Voices of a Distant Star is a copyrighted work by Makoto Shinkai. This piece of fan fiction borrows elements from that work without permission and solely for free entertainment purposes.

The Keeper of the Voices
By Kaj-Nrig


There were shadows in the room. The bright monitors cast them, like the inescapable glares of the most indescribable memoirs, throwing her into confusion and doubt.

She fidgeted uneasily in the cramped, stiff chair, and tried her best to concentrate on the pulsating window of light in front of her, excluding the others that encased her in her limpid prison. With a heavy heart and a misled finger, she observed the stream of thoughts that coursed unmitigated from one pilot, passenger, crewman, to either another, older and lonelier, or a compatriot, age-appropriate and safer.

Nagamine Mikako... the young Japanese girl. Such a shame, really, to have been separated from, among other things, the life you knew, and at such a young age, too. Cold calamity would befall the girl; she knew this, seeing the text shift, the harshly digital but still swift and elegant characters spelling out bits and pieces that she could understand. ...Mars... training... Tarsians. So, there'd been one she'd left as well, and a deep, crevassing pain afflicted her as her melting, golden-mahogany eyes perused the deeply-ingrained, unsaid, blatantly obvious sentiments present in that small and obscure message, taking up less than ten kilobytes of space but conveying so much more than the ship itself was worth. It was all too sad, she knew, how futilely this young girl held to her first love, how much more futile it would be as she realized that they would never meet again.

There was hesitation before she allowed it to pass through - it would have been safer for her to have the message rejected than hold onto a false hope that they would meet again and things would be the same as always. But passed it she did, and the next message to flare up was her own, sent to her own lover, some long eon ago, passing the same sentimental impressions, naïve as they were. She recalled the message, word for word, how it laid everything, every nuance of her love for him, out in text form. So different from this young girl's, but so much more the same.

I love you so much, the reminder had stated, its English characters spelled out with such nervous but anxious fingers. I wish you were here with me. It would make this mission go by so much faster. I get lost so easily. The Demeter is so big and massive that I can't even find my way from Communications to my room without a map. How about you? You said you were going to join the wrestling team there, right? I know how much you loved it in high school. Anyway, I've got to go. I'm not the only one with mail to send. That long-winded, long-handed record had taken two months to reach him, and the sands of time swiftly doused it in their erosive particles. His own oration, his own soliloquy, didn't pass through the ship's clouded, backlogged electrical corridors until half a year had left her by and the tips of Pluto were within her grasp. By then, the cursed math- and love-laden mind of hers had determined his time... two years.

The frail bonds of his love had either failed to check, or failed to reply, for an entire eighteen months. Eighteen months filled with... what?

I quit the wrestling team. I picked up rugby, and now I'm playing for the university rugby club. I miss you, too. I'll be twenty-four by the time you get this. You're still only twenty, right? Anyway, call me back.

I miss you. I miss you. The memories glided out into existence; she recalled with the stark clarity of undisturbed water the imagination of his fingers, hesitating for eighteen long months, slowly but surely severing the ties of affection that she hadn't realized were being severed before her very eyes.

Call me back, he had said. That beckoning, ineffectual as it was, so stimulated and intoxicated her senses to yearn more and more, speculating about his health, his life, his love, and more than anything, hoping for his trust. His trust in her.


The mail, her lifeline, seeped into the Lysithea at increasingly longer intervals; the shadows overwhelmed her in every message as she wracked her own voided heart with grief by allowing them through, for the immaculate abjection could be seen on that young girl's face wherever she went. They passed each other once in the massive, Ark-like expanses of the Lysithea – it truly did feel as big as the celestial body – and there was nothing that could hide the desolation and angst that swam within the fifteen-year old's swift, sparkling amber-gray eyes, eyes like the color of clouds in the evening of a beautiful autumn day, the same autumn day when she left him forever.

Much of the crew was Japanese, and she had expanded her vocabulary in those six months from Earth to Pluto. Her eyes, alive of their own accord, scanned, filched data and insight into a life not her own, into secret murmurs that she had no right to see or know of, yet a life so like her own and murmurs so acutely parallel to hers.

Noboru, I am at Pluto, the end of our solar system. They weren't there now, of course; the attack had forced them far too far away from the smallest planet. She had been this far when his message, carried by one of Cupid's jagged, rusty arrows, destroyed her utterly.

This Noboru would destroy her as well; the simplicity of her love, never put into words but expressed in each syllable, in each painstakingly heartfelt press of the button, would be met with rejection, and she couldn't bear to have another, a companion, a kindred spirit feel such a deep chasm of vertiginous barrenness. Procedure was procedure, though, and she allowed it passage.

It was the only one now. That scroll, that electrical parchment dictating the laws of her ardor traversed the endless expanses of space, the timeless and void, cold, infinitely large abyss, without a companion, sprinkling a new trail with tears for any that dared to follow its path.

I can't do this anymore. I think we've grown too far apart. I'm sorry.

