Among warriors, a weakness should remain hidden, or it will be
exploited.
But what is weakness? What one calls a weakness, another will
see as a source of strength.
Aisha Clanclan, a proud warrior of the Catarl Catarl, has her
own ideas of weakness and strength. Shaped by a fierce and arrogant
society, her beliefs influence all of her actions with others. She
presents the image of a strong warrior while keeping her fears
inside.
What do you do when a warrior's spirit is just not enough?

OUTLAW STAR: AT FIRST GLANCE
PART TWO
HEARTS AND MINDS

HEAVENS VENGEANCE
OUTSIDE BLUE HEAVEN

"Professor Khan?!?"
Mere hours ago, the assassin known as Twilight Suzuka and the
Catarl Catarl warrior Aisha Clanclan entered the base of the criminal
known as 'Heavens Vengeance' hidden in the asteroid field around the
space station Blue Heaven. After reviving Suzuka, who had run out of
oxygen on her suit, the two women encountered a dozen combat robots
sent to stop them. The robots proved to be less of a hindrance in
their path and more of a good warm-up. In the depths of the base,
they had found what appeared to be a laboratory, inside was someone
they had assumed... well, not dead exactly, but definitely no longer
in the physical realm.
"A pleasure to see you again my dears, yes, yes a pleasure."
Suzuka frowned at the scientist.
"Skip the pleasantries Khan. What are you doing here? Gene said
you were in the Galactic Leyline's library." Khan smiled and nodded.
"Yes, yes. The library, that was it. So much information there,
but no way to test the new ideas I had, no, no way at all. So I
returned to this place and Gabriel was kind enough to allow me the
chance to experiment if I aided him a little, yes, yes that is it."
Kahn smiled at the two women and nodded his head to Aisha. "Speaking
of him, Gabriel expressed an interest in you my dear. Said he was
quite looking forward to meeting you, yes, yes he was."
Aisha growled and narrowed her eyes, "I don't think so. The
only way I'll meet him is when I take him in for our bounty." Khan
nodded, unsurprised at the woman's response.
"I thought as much, as much as I distain the use of violence,"
An electric click sounded through out the room and two devices on
tracks in the ceiling slid into view. The bottom opened and a
cylinder, capped by a dish, swung out to point at the two. "If you
cause no problems, you shall not be harmed."
Aisha hunched down and growled deeper, preparing to launch
herself at the scientist. The ends of the weapons snapped to focus on
her, arcs of electricity going down their lengths. A part of her mind
noted them, but she was confident Khan had nothing that could hurt
her. Just before she lunged, however, a white blur ran in front of
her. The devices changed targets and fired. Bolts of dark purple
lightning slammed into Suzuka, throwing her back into the wall with
only a soft, surprised gasp from the assassin before she slumped to
the ground.
"Suzie!" Aisha twirled back to Khan and lunged, just as pain
exploded along her body as the lightning guns fired at her. Claws
scraping the floor platting, Aisha tried to get to her target though
the lightning storm. As her vision finally faded, she vowed to make
the man pay for hurting Suzie.
Khan looked at the two women thoughtfully before turning to the
lightning projectors.
"Hmmm...the Catarl took a much higher voltage then was
anticipated, yes much higher." He looked at Aisha with raised brows
before shaking his head, "A shame I will not get the chance to run
tests on her now." The scientists sighed in resignation as two combat
robots entered the lab, each taking a woman in a different direction.
Khan smiled to himself as they left before heading after one.

