!"
Ranka snuggled into her comforting embrace. "Say, Sheryl..."
"When did you start to have feelings for me?"
A slow warmth spread across the Galaxy Fairy's skin. She cleared
her throat. "The day we met."
Ranka looked up in surprise. "Really? That soon?"
Sheryl nodded. "As you ran by, I heard you sing. I just had
to stop you. And when you sang Diamond Crevasse, I felt that I
couldn't pretend anymore. You made me want to sing with you."
The Cinderella gasped and covered her mouth with her hand as she
remembered that moment. Her eyes brimmed with tears. "I
felt so happy for that little private concert."
With those shiny tears glistening on her eyelashes and the cute
expression on her face, the Galaxy Fairy hesitated before brushing away
those tears with her fingertips. Then she kissed her
forehead. "You little crybaby..." she whispered.
"It's your fault... I can't help it when you make me so happy."
She laid her head on Sheryl's chest. "I think I love you more
"You mean you actually loved me less?" said Sheryl with an exaggerated
melodramatic tone in her voice.
"Silly..." Ranka kissed her on the nose playfully. "It's
just that... after discovering this part of you, I feel that I
understand you more. And I love you more for it."
Overwhelmed with emotion, Sheryl's cheeks flushed and her eyes misted
with tears that she blinked back. Leaning forward, she kissed her
Cinderella. "I love you..." she whispered onto her lips.
The sight of her Fairy's reaction filled Ranka's heart with joy.
She returned her kiss passionately. A few moments later, Sheryl's
arms tighten around her. After several fiery kisses, her Fairy
broke it off once more.
"If this keeps up... we're never going to get any sleep..." Then
Sheryl captured Ranka's lips for another kiss.
"Just a few more..." begged Ranka. After those kisses, she
settled into Sheryl's embrace once more. Together, they floated
in the link in each other's arms until their minds wandered off into
That Friday, everyone showcased his or her efforts. The hallways
were filled with drawings, paintings and photos. Hidden speakers
played student compositions in the hallways as well. Monitors in
the dining hall looped through the short films. During breakfast,
Nanase pointed out her piece, entitled Bees with Honey. It was
done in 3D animation. Ranka laughed as a poor confused bee tried
to dodge past many obstacles in order to bring honey to its mate.
With its orange-brown fuzz and brown eyes, the bee reminded her of
During the break between the classes, Nanase showed Ranka and Brera her
work and Ai's. Most of Ai's subjects were very simple such as a
fruit on a table or a wild flower in tall grass. Her more complex
pieces featured two landscapes. The first was a desert with red
sand. The second had two suns and large crystalline rock
Ranka did not remember seeing a desert with red sand on the planet and
their solar system only had one sun. "Ai-chan, where's this?"
"Home of sister with red rocks," replied Ai.
She opened the link to her charge. "Ai-chan, don't tell anyone
about your sisters. Have you told anyone already?"
"Say to teacher."
Alarm filled her heart. "What did she say?"
"Teacher say, nice place."
"Did she say anything else?"
The quarter-meltran sighed with relief. The teacher probably
thought that Ai referred to some other human colonized planet.
She pointed to the other picture. "Does another sister live here
"Yes. Sister with hot suns."
Ranka stared at the crystal formations. Something about them
seemed familiar. The arrangement and the cracks did not seem
"Oh dear..." exclaimed Nanase when she glanced at her watch.
"Break's almost over. Anyway, see you in the auditorium!"
"Bye!" waved Ranka as Nanase hurried off to class. Then she and
Ai hurried off to dance class. Once there, she practiced with her
class for their performance.
The afternoon and evening after dinner were reserved for
performances. After lunch, everyone gathered in the
auditorium. Groups or individuals were allowed five to ten
minutes each. Ranka's dance class performance was well
received. When Chloe bowed, the audience cheered and clapped
more. Ranka joined in as well. Chloe deserved it.
Her acting class did a short scene from Hamlet. The audience
response was not as good compared to the dance class. Needless to
say, Brera was literally, very robotic. The singing class drew a
Brera's drum group did very well, but his rock band was average.
Despite that, Ranka was fascinated with his efforts to play the
harmonica and guitar at the same time.
In order to wait for the availability of musicians, the conducting
class was last. One by one, each student conducted a short piece
with a full orchestra. Ranka had never seen Robin conduct, so
when the contralto approached the podium, she leaned forward in
Robin opened the score and lifted the baton as if she was about to
start. The orchestra waited for her signal. The baton moved
down. Then Robin clamped a hand to her mouth and ran off the
stage. An instructor shook his head and called for the next
Meanwhile, Ranka was already making her way to the back of the
stage. When she got to the hallway, she did not see Robin.
As she wondered where the contralto could have gone, she remembered how
she clamped her hand to her mouth. On a hunch, Ranka went to the
nearest ladies room.
To her surprise, she found Chloe with Robin. The dancer stroked
the contralto's back as she heaved dinner into the sink. Ranka
"Is she alright?"
Chloe glanced at her briefly. "She'll be fine in a moment."
