Teknoman Fan Fiction ❯ Shara's Last Gift ❯ Birth of Despair ( Chapter 6 )

[ P - Pre-Teen ]

[Warhammer walks through a snow-covered mountain range as the sun peaks through clouds overhead.]

WH: We all have trials in our lives... some have to face problems of the self, some of outside adversity, yet some of these would fail in comparison when some of us have to face the truth.

Teknos Warhammer presents


Shara's Last Gift

Chapter 6: Birth of Despair

Based on the anime and manga

Space Knight Tekkaman Blade/Teknoman


"When I first heard that alien life was out there, I was actually thrilled at the idea that we weren't alone. But after this war, I've started to change my mind. As if having the Lahdam come along and trash our home wasn't bad enough, the 'assistance' that came after from another world was not exactly my idea of help."

-Raye Hino, when asked about the Kharusian visitor that appeared in the later half of the First Lahdam War.


In the vacuum of space above Earth, a burst of light appeared from nowhere. Within seconds, a tunnel composed of blue light swirled open from the rift that its user had made. When it seemed that nothing would appear from the tunnel, a small comet, no larger than a two-man transport, fell through the atmosphere.

Through the protective energy field, its occupant assessed the planet through her mind.

{Hmm, lots of Lahdam-based interference. I can't see a thing. He should be on this planet somewhere,} she thought to herself as she flew through a thick layer of clouds to see an expansive field of grass and shrubbery. Little evidence of life could be seen saved for the ruined homes and destroyed towns that were most likely populated a short while before.

{If these people were fortunate, the Lahdam would have killed them all off and left this world to rot,} she added sardonically. Feeling her stomach rumble had broken her train of thought as her hunger for food overcame her mission at the present time.

Reaching the ground, the light vanished and in its place appeared a humanoid figure completely encased in white and blue robes, which hardly left anything visible for an outside viewer to even tell of the person within was human or not. The only parts that were visible were the eyes and bridge of the nose and what appeared to be a pair of long, almost animal-like ears protruding from the sides of the cowl she wore.

The figure ran and hopped through the grass like a four-legged predator to a large and seemingly slow animal that was simply grazing by itself.

The stranger let herself smirk in amusement at the thought of acting like something that was almost contrary to her nature. But Ioroush forbid that she should die from hunger just because she should not eat a little wildlife.

Hovering over the ground on her hands and feet, she edged herself closer and closer to the larger animal.

The animal was very large, covered with much meat and even more fat, most likely. It just seemed to stand there, completely oblivious to the fact that it was going to be food for her.

The stranger held her breath and was ready to strike. She was very hungry and she would be hungry no longer!

With that, she flew up into the air and raised her hands high to delivery the fatal blow. But upon closer examination, she stopped and landed in front of the beast. It was not alone.

The animal only looked up to her as it continued to chew on a piece of grass it had taken only a few minutes before. The cow had no idea what this strange thing was doing in the first place. Aside from that, she was busy giving milk to her baby calves.

Letting her shoulders slump, the stranger stood up on her back feet, sighed and mumbled resignedly, "Nouirichom..." and walked off.

{I should have known that I would choose a nursing mother to try and eat...}

Looking about, she figured that there was some sort of settlement that sold consumable goods around here. The only problem was if people were still there. Then there would be problems.

The solution? Find somewhere where they were all dead. They would not mind at all.


Farther north and halfway around the world, a wind started to pick up around the bottom of a rocky valley. To the wildlife living there, it appeared that it was just a breeze coming through, but in reality, it was merely the predecessor to the one who was causing it.

From nowhere, an eight-foot tall woman, completely cased in armor that seemed more like a second skin than anything else, dashed through the valley. Traveling at a speed as high as she was, she had to be careful, lest she would crash into a large rock and ruin her day.

Tina still continued to marvel at the ability that she had to simply ride on the wind. She he been doing this for about a week and though she could see no more improvement that before, her control over her ability came more naturally.

Seeing several large rocks ahead, she hopped, skipped, and jumped all the way over them to the entrance of another small valley. Yet it was the one where she had been staying the whole week, along with two compatriots, for the purpose of learning how to utilize this new power of hers.

Ness and Shannon Carter had chosen to come along so they could practice and refine their new power without the government heads trying to do anything. It seemed that General Xerxes Galt and other men and women like him were more than eager to get their hands on the new alien technology that had been almost placed in their hands by fate.

With Earth in such dire circumstances, such a gamble could not be taken.

In addition, the Carters had suffered enough problems with the aliens that had ripped their family apart. Being treated as a weapon or a guinea pig was not very favorable to them, and they had no intention of recreating such an experience.

She was grateful that her friend's time limit was no longer there, thanks to an upgrade given to him by his sister... yet there was a small part of her mind that was saying that something was amiss. Almost as if there was something that Shara wasn't telling them. She shrugged it off and resumed her course back to the facility.

More likely than not, her companions were still waiting for her.


Ness Carter stood with his eyes closed, not paying attention to the non-existent surroundings about him. He remained as still as a stone, as if he were waiting for someone... or something.

Suddenly, several large human-shaped monstrosities flew at him from all sides. He dashed forward and out of the range of his attackers. Pulling his twin-bladed weapon out, he dashed back into the foray and started to attack his foes.

His adversaries were very skilled and for every second that his back was turned, one of his foes would try to either cut him in two or lop his head off. The more Ness struggled, the more his foes looked more like the four Teknomen that had been assailed him several weeks before.

Seeing that the more he was struggling to get out, the harder his foes would try and corner him between them all, the only option left was to vary his tactics rather than simply using brute force. Whacking Ax's weapon away, he opened the plate on his right forearm and shot the oppressing foe away, giving him a new avenue of escape.

Taking another dash away, he opened both gauntlets and fired at the remaining three enemies. Though he had caught two of them in the blast, the remaining foe had jumped over and fired a bolt of his own. Using his weapon, he whacked the bolt away, only to be hewn down from behind by Ax.

Then the simulation ended.

Sighing, Ness pulled the helmet off and took a minute to stare at the ceiling where more wires and computer consoles were hanging over the large seat that he was sitting in. He turned around to see what else was supposed to be a part of his training.

He was on the seat of a large cockpit sized machine that was connected to several other computers placed about the room. The purpose of it all was to increase his response and mental control when in battle.

Without his armor, his reaction time, strength, agility, speed, and such were somewhat higher than a normal person's was. In his armor, all his senses were increased so much that it was hard at times to make sure where he was and what he was doing at the time.

"You all right?" Shara asked, looking up from a console that was judging his performance.

Coming back to reality, he turned to his sister and nodded. While he got up, he added, "Even though I can see how this can help me, I still have a hard time understanding."

Stepping around the console to her brother, she lifted the helmet higher and turned the machine off. "It's mental training. The faster you respond and retaliate to the simulations, the closer it is to you matching your performance in real life."

Standing up, Ness sighed again and in an effort to understand her words. "If it means that I can beat Darkon, I have no problem with it."

His response made her smile a bit, despite her condition. "According to the computers, your ratings have gone up a lot more since the last time that you've done this. You're in better condition than you've ever been before. If things keep going at this rate, you'll be more than ready to take on the entire invasion force by yourself, if needs be."

Her brother snorted at the notion, "I'm not a one-man army, Shara. On top of that, I'd more likely than not wear myself out before I got done with half of them. But the idea does sound nice."

Shara was about to reply when the communications console flared to life. On the other end was their mother, who had opted to not only stay at the Space Knight Command Center for the purpose of staying in touch with her children, but also enlisted as a doctor for emergencies.

"Ness? Shannon? You two there?" Harri Carter asked from the other side of the communication link.

"Right here, mom," Shara replied, after typing in the commands on the control console to accept the link.

"I finally got the OK from your commander to contact you two. You wouldn't believe all the things I've had to put up with being a doctor here." She ended with a bit of exasperation.

Blinking, her children continued to listen, despite the fact that this was one of the few times that their mother actually complained. They had learned to respect their mother, not only from the fact that she was their mother, but had more patience than she ever let on.

"With all the assembly of those darn suits, accidents among the workers are going up because of all the pressure that's being put on them." She frowned at the thought of a few workers in particular that she had to treat.

In response, Ness replied, "That's odd. In all my time at the Command Center I haven't seen a lot of people getting hurt just assembling things."

Looking up in recollection, Harri said, "Come to think of it, most of the people I've helped treat kept on saying 'that should have worked.' I got the impression that a lot of the people here know what they're doing so maybe something's up."

Shara answered immediately, "It could be... but I can't imagine Darkon trying to resort to something like that."

Ness turned to his sister, "You sure?"

She responded with a dark gaze, "Yes... you know how he operates."

Seeing that this was not heading anywhere, Harri concluded, "Well... I'll speak with the commander about it. Maybe talking with him will help us find an answer about this. Please, can we stop talking about these depressing things? How are you two doing?"

Seeing that their mother was still the same, despite all the bad things that had happened to her family, allowed the siblings to relax a bit.


The Carters had been so involved with their conversation that they failed to notice that the sun was just setting in the west and they had to cut it short.

"Before I go, I have to let you two know that there's a thunderstorm about to hit your area. You best be getting ready for it."