***

"So this is the great Twilight Suzuka?"
"Yes, Master."
The words slowly made their way through the stuffiness within
Suzuka's head as she became aware of her surroundings.
"She is said to be the greatest sword-wielder in known space?"
"Yes, Master."
She focused on the voices without giving any sign that she was
conscious. One, the one who was actually speaking, was male; gruff
and deep with a touch of madness. The other was a great deal softer
and distinctly feminine. Quite a pleasant voice, she thought if she
would say more then two words that is.
"I will defiantly look forward to killing her with my blade."
"Yes, Master."
That will be the day, Suzuka thought, just keep talking fool, I
will wipe the floor with you. However, there was the sound of
footfalls on steel, followed by the hiss of a door opening and
closing. Suzuka's eyes opened to an empty room, steel walls unbroken
except for a door and two small vents. Suzuka easily slid into a
seiza and contemplated her situation. There was no sign of Aisha, her
sword or an obvious way out. The assassin smiled slightly, she had
been in worse.
As she was running plans through her head, the door opened,
revealing a poorly disguised Melfina. Suzuka blinked in honest
confusion before realizing the girl just looked a lot like the shy
navigator, with the exception of the shock of red hair on her head.
The girl wore little more then a gold bikini with slippers on her
feet. She hesitated on seeing the assassin awake before entering the
cell.
"You're already awake? The Professor said you would be out for
more then an hour." Suzuka raised a brow a coldly regarded the girl.
She fidgeted nervously under her gaze for several seconds before
speaking again, this time in a rush.
"Please you must help me leave here. I am a Security agent of
Blue Heaven. I need to get back and report my findings."
"And the reason you can't do this yourself is...?" The girl
winced and lowered her head, shame coloring her cute features.
"I'm supposed to be one of his almost mindless sex dolls."
Suzuka nodded, her face expressionless, as she ruthlessly
pushed down her sympathy, at lest for now. "And the reason you are
not?"
"We thought something like this would happen, two of the
incidents connected to Gabriel involved brainwashed civilians." The
redhead looked at Suzuka, tears glistening unshed in her eyes. "I
received hypnoses before taking the job, once I was inside and
'converted', I would be just like the others until I saw a way out.
At that point, the hypnoses would restore my mind to me and I was to
escape."
Suzuka's eyes focused intently on the girl's for several
seconds before she nodded. "Take me to my sword and my partner."

