Raylorian Dawn
Author: Othello Gooden Jr.

Chapter 3
Remembering Mariana

Kayla and Earl drove around the corner and down the street passed Town Square. They then entered a large shopping mall area filled with anti-gravity vehicles and pedestrians. Some of them were just getting off work. The others were those coming into work if not just there to shop at the stores open till later.


The Lunarian Jewelers was the biggest building, sitting in the center of the mall area at two stories high. The store's emblem, an engagement ring with the moon's crescent sitting in it, could be seen mounted on the side of the building. Earl and Kayla pulled up under a canopied white carpet leading into the Jeweler's double door entrance.


A crowd of employees was waiting under the canopy for their rides while others stood there talking to their co-workers and customers entering and exiting the store. Marion sat near her co-workers talking on a bench parallel to another on the other side of the carpet. As Kayla and Earl pulled up, Marion rose from her seat. She turned to waive goodbye at her co-workers shortly before facing her sister and father. Kayla watched her little sister elegantly move toward them in all gray Khakis, wearing flat bottom dress shoes. Pinned on Marion's left shoulder above the heart area was her work badge. On the white badge was a picture of the Moon engraved in the background behind Marion’s name in black letters. Kayla fixed her eyes on a blue and green paper bag Marion swung around freely.


“What did you buy?” Kayla asked, turning her head to Marion.  She had her eye on that bag her sister carried with her.


“A little something!” Marion shortly said with a smile after getting in on the backseat behind Kayla.  She then shut the car door.


“I bet it's that locket you've been saving up for this past couple of weeks!” Kayla said, trying to predict what Marion had in the bag.


“Yep! It was on sale!” Marion said, grinning with a laugh at her sister knowing.

“How much?” Kayla asked her as she viewed Marion through her rear view mirror.

“8k for 2 at the price of one!” Marion answered with excitement.

At hearing that price, Earl grunted. “Girl, that's too much!”


“Yeah, but those necklaces usually run at about 12k when it's not on sale!” Kayla reasoned.


“She could've got one from the jewelers around the corner for less!” Earl said, sounding disappointed.


“Daddy that other Jeweler sells inferior products and you know it!” Marion said, sounding upset.


“But I got Yana's engagement ring there! And it was a lot cheaper!” Earl argued.

“Yeah, cheaper as in quality! When was the last time you wore it?” Marion asked.


“Uh... I uh…” Earl paused, scratching his head at drawing blanks, “lost it in the washer at our old house.”  


Kayla began to drive back home.


“Did you? Or did the washer mess up that cheap imitation?” Marion challenged.

“You dreamin'!” Earl denied. “Besides, Mariana's ring—”

“Don't get struck with a lightning bolt, now!” Kayla stopped Earl with teasing.

“Huh?” Earl said, trying to sound innocent.

“Mariana would've never married ya if you did!” Marion pointed at him.


“She knew the Interplanetary Jewelers was inferior to the one Marion works for now!” Kayla agreed.


“Whatever! I still say the IJ got better prices!” Earl waved his hand at the both of them.


“But there's a reason to why they do! And that's also why people come to us, knowing they won't be disappointed!” Marion said defensively.


“You and your Lunarian Jewelers, Marion… Such a loyalist!” Earl laughed as they pulled up in the driveway.


After the three came in through the front door, Marion pulled out two jewelry boxes from her bag.


“One for the both of us!” Marion said smiling at Kayla as she pulled out one of the boxes out the bag and handed it to her sister. Kayla quickly opened the box.


“It's beautiful!” Kayla said in amazement as her eyes lit up in awe, gazing at a gold heart shape locket sitting inside a black engraved Styrofoam cushion.


Kayla slowly removed the medium heart shaped locket from its place. The necklace was tucked neatly through a small opening underneath and behind the object like an anchor. The young woman continued in her amazement, running her fingers over the locket's embossing. The short, calligraphically drawn lines stretched across the object's surface and under facing like hair. Kayla suddenly stopped to view a small circular plaque with her initials, K.A.D, written with artistic strokes.


“Check this out, Daddy!” Kayla laughed, showing Earl the writing.


“That's your initials?” Earl asked her and then paused to read the inscription on the locket aloud, “Kay—Ay—Dee… Yep, it is!”


“Open it up!” Marion egged Kayla while opening the locket she bought for herself.


Inside the locket was picture of Kayla and Marion dressed up in costumes. In the picture, Kayla wore a green dyed, longhaired wig that came down to her hips. The base of her hair was tied by a scrunchy. She had on a 1 piece solid blue, red and manila outlined blouse with split down the side. The slit stopped at a waistband wrapped around Kayla's waist. Her belt, made of twisted cowhide, fitted around her loosely. Kayla also had on a pair of biker gloves. She had one hand on the hilt of a Styrofoam crafted sword clipped on her left side through the cowhide twist. Her other hand was over the other. Kayla's matching boots came up to her leg's midsection, tied at the top with blue ribbon.


