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A young man, tall, pale and weary from being shoved back and forth between orders, placements and the chaos of the preceding moments, took one look at his new home and sighed heavily. What supplies he managed to scavenge before being rushed to this scrappiest heap of metal that their world leaders called a colony ship, he compiled in a small duffel bag. This young man, Doctor Akio Fujioka, had been forced away from his home, along with many others, in hopes of keeping the human race safe from the parasitic beings that had come to be known as Chimera Anima. It had taken a few years for the colony ships to be built and fit to house thousands of people, and even so, not everything was perfected. But Akio knew that the situation was getting worse, and that if there was no plan at all, everyone was as good as dead.

He had been commissioned on a project, one that would create five heroines to fight against said creatures and potentially rescue mankind from extinction. However, in the span of four years, there were delays and complications in the genetic code, and the world leaders grew impatient. They resorted to space travel to reserve their species for the time being, and while it worked, human hope seemed lost. Akio refused to give the project up, and he received permission to continue it, as there was nothing else anyone could think of to do to save their planet. Unfortunately, he had to start from scratch here on this ship, as the rush to the colonies did not allow people much time at all to gather what they needed. The Chimera Anima had suddenly begun to invade major cities, and world leaders were forced to take action. They had intended to perfect everything, but much as for everyone else, there was simply no time.

So here the young man stood, facing a cramped old cabin. It didn’t bother him much at all, since he had always lived in a cramped apartment back home. And it wouldn’t really have mattered. He never slept in his bed whenever he had things to do. Most nights back home would be spent at his workspace, and so this didn’t seem all too different.

Within a few weeks, everyone on the colonies began to have a daily routine set up for themselves. Things were hard. People were sick, there wasn’t much food, and many basic necessities were absent. The scientists in each colony ship worked as hard as they could to invent things to perfect the life on their ships, but everyone knew it would take time, and that many people would most likely die before anything could be established.

As soon as he found his workspace in the laboratories, Akio never left. He’d spend every day and night, trying to work on his project, now renamed the Galactic Mew Project as the codes were drawn not only from the animal DNA, but from the galaxy and its many elements itself. There were even moments where he would starve himself, just to get his work done as quickly as possible. Many of the people In his sect saw this and worried about him. They did their fair share of work, but since there was enough of them, they were able to take breaks and change shifts. But because Akio was pretty much the only one in charge of the Galactic Mew Project, he could not rest. He was given permission to, but feeling anxiety and pressure from everyone else regardless of whether or not they were really doing so or not made him refuse to quit. He became addicted to his work, and it was clear that this was becoming a problem for him and hurting him physically.

It had not been more than a month since his colony life began that Akio was then approached by a curious young man. His hair was a dirty blond color and fairly messy. His face was very sharp, his appearance lanky and he looked untidy from working. The young man, whose green eyes were filled with curiosity, approached Akio one morning while wheeling a cart of beakers full of unknown substances back to his dignified workspace. Akio’s eyes were heavy and tired, as he had been hunched over his keyboard and paperwork, glancing back and forth between the two, analyzing and recording data and DNA sequences.

“Excuse me,” the frail young man spoke suddenly, making Akio jump. “I don’t mean to be a bother of any sort, but you look like you could use…”

“Coffee?” Akio guessed, rubbing his temples with one of his hands.

“Sleep,” the man replied. “I was going to say sleep.”

“There’s no time for sleep right now,” Akio responded groggily. “I’ve got this project on my hands and I’ve had to start from scratch after years of work.”

“Project?” The man questioned, tilting his head. He pushed his cart aside and leaned in beside Akio, who slowly scooted away.

“You’re a geneticist?”  The man curiously concluded. “There’s not many of those here on the colony. Wait, you’re the man whose been working on that…mew thing, aren’t you? We’ve heard a lot about you from the other scientists. They say you need some help.”

“I’m fine, thank you,” Akio sharply responded. “I don’t need any help. Besides, nobody can really help me with this, it’s a very complicated process.”

“Well aren’t you a dream.” The man laughed. “I suppose it’s not very difficult at all for one to get attached to his work- especially when he’s the only one who can do it. Though I do urge you to work hard, you still need to realize that everyone needs a break at least once in a day. Even I take my fair share of time off- though I don’t like to most times. Did you know that I once spent days working on a complicated chemical formula? I was trying to invent a cure for the common cold but I fell flat. Everyone called me crazy for trying. Nobody’s ever been able to crack that miracle drug’s code, you see. And-“

“You’re…not going away, are you?” Akio supposed, hanging his head. “You sure like to talk.”

The young man suddenly stuck his hand in front of the Doctor’s face.

“Alexander Knudsen,” He introduced. The moment felt unnecessarily quick-paced to Akio, but he still had to remember his manners, so he shook the man’s hand.

“I’m Akio Fujioka,”  He replied.

“Oh, a Japanese man, I presume?” Alexander inquired with interest. Akio nodded.

 “And you?” He asked. “Your name, pardon my saying…it’s odd to me.”