***

Suzuka followed the girl, who finally introduced herself as
Inspector Rashel, through the maze that was the upper level of
Gabriel's base. After reacquiring her bokken, the dark-haired woman
felt a great deal more confident on their chances of success. Now all
she had to worry about was getting Aisha.
"Through here." Rashel said, opening a door and waking the
assassin through.
She nodded and stepped into the room, and saw that she had been
set-up. The man was not terribly tall, about the same as Gene's
friend Fred, but he was very well muscled. As was evidenced by his
lack of a shirt, just a leather strap holding a sword sheathed to his
back. Fur lined leather boots had a simple pair of black pants tucked
into them. The man's smile was wide and his green eyes sparkled with
insanity.
"I have brought her as you requested Master." Rashel blandly
spoke, the life that was in her voice before gone. He smiled at the
girl and nodded, as though to a pet that had pleased its owner.
"Very good 23. Leave now, and have this recorded." He commanded
her be for giving Suzuka a wink. "I may want to watch this again."
Suzuka watch Rashel leave from the corner of her eye before focusing
on the man in front of her.
"A very convincing story you had her tell." Suzuka said,
mentally reading herself.
Gabriel's smile widened. "It wasn't a story," he informed her.
"She really is an inspector for Blue Heaven. The only part that was
false was her 'release key.'"
Suzuka frowned as Gabriel drew his blade, the light reflected
off the polished steel of the European-style long sword. She raised
her bokken and slid a foot forward, facing him and waiting. The door
slid shut behind Rashel as Gabriel started to circle his prey, the
metal blade lazily spinning around him.
"I have heard of you, Suzuka." He told her pleasantly, "You're
the best assassin in the business and master with a blade. I have
wondered how long you would last against me."
"Not too long I'm afraid," Suzuka smirked, "You probably won't
even be a decent work-out." The smile vanished from the terrorist's
face as he charged forward with a snarl of animal fury.
Suzuka stepped back and brought her bokken up to parry the
uncontrolled blow. She shifted their still locked blades left,
overextending his reach. Suzuka spun as fast as she could while
dropping to one knee, bringing her bokken cutting across the man's
exposed stomach before jumping back. Gabriel grunted, a thin line of
blood appearing, and brought his sword back into position before
thrusting at the just landed woman. The wooden blade slapped the
steel one off-target but Gabriel was prepared this time, as his
momentum carried him closer, he lifted a knee into Suzuka's side,
knocking the air out of her.
Leaning with the blow to try to minimize the damage, Suzuka
staggered back, deflecting another blow from the sword as she
retreated. Gabriel allowed her to back away with a smirk as he
twirled his sword.
"It seems this 'work-out' is a bit much for you. Not as easy as
you thought it would be, hmmm?" Suzuka glared at the man before
snapping her blade diagonally up, sending a shockwave at the sneering
terrorist, and following in its wake.
Gabriel held his sword up allowing the wave crashing against
its length without effect, then dropped into a thrust stance. The
blade flashed golden before a sphere of energy slammed into Suzuka,
sending her tumbling to the sound of Gabriel's cold laughter.
"What's the matter Suzuka? I thought you were the best." He
continued to laugh as Suzuka picked herself up.
Her eyes narrowed, Suzuka studied Gabriel briefly before
smiling. "It's been awhile since I've had to use the advanced
techniques mother taught me," she thought. "Time to show this
arrogant male the full power of the Dark Blade school." Suzuka stood
tall, her blade pointing at the ground beside her and a small smile
on her lips. Gabriel stopped laughing and blinked in mild puzzlement.
With a deep roar of displaced air, Suzuka ran at him, covering the
distance in a heartbeat.
Suzuka slashed upwards at close to the sound barrier, fully
expecting to see Gabriel fall over on both sides. However, the steel
blade intercepted the wooden blade, forcing Gabriel back several
feet, but leaving him unharmed. The swordswoman frowned briefly
before starting an attack at the same speed as the previous one. As
each strike was blocked with increasing ease, Suzuka felt a cold ball
settle within her.
There was another flash of gold, and suddenly Suzuka found
herself on the defensive against attacks that moved even faster then
hers had. She pulled back, hoping to get some breathing room when a
thrust broke her guard. Pain flared in her arm as Gabriel's sword
pierced it. Taking advantage of his opponent's lapse, Gabriel lashed
out with a vicious kick, throwing her back against the wall with a
resounding crack before she slumped to her hands and knees.
Through pain-blurred vision, Suzuka saw Gabriel walk toward
her, his blade still red with her blood. It took her several seconds
to realize her was speaking.
"...ka, Suzuka, Suzuka. What a disappointment, but don't take
it too badly, your skills were very impressive." He smiled
condescendingly at her, "But in the end, they just weren't enough.
Unsurprising really, after all," Gabriel held his blade before him
and smiled at it, "you don't have a weapon like this."
Suzuka's eyes went wide as a golden light enveloped the blade,
seeing it and finally noticing it, she gasped. "A Soul Edge?"
Gabriel looked impressed as he nodded. "Quite. I am very
surprised that you know how to tell, the last Soul Edge vanished more
then two hundred years ago." The whimsical smile retuned to his face,
"It is very fortuitists that the Professor learned how to make them
where ever it was he was at." Like a switch, his smile vanished and
he raised the blade. "Enough talk! Twilight Suzuka, now you die."
Golden light filled her vision as the blade descended.

