PLAYGROUND OF MEMORIES
Written by Star
Chapter Two: Scarlett

If you chased a dream 'till your dying day, would you embrace it knowing you had mere moments to enjoy it? What would it feel like?

The first years of my life were rather eventful for humanity. Fate would see both hero and villain father children born to the same woman, the stubborn knot in their tug-of-war. I did my best, but is it any wonder I feel distanced from the world?

THIS USED TO BE MY PLAYGROUND

On days when my father's strong embrace or my mother's calming presence seems far away, my mind drifts to the memories of my childhood; forbidden memories that should lie hidden and forgotten. Though I'd be lying if I said my childhood was perfect, who in all honesty can say theirs was?

My family's experience was particularly unique, to say the least. When Radam finally lost its vice grip on Earth, citizens of earth rejoiced. I'll never understand the struggles they faced and conquered; they will understand mine.

THIS USED TO BE MY CHILDHOOD DREAM

"Up! Daddy…UUUUUP!" Lucien squealed as Daddy complied, raising my little brother to sit on his shoulders. It was yet another numbered day in paradise and the Aiba family were off to explore.

We often picnicked by the sea, the open yet private cove that was part of our home. After we ate, Momma would braid my hair as Daddy chased after Lucien, who always ran too close to the water.

"Remember what we told you about the water, son." Daddy would say before his stern façade cracked, throwing a giggling Lucien over his shoulder.

A cloudless sky, the kiss of the sun, the gentle crashing of the waves all combined to create the perfect setting.

A happy family, Fate's spell was cast.

THIS USED TO BE THE PLACE I RAN TO

"Ok boys, off you go." Momma chuckles.

Lucien squeals and holds Daddy's hand as they head off for a swim. As I watch with a wistful smile, the ghostly waning moon above sends a chill through me. Memories of another time, another place, darkness, despair…

"What's wrong, baby?" Momma croons as she ties the braid into place.

"Do you miss Papa?" I asked tentatively. I loved Daddy, but part of me couldn't help but wonder, was insanely curious as to what had happened to the man I called 'Papa'.

"You still remember him?"

I didn't have to look at Momma to see her reaction; I felt it. The fear in her voice was carefully disguised as shock, but I knew her too well.

"Sometimes…" I lied. Nightmares had haunted me in previous weeks; Papa was on my mind more than ever.

WHENEVER I WAS IN NEED OF A FRIEND

Daddy held me in a comforting embrace as Momma dealt with Lucien.

"Noaru will tuck you in, Lucien."

"I want you to tuck me in!" Lucien pouted.

"We won't be gone for long." Momma replied, grinning at her obstinate son.

"Yes you will," I whimpered in Daddy's ear. I didn't want them to go.

When Lucien brought out the big guns and turned on the waterworks, Momma caved in and followed him upstairs.

WHY DID IT HAVE TO END

The next day, the delicious smells of breakfast enticed us out of bed. Downstairs, Noaru greeted us with a smile.

Noaru kept us entertained with his endless supply of stories, but Lucien grew restless as the morning wore on. Again and again, he begged to go outside yet Noaru stubbornly refused to acknowledge Lucien's request. Where were our parents? What were those noises? I began to panic.

'I want to go to outside!' Lucien whispered telepathically.

'We should stay here…'

Noaru heard us giggling and stopped midway through his story. His eyes narrowed suspiciously as we looked back, feigning innocence.

AND WHY DO THEY ALWAYS SAY

Lucien got his wish when the phone rang. Fuelled by a strange panic, I bolted after Lucien. Though the thrill of escape wore off quickly, my stubborn little brother didn't want to go back inside.

Surrendering to Lucien's determination, I grabbed hold of his hand and led him to our hidden sanctuary. Sunlight filtered in through the green canopy as dazzling colours bounced off a small, bubbling stream. Surrounded by wildflowers too beautiful to be named, stood the cubbyhouse built by our grandfather. Knowing that Daddy had played here as a child felt strangely comforting to me.

"I'm hungry…" I heard Lucien whine.

A tiny droplet splashed on my nose and I looked up in surprise. Where had the sun gone?

"Can we go home now, Scarlett?" Lucien whimpered as a deafening clap of thunder drew him to my side. I took hold of Lucien's hand, straining my ears for the comforting bird whistles that normally accompanied us on our way home.

Wind, rain, and snow; they'd all fascinated me since my descent from the Orbital Ring. Lucien hated them; I never got the chance to find out why…

NO REGRETS

I shrieked like a wild animal, desperate to break free as I bit, kicked and scratched at a man I'd loved and feared.

"Hold still, Scarlett," Papa grunted. "I'm not going to hurt you!"