Then Ranka remembered what Ozma told her about vomiting. "I'll be
right back." She hurried to the water cooler in the auditorium
and filled two cups with water. She brought it to the ladies
When Robin was done, Chloe guided her to a nearby bench. Ranka
offered a cup which the contralto took with shaking hands.
Robin gulped it down and let out a rueful laugh. "Messed up,
"There's still time. If you go right now..." said Ranka but Robin
waved it off.
"I... I can't... not after that..."
Chloe put a hand on Robin's shoulder. "It's alright. Don't
worry, Ranka. I'll stay with her. Please go back and watch."
Ranka shook her head. "I can't, not when one of my friends is in
Robin stared at her for a few moments. Then a shy but grateful
smile formed on her face. "Thanks..."
After the final performance, Ranka got Robin's score from the
podium. Then the three of them went to Robin's room which she
shared with three other students, two of which were from FAAP.
"Oh, look... Ms. Stage fright is back," said an FAAP student.
Then Ranka came into view.
"Eeeeee! It's Ranka Lee!"
"I love your music! May I have your autograph?"
Elmo had drilled her on how to handle requests in public to prevent her
from getting mobbed. "I'm sorry, but my company only allows me to
sign autographs during official events," said Ranka in an apologetic
tone. The two students were obviously disappointed.
Meanwhile, Robin sat on her bed with the score in her lap. Chloe
stood in the hallway. Ranka planned to just walk Robin to her
room and wish her good night. On a whim, she decided on something
She walked over to Robin and put a hand on her shoulder. "Don't
worry. There'll be a next time. As long as you work hard,
you'll get another chance. If you don't have plans during this
weekend, I'll be happy to practice with you."
"You will? But... I need an orchestra... and after what happened,
who'll want to play for me?"
"I'll ask my friends. We'll get some people together."
Robin clenched her hands around her baton. "I don't know what to
"You don't have to say anything. That's what friends are
for. Anyway, get some rest and I'll see you tomorrow."
With that, Ranka left the room and walked down the hall with
Chloe. When they reached the stairs, Chloe spoke.
"You didn't have to do that. They might bully her more," said
Alarm rose in her heart. "They would?"
Then Chloe shook her head. "What am I saying? I should
think positive! I should hope that they don't." She
sighed. "Robin's not the type to fight back and her low
self-esteem doesn't help either."
"Yeah, I know the feeling..."
"But still, I'm happy that you offered to help her. Can I help
"Sure! Do you have friends that play?"
Chloe nodded. "I have several. I'll ask them as soon as
"Thanks. I think Robin's got talent."
"I think so too... I just wish she'd grow a spine."
Ranka was shocked at her words and stopped walking. Chloe turned
"It's true, don't you think so?" She sighed again and wrung her
fingers. "She's been that way since middle school. The
teachers have talked to her so many times, but this is the first time
anyone's offered to help her. I just hope that we can make a
When Ranka realized that Chloe did not say it out of spite, she agreed,
"Yeah, me too." She began walking again and Chloe fell in step
with her. "Oh yeah, you did great, by the way. My friends
liked your dancing."
"Thank you," said Chloe graciously. They walked up the stairs and
stopped in front of a room. "Here's my room. Thank you for
being there, Ranka. Good night."
Ranka went back to her room to relax. At the table, Ai and Nanase
were sketching a bowl of fruit. After reading her email, she took
a shower. By the time she was done, Nanase had left. She
curled up in bed with a book. She was planning to talk to Sheryl
around 11 PM, but Sheryl beat her to it.
"Sheryl!" She hugged her Galaxy Fairy gently. "How's your
"The x-ray showed no fractures, thank god. There's some minor
tissue damage though. I'm wearing a shoulder brace and sling to
prevent it from moving too much."
"That's good! Here's a little trick to make it heal
faster." Ranka kissed Sheryl's shoulder and then captured her
lips. Perhaps, they could continue where they left off
yesterday. As she ravished her with affection, she wondered if it
was possible to visit her.
"Are they still testing you tomorrow?" Then she gasped as supple
lips tickled the crook of her neck.
"No... the tests... start on Monday."
"Then... what are you... doing tomorrow?"
"I don't know... it's our free time."
"You have free time...?" Ranka's heart raced at the thought of
"Can I see you tonight?"
"Can I see you tonight?"
They laughed at their thoughts. When they calmed down, they made
arrangements to meet at the carrier. Ranka packed up the extra
linen in the closet and her pillow.
"Breed now?" asked Ai.
She blushed. "Well... I'm not sure... but we want to see each
"I visit Hope. Is ok?"
Ranka summoned a Vajra to the back of the mansion and mounted it.
She arrived at the carrier and waited. About thirty minutes
later, she began pacing impatiently. Finally, Sheryl contacted
her through the link. Disappointment flooded her heart when she
explained her absence.
"I'm sorry... they caught me."
Ranka tried her best not to sound too sad. When the link fell
silent, she just stood still for several seconds. Then with her
welled up frustration, she kicked the bag of linen and watched it sail
across the crater floor.
"Why are pilots so hard to date?!"
Next morning, they gathered in a music salon named 'Enchanted
Inspiration'. Brera convinced five members of the Ranka Fan club
to help and Chloe invited three of her friends. With Brera
on percussion, and Ranka on the piano, they had ten people.
