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In the crowded market buzzing with activity, various forms of chatter went on in plenty of different languages, some even muted. Children ran amok, young ladies laughed and gossiped, old men groaned and merchants yelled out to those in range, eager to make a sale to gather much needed supplies and necessities for living. Various smells and sounds consumed those who walked about, and made them dizzy with a feverish spell of immersion--the norm, now, during a day in the market. Nighttime, however, provided a different case. While similar sights and sounds still existed, things became much more calm and quiet; smells weakened greatly by this point, merchants appeared exhausted, and in fact, most of them departed from their stalls. Though possibly due everyone choosing to rest toward nighttime, this also resulted due the petty thievery always present. No matter which colony one lived on, thieves existed, often doing their deeds out of hunger or desperation. Few merchants could ever protect themselves from them, and anyone who might have said otherwise clearly lied.

On one day, a young, bright-eyed girl with a shy smile and a sweet heart stepped out of her cabin and prepared for another long day at the market. The girl, neither shopper nor observer, worked as an assistant to a merchant. Hikari Yamamoto, the girl afraid of many things, was quite young to be working. Such was the case with many children and young adults who came to the colonies. Many lost their families in the rush, and others during their time in space. Unfortunately, one couldn't consider Hikari an exception to this either--she played the victim in such tragic circumstance as many did, having come to the colony with her grandmother some years ago. Her parents didn't come with her, as she lost them in a car accident years before the rush even happened, and since lived with her grandmother in Shibuya. When the danger escalated on their home planet and the rush to the colonies began, Hikari was merely eight years of age. Her grandmother struggled to take care of her since then, and her health rapidly deteriorated. As such, the elderly woman relied on Hikari to care for her. Unfortunately, within just one year, Hikari lost her grandmother, who died with the hope that someday everyone could return to their home and live their lives again as they did in the past. While Hikari agreed with her verbally, deep down she believed that hoping for such things was in vain. After the death of her Grandmother, Hikari lived alone for another three years to the present day. She got taken in by a young man named Soren in that time, who worked as a merchant both of food and trinkets. He fed her and occasionally presented little knick-knacks and jewelry that had been traded in to his sheltered child so that she may trade them for clothing and other necessities, if ever she needed it. Hikari showed gratification to Soren for taking such care of her, but running the shop and having to deal with strange people often worried her so.

But on this day, Hikari felt at peace and well rested. She took the keycard to her cabin, locked the door and set out early in the morning to meet up with her mentor. Outside her cabin, the controlled temperature felt pleasant. The metallic hallway contained little to no life, as none but the workers of the ship, restless citizens and a few morning people would wake up this early. Hikari passed a few officers on her way to work and greeted them kindly when they did so to her. Some didn’t quite even speak in English, but rather in a language she couldn’t understand, but still she figured that they offered greetings to her and so she tried to be polite to them. Within half an hour, Hikari reached Soren’s stall and began to set up today’s goods. Her mentor met up with her shortly after she came and gave her a warm greeting.

“Good morning, Hikari,” He said with a smile.  “I’m surprised you’re here early. You don’t usually arrive before me.”

“I woke up feeling rested,” Hikari replied, grabbing an armful of fruit and laying it out. “So I didn’t really laze around, I guess.”

“Did you, now?” Soren inquired, helping her. “You’re usually very tired, in fact sometimes I feel bad that a girl your age has to work so hard!”

“It’s okay,” Hikari assured him. “It’s hard work and I don’t really like some of our customers, but at least I get food and stuff!”

“Yes,” Soren agreed. “And at least we’re able to even grow our own food now! I remember when we first came to the colony, the scientists were still working on artificial means of farming, and we didn’t have any fruits or vegetables for a few months! A lot of people were very malnourished.”

“Seems like it was a long time ago, doesn’t it?” Hikari reminded him. “I remember I got really sick and my grandma had to try to take care of me.”

She hung her head down glumly.

“Do you have to keep doing this to yourself?” Soren sighed. “I’m sorry about what happened to her, Hikari, really, but you shouldn’t keep bringing her up if it’s going to upset you. I hate to see you sad and afraid all the time.”

“It’s just that I feel bad,” Hikari mumbled. “I just wish I could have done something for her. I know it’s not my fault but I feel so bad…”

Soren put a hand on Hikari’s shoulder.

“Hikari, please,” he said. “Don’t do this to yourself. Here, why don’t you focus on something else, hm?”

He handed her another box to unload.

“Let’s take your mind off of all of that, now.”

“Alright,” Hikari decided. She continued to unload things, and before she knew it, people started pouring into the market. The same smells and sounds filled the air as always, and Hikari began to forget about this morning’s guilt through labor.

While the day provided some enjoyment for Hikari, she dreaded night entirely. Some times before. Soren even left Hikari just for a moment to take care of things. However most of the time, that happened during the day when she could handle things much better. While it still made her uneasy, nothing frightened her more than nighttime. Soren seldom left Hikari alone at night, knowing all too well how dangerous it could get with thieves running about. However, in this instance, Soren had something he absolutely could not wait to do and bid himself to leave the stall to take care of the matter.

“It’ll only be for a moment, Hikari,” he promised the frightened young girl. “I’ll be back in fifteen minutes. Be strong for me, okay?”

He patted his assistant on the back. Though she returned with a fake smile, inside, Hikari felt terrified, almost about to shout to Soren, Don’t leave!