Then there was Marion, dressed more futuristic as opposed to Kayla’s medieval style. Marion's clothing was a formal, schoolgirl outfit in a purple colored, 18th century, long sleeve, and wearing a French ballroom gown dress with a bow tie in the back. Marion also had on a violet colored jacket with black flaps. Marion wore two berets in the back of her head straight like needles, twisted with longer pieces of hair around the girl's natural brown. Marion stood there folding her arms, leaning on Kayla, with a smile. Her overall appearance was that of someone who was a politician. In contrast, Kayla costume gave her that “medieval warrior” look.


“Lookie here! Marion in her natural brown! Now that was a moment to remember!” Earl teased.


“Now your hair looks all… EMOish!” ” Kayla joked.

“Hey!” Marion shoved Kayla in the side abruptly.


Earl and Kayla laughed at the joke. Marion just looked at the two strangely as they continued to laugh. Earl stopped laughing when he saw Marion’s straight face.


“When was that picture taken?” Earl asked after clearing his throat with a cough. “I forgot!”


“Remember that one event we went to few years ago?” Marion asked, looking shortly to them both.


“Yeah?” Earl nodded as Kayla continued to look at the picture.

“It was LunarCon's last Anime Convention!” Marion grinned.


“I should've known that picture was Anime related… Those two characters yall dressed up looked so familiar!” Earl laughed with a short cough.


“Medieval era video game chick meets Futuristic year Anime princess!” Kayla announced jokingly as she closed the locket.


“Who were they again?” Earl asked, directing the question to both his daughters.

“Eh?” Marion drew blanks and shrugged. “I forgot, too!”


“All I remember was that that girl Marion dressed up was as some type of politician!” Kayla said as she pointed at the picture.


“Did that show have something to do with Mechanized Robots of Mass Destruction?” Marion was grinning.


“That's all I watched! Manned or unmanned, sentient robot—if it had a good storyline and if it wasn't one that bothered daddy, I watched it!” Kayla explained cheerfully.


We watched it!” Earl emphasized in a serious tone, hiding a grin in his lips.


“Oh, yeah… I forgot how I got everyone hooked on Anime.”  Kayla thought aloud with a laugh.


“It was our family’s get together, wasn't it?” there was a hint of slyness in his questioning.


“We all enjoyed watching things of that nature.” Kayla nodded, hiding her grin at hearing her father’s rhetorical question.


“And they wouldn't stop calling me an Otaku at school and work!” Marion said and with faked apathy. “They already called me Mrs. Bobby Fischer!”


“I consider it a good thing—a decade ago, this city was big on Anime among other things—though most shows were just as bad as your average SOAP opera, some Animes weren't of the sort.” Earl then paused with a sigh. “Now all the good Anime isn't aired any more than Jazz on the radio.”


“What happened to the ones you use to watch Kayla?” Marion asked enthusiastically.

“What about them?” Kayla looked at her as she began to trail upstairs.

“Can't we watch some of those on DVD right now?” Marion started up the stairs with her.

“Maybe after we visit Mariana's grave.” Kayla answered shortly.

“Okay.” Marion groaned heavily as she turned into her room.

Kayla shut her room's door and locked it.



“Yall ready to go?” Earl called from the stairs ten minutes later.

“Yeah,” Kayla said as she rose off her bed and headed outside her room. “Just a minute!”

Her and Marion came out at the same time.

“Hey!” Marion yelled as Kayla beat her down the narrow flight of stairs downward, rushing down it in a hurry.


“Too slow!” Kayla teased as she hit hardwood floor with a boom, jumping from the second to last step.


“What about Liz?” Kayla asked as Marion joined the two.

“I put her out back in the yard.” Earl gestured with his thumb pointing behind him.


The Dartans rode down the street with Kayla at wheel. She turned a corner following a stream of cars into Town Square. Above them floating on a pedestal was a sign that read, “Welcome to Mariana Gardens.” In the distance stood a huge statue sitting in the park area's center surrounded by a bouquet of flowers. Kayla looked up at a tall, stone statute briefly before parking their car in a spot with a handicap sign in front. Behind it was a long, concrete walkway leading up to the statue.


This time of day, the park was empty. Earl believed it was the best time to visit his wife’s grave—alone and without any distractions from those who might assault them with a million praises about how good Mariana was and how fortunate they were to be her loved ones. Earl saw their buttering to be quite annoying. He saw that the vast majority of those people were “on the bandwagon” because Mariana was a soldier and most people in the city worshipped them like saints. It sickened him very much.


As the three continued to walk, Earl fixed his eyes on the beautiful arrangement of flowers outlining the walkway that stopped at the statue’s feet. The immense image of Mariana was dressed in military attire.  She was gazing down at them with a smile with arms folded.


“In Memory of Mariana Gooding-Dartan.” Earl read the silver, bronze, engraved plaque over his wife's tombstone before them aloud. “She gave her life to protect her beloved family and city.”


He stopped to look up at the statue again and smiled up at her.

“They sure captured her style.” Earl said softly with a tear in his eye.

“What style?” Marion asked him, confused at his statement.


“She was a fearless woman… Even death couldn't faze her!” Earl answered her with confidence.


