HELL ON ARCTURUS
by: Neil Burns & Frederick Kopetz
SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO/STAR BLAZERS
Nova slowly picked herself up and surveyed the damage to the shuttle.
Where did that electrical storm come from? Agonized moaning caught the
Captain-in-Training's ear and she turned seeing Nishimoto and Jenny Kovacs
writhing in agony, their legs broken and, from the dark-red stains on their
uniforms, fractured ribs and internal bleeding. The other two team members,
Ensigns Smith and Mead were already dead from broken backs and necks. At
least they didn't suffer, poor darlings. May God rest their souls. Nova took
out the first aid kit and began tending the wounds, but infection had set in and
soon Nishimoto expired. Kovacs followed soon afterward and Nova was left alone,
sobbing and cursing to herself. Why the hell did I come here? I'm beginning
to think you were right, Sandor. An acid smile crossed her
"But, sir," she chirped dryly. "It's a great opportunity. Arcturus would be a perfect world for us. Nice one, Forrester. Your ship's shot to hell and your crew's dead. Way to have a 'blonde' moment'. What else can go wrong?"
As she looked around, she saw smoke off in the distance. Nova buried her crewmates in improvised graves and makeshift crosses. After a brief prayer or two, she walked over, grateful the crash did not cripple her. She stopped a few feet away and hid behind a tree and peeked out, disturbed by what she saw. Yvona Josiah looked around her destroyed shuttle and saw that she was the only one alive. The three Brothers who accompanied her were dead, killed on impact. A cold tear ran down the part-flesh, part-mechanical cheek.
"May the Lord receive your souls, Brothers," she stated. "I guess I will have to find converts myself here." Lord, is there any other way you're testing me?
Yvona and her crew had been "sent by the Dark Lord" to find worlds to conquer and people to convert in His Name. One of the Brothers informed Yvona that there was a star cluster close to Earth and that Arcturus was had an Earth-like atmosphere, capable of sustaining life. Pleased at the report and seeing Arcturus as a possible home base to attack from, Yvona and three volunteers flew to the planet to scout for their forces. Now, the cyborg Prophetess wondering if it was worth the trip. As she looked around, surveying the surroundings, her eyes caught what looked like a flash of blue behind one of the trees near a rock outcropping.
"Who's there!" Yvona demanded. "Show yourself! Now!"
Nova stuck her head out in response. Yvona's mouth dropped as her dark-eyes narrowed.
Yvona jumped on Nova with a stick in her hand.
The two women, one organic, the other cyborg, both wrestled with each other. Luckily, Nova was a good fighter, but she was finding that Yvona was quite strong. Almost too strong. For a moment, Nova lay there with Yvona's hand around her neck, throttling the life out of her.
Then, Yvona stood up. Pulling a blaster, the evil woman in her loose black uniform unholstered a weapon, aiming it at Nova's face with both hands.
"Die, bitch," said Yvona with a smile.
Nova then pistoned out with both legs. Her mid-heeled EDF boots slammed into Yvona's midriff. The cyborg fell back with the wind knocked out of her and her systems scrambled. She reached for her weapon, but Nova kicked it away.
Yvona hit Nova in the head with a rock. The Terran woman screamed, both in pain and rage. Half-blinded by the bursts of white light in her head, she lashed out at Yvona, driving her onwards with drunken but effective kicks that somehow connected.
Yvona was driven back. Again, and again, Nova kicked, until Yvona suddenly disappeared.
A puzzled Nova walked onwards. Then, she felt nothing but air under one boot. Panicking, she grabbed at the nearest object; a clinging vine.
Nova then looked down as breath rushed its way into her lungs. Looking down, she saw what had happened to Yvona.
Yvona had fallen about ten meters or so into something that looked like a long-abandoned rock quarry.
Is she dead? Nova thought. Did I get her at last?
Using the vine as a rope, Nova rappelled down the cliffside, landing beside Yvona with her boots clicking on the rocks.
Nova looked at Yvona with her weapon pointed at her. She must be dead, she thought. She's not...
