Episode 03: Prison Break

The Drago-Kazov prison camp was heavily guarded with high walls and frequent patrols. Trance, Harper, Rhade, the two cats, and three senshi sat a good distance from the walls waiting for the opportunity to strike. When the patrol got close enough, Rhade dispatched the other Nietzschean so that they could get inside. He took the lead with Wolf beside him.

“I’m still not sure why you’re up here with me,” Rhade whispered, peeking around a corner.

“Because I know what Jen smells like,” she replied. “Besides, I’m the only one of the bunch who could possibly keep up with a modified human.”

“We prefer to be called Nietzschean,” Rhade informed her stiffly.

“No matter what you call yourselves, you’re still, fundamentally human.”

“You’re kind of annoying.”

“That’s what I’ve been told,” she replied, sniffing the air. “This way.”

“Right.”

“Oh, and there are more people like you up there. I’m smelling a lot of fear and pain.”

“You can smell that?” Rhade asked, impressed.

“It’s a trait my people have.”

They crept forward, taking out the guards. Rhade watched Wolf, impressed. She was strong and fast, dispatching her targets before they could make a sound. I wonder what her people are.

Wolf’s nose led them down a hallway with doors on both sides. “I can smell her down here, but I can’t pinpoint which door she’s behind.”

“Process of elimination, then. We check each one.”

“Works for me.”

In the room behind the fifth door they checked, there was Jen, sedated and strapped to a table. Her clothing was disheveled and torn in places. Her fair skin was marked with cuts and bruises both old and recent and her hair was a mess of tangles. There were all manner of tubes and wires attached to her body leading into monitors. Wolf approached her cautiously. She poked her once in the ribs. There was no response.

“I don’t know what they have her on, but it’s not easy to get her out like this and keep her there for any length of time.”

“Let’s get her out of here.” Rhade shuddered. “I don’t like being so close to the Dragos.”

“Agreed.” Wolf unbuttoned Jen’s shirt to remove the monitors attached to her pale skin. At first, Rhade turned away, but looked back out of curiosity. Jen was tall and thin, as Harper had said, but Rhade didn’t find her to be as well endowed as Harper had claimed.

Body to die for? Maybe to other humans, but she has nothing on a Nietzschean woman. He reached down to untie the bonds that were holding her to the table and then turned the monitors off in case they were designed to make noise when disconnected.

“Here. I’ll carry her,” Rhade offered.

“I should point out that I am strong enough o carry her,” Wolf pointed out. “It certainly wouldn’t be the first time.”

“I’m larger than you are, so it’ll be easier for me to do it. You’re small and fast, fast enough to take out anyone we meet on the way out.”

“I’d argue the point, but we don’t have time for that. Let’s get out of here before anyone comes to look in on her.”

“Wise decision.” With Wolf’s help, he was able to get Jen up off the bed and onto his back.

Wolf opened the door and peered around the corner. She signaled to Rhade that all was clear. He shifted Jen’s weight into a more comfortable spot on his back and followed. He hated all this sneaking around, but it went against his self-preservation instincts to die in a fight with a camp full of Drago-Kazovs, so he swallowed his pride and moved as quietly as he could after Wolf.

“This is a little too easy if you ask me,” Wolf commented as they approached the exit.

“Agreed. Where is everyone?”

“Right behind you,” a voice said. Rhade turned to see a gun pointed at him. “Return the girl to us and you’ll receive a quick death.”

“I think not,” Wolf said, growling.

The Nietzschean looked at her and laughed. “You hardly look like a threat, little one.”

“Don’t underestimate me solely based on my size.”

“What are you going to do? Bite my legs off?”

Rhade watched Wolf’s reaction with interest. She went from snarling to calm with disturbing speed.

“I don’t bite. Well, I do, but not legs. Earth Elemental Power, Make Up!”

A bright leafy green light enveloped Wolf. Within it, the two men could just make out her form. The light cleared, leaving in its place a woman with the same height and build as Wolf wearing a uniform made entirely of black leather. Long pants with lace up sides, a silver belt with a green gemstone serving in place of a buckle, knee high boots, long gloves, and a sleeveless top that showed a good portion of her well-muscled abdomen. All of it had a strip of grey trim.

“Wolf?” Rhade asked.

“What are you?” The Drago asked, taking a step back.

“They call me StarLight, and yes, Rhade, it’s me. Obviously.”

“Well, then, StarLight, let’s see if your fancy new clothes can block this.” The Drago aimed his weapon at her and fired.

StarLight ducked the blast. “What were you aiming at? Double Snake Twist!” The twin beams of energy shaped like snakes shot out of her outstretched hands and wrapped around the strange Nietzschean, paralyzing him.