"We will, Mom. Don't worry," Shara assured her as she switched the communicator off.

"Wait, a storm around here?" Ness asked.

"You heard what she said, a storm. What's wrong?" Shara asked back.

"Hold on," Ness said before walking down to the front of the small complex they were staying in. Utterly confused, Shara followed her brother, still wondering what he was doing.

Walking up the steps from the door in the level in the ground, Ness discovered the answer. There, in front of him, was Tina in control of the storm that was circulating over their heads.

"Tina!" Ness screamed over the roar of the wind and thunder, "What are you trying to do?!"

Tina turned around with a panicked look and cried, "I don't know! I was just fooling around, waiting for you two to finish talking with your mom, but before I knew it, this happened!"

"Well, try and turn it off!"

"What does it look like I'm doing?!"

Looking up to see that the storm would not get any better, Ness yelled, "Get inside! Try and get it under control from there if you can!" Nodding, the younger girl ran inside, immediately followed by Ness. Though there was no rain or hail, the wind made the air's temperature even lower.

Closing the door behind him, Ness took another look through the small window in the door to see the storm was raging. Though it looked like the storm would not end anytime soon, the area that it covered was not as great than one would think at first sight.

Turning back to see a somewhat frightened and shivering Tina, Ness leaned against the door and asked, "So, you want to let us know exactly what happened?"

Though there was no anger or resentment in his voice, Tina felt that both he and his sister were slightly agitated at the problem she had just caused.

"Well... I just finished surveying the other side of the valley, so I came back to see if there was anything going on. But I saw that you two were talking with your mom, I didn't want to interrupt so I went outside and tried to use my power without my armor to pass the time."

Shara blinked and finished when the pieces came together rather simply. "And the storm outside is the result of doing whatever you were doing." Tina nodded guiltily.

Ness, hoping to get out and train in real time, as opposed to the simulator, frowned in disappointment. He would have said something else, but he thought better of it. Tina was feeling bad enough as it was, so he figured it would be better to wait.

"Well, no use in making a bigger deal out of it than it already is. We might as well turn in, this storm's not going to die down any time soon. I'll get back to the simulator." With that, Ness left them both.

Shara turned to Tina after he had left and said quietly, "He won't say anything. Doesn't matter what, he won't say anything."

With a scrutinizing look, Tina implored, "Why?"

Shrugging, Shara replied, "He doesn't want to hurt you. You're both on the same side, and the fact that he trusts you as if you were me is most likely the reason why."

Looking after the way he went, Tina said to herself quietly, "Like a sister..."
Ever since that night where Slade had confided in her about his time limit, Tina felt like she had grown up a bit more. She hardly had anyone to speak to, aside from the other Space Knight command crew, Miaka, and a few others. Despite that, she wanted more than anything was someone to trust her and she to trust that person.

Leaving Shara to take care of her brother, Tina walked back to her room, closed the door, and walked to the mirror to see how much she had changed. Before the process started, she was only a little over four feet in height, now she was starting to exceed five feet in height and wondered how much further it would stop. On top of that, her face was becoming more angular, more like a woman and not the child-like elf that she was at times teased of being.

Her hair had also grown rather quickly. At first it had only been reaching to her shoulders, now it was cascading past her shoulder blades to the middle of her back.

She thought it was almost eerie how much she was starting to look like her mother. The last time she looked at her picture, she marveled at how stunningly beautiful Natalie Corman was. Though not perfect, her mother was every bit as graceful as she was beautiful. In addition, she loved both her husband and children as much as a mother could.

Then, she had to vanish... just like Tina's father did.

She felt so alone after being separated from her only family. Despite seeing the cheerful and spunky mascot that everyone at the SKCC thought she was, what she was really saying was that she wanted someone to confide in. Someone to trust and be trusted in... and more importantly, to love.

"Why did I have to be so stupid?" She whispered to herself. "He doesn't care about me like that..." She leaned forward so that her forehead rested uncomfortably against the wall.

She knew it all too well that it was 'she' that got his heart first. True, she had been there for him to confide him, but she was just a kid then... and she still was.

"Indeed you are," a voice murmured behind her. She whirled to see Kahn was sitting more rigid than he ever did and he did not look pleased at all. "And I must say that I'm very disappointed with you!"

"What do you mean?"

"What do I mean? I mean the display that you were performing earlier. I admit to seeing some irresponsible uses of such power before, but this has got to be one of the most immature acts I've ever seen!" Kahn snarled. "Creating a storm to pass the time? Or was it to try and amuse yourself with?"

His words had forced Tina to the wall, made her knees give out on her, and she collapsed to the floor. She admitted to being scared when her parents had to scold her for being bad, but being berated by a tiger that could shred you to pieces was a different matter altogether.

The anger in Kahn's eyes did not waver in the least. "Well? I am waiting for your answer!" Even if Tina had the answer that Kahn wanted, she could not say it, due to the fear, which gripped her throat and silenced her voice.

"I... I'm... I'm sorry..." she whispered, wishing that his anger would be abated. Sadly, it was not.

"Unfortunately, 'sorry' cannot repair damage once it's been done. It cannot bring back life or heal wounds either!" Kahn was pacing around the room, still unhappy that a student of his would act so childish.

Tina was on the verge of tears and wanting to run away from all of this. She had made another big mistake. She hated making mistakes like this, which was why she tried her best to avoid error at all cost, but even then her efforts were in vain. She curled up into a ball and started to curse herself for volunteering in the first place.

Kahn, upon hearing her sniffle, left the anger flow out of his system and proceeded to walk by Tina slowly enough so that she would not notice. He sighed inwardly. It appeared that he had misjudged yet again... just like the last time.

"It appears that it's my turn to apologize."

Tina looked up, her eyes slightly moist.

"In all that I do, I tend to forget how fragile emotions can be. If it can put your heart at ease, my dear, I make mistakes too." Hearing him say that brought a small smile to her face. "I surmise that the reason why I was so hard on you was because of my resentment towards myself, due to one of my best students."

Blinking and getting an idea of who he could be referring to, Tina asked, "Could that student be..."

"Galin Phorintsu... you know him as Darkon. He was the most promising and potential laden warrior a teacher could ever hope for. So I pushed him as far as I could for the purpose of exceeding my expectations... though he made the choices by himself, I cannot help but feel partially responsible for what he became because of my vanity." Kahn's previous anger was now completely vanished and his mood became downtrodden.

Hoping to alleviate his sorrow a bit, Tina reached over his shoulders and started to stroke the back of his neck gently, almost as if he was a house pet. Without looking at her, he continued, "I only wish not to repeat the mistakes I made before... and even then, it does not look like I am succeeding."

Crawling in front and kneeling in front of him, Tina said, "I don't know about that, Master. I've actually been able to do a lot because you were there for me."

A frown crossed Kahn's face, "I do not recommend saying things in an attempt to win my friendship... because you're not the first who's tried. Secondly, who said you should call me 'Master'?"

Tina's smile grew, "Or Teacher. Either one's fine."

Kahn's frown grew. "I prefer neither. My name is Kahn, always has been, is and will be. I will not acknowledge anything more or less."

"All right, all right. So, Kahn, what else were you planning on teaching me?"

"Well, aside from my rather forceful reminder of knowing your limits, I have in mind an exercise that may take you a while to learn. And I hope that you learn it well because it may be the last exercise I will teach you for a while."

"Huh? You mean you're going away?" Tina asked in surprise. Kahn's only response was a nod. "But if what you've told me is right, then I'll still need your help!"

"It cannot be helped. My time for being your teacher is very limited and small compared to how long you may live. Once I have taught you everything that I can, to the best of my ability, I shall let you go. And more likely than not, we shall never cross paths again. Besides, now is not my time to leave yet, so you may deter from any notion of sadness. You still have much to learn."

Realizing that her teacher would not be with her forever made Tina realize once more the gravity of how much more she should be paying attention. She sat on a nearby chair and asked that her teacher continue what he was to do in the first place.

"Like I said before, the Wind is not just some lifeless thing, but a living entity which you can cooperate with and utilize. In addition, there's an ability that can allow you to send your consciousness into the wind itself and see with eyes not of your own."

Tina felt that if she had she in a comic book, several question marks would have appeared over her head. Words arranged in the manner Kahn spoke in always had a way of making her head spin.

Kahn sighed once more, "To put it simply, you can see what the wind beholds."

Her mind still filled with questions, Tina asked, "Well, that's nice and all, but how am I supposed to do it?"

"For one thing, you can pay attention and listen carefully," he said looking into her eyes. "Like I taught you how to give the wind power to enlist its aid..." Tina found that it was getting hard to see anything else but his eyes, those beautiful golden eyes, like a field in the sunset she saw back in Colorado many years back...


Tina was going very fast, faster than she could even begin to let her brain register it. She was also flying through a large amount of what appeared to be... wheat?

She could not control the rate she was moving at, the direction, or the form she was in. Either way, she was moving very fast through a field of wheat... somewhere.

Taking a look around, she found that her body was non-existent, but still had her bearings to know where she was. It was still a mystery how she was able to do such a thing was still far beyond her comprehension at the time, but it was certainly exhilarating to be able to do this.

