Project Sidus:
The Final Zodiac
Chapter #3: Cards of Fate

    Celesta was walking through a dark forest, looking for the path that would lead her to the mysterious figure. "I know you're there! Please... tell me who you are!"
    Somehow, she didn't expect the forest to open up into a beautiful emerald field.  She gasped at the sight as she could see the ocean all around her as well as the green fields.  Obviously, she was in a different place but somehow, she knew this was where the Taurus drew its powers from.
    The beautiful green land.
    How ironic.
    "I..." She struggled to gather her thoughts, realizing that she had two different missions. One was to find this mysterious Taliesin and the even more mysterious figure. "Taliesin... is this your home?"
    The figure appeared in front of Celesta and sighed. "Yes, this is the home for blessed Tauruses. I suppose by now that you know I am an Cancer like you are."
    "You! You're here now..."
    "Yes, but this place is safe as it's shielded by Ireland's magic."
    "So, that's where we are?"
    "Yeah. The land's very powerful, indeed. Beautiful too."
    "Why are you hiding yourself from me?"
    "Hey, I can't let you know everything about me, yet. It's just going to be one of these things you have to find out on your own."
    "...that's not helpful!"
    "At least you have me to bug. I didn't have anyone. I was on my own. A group that never had the chance to form!"
    The figure chomped on a piece of strawberry pocky and vanished as Celesta groaned out loud, turning around.
    She slammed into a male body, taking her by surprise.
   "Huh? Who--what...?"
    She glanced up into his green eyes. Those eyes. They were the same color as the land. "...Taliesin?"
    "How do you know my name...? Who are you?"
    "I... well..." Celesta tried to gather her thoughts. "I'm just a dream walker."
    He smiled at her as the dream dissolved away to reveal the rudeness of the awakening world.    

    The alarm interrupted Celesta's dream as she grunted in anger and knocked the clock off the table. "DAMNIT! I was so close... Taliesin, I'm going to have to meet you."
    For the very first time in Celesta's sophomore year of high school, she was going to wear a skirt!  She plowed into her closet, tossing everything out until she could find the right outfit.  One blouse flew towards Turn A Gundam model and it fell off the shelf, bonking Celesta on the head.  She cursed and picked up the model, placing it back where it was.  She paused for a second and promptly bugged out.
    "WHY THE HELL AM I WORRYING FOR!? It's not like he's the type to care about looks. Pfft." She started to put the clothes back while cursing under her breath again. "I guess I'll just try to look nice... maybe a light purple shirt with my hair in a braid..."
    So much for the idea of Celesta wearing a skirt for the first time since elementary school... maybe next year.

