|Winds of Nostalgia
Author: Dienekes PM
The Battle for Pieta is over, but another journey altogether is fast approaching. Clare finds that she is given a chance to live out her innermost desire, to return to a time when Teresa was still alive, and rekindle the bond she lost.Rated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural/Tragedy - Clare & Teresa - Chapters: 11 - Words: 37,489 - Reviews: 63 - Favs: 27 - Follows: 19 - Updated: 09-13-11 - Published: 08-08-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7266814
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Winds of Nostalgia-
Chapter 1: New Friend, A Comrade
Phantom Miria, cloaked in black, rose from her sitting position, the snow sliding off from her chipped shoulder guards and flakes dancing down from her snow-covered hair.
The light snow fell peacefully around her as she gazed intently into the whiteout, deep in thought. Her mind was far from the dismal snows which swirled around her.
Hilda. This name rarely escaped her thoughts. Miria often reflected on her better days, when she was a bright-eyed double-digit warrior, without the burdens of responsibility or remorse pulling her shoulders. She missed the days of her simple ignorance when the Yoma were the only evil to be purged. That was all before she realized that the Organization itself was a blight.
The one thing that the Organization never seemed to understand was the hearts of the Half Human, Half Yoma beings they had created.
Miria's comrades, the Claymores, that they created had the appearance of monsters, and possessed the strength and speed of monsters, that Claymores still were capable of human love.
This lack of insight on their part would be their downfall. Our hearts are human.
Miria clenched her fists by her side, taking in measured breaths, feeling the cold anger coursing through her. Miria held that certainty within her. She knew her comrades would rebel from the Organization's clutches. And she knew that she would lead the charge. Graves, marked and unmarked, and ruined towns across the land lay in proof of the Organization's evil. It was clear to anyone who knew what Miria knew. The Organization must be crushed.
But Miria was not unrealistic, she knew that the path ahead would require diligent training, planning, and patience.
The other Claymores, survivors of Pieta were huddled together. Miria scanned their weary expressions. Their morale is low, it could affect their combat performance.
She did not blame them for their weariness. Close friends and comrades had been left, torn to pieces in the wreckage of Pieta. Miria shared their pain, but she was a leader. Leaders cannot show their weakness. Leaders need to stand tall, a beacon for their subordinates to follow.
Miria sighed heavily, standing stubbornly against the gusting wind. Sometimes it was hard to be a beacon. Miria's reckless strategy had saved seven of her comrades from certain death but she had also failed seventeen others. She had not been strong enough. The regret tore at her, one little piece of her at a time.
Helen, who had been fidgeting for the last hour, could no longer hold silent. "This sucks. Can't we get out of this damned blizzard and find a town?"
Miria knew she could ill-afford dissent at this point. "For now, we are dead. So we act the part. We will continue to suppress our Yoki, and we bide our time. The organization will assume that we died at Pieta."
And more importantly, Miria thought, we are not yet strong enough to make our move. We will need to at least double our combat potential before moving south.
"I didn't fight this hard just to freeze my ass off," Helen muttered.
Deneve, who sat against her Claymore, sheathed in the frozen ground, shook her head. "We lost eighteen comrades, and all you can think of is your own comfort," she said coldly. Mist rose from her mouth as her warm breath entered the freezing air. She closed her eyes, disappearing back into her thoughts. Deneve spent a lot of time in her thoughts. Miria had always been curios as to what thoughts drew her back with such tenacity. Or perhaps Deneve is just so sick of the world that she withdraws as often as she can.
If Miria knew one thing about Deneve, it was that Deneve kept her history and her secrets tight and she was not looking to share them.
Helen decided to appeal to Tabatha and Yuma. "You girls okay with just sitting around?" she asked.
Tabatha stared back pitifully and Yuma seemed to be unconscious, curled up on Tabatha's shoulder for heat and moaning softly. Cynthia was still absent, on another of her long walks alone.
Helen sighed in defeat, submitting herself back to a sitting position in the dusty snow.
Clare spoke up. "We need a fire. Send Helen to gather wood."
Helen's eyes glimmered. "I'd die for a hot fire. All this cold snow has my butt all wet!"
All eyes turned to their leader, Miria. By now, they had learned to defer to her planning whenever possible. It was only natural. Miria's planning had saved all of their lives. Miria gave her assent with a quick nod.
"The danger of a fire giving us away is minimal. Gather some wood, and find a dry place to start it," Miria ordered.
"Yes boss," Helen exclaimed, saluting Miria. She pranced off on her journey for dry limbs, heading back the way they'd come. They had passed beneath a corridor of gnarled, frozen trees.
Thawing them would be difficult. Still, it was good to see morale was not completely destroyed.
"I'll go make sure the fool doesn't get lost and die in the snow." Deneve rose to join her.
What a strange friendship, Miria thought as she watched the two disappear into the snow. Helen was energetic, foul-mouthed, and impetuous, while Deneve was dark, serious, and laconic. The two were almost complete opposites, but shared commonality enough to be friends.
Miria felt a rush of jealousy.
