Makoto was happy to have gotten her homework done early that weekend, because she could now concentrate on the book that Tom had bought for her. Once she began, she could not put it down. The book was mostly meant for women, but in reality, all could benefit from it. It told her that she could be happy being exactly what she wants to be without anyone telling her how to live her life. She did not have to brag or pretend if she was being herself. If she was being herself and not bragging, and people did not like that, all that it meant was that people were jealous of the confidence in herself that she held. For that, she should feel no shame. She did not have to fit into other people's mold, nor did she have to rub who she was into the faces of people. If someone asked her snidely, "How can you wear those clothes?"
She could answer, "I put them on my body, how else?" and keep on marching. Why she did what she did was no one's business, and it was not something against which she had to defend. She finished the book by the time it was time for bed, and she got up and looked at herself in the mirror. People had always called her a tomboy because she was tall, athletic, and she could beat up many boys twice her size. On the one hand, she did look like a tomboy in appearance when she was not wearing her school uniform, on the other hand, she wondered if all the calls from her friends and teachers to be more ladylike had any weight. She then began to ponder what she had just read. The book essentially said that, no matter what you wear, if you feel pretty, and act pretty, you will be pretty no mater what you wear. The bottom line is, though, wear what makes you feel good, and only because you felt you wanted to, not because you were told to.
At this, she went to her closet and began to try on different things, and before long, she realized that what she needed to do was come up with a look that said who she was, not how others saw her. She also remembered something her King Fu sifu had told her. There are three ways that a person is: how one sees one's self, how the world sees him or her, and who he or she actually is. Yet, in the case of what she read, who you are, and how you see yourself is more important, because, if you are at peace with the first two, the third will fall into line. Thus, she had to ask herself if she truly knew who she was. This was a bit harder considering her alter ego, and her past life. On the other hand, there was normally little difference between her alter ego and her normal self. Then it dawned on her. The only reason why she ever dressed like a tomboy was that it had been drilled into her that that is what she was, and she dressed accordingly. She did like dressing up and looking feminine and acting that way as well. Yet, she was never really uncomfortable with her clothes, and she wondered what her look should be. Finding herself was no issue, for she had done so long ago, being the orphan that she was, and living on her own. She was essentially forced to do so. At that, she then realized that, wearing what she did constantly despite the criticism was what she had always done before even having read that book. Thus, she began mixing some things, trying some others, and soon, she stood there wearing the most feminine tomboy clothes that any could imagine. It was different than anything anyone had ever seen, but it was not loud and gaudy, it was not showy, and yet it looked good on her. She then looked at the clock, and realized that she had spent an hour on this past when she liked to bed on Sunday nights. She would lose an hour of sleep, but it had been worth it. She stuffed the book into her bag, and could not wait to talk to Tom.
As she walked to school, she began to think about how the book had spoken to her, and how Tom had described his life growing up. Certainly, must have known what was in that book and lived accordingly, but she then wondered why it bothered him so much to the point of having to leave his American friends and then to come to school with the Japanese. The race thing did not seem to enter into it, because he seemed to be comfortable with whomever he was with. Thus it was not for hate of his own country, or love of hers that motivated the change. Therefore, why did he change at all?
Once she got to school, she met up with the gang, and she then told them all about the book. Minako then said, "Oh, it's so great that you discovered that book!"
"I should have guessed that you had read it," said Minako smiling.
All the girls then clamored for an opportunity to read it, and they all settled on an order of who should read it. At this, Tom came by and saw the gaggle, and he said, "I see you liked the book."
"You gave that to her?" asked Usagi, and then she got a cute smile on her face, saying, "Well, well, well, I should have seen that coming, the way you two are around each other!"
The two immediately turned beat red, and seemed to say together, "No...it's...not like that...it wasn't that...don't jump to conclusions..." and everyone got a good laugh watching their friends squirm. The bell sounded, and it was time for class. As the walked, Makoto did come astride to Tom, and said, "Tom-kun, it seems to me that you live what was in that book in a guy's way, and it's no wonder you recommended it to me."
"You could say that," answered Tom, looking straight ahead.
"So, why did you let those creeps get to you?" she asked, "I hope that's not too personal."
