"So, she made it back to her friends, that's nice,"
"It's unfortunate that it will only be short lived,"
"Unfortunate, yes. Necessary, absolutely,"
"I take it you're about to give me the mission parameters?"
"But of course, you're not aboard their ship for no reason,"
"How would you like me to approach? Should I start killing everyone one by one or do you prefer to handle it your way?"
"How thoughtful of you. Even though I would love nothing more than to kill them off immediately I also feel we must place a more... how should we say... personal touch to it. I want them to suffer,"
"How do you suggest we handle this then?"
"What's worse than being betrayed by your very love? I think that's a great way to break the ice. You know what to do,"
"Yes, mistress. I'll be in touch,"
"Have you seen Barnette? I haven't seen her since I got back," said Dita as she stood at the bridge. It was odd, she thought. Coming back to the place where it all began was nothing short of surreal. It was almost like she walking within a dream, a dream she thought she would never have. Hibiki stood several feet away from her his gaze matching hers. It was indeed a while since she had seen him. It was almost like staring at another person, a long lost stranger. Someone you would pass by on the street and see the same person only days later. A lost memory. He had gotten slightly taller, his complexion darkening and the width of his shoulders heavy with age. Lone gone was his bandanna which seemed always glued to his crown but now took refuge around his neck. He wore the clothes of a captain shedding the image of a lowly engineer. He looked official, he looked foreign but that smile... goddess that smile was something she could never forget. His eyes, nothing short of mesmerizing. The same alien she had fallen in love with was still there but now sporting a different look. Maybe she looked different too but she couldn't see it. She wondered if he noticed.
"Don't worry about her, she's probably exhausted from all the excitement," he told her trying to brush off the sudden sick feeling that had begun to manifest within his stomach. To tell her of his relationship with Barnette would only send this wonderful occasion back into the depths of misery. He didn't want to remember the potentially devastating memories he had created with her. But, was it his fault to begin with? Surely Dita would understand. He thought she was gone forever, wouldn't it be natural to move on? Surely he could explain it when the time came.
Looking up he could see her silhouette basking in the starlight. How he had dreamed of this moment only to have it tarnished by the recent past. Her hair, her long red hair had not changed. If anything it had gotten longer and even more beautiful. Despite the low lighting her bright eyes pierced through the darkness and right into him. How the memories came back in a rapid flash. It was like time had fast forward from when they first met to this very moment. To think that he once thought women had been the ill fated enemies they were portrayed to be. This was what it was like when Earth had existed. How did their species not realize the beauty of what stood before him? It was almost like a cruel joke that took him years to understand.
Dita peered upward into the black patches of space, the brightness of passing stars lit up her eyes like a spark, "How have you been?"
What kind of question was that, he asked? How had he been? To tell her the truth would be like scouring through the endless pages of the past few years. How he searched far and wide for her hoping that one day he would see her again. He didn't want to re-imagine the pain he had gone through... so he lied.
"It was... alright," he began feeling the sudden surge of raw emotion begin to eat away at his resolve. He wanted to hug her, to kiss her but how could someone rekindle a relationship that had been on hiatus for so long? Do you just go for it and hope the fire that was once there remain lit or do you just leave it be? She was glad to be back sure but did that mean she was glad to come back to him?
Finally, he cracked, "I searched so long for you..."
Tears fell and there was no stopping it. He turned away feeling them pour reminding him of the day when he thought he had lost everything. He had lost her and now she was here standing next to him as if nothing had every happened. He was so overwhelmed.
He felt her arms wrap around his waist as her head gently found its way onto his back, "I missed you too, Hibiki,"
The silence, the silence was nothing short of deafening but the message was clear. Love had found a way. Love had traversed millions of light years to find its target and it finally found it at this moment.
They embraced tightening each others grip hoping the other wouldn't let go.
"You're really here, Dita. You're really here," he whispered into her ear.
She sobbed into his shoulder, "I am. I found you. I knew I would, Hibiki,"
They released each other from each others hold, their eyes meeting in a foggy scene. He caressed her face, her round delicate, yet, beautiful face. The face he breathed, the face he remembered.