Hilda. I wish you were here. Miria had no place to be warm. As a commander, she needed authority, not friends. Is friendship incompatible with my role as a leader? Or just incompatible with the scars in my memory?
"The chances of Helen actually getting a fire going with this wind is extremely low," Clare said, face masked with a blank expression.
"At least it will keep her busy," Miria replied.
Despite Clare's repeated insubordination and child-like behavior, Miria had grown fond of her. Maybe in a few decades when we've dropped our guards enough we could be friends, she mused.
The day's march had been long and sorrow sapped Clare's strength. She curled up, welcoming the chance to rest. Perhaps, she thought, in her dreams, she would find a respite from the guilt which tore at her. All she could think of when she was awake was Jean's final words as she slumped lifeless before her. Jean's blood was on her hands. There was so much blood on Clare's hands.
Despite the cold, she did not shiver as she slipped into a deep sleep. She hoped she would sleep peacefully. There was something very peaceful about this frozen, dead landscape.
Clare's dream was more vivid than usual.
She was in the building where she'd spent most of her early childhood, a training ground where the Organization had implanted her with Yoma flesh, and taught her to control her powers.
She recognized the area she was in as the courtyard.
The courtyard was one of the few areas of the training compound which had access to the sun. The Organization liked to use the open area to pit the children against one another in full contact sparring matches. She remembered most of her matches in great detail. Clare had lost every match but one.
But everything seemed a little different to how she remembered it.
Back then, she remembered that most of the girls looked at her scornfully. Being that Clare was only one-fourth Yoma, the other girls quickly found out that Clare was the weakest among them. In the brutal conditions of the training yard, weakness was met with contempt rather than pity. The girls had no room for pity. Pity did not help them survive.
Many girls died in training. Clare remembered that it was close to a miracle that she had survived.
She walked through the courtyard, but no matter how hard she tried, she didn't recognize the faces of any of the other trainees from her childhood. They were all different.
Eventually, she saw a girl at the back of the room with long platinum-blond hair pulled back in a ponytail. She felt her heart leap inside her chest. She walked towards her.
She made her way through the crowd of girls and saw the girl again.
This particular girl was leaning back, arms crossed with a cocky smile. Her silver eyes, her posture, everything suggested that this girl was powerful, independent, and fearless. But hidden beneath, Clare could see that the little girl was wounded, lonely, and most of all, angry. But her pain was too deep inside for any to see. Unlike the others that she didn't recognize, something about the girl seemed faintly nostalgic.
As she grew close, she recognized the girl's face. She felt a shock of joy and pain pulse through her heart. Teresa.
The young Teresa looked at Clare with a deathly glare. "Is there a reason you're looking at me?" Clare felt tears gathering in her eyes.
"Teresa," she said softly. It was all she could manage to say.
Clare's eyes shot open, the snowy world around her filling her senses. She could feel a hand on her shoulder. She was in Pieta once more.
She pushed the hand away, opening her eyes to see Miria's concerned face looking down at her as her hair was blown from side to side by the breeze. "Miria," Clare said weakly. Why did she wake me?
"You were crying in your sleep, Clare," Miria said.
Clare brought her hand to her face, feeling the wetness on her cheeks. "Oh," Clare said, embarrassed. Clare sat up, brushing off the snow which had gathered on her head. She had always looked up to Miria, it was humiliating to know that Miria had seen her during such a vulnerable moment, even if she was dreaming.
"I don't know." Clare felt shaken.
In truth, she didn't know if it was a good dream or a bad dream. She just felt turmoil inside, no pleasure and no pain.
"You kept repeating something and moaning," Miria pressed.
Clare glanced up with alarm. Did she hear me say her name?
"It was a name," Miria clarified, noticing Clare's concern.
The memories were something very private to her, almost sacred.
"Teresa," Clare said softly.
"Was she important to you?"
"Yes." Clare spoke quietly.
Clare eyed Miria wearily, wondering if Miria would ask any more questions, but to Clare's relief, all Miria did was give her an understanding look.
"I won't ask anything more," Miria said respectfully.
Clare felt a deep relief. This was not something she wanted to share. At least not yet.
"Miria," Clare said, looking up into Miria's eyes. At that moment, indecision swam within her. "I could tell you about her someday."
"Okay Clare," Miria answered.
Clare sat up and saw that Helen had gotten a fire going. Clare dusted herself off and rose to join them around the warm flames. Unsurprisingly, Helen was talking obnoxiously loud while Deneve subtly mocked her. Every once in a while, Deneve and Helen would share a smile. The two had probably been playing this game for a while now.
Cynthia had apparently returned from her walk. She was still distant from the others, and had taken the death of Veronica, her captain, very badly. Cynthia had been just a few steps from Veronica when she was torn in half and that fact alone seemed to have greatly wounded Cynthia to the point where she hardly spoke at all.
Veronica and Cynthia were close in number. Clare wondered if Cynthia and Veronica had been close friends, or perhaps even closer than that.
Tabatha and Yuma were both quiet. They were both newcomers to the group, and the loss of the other warriors hit them especially hard. Both just seemed thankful to be alive.
