Fushigi Yuugi Novel #4
(“The Legend of Shooting Star”)
Based on the comics by: Watase Yuu
Written by: Nishizaki Megumi
Chapter 4: The Girl in Basara
“Charge!!” At the shout of that command, the mountains began to shake; perhaps it would be more correct to say that the trees themselves began to move.
The soldiers, with their bodies clothed in camouflage battle gear and their heads covered with twigs, leaped in unison. They then proceeded to kick and slash at the manikins that were laid out for them. With a fierce battle cry, the manikins flew up into the air and were slashed to pieces.
“Okay! Regroup!” The leader commanded his troops in a sharp voice.
The thirty-eight troops ran like the wind, and in seconds, were kneeling by Sho Tessoh’s feet. His troops were all just around fifteen years of age.
They were “Basara”, a guerilla squad of over thirty members. Their leader, Tessoh, was just barely nineteen years old himself. But his long hair tied back with a ribbon, and eyes sparkling with determination on his fearless face, defied his age, giving him the appearance of an adult.
He addressed his boys. “X-Day is nearing. Be alert, gentlemen!”
“’Sir!” In unison, the boys’ voices echoed throughout the mountains.
After the boys dispersed and headed back for their tents, a boy of small build appeared at Tessoh’s side. With his exotic brown skin, hair, and eyes, he appeared as though he were from some foreign land
“Tessoh, I worry about him…” the strangely accented boy spoke gravely.
Tessoh let out a sigh. “I’m not too pleased about him either, Chama Lee.”
The two shrugged their shoulders in discouragement.
“By the way, he still hasn’t noticed about that yet, has he?”
“No, sir. I think that is still okay.”
Before their eyes, high up in a zelkova tree, sat a boy. He seemed to be engrossed in whacking twigs off the branches with iron spheres he had attached to a rope.
When the boy heard himself being called, he stopped his mindless pastime. As if he had been disturbed from a very important task, he answered.
“What the hell do you want, Tessoh? I’m busy.”
“No questions! Get down from there and come to my tent, Shunkaku!”
Without even an “excuse me”, Shunkaku violently swatted Tessoh’s tent flap open. With his ball-like weapon slung over his shoulder, he swaggered over to Tessoh, who was seated in the corner of his tent. Shunkaku, with a thin band tied around his forehead, possessed an aggressive aura, that if touched, threatened to cut up a person.
“Tessoh, you know I can’t stand lectures and scolding, right?”
Tessoh questioned the fiercely-eyed boy. “Shunkaku, Tell me why you wanted to join Basara.”
“I’m not here ‘cause I want to, but ‘cause you need me.” Shunkaku answered arrogantly. “If it wasn’t for me, Basara’d be nothing more than a Mickey Mouse operation.”
“Is that so. My, you seem to be awfully confident in yourself.”
“Yeah, so don’t make me do such boring training along with the others!”
“This time is crucial for us, Shunkaku. Tessoh worries that Basara’s morale drops,” Chama Lee interjected. As well as being Tessoh’s assistant, he was the brains behind Basara.
“…..Hmph.” With a snort through his nose, Shunkaku turned his back on the two. “I don’t know if this’s a revolution, or what, but I can do it all by myself.”
“If that’s how you feel, then why don’t you leave Basara and do it yourself.”
Shunkaku was trapped by Tessoh’s logic.
“Go ahead into Kutoh’s palace with your ryuuseisui and take over the country.”
Shunkaku stood silently in defeat.
“Listen, Shunkaku. If we’re going to start a revolution, we need the help of every member of this squad. I know that you are stronger than the other members, but that doesn’t mean you can do it all by yourself.”
Tessoh firmly gripped Shunkaku’s chin and turned his face towards him. “The reason I bought you three years ago when you were still weak and pitiful, was because I saw rage in your eyes. It was an incurable rage towards Kutoh for ruining your life.”
“….Yeah, that’s right!” Shunkaku agreed hotly. If there was no Civil War, my parents wouldn’t’ve died. Then I wouldn’t’ve had to go to that hell-hole, Koh’s house…..and I wouldn’t’ve been betrayed by my brother…. Shunkaku’s shoulders shivered.