The rain was falling so hard and fast that I could hardly see. I kicked back, hard, and heard him groan in pain. Papa released me and I fell with a thud, my head hitting the mud as I slid away.

Lightning struck a tree and lit the forest as I heard Daddy scream my name. Confused, I grabbed for Lucien…

"Which way did they go?" Daddy cried out, trying to be heard over the storm.

"I d-don't know!" I wailed as I heard Momma's tormented cry join the howling wind.

BUT I WISH THAT YOU WERE HERE WITH ME

When I stirred the next morning, I leaped out of bed and ran to Lucien's room. I tried to tell myself that I'd experienced a nightmare, and that my throbbing head was nothing more than the result of my night terror.

"Wake up Lucien, breakfast!" I whispered hopefully.

I entered his empty room, still believing that would find him snuggled under his comforter.

I pulled off the covers…

Looked under his bed…

Opened his wardrobe…

"Stop hiding, Lucien!" I shouted.

I ran to the window, perhaps he was hiding on the roof again? Forgetting that the window usually took both of us to open it, I stood there, struggling.

"Where were you Daddy?" I whispered as I felt him enter the room. "Why did you and Momma have to leave?" My arms trembled as I began to whimper. I didn't need to see the guilt on his face; his thoughts were saturated with it.

"It's like he vanished into thin air…" His voice broke and I ran to his embrace; I don't think either one of us can remember how long we stayed in Lucien's room that day.

"We won't give up." Daddy declared as we sat in the swing on the veranda, watching the sunset.

"I love you, Daddy." I whispered as I kissed his cheek; he seemed to need to hear those words.

"I love you too, Scarlett; you're the best and most beautiful mistake I've ever made." He whispered softly as his tears moistened my cheeks.

I snuggled into his arms, blocking everything out as I listened to the rhythmic beat of his heart. As we swayed gently on that swing, Daddy's embrace lulled me into a soothing, dreamless sleep.

WELL THEN…

The days grew cooler and I began to worry even more for my little brother. Momma tore through Lucien's wardrobe, throwing his winter clothes about.

"He'll be needing bigger clothes, too." She'd assert. "If Hun Rii didn't bully him, we all would've frozen!"

I'd leave the room and let Daddy take over; he was much better at calming her than I.

To help, I tried to reach out to Lucien…

'I'm not allowed to go outside, Father says it's too dangerous…' He'd say. Lucien tried to describe his location, but finding him proved a long and difficult task for my parents.

As the weeks crawled by, Momma grew calmer. The change was frightening; she looked set to kill, like a hawk watching its prey.

THERE'S HOPE YET

Prague.

A revolt was growing, tension was building and Lucien was still lost.

I marked off yet another day without my brother, flipping over the calendar to begin another month of searching.

"September…" I whispered.

"Three months 'till Christmas, isn't it?" A strained voice questioned.

I turned and saw Momma standing in the doorway, her face pale. Daddy came up from behind, wrapping his arms around her waist; Momma sighed.

"Bedtime," Momma sighed, walking towards my bed.

"Sweet dreams, Princess." Daddy quipped, helping Momma tuck me in.

I began to fall asleep as they kissed me goodnight, but as I heard the door close…

My head exploded in pain.

Fear, death…evil…all competing for my attention as Lucien cried out for me.

'Help me, Scarlett! I don't wanna be here!'

As though they'd never left, my parents were by my side.

"They're all screaming, make them stop! It hurts!" I shrieked. "Lucien's so scared!"

Momma needed no further convincing and her crystal was summoned in an instant.

"Aki, wait!" Daddy cried out, running after her.

"Lucien belongs here with us, not him!" She screamed, disappearing in a storm of crimson.

I understood that his desire to protect my innocence was what stopped Daddy from transforming that moment. He didn't want me to see what was happening in Prague, he never wanted me to know how cruel people could be towards another…

"Don't leave me behind," I begged. "Again."

He fell to his knees as he stared hopelessly at me. Moments later, he transformed and we were on our way to Prague.

As we flew closer to the turbulent city, I tried desperately to locate Lucien. I could sense him; closer and closer we flew, but Lucien remained silent.

Daddy landed on the outskirts of Prague where a large number of people had gathered. He tried to question them, but the crowd turned hostile.

"Shouldn't you be fighting to protect us?"

"Your kid? I can't even find my own!"

"The Space Knights betrayed us – KILL HIM!"

My heart dropped; they were all adults, not one child among them!

Daddy suddenly flinched and ordered everyone to get down. Covering me with his armoured body, whatever hope we had of finding Lucien was blown away in the deafening explosion.

In that dazzling inferno, the town and most of its people…my brother…

The crowd was lost in its grief, their hostile jeers turned into howls for their lost children. I felt numb as I watched Momma fly towards us. One more parent mourning the loss of their child, one more bereaved parent to blame an impatient, results-driven, trigger-happy United Defence Force.

