Disclaimer: I do not own Uchuu no Stellvia, and I haven't the slightest clue who to thank for such a wonderful show. Please forgive me.

*****

Unforgotten

*****

Ayaka, do you remember me? These two years that humanity has had to choose its own path, have you thought of me?

Oh, but I know you have. You can't help it. You see me in your dreams at night, in the darkness when you close your eyes.

New students, Ayaka. A whole new class at Stellvia, and you intend to – what was it you said? "Push them hard," I heard, freshman instructor that you are. So hard it must be, watching them grow as you stay the same, pressing them hard enough to rise and surpass you.

You can still feel it, can't you? Even where you are now, not even second to Katase anymore, surpassed by her, by Otoyama, and even by Yayoi, who you worked so hard to stay ahead of. Yes, Ayaka, even Yayoi is better than you now, risen up to pilot a grand machine that you yourself will only ever see from the outside.

She, not you, should be teaching these children to fly. In all rights, she should have surpassed you then, risen to the top of the class in your place, flown in the Great Mission, the Ultima rescue, the Genesis Mission. To think that you had the honor of flying alongside her in humanity's greatest hour, when your seat should have been hers, and would have been had you not sent her back to Earth in just enough pieces to be reassembled.

Then, there is also Katase. Do you remember how threatened you felt? Do you remember the shame you felt when she nearly defeated your superior training and experience in your first joust against her? You would have crushed her as well, I recall, had Otoyama not saved her. She would have returned to Earth crippled as Yayoi was, or perhaps simply dead, and you, you would have been the best for a little while longer.

Until the Great Mission went so horribly wrong, perhaps. Without Katase and Otoyama to pilot the Infinity, perhaps that would be where it ended.

Perhaps not. Others might have flown the Infinity to destroy that great asteroid and repair the Great Wall. You might have survived that mistake. But could you have flown the Halcyon in her place? Could you, or anyone else, have produced the targeting program that guided Otoyama's hand, if not for Katase?

Oh, but I remember you as you were. I remember Ayaka, the one above all others, who worked so hard for her superiority that she would kill to protect it. I remember Ayaka, the queen of the prep students, who too late regretted the decision to kill her best friend, who watched her rival leave Stellvia not knowing if she would even survive. I remember Ayaka of the Big Four, who came so close to defeating Katase Shima, so nearly crushed her, but was saved at the last moment by Otoyama Kouta.

I remember, Ayaka, as you remember, how close you came to murdering the girl who would save the world. If, even for a moment, you forget the people who were your salvation, I am there to remind you. Wherever you run, I alone await you. Whenever you weep, I alone hear you. You want to escape me, try to drive me away with petty work and duties, but when you are done I am ever at your side. It is I who makes you remember, who forces you to see in Yayoi's face, in Katase's smile, the ghosts of murdered billions that you yourself could never have saved. It is I who tears at you until you break, who meets you in your dreams with the destruction of everything you hold dear.

Even now, when no more threats stand before the children of Earth, when all has been done and you are forgiven by those whose stars you tried to tear away, I cling to you, the memory of the genocide that so easily could have been.

More than anyone else, I cannot forgive you, for I am the darkness in the heart of Machida Ayaka, and I will never forget.