Second Chance

Chapter 14

© 2007 by Plantress

This page was last modified: 2007/12/01

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Aiolos was still smiling as the last traces of his little brothers cosmo faded away. For the first time in years he felt relived. Not only was Aioria perfectly fine, but now it felt like they actually had a fighting chance at getting to Saga.

"You never mention a little brother." Saori said, startling him out of his revive.

"There was never any reason too." He replied. Saori didn't say anything more for a few moments.

"The final battle is approaching." She said at last. "The Pope...Saga...won't ignore this."

"No, he won't." Aiolos agreed. "We will have to move. There are Gold Saints that are on our side. That maybe only a fourth of numbers he had but with you by our side we will not loose."

"Thank you." His goddess said softly. "This time, I will try to be worth of that trust you hold in me."

* * *

It didn't take long for Seiya to be released from the hospital. They had gone to pick him up, only to be informed that he had already left.

"I thought Hyoga and Shun were going to wait for us to arrive." The goddess fretted.

"They probably wanted to ask Seiya what happened." Aiolos said and then smiled. "Us telling them what happened probably wasn't enough. They're still annoyed with themselves for being there. Let them talk it out with each other."

"I just wish they had waited for us." The young woman sighed. Aiolos chuckled.

"All of them or just Seiya?" He teased gently. Saori looked away blushing and Aiolos smiled. "How are the preparations for your departure coming?" He asked to change the subject.

"They're almost complete." Saori looked back at him. "When do you want to leave?"

"As soon as we're ready." He answered immediately. "We have to end this now, and the sooner we leave the greater our chance of arriving before Saga can is ready."

"Do you think we have a chance?" Came the quiet question.

"Yes." Aiolos said without hesitation. "We are in the right here. Once the other Gold Saints see that we the real Athena is on our side they'll help us." If they're true Saints, they'll have too. It's their duty and they won't be able to deny it once they sense her Cosmo. No one but Athena could have a cosmo like that. "No matter what we have to leave now. If Saga figures out what's going on he might just come himself to finish things." And the way I am now, I don't think I would be able to stop him.

* * *

"Were leaving!?" Seiya exclaimed early the next morning.

"Yes." Aiolos said. "We have to leave as soon as possible it we want to have any chance of surprising Saga." As if he would let you get the drop on him. A small part of his mind whispered. He knows you won't sit around. He probably already knows that Aioria had contacted you. "I suggest you rest for today. I doubt they'll be any time to once we reach Sanctuary."

The boys looked at each other. They knew what they were getting into, he could see it in their eyes. There was a distinct possibility that this could fail horribly and none of them would make it back here. Yet when they turned back to him there was no doubts in any of their eyes. They knew their duty as Saint and as friends. Aiolos felt a burst of pride for these young men who were the future of the Saints.

* * *

Aiolos had gone with Saori when she was checking on the departure preparations. It had taken less time than they though. They returned to the mansion just as the Bronze Saints were leaving it.

"Where are you going?" Saori asked them as she exited the limo. Seiya looked up and blushed slightly.

"Uh...well it's just that we don't know what's going to happen I though I should got and visit the guys at the orphanage. You know...just in case. Then everyone kinda decided to come along too..." There was no need to say what that just in case was.

"Good idea Seiya." Aiolos said softly. The Pegasus Saint looked up at him.

"Would you mind...if I came with you?" Saori asked hesitantly. Aiolos looked at her in surprise.

"You can come if you want." Seiya sounded just as surprised as he was. "But I don't know why you would want to too."

"I've never seen the orphanage before and this might be my last chance to." The young goddess said. Seiya smiled, but it was rather sad smile.

"Lets get going then." Pegasus said, then walked off. Aiolos followed Saori and the others. He knew that when they arrived Saori would probably be the one who was in the most danger . She was the one person who could ruin all of Saga's plans and he would do everything in his power to end that threat. Aiolos had just been trying not to think of the danger. Besides...I'll protect her. Even if it means my life I will make sure she is safe.

They walked to the orphanage. It wasn't far, and even Saori, someone who was used to being driven around had no trouble reaching it. They could hear the orphanage long before the saw the building. The children were having a very loud soccer match out front. They stopped and watched the children play. This game wasn't about winning to them as much as it was about fun. Trainees, they never had much time to be play. They were forced to grow up far to fast, and even though Aiolos knew it was necessity he couldn't help but wish they didn't have to take the innocence from children so early on. It was refreshing to watch these children who hadn't been touched by bloodshed play.

"We used to play soccer to, didn't we?" Shun asked as he leaned on the rail. "Back when we were still kids."