“I’m Danish,” Alexander told him. “I’ve been Danish for…”

He counted some of his fingers in though, and Akio raised a brow. This man was clearly out of his mind in one way or another.

“...All of my life, I believe,” Alexander quickly continued. “And if you must know, I am a chemist here on the colony. I’ve been a Chemist for about eight years. I’ve been down here quite a lot since I arrived myself, working late and taking in all those precious fumes, yes. Everyone thinks me mad, but I’m only trying to do my job. If no one else works hard, who will? All the other chemists are hard workers, but they’re afraid to take risks.”

“Alexander…” Akio sighed. “That’s great. It’s been a pleasure meeting you, really and I’d love to chat but I have some work to do.”

“Well I think you could use a break, don’t you?” Alexander chimed. “From what I’ve heard, you’ve been here for weeks without a smidgen of rest, and even without food! I suppose we should do something about that…yes that would be best.”

“Alexander-“

“I know! If I manage to get enough work done by tonight, I’ll let someone take my shift over and I’ll drop by. I don’t know what we could do but I suppose we’ll figure something out, yes?”

“But-“

“Great! I’ll see you tonight then, Akio, my friend! I should probably get these chemicals back to the lab before the others get distraught. Goodbye!”

Without allowing a response, Alexander wheeled the cart away and disappeared into a hallway. This man was strange to Akio, and somewhat off-putting if anything. However, now that he thought about it, he found the entire situation amusing. Perhaps he’d give the man a chance; humor him. Although he didn’t want to have to take his eyes off of his work, he was actually quite glad to have a small break from it when Alexander approached him. Akio soon shrugged it all off and turned back to his computer, losing track of the time once more. Within a few hours, he had completely forgotten the encounter, and he found himself nodding off for a moment. That is, of course, until Alexander popped up again beside him, carrying a knapsack over his shoulder and a grin on his face.

“Good evening, Akio!” He greeted cheerfully.  Then he frowned. “That is if it is evening. There aren’t any clocks here in the lab which is very odd, don’t you think? They have them all over the place but not here. Oh well. Besides, it’s not like we can see the sun here on this ship of ours, what with everything being enclosed and all. The only glimpse of the outside world you can get is by the launch bay! I suppose that’s one thing everyone is going to miss. Sunsets and sunrises, the moon in the sky…”

He stopped talking when he noticed Akio not responding.

“Friend, are you alright?” He inquired, putting a hand on the shoulder of the slumped figure before him. Akio, whose head had been buried in his arms over the desk, sat up suddenly. His glasses were crooked on his face as he turned to face Alexander.

“What…?” He groggily responded, still waking up. “Oh…I must have fallen asleep…”

“Apparently,” Alexander said with a  nod. “Didn’t I say you were working too much?”

Akio fixed his crooked glasses and shook his head.

“I’m sorry, I’d completely forgotten about earlier,” he apologized.

“No need for that,” Alexander insisted. “If we all spent our time saying sorry to each other, we’d never accomplish anything! Now, friend, I don’t suppose you’ll agree, but I think it would be a good idea to step away from our work and turn to better things.”

“Like what?” Akio inquired.  Alexander unzipped his knapsack and revealed a bottle of wine and a few glasses. Akio’s eyes widened.

“Where on Earth did you get that?” he proclaimed with surprise.

“I salvaged it,” Alexander explained. “I knew the very moment when these ships were being built that it would be best to prepare, so I managed to salvage some supplies ahead of time. I did bring mostly things I knew I’d need, but you never know when you could use a good bottle of wine.”

“Wish I’d thought of that,” Akio sighed. “All I managed to bring were some clothes and toiletries.

“No matter, friend,” Alexander smiled. “Come on, we’ll have a drink together! Get our minds off of all of this science!”

“Aww, how romantic,” Akio teased. Alexander grinned, knowing that he had successfully lifted his friend’s spirits The two young men shared a few glasses of wine together and chatted about their lives and their experiences. They found themselves getting along quite well. Although Akio found his new friend to be fairly odd, he was glad to have someone to talk to. From then on, Alexander and Akio would greet each other now and then as Alexander ran his own errands to and fro, and he’d always make sure that Akio was doing well. Sometimes they’d be so busy that they’d only be able to wave to each other, and Akio always found his friend whistling some old tune as he walked past.

But whenever he looked like he was stressing over his work too much, Alexander always pulled him away from it and stuck around with his friend until he was calmer and more collected.

“You know, Akio,” Alexander spoke one day. “Even though our home is gone, there’s a lot to like out here in space.”

The two were sitting in separate chairs by Akio’s workspace, facing each other.

“It’s not gone,” Akio replied, pushing his pencil backward as it rolled toward him. “It’s just…taken. We just have to take it back, is all.”

“I suppose, friend,” Alexander sighed, leaning onto his arm on the desk. “But that’s where you come in, is it not? With your little…Mew project and what have you.”

“Pretty much,” his friend chuckled. “I’m hoping that it’ll help us. I know that some of the leaders didn’t like the idea of me starting it up again after I failed once, but…They’re desperate for anything as long as they can get home.”

