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As the Galactic mew slowly came to, she felt a sharp, pressurized pain in her side that dug into her as she tried to get up. Niji looked down, expecting to see something ruptured and bleeding, but instead found that she’d only been sprained internally and breathed a sigh of relief. Although she was in pain, Niji still stood herself weakly up and leaned against the pile of rubble. As she raised her head upward, she found that the way they’d fallen was now blocked off by rocks, stone and gravel. The only way out was to move forward, so it seemed. Niji first thought to try to contact Akio, but when she touched her radio device, it was broken.

The darkened area unknown to the Mew became clearer within a minute or so and Niji caught the dimmed sight of the rest of her team sprawled across a musty stone pathway. Though they seemed equally worn out, they otherwise appeared fine and not seriously injured. The Mew clutched her side in agony as she suffered to walk up to the teammate closest to her in order to attempt waking her. She slowly knelt down and put two of her fingers on Hikari’s neck, checking for a pulse; which there luckily was. When she pulled back, Hikari began to stir. She opened her sunny eyes and coughed, a layer of fine dust puffing away from her when she did so. She turned to Niji weakly and sighed.

“Are you okay?” she questioned.

“I’m alright,” her leader promised. “I fell on my side so I’m in a bit of pain, but I’m okay otherwise. What about you?”

Hikari sat herself up and examined her body.

“I...think I’m okay...” she slowly stated. “I don’t feel any pain. Except for a few scratches it looks like I’m okay.”

“That’s good,” Niji nodded, mustering a smile to keep Hikari calm. She could see that she was beginning to shiver. Hikari examined the rubble near her and gasped.

“How did we survive that?” She whispered. Niji shook her head.

“I don’t know,” she sighed. “But I’m glad we did. We really need to get out of here as soon as possible...”

“What about the others?”

The girls turned to the rest of their teammates. Niji stepped over to Chrysalis and Nexus and tried to wake them as Hikari went to wake Hotaru. All three mews stirred slowly as they came to. Chrysalis and Hotaru shot up almost immediately as if prepared to battle, but once they realized where they were, they eased up a bit. Chrysalis seemed physically fine although she began to complain about her arm feeling sprained while Hotaru didn’t admit to having any pain despite the fact that she’d banged her head a little upon landing. Nexus didn’t rise immediately, although she promised that she was fine. When she’d opened her eyes, the area became slightly more visible due to her radiating pure energy. But something was different, the mews noticed. Her eyes were full of solemnity as well as worry.

“You don’t look okay,” Chrysalis noted. “Is something the matter? It’s alright, you can tell us, and we’ll help you!”

“I will be fine,” Nexus repeated, forcing herself up. She gasped after catching sight of Niji.

“Mew Spectral Galaxy...you are severely injured!”

 Niji moved her hands and looked down where she’d been holding her side. The area from her hip upward was severely bruised.

“I’ll...I’ll be okay,” she murmured, putting her hand back over the injury, clutching it in pain. “Can anyone get into contact with Akio?”

The Mews all checked to see if they could, but most of their radios had broken in the blast. Only Nexus’ seemed to still have power, but nothing could be heard from or through it.

“This is bad...” Chrysalis groaned.  “I mean...where are we, anyway?”

The girls looked around them and noticed that there was a long pathway paved with concrete with a curvature surrounding it.

“It looks like an old tunnel...?” Hikari was unsure. She scratched her head.

“It is,” Hotaru agreed. “Wonder what it’s for!”

“It’s probably a tunnel system that hasn’t been used in a long time,” Niji suggested. “It’s really tall and wide, but I’m not sure what its original purpose might have been for.”

“It’s really dark though!” Hikari squeaked. “Even with the light Mew Nebula’s giving off. I’m not really a fan of the dark...”

“You will be okay,” Nexus promised her comrade with a reassuring smile. “We are here.”

Chrysalis bent over near the side of the tunnel and examined what looked to be broken lights.

“Looks like Mew Nebula will have to be our power source,” she sighed. “All the lights are busted.”

“But...how could they break for no reason?” Hikari mused. “There’s nothing down here except rats and stuff, right?”

“It was probably Chimera Anima,” Hotaru concluded.

“Which means we’ll have to be careful finding a way out,” Niji glowered.  “This is bad...”

“Well, you can’t fight,” Chrysalis retorted. “You feel pain just by taking a step! My arm is hurting but I can try to fight. One of us is going to have to watch over you which means the rest of us will have to do the fighting if we encounter anything.”

“I can watch over her,” Nexus hastily volunteered. Chrysalis shook her head.

“No, we need you on the front line,” she said. “I mean, you’re wicked powerful, you know?”

