If I owned Juvenile Orion, this would be the series and not a petty contribution to the small and persistent fandom that does not require the damaging effects of a television series to recognize and identify potential within a beautifully drawn and interpretive manga series. How's that for a pretentious disclaimer? It's also an effective way to study for the SATs.
WARNING: Seeing as the main characters are extremely young in the first two chapters (as people usually are before they reach adulthood) my focus for the first two chapters is on their guardian and how he impacts their lives. Chapter 3 is when they are old enough for the story to begin revolving around them, so please do not hold anything against original characters. We know next to nothing about Lafayel, Israfel, and Gabriel's past including those they interacted with before coming to earth. There is no way anybody can write a pastfic without original characters and if you really want to read a pastfic, you will just have to deal with them. Another option is to just skip to chapter three. I don't think you need to have read the first two chapters to understand it, but they do fill in some gaps.
Chapter Illustration: http:// www. deviantart. com/ deviation/ 43444690?qo16&qby3Adesert-illusion&qhsort3Atime+-in3Ascraps
The angels are a very interesting race. Their origin is unknown even to themselves, the home planet having been dead for the past millennia. Unlike all animal species on earth, there have been no apparent gender distinctions. All angels appear as feminine men, in human terms, with blond hair, pale skin, light colored eyes, and a pair of large white wings. To reach adulthood, there are a series of stages. The first stage is that of a seed, in which it is planted in a substance similar to soil. An organism akin to a tree, called a meliad grows and blooms large opaque flowers, which are then fertilized. The organism then bears fruit, which is the time to determine whether the offspring should develop into an angel. More energy is required to create a cherub, thus two angels are required to inject their energy into the fruit, in which the skin would harden into a shell with the same density of a diamond. Once the fetus has received enough energy, the shell will burst open and a fully formed cherub, similar in appearance to a human baby, but with a pair of white wings, will emerge. One of the birthing angels will usually take custody of the cherub, though fatalities have been known to occur during birthing. In these instances, the cherub is left in the custody of the colony. Fruits that have not developed into cherubs are the standard diet, though all seeds are saved. It is believed that the meliads are the females of the species.
"Number 36 will need to have a resting stage."
"I thought she recovered quickly."
"Yes, but it must be tiring for them to be constantly reproducing. Let her go through a cycle without any pregnancies."
"Then should we check 89's sprouts?"
"Yes. Who is the father of the sprouts?"
"Poseidon. The commander that left with his fleet about fifty years ago."
"I remember him," a blond head appeared between two rows of young meliads. "We analyzed his defense tactics six suns ago."
Calandra smiled and bent down to the cherub's eye level. "Gabriel, you shouldn't be in the nursery right now. Rayyu and I have to categorize the meliads," he scolded. "Why don't you go train?"
Gabriel pouted slightly. "It's not fun to train alone," he complained.
"I know, Eros," Calandra ruffled the cherub's hair, "but we have to work. I know you like to do the obstacle course. Why don't you go to O5 and practice your maneuvering?"
"I already mastered O5," Gabriel declared with the pride of an eight month old. "I'm the best flyer in my class." He flexed his wings to prove his point.
Calandra laughed at the cherub's antics. "Alright, you can stay, but just don't distract us."
"I don't know, Calandra," Rayyu cut in. "36 and 37 each have one ripe fruit. We don't know when we will be called to aid in a hatching."
"Gabriel won't cause trouble," Calandra argued. "He will not touch anything, right, Eros?"
Gabriel scrunched his face at the mention of not touching anything.
His shoulders sagged. "Yes, Rayyu. I won't touch anything."
Rayyu still seemed unsure until Calandra straightened and whispered into his ear, at which Gabriel noticed he turned an interesting color. "Very well," he mumbled, and then turned back to the breeding records. Calandra gave Gabriel a wink and smiled.
"So what did you learn about Poseidon?"
"I told you," Gabriel gave a dramatized whine. "You never listen."
"I'm sorry, cherub. Are you sure I wasn't tired that day? Rayyu, can you hand me log 16?"
Without looking up from where he was charting the ancestry of several new meliads, Rayyu passed a scroll to his colleague. Smirking, Calandra ever so slightly brushed his fingers against the other angel's hand.
"Well, maybe you were," Gabriel admitted. "Oh well," a practiced sigh. "I suppose I could tell you again."
"Go ahead, Eros," he murmured distractedly, noticing the slight shifting in Rayyu's wings, a habit he fell into when struggling to concentrate.
"Poseidon believed that the key to all defense tactics was in a strong basic shield, which worked really well because his long-term partner, Amphitrite, thought that offensive moves were based around the basic energy blast. So we've been practicing the shield—"
"Gabriel," Rayyu finally interrupted. "Can you do me a huge favor?"
