Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 186,164,154 Issue: 504 | 22nd day of Swimming, Y13
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Shooting Star Race


by blackghoulmon

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When I woke up, I took a long moment to reflect on the strange dream I had the previous night. But that long moment lasted longer than I thought it would, making my owner, BG, come to find out what was taking me so long to get out of bed.

     “You OK, Urasina?” he asked me from the doorway of the bedroom.

      I quickly came out of my thoughts and turned to look at him.

     “I think so,” I replied. “I just had a very strange dream last night.”

      BG came into the bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed. I snuggled up next to him as he began to pet me.

     “It wasn’t a nightmare, was it?” he asked next. “You didn’t wake up screaming like you usually do.”

     “No, it wasn’t a nightmare,” I answered thoughtfully. “I dreamed I was racing a shooting star across Meridell.”

      My owner seemed surprised.

     “How do you race a shooting star?” he questioned.

     “The star was flying overhead, rather slowly, while I ran along the ground trying to keep up with it,” I explained.

     “Who won the race?”

     “The star did. It was too far ahead of me by the time I woke up.”

      BG nodded.

     “I’ve never heard of a shooting star lasting that long, and going slow enough that a Uni like you could keep up with it,” he said after a moment.

     “That’s why it was such a strange dream to me,” I answered. “It almost felt like a message, rather than a dream...”

      My owner stood up. I got to my hooves and hopped off the bed to follow him.

     “Well, a dream is a dream, and hidden message or not, we might as well get on with the day,” he called back over his shoulder.

      As we got busy with my daily training, I quickly forgot about the dream.

     **********

      But that night, I had a very similar dream. Once more, I found myself racing a shooting star. This time, though, it was down the slopes of Terror Mountain. And again, the star won.

      When I told BG about it the next morning, he was greatly surprised.

     “It’s GOT to be a message of some kind!” I said, both excited and nervous at the prospect.

     “If you keep having that dream, keep letting me know,” my owner replied. “And take note of what land you’re racing it through.”

      The dreams kept coming. Soon I had raced that star through all the known Neopian lands, even through Maraqua, across Kreludor, and through the Space Station. Every time, though, the star won. The only land I hadn’t raced it through was my homeland of the Lost Desert. As I got ready for bed that night, I figured that I’d be racing through the sands in my dream.

      But I didn’t have the shooting star dream that night.

      I told BG first thing in the morning. He was clearly perplexed, as was I.

     “You didn’t race the star through the Lost Desert in your dreams...” he mused.

     “So maybe I’m supposed to race it for REAL?” I finished.

      BG shrugged.

     “I can’t answer that one,” he sighed. “We’ll just have to find out.”

     **********

      We finished my training for the day, then BG decided to work on the garden for a while. I helped him out, but kept glancing up to the sky. I felt kind of silly. Why was a set of dreams bothering me so much?

      Then, it happened. We were just putting the hose away when I looked up again...

      And THERE was the very same star from my dreams! It was moving at a Slorg’s pace, and almost directly overhead.

     “BG!” I squealed. “There’s the star! It’s real!”

      My owner looked up sharply. Just as he did so, the star began to accelerate.

     “That’s no ordinary shooting star,” he said.

      He looked me over.

     “It’s heading south, and I can tell you want to race it. Go give it everything you’ve got, my little one.”

      I neighed in excitement and broke into a rapid gallop. The star accelerated again, and the race was on!

     **********

      A long time ago, I was blessed by a mighty Light Faerie named Kouren. She watches over me at all times, and frequently appears to talk to me or grant me new Light magic skills. Thanks to her many blessings, as long as sunlight was touching my fur, I could keep running. I knew that I had to beat the star to the southern border of the Lost Desert, where the sand met the ocean. That would be as far as I could go, as I’m terrified of large bodies of water, so flying over it to continue the chase was pointless.

      I ran, and I ran, and I ran. I frequently glanced up at the sky to see where the star was. It was keeping pace with me. Or was I keeping pace with it? It didn’t matter; I focused and ran faster, using my Light magic to supercharge my body beyond the normal physical limits for a Uni.

