Author: Ridney PM
Yoko reflects on her life as the Spiral Nemesis. AURated: Fiction K+ - English - Sci-Fi - Yoko L. - Words: 1,547 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 15 - Follows: 1 - Published: 05-02-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5941218
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She had been a joke at first: the doll-faced leader of a revolution. She didn't look the part, they had said – no one would take the uprising seriously under someone with a pug nose and more curves than the Tobihebi river.
Had they forgotten she was a killer from the start?
Long before Simon or Kamina broke the surface, before anyone dreamed of freedom by force, she had drawn her first blood. She was dismantling and constructing weaponry before the bones of her clumsy fingers had finished fusing. Her earliest memories were of her father's hands cupped over her own, adjusting her grip over the child-sized pistol and later the rifle when she had grown enough to handle the recoil. Squeeze, don't pull, he whispered. Calculate the bullet drop, the wind, your heartbeat.
She looked the part now, no one would argue otherwise. Her eyes were hard and unnaturally green. An old scar curved across her jawline, another divided her eyebrow and carved a white streak through her hair. There were more beneath her clothes, and changes deeper than skin.
Some mornings she found bits of shrapnel in the shower – relics of a hundred battles slowly working their way out of her body. Shrapnel days still made her a little melancholy. Had the shards come from that explosion? Were the flecks of metal swirling down the drain the last of Gurren Lagann? She used to study the pieces, looking for a sign.
Yoko remembered the scream of metal, and just screaming, as machinery was ripped apart: a cacophony so violent Leeron advised her to treasure the ringing she heard for days afterward, because it would be the last time she would ever hear that pitch.
She remembered … she was on her hands and knees in the mud. Simon and Kamina, the Black Siblings – there wasn't enough left even to bury. Despair pounded her down with the rain, and everything was worse than undone. She was empty, naked, and still it beat down. Despair washed away her hope, her pain, doubt, love, her everything, until there was nothing left but the core. Nothing was left but will.
Sludge oozed from between her clenched fingers. She hadn't realized she was sobbing until she stopped. With her world stripped away, she discovered a wall not even despair could break. And what could be broken had never truly been needed. She stepped out of that shattered husk and stood new and whole and anything but fragile while rags clung to her body in the muddy afterbirth. Yoko felt a cold power wash over her, and a rational madness that told her she would never feel helpless again.
There in the mud she had learned her hardest lesson. Figures staggered through the wreckage, as bloody as torn as she had been only moments ago. Yoko knew better now. Yoko would teach them. She narrowed her eyes at the dark clouds of beastmen ships retreating through sheets of rain. Them too. Her fist opened to find the core drill.
Peace did not suit her, nor did it last after the conquest of Teppelin.
She had only paused a moment before annihilating the beautiful Anti-Spiral messenger. When their fury descended upon the earth and the time came for her to crush the Anti-Spiral flagship, friends dead and dying all around her, she didn't hesitate at all.
Yoko sighed and lit a cigarette.
She'd surprised herself when she started smoking, but there was nothing better for winning a new recruit's loyalty in the trenches. When the resistance was young and fragile, she learned a shared smoke could build morale faster than any brave words. In the beginning she'd tried to be like him – all outrageous bravado – but it rang false. Kamina was Kamina, and Yoko was not. It turned out a tired, grateful smile and an offered light worked just as well. Little victories can win a war.
Now it just gave her something to do with her hands. She'd traded guerilla hideouts for warships, and her rifle, though she loved it, had become more of an explosive decompression threat than a practical tool. So she oiled and cleaned it once a month and laid it aside, carried a pistol on her hip, and fiddled with cigarettes and papers. The Chouginga Dreadnaught's guns were some consolation. They were lovely guns, and very, very big.
The metallic ring of her heels announced her approach. Backs would be straightening; unnecessary crew members would be exiting the bridge to whatever hidden station they could find. Even after decades in her service they would be holding their breath by the time she entered a room, Yoko knew. She didn't discourage their unease.
At times she liked to prowl the ship in silence; she could cover ground noiselessly if she wanted. It was a casual reminder that her absence could never be taken for granted.
Her infamy spread quickly. Rogue Anti-Spiral forces came for revenge, no less dangerous for their splintered numbers. Other Spiral races came to make a name for themselves, to propose a new empire, or to extinguish what they perceived as the newest galactic tyrant. A few came to ask her hand in marriage.
She became the Red Death, the Spiral Queen. The Bloody Baroness, some called her, for her long red hair and how she always got what she wanted, stepping over corpses to take it. Yoko liked that one, though she wasn't sure what a Baroness was. It must be the kind of woman who would sow the earth with incendiaries and leave her world burning before she would see it under the control of her enemy. She was neither cruel nor merciful, and she couldn't go home.
In the early years she used to wonder what he would have done in her place, but it was hard to imagine him here, a thousand worlds away. Perhaps he couldn't have done it at all. He would have suffocated on this ship, just like in the tunnels. He belonged under the hot sun and the blue sky, and that's where he remained, what was left of it. He was dead, just one more dead among the many. Yoko was Yoko, and it was her many names that will be remembered for better or worse.
Victory made her restless, and she rarely slept or ate. Yet even now she dreamed of dead lovers, husbands. Sometimes there were children, but rarely her own. She dreamed of planting seeds on a familiar hill a thousand years after the ash had fallen, and the water flowed again.
These were a girl's dreams, more leftovers from before she knew what it meant to have will – true will – to reach out and shape the world around her, and never bend because it was the universe that must bend. Still, on those nights Yoko wondered, if only for a moment, if she paid a price to leave such weakness behind.
Activity buzzed on the deck, but Yoko was alone on the bridge. With her dark cloak and eerie spiral eyes, she perched on the Captain's Dais like a phantom. Her senses stirred. A challenge approached; not a true challenge – those were increasingly rare – but something to burn off the growing energy that threatened to consume her.
A dozen ships appeared on the view screen. The design was unfamiliar – squat central bodies trailed the long, glowing appendages of a deep sea predator. They were aligned in an offensive formation. The Chouginga's reputation preceded it, but these strangers were untried fools if they thought Yoko was unaware the rest of the fleet was hidden two dimensions deeper. She felt their weight on reality … and the hole their destruction left in the future. She waited.
The foremost craft didn't bother sending a communiqué before it launched a missile volley toward the Chouginga Dreadnaught. The projectiles seemed to creep across the vast distance between the ships.
Their attack travelled less than halfway when it was answered by a blinding green beam that consumed the missiles, the ship that fired them, and most of the scouts in its wake. Yoko took a long drag on her cigarette while she watched the remaining aliens panic. One of their ships had been cleaved in two, and machinery and soldiers were spilling out like broken toys. In the vacuum of space their death was silent. Yoko had long since gone deaf to that pitch anyway. Gas from the crippled vessel billowed and ignited, trailing a long inferno until it too was snuffed out. Not Anti-Spiral, then. Their machines were as empty of oxygen and life as they were.
Space distorted around the debris. The rest of the fleet appeared like a mirage, flickering in and out of sight before solidifying on the visible plane.
"Madam." Their number gave even Cybella pause. "We're surrounded, we …" She glanced at Yoko from the battle station, her hand still hovering over the controls.
Squeeze, don't pull.
"Fire at will. Fire on anything that moves." Yoko exhaled a ribbon of smoke. "All the stars in the sky are our enemies."