Author Topic: 2017 Gift Exchange -- For UW  (Read 1484 times)

Offline Amethyst

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2017 Gift Exchange -- For UW
« on: December 28, 2017, 12:36:17 CST »

The shrill alarm broke the silence in the dark room. A figure huddled under the blanket turned aside to press the snooze. The room went quiet again, but not for long as in five minutes more the alarm began to ring again and this time it was louder.

Moments later, a hand reached over and finally turned on the lights. Then it went directly to turn off the alarm. It was ten minutes past six.

The girl under the covers looked up at the ceiling; her big, brown eyes staring at it for a while. Her face showed signs of tiredness and there was even a hint of some sort of depression. Yes, she felt exactly like that, weary and exhausted to the point that she didn't care anymore.

She was so lost in her own world, she didn't notice that someone slipped into her room. "It's time to begin with your training," said her visitor.

"I know," she answered listlessly. She didn’t need to look at the woman standing at the door. She knew her mother had come to rouse her.

"Well, you know the rules. Present yourself in the training centre in ten minutes or Madam Onna will give you another warning."

It was then when the girl finally turned her head to face her visitor. She was in the standard issue magenta jumpsuit with the fur trimmed collar. Her blue mask was firmly in place.

"Madam Onna demands punctuality from everyone,” she said firmly. “She will not tolerate your insubordination again. Her patience is already thin.”

"I know that, Mother." The girl got up and sat at the edge of the bed. "It's just that I don't like to do this anymore."

The tiny room went silent. Moments later the woman closed the door and approached the bed to sit next to her.  Her mother sighed. The girl knew another lecture was forthcoming.

"How many times are we going to go through this again?" Her mother didn’t bother to hide the exasperation in her voice.

"I... I just don't want this kind of life for me... I feel so..."

"You are a Devil Star! You are not supposed to be guided by feelings!" Her mother was shouting now. The girl stared miserably at her mother.

"This attitude of yours is going to make everything more difficult than it already is. I have told you countless times that our family is committed to Galactor! Your father and brother are serving the cause without a grumble and look at you.” She flicked her eyes over her daughter in disgust. “Always complaining and moaning.”

The woman finally removed the mask, revealing her middle-aged face. She frowned. "Well, let me tell you a final warning. Change this childish attitude, or you will suffer the consequences."

"But, Mother!” the girl exclaimed. “I'm young! The only thing I'm asking is to enjoy a normal life like other girls.” Her fists were clenched in exasperation while her eyes begged for some sort of understanding. “You know that I don't like any of this, it's not fair that my future was chosen for me! I feel like a prisoner. I have a fiancé and..."

A loud, stinging slap silenced her. The girl placed her hand over her reddening cheek, looking at her mother with sorrowful eyes.

The woman put her mask back on. "Stop this nonsense and get ready. Your training begins in five minutes. Ah! And don't even dare to be late again or this time you will regret it." She turned on her heel and she left.

The blood drained from her face. She had never seen her mother so angry. The girl supposed that Madam Onna or even Lord Katse had a word with her mother earlier.

Immediately, she got dressed and took the yellow mask and the blond wig from the table. How much she hated them! Her natural hair was brown and beautiful. There was a time when she wore it long. Since she joined the ranks of the elite squadron, she had no other choice than to cut it short. It was one of the numerous rules imposed on her. The same rules that were killing her slowly and painfully inside.

After leaving her quarters, she headed to the assembly room. When she arrived, she found eleven other girls were standing in the large solemn room and facing a single chair in the middle. By the time she took her position at the front, the figure seated there turned to face them.

"Number Two." The girl stiffened when she was addressed by her code name. The tall blond woman said, her deep voice resonant with control and authority. "It seems that you are late again. You know that I do not tolerate tardiness."

"I'm sorry, Ma'am,” the girl said. “It won't happen again."  The girl feared Onna Taichio’s wrath and her tone was deferential to Galactor’s female commander.

"Well, you better make sure of that," Onna Taichio snapped. Then she stood up and began walking around the girls.

Her imposing figure dwarfed the girls in the room. The female commander, Onna Taichio, was unusually tall and imposing. The girls were nervous. As she slowly walked in and out and around the girls, she began to speak.

"You have been selected among dozens and now Lord Katse needs the top five.” Onna Taichio’s voice reverberated in the hall. “As you are already aware, only the very best will join an elite group under my command. Those chosen should be proud to be part of the new generation of all-female assassin squad of Galactor.” She paused to look around the room.  “As you are aware, throughout the years, our girls have proven to be the most elite. They are the most dangerous among Galactor's ranks. And now that a new and challenging enemy is interfering with our plans, we are ready to show the world once more that Galactor's Devil Stars are a formidable force to be reckoned with.” Number Two’s stomach knotted in apprehension.

"Leader X and Lord Katse have entrusted us with a very important mission," Onna continued. “As you know, the Science Ninja Team is the only obstacle standing between Galactor’s plans for world dominance. To achieve this, we need to continue our fight against Gatchaman.” She paused for effect. “Most importantly, we need to be fully prepared."

No one dared to speak up. Everyone knew what Onna Taichio meant. There had been many rumours about the SNT and the innumerable comrades killed in battle. Nearly every girl in the chamber had already lost a relative or a friend in the line of duty. Some unofficial estimations placed the number of Galactor casualties in the hundreds.

