10.19.## continued . . .
I donít know what made us think we could get away with spying on them without getting caught or altering the timeline. We were interfering just by being there. It was one of the simplest laws of physics. Dr. Aleks should have realized that. But she was too busy trying to learn as much as possible as fast as possible to think of that little fact. And she kept pushing me to not be so cautious, to get closer. She placed too much faith in herself and in me. Mr. Yondeiru was completely useless. He should never have come. We would have been better off without him.
I hadnít signed on to be a spy. Or a scientist that viewed these people as subjects to be researched and studied. I was slowly buckling under the pressure and strain. It was only a matter of time Ďtil one of us screwed up and we were discovered. Of course, that one person ended up being me . . .
Excitement is more than expected
As a prediction comes true
And a new friend is made
A friend with many secrets.
Laughter could be heard from within the trees as three happy children from unusual backgrounds played tag beneath the branches. Suddenly a shout rang out, halting their play.
"Pendril! Lidal! Pan! Marron and Bra are here!" The voice was that of Videl, Panís mother. Her words made all three children groan collectively. Fourteen-year-old Marron was nice and when she was in charge, she was pretty easy-going and willing to do anything fun. But seven-year-old Bra was slightly spoiled and very girlish, which meant she hated fighting, sports, and any game that was too rough.
So Pendril, Lidal and Pan came out of the woods near Videlís and Chichiís houses to greet the approaching Marron and Bra. "What are you guys doing here?" blurted out Pendril. "I though Goten was supposed to be watching us."
Marron shrugged, unruffled. "Vegeta and Trunks came over to spar with him and Gohan and Piccolo. Bulmaís working, while Chichi and Videl are taking your mother shopping. So Goten fetched me from Kame House to watch you guys and Bra."
"Yep! Besides, we havenít seen Marron in weeks while we see Goten all the time!" cried out Bra.
Pan grumbled. How do you tell a girl like Bra that she was the one they minded being there, not Marron? Marron noticed Panís look and knew what it meant. Pan and Bra were always at odds with each other, what with six-year-old Pan being such a tomboy. She got along much better with Pendril and Lidal, even though they were two years older. Pan and Bra were already casting each other dirty looks.
Taking control, Marron clapped her hands together excitedly. "Okay! So what do you guys want to do?"
"Well, we were playing tag before you guys showed. Itíll be much more fun with two more players," suggested Lidal.
"Naw! That involves too much running. Why donít we play a game inside the house, where itís cooler?" said Bra. Her remark was like setting a match to a firecracker.
"Itís not hot out here! Youíre just making excuses!" cried Pan.
"Hey you guys! No fighting!" commanded Marron, stepping in between the two, who could fight like cats and dogs if one let them go on. Both girls stuck their tongues out at each other from around Marron. Pendril and Lidal exchanged looks and shook their heads. Their father taught them not to break out into silly fights over trivial things.
"Pan is right, Bra. It really is too nice a day to play a game inside. But you donít have to be rude about it, Pan," Marron said, attempting to be diplomatic and stern. She racked her brain, trying to think of a game that Bra wouldnít outright refuse. "I got it! How about we play hide and seek? That doesnít require too much running and we can play it outside. What do you think?"
Marron glanced at the twins, a pleading look on her face for them to help her out here. Pendril spoke first. "Hide and seek is a good game. Great thinking, Marron."
Lidal nodded in agreement. Pan backed down. "Um, sure. Hide and seek is fine."
Marron glanced down at Bra. "Is it alright with you Bra?"
Bra shrugged. "I guess hide and seek is okay."
"Rock, paper, scissors to see whoís IT first!" yelled out Pan.
A round of rock, paper, scissors revealed Marron would be IT first. Within two minutes Marron was sitting upon an overly large tree stump, her hands over her eyes, counting to seventy-five. Giggling, Pendril, Lidal, Pan, and Bra scattered into the woods to find hiding places.