“Quick! Get her back to the others before he can move again.”

“What about you? I can help,” Rhade protested.

“I need you to keep Jen safe.” She opened the door. “Go on! I can take care of this. Trust me, I’ve been in worse situations than this.”

Taking her word for it, Rhade ran through the door and headed to the spot where the others were waiting. As he ran, he could alarms going off as well as lots of weapons fire. Serenity met him just inside of their hiding place.

“Where’s Wolf?”

“She transformed to hold of some of the guards,” he explained. “She said she’d be ok.”

“She’d better get her leather covered ass back here soon or we’ll have to head back to the Andromeda without her,” Yumeko said, irritated. “She knows better than to do this kind of thing.”

“We didn’t exactly have time to argue the issue.”

Serenity sighed and sat down. “You may as well set her down. We could be waiting for a while.”

“No need,” Wolf said, running up. She was exhausted. “Let’s get out of here.”

“What about the Dragos?” Rhade asked.

She waved dismissively. “They’re not getting out of there anytime soon.”

“Questions later,” Trance said, stalling Rhade’s demand for further explanation. “We should get out of here before anything else happens.”

“Shouldn’t we stop by her place to get her stuff?” Yumeko asked as they boarded the Maru.

Harper shook his head. “I was by her place earlier. Her place is completely empty. None of the guys knew where her stuff went to.”

“The Dragos must have taken it when they got her,” Trance guessed.

Rhade set her down and looked at her carefully. “Well, she looks to be Rommie’s size, so maybe she can borrow something until clothing can be found for her.”

“That works.”

“Med deck is this way,” Trance told their guests, leading them in the right direction. “We’ll be able to find out what they did to her when we get there.

Holo-Andromeda appeared in front of them. “Dylan and Beka will meet you there.”

“Thanks Andromeda,” Trance said as the hologram vanished.

Wolf stopped and stared. “What was that?”

Beside her, Rhade smirked. “Never seen a hologram before?”

She made a face. “My home world is somewhat low tech, but I know what a hologram is. I’ve never heard of an interactive one before.”

“Andromeda is the ship’s AI. You do know-“

“Artificial Intelligence, yes I know what that is.”

“Just checking.”

“For someone who looks as hot as you do, you sure are a smart ass.”

“Oh please,” Harper groaned. “You think he’s hot?”

Wolf blinked in confusion. “There’s a problem with that?”

“He’s a Nietzschean.”

“From what you were saying on the way back here, they’re supposed to be physically and genetically perfect, yes?”

“Well, yeah.”

“So where’s the problem in acknowledging that his genetic programming is successful? I find him to be attractive.”

Rhade stared at her. What is she? I’ve never heard a woman speak so frankly before in public. I admit, I’m flattered, but this is quite odd.

“I think there might be something wrong with your head,” Harper said, catching up with Trance.

Wolf stopped, very confused now. “I think I’m lost here.”

Rhade turned to look at her. “Harper doesn’t like Nietzscheans.”

“That much is clearly obvious, but I’m still a bit lost.”

Yumeko came back to join them. “Okami, remember that talk we had about your culture versus others? In yours, it’s expected to be so open about everything. Among humans, it’s generally not a good idea.” Wolf opened her mouth to protest. “I think it would be wise to do as they do for the time being. At least until they understand a bit more about us.”

Wolf pouted. “Fine, fine. I’ll try. And no jokes about that.”

Yumeko giggled. “I promise. Now let’s just get Jen to the med deck so that she can get better.”

Rhade set Jen down on a bed and let Trance examine her. Dylan and Beka were already deep in discussion with Serenity. He joined then along with Yumeko and Wolf, who had been with him. Miocci insisted that Yumeko pick him up. Tsuki, Trance’s cat, was perched on Dylan’s shoulder. Dylan looked very uncomfortable about it.

“Glad you three could join us,” Serenity commented.

“We weren’t that far behind,” Yumeko said, sticking her tongue out at the older woman.

Serenity turned back to Dylan and Beka. “So anyways, I’m glad to hear that you have training facilities already on the ship. This is good.”

“I’m telling you, though. Rhade doesn’t really need much in the way of physical training,” Dylan told her. “He’s in great shape.”

“Perhaps for conventional fighting, but for the kinds of things that senshi wind up doing, he’ll need to be able to coordinate that with the use of his powers. It’s not easy to do. Trust me on that. I’ve been doing this longer than anyone else in this room.”

Dylan narrowed his eyes. “Just how old are you anyways?”

