I must point something out so certain people will stop bothering me about it: I DON'T LIKE SEIYA/SHAINA PAIRINGS. I'm not particularly fond of Seiya at all, even if he IS the main character, and Shaina scares me. There will not be any real 'pairings' in this fic, and that means none. Sorry, but no.
Oh, and the obstacle course thing is a little sloppy. It's really something you'd have to watch to understand, sorry 'bout that.
Disclaimer:I don't own Shun, Shaina, Marin, or anything related to Saint Seiya. However, I own the Amazons, their culture, Meilu and Hippolyta. So there.
Among The Amazons
Chapter 6: Unexpected Visitors
"Okay then." Meilu whispered, blocking one of Shun's punches with her right arm. "Saturdays are our rest-days. We'll get the day off for mediation and self-training, so that'll be the perfect time to explore the caves."
Shun slid back, giving a nearly unnoticeable nod, and blocked a kick and two punches from his partner. They were sparring, or at least pretending too, in a large group of several pairs, within a mini-stadium on the Eastern side of the Island. It was Thursday, Shun's fifth day on the Isle, about mid-afternoon. Not the best place for a little chat, but with all this noise it was doubtful anyone could hear them.
Meilu dodged one of his blows, ducking lower to punch him in the stomach. "You sure they'll be hiding your armor in there?" she asked in a low whisper.
"It's pretty likely." he gasped, coughing a bit, then recovering to catch her on the shoulder. "I can only think of one other place, and this is of less risk."
Meilu stumbled, recovering easily after a moment. "Fine then. So we go in two days…"
She was suddenly cut off by the ringing of a large bell. Everyone in the stadium stopped moving and looked upwards, as Hippolyta's guards appeared on the platform high above, followed by Hippolyta herself.
"Here ye, all!" one of the guards shouted. "An announcement from Our Queen, Hippolyta XXI, pertaining to our island home!"
The Queen stepped forward, today dressed in a long, flowing, navy-blue robe, trimmed with gold and with a long tail held off the ground by one of the younger trainees. She gazed around them briefly, her dark eyes drifting to focus on select pairs in turn.
"My sisters!" she proclaimed, stretching out her hands. "I have great news! I have received word from our Lord Pope, of the Sanctuary! Tomorrow's morn brings our contacts from the Blessed Sanctuary of Athena, here once again to judge our strength and worthiness in combat!"
This was greeted by a loud roar of cheers and war-whoops from the collected Amazons. A few of them stomped the feet, leaping into the air. Shun slid back a bit from Meilu as she let out a cry worthy enough to shatter most panes of glass.
Hippolyta raised her hands again and the shouting stopped. "You know as well as I do, my sisters, that our regular visits have made the contacts a bit…partial to us. But that should not deter us from proving our worth. So when the Honored Aquila Marin and Ophiuchus Shaina arrive at our shores, be sure to present them with the very best we can offer!"
The Amazons cheered loudly again, all but Shun. The green-haired saint had gone readily pale and was trying to slip away, unnoticed by all but Meilu. The amazon raised an eyebrow and followed her roommate away from the coliseum.
"Hey, what's up?" she called after him, once they were far enough away. "What're you getting so worked up about?"
Shun turned back, checking quickly with all his senses to make sure no one was around them. Then he leaned forward, motioning her to get closer so she could hear.
"It's about the visitors from Sanctuary…" he said quietly. "They…They know who I am…"
"You know them?!" Meilu squeaked.
"Sort've." Shun straightened, trying to recall. "One of my friends, my teammates, trained at the Sanctuary. Marin was his teacher. And Shaina, I don't know what kind of grudge she has against him, but she's been one of our worst enemies for ages."
"And they've both seen your face." Meilu said blankly. "They both could recognize you as the Andromeda Saint. The male Andromeda Saint."
"Yes." Shun nodded. "And if they do, I'm literally dead meat, aren't I?"
There was silence between them a moment. Meilu suddenly grabbed him by the arm. "Come with me."
He didn't have much choice, she literally dragged him back to their small cabin. And she released him so suddenly that he fell over and landed flat on his back in the middle of his bed.
When he sat back up, Meilu was digging through the many things under her own bunk and muttering to him as she did:
"Kana…she was one of the older amazons, disappeared on an outside mission months ago…Kana brought this to me. She'd do things like that, going out for supplies and bringing us younger ones small presents. We had to keep 'em all hidden from Mistress Hippolyta, of course, since they're mostly 'forbiden developments of man'. But she brought this for me the last time she came back, and I've been saving them…"
She pulled out a box and set it in the middle of the room. She checked out the windows very quickly, then slide open the top and displayed the objects on the floor.
Shun stared at each of them separately. Then he said, rather weakly. "What…is it?"
Meilu's grin spread out almost evilly. "It's make-up. What does it look like?"
