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The Life and Times

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Before high school, I had always gone by the last name “Satomora-Tusakanova”. Mom decided I was old enough to make a decision about what last name I wanted to go by from here on out. Almost no thought went into my decision to go by Mom’s maiden name, Satomora. I was getting older and the feelings towards my dad didn’t change. Some might say it had grown by that point.

But Mom still believed that I would change my mind.

Her being patient about my feelings for Dad wasn’t an excuse to let me say whatever I wanted to say about him.

I remember that I had said something really spiteful about him. She scolded me for so long about that while giving me this look of disappointment. Disappointment and I think sadness. Mom’s a stern person when she needs to be, but never to the point that she was when talking with me about Dad. I couldn’t get out of my mind that look on her face. It broke my heart to see her like this. To have her speak like this to me.

Mom really loved Dad, I realized.

I hadn’t truly considered her feelings on Dad’s rare visits. Having recognize the feelings myself, I understand why she looked at me like that. I was constantly reminding her of a love she couldn’t be around as much. The two had been for each other for a long time, and the young me certainly wasn’t make it easy for her.

If I could go back to that moment, I would have least apologized for my behavior.

A huge misconception about me, I didn’t first started to feel love thanks to Hyuga. Not one bit.

It was someone else entirely. He was a senior while I was junior in high school. I was his substitute during the piano performances of our school’s band. The time I spent with him working on performances together brought these feelings. He was the first guy that I spent time with and he didn’t feel apprehensive towards me. His presence and intellect radiated in my otherwise dim life. I think I fell in love with that, more than the person himself.

I had considered confessing before he graduated.

It would be a hopeless endeavor.

I learned that he was in an arranged marriage before I could plan a confession. I knew there were deeply traditional families that still practiced arranged marriages. Mainly in Neudaiz. I just didn’t think I would have feelings for the one guy whose family still did arrange marriages.

Maybe it was that incident that made me think that love just wasn’t for me?

I was bothered by the fact I couldn’t act on those feelings. It bothered me that the bonds I tried to make that wasn’t my mom were easily broken. I hadn’t spoken to Kiri since she went to school in Parum and now this. I cried over the frustration of it all. I thought then that it was sign I was truly meant to be alone. It was also that incident that brought Mom and I to a closer bond.

I knew she still believed that our family will eventually work.

But she was more considerate of my feelings too.

She didn’t mention Dad as much with me. Something I was grateful for. I took the incident as a sign to get stronger emotionally. Which I think I did.

Maybe to a fault.

I had refused to have any sort of attraction towards anyone that expressing it was troubling. I would even have problems recognizing it. I felt that I didn’t need anyone like that in my life. As long as I had Mom to talk to, I think I could make it out alright.

Fate can be so cruel.

I think about the day Mom died a lot. Even more so now that I have grown as much as I did. So many “What ifs?” ran through my head.

What if we weren’t in Parum when the Seed fell?

What if I wasn’t trying to find Mom that day?

What if we didn’t get confronted by the Seed while trying to escape?

You know I love you deeply right?”

Of course I do Mom.”

Please, forgive Shion. He did what he had to protect us. To protect you. So for my sake, please forgive him.”

Some part of me knew then it was going to be the last time I looked at her with such life in her eyes. The details after that was a bit hazy for me. I remember seeing so much blood. I remember feeling it all on me. Mom’s blood covered me. Watching her body be disregarded so carelessly by the Seed-form.

This woman sacrificed her life for me.

She died to make sure I lived.

Something broke within me in that moment. If it wasn’t for Hildegarde, I think I might had ended up like Mom too. Hildegarde’s a Beast within the Guardians. As the story went, she found me huddled over Mom’s body in shock over what happened and took me to the hospital. She was the constant visitor I had during my hospital stay.

Physically I was okay, only a few scrapes from when Mom shoved me to the ground.

Emotionally...that was something different entirely.

The doctors felt that I was too emotionally unstable to leave so soon. Witnessing the results of a Seed invasion, seeing my mom die to protect me. They were right. As I spent those hospital nights to myself, I knew that there was something wrong with me. Like, there was something empty inside me. I had passed if off as just me coming to terms with Mom’s death.

Hildegarde, rather Hilde as she liked to be called, helped me through the grieving. She would tell me things about the Guardians, like her duty and her missions. At least the ones she could talk about. I learned she had a CAST husband within the AMF. I didn’t talk to her much during the first few days, mainly I was trying to cope with that fact that Mom was gone. I don’t think I was using Hilde as a replacement for her. But her presence was welcomed during this period of time in my life.

Just because I was accepting Mom’s death, didn’t mean I was completely forgiving.

It was about a week later that Dad visited me at the hospital. Back then, I was still angry and blamed him for the reason this situation had happened. In reality, the long wait was because the hospital was simply overwhelmed with Seed attacks and it took longer to make contact with family. My shock probably didn’t help matters either. Seeing Dad flooded all those emotions back in me. All the rage and guilt I felt overflowed into me.

I hate you Shion! I hate that I’m related to you!”

I don’t ever remember seeing Dad looked so dejected at my words.

Ami, I-”

If you weren’t focused on your job and just visited us in G-Colony Mom would still be here. I don’t want to have anything to do with you anymore.”

Ami, you know I can’t let you do that. I’m the only one that can take care of you.”

