Shards of Phaeton
It was a beautiful April day. She’d just had her monthly meeting with her case worker, Yamada Keiko, who was very pleased with how well she was doing away from the Juuban orphanage where she’d grown up. The monthly meetings were usually towards the middle of the month, but since Tokeisou was entering high school this month, it was decided that they would have their meeting before school started again for the year to allow her to fully concentrate on adjusting to a new school.
Understandably, Tokeisou was quite excited by all of this. She’d graduated from Juuban junior high with no difficulties after passing her entrance exam to enter Juuban high school. That had been the only exam she’d taken despite urgings from her classmates and teachers to try for more prestigious schools. She’d smiled politely, and told them that she was quite happy with Juuban. Besides, it was within walking distance from her apartment and most of the prestigious schools required lengthy train rides. She avoided the train if she could, preferring to walk when she needed to go somewhere.
Graduation from junior high had brought with it a bonus to her monthly allowance as a form of congratulations. She still hadn’t taken the check to the local bank to deposit it. She looked over at her desk where the envelope sat with some bitterness. It was a good sum of money, but money was no substitute for her present living condition. As she had in times past, she longed for her still missing and unidentified parents, the people who had abandoned her to the Juuban orphanage not long after her birth. She had been so jealous of her classmates who had friends and family celebrating the day with them. She wasn’t the only student in her class that was living alone. The tall girl, Kino Makoto, was in a similar situation, but at least Kino-san knew who her parents were. She considered going over to Kino-san, to talk to her, but Kino-san wasn’t alone; she was surrounded by her annoying friends.
The only thing she really had from her parents was her name, Ishibashi Tokeisou. She knew her birthday and her blood type as well. There was also a pen that had been left with her. It had long ago run out of ink, but she kept it with her. As a child, she’d imagined that the pen could turn her into anyone she wanted. At first, she pretended that she was a world famous model, an actress, a pop idol, and a dancer. She later imagined that it would turn her into a super hero who fought monsters that tried to take over the world. She also secretly dreamed of herself as a princess from a world that she made up in her mind. It was that secret world and the stories she made up about herself as its princess had gotten her through junior high. She’d used one of them for a creative writing assignment and had gotten the highest grade in her class, higher than even that insufferably smart Mizuno Ami and that geek Umino Gurio.
She smiled to herself at the memory of that day. She’d taken herself out to dinner that night as a reward and had even splurged on desert. She sighed and looked around her. She figured that she should probably start making dinner soon, but had no idea what she wanted to eat. To postpone making that decision, she got herself ready for school.
Ten minutes later, her brand new Juuban high school uniform hanging from a hanger hooked onto the frame of her closet and her school bag was all packed. She even had her lunch made and waiting in the fridge. She decided to go for a walk to the grocery store, hoping that something would strike her for dinner.
Half way to the grocery store, she stopped on a corner and looked around. She smiled to herself. No matter how many times she visited that spot, the store she’s found there in junior high never made showed up again. The memory returned just as easily as it always did.
Tokeisou was walking home from school, heading towards the small apartment she’d been given on her 14th birthday, only a few short months ago. It had been the best day of her life. She had been told that she was too old to continue to live in the orphanage and that she needed to learn how to take care of herself for the day when she would be on her own. She had been taken to a small one room apartment and given an allowance. The money had to pay her bills, her rent, and buy food and other necessities. She would be allowed to live there under the conditions that her grades stayed good, that she attend and graduate from high school, and that she maintain her apartment in a clean and orderly manner. There would be monthly inspections to ensure that all was well in addition to visits from her case worker, but otherwise she would be left alone.
She hadn’t been overly surprised at being given an entrance exam that, if she passed it, would allow her to attend Juuban junior high. Not surprisingly, she passed the exam and was presented with a uniform and school bag. Before that day, she’d largely been schooled at the Juuban Orphanage. For whatever reason, the director and her case worker had decided that she needed a more formal education. As Tokeisou thought about it, she came to think that it had something to do with how bored she was in her lessons and her teachers.
Whatever the reason, she was now for the first time in her young life attending a public school with people she was completely unfamiliar with. It was scary, something she admitted to herself only with great reluctance. Part of her new that she’d adjust to it soon enough.
She paused in her walking and looked beside her. There was a store that she’d never seen before. Curious, she went inside. There were cages and tanks full of fish and animals lining the walls. Some of the animals were of species that she didn’t recognize. An old woman sat on a stool in the middle of the store. She looked up as Tokeisou entered the store. She looked surprised.
“Only special people can find my store,” the old woman said, peering at her curiously. “Tell, me, child, who are you?”
She nodded. “A good, strong name. Perhaps you would like a friend to dispel your loneliness? A cat perhaps? Or maybe a bird?”
“I don’t really like birds. Or cats, for that matter,” Tokeisou said, wandering from cage to cage. She paused beside a pair of cages. One held a pure white rabbit and the one beside it held a brown ferret with black paws and a curious circular bandage on his forehead. “Why does this one have a bandage on his forehead?”
“It means that the one who will be his owner will be here soon to claim him.” The woman peered at her. “Perhaps that person is you, Ishibashi-san.” The ferret started bouncing from side to side while making a soft clucking noise. “He certainly seems to like you.”
“But I wouldn’t know the first thing about caring for a pet,” she protested. “I’ve never had one before. I don’t even know if I’m allowed to have one in my apartment.”
“I don’t see those as being problems. He’s quite easy to care for. Simply play with him, provide him with a home and some food and you’ll be fine. Live prey, such as mice, is good as is raw meat. Some kitten foods can also be used, so long as it provides the high protein and fat content required by his metabolism. Most adult foods and some kitten foods are unsuitable, though, so be careful. If you want to give him treats, he’s quite fond of bananas and milk, but be sure to only give him lactose free milk if you do.”