After introductions, Brera searched through the music database and
selected a piece suitable for the instruments available. He
uploaded it into each person's digipad.
Robin conducted stiffly at first, but by mid-afternoon, she became more
relaxed and her instructions were less hesitant. Ranka smiled at
her progress and hoped that Robin would become more comfortable
speaking to a group.
During dinner time, Miranda, Sharin and another FAAP student walked by
their table. Miranda carried a bouquet of flowers while Sharin
carried several boxes of chocolates and sweets. Every other day,
their boyfriends visited them and gave them gifts. The FAAP duo
never failed to walk into the dining room with the tokens of affection.
"If it were me, I'd stay away," said Miranda casually.
"Me too! I don't want losers to rub off on me," added
Upon hearing their talk, Robin's shoulders slumped down. She
began to stand up. "I'm sorry... I've been imposing..."
Nanase interrupted her and pulled her down. "Sit girl. You
haven't finished your dinner."
"Don't let it get to you," said Ranka.
Robin's eyes misted over and she uttered her gratitude with a choking
Just after 9 PM, Ranka decided to practice since piano workshop would
start next week. She and Ai went to the music salon where a
baby grand piano was available. From the salon's window, she
could see the building where the female students stayed. In one
room, a myriad of lights flashed. Someone probably brought a
disco ball and was having a party.
While she practiced, Ai did some sketches. It was almost 11 PM
when she decided to finish. From the window, the number of
lighted rooms was much less. The room with the party was still
active. Ranka pitied the students who were wasting their
opportunities at camp. She gathered her music and opened the
salon door. As soon as she stepped on the marble floor of the
hallway, her foot slipped.
Desperately, her right hand gripped the door handle while her left
tried to stop her fall. Behind her, Ai yelled.
The door swung with her momentum and she landed on Ai.
"Owww..." Ranka did not want to hurt Ai, so she put her hand on
the ground for leverage. When she touched the floor, it felt
greasy. She lifted her hand and smelled it: olive oil.
Cautiously, she found a spot on the floor that was not slippery and
eased herself off Ai. Then she helped Ai stand.
"Are you ok, Ai-chan?"
"I ok. Ranka ok?"
"Yes, thanks to you." Ranka looked at the slippery area.
Olive oil was spilled around the door within a two-foot radius.
She tore off a page from her notebook and wrote a big sign: Watch
out, slippery. Then she left the sign on the floor. The
janitors had left for the day, so she would let them know in the
They went back to their room. From there, Ranka called her
brother. Brera came over and she told him what happened.
Anger formed on his usually stoic face.
"I'll get to the bottom of this! I've sent the note to the
lab. I'll let you know what they find out. In the meantime,
keep Ai with you."
He put a hand on her shoulder and spoke in a reassuring voice.
"Don't worry. We'll catch them. So get some sleep, all
right? Don't give them the satisfaction of knowing that it's
He had a point. She nodded in agreement. "I will.
Good night, onii-chan."
Brera kissed his sister on her forehead. "Goodnight,
Ranka." Then he left.
Ranka got ready for bed. She did some yoga meditation before
contacting Sheryl. With the best smile on her face, she was
determined to look cheerful for her Galaxy Fairy.
Their small group of players practiced with Robin in the morning.
Later that afternoon, Luca visited.
"This isn't much, but I hope you like it," said a blushing Luca as he
offered Nanase a huge bouquet of flowers. In comparison, it
dwarfed Miranda's and Sharin's bouquets.
"Oh! You shouldn't have!" said Nanase as she happily
accepted it. She inhaled deeply. "Wow! These are
"Thanks! I grew them myself in my greenhouse! I had so
many, so I asked Filippo cut you some before they wilted!"
At his words, Ranka slapped her palm against her forehead
lightly. Luca should not have said the last sentence to give the
impression that he grew the flowers specifically for Nanase.
The mood was ruined, but Nanase took it in stride. "Luca dear,
sometimes it's ok not to say too much."
After the flowers were deposited in a large pail, Nanase proudly showed
her pieces to Luca.
"Nanase, after camp is over, what are they going to do with your
pieces?" asked Luca.
Nanase shrugged. "Give it back to us, I guess."
"Are you planning to do anything with them?"
"Not really. I'll just put them in the closet." Then she
pointed to a painted landscape. "Well... maybe not this
one. This one came out pretty good."
Luca rubbed the back of his head, ruffling his curls. "Umm... is
it okay... if I borrow the ones you don't like?"
Nanase stared at him in surprise. "You want them?"
The perpetual blush on Luca's cheeks increased even more. He
looked shyly at her and pressed his index fingers together. "I'd
like to hang them in my room... if you don't mind..."
Nanase hugged him happily. "Of course! Which ones do you
want? You can even have that one!"
After they finished looking at the student artwork, they explored the
mansion grounds together. When they got to the overlook, Ranka
excused herself and dragged her brother along to give Nanase and Luca
some private time.
As they viewed the cityscape from the overlook, Nanase hooked arms with
Luca. She wanted to lean her head against his shoulder, but
sadly, Luca was still too short for a decent lean. She would have
They pointed at various places and tried to identify them. While
they were looking, Luca's watch beeped. He pressed it off.