Nexus bit her lip.

“What’s wrong?” Hotaru inquired with concern. The other Mews turned to her expectedly waiting for a response. Nexus sighed.

“I am considerably weak,” she admitted with disdain. “I can fight, but I will be unable to do so with the same strength as before.”

“What do you mean you’re weak?!” Hikari exclaimed worriedly. “I thought you said you drew energy from living things!”

“But there is nothing living here.”

“What about us?” Hotaru reminded her. “We’re alive, aren’t we?”

“There is only so much energy I can take,” Nexus mumbled. “And...There is only so much you have left to give.”

The other Mews looked down. She was right, they realized. Though they’d survived the explosion, most of the girls were running out of energy and were unsure whether or not they could survive for long down in these dark tunnels. If they encountered Chimera Anima at this rate, only a few of them could fight.

“So what, then....Do we just give up?” Hikari proclaimed with uncertainty.

“No,” Niji shook her head.  “We’ll get out of here. I won’t let this team fall.”

She looked ahead into the dark tunnel and lowered her brows.

“We’ll have to go through. We don’t have much a choice.”

“But how will we know where to go?” Chrysalis demanded. “This tunnel system is probably really huge and might even span the entire city for all we know!”

“We’ll have to try,” Niji sharply responded, not turning to face her. “Please...let’s just go. I’m hurt and everyone else is weak. If we just sit here, we’re as good as dead.”

Hikari held herself with her arms in an uncertain gesture.

“Okay...” she agreed slowly.

“We’ll have to be super careful, right?” Hotaru inquired. Niji nodded.

“And keep your voices down if you can,” she added. “We might get by that way.”

“Mew Nebula, will you be able to help us see the whole way?” Hikari questioned with concern. “In your condition...I wouldn’t want you to be up front where you could get attacked.”

“I can,” Nexus nodded. “As long as we do not exert ourselves excessively, I might be able to continue guiding you.”

“Come on, let’s go,” Chrysalis pleaded, rubbing her severely sore arm. “I don’t like this place.”

“Wait, what are we going to do if we get lost?” Hikari asked pointedly. “Shouldn’t we mark our paths somehow?”

“We don’t have any way to do that, if you haven’t noticed,” Hotaru noted. “We’ll just have to hope we have a good sense of direction.”

“What do you suggest, Mew Spectral Galaxy?” Nexus proclaimed, turning to her leader. Niji looked down in thought for a moment before noticing that some of the bricks in the tunnel walls were loose. She limped over, still clutching her side and pulled one out.

“We can leave bricks at the end of tunnels we come out of,” she suggested. “Just put them on the floor somewhere where we can see them. That way we don’t go back down a tunnel we’ve already been through.”

“I guess that would work,” Chrysalis mused. “As long as anything living down here doesn’t toss it aside.”

“Well they’re kind of small so I don’t think it would be too problematic,” Hikari countered, liking the idea. “Besides, we don’t have much to work with down here. If that’s the best we can do, then that’s the best we can do.”

“Alright,” Chrysalis sighed.  “Let’s just take a few bricks and go.”

The mews all bunched together after pulling a few bricks off of the walls and slowly made their way through the tunnels. Nexus tried to provide as much light as possible, but with her being weak the Mews were only able to see a few feet In front of them. Chrysalis helped Niji walk, as every step she took resulted in agony to her side. The other two mews stood behind Nexus, ready for a fight. Despite their pain and weakness, the Mews pushed on as best as they could. They tried to read the signs on the tunnel walls, but they were all in Russian and nobody could decipher them. And, unfortunately, there was no map in sight whatsoever. They did manage to block off the entrances to some tunnels after coming through them, but there still seemed to be many more with each one they passed through.

The Mews walked for a long while and soon found themselves in a large room with broken, rusted turbines and makeshift metal stairs leading above the machinery that had fallen apart. Surrounding them were entrances to other tunnels with worn labels over them. They recognized numbers, but the names were in Russian as well as everything else that had been labeled in the tunnels.

Niji limped over to one of the staircases and sat down, clutching her side and clenching her teeth.

“Mew Spectral Galaxy, are you okay?” Nexus inquired anxiously, heading to her side.

“I’m okay I just...” Niji grunted. “I can’t walk for too much longer. This pain is killing me...”

She shook her head.

“I’m really sorry...I’m letting everyone down...”

“It’s okay!” Hotaru promised. “You don’t have to overwork yourself. We’re all pretty messed up right now anyway.”

“But we need to get out of here!” the Mews’ leader shot back. “We’re wasting time being down here. Who knows what the others are thinking right now? What if they assume we’re dead?”