    "Wow, you look nice today. What's the occasion, Celes?" Vanessa glanced at Celesta who seemed to be mumbling angrily. "What's wrong?"
    "I was gonna wear a skirt, but I can't find it. Plus, I'm like, why did I just pull a silly typical girl act?"
    "You mean, you wanted to impress Taliesin?"
    "Yeah, but... if he's a perfect gentleman, he won't care about looks."
    "You still dressed up nice. Guys are staring."
    "Bah, I shouldn't have chosen this purple shirt. It's too tight."
    "They've always been looking at you."
    "Yeah right. So, what's up with Lillian?"
    "Well, I dunno... I haven't spoken to her today... OH, Celesta! I'm going to bug the student council and see if they can organize a Halloween dance."
    "A Halloween dance? That'd be a first."
    "Yup! We're going to rearrange the dances this year... so no more boring dances. This Halloween dance will be a combination of Fall Homecoming and costume party."
    "Oooh... sounds cool. Maybe I can finally put that opera dress I made to a good use."
    "Huh? You made an opera dress? That'd have to be really hard..."
    "Nope, when you have the almost the same name as a cool character, you have to be like her, no matter what. I'm going to be like Celes Chere! I love the Amano artwork of her and... oh, the FMV's!"
    "You're such a RPG freak, aren't you?"
    "Proud of it! And I'm wondering... if you get the Halloween dance going... are you going to be like, Ness?"
    Vanessa sweatdropped. "Er, I didn't have enough time to play Earthbound with all the homework."
    "You should. It's really fun. Many Mr. T clones running around." Vanessa stared at Celesta in disbelief. "Well, yes, it's true. There's also funky stuff in it."
    "You're really a RPG freak. You know so much more about this than any of the guys in the gifted program. You and Taliesin would be talking all the time... if he ever talks."
    "Eh?" She glanced at Vanessa, a bit surprised.
    "He doesn't really talk to people. It's like he has a brick wall all around him... so it's hard to get through."
    "Huh... well, no job is too impossible for Celes Chere! So, is he in any of your classes?"
    "Yes. This hour... Algebra two."
    "..." Celesta's forehead turned blue. "Algebra... two?"
    "Yes, what about it? Don't tell me that you suck at math? This is also your best chance to get Taliesin to tutor you."
    "Eheheh. Okay..." Celesta peered into the room. "Huh?"
    The room seemed to contain quite few students goofing off, but there was no sight of the red-head genius.  Vanessa frowned and looked back at Celesta.  Celesta could only sweat drop because she hadn't expected this to happen.
    "Well, this is odd, Taliesin's not here... but then again, we're pretty early. Anyways... ACK!" Vanessa fell over from the impact of having a book thrown at her head.
    Celesta's eyes widened in horror as she saw Vanessa's true temper.  Her eyes darkened as she stood up while picking up the book and turned around to the boy who had thrown it.  The book looked as if it could have melted in her hand at that moment. Even better, it'd have crumbled into dust.
Her voice turned from friendly to icy cold in an instant as she walked up to him. "Gabriel. I thought you had better manners than that." She slammed the book in his face as hard as he had thrown it. "That's for the headache. Thank you so much."
    Gabriel rubbed his nose and laughed softly. "Amazingly, you didn't make it bleed this time. Nessie, who's the chick? She's cute!"
    Celesta looked very stunned and it could be read on her face that she did not want to be hit on... especially since she was ignored by boys in middle school and the first year of high school. So why the attention now?
    Vanessa casually ignored him and whispered to Celesta. "He's a doof. Don't pay attention to him."
    "Huh. Odd, he knows you." She whispered back, shaking slightly.
    "I was best friends with his twin sister who died in 8th grade from a car accident. Ever since, he's been acting like something of a jerk and a class clown... and the idiot's in the gifted."
    "Okay, if the kids that aren't in the gifted are weird... that makes the kids in the gifted worse?"
    "Pretty much... say, Celesta, what are you going to do at lunch?"
    "Do some more research on the project."
    "What's the project about, cutie?" Gabriel suddenly showed up at Celesta's side, leaning on her.
    "Eek." Celesta promptly bugged out as Vanessa yelped angrily.
    "None of your business, Gabe. I'm only helping her with a history project. Get lost, you're going to scare her."
    "What, she's not used to being hit on?"
    "I shall pull a Squall Leonhart." Everyone stared at her. "...whatever." Celesta bolted away as quickly as she could and Vanessa gave Gabriel a dirty look that would melt anything in sight, even the power of cheese.
    "You have such a wonderful way of flirting with girls."
    "It's one of my wonderful Gemini traits."
    "..." Vanessa froze for a second then dismissed the ridiculous notion of Gabe being the Gemini due to the fact that she could not stand him. "Uh-huh, sure... I can see that... and you annoy me." She kept warding off the images in her head as she flailed her arms.
    "Yes, but you love it, don't you?"
    "I'll rather kiss a goat than some stupid twin."
    "Ouch." Gabriel muttered and wandered in the class, holding his side as if it was wounded deeply.  Vanessa could only shake her head in disbelief.
    "You rank the number one moron on the list."
    "Ouch again."
    "...seriously. We stopped being friends because you just couldn't cope with losing your sister. The way you react to everyone and people around you is rather more than irritating, Gabriel!"
    He winced.