The cherub perked up, wings trembling in anticipation.
"I need someone responsible to go check on 36 and 37. Can you do that?"
"Sure! Orchard C, right?"
"Yes, that's right. Take your time," he called after the retreating figure. Once the metal doors clanged shut, he pounced on his colleague.
Calandra's laugh was cut off as Rayyu's mouth was crushed against his. He pulled away quickly and rested a finger on the other angel's lips. "Not here, nymph," he whispered. "You sent Gabriel on a quick little mission."
"You're the one tempting me," Rayyu growled. "You've been sending me signals for the past fourteen suns and yet you haven't let me get closer than a mere touch. It is enough to drive me mad."
He smiled in response and stroked his partner's hair. "Caring for a cherub is a lot of responsibility," he said softly.
"You know we have to keep this from him so he can move through the ranks," Rayyu eased some pressure off Calandra, yet remained pressed into him. "He can't be soft if you want him to be higher up in life, so why do you bother getting close to him?"
"It is my nature."
"Your nature defies all angelic traditions."
"I know." Calandra smiled sadly. "I should have been born a human. I allow emotion to cloud my judgment."
"Only sometimes," Rayyu replied, nuzzling his partner's neck. "Humans are fools. You have more common sense then them."
"You do not enter petty wars about traditions that were started just because an alien race finds your diet delectable and fooled you into worshipping them."
Rayyu was rewarded when his partner let out a laugh, his body shaking in his arms. He smiled. Calandra really wasn't meant for angel society. He was too happy, too emotional, and too unique. Everything about him clashed with the emotionless gray tone of life in Heaven. How he had survived for so long in a culture in which only strength, power, and bloodshed mattered was a mystery to every angel he came in contact with. Rayyu was jerked out of his musings when he noticed how silent and still Calandra had become. "What is it?"
"Can you feel it?" he asked.
He furrowed his eyebrows and cued into his nerves and very faintly, felt the tiniest ripple of warmth stirring his skin.
"Gabriel," Calandra's breath came out weakly before he pushed himself away from the wall and slammed his palm against the button that opened the doors. Rayyu followed in hot pursuit as Calandra flew down the halls and forced the doors of orchard C open, too impatient to wait for them to open fully. Meliads grew in rows in the nursery and Calandra flew through them, tuning into the source of the power, steadily falling at a rapid rate. "Eros?" he called, peering around branches and fruits anxiously, unable to locate his cherub. "Eros?"
"Gabriel?" Rayyu circled a group of meliads, pushing fruits out of the way. "Gabriel, come here right now. I sent you on a simple mission. Get here now," he ordered, forcing himself to only float to another row of meliads.
"Gabriel, Eros," Calandra began to plead as the heat diminished to almost nothing rapidly. "Gabriel! Cala is here! Tell me where you are so we can practice maneuvering together. Gabriel!"
He rounded a bend in the row of meliads and spotted the tiny white figure kneeling between two drooping branches, each with a fruit pulsing with uneven intakes of energy. As he watched, Gabriel began to fall, unable to withstand the mental and physical strain of not only one, but two simultaneous hatchings.
"Gabriel!" Calandra cried, diving towards the cherub and throwing a timed protective shield around him. The fruits will be lost, he realized with horror as the two laboring meliads began to thrash their branches in pain, some fruits coming dangerously close to being smashed. Frantically, he directed his hands at the two transitioning eggs.
On the other side of the nursery, Rayyu felt the sudden surge of a familiar energy and sped over meliads. As he neared the source of energy, the agitation in the meliads increased and Calandra came into view, huge amounts of energy in the form of light and heat being injected into a cream colored egg and a lavender one. The export of energy was taking its toll on the angel as his body dropped with each second. The two eggs began to vibrate more and more and Rayyu knew the cherubs would hatch soon. The amount of energy remaining in Calandra couldn't possibly be enough to create a shield that could withstand the force with which the shells would shatter. In an instant, the meliads had drawn their protective branches around their fruits and Calandra's name was lost in the explosion of the two eggs.
His movements were unusually sluggish when he regained consciousness. What did I do? He lifted his eyelids with effort and was greeted by the sight of meliad branches. Oh. That's right. I tried to hatch the ripe fruits. Did they hatch? He tried to sit up, but stopped when his muscles struggled to obey. Exhausted, he lay on the nursery floor and allowed his eyelids to droop. As he was about to fall asleep, a frantic voice pierced his foggy mind.
"Gabriel!" Rayyu forced branches apart, eyes scanning all possible places where a cherub could fit. "Gabriel!"