“Don’t talk like that!” Chrysalis cried. “We’re going to get out of here, alright? Everything will be okay!”

She looked up toward the ceiling and summoned her bow.

“What are you doing?” Niji demanded. Chrysalis didn’t answer her and instead tried to fire an arrow, but the pain in her arm became more intense as she tried to do so and she fired downward instead. The lunar mew clutched her arm.

“That’s not going to work,” Niji sighed. She leaned back onto the metal railing while Hikari looked at Hotaru with uncertainty.

“Well....what if we combined our attacks again?” She proposed, turning back to her leader. “Maybe the power would be able to break through the tunnels and we could get out!”

“But that takes much of our strength,” Nexus reminded her. “And we do not appear to have enough to give.”

Hikari looked down, saying nothing.

“Besides, even if we did try it,” Niji added, “If it didn’t work, we’d be down for the count and even more vulnerable to whatever’s down here. Not to mention it would attract some unwanted attention.”

The girls heard Chrysalis gasp with surprise. Nexus turned to see her teammate startled by something, looking around with anxiety. The dim light the girls had made them feel vulnerable, and Hikari began to shiver with her ears pointed downward in fear while Hotaru tried to comfort her.

“What is it?” Niji demanded, worry rising. Chrysalis shook her head, grasping her arm still in some pain.

“I think I saw something moving,” She said. “But I...I don’t know...”

“We should not be here,” Nexus responded. “Mew Spectral Galaxy is in pain and you are unable to fire your bow now. I can fight, but I do not know for how long at this rate. The younger ones should not have to fight alone. We must retreat.”

The girls heard growling.

“Oh god....” Chrysalis whispered, backing closer to her group. “It heard me fire my arrow, didn’t it....?”

“Shh!” Hotaru hushed, beginning to panic. “Maybe if we stay quiet they won’t hear us!”

The Mews huddled together before Niji and Chrysalis, weapons at the ready. They heard scampering and growling from beyond the dim light, but nothing came at them.

“Forget it,” Niji whispered. “It already knows we’re here.”

“Then what do we do?” Hikari quietly squeaked, clutching her weapon tightly to her chest.

“I can’t fire my stupid bow with this arm,” Chrysalis responded. “Mew Spectral Galaxy’s hurt and you need Mew Nebula’s light to see what you’re fighting...But...”

“I can stay,” Nexus assured the girls. “Mew Radiant Sun and Mew Onyx Storm will be my responsibility and I will try to fight with them.”

The scampering stopped.

“You take Mew Spectral Galaxy and hide. We will protect everyone at all costs.”

“Roger.”

Chrysalis quietly grabbed hold of Niji and helped her up. The creature that was in the room with them began to growl, and the girls heard its claws push off of the wall. Hotaru quickly jumped aside when she saw the figure of a rat-like Chimera Anima pass through into the dim light with the intent of attacking her. She turned to aim her weapon at it, but the creature scampered back into the darkness before she could attack.

“I thought rats didn’t like the light!” Chrysalis exclaimed, turning to look at the light Nexus was emitting.

“Well it’s not exactly the brightest,” Niji grunted. “As long as the Chimera Anima doesn’t stay in the light for long, he’ll probably be okay. In any case, it won’t stop him.”

“Then let’s hurry,” Chrysalis told her leader, helping Niji to a relatively safe spot behind one of the turbines where the Rat wouldn’t be able to reach them. Her friend leaned on the side of the turbine and let out a sigh.

“I feel terrible,” she groaned. Her face was plastered with agony.  Chrysalis shook her head and put her hand on Niji’s Shoulder.

“You’ll be okay,” she assured her. “We’ll get back home soon and we’ll be fixed up, right?”

“No...Not that...” Niji weakly spoke. “I mean... I am in pain but...I feel like I could do more to help us through this.”

“Mew Spectral Galaxy, it’s not your fault,” Chrysalis sternly spoke. “Don’t blame yourself. Everyone’s doing their best. We’ll be okay, alright?”

Niji didn’t respond and merely chuckled weakly before closing her eyes. Chrysalis shook her lightly.

“Mew Spectral Galaxy...?”

Hikari mustered up all of her strength. Though the dark frightened her, she knew she had to fight and protect her comrades. She kept close to Nexus and Hotaru, searching for the Chimera Anima. When it appeared, she quickly fired.

“Ribbon Flame Blast!”

The rat slipped aside to avoid the attack and went in to scratch at the sunny Mew. Hotaru quickly stormed in to stop it before it could hit her.