Letting the wind carry her, Tina felt herself grow stronger and stronger as she saw the she was being carried into a twister that was tearing apart an abandoned town, along with all the massive pods that had grown up around it. It gave her a bit of sick thrill to think of the pods falling before natures might.

However, it quickly left as she felt her control being disrupted inside the twister. She would have grabbed onto something, but without any hands, she could not grab onto anything even if there was.

When the twister had finally dissipated, she felt herself starting to drift within a ruined city. Another reminder of whom was on the losing end of the war. It still hurt Tina to imagine that there were people that had once lived there. Now that this had occurred, everything mankind had done to go forward was stomped upon and ruined.

Drifting through what was left of a building, she floated into an office where papers were strewn all about the floor. Desks and file drawers were toppled and turned onto their sides, their contents, ranging from pencils to cameras to photographs of family.

Though she couldn't smell much from the overpowering stench of decay at the moment, another scent had been able to cut through the shifting winds. She couldn't discern what exactly what the scent was, due to how far the source was from where she was.

So, using what little control she had, she followed the scent through several hallways and doors to a small room without a ceiling. With the stronger scent and seeing the source of the smell, it all made sense.

Sitting in the corner, was a dirtied, sullen, unkempt, woman with hair that at one time probably shone like the sun, but now was dulled and dirty. The scent she detected was the unmistakable stench of alcohol, combined with all the semi-empty bottles of bourbon.

The ruined and tattered clothes she wore gave the impression that she was once a woman of high stature, but now was no different than any drunk one would see on the street. On the floor next to her, was a small brooch, which held a beautiful crystal that shone, or would have shone, like silver. Now it was dulled and darkened from the dirt and some other factor she could not fathom.

The face the woman held was one of sadness that almost seemed contagious. Even with the intoxication of all she drank, she still sniffed heavily and tears still ran down her face. Almost as if the alcohol could not alleviate her suffering, nor would it. Her face and eyes were sullen and hollow, it appeared that she had not eaten any food in quite a while, more likely than not, it was a conscious choice rather than the shortage of food in the area.

Tina wanted to help the destitute woman, but before she could do anything else, she was brought back to herself at the installation. Just as quickly from when she left, she was returned to her own body, kneeling against the wall in her room. Her own cheeks were slightly moist from tears that had slipped out of her eyes.

Night had already fallen and the storm was gone, as was Kahn. She still had to give it some more thought as to how she was able to 'throw her consciousness into the wind,' but who exactly the woman was still troubled her.

Rubbing her temples, she figured it would be best if she got some rest now and worry about it later.

Besides, she had to take care of 'it' soon or else she'd never have another chance like it again.


Back in the depths of the Space Knight command center, Teknoman Sword, disguised as Starrik Summers, retreated to the chamber where she had hidden the real Star. Over a week and a half earlier, Sword had captured Star in the pulsing, modified subversion pod to turn her into a weapon that could kill the biggest obstruction to their plans of domination of Earth.

She was about to open the door to stairwell that would lead to the lower levels, she turned around as if she were being followed. Her heightened sense of hearing told her that there were sounds out of place from where she was, yet these random noises were common place. She concentrated harder on the sounds, but still found nothing out of the ordinary.

She had a feeling that someone was there, but now was not the time to wonder about that. Star was about to emerge and she had to be there. Time was of the essence.

Had Sword stayed around longer, she would have noticed that Ensign Miaka Yuuki had been secretly following her. Ever since Slade, Tina, and Shara had left, things have been breaking down when they should have been working fine. Miaka was not one to automatically accuse anyone, but she had been noticing slight changes in Star's behavior. Though the changes were slight, they were enough to make Miaka want to monitor her.

She had asked the commander for permission and had given his approval. He was just as curious about the malfunctions as the engineers were, and during Miaka's off time, she had been watching the construction bays and had seen a shadow sabotage the construction machines.

At first, Miaka could not believe it, but the more she found that Star had been absent from her room a lot more than usual. Edging slowly down to the door Sword had entered, Miaka kept in mind of a few possibilities about the reason why Star was working against them.

One was that she was bribed by some outside source to do this to them. Another was she was so angry with Tina for being with Slade all alone that the idea drove her insane. The only problem with those two theories was that they were impossible. Star was more mature than most of the female members of the Space Knights and it seemed very out of character for her to be like that.

There was one possibility, despite the fact it was very improbable. Star's will must have been subverted by the enemy and had been doing this to serve the enemy's purpose. Then why would she have to go down there? She felt the derringer in the holster on her leg and the other hidden in her sleeve, and felt she may need it if worse came to worse.


Gritting her teeth, Sword wanted to scream. It was all so perfect, but now because one of the bridge bunnies was following her, everything would be ruined! Even with all of Star's memories, she had not been able to emulate her perfectly.

In addition, seeing the Space Knights starting to make more weapons that could defeat their forces, drastic measures needed to be taken. A disconnected conduit here, a busted relay outlet there had caused the production of the new set of Teknosuits to be delayed. Now she had to hurry before the commander's stooge found out her plan.

After slamming another door shut, she pressed her hands against the console near the door and a red light invaded it and sealed the door shut. It would delay her for a while, if not indefinitely.

Running to the deepest chamber, Sword saw the pod beginning to pulse harder and quicker. In fact, several wounds appeared about the sphere and started to bleed the slimy red and pink substance on the floor.

Smirking, Sword growled to the person within, "Now!"

On command, the pod burst and its occupant tumbled out amongst the slimy substance, which dissolved into nothing within seconds.

With a sigh of relief, Sword saw the process had worked perfectly and now that it was complete, she did not need to continue the use of the disguise. Within seconds, the ruse had ended and Sword was now back to her original form.

With a calculated eye, Sword examined the result of her handiwork. A symbiote was in place, senses heightened, armor and melee weapons were in place. All she needed to do was place in the correct command to make Star fulfill her new purpose for living.

"So dear, how are we feeling?" Sword asked as if she were asking a friend.

Her only answer was a hateful glare with eyes just as red as her own and an animalistic snarl.

"Good enough," Sword said before she reached down hand clenched Star's cheeks, held her up, and continued, "Now, understand this. You hate me, am I right?"

Star's hands latched onto Sword's neck in response.

Due to the recent emergence, Star was far too weak to actually do any fatal damage. In addition, there were implanted voices screaming in her head that would not be silent, it was painful as well as distracting. She let go and staggered backward.

"Good, now that we got this out of the way, we can get down to business. You don't like those screams I implanted in your head, so I'm willing to make you a deal. You're going to kill Slade for us and in exchange, I'll silence the voices you are hearing right now."

The order made Star's eyes widen in shock. It was just the distraction Sword needed as she rammed her fist into Star's bare gut. The blow sent the subverted woman to the floor and curled up to try and contain the pain. Despite the blow, the greater pain came from the voices in Star's head, telling her to kill Slade.

Kill Slade? The idea was ridiculous to her at first, but when she brought up resistance to the command, the voices intensified ten-fold. She held her head and rolled around begging for the pain to stop.

With a hand on her hip, Sword gloated, "Don't know who said it, but I'm glad they did. Resistance if futile. You can't do anything about this one, so you might as well comply or else the voices will never go away."

"Neve..AHHH!" Star screamed in agony before her mouth was clamped shut by Sword's hand.

"Sorry. I should have told you that the more you resist, the worse your torture gets. So, now that's taken care of, have a nice life," Sword said before letting go and leaving her alone.

Now that Star was ready, Sword had to lead the person following her away from Star's location. Closing and locking the door silently, she heard her pursuer getting close and started running towards one of the exits that would lead her to her freedom from the stifling command center.

Miaka overheard the retreating footsteps and realized that she was discovered, she pulled out her gun and ran after the possible suspect, all the while screaming, "HALT!" She increased her pace and began to hop and skip over the several large tubes and pipes, yet never lost any momentum in catching up. Seeing the opening up ahead, she realized that the intruder would have nowhere to go, except for the rather steep drop to the bottom of the mountain range.

Sword slid to a halt at the edge of the maintenance balcony and realized that in her human form, she was trapped. A shot that brushed through her hair made her turn around to see her follower with a gun pointed at her head.

"All right, sister, who are you? What are you doing here? Where's Star?"

With a frown, Sword grumbled, "You ask too many questions, you know that?" With that, she fell backward, over the edge of the balcony, and plummeted out of sight.

In shock, Miaka ran to the edge to see the intruder fall, only to fall back into the hallway as a large armored figure appeared from nowhere. The teknoman hovered by the edge for a second before accelerating into the sky and out of sight in a red haze.

Miaka was frozen with shock. An enemy teknoman had infiltrated their compound and had done who knows what. She had to let the commander know as soon as possible. Who knew how much damage the enemy had caused while she was there.

On her way back, she noticed Star, struggling to regain her senses by leaning against the wall and by the looks of it, she had seen better days. Seeing this made her wonder if her suspicions was correct or not.

"Hey, Lieutenant Summers. You all right?" she asked, putting herself beneath Star's right arm to give her some extra support.

Panting, Star struggled to say, "Yes... I just had the wind knocked out of me..."

"Do you need to go to the infirmary?"

"She didn't do much to me. I'll be fine. Where did she go?"

"The teknoman escaped. Do you know what happened?"

