I had a thought one day... what if Slayer's souls are immortal, and they're constantly being "recycled" back into new bodies, girls who are "Pre-Slayers"? What could that mean for the Slayers we know, who have passed on...?
Of course, when I posted this little wisp of a story to the Sunnydale Slayers mailing list, the unanimous chorus was, "Where's the rest of the story?!" (Sigh!)
I have started the continuation of Kendall's story, but so far, haven't been able to bring it to a successful conclusion. Maybe if the story has some new readers, and they have comments for me that may spark something...? (That's what's called a "hint", people!) GRIN!
Kenni leaned forward over Bete Noir's neck, her whole being concentrated on the jump. She felt the horse's muscles bunch under her thighs, and she lifted herself up in the saddle in preparation. As they left the ground together, she could tell that they were going to clear the fence in a perfect jump. She closed her eyes, grinning in sheer delight, enjoying the feeling of being airborne, and completely trusting her mount to get her safely to ground again.
She opened her eyes as she felt Bete's hooves thud against the dirt of the jump ring, and they trotted over to where Petherington, her trainer, waited to critique her form. She listened intently, her eyes on her coach's, nodding from time to time as she listened to his advice. Finishing, he grinned at her, and stroked the horse's neck. "You two really do make a marvelous team. You're already better than most of the riders in the young jumpers class. By the time you're old enough to join the Equestrian Team, you'll be yards beyond them."
She grinned again, and ducked her head, shyly twining her fingers in Bete's mane. She was a little embarrassed by her trainer's praise. He was new, having only recently replaced Jack Watkins, the trainer she'd had since she was first able to sit a horse. Her family had high hopes for the new trainer, and he'd come from England with great recommendations, but Kenni was still getting used to him. She wasn't used to getting such praise — Jack had communicated his instructions almost monosyllabically.
"I'd like you to try the water jump one more time. Try to get a little more depth this time." She nodded, and circled Bete around to head toward the jump at the other end of the oval ring.
They gathered speed, and Kenni settled into her seat, easily controlling her horse's stride with a strong grip on the reins. They reached their jump point, and took off. Kenni was pleased — she could tell they were going to clear the water with more space than they had the last time — when suddenly the saddle underneath her was loose, and she was falling.
It was like time slowed down to a crawl. As she left the horse's back, she could see quite clearly that they had cleared the fence and the water, and she was going to land instead on the hard-packed earth beyond the shallow pool of water. Instinctively, she tucked her head down between her shoulders, and hit the ground rolling, trying desperately to avoid falling under her horse's hooves.
She stopped rolling, and immediately got to her feet. She ran to Bete, checking quickly to be sure that her horse was all right. Bete Noir whinnied and nosed her shoulder, upset. It had been a long time since she'd fallen, having a natural ability to sit even the most fractious horse, and Bete knew something was wrong. She threw her arms around his neck and buried her face in his black mane, comforting him, as Petherington ran up to them.
"Kendall, are you all right?" he asked, gently feeling her back and arms and legs for breaks or sprains. He was relieved to note that there didn't seem to be anything wrong with the girl.
"I'm fine," she said, her voice muffled against the horse. She suddenly looked up, realizing the saddle was no longer on Bete. "What happened? Where's the saddle?"
Petherington looked worried, and said, "I noticed last week that the girth straps were looking a little worn, and meant to replace them soon. I never would have let you jump if I'd known they were that worn."
Kenni looked around, and saw the saddle lying half in the water of the jump. She started toward the saddle, meaning to check it out. Petherington stopped her, and said, "Leave it — I'll replace the straps tonight. Tell you what, why don't we go shopping for a new jump saddle this weekend? You've outgrown that one anyway." He looked at her face, pale with shock from the fall, and said gently, "Why don't you and Bete go off for a ride to relax? We've done enough work for today, anyway."
Kenni and Bete paced slowly up the path to the top of the hill. They reached the crest of the low hill, and stopped. Kenni breathed deeply, trying to relax. This was her favorite place; it was quiet and peaceful, unlike the ranch. She liked to stand here at the top, where she could feel the warmth of the sun on her shoulders even on the coldest days. This is where she came to think about things, and she enjoyed the view of the sunrises and sunsets over her family's horse ranch. She loved her family, and had few complaints about her life. Most of her complaints revolved around the number of chores she had to do, being part of a large working farm. But on the plus side, she got to do plenty of what she loved most, riding horses. And she was good at it, a fact that the large number of trophies and ribbons displayed in the family room testified to. She sat, enjoying the late summer sunlight, and reflected on how lucky she really was.
"I'm sure now that she's the one. But there isn't anything we can do at this juncture."
"Why not? We have to start training her — she's already thirteen, and we have done nothing to prepare her for her destiny."
"She's quite fit and athletic, and I can certainly testify to the quickness of her reflexes, and her stamina and toughness. Should she be called any time soon, she will be able to learn what she needs to know quickly. But we cannot remove her from her family, from her home. She would be missed, and by more than her family. She's far too well known, and would be recognized too quickly. She's won too many competitions, been televised too often — they're already talking about her for the Olympic Team, and she's not even old enough yet. We can't take a chance on removing her for the purposes of training. It will be difficult enough taking that step should she be called upon to be the Slayer."
"But this is unprecedented!"
"Not quite. Remember, the current Slayer didn't start her training until quite late. And we know how well she has persevered, don't we?"
There was a pause, as the Watcher on the other end of the phone line considered this. "Well, keep a close eye on her, and train her there as best you can. We'll be in touch."
Henry Petherington hung up the phone, thinking of his young charge, and the destiny she was as yet unaware of.
Kenni turned Bete's head down the path toward home. Time to go back and get started on her chores. She stretched her shoulders and arms slightly, glad that her fall didn't seem to have harmed anything. She had a hunt-class competition in two weeks, and didn't want to have to miss it due to a sprain. Unlike most of her fellow competitors, she'd never been invalided out of a competition, and she was glad she wouldn't be now. She smiled, and urged her horse to a faster pace, eager to get back.
"They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait
at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.
All goes onward and outward... and nothing collapses.
And to die is different from what any one supposed,
—Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
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