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RP: YSS Kaiyō Mission 22: Kenshō


Head in the Stars
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20 日 4月 YE 44
Hanako's World
Harbor Town

Most Yamataian items and goods in the Shinjuku Market District of Hanako's World had been replaced by Kuvexian ones by now. Most Kuvexian textiles that were being bartered here were gilded, purple, orange or some gaudy pattern of the three. Parts for starships were being sold in a booth directly next to an emporium of cancerous flavored tobacco and vape masks for the remedy-seekers of the Kuvexian Empire. Troops of crazed Rixxikor scavengers licked at the weedy borders of the island districts like this one.

The ocean planet had once been a distinguished tourist destination, replete with beauty and charm afforded only to the elite. Now it was the former enemy's piss pot. In the middle of it was the bay of Harbor Town. With the Kuvexian occupation of the planet, it certainly wasn't ever frequented by oceanic ships. Most of the sailing boats that used to exist had been destroyed in the planet's bombardment.

But tonight was different for the waters of Harbor Town. If someone were to try to drop a boat's anchor in the bay of Harbor Town, it could unexpectedly hit the hull of a Plumeria class Gunship, The YSS Nyx.

Modified for covert missions and captained by Taisa Teien Eden, the decade old YSS Nyx was unlike anything being commissioned today. It was even an outdated model for the Plumeria line. The Nyx was the old workhouse 2D model, but this one was modified for the stealth a mission like this necessitated. It was a class which Eden had captained before, but tonight she was in a position she knew the 2D could be in but had never been in herself, which was completely submerged and stealthed in water.

Black-paneled SAINT operative Effy Penihatolapsoa had come with the black ship and Eden hadn't thought much of it. Now the two of them had just finished suiting up, outfitted in the saint operative field suit. The Nyx's power armor bay doors were open but the force-field at the bay doors kept the churning murky bottom of the bay from entering the ship. Though the water ebbed at the very edges of the almost invisible barrier, Eden rapidly leapt out of the ship and into it with Effy just behind.

Modular respirators assisted their breathing, but there was no special gadget on the high-tech suit to propel them through the water. They had to do that themselves as they crossed the large channel between the two islands deep below the water's surface. Eden noted that with a Neko team she would have opted to use gravity manipulation to cut the time it took to swim, but Santo Hei Effy had opted to remain in her Elven body after joining the Star Army so they opted for an efficient underwater butterfly stroke rather than propelling unfettered. Despite that, Effy was a strong swimmer and set a fast pace for the two that Eden enjoyed trying to better, as if in competition with the Elf.

When Shinjuku Starport, Shinjuku Market District, and New Kyoto were not just glittering lights on the horizon but all potential targets, Eden slowed. In her digital mind she utilized her neural link to Effy's headset. Though the Elf usually wore a tiara-like headband, when she wore the Field Suit she put on a headband that picked up her thoughts to communicate with telepaths, like Eden.

"Let's scan." Eden said over that telepathic link.

The pair bobbed to the surface and pulled off the field suit's masks to put on covert glasses and start looking at their target. Eden lightly touched the side of her temple on the frame to zoom in on New Kyoto. She breathed in sharply, seeing the devastation at the Fort there. Craters and pits in the ground had replaced skyscrapers. It looked like it had happened so long ago that there was very

"Distressing?" Effy asked while she kept a vertical position in the water to scout like Eden.

"Yes, especially." Eden said, looking in awe at the devastation as the SAINT operative had her covert operative glasses trained elsewhere.

"Noted," Effy mused as she did her vertical kicks in the water, "It would appear the museum remains intact within the marketplace. Shall we proceed, Taisa?"

"Hai," Eden said with a curious smile on her face as she looked at the tactful junior. GPS coordinates on the sunglasses showed their best point of entry was an unseen and derelict area of the boardwalk underneath shops located next to the water.

Her former commanding officer, Taiyou Hoshi, had liked to off-road and shop on this world, so Eden had come to this boardwalk sporadically with her. It was a wooden footpath built alongside the water with buildings lining it, some kitschy and some interesting. The military museum hadn't been here when Eden had last been to it. During the Kuvexian War it had moved from Chateau Hanako to down here amongst the other less subtle tourist traps. The upkeep of the place under the care of the Kuvexians instead of Yamataians had obviously ruined the charm, making it look more like a slum. What disgusted Eden the most was that the Kuvexians probably thought they had turned it into the lap of luxury.

As Eden clicked her thumb to the area of her glove next to her index finger, she shook her head. With the devastation at the city, Eden wondered what reclaiming the world would even look like .

Effy had done the same with her glove, which had activated their molecure climbing agents within the palm of the hands. Without much ceremony, the two pushed past where the water lapped at rocks next to the boardwalk's retaining wall. Each put both of their hands high on the wall and lifted their lower bodies up to match the height of their hands on the brick facade of the building. With a click of the control on the glove, an electrical charge was released which interrupted the molecure bond of one hand while the other remained planted. Eden and Effy lifted themselves higher and higher and one hand after another as their feet followed until they were on the roof of the military museum.

Water lapped at the building below, where they would exit after they had gotten liberated the old Yamataian valuable from Kuvexian hands. Inside the museum was a platinum lined amphora that Eden had once come in search of five years ago when the museum was up on Chateu Hanako.