"You made a lot more noise about it though." Aiolos had to add. "And were a lot rougher too."

"Hey, we were in training. Of course we were rough!" Seiya shot back. Aiolos chuckled. He watched as the children played. He kept half an ear on the conversation the that the Bronze Saint started, but didn't see the need to interfere when they tried to convince Saori not to go to Sanctuary. She knew that she need to be there and was able to convince them that she would be alright on her own.

A couple of the children kicked at the soccer ball as it rolled past them, but missed and fell down. The Gold Saint chuckled quietly to himself as he watched them. This...this was why he fought. So that others could live in peace. The game ended and one of the workers at he orphanage, a young woman called the children over to her.

Seiya suddenly leapt the fence and raced toward the children, Shun and Hyoga following him to join the game. He and Saori watched for a minuet or so as the younger Saints acted like the children they would have been if destiny hadn't chosen them.

Suddenly Seiya stop and looked back at them.

"Akira-san! You come play too." Pegasus shouted, waving at him. Aiolos shook his head.

"You guys go ahead. I'm fine here." The Sagittarius Saint shouted back.

"It's not that Ak...Aiolos-san doesn't want to play, it's that he probably can't play." Shun said suddenly. "He's twice our age, Seiya. He can't even move without creaking anymore."

"Oh yeah, I forgot. Akira-san's an old man now!" Seiya jeered. Aiolos knew they were baiting him but...still...

"Old man am I?" The Sagittarius Saint cried as he leapt over the fence. "I'll make both of you eat those words!"

None of them dared use even a fraction of their full strength with the children yet, none of them seemed to care. The children's enthusiasm was infections, and since they did care about the actual score in the game the Saints soon forgot as well. There was a temporary lull in the game after Seiya attempted some sort of fancy aerial kick, but missed and ended up falling on his head. As the young woman who had been surprising the game rushed over to check on Seiya, scolding him all the while, Aiolos felt a tug on his hand. He looked down to find several of the children gazing up at him.

"Um...can I help you?"

"Why do Seiya ni-chan and Shun ni-chan call you by different names?" One of them asked.

"Uhh...Aiolos is my Greek name and Akira is my Japanese name..." Aiolos stammered.

"Why do you have two names?" Another one of the children asked.

"Because I..I just do. I used to live in Greece and now I live in Japan."

"Why did you move? Did something happen? Where do you live?" Several of the children began to babble questions at once and Aiolos struggled to come up with answers that didn't mention Saints or what they were doing tomorrow. He was a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume of question. Saori and Aioria had been just at bad but he had only been forced to deal with one at a time. Saint trainees didn't act like this either and he had never been forced to deal with this many at one time anyway. Saori must have noticed his distress since he heard her giggling at him. He sighed. At least he was making her forget about tomorrow for a time, even if it was at the price of his dignity.

* * *

They left the orphanage a few hours later, the children's goodbyes mixed with pleads to come back. Aiolos smiled and hoped that none of the kids noticed the sadness behind it. Saori had been staring at the young woman who worked in the orphanage. One of the children had informed him that her name was Miho and she was a childhood friend of Seiya's. Aiolos had never though about where the Seiya and the other had come from, apart from Kido assuring him that all where orphans. Now he wondered how many of the others had left people behind.

Abruptly Saori broke eye contact with the girl and pushed them ahead, telling Seiya he should stay for a while longer. The reason Saori had told Seiya dawned on Aiolos, but he couldn't understand why she had done it. From the looks the other two Saints threw back at her, they didn't understand either.

It was only when they reached the mansion, after Shun and Hyoga had left them that Aiolos finally voiced the question he had been wondering about.

"Why did you make Seiya stay behind? You didn't have to do that and I though that you..." The Sagittarius Saint trailed off.

"This is the last time he might see her Ni-chan." Saori said as she looked down. "At the very least he should be able to say goodbye. Besides..." She took a deep breath. "I think there's a part of Seiya that I don't understand. Even though he has forgiven me for what I did when we were children but there's a part of him I don't really understand. Miho...I think she does understand that part of him."

"Saori..." It struck Aiolos then that no matter what she though of Seiya, there was no chance of her having a relationship like a normal girl would. He had known it before, knowing and fully realizing where two very different things.

"I'm going to rest for a bit." The goddess said as she walked away from him. Aiolos wondered if he had only imagined the sadness in her voice.

* * *

The next morning they left for the plane ahead of the Saints. Saori wanted to make sure the preparations had been finished. Saori hadn't said anything more about Seiya, but she had gone to be early. Aiolos watched her carefully, but she didn't seem any different than usually. Besides, even if she is upset we don't have the time to deal with a love triangle at the moment. Much as I want to help, it will have to wait until after Sanctuary is back under her control.