“Very true,” Alexander agreed with a nod. “Until then, we’ll have to hold out, yes? But I must say, I’m very excited for your project to be completed.”

He leaned in and placed his hands under his chin.

“I wonder who the human race’s first hero will be?”

Akio shrugged his shoulders.

“Who knows?’ He answered back. “But what really matters is that they’re willing to step up to the role. It’s gonna be a lot of work, fighting monsters and protecting the human race- what’s left of it anyway.”

“I’m sure they will,” Alexander assured his friend. He stood then and stretched.

“Akio, my friend,” He began “I think it’s time to get back to work. I need to speak with the Captain about a few things and then get back to some chemical work.”

“See you later, then,” Akio nodded. He turned back to his work as Alexander walked off. Alexander made his way past the boiler rooms, the machine rooms, the marketplace, and the cabin area towards the Captain’s quarters. He attempted to knock on the captain’s door when it opened slightly. He peeked inside and found the captain conversing with the other colony’s captains through a live feed on a screen. Not wanting to disturb them, but still curious as to what they were discussing, Alexander kept his ear out and listened in from behind the door.

“Nathaniel,” one of the captains spoke, “You had some news for everyone to hear?”

“Yes,” Alexander’s colony captain spoke. “I noticed something entering Earth’s atmosphere a while ago. About a few days past. I wasn’t sure what it was, but it seemed very much like a ship of some kind. A small one…Perhaps one that could only fit a single living person. In any case, it looked like it was falling as opposed to merely landing, which makes me think that perhaps it had begun to malfunction. Whatever was inside of it has probably crash landed on our planet by now.”

“That’s alarming news,” Another captain noted, concern in his voice. “Have you sent anyone to investigate it?”

“No,” Nathaniel replied. “I don’t know what it is, and that’s what worries me. But I can’t risk sending any of our astronauts down there just to investigate, especially with so many of those things walking around the planet. If they were to get caught…“

“I agree,” a third captain spoke. “We need every astronaut we have for scavenging. We lose too many as it is to those monsters.”

“So what do we do?”

Alexander leaned in even more, completely engrossed.

“There’s nothing we can do right now,” Captain Nathaniel said bluntly. “Besides, there’s no telling where it even landed. It looked as though it were headed somewhere toward Europe, but it’s too big of a place to risk sending anyone to check. For the moment, we’ll have to wait until one of my Genetic Scientists to finish his project. Perhaps if it’s successful, once they start clearing the planet of those creatures, we might be able to get a few astronauts to investigate.”

“That is if we find out where that thing even landed,” The second captain reminded everyone. “But Nathaniel is correct, there’s nothing we can do at the moment. We’ll just have to wait.”

“If any of us notices any activity down there, we’ll make sure to keep in touch,” Another captain stated. “Until then,” Nathaniel agreed. He shut his screens off and the feed was terminated. Alexander didn’t stick around to talk to the Captain. He instead rushed back to the lab to tell Akio of the news.

“A ship?” his companion inquired. “That seems highly unlikely….”

“But that’s what the captain said he saw,” Alexander insisted. “I wonder what it is?”

“Whatever it is,” Akio began, “I hope it’s not dangerous. But…where could it have come from?”

“Nobody knows,” Alexander responded. “The captain said he wouldn’t want to risk straying from protocol and sending astronauts to examine it. They’ve no idea where it’s landed, besides. Now, call me crazy, friend, but I think it might be from somewhere that we don’t know… something like a UFO if you will.”

“What?” Akio laughed. “You mean like from another planet? That’s impossible.”

“Well we don’t know what it is,” Alexander shrugged. “So how do we know it’s not from another planet? Besides, we all thought that aliens didn’t exist until they came and overran Earth, so what if this is connected?”

He shuddered.

“Oh, the possibilities of terrible outcomes are infinite!”

“Calm down, Alexander,” Akio sighed. “Even if whatever was in that ship wanted to pose a threat to our planet, it’s already a little late, isn’t it? Besides, if they crash landed, there’s a high chance that they’ll be stuck there- if they survived at all.”

“I don’t know,” Alexander shook his head. “It’s all very odd. Odd, odd, odd.”

“You should get back to work,” Akio suggested. “There’s nothing we can really do right now. And I don’t suppose it would be a good Idea to plan anything because if the captain finds out you were eavesdropping, he’ll have your head!”

“Oh my!” Alexander flinched. “I shall get back to my work, yes. Good luck with yours, friend!”

“Will do, Alexander,” Akio chuckled.

------------------------------

The girls stepped out of the craft and greeted their mentor weakly. They had just finished clearing out the last of the Chimera Anima in a few cities, but they were incredibly beaten up from the struggle.

“Girls, are you alright?” Akio worriedly questioned, rushing over to them. “I told you not to push yourselves and get out of there if you needed to.”

“We’ll be okay,” Chrysalis responded, stretching out her shoulder. “It was a mess, sure, but we decided to stay and fight. We’re not the type to give up, you know.”

“I just worry about you,” their mentor replied, sighing. “I know I encourage you girls to push on, but there is a limit to what you should do.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Hikari said, mustering a smile. “It’s what we do.”

