Chapter Five — The Icarus Army

23 June 2012 at 12:56 (Dreamsong, Kid Icarus, Kid Liquorice, Random Randomness)

Kiki kicked out as someone grabbed her foot.

“Yaieeee!”

“Get off me!”

“Kiki!”

“Get off!”

Pit grabbed hold of Kiki’s wrist and pulled her back towards the gates of the Children’s House. “How many more times, Kiki?”

Kiki remained tight-lipped.

“You can’t go on like this. You know you’re forbidden from leaving the house after dark.”

Kiki refused to respond and looked away, scowling.

Pit continued. “And the fruit in the orchard does not belong to you.”

Here Kiki replied. “It belongs just as much to me as it does to everyone else there!”

“And it belongs just as much to everyone else as it does to you. This is the third time this week you’ve sneaked out at night to steal fruit. Yes, steal, Kiki.”

“You — you just be quiet!”

Pit shot her a furious look and dragged her to the front doors of the Children’s House. “You’ve become a common thief, Kiki.”

copyright silver arrows 2013

They entered to see Maia sitting in the lobby, reading. She looked up from her book. “Oh! Commander Pit!”

Then she noticed the small figure alongside him. “Kiki!”

Pit glared at the young angel. “She did it again.”

“Tell-tale.” Kiki scowled once more and stared at the floor. Maia walked up to her.

“Why, Kiki? Do we not give you enough?”

Silence.

“Kiki, you’re 10 now, but you behave like a spoiled toddler.”

Again, Kiki refused to respond.

“I won’t stand for this behaviour anymore. If it’s not sneaking out at night stealing, it’s picking fights with the other kids or vandalising property. Your behaviour is unacceptable. What do you have to say for yourself?

At this, Kiki looked up. She glared at Maia. “I hate this place! I hate this stupid house and I especially hate both of you!” She ran away back to her room. Maia started after her.

“Leave her,” Pit said.

Maia looked worried. “Does she really feel that way? I always felt I did my best by her, but perhaps —”

“It’s not your fault,” Pit soothed. “She’s a strange child, Maia. Perhaps life here doesn’t suit her; maybe she needs a different lifestyle.”

“What do you mean?”

“I was thinking…. She’s old enough to join the Icarus Army now. If you like, I can speak to Palutena about it.”

“Is she really mature enough, though? She’s been behaving atrociously, lately.”

Pit nodded. “Perhaps the strict discipline of the army is exactly what she needs.”

“Perhaps…”

“I’ll run it past Palutena tomorrow. Kiki certainly has a lot of potential as an archer. I was planning on recruiting her sometime anyway, so why not now?”


Kiki looked at her sandals and she stood before Palutena. She was in big trouble now.

I don’t care. What can they do to me? I’ve had enough of Skyworld anyway. But for my promise to my father I’d have left a long time ago.

“Kiki,” Palutena began.

Kiki squirmed.

“I’m very disappointed in you.”

Kiki blinked, but continued to look at her feet.

“Please look at me when I’m talking to you.”

Kiki looked up. Oh no, what had she done?

“I would never have expected such behaviour from you.”

Like father, like daughter.

“Do you have anything to say in your defence?”

Kiki shook her head.

“Well?”

“I’m sorry, Your Highness.”

Palutena stood up. “Maia has always been very kind to you. Telling her you hate her was very hurtful.”

“I know.” Kiki was ashamed now. “I’ll apologise today.”

“You’ve caused lots of trouble and worry for Pit. He has better things to do than chase after you.”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

“Then why do it?”

“I — You don’t know what it’s like.”

“Then tell me.”

“I’m not like them,” Kiki said. Her eyes stung, but she wouldn’t cry. Not here, not yet. “They — they call me names.”

“What names?”

“Dirty Overworlder. Half-breed scum.”

Palutena was aghast. “That’s terrible. No angel should talk like that! Why didn’t you tell Maia?”

“I’m no rat. And I can fight my own battles, see?”

“That’s not the way to do things. I will personally speak to your housemates about this.”

“It doesn’t matter. I only stayed this long because of my promise, but I can look out for myself now and I’m going back home.”

