Episode 09: Reincarnation

Jen and Jason sat in the shuttle Desert Fox. Jen was busy looking through the books and things Jason had brought for her. She selected a couple and set them aside to take back to her quarters later. Among the so-called oddments, she found an abused-looking guitar. She sat down in a chair with it, plucking at the strings and twisting the pegs on the head to tune it. Jason watched her for a while, waiting patiently for her to finish, knowing better than to interrupt.

He looked down at his own bronze colored skin and then up at Jen. He’d forgotten just how pale she was in comparison to the Nomaien norm. She was a little darker than the average Caucasian human, but noticeably paler than she should be. He himself was a little darker than average. Jen’s skin should be a sandy color. Part of the reason she was considered to be so plain was due to her skin color.

Jen finished tuning the guitar and sat idly playing chord progressions. He cleared his throat. “I’m going to get right to the point, Fox,” he said in their native language, using her childhood nickname. “What the hell happened to you? When Tenshi told me they’d lost contact with you, I was worried.”

Without looking up from the guitar, she replied, “They haven’t told you anything, Yuki? I’m shocked.”

Jason flinched at the use of his real name. “Tenshi says she doesn’t know anything.”

Jen sighed. “No, she doesn’t really. All she knows is where I was.”

“Now it’s my turn to be shocked. Fox, Tenshi is your best friend. Why didn’t you tell her anything?”

“Reserve judgment until you’ve heard the whole story.”

“You’ll tell me but not her,” he observed. “This isn’t normal.”

Jen took a deep breath and stopped playing, leaning forward on the wide body of the guitar. “As you know, I was sent to Earth with my memories of who I really was blanked. In your travels, you’ve no doubt learned that the Drago-Kazov Pride has turned Earth into a slave world.” Jason nodded. “I was hanging out with some friends, minding my own business, when a group of those damned Nietzscheans came by and arrested me under some trumped up charge. Don’t ask me what. I can’t actually remember right now. Anyways, they took me to this prison camp to see some guy. I guess he was their leader or something. They had me drugged up pretty bad. Not sure how, but I was. They were saying something about a Valkyrie and reincarnation. None of it made any sense at the time. I woke up a couple days later to learn that they’d done some tests on my genetic code. From what I overheard them saying, my DNA was similar to some woman named Valkyrie who was of some importance to them. What, exactly, was so important about her, I didn’t learn for months down the road.

“They did all sorts of things to me, experiments with altering my genes as well as trying to surgically alter my physical appearance.” Jen held her forearms up for his examination. “About a month and a half ago, I finally learned what they were doing. Their Alpha came to see me. He told me that I was the genetic reincarnation of a woman named Valkyrie Museveni, a woman who was a member of their pride some three hundred years ago. He didn’t say too much about her, but he also said that there were impurities in my DNA that were being removed. These impurities are what separate the Nomaien genetic structure from whatever it was that made them think that I was this woman reborn. Over the next month and a half, they replaced some of my DNA with Nietzschean genes. Long story short, they mutilated my body from the inside out, attempted to give me bone blades, and in essence turned me into some sort of half Nietzschean freak. Never mind that they held me captive for six months.”

Jason stared at her. “You can’t be crazy. That story is far too wild for it to have been made up. That certainly explains your hatred of the Nietzschean people and your reluctance to talk about this to anyone else.”

Jen nodded glumly, setting the guitar aside. “I’m not whole. I don’t feel…right inside.”

“Ho boy… Jen, this also explains why you have no control, why you pass out from things that shouldn’t be affecting you. It all makes perfect sense. Tenshi would have been able to tell you the same thing if you’d only told her.”

“Don’t you get it?” she cried. “I can’t talk about this. Not to anyone else. Can you imagine if mother and father found out? How would they react?”

“That’s the first time in years that you’ve actually cared about that.”

Jen lowered her eyes. “The last thing I want anyone thinking is that I’m less than I was. Admittedly, I know I am, but the fewer people who know the truth, the better off I’ll be.”

Jason got up out of his chair and went over to Jen, wrapping his arms around her comfortingly. “I don’t think any less of you knowing this. Anyone who does is an idiot. It wasn’t your fault that this happened.”

The two sat in silence for a long time. Jason was perfectly happy to hold her for as long as she needed the comfort. It wasn’t her fault. He knew that, but the real trick was convincing her that things would be all right again. Knowing what he now knew, it was imperative that she get back home.

“Is there anything else I should know about?” he asked, the thought just occurring to him.

“A couple dreams that I’ve been having for the last six months. The first one has changed since I came on board the Andromeda and met the two new senshi. We’re all lying at the feet of the Spirit of the Abyss, dead.”

“Cheerful. And the second one?”

“That’s the one I’d rather not talk about.”

“Do you want my help or not?”

“You have to swear on all that you hold sacred that you will never tell a soul about this one.”

“You’re serious?”

“I wouldn’t ask if I wasn’t.”

“This must be one hell of a dream for you to be asking this of me.” He nodded. “I swear.”

Jen closed her eyes briefly and started to talk, describing what she saw in her other dream. It sounded to Jason like something out of a movie. Unbelievable. Jen has to be the only person I know who could have a dream like that and consider it a bad thing.

