Story: Soft Power (chapter 2)

Authors: moegrrl

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Chapter 2

3. Childhood Friends


A small smile played on Shion’s lips. She loved this morning ritual. Her mind a blissful blank while on her morning jog. It was a time to leave behind her personas and their responsibilities: The President, The Valedictorian, The Heiress, The Perfect Daughter, and what was it they called her? The Snow Empress of Astrea…


Snow Empress, huh? Shion ruefully mused, What a polite way of calling me an Ice Queen.


She was passing by the sparkling and calm waters of the lake, and Shion let the sight center herself before the troubling thought brought on an anxiety attack. She had been getting a lot of those, especially with the pink hallucinations that she’d been having lately. She had been having dreadful dreams of being chased by a pink hamster. Somehow, the bits of pink that she’d been seeing on her peripheral vision transforming into an adorable little rodent.


An adorable little perverted hamster, which had pink fur and terrifying front teeth, dragging around a camera, and for some baffling reason, wearing glasses. Where did that come from? Dreams of a hentai hamster that took pictures of her in the shower, Shion shuddered.


A chill ran up Shion’s spine. Her neck hairs stood on end and she had the unnerving feeling that she was being watched now.


(She was, poor girl. Kagome was rudely dragged out of bed by Kizuna and Remon when they realized that this operation needed a four man team. More like they didn’t want to be separated, if you ask me, but what does the Narrator know anyway. Kagome had the binoculars to her eyes, while Pashibaru held the walkie-talkie. How it was able to do that with its stuffed paws, that lacked opposable thumbs or any other fingers for the matter, would have qualified as one of the mysteries of the Strawberry Dorms.)


It’s just the air. Shion made an effort to breathe evenly and find her Zen self. Just the lovely crisp air and I didn’t just imagine a pink hamster with a teddy bear and binoculars.


Determinedly staring at the path Shion started up the gentle but long incline of her favorite trail that cut into the forest. Responsibilities and pink hamsters were for later. Later. Later. Later. Repeating this mantra in her head, Shion found comfort in deep denial.


Nearing the crest, the dark crown of someone’s head peeked into view. Irritated that her solitude was being disrupted, Shion petulantly gazed on the bobbing ponytail of the jogger that was ahead of her. The ponytail was followed by a graceful neck and lovely shoulders. The person was jogging at an easy pace that Shion could overtake in a few moments.


Doing track at an early age, Shion unconsciously appreciated the jogger’s light build, which was ideal for track, the slim calves that rhythmically pounded the dirt path, and the graceful swing of her torso. She wore a sensible outfit of loose clothing that wouldn’t hinder her breathing or movement, and would keep her cool, Shion noted approvingly.


The ensemble was, regretfully, in pink…a garish neon pink, to be exact, down to the jogger’s trainers. Shion had nothing against pink. Really.


Visions of neon hamsters tortured Shion.


A familiar twinge from her childhood came to her. She’d seen this form before, and in fact it felt like she had always been following it. It was always ahead of her. She was always ahead of her. As long as she was on the team, Shion had always been second place. The ponytail was tied with trademark red ribbons. Chikaru’s trademark ribbons. Her childhood friend. Her former track teammate. Her rival.




Chikaru heard Shion approaching her and applauded her perfect timing. She could practically feel Shion’s hesitance. Chikaru knew that Shion could have easily passed her and she had deliberately kept her pace light.


Oh Shion, she silently chided, you weren’t always like this. Keeping her nonchalant speed, Chikaru patiently waited for Shion to weigh her options, knowing that Shion prized the mornings as her “me time”.


The path would branch out ahead of the, and Shion could escape without crossing paths with her, but Chikaru anticipated that and had Remon and Kizuna (in cosplay, of course, as traffic aides) bar the way on some fake “Dirt-Path-Preservation” story, that had Remon cross-eyed just practicing it.


She had considered just leaving some blinking road block on the path with a “Men-At-Work” sign, but decided against it. Shion would risk the warning if she really wanted to avoid a confrontation. Besides, there were those costumes, Chikaru thought with a tiny giggle of glee.

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