***

Aisha opened her eyes slowly and gently shook her head to try
to relieve the pounding. Focusing on her surroundings, she was
surprised to find herself on the Outlaw Star just outside of the
bridge. A deep hum, felt more then heard, filled the passageway,
telling her the ship was traveling through sub-ether. She entered the
bridge to find Gene, Jim and Melfina piloting the ship.
"Hey guys!" She called, "What's going on?"
Silence answered her as the other three continued as though she
had said nothing.
"Um... Gene?" Aisha waved a hand an inch from the pilot's eyes
with no response from him.
"Say Gene," Jim started, "You never did say what you wanted
done with Aisha's stuff." Gene looked up from his controls and
shrugged.
"Space it. It's not like we need them." Aisha blinked and
looked at Gene in shock.
"What?! Hey that's my stuff!" Jim nodded.
"Gotch ya. It sure is nice around here without her isn't it?"
"Jim?" Aisha looked at the boy in disbelief.
"No kidding," Gene nodded. "That stupid animal was quite the
pain. Maybe now we can get our jobs done correctly."
"H-hey..."
"Yes," Melfina agreed cheerfully, "And now I won't have to
worry about buying new dishes whenever she ruins them with one of her
so-called 'meals.'"
"Mel? Wha...?"
"So Jim," Gene asked, "What is this major job you got for us
anyway?"
Jim turned around and gave the red-haired man a wide grin. "Oh
I think you'll like it." He told them, "We get to hunt down the
Catarl Catarl race. Galactic Senate placed a bounty on every member;
soon the 'great Catarl Catarl Empire' will be nothing more then a bad
memory."
"Alright!" Gene pumped a fist. "We're finally getting rid of
the damn cats." The three laughed and returned to their jobs with new
cheer as Aisha stared at them, her mouth open as she slowly backed
into the corridor.
As the doors closed behind her, Aisha turned and ran to the
back of the ship. She found Suzuka sitting at the galley table,
nursing a cup of tea.
"Suzie! Please tell me you can hear me!"
The assassin did not respond with words, but she did look up at
the catwoman with a raised eyebrow. Aisha almost fell over in relief.
"You gotta help me," She ran to the table and grabbed her arm.
"The others are talking crazy and are pretending they can't see or
hear me!"
Suzuka looked at Aisha in silence for a few seconds before
turning back to her tea and finishing it. She rose to her feet and
walked to the sink, Aisha watched her with a sinking sensation. As
the tall woman rinsed her cup out, she finally spoke.
"Of course they can't hear you Aisha. You are dead after all."
"Huh? Dead? How?"
"Like this!" Aisha turned around at the voice to see Gene, his
Caster pointed at her and a small black sphere just in front of it.
The sphere shot forward at Aisha and black lightning wrapped around
her form. Aisha screamed as she felt her body pulled in to the orb.
The pain suddenly ended and she staggered back as her vision cleared.
Gene was standing by the door, Caster on his shoulder and a satisfied
smile on his face, he stood there for a few more seconds before
turning around and leaving. Suzuka followed him, but turned at the
door to look at Aisha once more.
"What? Did you actually think any of us could love something
like you?"
Aisha feel to her knees, absently noting that she could see
through her body, as thought she was a hologram... or a ghost. Suzuka
gave the fallen warrior a final, contemptuous, glance before leaving
the galley. Aisha held out a shacking hand to her retreating form.
"Suzie? Suzuka? Please don't leave me!"
A change in the ships hum, the rising of her neck hairs and the
sudden sense of dread, was her only warning as the walls of the
Outlaw Star vanished, replaced by blackness. A blackness cut by a
single cold and unforgiving voice.
"Aisha Clanclan."
She slowly turned her head in the direction of the voice. As
she turned, the darkness pulled back. High walls of stone, going up
more then a hundred feet with long tapestries of the eighteen Clan's
sigils surrounded her. Before the walls were tiers seating her
people, all of whom were gazing at her without expression. At the far
end of the hall, before a great statue of the god of the Catarl
Catarl, stood an imposing podium of bloodstone, the Great Sigil of
the Empire carved into it. Gazing at her over crossed hands was a
blonde male Catarl Catarl warrior in the robes of a Judicator and
blue tattoos on his face similar too... Aisha gasped as she looked
above the man to the statue behind him, a statue of him.