The pilot came up to tell them that the plane was ready to depart. Before Saori could give any orders though, Tatsumi interrupted them. The older man seemed to think he had a chance of protecting Saori with that little wooden stick of him. Seiya had just arrived and was the one to told Tatsumi that no Saint would be defeated by his sword. At least Tatsumi actually looked embarrassed about his mistake. The Sagittarius Saint wondered why Tatsumi though he even had a chance against a Saint, even though he had seen what they were capable of. Aiolos appreciated his loyalty but still... Then Seiya wondered out loud where Shun was.

"Wasn't he with you?" He asked the two other two Saints. Both shook their heads.

"We though he was already here." Seiya replied then shrugged. "Guess not though..."

"He'll be here." Hyoga said with confidence. Aiolos nodded in agreement.

An half hour went by and still the Andromeda Saint had not show up. It was very unlike him and Aiolos could see the others were getting worried.

"Where is Shun?" Seiya complained. "He should have been here by now. He always shows up on time."

"Calm down Seiya." Hyoga said. "We'll just have to wait for him."

Seiya didn't say anything else but fidgeted and was restless for another half hour or so.

"That's it!" Seiya jumped up. "I'm going to go look for him!"

"Wait Seiya." Saori walked forward. Then she was the one convinced Seiya to stay. She knew that Shun was coming and Aiolos had a feeling it was more than just intuition guiding her. Perhaps Saori didn't know how to consciously use Athena's power but she was still tapping into it. Seiya must have sensed that as well since he back down.

The wait after that seemed to take forever, but in reality it was probably less than fifteen minuets. Saori was the first to notice when Shun arrived but as soon as she said it, Hyoga and Shun where running over to greet him. He and Saori were right behind the boys. As they neared the Andromeda Aiolos realized that Shun was carrying someone. Then he realized it was a girl. He didn't recognize the blonde but he had realized that she was wearing a Cloth. He did bothered to try and figure out which one it was, instead he checked her face, his mouth going dry when he realized that she wasn't wearing a mask. He wondered if any of them knew what that meant. Don't worry about it right now. He closed his eyes them opened them again as Shun explained that the girl wasn't seriously hurt. She's unconscious and we don't' have time to deal with it. Athena can figure something out when we know the whole story. The goddess herself was busy calling over one of her staff that had been waiting with them so that they could load the plane.

"I'll have her taken to the nearest hospital." The goddess said. "Do you want to go with her?" Shun closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

"No." The Andromeda Saint said. "We should get going. June will be fine." The boy's voice was steady , but you only need to look at his eyes to see the truth. But he had spoken the truth. They were already behind schedule and should get going immediately.

"Alright then." Seiya said. "Lets get going!"

* * *

Shun explained everything that had happened on the plane. How Saga had apparently become more unstable than every, since he had sent a Gold Saint to kill everyone on the Andromeda Island training grounds. It stunned him that Saga would actually go that far.

Was he scared that we would get reinforcements from there? Probably, Shun said his master still believed in him and everything I've heard of Albiore said he was a good man. He wouldn't be swayed by anything Saga said.

"Ni-chan?" Saori called and he let go of his train of thought to face her. "May I ask you a question?"

"Of course." He said.

"Why did Saga decided to spread the rumors about the Pope dieing and some named Arles taking his place? There was no real need do that, was there?" The goddess asked.

"I still can't believe that Arles and the old Pope I knew where the same person!" Seiya said before he could answer Saori. "The Pope I knew was always kind to me..."

"That was still Saga, Seiya." Aiolos said firmly. "He was just acting like the old Pope. I knew the man who was there before Saga, and he was the kind one." The Sagittarius Saint looked at all of them. "That's why Saga crated this story about 'Arles'. The old Pope would never have sent a Gold Saint to Andromeda Island like that or have committed any of the evil acts Saga has. If he had tired to give commands like that while still pretending to be the old Pope he would have raised suspicions. So he created a new persona and 'killed off' the old one. Arles is the one who acts the most like what Saga has become."

"But why wasn't anyone suspicious of the 'Arles'?" Shun asked. "Wasn't the switch a little sudden."

"The Pope was an old man even when I was a child. It probably wasn't an a stretch to think that he died of old age. Anyone who objected knew that they would be called traitors, so they've kept their silence." Aiolos explained.

"Hey Saga strong?" Seiya said suddenly.

"Yes." Aiolos swallowed. "He's probably one of the strongest Gold Saints by now." It hurt to admit that, particularly since he knew he would have a chance if he actually fought Saga.