However, the bright-eyed girl thought better and held her tongue. She stayed at the stall like a good assistant and did her best to remain calm. The child first thought of her grandmother-- no that made it worse. She switched her thoughts to that of her parents which, of course, didn't help either. Hikari shook her head back and forth and sighed, eventually giving up and deciding to empty her mind by staring at a piece of lettuce that fell on the floor near the stall in front of her quite some time ago. It seemed stupid, when she thought of what she was really doing, but itcertainly helped to keep her nerves.

Unfortunately, she snapped back to after hearing whispers from a distance. Hikari squeaked, falling over, ducking under the table and peeking beneath the space between the floor and the edge of the cloth that hastily draped itself over the stall. She managed to make out three shapes, and observed that the voices belonged to young teenage boys. They quietly made their way through other stalls, looking for things to steal. While some merchants working at this time of night saw them and shooed them away, others did not notice, or at least pretended not to in order to avoid trouble. It was only a matter of time before they came towards Hikari’s stall, and as soon as they faced her direction, the frail girl panicked--much too afraid to come out from under the stall. Trembling silently, she shut her eyes and did nothing as the boys picked up whatever merchandise they could carry and made off with it. Hikari did not come out from her hiding place until she heard a very angry voice a long while later.

Hikari!” It exclaimed with a mixture of surprise, worry and annoyance. The voice was so sudden that Hikari jumped up and hit her head on the underside of the stall. She cried out in pain for a moment and sheepishly came out of her hiding place. Standing in front of the stall was a very distraught Soren.

“Hikari, what happened?” He demanded, crossing his arms. “Where is everything ?”

“I-it was stolen,” Hikari stuttered. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry! A bunch of boys came and I was afraid that they’d hurt me if I did anything because they were older and-“

Soren sighed heavily and began to press against his temples.

“Oh Hikari, what am I going to do with you…” He mumbled to himself.

“I’m sorry!” Hikari cried. “Really, I just didn’t know what to do!”

She stood there, trembling and biting her lip to keep from crying. Soren closed his eyes and continued to apply pressure to his temples. After a few minutes of silence, he spoke up.

“Why don’t we take a break tomorrow, Hikari?” He suggested, lowering his hands. “Let’s not come back to the shop tomorrow. After all, I have nothing else to stock at the moment anyway...”

“But, what do I do then?” Hikari asked. “This is all I have to feed myself.”

“Hikari, just listen,” Soren commanded. “Meet me tomorrow when the sun rises, precisely. I’ll be waiting somewhere in the community space. If you’re willing, I’ll teach you something I think you need to know.”

“What do you mean?” Hikari insisted. “What are you going to teach me?”

“Don’t worry about that now,” Soren told her. “Just go home and get some rest, alright? I think we both need it.”

Hikari's head filled with worry and confusion. She couldn't wrap her head around what Soren was talking about or what would happen when she met with him. However, she thought it best to listen to him and go back to her cabin. She would just have to wait until morning to see what he wanted.

------------------

Hikari woke earlier than usual again, slightly more exhasted than yesterday, but still able to function well enough. She did as instructed by Soren the night before and met him in the ship’s community space--a place for people to relax, built to resemble that of a public park. Although everyone lived aboard a closed ship, the people who built them figured it fair to provide a space for people to relax and do whatever they wished to unwind. It didn’t look entirely real, in fact the display of artificiality felt slightly pitiful with artificial plantlife and electric lighting made to mimic that of natural daylight. However, the residents of the colonies considered it a blessing to at least be able to pretend they were back home as opposed to not having anything at all--a place where they could look forward to and remember the definition of humanity. Many people spent their time here when they weren’t working or busy; Children and dogs would play and run amok, young bookworms sat under the shade of an artificial oak tree reading old books, and the elderly would sit on the benches, watching it all.

But so early on this morning, few bodies made up the community space, with some people jogging about to gain strength and keep their health up. Hikari walked along the metal pathway, looking around for her mentor. She eventually spotted him leaning on the trunk of a large oak tree, his arms crossed and his eyes closed.

“Soren?” She called curiously. Hikari slowly walked up to him, and Soren’s eyes opened as she did so. He straightened his posture and greeted the young girl when he met her gaze.

“Why did you ask me to come here?” Hikari questioned. Soren sighed and began to stretch his arms.

“I think it’s about time I taught you something important,” He said. “You need some sort of, well, practice, I should say. Something to clear your mind, make you nice and strong, no?”

“I don’t understand,” Hikari replied, shaking her head.

“I’m going to teach you how to fight, Hikari,” Soren told her. “You’re a good girl, but very afraid of the world around you. I am going to teach you to protect yourself- Not just for the stall’s sake, of course, but for yourself as well.”

Hikari was flabbergasted.

“Soren,” she began, cupping her hands together. “I’m happy that you want to help me, really, but, I don’t know if I can do this. I’m-“

Afraid?” Soren interrupted with a smug look. He put a hand under Hikari’s chin when he saw her eyes look down.

“It’s okay to be afraid,” he said. “Everyone gets scared. But what’s important is knowing how to face your fears, how to put them aside when the time calls for it and know what to do. You should never let fear blind you, Hikari. And not only am I going to teach you how to protect yourself, but I’m going to teach you just how to see past your fears as well. But I need you to work with me. I need you to get your feet wet and trust me to help you. Can you do that for me, Hikari?”

“I- I guess I can try,” Hikari replied quietly. She flashed a weak smile at her mentor.

“Very well,” Soren began. “Let’s start.”