Then, Yvona moaned. She sat up, clutching at one leg with agony written across her features.
Nova stood over Yvona studying her broken leg as the fallen woman groaned in
agony. She felt her lips begin to form a smile as Yvona grabbed her leg in an
effort to alleviate the pain. What's that John Lennon song? Instant karma's
gonna get you? Looks like instant karma got you, my "dear
"Are you all right?" Nova asked neutrally.
"What a stupid question!" Yvona growled. "Of course I'm not!
"Where does it hurt?"
"All over, you stupid COW! Are you mocking me?!"
"No." Bullshit! I'm loving this.
As Yvona screamed, Nova dragged her over to a nearby tree, sitting her against it.
"No, just needed to move you to a safe place."
"Bitch! I smell sex on you, you whore!"
"You must have some imagination," said Nova mildly. "I haven't been with Derek in about two days."
"Yvona, most people bathe after doing that sort of thing. I sure do. I don't see how you could smell anything but sweat on me. I've been working hard today. "
"Burying people," said Nova. "Now, let me look at you. And quit struggling!"
Nova knelt and gently examined Yvona's leg, no easy task considering the woman kept slapping her hand away accusing Nova of wanting to make matters worse by inflicting more damage. Nova was able to finally set the leg and clean whatever blood there was. She found two long sticks and placed them on either side of the leg and looked for something to tie them. There was nothing. Nova had almost given up hope when her eyes fell on Yvona's sandals. Whatever works. I just hope I don't catch something touching them. Nova pulled one off and undid the binding, using it to tie the sticks to the leg, tightening them so they were steady, yet it caused Yvona to yelp in pain. How do you like it, Yvona? How do you like suffering?
"Careful, idiot! You're trying to kill me, damn you!"
"No, Yvona," Nova replied. "I'm trying to make sure the splint doesn't move."
"This is your fault, you know."
"Why is it my fault? You're the one who was trying to kill me. You started this!"
"If you didn't show up, my leg would still be in one peace and I wouldn't be in this mess."
"Why are you here?"
"That is none of your damn business, slut! Why are you here?"
"Get the hell away from me!" Yvona slapped Nova's hand away. "You did enough damage!"
Nova shrugged and got up.
"Fine. If that's how you want it. I assume your ship has supplies to sustain you."
Nova walked away, leaving Yvona sitting against the tree, her leg splinted and pain burning up and down her every organic and mechanical fiber. How does it feel to suffer, Yvona? How does it feel to be in agony? Nova found herself laughing at the situation. This was like the old World War II film "Hell in The Pacific" where an American and Japanese soldier landed on the same island and fought for supremacy before coming to depend on each other. Nova saw that Yvona had passed out.
"Great," Nova sighed. "Sometimes I really love being a nurse."
She walked back over and stood over Yvona. What are you doing? Leave her. After several minutes struggling with her conscience, Nova picked up her aunt and carried her over to her makeshift camp and placed her on the ground near the fire and placed a blanket over the woman.
It was a pleasantly cool night with the giant pale green moon gently smiling
over the landscape. Nova sat up in her sleeping bag studying the black-clad
woman sleeping some feet away with her leg wrapped in a splint from thigh to
ankle. Copper-reddish hair partially covered the coldly beautiful face. The
Captain-in-Training smiled acidly as an old Depeche Mode song played in her
I don't want to start any blasphemous rumors,
But I think that God's got a sick sense of humor.
And when I die I expect to find him laughing.
It did seem God or Providence or Whoever was pulling some sick joke in not only stranding her and her Cosmo Hound on an unpopulated, rugged planet, but sticking her with the one person who hated her and her family with a passion. She had always feared Yvona Josiah as a young girl. The older DuFresne sibling was always a conservative devout Christian, but one day she had joined a cult whose fanaticism matched, if not in some cases, surpassed the old Islamic militant factions. After an injury in a terrorist action, Yvona had been rebuilt as a cyborg by some alien faction her cult was affiliated with, and the severe beauty of her youth had been reformed. She found herself saying a silent prayer asking God to forgive her aunt and help her find inner peace. Shaking her head, she lowered her head and fell asleep dreaming she was on a quiet tropical island with only her beloved husband Derek Wildstar by her side.