"It's getting late, so I better get going."
"So soon?" said Nanase, feeling disappointed. "If you stay a
little longer, you could see the sunset."
"I have to return to the base. I'm working with my team to get
ready for the flight instruction tomorrow." He looked
around. "Are they coming back?"
Nanase understood what he meant and blushed. "No."
Luca glanced at her shyly and forced the words out of his mouth.
"M--may I... k--k--kiss you...?"
Instead of answering, Nanase took off her glasses, leaned down slightly
and closed her eyes.
Luca's blush spread across his cheeks. He gulped nervously and
licked his lips. He leaned in and planted a gentle kiss on those
waiting lips. When he drew back, his spine drew ramrod
straight. "I'll call you later! Bye!" He turned and
ran down the steps.
Nanase opened her eyes and waved. "Bye!"
Luca turned to wave. At that moment, the wind blew through the
orchard. Nanase's hair flowed up along with loose petals from
nearby flowers. The scene of her outlined against the city
landscape and the light orange sky etched into his mind. As he
ran, his steps faltered and he stopped in the middle of the
orchard. The feeling that he was missing something special filled
"I guess... you don't know what you have until you lose it..."
He pulled his phone from his pocket and called his butler to tell him
to wait a bit longer and to tell his vice-captain to take over
training. Then he ran back to watch the sunset with his lovely
Later that evening, Sheryl spoke to her again about another
rendezvous. Excitedly, Ranka prepared the bag of linen and flew
over to the carrier. She waited patiently. To her dismay,
Sheryl was caught again.
Crestfallen, she returned to the mansion. When she arrived in her
room, Ai walked up to her with a makeshift bouquet of wild
"Ranka like flowers?"
Ranka accepted it. "Is this for me?"
Ai nodded. "Nice flowers. No sad anymore."
The quarter-meltran smiled at her concern. Ai could probably
sense her emotions through the link. "I'm not sad. See?"
Ai hugged her. "Ranka happy now?"
Ranka returned the hug. She could not fool Ai. "I'm a bit
happier now. Thanks for the flowers."
They put the flowers in an empty vase. As she lay in bed, she
could not help but think about all the strange incidents that happened
so far. Who was doing it? Why were they doing it?
Her eyes stared at the flowers in the vase. At least, Luca came
to visit Nanase. Jealousy rose in heart as she remembered the
size of Nanase's bouquet. She realized that she was not being
fair to Sheryl, but she wished that her Fairy could visit her.
Was it too much to see her in person? Envy and longing filled her
heart. Silently, she let her tears fall.
She cried for several minutes and then uttered her name as if it was a
Suddenly, she entered link space. She turned to Ai.
"Huh? What's wrong, Ai-chan... Sheryl?!" She covered her
mouth in surprise.
Sheryl hugged her tightly. "I'm sorry... I'm sorry... I'm
"D-don't cry... Or else... I'll cry too."
Her Galaxy Fairy apologized once more. Ranka tried to reassure
her that it was not her fault. "It's just me... I get depressed
"Then let it out. Hit me... scream at me... do anything but hold
Sheryl was having her own problems. Ranka did not want her to
worry. "I can't do that to you. Don't worry about me.
I'll deal with it on my own. Besides, just having you here now
made me feel better. So get some rest. You're the one in
the pilot's course."
Ranka clung to her beloved and drew strength from her presence.
Eyes drooping, she drifted off to sleep.
Ranka hurried to piano class which replaced scripting for the rest of
the week. When she entered the music room, she was surprised to
see Megan there instead of Mr. Kazhik. As she scanned for a seat,
Robin waved from the second row. She joined her friend and
pretended not to see Sharin who sat on the fourth row.
"Hello, everyone!" greeted Megan. "Some of you are
wondering why I'm here. Mr. Kazhik caught the flu and won't be
able to teach. Mr. Roverock asked me to teach in his place.
Although some of you know me already, please bear with the
introductions so that we can get to know each other."
Megan started with herself and asked each student to introduce his or
her self. Then she began the piano exercises.
Ranka was about to leave at the end of class when Megan asked her to
stay. Megan talked to her about her technique, complimenting and
criticizing various aspects. When everyone else had left the
room, her teacher changed the subject.
"You seem to be getting along with Robin."
"Yes, we've been doing homework together."
Relief shone on Megan's face. "Then that makes it easier. I
want to ask you a favor. Please, help her overcome her
weakness. She's very talented. It would be a waste if she
couldn't express herself."
"But why me?"
"I talked to your music teacher at St. Maria's. She said that you
used to be so nervous about singing in public. I was hoping that
you could teach her how to overcome it."
Ranka fidgeted anxiously. "I'm really flattered but... I... I
don't know how I did it myself."
"Please. Help her. I wouldn't ask this if I thought she had
nothing to learn from you."
"But... I'm just a student."
"She's just a student too. And yet, she's willing to share her
passion for music. Mr. Adean tells me that your composition
skills have improved a lot in a week."
An embarrassed blush spread across Ranka's cheeks. She felt
ashamed at her own fear of not fulfilling Megan's expectations.
Her hand clenched with renewed determination. "Alright.