    "Celes, you alright? I'm so sorry about what happened earlier." Vanessa sighed. "I didn't know he would hit on you."
    Celesta mumbled while gnawing on her sandwich. "It's ok... I'm just not used to being hit on."
    "Anyways, I doubt he'll bother you."
    "I hope. Anyways, what's up with him? Why is he acting like that...?"
    "I'm sure his brain is non-existent... but then again, the fact that he's in the gifted is a major oxymoron."
    "I see."
    A red-haired male walked by the two as Celesta snapped to attention and tipped off her seat, crashing to the ground.  Vanessa barely had a chance to catch Celesta as the crash resounded through the room.  It didn't take very long for the popular teenagers to start pointing and laughing.  Their laughter quickly stopped once Vanessa shot an angry glare in their direction.
    "Huh." She scoffed and turned to Celesta. "You alright?"
    "Yeah, I'm fine... I got distracted. Meh, stupid popular girls... they always have to pick on me. Just because I'm SO much gorgeous than they are! I am composed of virtually no plastics and all that crap."
    Vanessa shook her head, chuckling at Celesta's comment. "You're pretty much right on the target, but it's unfortunate that I have to be friends with them because one of them is... UGH... my younger sister."
    A flash back of Vanessa staring at her younger sister and scowling at her for her useful choice in clothes and friends appeared out of nowhere in her head.
    "Ouch!" Celesta winched as Vanessa nodded sadly. "I'd hate to be related to popular people... because, what do they know about caring? They're so focused into clichés."
    "Mmm... most of them are... but I'm sure there's some of them who put it up as an act."
    "I'd like to meet them... assuming they exist."
    "I'm sure they do."
    "They're good at hiding..." The bell interrupted Celesta. "Oh no... lunch's over."
    "Anyways, I gotta go to my Chemistry class. Talk to you later, Celes."
    "Yeah... ya too, Ness."

    Celesta wandered into the N-hall as she bumped into a girl running from the other side of the hall.  She yelped and fell over along with the girl.
    "Ouch! Chaos, is that you?"
    "Huh? Yeah, hi Celes! Sorry about that..."
    "Bullies after you again?"
    "Yeah, being in the School Band SUCKS!"
    Celesta winced at Chaos' statement because she knew the Southeast High School Band to be chock-filled with odd individuals and whatsoever.  The fact that Chaos was in the band didn't help her out any because she was instantly smacked with the label of "Band Geek".
    "Only if my parents would stop bugging me about being in a band. It sucks being Chinese sometimes... along with being a band geek."
    "Don't worry, Chaos." Celesta hugged her. "You'll survive like always."
    "Yeah. Anyway, I gotta go. Talk to you later."
    "Bye." Celesta sighed while watching Chaos dart back to the band room as she pondered to herself.  It seemed as though as Taliesin would never leave her mind as long as she remembered every details of the dream.  She wondered if he was able to connect to her that easily...?  Something at her mind nagged at her strongly about what she had read in the zodiac book few days ago that Taurus and Cancer were one of the ultimate perfect couple.  Celesta groaned to herself and muttered for a while as she made to her art class. Maybe she should ask that Cancer mentor about its love life? Nah.
    Several kids blinked at Celesta's presence and started to crowd around her, begging for some art requests.  She laughed nervously for few minutes and told them that she'll have them all done on Friday.  They cheered out loudly and darted back to her seats as she sighed, walking over to her seat besides the hearing impaired student.  She wrote down the requests on a piece of paper to remind herself later as she looked over to the student.
    "Hi! How are you today?" She signed.
    "Fine, thanks, Celes."
    The teacher pulled out the boxes containing the art materials. "Ok, today, we're going to finish working on the clay whistles." She placed the boxes on each table as the teenagers went over to the cabinet to retrieve their clay pieces.
    Celesta pulled out the piece that seemed to be shaped in the form of a crab and smiled to herself... she would put the finishing piece on the shell... the zodiac sign of Cancer.

    Lillian sighed to herself as Angelo walked with her in the empty hall towards the library.  Angelo rose an eyebrow but shrugged as he shifted the backpack hanging onto his shoulder.
    "What's on your mind?"
    "Everything... I mean, it's just so odd..."
    "That I'm the destined leader... to follow in my mother's footsteps... to lead this group. I wonder if I can ask someone from a earlier generation for help."
    "That is if they're still around... I must admit, some of the earlier generations have either died or gone into hiding."
    "We should start the search to find them... but first, I need to talk to my uncle. I know he's not telling me everything! I can feel it but... I just can't figure out what it is."  She bit on her thumbnail as she struggled to think about the mystery.  True, he had been acting strange the minute they had moved back to Wichita.  Even worse, he was the one who decided to put her in that very same high school that he and her parents attended.
    To think of it, why did she not notice it?
    Why this particular high school?

    "..." Citan dug through the books in the attic. "There has to be something..." His hand brushed over the diary as he stopped, pausing.  He stared at it for few minutes trying to recognize the handwriting and realized it was Anna's.

