Episode 05: Training

The next day, Rhade walked into the gym for his training session to find Jen going through the same set of exercises that Tenshi had put him through yesterday. She was barefoot, her hair braided, wearing the same clothes from yesterday. Jen, however, was having more success at it than he had. Frowning, he walked over to Tenshi. “What’s going on here?”

“When we blanked her memories her senshi training went with it. She knows what to do; she just can’t, so she needs to be retrained. We can’t have her operating solely on instinct.”

“So her sessions are before mine?”

“No, she just got here early. I’ll be training the two of you together.” Rhade heard a thud followed by an exclamation of pain. He looked over to see Jen pulling herself off the mat.

“You can’t be serious, Tenshi,” Jen exclaimed. “Train with that…that…” Anger got the better of her, rendering her unable to finish.

“Loathe as you may be to hear this, Jen, but you could learn a lot by training with him. Besides, he could actually put up a fight in a sparring match. You know very well that I can’t, nor can Yumeko. Okami would likely hold back. Rhade, on the other hand, has to go all out or risk being seriously hurt in a fight with you. I know you won’t hold back on him, not after what’s happened to you.” Jen looked at her friend in dismay. “Don’t worry. I won’t have the two of you spar just yet. Neither of you is ready for that. We’ll just stick with meditation and balance exercises for now.”

Jen looked relieved at that and went back to her exercises while Rhade watched. His assessment of her from the previous day proved to be less accurate. Seeing her going through this showed him what he was doing wrong yesterday. That aside, he was reasonably confident that if they fought again, he could beat her. She only scored the hits she did the other day through luck and not skill.

“Rhade, stop standing around and get over there,” Tenshi instructed. “You won’t get anything done just standing there.”

Jen paused, watching him come towards her. She tensed, prepared to fight or run, whichever the situation would call for. He took his shirt off and started going through the routine, doing what Tenshi told him to. Feeling confident that he was decently occupied, Jen started again.

As he went through the drill, Rhade became aware that Jen was doing the same thing he was. Her poses were better than his, but her movements were awkward. She kept glaring at him, staying as far away as she possibly could without leaving the mat area.

Tenshi sighed. “Jen, how many times do we have to tell you? You need to learn more patience. You’re trying too hard, trying to rush it. Relax.”

Jen stopped, fuming. “This is ridiculous! I’ve been through all of this before.”

“And you’ve forgotten almost everything you’ve been taught,” Tenshi reminded her. “You need to do this. We can’t afford to have you out there with the level of control you currently have, and that’s very little. We both know you can do this.”

“Tenshi, it took me the better part of five years to perfect this. We can’t afford for it to take another five years.”

“It won’t,” Tenshi assured her. “You just need a reminder.”

“No. I can’t do this,” she said, turning to leave.

“What are so afraid of?” Rhade asked her.

She froze. “How dare you speak to me, Nietzschean?” she asked without turning around.

“Answer the question.”

She turned her head to look at him out of the corner of her eye. “I fear nothing.”

“So you’re just not willing to do something that I’m doing. Is that it?”

“This is not about you.”

“So what is it about? Think you can’t do it?”

She turned around, narrowing her eyes.

“That’s it, isn’t it?” Rhade laughed. “You just don’t have it in you to do this. I do.”

“Are you insinuating that you’re better than me?”

“You could say that, yes.”

Her back stiffened. Tenshi faked a coughing fit in order to hide her laughter. “You aren’t. You’re just a male, and a particularly annoying one at that.”

“So now you think you’re better than me.”

She folded he arms across her chest. “I know I’m better than you.”

“Prove it,” he said, walking up to her, staring her right in the face. He was a fair amount taller than she was, so he wound up looking down at her. She glared back up at him.

“You’re on, asshole,” she said heading back to the mat.

“Rhade, could I speak with you for a moment?” Tenshi asked once the training session was over. Jen smirked and left the gym.

“What can I do for you, Tenshi?”

“I wanted to thank you or what you did earlier. If you hadn’t been here, I don’t know how I would have gotten her to continue with her training.”

“No problem. I just want to know what her problem with me is.”

“If you were stuck in a Drago-Kazov prison camp for six months, you’d hate Nietzscheans, too.”

“I suppose, but I’m not a Drago-Kazov.”

Tenshi shook her head. “It doesn’t matter to her. You’re Nietzschean. To her mind, you’re all the same. Hence why she refused to back down when you challenged her like that. She refuses to loose to something she hates.”

“So it’s just what I am that she hates? That’s irrational.”

“It’s a survival instinct,” Okami said joining. She took a moment to stare at Rhade before continuing.

“You’re kidding.”

“Sorry gorgeous. No joke,” she said, patting him on the shoulder. “Another part of it is culture based, but it’s really complicated.”

“Try me.”

Okami blinked. “Sorry. Thought you said something else.” She coughed. “And no. If you want to know about her people, it’s best to talk to one of them.”

“Jen won’t talk to me.”

“And you know this because you’ve tried oh so hard?”

“Be nice, Okami,” Tenshi warned.