"That's great." The Pegasus Saint grumbled, then smiled. "But hey, no one said this was going to be easy, right?" And even though Aiolos knew that Saga could squash Seiya like a fly the Sagittarius Saint couldn't help but feel a surge of hope when he heard that.

* * *

They landed in Sanctuary without any interference, a fact which some what surprised Aiolos. Even though Saori had to go into the cockpit to guide the plane past the barrier that surrounded Sanctuary, things we too smoothly. That worried Aiolos. He would have expect someone to come see what was going on. There wasn't even anyone in the arena they had landed and there was always someone in the training grounds.

I don't like's too quiet. Suddenly Aiolos shivered despite the sun that was shining down on all of them. A feeling of immense dread filled him and it had nothing what so ever to the quite around him. Aio...! There was no reason for him to be thinking of his brother now, yet he couldn't help but feel that something had happened to him. Don't think of that. Aioria's an adult now...he'll be fine...

Thankfully someone had finally come to see what was going on. Aiolos frowned when he realized the approaching figure wasn't wearing any sort of uniform. Instead he was dressed in long dark robes with a hood pulled up over his head and a mask. He approached all of them slowly...and Aiolos felt his heart skip a beat when the man addressed Saori by name and then proceeded to say that Saga was waiting for them. All Aiolos tentative plans collapsed and he felt himself grow faint. How did he find out? Did his spies get word to him that quickly, were we betrayed...? Half-formed questions ran through Aiolos's mind as he tired to make sense of what going on. Unbelievably it was Saori who answered his though, answering ones of Shun's question by saying she had sent a letter to Saga.

"What!?" He half shouted in disbelief. "You did...! What where you thinking Saori!?"

"I want to see how truly evil is with my own eyes." The young goddess said calmly. "If there's even the slightest chance that I can solve this without any bloodshed I will take it."

"He tired to kill you when you were a baby." Aiolos stammered out. "He's sent assassins after you! He's kidnapped you before!!! How can you even think he's anything but evil."

"I have to try." Saori said in that same maddeningly calm tone. "Enough Saints have died already. If this saves any lives, it will be worth it." An inarticulate noise made it's way from Aiolos throat. He whirled around and glared at the cloaked man.

"One wrong move and you die. Is that clear?" He growled at him.

"Very." The man said in a neutral voice. "Now if you will follow me?"

Aiolos watched the man closely, sure that he had been sent by Saga to do something. But much to the Sagittarius Saints disappointment the was actually leading them toward the twelve temples. Seiya grumbled something when they actually got near enough to the mountain for him to see that they would have to climb it. His complaints were interrupted by someone laughing. A very familiar voice called out to them...and Aiolos blinked in disbelief as Shiryu jumped down toward them. He moved very well for someone who was suppose to be blind. But Aiolos didn't spare any attention for the Dragon Saint. Glad as he was to know Shiryu was apparently fine, he was more concerned with their guide. He had tensed when Shiryu had jumped down. Apparently he hadn't know that the Dragon Saint was here, something that surprised Aiolos even more.

Where are all the guards? We should have at least seen someone as we came up here but I don't think I've seen another person since our guide showed up.

At last he lead them toward to the beginning of the twelve temples.

"This is the first temple." The man said point toward Aries.

"First?" Seiya said surprised. "What do you mean first."

"There are twelve temples." Aiolos explained impatiently. "Each one is guarded by a Gold Saint. The main temple at the top is where the Pope is."

"Correct." The man said. "But then again you are the Guardian of the Sagittarius Temple. And you would know that no one has ever made it past all twelve temples."

"If you know that much about me, you should also know that I am perfectly capable of leading them from here." Aiolos snapped. "Lets go Saori."

"But..." The goddess paused and looked back at the guide.

"Go ahead." The man said. "I was only suppose to guide you this far anyway." Aiolos pushed his goddess ahead of him gently, the others following behind. They were part up the stairs when there was a shout from behind them.

"I won't let you even reach that temple!" Aiolos whirled around to see the man shedding the mask and cloak to revealed that he was wearing a Cloth.

"Dammit!" Aiolos dropped his cloth box, but the man launched his attack before he could get his cloth. A rain of arrows headed toward them. Aiolos ducked several distinctly. Something's wrong... Out of the corner of his eyes he saw one of the arrows hit his cloth box...and then go right through it.

Illusions! Just as he realized that something all to solid whistled past his right ear. It took less than a second for him to realize where that arrow was headed.

"SAORI!" He turned and lunged after the arrow, reaching as far as he could go...he almost had it...then his hand closed on air as the missile slammed into his goddess chest.

The End of Chapter 14 -- Continued in Chapter 15

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