“Everyone here is just like you: orphaned from the war with no place to go. Lee and I are the same. We all have anger in our hearts that we don’t know how to get rid of.” Tessoh continued. “The Civil War is over, but judging by the way things are going, this country’s only getting worse. We can’t get rid of the weed without attacking the root. Understand?”
“Of course I do. We’re gonna kill that bastard who calls himself an Emperor, right?” Shunkaku said.
“Exactly. And in order to do that, we need your help, and the help of everyone else here. And the thing that will determine our outcome in the end is our trust for one another.”
“I don’t know how you feel about me, but I trust you, Shunkaku. Chama does, too. And probably everyone else does, too. So don’t betray us…we’re on your side.”
Shunkaku raised his face with a soft gasp. Shunkaku had not thought about trusting anyone for a very long time. The idea that people were depending on him was new, too.
Tessoh smiled down at Shunkaku. “Shunkaku, ever since you came here, you’ve gotten much stronger. I was definitely right in giving you ryuuseisui instead of a sword. I’ve never seen a man use it as skillfully as you. I’m sure you were born for the ryuuseisui.”
When Tessoh told him this, Shunkaku’s eyes fell on his weapon.
Three years ago, Koh had tied him up and dragged him out of the house. He had been handed over to a mysterious young man with a black cloth wrapped around his face. That man was Tessoh.
Then Shunkaku had been taken by Tessoh into a small cottage deep in the mountains. There were two other scrawny boys there with him. One of them was Chama Lee.
The next day, Tessoh had approached Shunkaku. “I noticed you were whirling that hoe well in the fields yesterday,” he said, as he handed the mysterious weapon, ryuuseisui, to Shunkaku.
When Shunkaku heard the part of the name that means “shooting star”, “ryuusei”, his face stiffened for an instant, but he quickly shook it out.
Shooting stars don’t mean anything to me anymore….
At first, the heavy iron in the weapon made it hard for him to lift, but as the days went by, the ryuuseisui began to move as if they were a part of Shunkaku’s body. Then, before he knew it, the iron balls moved wherever he commanded them to.
He also put noticeable muscle on his once scrawny body, and eventually became a normal, healthy boy who never got sick. He had slowly been gaining confidence in his own strength as well, thinking I’m not wimpy or a crybaby anymore, and I’m the strongest man in the world…
And as a key member of the only guerilla resistance group left battling against the Kutoh government, he grew stronger and braver everyday.
“Shunkaku. Fight along side us,” Tessoh commanded, peering into the boy’s eyes.
Shunkaku nodded silently.
“You may go now…”
Without giving an answer, Shunkaku turned his back on Tessoh.
A dagger had whizzed past Shunkaku; and impaled its self into the tent pole.
Shunkaku turned his head back in astonishment. The dagger had grazed his shoulder, just barely missing his flesh.
“Lazy ass. We cannot allow imprudence in guerilla warfare.” Tessoh fiercely looked down at Shunkaku.
“……..Shit!” Shunkaku fled the tent angrily.
When Shunkaku was out of earshot, Chama Lee spoke. “Tessoh, you lied to Shunkaku, you know.”
“Yes…about why you brought him to Basara.”
“Oh, that…” Tessoh folded his arms. “It’s true that I originally bought Shunkaku to use as a hostage, but now he’s become too useful to our cause…”
Chama Lee stared at him in silence.
“Well, anyway, we can’t let Shunkaku know about any of this. According to our original plan, he’s still our last resort.”
“…..You do have point there.”
“Lee, the government still doesn’t know where our military base is, right?”
“No. Not as yet.”
The government was aware of the existence of Basara. In order to avoid being raided, it was crucial for Basara to change their military headquarters frequently.
“And what did the patrollers say?”
“They say it be another two to three days.”
“So I guess it’s finally coming, huh,” Tessoh said as he narrowed his determined eyes.
Suddenly, a girl with a black cloth wrapped around her face quietly entered the tent.
“I have funds for the soldiers,” she said, handing a pouch full of coins to Tessoh.
“Where’d you get this?”
“I still had a little left over from the last looting we did….”