Did the call for action mean that the girls must be sacrificed for the cause as well? The very thought gave Number Two goosebumps and numbed her thoughts. But Onna's voice quickly brought her back to reality.

"You will begin training immediately,” Onna continued. “Our most trusted veteran, Number One, will be your mentor while we are waiting instructions from Lord Katse. I will expect only the best from each and every one of you. Bear in mind that I will not tolerate any insubordination or failure!” Onna paused for effect. Twelve pairs of eyes were glued to the Commander. “Understood?" Her voice boomed and echoed in the great assembly hall.

Then she moved to stand in front of Number Two.  "You will oversee the rest from now on and report to me directly. “Once we have made our final selections, we will be on standby." Number Two was stunned. It seemed that the Commander had already appointed her.

After Onna Taicho dismissed them, all the girls headed to the training quarters where a familiar face or mask in this case, was already waiting for all of them.

As the days passed, the girls soon learned that their expectations for their Devil Star training were far from accurate. Their training was more physically grueling than any of the girls realized. Hour after hour they were subjected to rigorous exercises with the purpose of mastering elite ninja techniques. They left each training session at the end of day exhausted and bruised.

 However, Number Two faced additional pressures. “I expect nothing less than perfection,” her mother warned her. “That is the only acceptable outcome.”

For that reason, after a long day in the training centre, she would head over to one of the open areas that were adjacent to her quarters and sit in the grass alone.  The quietness of the night calmed her, and she would look up at the stars, contemplating her life, her training, and what was expected of her.

Her thoughts were most often about what might have been if her family weren’t such an active part of the Syndicate. Perhaps she might be in school, studying towards a degree in something related to cars, her passion. Maybe she would have a job. The only certainty in this daydream was that she would be able to feel that sensation of freedom all the time, and not just when she was able to steal away and race her car at full speed.

Sadly, all of this was a dream and it would only remain like that: just a dream. Her life, her physical body, her soul…they all belonged to Galactor until the day she died.

As the days wore on, the physical and mental training paid off. The girls showed progress and mastered the fighting abilities and their expertise in explosives. Even some of them became what the organization wanted, perfect killing machines with the Devil’s Star signature: the rose bomb technique.

Number one took her daughter aside one day and said, “I am especially proud of you.” Number two looked at her mother with disbelief. Did she just said that? She thought.
“You have met--.” She paused. “No. You have exceeded my expectations. Your rose bomb technique is better than mine.” She graced Number Two with a rare smile. “You’ve taken it and perfected it. It is more lethal than ever.”

“Thank you, ma’am,” Number Two replied. She was unused to hearing compliments from her mother.

Satisfied with the results, Number One organised a demonstration for Madam Onna and Lord Katse. However, only Lord Katse appeared. Strangely, the blond commander was absent.

“Greetings, everyone.” Katse addressed the crowd. “Today is a great day for Galactor. As you know, our elite squadron, the graceful but deadly Devil Stars, are back in action. Soon the ISO will face this formidable force and this time, they will regret to have crossed paths with us. In no time, we will hit the very core of the enemy and destroy them from within.”

Upon hearing it, everyone began to cheer. Looking satisfied with the impact of his speech, then Katse turned to the girls. “Your Commander, Onna Tachio, has been the mind behind this project and today we will witness her triumph. Unfortunately, she’s in a very important mission right now and she won’t be here today. As you all know, duty comes first… even for us, your leaders.”

The audience clapped enthusiastic. Katse smiled and rising his hand continued, “Let’s begin with the demonstration.” Minutes later, everyone was presented with the spectacle of the Devil Stars. The girls prepared a program, showing their capabilities. Everyone was astonished, the squadron’s performance was beyond expectations.

After the girls finished the demonstration of their skills, they could hear a clap coming from the viewing area adjacent to the arena. "Excellent!" Katse said while smiling, "They are a formidable force. Well, done Number One.”

"Thank you, Lord Katse." She replied with a bow.

"I want you to select the very best ones, a squadron of five, including your daughter and keep them on standby. In the meantime, the remaining girls will continue with their training and will be assigned as reserve forces."

"It will be done immediately, Sir."

"Good, good." Lord Katse began to leave, but he stopped, and he looked back over his shoulder adding, "Just one more thing and I want to make it clear. Defeat will not be tolerated. You will be held responsible for any negative outcome.  Am I understood?"

"Yes, my Lord." She bowed low to hide the fear in her eyes from Katse.

From that moment on, the fate of Number Two and the other girls in the squad was sealed.

However, the waiting part was stressful for the girls and there were times that everyone felt overwhelmed. The adrenaline that came with being called for action was at its highest point, especially when Galactor was launching attack after attack with numerous mechas, but the girls continued in standby. For some reason, their call for action had been postponed. 

Also, as being just young girls, it wasn't easy for them to come to terms with their new position in the organisation. Like one of them clearly described it one day: 'it was agonising.' So much was expected from them and they themselves deep inside, didn’t know if they would exceed or even come up to the expectations.

The fact that by now they were in line to join the battling forces made them feel anxious. But not only that, becoming high-ranking officers as well, ready to fight and attack the infamous SNT was something empowering. Definitely, their lives had changed forever.
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Offline Amethyst

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Re: 2017 Gift Exchange -- For UW
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2017, 12:37:24 CST »
For that, throughout the headquarters Number Two and the other four girls enjoyed a newly acquired higher status as everyone felt admiration not only for their skills, but for their graceful and deadly moves.