"She was able to get me alone and knocked me out for a while. I'm not sure for how long, but they were disguised like me while she was here."

"To sabotage the teknosuits no doubt."

"I don't know. She didn't tell me a thing about what she was doing, but all I know is that her name is Sword."

With a frown, Miaka grumbled, "As if Saber and those other three weren't bad enough."

Trying her best to remain as if nothing had really happened, Star said, "Can you help me to my room?"

Opening the door to the elevator, Miaka nodded. Star wanted to respect the young ensign for her willingness to help. However, that willingness could never help Star in her current predicament. She did not want to do it, but the voices in her head would never be silent until her new directive was complete.

After thanking the ensign, Star locked her door and staggered to her desk. Why did this have to happen? She slumped over the edge and breathed heavily, not only from the exhaustion, but also from the many changes that had taken place in her body.

She could almost feel all the microscopic changes that were altering her body chemistry into something that was far beyond human and not human at the same time. She also had the misfortune to learn what exactly what the Lahdam were and what they were doing to her.

Lahdam were a parasitic race whose population had no original form of their own. They always had to take the forms of multiple races to be able to not only sustain their genetic pool, but keep their race alive. For every soul unfortunate enough to get caught, both genetics and body chemistry were altered to sustain the Lahdam form for what it need to live.

Reaching for something to hold onto, she unwittingly grasped a small bottle of perfume that she had never opened before. That is, until she had met a certain man whom she had been there for, and now, she had to kill him if she ever wanted the voices to end.

The voices... they were loud, very loud. Like a crowd in her head that refused to stay silent. Yet, through it all, there was one voice she could definitely recognize. It was Sword's. It was also the loudest of all and would not stop.

She increased her grip on the perfume bottle, not knowing that the cracks on the bottle's shape were beginning to multiply. Her breathing and heartbeat were beginning to increase drastically. The voices were getting louder and louder. So loud that she could not take it anymore. In a fit of rage, she threw the perfume bottle against the mirror and collapsed in a heap on the floor.

For a moment, Star realized that Sword had done something much worse than simply subverting her, she had resurfaced some parts of Star's memory that she had purposely forgotten. The images were as clear as day, but the sound of her heart pounding drowned out all the sound.


It was dark, very dark. Star could hardly see, but that was not important. What was important, was the fact that she was in pain. Severe pain. A repulsive smell assaulted her nose and her hands were covered in a viscous damp substance that she could not tell where it came from.

She tried to get up, but a sharp pain that appeared prevented that action. She looked to the left to see her sister, Novan, was unconscious and hurt just as bad as she was.

She tried to revive her sister, but most of her strength was wasted just trying to stand up. In addition, Novan was too far gone to even hope to be revived. Shaking her sister, Star failed to notice the shadows that had done this to them, walk through the darkness to tower over them both.

The dimmed lights were weak enough, but since the largest of the shadows blocked out one of the lights, it made the figure look almost like some sort of specter. With what little light Star had, she could see the outline of the person's face.

The edge of the shadow's face moved to imply that it was grinning as it whispered with a quiet, yet imposing male voice, "You can hide it all you wish, but you will never be able to forget the fact that you're one of us. Always have been and always will be. Remember this, whenever you see the moon..."

With that, the man, the other shadows and another shadow that appeared greater than all the others left, the lights started to return. Star gasped and started to panic when everything became easier to see.

There were men and women, heavily armed by the looks of it. Yet, even with all they had, they were all drowning in pools of their own blood. Most of them were dead and what few that still lived were as good as dead, due to the severity of the wounds they sustained.

She tried to use the wall as some sort of support, but found that whatever liquid covered her hands, made adhering to the wall rather difficult. She looked to see that her hands were completely soaked in blood. It only took her a few seconds to realize that it was the blood of the men and women lying on the floor. Her breathing came at faster and faster intervals before she let out scream of horror that brought her back to reality.


Her heart was still pounding wildly, she knew why all that had happened, and she was scared. She could not give in again or else more would suffer the way all those other people did. The beating of her heart became more of a symbol of the war that raged within. Trying her best to calm down, she climbed up to her desk again to see if she still was the same.

Opening her eyes, she saw her pupils were opening up again and her heart was starting calm itself. She had contained it... for now.

Using what little strength she had left, she crawled into bed and as she pulled the covers of her bed around her, tears began to stream out of her eyes. Star could never escape.

She was trapped.


In another part of the world, a glass window was broken as a can of processed food flew through it. Inside the abandoned store, the stranger who landed on the planet only a day before was frustrated beyond words.

"Auk houh hogh urebat oh nonomiuzam kounok hau negni!" the stranger screamed and pushed an aisle over.

Her search for something edible had not gone very well.

Even with the deserted town's items, she found preprocessed foods, sugars, and the like to be very disagreeable with her palate.

Her hunger was driving her to the brink of insanity. At this point, any kind of fresh meat or natural food would suffice for her. Leaning on her staff, she sighed and wondered if there was any hope.

A roar, all too familiar to the people of earth caused the stranger's long ears to perk up in surprise. She knew that there were Lahdam crabs on the planet, but she did not expect to see one all alone.

Running out, she turned to the north to behold a single giant spider crab that was chasing a small and primitive transportation vehicle. She had no idea what they were or how they moved, all that mattered was that she had found a worthy substitute...


"Hurry! Hurry! That thing's gonna git us!" Bobby Joe screamed to the driver and friend, Ziggy.

"What it look like I'm doin'! We'alls almost outta gas and we ain't got nuttin to pertect ourselves with!" Ziggy screamed back.

Bobby Joe was about to reply when he and his companion saw the white robed figure sprinting towards them. It was also traveling faster than the gigantic crab was. Both screamed in horror, figuring it was the end for them both. Yet, to their surprise and subsequent relief, the figure jumped over their truck and into the face of the spidercrab, who was too preoccupied with the chase to notice the newcomer.

The giant crab bowled backwards and onto its back and before it could do anything about the newcomer, the stranger raised her staff and ran it through the giant's head. Within seconds, the giant squirmed a bit and then fell silent.

In wonder, the two men from the truck climbed out and started to walk towards the now silent carcass.

"What'dya suppose that was?"

"Got me. Supposin' it was something that helped, we'all should thank it now... should we?"

"Uh... sure. Why don' you go first?"

"Oh no, they'd probly listen ta you better."

"Aw, come on Zig, you's good with people, I'm sure..."

A roar silenced them both as the cloaked figure sprang from behind the carcass and landed on all fours in front of the two frightened men. The stranger snarled at them both and screamed, as if preventing them from getting close to the dead monstrosity, "Sused nonom uon ishataw hau erok!"

Neither man understood what the stranger said and neither cared, they were too scared to even bother to look back as they ran back to the truck and sped away.

The stranger spat in contempt and returned to what would be the most unpleasant eating experience for any Kharusian.


Ness sat alone on the roof of the building they currently resided in, watching the sun set. Another storm had come and gone, but this one not caused by Tina, however the wind that it carried was a lot colder than any other wind he had felt before.

What it made it unusual was not the temperature, but the feeling he had received. It was more than the usual ominous feeling one got when it was accompanied by thunder and lightning. The one he felt was much darker than that.

People had often said that in paranoia, they felt as if someone were watching them. Sometimes they had been right, sometimes they had not been. In his case, it wasn't someone, but something or several somethings were watching him from some place he could not see.

"...how right you are..." a voice whispered with the breeze.

He whirled around to see nothing out of the ordinary. That was what bothered him. He waited several minutes in the wind for the possible source of the voice, but to no avail. He had an idea of who it might have been, but he was not ready to jump to conclusions, not in circumstances as dangerous as Earth was.

"Hey, Ness? You here?" Tina said walking out of the door on the balcony below him.

"Up here, Tina." He replied.

Looking past the roof, she found him and saw, to her dismay, he had climbed up and not with a ladder as she had hoped.

"Say, you got a minute?"

"Sure." Before he hopped down, he noticed that she was trying to climb up. Seeing the unceremonious way Tina struggled, he decided to keep his peace and take hold of her hand to pull her up.

Slightly embarrassed, Tina took his hand and stood up beside him. "Thanks. I was never good at climbing. I was always too short."

(Not anymore, you're not.) Ness noted to himself, taking a second to gauge how much Tina had grown. Before all this began, she was clearly about a foot and a half shorter than him, but in the short time that had passed, she had closed that height gap by a whole foot.

Breaking the following silence, Ness asked, "So, what did you want to talk about?"

Tina brushed aside a few strands of hair before answering. "I've been meaning to ask you. If we... I mean, when we win this. What were you planning on doing? After all the fighting's done with Darkon and the Lahdam and all, I mean."

Folding his arms, Ness took a second to think about her question. He had indeed asked himself that question, but no matter what, no answer came. He even wondered if he should even try and piece his life back together after all that had happened to it.

"I'm not sure," he answered. Though he was not confident about the future, he was sure about the uncertainty of it all. "How about yourself?"

With a sad smile, Tina answered, "I'm afraid you and I are in the same boat. Both of my parents became separated from their families and I don't even know where my brother is. I was thinking about going to college before the war started. I wanted to study business, just like my dad did." Her smile faded as she continued, "Now that all this is going on, I'm not sure anymore."