Too far apart. I'm sorry. It had been a raw, aching year for her, and each and every day she had pigeoned him a declaration of the truest, deepest feelings ever realized by a human being; each one carried its message just a bit more heavily than the one before it as the Demeter traveled that little bit further and further away on its epic voyage. I love you so much, each one included, along with, I miss you so much. Too far apart? How could they have been too far apart? Her undying and unfaithless love showered down on him from whatever point in heaven she was nearly every day, the adulation her daily present to him. It was ironically symbolic, though, she could tell – they were more than a light year apart, an entire light year separating distance and experiences and moments and kisses that happened so often they became second nature, taken for granted.

I'm sorry. In the deep recesses of her mind, she knew what that death knoll truly meant. I found someone else. I found someone else in my time. She imagined that he would have paused, contemplating his feelings, the depths of his soul surfacing like the bubbling creek of a volcanic drizzle and cooling until he could touch it, touch it and smear it on the softly glowing monitor of his cell phone. She imagined that he would have mourned, not only for her, but also for the life that had disappeared, the life that was now just a distant memory, and as she imagined this, those fleeting messages, those love-struck faxes of I love you and I miss you seemed so fickle, so superficial in their existence, and she realized that they would pass by a cosmic god and vanish into embers, into cold and lax embers of a self-deluded individual.

She had stopped loving him a long time ago. She simply hadn't realized it.


The shadows circled around her, and open channels blared orders and commands and nonsensicalities, forming a cacophony of noise, a smoldering bog of sound. The Tracers, the shooting stars of the Lysithea, were dwindling, their lights flickering out as if candles in a hurricane. She ran numb when the Demeter phased out of existence, its dying howl resonating slowly into the auditory chambers of her new protecting knight, the untimely destruction followed and preceded by the Deimos and Phobos.

Now they were truly alone, they had become like that Nagamine girl's lonely harbinger that drifted in its lonely voyage to a planet that was no longer any of their concern, except they stared down the maw of a giant sea monster, an unknown, undiscovered freak of nature with jaws so huge it swallowed whole planets and consumed stars like candy.

When she had returned, the makeup and composition of his face had been altered. He had aged another two years, twenty-six, and he met her at the port with a child. There was a moment of star-crossed love, of tragic yearning, but it passed and the last string they shared was pulled taut and twanged, snapping apart with the vibrating pulses of their separation. She also had found another, a ship mate who was only a year her senior, who placated her stinging wounds with a wearied, weathered, likewise-stung affection, which burned from such a strong furnace that she could almost have forgotten her older love.

Almost.

The battle raged for little longer than the length of that broken string. Theirs was a futile struggle now; another Tarsian mother ship bore on them, its pebbled foot soldiers scattered about it. More Tracers appeared, and more Tracers vanished, and as they did, she stared down into that vast, nostalgic Agharta, suddenly wishing to be home, to die in a place she knew, not in some distant solar system, over some stupid planet in some stupid ship with its stupid young females and stupid despairing love sonnets.

She wanted to go back in time. She wanted to see him again. To have things be the way they were before.

Suddenly, there was something between them and the wave of destruction – a lone Tracer, a lone warrior, amputated and defenseless. Still, it stood in arrogant and stubborn defiance, a David against Goliath. She knew without knowing... Nagamine.

Alone, she stood. Alone, she defied the gods. Alone, she roared and bellowed.

Alone, she loved.

It raced into the onslaught, and angelic bolts spurred it on, and even alone, it was powerful without measure, and then it issued forth a flash of light, an amazing shower of luminosity that left her speechless, that shone so brilliantly on all the screens of the Lysithea that the shadows were chased away.

And in that light, that defiance against time and space, she understood why she had failed. She understood why she had been wrong about the girl.

Nagamine, that simple, young girl, wouldn't let history, distance, anything, take her love away from her.

Even alone, she would reach him.


A/N: A brief story written after re-awakening my interest in Shinkai's works. In the English dub, Mikako says that "these messages are monitored, you know," and so I wondered who exactly did the monitoring, and what s/he/they thought as they read through the messages.

The word choice, grammatical structure, and lexicon are a massive departure from my normal writing; I was attempting to mimic the incredibly artistic style of Voices of a Distant Star. I'm not sure how well that managed to turn out. I'm fairly certain that much of it will sound extremely strange and be exceedingly hard to follow – who "she" refers to is a particular point of confusion, even for myself – but I hope you find it reasonably understandable.

Endnotes:

"...a deep, crevassing pain..." – Word choice inspired by the documentary, Touching the Void.

Demeter – The "old" name of the Jupiter moon Lysithea.

Wrestling – Refers to Greco-Roman/Olympian wrestling, not professional wrestling as depicted by the WWE, etc.

"...it truly did feel as big as the celestial body..." – The Lysithea is (I presume) named after a moon of Jupiter, which is itself named after a figure of Greek myth.

"...candles in a hurricane..." – "You feel like a candle / In a hurricane / Just like a picture / With a broken frame..." – Rascall Flatts, "Stand"

Deimos, Phobos – The two moons that circle Mars, also named after two Greek mythological figures.

"...and the last string they shared was pulled taut and twanged..." – A common Eastern tradition of romance is for two lovers to be tied by a red string. In Chinese weddings, the groom and bride share a red ribbon or bouquet that represents this string. (This is also the reason why you often see pictures of so-and-so female playing with a puppet of so-and-so male using red string in anime.)