"Aisha Clanclan," Rio Larga, God of the Catarl Catarl said
again, "You have come before me to petition the worthiness of your
life." Aisha swallowed and rose to her feet, determined not to show
any weakness.
"Oh great Rio Larga, god of the Catarl Catarl. I have lived by
the path you have set for your children and the way of the warrior
for my life..."
"Liar!" Aisha started and looked into the tiers for the voice.
Rio Larga lazily turned his head and acknowledged the speaker.
"Speak Sylven Greenpath." The tall woman stood and bowed to Rio
Larga before turning a glare to Aisha.
"You claim to have followed the way of the warrior, and yet you
allowed yourself to be seen thusly?!" She waved to the entrance
behind Aisha and a large image of Aisha in a waitress' uniform
appeared. The crowd began to mutter, disapproval plain to hear. Aisha
looked around as she tried to be heard.
"I had no choice! The worlds outside Catarl Catarl have no
respect for our abilities or status; I needed money to attain what I
required!"
"And so you served the weak Humans food?" Sylven sneered, "Did
you offer them other 'services' as well?" Aisha flushed as she glared
at the warrior.
"No, I did not! What would you've had me do?!" She demanded.
Sylven adopted a mock thoughtful expression.
"Oh, I don't know, maybe something like what this one did?" The
image changed again, to one of Suzuka walking out of the bounty
collection office. "I believe she traveled with you quite a bit
recently. Any reason you left the warrior's work to her?" Aisha
flushed harder but was unable to come up with a reply.
"Time after time," Sylven continued, "you have allowed this
human to show you up. A HUMAN! Some representative of the mighty
Catarl Catarl YOU turned out to be." The muttering in the tiers
became louder. "Tell us Aisha, why did you let this woman surpass
you?" Aisha opened her mouth, but nothing would come out. She tried
again with the same results. Sylven sneered at her, disgust clear in
her eyes. "I shall tell you why." The blue-haired Catarl Catarl
looked at those around her, "Honored Ancients, great Rio Larga, the
one known as Aisha of the House Clanclan feels an attraction to the
human woman."
Aisha stood dumbfounded as the room erupted in arguments.
Numerous Houses turned on the representatives of the House Clanclan
and demanded how they allowed such a weakness to enter their
bloodline. As her own family denied her, withdrawing their support
and casting her from the House, Aisha dared to look at Rio Larga. Her
god was watching her, paying no mind to the clamoring Ancients.
Finally, Rio Larga struck the stone podium, the crack echoing
throughout the chamber, silencing the others. As the last fell quiet,
the blonde god spoke.
"Aisha, the charges against you are grave indeed." Aisha
winced, noticing the lack of family name. "How ever, you can redeem
your honor." He leaned forward, fixing Aisha with his gaze. "Deny all
ties to these humans, cast them from your heart and embrace the
superiority of the Catarl Catarl race once more."
Aisha lowered her eyes, remaining silent for several seconds.
When she raised her eyes, tears shimmered within their emerald
depths. "During my time with them, I have witnessed many amazing
things and I have been part of epic battles. Their lives have been
entrusted to me on more then one occasion. Just as mine has been in
theirs. I can not just let these memories go. I apologize, oh great
God of the Catarl Catarl, but I can not do as you say."
Dead silence followed in the wake of Aisha's speech as all eyes
turned to Rio Larga, awaiting his decision. His face expressionless,
Rio Larga nodded.
"You have made your choice Aisha, and I respect your commitment
to it. But by that choice, you have forsaken the ways of the Catarl
Catarl." He stood, followed shortly by the rest of the hall. "This is
the final decision of this court. Aisha, formerly of the House
Clanclan, you are here by... forgotten." With that, Rio Larga turned
and left, not once looking back.
"Forgotten... forgotten... forgotten." The voices of the
Ancients echoed around her.
"Forgotten... forgotten... forgotten." Everyone Aisha had ever
meet appeared before her to speak that one word, until finally, only
four remained.
"Forgotten..." Gene left.
"Forgotten..." Jim left.
"Forgotten..." Melfina left.
Suzuka stepped forward and gazed impassively at Aisha before
she nodded and turned away, her voice hanging in the sudden emptiness
around her. "Forgotten..."