Whilst for the others the sudden attention was indeed welcome, for Number Two this became some sort of a burden. She wasn't prepared for any of this. Instinct pushed her to withdraw from the others, becoming so reticent that others perceived her as being arrogant, as if she were too good to associate with them. Number Two didn’t care. She was already a loner, not having many close friends to begin with. She welcomed the solitude.

Still, deep inside, Number Two was having a conflict. She knew well that being the best was what everyone expected from her but, there was another side of her telling her that she should do something… devise a plan to somehow, escape from her present situation. But she was scared.

First, she didn’t know how to escape and second, what would she do in the outside world? Maybe she could go to B.C. island, but it was risky. It would be the first place they would look for her. Perhaps she could acquire a new identity, contact her fiancé and run away together to a remote place… or even negotiate her resignation with the organization and freely be with Alan. Whatever was her plan of action, she needed to do it quickly.

All happened one morning while walking towards the facility centre. It was standard security protocol for all officers to identify themselves to the security personnel before being admitted. To comply with that, Number Two needed to remove her mask so the facial recognition program could identify her. Katse didn't want to take any chances, especially in an area so close to his personal quarters.

As she usually did, Number Two removed her mask and the officer in charge went on with the security procedure. But before she could disappear through the access door, she heard him comment, "I didn't know that the Devil Stars are such pretty girls."

With her mask under her arm, she turned to look at the guard. Then it was when she realised that for sure the minion was new in the post and wasn't fully aware of the protocol. At first, she looked at him with a reprimanding glare and with authoritarian voice, rebuked him. "And I didn't know you could be so daring. Be careful or one of these days someone will report you."

"Well, if I get a warning for expressing myself, then so be it! I still think you are very beautiful." He shrugged.

Number Two couldn't help herself from smiling. This daring attitude was a breath of fresh air in this prison in which she was trapped. He clearly reminded her about how a free spirit can’t be easily tamed. Now looking at him with curiosity, she nodded slightly and put on her mask before heading towards her destination.

For a week this encounter with the security officer carried on more less in the same way. He would greet her with sweet talk and flattery and she would react in the same way, with a slight smile. Somehow, the girl began to feel a bit alive and sooner than anyone would expect, both of them developed some kind of friendship. Even their usual greeting turned into a small talk.

This went on until one day her mother witnessed the encounter and without delay, took matters in her own hands.

The very next day Number Two discovered when she arrived at the checkpoint that there was another officer in charge of security.  The new officer was older and stiff-necked. To make matters worse, he was rude to her. She was caught off-guard by the change and walked through the corridor and to her destination where she found her mother. Number One was ready and waiting for her.

"Instead of wasting your time with frivolous matters, you should concentrate more on your performance,” she snapped.

Whether her mother knew her thoughts or what was going on, it seemed that she couldn't hide anything from her. She felt exposed. “What do you mean?” A shiver ran through her spine as her mother didn’t say anything. “Please tell me that you don’t have anything to do with that.”  She pointed to the security guard.

"Well, it doesn't matter now." Number One added nonchalant, "You won't see him again."

"What have you done to him?" An uneasy feeling went directly to her stomach.

"He has been assigned to the latest mecha, and this very moment he's battling our enemy in the name of the cause." Her words were indifferent and cold.

Upon hearing them, Number Two knew exactly what she meant. She understood right away that for the poor guy it was a lost cause and for sure by then, most probably he was already dead. Many young men were perishing for the glory of Galactor and now it had claim another victim.

She felt sick. How could she be so cruel? The young man didn't do anything wrong. He was just being young and lively in a world of death, evil and destruction.

"How could you do that?" Tears were showing as she understood her mother’s role in this. "It was you who reported him and now..." Her voice broke with emotion.

"You know very well that sacrifices are necessary,” her mother snapped. “You mustn't let your emotions to take control of you. You must adhere to everything I have taught you! This is the only way you can become the best commander Devil Stars has ever had."

Number Two couldn't control herself and she gave her mother a death glare. "I will never become like you!" Something inside her ignited. "I prefer to die rather than to become a cold killing machine like—"

Her words were cut off abruptly by a vicious slap to the face.

"Listen to me, young lady!” Her mother’s tone was harsh. “The only way to survive in the organisation is to be the best. Your father is one of the top generals. Your brother is training right now to be a commander.” Number One glared at her daughter. “Our family has worked too hard all these years to gain the respect of Lord Katse. I,” she paused.  “No. WE will not tolerate your radical ideas. Like it or not, you were born for the glory of Galactor!"

"I don't want to be part this anymore." Number Two’s voice was firm and daring as she couldn’t take it anymore. "I quit! You can do whatever you want. I don't care anymore." She was shouting and others in the area couldn’t help but look at the pair.

"You better watch your mouth, young lady!"

"No! I mean it." Her breathing was heavy, and she was shaking.  "You heard me. I quit! I quit the Devil Stars and I quit Galactor!”