    "Citan... my life's in danger. I realize that now." Anna paced around the room, rubbing the side of her head.  She stopped then stepped towards Citan, shoving the book into his hand. "Take this diary. Do not open until Lillian starts to develop her powers. I wrote in this diary ever since I got my powers... it will guide her for her destiny."
    "Anna... you sound like you're going to die any time! This is just insane!"
    "But you know it's true. The Cusps won't stop until all of my generation is dead. All. Now I have to get ready to go to Oklahoma City and see if I can track down this lead."
    "Take care, Anna."
    Anna started to walk out of the door and stopped.  She turned around slowly and spoke in a tone that sounded as if her heart was breaking. "Whatever happens... you have to take care of Lillian. This is your duty."

    He ran his fingers over the book and broke into tears, remembering hearing the news of the bombing.  He knew that his life had returned to its path once Anna and Thomas died.
    "I still remember my duty. I've been following it... but... I'm so scared. Even if the bombing wasn't associated with The Cusps... what if they kill Lillian? She's the leader of the last generation... no more will follow."
    Citan wiped the sweat away from his head and tried to keep himself from sobbing.  A memory had surfaced at the worst point... where every members were present in his mind... including the girl he loved, Minerva.  He opened the trunk and removed the picture of everyone, sighing sadly.  On bottom of the picture, it read: Project Sidus of 1980 and he examined the picture thoroughly as he flipped it over.
    13 members of Project Sidus.
His heart ached at the memory as he knew the sad truth.  Also, he wasn't sure if Lillian wanted to hear about the 13th member.  Still, she did need this knowledge just in case...

    "What's wrong?"
    Lillian rubbed her head, gritting her teeth. "We must get everyone now. This is important."
    "Alright... but I don't want to leave you here by yourself."
    "I'll be fine... by myself."
    "Your uncle said that there are people out there who want to kill us."
    "That's right... I wonder if I can try to tune in..." Lillian shut her eyes and forced a thought out from within her body as if her body was screaming in pain from the experience.


    Lillian suddenly collapsed as Angelo grabbed her. "Lillian... that was one powerful thought... Lillian? LILLIAN!!?"

    "That fool!" The Cancerian Mentor hissed to herself. "So loud...!"
    Her hand shot out as the cancer constellation glowed brightly while she furiously created few gestures to seal the message before any of the cusp could hear it.
    She would not let this group be destroyed, no matter what.

    "Oh!" Celesta stood up. "My head... I need to go to the nurse's office! I'll be back!"
    She rushed out of the room as the students looked baffled and the teacher sighed.  Of course, they could only assume it was a nasty case of vertigo which Celesta tended to get when she was suffering from allergies.  The teacher looked back up at the class.
    "Since Celesta has decided to leave, you may go on with your assignments."
    The teacher walked over to the crab that Celesta had left on the table and picked it up.  She looked at the note besides where the crab was on the table.
    The crab's finished, so you can just have it be boiled. Although, I'd like to be able to paint it afterwards. --Celes

    Vanessa grimaced slightly as she struggled to make her way over to the office, as she crashed into Gabriel who seemed to be in pain also.
    "Going to the nurse's office? Man, I have one killer headache..."
    "So do I..."
    Vanessa suddenly got the evil thought about Gabriel being Gemini and actually forgot to contain her frustration within.
    Gabriel fell over at the force of Vanessa's frustration. "...You know I am one according to my birthdate and that I had a twin..."

    "Chaos... what is that racket?"
    Chaos yelled out and fell off the stands, cowering in pain. "My head..."
    "Take her to the nurse... I hope nothing's wrong with her..."
    Chaos jumped back to her feet. "Woah, hey! I'm fine. Seeya later, teacher an' guys!"  She darted out of the room, thanking her freedom.
    "I hate the band!" She muttered to herself as she darted through the large space in the hall where the pop and food machines were.
    Suddenly, she stopped and looked back down the hall where the "fine" arts were.
    "Oh man, that was creepy. I felt as if someone was watching me... oh man..."
    As Chaos turned her back on, the figure slid out from the hiding place and grinned evilly.  "So, that's a Zodiac, then...?"