I'll do my best."
"Thank you," said Megan as she nodded her head slightly.
The rest of the day passed routinely. After dinner, she and Robin
went to the music salon to practice piano. Ranka told Robin about
"It seems that my left hand is a little too slow sometimes. She
also mentioned that I need to read ahead faster if the tempo increases."
Robin sat down on the bench and leafed through her sheet music.
"That just comes with practice. How about we try the pieces we
did in class?"
They had practiced about thirty minutes when the door opened to admit
Brera. He had his guitar with him.
"Hi Ranka. I was hoping you'd be here. After you're done,
do you have a bit of time to help me practice? I need more
practice in harmonizing in a group."
"Oh... I already promised Robin that I'd accompany her for her violin
sonata. Can you wait after we're done?"
"Sure. Call me when you're ready." Brera turned to leave.
Just then, an idea lit in Ranka's head. Maybe, she could hit two
birds with one stone. "On second thought, how about we all play
together after I finish this piece?"
"Hmmm... I'm ok with that," said Brera.
Robin shrugged. "Sure, why not?"
Ranka played through her piece and marked down the passages that she
needed to practice.
"What are we going to play?" asked her brother.
"Something easy to start with... How about... Your Sound? Please
don't get the idea that I'm trying to promote my own single. It's
just that it's the first thing that came to mind that has our
instruments," replied Ranka.
"That's fine. At least, all of us know the tune and we don't have
to concentrate on sight-reading so much," said Robin.
While they prepared the digipads and sound system, Ranka opened the
link to Ai. She gave her some instructions.
The sound system would provide the rhythm for the drums and the
trumpet. Brera downloaded the piece into it and hooked up the
interface jack to his cyborg controller so that he can adjust it while
they played. Then he set the timer and quickly picked up his
3, 2, 1...
When the sound system played the first note of the trumpet, Brera
strummed the first chord. For several measures, he played the
opening. Then Ranka joined in with the melody on the piano.
A few measures later, the soft harmony of the violin supported the
piano. They had played about one-quarter of the piece when Robin
"Slow down, Brera. Tempo at 90. Ranka, listen to Brera."
Ranka swallowed nervously. The speed at which she could do
successive eighth notes was not fast enough. Robin realized that
she was lagging. The contralto went into conductor mode and
wanted her to follow the new tempo that was set by Brera's pace.
Since the pressure to keep up lessened, she carefully listened to her
Soon, she fell in step with Robin and Brera and the melody and harmony
began to blend together. The violin's long legatos combined
with the piano and caressed her ears with a suite of soothing
harmonics. The piano and guitar traded the melody back and
forth. She almost did not want to give it up since she liked how
it sounded from the baby grand piano. However, she wanted to hear
Brera play, so she did her best to accompany him.
Unlike his robotic acting, his guitar playing was richer and more
vibrant. He sounded so confident sometimes that Ranka thought
that he was showing off. A quick glance revealed a rare smile on
his face while he played the main melody. Ranka giggled a
little. Maybe, he really was showing off.
Instead of finishing the piece as written, Robin asked them to repeat
from a certain measure. Ranka did not mind. She was having
so much fun. Her fingers tingled with excitement and were
impatient to touch the keys.
The piece faded gradually from forte to pianissimo near the end, but
when they played those measures, the notes remained vibrant and with a
sense of reluctance, faded to silence.
For several moments, they remained still at their final position as if
they wanted to hold onto the song for just a bit longer. At the
same time, they glanced up at each other and smiled with satisfaction
and pride. Just then, someone clapped.
One door to the music salon was open. Nanase stood near the door
and was clapping with Ai. Beyond the door, a dozen students were
clapping too. Immediately, Robin blushed scarlet.
"H-How long have all of you been here?"
"Me? Ai-chan and I have been standing here about half-way through
the piece," replied Nanase. "The others stopped by when they
heard you guys playing."
Sam Pheaze walked in and rubbed the back of his head sheepishly.
"If you don't mind, I can play the drums for you."
Another male student offered, "I can play bass!"
One by one, each student asked to play a part. Instead of
answering, Ranka turned to Robin.
"How many can you handle, Maestro?"
Robin blinked several times before she understood. She stared at
the throng of eager musicians at the door and paled. Her voice
caught in her throat.
Meanwhile, Brera was moving the music stands and the sound
equipment. "If we arrange it like this, everyone can fit in the
For several moments, the contralto's lower lip quivered
nervously. She glanced at Ranka. The quarter-meltran's eyes
glinted with challenge.
Robin closed her eyes and swallowed. She turned to the
students. "I-if you can find a space, please join us. I'll
show the arrangement to each of you."
The green-haired girl smiled sweetly in approval. In the link,
Ranka thanked Ai for her help. She watched as her classmates took
their places. Tonight, they would make more wonderful music
It was almost 11 PM when their group finished the last piece.
Everyone was in high spirits as they said their goodbyes.
Robin flopped down on a padded bench. Her voice filled with
wonder. "That was awesome..."
Ranka smiled at her reaction. "Isn't it?"
"I've never played like that with anyone before!"
"Sometimes, you just need to have fun with the music. Just play
it from your heart. Let it flow and be heard. And then,
everyone can join in with the song."