I was frozen in the moment; Momma landed unsteadily and released a dazed boy, covered from head to toe in dust. My parents reverted back to their human state, walking toward each other as if under a spell. They collapsed, lost in their grief.

I turned away.

"I'm David."

"I'm Scarlett." I replied shyly; I'd forgotten all about the boy.

I CAN SEE YOUR FACE IN OUR SECRET PLACE

I was still in shock that Lucien was gone; his thoughts forever gone, I was alone.

The abilities my parents once marvelled at began to concern them as I spent much of my time observing others from a distance. I grew uneasy if I was in a crowd for long and would retreat to the cubbyhouse, remaining there for hours at a time.

David spent Christmas with us that year and the next, before it was decided that he would stay permanently.

"You're sure you don't mind?" Momma asked me on the eve of my tenth birthday.

"I like him, he won't hurt me." I told her as we sat by the stream behind the cubbyhouse. A cool breeze swept through our hair; spring was desperately trying to break free from winter's chill.

"No, I don't think he will." She replied with a smile.

"I miss Lucien…" I whispered.

"He's in a safer, happier place," Momma replied shakily, wrapping her arms around me. "But I miss him, Scarlett; terribly."

"God will take care of him, won't he? His son died too." I offered hopefully.

"Yes, he did, didn't he?" I felt Momma regain her composure as she tilted my head up, her blue eyes betraying her thoughts. "It's a big day tomorrow, Scarlett."

"What did you want to tell me, Momma?" I persisted. She sighed and looked to the shadows of the surrounding forest.

"Where did ten years go? No one warns you, how quickly it goes…" She smiled. "You've made me so very proud of you, I don't know what I would've done without you."

"Momma?" Up until that point, I thought I was about as weird as I could be, but at that moment I could've sworn I felt something, someone

"My hope for you is that you never suffer as…others before you have. The day you were born, I swore I'd live to see you happy and grow in peace." She paused, brushing strands of wayward hair from my face. "Remember Scarlett, many of the problems adults face, they bring upon themselves; how they react, how they solve…" She paused again, those dark blue eyes staring lovingly, but intensely at me. "Life can take unexpected turns and throw cruel obstacles at you but you must survive."

She took my hand; awe stunned me, wonder filled me…

"I'm pregnant, sweetheart."

YOU'RE NOT JUST A MEMORY

Spring passed swiftly, for which David was thankful; he was eagerly awaiting school holidays. Leading up to that much anticipated day, I'd wait for him on the veranda as I played with the emerald pendant Daddy had given me for my birthday.

Despite the past, my parents continued their affiliation with the Space Knights. Momma was on leave for obvious reasons, but Daddy continued with his work…whatever that was. They chose not to speak to me of their dedication to their profession, fearing I would feel obliged to continue in their footsteps.

It was mid-June and what would've been Lucien's eighth birthday was fast approaching; Momma complained about the heat and her swollen belly. I watched her silently, sensing the emotions that battled for her attention. Her mood affected mine, and poor David was caught in the middle.

Haunted by memories that weren't mine, my behaviour became erratic. I was positive and free-spirited one moment, then distant and forlorn the next. How could my heartbroken mother cope? How would I?

All was revealed on Lucien's birthday.

The sun was rising slowly, painting the land with a golden brush. I couldn't remember a sunrise so beautiful…

Aiba Lucien: 16 June 197 9 September 203

Momma's façade cracked, yet there was no sound. I waited for her shrill cry of agony, the tormented shriek of acceptance…

Lucien was dead…

The world exploded and I felt myself stand at the centre of a whirlwind of flames. I screamed for all to hear as I unleashed my dormant power, the blaze piercing through the numbness that held my mind captive.

When I reopened my eyes, I stood before a sea of stars, twinkling against the velvet sky. Peace…

"Welcome home, child."

"Thank you…" I heard myself say.

"Your time has come early, but such is to be expected. Return child, you still have much to learn…"

I'll never forget how liberating that inferno felt and I was reluctant to leave that strange, peaceful place. I felt myself fade back into reality and to my surprise; my parents weren't nearly as shocked or distraught as I'd expected them to be.

"Just as I thought, she takes after you." Momma said. David looked absolutely mortified, only relaxing when Daddy placed a reassuring arm around his shoulders.

"How do you feel, Princess?" He asked with a grin.

How did I feel? Every fibre of my being shivered with delight! I felt so aware, so complete.

SAY GOODBYE TO YESTERDAY

The unforgiving heat continued as August finally came, so too, the long awaited birth of my baby brother.