Both turned to see the setting sun's final rays of light vanish across the horizon as a heavy silence descended upon the conversation. Neither one could think of anything to say after that, until Tina decided to take the initiative.

"But I know one thing. I don't want to be alone," she turned to him. "You know what it's like, right? There's no one who knows, no one who cares. Not at all. That's why I've wanted to meet someone who could understand. It was all I ever wanted in the whole wide world."

Ness turned toward her to see that the sadness in Tina's face was only greater and realized what she was talking about when she continued, "I'm sorry, Ness. I've made another mistake. I never should have started to think like that. You care about Star and I can understand."

"Yes, Tina. I do care about Star. I care about her very much, but that doesn't mean I..."

"Don't. I'm just like Shara. The younger sister type who never had a chance to in the first place because she looked and acted too much like a kid."

"Tina... I'm sorry, but I can't change how I feel about her."

"I'm not saying you should. You shouldn't either, not for my sake anyway."

Both stood still as the awkward moment continued without end.

"Yet, at the very least, could I pretend, even for a moment that it was true?"

Ness sighed inwardly and responded, "Are you sure about that? I mean, you wouldn't ask for anything else after that? Because I don't want to do anything that would wind us making a mistake we might not be able to take back."

Tina appeared not at all bothered by his defense, in fact she almost expected it. She could tell that Ness wanted to be faithful to Star and she envied her for this. She nodded and continued, "I know how you feel and still I want to be friends with you and Star. And now, all I want is just this one moment. Never again asking for something like this."

Ness had reservations, but when he told himself that this was Tina that was asking this. He knew he could trust her, and it would be a very big disappointment to them both should that trust be compromised.

Ness nodded his approval and with a small smile, Tina wrapped her arms around him and rested her head on his shoulder. He did the same and he heard her breathing calm to the point where it almost appeared she had fallen asleep right there.

If Ness could see, Tina's eyes flooded with tears and she let them out onto his jacket. She knew that this would never happen again and the logical part of her mind was scolding her again for doing something like this. She would never forget this torturous, yet wonderful moment that would only be relived and visited in her memory.

When she could tell that her tears were gone, she backed up a bit and kissed him on the cheek. That would ever be as close as she would ever get to him. With that, her moment had passed and she released him, never to repeat again forever.

No matter how hard she tried to hold back the tears, they came once again and she whispered, "Thank you." With that done, she turned and hopped off the roof and onto the balcony, only to meet with Shara, who had been searching for them.

Tina avoided the younger Carter sibling completely and ran to her room. Completely confused, Shara looked to her brother and asked, "What was that about?"

With a frustrated sigh, Ness grumbled, "Trust me, you don't want to know."


For most of the crew, the evening was one of the few times where they could relax a bit and interact with each other. Some would simply talk in the cafeteria, others would just walk about the areas, but the most of them would just go to the training room and work off their stress.

However, there would be someone whose stress only got worse. Ensign Yuuki discovered this as she was tossed onto the floor and pressed into a reverse arm wrench, immobilizing her. Thankfully, the heavily padded workout uniform she wore took some of the force of the fall.

The one who had done this to her was giving no quarter whatsoever and judging by hard she was moving her arm, Star Summers was ready to kill.

"ACK! I give! I give!" Miaka cried quickly. Star let go, feeling satisfied that she had won over her opponent. With that she left Miaka to try and pull herself up from the floor and to a nearby punching bag.

Another ensign, garbed like the rest of them, went to help her friend off the mat and said, "Geez, what's her problem?"

Incredulously, Miaka responded, "Be nice if I knew. I've been getting hostile vibes from her ever since Ness and the others went up north."

Blinking, her friend responded, "You don't suppose the fact that she's mad at a certain scythe-wielding woman might have something to do with this? Didn't Tina also say she was growing?"

"No way. Tina told me herself, Slade's off limits and as far as we all know, Star's already got him. Makes you kind of jealous?"

"Sort of." The other officer frowned suddenly, "Even if I had a boyfriend, at least he wouldn't be gay."

It was Miaka's turn to frown. She hated it when this was brought up, "At least I have a boyfriend. Unlike someone here."

"Suit yourself. Anyway, I wouldn't act like some stupid school girl over Slade, but you have to admit something."

"What's that?"

The young ensign began to smirk mischievously, "He's got a nice butt, don't you think?"

Miaka was trying hard to stifle the smirk that had developed. "Oh come on!"

"No really! I think the reason why she likes the guy so much is because she's seen him in the buff more than anyone else."

Neither one could take it anymore and started to giggle their heads off.

It all ended when a glare from Star silenced them both and they ran for their lives, still giggling.

(Go ahead you two, laugh it up,) Star thought resentfully. They had no idea what she was going through. She truly cared about Ness and now she was in a position where she had no choice but to kill him.

Any day now, Ness, Tina, and Shara would return, more likely stronger than before. If it were any consolation, he would kill her in self-defense and end her suffering, and ultimately, spare the life of the one she was supposed to kill.

After closing the door to the locker room, she rested her forearm on a locker, put her head against it, and sighed deeply. "Oh God, help me. Please. I can't do anything... please..."


Sword stretched her arms high above her head as a wave of relief washed over her. She was finally out of that horrible installation and back at her base. Save for leaving a nice trail that the enemy could never follow, she felt that everything had gone through perfectly.

Walking into Darkon's chamber, she felt like she had conquered the whole world and was ready to give it all to her master. Surely enough, her master had just awoken from one of his meditation periods. From what she had learned, he did that to plan for what he was to do next in these small periods.

"Welcome back, Sword. And well done. You surprised me by succeeding in this little endeavor of yours. Commendable. So, I surmise that all we need to do is wait for the rest of your plan to be carried out?"

"Yes, Master. And once he's out of the way, the Earth is practically ours."

Restoring his controlled and calm demeanor, Darkon said, "I shall believe that when Slade is dead. It's best never to announce one's victory before it actually happens. After all, something could happen."

Sword's pride suddenly shattered under her master's indifferent attitude towards her plans. She had worked so hard on it all and to have it simply regarded as an incomplete factor was like a slap on the face to her.

"But Master, there is nothing to worry about at all."

Darkon surprised her again by answering, "I know. That is why we shall bide our time and strike when the time is right."

A loud discharge of power brought their attention to the regeneration chamber. The large pod, which held Saber, was pulsing loudly and powerfully. Within minutes of their arrival at the pod, it exploded, sending the pink and red substance everywhere.

From where the pod once was, Saber landed on the ground, and the very second his power came under control, Sword started to back up in fear. Apparently, Saber's pride would not allow him to let his former brother rise about him. So much that he went under a procedure dangerous enough to kill a normal person.

"So, Saber. I take it you're feeling much more powerful than before. Am I right?" Darkon asked, asserting his intelligence even more by the proof in front of him.

Saber was not at all happy, but even more enraged by thoughts that drove his anger at his brother to new heights. His breathing was hard and heavy from the extreme effort he had to put into surviving the process.

"As I live, Master, I am going to utterly destroy Slade and everything that he holds dear!" Saber roared.

Darkon smirked and then turned to Sword, "Now my dear. I'll be reassigning you to elsewhere."

"What? But master, we already have a way to kill Slade. Why go this far?" (And why should he get such power?) Sword asked herself bitterly.

Darkon hand reached up and cupped Sword's head and whispered, "Because, my dear, if I wish to obtain victory, I must use all the materials at my disposal properly. Whether it is by your trap or by Saber's hand, Slade can and will die. That's all that matters."

Though without a physical body, Sword could feel her master's arms wrap around her body and whisper into her ear, "Besides, if I were to simply charge like a blind madman, I would not be able to have you rule at my side. Be patient, my dear, and you shall receive all you desire and more."

Sword found her breath short and her temperature rising by Darkon's presence alone. He already knew what lengths she would go for her master and she hoped that the memories of who they were would unite them. She also understood the need to be impartial at the time, but if she were patient, the reward would be worth waiting for.

He knew that her loyalty could and would stretch far beyond that of any of the others. Which was by he needed to take special care of Sword. Very few would go as far as she would, or strike as low as she did with the woman who held Slade's heart. Such was the reason why he had decided to take interest in her and let her survive the transformation process.

Darkon had to return his attention to Saber, who was more than ready to strike. "Halt, Saber. You are hardly in any condition to fight."

"It doesn't matter! I'm going to kill Slade and no one's going to stop me!"

Darkon's frown and Sword's shocked look grew. Stepping out of Sword's embrace and into Saber's way, Darkon said quietly, "Even me?"

Seeing his master stand in such a way deferred his anger and made him back down. The timing was just too perfect and now he was to just recover from something like this.

"Return to the regeneration pod, Saber. I will not allow you or anyone else under my command to throw their life away so carelessly. Now is not the time for battle," Darkon ordered.

Sighing, Saber nodded and returned to a pod by the wall. The exhaustion he felt was more than he needed to realize that he indeed need to regenerate. Sitting in the maw of a pod, he leaned back as the pod swallowed him whole and began to restore his strength to him.

Turning back to Sword, Darkon continued, "You must retire as well. From what I saw, subterfuge was rather difficult in a place such as the command center."

Nodding, Sword walked past her master and to another regeneration pod, but before she entered, she whirled around and asked, "Master, do you know when your body shall be restored completely?"