Soren went on to teach Hikari various fighting styles, previously learned once before from his own family. He managed to restock his inventory after a few days and decided to give Hikari a break from her work there, provided she continue to build on her technique while he worked on keeping up with his stall. Soren took a break from trading merchandice in order to help guide Hikari very early on every evening for about a month. By the time the month ended, Soren considered Hikari to have made stunning progress.

“I’m proud of you,” he told his pupil. “It’s taken a bit of time, but I truly think you’re ready to take just about anything on.”

Hikari beamed. The two sat under the shade of a faux oak tree in the Community Space, enjoying the pleasant atmosphere, each with half an apple in hand.

“Thanks,” the bright-eyed child said with a smile. She looked down at the half-apple in her hands and mused.

“But, is it wrong to still be scared sometimes? Even though you feel stronger? I mean, I can still fight, but, is it bad if something is so scary that I wouldn’t want to fight?”

“Of course not,” Soren assured her. “Even the proudest and strongest of people still get scared. It’s human nature, I should say.”

He took a bite of his half-apple.

“Hikari, I believe in you,” Soren continued. “I see light in you. I see courage. And I think that, if you truly put your mind to it, you can shine brighter than any star in this Galaxy of ours.”

“You really think so?” Hikari questioned, raising her eyebrows.

“I know so,” Soren smiled. He pat his pupil on the back. “You’re a good girl, Hikari.”

He laughed.

“And maybe when you get older, you can run the shop and make your own living here while I take a break. Not to say that I’ll ever be too old, but you never know, right?”

------------------

Akio greeted Niji as soon as she stepped out of the craft and handed her a bottle of water.

“Are you alright?” He asked anxiously. “Nothing broken? No severe pains?”
Niji chuckled and swayed some loose hair behind her, then poured some of the water over a few fresh scratches on her arms.

“Akio, I’m fine,” She assured her friend. “You worry too much. If I hadn’t gotten used to it by now, then you’d have a reason to worry.”

“How can I not?” Akio inquired. He and Niji began to walk back to the laboratories. “I mean, you’re the only one who can eliminate these monsters, and I certainly wouldn’t want to risk losing you.”

“Oh, so I’m just an experiment to you?” Niji questioned, raising a brow.

“No no! I-“

Niji laughed and nudged her partner.

“Oh stop it, Akio, I’m only teasing,” She declared. “You’re a real spazz, you know? Besides, I know you see me as more than just that. Not that I can say the same about everyone else here.”

Akio shrugged.

“Well, when you’re cooped up in here without much contact with anyone up top, I’d imagine you start to forget your morality,” he explained. “Or even go completely crazy. Like a mad scientist. But I guess I’m not like that. I don’t know.”

“Mm, I just think you’re friendlier,” Niji pointed out. “But you know it’s nice. Any other jerky scientist and I’d have never even agreed to something like this.”

She scratched her head.

“But you know, doing this over and over like a routine…It gets exasperating. Sure, it’s not easy, especially since I’m the only one, but, it certainly isn’t the most entertaining.”

“But it’s all for a good cause,” Akio reminded her sternly. “We’re not necessarily here for fun. Besides, once we find more members for the team, things will get easier, and after a while, it might even go on faster.”

“Oh! Speaking of which, how’s the search been going?” Niji asked curiously. She took a gulp from her water bottle.

 “Any luck?”

“Unfortunately, no,” Akio exhaled. “Ever since we had that service in Alexander’s respect- may he rest in peace- I’ve been much too busy with other things. I’ve looked, of course, but I can’t quite find anyone with the same spark that you had.”

“I see,” Niji muttered with concern. She twitched her white wolf ears a few times in thought. “I can help you look, if you’d like. When I’m not busy that is. I’ve already gotten my stuff moved from my old cabin and I have nothing else really to do when I’m not busy fighting aliens.”

“Which is practically never,” Akio sighed. “You’re always out there, and I’m always busy, busy busy- with one thing or another. Besides, I don’t know if you’d even know what to look for. You’d have to be careful in your choice”

“Or just get lucky like you did with me,” Niji teased. She smirked at Akio, who hurriedly looked away.

“It’s much more than that, Niji,” Akio reprimanded lightly. “It takes someone with heart, someone with…well, something special, is all I can say.”

He paused to look at the watch on his wrist.

“What is it?” Niji asked with concern. Her ears perked up with curiosity.

“I still have to find a way to counteract that flaw I told you about,” Akio answered. “I’ve started working on some research and I’ve been doing tons of data analyses. Now that we’re done for today, I really should get back to it sometime soon.”

“You don’t need to stress yourself out over it,” Niji reminded Akio. “It’s not the most important thing at the moment. What is important is getting some newcomers on this team and getting rid of those aliens.”

“I just don’t want it to get in the way of anything,” Akio explained. “After all of this is over, I mean.”

Niji put a hand on her friend’s shoulder.

“Akio, you’re a good guy,” she told him. “But you think too much. You worry too much. You need a break.”

“What are you getting at?” Akio asked, almost with a chuckle.

“Let’s get out for a bit, hm?” Niji suggested. “My work is done for today and I think you need to distress. We can walk around the Community Space, or take a trip to the Market.”

“Niji, I don’t think it would be a good Idea,” Akio protested, lightly pushing Niji’s hand off of his shoulder. “I mean, I’m not worried about you being out in public or anything, I just, you know…It’s because- Well...”