The contralto lifted her hand to her chest. "To flow from your
heart... I see... Music is meant to be shared, isn't it?"
"Yes... I believe so."
Robin laughed and rubbed her forehead. "I've been going about it
She clasped her hands over her lap. "Every time I saw the sheet
music, it always felt like a test. I felt that I needed to get it
right... to be perfect. Then my music will sound perfect.
But today, I wasn't thinking of making it perfect. I was just
thinking of being able to play with everyone." She looked up at
Ranka. "It was the best music I've ever played so far."
Ranka patted her shoulder in agreement. "There'll be more."
A wide grin stretched over Robin's face. "I hope so. I'd
like that." She stood up and stretched. "I'm so fired up
that I could play all night!"
"And fall asleep during your own recital? I'd be so embarrassed
to play for you!" teased Ranka.
"Spoil sport..." muttered Robin. Then she laughed and Ranka
laughed with her.
That evening, Ranka told Sheryl about Megan and Robin. At last,
she had some good news to share. The Galaxy Fairy, on the other
hand, had a really bad day.
"Ozma-nii is there?!" exclaimed Ranka.
"Yeah... he was really strict."
She eyed her suspiciously. "Is he bullying you?"
Sheryl waved her hands. "No... not at all... He yelled at
everyone." Then she yawned. "Do you mind if we sleep
soon? I'm really tired..."
Ranka patted her lap. "I'm at your service..."
A smile bloomed on Sheryl's face and she laid her head on Ranka's
lap. Before Cinderella's song was done, the Fairy had drifted off
The next day, Brera told them about the lab results after dinner.
"The lab found several fingerprints and some of the prints were clear
enough to identify three people. The rest of the prints were too
faint." He pointed to his digipad which showed a picture of the
girl who was sometimes seen with Miranda and Sharin. "Here's the
first. Alva Lone. FAAP second-year. Works as a teen
model at Entertainment Universe. Has an older sister, Yu Lone."
"Yu Lone..." repeated Ranka. "She sounds familiar."
"It is. Yu was originally cast to play Mao."
Her heart skipped a beat. "Oh my god... She must think I stole
her sister's part!"
Brera nodded. "We have a possible motive. But... she wasn't
there when we came from the orchard."
"You think someone put her up to it?" suggested Nanase.
"Someone else knew that the man was near the overlook.
Furthermore, the overlook is far from the mansion. There's a sign
on the rail and it's not readable with normal vision. Even the
lens in my cybernetic eye has to magnify thrice to see the letters
"What about the two other people?" asked Ranka.
"Luke Macmillan, Mihoshi second-year," replied Brera.
"He's the one that gave the note to me."
"The last is Ben Grant, Mihoshi second-year. He's in your Fan
club. I talked to both of them. Luke seems clueless, so
he's probably just a messenger. Ben got the note from a FAAP
"It came from FAAP! So what are we waiting for? Let's go
get her!" said Nanase as she stood up.
Brera held up his hand. "We need proof. We have to catch
them in the act. I've put them under surveillance."
"How'd you do that?" asked Nanase.
"With this." The cyborg unclasped a cylinder from his belt.
Green lights flashed on its surface and with a whir of tiny gears, it
transformed into a small beetle. "It's equipped with audio and
video receptors. It collects data and transmits it to my memory
banks. Furthermore, it can fly, so it can follow them around."
"Wow..." exclaimed Nanase in wonder. "You two are really are
brother and sister."
"Of course, we are. Why did you even say that?"
"Because you two command bugs!" Both Brera and Ranka stared at
her with narrowed eyes. "Sorry... that was a bad pun." Then
her voice laced with concern. "Anyway... isn't tapping illegal?"
"If it's done in a private residence. I'll have it follow them in
public places." He squeezed his sister's shoulder
reassuringly. "This time, we'll get them."
On Wednesday morning, Mr. Roverock and the FAAP director, Mrs. Flair,
addressed everyone during breakfast. In his talk, Mr. Roverock
mentioned the olive oil incident as well as other pranks that Ranka was
not aware of. It seemed that other students were victims as
well. Mr. Roverock ended by saying, "The owner has agreed to put
surveillance cameras in public areas. If you're caught, I'll kick
you out of camp and put you on probation. A reprimand will appear
on your record."
The day progressed with no strange incidents. That evening, Brera
expressed his irritation over the announcement.
"If he just held off by a day, maybe we could've caught them," grumbled
"It's ok, onii-chan. As long as it stops, then it's fine," said
"What if... we make it easier for them?" said Nanase.
Brera's eyes narrowed. "What do you mean?"
The artist's glasses glinted as she adjusted it slightly. "Let's
give them an opportunity they can't ignore."
Ranka gasped and covered her mouth with her hand. "A trap?"
An evil smile spread on her best friend's face. "How about if
They listened to Nanase's plan. When she finished, Brera sat in
silence for a few seconds before speaking.
"The probability of success is high. Pending Ranka's agreement,
I'm in favor of executing it."
Ranka swallowed nervously. One word from her and Alva or whoever
was behind it would be put on probation. She made her
decision. "Let's go ahead... but only if we can confront her
ourselves. There's no need to tell Mr. Roverock."