“Look, Rhade, I’ll let you in on something. Jen doesn’t like me much. My culture is almost completely opposite from hers. We’re very open about everything. We’re very earthy people and speak what’s on our minds. In addition, I like men, as you may have noticed.”

“I have,” he agreed, blushing a little.

“Just let me know if I make you uncomfortable. It’s just how I am.”

“It’s ok.”

“Just talk to her. It can’t hurt to try. At the very least, you’ll find out if it’s you personally she doesn’t like or what you are.”

“It’s worth a shot,” Tenshi mused. “But I have a feeling I know the answer already.”

“Care to let me in on it?”

“Both.”

Rhade found her in the arboretum sitting under a tree staring off into space. He stood there just watching her. She was still barefoot, her socks and boots sitting in a pile beside her. Her knees were curled up under her chin.

“I know you’re there, Rhade. You may as well stop pretending you’re not. What do you want? Come to taunt me again?”

“No, I just came to talk,” he said, walking over to sit beside her.

“I have nothing to say to you.”

“You’re not running away or trying to hit me,” he observed. “This is a good sign.”

“I’m too tired from training to bother. Come near me again, though, and you won’t be so lucky,” she warned him.

“What is it about me that you hate so much?”

Annoyed, she turned her head to look up at him. “Seven reasons. Three are on your right arm. Three are on your left arm.”

“My bone blades. What’s the other reason.”

“You irritate me in so many ways.”

“You’ve only just met me,” he protested.

“I’m a good judge of character.”

“No, you’re not. You don’t know anything about me.”

“I know enough to know I don’t like you.”

Rhade peered down at her. “Damn, you’re interesting,” he blurted out.

Jen shot up to her feet and glared down at him. “Where the hell did that come from?”

Rhade scrambled to his feet. “It’s true. I think you’re interesting. Odd considering your very clear feelings towards me, but you are.” Tentatively, he touched her cheek with one hand.

Jen grabbed hi hand and twisted it. “Lay another hand on me and I’ll break it, Nietzschean,” she hissed. Gathering her boots and socks, she left him standing there alone.

Smooth, Telemachus, very smooth, he chided himself. You think you would have learned how to deal with women from dealing with your dead wife, but no. You had to do the one thing that would irritate her the most. Brilliant. He sighed and headed back to his quarters, bumping into Okami on the way there.

“Hey there,” she said, smiling.

“Hi Okami.”

“Why so glum?”

“Talked to Jen.”

“How’d it go?”

Rhade shook his head. “Badly.”

“Not going to give me any details are you?”

“No.”

“That bad, huh?”

He stopped and leaned his back against a wall. “You could say that. Damn it!”

Okami eyed him curiously. “You know? I think you like her.”

“It’s hard to like someone who hates you.”

Okami put her arm around Rhade’s waist as his shoulders were too far up for her to reach that way and said, “Let me tell you a story about a guy named Seiya and his attempts to woo our girl Jen.”

Rhade sat alone in his quarters long after Okami had finished the story and left. He thought about what she’d told him. Long story short, it wasn’t hopeless to befriend her, but he got the distinct feeling that Okami was hinting at something else, something he just wasn’t interested in.

Or was he?

He shook his head. She’s not Nietzschean, regardless of the interest the Dragos were showing in her genes. She is attractive in a violent sort of way. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who’s felt that about her. It’s too bad that this Seiya person died a thousand years ago. He’d be useful to talk to. He leaned back in his chair. At least I know a bit more about her now, but why did Okami warn me not to ask Jen too many questions about herself? Also, why isn’t anyone telling us Jen’s real name? Andromeda appeared in front of him. “Rhade, the Magog World ship has been spotted. Dylan wants you on the bridge immediately.”

“So much for deep though,” he muttered, getting up. “I’ll be right there.”

“If you could find Jen on the way, it would be appreciated. She’s not answering me.”

“Great. I’ll see what I can do.”

He left his room and headed for Jen’s room, which was two doors down from his. Taking a deep breath, he knocked on the door. He wasn’t overly surprised that she didn’t answer, so he went inside. He found her sitting cross-legged on the floor with her eyes closed. Cautiously, he approached her. She didn’t seem to notice his presence at all.

“Jen?” No reply. “Jen, are you still in there?”

He was about to touch her shoulder to try and shake her out of this when Tenshi interrupted him. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

He looked up at her. “Why not?”

“She’s meditating. It could cause her some serious damage if you interrupt it like that.”

“Andromeda says that the Magog have been spotted.”

Dylan wants us on the bridge, yes I know.”

“Then what are you two still doing here?”

“Finishing off an exercise that I’ll be doing with you later on. You may as well head up to the bridge and let Dylan know we’ll be there as soon as we finish.”

“He’s not going to like that,” Rhade warned her.

“Understandable, but it’s out of my control for the time being. I’ll apologize when we get up there.”

Taking one last look at Jen, he left her room and headed for the bridge. Dylan looked up at him.

“Where are Jen and Tenshi?”