***

"Forgotten..."
Professor Khan glanced up from the display he was watching. The
Catarl Catarl woman was responding well to his treatments. The neural
interrupt band blocked all sensory data and motor functions save for
what he allowed. He adjusted the settings slightly and began to move
to stage two. The main personality has been driven into submission,
now all he had to do was make a shell identity to satisfy the crude
barbarian he was allied with. For now anyway.
A panel chimed for his attention, one that should not have gone
off. Khan walked to the display, mild curiosity was soon replaced by
his full attention.
"My, my. This is a surprise. Yes, yes a surprise." It looked
like the partnership would be ending sooner then first expected. Khan
began typing, moving all of his work onto the computer of the small
craft keep in the launch bay. Through out the base, the remaining
combat robots stopped their assignments and started to put as much of
the resources as the ship could hold on.
On the table behind him, Aisha continued to experience nothing
as, without the command, stage two never began.

***

There was a flash of golden light, followed by thunder filling
the room. Gabriel was used to this, it had happened when he killed
others with Excalibur. So used to it was he, that he didn't see the
impossible at first. His grin slowly slipped off his face to be
replaced by total bafflement.
"This is not possible."
The Soul Edge Excalibur, it's golden shine of full power
bathing the room, was being held fast by the flat of a simple wooden

bokken held by an assassin. Suzuka smiled coldly, her eyes glittering
viciously.
"Surprise." She surged to her feet, pushing Gabriel onto his
backside. Suzuka watched as he scrambled backwards, standing straight
and proud.
"You said it yourself," She told him as he finally got his feet
under him. "The last Soul Edge vanished more then two hundred years
ago." Gabriel rose to his feet slowly as Suzuka reached into her
kimono. She pulled out a small disc with a hole in the center just
about the size of...
Suzuka smiled as she saw the faint glimmerings of understanding
in his eyes before it was crushed by his insanity and denial. She
calmly slid the tip thru the hole and down its length until the hilt
locked into place.
"A clan of assassins recovered it and swore to keep it safe for
all time." The wooden sword began to vibrate, cracks appearing on its
surface, a cool blue-white light emanating from them.

-Rinbu Revolution, Shoujo Kakumei Utena-

"For the last four generations, my family has succeeded in it's
vow." Suzuka gave him a soft smile, "But I think my ancestors will
forgive me this once." She held the blade above her head and the last
of the wood exploded off. "Once more must Masamune shine in this
universe." Icy light trailed from the polished katana as Suzuka once
more assumed a ready stance.
"Round two."
Gabriel's breathing became loud and heavy as he wiped his
mouth, focused only on Suzuka, he charged with a wordless sound of
fury. Suzuka stepped aside and calmly slapped Excalibur away. The two
Soul Edges meet with a muted thunderclap, a shockwave flashing
outwards from the point of contact as jagged bolts of energy scored
the ground.
Gabriel continued for several steps before spinning and
bringing his golden blade down in a strike that could cleave a
starship's hull clean thru. Suzuka deflected it with Murasame and, as
Excalibur bit into the station floor smoothly, brought it across his
chest. The sword harness vanished in a burst of pale blue energy as
she gave Gabriel a two inch cut.
Suzuka frowned as she saw not blood, but golden light spill
from the cut. The lores her family had on the Soul Edge said it would
keep its wielder from harm as long as it had the energy to. She had
expected the result, Masamune had already healed her own wound after
all; but she had hoped Professor Khan's version was not as well made.
It looked like she would have to do this the hard way.
Reversing the blade, Suzuka blocked another stroke as she moved
backwards. Gabriel pursued her, hacking all the while. Suzuka studied
Gabriel's movements as she blocked each strike. A corner of her mind
absently noted that the two of them were moving incredibly fast. The
charred remains of Masamune's disguise was still falling from the air
on the other side of the room. A fragment from the scrolls came back
to her as she saw this.
"The wielder of a Soul Edge moves with thought." An idea formed
in the back of her mind. Suzuka jumped into the air, impossibly high,
and moved across the room as soon as she willed herself there. Seeing
the success of her idea, Suzuka turned and waited, every ounce of her
attention on Gabriel. He was thrown off balance when she had jumped,
but recovered by the time she turned. Spinning, he saw his target and
yelled in frustration, Excalibur's glow brightening.
Suzuka tensed.
Gabriel held his blade beside him then thrust it forward, a
sphere of golden energy flashing out of it.
She moved.
Almost a decade ago, her family took a student from outside of
the family. Hitoriga proved to be quite adept at their style, and an
excellent partner for a young Suzuka. As he trained, Hitoriga became
obsessed with the beauty always facing him across the dojo floor. He
envisioned claiming her and making her his, along with the school.
One day, he followed her to a forest glade, there he saw his woman in
the arms on another woman. His dreams crushed, Hitoriga wondered the
forest. Hours later, he saw the other woman alone, and a red haze
fell over his vision. As the red haze faded a little, he found
himself back at the school, the blood of her family on his hands.
When Suzuka discovered what he had done, she developed a single
attack, designed to kill the one who killed her family. She found the
chance to use it once, and her family was avenged. Now, she found
another chance to use it. Boosted by Masamune, Suzuka ran by the
blast and used Crimson once more.
Her enhanced senses felt Excalibur try to heal Gabriel, but she
was already moving again. Spinning and stepping forward, Suzuka
separated Excalibur from it's wielder, at the elbow. No longer
connected to a mind, the golden glow faded as Gabriel dropped, the
life gone from his eyes.
Behind her, several pieces of wood landed.