The next morning, Yvona awoke to find a tray with eggs, bacon and coffee
sitting on a tree stump near her.
"Good morning," Nova smiled with cool politeness.
"What's this?" Yvona pointed to the tray.
"It's a new concept. It's called breakfast. Please eat it before it gets cold."
"You made this?"
"I don't see anyone else here. And no, it is not poisoned."
"Well, I assumed you might be hungry. Plus, I am not selfish. Luckily, we have some days' worth of provisions from my ship."
Yvona sniffed the food suspiciously before hazarding a bite. Finding it edible, she began eating while studying her niece through cold dark slits. Her blonde-haired trollop of a niece who probably slept with half of the Earth Defense Command in order to "qualify" for Officer Training. The trollop who soiled the Forrester name by marrying a lowly, filthy Japanese. Not just anyone but one whose ancestors had probably bombed Pearl Harbor, invaded Nanking and raped her ancestors as well, since she had said that he had said some of his ancestors had been in the military. (Yvona, of course, did not know that Derek was Japanese-American in ancestry…and he had never specified which military his ancestors had been in). Yvona wondered…how could Nova not know that? Or worse, how could she possibly forgive such outrageous behavior? Yvona looked down at the splint and frowned while swallowing her bacon.
"Tell me, Florence Nightingale." Acid drenched the name. "What is the prognosis?"
"The fall shattered your hip and thigh in several places," Nova replied neutrally. "There is little chance of walking without replacing it. You'll need surgery."
"And this pleases you to no end."
"What do you mean?" YES! How do you like that, lousy BITCH? Nova thought for a moment, somewhat surprised at her ferocious thoughts, but not totally so.
She remembered the one time that Yvona had met her husband. It had not been a civil meeting. It had been at their housewarming some months after the business with Planet Aquarius. Yvona had been invited, but she had made a farce out of the housewarming and had to be bodily thrown out of their house.
Then there had been that ugly business a few months later when Yvona's cult had raided an innocent passenger cruise ship near Neptune. In that battle, both Wildstars had seen and offered first aid to victims who had been mutilated and tortured by Yvona's cultists. Some of them had been children in their pajamas. Nova never forgot holding that dying child in her arms, comforting the little girl as she slid into the Eternal Night.
And then Yvona had been there, with her helmet off, showing off her beautiful new artificial features, and gloating. It was a good thing for her, Nova thought, that there was a blast door between Derek and I and her then. Bad thing for us. We would have finished her then. She got through that door laughing at us... How can you torture children, Yvona, and live with yourself?
"Don't lie. I know you hate me so. It pleases you to have your 'Wicked Witch of the West' Aunt Yvona suffer so. Why do you bother splinting my leg? Did you like seeing me groan?
"Haven't you ever heard of "blood is thicker than water, Yvona?"
"Don't mock me, you little trollop in that tight blue uniform." Yvona crawled out of her sleeping bag, with her now-attractive rebuilt form clothed in the loose, baggy black tunic and pants she had affected as a leader of her cult. The pants only came down to her knees, rather like Capri pants, which had made it easier for Nova to splint her bad leg after she had taken off one of Yvona's calf-high wrap-around sandals. "I am in loose clothes. What is that slutty exercise leotard you have on?"
"It's standard Earth Defense Forces issue, Yvona," said Nova as she pointed to the gold anchor and red stripes on her bodysuit and tights set. "It's all I have...unless you'd prefer I take it off and go naked."
"Why the kindness, then, you weird mutilator of Beethoven?"
"Why do you call me that?"
"You know, all you did when you played Beethoven's works on the piano was wrecked them. Why the damned kindness from you?"
"First of all. Despite our less than warm relationship, we are family."
"Much to my displeasure. I wish I could disown you!"