Tessoh blew a sigh out as he looked at the coins in his hand. Basara acquired living expenses through thievery. Chama Lee would scout out the villages in the valleys for those worthwhile to plunder, and then Tessoh would send troops down to collect food and supplies. The people Basara robbed, be they black-hearted bribers, or war profiteers, were simply robbed for their money. But Tessoh knew that in the eyes of this girl, they were all murderers who deserved to die.
“You won’t have to do things like this anymore for much longer,” Tessoh comforted the girl as he removed the cloth from her face. “But I’ve been worried about you leaving camp as often as you do now. It’s dangerous, so don’t stay out too long, okay?”
Tessoh gently stroked his little sister’s head. “Pretty soon, you won’t have to live this kind of lifestyle anymore…. after we kill Nakago. Okay? Toka.”
The boys of Basara were separated into small groups and lived in tents just as their leader did. Although they were obedient men during training, in their free time, they acted just as normal boys of their age did; they wandered and played as they pleased.
However, during these past few days, a strange gloom had been hanging over all of them. It was because X-Day was nearing. On the flip-side of their support for Tessoh’s ideals and joy of starting a revolution, the boys were extremely nervous and fearful that death was upon them.
Shunkaku, too, who was not sure whether what Tessoh had just given him was a strict lecture, or loving-advice, lay alone in his tent with his head propped up on his elbows.
He sensed someone coming into the tent behind him, and assumed it was his roommate, Chama Lee.
“…….Am I really that important to everyone here?…” He asked the one who sat down behind him.
“…..Yes,” a breathless voice answered him.
“Hmmmm. Really?….Then am I important to you?”
“Bu, but of coursey!” The startled voice blurted out behind Shunkaku’s head.
“What the hell? Your voice sounds weird,” Shunkaku chuckled. “Well, I guess that means you’re important to me, too.”
Shunkaku finally lifted his head up at the locomotive-like voice puffing from behind him.
“Whaaaa?” The instant he turned around, he was caught in a passionate embrace. He looked up and gulped.
“Shun, Shunraku?? What the hell’re you doing, you prick!”
“W, w, w, we, are ye, ye, ye, yearning for each other!”
The sixteen-year-old boy, Shunraku, who’s girth was twice that of Shunkaku, squeezed him tightly.
“Be, be, before I die, I wa, wa, want to give you my vir, vir, virginity!”
“AAAH! Get the hell away from me! If it’s sex ya want, why don’t’cha go ask Toka!”
“Sil, sil, silly. My feelings are for y, y, you only, Shunkaku! Your ryu, ryu, ryuuseisui are so, so, so, so, so, so”
“Don’t tell me my iron balls turn you on!!!”
When Chama Lee entered the tent he shared with Shunkaku, and saw what was sprawled out on the floor next to Shunkaku, his eyes popped out.
“Shunkaku, what is this?…”
Shunraku, his body firmly tied up by Shunkaku’s ryuuseisui, was foaming at the mouth.
“This guy’s a fag! He said some bullshit about since Shunkaku and Shunraku sounded alike that we were meant for each other.”
Lee let out a sigh as he smiled bitterly. “This is because X-Day comes. Everyone’s killer-instincts are rising…”
Chama’s eyes wandered over to Shunkaku’s shoulder. His skin could be partly seen through the small slash in his clothes that Tessoh had just cut with his dagger.
“…..Shunkaku, there is tear in your clothing. I sew it for you.”
“Oh, you mean this?…” Shunkaku said as he casually began to take his shirt off.
Lee held his hands to stop him. “You can keep shirt on. I can fix it very quickly this way….”
Swiftly removing a needle and thread from his pouch, Lee moved up close to Shunkaku and began the repairs. Their heads were touching together, making it look like the two of them were embracing tenderly.
When Shunkaku noticed Chama’s unusually husky breathing, he tensed.
“Chama…not you, too…”
“How can that be. I am your best friend,” Chama assured Shunkaku, whose face had been twisted in fear. “We take bath together and sleep together, right? This is boy’s friendship.”
“Y…yeah, you’re right,” Shunkaku managed, breathing a sigh of relief.
Shunkaku and Chama had met three years before. Even though one was the “teacher’s pet” and the other was the “trouble-maker” of Basara, oddly, the two seemed to get along quite well.
Chama never told Shunkaku why he, a boy of another country, was in Kutoh, and Shunkaku never told Chama why he had joined Basara. The fact that the two both had painful scars in their pasts that they would not like to talk about brought them close together.