Number One was calm. Eerily calm. It unnerved Number Two.  "Very well,” said her mother. “As your superior, I consider this is an act of disobedience and I will put you on suspension. You will be confined in your quarters. You will have no contact with anyone and completely isolated until further notice. Lord Katse and Madam Onna will know about this immediately and they will be the ones who decide your fate." She looked sharply at Number Two. “Do I make myself clear?”

It was then that she faced the true reality of being a Galactor's child. There was no room for emotions. Well, it wasn’t shocking to face this reaction from her own mother as she was ruthless, never showing any signs of humanity for anyone, including her. Yet, deep in her heart, she used to hope one day this would change. Once again, she was disappointed. And the worst part was that someone paid with his own life for her to face reality. This was so unfair!

“Yes, ma’am,” Number Two said sullenly, knowing that she couldn’t fight right now.

Suddenly, two officers appeared and escorted her to her rooms. They locked the door behind them.

Trapped in her own room like a caged prisoner was agonizing. The spirit she’d had, the fire of rebellion that sparked was in danger of being extinguished.  Only the image of a kind face and the memories of another life kept her from breaking completely.

Many times, in her desperation, she would whisper the same name...Alan. Her mind kept returning to thought of someone closed to her heart. They’d met during the summer holidays last year on B.C. Island and they fell head over heels in love. Her parents objected to the blossoming romance once they got wind of it. Fearing a separation, the young lovers made plans to marry. However, before they could make it official, Number Two was unexpectedly called back to Headquarters.

Despite the distance and the uncertainty of ever seeing each other again, they continued to be faithful to one another waiting anxiously for the day they could reunite. Number Two clung desperately to those memories. It was the only thing she had to keep her from losing all hope.

The days blended into one another. She was unable to tell when the current day ended and the new one began. Unexpectedly, a sound of keys in the lock warned her that someone was about to enter. At this point she didn't care anymore and just remained laying on the bed.

As soon as she heard a deep voice calling her name, her heart skipped a beat.

"Number Two, we need to talk." It was Madam Onna herself.

Immediately, her instinct dictated that she should stand up and her first reaction was to bow in fear, more than respect. Her heart throbbed so hasten that she felt like it would explode in any moment. The female commander took her time as she walked to the only chair in the room and made herself comfortable.

"It has come to my attention that you intend to leave the organization," Onna Taichio said quietly. Her gaze was firm on the girl in front.

"Yes... Ma'am." She tried keep the fear out of her voice, but couldn’t.

"You know the rules. No one leaves the organization and any attempt at subordination is severely punished."

Number Two didn't like the sound of that, but her fears soon gave way to surprise.
"That said,” Onna continued. “I'm willing to forget about this incident and reinstate you in the elite squadron as a commander.”

Number Two faced her in total surprise. Madam Onna wasn't known for being forgiving of insubordination.

"Leader X and Lord Katse have devised a plan to end once and for all our enemy and this time we will hit the very core of the ISO organisation.” The woman stood up and with her imposing figure, and cornered Number Two against the wall.

"You have a choice, Number Two. You can accept what I will offer you and if you succeed, you will be rewarded. However, if you fail, you will have the honor of choosing the method of your execution.”

Number Two swallowed. She should have known that Onna’s offer was too good to be true. “And what is my mission?”

“Your mission is to kill Nambu at any price or you and your entire family will face the consequences of your disobedience.” Her eyes were like daggers, piercing through the poor girl's soul. The girl knew exactly what Onna Taichio meant.

It was then that a memory came to mind. There was a time when another family tried to quit the organisation. The head of the family was a very powerful and high-ranking agent. He was murdered, along with his wife and young child. Her mind dwelled on the child. That poor kid never had a chance. Even an innocent child had to pay for the sins of his parents.

The attempted escape and the consequences were held up as an example to anyone who dared thought to leave the organization.

Yes, she knew well how things worked in Galactor.

"So, what's your decision, Number Two?" These words brought her back from her memories. The blonde woman smiled wickedly as she lifted Number Two’s face and held her chin. The girl had no choice but to look the older woman in the eye.  "You have no choice but to obey me and do what I command you."

Exactly! She had no choice and all she could do was to lower her head and show her assent with a nod.

Onna smiled dangerously. "I knew you would come to your senses. Report to me first thing in the morning! You and the rest of the squad will follow me to your first mission."

With that, she turned on her heel and left.

When Onna was gone, Number Two finally raised her head, aware of the mixed feelings churning within her. She did what she always did in this situation. She headed outside as quickly as possible.

It was late, and the paths were empty of other people. Nobody wanted to venture out in the cold and dark. She held everything in, but once she reached the steps and sat down, the dam burst, and her tears ran freely. For a while, she just sobbed her heart out until she had no more tears left to shed, so she just stared vacantly into space.
Perspective Alters Reality

Offline Amethyst

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Re: 2017 Gift Exchange -- For UW
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2017, 12:38:32 CST »
 Time passed, and minutes ran into each other. Number Two was startled from her reverie by the sound of someone calling her name. Astonished, she merely looked at the brunette who was smiling and then came over and sat next to her. Number Two said nothing. Both girls were content to look up at the sky in contemplation. Later, some of the clouds disappeared giving way to a full bright moon. They both admired it in awe.

The other girl broke the spell cast by the moonlight. "I heard that you are leaving tomorrow for the mission,” she said. “I wanted to see you before that." Number Two didn't reply. The other girl continued. "I just wanted you to know that I really admire you.”