"Secondly, I am a trained nurse. It is my job to take care of the sick and
injured, despite their personal, political and religious views."
Yvona stopped talking, already bored with talking to her niece, which was fine with Nova. The Captain-in-Training checked the dressing for infection and changed it while trying not to hurt Yvona further. Yet, Nova found that her aunt was right. There was a tiny part of her who got a twinge of satisfaction on Yvona's plight. It would probably turn into another long day and Nova hoped that the Yamato found her soon so she could leave Arcturus and get back to her life.
Holier than thou shit, marrying someone who is yellow, thought Yvona as she fell asleep again, not noticing the lovely narrowed eyes of her niece, which weren't quite Occidental, or Oriental, but somewhere in-between, since Nova herself bore some Japanese ancestry. If Yvona had known she was "sleeping near the enemy", she probably would have had an aneurysm.
Nova watched Yvona for a while, trying to make sure she was really asleep before she cuddled deeper into her sleeping bag herself for a quick catnap before checking the food supply. It was uncomfortable sleeping with her boots on, but she wasn't with Derek or with any of Yamato's crew...she was with a potential enemy, so she couldn't allow herself the luxury of removing her black boots.
Why, God, why? She thought as she looked at Yvona's face. As Yvona fell into a deep sleep, an idea crossed Nova's mind.
You could kill her, you know, Nova.
Can I? she thought, in a higher voice.
Yes, snapped the "other" voice in her mind, which was in a lower, harder version of her usual alto speaking voice. Nova picked up a rock near her hand. This would be heavy enough to fracture her damned skull, even if she's a cyborg now. There's a bounty on her head. You would be justified. You could say she tried to attack you first. You're alone. No one would question you. Hell, Admiral Yamanami, out there on Yamato, and Derek would be tripping over each other trying to decorate you for this.
But it'd be murder. And God would see it.
No, it wouldn't. It'd be killing an enemy.
It would be getting her before she gets you! Do you think she's dreaming sweet, innocent dreams about cats?
I can't kill someone who's helpless. She's a patient. I'm not Nurse Death. I do not kill the injured or sick. No matter how much they may disgust me morally.
You know she'll try to kill you at some point.
She's in pain, damnit. She can't kill anyone now.
I'd do it now, while she's asleep.
I wish I could sleep! And I miss Derek so much!
Nova Wildstar shut her eyes, buried her face in the padding of her sleeping bag, and finally dealt with her plight in the way that any woman separated from her husband of a few months might do so.
She quietly cried herself back to an unaccustomed mid-morning sleep.
The star Arcturus shone in the sky as Nova rooted through the wreckage of the Cosmo Hound. Some Captain I'll make, she thought miserably.
The Hound was empty except for herself. Not far away, though, there were four crosses in the ground made from tree branches. The crossbeams had been flattened along one side, and they had names written on them in Magic Marker in Nova's handwriting.
They read: SMITH, NISHIMOTO, MEAD, and KOVACS. The other members of her crew.
Nova had been flying the Hound when it had been forced down by something like electrical interference. Somehow, by some miracle, the cockpit had come through the crash intact. The rest of the ship hadn't. Ensigns Daniel Smith and Leslie Mead of the Yamato's Living Group had died instantly on the crash, but Chief Petty Officers Hayao Nishimoto and Jenny Kovacs had taken a little longer to die. Nova felt very sad when she touched the writing over Jenny's grave. It was the freshest. She had gotten an infection from her wounds that Nova had been unable to treat successfully.
Poor Kovacs has been in her grave for about forty-eight hours now, I guess. My watch doesn't work anymore...only thing on me that broke in the crash. I'm telling time by the sun, thought Nova. I've been here four days now. I think. IQ-9 would know for sure. Too bad Tinwit's not around now. There are times when IQ-9 would be a handy gadget. I'd prefer his company to Yvona's right now...even if he does like to paw at me. When I'm in the right mood, it's kind of cute.