    Soon after, Angelo placed Lillian on the bed as he stood up, staring at the newcomers in utter disbelief.  The nurse seemed to be very confused with the ones who were complaining of headaches.
    "Wait, wait, how come we have so many people with headaches?" Ms. Pearce looked confused at some of the kids walking into the room. "Allergies?"
    That got a united reply as she sighed and went into her office to examine the charts.  Several of the students took their seats or laid down on some of the beds in the cramped room.
    "Lillian?" Vanessa grimaced, hanging onto Gabriel's shoulder as she looked at Angelo. "Is she alright?"
    "No idea... she just fell."
    "Celesta...?" Chaos was sitting in one chair, surprised at her presence. "You got a killer headache too?"
    "Yeah..." Celesta turned around as Taliesin walked in.  Her heart soared as she felt weak at her legs and promptly fainted.
    "Oh geez." Gabriel muttered. "Another one down. I must be getting good."
    That got a slug to the shoulder.
    "Behave, you moron." Vanessa growled as she pushed herself off Gabriel's wounded shoulder.
    "..." Taliesin shrugged and picked up Celesta, trying to nudge her awake.
    Lillian stirred slowly as Angelo knelt down besides her. "You alright?"
    "Yeah... who are they?"
    Gabriel scoffed. "Gemini."
    "You are not." Vanessa scowled back at him."
    "Are so."
    "Are not."
    The two bickered away while the rest sighed loudly.
    "Aquarius." Chaos waved cheerily in despite of her pain.
    "Taurus." Taliesin looked down at Celesta as a feeling of realization overcame him.  He had seen her face... but he couldn't remember where she came from.
    "So the others haven't responded..." Lillian tried to shove away the sinking feeling that was plaguing her. "Um... excuse me..."
    She bolted over the bathroom as the door slammed shut.  Those who were standing next to the bathroom moved VERY quickly.
    "Man, what's up with her? OW!" Gabriel rubbed his side. "Vanessa, you did not have to hit me."
    "Yes, I did. Be more sensitive, you jerk."
    "Hmm." Chaos looked all around herself. "I think she might've reacted to the fact that there's some of us... not present."
    "It's possible the others haven't woken up yet. Everyone... are you discovering some kind of weird abilities?" Angelo glanced at the newcomers.
    "Sort of." Gabriel sighed. "I saw Gabrielle."
    Everyone froze and looked at him as Vanessa's mouth dropped open. "You saw her?"
    "I saw her. Soon as you left me in the hall..."

    "You jerk!" Vanessa shoved away Gabriel and walked into the classroom as Taliesin slipped into the room quietly.
    Gabriel mumbled to himself as he froze in his tracks.  Mist was billowing in out of nowhere, all around him as the hall lights dimmed.
    "Brother... brother!"
    "Gabrielle? Is it you...?" He walked towards his twin sister. "Are you really back?"
    "No... but I had to tell you this. Gabe, people are after you... dangerous people. I was killed because they thought I was Gemini... but... you are Gemini."
    "Me?! What are you talking about?"
    "The dead Zodiacs have spoken to me. They told me of so many things... this is my only chance to speak to you! You must find Leo and the others!"
    Suddenly, everything reverted back to normal as Gabriel dropped to his knees and started to cry underneath his breath. "Gabrielle..."