The girls were taken to an infirmary while Akio tended to their wounds.

“It was crazy though!” Hotaru spoke up. “There were like, dozens of them!”

“Oh stop exaggerating,” Chrysalis rolled her eyes. “There were only about eight of them. But it’s not that bad, I mean…at least we got through it.”

“I just don’t understand how we got surrounded like that,” Hikari mused, shaking her head. She flinched as Akio dabbed her arm with alcohol.

“I mean we weren’t loud or anything and I could have sworn there were only two Chimera Anima within miles when we got to our last city.”

“Who knows,” Chrysalis shrugged. She leaned back on the wall. “But it’s not too surprising. Those things have a tendency to find anything that isn’t them.”

“I dunno, it’s just really weird to me,” Hikari sighed.

“What matters now is that you’re safe,” Akio stated, tending next to Hotaru.

“Yeah, you wouldn’t want the project to fail!” Hikari agreed with a nod. Akio shook his head.

“No, no, that doesn’t matter,” he assured everyone. “Yes, it would be nice to keep the project going, but I’m not cold hearted. I see you as people, not tools for mankind to use.”

He quietly shifted his eyes at Niji, who had remained silent while sitting on the bed. Her head was down and she was staring off into space, thinking no doubt.

“And if anything were to happen to you…I don’t know what I’d do.”

All of the girls remained silent for a moment until Hotaru spoke.

“So… you see us as like family?” She proclaimed, crossing her arms.

“If you’d like to consider it so,” Akio responded. “Friends, family, either way. I care about you girls.”

Chrysalis sighed and looked away.

“Okay, this is going to sound cheesy, but…we care about you too,” she hastily replied. She blushed, feeling stupid for saying such a thing. Hikari and Hotaru giggled with each other while Akio smiled at them. He looked to Niji, who had apparently snapped back to reality and was watching her teammates with amusement. When the giggles stopped, he turned back to the other girls who had risen, having finished being treated.

“Look, don’t worry, Akio” Chrysalis told him, unfolding her arms. “We’ll be careful. We’re The Galaxy Mews, yeah? We can handle anything those stupid monsters dish out.”

She yawned.

“I’m gonna head back to the cabin and get some early rest. Anyone else wanna walk with me?”

“Nah, Hotaru and I are gonna go play in the gym for a bit,” Hikari declined. “We’ll go back later.”

“What about you, Niji?”

Niji perked her head up at her teammate and shrugged.

“I’ll…stay here for a little bit longer,” She told her friend. “Probably watch over Hotaru and Hikari for a bit.”

“Suit yourself, ace,” Chrysalis yawned, retreating from the room. The two younger Mews followed behind her and disappeared around the corner of the corridor before them. Niji rose and waved to Akio as she followed her young teammates.

The next morning, Niji arrived early to find her mentor asleep at his computer again. She leaned over him and called his name.

 “Akio?”

 She gently shook his torso until he began to stir.

“Hm…” he groaned, slowly picking his head up. “Niji, is that you…?”

“Yeah,” Niji replied. “Are you okay?”

“I was just…dreaming,” her mentor stated, stretching and yawning. “What time is it?”

“Almost time for us to get started today,” Niji answered. “You know, you should try going to sleep in your cabin instead of at your computer like you do.”

“It’s a force of habit,” Akio chuckled. “I don’t much like my cabin besides. But I’m sorry I wasn’t already awake! I thought I had my watch set on a timer”

“It’s okay,” Niji assured him. “I actually…came early just to…”

“To what?”

 Niji looked away, embarrassed.

“…To check on you…” she answered nervously. “I… know you have a tendency to fall asleep here and sometimes you end up…you know…forgetting to wake up in time and all.”

Akio smiled warmly.

“Thank you,” he expressed. “It means a lot to me.”

Within a few minutes, the other girls arrived, ready to do their daily business.

“Good morning!” Niji greeted.

“G’morning!” Hotaru replied cheerfully.

“Hey, I was wondering where you’d gone off to!” Chrysalis called out. “You weren’t there when everyone else woke up.”

“Oops,” Niji giggled, flashing Akio a smirk, which he subtly returned. He rose from his chair and stretched for a moment, cracking a few of his stiff bones.

“Let’s get you Mews started on today’s mission,” he groaned, snapping back to his typical posture.

“You’re not still completely messed up from yesterday?”

“Not in the least,” Hikari grinned. “We can handle anything.”

“Right!” Hotaru chimed in gleefully.

 With that, the Mews followed Akio as always to the docking bay, were  given their little radio devices, and sent on their way; This time to Russia.

In the ship, the Mews were silent. Normally, they spoke with each other, but oddly enough, nobody felt much like chatting. It was Niji who finally broke the silence.

“I wonder,” she began, leaning back in her seat. “What’s going to happen when we get rid of all those creatures, anyway?”

“What do you mean?” Hikari replied, leaning forward. Hotaru sat beside her, kicking her legs to and fro while Chrysalis focused her gaze through the window into the vast space before her.

“I mean how are we going to rebuild our society?” Niji posed. “Those Chimera Anima caused a lot of destruction, and there are a lot of towns in ruins right now.”