Number Two’s eyes widened in surprise and she turned to look at the other girl. 

"I also want to leave them,” the other girl added.

Number Two was astonished. "But that's impossible, Maia!"

"I know,” The girl replied. “That's why I have no other choice than to be smarter than them."  Maia’s eyes fixed on Number Two, her eyes filled with determination and hope. “I'm sure one day I will be able to get away from this.”

She knew that Maia was a strong, determined, and single-minded girl.  Number Two thought Maia would make an excellent Devil Star, maybe even be in a position of authority like her, but the girl was too young. Even Galactor had standards.

"Well," Maia interrupted her thoughts. "Time for me to go. I just wanted to wish you luck." Both girls stood up not saying anything. Nothing was ever certain in Galactor. This chance meeting might be the last time the two girls would ever see each other. Maia seemed to sense this and she extended her hand to Number Two, as if to say farewell.

“I also wanted you to know that I will never forget the encouragement you gave me,” Maia said.

Number Two looked confused. “Encouragement?” 

“Your defiance towards Number One opened my eyes. You showed me that it’s okay to be different and not to fall in line like the others.” Maia looked down briefly and then up again.  “I know now that there is still hope for us to have a normal life. Even when we are trapped here."

Maia smiled, then took both of Number Two’s hands into hers, shaking them, before quickly disappearing into the darkness, leaving Number Two somewhat bemused.

She let go a long sigh and without noticing, her stern expression finally brooked into a faint smile. This unexpected encounter with Maia left her with a thought of encouragement. Maybe, just maybe, she would be successful in her mission, and Madam Onna would have to grant her wish.

The chances were indeed slim, but it was worth trying.

A Galactor agent, disguised as a member of ISO personnel, reported that Nambu would attend a conference in a hotel in the city center and then he would be chauffeured back to the ISO headquarters by a bodyguard. Leader X was convinced that this was the perfect moment to go ahead with the plan to kill Nambu and briefed Katse.

The very next morning, five Devil Stars were ready for action. After a long briefing with Madam Onna, they knew exactly why they have been training so rigorously: killing Nambu wouldn't be easy, but it was imperative to accomplish it. Leader X found out through his agents that Nambu was the man responsible behind the Science Ninja Team. His extermination would be the death blow to the ISO the Galactor desperately needed.

"Do whatever it's necessary to kill him. " Onna ordered. "Even if you have to sacrifice yourselves. We need to get rid of the mind behind the ISO. Doctor Nambu is a hindrance to our plans for domination. I will get ready with the plan that will end once and for all with the man responsible of delaying our victory." After a brief pause, she continued, her tone of voice more menacing. "As you know, ladies, failure is unacceptable. In the unlikely event that we do not succeed, you all know what will be the outcome for you."

These words were a clear threat, resonating loudly in the squadron's minds. Katse would not tolerate defeat and even if the girls had to die in the name of victory, they had to do so. Or else, they themselves and their families would face the consequences. It was certainly a death sentence.

Then, without any other alternative but accepting the terms of their mission, all the girls prepared to board the mother ship that would take them to Utoland City.

Once over there and while listening to her instructions, Number Two decided to speak out. Maia’s conversation came to mind, ‘I have no other choice than to be smarter than them.’

But, how? Number Two wasn’t as bold as Maia. Maybe if she was forthright and just expressed what she wanted after her mission was accomplished, perhaps there was a chance. Yes, she would do just that.

 Thus after they were dismissed, she remained there, boldly expressing her thoughts.

"Ma'am..." Her voice was quivering, "You said that if I succeeded in my mission, that I would be rewarded.”

“Yes,” Onna Taichio said in an off-handed manner. “I did.”

Number Two took a deep breath, as if diving in. “May I make a request for that reward?”

The blond figure in front of the monitor turned to face her. Her eyes were like piercing daggers. She didn't like Number Two’s audacity.

"What do you have in mind?"

"Just one thing, “Number Two began. Then she summoned her courage. “To quit Galactor." Yes! She finally said it.

"Execute your orders first, and then we’ll discuss it." It was clear that Madam Onna was not about to negotiate anything at the moment.

"Yes, Ma'am." Number Two bowed out of a respect she did not feel and joined the other Devil Stars on the ship. Now the time to prove she could accomplish her task, and dream, was about to begin.

It was a peaceful night in the city and a car was travelling along a bridge. Knowing who was its occupant, Number Two approached her target in her rocket jet, following closely for a while and waiting for the right moment to attack. However, she didn't expect that the driver would notice her intentions and quickly they took off.

She immediately sped up in pursuit of the car. It was clear that the driver was skilled behind the wheel, as the car swerved all over the road, making it difficult for her to get a lock on her target.

This won’t be easy, she thought. She pulled up alongside Nambu's car, lowering the window and with a pink rose held between her teeth, Number Two saw the driver. She could sense surprise from him, but the night shadows prevented her from getting a good look at his features.

Number Two took advantage of the other driver’s surprise. She hit a button on her console, which released a saw blade from its compartment inside her vehicle. Besides being a Devil Star, she was an accomplished driver as well. You won’t get away from me so easily, she thought, smiling to herself.

The other driver made an abrupt move, and before she knew it, she saw the car flying into the air, right over the rocket jet and now it was on the opposite side.  Time to show them that I won’t give up so easily, she thought. Not when the promise of freedom was so close. She released a saw blade from the other side of her jet car.

