Episode 01: Awakening

Trance found Dylan sitting under on a chair in the observation deck looking out at the stars. His face was void of all expression. She couldn’t blame him. Whatever was in that private message from his superiors, it certainly wasn’t good. He hadn’t said anything since getting it, nor had he eaten.

She pulled a chair up beside his and just sat there for a while, glancing at him every so often. When it was clear to her that Dylan hadn’t noticed her, she cleared her throat. “Dylan? What’s wrong?”

Startled, he looked up. “I just got a message from Admiral Jaynes. He tells me that Arntzed, one of the Commonwealth’s member worlds, was attacked by the Magog yesterday.”

Trance winced. “How bad was it?”

“There were no survivors. If it hadn’t been for the cargo freighter scheduled to drop off a load of weapons there, it’s likely that no one would have known about it for weeks.” He slammed his fists into his legs and stood up, walking towards the window, leaning against it. “Something has to be done about them. I’m starting to think that the Nietzscheans were right about exterminating them rather than signing a peace treaty.”

“Do you have any orders?”

“I was only told to destroy them if we find them, but really, I’m not sure how sucessful we’ll be. No one knows where their World Ship is right now. For all we know, it could be anywhere.”

“To destroy the Magog, one needs to destroy their leader, the so-called ‘Spirit of the Abyss’,” Trance mused out loud.”

“We’ve hit their World Ship with nova bombs and they still keep coming back. I’m starting to think that nothing short of dropping them into a black hole will get rid of them.”

Trance sat silently, staring at Dylan’s back. A black hole huh? Not the most elegant solution, but it’ll do in a pinch.

“I should go inform the rest of the crew. We should head for Arntzed to see if we can pick up their trail.”

She watched him leave and then turned her gaze back to the window. I wonder…

The Andromeda Ascendant exited slipstream near Arntzed. If they hadn’t known that the Magog had been there, they wouldn’t have been able to tell. Everything looked normal.

“Andromeda, scan for any recent slipstream events,” Dylan ordered. “Beka, take the Maru down to the surface to see if you can find any evidence of where the Magog might have gone next, or even why they attacked this world in particular.”

Harper snorted. “Yeah right. Since when do the Magog need a reason to attack anyone?”

Rhade looked over at Harper and then at Dylan. “I agree with him on this. They just attack. No rhyme or reason for it.”

Dylan gritted his teeth. “Just do it, ok? I just want to get this over with.”

Beka looked at him. “Whatever you say, Captain. You want to come with?”

“I’ll pass, thanks.”

“If you don’t mind, I’d like to come with you, Beka,” Trance said, walking onto the bridge. “I have a bad feeling about this.”

“Should we take Rommie or Rhade with us as well, then?”

“That’s not necessary, but they can if they want.”

“I’ll go,” Rhade volunteered. “It’s better than sitting up here doing nothing.”

“Rommie?” Beka asked, looking over at the ship’s avatar.

“I think I’ll stay here, thanks.”

“Suit yourself.”

“Search completed, Dylan,” Andromeda piped up. “I’m only detecting one recent slipstream event, and that was us. The last one I can find corresponds with the cargo ship that was here yesterday.”

Dylan looked over at Beka, who threw her hands up in the air. “Alright, we’re going.”

“Keep an eye out, Andromeda,” Dylan told her as Trance, Beka, and Rhade left the bridge. “I don’t want any surprises.”

Beka landed the Eureka Maru in a large clearing near the edge of the planet’s capital city. The three crewmates got off and started to look around. Everywhere they looked, there were dead bodies, the remains of people that had either died trying to fight off the Magog or had been implanted with heir larvae. Rhade’s nose wrinkled in disgust at the smell. For once, Beka didn’t envy him his genetically enhanced Nietzschean nose. Even if she was the Nietzschean Matriarch, she didn’t share the genetic enhancemetns he did.

Trance wandered off into a building that looked ready to collapse. Rhade followed just in case. He found her crouching beside a table, holding a blue-furred creatre in her arms. Judging by how she was talking to it, she was fmailiar with it.