“We’d probly have to build everything again,” Hotaru answered, watching her legs kick back and forth. “But there’s enough of us to do it so I wouldn’t worry.”

“It’d just take a lot of time, is all,” Chrysalis rejoined. “Although that’s not something we have right now.”

“Well it’s not like we’re going anywhere,” Akio called from his end. “Not anytime soon, I should say.”

“Sure, but who knows how long those ships are gonna last?” Chrysalis mumbled. “I know they’ve been built well and there’s a good system to them, but how much longer can we go on living there?”

“There’s nothing we can do about it, Mew Lunar Dream,” Niji countered.  “I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. No point in hanging our heads over it I guess.”

“Yeah, “ Hotaru agreed. “There’s no reason to be unhappy! After all, we’re fighting for a good cause right?”

“Guess so,” Chrysalis earnestly replied, shrugging.

The mews soon reached their destination and landed safely away from any Chimera Anima. They exited the craft and made their way through sleet in a light snowfall.

“I’ve never been to Russia before!” Hikari stated, examining her surroundings. “It’s actually very pretty here!”

“All things considered,” Niji  added, examining some nearby rubble, no doubt remnants of a Chimera Anima’s destruction.

“Be very careful out here,”  Akio warned. “I’m reading more than one Chimera Anima in the area.”

“Can do,” Niji replied, keeping a sharp eye forward. She began to walk swiftly through the sleet, passing over chunks of concrete and broken branches while her team silently followed behind her. They remained alert and ready for and incoming attack. Niji’s ears twitched and she raised a hand to signal everyone to stop. The others kept an ear out and soon heard the distant sound of movement coming from the trees behind them.

Niji turned around to examine the situation, and quickly found herself shouting at everyone to step out of the way. All of the mews did so, and fell aside, finding that they had just dodged a Chimera Anima that had tried to charge at them. When they regained their senses, they found a wild boar Chimera Anima standing before them, stomping its hooves on the ground and snorting with hostility.

Chrysalis jumped into action first, summoning her weapon and flying up into the air.

She shot a weighted arrow at the creature and struck it in the head. Unfortunately, this did not phase the creature, and instead enraged it. The boar charged once more at the other mews, who quickly jumped out of its way.

“Spectral Whip!” Niji called. She lashed out at the boar, grabbing it by one of its tusks. While it struggled to break free, Hikari attacked.

“Blazing Bell!” She summoned. “Ribbon Flame Blast!”

The Boar was thusly defeated, and Hotaru took care of the parasite that spawned from it.

“Good job,” Akio praised. “Now watch out, there’s another Chimera Anima just north of you. It’s coming in fast!”

Just then, a large bat-type Chimera Anima swooped down and grabbed hold of  Hotaru.

“Whoa!” She cried, as she was lifted in to the air.

“Mew Onyx Storm!” Hikari shouted.

“I’m on it!” Chrysalis retorted, flying up and attacking the creature before it could get away.

“Ribbon Lunar Strike!”

She struck the creature with her arrow, and it dropped Hotaru as it fell to the ground. Chrysalis quickly flew in and caught her team mate by the ankle.

“Whew, thanks!” She expressed her gratitude. Chrysalis slowly placed Hotaru on the ground as Niji struck the parasite that was expelled from the bat’s body.

“ Another wave, incoming!” Akio warned. “I’m reading three life forms this time!”

Two Chimera Anima, one a Fox and the other an elk, came stalking in.

“This is ridiculous!” Hikari cried. “Why do they keep coming to us so suddenly?”

Hotaru and Chrysalis stood by her, posed and ready to fight back.

Niji examined the two Chimera Anima, who for some reason were not attacking. Then, she noticed.

“Where’s the third one?”

There was girlish laughter then, and the mews looked around them in confusion.

This is what’s been defeating my children?” It called, amused. The girls kept on looking around them for the source of the voice.

“Who is that?” Hikari questioned, growing anxious. All of the girls were on edge. They’d never expected to find anyone here.

“Who are you?!” Chrysalis demanded. “Show yourself!”

Instantly, a figure appeared before them from behind the Chimera Anima. A humanoid gelatinous figure, feminine in shape, stood erect before them. The mews grew wide-eyed, never having seen anything like it before.

“The funny voice that speaks to you,” the figure communicated , raising its head with interest,  “They are your guide, so it seems. But what are you?”

“We should be asking you the same question!” Hikari shot back defensively. The figure chuckled with amusement.

“What are you even supposed to be?” it jested. “You don’t look like any humans I’ve ever seen”

“We’re the Galaxy Mews!” Niji asserted. “We’re a team that was created to save our world from those creatures!”

“You mean my children,” The figure sharply replied. “I was wondering who it was destroying them. I saw your people coming and going with Earthly supplies, but they weren’t the ones harming my little darlings. I soon decided to send groups of my dears after you while I followed in hopes of finding you, but every time I came close, suddenly you would disappear. And when you reappeared, you were in a location I couldn’t reach! This planet is simply much too big!”

“What are you talking about?” Akio demanded. “Who are you?”