***

Crouched among several storage containers, Suzuka watched as
three combat robots loaded supplies into a small spacecraft. Judging
by some of the other objects that had been loaded, the assassin
guessed that Professor Khan was taking his leave of Heaven's
Vengeance. While she didn't care if that was so or not, the old crack
pot scientist was the only one who could take her to Aisha, as she
would be damned if she let him do anything else first.
The warning came a second before the shot, but with Masamune
active, that second was enough. Suzuka blocked the energy bolt and
was already moving at the shooter before she even recognized the
redhead holding the gun. Pulling her arm back at the last instant,
the raven haired woman destroyed the pistol instead of Rashel. As the
woman stumbled back from the exploding gun, Suzuka grabbed her left
arm and wrenched it behind her back, forcing Rashel to her knees with
a pained cry.
Suzuka frowned at the woman, she didn't think any of the women
that Gabriel had in his little harem would have had enough initiative
to seek her out. She glanced about, hoping to find something to tie
the woman up with. Suzuka was again surprised when Rashel's foot
kicked out, knocking her own out from under her.
As her arm was released, the former Inspector tried to grab
Suzuka's neck. She had wasted several minutes after seeing her Master
killed by this woman before her shell personality decided on a course
of action, to kill her in return.
Twisting as she fell, Suzuka saw Rashel's hands reach for her
neck. Too late to knock them away before she hit the deck, Suzuka
allowed the slim hands by, grabbing her wrists the second her arms
finished absorbing the shock form the fall. The assassin was startled
by the diminutive woman's strength and began to worry when the
shiatsu points she hit had no effect.
Desperately trying to get some leverage, Suzuka rolled the two
of them over. Her vision was starting to fade when there was a flash
of light, and suddenly, she could breath again. Coughing several
times, she waited for her vision to return. When it did, she saw
Rashel sitting against the containers wearing a confused and slightly
scared expression.
"Are you okay? I didn't hurt you too badly did I?" The red head
asked. Suzuka rubbed her throat while studying the other woman before
finally responding.
"I will be fine. I take it you no longer wish kill me?" Rashel
blinked at Suzuka several times before violently shacking her head.
"No. I... I'm not sure how I was freed, but... no, I don't want
to kill you."
"That's nice to know," She replied dryly.
The two women slowly got to their feet, both looking for signs
that their brief fight had attracted any unwanted attention. Seeing
only the robots, still loading the spacecraft, Suzuka relaxed
slightly before glancing at the floor for Masamune. Seeing the blade
lying between herself and Rashel, Suzuka looked at it curiously.
Deciding to shelve her question until a later time, Suzuka lifted the
katana and turned to Rashel.
"Do you know where Aisha is?"
"Aisha is the Catarl Catarl woman with you?" Seeing the raven
haired woman's nod, Rashel bit her lip. "She's... probably in the
Professor's lab being... 'conditioned' by him." Suzuka's eyes
narrowed as thoughts of introducing Khan to some of her families more
exotic, and painful, methods of killing flitted about her mind.
"Take me there."