“I’m listening,” Niji said, simpering. She put her hand on her cheek and waited for Akio to give her a good response.

Akio shook his head.

“Alright, fine,” He gave in. “It’s been a while since I’ve been up top anyway.”

“That’s the spirit,” Niji laughed. “Who knows, it might actually be fun.”

“Oh, hah,” Akio mocked. “Let’s just go before I change my mind, shall we?”

In a moment, the two made their way back to the top of the colony and into the community space to walk about. The lights in the colony started to change in color and brightness, signifying the day getting later The atmosphere, the duo noticed, felt quite pleasant, and quite a few bodies stood out and about, relaxing with family and friends after a day of work or just taking a break between shifts. While plenty of people recognized Mew Spectral Galaxy, not many approached her. They merely gave a nod of in approval and social nicety as she went on her way with her tall young geneticist friend. The few that did approach the mew were merely children, coming to express their admiration for the newfound heroine of the human race. Each one made Niji smile, and she found herself distracted, playing around with them while Akio watched from afar with admiring eyes. It wasn’t until their guardians called their children back for the evening that Niji returned to him.

Akio saw how happy she had become and smiled.

“You’re quite good with them,” He admired, rising from his bench. He put his hands behind his back and walked with Niji once she caught up with him. The lights were slowly dimming more and more with each passing minute, and many people went back to their cabins and jobs.

“I guess so,” Niji responded, shrugging. “It makes me feel good to see them so happy. It makes me feel like a person.”

“What do you mean?” Akio asked with confusion.

“Well, fighting aliens all the time, not being able to see the people I used to know; it kind of takes its toll after a while,” Niji honestly answered. “Not to say I mind it, I mean, I took this responsibility for a reason. It’s just that, sometimes I find that I forget myself. I get lost in this world that I’m in, and I forget what it’s like to be me.

“I can understand,” Akio admitted. “I used to feel like that all the time back on Earth- Especially when I first became a scientist. I just forgot myself for years and years, until I came to the colony and met Alexander. He woke me up from my trance, and I remembered who I was.”

He grinned.

“You remind me of him sometimes.”

Niji returned his smile. However, it faded as her concentration was broken by a peculiar sight.

Akio turned his head to see what she had and raised a brow. A frail, sunny-eyed girl and a young man, clearly much older than she, took their place by the path. The girl moved about, performing various martial stances and actions, while the man seemed to coach her.

“Is that girl fighting?” Niji mused with a puzzled profile.

“Looks that way,” Akio answered, tilting his head, too, curious.

“She seems awfully young to know how to do that sort of thing.”

“Really? I think-“

Before Akio could go on, Niji started to walk towards the duo with interest. Akio examined the girl with curiosity before following.

“Excuse me,” Niji called out to the sunny-eyed girl. The girl stopped and looked at Niji with surprise.

“You!” She exclaimed, widening her eyes.

“Aren’t you that young lady who’s been going to Earth to fight against those aliens?” The young man inquired.

“Yes! My name is Nij-uh…My name is um…”
Mew Spectral Galaxy,” Akio finished, flashing Niji a stern look at her near mistake. “And I’m the scientist who commandeers most of her missions, among other things.” He shook both the girl’s and the man’s hand. “My name is Akio Fujioka.”

“I’m Soren, and this is Hikari,” the young man introduced.

“What are you doing here?” Hikari asked. She was excited to see Niji standing before her.

“I came to ask about you,” Niji admitted.. “I saw you fighting and I was surprised. I’ve never seen anyone like you do that sort of thing. Where did you learn?”

“I taught her,” Soren explained. “I had learned it from my family quite some time ago, and I thought I should teach Hikari.”

“Why, if I may ask?” Akio inquired.  He was now intrigued, Niji could see.

“Well, I work in the market,” Soren began. “And Hikari, at the time, didn’t have anyone to take care of her or any way to get food, so she came to me. I took her in and offered her a job at my stall. See, Hikari is sort of shy, but for the most part, things were well and all. Unfortunately, I had to leave my stall one night and Hikari was left alone, and she let some thieves make off with my inventory.”

Hikari looked away, embarrassed.

“But instead of getting after her,” Soren continued, “I decided to teach her how to protect herself. Not only that, but I tried to teach her how to be more courageous. I know she has it in her, and while there’s still a lot for her to learn, I’m very proud of Hikari and I truly do believe in her.”

He winked at Hikari, who smiled.

“She’s a fighter, so I see,” Akio chuckled. “I admire that.”

He turned to Niji.

“She’s got a spark,” He told her. “Almost like you.”

Niji widened her eyes a bit and blushed.

"Mew Spectral Galaxy, can you take Hikari to the side for a minute? I want to talk to Soren.”

---------------

Hikari sat beside Niji on a bench, throwing her legs back and forth and staring at the ground. The galactic mew crossed her arms and leaned back against the bench during their silence.

“What do you think they’re talking about?” Hikari suddenly spoke.

“Do you really wanna know?” Niji questioned. The bright-eyed girl nodded.

“Akio and I...” Niji began, “We were curious when we saw you. We never expected to find a young girl like you doing what you were. From what Soren told us, you’ve got spunk. And that’s something we’re looking for.”

“Spunk?” Hikari proclaimed. “What do you mean by that?”
“Well, when Akio found me, it was mostly luck. But he saw something in me and he decided to ask me if I wanted to help save our world. And I agreed to. Not because I felt I had to, but because I was sick of living here. I wanted to do something. I wanted to help. Haven’t you ever felt anything like that?”

