An android held a scythe in his hand, the blade dripping the blood of its victims. Two corpses lay on the ground, a young man and a woman. Wounds covered their bodies, and they swam in pools of their own blood. The android slowly turned around, its eyes finding a small child cowering in fear.
"Must grow. Evolve. Open the door." The little girl backed away until her back hit the wall. As the android approached her, it raised its scythe into the air, repeating those same words over and over again. It stopped in front of her, and the child looked up into its dark, soulless eyes. The scythe came down, and the girl screamed.
Chapter 1: Arrival
Danielle awoke with a start, her throat ragged from the scream she let out. The RAmarl was 17, younger than most other hunters. Her brown hair was worn back, and she had hazel eyes. Years ago, her mom and brother were murdered by an assassin. Since then, she had always been alone. The memories of the past had came back to haunt her for some unknown reason. Tears streamed down the RAmarl's face as she struggled to regain her composure. Danielle slowly got out of bed and entered her bathroom. She splashed water on her face, hoping that the nightmare would go away. It was after the discovery that she had a rare, incurable disease that the dreams had returned. Doctor's told her that the illness she had was the rarest and most deadly of them all. Only one other person had ever caught the virus, and they had died a few years ago. The virus slowly destroyed a person's body, a little bit every day. At the current rate, she wouldn't live past the age of 20.
Her BEE system received a message and began to beep. She turned off the bathroom light and walked into her bedroom. The message was from Amanda, her best friend. She wanted the RAmarl to come and watch the arrival to Ragol from one of the observation decks. Danielle sent a reply and put on her green fatigues. She turned to her Mag, Apsaras, who was waiting patiently for her orders. "Sorry buddy, but they don't allow Mags there," she said weakly. The Ranger pocketed her key and left the house.
Pioneer 2: Observation Deck A
A woman with long, blonde hair worn back and brown eyes stood with her arms crossed by one of the windows. Amanda was one of the nicest people Danielle had ever met. Not only had she taken care of the RAmarl after her parents were killed, but she had also trained her to become a Ranger. Amanda turned to Danielle as she arrived. "I was wondering when you would get here."
"Yeah, well, I kind of overslept." Her mentor noticed the teen's tired expression and guessed that her nightmares had returned.
"We should be arriving any minute now. I didn't want you to miss this, Danielle."
"I wouldn't miss this for a million Meseta," Danielle replied. She watched the space outside of the ship and waited. The people of Pioneer 2's home world was being destroyed, so Pioneer 1 was sent to Ragol to establish a colony. Pioneer 2 was the second of the colony ships sent to the planet. More would come later, if everything went well. Suddenly, where there was only darkness outside the ship, millions of tiny lights appeared. A blue and green planet, covered by white clouds, was before them. Many of the spectators whispered excitedly among themselves. The Pioneer 2 launched a bright blue beam, which shot downward toward the planet. Somewhere on the surface, the Central Dome launched a red beam up into space. The communications link opened, and the Pioneer 2 was about to send a message, when there was a large explosion. The two lights vanished as the explosion engulfed the Central Dome. Danielle's blood ran cold.
"They… They're gone. They're all gone," she whispered in disbelief. Tears trickled down her face, and she turned away. Danielle left before Amanda could stop her.
Pioneer 2: Danielle's House
Apsaras was hovering a few centimeters above the couch in the living room, watching the television. It paused when it saw the explosion on the surface. The reporter's voice was frantic as he tried to discover what just happened. Apsaras's master returned a few minutes later, and the Mag tried to comfort her. The two of them had been together since Danielle was a kid, and no one understood her better than the Mag. The RAmarl sat down and sobbed, her hands covering her face. "Apsaras…" Suddenly, she cried out in pain and clutched her heart. She coughed hard, so hard that she tasted blood in her mouth. The coughs continued for a few seconds, but it felt like an eternity to the teen. She trembled, scared that an attack would come again. Thankfully, it did not.
"Danielle," Amanda said softly. The RAmarl wasn't at all surprised. She had given Amanda a spare key to her house in case of emergencies. Danielle looked into her friend's eyes; thankful she was here. Her mentor walked over to her and helped her up. "Are you all right?" The Ranger nodded and wiped her mouth.
"Yeah. I just wish I didn't have to live like this. It's a pain worrying whether your heart will suddenly hurt and you start coughing up blood or not." Asparas beeped worriedly and rubbed against its master. "I'm okay, really," Danielle insisted. Amanda let go of her and reached into her pocket for something.
"Principal Tyrell asked me to give this to you," she said as she handed the Ranger a piece of paper. It was a letter asking for Danielle to meet with Principal Tyrell ASAP, and that she was granted permission to enter his office. "He spoke with me while I was on my way here. It sounded like he had something important to tell you. But after I came in and saw you, I'm not too sure." The RAmarl shook her head.
"It's okay. I can go." Danielle walked into her room and picked up her storage unit from her desk. Asparas floated over to her so it could be stored. Amanda took something out of her own unit and handed it to her pupil. "Amanda, this is…"
"It's Agito, one of the four legendary katanas. I think that you can put it to better use than I can." Amanda laughed at the Ranger's expression. "You better hurry, Danielle. I don't think the Principal likes to be kept waiting." She nodded and left the house. Amanda sighed and stood there for a moment, watching the TV. She never heard the door open; never saw the shadow approaching her; never saw the scythe, until it was too late.
Pioneer 2: Near Principal Tyrell's Office
Danielle pushed through the crowded intersection and walked up to one of the guards standing by the teleporter to the Principal's office. "Hold it. No one is allowed through here," he said. Danielle took the note out of her pocket and handed it to him. "I see. He wants to speak with you. Go right ahead." The RAmarl stepped into the teleporter and reappeared in Tyrell's office. Scientists were speaking among themselves, trying to find out any information about the people on the surface. Principle Tyrell noticed the Ranger and gestured for her to approach. "Danielle! I'm glad you are here. I have something to ask you."
"Anything you need, sir."
"I want for you to investigate the surface of Ragol and search for survivors. We tried to send unmanned drones, but we lost control as they neared the surface, and the probes crashed. After numerous attempts, we were finally able to launch a teleporter. This is where you come in. Experienced hunters are needed to explore the Central Dome and the area surrounding it. Will you help us?" Danielle nodded.
The Principal looked relieved. "Thank you. When you are done, please return here and report your findings to us. Good luck." The RAmarl turned and left. Tyrell hoped that she would be okay. He had heard about her illness, and had arranged for her to meet his daughter, Rico, when they arrived. Danielle had idolized Rico and dreamed of meeting the hunter before the virus killed the RAmarl. Tyrell returned to reading the papers on his desk, praying for his daughter's safety.