Nova then walked around the forest for a bit. They sent me here because this place is temperate but relatively unexplored. A backwater of the local stellar group near Earth. There's water, but we determined there wasn't enough potable water in the ecosystem to support several million people when we were here during the Sun Crisis almost two years ago when we needed a Second Earth. They don't even know if there's intelligent life here or not...but if there is, it'd have to be primitives...no satellites, radio nets, signs of modern lighting, or radar scans of any kind in the atmosphere. It was hard turning this place down. I favored it, but Sandor said the numbers were against my hunch. Guess he was right.
Nova then sat down and sighed, wiping tears from her eyes. I guess I'm stuck here with the one person I really can't stand. Oh, God, why?
Then, she curled herself into a ball and again wept.
A few days passed. It was another warm evening and Nova had prepared dinner for herself and Yvona after exploring the world and only finding the remnants of a civilization that had long since abandoned the planet. Ya-hoo. More "quality time" with my favorite relative. As she ate slowly, she studied the older woman looking off into space avoiding eye contact while eating. For the past night or two, she had found herself actually dreaming that she was slowly torturing Yvona to death and enjoying every second of it. Part of her was disgusted for having such thoughts, but part of her loved it and wished that she could actually carry it out.
At the same time, Yvona was also having the same sentiment. Lord, I
realize you are testing my loyalty to make certain I am a worthy servant, but
why does it have to be my slut niece? It annoyed her to talk to Nova because
she would inevitably bring up her disgusting yellow boy, but Yvona Josiah needed
a sounding board. Somebody to talk to so she would not go mad with boredom, even
if it was someone she disdained.
"You could do it, you know," she said.
"Do what?" Nova replied. She's deigning to speak with me. How fortunate.
"Kill me. You know you want to, Nova."
"Why would I kill you?"
"Because every time we run into each other you want to. When I tortured those children. When I slapped that creepy Japanese dog. When I did all those things and more, I saw the hate in your eyes. I saw the desire to kill me in the most painful way possible. Even as you splinted my leg, I saw that you were gloating. You probably were planning to kill me that night."
Damn, she is perceptive. Nova swallowed her food and slowly formed a neutral smile on her face as she put her plate down and sipped her drink. She was not going to give "Auntie" the satisfaction of seeing her lose it.
"Unlike certain relatives," she replied simply, "I do not get off on killing people. Even when we use the Wave Motion Gun, I see it as a waste of life and feel that there could've and should've been another way to solve the conflict."
"Yes. And as I mentioned before, I am a trained nurse. It would be against my ethics as a member of the medical profession to take a life, reprehensible as that life may be."
"What about that drunken quack you work for?"
"Dr. Sane is a brilliant surgeon and has never used his skill for ill-gotten gains. Yes, he may like to drink a bit, but it doesn't affect his ability."
"You know you have every chance at your disposal. I am helpless with a broken leg. You yourself said that I will need surgery. You can kill me and nobody will even know."
"I am not like you, Yvona."
"If it were someone from your crew, even that 'husband' of yours, I'd be dead. If our positions were reversed, I would most certainly sent your corrupt soul to hell at the earliest opportunity."
"Well, they are not and nobody else is here. Therefore, we will have to make the best of a situation that both of us find unpleasant."
Yvona snorted as she went back to her meal and ate. Nova gladly did the same, wishing that the Yamato would hurry up and rescue here before she actually did try to strangle her injured aunt. Suddenly, Yvona turned back to Nova.
"May I ask you something, Nova?"
"Of course." Yvona's actually being conversational tonight. I wonder what's up.
"As much as I hate saying it, you are a attractive, bright woman."
"Thanks. I guess."
"You could have any man you want. Men would kill for you, though I don't see why."
"May I ask your point?"
"Out of all the men in the world you could marry, why that yellow boy?"
"That 'yellow boy' has a name, Yvona. It's Derek."
"All right. Why 'Derek'. Why not someone else?"
I knew it. Nova sighed slightly as she smiled and tried not to sound like she was lecturing a troublesome child. I will not lose my temper no matter how much Yvona pushes me. I am not like her at all.