“That’s all I keep in my house as I’m lactose intolerant.” Tokeisou reached her fingers into the cage to touch his soft fur. “You’re a cute little thing, aren’t you?” He made an excited hissing noise as she scratched his head. “You know what? I don’t have any friends. I think I would like one. Would you like to be my friend?” In response, he butted at her hand, placing his forepaws on her hand.
Tokeisou turned to the old woman. “How much for him?”
She shook her head “I won’t accept any payment. That is not the purpose of this store. We simply try and find good homes for these animals.”
“So it’s like an orphanage.”
“In a sense yes. Go ahead. Open the cage and take him out,” she urged.
Tokeisou opened the lid and lifted the small furry animal out, cuddling him in her arms. “I wonder what I should call you.”
“I’m sure a name will occur to you in time.”
“We should go and get you something to eat,” she continued, stroking his head, rubbing around the round bandage. “What’s this for?”
“I suggest that you remove that when you get back to your home,” the old woman said. “Please be careful to remove it only when the two of you are alone.”
Tokeisou frowned and looked at her. “That’s an odd bit of advice.”
“You’ll understand later, trust me.”
The ferret looked up at her with his big brown eyes. “You’re hungry aren’t you?” He bobbed his head, looking as if he were nodding. “Right, we’ll go then.” To the old woman, she said, “Thank you. I promise I’ll take good care of him.”
She smiled slyly. “I know you will, just as he’ll take good care of you.”
A little puzzled by that remark, Tokeisou left the shop and continued on to the grocery store, tucking the ferret into her school bag. The little ferret stayed quiet until she’d finished her shopping. With the shop keeper’s instructions in mind, she bought food the ferret would like in addition to her groceries. It meant her bags were a little heavier than usual, but something inside told her it would be worth it in the end.
She struggled up the stairs to her apartment, set the bags down, unlocked the door and carried them in. After setting the bags down on the counter, she took the ferret out of her bag and set him down on the small table.
“So, what should I call you?” she pondered. “Let’s get this bandage off you before I decide, hey?” She gently lifted the bottom of the bandage and peeled it off. Beneath it was a patch of fur that was golden instead of brown. It had an odd shape to it: a circle with lines drawn through the middle with one line extending out of the circle to form a point on one end and a scythe-like curve on the other. “What’s that?”
The ferret blinked. “Thank you for doing that.”
Tokeisou blinked. “You talk?”
“Only when the symbol on my head is clear.”
She stared at him. “This can’t be happening.”
“It is. There is little to be done about that. I’ve been waiting for you to come for me for a long time now.”
“I don’t have a lot of time to explain. Tell me, do you still have the pen? The teal one? It should have this symbol on it somewhere,” he continued, tapping his forehead.
She pulled the pen out of her school bag. “This one? It has no ink anymore.”
“It’s more than just a pen. You know that somehow or you wouldn’t be carrying it around with you.”
“I used to pretend it was magic,” she admitted, unsure why she was talking to this animal. “some part of me refuses to throw it out.”
“That part of you knows it truly is magic. Hold it up and say ‘Phaeton Destruction Power, Make Up’.”
The ferret sighed. “Just try it. I’ll explain everything after. I only hope I’m not wrong about who you are.”
Tokeisou sighed. “I don’t know why I’m doing this. Phaeton Destruction Power, Make Up!”
A wash of teal colored light surrounded her. When it vanished, her clothes had changed into a teal, gold, and brown sailor fuku. “What the hell is this?”
The ferret looked relieved. “After all these years, I’ve finally found you. You are Sailorphaeton, Soldier of Destruction, protector of the planet Phaeton and the royal family. Everyone thought you’d been destroyed when Phaeton blew up so long ago.”
“There’s no such place as Phaeton.”
“Not any more. The planet that once resided between Mars and Jupiter was destroyed by an evil force during the final days of Queen Serenity’s reign.”
“She was the Queen of Phaeton?”
“Of the moon kingdom known as Silver Millennium. King Phoebus and Queen Clymene were the rulers of Phaeton with their daughter, Gyokuei.”
Phaeton put her head in her hands. “This is absurd, but it sounds so…”
“How much do you recall about yourself, about your origins?”
“Nothing. I was abandoned at the local orphanage a few days after I was born.”
“That’s a problem. I’ll have to think about that. In the meantime, I’ll teach you how to fight and try to teach you about Phaeton, but my memories are still a little vague.”
“Since you can talk, do you have a name?”
“Oh yes, how rude of me. I’m called Toxotes.”
The teal glow appeared again and Tokeisou stood where Phaeton had only moments before. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Ishibashi Tokeisou.”
Tokeisou smiled. In the years since finding him, Tokeisou had learned a lot from the little ferret. They’d been through a great deal. So much tragedy and trauma.
With his help, she trained, fighting the odd droid, but not getting very involved in the conflict with the Black Moon Family as her powers were far top weak to be of any help. Instead, she observed the other senshi, trying to learn from watching them.
Towards the end of the battle with the Death Busters, her powers had grown to the point where she was powerful enough to be effective in combat. Toxetes had been very worried at her slow progress.
She managed to take out two Lemures on her own during the crisis with the Dead Moon Circus, unknown to the other senshi, but wound up nearly dying as her heart mirror was ripped out. If it hadn’t been for the other senshi, she would have died. That incident traumatized her quite badly, to the point of refusing to even touch her henshin pen. As a result, her starseed was taken not long after Uranus’ and Neptune’s were. It took the Animamates a long time to find her as she was so much weaker than the other senshi.
She shuddered, continuing on her way home, wondering what would happen next.