The figure laughed again.

“Oh, I forgot you humans feel a need to give everything a name,” it jeered. “If you really need a name, then call me Ehne. It’s a title I adopted from one of the many lifeforms I’ve consumed in the past; a name that I favor the most out of all.”

Consumed?” Niji gasped. “What do you mean?”

“Why must you be so surprised by everything!” Ehne whined. “If you must know, I belong to a race of what you’d call ‘aliens’. We consume hosts in order to grow and reproduce. Along with this, the knowledge and memory of any being we consume is passed onto us.”

“D…does that mean you’ve consumed one of our kind?” Hikari inquired with disgust and disdain.

“Clearly,” Ehne replied. “Otherwise I couldn’t be speaking to you, now could I?”

The being’s gelatinous form shifted, and the mews watched with amazement as she morphed into a human girl with red hair, blue eyes and pale skin. Ehne grinned.

“She wasn’t very smart,” she said. “Her name was Alison. A very plain title, if you ask me. But she knew enough for me to understand you humans better. And she came awfully handy in order to walk among you.”

“You’re a monster!” Hotaru exclaimed. The shape shifting alien scoffed.

“And you’re annoying,” she stated with irritation.

“You…” Akio began from the other end. “…Did you crash onto our planet in a ship at some point?”

“No, funny voice,” Ehne replied. “I did come here on a ship, but I landed safely. Besides, you wouldn’t have seen me coming anyway. We stole the technology to make inanimate objects invisible from another species, so there’s no chance you’d have noticed me coming in.”

“Then…what was….” Akio’s voice trailed off in confusion. None of the Mews knew what he was going on about.

“You said earlier that these Chimera Anima are your… your children?” Niji demanded. “What did you mean by that?”

“Ah, yes!” Ehne grinned. “Finally, you ask me! Back on my planet, I was an apprentice to one of the Empress’s analysts. A scientist, in your terms.”

She began to stroke the muzzle of the fox Chimera Anima.

“Though we stole most of our technology,” she went on, still grinning, “We always worked to expand it using the knowledge we stole from the beings we consumed. I started messing around with some stolen cloning technology, since we were always working to expand our species. I used a part of my physical being in the process. I found that the technology was unable to clone us successfully, but I did create create a new branch to our species that were cloneable. You call them parasites, if I’m not mistaken. But they’re my children- a part of me, you see. “

She put her other hand over the Elk Chimera Anima’s head and coaxed the parasite out. The Elk that had been freed fell over; its body limp with unconsciousness.  Ehne held the jelly-fish like creature in her hand and showed the Mews.

“These are my children,” Ehne spoke, narrowing her eyes. “Shortly after I created them, I had been brought a lifeform to consume, but my first prototype made its way toward the body and infested it. The creature was transformed into what you call a Chimera Anima. They were not quite like the rest of my kind, as we can only consume and nothing more while they could only infest and mutate their hosts.”

Ehne turned her gaze to the Fox Chimera Anima and smiled.

“My Empress found my prototype to be quite useful,” she continued. “Apparently she thought that if they were as potent as they seemed, we could use them to our advantage. She told me she wanted me to study their behavior and learn more about how they work. Since the darlings and I are practically the same, I couldn’t have tested it on my people. They wouldn’t infect us. So I was sent off in my ship with the tools that I needed to find a planet brimming with life.”

“And you landed here,” Hikari scowled.

“Yes,” Ehne responded. “And it was a marvelous choice, I think. So many lifeforms for my children to take hold of. I learned everything I needed to about them and more.”

“This isn’t right for you to do!” Chrysalis shot back. “You’ve essentially killed so many of our kind just for your own purpose! That’s not right!”

“It doesn’t matter what’s right,” Ehne frowned. She returned back to her gelatinous form. “We only existed to expand. Besides, drawing from what this human knew, mankind is not a stranger to the idea of killing each other for their own gain.”

“You’re as much a parasite as those creatures you created!” Hotaru cried, ignoring Ehne’s harsh words. She held on tightly to her Onyx Ring. The Fox Chimera Anima bared its teeth at her and began to stalk about with alertness.

“How worthless you are,” Ehne scoffed, turning around. “I’m bored of you ‘Mew’ girls for now. I have other things to tend to.”

“You’re going to run away?!” Niji accused. “If you’re so eager to stop us from hurting your creations, then why-“

“Stupid!” Ehne interrupted. She turned around again and balled her right hand into a fist. “You’re simply so stupid! I have plenty of children to do that for me! And even if you manage to defeat them all, I can still create more!”

“What do you mean?” Akio demanded.

Ehne laughed.

“I’m working on cloning another group of my children,” she admitted. “All of the ‘Chimera Anima’ that you have on your planet now are a result of my first two sessions. I’ve been able to replicate somewhere over a hundred thousand of my little monstrosities at once, but unfortunately, the process takes approximately twenty months of your Earth time.”

“Wait, then that means-“

“Yes,” Ehne didn’t allow Akio time to finish. “It’s almost time for my next set of children to be born. All of my children that you’ve defeated will be replaced, and there will be more. So, you see, your efforts are positively pointless. By the time you’ve cleared this planet out, I’d most likely have already cloned new lifeforms more than once!