The cherub opened his mouth to respond, but only a faint gargling sound found its way out. He closed his mouth to swallow some saliva and tried again. "Here," he croaked. "Rayyu, I'm here."
In almost an instant, Rayyu was at his side, lifting his fragile body gently. "Are you hurt?" he asked even as he checked the cherub's white robes for any bloodstains.
"Don't know," Gabriel mumbled. "Don't feel much."
Rayyu stood and laid the cherub at the crook in a meliad. "All right, Gabriel," he stroked Gabriel's face the way he'd seen Calandra do to soothe him. "Just stay here, alright? Don't move. I'm going to find Calandra."
"Yes, I'll find him."
"Sleep now. Cala and I will bring you home. Sleep."
Gabriel nodded weakly then closed his eyes. Rayyu scanned his body for any sign of injury one more time before crumpling to the ground, clutching his wing and breathing heavily. Though his shield had protected him from the shell pieces, the force of two eggs exploding simultaneously had thrown him against one of the meliads, crushing his left wing in the impact. It was a few moments before he was able to force the pain into the back of his mind and stood to begin searching for Calandra. Rayyu wasn't naïve. Drained from hatching two eggs, he knew well that calling would be useless. It didn't take him long to find him. Pinned to a nearby meliad, Calandra hung from the multiple shell fragments that had pierced his body. Even in death he appeared beautiful, the dark liquid contrasting against his pale complexion and once pristine robes.
To feel is weakness. To show weakness is to die. Angels don't feel. Angels don't know compassion. Angels don't know love. Yet as he removed the body from the injured meliad, Rayyu failed to tamp down the upwelling of emotion in his throat, nose, and eyes. The sensation was new to him. The salty solution was unfamiliar, but not unwelcome as he held the still warm body to his own, silent sobs wracking his frame. His misery was disturbed when a small whimper emanated from where meliads 36 and 37 stood. He tenderly arranged Calandra's body, wiped his eyes, and strode to the origin of the noise.
Two newborn cherubs lay naked side by side, their hair and feathers still damp with the juice and nutrients the fruit had nourished them with. Rayyu picked them up stiffly, one in each arm, and observed the two. The one who had whimpered flailed his chubby arms and managed to grab a hold of Rayyu's hair. The other lay quietly in his arm. He didn't know how long he stood there, holding the two cherubs. He didn't know when or how he managed to bring the newborns, Gabriel, and Calandra to a separate nursery. It wasn't until Gabriel, holding Calandra's cold body, began to wail did his angelic dignity cave and his sorrow joined the cherubs'.
Allusions and Explanations:
Meliads: Tree nymphs (Ancient Greece). In this story they are the female angels.
Fruits and eggs will be used interchangeably in this story as what angels are born from. Generally, I'll use "fruits" when referring to it when it's still soft, and "eggs" when it hardens and a cherub is about to be born.
Cherub: An angel child. The angel eighteen is 100 years old, but they appear to reach physical maturity in only two years. This will be explained in another author's note similar to the one that opened this chapter.
Sprouts: A meliad child. Meliads reach full maturity at 50 years, but continue to grow throughout their lifetime.
Poseidon: The ancient Greek god of the seas.
Gabriel: Ah yes, the only non-original character in this chapter that people should recognize. We see him as a cherub in this chapter, but we'll get to see him mature. In Islamic culture, he's the messenger who enlightened Muhammad. In Christianity, I believe he's the one who blows the horn to signify the end of the world, but I'm not too sure about that. I get most of my religious folklore from my Muslim friend, so I'm not too knowledgeable about Christian folklore. If anybody would like to educate me, please do so.
Rayyu: Israfel mentions him in the third volume after he's torn his wings off. "I don't care what Rayyu wants." I decided to expand on him a bit because he seems to be important to Israfel.
Calandra: Actually, it's a girl's name, which means singing bird. I just liked the name. It also explains the title of the chapter.
Eros: Cupid. The Greek god who shoots arrows that make the victim fall in love with the first thing they see of the opposite gender. He's the son of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. In this story, it's just a term of endearment, like "sweetie", so when Calandra calls Gabriel Eros, it doesn't mean he has a different name. You may have noticed only Calandra calls him that.
Amphitrite: Queen of the seas. She's Poseidon's wife.
Nymph: Nature spirit (Ancient Greece). Once again, I use this just as a term of endearment, but this one is more intimate. I suppose this could substitute as "love". So when Calandra says, "Not here, nymph," think "Not here, love."
Cala: Just a shortened version of Calandra.
I hope that clarifies things. If not, just ask and I'll try to explain better. Also, if you would like me to include figures from other mythological or religious stories that originate around the Mediterranean or Middle East, please tell me and I'll consider it.Posted: 6 October 2006
Next Post: 23 October 2006