“No,” Hikari answered. “But my grandma did.”

“Your grandma?”

“Yeah.”

“What was she like?”

“She was nice. She got sick though. When we came to the colony, she got sick. She was old, and I had to take care of her. But even when she was weak, my grandma was full of hope. I didn’t understand why though. But I guess everyone else has been a little hopeful lately because of you.”

“Are you?” Niji asked.

“I’m not sure,” Hikari admitted. “I mean, I’m glad for what you’re doing, but I don’t know for sure what will happen.”

“Would you say that you’re a little afraid for what might happen?” Niji questioned.

“There’s that stupid word again!” Hikari exclaimed. “I know I’m afraid, but I can fight now! I can choose to be brave any time I want!”

Niji smiled, and Hikari looked down again, realizing what she had just said.

“Hikari, you’re a bright young lady,” Niji said. “You’re stronger than you think. You’re more courageous than you’d expect. And it’s because of that that I think you’ve got potential.”

She looked over at Soren and Akio in the distance, chatting away.

“And so does Akio.”

“Potential for what?” Hikari insisted. She looked at Niji for an answer, but Niji simply remained silent. Then it came to her.

“You- you want me to…to become a Galaxy Mew?” She gasped. “But….I don’t think I can do something like that...”

She shut her eyes and shook her head.

“No, I can’t!”

Niji put her hand on Hikari’s shoulder.

“Hikari, I trust in you,” she assured her. “Akio and I see that with some guidance, you can become something great. I understand it’s a big responsibility, and I know it might be hard, but it’s something worth fighting for. You’d be giving hope not only to others, but even to yourself. And hope, Hikari, is something that you’re not a stranger to. Your grandmother would be so proud if she could see you now, wouldn’t she? If she knew about this, well, she might have even volunteered herself!”

Hikari smiled to herself at the idea.

“But, what if I say yes? What happens then?” She blathered. “I won’t see Soren again. I won’t be able to live the same life.”

“My life changed too,” Niji spoke up. “I had friends. I had to work hard to make a living, and I even had to steal sometimes just so I could eat. But I made the decision to leave these things behind because I felt that someone had to step up and do what it takes to save our people.”

“You did?” Hikari was in awe.

“I did,” Niji pledged. “And I miss my friends. But knowing that one day they’ll be safe and back home where they belong? That’s what keeps me going. I wanted to make a difference, so I took a big step and let it happen.”

Hikari was silent for a moment.

“D-does it hurt?” She inquired, pointing at Niji. “Turning into that?”

“No,” Niji promised, tucking a strand of loose hair back behind her neck. “It feels warm. It’s bright and it feels so warm.”

“Oh,” Was all Hikari could say. She looked down again and kicked at the metal pathway before her.

“Look, It’s a big decision,” Niji told her. “And that’s why it has to be made by you. I won’t force you to say yes, but I want you to think about it. And no matter what you decide, we’ll be alright with your choice.”

“Do you promise?”

“I promise,” Niji swore, raising her hand. She turned to Akio again and rose. “Come on, let’s get back to them. I think they’re about done with their discussion.”

The two girls met up with Soren and Akio once more. Hikari approached Soren and saw that he had a worried look.

“Soren?” she called out worriedly.

Akio and Niji stood by and watched the both of them.

“Hikari,” Soren replied with a sigh. “Akio here told me about everything. He thinks you should come in with him and this young lady here as an apprentice.”

“An…apprentice?” Hikari repeated, confused. She looked towards Akio who gave a slight wink.

“He thinks you’d be better off working with them and helping them with their work,” Soren continued. “I don’t want to let you go, but, I think that it would be best. They’d treat you better there. You’d live under better conditions and you’d get to work your mind and learn some new things, and maybe do something great with your life one day. It’s hard for me to let you go, but, if you decide to go with them, I won’t mind.”

“It’s…my choice?” Hikari proclaimed. Soren nodded.

Hikari switched her gaze from Soren to Niji and to Akio, looking for an answer but receiving none. Yes, the choice was truly hers….but she wasn’t quite sure what she should choose.

“I…”

She looked down again. Her face became red with anxiety and her head began to spin. But she quickly set her discomfort and worries aside and gathered her thoughts.

“I’ll go!” She said suddenly. “I’ll go with them!”

Soren sighed, and gave Hikari a hug.

“Hikari, I’m proud of you,” he said. “I know things can be hard, but I know that you can make the best of anything when you put your mind to it.”

He pulled away from her and smiled.

“Be a good girl, okay?”

“I will,” Hikari assured him. “I’ll do my best and make you proud.”

Soren beamed.

“I know you will.”

----------------------------

White walls, busy scientists and plenty of technological machinery welcomed HIkari as she entered the laboratories of the colony ship. It made her uneasy, but having Mew Spectral Galaxy there by her side provided some form of comfort. Akio briefed Hikari on how the process worked and the flaw that came with it prior to their coming, but despite his warning, the child still agreed to go along with this deed.

“Are you nervous?” Niji inquired. Hikari nodded quickly. Though honestly terrified of what may come, she kept her cool as best she could, remembering what her Grandmother stood for and what Soren previously taught her. The girl knew bravery existed somewhere inside of her, so she decided to try and let it show. Eventually, the trio reached the room that Niji went to for her Mew transformation. Hikari followed Akio's instruction and took her place on the inclined table in the middle of the room.

