Episode 10: Questions

Jen and Jason joined the others on the bridge just as the Andromeda entered slipstream. “Where are we going?” Jason asked, watching Beka’s piloting with fascination.

“A backwater world named Callien,” Dylan replied. “I’ve never heard of it before.”

“I’m not surprised,” Rommie said. “It was never a member of the Commonwealth.”

“I’ve heard of it,” Trance said. “The solar avatar here is a good friend of mine.”

Dylan looked at her. “Why am I not surprised? Rommie, how long until we get there?”

“Half an hour.”

“We’re closer than I thought. So what do we know about Callien?”

“Not much. The only notes in my database are that it has a climate and continent structure similar to Earth circa the twenty fifth century and that the people there are peaceful. Their message indicates that they are under attack by creatures they’d never seen before.”

Okami rubbed her hands together gleefully, her tail twitching. “Unknown creatures, huh?”

“Don’t get too excited, Okami,” Yumeko warned her enthusiastic friend. “What are the chances that it’s something we can destroy? It’s far more likely that it’s an invading army.”

Okami rolled her eyes. “Our luck is never that good, Yumeko. Whenever it’s an invading army, it’s hordes and hordes of monster-things that we have to destroy. It’s never just an army.”

“And the two of you wonder why I don’t believe in luck,” Jen pointed out.

“Cynic,” Yumeko chided.

“Pessimist is, I think, more accurate,” Tenshi told her.

“Nietzscheans don't believe in optimism. It inhibits survival,” Rhade said.

“So does pessimism,” Dylan told him.

“This conversation sounds familiar,” Andromeda mused. A few minutes later, Beka brought them out of slipstream near an average sized blue-green planet orbited by twin moons.

“Well, it looks like Earth except for that extra moon,” Harper said.

“Let’s go see what the problem is,” Dylan said. “Andromeda, hail them.”

A face appeared on the screen. “Can I help you?” the haggard looking man asked hurriedly. He was busily packing things into a case. His clothing was torn and his face was smudged with dirt.

“I’m Captain Dylan Hunt of the High Guard warship Andromeda Ascendant. We received a distress call from your planet and came to help,” Dylan told him.

The door behind the man exploded. “I’m too late!” He looked up at them. “Help my people.” A group of men carrying weapons entered the room. “Please!” he shouted as the screen went blank.

Jen turned to leave the bridge. “I’m going down there.”

Jason blocked her path. “Danye?” he asked in Nomaien.

“Kal to frien sha leshye,” she replied coldly. Jason moved out of the way and she left.

“What was that all about?” Beka asked him.

“The attacking army is made up of Nietzscheans. How she knew that, I’m not sure.”

“Andromeda, replay the last few seconds of that message. Freeze and enhance the images of the men in the background,” Dylan commanded. The image reappeared on the screen. “Enlarge their forearms.” The image changed, clearly showing the faintest sign of a bone blade.

“Whoa,” said Harper.

“Definitely Nietzschean,” Rhade agreed. He turned to Jason. “So why did you let her leave?”

“Relax. She can’t get off this ship without us. Jen doesn’t know how to pilot a ship.”

“For once that’s a good thing,” Okami muttered.

“Let’s go,” Dylan said. “We need to know why those Nietzscheans are attacking these people.”

They caught up with Jen half way to the Maru. She ignored their presence and kept on going. Jason caught up with her and spoke to her in hushed tones. Dylan turned to Rommie. “What are they saying?”

“I can hear it, but not understand,” she replied. “Must be more of their native tongue.”

“If you heard more of it, could you translate it?”

“Doubtful. It’s very odd.”

“You should see the written version,” Tenshi told her. “Even with her translating the text, I can’t make heads or tails of it.”

“Just be glad there isn’t much of it,” Yumeko added. “Her ancestors were nomads. Books are too heavy to be packing around with you, so up until the capital city was founded, their entire history was oral.”

“So who stays and who goes?” Beka asked impatiently. She was getting heartily sick of hearing nothing but things about Jen. The entire crew seemed obsessed with the cold woman’s past.

“I’d like Rommie and Harper to stay behind this time,” Dylan said. “Just in case anything goes wrong.”

“If it’s all the same to you, Captain, I’d like to remain behind as well,” Yumeko told him politely. “Just in case the Nietzscheans spot the Andromeda and come calling.”

“That sounds fine with me. Harper? Rommie?”

Harper stared at the blond girl. “Sure. I don’t mind.”

Rommie shook her head. “No objections, Captain.”

“Good. Everyone else, get on board the Maru.”

They exited the Maru down on the planet’s surface and looked around. It looked like Earth. The buildings had sustained heavy damage and the ones that were still standing looked close to collapsing. There were dead people littering the streets. Parents futilely attempting to protect their children, people cut down as they tried to run from their killers. The smell of death hung heavily in the air as they walked.

“I’m glad Yumeko stayed up on the Andromeda,” said, Jen, looking like she was going to be sick. “This would have broken her tender heart. I haven’t seen anything this bad since Kage Neko attacked our home worlds back before we went to Earth that first time.”

“I never thought I’d see any sort of emotion from you beyond that cold hatred of yours,” Beka commented.