Clare felt the warmth of the fire as she approached. Even though Claymores could regulate their own body temperature the warmth of the fire was oddly pleasant, and the bright flames were a welcome sight among the gusting snowflakes.
Clare sat down, listening to Helen's cheerful story-telling and felt a different warmth flowing through her, the warmth of camaraderie.
Suddenly, she realized something. Miria must have not wanted me to miss this, Clare thought, glancing up at Miria appreciatively.
Miria's enigmatic expression was fixed directly on the flames. But, for a moment, Miria's eyes looked over to Clare, and the slightest smile came over her lips. But the smile vanished as soon as it had come. Even in the darkest times, one can find comfort in friends, Clare thought.
As the night dragged on, the snow stopped and the fire burned down. Helen snuggled against Deneve's lap, much to Deneve's feigned annoyance.
The hours continuing to pass, Clare felt herself tiring. She saw that even Deneve had fallen asleep, limbs tangled with Helen. Only Miria and her were awake, and she continued to stare, eyes blank, at the glowing embers of the fire. Miria still blamed herself for those who'd fallen at Pieta. It still visibly weighs on her, Clare observed.
Clare reflected on that briefly before feeling the fatigue pass over her like a warm blanket. She curled down in the snow, pulling her tattered clothes tight to her body.
Clare's eyes shot open and she immediately sat up, inhaling sharply. That was Teresa's voice. Clare thought. Clare urgently scanned the clearing, but no one was awake but Miria, who seemed lost in her own thoughts.
Teresa's voice tore through the wind once more with powerful force, even though the word was said but as a whisper. No one else seemed to notice. The voice spoke to her alone.
Clare pulled herself to her feet. Her heart pumping urgently. The voice, Teresa's voice, was urging her into the darkness, towards the rose to her feet. She could feel Teresa's presence, in the darkness beyond the camp, calling out to her.
Clare walked towards Teresa's voice, pulled in like a magnet. She moved thoughtlessly, passing Deneve and Helen, leaving the dim light of the glowing embers behind with each step.
However, she heard footsteps behind her. Clare turned, and saw Miria was following her. "Miria," Clare said with surprise.
"You look disturbed."
"I heard... Teresa's voice," Clare said, looking back into the blackness. "I'm going to see what it is."
"It's a good night for a walk." Miria's eyes narrowed sharply. "I better join you."
Miria and Clare walked side by side. The night was so black that they could barely see their feet as they walked. Only the stars shone above them. The wind howled as it poured down through the jagged mountains ahead of them.
"Clare, take off your boots. We'll move quieter if we do," Miria muttered. Clare nodded, and pulled off her boots along with Miria, leaving them in the snow. With visibility so low, the removal of their boots made them virtually soundless.
They proceeded barefoot. But Clare could sense the presence. She knew it was close.
Then she saw a glint ahead of them in the distance. Miria saw it too. It was clearly the glint of armor reflecting in the starlight.
The both of them stopped and glanced at each other, making sure they both saw it.
There was no time to go back and wake the others. If they did, the figure might have a chance to escape.
Clare readied her Claymore quietly. Miria patted Clare on the shoulder and motioned for her to move forward. Clare nodded and stepped softly further towards the obscure figure as Miria circled around it at a good distance, readying a strike.
But the figure had already noticed them, or perhaps it had noticed them long before. Taking the initiative, it stepped forward. Miria and Clare readied their weapons.
"Identify yourself!" Miria commanded.
The figure ignored her. As the figure moved closer, it became more visible. Clare could, at first, make out the armor of a Claymore, and the figure of a woman, as the figure's face finally came into view, Clare's heart skipped a beat.
Her Claymore didn't fall from her grip, but it fell from it's ready position, blade sinking into the soft snow below as Clare's wide eyes drank in what she saw before her. "Teresa," she whispered. This must be a dream.
Teresa was standing before her, just as she remembered, with long white hair and an arrogant smile on her lips. "Why did you bring Captain Miria," Teresa said with a dramatic frown. "She won't understand."
"It's not real, Clare," Miria warned.
It's a dream, Clare thought, A good dream.
"Take my hand," Teresa said, stopping a few paces in front of Clare. "I've missed you. You've grown into quite a woman Clare."
Clare felt the tears rushing from her eyes. She reached out, and grasped Teresa's hand, her body moving on its own.
"Enough!" Miria shouted.
Miria knew that Clare was completely dumbstruck and could not be relied upon. She would have to do this alone. If Miria didn't succeed in her first attack, the illusionist could possibly turn Clare against her. Miria couldn't risk it.
With a sudden acceleration, Miria leaped at Teresa, intent on finishing her in one stroke.
"Teresa!" Clare shouted.
The warning was unnecessary. Teresa deftly intercepted the former number-six's attack, and planting a hand on Miria's chest. Miria's sword immediately fell from her hands and her eyes widened.
As Miria slumped against Teresa, fully unconscious, Teresa turned to Clare, stretching out her arm. "Come. . . I will take you where you wish to go."
Clare took her arm.
Reality rapidly faded away.