Episode 02: Terra Firma

When the Maru returned to the Andromeda, they were greeted by Dylan, who was waiting impatiently.

“That took a lot longer than it should have. What happened?”

“We were attacked by Magog,” Trance explained.

“Are you alright?”

“Fine,” Rhade said, walking past him.

“What’s with him?”

“A lot of strange things happened down there,” Trance said. “I’ll explain in a bit. First, I need to clean up.”

Then Dylan noticed the furry creature on her shoulder. “Uh, Trance? What’s that?”

Tsuki sighed and shook her head. “My name is Tsuki. Please don’t refer to me as a thing again.”

“She’s my childhood pet,” Trance explained. “She hasn’t explained how she got down there.”

“I didn’t have the time,” Tsuki grumped.

“Go get cleaned up, Trance. I want to hear this story.”

Beka shook her head. “You know, Dylan, I’ve seen some strange stuff in my time on the Andromeda, but today takes the cake.”

“Oh?”

“Ask Rhade about formal wear,” she said as she walked off with a smirk.

“Doesn’t anyone around here give a straight answer anymore?”

“So what are you saying, exactly?”

Trance looked a little uncomfortable. “What I’m saying is that I have powers that I’ve never told anyone about, powers that could have helped out before now, but I’ve been afraid to expose my secret.”

Harper looked very skeptical. “Trance, the stories of the sailor suited soldiers are myths from the 20th century. Get with the times.”

“Don’t be so quick to jump to conclusions, Harper,” Beka told him. “I saw her transform. I saw Rhade transform, too.”

“No way. Rhade? I can just picture him in a skimpy little skirt.”

“It wasn’t a skirt, Harper,” Rhade snarled.

“No. It was a tuxedo with a mask.”

“So what’s your superhero name? Tuxedo Mask?”

Trance snorted while Rhade looked even angrier. “Sorry. That name has already been taken.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Dylan said.

“I’m serious! There was a guy in the 20th century who went by the name Tuxedo Kamen. Kamen means mask.”

“So Terazed Kamen means…”

“Terazed Mask. I don’t know how the term came to be in use.”

“Stop it, Trance, you’re killing me here,” Harper moaned. “This is the most entertainment I’ve gotten in days.”

Rommie looked at him. “It’s not nice to tease, Harper. Rhade looks like all of this has been a very traumatic experience. How would you feel in his situation?”

“Pretty damned ridiculous.”

“So don’t mock,” Dylan finished.

Tsuki looked up from licking her paw. “Mockery is something that Rhade will just have to get used to.”

“And you’re saying this…why?” Rhade asked.

Tsuki blinked. “People often react that way when they first see a senshi.”

“Trust me, I’m not doing this again. I only did it to help Trance.”

“Oh, you’ll be doing this again. You won’t be able to help it.”

“Watch me.” He started to walk away.

“It’s a great way to meet girls,” Trance informed him.

He turned around. “If you think that’s going to get me to keep doing this, you’re dead wrong.”

Trance shrugged. “Suit yourself.”

“Now I know why there are no other Nietzschean senshi,” Tsuki commented.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he snapped.

“Exactly what it says. You people are arrogant, vain, self-centered…shall I continue? These things don’t show up in senshi. It’s just not in their nature.”

“So you’re saying that I can’t overcome my Nietzschean nature?”

“I didn’t say that. You did.”

Rhade shook his finger at the little cat. “I know what you’re trying to do and it’s not going to work.”

“Um, Tsuki, this is probably a bad time to tell you that I know another Nietzschean senshi. She’s a sweet little thing.”

“She?” This piqued his interest.

“Yes, she. She’s quite interesting in a bizarre kind of way.”

“Not telling me any more than that are you?”

“Nope. You want to meet her, you’ll need to train and learn more about what you are. There’s no going back once you’ve transformed. It changes you in ways that aren’t always apparent. Even wiping your memory won’t let you go back. Eventually, this will come back. I’ve heard of it happening.”

“Heard?” Dylan asked. “You don’t have any first hand experience there?”

“No. As far as animal guardians go, I’m still very young. Trance is my first senshi. Until today, she was the only one, but now that Rhade here also has the abilities, that makes two. I’m not sure that this is a good thing, though.”

“Why not?” Rhade demanded.

“For one thing, I don’t know if I can train two senshi at the same time,” she started. “For another, I know I can’t handle your Nietzschean nature. You’ll drive me nuts within a couple days.”

“So what are you going to do about it?”

Trance leaned against a wall. “I have a suggestion, but you’re probably not going to like it, Tsuki.”

“I don’t see that we have a lot of options.”

“I remember you telling me about another cat guardian by the name of Miocci, that he had a couple different senshi that he took care of.”

“Oh no! I know what you’re asking.”