      I was determined to win this race!

      Hours passed. The sun moved across the sky. And the star kept going. At times it would pull ahead of me, but I would miraculously catch up. And then there were times when I was ahead of it, but it would catch up to me. I almost felt like that star was taunting me, and I didn’t like it.

      I could sense the day passing, and see my shadow getting longer. I had been running since mid-morning, relying solely on my Light magic and absorbed sunlight to keep going. But as the sun began to touch the horizon, I could tell that I didn’t have much time left.

      The star was slightly ahead of me now. I pushed myself to my very limits in an attempt to catch up to it.

      But once the sun was halfway below the sand dunes, the ocean appeared before me.

      I skidded to a halt at the water’s edge. As I raised my head to the sky, I saw that, once again, I had lost the race. The star was now out over the ocean.

      I moved a safe distance away from the breaking waves and stared sadly up at the star. Only now did I realize my folly; I was nowhere near home, and while I could find my way back easy enough, once the sun went down, I’d have no power left. And BG probably had no clue where I was. It seemed that I’d have to spend the night alone on the beach.

      Talk about humiliating.

     “You win...” I sighed, feeling tears start to form in my eyes.

      I looked up to see where the star was now. To my surprise, it was gone.

     “Fine!” I bellowed. “Insult me! Rub it in that I’ve lost! Vanish to prove that you’re superior!”

      I sagged to the sand, almost completely out of power and ready to cry. But a sudden touch on my muzzle snapped me out of my depression.

      I found myself staring into the radiant face of Kouren.

     “But you didn’t lose, Urasina,” she said kindly, sitting down next to me. “You actually won.”

      I couldn’t believe what she was saying.

     “How?” I asked. “The star beat me.”

     “The star was just a test,” the Light Faerie replied. “It was there to test your determination.”

      I stared up at her. But what she said next really drove the point home.

     “I was that star,” my guardian went on. “I sent you those dreams to prepare you for this test. I knew you’d want to race the star... no, me... in reality, not in the dream world. I was testing your determination. I wanted to see if you really had the inner strength to chase me all day long.”

      I slowly took all that in. But I still couldn’t quite believe it.

     “But... why, Kouren?” I asked at last. “Why do something like that?”

      She smiled at me, and I felt a little better, being in her light.

     “You’ve been in many battles,” she said. “Very few Royal Girl Unis can do what you do. Yet as strong as you are, I wanted to show you that you can be stronger still. You just have to have the desire and determination to do so.”

      She pulled me into her lap and hugged me gently. I felt her Light magic flow through my weary body, granting me back the strength I had spent chasing her.

     “You truly won this race, Urasina,” Kouren finished. “Maybe you didn’t outrun me, but you proved that you’re more than capable of excelling beyond what you do now.”

      I sighed, feeling much better. But now I began to think about returning home.

      Kouren smiled, as she knew what I was thinking about. Not even two seconds later I heard the rumble of a spacecraft’s engine. It was BG, flying his two-man fighter, the Desert Guardian.

     “You told him to come pick me up?” I asked my guardian Faerie as the big metal machine landed nearby.

     “I did,” she answered as my owner climbed out of the fighter’s cockpit.

     “And she also told me about the test she put you through,” BG said as he crouched down beside us.

     “Did you know beforehand?” I questioned him.

     “No,” he responded. “Kouren contacted me about two hours after you started the race, telling me everything. She also guided me out here.”

      He gently picked me up and cradled me. I licked his face once, but I was too tired to do anything more.

     “I’ll come by tomorrow morning, Urasina,” Kouren said as she stood up. Then, with a graceful bow, she vanished.

      BG carried me over to the fighter, set me down on the co-pilot’s seat, and climbed in as well.

     “Let’s go home,” he said gently. “And you won’t have those shooting star dreams anymore. Kouren promised me.”

      I smiled and lay my head in his lap.

      And I fell asleep in a few seconds.

The End

 
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