This time the car couldn't avoid hers and the blade cut into the rear tire, causing it to blow out. Somehow, the driver was able to quickly regain control of the vehicle.

Damn! Even with three wheels they are trying to escape. Well, it was time to finish them and Number Two bumped into their vehicle until she managed to knock them with enough force to send them flying through the air.

Finally! She thought. And while looking at her prey, she pushed another button which caused her to car drop the wheels and transform into a jet plane. Ready to finish them, she raced straight at them to collide and suddenly the car spun out of control, tumbling through the air.  The car lost its wheels and then it careened into the bridge railing, crashing through and sinking into the river below. 

Number Two looked down to the spot where bubbles rapidly broke the surface of the water.  Then she took the rose from between her teeth and she tossed it towards that spot. The rose fell delicately into the water.  A few seconds later it exploded.

Satisfied that she had carried out her mission successfully, she flew her rocket jet off to report back to Madam Onna, who was on the mothership.

However, she didn't succeed. An hour later the Devil Stars girls gathered in the mothership, awaiting orders. Number Two stood in front while Madam Onna repeated their orders.

"As you know, our mission is to assassinate Dr. Nambu."

Upon hearing this, Number Two knew she didn't accomplish her mission. She needed to act quickly and get another chance before the Commander decided to appoint another girl to carry on. She needed to kill Nambu if she wanted to negotiate her freedom. "But Ma'am, he's a difficult target because we don't know the whereabouts of his base, and even if we knew that, we don't know what kind of traps it might have."

The blond commander replied. "We will destroy both Nambu and the Science Ninja Team."

The commander wasn't about to accept any excuse. Moments later, Madam Onna explained the girls her plan of action and it was set in motion.

All the girls could feel the pressure, one attempt on the target had been unsuccessful. However, for Number Two all her future life was a stake. She needed to think, clear her mind and thoughts before she could attempt again her mission. In one word, it was imperative to release the tension. And she knew exactly how to do that.

The perfect opportunity to release her stress came the next morning. Madam Onna had a meeting with some other agents at an undisclosed location. When she saw Madam Onna get into the back of her limousine, Number Two then took a cab to the nearest race track. Once she got there, she paid the cab fare and then she went to rent a car. It wasn’t like the ones in Galactor Headquarters, but it was decent enough for her.

She didn’t pay much attention in the rustic controls of the vehicle. So, pressing the pedal m, she began to race and in no time, she was already at full speed. Her mind was full of thoughts: her mission, her family and Alan. Voices from the past were clouding her mind. The very thought that she could fail and end her existence without achieving her dreams, made her feel miserable. She didn’t deserve to die, not executed at least.

Feeling powerless and angry, she couldn’t contain the tears rushing down her face.

The tears clouded her vision and she missed the sharp turn ahead. She lost control of the car. It suddenly flipped, and she was thrown out the window before the car exploded and engulfed by the flames.

Laying on the side of the track, Number Two was in a limbo between consciousness and unconsciousness. She couldn’t move, but she could still hear the explosions around her and could feel the heat radiating from the burning car.

Suddenly, she felt a pair of strong arms sliding under her. She was aware of being lifted and carried away. She tried to open her eyes to see what was going on, but her lids were too heavy to do so.

She heard another explosion and she knew it was all finished, not only for her car but for her too.

Number Two didn't know if she was dreaming or not, but when she eventually recovered from her daze, she saw the figure of a young man next to her. For a brief moment she thought it was Alan's face but when she blinked again, mesmerised, she realised that it wasn’t Alan at all.

"Hi there. Glad you are okay." His voice was calm and was filled with concern. She just looked at the man, still very confused. She looked around and she found she was inside a different car.

"I'll take you home if you give me directions," he said. Well, it seemed that she was fine and that whoever was next to her, was willing to take her back to her hotel.

Anyway, her car was destroyed, and it was time to go back to Madam Onna, so she just nodded in agreement.

The stranger followed her directions and while going there, asked her casually, "Do you race that circuit often?"

"Only when I'm really irritated. Racing always makes me feel a lot better."  Obviously, she left out the part where she only raced on Galactor’s racing tracks and in Galactor vehicles.

"Yeah, me too. The best thing to do when I'm stressed is to jump in the car and drive."

Looking at her companion, Number Two realised that they both shared the same idea. It was nice to know that she had something in common with that stranger. Quietly, she admired him. For some reason, she found herself comparing him with Alan.  There was something that this stranger and Alan seemed to share, but she could not put her finger on it.

Also, she felt a strange connection with this young man. Judging from the way he was speaking to her, the faint flirtatiousness in his voice, he felt the same way as she did. Number Two welcomed this new, exciting feeling.

Moments later, they arrived at their destination and as the stranger dropped her off, Number Two couldn't help to comment. "Maybe we could race together at the track sometime."
Perspective Alters Reality

Offline Amethyst

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Re: 2017 Gift Exchange -- For UW
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2017, 12:39:14 CST »
With a smile, he agreed. "Sure, Babe. I'm not going easy on you."

Somehow this small talk turned to be the setting for a 'date.' Her heart was full of joy and felt happier than she had in a long time. Who would had thought that a terrible accident would turn out to be one of the most exciting moments of her life?

