Tomorrow Is Another Day
"These plans do look rather interesting," Noah said.
"I knew you would agree." Eva and Raymond were in Noah's study showing her the sketches for their new invention. They had designed a small sphere made out of crystal that when used, could store memories and feelings. "We call it the 'Telepathy Ball'," Raymond told her.
"How does this Telepathy Ball work?"
"Because of the way we've designed it, it will only operate for espers of the greatest power. If one concentrates all of his or her energies onto the ball, almost all the contents of the brain will flow to it."
"Can it only be used by one person at a time?" she asked.
"As far as we know, no. We're not sure of the ball's capacity, and there is no way of knowing until the ball ceases to work."
Noah nodded. "This is all very good. It shall prove to be an interesting experiment."
"We will begin work on it immediately." Raymond collected the sketches and left the study. Eva, however, stayed behind.
"Was there something else?" Noah asked her.
"Well, Raymond asked me not to tell you this, but we've decided that you are to be the one to test the Telepathy Ball." Noah started to respond, but Eva stopped her. "Before you accept or decline, I want you to tell you what has been going on during the past few days."
"What do you mean?"
"A group of us has been meeting to discuss ideas and the future, among other things. The rest of them asked me to tell you our decisions tonight." Noah nodded, but a bit uncertainly. "First, and most importantly," Eva continued, "we want you to be our permanent leader."
"I can't do that," Noah told her. "I wouldn't be a good leader, I'm sure that there are dozens of better candidates in the Mansion."
"But you've helped us all so much! We wouldn't be here, together, in this building if it weren't for you!" Eva exclaimed. "We all look up to you," she confessed. "Your magical skills are the best of any we've ever seen. You are the epitome of what being an esper is all about."
Noah blushed. "I'm flattered, but...I don't know."
"Just think about it, okay?" Eva said as she exited the room.
Noah sighed as she sat down at her desk. Although she loved working her hardest to ensure the security of the espers' future, she didn't really want to be recognized for her efforts. All her life, she had quietly stayed in the shadows, but now she was being pulled out and thrust into the spotlight.
Even worse, she didn't have anyone to confide in anymore. Eva and the other espers were wonderful, but she didn't feel exceptionally close to any of them. In the past, she had never really opened up and shared with people, but some, like Master Tajima, had always been there when she needed someone. But now, she felt alone.
* * * * *
Esper Mansion was dark except for a single candle deep in the heart of the structure. Three people were gathered around the desk in Noah's study. The desk that supported the Telepathy Ball.
It had taken Eva and Raymond almost a year to complete it. As soon as it was finished, they brought it to the leader of the Mansion and the espers. Although it was late at night, Noah had been up studying, as always. "Tomorrow is another day," she murmured as they set up the Ball.
Raymond reminded her of her instructions as she sat in her wooden chair. He said that he didn't know how long the entire process would take, but they would definitely know when it was finished. "It shouldn't take too long," he decided. "Maybe an hour or so at the most."
Noah knew that it was late, but her excitement erased her fatigue. "When should we start?"
"Whenever you are ready."
Noah took a deep breath and began to focus on the Telepathy Ball. She had just begun to feel her energies flowing when the door to the study burst open.
A very out-of-breath esper teenager ran into the room. "What do you think you're doing?" an irate Eva demanded.
"A messenger...from Skure...utmost importance..." He stopped to catch his breath. "A runner from Skure just left after delivering the message. I knew you'd want to hear the news immediately!"
"Queen Alis has been assassinated!"
Noah simply stared at him. She knew that this had to be a mistake. She calmly asked the young esper to repeat the news, refusing to let herself believe him.
"The queen is dead!"
"How could this be?" Raymond inquired. "How could this have happened?"
Noah listened as the youth recalled the story of how one of the palace guards had been devoted to Lassic before his defeat. When Alis came to power, he had masked his faith to the former king and remained in his position. All these years, he had been planning the royal family's demise; in his room near the bottom of Baya Malay, he had been experimenting with bombs and explosives until his product was finally finished.
In the middle of the night, the corrupt guard had slipped into the family's sleeping quarters. He placed one bomb in the master bedroom and another in the children's room (Alis and Nekise had been the proud parents of two daughters and a son). It was said that the first explosion could be heard all the way in Camineet.
After the first bomb detonated, one of the other guards had saved the children by deactivating the explosive in their room. They had escaped without injuries, and miraculously, Nekise had only suffered from a few minor burns. However, Alis had not been as lucky.
Noah did not want to believe the account, but she knew that she had to. "What will happen to the guard?" she calmly asked.