"No, it's not," he answered, and then looked at her as he said; "It wasn't that I cared about those chumps. Considering that I am going to be a Marine Corps officer one day, and those losers are going either nowhere in life, or enlisting in the marines as enlisted personnel, I know that I already have an edge over them. The reason why I got out is that there is only so much one can take. To hear the kinds of things that I heard growing up, and what they did to me on a daily basis was like Chinese water torture! I had to get out. It was affecting my schoolwork, in that, I always worried what life was going to be like on a daily basis to the point where I could not focus on life. Now, I have it, my grades have gone up, and I take comfort in the fact that I may just end up some of those people's commanding officer. Now wouldn't that be a sight?"
They both laughed as they went to class.
In the meantime, Sark and Ragna were speaking about how to execute their master plans. After some study of the humans, Sark, Ragna, and the other four barons realized that these people were gullible when they were scared. They also learned that much of the advertising of products created sort of a sensation, in that it created a fever pitch for a need for the product, and then they would push it. What they would have to do is create a need, and then arrive as the one who can provide for that need. Thus, what they had to do was create turmoil somewhere else, then later on, cause it to happen on Australia's sunny shores, and become politicians in the mean time. While it happened, they could gain the people's trust, show that they have knowledge of how the turmoil operates, and thus convince the people that they had the solution. Then, they could create a conspiracy, in that, where the turmoil first stared, they could then blame that nation as a source, create a pretext to war, and then begin the global conquest. After some more thought, they then figured that they could use the handful of remaining youmas in Japan, and then turn people there into youmas, and cause things to happen. It would take some time, but they figured that it would work. They just had to bide their time. It was then that Ragna said, "It would be good to send in another attack, just to keep things fresh in people's minds."
"That is true," answered Sark, "However, keep it slow between attacks, and then slowly escalate. In fact, we need to test the changing of the humans into youmas, and you can do that as well on your next attack."
"I'm on my way, milord," said Ragna, and he was off to create some chaos.
Since Setsuna was teaching that class, and she was good friends with Michiru, she had the whole class on Monday's go into the music room for a period on music appreciation. As everyone took their seats, the first thing that Michiru asked was, "Okay, who in here likes classical music?"
A few hands went up, including Tom's. She then said, "Well, that's actually what I figured. I then would ask why, not accusingly, but out of curiosity. You didn't raise your hand, (as she pointed to Usagi,) could you share why?"
"'Cause she's a dumpling-head!" joked one of the boys. Usagi just turned around and stuck out her tongue as she lowered a lower eyelid. Michiru then said, "That's uncalled for! Maybe I should ask you."
"Yeah!" he answered defiantly, "It's just a bunch of sounds that don't make any sense. It's boring!"
"Would you agree Usagi-san?" asked Michiru, (in a way to insure that she was not fraternizing.)
"Well, it's hard to follow," Usagi finally answered.
"You kind of have to be as smart as Ami-san to like it," said another boy.
That was what Michiru was waiting for. She then said, "That could not be further from the truth. In fact, this music was actually created to be enjoyed by the masses-common folk. The thing is that, in those days, even the common folk were more informed about music than most are today. The thing is this: knowing how to listen to music gives a better appreciation to it, and then that method can be applied to other kinds of music. When one has done that, a whole new world opens up."
With that, she went over to the computer where she had some files ready to go, and she said, "Now, the first thing I want to do is show you the method of listening. I will be starting with the Second Brandenburg Concerto, first movement, by Johann Sebastian Bach. The thing about Bach's music is the fact that he had taken musical annotation that had been presented to the world by Pope Gregory IX, and streamlined it, going for the eight note scale, or the octave scale. Then, if you have ever looked at sheet music, every note and mark was created by that man. When he did that, he unlocked music to millions more people than ever before. Since that time, no one has ever come up with a better system, and he becomes like the Greek language to the European and American in their languages. Every composer that followed him could only be his and his predecessors, disciples. They improved on it, but they could not escape their roots. In fact, Bach's music is so unique that it can be interpreted in many different ways, and with many different instruments, proving that music is relative."
One boy then said, "Are you saying that you could play rock and roll to Bach?"
"Not only would I say 'yes' to that," answered Michiru, "but indeed it has been done. Now, what I want you to do is concentrate on just the melody, and then move over to the middle instruments, and then to the bass instruments, and then see what instruments stand out in lead, and then how they all lock together. With Bach, that is easy, because much of his music was polyphonic. Every section sounds like it is doing a solo, but they all interlock. So, here we go."