***

Finding the lab doors locked with a code Rashel did not have,
Suzuka tried one of her own keys. The doors to the lab were bent then
blasted inwards by the coolly angry assassin and her Soul Edge.
Marching in, she saw the two lightning casters that had knocked her
out before aiming at her. As the purple energy lanced toward her, she
lift Masamune and reflected the bolts right back at the casters. The
devices buzzed and sparked, the energy coursing along the frames
before they both detonated in an impressive shower of sparks.
Rashel blinked and looked at her. She didn't even see the other
woman's arm move! Recalling what she saw, or rather didn't see, of
her fight with Gabriel, Rashel swallowed. Seeing the room go from
clean and polished to cracked, ripped and energy scored, literally,
in a heartbeat, was a very sobering testament to the power her
companion possessed.
"KHAN!" Suzuka's voice echoed within the chamber without
response.
Suzuka looked around the darkened room before spotting the door
on the left wall and heading to it, Rashel hurrying after the
assassin. The door slide open without complaint, Suzuka was thru it
before it finished.
"Aisha!" Seeing the fierce woman laid on the table, her skin
pale even thru her thin coat of fur, was almost too much of Suzuka.
She hurried to her side, hand instantly at her neck to check
for a pulse, as Rashel examined the displays. Suzuka sighed in relief
upon feeling the soft but steady beat beneath her fingertips. Her
immediate concern assuaged, Suzuka reached for the visor-like device
wrapped around Aisha's head.
"Stop!" Suzuka's hands froze as she looked at Rashel, not
speaking but clearly wanting an answer.
"She's still in phase one, but according to these readings..."
The Inspector trailed off, looking very worried, before she resumed.
"She's been at the end phase one for almost thirty minutes."
"What dose phase one mean?" Suzuka demanded.
"Phase one is personality submergence." Rashel closed her eyes,
painful memories floating far to close to the surface of her mind
then she liked. "The subject's ego is undermined, resulting in a near
comatose state that aids in the formation of a 'shell personality'
while the core personality has retreated from the outside world."
Suzuka was impressed with the girl in front of her, she was
obviously reliving a very painful time, yet it was not interfering
with her duty. The tall woman walked silently over to Rashel and
placed a comforting hand her shoulder.
"How do I stop it?" Rashel shock her head.
"It's too late, Aisha's personality has been driven to
submission, if... if we stop it now, she'll be comatose."
"How can I bring her back then?"
"The professor... the professor likes... the method he used on
me was... was being forgotten..."
"Forgotten?" Rashel nodded.
"I overheard him telling Mas... um... Gabriel once that
sentients defined themselves by their interactions with others, the
only way to truly kill someone was to remove all trace that they
existed in the first place. In... our case, that was our memories of
others. Aisha... Aisha is at the end of phase one, she currently
believes that no one knows her. That is what this machine dose, it
creates a world based on the... subjects own memories and strips them
from her, leaving her with nothing."
"Where is Khan?" Suzuka demanded. Rashel looked around, as thou
the scientist were hiding in a corner.
"He should be here, especially if Aisha is in this thing."
Suzuka walked over to a set of displays.
"Can you get an image of the hanger?" Rashel looked at the
keypad and typed a few commands. Soon, the display in front of the
assassin blinked to life. Rashel looked up after hearing Suzuka swore
softly. Glancing at the display, she saw why. The ship was gone.
"The bastard already left!" Rashel hit the counter.
"A rat always knows when the ship is sinking."
Suzuka lowered her head; a reflection off Masamune caught her
eye. Heading back to Aisha, she placed the blade in her hand. Rashel
looked on silently before finally speaking.
"What are you doing?" Suzuka sighed and retrieved the blade.
"Failing, apparently. I think Masamune is what freed you
earlier."
Rashel blinked. "The sword freed me?"
"One of the properties of a Soul Edge is that it heals the one
touching the handle. When we rolled over, I think you touched it and
it healed you." Rashel thought about that before nodding
"That makes sense. But in my case, I was actively fighting
against the shell personality. It must have found the conflict inside
me and removed the shell personality. Aisha doesn't have a shell yet
thou, there was no conflict for it to heal."
"I know, but I had to try anyway."
Rashel nodded, bending back to the console and trying to find a
way to help Aisha.
Suzuka gazed at the Catarl Catarl woman, her hand slowly
running thru her white hair. Memories of their times together
flashing through her mind. As her eyes drifted to the device keeping
her in a false world, she thought about what Rashel said. Then she
noticed a second band hung on a hook next to the bed.
"Rashel..." The red head looked up.
"Yes?"
"What if she was told there was someone who remembered her in
there?" Rashel's eyes narrowed as she thought.
"It... I suppose that might work... but the program can't be
altered while it's running." Suzuka faced her, a fire burning in her
dark gaze.
"So send me in." She said pointing to the second band.

to be concluded

The story will conclude in
Outlaw Star: At First Glance
Part Three: Possessions

See you then!