"See you tomorrow!” Those were his parting words to her. Number Two was practically floating on air as she walked towards the building.

Unfortunately, Madam Onna was at the door, waiting for her.

"I'm sorry for being late, Ma'am. I didn't mean to be late for work." Madam Onna slapped her hard in reply. The girl knew that this was not the moment to say anything else, so she quickly rushed inside.

She felt so ashamed. It would had been better for everyone if he did not to witness that ruthless treatment. She wished she had a different farewell with Joe.

Yes, the girl knew the stranger's name. As a matter of fact, while in the car, she noticed a driver's glove on the floor and for a brief moment, clearly saw the three letters written in its interior: "JOE."

Now the face that made a strong impression on her, had a name.

Rushing back to her room, Number Two couldn't stop thinking about her ordeal earlier on, but mainly her encounter with that stranger who was also fully occupying her mind. Her thoughts went out to Joe, Galactor, and the horrible situation she was in.

Once in her room, she just lay down for a while.

Very few people were kind to her in the past. Being part of a ruthless organisation left very little room for an amiable atmosphere. Most of the time, people were harsh with others, even if their nature wasn't like that. Sometimes Number Two herself wasn't as pleasant as she would like to be, behaving worse than others around. Maybe being part of Galactor even affected the inner self of each one of its members, transforming them into evil, selfish replicas of the senior officials. More like Lord Katse himself. It was imperative to leave the organization.

But today, she truly hated Onna more than ever for that humiliation she had endured in front of Joe. How ashamed she felt! What would he think of her?

She closed her eyes and banged the side of the bed with closed fists. Then, taking a long breath to let go all her frustration and stress, Number Two knew that she had to explain Joe what happened. For sure she would come up with an excuse the following day. Her only hope was that he wouldn't ask for details.

Her thoughts were interrupted when the other four Devil Stars appeared in the room.

“Madam Onna is requesting our presence in the ship now,” one of the other girls mentioned, awaiting for her superior’s reaction.

In no time, Number Two knew the call for action was made and changing quicker her clothes, order the rest to head immediately to the Devil Star ship. Once there, they were ready in position, just awaiting their orders.

Not long after that, the mother ship was hovering over the target, a speeding train now in Galactor's control. Ready in their positions in the main room, they all could hear her instructions through the speakers. "This is our chance, ladies." It was Madam Onna transmitting from the train. "I will take care of Nambu. The rest of you, go after the SNT."

Later, Madam Onna addressed Number Two. "You aren't comfortable being a member of Galactor yet. It's Galactor law that in order to protect our secrets, the children of our members are forbidden from leaving Galactor. You have no choice. Therefore, go forth and kill the SNT with the techniques you mother taught you, keep attacking until you have defeated them all."

It was then that Number Two knew that her request to leave was denied. As Madam Onna clearly stated, they would never let her do that.

It was time to think in another alternative, but first, she needed to finish up her mission.

In no time, five rocket jets were launched from the mother ship. Their objective was to blow up the bridge ahead. Upon landing, they jumped out of their vehicles, lowering themselves down the supports to place a bomb at the bottom of the bridge support. And it was Number Two herself who lighted the fuse.

Meanwhile, a high-speed train was crossing the mountains at full throttle while in its interior Madam Onna herself and Gatchaman were fighting for the control.

Nambu had been lured into a trap and he was captured by no other than the female Commander. It seemed that Madam Onna's plan was about to be successful as everything was set for the train to fall off a cliff.

By this moment the Devil Star squadron had already set the bombs in a nearby bridge and even when one of the SNT attempted to stop the detonation, the place was already engulfed by the flames after a series of explosions.

The Galactor agents were riding their rockets and one after the other, tried to escape the member of the SNT who was chasing them in her motorcycle. Apparently, it was the girl called the Swan and even when they managed to avoid her, two of the girls couldn't make it when the motorbike rode over the wings of two of the rockets, causing them to spin out of control.

The unlucky girls crashed with each other to later die when their vehicles exploded.

Number Two saw the scene and going ahead in full speed, ordered the remaining two to stop that girl at any cost.

“Stop that girl!” Her firm voice came out through the speakers in the other rockets. “If you fail, you know who will face the consequences.” The other two girls knew they didn’t have any other choice.

Obeying, the Devil Stars stopped in the middle of the track and when the Swan was approaching, the girls knew that the only way to destroy the enemy was pressing the self-destruct button. Their lives in exchange for their loved ones… A common practice among Galactor’s forces.

The track was ablaze and finally, the enemy had been stopped. But for what a cost!

Looking through her rear mirror, Number Two knew that she was the only one remaining. The other four girls were already dead. Her mind was full of her comrades, those other girls who had shared with her months of training. Although they were never close friends, there was some feeling of camaraderie among them.

As it always happened in the past, now the girl was alone again. Somehow witnessing how the other poor girls perished, made her realise how thin the line was between life and death.

"No!" She said to herself, "I don't want this for me." Tears were already pouring down her face.  She made her decision.

Then, another explosion was heard in the distance and she knew that was coming from the train. 'Good' she thought. That would distract them all and pressing the pedal, she sped up trying to escape from Madam before she or anyone else could figure out her intentions.

However, while Number Two was driving down the track, she saw something up ahead. To her surprise, it was another member of the SNT. He was waiting for her, sitting on the hood of his car.