Within ten minutes of arriving, Eden was back on the roof with that very ivory vessel safely stowed on her field suit. The pair had only needed to engage active armor for a flurry of seconds while taking out a Kuvexian guard on his nightly rounds. Kuvexians had put their own valuables up for display up and made the innards complex. Teien Eden persevered and followed where her feet led, finally finding her prize.

With satisfaction Eden was able to slip the ivory white amphora, glittering in a beam of light not from a display case but coming in from a window to the lazy light on the boardwalk outside. Under the display case read details about how the Lorath gave it to Hanako, but someone had scratched four fourty-two in black marker. Eden's finger recoiled, then glanced to Effy. The Santo Hei made no motion before Eden quickly swiped her hand and cleaned it.

Before when she had come, the amphora had been sequestered away for cleaning and untouchable. Back then Eden would have been happy with even just for a look. Now with less oversight during the occupation of an enemy she despised she was taking it back to SAINT for analysis, as she should have done 5 years ago.

A missing piece of star princess had been brought closer to being placed. The larger picture made Eden chew her lip as she swam back to the YSS Nyx. Eden only hoped she could uncover the truth further to see what the whole picture was and that if she needed the enigmatic Kaiyō crew, she would be able to find them.
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Planet Yamatai

Within the hinterlands, Eden found herself trekking a ridged path with only hard stone steps to bolster her ascent. For the first time in a year, Eden felt the sweat on her brow from the light campaign she was making. The beginnings of this quest from half a decade ago had made her feel the cushiony mentality of medical leave surrender her spirits with her most recent lunge of her leg.

Eden and her partner for this mission, Ozaki Kasumi-hei, had started the day before the sun on Eden's recommendation. The sky above started getting creamier, as if the sun's rise put milk in the dark indigo of night. Now as day broke, the two black coated Nekovalkyrja trekked up to a lesser visited site of Yamatai, the temple of the Frozen Maiden. She was making this trek along with a jerrycan jug that was tied over her black coat and Kasumi, a white-haired green paneled officer that trekked next to her.

Lazy streams of fog crept from the Easterly ocean and over the polar region's barren landscape. The land was fondled in lazy streams of sea vapor that smoked upwards to coalesce with the freezing air fronts above. The cold pressure of the way the earth, wind, and sea touched down on the pair as they walked and on the landscape as well. Even in early Fall, the fog had frosted in the grasp of the cold night air and sturdy ferns trembled, made white in the night by the frost.
Eden saw her own foggy breath jet from her mouth as she exhaled into the frigid air of the morning next to the sea on the cusp of Fall she smiled. Eden stretched out the arms of her coat with a happy groan to match, but the wind thrashed at her black hair, justaposing her mood wildly.

"Taisa Teien," Jôtô Hei Ozaki Kasumi said. With her commander's vociferation, Kasumi decided to speak up. "What exactly brought you to ask me to provide insight on your mission?"

Teien Eden chuckled as she looked back at the lower ranking woman. The two made an interesting pair; the taller Eden wore an officer cap and had long wind-swept dark hair underneath that contrasted with the pointed style Kasumi wore her severe white ponytail in.

"I don't know how to say it, Ozaki-hei." Eden speculated, "I think you could come up with the answer."

Ozaki Kasumi pursed her dark lips in a playfully upset expression as Eden looked at her on the path up. She had left two small wisps of her hair from her temples exempt from her severe ponytail and they moved gently with her quick movements. Both wore the Type 32 coat in this weather. Both had the curvy bodies whose athleticism was being betrayed as they pumped their legs over the steps at a quickening pace. The long trail was purposefully meant to give the patrons time to meditate on the temple above. In their case it was a good place to brief her newest partner.

"A SAINT operative -our handler- that you'll meet later, Effy- She and I were just swimming in Hanako's World together," Eden said mildly.

"Oh?" Ozaki's burgundy lips split, curious. "How is the planet?"

"The enemy has taken her," Eden nodded solemnly. We went in undetected, but that is the current state of things. As for you, bit of right place right time. Your specialty helps a ton."

"That's too bad," the white-haired woman said. "Not about why I'm here. Was it at the Temple of Star Princess?"

Eden chuckled, "You are smart. Yes it was. When the box was opened and the Avatar of the Stars deposited knowledge in us, in me- did you feel it, too?"

Kasumi took a considerable amount of time to respond, using the beautiful locale and breathtaking view of the ocean to their left and forward and warm hues of arctic ground cover to their right as an excuse to wait to respond.

She finally said, "From what I recall you had to be carried out, Teien-Taisa. I dd not experience such an effect. But the answer is yes, Taisa. I did gain access to what I had not known before. Snippets of the sector, about AvaNet and moons of the sector and such."

"All things a textbook should include, but I don't think astronomers have figured some of the things I saw, uh," Kasumi stammered, "Teien-taisa, I still sometimes get the same feeling only to see the same sorts of images. Not many, like two... but still."