Jen ignored her and walked over to a body with clothing different from the others. It was lying face down in the dirt. She flipped it over with her foot. The dead man had a broken piece of wood piercing his heart. On his forearms were the bony protrusions that marked him as a Nietzschean. “I know him,” she said slowly.

“How could you?” Dylan asked. “Before you went to Earth, you’d never seen one before.”

“He was one of the guards who captured me,” she replied in a voice void of all emotion.

“This means that the Drago-Kazov are responsible for this attack,” Rhade growled. “Their Pride is a disgrace to all Nietzscheans.” Startled, Jen turned to look at him. “Not all Nietzscheans are the same, Jen. The Drago-Kazov are bullies and thugs. It’s just our bad luck that they came out the strongest after the Commonwealth fell.”

She turned her focus back to the dead man, giving him a kick to the head before walking away. She said nothing more until they turned a corner and bumped directly into a line of natives in chains being led away by armed Nietzscheans. “ That’s it. Those bastards are going down,” she growled, clenching her hands into fists.

“I couldn’t agree more,” Rhade told her. “What is it with them and slavery?”

“So transform and get out there,” Dylan suggested.

Trance shook her head. “These are real people, not demons. Our powers would only kill them. We aren’t supposed to kill.”

“So reduce your power level,” Tenshi told her. “It’s not hard, it just takes some concentration. Hasn’t Miocci been teaching you anything?”

“We haven’t gotten to that part yet.”

“Just think thoughts about not doing much damage,” Jen said, rounding the corner.

“Is she nuts?” Beka asked. “She’s heading right for them.”

“Let’s see what she’s got up her sleeve,” Jason suggested, watching her intently.

As soon as they spotted her approach, the armed guards instantly aimed their weapons at her. “Halt!”

“I think not,” she replied calmly, continuing on.

One of the guards turned to another. “Hey, isn’t this the girl Thor was talking about? Sure looks like her.”

“What are you talking about?”

“The reincarnation of Valkyrie Museveni,” the first guard hissed. “She escaped from one of the camps on Earth. No one knows how.”

The second rolled his eyes. “She must have had help, idiot.”

Jen smiled at them. Not a pleasant smile, either. “That’s me alright. So, can I assume that you have standing orders to bring me in if you found me?”

They both looked at her suspiciously. “That’s right,” the second guard said, indicating that the other guards should proceed with taking the chained prisoners away.

Jen spread her arms out. “So what are you waiting for? Take me to your leader.”

Both guards came up and grabbed her arms, leading her the opposite way down the street towards a large, untouched structure that could only be a government office of some sort.

Okami smacked her hand against her forehead. “Does that girl have a death wish or something? She’s walking right into the viper’s den.”

“Okami, there are sometimes when death is preferable to life,” Jason reminded her. “Besides, I think I know what she’s doing. It’s their fault they’re too foolish to see through it.”

“Just so that the rest of us know what’s going on, could you explain?” Dylan asked.

“By turning herself in like that, she will be taken to their leader, as clichéd as that sounds. In turn, we’re supposed to follow.”

“What about the slaves?” Rhade demanded.

“Which is your higher priority, Rhade? Jen or the prisoners that we can free later?”

“You know what?” Beka asked them. “I’m going to go after the prisoners. I don’t give a rat’s ass about that bitch. Anyone coming with me?”

They all exchanged looks. “I’ll go,” Tenshi said.

“Tenshi, Jen is your best friend,” Okami said, surprised. “Wouldn’t I be the better choice here?”

Tenshi shook her head. “You’re stronger than me, so you’d be more useful breaking into and out of a building.”

“I’ll go with you as well,” Dylan said. “You know, just in case you need help.”

Tenshi stared at him and blushed. “If you like,” she said shyly.

“Ok, let’s do this thing,” Jason said. “Nomaie Planet Power, Make Up!” The light that surrounded him was only a shade lighter than Jen’s aura. When it vanished, he was dressed in a uniform similar to Terazed Kamen’s, but it was dark red instead of black.

“Glad to see that Rhade isn’t the only one who looks good in a tux,” Beka whistled appreciatively.

“Get it in gear, people,” Nomaie Kamen said impatiently, blushing at Beka’s comment.

“Vedra Solar Power…”

“Terazed Planet Power…”

“Water Elemental Power…”

“Earth Elemental Power…”

“Make Up!”

Nomaie Kamen, along with Sailor Vedra, Terazed Kamen and Guardian StarLight, followed Jen and the two Nietzscheans into the large building. Once inside, they looked around. There were hallways and staircases everywhere. Confidently, he led them up one staircase.

“How do you know this is the right one?” Terazed asked him.

“I can feel her presence tugging at me. Can’t you?”

Terazed gave him a questioning look. “How can you feel her?”

“I was wondering the same thing myself,” Vedra added. “What, exactly, is your relationship with her? Why are the two of you always together?”

“Could we talk about this later?” Nomaie asked urgently. “Let’s concentrate on getting her out of here first.”

Terazed narrowed his eyes suspiciously, but nodded. “While I’m all of letting her cut a bloody swath of destruction through the Drago-Kazov Pride, I’d rather not get caught in the way. She may not recognize me.”