As the music played, Usagi closed her eyes and began to focus on the music. Her imagination took off, and she began to see images in her mind. She saw herself and Mamoru on their European honeymoon, on a horse and carriage ride, watching the buildings of the city go by. She pictured a park with a small lake in it, with people rowing, children playing, birds flying by. Each section and instrument brought about different images that came together as a whole, much like the music to which she listened. Once it was done, her imagination was soaring, and she did not know of the large, contented grin with the closed eyes that she presented to the class. Soon, Michiru came over and snapped her fingers before Usagi's eyes, and she said, "Hello! Are you still with us?"
She just uttered in a dreamy state, "Mamo-chan!" which brought thunderous laughter to the room, and brought her around. She now realized what she had said, and was completely embarrassed. "Well, it looks like it had a positive effect on you!"
Then, to bring things back to a serious note, Michiru then said, "However, getting into music like that can create such imagery, and that opens up a whole new world of music."
One then said, "Still, I can't see how that can be done outside of that style?"
"Then I shall demonstrate," said Michiru. She then went up to Tom and said, "You've had classical training in voice, yes?"
"I sure have!" answered Tom, "In fact, one of the things our voice teacher taught was to learn to sing Bach preludes. The first thing I learned was the Prelude in C."
Michiru's eyes brightened, and she said, "Then maybe you can help me."
She then went over to Minako, and said, "You have a good voice as well, come on up, would you?"
Minako did so ever so gracefully, (as she normally did, as if she was a model,)and stood by Tom. She then handed some music with the words put on phonetically for her to be able to pronounce them, and she said, "You are familiar with the tune Gounod did for this prelude, correct?"
They both nodded, and Michiru then said, "You sing the prelude, and I shall play the melody as Minako sings it."
Minako was not sure what was going on, and Tom said, "Just ignore me, and do your best on your end."
With that, they began. Because some of the notes were high pitched, Tom was going into his countertenor voice. Minako just sang at first, but then she felt the violin that Michiru was playing lift her up and support her voice. When that happened, she sang with more confidence, and then she could feel herself fitting with the prelude that was underscoring the ladies. When they were done, they all applauded, and then Michiru said, "Now, were you able to hear how we all supported each other?"
They all pumped their heads, and she then said, "This is the basic structure of music appreciation. With that, we shall be exploring the different aspects of classical, jazz, syncopations, and other forms, even in pop music. I think this is going to be a great class."
Michiru then went over to them and said, "Thank you-be ready, though. I may call on your help more often, so keep your skills honed."
Minako and Tom looked at each other and nodded, and Minako said, "You REALLY have to enter the next talent show with me!"
The next day was gym day, and the gym teacher started the class with basic calisthenics, and then he told them what sports were being done that day. Usagi, Ami, and Minako went to volleyball, (Minako's specialty,) Rei went to play tennis, Tom went to try out Rugby, since the American Football club would meet later that day, and Makoto went to play basketball. Setsuna, Michiru, and Haruka stood there with Hotaru watching the activities, and Mamoru happened to be passing by after his classes that day. He spotted the outer planet scouts and went over to see how things were going. Haruka said, "Hey, Mamo-chan, how's the car been doing?"
"Ever since you finished that tune up on her, she's been purring like a kitten?"said Mamoru with a smile. He leaned on the fence in time to see Usagi prepare to take a serve from Minako's team. Usagi spotted him and screamed gleefully, "MAMO-CHAN!"and forgot what planet she was on. Because of this, matters became worse when she caught Minako's serve off the side of her head. The ball rebounded with anotable "pang," and Usagi gurgled, "Wow-seven Mamo-chan."
Moments later, as she sat against the fence where he was, he said, "Bakka! Did you want to see me that bad?"
She groaned as she tried to regain herself and said, "Now it sounds like Bach is playing on my brain!"
"Bach?" said Mamoru, "What brought that on?"
"We've been teaching music appreciation," said Michiru, "It seems she's really taken with it."
"That reminds me," said Usagi, "We're going to have his music in the wedding!"
"Yes ma'am," he said with a mock salute.
She stood up and they gave a quick peck and embrace. It seemed to be apeaceful day.
Too bad it would not last.
Ragna slipped up to the same high school where he started. He knew that this species was protective of its young, so causing havoc here would be good. Ayoung man went to retrieve a baseball that had gotten past him, and as he reached into the tall grass to fetch it, an arm came out of the tree line and pulled him in. He would do perfectly. As he began to transform the poor boy, he prepared the youma he had brought, and then gave them license to do as they pleased on the school grounds. He knew there may be a few casualties, but whatever-they had a goal to achieve, and you cannot make an omelet without breaking some eggs. He looked at them and said, "Go and break a few eggs."
He laughed, wondering what could stop him now.