Bra quickly found a cluster of large rocks to hide behind, not wanting to rip her dress in the bushes. Peeking around the rocks, she saw that Marron and the tree stump for the base were still within sight. She didnít want to stray too far, for she didnít know the woods as well as the others.
Pendril went deeper into the forest without hesitation, heading to the location of some bushes he knew would be good for hiding and that hung with some delicious ripe berries he could snack on for a tide over Ďtil it was dinnertime.
Lidal and Pan decided to tag team, running to the river nearby where the trees along the bank had more branches and were therefore much easier to climb. Marron would never think to look for them up a tree. The two hustled up the branches of the tallest one as they heard Marronís voice faintly call, "Ready or not, here I come!"
Marron walked slowly away from the huge tree stump, listening carefully for any suspicious sounding rustles or high-pitched giggling. Being only human, she had no enhanced hearing like her charges but if she was patient, the kids usually revealed themselves through some silly antic. Although if they were seriously training, Lidal, Pendril, and Pan could be very silent if it was needful.
Marron walked right by the large grouping of stones, not noticing the blue-haired figure hiding behind them. Seeing her chance, Bra darted for the tree stump, tagging it just as Marron turned around. "HA! Now you canít tag me!"
"Huh. Well, donít move from that spot. Iíve still got to find the others." Marron turned back to the forest to continue her search. Slowly Marron counted down from five, knowing Bra absolutely did not like being left alone. Just as she reached two, she heard running footsteps and Braís voice yell, "Wait! Iíll come with you!"
Smirking in amusement, Marron said, "Alright. But you have to be quiet."
Bra nodded. Ten minutes later she was complaining loudly that she was bored. Marron shook her head and then suddenly clapped her hand over the younger girlís mouth, a finger on her own lips. "Shhhhh."
Then they both heard it. It was a chewing sound, as though someone was eating, and it was coming from the bushes over to the right. Indicating Bra to not move, Marron carefully crept to the bushes, which she could now see hung with ripe boysenberries, a particular favorite of a little green boy she knew.
Abruptly Marron jumped and grabbed a shoulder clad by a purple gi. "Gotch ya!"
"AAAH!" With a great shout, Pendril jumped up, tossing to the ground the several berries in his hands. Marron saw that both hands were covered in the sticky red-black juice of boysenberries. Bra giggled as Marron clucked her tongue in a motherly imitation then let out a little giggle herself.
"Couldnít resist, could ya? Well, now youíre IT."
Pendril grinned sheepishly, then glanced around. "Where are Lidal and Pan?"
"Havenít found them yet. Come on. You can help with that." Marron walked off, with Bra following, still giggling. Busily licking his fingers clean, Pendril hurried after. They went to the river where they all got a drink and Pendril washed the stickiness from his hands. They were careful, as the river was still slightly wild from the winter thaw. Drying his hands, Pendrilís sensitive ears picked up what sounded like a suppressed giggle from above his head. Determining which tree it came from, Pendril began slowly walking in the opposite direction, trying not to look suspicious.
Finished drinking the water, Marron looked up, wiping her mouth. Confusion entered her eyes. "Bra, whereís Pendril?"
Before Bra could answer, the two heard shrieks from above and to the left. Scrambling to her feet, Marron watched in horror as Lidal fell from a tree into the river. She watched as Lidal hit a rock and then as the current took her unconscious body downstream.
"LIDAL!" Marron began running, unsure of what to do, but not wanting to lose sight of her. She was prepared to leap into the water when Pendril and Pan appeared before her.
"Wait! I have an idea!" Turning to the water, Pendril quickly plunged his mind into itís being, taking control of the turbulent waters. Shaping the water into a hand, he grabbed his sister and brought her to the shore. Pan and Marron quickly took a hold of her and pulled her further onto dry ground while Bra hovered anxiously.