    "I didn't believe it at first, but when I got that message... I knew. Vanessa, I'm sorry for behaving like a jerk, really, I am."
    Vanessa looked like she was still in shock from Gabriel apologizing to her. "Seriously?"
    "Yeah, I am. Friends?"
    "Alright... but... promise me one thing."
    "What's that?"
    "Drop your dork act."
    "You sure?"
    "I'll see it when I believe it."
    The two seemed to be in a staring match while Angelo sweat dropped and knocked on the bathroom door. "Lillian? Are you alright?"
    "I think." Lillian shivered slightly.  She was very lucky not have been able to throw up but she felt like she was so close to. Her stomach felt very unbalanced by all the sensations that assaulted her. "I'll be alright with some cold water."
    "Okay." Angelo sighed.
    The door slammed wide open at full impact, causing almost everyone to jump.  Lillian had seemed to recover from the sudden attack of nausea and her eyes looked different... as if they had fire brewing inside.
    "We're going now."
    "But!" Chaos protested. "We can't just leave school... I mean, it's not even the 8th hour yet!"
    "Well, I could always say that we decided to go home early because of the headaches." Vanessa exhaled. "That way we don't have to worry..." She walked over to the nurse's office to let Ms. Pearce know of the situation.
    Celesta opened her eyes and blinked as she realized that she was staring into a pair of green eyes. "Huh...?"
    "Hi to you too."
    "Hello... umm... could you put me down?"
    Taliesin gently placed Celesta on her feet as she stumbled a bit, but got a hold of herself.  There was a large wave of red on Celesta's face as her heart started to pound with the tingly feeling of being so close to her crush.
    "I should introduce myself. I'm Taliesin."
    "Nice to meet you. I'm Celesta... eheh, you can call me Celes..."
    "Final Fantasy VI, huh?"
    "Yup!" Celesta blushed slightly. "My favorite game, oh, by the way... I heard from Vanessa that you love video games."
    "Well, that's true."
    Gabriel twitched. That conversation was just too mushy. He froze at the sound of heels coming in his direction as he stared at the new teenager girl.  His twitch promptly got worse.
    "Who are you." He replied with much sarcasm.
    " don't know who I am?" The girl spat angrily. "I'm one of the popular girls! What an insult!"
    "Well, sorry, I don't pay attention to popular girls because they're out of my league." Gabriel retorted. "They have nothing in their heads that qualifies them to be intelligent!"
    Except that was a lie. He did like one but...
    That was another story for another time.
    "Oh, hi, Shanna." Vanessa blinked as she walked out of the office. "What brings you here?"
    "Flu. I can't believe a guy was so rude to me." Shanna scoffed. "If I was his mother, I'd slap some sense into him."
    Gabriel twitched violently as Vanessa groaned, smacking her forehead. "Just ignore Gabriel. He's been twitchy lately."
    "..." Shanna glanced over her shoulder. "Whew."
    "I need to be away from my overwhelmingly loyal crowd at times. They're giving me a headache complete with this flu. I'm going to go and lie down." She walked over to one of the empty beds and glanced over her shoulder. "By the way, I would like it very much if I have some of my private space. They're so hard to get nowadays."
    "..." The group stared at her and shuffled away until the "Royal Queen" had enough of space, unfortunately, that left them with no room to move.
    "You know, you're soooooo....*SMACK*" While Gabriel was twitching he got smacked in the face by Vanessa who promptly told him to shut up.
    "Anyway, we're leaving right now. Pronto."
    "What for!?" He yelled at her and got another smack to his head.  Poor Gabriel, being very much abused by a really irritated Vanessa, but then again, he brought it upon himself for being so twitchy.
    "I did!"
    "You didn't!"
    The whole thing went downhill as Chaos rolled her eyes and dragged the two bickering teenagers out of the nurse's office as everyone sneaked out too.
    Shanna blinked at the whole process and sighed quietly. They seem to be so close. Only if I had real friends like them... I hate keeping up this nasty illusion. God, I really hate being rich too. Nothing but trouble... why is my mother forcing me to be someone I'm not...? She shook her head and laid back on the bed, wondering about how she got struck by such a painful headache.  Someone had called out to her but since something within wasn't quite all there... it was just muffled. Either that or she's just going crazy from the stress brought upon her by having to keep up the popular image and the fact that her mother wouldn't stop until she's achieved her goal.
    She sighed and slumped on the bed, staring at the floor.
    "Why is my mother trying so hard to make me Ophiuchus?"