"From the progress I've seen, it should take about fourteen cycles of the Earth's rotation." Darkon, knowing what she was hinting at, replied, "I feel compelled to let you know that you will be surprised at what an actual Kharusian looks like, my dear. I can only hope that it will please you."

As the pod began to envelop Sword's form, she said, "As do I."

When Darkon could tell that both of his warriors were unconscious, he could not help but shake his head. Saber's loyalty was powered by his pride, and Sword's by her affection to which his new body once belonged.

With a self-satisfied smile, Darkon was thoroughly convinced that he had made the right choice coming to this system.


At the installation's small cafeteria, the mornings when the three occupants would meet and talk as they had breakfast, was completely silent. Tina had a hard time just looking up at either one of the Carter siblings, Slade found it difficult to look at Tina, and Shara were completely boggled as to why her companions where so quiet.

Shara was slightly frustrated that neither one of the two would tell her what was wrong. She had her suspicions, but the idea was so ludicrous she discarded it immediately. Besides, Shara did not think that Tina would actually confess that she had feelings for her brother.

A crash from the other side of the compound brought up their heads and running to the source of the disturbance. Just before exiting the door, they all equipped several small pistols that could protect them for the time being.

Closing in on the rear entrance, Tina hugged the wall opposite to the wall that lead to the hallway to the exit. Hearing a single person's footsteps start to come down the hallway made them even more tense.

Tina mouthed to Ness that she would go first. Though he wanted to object, he nodded reluctantly. He knew that Tina wanted to learn how to take care of herself. With a whirl, she pointed the gun at the intruder and screamed, "HALT! ...What the? You?!"

Blinking in confusion, the Carter siblings turned to see someone they did not expect.


The man who had found the place they were, had evidently been through some tough times. His clothes were tattered and worn, face was tired, unshaven, and the state of his body proved that food had been hard to come by.

What Slade and Tina knew all too well was what he had done to them. A while ago, he had been assigned to the Space Knights as a war correspondent. He had fit in with the Space Knights well enough to consider him a true friend.

No one could imagine their shock when they discovered him to be nothing more than a spy for General Galt. The only reason why he was there was to spy on then and recover any sort of plans for weapons based on the alien technology. He had also verbally abused Slade to the point where he almost could not fight anymore. It was a miracle that he was able to get out of it.

"What the... Slade? Is that..." Balzac started before being punched by Tina to the ground a few feet away. Though the punch did not feel very good, it paled in comparison to when his breath got knocked out when Tina stomped on his stomach, much to the shock of Balzac and the Carters.

"You got some serious gall coming here, you lousy prick!" Tina yelled, the hurt of being lied to by someone she considered her friend becoming evident.

"Tina!" Slade shouted in shock, not only over her actions but her words as well. It did not sound like her at all.

"What?! This jerk lied to us. As far as I know, he deserves it!"

As much as Ness wanted to agree, he could not help but feel just a little bit sympathetic for the former teknosuit pilot. He had heard that Balzac had barely escaped an attack from Saber. Yet, he had no idea how he had been able to escape, and unless he stopped Tina he was never going to know.

He stepped forward to say something, but was interrupted by Balzac, "I was lying to you all. I don't have an excuse for that."

Stepping aside her brother, Shara inquired, "What happened to you? You look horrible." She had gotten word of who he was and what he had done, but there were some details that still eluded her.

Trying to stand up, Balzac answered, "Well, it put it simply, I got beat by Saber. A tough lesson to learn if anything else."

With her arms crossed, Tina grumbled, "Serves you right, creep." A look from Slade silenced any further comments from her.

"After I lost the squads with me, I was lucky to find a shuttle pod and make it back to Earth. After I landed, I had to travel on foot for who knew how long. I was hoping to find some sort of civilization along the way, but it was no good."

He paused for a second, as if gathering the courage to continue, "It was during my time walking that I had some time to think about what I had done to you all." He looked to Slade, "Slade, I'm really sorry. The only monster at that time was I. Can you ever forgive me?"

Tina was about to say something, but Slade silenced her again with the same look. Slade walked forward and helped Balzac to his feet. "To be honest, I'm not sure. But why don't I think about it while you help us fight the aliens?"

Balzac blinked, wondering if what he meant when he thought he meant. If he figured right, then he was being given another chance. Yet, judging from the scowl that Tina was giving him, it would take a little while longer with her.


An hour later, Balzac was cleaned up and given some of the yet uneaten rations they had. Tina still kept her distance as Ness and Shara talked with Balzac as he went into greater detail about his trek across the continent and what had happened with the Space Knights.

"So, Tina's one too?" Balzac asked, taking a wary glance at Tina, who was still watching him like a hawk.

"Yes. We had enough of the alien pods to not only help my brother with his time limit, but even try to make an experimental teknoman of our own," Shara answered.

"From what I saw, it looks like Tina's grown up. Is that some sort of side effect?" Hearing Balzac talk about her, made Tina walk out of the room in a huff. Though it appeared Tina had matured physically, there was still some emotional growth that was still necessary.

Shara nodded, "Yes. Although the change in body chemistry is a bit evident at first, they do get better as time goes on." They all turned to hear a scream of anger and the sound of something being broken in the distance. "It still takes a while though."

"I can tell," Balzac said, the nervousness in his voice becoming more evident. He had made enough enemies in his life and he did not want another one. "What I don't understand is what are you guys doing here?"

"We're here to 'cultivate' what we were able to get from the teknopods that helped Tina and I. Commander Jamison didn't want us to do it with Galt watching over our shoulder. He was mad enough as it was when he got arrested."

"Arrested? What for? How?"

"Well, I figure that Galt's got enemies of his own that can find enough evidence to incriminate him out of his position."

Hearing Slade tell him about Galt's arrest made Balzac rethink exactly why he decided to join up with the man in the first place. If he was as shady as he first assumed, he might have been way over his head if he had tried to stay with the man, had he been able to return to the general.

"Guys! We got problems!" Tina cried, running back to the cafeteria.

Standing up, the others dashed to a window to see what had gotten Tina into such an uproar. Looking at the entrance of the valley, they saw that she had good reason to be in a panic.

A medium sized strike force; comprised of twelve hover tanks, fifteen power suit units, and five heavy tanks. Though the teknomen had nothing to fear about the heavy tanks, it was the hover tanks and the power suits, being much more maneuverable, gave them something to worry about.

In Tina's case, her armor being not as strong as Slade's, was much more susceptible to their firepower. In any case, they had to proceed with caution, for these men were not to be trifled with.

With a sarcastic smirk, Tina asked, "Friends of yours, Balzac?"

The accused shook his head and replied, "Like I would know. I've been out of contact from the military for too long."

Assessing the matter at hand, Shara mused, "Either way, I doubt that they'll want to just talk with us."

Shara's assumption was justified as the commanding tank front three turrets flared to life and sent the high powered shells into the ground right by the compound. The blast sent all four of its occupants to the floor as their message was made clear.

"Are they trying to kill us or something?!" Tina screamed, scrambling to her feet. Recent events had not helped her demeanor at all, henceforth her complaining.

To all of their surprise, Balzac answered, "No, just trying to make us panic and run outside so they can capture us. It's standard for assaulting terrorists when they are holed up in a building with no hostages. Unless they have some alternate escape route, they will run out of the building for the sake of preserving their lives, only to be either shot on sight or taken into custody."

Getting their bearing, they made a break for the loading bay. With things as they were, the four had very little time to discuss a plan that could get them all out.

However, after Tina got a good look at what was outside the large door, she realized that their chances of getting out were worse than before. The building was completely surrounded by more squads like the ones that had been outside. If they were trying to scare them out of their wits by firing at the building, Tina figured they were doing a good job.

"Any chance these guys will let us go if we ask nice?"

As Slade was getting into his giant robot counterpart, Balzac answered grimly, "They're trained to follow orders and they wouldn't listen to you even if they heard you with their ears. It's the way Galt liked to work."

Pulling out her crystal from the nexus from which it came, Tina grumbled, "I should have known."

Almost incredulous, Balzac replied, "What do you expect? You recall that all Galt wanted from Slade, er, Ness was his weaponry. So, all this is, is just another attempt to get what he wants."

Leaping from the opened head of Pegas, Slade landed on his feet. "You know, if there's one thing I really don't like, it's being treated like some kind of property." He turned to his sister, "You feel strong enough to transform?"

She nodded and answered, "If it's not for too long, then I should be all right."

"All right then. Tina and I'll run a distraction while Pegas'll take Balzac and Shara to a safer location. Shara will change only if necessary. Is that all right with you all?"

They all voiced the affirmative to his plan and started to get into position for something that, if proved effective could get them out of there alive. If not, Ness, Shara, and Tina would be treated like guinea pigs for the rest of their lives and Balzac would most likely be shot for aiding them.

As the troops closed in on the facility, seeing that their prey had not exited the building as they had hoped, they felt compelled to move in and take them by force. Yet, an explosion from the eastern side of the building made them realize their mistake too late.

Flying through the smoke screen from the explosion going outward, both Slade and Tina flew high in the air. After reaching a peak, they let loose a pair of powerful teknobolts that hit the ground and sent dirt and rocks everywhere. The sand screen provided Pegas with a cover as it carried both Shara and Balzac on its back.