"He will be publicly executed next week outside Camineet."
Noah nodded. "You're not thinking of attending, are you?" Eva asked her.
"No, of course not. I just wanted to be assured that the murderer would be judiciously punished."
Noah barely slept at all that night. She thought of the past, specifically the day that Master Tajima had given her his Frade Mantle. That day had been so important because all the people who had been close to her, with the exception of her uncle, had been there, with her. Almost all those people were gone now.
She thought of them individually. Her uncle had always been so loving and generous to her, and he had always forced himself to accept her actions. But now he was dead, his body decomposing in the sands outside Paseo.
Master Tajima had given her so much, taught her almost everything she knew. He had understood her better than anyone; she never felt the need to explain herself to him. He had passed away knowing that his prize pupil would forever carry the lessons he had taught and that his deeds would never be forgotten.
Alis, the wide-eyed innocent, had experienced more than any teenager ever should. Even when she was older, her reign over Algol reflected on the unbiased opinion she had about everything under the sun. In her own way, she too had taught Noah important lessons. She had always believed that nothing was impossible and continued to prove that theory day after day. She had died not at the hands of her worst enemy, but at those of an employee who she had believed to be kind and loyal. It was unfortunate that her innocence brought about her downfall.
No one knew the whereabouts of Myau. Noah had never really gotten to know the taciturn feline, but she still cared for him as she did the others. She preferred not to remember him as the seemingly delicate cat, but as the strong, winged creature he had become after consuming the nuts of Laerma. That image of him represented his character and nature more accurately, she thought.
And then there was Odin. Noah had almost wanted to forget, but the memories were as vivid in her mind as ever. His muscular form, the dark gray eyes, his love of spontaneity...all of this was engraved in the esper's mind as if someone had chiseled an illustration on the surface.
She wondered where he was now. Was he even alive? Noah shook her head and forced herself to think of something else, preferably sleep. "Tomorrow is another day," she said to the shadows. But this time, the shadows were empty. They were empty and cold and uninviting, and now, she would find no comfort or solace there.
* * * * *
Months passed and the Telepathy Ball was finally used. The process of transporting all of her thoughts into the ball left Noah exhausted, so she rested for a few weeks. Unfortunately, these few inactive weeks made her fall behind in her work. Despite what Tajima had said to her all those years ago, she stayed up late into the night, ignoring the fact that tomorrow was, indeed, another day.
The single candle burned in the study as Noah worked at her desk. She was just finishing up when there was a knock at the door.
"Not now, I'm busy," she called. The knocking persisted. "Can't it wait for tomorrow?" She expected to hear a response, but her only answer was the continued noise of a fist hitting the heavy wooden door.
She gave up. "Fine, have it your way and come in, but I'm afraid I..." Noah stopped short and dropped her pen when she saw what the shadows revealed.
The blonde hair had turned gray and there were many more wrinkles on the face, but she recognized him at once. She stood up and moved until she was just a few feet away from the huge figure and stared into the dark eyes.
"Just one window? How do you get a good look at the stars?" he asked.
She moved again, this time until she was right next to him. "This can't be..." she murmured, studying the features as she had all those years ago. She reached up to gently touch his cheek, expecting the image to dissipate into the surrounding air, and was shocked when she felt warm flesh. Stunned, she backed away and leaned against the window.
Odin stepped closer and saw that there were tears in the esper's eyes. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing, absolutely nothing. I just can't believe that you're really here!" No longer able to fight her first impulses, she threw herself into the old warrior's arms. "How did you get here?" she asked between sobs.
"How do you think I got here? I took a spaceship and a really long walk!" They both laughed, but then he grew serious. "I came here to see you, the only person who ever understood me."
Noah stopped laughing as well. "But why did you come now?" she inquired, fearing the answer.
"I came because I know that the end is near, and I want you to be with me." Noah shook her head. "Look at me!" he demanded. "I'm not who I used to be. I'm an old man now. I'm an old, feeble, fragile man."
"That's not true!"
"But it is! How long do you think it took me to get here?" She shrugged. "It took me almost a month. And do you know why?" Again, she didn't answer. "Because I became tired easily. I was afraid to exhaust myself because I didn't want a group of colonists to find my body one day. And I needed to see you again."
Noah was crying again. For the first time in her life, she despised the fact that she was an esper. She hated that she was still in the prime of her life and that everyone else she had known and loved was nearing the end of their mortality. A future without any of those people frightened her, but she knew that it was inevitable.
Odin saw that she was upset and tried to console her. "All I'm asking is to stay her for just a little while. I promise that I won't be a nuisance and I won't get in the way of everything that goes on here. Is that okay?"