    "Uncle!" Lillian called out as she unlocked the back door so everyone could get inside. "Uncle...? Uncle? Where are you...?"
    The store was unusually closed and dark... just too early for this kind of thing.  She frowned and looked upstairs, staring at the open attic door.
    "It's too quiet... feels like there's something unusually wrong." Celesta whimpered softly while shivering. "It's so cold in here."
    Thoughts of fear of her uncle being dead surged through her mind as she shrieked out loudly. "UNCLE!!" Before anyone could stop her, she took off with incredible speed towards the attic.
    "She should try out for track." Gabriel blinked. "That was fast."
    Vanessa scowled at him as they all rushed after her but they weren't prepared for the sight of Citan staring ahead as if he was... not all there.  Somehow, it seemed like he had gone into shock and never returned as Lillian looked down at the picture that he had in his hand.
    "Uncle? What is this?" She started to take the picture away but his grip on the picture became stronger as he spoke. What he said under his breath for only her to hear made Lillian step back away in shock as she pointed at him.  "YOU! Why didn't you tell me you were a cusp?!"
    Now that accusation got everyone to react in utter shock as they stared at Citan.  How could a nice guy like him turn out to be a cusp...? Weren't the Cusps evil? Weren't they out to kill the Zodiacs? What the hell was going on!?  The man sighed and shook his head.
    "Let me explain. I am a cusp, yes... but I am a rare one. I am the one of those who believes in peace. I happened to be the 13th sign of my generation. Now... since I was found very early... no one worried."
    "Because I didn't have the evil thoughts or desires. I suppose that's because my own brother was a Zodiac. I never felt any hatred for him at all. I forgot all about it... I wanted to forgot so badly because... I'm so ashamed of the Cusps and this war. Since all of you... are the last generation of the Zodiac. I and another person have been assigned to this task to protect this generation because we're the survivors."
    "How long has this war been going on?" Chaos asked out loud, nervous about the whole thing.  She was really taken off-guard by the mental message and now this.  This wasn't just normal for her... but somehow, she knew that it was to be. No way to avoid this fate. Maybe that would explain why she felt as if she was being followed earlier. "I want to know, really. Twenty years?"
    He chuckled and sadness echoed through his eyes as he spoke once again. "More than that. More than a mere century. It's been going on before the Greeks... but no one knows where it truly started." That really got their attention... a war this long?! "It started because the Cusps wanted to be known as the separate signs... they didn't want to be known as half this... half that. They wanted their own name and personalities... but that was never to be. There might have been miscommunication somewhere along the lines and war simply broke out. Somehow, it was always the Cusps who remained the victor for the Zodiac were unable to counter the combination. Throughout the years, it's always have been assumed that the Cusp have been the cause behind all wars."
    "So we're fighting a losing battle? For this many years?" Gabriel scowled. "Why do we even bother to try?"
    "We've gained very few victories... and that's enough for us to go on. After all, the war of the Zodiac and Cusp is very similar to the Civil War. The similarity of that is very creepy and disturbing, yes. After all, the Civil War was also a part of the very same war."
    "So how come are you telling us all of this now?" Lillian looked very annoyed with the secrets. "Why haven't  you told us earlier?"
    "I wanted to wait until everyone were here... but... it seems that the others haven't waken up yet. You will explain this to them, because you are the leader."
    "Do I have to assume the role of deciding who lives or dies in this war?! I only want to be a teenager... the fact that you told me this has been an eternal battle... oh god. How could you?"
    "Exactly the same thing your mother said. She wanted no part of it... then again, she was given no choice. None of you do. I know there's unwanted pressure because the fact that the Zodiac is about to give up. You are the last hope to attain the peace... thus, the group name is... Project Sidus: Final Zodiac."
    Everyone shifted nervously at the feeling that they had to carry out a task greater than they thought it would be.  How could they ever deal with something like this?  It's bad enough being a teenager in a high school with clichés and all the SILLY rules that meant nothing.
    "So, we went from being teenagers to being the last hope? What for? I mean, what would happen if we gave up?"
    "The Zodiac stars would be destroyed. Those who are the true Zodiac will die."
    "WHAT?! They would dare to destroy? Everything...?"
    "Yes, they would. They want everyone who's against them out of the way. I know this isn't easy, but you're safe at school."
    "No, we're not." Everyone looked at Chaos as she walked forwards. "I felt like I was being followed from the band. I don't know why, but... I don't think we are."
    "Then it is as I feared. The cusps have begun to waken too. We have to hope the the thirteenth sign of this generation doesn't turn against us."
    "Hey, wait...!" Angelo crossed his arms. "Why do we have to be afraid of them? Besides, isn't there any way we could find the previous generation and ask them for help."
    Citan blinked at Angelo's suggestion and pulled a book out of the chest. "Yes, that's what I was hoping you would ask. However, as I said, the previous generation is Celesta's mentor. I cannot say any more on this subject. It is Celesta's journey."
    Celesta whined. "The mentor is so hard to find..."
    "Hold it, why does Celesta have a mentor?" Gabriel said. "Why don't we have ones?"
    "Even if you guys had mentors, they're incredibly hard to come by."
    "They're a rare breed. They're the Zodiac Witches."
    "Zodiac Witches...?" Lillian asked.
    "Yes. Zodiac Witches. They have been blessed by the stars and often have a birth mark in form of the zodiac constellations on their bodies. They're also very powerful which is the reason why we've been able to hold our own against the cusp. They do not have anything like ours which is why they're so afraid. Yes, they've been able to win their own battles, but they would flee the minute a Zodiac Witch would appear."
    "So. With that question answered, what about the council, uncle?"
    "Ah! The Council of Elders. A well kept secret. They're made up of various generations. Some shockingly ancient, some young..."
    "Why are you telling us this if it's a secret?" Gabriel replied and swiftly dodged Vanessa's incoming hand.
    Everyone stared at Gabriel, dumbfounded at what he said.  Citan sighed and flipped through the pages of the book as Celesta sneaked over to Chaos.
    "Psst! In the hall."
    "Huh? Oh."