“Or worse. Recognize you and deliberately take you out,” StarLight told him, grinning evilly.

Nomaie led them up the stairs, pausing on the landing briefly before continuing. The stairway led them into the entrance of a long hallway. There were doors on either side. He looked around and sighed.

“Great. I couldn’t tell you which door she’s behind. She’s up here though, no doubt about it.”

“Terazed?” Vedra asked. “Nietzscheans have better hearing than most. Can you find her?”

“I think so,” he said, heading down the hall, pausing by each door to listen for voices. At the second last door, he stopped and motioned them forward. “She’s here,” he whispered.

“What are we waiting for?” StarLight demanded impatiently. “Let’s get her out!”

“They’re talking to her. I want to hear what’s going on.”

“So, Valkyrie, you’ve chosen to return to us,” the large man in front of Jen said, cupping her chin in his hand. She jerked her head out of his grasp. He grinned. “I’d wondered when you ran away from us before your cleansing was completed.”

“I was confused,” she said simply, shrugging. “There was so much going on. I didn’t know where I was or who any of you were.”

The man smiled. “That’s understandable. It’s not every day that Valkyrie Museveni is reborn. This isn’t your time. None of the people you knew are alive today.”

“With the exception of that annoyance Rhade,” the first guard amended.

“Rhade?” Jen asked. “What does he have to do with this?”

“So you know of him?” the tall man asked.

Jen waved her hand dismissively. “He is of no consequence. I believe you were about to tell me who you are?”

“Ah yes. I am Augustus out of Marie by Romulus Pride Drago-Kazov,” he said with a bow. “We are distant cousins.”

“How distant?”

“Distant enough that, should you accept me as a husband, it wouldn’t pose any problems.” Seeing the look of dismay on Jen’s face, he chuckled, caressing her cheek. “No need to answer just now.”

“Touch me again and I’ll remove that hand at the shoulder,” she growled warningly.

He laughed, delighted. “Your fire is legendary in our Pride.”

“Anyways, your guard here was saying something about Rhade?”

Augustus waved his hand dismissively. “It’s nothing. Just an annoyance.”

“If it’s of no importance, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t tell me, now is there?” she asked sweetly.

“Anything for you, Valkyrie. You see, rumor has it that this Telemachus Rhade is the genetic reincarnation of your former husband, Gaheris Rhade.” He laughed again. “I highly doubt it, though.”

Jen swallowed her shock at hearing that and continued. “Is that so? Odd that no one mentioned this before.”

“It’s probably not true. Now, then, how about we go and find you something more…appropriate to wear before we board the next ship bound for Earth? Our Matriarch would love to meet you. On the way, we can finish removing the impurities from your blood.”

“I have a better idea,” she said, walking slowly over to him, cupping his face in her hands. “We could stay here.”

“I like how you think.”

“It gets better,” she purred, digging her nails into his face. “We stay here and I wipe your filthy Pride off this planet for what you did to me!” She pulled her hands away, shredding chunks of his skin off as she did so. He screamed in agony. The senshi burst through the door just as Jen finished dispatching the guards. She looked at them calmly, wiping her bloodied hands on her pants. “What kept you?” she asked calmly.

Nomaie brushed past Terazed and grabbed Jen’s shoulders, giving her a shake. “What the hell were you thinking?” he demanded. “I understand your reasoning, but the risk was too high. They could have hurt you!”

“I was never in any danger, Jason,” Jen replied with a calm that was bordering on scary. “I knew what I was doing.”

Nomaie wrapped his arms around the startled Jen, hugging her fiercely. “Promise me that you won’t do anything like that ever again.”

“You know I can’t. It’s my job.”

Terazed looked at the two Nomaiens and then down at the broken bodies of the three Nietzscheans. The guards had broken necks. The third, Augustus, had his face torn to shreds by Jen’s nails as well as having a broken neck. His head had been twisted around so that his face was looking up at them even though the body was lying on its chest. He looked back up at Nomaie Kamen and Jen, feeling a surge of jealousy rush through him at the sight.

Vedra placed a hand on his shoulder. “They’re the same species, Rhade,” she said, trying to be comforting.

“You think it matters to me what species she is?” he said for her hearing only.

“I didn’t say that. I only meant that she would probably prefer her own kind, especially given her expressed views on Nietzscheans.”

Nomaie released Jen. “You should probably transform so that we can go help StarSinger, Dylan, and Beka. They went after the chain of prisoners.”

Jen frowned. “Why Singer? Why not StarLight?”

“She figured I’d be of more use breaking in here to get you out,” StarLight explained, looking at the bodies. “Seems that I wasn’t needed.”

“It looks like none of us were needed,” Terazed added, leaving the room.

“What’s his problem?” Jen asked.

“Could be the killing of the Nietzscheans,” Nomaie suggested.

“The Drago-Kazov are a blight on the Nietzschean race,” Vedra told her. “That likely wouldn’t be bothering him.”

“Who knows?” Light said grumpily. “Let’s just get going before more of them show up.”

“Too late!” Terazed said from outside.

“Fire Elemental Power, Make Up!”