Landing amid the power suit soldiers, trying to regroup, Tina rushed several of them and with frame large enough to match her foes, shoved them into each other. Within seconds, all order in the second power suit division was lost.

Elsewhere, Slade was leading the abnormally quick hover tanks away from where Pegas had flown. They quickly regrouped and tried to encircle Slade to trap him in their wide range of fire. He jumped high into the air again, only to barely miss being hit by the shells from the omni-directional turrets they had.

He had to pull out the small shield that was strapped to the small of his back to block all the high powered shells that started to hit him. Even with the shield, the blows from the explosions were starting to get too much for him to bear.

Not only were these tanks well armed, but their accuracy was something to be envied of as well. No matter which way he flew, they would simply and quickly regroup to another formation and fire away, hitting him more than he would care to admit.

Things had quickly deteriorated on Tina's end as well. The power suits moved even faster than she had thought and where starting to show her their strength. She hardly had enough time to block a punch that sent her back a few feet, while she still stood. While she tried to recover, three hundred pounds of man and metal ran into her from the back.

She tucked herself into a roll and using the momentum, flew into the only place where she had the advantage, the air.

"Sorry guys, but you're now getting meeeaaaa!!" Tina said as she felt several grappling cords wrap themselves around her legs and they started to pull her down.

"Oh no you don't!" She screamed while pulling out her scythe and cutting the cords that bond her. Not wanting to take another chance with this group again, she joined Slade in the air and flew after Pegas, hoping that they had made it out all right.


Seeing their query escape, the commander of the strike force turned on his transceiver.

"Commander, they've escaped. Should we pursue?"

On the other side of the line, a voice muffled by static responded, "No, let them be. More likely than not, they'll think it was Galt who was doing this. I don't want to press my luck. Was Commander Jaques with them?"


"Good. If possible, monitor them from a maximum distance. I don't want them knowing that you're watching them."

"And should they be too fast for us?"

"Just forget it then. Return to the nearest city and take the standard precautions while traveling."

"Yes, sir."


As the four escapees flew over the ocean to reach the remaining islands of what was once known as the Commonwealth. After several catastrophes, most would have thought the people of Britain, Wales, and other countries lost. Yet, they not only recovered from the wounds that natural disaster, social reform and economical depression, but also proved themselves to be one of the most resourceful people on the planet.

Due to such creativity, they had built many cities on the water and established the seas of the world as their trade. Many ships that traversed the waters of the Atlantic were of the Commonwealth design. From cargo barge, to luxury liner, to patrol ships, all had been built with the hopes and dreams of a people once thought finished nearly a century ago.

At the moment, Slade and his group had to first request clearance to the Aircraft Carrier 'Prometheus' for passage to the mainland, for Pegas' engines had not had the chance to recharge in the past few hours.

The initial contact over the radio had been rather scrambled, due to a rather unexpected sneak attack by the Lahdam. Thanks to some experimental weapons, they had been able to turn back the enemy's assault with minimal losses. With all the radio traffic it made communication rather difficult.

"Please repeat the nature of your distress, Space Knights," the communications officer asked from the bridge.

"I repeat, part of our group is low on fuel and we require safe passage to the mainland, or at least, use of your communications array," Slade said. Being as far from solid ground as they were, they needed help getting around for the time being. They could only hope that the man in charge of the ship would allow them passage.

Within minutes, a voice with a polish accent responded to Slade's plea. "Attention Space Knights, permission granted. Make your touch down as soon as possible. We have a VIP on board that is associated with what you're doing. Make your way on the runway and we'll have our mechanics take a look at your machines and we'll see what we can do."

Slade turned to Tina, who was just as confused as he was. Yet, they did not complain as they started an approach path to the carrier, which would bring them home. Tina also made a note to find out just who the VIP was that let them land in the first place.

As they touched down, the commanding officer walked with a few armed guards towards them. The man was tall and well defined, despite his age. His face was slightly hidden beneath the cap, from the lapels of his jacket and mustache. Though they had nothing to fear from this man, the very manner that he carried himself was not something to ignore.

"Welcome to the Prometheus. I am Admiral Henry Gloval of the UEG Navy."

Tina nearly gasped, but held her breath in check. She had heard many stories of the almost legendary naval commander, decorated as much as General Galt, he had been able to not only keep the peace of the seas, but also had revolutionized the navy with his experience and cunning. Now, here was little Tina Corman, shaking hands with one of the most decorated men recorded in history.

"Uh, my pleasure, sir."

Turning to Slade, the Admiral took a second to size up the man he had heard so much about. It nearly surprised everyone there when he acted as if Slade was not as special as the news reports had made him out to be.

"You're the one known as Teknoman, am I right?"

Cautiously, Slade responded, "I am."

Seeing Slade take the defensive made the older man smile, "Good. I had at first figured you as some impossible Neiztche superman, but I'm grateful that you're still human. With your permission, I'd like to start the refueling of your machine."

"Oh, sure. But I need to stay with him so they'll know how to do it correctly."

"Do what you need to do."

With that, Slade accompanied the work crews to the loading bay.

With him gone, the Admiral turned to Balzac. "So, Mr. Jaques. I take it your encounter with the enemy did not go as well as you had hoped."

Balzac nodded sourly. There was no love loss between the military and navy, even during times of war, one was always trying to show up the other. There was even some speculation that it was Gloval who tipped off the president about Galt's actions.

"We not only lost the teknosuit, but a number of our choice men."

"Indeed they were."

"With all due respect, sir. If you want to say it, go on."

Both Tina and Shara both held their breath as Balzac stood tall, despite the fact he was opening himself for a verbal attack. Yet, instead of the sharp words, Gloval said nothing more concerning that and changed the subject, "I believe you'll want to know who it was that allowed you to land here. Follow me."

With that, the remaining three travelers followed the man to the bridge where their benefactor was sitting in a chair, watching the sea.

The woman stood up and addressed her visitors with a nod. Though she was not old, the look in her eyes suggested that she had seen more than she would have liked. Her dark blue hair curled its way over her head and reached down to the bottom of her neck. It made sense to Tina in a second who she was by her uniform. It was very similar to the one she wore.

The woman smiled slightly and said, "My name's Amy Mizuno. I'm with the Solar Moon, the company that owns the Space Knights Research and Development. We also work in the field of medicine and were in the middle of taking medical supplies to the British Isles, which is why you happened upon us."

She turned to Tina and continued, "I've heard much about you Ms. Corman. Or would you rather be referred to as Scythe?"

Shaking the other woman's hand, Tina replied nervously, "Uh, Tina's just fine, ma'am."

"And you must be Mr. Carter's sister. Am I correct?"

"Yes. My name's Shannon Carter."

"Well, Ms. Carter, I want to thank you what you're doing. In addition, I've been able to learn of your condition and have put as many people as I can to work for finding a cure for you."

"Thank you, Ma'am. I don't expect anything much, but anything is better than nothing."

"Indeed. By the way, where is your brother? Shouldn't he be with you?"

"The admiral let him use the loading bay so he could refuel Pegas. We had to cut our trip short because some soldiers were trying to capture us."

"What? Are you serious?"

Balzac now spoke up, "Yes. They were using weapons that I've heard were still on the drawing board. Power suits and hover tanks are not listed in the military registry."

Amy turned to him and blinked, for she knew all too well who he was. "Is that so? Ms. Corman, Ms. Carter, could you please leave us alone so we can discuss this further?"

With made Tina's skin stand on end was not only seeing Amy lock her eyes on Balzac, but it was the ice cold look that appeared in them. Regardless, she and Shara complied and left the bridge to rejoin Slade in the loading bay.

"Is there any reason why you wanted to speak with me alone?" Balzac inquired, not liking the way things were going for him.

She nodded, her face not at all moving, "Yes. I will be honest with you, Mr. Jaques. I want to kill you."

"I had a feeling you did. What did I do this time?" Balzac asked. After his little round with Tina, he had expected no less from anyone affiliated with the Space Knights.

Folding her arms, Amy continued, "You stole information that took me weeks of non-stop research to compile. What is worse was that you gave it to Galt of all people. Though were we able to get back the teknosuit from him, he now has scientists working to make more powerful and deadlier versions of a counter measure that was meant to help defend earth."

Sick of being berated, he snapped back, "And what do you want me to do about it? I was a soldier carrying out orders. There's no dishonor in that!"

Not at all impressed, Amy countered, "What is dishonor then? Lying for some corrupt cause? I highly doubt Galt had altruistic intentions when he sent you to the Space Knight Command Center."

"I've no excuse for that."

"I figured as much."

"But I've had time to think about what I've done, and whether you or Corman accept my apologies or not, it doesn't matter. I'm going to try and repair the damage I've done by helping us win this war."

"Such lovely words, but what are your true intentions? After what I've seen I doubt I can believe anything you say. For all I know, you could be just working with Galt secretly again, trying to make it look sincere and stabbing us in the back when we're not looking."

Balzac sighed, he did not want to say his next words, but they had to be said. "You know, even in the service, I've heard many things about how the Solar Moon does so many things for people around the world without asking for anything in return. I thought you people would have been more forgiving than most," he turned around and started for the door and just as it closed, he said loud enough for the entire bridge to hear, "but I guess I was wrong. You're just as two-faced as Galt is."