Thanking the river, Pendril pulled his mind free and ran to them, falling on his knees beside his sister and began babbling. "Iím so sorry! I heard them in the tree and I just wanted to scare them and I flew up and yelled and then Lidal tripped and sheĖ"
"I understand, now quiet." Marron leaned forward, putting her ear to Lidalís mouth. "Sheís not breathing."
"What do we do?" cried Pendril.
"Marron! Help her!" yelled Pan.
"I donít know CPR" Marron began to panic as Bra began to cry. "I . . . I donít know what to do!"
"Iíll go get help!" yelled Pan, jumping to her feet. Suddenly a figure appeared beside her. "Let me through. I can help."
Shocked, all Pan could do was moved aside as the newcomer crouched beside an equally shocked Marron. "Will you let me help?"
"Please help her! Sheís my sister!" pleaded Pendril.
Marron nodded and moved over. The stranger kneeled beside Lidalís still prone body and began to perform CPR. The others watched, tense with fear. Tilt chin, five breaths, five chest thrusts, check pulse. Begin cycle over. Tears streamed down Pendrilís cheeks and Marron was losing hope when suddenly Lidal began to cough and gasp. The stranger tilted her and patted her back as she coughed up all the water she inhaled.
"There. Sheíll be alright now," said the stranger.
"You saved her. You saved Lidal." Marron wiped her eyes in relief as Bra hugged her and Pan cheered. Pendril could only sit there and stare at his twin, whoíd he nearly lost.
Lidal opened her eyes and looked at everyone in confusion at their antics. Glancing into her twinís eyes, realization came over her. Groggily she sat up and hugged him. Iím so sorry Lidal.
Itís okay. It wasnít your fault. Pan hugged them both, crying, "Iím so glad youíre all right!"
"We were so worried about you!" said Marron as she and Bra joined in the hug. Feeling uncomfortable and hoping not to be noticed, the stranger began to sneak away. Marron noticed the movement out of the corner of her eye and pulled away from the group hug, getting to her feet. "Donít go! Let us thank you!"
The kids scrambled to their feet as well as the stranger stopped in her tracks. They studied her, now that they werenít full of panic and worry. She was a young human woman of about Gotenís age, standing at about 5í8íí, with light brown skin, and hair that was black and short, just covering her neck. She wore a pair of baggy black pants, black boots, a white T-shirt that hugged her curves and stopped just above her waist and a bright purple sort of vest that went down to mid-shin of her leg. Her dark brown eyes watched them wearily from behind a shiny pair of thick purple glasses and a large gray bag hung across her shoulders.
Pendril stepped towards her unafraid. "Thank you, for saving my sister. I donít know what Iíd do without her. I could have lost her and it would have been all my fault."
Crossing the distance, Pendril hugged her. The woman froze in surprise. Looking down at him, she seemed to think hard about what he said. Then gently she removed his arms and kneeled before the young green boy. "It was not your fault. It was an accident. And you donít have to thank me."
Her voice was deeper then most female voices but it sounded much better to Pendrilís sensitive ears. Lidal stepped forward and together the twins hugged crouching woman, immobilizing her. "Of course we have to thank you," said Lidal. "Itís not everyday that someone keeps you from dying."
Hesitatingly the woman hugged the twins back. The other three stepped forward just as the woman let go and stood. "I should go now. And this little girl should go home and rest."
"I feel fine," Lidal proclaimed.
"Wonít you please stay?" asked Marron. "We donít even know who you are."
"Please stay!" cried Pan.
"You could play hide and seek with us," suggested Bra.
Pendril just stared, silently pleading. The young looked at all of their faces and relented, though she knew she would regret it later. "I guess I could stay for awhile."
"YAY!" cheered all the kids.
"Iím Marron," announced the pig-tailed teenager, shaking the young womanís hand. Letting go, she pointed to the kids one by one. "These two are Pan and Bra. And the twins are Pendril and Lidal."
"Whatís your name?" asked Bra.