Ha, right. Like you’ve been doing for the past ten years? Just make me legally independent so you can actually have an excuse to not be involved in my life.”

One thing, Hildegarde slaps pretty hard.

Silence Ami, you don’t ever talk to your father like that.”

You don’t understand Hilde, he-”

He wasn’t there, so what? That’s in the past. If he’s willing to make amends now, then at least hear him out. How would your mother think if she saw you like this?”

Something had clicked within me that moment. I thought about Mom in that moment, remembering that disappointed look when I talked about Dad that time. I didn’t want that feeling on my conscience. More than my personal feelings, I didn’t want to disappoint her.

Mom...she asked that I forgive you. I can’t do it right now...but for her sake I can at least try.”

There we go Ami. At least try. I know you feel guilty about not being able to protect her, maybe you should become stronger. You should enroll in the Guardians.”

I was shocked at Hildegarde’s suggestion. The Guardians? Living in the G-Colony, Guardians wasn’t something new with me. But to actually consider joining them? Especially since with the Seed now, I knew they were going to be one of the main aids in fighting against them. I didn’t think I had what to takes to actually go through it. Hilde must have saw my apprehension and just wanted me to think about it.

I kept thinking about it.

Mom’s funeral was a quiet affair. They did have a big service for those who lost their lives on Parum due to the attack, but Dad and I figured we needed a private time to mourn for her too. I was still pretty mad over Dad and I think he understood that. He didn’t try to insert himself so deeply into a bond. Mourning makes you think about of lot of things. Even though I was still angry at him, a little piece of me was grateful that he worked as hard as he did. I don’t think Mom and I would be able to live the way we did if it wasn’t for his work.

But I was still mad at him.

It came up as a topic about living arrangements. Dad still had a contract with the private firm he was working with, but Mom and I had a home in G-Colony. We took a visit there to clean out Mom’s stuff. I think it got to him how much he missed. Seeing a lot of things that showed how close Mom and I was. I think he understood a bit of my bitterness towards him.

I didn’t know you play piano.”

Mom got me to start playing when I was seven. It was the most feminine thing I could tolerate and she thought it would help me in regards to you.”

It was an awkward silence between us for a long while after that. I wasn’t sure what the exact moment was, but it was then we both realized our faults. I shouldn’t have shouldered all the blame on him. When I was older I could have made time out to talk to him as well. We were both somewhat at fault for the state of our relationship. It was a shame it took the death of Mom to realize that. It was then I knew I had to take Mom’s request seriously.

So we packed up everything and I moved to Parum with Dad.

Now that we were working on our relationship, my future was on my mind. I had started to consider Hildegarde’s suggestion for the Guardians very seriously. I did want to get stronger. Just so that no one had to sacrifice themselves for me like Mom. It was tempting to see how much stronger I can get. But it meant signing away my normal life. It would mean signing away my chance to become a professional musician. Before the Seed, I had an application to go to the performing arts school stationed in Neudaiz. Said to be one of the best in Gurhal. I didn’t think I was that good, but I was given one by my band leader.

The thought to just go to a local university in Parum popped up too, but I wouldn’t know what to study there.

The more I lingered on my choice, the more that signing up with the Guardians was more assured. It only took a few weeks for me to finally decide on it. When I told Dad, he seemed pretty okay with it. Too okay, in my opinion. Even though he signed the consent forms for me to join, he knew the seriousness of it. He basically gave the okay for me to a profession in which I could quite possibly die.

Chances being even higher now that the Seed threat was real.

To be honest, I was scared. Considering who I was, joining the Guardians was the most opposite thing I could do. I was a bit rough, but never a fighting person. Some would call it spur of the moment.

But Hildegarde was right. I needed to be stronger.

I wondered how much stronger the Guardians would make me.

Arriving back at the G-Colony was bittersweet for me. It really wasn’t that long since I moved out to Parum, so the memories was still fresh. I didn’t harp too much on it before going to the Headquarters there. Once I got there, second thoughts were coming in.

Was I really making the right choice?

There were no guarantees that I would even pass the training academy. I wasn’t oblivious that a lot of the new trainees were being sent to the Mobile Defense unit. There was a real possibility that I would be out in the front lines and I wasn’t sure if I was mentally ready for that. The panic of the Seed being a permanent threat was real.

But there was a scene that spurned me on.

I watched as the two talked. About how the older one said that he keeps fighting as a Guardian to make sure the younger one can live her life freely, without the threat of the Seed. I wasn’t sure if the younger one fully understood the older’s words. But I did.

Of course, the two talking were Ethan and Lumia Waber. I just didn’t know it yet.

But hearing his words brought a realization to me. The hidden reason why I wanted to be a Guardian. It was more than me wanting to be stronger, more than me feeling guilty over Mom’s death. I wanted to protect Gurhal. I wanted to make sure there were no more casualties like with Mom. If I have the power to make that a reality, then I should take advantage of that.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared.

No one wanted to die.

I signed all the forms and turned it into Mina, a receptionist of the Guardians. She’s a kind person. At least that’s the impression I got from her. I knew the road from here on was going to be tough. There were going to be times in which I would question myself.

But I had to do this.

No. I wanted to do this.

For Mom. For Dad.

For Gurhal.

Ami Satomora, welcome to the Guardians.”