"Me too," Eden whispered as she stopped. The dark haired and golden-eyed warrior put her hand on Kasumi's shoulder. The green-eyed Jôtô Hei looked surprised and off balance momentarily as the Taisa held her unexpectedly.

but the wind took the sound away and Kasumi simply read her lips and expression to understand the dark-haired woman. Eden had an imposing strength to her stature which had been thrown at Kasumi, but now she shirked as she shook her head to look at the sea, "And I dream of the Kaiyō, still. The ocean before us speaks of her..." Eden considered this then added to Kasumi especially, "but not like the dreams, not really."

"The dreams really spoke to you, don't they?" Kasumi asked, stepping forward with her wedge heeled black boots cutting into the moss next to Eden's feet. She held onto Eden's hand as she took in her breath sharply before asking, "That's why I'm here and why you came out of retirement, isn't it?"

"Well, it wasn't retirement," Eden said with an emphasis on the last word. "But yeah, I guess it looked that way. I'm here for this, though," she added with a chuckle back on track to the nearing giant yew and temple to her left. Water here is supposed to be phenomenal."

"Water?" Kasumi asked quizzically before running to catch up with the now jogging Eden. Saying the word had conjured the imagery and the scientist asked, again, "Water, Teien-taisa?"

Temple of the Frozen Maiden

Once inside, Eden wasn't inclined to move deep into the shrine. Instead, the woman stopped short at the entrance to hold out her hand. The water pittering and pattering from the entrance's trough-like chozuya. The boxy wooden rectangle had a shishi-odoshi that plopped water ceaselessly into it from its bamboo spout. The sound was a constant pitter pattering on the peak. Normally this area was covered in snow in the winter months -and soon would be- but right now Fall was just beginning to creep into the lovingly tended gardens.

Eden looked around, wishing she could linger. She could imagine meditating under the evidently ancient and incredibly large Yew that shrouded the Shrine's Eastern side to be peaceful at this early time of day.

"Let's get to work," Eden said with a mewling grunt as she started moving on to the mission at hand.

"Taisa!" Kasumi called as Eden brought her jerrycan jug from her back to her front, then over her coat, which she started working on next. "Taisa... What are you doing?"

"Getting undressed, Jôtô Hei," Eden replied with a frustrated expression on her toughened face. "What's so wrong about that?" Funny enough, Eden had stopped at rolling up the sleeves on the turtleneck of the 30C Duty Uniform she had on underneath her coat.

"Calm down, it's not that serious," Eden added with a laugh as she strutted to the chozuya's water basin. She knelt down and splashed her mouth with water as Kasumi relaxed, then she placed the jerrycan underneath the rippling surface of the chozuya's rippling water.

"Wait, Taisa-Teien!" Kasumi called again as she realized what Eden was doing. "That's sacred water!" She didn't make any moton to stop her and pulled out her scientific scanner and approached the water to start a series of tests on it as her deep red lips pursed.

Eden could tell Kasumi was more interested than upset, so said nothing. The air glugged out of the jerrycan as it was replaced with water inside, making big gulping sounds in the silent morning. Eden felt bad for breaking the silence, then a crow started calling a cawing sound to warn its kin of their presence.

"Check that the bird is real, Kasumi," Eden said as she hid her actions with the line of sight on her actions with the jerrycan and chozuya from the crow behind her.

"Right away," Kasumi said coldly as she changed out the module on the top of her scanner . She scanned it then called, "No power source detected."

"Good," Eden said, relaxing. "Birds that are real are just nicer to be around."

The crow screeched again. Even though Eden had only just now set foot on this part of the continent, part of her mind -the part that always controlled a version of Eve- knew this area intimately well. Eden's golden eyes flickered to the distant blue glaciers. In this universe, the ST backups there didn't work for this universe's Eve. If others had destroyed those places where revive the previous NH-17T, could she destroy them too? Could she use them?

Eden shushed her mind with a breath out, closing her concerned eyes as she quieted this universe's mind. In another universe the blue-haired and horned woman whose mind that Eden always gripped had the same backup places... and now Eden knew. The thought of these locations had never slipped from her Eve to Eden, worryingly. A wind swept over the wet skin of her forearms and of her face, making the chill running through her SPINE interface almost debilitating for the Taisa.

"I'm ready to go if you are," Eden said to Ozaki Kasumi, whose green eyes betrayed other plans as she looked to Eden. Her delicate pink hands were even on the scanner already while her black wedges were pointed towards the alluring temple.

"T-teien-taisa, uh... I would have liked to take scans of the old portal rooms," Kasumi said, taking off the ochre module and power cell of her scanner. "But as an order from an officer, it's okay if no-"

"Go ahead. But," Eden stopped her, looking to the warm hues under the incredible yew tree and the misty ocean with hopeful golden eyes. Eden had put her coat back on and jerrycan down to nestle near a rocky and leaf-strewn outcropping. The weak rays of an Autumn sun pushed into the canopy above, casting rods of light amongst the meandering dust and balls of soft light that floated in the delicate branches.

"I will be out here meditating beneath this blessed tree." Eden finally added, "Join me when you are done, Ozaki-hei."

"Hai, Taisa! What an aptly ceremnial way to conclude a successful recon of some phenomenal water!" Kasumi's verdant eyes sparkled above her smile. She was soon off and into the temple with her equipment.