Well, there was no doubt about that. Shun recognized quite a lot of it from Saori's dresser-table: nail polish, lipstick, base, powder, eye shadow…But, oh gods, he'd so hoped it wouldn't come to that…
"I can't make it too obvious, or we'll both be in trouble." Meilu muttered, picking up a thing of face powder and dabbing the puff in it. "But I should be able to change your looks just enough that they won't recognize you…"
"Great…" Shun groaned as she started on her experiments. "This is just my luck…"
. . . . . .
The sun hard barely risen the next day when Marin and Shaina arrived by boat. Neither was too happy about having to travel with the other, but at the same time, they seamed glad to be on the island.
There was a large, banquet-style breakfast planned to greet their arrival, which all the Amazons were required to attend. All of them.
Luckily, about twenty minutes beforehand, Meilu finished Shun's 'make-over'.
A base powder darkened his skin just a bit, down the neck and over the shoulders, even a light coating on his arms and legs to make it all match. A very pale rose-colored lipstick made his lips look larger and fuller than any man's could have been. His eyebrows, covered by the powder, had been re-drawn thinner and higher, and his hair was pulled back higher than he'd ever worn it.
These changes, added in with a slight re-adjustment of the outfit he wore and extra stuffing in the bra, made him look less like a young girl and more like a full-grown young woman.
"Are you sure the others aren't going to notice?" he hissed to Meilu as the sat down at the low, long table.
"With any luck, no." she hissed back. "And lower your shoulders a bit more. You look way too tense."
Shun shifted and willed himself to relax, but it wasn't easy. For some reason, maybe just to tempt faint, Meilu had chosen two of the seats closest to the end of the table where Hippolyta, Marin and Shaina were sitting. To add to it, the woman saints had removed their masks to eat, and he remembered all too well what June had threatened him with if he ever tried to peak at her face. And she liked him!
"Excellent, as always, Hippolyta." Shaina declared after the first course had been finished and the second was served.
"Indeed." Marin agreed, much more quietly. "Your girls certainly know how to show their respect."
A satisfied grin spread over Hippolyta's face, but she responded with a humble bow. "Thank you. As you know, we do take pride in our extensive training program…"
"It's much better than anything the men back in Sanctuary could come up with." Shaina snickered disdainfully. "You wouldn't believe the junk they put us up to. And they can't even handle those five little Bronze Saint brats!"
Shun coughed into his drink, quickly grabbing a napkin and dabbing his face with it before the make-up could run. Meilu elbowed him in the side, but none of the three talking had noticed.
"Oh, still having problems with them, are you?" Hippolyta asked airily. "I thought they'd been taken care of weeks ago."
"I wish." Shaina sighed, annoyed, and leaned back against the wall. "But those five little traitors just won't die. If I'd been sent after them, they'd all be six feet under. Even that punk Seiya."
Shun lowered his head a bit, pretending to concentrate on his meal. "And it's not just him…" Shaina continued with a slight hiss. "But the rest of them too. Dragon, Cygnus, that turncoat Phoenix…Not to mention his wimp of a brother, Andromeda."
"Oh, are they really so bad?" Hippolyta seamed happy enough to hear the Sanctuary's gossip. Women were women, after all.
"Absolutely awful." Shaina shuddered. "Dragon's a half-way decent fighter, but he's so noble, it's ridiculous. And Cygnus might as well be a rubber duck with that goofy dance he's always doing during his attacks. Phoenix used to be such a great fighter, but he's more of a cooked goose now. That twerp Andromeda is just pathetic, such a sentimental looser, but even he has to be more of a challenge than Seiya…"
"Marin, my dear, wasn't your pupil named Seiya?" Hippolyta asked coyly.
"It's the same one. An absolute disgrace, all of them…" Shaina continued on with her rant, but Marin looked like she wanted to drop the subject of her student before it got too far.
She turned, instead, to the two sitting on her right, which was Shun and Meilu. The green-haired 'girl' was still looking down at 'her' plate, picking at the food nonchalantly, biting 'her' lip against both annoyance at the insults and giggles at Shaina's accusations. The result made him look like 'she' was trying not to cry.
Marin reached over the table and picked his head up by the chin, making him look her in the eye. Meilu nearly choked on her bite of food, and Shun stiffened.
"What's wrong?" Marin asked, using a semi-concerned tone she must've used with trainees at Sanctuary. Her brown eyes narrowed at him critically. "You look a bit upset, girl. Is something bothering you?"
"N-No ma'am." Shun squeaked out, keeping his voice in check.
Hippolyta cleared her throat. "Andrea is our newest recruit. Only joined a few days ago." her voice was laced with fake-concern. "Perhaps she's having a hard time adjusting. Are you, dear?"
Meilu caught Shun's eye with an unspoken warning: Say yes and die.
Shun gulped and shook his head. "No, ma'am." Meilu signaled him to go on. "I-It's been a dream here. T-The training is very…very…"
"Fulfilling?" Hippolyta put in. That sounded good. Shun nodded in agreement. He wanted Marin to let go of his face now. She was getting just a little too close for comfort.