“No, you mustn’t do that,” Palutena said quickly. “Pit has a better idea. Wouldn’t you like to join the Icarus Army?”

Kiki’s eyes lit up. “What? Me?”

“Yes, you.”

“And… and… I can fight under Pit? And call him ‘Commander’? Like Jayce does?”

“Yes, all those things.”

“Crumbs.” Kiki pondered over all of this for a while.

“Crumbs,” she said again.

“You’ll have to spend a lot of time training, of course, before you take on actual combat duty.”

Training. She frowned. How she’d hated combat training. Her poor father had tried so hard, and she wished so badly that she’d try harder. But she would do it now. She’d train hard as anything for his sake. He’d want this, she was sure of it.

“Pit will be in charge of training you,” Palutena went on. “And if you’re not up to standard, you’ll be discharged. Dishonourably. Do you understand?”

“Crumbs,” Kiki breathed.

“No answering back, no sneaking around. Our warriors are required to obey their commander, Kiki.”

Kiki stood to attention. “Oh you can count on me, Your Highness,” she beamed. “Private Kiki at your service!”


“It seems almost sacrilege to put her in that room.”

Jayce thought for a moment. “Oh, I don’t know. As an archer, she has the potential to rival Callimachus’s skill. If he were around, I’m sure he’d be happy to give his room to her.”

“He’d also tell us to turn down the volume, I reckon.”

“You’re such a spoilsport, Commander. He always liked teaching the kids archery.”

“It’s just that that room is right next to mine —”

“That’s why we chose it.”

“You won’t have to put up with her all the time!”

Jayce chuckled. “And yet you always handle her best. She knows if she misbehaves, she’s out. I wouldn’t worry too much. Oh — here she comes.”

“Reporting for duty — SIR!”

“At ease, soldier,” Jayce laughed.

Pit frowned. She was carrying nothing but a small bag, her bow, her father’s bow and a quiver.

“You were meant to bring everything of yours.”

“This is everything.”

“Oh.”

“Apart from my loom. Maia said she’d send someone over with it later. I composed a beautiful speech of apology for her, and gave her a hug and a kiss, and she said I was a wonderful, darling child and she’d miss me. I will miss her, too, but not the others. As for them —”

“I didn’t ask for your life story, Kiki,” Pit said irritably. “Your room is this way. Leave your things in there and come with me to the training grounds.”

Kiki gulped. Training. But no matter. “Coming, Commander.”


She surveyed the training grounds. Those targets would be easy as anything to hit. She didn’t like the look of the straw dummies, though.

Pit nodded. “Right, Kiki. Let’s go.”

He spent almost two hours putting her through her paces. Trying her aim, dexterity, reaction speed, endurance. Jayce cheered her on from the sidelines.

“Hmmm…”

“Commander, Sir…” Kiki panted. “Can’t we… take… a break..?”

“Had enough already?” Pit said. “Well, we’re about done here.”

“Oh… am I good enough? Jayce, do you remember where I put my water bottle..?”

Pit frowned. “I don’t know, Kiki. Your archery skill is ridiculously above what I’d expect for your age, but your speed is below average, and most of your other skills are severely lagging. What do you think, Melanion?”

Kiki turned. She’d hardly noticed the figure sitting a few metres from Pit. He’d barely moved the entire time of her assessment and hadn’t spoken a word.

He spoke now. “Her archery skill is so-so if you ask me. As for the rest, I think she would make a better farmer than warrior.”

Kiki felt her cheeks burn. How dare he? Who was he anyway, to talk about her like that? Come to think of it, she’d seen him before, but she couldn’t remember where. She knew she didn’t like him, anyway. She wanted to kick and scream at him, but she held her tongue. Jayce would stand up for her.

“Melanion,” Jayce said. “We know you’ve held a grudge against Kiki since the day she came. It was your sister, wasn’t it, who started the ‘half-breed’ insults at the Children’s House?”

Melanion was silent.

“Commander,” Jayce continued. “I propose you take her on trial. I’m sure her other skills will catch up to an adequate level with the right training and you can have her primarily for an archer. After all, it’s a beastly shame to let such skill go to waste.”