“Ribbon Lightning STOMP!” She cried.  The ground trembled around the girls, but the rat had once again avoided the attack. It swiped its tail at the Mew and knocked her across the room. She hit her head again on the ground and clutched it in agony.

“Mew Onyx Storm!” Hikari cried. The Chimera Anima tried to swipe its tail again, this time at her, but Hikari quickly jumped over it and aimed her weapon at the creature.

“Ribbon Flame Blast!”

The Rat quickly scampered behind the Mew, avoiding the attack again, and scratched at her with its claws. Hikari was thrown back by it and grabbed her shoulder, wincing. It had been severely scratched by the Chimera Anima and began to bleed. Hotaru slowly rose, still holding her head with one hand and her weapon in the other and tried to step forward to attack, but the trauma left her dizzy and confused.

Before Hikari could rise up, the Rat next attacked at Nexus. She had no time to summon her weapon, so she used her natural power to attack the beast and keep it away. Hikari attacked it again with her weapon and this time defeated it. The parasite that emerged tried to escape down one of the tunnels, but the sunny mew quickly defeated it before it could. Nexus fell to her knees and clutched her chest, beginning to pant tiredly.

“Mew Nebula!” Hikari cried, running to her side. “Are you okay?”

“I...” Nexus sighed. “I...”

“Don’t talk if you can’t,” her teammate told her. “I-I’m sorry you had to do that....I’m really sorry...”

Nexus shook her head. The light around them began to dim further.

“Mew Nebula, take my energy, please!” Hikari exclaimed, seeing her teammate growing weaker. “It’s okay, I don’t mind! Please don’t leave us!”

Hotaru slowly stepped over to Nexus and Hikari, still with her head spinning, and spoke.

“We need...” she mumbled. “...To get...out...together...”

She collapsed before her friends. Hikari tried to hold Nexus up by her shoulders, not wanting her to fall as well, but the Alien girl slowly closed her eyes and slumped over in her friend’s arms.

“G...guys...?” Hikari’s voice quavered. Chrysalis emerged from behind the turbine and called out to the sunny Mew.

Hikari felt tears stream down her face, and Nexus’ body slid down to the floor. Chrysalis frantically ran to the trio, having a hard time to see without any more light.

“Mew Radiant Sun!” She gasped when she caught up with her. “Mew Spectral Galaxy is....”

She stopped when she heard sobbing. Chrysalis knelt down and noticed that both of her other teammates had fallen unconscious.

“Mew...Radiant Sun...” Chrysalis murmured, hugging the weeping girl. “Please don’t cry, okay? We....I mean...”

Her voice trailed off.

“We’re never going to get out of here!” Hikari sobbed. “More Chimera Anima are going to come because of all that noise and without any light this time, they won’t keep away for any reason!”

Chrysalis grimaced. She knew that the Sunny Mew was right. If they stayed there for too much longer, more Chimera Anima would surely come and possibly kill them.

“We have to keep moving...” She sighed, pulling away. “I can...I can carry them....Or...”

“It’s impossible,” Hikari shook her head. “We can’t even see where we are!”

The girls heard more growls and other noises echoing from other tunnels, and they tensed up.

“What do we do?” the sunny-eyed mew whispered. Chrysalis closed her eyes and clutched her bow.

“We’ll have to fight,” she said. “We have to protect them.”

The girls stood up back to back, each holding their weapons with tense nerves As the Chimera Anima came closer the remaining Mews heard muffled noises coming from above them. Chrysalis jolted her head up and widened her eyes.

“Did you hear that?” She questioned. Hikari turned her head slightly, but did not respond, intent on keeping her focus on the rats approaching them. The growling grew closer, and the girls could hear the claws of the Chimera Anima scratching against the walls and floors of the tunnels before them. But before they could reach the girls, a loud noise was heard from above and an explosion pushed through an area above them over a turbine on the opposite end of the room. Concrete, brick and stone collapsed from above, crushing the turbine below. Bright light poured in from the new opening, blinding both the Mews and the Chimera Anima, who quickly scuttled off with haste. The two Mews held their arms up to shield their eyes from the sudden bright light, and squinted at the rubble that had fallen. They heard several voices shouting commands from above the hole that was created before rope was thrown down into the tunnel with five figures following down them. As the girls’ eyes adjusted to the light, they saw several people scurrying around aboveground from the space they could see through the hole. They looked down again at the figures that had entered the tunnels and caught sight of two astronauts, two medical doctors and a familiar face.

Akio?!” Hikari called with surprise.