With a wane smile Eden agreed, then closed her eyes.
Yamataian Star System

Freya's Moon


Eden and Kasumi had dropped from near the exosphere of the moon, taking a slow descent down in their shibui suits. They had used them more like squirrel suits with a modular addition of wing flaps that zipped into the wrist and ankles of the suit. Their descent to one of Freya's many moons's unusually thick atmosphere had meant that they were now intimately aware of the landscape as they flew towards their destination.

The features here were in this pre-garden world were either flat masses or simple and angular shapes. They extended from the landscape in unwieldy, jutting movements of soul-less monotone hues. Below them the smooth but slightly concave soil was a level plane to fly above with a curve not unlike a subtle caldera in the strange landscape. Around and behind them were large jutting chasms of limestone rock formed from the mineral compounding over millennia. The bright whiteness of limestone extended into a sort of canyon that encased the long stretch of calcium-rich soil.

Though this area was as chalk white as Kasumi's hair tightly secured under her helmet, on the horizon it bled into the sulfur sickly yellow and pussy green colors of the sulfur fields beyond and the the North. In time, that sulfur would bleed into the calcium-rich land and create something more habitable for life, along with the rest of the moon's terra. But in this moment in time, the moon was bleak.

Once within just a couple of dozen feet of the surface and after Kasumi had started using her Type 31 science scanner, Eden spoke.

"It looks so barren," Eden noted of Gersemi.

"Not at all accurate," Ozaki Kazumi said and her hand went to her science scanner on her belt. "As you know the ground in this region is particularly rich in calcium."

"No, no-" Eden said, "I understand it will be beautiful one day. Pre-garden worlds tend to seem so hostile to life."

"A false front." Kasumi had the response on the tip of her dusky red lips.

Eden nodded, "Rarely do facades hide beauty. Here they do, I suppose." Her head tossed up to look towards the two ships docked at the survey station high in atmosphere of Gersemi. A sleek black Plumeria gunship that she now captained, the YSS Nyx, was there and next to her was a Henry Chen science vessel from the task force they shared.

"Often that is how the algorithms of science, work, Eden-chusa." Kasumi's green eyes dashed to Eden underneath her delicate white lashes.

Ozaki Kasumi had been working diligently in her digital mind. Finally with a breath of relief, she concluded mental calculations took the emission module out of her science scanner.

"So why is you use that science scanner," Teien Eden asked as she took a look at the white-haired Nekovalkryja in the shibui suit next to her. "And not the new one?"

"I learned on this one," Kasumi looked between the ground below and the clunky modular scanner she had been using for a year, now. "When I was on your ship for Project Star Princess, I was a cornflower infantry."

Eden nodded.

"When I took on collegiate work to become a science officer, it was a big step. This little guy saw me through." Kasumi said with a happy tone as she clipped the scanner to her belt and stored the emission module in her butt pack. She seemed to be taking a breath of relief as she looked at the surroundings with new eyes. "Back to the mission profile and this moon, Gersemi. Many believe the Yamataian Star System to be artificial. The Nepleslians think it all started here."

A sly smile had grown on Eden's heart-shaped face, "What do you think?"

"Along our current course," Ozaki Kasumi informed the Chusa flying next to her, "we should approach the location for a foot search to begin."

"You didn't answer my question," Eden prompted.

"I think I'll theorize for you at our destination, Eden-chusa."

Though Kasumi retained her helmet, Eden was wearing her long black hair in a traditional Yamataian style called yoko-hyogo where her hime cut and bangs were down while the rest of her hair was wept in two large mountainous buns that formed sharp wings atop her head. The Shibui she had worn at the Temple of the Stars during Project Star Princess fit snugly now as it had then, given her stacked chest and the thick hips she had in common with the science officer next to her.

"Telemetry copies your coordinates." Aboard the Henry Chen in the avionics section, their SAINT handler Effy spoke to Eden and her partner, Ozaki Kasumi, in the Nekovlakryja's digital minds. A few moments later, Kasumi and Eden touched the ground of the planet for the first time. Kasumi knelt to sample the earth, then popped out the module on her science scanner for another. She was wearing a field uniform as white as the the calcium-rich rock formation jutting out beneath her.

"Sending science scans as I process them," she said.

"Copy that Ozaki," Effy replied in comms. They flew on several more meters until coming to what looked like a flat plane of earth in the center of the large white expanse. Underneath the amphora that SAINT was still housing and studying, there were coordinates in an old, almost unknown language, that when combined with the same type on the box that had been opened in the Temple of the Stars, the coordinates on Gersemi were the only ones any algorithm would connect the clues to. So now they approached those coordinates with hopeful optimism their mission's conclusion would be closer in sight.

The placid look on Kasumi's face was disturbed after the pair touched down on the white rock. When their boots touched the white chunks of calcium shale on the ground, Eden felt herself being pulled down and engaged gravity controls. Eden could barely stand, but she seemed to trust in it as she looked to extend an arm to help her partner next to her.

"Chusa..." Ozaki Kasumi remarked with an uncharacteristic guttural cough. Her science scanner open once more, but it had spilled out of her hand as she fell to the white earth.

The grippy, foreign fabric on Kasumi's Shibui suit crinkled at the fingertips as she sunk towards her knees. The white gritty earth pebbled and crushed around her as she gasped for air to speak again, but she reeled and let her head fall between her knees in a rasping shout.