“At present? It’s not polite to ask. Senshi are reborn into different bodies to fight again another day. I’ve had many different lives that I can remember and doubtless I’ve had others I can’t remember because my senshi self was asleep for the entirety of it.”

“Sounds interesting.”

“It gets old after the first half dozen times,” Wolf informed him.”

“So there’s a chance I’ll be reborn after I die?” Rhade asked.

“Not just a chance,” Yumeko told him with a sympathetic smile. “It’s inevitable.”

“You know, I wonder,” Dylan mused. “Nietzscheans believe in genetic reincarnation. Rhade here is the genetic reincarnation of my former first officer, Gaheris Rhade.”

“Not to mention that all the Nietzscheans are waiting for the reincarnation of Drago Museveni,” Beka added.

“This is interesting,” Wolf said. “I think I want to know more about this.”

“I’d be more than happy to tell you about it later,” Rhade offered.

Wolf looked at him through her lashes. “I’d like that.”

Dylan looked between the two of them. “Did I miss something?”

“It’s nothing,” Yumeko told him, blushing a little. “Anyways, you were saying something about powers, Serenity?”

Serenity gave her an odd look, but continued. “Anyways, back on topic. Each senshi is different when it comes to their strengths. Personally, I’m physically the weakest member of my team, but my powers are correspondingly stronger than theirs. Wolf is physically the strongest and she has average powers. She has one attack that’s really strong, but the rest are pretty average.”

“And then there’s me,” Yumeko chimed in. “I’m just average all around.”

“Except in looks,” Harper muttered under his breath, too low for her to hear, but the look that both Rhade and Wolf gave him indicated that they’d heard.

“If you aren’t all that strong physically, how do you expect to train me?” Rhade asked. “You certainly aren’t a match for me.”

“While Wolf is capable of doing that, she’d likely wind up overpowering you in a fight. She’s small and fast, never mind her strength.”

“Hey!” Wolf protested. “I know how to control myself.”

“Sure you do. What about that remark you made on the way here?”

“That’s a different story all together.”

“I’m hoping that Jen would be able to help there.”

“Jen?” Rhade looked over at the unconscious girl. “I somehow doubt she’d have any more luck than you would.”

“She knows more about weapons than the three of us.” Serenity shrugged. “Until she gets her strength back, most of what I’ll be teaching you is how to access and properly use your powers and putting you through some basic focusing techniques.”

“What she’s saying is that you’ll be doing a lot of meditating, fight posture drills, and Tai Chi-type stuff,” Wolf explained. “I feel for you, buddy.”

“Don’t think that you’re getting away from this,” Serenity warned. “We could all use a refresher. Besides, we all need to learn to work together as a team.”

“Nuts.”

Trance joined them. “Well, I can’t really tell what’s wrong with her. The drugs in her system will have to go away on their own. I can treat her wounds, but there’s little else I can do for her until she wakes up.”

“We’ll have to get her some clothes,” Beka said. “Hers are no better than rags.”

“She and Rommie are the same size,” Andromeda said, appearing beside Dylan. “I’m sure something can be worked out there until a more suitable wardrobe can be acquired.”

“Thank you Andromeda,” Serenity said politely. “Well, Rhade. When would you like to start your training?”

“No time like the present.”

Wolf smirked. “Bit of a masochist, aren’t you?”

“How bad could it be?”

Two hours later, Rhade was eating his words. He would have preferred a real fight to what they put him through. The meditation part wasn’t so bad, but the poses they made him hold had required all of his balance and concentration. He ached everywhere. When the session was over with, Trance suggested that he head to the med deck and get some ointment for his aches. Wolf had joked at him on the way out that she’d happily help him put it on. He’d heard her yelp after that, presumably because Yumeko had punched her in the arm.

He rummaged around in the cabinet Trance had indicated and found the bottle of an ointment that was questionable in both odor and appearance. Turning around, he saw Jen still lying on the bed. He walked over to her and pushed a knot of black hair out of her face, studying it.

Not bad, but nothing special either, he concluded as she began to stir and open her eyes. She blinked owlishly up at him.

“You’re finally awake,” he said simply, offering her a hand. “I’m-“ he stopped. She was staring at his bone blades in a mixture of hatred and terror. She rolled off the bed opposite from him, ducking down in an attempt to hide. “I’m not going to hurt you,” Rhade said, walking over to the other side. She simply ducked around to the other side to avoid him. Shaking his head, he climbed over the bed.

Snarling, she backed away. He walked towards her. He was starting to tell her that her friends would be happy to see that she was going to be ok, but was interrupted by her foot making contact with his stomach.

“Nietzschean,” she hissed. “You die now!”