At that moment, Number Two knew that she needed to get rid of him if she wanted to go ahead with her disappearance plan. So, standing up, she prepared her lethal rose.

 As she approached her target, she saw that it was none other than Condor Joe, the Science Ninja Team’s best marksman.

With her rocket at full speed, she aimed at him, but the Condor was the best in the game. At the same time, she threw her rose at him and he threw his feather shuriken at her. It met in midair with her rose.

Unfortunately for her, the force of the Condor’s throw sent the rose backward and went directly toward her, pinning it to her chest.

Number Two felt a searing heat where the shuriken pierced her flesh and for a moment, she her body went numb. A chain of thoughts came rushing to her mind, but one face prevailed among many: "Joe." She whispered.

The rocket jet lost control, took off, flying over the G-2 and its occupant, who only watched the destruction of his enemy impassively, still with his arm frozen in a post-throwing stance. .

Sadly for him, the Condor couldn't see the face of his opponent as the Devil Star's mask fell off revealing a familiar face: Number Two. The same girl he rescued at the race track earlier on.

This was indeed an ironic moment for both of them. Meeting again under very different circumstances.

While flying off to certain death, with the rose bomb attached to her body, Number Two chose to accept her destiny. "Why? Why don't the children of Galactor have the power to escape their fate?"

And looking up, a face came to mind once more. "I was so looking forward to tomorrow's race, Joe." She then closed her eyes knowing that her end was rapidly approaching. "Goodbye." These were her last words before she finally was set free. 

However, while an explosion erased any trace of her existence, a truth remained lingering in the air: "The children of Galactor couldn't escape their fate."

And maybe as a punishment, eventually Joe Asakura would painfully learn this truth as well and regret his actions of this day.
Perspective Alters Reality

Offline Daniella T

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Re: 2017 Gift Exchange -- For UW
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2017, 11:49:45 CST »
Wow, this was a roller-coaster of a fic! I really enjoyed the look inside the totalitarian society of Galactor.
They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Naturally they became heroes -- Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan.

Offline GrumpyGhostOwl

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Re: 2017 Gift Exchange -- For UW
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2017, 16:38:21 CST »
Ooooh, an episode rewrite. I like those. Lots of universe-building and backstory, and very well-written to boot.

Just one little note for future reference: Onna no Taicho is not a name. It's a title. It means, "The Female (or Woman) Captain," so when a character refers to "Madame Onna," that translates to, "Madame Female," or "Madame Woman." "Madame Taicho" would be more appropriate, since it would translate as "Madame Captain."

Other than a wee linguistic hiccough, the story was engaging and tragic, making good use of dramatic irony.
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They make up everything.

Offline Ebonyswanne

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Re: 2017 Gift Exchange -- For UW
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2018, 05:17:14 CST »
Very emotional and enjoyable to read. Right at the end I pictured Joe's eventual fate being tied into the 'children of Galactor.' Being number 2... good concept and ties back to Joe... he was one of them really because of his parents. Adds depth to series and themes. Well done. :)
Learn  the rules like a pro, and break them like an artist- Picasso

Offline cwwriter

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Re: 2017 Gift Exchange -- For UW
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2018, 16:16:47 CST »
The poor thing really was doomed. That's always been one of the most tragic things about Galactor. How it gets its hooks into entire families and there's no way out.

Offline Adriana

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Re: 2017 Gift Exchange -- For UW
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2018, 10:52:49 CST »

It's sad to realise that everyone involved with Galactor was a prisoner of their own agenda and dreams of conquest. I guess many people lived like this throughout the world's history. Sadly, even now history repeats itself.

Well, another story in which Joe managed to be also at the spotlight! Wiiii 😉

Offline KT1972

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Re: 2017 Gift Exchange -- For UW
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2018, 17:28:03 CST »
Totally guessing that this was written by EW.....
Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for. - Epicurus

Offline ElectricWhite

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Re: 2017 Gift Exchange -- For UW
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2018, 07:07:08 CST »
KT, you've always been good at guessing!
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Offline KT1972

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Re: 2017 Gift Exchange -- For UW
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2018, 07:10:27 CST »
I've been known to be wrong in the past though.
Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for. - Epicurus

Offline Adriana

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Re: 2017 Gift Exchange -- For UW
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2018, 10:02:08 CST »

Well, after some of you have revealed yourselves, it's time to do the same. I was the one who wrote this story... ^_^

I would like to thank my dear Beta reader, Msannomally for helping me. Without you, I couldn't have done it!

Also, thank you for those who left a comment. It's a great encouragement for me!!! As a Spanish speaker, this is still a great challenge for me.


Offline Daniella T

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Re: 2017 Gift Exchange -- For UW
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2018, 13:21:53 CST »
Well done Adriana!!!!  Being mistaken for a work by EW is a great compliment for any fic — and fic writer, no? ;)
They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Naturally they became heroes -- Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan.

Offline Adriana

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Re: 2017 Gift Exchange -- For UW
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2018, 13:53:06 CST »
Well done Adriana!!!!  Being mistaken for a work by EW is a great compliment for any fic — and fic writer, no? ;)

Hola Daniella,

Of course this is a huge compliment for me! In the past, I was guessed right away so this is a huge step ahead for me!

Thank you for being so supportive!  :)