"What?" said Brera and Nanase at the same time.
"All I want is for her to stop and apologize. I'm sorry that her
sister didn't get the role, but I believe that Yu Lone is a good
actress. From what I've learned in acting class, an actor doesn't
get an award because of the role. He gets the award because of
his performance. Yu doesn't need to play Mao to shine. She
can shine in whatever role she takes. I'm going to tell Alva
Nanase sighed. "I guess if it's alright with you, then we'll talk
to her privately. However..." Nanase adjusted her glasses
again, causing it to flash a glint. "We have to wait for a good
time. After Mr. Roverock's speech, she's going to be cautious."
"Agreed," said Brera. "I'll keep her under surveillance for
now. But we should be ready to spring the trap."
"Alright!" Nanase thrust her hand forward like players do before
a game. "Let's do operation Ranka's Revenge!"
Ranka sighed and put her hand on top of Nanase's. "Why do you
have to name it?"
Ai put her hand on top and Brera put his last. "How about
"That's still a name."
Despite her best efforts to dissuade them, Operation Extra Payback And
Revenge became the code name. After they discussed the logistics
of OEPAR, they did homework as usual. Later that night, Ranka
made her customary visit to her Fairy.
"Megan said that I need to work on my fingering technique for some of
the more complex pieces. It just feels so awkward sometimes."
"What did she say?"
Ranka wiggled her fingers in the air. "Well... I'm just having a
hard time with upstroke and downstroke. You see, I try something
like this and she says it sort of turns into something like this..."
"Here, let me help you..." Sheryl closed her eyes. The
space in front of Ranka morphed into a keyboard.
"Oh!" exclaimed Ranka in surprise.
Sheryl floated behind her. Her arms ran parallel to the
quarter-meltran's and her right hand positioned over middle C.
Her warm cheek touched hers. "Watch carefully... upstroke...
downstroke... upstroke... downstroke..."
For several minutes, Sheryl demonstrated various fingering techniques
by overlapping her fingers with Ranka's. Through the link, Ranka
could feel the tension of each finger as it pressed into a key.
Just like the time when she shared the memories of the meadow with
Sheryl, the Galaxy Fairy shared memories of learning piano with
her. Soon, she had a much better understanding of the body and
arm positions for particular techniques.
"Looks like you're getting the idea," said Sheryl proudly.
"Wanna play something together?"
Verdant locks bounced up. "Sure! What should we play?"
"Do you remember Lion?"
"I'll play the left hand part. You play the right hand part."
"Eh? But how will I know...?"
Sheryl winked. "Just think about the fingering technique and the
notes that you need to play will be obvious. Let's start slow."
"Oh... I guess I'll give it a try."
The Galaxy Fairy placed her left hand on the keyboard. "Ready
when you are."
Ranka drew a deep breath and played the first note, A. At the
same time, Sheryl played the A minor chord. It was awkward at
first since her left hand was restless. After about ten measures,
Ranka clenched her hand to prevent it from distracting her. Note
by note, she was beginning to get the hang of it.
"Let's go a little faster now," coaxed Sheryl.
Ranka increased the tempo. She still managed to hit the
notes. When they were about five measures from the Coda, Sheryl
"One measure from the Coda, let's switch. 3... 2... 1..."
Their hands crossed over the keyboard. On cue, Ranka played the F
minor chord while Sheryl followed up with the melody after a
rest. From the corner of her eye, she saw Sheryl wink at her.
"Nice..." praised Sheryl.
Her heart glowed with joy at the Galaxy Fairy's compliment. When
they were done, Ranka exclaimed, "That was great! One more time!"
Sheryl laughed at her enthusiasm. Her left hand assumed its
original position. "After you..."
Green locks bounced up with excitement and she played the A key once
more. They played a few other pieces together before Sheryl
"I'm sorry... looks like this is my limit."
The yawn was infectious. Ranka clasped her hand to her
mouth. "Me too..." She snuggled against her. "Can I
Her Galaxy Fairy kissed her gently. "All night long..."
On Thursday afternoon, they found Miranda, Sharin and Alva near the
"Alva Lone and Sharin McIntosh, may we talk to you privately?" asked
"What's this about?" asked Miranda.
"It doesn't involve you," replied the cyborg. "We only have
business with them."
"We? All four of you and just the two of them? That seems
rather unfair. I'm staying."
Brera looked at Ranka who shrugged. She was not sure if Miranda
was preparing to defend them or was just acting contrary to what Brera
wanted. In either case, it did not matter. "I don't care
what you do. It's up to Alva and Sharin to decide whether they
want you here."
"What do you want with us?" asked Sharin as if she were addressing
Nanase lifted a small paper bag and pulled out a bottle of Meltene
ProZ. "This. My boyfriend's butler bought Ranka and me more
shampoo because we were running out. He brought it over to me
when I was taking pictures at the orchard."
Alva stared at the bag and said nothing.
"You wanted to talk about shampoo? Sorry, but I don't have time
for nonsense." Sharin turned to leave.
Brera stood in front of her. "Please stay."
"What in space... get out of my way!"