“Shunkaku…” Chama whispered in Shunkaku’s ear.
“Are you…content being here?…”
“…..Why the hell’re ya asking that all of a sudden.”
Lee answered, while sewing. “You might…have another way of life that suit you better. Someplace that is not here…”
“Bullshit!” Shunkaku firmly grabbed hold of Chama’s shoulders. “Didn’t Tessy-boy just tell us we’re supposed to trust and help each other?!”
“…..Yes, you are right….”
“What’s with you?”
“I am sorry… You are my best friend, Shunkaku…”
Chama brought his lips to Shunkaku’s shoulder to bite the thread off. At the same time, a groan could be heard from the other end of the tent as Shunraku sluggishly pulled himself up.
“….This, this, this can’t be…. You, you, you two had….that, that, that kind of relationship…?” Shunraku asked with quavering voice.
Shunkaku walked over to him and smacked his face.
“Shunkaku, calm down…”
Shunkaku faced the once again unconscious Shunraku and yelled. “If you weren’t my ally, I’d fucking kill you!”
Later that night, plagued with insomnia, Shunkaku softly left the tent so as not to awaken Chama. Earlier that evening, folk songs from the boys’ villages and violent yells had been booming throughout the camp, but somehow it finally calmed and the mountains were blanketed in tranquility.
Shunkaku looked up at the night sky. In it shone an uncountable number of stars.
Shunkaku usually found comfort in gazing up at the stars, but somehow, there was a pain in the bottom of his heart tonight.
Why should I give a damn about that now…
This was not the time to indulge one’s self in trivial sorrow. Shunkaku now held an important duty in helping his comrades to start a revolution.
“What’re you doing?…”
Shunkaku whirled around at the sound of a voice. He could faintly see a girl’s silhouette standing near him in the darkness.
“….Toka….?” Shunkaku self-consciously folded his arms. Ever since this girl had come to Basara a year ago, she had not once talked to him. Shunkaku had never once given thought as to why Toka had been congenial to the other boys, but had been ignoring only him all those months.
Memories of his loving mother were now faded, and thanks to the abuse he had received from the women at Kou’s house, Shunkaku had developed an allergy to females.
“Nii-chan told me about you. He said that the first night you came to Basara, you were looking up at the stars.”
“…….Go away…” he mumbled back.
“He also said that when you saw a bunch of shooting stars that night you cried.”
“I told you to go away!” After yelling this, he finally faced her. “You shouldn’t be wandering around like this at night. Everyone’s acting crazy right now.”
“I’ll be okay. If anyone does anything to me, Nii-chan’ll take care of him.”
“…..Ah, got a point there.”
Shunkaku had to admit that if Toka, the only girl in Basara, were not Tessoh’s little sister, all order and discipline would be lost in a day.
Toka scooted herself a little closer to Shunkaku.
“Don’t touch me! I hate girls.”
“Oh really? Could that be because you used to be bullied by girls?”
“……Go to…Hell” Shunkaku turned his back on her and scowled.
“Hey, are you really an orphan from the war with no family left?”
“Wouldn’t it be possible…that you have some family left living?”
“….No, it wouldn’t…”
Ignoring Shunkaku’s contradictions, Toka continued. “Have you heard of the Legend of Shooting Star? It says that when a crisis is about to come upon twins who are separated, stars fall out of the sky.”
“You have a twin brother, don’t you,” Toka insisted. “So when you came here that first day and saw those shooting stars, you cried.”
Shunkaku whirled around to face Toka and glared at her with mixed emotions. Toka returned his stare with the same eyes.
“What if your brother is looking for you?…”
“I don’t have a brother, dammit! I don’t know about legends or whatever, but don’t say I have a twin! All the family I used to have is gone now!”
This time, Toka was at a loss for words.
“Basara is my family now, so you mind your own damn business…”
“If you bug me anymore, I’ll forget that you’re Tessoh’s sister….and deal with you as I wish…”
Chama Lee, who had been witnessing this exchange in the shadow of a tree cocked his head. “Twins? Then that must mean that there is another Seiryuu Seishi out there with a face just like his….”
Read Tetris no Miko’s other Fushigi Yuugi light novel translations here.