Amy's frown grew large as had she been caught verbally, also, it happened in front of several people that would begin to spread word of this. Swearing beneath her breath, she collapsed back onto her chair and began to think about recent events that caused her to begin to act this way.

A sharp pain made her brain pulse and she held her head as the pumping began to subside. Attacks like these had been occurring a lot more recently and Amy was starting to get impatient from the delay of the needed materials needed to help stop this sickness.



"I'm tellin ya. It was as big as a house! Ziggy and I wuz just about ta get away when this thing in white jumped into it and killed it," Bobby Joe said to the commander of a tank squad passing through the city that he and his friend had found.

"I don't doubt that what you've seen is real, but what about this thing in white?"

Ziggy was quick to answer, "I' was a beit taler than a nurmal person. It was 'n some white clothes and spoke some crazy talk."

"Well let's see if this thing is still here." The commander motioned the tanks he commanded to move forward and within seconds, several tanks started to encircle the husk of the giant monstrosity that had lain dormant for quite some time.

"Sir. We can't see it anywhere in sight, but there's a big hole on the stomach and from what I can see, it appears to have been hallowed out." The second in command spoke into his transceiver.

"Are there any signs of the stranger?"

"None, sir."

"Very well, check the husk. Proceed with caution and get ready to fire."


The tanks slowly inched closer to the husk, taking as much caution as they could. As the lead tank was about to enter the massive husk, a very loud belch emanated from the inside and left the lead tank's pilot and gunner in shock. It also deteriorated their appetites for the time being.

Inside, the stranger held her stomach in pain as she realized that she might have eaten a bit too much. Her desperation for something to eat left her with little recourse. Now, here she was, a stomach full of meat that would either poison her or keep her full until she found some real food.

However, the only real benefit she got was having some strength recovered so her sense of direction was a bit clearer. Yet, for some reason, it told her to head to the east. It held a somewhat familiar presence.

When the sound of tank treads reached her ears, she realized that she had stayed too long in this place and now there were local authorities trying to abduct her. The last thing she needed was this sort of interference.

In a flash of blue light, the husk exploded and the figure that had consumed the insides of the monster flew towards the east and out of sight.

Seeing the blue light fly away, Bobby Joe turned to Ziggy and said, "Ziggy, I ain never goin to drink anoder drop as long as I'm livin."

"Me too."


"I'll rejoin you guys at the Command Center, I have some business I have to take care of in town. Tina, you make sure to protect Shara and Balzac. I'll try and keep in radio contact as much as I can," Slade said climbing backwards into Pegas' loading bay.

"See you there!" Tina yelled over the roar that Pegas' engines gave as they lifted off and flew towards the mainland.

After their meeting with the soldiers the day before, they figured it would be best to split into two groups and rendezvous at the command center. Aside from what was said, Slade was not sure whether or not the men they had encountered would be waiting for them on the mainland.

Although Tina had no qualms about protecting Ness' sister, the thought that she had to protect Balzac made her mad. Also, as much as she just wanted to leave him, Ness expected her to bring him safely to the SKCC and she couldn't do anything about it. Even Tina didn't want to admit that he might be useful, being the first to pilot the teknosuit had its advantages, even though they had many of their own.

When Slade had finally flown out of sight, she turned around and started back to the quarters that were assigned to them by the admiral. They were a makeshift affair, but none of them minded too much. Tina and Balzac, while in basic training, had learned how to rough it during long periods of time. Shara on the other hand, could not tell the difference, due to her condition.

"If you guys don't mind, I'm going back to my room," Shara said, turning back to the tower on the flight deck.

"But we were invited to the mess hall for something to eat. Aren't you hungry?" Tina called after her.

Without turning around, Shara shook her head and continued to walk away. Recent circumstances had made her lose her appetite rather quickly. Without another word, she left the other two to their own devices, letting deep and dark thoughts weigh heavily on her mind.

Balzac knew that Tina would not bother to turn his way, so he started back. The main reason being that he had to speak with Mizuno once more. He wasn't sure why, but he had the feeling that if he was to help Slade and the others fight against the aliens, he had to make amends with Mizuno. She was, after all, one of the people in charge of the Space Knights.

Walking up a stairway to the guest quarters, he made sure to ask the admiral which room she was in exactly. For the last thing he wanted to do was to walk in on another passenger and get into trouble. Knocking on the farthest door from the entryway, he wondered if Mizuno would accept his apology. He rolled his eyes and figured either way, it would not be easy.

"Enter," Said the room's occupant.

Opening the door, he found her sitting on a chair, watching the last of the sun's ray's vanish over the horizon.

"Ms. Mizuno, I would like to speak with you. I have a request to make."

She turned the chair around and kept her face devoid of emotion as she allowed him to continue.

"Having experience with the teknosuit, I would like to enlist in the Space Knights in not only helping with the training, but to engage against the enemy."

Mizuno said nothing, and conveyed nothing from action. Leaning back in her chair, she finally replied, "I'm not sure if I can do that. Letting a man that I know was a spy back into our base? Seems almost ludicrous."

Anticipating this, Balzac continued, "I know. It does sound strange, but I give you my word that Galt has nothing to do with my choice to join up. Even if you still don't believe me, you can use a lie detector test, or watch every move I make. Just let me have another chance against the aliens."

Amy's gaze locked onto his eyes, almost judging the words he was saying if they were true or not. In all her years, she could tell when people were and were not lying. However, she was recently beginning to have a hard time with people that were telling a lie concealed in a truth.

Another factor that made her doubt was a request for more skillful pilots. Such were few and far in between and right now one more would definitely be a helpful addition. It would be a risky move, but if it paid off, then the war could be over a lot sooner.

"Very well then. I am going to give you a chance. Yet, bear in mind that the very second that you make a move that would suggest that you're lying to me, I'm going to order the nearest person to you with a gun to shoot you."

Balzac sighed mentally. Well, it was certainly better than being left alone to die. "Fair enough."

She stood up and extended her hand to him, he accepted and as they shook, she smiled slightly and repeated, "Just remember, the first move you make against us, you will become a target."

With a semi-sarcastic smile, he responded, "I'll keep that in mind." With that, he let go and exited the room to head to the mess hall. After closing the door, the cold touch of the handle reminded him of Mizuno's hand. It was strangely cold. He had some idea of how exactly that would be, but a cyborg was just too crazy, even for this day and age. Aside from that, he had more important things to worry about.

End of chapter 6

[Warhammer sits on a ledge on the rear end of the carrier, fishing. He doesn't appear to be very successful though.]

WH: I was never good at fishing. Anyway, on with the notes.

The pre-chapter notes should be able to let readers know what to expect in later chapters. I hope they'll live up to your expectations, because they lived up to mine... and that's not saying much.

Now, despite the fact that the stranger at the beginning is supposed to be serious, I figure that there's nothing wrong with putting her through a little something that gives one a chuckle.

The scene where our hero is in the simulation was inspired by a scene from the 3x3 manga... I got up to #33 of the Japanese manga so it'll be a while before the good readers of Super Manga Blast will see that scene too.

And for the most part, the bulk of this chapter is nothing more than a rewriting of chapter 4 of the previous version. To be honest, I like this version a lot better and hope that my future fics will be better as well.

Next, would you believe that the whole scene with Star took me three weeks just to think of that scene? I know, I'm not supposed to toot my own horn and there's been people that have taken much longer, but I say this for the benefit of newer writers. Just to let you know that it takes time before you can get some good stuff written.

For you Fushigi Yuugi fans out there, I'll bet you're wondering why Miaka Yuuki's here. Also, it's should be noticed that I don't really like her, but I don't hate her. I just had an idea and liked it enough to put it in here and continue it.

You get some extra brownie points if you can figure out the reference in Star's nightmare. I won't say yet, but if you've been around, you'll know what it's from.

As for the hicks, they're going to be the extra characters that appear out of nowhere, have nothing to do with the grand scheme of things, but keep appearing. Just like Kuronekosama from Trigun, the three old guys from Cowboy Bebop, and so on. Why you ask? Because it's fun!!

Now, after writing our main villain as not only a good strategist, but also a smooth operator that knows how to work it. Bad guys are much more interesting when they have personality. Live Vicious from Cowboy Bebop, or Dilandau from Escaflowne.

Another thing to note that the Admiral is the same Admiral from the Robotech series. It's just a cameo for now and we might see him in the future. For fans of him, just cross your fingers and hope my muse is kind.

Now, let us not forget the all important plea for C&C for the express purpose of making this fic better. And despite the fact that I am satisfied with this chapter, I can't help but shake the feeling that there's something missing, that's why I need your help so I can find out what it is.

Also, none of these characters, save for them which are original, do not, have not, and will not belong to me. So, you can't sue me! Like I could think of characters that are that likable. :P

Finally, I was planning on finishing this chapter at a different plot point, but I've run out of steam for this chapter and I'll continue it next chapter. And we get to have some more cameos from characters you may have seen before in the previous editions of my fics.

And now I leave you with a 'Go thy way and sin no more.'

[Warhammer goes back to fishing, hoping to snag a shark to two.]