He coughed politely when she finished talking. “Forgive me if I’m being rude here, but that doesn’t sound like a bad thing to me.”

“No? When I first had the dream, it was a series of vague images. The images became clearer as time passed. The images were sometimes coupled with feelings. As the images cleared, the feelings and sounds became clearer as well. Ever since a week before I was rescued, I’ve seen the dream with crystal clarity. After coming on board the Andromeda, the physical aspect of it has become almost painfully real. Everything that happens in the dream, I can feel. That feeling lingers through most of the day. I haven’t slept well in six months.”

“No wonder Rhade referred to you as being psychotic.”

“This isn’t a joke, Yuki.”

“It was just an observation, Fox, nothing more.” He let go of her and stood up, looking down at her. “Is there anything you’d like me to do to help?”

She shook her head and stood up. “Just don’t tell anyone anything that I just told you, especially about that dream.”

“I promise.”

Jason had been assigned quarters beside Rhade’s. He transferred some of his things over from the shuttle as the quarters were larger and more comfortable than the Desert Fox. He sat in a chair trying to read a book, but the things that Jen had told him earlier kept coming back into his mind. He sighed and set the book aside, making a note of the page he was on.

“Andromeda?” he asked hesitantly.

The hologram appeared in front of him. “How can I help you?”

“Would it be possible for me to have access to some of your files to do some research?”

“What do you need?”

“Everything you have on a woman named Valkyrie Museveni. Who she was, who she knew, what happened to her, what she looked like, everything.”

“Checking.” Andromeda paused briefly. “All the pertinent files will be made available to you through the screen on the wall behind you,” she said, pointing.

“Thank you, Andromeda.” The hologram vanished. He stood and went over to the screen.

“Valkyrie Museveni out of Verdandi by Achilles of the Drago-Kazov Pride,” he said to himself, reading her biography. “I can see why the Dragos believe Jen is her reincarnation. They’re identical. Well, Jen doesn’t have any bone blades, but she said they tried to give her some. Explains the scars on her forearms.” Reading a bit further down, he whistled in disbelief.

“Andromeda, I need to ask you another favor.”

“Yes?” The hologram asked.

“Could I get a look at the records for both Gaheris Rhade and Telemachus Rhade?”

The hologram raised an eyebrow. “An odd request, but I see no reason why not.” The records appeared on the screen as she vanished.

Reading through Gaheris’s record, his eyebrows raised. Comparing it to Telemachus’s record, his jaw dropped. “Things just keep making more and more sense the more I look into this.”

He left the records open on the screen and went to find Rhade. He found the other man in his quarters. He looked at the urgent look on Jason’s face in puzzlement.

“Is everything alright, Jason?”

“Yes and no.”

“How can it be both?”

“Everything is starting to make perfect sense. This would be good if wasn’t also creepy to the infinite degree.”

“Care to explain?”

“Mind if I come in? I’d rather not have everyone overhearing this.”

“This isn’t a good time-“ Rhade said as Jason slipped past the taller man and into his quarters.

Jason stopped dead a few steps inside. “Oh,” was all he could say, seeing an image of Jen on a display screen. There was a chair nearby, facing it.

Rhade walked over and turned the screen off. “Like I said, not the best time, but since you’re here, you may as well explain what the hell is going on here.”

“Are you or are you not the genetic reincarnation of Gaheris Rhade?”

“I am.”

“That must be why you’re a senshi. We’re all reincarnations. It’s just a thing we accept and tend to take for granted. It also tells me why you’re so attracted to Jen.”

“You’re going to have to be more clear about that.”

“She told me what happened to her. I’m a dead man if she learns I’ve told you this, but in the interest of peace and getting her a good night’s sleep, I have to break my word on this one. She owes me anyways. When she was being held captive, she was told that she is the genetic reincarnation of a woman named Valkyrie Museveni.”

“That’s a Nietzschean name.”

“Indeed. It gets better though. It would seem that she married a man by the name of Gaheris Rhade. According to Andromeda’s records, she was his third wife. They had a daughter together before he was killed.”

“She could be one of my ancestors,” Rhade mused.

“She’s not, I already checked that. She refused to go to Terazed with her daughter. That daughter, Cleopatra, went with her half siblings. Her descendants are some of your cousins, but her genes aren’t a part of you in any way.”

“So I’m in love with a woman who was a Nietzschean in a past life, married to the man I’m a reincarnation of?”

“In simplest terms, yes.”

“I think I need to sit down.”

“Ready for the last piece? Well, second last, but it’s the final thing I can tell you.”

“You mean there’s more?” Rhade asked incredulously. “What else could there be?”

“In addition to her being a reincarnation of Valkyrie, the Drago-Kazovs altered her DNA and tried to give her bone blades. You see, Nomaien DNA is slightly different from Nietzscheans. What they thought were impurities were what makes her a Nomaien. They attempted to remove it and replace it with Nietzschean DNA. Effectively, she’s half Nietzschean.”

Rhade collapsed into a chair and stared at him. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Jen would never lie to me, especially not about something this serious. I’d know if she was.”