“You’re asking Rhade to do this. The least you can do is find someone who knows what they’re doing. Besides, aren’t Miocci’s senshi all women who are very experienced at this stuff? They could help train us.”

“Don’t you have some training at this, Trance?” Beka asked.

“Well, yes, but I don’t have a lot of it or experience. My training was frequently interrupted and then stopped when I joined you on the Maru.”

“Makes sense.”

Tsuki sighed. “I can always try and get a hold of Miocci, but there are no guarantees. I don’t even know where he is right now.”

“Please try.” Tsuki wandered off.

“Trance, why is this so important to you?” Dylan asked.

“Because if we have a strong enough team of senshi, then we can defeat the Magog and their Spirit of the Abyss.”

“That’s crazy!” Harper exclaimed. “You’re saying that a group of girls, and Rhade, in skimpy little skirts can defeat the Spirit of the Abyss? Yeah, right. And I’m a Nietzschean.”

Rhade gave him a scathing glance.

“Yes, Harper. That’s what I’m saying. Don’t knock this thing. Senshi can do some pretty amazing things. I’ll tell you about them someday.”

“So what do we do now?” Dylan asked.

“Nothing. We wait for Tsuki to get a hold of Miocci. That’ll tell us what our next move is.”

It took two days before Tsuki got a reply. When asked about where she sent her message, she avoided answering the question, frustrating the crew. She joined them on the command deck. “We need to head for Earth,” she said tiredly.

“Earth? Why Earth?” Harper asked incredulously. “There’s nothing there but a bunch of Drago-Kazovs.”

“Earth is halfway between where Miocci lives and our present location. It’s a convenient meeting point. Besides that, I couldn’t tell you how to get to his home world. I’m not familiar with Slipstream.”

“I could always transport there,” Trance offered. “To his home world.”

“Not with the defenses that they have in place.”

“I see. Well, Earth it is then. I’ve wanted to visit it for a while now. I guess this is my chance.”

“Can we just stop and consider what a bad idea this is?” Harper asked nervously. “I mean, come on! Nietzscheans, Magog, Nightsiders, and all sorts of other ugly things live there.”

“Yes, but there is also beauty there. Or, at least, there will be soon. Miocci is bringing his first senshi with him. He said he’d try and contact the other three, but couldn’t promise anything just yet. He said we’d be able to round them up quickly enough.”

“He’s brining Yumeko?” Trance’s eyes widened. “Oh wow!”

“Who’s Yumeko?” Rhade asked.

“She’s a very special kind of senshi, a Guardian of one of the four elements. I can never keep straight which one she has dominion over.”

“Air, I believe,” Tsuki said. “I’m not really expecting to see the other three Guardians. They prefer to keep to themselves unless there’s a crisis. And even then, it’s hard to get them together. If we can convince Yumeko that there’s sufficient reason to call them all together again, we’ll be able to convince them.”

“And if we can’t?” Dylan asked.

“Miocci has pledged his support. He and Yumeko will help, even if we can’t convince them of a serious crisis. It seems,” Tsuki added with a smirk. “that Yumeko is bored and needs to get away from her home for a time.”

“That’s good to hear,” Trance said, relived.

“So it’s off to Earth we go,” Harper said, rubbing his hands together. “Seeing as we have no choice, I think I’ll look up an old friend of mine. While you guys are training and all.”

“I see no reason why not,” said Dylan. Let’s get going then. Earth is still a ways away even by Slipstream.”

“Good old mother Earth,” Harper said when the familiar blue-green orb appeared in front of the Andromeda. “Some days I wonder why I ever left at all, but then I remember the bad stuff and it all comes back.”

Tsuki stared at the screen from her spot on Trance’s shoulder. “I’ve never seen it from up here before. I can see why humans are so attached to it.”

“Dylan, we’re getting a signal,” Andromeda spoke up.

“Put it on,” Dylan replied.

A grey cat with a yellow star on his forehead appeared on the screen. “Greetings, Andromeda Ascendant,” he said. “I’m Miocci. Welcome to Earth.”

“Thank you,” Dylan said. He sounded uncomfortable at talking to a cat.

“Please, join us down here. Yumeko is getting a little impatient.”

“Where are you?” Tsuki asked him. “Earth is a big planet.”

“We’re just outside of Boston.”

“Alright!” Harper exclaimed. “My old stomping grounds.”

“Tsuki should be able to find us with that to work on. I’m sorry that I can’t be more specific. The last time I was on Earth, I was on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.”

Tsuki sighed. “You’re putting an awful lot of stock in my abilities.”

“If you couldn’t do it, you never would have been assigned a senshi to look over,” Miocci assured her. “You’ll find us.” The screen went blank.

“So. Who gets to go down?” Beka asked. “I assume the Maru is going, as are Trance and Rhade.”

“I’ll go. Earth was my home. I might be able to keep the locals from hurting anyone.”