Ehne waited, expecting her words to discourage the mews. However, they held their ground. Niji stepped forward and raised her weapon.

“Then we’ll keep on fighting!” She cried. “No matter what it takes, we will protect this Earth and save our kind!”

She lashed out at Ehne.

“Ribbon Spectral Divide!”

Ehne tried to step out of the way, surprised by the Mew’s reaction, but she managed to get hit. The arm in which she had been holding one of the parasites was sliced off. The parasite tried to move away, but Chrysalis shot at it with her bow. As soon as Ehne’s arm hit the ground, it turned into a gooish puddle, no longer held in shape by any membrane. Ehne cried out in pain clutched her shoulder with her other hand. The Fox Chimera Anima rushed to protect her. The mews held their weapons up at the ready, but the Chimera Anima did not attack. Instead, it picked its mistress up with its mouth and carried her off.

Before the mews could run after it, the fox disappeared from their sight entirely into a thicket of trees. The snow that had been falling around them began to increase.

“W…what now?” Hotaru turned to Niji in hopes of an answer, but received none. It appeared that she was lost in thought. Chrysalis bent down to examine the remnants of Ehne’s arm.

“She can’t fend for herself,” she noted. “She calls us weak and yet she hides behind those monsters.”

“At least we know she’s vulnerable," Horaru mumbled. “All we can hope to do is find her and defeat her if she rears her head around us again.”

“I don’t think that’ll be easy,” Hikari sighed. “She can call the Chimera Anima at her will. She could have hundreds of them surround us and kill us if she wanted!”

“If that’s so, then why didn’t she do that already?” Akio pondered. “Clearly she’s messing with us. ‘

He groaned.

“I don’t understand any of this!”

Hotaru put away her weapon and looked at her team.

“Should we go back?” She inquired.

“It’s your call, Akio,” Chrysalis added.

“Well…there’s no more movement for a few miles,” their mentor responded. “It’s as though they’re all hiding.”

“That’s strange,” Hikari put her hand to her chin. “Why would they all retreat like that?”

“Who knows?” Akio replied. “For now, there’s nothing we can do. You should come back.”

“Roger,” Niji finally spoke. “Let’s go, mews.”

-----------------------

Back on the colony, Akio had alerted his captain about the incident and had to be present for an emergency feed between all of the colony captains. Once the situation was made clear, he went to the girls’ cabin to check on them. They were all sitting at a table in their kitchen, talking about the previous events. All except Nij, who was not there.

“Where’s Niji?” He proclaimed. Chrysalis shook her head.

“Dunno. She’s probably back at the lab or something. She took off without really telling us where she was going.”

“I was really surprised when she lashed out at Ehne like that!” Hikari mentioned. “I wish I was brave enough to do that…”

“You are brave!” Hotaru assured her. “You worry too much! Almost like Akio!”

Akio mustered a smile.

“I just don’t know how we’re going to handle this,” Chrysalis sighed. “I mean, I’m willing to fight no matter what, that’s for sure. But can we really just keep defeating Chimera Anima?”

“I think we should take Ehne out!” Hotaru retorted, punching her palm. “Or at least find her ship and stop those clones!”

“Well, that’s true,” Hikari agreed. “But there’s no way we can find her ship. Remember? She said that we wouldn’t be able to see it.”

“What a mess,” Chrysalis exhaled.

“For the moment, we’ll just have to wait,” Akio responded. “The captains don’t have a plan, and neither do I, to be quite honest. We know so little about the situation as it is. You’ll just have to continue your missions as you always do until I get an order or a say-so from the Captain. I suppose searching for the place that this girl is cloning them is ideal, but we’ve no clue where to begin. Even if we can narrow its location down to Russia, the country is still very big.  To comb it would most likely take months. And if I’m correct in my calculations according to what Ehne told you, we don’t have much more than eight or nine months to do it before the next batch of parasites comes to fruition. ”

“Not to mention she could probably move her ship if she wanted to,” Hikari added.

“Or sick her monsters on us if we get too close to comfort,” Chrysalis fumed. She pounded her fist on the table. “God, this is annoying. I hate her so much!”

“Calm down, Chrysalis,” Akio ordered her. “We’ll figure things out. For now, just take things easy. We’ll continue on tomorrow. Look, I’ll catch up with you girls another time; I’m going to go look for Niji.”

“See you!” Hotaru waved. Following Chrysalis’ guess, Akio went back to the lab to check for Niji. He went about various rooms and even to his desk, but he couldn’t find her. Eventually, he tried the gym, and there she was. Needless to say, he was shocked. The gymnasium was a mess, and Niji was bent over, catching her breath. She looked as much a muddle as the gym itself. There were broken dummies all over the place and thick, deep cuts in the walls and floor.

“Niji!” He called, rushing over to her. He put his hands on her shoulders and bent over to check if she was okay.

“What on Earth are you doing?” He demanded. Niji turned her head to face him, her eyes grave.