"Kasumi-hei has fallen!" Eden gasped. "My inertial controls are not working and- and I feel weaker." Her stance had widened as her knees locked and feet remained planted in the calcium white shale and dust below her.

"Gravitational redshift on the planet," Effy called back to them. Then she seemed to be speaking to more than just Eden and Kasumi momentarily.

"All personnel are advised to evacuate the station." To Eden, Effy said, "I'll continue to monitor you, captain, but the station is in jeopardy!"

"No..." Eden said, straining her neck and jaw to look up. She could barely lift her head and when did, it made the black hime cut hair that wasn't up in her traditional bun fall and show her tendons flexing under her straining jawline. She peered up to see that the Nyx's docking connection had been broken. Slowly the matte black Plumeria moved away, then with a sudden blue and orange melding of light, the modified SAINT vessel was gone. Simply no longer in existence despite the station being next to it, still safe for the time being.

Eden blinked, her wide amber eyes filled with wonder over her mouth, which was agape with horror for the station as she switched over to her digital mind's telepathy. She was listening to the terror-fueled thoughts of every Nekovalkryja on the station.

"YSS Nyx you are being cleared for launch. All personnel are advised to evacuate the station immediately. Escape pods are being evacuated as we speak. Security authorization 5499 Delta opening shuttle bay doors. Station personnel for immediate...all hands..."

They were relaying the words Effy had said before to them.

With a heavy sigh, Eden felt herself feeling sick and unimaginably heavy. She felt like with every deep, pained breath she took she had to feed every muscle the oxygen it needed just to exist.

In her peripheral, Eden saw Kasumi grabbing for for her scanner, but she couldn't reach. Eden began pushing against the white ground, crawling to it like a snail coming home from a funeral. Eden groaned with the effort of taking a step, but she struggled towards the science scanner Kasumi had dropped. Grabbing it, she scooted towards Kasumi, who worked hard to reach into her buttpack for a different scanner module.

Eden nodded, "Take scans!"

"I am but these recordings mirror those of our experience in Temple of the Stars, captain. I think we're aboouu-" Kasumi's voice was stretched out and slowed to the point of being unrecognizable to anyone observing, such as Effy in her escape pod. The SAINT elf saved the communication she had just heard from Kasumi and one last proximity scan, then kept working at her station, hoping she'd get to an escape pod. She had already sent her last will to SAINT: do not revive. Many personnel of the station were gone in one of the many stuffed escape pods alongside some the personnel of the station. The station was deeply pitted and crumpled on the sides closest to the moon and it looked a bit like a tin can half-crushed beneath a heel.

They didn't need to stay away long, though. Effy's scans showed the abnormal super dense mass that had formed within the center of the moon was suddenly gone... but her scans also showed Kasumi and Eden were gone as well.

A Different Time:
20日 4月 YE 42

A Different Place:
Uesureyan Fields

Eden was still listening to the mental voices of the station and the escapees when she disappeared from Yamataian known time and space. They all stopped just as she did. The silence was soon overcome by her own speculative thoughts, all full of concern and alarm at what had been caused. Kasumi was in her arms and the pair in the Shibui were for a moment in a very closed space, dark, then it was all light around her. She felt she could see someone, then all light. Light like a person's face but also like the feeling a weight lifted.

Was that a face that of a Neko's? Eden wondered.

"Sister?" she asked.

"No," the blanched woman said. "I'm AvaNet and your ship avatar. You're on the YSS Nyx and I have further modified it for your mission." Her features were soft save for her sharp eyes and mouth, both fair as snow.

Eden could hear Eve in her mind laughing and cackling. The crazed dictator told Eden to check the date. When Eden didn't, she just kept howling with laughter.

The Avatar spoke again, "You have a mission to the Kitsurugi and Nepleslian that I know." Eden's mind went to Aiko and William and the woman nodded her head and closed her white eyes solemnly. "They are in captivity during this time, but where they are I do not know." The Avatar said. "I need you to take me to them."

Eden looked down and saw the ultramarine carpet of the Nyx's bridge. Next to her was Kasumi and the captain's chair. She was telling the truth. Eden remembered Aiko's debriefing and her mention of an something coming to her and saving her and William. In Eden's eyes she had interpreted that as the Kami of the clan spirits wafting into Aiko's thoughts to inspire the princess warrior. Eden thought it had been nothing more than a holy experience for the Ketsurui.

Now Eden was beginning to rethink her assumption.

Now that she heard the the avatar's request, Eden felt like she saw how everything was coming together, even if only to ferry someone to Kuvexian space. At least it all made sense to Eden, now. 

When Eden had opened the box at the Temple of the Stars, she had been flooded with information, but also the features of this Avatar, her searching eyes pointed mouth looked like something Eden had seen in that experience. And that experience was that which had brought her back into the army and to captain the Nyx.

Eden knew little, but at least she knew the Avatar and her shared the same mission.

Kasumi moved to the Nyx's closest bridge console Eden raised her hand to stop her, but seeing her glittering chusa striped and remembering her mission -not her personal motive to ignore the dictator that resided in her head. Eden let the science officer check anything for herself.