    "Okay, Chaos, so what's up with you being followed?" Celesta leaned on the wall. "Do you know who was following you?"
    "No... but I suspect it's the same twerp that's in band. I mean, he's uber creepy... and he has this presence where he's looming on everyone..." She gripped on the edges of her hat and whimpered.
    "Well, you're developing powers, right?"
    "A bit, yeah... but..."
    "Honestly, did you hear what that guy said? About the Zodiacs having problems fending off the Cusps because of the powerful blend of powers? That's scary."
    "Not really. You just gotta believe in yourself. They can be beaten if we know their weakness... they have two times the weaknesses as they have two times the strengths. We have the upper hand... we don't have as many weaknesses as they do. Also, my mentor will kick their butts if they came after us anyway!"
    "Really, Celes?"
    "Yeah. So there's like no need to worry."
    "Hey." They turned around and looked at Angelo. "Come on, let's get back inside. Lillian wants to say something."

    Everyone stood around in a circle of some sorts, looking up at Lillian for advice.  Her face was blank and her fists started to clench as she rose her head.
    "This is it. The decision. We're going to fight the cusps. We're not gonna die. We're gonna live. Right, everyone?" She received replies of agreement as she nodded. "Alright. We're going to have to find the previous generation and ask them for advice. Then we're gonna have to keep on looking for the other Zodiacs. We have to find Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Pisces..." She paused and looked up. "And Serpentarius. We have to beat the cusps to Serpentarius."
    "So you're ready for all of this?" Citan asked the teenagers who were fidgeting slightly. "Everyone?"
    There were mumbles of yeah and nods and such.
    "Good. Nothing worse than unprepared people. Everyone, you may go on home and think this over."
    Again, mumbles of alright, okay, and sure.  Soon, the teenagers wandered out of the attic as Citan stared down at the picture.
    "Minerva... only if you were alive. I'd like to be able to talk to you again."
    Lillian paused and turned around. "Who's Minerva...?"
    "A Zodiac girl who I loved... she was Libra. She died before she could graduate from college."
    "I'll tell you later... she was the first one to die... afterwards, everyone had to split. Lillian, I don't want to worry you. You can do it. You'll be strong enough."
    "Alright, uncle."
    Lillian watched helplessly as her uncle started to put everything back inside the box.  She sighed and turned towards the stairs as her teeth ground.  She knew it wasn't fair of her to be thrown into this situation... but  now it was up to her to fight or die.  She thought she had a normal life. Apparently not. From now on, she'll never have a normal life... ever.  Her thoughts suddenly turned to her newfound friends... they too, were thrown into this.  She'll have to protect them from everything as long as she lived. No one was gonna die when she was around!
    The teenager shoved the door open and tried to think back to the time when she lost her parents.  She also aware that she was probably not the only one who had lost her parents to a massive tragedy like OKC bombing or the infamous 9-11.  She had taken it badly with the OKC bombing, but 9-11 had her very frightened.  Ever since 9-11 happened, it made her nightmares worse and only up to now, they had stopped.
    "Damnit! I should've asked Celesta... she'd have known what this meant... guess I'll ask her another day." Lillian kicked her shoes off and got onto her bed with a nagging thought poking at her. "...Uncle Citan... I hope you're alright."
    Sighing, she put her hands behind her head as she struggled to focus on the task ahead of her. Hopefully, she wouldn't get too terribly stressed out from this mission. Hope... so much of it floating around lately... but... it can be easily wiped out like a candle's flame.

    In a room with a small lamp as the only source of the light in this darkness... on the desk, there was tarot cards laid out in their respective positions.  Fingers walked over to one of the cards and flipped the last card over.  The card seemed to have a picture of a tower... also, it seemed that the card was upside down.
    "...I'm going to be surrounded by more difficulties? Why am I running into so many problems?"
    The owner of the voice started to study the cards in depth and she instantly slammed her hands over her face.  Tears started to flow as she wondered if she could ever really escape from this miserable prison of horrors.

To be Continued
"Don't judge by the cover"