“I’m going to have to strap you in so the force of the beam doesn’t throw you anywhere,” the young man told  his now trembling subject. He took notice of a worried expression forming on her face and  raised his brows with concern. “Will you be alright?”

“I’ll be okay,” Hikari shakily replied, although unsure whether her statement rang true. She looked to Niji who tried to keep her new teammate calm.

“Everything will be fine, I promise,” the gracious mew spoke. “You’ll be caught by surprise, but it won’t hurt at all. It’ll feel like a pleasant sort of daydream, and then you’ll fall asleep and wake up, where Akio and I will be waiting for you. Okay?”

“Okay,” Hikari sighed heavily. She closed her eyes when Akio had finished strapping her down and tilted her head back. Her heart began to beat faster and faster, but she did her best to stay calm. Niji and Akio cleared the room, retreated to the one above it to prepare to launch the process.

“Mew Spectral Galaxy!” Hikari suddenly called out, opening her eyes and looking at her.

“What is it?” Niji called back into the microphone, worriedly.

“You….” Hikari hesitated for a moment. “...You never told me your name!”

“Ready to begin,” Akio told his partner, preparing to begin the process.

The young woman smiled warmly at the child.

“It’s Niji”

Hikari closed her eyes again and lightly curved her lips in a weak but endearing smile.

“Niji…” she repeated peacefully.

“Process, begin.” Akio executed the process.

Hikari found herself surrounded by bright light and warmth, just as Mew Spectral Galaxy--No--Niji told her she would. Within a few moments, Hikari fell victim to sleep, seeing a faded figure of a cat stalking about before her eyes finally closed. When Hikari woke, she found herself in the presence of her new teammates, seated by her side and keeping watch over her condition.

“Hikari, you’re all ready now,” Niji spoke, grinning. “You look so…bright!”

Hikari sat up and examined her body. On it were bright, sunny clothes and hair, with splashes of yellow and orange. She slowly put a hand to her head and felt for ears like Niji’s, only to discover that she had those of a sort of black cat, along with a black cat tail from behind her decorated with a little burnt orange bow.

“I….” she gasped, freezing in place. “Wow.”

Akio laughed.

“It is quite an experience,” He said. “Do you feel any different from before, Hikari?”

“Y- yeah,” Hikari stammered, holding her head. “I feel a little woozy right now, but….Kind of strong too… It’s weird.”

“I felt the same way,” Niji chuckled. “You’ll get very used to it, that’s for sure.”

“Well, she’s quite the sight,” Akio noted. “Almost radiant, even.”

“Fitting for her personality,” Niji said, playfully nudging her new partner’s cheek. Hikari giggled.

“So what happens now?” She asked, folding her left leg up and leaning on it.

“We still have to train you,” Akio told her. “That may take up to a week, depending on how quickly you progress. We’ll be teaching you how to use and control your abilities, fight with your weapon, and overall get you accustomed to your new genetically enhanced body.”

“And in the meantime, I can continue to go to Earth solo,” Niji added. “And when I have extra time, I’ll train with you!”

“Sounds like a lot of work,” Hikari sighed, lowering her ears. “But I suppose we should get started as soon as we can.”

“My thoughts precisely,” Akio responded. “Let’s get you to the gymnasium.”

Akio and Niji led Hikari to the gymnasium, and the bright new Mew laid her eyes on a field of new and broken test dummies. She immediately went on and, under Akio’s instruction, tested her newfound abilities, along with her new weapon, the Blazing Bell.

“You harness the power of the sun,” Akio observed. “It’s a considerably great power channeled through your weapon and your body. Use it well.”

Hikari struggled at first to gain control of her power, but she soon learned to use it as Akio instructed--very effectively at that. While she relied mostly on her weapon to aid her, she did on occasion incorporate close combat on the dummies as Soren had taught her before. When she started to tire, Akio called Hikari back in and gave her some time to relax.

“You’re doing well,” Akio praised. “I think you’ll be ready for the real thing someday soon.”

“I’m not too sure,” Hikari sighed. “I’m really nervous about it. I know I’m stronger but, you know, it’s a little scary to think about.”

“It’s okay to be worried,” Niji told her teammate. “I was totally nervous about this whole ordeal at first too, but I stuck with it and, well, things are going relatively well.”

“Don’t get cocky,” Akio teased.

“I’ll be okay,” Hikari assured the both of them. “As long as you guys are there with me, I should be okay.”

Days passed, and Niji returned to her work while Hikari continued to build her strength and take better control of her form. Akio took the responsibility of watching over both girls as they accomplished their tasks, and within a week, felt that the newcomer as ready for her first mission.

“Where should we go?” Niji asked Akio. “I’d rather not go back to Istanbul this time…You know… after Ale-”

“I know,” Akio interrupted suddenly, pressing a thumb to his lips in thought. He closed his eyes and exhaled with a heavy breath, almost as if letting a ghostly sigh escape from his lips. “From...from what I can read on the radar, there’s a place in Costa Rica that’s relatively sound. You can try going there for her first mission. I’ll put in the coordinates on the craft and you can just follow them when you get to Earth.”

“Got it.”

Hikari walked over to Niji with a worried expression.

“What was it like when you first went out?” She asked. Niji put her hand on Hikari’s head and smiled slightly.