“I need to get stronger,” She panted. “I…”

“Niji, stop, you don’t need to harm yourself,” Akio sternly replied. Niji stood up, having caught her breath.

“Akio,” she began, “If what Ehne said is true, then I need to become stronger. If I have more strength, I can take out more Chimera Anima faster. We can’t waste time!”

“The Chimera Anima aren’t the problem anymore, Niji!” Akio raised his voice. “I’m worried about you! I know we all want to go home as soon as possible, but you heard it yourself- we’re not going to be able to get rid of them that easily! What we need to do now is cut off their source- we need to find and destroy whatever it Is that Ehne is using to create them. But you don’t need to hurt yourself. That’s not going to solve anything!”

“I know!” Niji shot back. “But all I want to do is protect this team and these people. I want to take our world back. I’m sick of living here and I want to do whatever it takes to get things done!”

“Is hurting yourself going to do it?!” Akio shouted. “You’re better than that, Niji. I know you are!”

“Look, I’m scared, Akio!” Niji admitted, her face getting red with frustration. “Alright? I don’t know what to do anymore! This whole situation just got complicated and I just don’t know what to do!”

She leaned on Akio, and he wrapped his arms around her to comfort her.

“We all are,” he murmured. “But we have to stay strong. We’ll get through this somehow I promise.”

He pulled back.

“And once we find our fifth mew, things should be easier for all of us. But you have to promise me that you won’t hurt yourself over it, okay? I know you want to do your best, but this isn’t the way to go about it.”

“I know,” Niji mumbled, looking away. “I’m sorry…”

“Don’t be,” Akio put his hand on her cheek and smiled. “If we all spent our time saying sorry to each other, we’d never accomplish anything.”

Niji smiled weakly.

“You sound like Alexander,” She said.

“Where do you think I got that from?” Akio replied with a light  chuckle. Niji hugged him.

“Thanks,” she expressed. “You know…for caring.”

“Anytime.”

The two soon pulled away from each other and Niji moved her hair behind her.

“I should probably get back to the others,” she stated. “I didn’t tell them that I was going to be out here by myself.”

“They figured you were here,” Akio replied. “When I met up with them, they were talking about what had happened. I worry that they’re starting to lose hope.”

“There’s no way they’d give up,” Niji reassured him. “They’re just confused. All of us are. It’s something we don’t understand fully.”

She paused suddenly, and her ears perked up.

“Akio,” she called. “Earlier, when you asked her whether she’d come crashing in a ship…what was that all about?”

Akio dropped his gaze.

“Alexander eavesdropped on the captain a long time ago when we first met,” He explained. “He heard the Captain talking about a…a ship that had seemingly crashed onto Earth. A small one, apparently. Nobody was sure what it was. There hasn’t really been any sign of anything from it in years, in fact I’d almost forgotten about it until Ehne mentioned how she came here.”

“But it wasn’t her?” Niji inquired. Akio shook his head.

“Not by the looks of it.”

“So that means you still have no idea what that was.” Niji concluded. “This is weird…Almost as weird as what Ehne said.”

Akio raised a brow.

“What did she say?” He asked.

Niji put a hand to her chin and looked down at the floor in thought.

“Do you remember when Chrysalis shot back at Ehne?” She asked. Akio nodded.

“Yes.”

“And do you remember what Ehne said back to us? She told us that that ‘it didn’t matter what was right’ and that her species only existed to expand.”

“Yes, I remember that. What about it?”

 “Well, this has been bothering me since we got back,” she declared. “She said that her species only existed to expand. She used the past tense of exist. Doesn’t that strike you as odd?”

“Perhaps…” Akio mused. “But…we don’t know anything for sure. It could have easily been a simple mistake.”

Niji shrugged.

“I guess… It’s just something really weird that crossed my mind. If I ever see her again…I might just ask her about it.”

“Just remember, she’s not friendly,” Akio reminded her. “Don’t get too comfortable.”

“I know,” Niji said with a nod. She sighed. “It doesn’t matter. I’m going back to the cabin. Take care.”

“Same to you.”

--------

“Stupid, stupid, stupid!”

Ehne slammed her fist on a control panel beside her. She stood in a small biologic lab, crammed with various mechanisms and alien tech. It was here that she was creating her specimens, encased behind glass and waiting to reach maturity before they could come into the world.

“I was so stupid!” Ehne rambled. “I almost let myself get killed. And If I’d have died…”

She turned to her specimens, resting safely behind the glass.

“But I won’t let you die,” Ehne went on, putting her only hand on the glass. “I’ll destroy those awful Mew girls before I let that happen. My kind cannot thrive any longer, but yours can!”

She turned her head toward the arm that Niji had sliced off and watched as it slowly continued regenerating.

“It’s all I can do now…I can’t go back, I can’t replicate…There’s nowhere for me to go anymore.”

Ehne halted, realizing that she had been pressing on the glass with anger and had managed to crack It slightly under the pressure. She slowly dropped her hand by her side and leaned her body against the glass instead.

“Rest, my children,” she weakly continued. “So that you may be brought into your new world and carry on as we can no longer.”

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