Kiki looked hopefully at Pit. She did so want to make it in.

Pit nodded. “I’ll need to see some improvement in your hand-to-hand and unarmed combat within 4 weeks, though. Consider this your trial period. If I’m not satisfied at your next assessment, you’re out.”

“Oh, Pit!” Kiki squealed, giving him a hug. “I’m so glad! I’ll train like anything, I promise you!”

Jayce laughed. “Kiki! A private does not hug her commander!”

“Whoops! Sorry, Pit — I mean, Commander, Sir!”

Melanion watched silently, thinking.


After four weeks of intense training, Pit had assessed her skill again.

Kiki awaited the verdict breathlessly. “Hold my hand, Jayce. I don’t think I can bear this. Oh my poor nerves!”

Jayce squeezed her hand. “You’ll be fine.”

“Ohhhh… ah… here he comes.” She saluted. “Sir!”

Pit’s expression gave nothing away. “Her Highness Palutena has been watching from the Sky Palace.”

“Oh crumbs,” Kiki squeaked.

“Overall…” he paused.

Kiki closed her eyes. She could feel another squeak coming out.

“… we were very satisfied with your progress. I doubt you’ll ever make it to front-line troops, but I meant for you to be an archer anyway. So you’re in. Welcome to the Icarus Army.”

But Kiki, succumbing to the euphoria, had fainted dead away.


“So, what, I just have to sit here?”

“No. You hold your position, look out for intruders and raise the alarm if you see any. And then attack.”

“I see. I mean, Roger that, Commander.”

Pit flew away and Kiki sat and looked out. Any intruders had better watch out! They wouldn’t stand a chance on her watch.

As the hours passed, she began to wish she didn’t have such a fearsome reputation amongst Skyworld’s various enemies. Obviously, they didn’t dare come anywhere near her, which meant she didn’t get to attack them.

She pouted. She didn’t even get a proper watchtower; she was just sat on an architrave. She shuffled to her hands and knees and looked underneath her perch. She could see a pair of centurions standing guard at the palace doors. They had funky armour, spears and winged helmets. And they didn’t move at all.

She returned to her position. As long as she got to shout “Incoming!” even once, it would be worth it.


“And you know, Jayce, if I had got to shout “Incoming!” even once, it would have been worth it. But there’s absolutely nothing to do!”

Jayce gasped. “What were you expecting?”

“Something. Fighting. Even you get to fly around delivering messages. I just sit and look.”

“It’s an important job and you have to start somewhere. Even Pit started out on lookout duty.”

Kiki gasped. “Oh! Well in that case… Still, I wish I could go out on a mission. Something, anyway. My feet go numb just sitting there.”

Jayce looked up at the starlit sky. “Strangely enough, Pit’s planning on sending some scouts out —”

Kiki’s eyes twinkled. “Oh!”

“— but you’re not a scout.”

Kiki pouted. “I’m getting utterly fed up these days, Jayce. I wanted to make my father proud, but all I’ve done for the last two weeks is just sit and look.”

“Kiki —”

Kiki got up and turned away. “I have to go to bed now. I’ll see you tomorrow, maybe.”


copyright silver arrows 2013

She looked up at the moon through the open window. She’d always loved the moon, just as her father did before her.

“Father..?”

The cool, beautiful silence washed over her. The moon was shining for her tonight.

“Are you up there, somewhere, Father? Do you still sing of our dreams? Do you remember..?”

A single tear slid, glistening in the moonlight, down her cheek.

She wiped it away.

“The moonlight shall carry my love to you, Father, wherever you are. I shall weave you a dream and sing it, and the moon shall carry it to you, Father…”

But the moon was silent.


She fell asleep quickly that night.

The moon —

It was the moon, but it wasn’t the moon. The ocean was being dragged away, and she, Kiki, was left standing on the shore, lost —

“Kiki!”

She turned quickly, looked out to sea. She knew that voice.

“Father?”

“Kiki! Help me!”

The moon was pulling away the ocean, and her father was in it.

She leapt towards the sea, ran, stumbling, towards the voice, but the faster she ran, the faster the water retreated. “I’m coming, Father! Please hold on!”