He crouched down beside her. “What is that?”

The blue thinturned its head to look at him. “I would appreciate it if you didn’t refer to me as a thing. My name is Tsuki. Just because I look like a cat doesn’t mean that I don’t deserve the same courtesy and respect as any other sentient being.”

Rhade stared at her. “Tsuki? Trance, how…”

“Tsuki was my pet as a kid. I haven’t seen her in a long time,” she said, stroking the animal’s back. “I couldn’t take her with me on the Maru, so Ieft her on Ayn Rand station. I told her I’d come back for her, but I never got the chance.”

“And you weren’t worried about her?” Rhade asked, incredulously.

“Not really, no. She’s quite self-sufficient. She probably found someone else to take care of her, someone who understands what she is.”

“And what is she, exactly?”

“What does it look like?” Tsuki asked sarcastically. “A cat, of course.”

“Cats don’t talk,” Rhade informed her.

Tsuki yawned. “Well, it just so happens that I do. Besides, humans don’t have bone blades on their arms, but you do. You smell more or less human. Unless you happen to be part alien, who are you to judge?”

Rhade straightened up, offended. “I’m a Nietzschean, not a human.”

“Whatever.”

“Hey, Tsuki, you wouldn’t happen to know why the Magog attacked this planet, would you?”

“Asking a cat for help. That’s not going to help.”

“Quiet, Rhade,” Trance snapped. “You don’t understand.”

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. They were looking for me.”

Rhade rolled his eyes. “My, don’t we have a big ego?”

“They were looking for me because I know you and others like you. If they can destroy you and the others, then they’ll be more or less free to do as they please.”

“Aren’t you giving the Magog a lot of credit here?” Rhade asked. “They’re mindless killing machines.”

“Yes, but they do have a leader.”

“The Spirit of the Abyss,” Trance said slowly.

“Yes, him.”

“We’ve tried to get rid of him, but even nova bombs don’t seem to work.”

“This is why this Spirit wants to get rid of us. We can destroy him and his precious Magog.”

This caught Rhade’s interest. “Really?”

Before Tsuki could answer, Beka came running in. “We’ve got to go. Now! There’s a group of Magog headed this way!” Gesturing frantically, she ran back out again.

Trance jumped to her feet and ran out of the building with Rhade right behind her. They headed for the Maru as fast as they could go. Rhade, naturally, was faster then either of the two women. When they got to the ship, they found a group of Magog between them and safety. Rhade took out his force lance, but Trance put a hand on his arm.

“I’ll take care of this,” she said calmly. Tsuki jumped down out of her arms. “Find them something to hide behind. This could get ugly.”

“You don’t honestly expect me to hide, do you?” Rhde objeced.

“This isn’t something you can help with, Rhade, so just please. Go with Tsuki.”

Beka grabbed Rhade by the arm. “Come with me, or do I need to pull out the whole Matriarch thing to get you to listen?”

“No, Matriarch, of course not.”

Tsuki led them around the side of a building. “What’s she doing, anyways?” Beka asked the little cat.

“You know about her being a sun avatar, yes?”

“Yes.”

“Put in the simplest terms, well, what she’s doing is drawing on that power. There is a longer, more complicated explanation, but we don’t have time for that here.”

As they watched, the Magog approached Trance, surrounding her. She simply stood there, calmly, waiting. She easily dispatched the first one tht attacked her, throwing it to the ground. The leader of the group snarled at her.

“Prepare to die, abomiation!”

“I think not. Vedra Solar Power, Make Up!”

There was a flash of blinding light as Trance was completely engulfed in flames. When they cleared, there was Trance, but not Trance. It still looked like her, but she was wearing the strangest outfit. She had on a short pleated skirt, a white bodysuit, wrist length gloves with missing fingers, a scarf, ribbon, chocker, a pair of sandles that laced up to her knees, and a pair of ribbons trailing from the back of her skirt. On her forehead was a golden tiara with a white stone. Her colors were all in yellows and golds.