“It was a little strange,” She said. “I’d never been out of the colony, and being out there in space was a little breathtaking. But when I got to Earth, I was surprised. Everything was in ruin, the sky was darker, and things just seemed so bare. My first mission wasn’t easy, but I pushed my way through it. Luckily I was brought to a place that wasn’t totally crowded with Chimera Anima, but it still had quite a population for someone under experienced. All you have to do is stay strong.”

Her smile grew to a more pleasant and inviting one.

“And most importantly, don’t let yourself out of my sight. Stick with me and you’ll be alright.”

“Okay,” Hikari exhaled, nodding. “I will.”

Akio led the girls to the launch bay. When they arrived, he handed Niji two small radio devices given to all those leaving the colonies. Niji handed one to Hikari who stared at it blankly.

“What’s this?”

“A radio device,” Niji answered, pinning hers to her choker. “It’s what we use to communicate with Akio back up here, as well as with each other.”

Hikari struggled to do the same, and Akio had to help her.

“You’ll be able to hear and talk to the both of us from this,” He told her, politely positioning the device over her choker with nimble fingers until it stuck and pinned. “It’s always a good idea to keep it on you when you’re out on the surface.”

“Right,” Hikari replied, gliding her gloved fingers over the device in awe. Akio said his goodbyes and let the girls take off towards Earth. While Niji could pilot the craft a little better now, she still lacked plentiful experience. As such, the ride proved bumpy and tense, but the girls finally landed safely in Costa Rica after a few hours. Though not completely desolated, terrain was relatively empty for the most part. A light breeze blewfrom the pale sky as they stood and exited their craft..

“This is really creepy,” Hikari stated, shivering. “Is this what the rest of the world looks like?”

“Not all of it,” Niji answered. “I’ve been to some places in Europe and Africa that were relatively untouched. It was interesting to see. But other places are even worse than this, to the point where not even the Chimera Anima want to stay there anymore. Everything in ruins, the air thick with dust. It’s a mess out there.”

“I hope we can clean this all up when we come home,” Hikari sighed, picking up a chunk of concrete that had been by her feet. “If we do succeed, that is.”

“Let’s not worry about that now,” Niji suggested. She leaned in and pointed into the distance, towards a large rainforest. The two could see some trees moving as though a creature were stalking through them.

“You see that?” Niji insisted. “That’s our target. Are you ready?”

Hikari nodded. The two girls quickly made their way towards the rainforest and followed the Chimera’s Anima’s movement until they finally caught up with it. Before them stood a creature that resembled a Puma. Niji could see her partner’s eyes wide with fear as Hikari stepped back slowly before snapping a branch beneath her. The Chimera Anima turned around to face them after hearing so, growing aggressive, enraged and territorial. It swiped its paw at the two girls,  but Niji grabbed a frozen Hikari and jumped out of its harmful path.

“That thing is huge!” Hikari exclaimed in shock.

“Keep calm,” Niji instructed strictly, letting go of her teammate. “We can get through this. Remember why we’re here.”

Hikari gulped and nodded, promptly dodging another blow from the Puma and separating herself from her teammate, who rolled the other way.

“Spectral Whip!”  Niji commanded her weapon to come. It landed in her hand smoothely, and the galactic mew rushed at the creature to attack it.

“Ribbon, Spectral Divide!”

The Chimera Anima evaded the attack and merely threw her aside. Niji let out a cry of pain as she hit the ground, but quickly regained herself and got up. Hikari tried to get away from the beast, running until she could have enough distance from it to attack. As soon as she felt far enough, she summoned her weapon.

“B-Blazing Bell!”

She caught the weapon promptly, but before calling out an attack, the Puma swiped at her. As she fell aside, the ravenous creature let out a loud roar. It raised its front paw to stamp Hikari, and Niji quickly lashed at it with her whip and used all her strength to direct the barbarous feline towards her.

“Oh no you don’t!” She grunted. The large beast snarled and pounced at Niji, pinning her down with its paw.

“Mew Spectral Galaxy!” Hikari anxiously cried. She gathered her wits and ran over to aid her teammate.

Before she could reach her, the Puma turned around and swiped at Hikari. She cried out in pain and dropped her weapon, clutching her arm and slowly kneeling down in pain, clenching her teeth. The Puma took interest in its victorious hit and threw Niji to the side. The beast slowly turned to face its prey, and its tail began to sway back and forth. Before Niji could rise again, the Chimera Anima’s tail hit a large, weakened tree that fell over her. She struggled to get out from under it, but found herself stuck, and her weapon out of reach.

“Akio, I’m stuck!” Niji screamed. “Hikari’s hurt and I can’t get to her!”

“What?” Akio exclaimed. “Hikari, you need to get out of there! Run!”

Hikari, still clutching her arm, slowly rose and watched in fear as the Chimera Anima stalked about, baring its teeth at her. Niji continued to try freeing herself, but to no avail. She pounded her fist on the ground.

“Hikari, get it together!” She commanded.

The fearful mew trembled, and her head spun. She found herself unable to move, frozen in fear.

“Hikari!”

The young girl tried to gather herself. She quickly closed her eyes and thought of her Grandmother and Soren, remembering everything that they once said to her and what she learned from them. Then, she heard Soren’s voice again, telling her:

Even the strongest of people get scared...I believe that you can shine brighter than any other star in the Galaxy.

Hikari looked down.

“I can be brave any time I want,” She mumbled to herself, dropping her hands to the side Blood ran down her left arm. “So….I’m going to be brave now.”

She shot her head up and shouted at the Chimera Anima.

“You don’t scare me!”

The creature lunged at her, and Hikari flipped backward.