But it was too fast; it was too fast for her. The voice was carried away and Kiki was left, alone, on her knees, sobbing bitterly into the sand.


She was feverish when she awoke the next morning. As soon as she sat down in the mess hall, Jayce put his hand to he forehead.

“You’re burning up.” He shook his head. “This is what happens when you stay up half the night singing,” he admonished.

“I wasn’t up half the night. Get off me.”

“Go back to bed. I’ll tell Pit you’re unwell.”

“I’m not unwell; leave me alone.”

“You’re ill, Kiki. Go to bed.”


Pit thought so, too. Her fever had got worse by the time he came to see her and she was almost hysterical.

“This is what happens when you stay up all night singing.”

“I wasn’t up all night singing!” she sobbed.

“Your room’s right next to mine.”

“It wasn’t all night. Please, Pit.”

Pit stopped. He was suddenly reminded of something: a hazy memory from back when —

“When I’m better, can I do something else — that scouting mission…”

It was gone. “Who told you about that mission? No, let me guess…”

“Please, Pit. I hate lookout duty,” she wept.

Pit was flustered. “Nnngh — stop crying. And you promised Palutena you’d follow orders and not quibble.”

She sniffed. “I’m sorry.”


She understood you had to start at the bottom, but there was starting, and there was not going anywhere. She was sure this wasn’t what her father had meant for her. She was capable of greater things.

She lay now, staring up out the window from her bed, at the cool dawn light.

The search party had brought back some of her things all those years ago: her loom, the small one; a couple of toys; her magic moonshines. They’d brought back one of her father’s chitons, too.

Aristarchus.

She’d wondered what her father had done, so that he’d had to leave Skyworld. Perhaps he had been impatient and wont to disobey orders, too, although it seemed unlikely.

She held the chiton tightly to her as she cried.

He’d let someone down, that’s what he’d told her. Perhaps she, too, would let them down: Palutena, Jayce and Pit.

Who was she, anyway? Kiki, Overworlder, daughter of a renegade angel, and lowly palace lookout.

She’d been put back on lookout duty — “do-nothing duty”, she called it — and though she’d complained bitterly to Jayce, he’d been unable to influence Pit on the matter. Her frustration continued to increase, much to Pit’s annoyance.

And every night, she’d get nightmares, and they’d always centre on her father’s calling her for help, and her being totally helpless to reach him.

Last night had been no different.

She’d awoken screaming hysterically. Jayce and Pit had rushed to her room, in time to see her scrabbling out the window screaming, “I’m coming!”

They’d retrieved her before she got far and eventually soothed her. But when she’d tried to explain, they wouldn’t listen.

Her father was alive, she knew it.

And he was reaching her, through her dreams.

“We’ll discuss it in the morning, Kiki.”

It was morning now, almost. The sun would be up soon.

She kicked off her blankets and stood at the window, watching the fluffy pink-tinged clouds.


“Kiki, we understand that you miss your father, but they’re just nightmares. They’re not real.”

Kiki shook her head. “He’s alive — he’s calling me.”

Pit sighed. Gently, “Kiki — your father passed away many years ago. I know it’s hard, but you must accept it.”

“No! NO! You don’t understand! He didn’t die! I always knew it, Pit! He promised he’d never leave me; he’s trying to get back to me, don’t you see?”

“Kiki —”

“But he can’t find his way. So we must help him. We have to send out a search party before it’s too late, before the water gets him.” She turned to Jayce. “You believe me, don’t you? Jayce…”

“Kiki…”

“Please, Jayce.”

Jayce lowered his head. “Apollo told Palutena what happened. There’s no room for error. Kiki, please don’t do this.”

“I see.”

She stood up and turned her back to them.

“I was never one of you anyway, was I?”

And without waiting for a response, she left the room.


“Pit…”

“Yes, Jayce?”

Jayce shuffled uncomfortably. “What Kiki said; you don’t suppose there’s anything in it, do you?”

Pit shook his head. “You know what her father did. Apollo was unequivocal. Zeus had his revenge.”

“She seems so sure, though…”

“She always was a dreamer. I don’t blame her: he was all she had. But it’s clear what happened, and she needs to accept it and move on.”