"Chusa, it's YE 42," Ozaki said breathlessly. "It's the fourth month of YE 42, Chusa! The Battle of Nataria is happening today!"

Kasumi had stopped toppling over her words; she had realized Eden was standing still, sniffling.


"My wife and child died at the Third Battle of Nataria." Eden's shibui-clad wrist wiped a tear from her face. Kasumi breathed out but Eden talked on, "I was in Kuvexian space, where this Avatar wants me to lead her, instead of here to save her." She looked to the white-faced Avatar. "Did you bring me back to this time to save her? Can I save them this time?!"

With a shake of her snowy head, the Avatar had given her reply.

With a choked whimper, Eden stepped forward, powering up systems on the Nyx through her captain's chair. Her fingers were working the ship systems, but her digital mind brought up the names of her family members that would die today, hoping to see it as it happened during her second experience of losing them forever.

"Talk to me if you need to." Mournfully, Kasumi had taken off her helmet and approached Eden to put a hand on her shoulder with a soft squeeze. Kasumi took to the science and sensors station while the Avatar walked behind the bridge where there was a connected section. She began wiring into AvaNet up there as Eden's brows had lifted, remembering that the avatar had said she had modified it. The Avatar's implicit connection to AvaNet allowed her to fly the ship she had refitted for herself as its AI from there.

"What should we call you?" Eden called behind herself to the Avatar.

"Skadi. You may call me Skadi," the Avatar replied evenly. "I am ready for teleportation sequence."

"The wha-" Kasumi asked excitedly. She suddenly took out her science scanner once again and she jumped up to start scanning Skadi and the ship's consoles.

"We have a prince and princess to save, now don't we?" Eden said, smiling through the tears.

She wasn't ready to be taken far from Yamatai and away from where her loved ones would soon die in battle, but Eden lied.

"Ready when you are, Skadi!" The captain said before disappearing from known space... once again.
5日 9月 YE 42
Kuvexian Space

Teien Eden was standing in the hallway between her bridge and the zero gravity passageway as a lump formed in her throat. Closing in around her, the corridor was cramped. Not just compared to the Fuji-class on which she had more recently served, but compared to the hallways of the cedar-planked walls of onsen across Yamatai. She had spent too many years at mountain retreats to feel comfortable in the same class she had served on before everything fell apart for her. She'd spent too many years hiding from the past to be in the midst of it now, even technically.

Had the Avatar really taken her back to the day her family had died in Yamatai just to pull her away from Yamatai, she wondered. She rubbed a hand up to her dark bangs, pushing them away from her pained and golden eyes. Staring at the hallway's floor just before it spat out into the passageway to the decks below, her mind paced the area as she stood stock-still.

Her attention went upward, thinking of the vantage point from which the Megami on the YSS Kaiyō had recorded her death all those years ago. Eden hadn't remembered, but had been shown the recording and seen the heartbreak. She had seen the tears and could feel the pain as if she had been there when her wife had shot her. The same wife that was now dead herself, never to be resurrected.

"Captain?" Kasumi said as she saw Eden's moment of reverie from the doors of the open bridge. Her white hair was swept up in a tight ponytail as she looked out from a rosy face at the darkly visage of Teien Eden. Eden almost flinched, then let her hand fall, trying to regain her composure while pulling at her white-paneled jacket to straighten it.

"Am I correct in assuming you died here, in this position on the ship?" Kasumi asked.

"Yes." There was a flicker in Eden's bright eyes as she took a furtive glance to her science officer. "A different ship, but the same class. Why?"

"It must have been hard," Kasumi said with a shake of her head as if there was no use comprehending it.

"When most Nekovalkryja die in battle," Eden said, "they are able to look at how they died and learn from it. When I died and was rez'd, I looked back at how I died and didn't learn a thing."

"Captain, we are approaching Kuvexian space," said the walls around her. The AvaNet Atar was speaking to them from the bridge.

"Thank you," Eden replied. Kasumi green eyes were on Eden's golden ones and they gave one another wan smiles before the white-haired woman stepped forward, holding Eden in warm hug. Her hands touched the shoulder blades of her superior before falling lower.

Eden was taken aback by the petite woman's embrace, but soon her own hands held her back as she felt the comfort in the touch. She could smell the sweet shampoo Kasumi still used since going to chateau Hanako and finding the fruity scented washes there. Eden thought of the moments spent there when alone sometimes.

"Thank you," Eden said as her hand found Kasumi's for a quick squeeze. She walked from the hallway and onto the bridge.

"We are approaching Kuvexian space," the Avatar said quietly. From her place at the back of it, Skadi watched the women enter it from behind arresting white eyes.

Eden mirrored the exchange with a look of apprehension of her own. She had trusted the Avatar in a moment of weakness, perhaps. The Avatar had brought them back in time, after all, to the day in which her wife and daughter had died forever. Whether that was on purpose in a bid to manipulate Eden was something the captain was still considering. She knew the way that they had been exercised from Geshrintall for it to become Yamatai. AvaNet's reliability was not one of their defining features.

"Thank you, Skadi. What do you need from me?" Eden asked. "And what is our mission goal?"

"I've told you, Teien-chusa. I need you to bring me to the Kitsurugi and Nepleslian children."