“What’s going on?” Akio demanded. Niji watched her partner in awe as she courageously challenged the monster.

“She’s found a reason to fight,” Niji replied, smiling.

Hikari jumped up on several branches and hopped up to the very top of a tree. She raised her Blazing Bell up high and bared her teeth at the creature. The Puma roared angrily in response.

“I’ve had enough of you!!” Hikari cried. She clutched the Blazing Bell in both of her hands and pointed it at the creature.

“Ribbon Flame Blast!” She called. The Chimera Anima met with a blast of heat and flame, and it roared in pain before disappearing. From the flames arose a small jellyfish creature, which Hikari quickly attacked as well.

“You did it Hikari!” Akio called out excitedly. “You’re amazing!”

“Ah, thanks,” Hikari giggled, blushing. She jumped down from the tree and rushed to Niji.

“Mew Spectral Galaxy, are you okay?” She asked. She helped Niji push the tree off of her and helped her partner up. Niji let out a sigh and held her abdomen.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” she assured Hikari. “That really hurt though….” Niji gazed at Hikari’s arm.

“Are you  alright? That thing scratched you up pretty badly.”

“Oh, it’s nothing,” Hikari brushed off, holding her arm again. “The both of us are still alive, that’s all that matters.”

Niji hugged Hikari happily.

“Oh, I’m so proud of you!” She expressed with joy. “And you had the both of us so worried too!”

Hikari laughed and pulled away from Niji.

“I wish Soren could see me,” She beamed. “He’d be so happy.”

“He will, one day,” Niji promised, putting a hand on Hikari’s cheek. She smiled warmly. “When we save the world, we’ll definitely see everyone again.”

Hikari looked up at Niji and giggled.

“Ladies,” Akio called from their radios. “I’m very proud of you, but I do think it’s a good Idea to get back here so we can fix you up.”

“Oh, right, sorry!” Hikari  laughed. “Come on; let’s get back to the Colony, Mew Spectral Galaxy.”

Niji and Hikari boarded their ship and took off back to the colony. Akio greeted the duo and took the both of them to a small room where he could tend to each one's wounds.

“Ouch, that stings!” Hikari cried out. Akio dabbed a sterile cloth on one of the claw marks in her skin.

“That means it’s working,” Akio chuckled. “Which is good.”

He continued to work on Hikari’s arm while Niji sat beside her on the medical bed, leaning back against the wall. She held an old pack of cards that she had begun to shuffle for a while as Akio fixed up the sunny mew.

“So, what happens now then?” Hikari asked. “Now that I’m a Galaxy Mew?”

“You and Niji will be working together and doing basically what you did in Costa Rica; Except for, of course, in other parts of the world,” Akio told her, still focused on her arm. “But now that we know you can handle yourself and that you’re officially ready for this journey, we can officially announce your entrance into the Galaxy Mew Team to the public.”

“You mean Soren’s going to see me?” Hikari inquired, surprised. “Ouch!”

“Sorry,” Akio apologized, moving the cloth away from her scars for a moment. “Yes, he’ll see you, there’s always a chance of that. But I doubt he’d recognize you. Even if you went up to him, you don’t look all the same.”

“That is if you go out and see him again,” Niji spoke up, halting her card shuffling. “Sometimes you get too busy, and sometimes you don’t get to catch them in time- Among other reasons, of course. It depends.”

Akio looked at Niji with sympathetic eyes.

“Is that what happened with you?” Hikari proclaimed, raising her eyebrows

“No,” Niji replied sharply. “I just…you know, I’ve been busy. I don’t visit them. Besides, it would make it kind of obvious, and I don’t think I could hide who I really am from them if I were to talk with my old pals up in the boiler room again. I’ve seen them before. They’re always working, always busy. Always playing their card games…”

She looked down at the cards in her hands.

“I miss them,” the young woman said. “But I’m going to stay away from them until my work is done. Let them be as they were until I can go home and enjoy them again. You know?”

“I can understand,” Hikari sympathized.

“There, all done,” Akio spoke up. He smiled. “You feeling any better?”

“Heaps,” his patient stated, moving her arm around. “Thank you.”

“So, what should we name her?” Niji grinned, beginning to shuffle the cards in her hands again.

Name me?” Hikari questioned in shock.

“She means your alias,” Akio explained. “You’re a part of the Galaxy Mew team now, and in order to protect your identity and privacy, I give you an alias.”

“You’re sunny,” Niji said.

“And you’re very bright,” Akio added, stroking his chin in thought. “Very….radiant.”

Niji smiled at Akio.

“Mew Radiant Sun,” Akio said suddenly. “It fits, doesn’t it?”

“Mew Radiant Sun...” Hikari repeated curiously. She pondered the idea of having such a name and laughed. “I like it. It fits me just right.”

“Sure does,” Niji chuckled. “Welcome to the team, Mew Radiant Sun.”

“How does it feel to be a part of it?” Akio inquired with a laugh.

Hikari smiled brightly.

“It feels like the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” she said. “I feel strong and able, I’m learning more and more every day… I just hope I’ll do my grandma some good by saving our world.”

“So you believe her words ring true now?” Niji inquired.

“Yes,” Hikari admitted. “Because now I have you guys, and now I have something to give back to everyone I’ve ever known.”

“And what would that be?” Akio examined, pushing his glasses up.

Hikari looked at her new friends and grinned

“Hope.”

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First Chapter

Created by AnnikaDoll

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