“It’s hard lines, though, Pit. I think we were too harsh on her.”

Pit bit his lip. “Maybe.”

“I’m going to go talk to her anyway.”

But when he went to her room that evening, there was so sign of the pink-haired angel.

“Kiki?”

The curtains were shut and the bed neatly made. That in itself was unusual. Her loom, too, had been dismantled and packed away.

“Kiki?”

Something was wrong. He put his fingers on the handle of her wardrobe. He wasn’t sure.

“Kiki —”

He pulled the doors open. Her clothes were gone. Just hangers on an empty rail, and there, at the back, unstrung, her father’s bow.

Jayce backed out of the room.

“Pit…”

He reached Pit’s door and knocked.

“Commander… Please come out and see this.”

Pit emerged, half-asleep. “What?”

“Kiki’s gone.”

Pit put his hand to his head. “Probably gone to steal some apples.”

Jayce grabbed his shoulders. “No, I mean, she’s really gone. I think. Her clothes are missing, and her weapons.”

“Wait, what?”

“Come and look.”

And Pit did look.

“Oh, Palutena.”


“Sedition.”

“How in the heck is it sedition?!” Jayce spat.

“It’s treachery anyhow. It would seem someone leaked details about our upcoming recon mission, scouting out a possible Underworld uprising. Perhaps, Jayce, you were in on it, too?”

What?!

“That’s enough, Melanion,” Pit said. “All we know is that she’s left. We have no reason to suspect treason.”

Pit had called a council to discuss Kiki’s disappearance. It had been a week since she’d left, and the various search parties sent out had failed to locate her. The issue was causing friction among Skyworld’s authorities. These sat now, in the conference chamber, to decide what steps to take next.

Melanion was not so easily deterred. “She’s a serving soldier gone AWOL. At the very least, it’s desertion. She should be found and brought to justice. And if you people have any sense, you will find her. Who knows how much she’s told them already?”

Here, Palutena broke in. “She’s an angel, she’s one of us. She could never betray Skyworld.”

“Ah — but is she? What did she say to her two best ‘friends’ when they saw her last?”

Pit was stunned silent.

Melanion spoke for him. “She told you she was never one of us. Didn’t she, Jayce?”

Jayce lowered his head.

“And you witnessed this, too, didn’t you, Commander?”

Pit was unable to speak.

“So it would seem her own testimony has condemned her. I vote she be declared renegade and brought to justice.”

Jayce couldn’t sit back and let Melanion spout such vitriol. “She could have had any reason to leave!” he protested. “She missed her father; she was homesick for her island. It probably just got too much for her.”

Melanion sighed and shook his head condescendingly. “You don’t get it, do you, Jayce? Her father was a renegade, and who knows what kind of floozy she had for a mother? The facts speak —”

Pit slammed his hands on the table. He found his voice at last. “That’s enough, Melanion! You speak out of turn!”

“Oh?”

“Don’t forget your station! And as to insulting her mother; that’s just low. You know nothing about her.”

“I’m simply stating facts. Facts that you’re too weak to handle. From her background, it’s easy to see she had no allegiance to Skyworld.”

“That’s conjecture,” interjected Jayce.

“Maybe so,” Melanion conceded. “However…” Now was the time to pull his trump card. “My search party uncovered some very interesting information.”

Pit leaned on the table. “You know where she went?”

“Not so much where she went, but who she went with.”

“Well?”

Melanion had been waiting for this. “She was sighted by an Overworld sailor. He witnessed a pink-haired angel conversing with two harpies, before flying off with them.”

“No…”

“He is a credible witness. He even provided a written, signed statement for you.”

Pit’s blood froze. “This…”

Jayce snatched the document from Melanion. “No way…”

“Duly signed and attested. What price homesickness, now?”

There was a murmur of agreement among the other angels.

Pit stammered, “Your Highness —”

Palutena shook her head. “I know the three of you were close, but if this witness really did see this, I don’t see how she could be anything but a defector, Pit.”

Pit closed his eyes.

“Pit?”

“I have nothing further to contribute.” He got up and left the conference chamber. What have you done, Kiki?

And Jayce held his head in his hands, and wept.

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