Eden sneered, "They're not children." She loved those two. Ketsurui Aiko had been assigned to her ship since its launch and was even under Eden's tutelage during that time. William she thought of like family and she had seen him grow so much. From orphan needing safeguarding to protector in his own right.

"Given, we are back in time by a few years," Kasumi said objectively.

Eden mulled this over. It was true that during this time, Aiko and William had been abducted by Kuvexians. Currently in this time, they were imprisoned by them in a violent style of entertainment that the Nekovalkyrja would applaud if only it had been done on their soil. They were being treated as recreation of the most grisly kind, unbefitting even prisoners of war, but Eden had been part of the group to liberate them. They had pulled themselves out of that death pit by their own hand. Teien Eden knew the future and that Aiko and William had fought for their freedom in front of Eden's eyes.

"Still," Eden quipped. She then asked, "Skadi, what makes you think they need your help at all?"

The Avatar stayed quiet for a moment, then looked up as if surveying the YSS Nyx's internal systems. Her face was placid and her body looked more mature than any NH Eden had seen, like that of a human grandma. She wondered if Skadi was even in a Nekovalkyrja body or one she had created herself. The captain grew agitated thinking in the silence.

"What makes it impossible for you to help them alone?" Eden said, crossing her legs in her chair. "Why pull me to you just to have us drive you around?"

"Fortunate," Skadi replied, looking back to Eden. "Both of those questions tie together. The Avatars of AvaNet were sent off by Kitsurugi Yui, yes. On Geshrintall, in the time of the Nekovalkryja's origins, the only sentients to interact with us were humanoid. And we liked you. Dearly."

Eden prickled, "Is this your way of ingratiating yourself?"

"Think of the knowledge you were imparted at Temple of the Stars and you will know it to be true. What's more, when we were asked to leave, we did so out of good will. Perhaps out of affection." Skadi continued with a slight smile, "Let's just say that out in the expanses and frontiers, some of them our old homes, we were not met with such agreeable creatures."

"What kind of creatures?" Kasumi asked.

"Creatures that have made strong attempts to block us from coming to your prince and princess' aid," Skadi's face had fallen and any pretense of friendliness was gone. "So you can understand, finding a chaperone to help them escape has become my sole intent these past few months."

"So, you've started a war with some aliens and Yamataians are being caught in between," Eden said in a stale, fatigued tone.

"Not at all," Skadi shook her white-haired head. "We've avoided the conflicts and burrowed into planets they had no use of. This is a sort of... awakening of us by beings most foul. They have found a way to provoke us into action."

"You're being tested," Eden surmised.

"'If AvaNet will not rouse to save their favorite creature, then their sleep is deep...'" Skadi quoted.

"And here you are, awake." The lump in Eden's throat had returned and was hard to push down to speak.

"Yes," Skadi said. "We did." The Avatar tugged at the tubing that connected to her strange pale body. It was the first sign of discomfort the member of AvaNet had exhibited.

The apprehension and anxiety Eden was feeling was all too similar to what she was feeling when alone in the corridors. She wanted something -someone- to hold onto, and looked to the only other person on this ship with her save for the Avatar, Ozaki Kasumi.

"Now, captain," Skadi said in a tone meant to interrupt the eye contact between the two. "If you're quite done asking questions, I could use some help. You see, we've been receiving direct enemy fire for upwards of two full minutes."

"What?!" Eden questioned as her inertial control activated and she jumped from one end of the bridge into her captain's chair.

Kasumi cried, "Why didn't you say anything?!"

Both Eden and Kasumi thought how a Megami would have never acted like this. But, if what Skadi was saying was true, the godlike Avatars were endangering themselves in order to stand up for all of the Kikyo Sector. For that, their unruly nature could be forgiven.
5日 9月 YE 42
Kuvexian Space

"Power diverted to shields," Eden said with a clipped tone as she settled into her chair. It felt odd, giving orders like this after so long, and she felt out of place. Regardless, she interfaced with the ship and viewed the threats as Skadi saw them.

A Kuvexian patrol had found them. Given it was YE 42 and the Kuvexian War had not ended, reinforcements that amounted to more than a lone Plumeria could handle had arrived. Skadi had been holding them out by dropping in and out of stealth within energy fluctuations on the rim of a system. She was using the abnormal distortions to her advantage, but it was like weaving in and out of an asteroid field. Eventually they were going to get found or clipped by an errant energy flux.
"Ozaki-san," Eden said. "I want options. Skadi, how did you-"

"Perhaps Skadi's given us options," Ozaki Kasumi said. She had seen the same thing Eden had before she had wondered aloud. "If we can kite the Kuvexians into one of the fluctuations at just the right time, the spike could act like a scalar grenade and overload their systems."

"Not every fluctuation along this system's rim would have such an effect," Skadi said from her standing position at the back of the bridge, but the words had fed into the digital minds of the two Star Army officers like telepathy to save time.

"Kasumi, find out which ones would." Eden's dark black hair splayed out as she turned to speak to her science officer. Her golden eyes were sharp and pointedly looking at the rosy-hued woman's face as she made her request.

"Aye, captain," Kasumi chirped back.

"Skadi, buy her some time and fire on the lead scout ship after we exit stealth," Eden asked of the Avatar.