Marin studied him a moment, then let go. A mischievous grin spread across Hippolyta's face. "As a matter of fact…" the Mistress of the Amazons smirked. "Perhaps you would like a demostration of just how fulfilling our training can be…"
Which was how, five minutes later, Shun and Meilu found themselves out in front of the hardest obstacle course on the entire island. And not only was it the hardest course, it was also the most dangerous…as in, deadly dangerous.
First, there was a swinging rope ladder, which lead to a pair of ropes to slide across a very deep pool of water that seamed a bit too inky black for comfort. Then there was a wide jump to the bank, which you had to grab onto a rope swing to reach, a fast run through a hail of (REAL) spears, scurrying up a fifty-foot tall wooden wall, and swinging across a pit with some much too jagged rocks at the bottom of it.
Shun and Meilu both took in a collective gulp as they stood at the starting line. "Smooth move, genius." the duel-haired girl whispered.
"Well, what was I supposed to say?" Shun swallowed nervously.
"Just try not to loose your head." Meilu gulped. "Literally."
Hippolyta stood on a high platform, accompanied by Marin and Shaina, all three of who gazed down at them seriously. The Queen of the Amazons raised her hand. "Ready?" Shun really wanted to shake his head, but remained still. "GO!"
The two lunged forward, up the suspended rope ladder and across the swinging ropes, shimming sloth-style over the water. Meilu went first at the bank, across the rope swing, followed quickly by Shun, and they both dashed through the spears one-at-a-time, to decrease liabilities.
The wall wasn't any problem for someone with the minimal training of a high school gym class, the problem came with the pit directly after it. Meilu sprung across and finished easily, but Shun, somehow thrown off and disoriented, slipped his grip and fell.
"Oh, DAMN!!" he thought, trying to get a grip on the wall. "No choice now…"
The crowd of amazons gasped as the green-haired trainee started to fall. 'She' turned slightly in mid-air, so that her sandals brushed against the edge of the wall she was quickly reaching the bottom off. Seconds before hitting the top of the pit, she kicked off and…in a way no one was really able to satisfactorily explain in later conversation…leapt to the other side of the pit, where her partner was ready to keep her landing steady.
Meilu grabbed Shun's arm and hoisted him up to his feet, eyes wide in amazement. "What did you do?!" she hissed.
"Small burst…of cosmos…" the boy gasped, out of breath. "Just enough force… to get over…"
"Cosmos…?" It took a moment for that to register. "You moron!! What if they recognized it?!"
"Well what was I supposed to do, get killed? I had to risk it."
Their conversation was cut off suddenly by the Queen herself, standing and applauding. "Well done!" she proclaimed. "Well done, both of you! Most splendid, most splendid indeed!"
Meilu bowed deeply. "Thank you, ma'am!" she said, almost like a private responding to their drill sergeant.
Shun responded in vaguely the same way, but a bit shakier and shallower. That, and he kept his eyes trained on the two messengers from Sanctuary, hoping to whatever god was up there that they didn't have a clue…
. . . . . .
Shun and Meilu headed back towards their little 'home' of sorts, both exhausted and profoundly relieved that the day was over…Meilu, because they'd been put through every meaning of the Amazon 'paces' within the past few hours, and Shun because the stupid make-up was starting to make his face itch.
As they passed around the last curve before reaching their hut, two hands suddenly shot out from among the rocks and grabbed the green-haired 'trainee' by the shoulder and covering his mouth, yanking him back.
"Shun!" Meilu exclaimed, then froze when she realized who it was.
Shun realized as well, looking up blankly at the now-masked face, framed by bright red hair. "M-Marin…?"
The masked fighter eyed him a moment. "What do you think you're doing here, Andromeda?" she asked unemotionally. "And dressed like that?"
Shun flushed a deep red. "It was Seiya's idea…"
"Seiya's?" she let go, letting him stand and face her.
"Yeah…" Shun shifted. He'd never really talked to Marin, but he'd seen her with Seiya before, so he could only think to trust her. "There were rumors…of a piece of the gold cloth here, but we're not sure where, so…"
"So they picked the most feminine of you and sent you to scope it out." Shun's blush deepened. "I see…That sounds like something Seiya would do."
For a moment, there was silence. Then the woman warrior spoke with a low, serious tone. "There is a piece of the Golden Armor here…I'm not sure where, but it is here. But here's a warning, for your own good: Be sure to get it and be out of here by next month. You won't make it through another 'examination' from Shaina."
Shun blinked uncomprehendingly, then nodded slightly. The woman smiled behind her mask and disappeared back into the darkness of the fading daylight.
Ack…the ending sucked, but that's what you get when the author's got writer's block. Sucks, don't it? Well…I really need ideas for the exploring-the-maze thing next chapter, so if anyone's got anything, I'll be most happy to hear it!