Rhade and Beka exchanged glances of confusion. Beka had been there when Trance had switched places with her future self back when they were trying to use he Tessaract machine to rid Harper of his Magog larvae, but this was weird beyond that.

“Meet Sailor Vedra,” Tsuki said proudly.

“What?” Beka asked.

“I’ll explain later.”

The Magog were just as shocked to see this transformation as Beka and Rhade. They stood around, unsure what to do, until their leader ordered them to attack. Trance, or, rather, Sailor Vedra, simply smiled.

“Vedra Solar Flare!” She swung her left arm outwards. An arc of flame followedthe path her arm traced. When the fire hit the Magog, they burst into flames, screaming. Three of the Magog managed to avoid the fire. Two grabbed her from behind while their leader attacked her.

“This will teach you for attacking us!” he snarled. From where he was crouched behind the building, Rhade clenched his fists. “We have to help her!”

Tsuki walked up to him and looked him in the eyes. “There is a way for you to help her, Telemachus Rhade, but it will change you in ways I can’t begin to describe right now.”

“What kind of changes?”

“You will become like Trance.”

“An sun avatar?”

“Avatar isn’t the best word, but it’s one people around her understand, so it will do for now. As for sun, well, no. Planet, actually.”

“I thought avatars were born as they are,” Beka intruded.

“Thayare. The just don’t always realize what they are. In some cases, they need to be told, awakened to their potential. Can we save the discuissions about this for later? Vedra could die!”

Despite the unshakable feeling that he was going to regret this later, Rhade nodded. “Tell me what I need to know.”

Tsuki jumped up into the air, flipped around, and landed. In the air in front of Rhade’s face appeared a silver bracelet set with a single large piece of onyx. “Put that on your wrist – it doesn’ matter which one – and repeat after me: Terazed Planet Power, Make Up!”

Feeling very foolish, he clasped the bracel onto his left wrist and repeated Tsuki’s words. A bright reddish glow enveloped him. It was the most curious sensation, feeling like he was being changed on the inside. When the light cleared, he was dressed in a black suit jacket and pants with a white shirt, mask, and bowtie.

Beka chocked back a laugh. “My, don’t you look….”

“Can it Beka!” he snarled. “I feel foolish.”

“You’ll get used to it,” Tsuki told him. “You are Terazed Kamen, a warrior like Sailor Vedra. Now come on. We have to help Vedra!”

He got up and followed the cat out, wondering why he’d agreed to do this. “What do I do?”

“Do what your heart tells you,” was the reply.

“That’s not very helpful.”

The lead Magog stopped his attack on Vedra and looked at him. “What can we do for you, pretty boy?”

“Let her go.”

“Or you’ll do what?”

Rhade, Terazed Kamen, froze, his mind going blank. In that blankness, a voice spoke to him.

“I’m waiting.”

Terazed straightened up. “Or I’ll do something like this. Terazed Serious Laser!” A brilliant blue beam shot out of his hand and hit the Magog leader in the center of his forehead. The other two Magog let go of Vedra and turned to face Terazed. Figuring that it worked well enough the last time, he used the attack again, hitting both Magog. With them dead, he went to Vedra’s side.

“Trance? Are you alright?”

The young woman grapsed his outstreatched hand and pulled herself up. She was battered and bruised, but alive. “Thanks for your help, but I don’t recognize you. I thought I was the only avatar in this area.”

Terazed took off his mask. “Trance, it’s me. Rhade.”

Vedra did a double take. “Rhade? Well, this is unexpected. I didn’t think that you were one of us.”

Tsuki and Beka came out from behind the building. “He would have continued in his ignorance had this not happened,” Tsuki told her calmly.

“Why did you wake him, then?”

“You needed help and he was my onlyoption. As strong as a Neitzschean is, he wasn’t strong enough to help.”

“That makes sense, I guess,” Trance said, turning back into her normal self. “Well, Rhade, welcome to the group.”