"I won't let you go again, I promise you," he told her as he forced himself to bite his tongue in efforts to retain any shred of his pride intact. She smiled a watery smile as a pair of tiny tear strands lit around her cheeks.
"I know you will,"
Barnette snapped the magazine from the rifle from its chamber letting it hit the ground with a loud clang. From the corner of her eyes she could see several of the crew standing in complete anxiety watching her hold the rifle with immense grip. She had been in the training armory for several hours even refusing offers for food. Despite her desire for people to leave her alone she was receiving far more attention she had bargained for. She let her mind fall into a numbness only concentrating on the rapid gunshots that echoed throughout the hall. If she had to guess this was her way to blow off steam without being noticed but that plan may have backfired the moment she started tearing the magazines from the chambers before they were completely empty.
"Ma'am, is there something the matter?" asked one of the crew members. Barnette pushed the half empty cartridge into the young woman's hand.
"Give me another," Barnette demanded not taking her eyes off the obliterated target that stood smoldering at the other end of the room.
There was a slight pause effectively pushing her nerves past the point of return, "What the hell are you waiting for?"
The young woman looked towards her cohorts and then back at Barnette with an expression basked in fear, "I'm sorry but we ran out of training rounds,"
Barnette slammed the rifle onto the ground cracking the highly resistant casing causing many to jump up in fright, "Then give me live rounds,"
The woman could only stare as if desperately trying to choose her next words carefully.
"All of you get out, I'll handle this," said a voice emanating from the doorway. Barnette could make out Jura's long hair as she approached her. She ignored her at first mindlessly jamming a half empty clip into the damaged rifle and taking aim.
"I know something's wrong," said Jura placing her hands onto her wide hips, "You're not leaving here until you tell me,"
Barnette said nothing as she frantically pulled the trigger hoping the gunshots would drown out the one sided conversation. However, it failed to fire leaving her in a sudden fire she wished would extinguish itself.
"It's nothing," she lied as she walked towards the weapons rack picking up another rifle. Jura's hand shot out from the air pinning the rifle to the wall in a loud crack. Barnette could feel her ex-lovers green eyes writhe in pure poison. If she knew she were messing around the captain, Hibiki no less, then it would completely destroy any bond they had. There was no telling how far it would cripple other relationships. She couldn't be the reason behind it all.
"I know we haven't been the same for the past few years and I understand that. If you won't tell me as your partner could you at least tell me as your friend? What's wrong?"
She wanted to run away and cry, she wanted to get into one of the fighters and set course in an unknown direction but there was no way to escape the web she had made for herself. She wanted to be loved, not by a woman but by a man. These emotions, she thought, these recently awakened emotions were eating away at her like a plague. It was both the source of her desires and the ultimate problem.
"I can get you out of this," something dark whispered.
"What?" Barnette found herself saying.
Jura continued to stare with the utmost concern but did not reply. It took Barnette a good moment to realize time had suddenly ceased to exist.
"What the hell?" she whispered.
A long dark laugh echoed, "This will give us a moment to talk. I can get you what you want, you need only ask,"
Barnette pulled her rifle to her chest and pointed it randomly across the room hoping to find the source of the disembodied voice, "Where the hell are you? You are stowing away on a military ship,"
"Drop the routine, you are nothing more than a mistress. Let's cut to the chase, you want that human male to yourself don't you? The need to procreate is always so strong with your kind. A weakness if you ask me,"
"Come out or I'll shoot," she called.
"Shoot? Shoot what? You don't even know if what's going on is real. Listen, I don't have all damn day so I'll cut you a deal. If you help me I'll help you. If you give me something that I want I can guarantee you'll get what you want. It's that simple,"
"No deal, come out and show yourself,"
"Suit yourself, I'll be back later, just you wait,"
Suddenly a loud bang pulsed throughout the armory. For a moment she thought the rifle had misfired but the weapon showed no signs of trigger.
"Barnette! Don't walk away from me!" Jura bellowed.
Barnette felt an eerie feeling tremble through her spine. What exactly had just happened? She took a sweeping glance at Jura before dropping the rifle and turning to the door.
"Barnette, you leave and I'll never forgive you!"
But it was too late.
The door had already closed.