“Or from trying to anyways,” Rhade interjected.

“Alright. Beka and I will stay up here just in case,” Dylan said. “Be quick about this.”

“We’ll try,” Trance said, heading for the Maru.

After an hour of flying around while Tsuki tried to locate her fellow guardian, Rhade finally landed the ship. The blue cat was positive that Miocci and Yumeko were in that particular area. Rhade himself had a headache just from listening to the cat mumbling to herself about whether or not this was the place or if it was somewhere else.

If this isn’t the place, I’m going back to the Andromeda. Enough is enough.

They were greeted by a small grey cat, Miocci, a young blond girl with a somewhat Asia look to her features, a shorter grey haired boy, and a very tall, dainty looking woman with deep blue hair. The blond smiled and waved.

“Hubba hubba,” Harper muttered under his breath.

She turned her light blue eyes his way. “Thank you,” she said sweetly. “My name is Kiyoshi Yumeko. I am pleased to meet you. You’ve met Miocci.” She bowed politely.

“I’m Trace Gemini. These are my friends, Telemachus Rhade and Seamus Harper.”

“My companions here are Utano Okami and Namida Tenshi. For the time being, though, they prefer to go by the Earth names they’ve been given: Wolf and Serenity.”

“I thought Miocci’s senshi were all female,” Trance said, sounding puzzled.

Serenity and Yumeko looked at Wolf and burst out laughing. “They still think you’re a boy, Okami,” Yumeko giggled.

“The shorter girl glared at her. “It’s not funny. I can’t help it if I’m not built like a typical woman.”

“This makes things less disturbing, then,” Trance said, relieved.

“How so?” Rhade asked.

“How could you have missed the looks she’s been shooting your way?” Trance asked him.

“Looks?” Rhade looked at Wolf, who winked seductively.

Yumeko punched her in the arm. “No time for that. We came here for a reason.”

“Yes. I, for one, would like to know what that is,” Serenity said calmly.

“Do you know what Magog are?” Trance asked.

“Those thing are disgusting,” Wolf said, wrinkling her nose.

“They are allies of something called the Spirit of the Abyss. Now, we’ve tried to destroy them, but nothing seems to work. I thought that if I got a bunch of senshi together, then we could destroy them.”

“And I’m still not clear on how we’re supposed to do that,” Rhade grumbled.

“Don’t misjudge us just because of our strange outfits,” Trance told him. “The senshi have done great things in the past.”

“So what you’re asking is for us to fight again.” Serenity sighed. “It never ends, does it?”

“If you won’t help us with the fight, could you at least help with our training?” Trance pleaded. “Tsuki is still new to her duties. She can’t possibly train two senshi, or more if we can find any.”

“Which two of you are the senshi, anyways?”

“Me and Rhade. I’m Sailor Vedra and he’s Terazed Kamen.”

“Terazed, huh?” Serenity mused. “Never heard of it.”

“You can count me in,” Wolf said.

“I promised I would help regardless,” Yumeko said. The two looked at Serenity. “What do you think? You’ve been a senshi longer than either of us. Your skills and knowledge would be very useful.”

“I told you, I only came to find out what happened to Jen.”

“Jen?” Harper snapped to attention. “I know a girl named Jen. Frickin’ hottie. Tall, thin, black hair, black eyes, a body to die for.”

“That sounds like our Jen,” Yumeko said.

“Man, I haven’t seen her in years,” Harper sighed dramatically.

“We haven’t heard from ours in six months,” Serenity told him. “Do you have an image of your friend?” Harper fished something out of his pants pocket and showed it to her. “Yes, that’s her.”

“Well, what do you know? I was going to try and look her up while we were here.”

“Any help you could be in finding her would be appreciated.”

“Appreciated enough to help us train?” Trance asked hopefully.

“We’ll see. It depends on what’s happened to Jen.”

“Right, well, I’ll go find my friends and see if they know anything. I’ll meet you all back here at the Maru,” said Harper.

Harper returned three hours later, looking very worried. “I have a bunch of bad news and worse news. The bad news is that she’s not in town. The worse news is that my cousin says she was caught by a group of Drago-Kazovs and taken to one of their camps.”

Serenity looked like she was going to be sick. “From what I’ve heard of them in the brief time I’ve been here, they’re not nice people.”

“The same could be said for the general Nietzschean population,” Harper said. “Well, except for Rhade here.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence, Harper,” he said shortly.

“Do you have any idea where this camp is?” Serenity asked.

“Yeah, it’s just a few miles from here. We can make it in no time if we leave now.”

“What are the chances that she’s still alive?”

“Pretty good from what I heard.”

Serenity stood. “Help me rescue her, and I will help you in your fight.”

“What about the fourth member of your team?” Trance asked.

“We will discuss this with her when we see her next. For now, we must hurry. Jen does not deal with captivity well.”