No matter what she did, Brera moved so quickly to block her way, thus
becoming like an impenetrable wall. Meanwhile, Nanase continued.
"I got a call from my boyfriend and put the bag with my notebook near
the gardener's shed. Unfortunately, I forgot about it until after
drawing class. I returned to the orchard and checked the
bottles. Someone put weed killer in Ranka's shampoo, but not
"So what does that have to do with me?" asked Alva crossly.
"You're in my class, so you were in the orchard too," said
Nanase. "My name is on my notebook, so you knew that it was my
stuff. But there are two bottles. Meltene ProZ is specially
formulated for meltran hair. It wasn't hard to guess which bottle
was for me and which was for Ranka."
"Other people were there too! Big deal! Even if you check
the bottle for finger prints, you won't find mine!" said Alva hotly.
"You're right. We won't." Brera showed his digipad.
It was a video feed from one of his beetles. "You put gloves on
before pouring it in."
Miranda turned to Alva. "You disgust me. I always thought
there was something wrong with you."
Alva's face distorted with rage and humiliation. She fumed at
Ranka. "It's not fair! Why did it have to be you! Mao
was my sister's!"
Nanase's voice rose like a sales girl who saved the best feature for
last. "But that's not all! Here's the video before Alva did
it! See? She's calling someone on her phone. Based on
her position, Alva is facing the mansion. She's looking up.
Now let's see it again with audio."
The digipad speaker crackled to life. "Hi Sharin. It's
me. Nanase left a bag by the shed. It has Ranka's shampoo
in it." Alva paused. "Ok, I'll wait."
Brera explained, "Sharin asked her to wait. Since we were told
that the surveillance cameras were only in the mansion, nobody would
know if anything happened in the orchard. The videos of the
mansion are available upon request, so I asked for the ones that
monitored the areas facing the orchard."
Without warning, Sharin slammed into Brera. However, the cyborg
stood his ground. The idol bounced off him instead.
Meanwhile, Nanase played another video. It showed Sharin standing
by a second floor balcony door and looking through a pair of opera
Nanase continued, "Sharin wanted to check if there was anyone near Alva
in the orchard. So she asked Alva to wait before she spiked
"Miranda told me to do it!" Sharin pointed an accusing finger at the
"What?! Are you out of your mind?!" yelled Miranda.
"You're always saying, 'We should do something about her.' and 'We have
to show that we're the ones with the real talent'!"
"Don't you dare twist my words, you back-stabbing bitch! I'd
never stoop to something like this! I'm Miss Macross!
I can't let her rank higher than me on the charts! One day, I'm
going to beat her off the charts! It's your perverted mind that
made nonsense about my pure goals!"
"But... if we didn't do anything... she'd-"
Miranda's eyes narrowed and she cut her off. "You don't think I
can do it."
Sharin opened her mouth but no words came out. She pressed her
lips together and stared at the ground.
Without a word, Miranda turned and stalked away. When she was out
of sight, Alva burst into tears.
For several seconds, nobody moved. Nobody spoke. Then
Sharin lurched to stand with her shoulders slumped in defeat.
"So you know. Are you going to turn us in?"
Ranka delivered her ultimatum. "Only if you don't stop. If
you play a prank on me or someone else, then the videos will be sent to
Then she turned to Alva and told the crying girl what she thought of Yu
Lone. She ended by saying, "She's recovered already, didn't
she? I heard she got cast in a lead role."
Even through her sniffles, Alva's voice hinted of pride. "Yes,
"I wish her luck. Good night."
Without a second glance, they left Alva and Sharin behind.
The next day, Ranka did not see Sharin in any of the classes that she
shared with her. After lunch, Brera gathered them together in
"Sharin's been booted," declared her brother.
Ranka's eyes went wide. "What? You didn't send the videos,
"I didn't send any. She was charged as an accomplice to your
attempted assault. The police took her into custody this morning."
The green-haired girl covered her face with her hands. Those
usually bouncy locks hung limply by her cheeks. "I didn't want
Brera hugged his gentle sister. "I know."
"Who could've told them?" wondered Nanase.
"She was also charged with petty larceny," said the cyborg.
The artist's eyes went round. "Don't tell me... Miranda sold her
Brera spoke somberly. "That would be the logical
explanation. She knew Sharin had the opera glasses and that the
balcony overlooks the orchard. Even if the police can't connect
Sharin to the assault, the larceny will stay on her record since they
found the glasses in her bag."
Ranka remembered Miranda's cold eyes that afternoon. She shivered
slightly and rested her head on her brother's chest. At least,
she was surrounded by people whom she could trust. There was a
snake among them and she hoped that the rest of boot camp would proceed
After Nanase left, her brother said, "Ranka, there's something that I'd
like to show you after dinner."
"What is it?"
It seemed that his eyes looked at her sadly. "I'll tell you
later. Can you keep that time open for me?"
Seeing her brother like that made Ranka feel uneasy. She ignored
those feelings. "Sure. Just let me know."
Quietly, they walked to their respective classes. As they did so,
Ranka wondered what her brother would show her.
Continued in Mvmt. III
Erschütterung (A Violent Shaking)
Fanfics / Macross Frontier Fics / Frontier Generations Series