“I have one question to ask you in order to put all the pieces in place in my mind. Tell me, Telemachus, do you dream at night?”

A look of surprise passed over his face. “Sometimes,” he admitted.

“How real are these dreams and how long have you been having them?”

“That’s more than one question.”

“Please answer.”

“And I thought you Nomaiens valued privacy.”

“Damn it, man! Jen’s sanity is at stake here!” Jason shouted. “Answer the damned questions!”

“Her sanity?”

“That’s right. Your average Nomaien can go without sleep for a week at most, but only if they’re in peak health. Jen, in peak health, can go a few days more than that, but she isn’t pleasant to be around. Jen hasn’t had a decent night of sleep in six months and she is in the worst shape I’ve ever seen her in. Between the sleeplessness and the two dreams that reoccur nightly, she is going to loose it if we don’t help her. I’m amazed she’s still functioning.”

Something dawned on Rhade. “Her hatred of Nietzscheans must be giving her something to focus on. I’ve seen something like it before.”

Jason nodded thoughtfully. “Now will you answer the questions? Please, Telemachus.”

“The dreams are extremely detailed and vivid. I’ve been having them off an on for a week now.”

“Thank you. That helps out a lot. Some advice before I go. Do whatever it takes, but get Jen to not hate you. It will help her sleep and, if all goes well, it will help her be more comfortable with who and what she is now. Right now, that’s the best case scenario I can think of.” Jason left Rhade alone in his quarters to ponder the nova bomb that had just been dropped.

Four hours later, after running the information over and over in his mind, after cross checking it with the Andromeda’s records, Rhade concluded that, as strange as it sounded, Jason had been telling him the truth. He brought up the images of Jen and Valkyrie and put them side-by-side. Aside from the differences in hairstyle, clothing, and Jen’s lack of bone blades they were identical. So how did Gaheris Rhade manage to catch her attention? From these records, she was just as much as a time bomb as Jen is. Wait. Dylan said that he was a good friend of Gaheris’s. Why don’t I go ask him?

Smiling, Rhade got up to go find Dylan.

“Valkyrie?” Dylan repeated. Rhade had found him on the observation deck, staring out the window. “Why do you want to know about her?”

“I’m just curious about my ancestor. Her name came up and I was just wondering if you knew her at all.”

“Not very well, but I did meet her a couple times. Gorgeous woman. Great legs. Gaheris had a tendency to go on for hours about his wives, but rarely said anything about her. I asked him about that one day. He told me that no one could understand about Valkyrie unless they’d been with her. As he sincerely doubted that anyone else had, he felt it would be pointless to try and explain.”

“What did he say about her when he did say anything?”

“Lots of things about being able to watch her for hours at a time without being bored. She was a very gifted fighter and would dedicate hours out of the day to perfecting her skills. Even during her pregnancy she didn’t stop, much to the dismay of her physicians. They kept trying to get her to ease up. She was quite smug when Cleopatra was born a perfect, happy baby right on time.”

“What else?” Rhade urged him.

“You’re quite curious about her aren’t you? Let’s see…He often commented about her temper and her passion for life. I do know that they loved each other very much. I must have broken her to learn of his death.”

“Thank you, Dylan,” Rhade said standing. “You’ve been most helpful.”

Dylan watched the younger man leave the room, a puzzled look on his face. “Now what was that all about?”

The next day, Rhade found Jen and Jason sitting opposite from each other at a table in the mess hall, a checkered board between them. On the board were several ornately carved pieces made out of red and white clear glass. Jason moved a white piece resembling a horse’s head to another square. Jen countered by replacing that piece with a red piece shaped like a tower.

“Check,” she said.

“How do you do this?” Jason groaned, moving a small piece to replace the tower.

“You’re too predictable, Jason,” she said, moving a piece with a spiked ring around the top. “Checkmate. I win again.”

Rhade walked over. “What are you doing?”

Jason looked up at him. “You’ve never seen a game of chess before?”

“No, but I’ve heard of it.”

“I should teach you to play if only to give Jen another opponent. None of the girls will play with her.”

Jen folded her arms. “What makes you think I’ll play against him, Jay?”

“Two reasons. The first reason is that it would be something new to do. Second being a chance to beat him.”

“I think not. If I’m going to beat him, I’ll do it at something else.”

“Not afraid are you?” Rhade asked.

“Of loosing a silly game of chess to you?” She snorted. “Hardly. I don’t play novice players. It’s just not exciting or challenging enough.”

Rhade pondered that for a moment. “Trust me, if I learned to play, I wouldn’t challenge you to a game until I felt good enough. To a Nietzschean, a game is never just a game.”

Jen raised an eyebrow. “It will take years before you’re even close to being that good.”

“We’ll see about that.”

Before Jen or Jason could reply, Andromeda’s voice came over the intercom. “All hands on the command deck. We’re receiving a distress call.”

“We’d best get up there, then,” Rhade said, leaving the room.

Jen and Jason exchanged a look. “We may as well,” Jason said, standing. “Unless you have something more pressing to do.”

“Can’t think of anything,” she said reluctantly.