"Ok, he's cute, now can we go outside?" David sighed.

"I was this small once…"

"Scarlett, outside, please?" David whined, gesturing wildly out the window.

Through Momma's memories, I learned that Scott looked very much like I did. I was enchanted with his every move, his every sound reducing me to a giggling child. Amazing me more than anything was the strength by which he would grasp my finger, even as he slept. I couldn't help but love this little being, even though all he ever seemed to do was sleep, feed and burp.

Christmas that year was the happiest we'd been in a long time, Scott was christened and the Space Knights gathered to celebrate the gift of a peaceful year.

I was soon too busy to meander through the days; my growing abilities forced my parents to take action. At the age of eleven, I was the youngest to attend the Space Knights Academy.

His growing appetite for unlocking Radam's legacy had altered Mister Freeman's priorities. Relieving himself from command, Freeman named Aiba Aki as his successor, the first woman in the history to be placed in charge of an entire Armed Force. History condemned her in the eyes of many, yet there too, were many who applauded the move.

"They think I'm still controlled by Radam…"

"We have the evidence to prove otherwise, stop worrying."

"How can I, when there's malcontents running around proclaiming they're Evil's loyal warriors? They'll turn this into a sci-fi jihad to crucify 'The Whore' who betrayed their leader!"

"Enough!" Daddy demanded. He'd humoured her up until that point, but his foot came firmly down whenever Momma put herself down.

THOSE ARE WORDS I'LL NEVER SAY

I often felt that Scott would be far more advanced with his abilities than I. Mister Freeman, who'd taken a particular interest our development, wondered if the status of a parent wondered; human, Sotai or Tekkaman. How would I, the child of human and Tekkaman, differ to Scott, the child of two Tekkamen?

As the years flew by, I felt as though we were moving closer to discovering the answers to Freeman's questions. My dreams often pointed to an event that always felt beyond my understanding; it got to the point that every morning I woke, I expected Armageddon to be upon us.

"Not today, Nostradamus." David quipped.

"No," I sighed. "I guess we'll know when…"

"If," He argued.

"Made a decision yet?" I challenged, changing the subject. We'd returned home for Christmas, which was a nice change from the Command Centre. Our final year at the Academy was fast approaching, so too, decisions concerning our future.

"Yeah, I'm never dating another redhead." David retorted with a handsome grin as he uncrossed his long legs, stretching back into the soft green grass.

"Bored already?" I deadpanned.

"Yeah, yeah." He sighed, grinning suddenly. "Shame though, she had spirit."

"You should take yourself more seriously," I responded coldly. "You've got so much more to give the world than STD's." Horrified, my hands flew to my mouth as David threw his head back and laughed.

"It's frightening how much you remind me of Aki sometimes, truly amazing and freaky at the same time." Laughing as he saluted.

"Why don't you take yourself seriously?" I asked, refusing to meet his eyes.

"Because you're serious enough for the both of us."

His mirth disappeared as I finally met his gaze; the intensity of his blue eyes was both terrifying and comforting. There was a line, always a line when it came to men; their masculinity truly scared and fascinated me. Nothing was simple with them, from their wayward thoughts to their carefully guarded hearts.

We drew closer as though compelled by a magnet; I'd never seen his eyes so soft. Rubbing my nose against his, I felt myself relax…

"We're not all evil…"

I tensed and drew back, drowning in shadows as I heard the distant screams from a time long gone. Our eyes met for a brief moment, long enough for him to see the confusion that didn't want to let me go.

Silence grew between us and I felt uneasy, the day was passing and the growing shadows began to suffocate me.

"Scarlett, I-I'm sorry…" He whispered hoarsely. David was eager to leave the spot and was trying his best to mask his embarrassment from me. As he leapt to his feet, I cursed my uncle and his stain that lingered in my memory.

"David…"

"No, I should know better." He smiled ruefully, helping me up. "You've spent enough years fearing men; I don't want to abuse the trust you've given me." His words soothed the confused child inside me as I allowed myself to melt into his embrace.

As the seconds stretched into minutes, I heard the faint whisper of hope I've been so desperate to hear. In that triumphant moment, small victory though it was, I finally understood that I'd been a slave to the past and feared a future that was dictated by it.

The bonds of childhood are mine to break; life it too short for regrets.

To be continued in: CHAPTER THREE – SIBLINGS

DISCLAIMER

The author does not claim to own Tekkaman Blade, Tekkaman Blade II or Teknoman – they are the property of Tatsunoko. The author does claim the storyline of Salvation Lost and all original characters created. Please do not borrow without permission, or steal any characters/ideas.

You're a crummy, low-down, petty loser if you do

Thanks to Madonna for the use of her awesome song - THIS USED TO BE MY PLAYGROUND.