“Meditating,” he grumped.

“Meditating? In a crisis?” Dylan asked incredulously.

“It wasn’t a crisis when they started,” Yumeko told him.

“They’d better get up here soon, or-“

“Or what?” Jen asked, walking up to him, staring him right in the face.

“Or we could be in big trouble,” Trance finished for him. “We need all available hands to deal with the Magog.”

Jen looked at Trance. “Still dead set in doing this bit of stupidity, are you?”

“It’s not stupidity to try and rid the galaxy of a threat like the Magog,” Rhade told her.

“That all depends on your definition of the word threat.”

“An expression of intention to inflict evil, injury, or damage,” Rommie supplied helpfully.

Ignoring the android, Jen continued. “By your definition, the Magog are a threat. By mine, Nietzscheans are a threat; therefore, should I attempt to wipe you all out, people who like Nietzscheans would consider this stupidity. Others who think like me would endorse it.”

“She sounds like those crackpot Genites,” Beka commented.

“Except that she has a better reason than they do to not like Nietzscheans,” Trance told her. “But unlike the Genites, who hate all genetically altered people, she only hates Nietzscheans.”

“Comforting.”

“Not for me,” Rhade protested.

“Look, Jen, are you with us or not?” Dylan asked, rubbing his forehead.

“I have little fondness for sticking my neck out for a cause that isn’t mine, but my friends have decided to help you. Like it or not, they need me and I need them to get home again. It’s in my best interests to help them survive this in order to get home.”

Trance looked surprised. “I thought you didn’t want to go home.”

“Home has no Nietzscheans,” Jen pointed out.

“Your home is a burning hot desert,” Okami commented. “But I guess it all comes down to which is worse: the Nietzscheans or your parents.”

Jen shuddered. “Good point. I can’t kill my parents, but….” She shook her head. “That’s beside the point. I’ll help just so that I can go home again.”

“Self-preservation.” Rhade nodded approvingly. “Something I understand.”

Jen walked over to him. “Let’s get one thing clear here. I don’t want your understanding. I have to train with you and it looks like I have to work with you. Outside of those two things, I don’t want to see or talk to you. Clear?”

Rhade didn’t get a chance to reply as the Magog World Ship appeared in front of them. It launched several swarm ships that attached themselves to Andromeda’s hull, punching through.

“Alright, people. This is what we’re going to do,” Tenshi said, addressing everyone. “Jen, Rhade, you’re with me. Trance, you go with Yumeko and Okami. Beka, Dylan, Harper, Rommie, if you four could help as well, it would take the strain off our not quite fully trained senshi.”

“Sure thing,” Beka said gleefully.

“Why do I have to go with you?” Jen asked, giving Rhade a black look.

“Because I have the highest chance of being able to contain your powers if they run out of control on us.”

“Fine. Let’s just get it over with.”

Dylan led them all to the nearest weapons locker and distributed weapons to Harper, Beka and Rommie. Rhade took a force lance, but the other senshi refused his offer of weaponry, stating that their powers would be more than adequate.

“Well, then. Shall we?” Tenshi asked.

“Earth Elemental Power…” Okami began.

“Air Elemental Power…” Yumeko said.

“Water Elemental Power…” Tenshi said, looking to Jen expectantly.

She sighed. “Fire Elemental Power…”

“Make Up!” the four girls finished as one. Rhade remembered Okami’s bright leafy green light, but with the lights of the other three girls it was brighter. Tenshi glowed a deep ultramarine blue, Yumeko was a pale sky blue, and Jen’s was a deep scarlet color.

“Ok, I think introductions are in order here,” Beka said, eyeing the changes in the four girls. They were all wearing a uniform made entirely of black leather. Long pants with lace up sides, a belt with a gemstone serving in place of a buckle, knee high boots, long gloves, and a sleeveless top that showed a good portion of their abdomens. Each girl had a different trim and color of gemstone.

The black haired one, standing where Jen had been, rolled her eyes. “Is this really necessary?”

“Would you rather that they shout your other names out in the middle of a fight, thus revealing who you are?” Trance asked.

“Fine.”

“I’m StarLight, as Rhade knows,” Okami said. Her trim was grey and she had a green gemstone.

“StarSinger,” Tenshi said nodding. Her gem was a very dark blue and the trimming on her uniform was a little lighter shade.

Yumeko tugged at the light blue trim on her top. “StarLove,” she said. Her gem was clear blue.

Jen sighed and started to leave, the blood red gem in her belt absorbing the light instead of reflecting it the way the gems of the other three did, making the red trim on her uniform seem darker. “StarFire,” she said. “Now lets get this over with.”

“Vedra Solar Power, Make Up!” Trance finished transforming and looked at Rhade. “Your turn.”

Rhade looked uncomfortable. “I’d actually rather not until we meet up with the Magog.”

“You may not have time,” StarSinger told him. “Transform and let’s get going.”

“No jokes,” he said warningly to his crewmates. Terazed Planet Power, Make Up!”

Beka eyed him carefully. “You look good in a tux.”