The young woman faltered before answering. "My nameís Katherine . . . but people call me Mystic."
"Why do they call you that?" asked Pendril, curious.
The newly introduced Mystic shrugged. "Some people think me mysterious just because I donít walk up to them and reveal everything about myself on the spot."
"You keep secrets. Everyone does," said Lidal.
"Well, I guess I just keep more secrets than most," replied Mystic. Her remarks deterred any more questions they might of had.
Marron raised an eyebrow but said nothing. Pan spoke up. "Do you want to play hide and seek with us? Pendril is IT."
Mystic wavered. "I havenít played hide and seek in years." She paused. "But I guess I could give it a go."
"Great! We can hide together!" announced Lidal, grabbing the older womanís hand and dragging her away.
For the next few hours Marron, Pan, Bra, Pendril, and Lidal played several rounds of hide-n-seek with their new friend, Mystic. Finally tuckered out, the six of them collapsed onto the grass of a small clearing to watch the sky and listen to the birds while trying to regain a second wind.
Pendril lay upon his stomach, head propped up on his hands, watching the strange young woman who sat a few feet away. He was curious about her but was afraid to ask the questions he was thinking. Did she have any family? Where did she live? What was she doing before she helped them? Pendril pushed his thoughts aside as he watched a pretty blue butterfly flutter around. Although they tried several times, he and his sister could never catch one. He watched, fascinated, as Mystic held out her hand and the butterfly slowly came to rest upon it.
"How did you do that?" breathed Lidal in awe. She was sitting beside Pendril and had seen the whole thing as well.
"If you have enough patience to be still and wait long enough, a butterfly will always come to you," whispered Mystic, careful not to move. They all watched as few moments later the butterfly floated up to Mysticís face as if saying good-bye and then fluttered away. Mystic relaxed her posture with a sigh.
"That butterfly seemed to really like you. Do you have a bond with them?" asked Pendril.
"Donít be silly. Iím just human." Mystic became thoughtful. "Iíve always liked butterflies though. And I suppose Iím like them, in a way."
"In what way?" asked Marron, interest piqued.
"Well, weíre wanderers, never staying in one place for very long," explained Mystic. Looking at all the puzzled faces around her, she asked, "Have you ever heard the story of the very first butterfly?"
Marron and the kids shook their heads. "Nope. Tell it to us."
"Alright." Mystic sat up and crossed her legs Indian style. Closing her eyes, she recalled the story to her mind.
"A long, long time ago, people didnít write words down. And so the only way to hear stories was by word of mouth. The people who told these stories were called bards and were highly honored for the important role they fulfilled. They never stayed in one town for very long, traveling from town to town. By traveling, they gathered the news and spread the news. And learned more stories for there was always some new hero who performed a good deed or went on a great adventure. But there was one bard who was rather plain-looking and would have been ignored a lot if it wasnít for his wonderful talent at storytelling, keeping his audiences at rapt attention to the very end. And this bard believed in telling the absolute truth, no matter what.
Now there was a new hero and all the bards were embellishing his good deeds. But this one bard did not embellish. He told the truth. So when he arrived at the next town, the town welcomed him with the usual courtesy of free meals and place to stay. That evening the bard sat beside the fire of the inn and told the stories of the new hero. And he told the truth. Of how the hero was such an idiot he couldnít speak more then four-letter words and his armsbearer had to tell him how to slay the monster. That he had such a temper that he killed his own brother in a fit of temper. That he was so vain he spent more time in front of the mirror then at practice with his sword.
The townspeople were horrified at these truths. Word reached the hero of this bard that told the truth and he hunted him down and beat him to a pulp. The townspeople thought it wasnít enough and had their magician turn the bard into a caterpillar, which was too slow to travel anywhere and therefore unable to tell another story. And since the bard was plain looking, a caterpillar will always be plain. But the gods took pity on this honest bard and so gave him a gift. For the gift to take hold the caterpillar had to make a cocoon and sleep there for several weeks. When he emerged, he was a beautiful butterfly, which could travel everywhere, and be admired. And so a butterfly is always a wanderer, learning of truths that nobody knows but to afraid to tell."