"Of course, I'll set you up in a spare room immediately." Everyone else was sleeping, so Noah went around the mansion collecting extra pillows, blankets, and anything else Odin would need. He watched her the entire time, smiling, knowing that his decision to come had been the right one. They were tempted to stay up all night, just filling each other in on what had happened in the past years, but Noah knew that he needed to get some rest. "Tomorrow is another day," she reminded him, returning his smile. "We'll talk tomorrow."
They spent almost the entire day talking. Noah told him how Esper Mansion had come into existence and about the deaths of her uncle and her teacher. Odin spoke about how he had traveled around Palma, staying in different towns every once in a while, and exploring the uncharted forests. Noah asked him if he had heard anything about Myau, but unfortunately, he hadn't.
The two friends recalled the past, spoke of the future, and shared every emotion just like they had when they were younger. Noah felt more alive and excited than she had in quite a few years, and the other espers marveled at her newfound vivacity.
And in two weeks, he was gone. Dead. It had happened in the middle of the night, like everything else they had shared. Noah knew that he was old and sick, so every night, she sent Eva and one of the other doctors to check on him. They obeyed, until one night, the routine check didn't go as smoothly.
Eva found him sitting up in his bed, coughing and wheezing, and ordered her partner to wake Noah immediately. She rushed to his room and found Eva tending to him. The nurse looked up, and Noah knew that this was the end. Without speaking, she gestured toward the door, and Eva left.
Noah crossed the room and sat on the edge of the bed. Odin was still now, but she could see that he was still breathing. Her mind took her back to that one day near the lava fields where she had done her best to heal his wounds, but she knew that no magic would be strong enough to help him now. All she could do was sit and wait.
He opened his eyes and attempted to speak. Noah took his hand and told him not to, told him to lie peacefully. He touched the long, blue hair that was hanging over him and insisted on telling her something, so she bent over to hear the soft, barely audible whispers that left his mouth.
"I love you. I've always loved you. And you always knew, yet..." The gray eyes closed.
"Yet?" She was able to speak, but chose to whisper instead. When she saw that the chest had stopped moving up and down with the rhythm of his breathing and felt that the heart had ceased to beat, she let go of his hand. She leaned over and gently kissed the dry, cracked lips. One single tear fell onto Odin's body as she whispered back, "I love you, too."
* * * * *
Noah took Odin's body back to Palma. She knew that he had never cared for the cold planet of Dezoris and that he wouldn't want to be forever preserved in the depths of the ice. Ian landed the spaceship in Gothic, and he helped her into town.
"Thanks, Ian, but I think I can handle it from here," she told him when they reached a house in the center of the village. He nodded and headed back for the spaceship. Noah turned and knocked on the door in front of her.
Dr. Luveno's assistant answered and was slightly shocked to see the strange, blue-haired woman after all these years. Noah briefly explained herself, and he agreed to help her. Dr. Luveno taught him well, she thought.
The underground passage was boarded up, but now there were ferries running from the Camineet area to Gothic. They boarded one of them and Noah started to lead them to Scion. When they were almost there, she stopped, and abruptly started walking to the right.
They were on the end of the Iala peninsula. Noah nodded to the assistant, and he left her alone with the corpse of Odin. As she buried him in the dark Palman earth, she remembered him telling her how much he disliked busy towns and always loved getting out and away.
She smoothed the last of the soil over the wooden coffin and placed a single wildflower on top of the grave. The sun was setting and the sky would soon grow dark. Noah decided that she would spend the night in Scion and go back to Dezoris in the morning.
By the time she reached the port town, night had fallen. Instead of finding an inn, Noah headed straight for the docks. She took off her shoes and sat on the edge, like she had right before the defeat of Lassic. The only difference was the lack of her loved ones around her. The feeling of loneliness crept back and she sighed. She stared into the water and was momentarily captivated by the beautiful reflection of the stars in the blue-black sky.
Noah slowly stood up and removed her cloak. She leapt into the cool ocean and found it strangely refreshing. Finding that she could stand, she wet her hair and splashed herself for a little while. The cleansing water reminded her of her home back on Dezoris and her duty to her fellow espers. She stared back up at the stars and knew that her friends and family would always be watching her, for the rest of her life. Her life that would continue tomorrow when she went back to the ice planet and continued her efforts at the Mansion.
"Because tomorrow is another day!" she called into the shadows, more out of habit than anything else. This time the shadows were not empty; they were filled with the spirits of her loved ones that would be looking after her, for tomorrow and forever.