"Although I love her and am grateful for everything she has given me, your sister, will all due respect, knows nothing about matchmaking."
"Nonsense. Theresa has chosen some very deserving men for you."
"If you like conceited, self-important jerks or vapid drips with no personality. Besides, they all wanted me bound, barefoot and pregnant."
"And 'Derek' doesn't."
"No. He loves me for me. I am an equal and a friend to him and he is to me."
"But his people---"
"That was over two hundred fifty-years ago, Yvona. Times change. We have descendants from the Arizona serving with those who sunk her. One of our nurses is descended from Ghandi, the pilot who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor and a Captain-in-Training in my class is descended from Admiral Yamamoto himself."
"How interesting." Yvona retorted.
"Not only that, but Japan had long since apologized to Korea and China for its actions against them. Also, in case you are interested, the survivors of Pearl Harbor and the Japanese pilots themselves have planted a 'friendship tree' to symbolize reconciliation."
"They did not want to die with Pearl Harbor on their conscience, Yvona. It has been said that, 'he who is bound on earth is bound in Heaven, but he who is free on earth is free in Heaven'."
"And what does that mean exactly?"
"If you forgive a man for his sins on earth, then his soul and conscience is free in Heaven."
"And you forgive the Japanese killers for their atrocities during World War II?"
"Yes. Strange as it sounds, there are some Japanese who view us as the barbarians. We who wiped out Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the atomic bombs."
Yvona snorted disdainfully as to signify the topic was closed. She gulped down her drink before continuing.
"You also befriend alien devils who would destroy the earth."
"I would not talk, Yvona."
"Don't be flip with me, girl. These blue-skinned beasts bombed the earth with radiation, yet you have a treaty with them?"
"Plenty of people feel as you do. Just as plenty, especially descendents of those at Pearl Harbor or those in the Bataan Death March, feel that the Yamato should remain scrap metal, if not wiped out of existence."
"And why not?"
"It is because of the Yamato that Gamilon didn't destroy the earth. It is because of the Yamato that the Comet Empire did not enslave us. It is because of the Yamato that the Dark Nebulans did not kill us and occupy our bodies or the Dinguilians wiped us out by flooding the Earth."
"And your point is--"
"My point is that if it were not for the Yamato, my not-so-dear-beloved aunt, you would not have a cult to be Grand Mullah over. So, like it or not, you owe your existence to the ship's crew--"
Her smile broadened dryly.
"--including your blonde-haired trollop niece and her filthy yellow boy husband."
"What a disgusting thought."
"Well, that's how it is. Sorry if it doesn't please you."
"I don't suppose you found anything in your 'excursions' around this rock."
"If you mean 'converts' to spread the 'Good Word' of your God, no. I haven't found a living soul."
"So this place is useless then."
Yvona finished her meal and laid back on her side, gingerly trying not to hit her leg against anything. A strange thought crossed her mind. For some strange reason, she found her disdain and contempt for her niece dissipating somewhat. She still hated the trollop, but it was not as intense as before. I beg you, Lord. Deliver me from her, please.
Then, Yvona actually felt pleasant for a time. She found herself remembering where she met her ex-husband Captain Hiriam Josiah at the University of Boulder.
"Where did you meet yellow boy?" asked Yvona.
"Do you mean Derek?"
"I met him in a corridor in a base in the Southern Islands of Japan that I was assigned to after the battle of Pluto. Well, I met him and Mark Venture together. I remember that when I met them, they were just staring at me."
"How were you dressed?"
"Standard EDF nursing cadet's uniform...a yellow and black minidress and yellow boots. Turns out they were staring at me because I looked just like a dead Iscandarian woman named Astra whom they had found on Mars. How did you meet Uncle Hiram?"
"It was a bit different for me. I met him at a dance at the University of Boulder."
"Where Mom and I went to school?"
"Yes. I had your mother as a roommate for one year, of course. I wonder if things would've been different if I hadn't listened to that preacher..."