So involved was she in her tale, Mystic was startled when she heard clapping. Opening her eyes she saw that it was Marron and the kids who were clapping. Mystic blushed in embarrassment.
"That was a good story," said Bra.
"Where did you learn that story?" asked Pan.
"I read it, in a book. I like to read a lot," answered Mystic.
"You really are very much like the butterfly. Not only are you a wanderer, but youíre a storyteller as well. A good one," remarked Marron.
Mystic blushed even deeper and nervously fiddled with the silver necklace around her neck. Pendril noticed with amusement that the charm that hung from the chain was a delicate little butterfly. Seeing the strange light glinting off it, he looked to the sky, and saw that the sun was setting. "Itís time to go back. Papa will be mad if weíre late."
Mysticís blush disappeared as she jumped to her feet. "I didnít realize Iíd stayed so long. I should have left a long time ago."
"Oh please. Youíve stayed so long, you might as well stay for dinner and meet our parents," begged Lidal.
For some reason, Mystic paled at the mention of parents. "Oh, no! I canít! Please donít tell your parents about me!"
"Whatís wrong? Why donít you want us to tell our parents about you?" asked Marron, frowning.
Mystic floundered in her explanation. "Um, well, itís just that Iím, um, a bit of a hermit and that, um, I prefer my privacy. So Iíd really appreciate it if you kept me a secret."
"We understand," said Lidal.
"Our mother used to be like that, Ďtil she met our father," said Pendril.
Marron shrugged. "Okay. If thatís what you want. Our lips are sealed. Right guys?"
"Right," said the kids in unison.
"At least walk us back?" asked Bra.
"Just to the edge of the woods," promised Mystic.
The walk back was quiet. Marron and Mystic gave piggyback rides to a tired Bra and Pan on the way. They had just reached the tree line where the giant tree stump stood when Pendril broke the quiet.
"You know, your name just doesnít sound right."
"What?" said Mystic as she set Pan down on the ground. Marron stared in puzzlement at Pendril as she set Bra upon the stump.
"Your name, Mystic. It sounds . . . incomplete," said Pendril.
Marron glanced at Mystic. "It does seem to need something more."
Mystic raised an eyebrow. "Itís just a name."
Lidal frowned in thought. "How about Ali? Mystic Ali?"
Mystic raised the other eyebrow. "Ali?"
"It means butterfly in the Shizen language," explained Pendril.
Mysticís eyebrows both went down as she frowned. "Shizen?"
"Wouldnít Ali Mystic sound better?" suggested Pendril.
Lidal smiled. "Perfect. From now on, you are Ali Mystic."
Mystic shrugged. "If you say so."
"Yep, we do! Good-bye!" said Pan as she ran off, smelling dinner.
"Good-bye Ali!" The rest ran after Pan, waving good-bye to the young woman. Lidal lingered, giving her another hug.
"Good-bye, Ali Mystic. Weíll see you again, right? Thatís what friends do."
"Maybe." The newly renamed woman watched as she ran off. "Bye."
As they reached Videlís house, Lidal said to Pendril, "I told you weíd meet someone new."
It was only a matter of time Ďtil one of us screwed up and we were discovered. Of course, that one person ended up being me. Once Iíd realized what Iíd done, I was too shocked to really think straight and so I stayed with them Ďtil they left. As I watched them go, I feared what I had done and what would happen because of it . . .
Author: Now can you guess who the mysterious character is? But there is more that has yet to be revealed. Even I am not entirely sure of what will come next in this story. My description of the new character was rather poor so Iíve put up new drawings at my site of her. She is similar to me but much more prettier than I. Please review and let me know if Iím doing bad with this story and need to improve it or change it.