Marion began to cry shortly afterward, remembering Earl's words were true. Earl turned his head at his youngest daughter at hearing her whimper.


“If she was alive today she'd be proud of you both!” Earl started as he wrapped his arms around his daughters.


“How?” Marion said muffled in her father's bosom.


“The problems you and Kayla share, you've survived through these tough times in her absence!” Earl answered her softly, drawing away from her with a smile.


“What about you Kayla?” Earl cocked his head at his eldest daughter. Kayla stood there motionless. She stared up at Mariana with an emotionless stare.


“What about me?” Kayla turned her attention to him.


“I tried my best to make you happy! But no matter how much I tried, you weren't. Mariana had a way of always bringing out the best in you.” Earl explained.


“What else was there?” Kayla stopped in a flat tone to hide her grief. After composing herself she continued, “I was an orphan on the streets of Cali. No family, no memory of who I was except my name—Lisa Ella Murphy. Now look at me.”


Kayla paused, changing to a slightly enthusiastic tone and then added, “Mariana gave me hope! She helped me to reach for my dreams even though I believed I couldn't!”


“Then there's you, daddy!” Marion looked up at her father with a smile.


“What about—oh yeah, how I'm responsible for you two turning out this way?” Earl paused with a laugh. “How, if it hadn't of been for Mariana's coaching, you two's new home would've been in the county's jail.”


“And the restraints you've had on our association.” Kayla said with half a grudge.


“Now Kayla, you were a little bit more rebellious than Marion in your teenage years!” Earl said in a semi serious tone.


“That's because I felt alone and wanted to fit in!” Kayla explained.


“But getting you to trust us was hard for me and Mariana to do sometimes.” Earl said after sigh.


“But then your life experiences and her funny military stories!” Kayla said surely with a laugh.


“Yeah, which reminds me… Remember that one story she told us years ago when she was in the army?” Earl acknowledged with nod. He shortly laughed at that remembering a story Mariana had told them over and over again.


“You mean the one about that one guy,” Kayla rolled her eyes with a grin. “Who kept getting into to trouble with his sinful way of life?”


“A young punk high on emotion!” Earl paused to shake his head. “Anyway, he wouldn't leave her alone, day after day, trying to get Mariana to like him. All of the sudden, Mariana decided with a coin toss—Tails, she won't and if he harassed her any further, he'd be court-martialed for inappropriate conduct.”


“So what happened?” Kayla laughed at the situation.


“Well, Mariana's 'coin of fate' was the death of him!” Earl answered, waving his head playfully at remembering what happened to the guy. “You know that coin was tails on both sides, right?”


“Say what!” Kayla laughed even harder. “She used that on him?”

“Yep! After her knew how he'd been duped, he was ticked!” Earl laughed.


“Didn't he try it again?” Marion asked, now curious of what was going become of this guy that wouldn’t give up. The sound of this guy almost reminded her of Makoto.


“He did and he got his butt exiled off the space station by orders of LIA's Defense Administer, Naira II!” Earl explained.


“That's what that looser got!” Kayla said after a sinister laugh.


“Whatever happened to that coin?” Marion wondered whatever happened to that coin. She thought about using it against some guys at work that wouldn’t leave her alone.


“I think it got lost somewhere in the house. Probably down in a heat vent—why?” Earl shrugged.


“I got some guys at work that won't leave me alone.” Marion said with a grin.


“After a while, they'd catch on—You wouldn't be able to use it much after that!” Kayla laughed.


“Dag!” Marion grinned, snapping her fingers.

The three laughed hysterically at Marion’s hopeless reaction to Kayla’s reasoning.


Deep in the shadows of Mariana Gardens and hidden from the Dartans was a tall lady in dark green and blue armor. She stood there watching the three a few yards away inside a grove of bushes, listening intently to the family’s conversation through an ear bud. The woman's armor was a coat of black sensory material, bullet proof like Kevlar, covering her from head to toe.


“ZE-1, do you copy? This is mission control!” a male voice called through another earpiece in her opposite ear.


ZE-1 turned down the Dartan's conversation in one ear and turned up the receiver in the other upon hearing the voice.


“This is ZE-1.” she answered.


“Lord Falkeun wants to know the status of your mission.” the guy spoke through his end at a large terminal with people standing around him.


ZE-1 peeked through the bushes to see the Dartans laughing and carrying on about the many memories of how things were when Mariana was alive.


“Target sighted with family.” ZE-1 said informatively.


“Follow them and see where they go.” an older man's voice buzzed through the receiving end.


“Affirmative.” ZE-1 said respectfully as the Dartans began to move back to their vehicle.


“Don't engage them! I repeat, do not engage them—just yet.” Falkeun warned.


“Yessir!” Zana answered Falkeun. She then watched as the Dartans begin to leave for home.


ZE-1 stayed behind them on the streets, jumping from shadow to shadow, staying hidden from the Dartan’s view. As they entered the house, ZE-1 ducked back into the shadows, alarmed by Liz's barking at seeing something ruffle in the bushes.


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