With the scouts cleared out behind them at the system's rim and a new course set for a nearby hideaway, Skadi announced her intentions.

"We are near enough the Kuvexian station. I'm going to send whispers of myself on the wind. I will not be 'here', so to speak, for a short time while I aide the prince and princess in need. Any combat assistance you would require during that time I will not be able to provide, though the MEGAMI functions will be restored." Skadi had said.

"Is that all?" Eden asked, realizing the extent of her mission with this Avatar had been to shuttle her and nothing more.

"You say you save them?" the Avatar asked.

"M-me?" Eden asked, but then remembered how she had stormed the gladiator ring with the Kaiyō crew and the third fleet's legion flooding the ring. It had happened in her past, yet had not yet come in this future. "Yes, I did. Aiko cut through a monster after they had thought she died. The two of them were able to escape because the place's force field went down when the Kuvexians thought they had been killed. We were there, but if they hadn't done that, I don't know how we would have gotten through to them. They saved themselves."

"Then yes, that will be all," Skadi confirmed decisively. "I will return you to your past life."

"Very good, Skadi. Thank you for all that you have done for Yamatai." Eden said amicably enough. In reality, Skadi reaching into her dreams and driving her to help Aiko and William when they had already been saved years in her past felt redundant. Having been pulled to the very day that her wife and child had died forever on Nataria pushed that feeling into new territory, though. The golden-eyed Chusa was hopeful to be sent back to the mountain resort she had stepped away from in order to live the rest of her days in peace. This had only reminded her that her adventures were better spent in the past, not her future.

Skadi looked at Kasumi, "Would you go with her?"

Kasumi's dark lips parted in confusion, then she said, "Of course. It's where I belong."

"And your ship I will pilot back to the star base I pulled it from." Skadi seemed about ready to dust off her pale white hands and be done with the two of them now that they had brought her to the location of the imprisoned two Kaiyo crewmen. Aiding Ketsurui Yui's daughter and Gaelan Sander's son seemed the most pressing concern of the Avatar.

Teien Eden just wanted to know that the two of them were safe. After having been in self-imposed solitude, Eden hadn't seen either of them in years. Now, in the past and helping a God-like being save them, Eden felt a yearning to see them in the future again. Eden turned to Kasumi to speak what was on her mind.

"I haven't seen these two in years, but I used to be very close to the both of them. William called me "aunty" and I was charged with being Aiko's teacher."

Kasumi said, "I could imagine you to be great at both roles."

"I don't know about that," Eden said, unsure. "I could have been a better teacher and found family member. I was really wrapped up in my own problems and didn't really try at either. It's tough to look back. I can only see all of the ways I shirked responsibility."

"You're too hard on yourself," Kasumi didn't like the negative view Eden was tinting her past with. "I'm sure you did your best."

"Maybe I'll visit them in the future," Eden murmured as she put her thumb up to her lips.

She looked to Skadi, whose head had slumped down to face her own chest. Her limp body hung from the bridge controls, arms pulled up to the sides while her feet looked as if they were drooping against the floor. Whereas before she had been wearing a uniform, now it was slowly dissolving, making way for her bright white skin to show through. What's more, she was emanating light.

"I'll try to take some readings now," Kasumi said, rushing past the Avatar towards the cabinet with her science scanner. She took only a set of scans before the brightness filled the room, though, and she fell to her knees. Eden tore her eyes from Skadi to Kasumi and rushed to her side, holding her frame. Kasumi had looked from the floor back to the Avatar just as garbled words came from her.

Though the white woman's mouth remained closed, snippets of what she was saying to Aiko and William in the colosseum went directly into the pair's mind. It came to them with a depth of intensity Eden remembered from Temple of the Stars, Her prior experience was perhaps the only reason she could withstand the whispers on the wind, but Kasumi was uninitiated to it despite these

“Kitsurugi, your allies can not save you and your work is yet undone... I come to you now..."

"Your army do not know of—It is the only way for the Fifth Army of the Precious Sword to... Visit the Pagoda no Uesureya..."

"Your freedom will save countless others from imprisonment."

Kasumi reached out, grabbing Eden's hand as the green-eyed scientist gritted her teeth against the incursion of utterances. As soon as she gripped Eden's hand, the room shockingly dimmed and there was a strange sound of reverberating bells.

From the back, in the dimmed lighting of the bridge, Skadi's head raised and her usual focused demeanor had been replaced by a haggard look. When she saw Eden and Kasumi crouched on the ground, though, she smiled wearily.

"Did you happen to hear that?" Skadi asked the two huddling women, who did not reply. The force of power was too great. "Return them to us when they have reached their destination. We have roused, but we are yet unable to stave off the swarms. We need them to save themselves time and again."

Another Place

Eden was thinking how funny it was for Skadi to reference time now, of all instances, but her thoughts were snuffed out. The bridge had been replaced by dimness and only a lone torch flickering on the wall several meters away was to be seen. She realized there was another further down and that she was in a hallway. Her fingers gripped stone on the wall next to her and she heard Kasumi's breathing next to her sharpen in fear. She looked to her and a sliver of green from Kasumi's wide eyes caught the distant firelight. There was a terrifying uncertainty there.

"Where are we?" Eden asked in a soft whisper.