Nova could sense that her aunt was not quite as virulent as before. Has being on this rock softened her somewhat? Maybe, but I'm not holding my breath.
"He who made me what I am today. Now, excuse me. Leave me alone for a bit."
"Must I? This was getting good!"
"Leave me!" barked Yvona.
Nova quietly slinked away. Besides I could use some more fruit off that tree, she thought.
Yvona looked up at the heavens. Lord, why is the path of following You so hard? I miss Hiram! And, damn, I sometimes find myself weakening, and wishing I could had a halfway normal life...like my sister...or...like...like the trollop here. Why? WHY?
At that, glad the trollop wasn't around, Yvona began to cry.
A day later....
Nova was changing the dressing on Yvona's wound when she heard that sweet familiar voice.
"Derek? Is that you? Am I hallucinating?" she said out loud.
She looked up and saw the Yamato in the distance and several figures coming toward her. One had a familiar disheveled mane followed by a robot with a bulky R2D2-like build. It was Derek! And Tinwit! Her crew had come!
I'm saved! They came for me! Nova thought as joy ran through her heart.
She stood there in her dirty uniform with a goofy smile on her face and tears
shining in her eyes.
"Don't stand there, idiot," Yvona sneered. "Your yellow boy is waiting for you."
Ignoring the insult, Nova scooped up her injured aunt and ran toward her crewmates hailing them. As Venture and Sandor extracted the "Prophetess" from her shoulders, Nova threw herself into Wildstar's arms and both sobbed with joy. She greeted the rest of the crew and Admiral Yamanami the same way. Yvona arched her eyebrows as she observed the scene.
"How heartwarming," she quipped acidly.
"What's she doing here?" Venture put in.
"Long story," Nova replied. "Her leg is broken in several places. She needs surgery."
"Don't bother," Yvona sneered. "Just let me die here alone."
"No, Yvona. We do not abandon people, despite who they are."
"Speak for yourself," Dash put in. "Let the bitch die here."
Other crewmembers echoed the sentiment. Yvona and her cult tortured and killed many innocents in the Name of their God. Why did they have to rescue her? Suddenly, another group appeared from the forest dressed in long sack-cloth robes and sandals.
"Prophetess! Is that you?"
"Well," Yvona smiled dryly. "Saved by the bell, as it were. Over here, Brother Uriah."
"Are you all right?"
"A broken leg, but I'm alive."
The followers rushed over and tore their Prophetess out of Sandor and Venture's arms. The two Star Forcers offered no resistance, raising their hands in relief.
"Infidels!" Uriah growled. "What did you do to the Prophetess!"
"They did nothing," Yvona smiled. "I fell and broke my hip and leg. My 'niece' simply dressed it."
"So nothing happened, Prophetess," another followers queried dubiously.
"No. I merely spent some 'quality time' with Nova. That is all."
The two groups stared at each other, tension and hostility building as the threat of all-out conflict was evident. The Yamato could have wiped the followers out before they could even raise an offense, but there was always the fear that other followers would avenge them. Yvona raised her hand and the followers lowered their weapons, confused but obeying her command.
"Stand down, brothers," she ordered. "There will be no fighting today. This useless rock isn't worth the bloodshed."
"As you wish, Prophetess," Brother Ezekiel replied.
"Stand down," Yamanami commanded.
Both groups lowered their weapons, but the tension was still there. So there would be no battle that day, but that did not mean that there was not going to be in the future. Yvona turned to the Star Force and smiled.
"Until next time," she retorted.
As she turned around to leave, the Star Force and Nova noticed that her tone and her eyes did not have the cold holier-than-thou contemptuousness. In fact, she actually almost seemed...human. Was there a chink in the armor? A crack in the wall? A spark of human feeling other than hatred? The Star Force would worry about that later. Right now, they had been looking for a crewmember for over a week and it was time to celebrate. Nova found herself actually looking forward to having IQ9 flash her and even wore her best dress for that purpose in mind. It was good to be home.
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