Akio sternly gave an order to the others which they quickly acted upon. The Doctors, who had been carrying flat gurney beds and grappling hooks laid them out as the Astronauts aided them by placing the two mews’ unconscious bodies onto them. They carried the girls under the hole they’d blown and tossed the rope over. Other astronauts from above grabbed hold of it and hoisted the girls up. Akio, in the meantime, approached the two conscious Mews with a face burdened by worry and stress.

“Are you girls alright?!” He called, almost shaking. “I heard everything that’d happened and suddenly lost the signals of all but one of you!”

The girls happily hugged him without answering, relieved to see him again.

Akio hugged them back.

“You scared me,” he said quietly. “Please, don’t ever do that again...”

“Akio,” Chrysalis began finally, looking up at him, “How on Earth did you even find us?”

Their mentor stepped back and crossed his arms.

“Only one of your devices was still fairly intact,” he explained. “I tried contacting you through it but I couldn’t get a single signal. You were still showing up on the radar, however so....I tracked your movements.”

He looked down.

“You worried me so much at first... For a long while, you weren’t moving at all. I went to get a plethora of Astronauts and Doctors to go with me to find you and by the time I’d returned to the monitors, your signal had begun to move. We had a hard time tracking it directly, however, since it went on and off again. I suppose it was because the device was just about ready to fall apart and began malfunctioning...”

He shook his head.

“But forget all of that for one moment- all that matters is that you’re all-“

Akio perked his head up then.

“Where’s Mew Spectral Galaxy?” He anxiously demanded. Chrysalis pointed over to the turbine across from the rubble.

“She’s behind there,” she said. “I was with her for a while. She fell unconscious like Mew Nebula and Mew Onyx Storm.”

Without responding, Akio jogged over to the area behind the turbine where Chrysalis had shown him while the Mews followed. When He found Niji, his eyes widened at how battered she’d looked and the size of the bruising on her side. He leaned over her and felt her wrist and forehead, breathing a sigh of relief at the fact that she was still warm and with a pulse.

“Will she be okay?” Hikari inquired, holding her arms against her chest. Akio scooped the Galactic Mew up in his arms and turned.

“She’ll be fine,” he promised, looking down at her face. “She and the others just need some rest and major medical attention. I’ll probably need the medical doctors to help me since it’s not necessarily something I know a whole lot about.”

A couple of Astronauts approached the bunch and escorted them back to the ship. The Solar and Lunar Mews were helped up out of the hole while Akio laid Niji on a gurney to be lifted up like the others. Akio climbed the rope afterwards with the Astronauts and the entire group pulled the rigging back up and packed their materials. The Mews saw three ships once above ground- one used for the medical group, the other for the astronauts and the last apparently for the Mews. Standing by the ship was Nexus, who was holding her head and leaning on the side of the vessel. Hikari excitedly greeted her friend, hugging her tightly.

“I’m so glad you’re okay!” She exclaimed with joy. “I was so scared I’d lost you!”

Nexus shook her head and smiled weakly, still recovering by absorbing the energy of the plant life around her.

“I am still here,” she promised, petting the young Mew’s head. “Do not worry.”

She picked her head up and gazed over at Akio and Chrysalis.

“Akio, thank you for rescuing us,” she gratified. “We are sorry the mission did not go as planned.”

“It’s not anyone’s fault but mine,” Akio replied, shaking his head. “I sent you out here in the first place.”

“Akio, don’t worry, okay?” Chrysalis spoke, putting her hand on his shoulder. “We’re alright and that’s what matters.”

“But what are we going to do now?” Hikari proclaimed with concern, pulling away from Nexus. “We don’t have any more ideas left....”

“Let’s not worry about that right now,” the girls’ mentor spoke, folding his arms. “Presently, we need to get the others medical attention as soon as we can. And I’d rather not stick around lest any Chimera Anima threaten these three ships. You girls are not in any position to fight right now, after all.”

“Right,” Hikari nodded. The Mews followed Akio into the third ship while the Astronauts took off first. The Doctors entered another ship with Niji and Hotaru, taking off second before Akio guided their own vessel onward. The ride back to their colony was silent. Nexus leaned back in her seat while Hikari and Chrysalis rested against each other, taking a brief rest. Akio kept his head down the entire time, Nexus noted- apparently lost in thought. Though he had attempted to appear calm about the situation to the girls, she could see that he was truly worried, anxious even.

When all three ships docked, the Astronauts returned to their work while the medical doctors transported the two unconscious mews to wheeled gurneys. Akio and the Mews followed the doctors to a minor medical facility within the colony. The Mews were left outside for a moment while Akio and the others went into a room to assess the girls’ damages. After a long while, he came back out and sat with the three.

“Are they going to be okay?” Chrysalis wondered aloud, sitting up. Akio nodded.

“They’ll be just fine.  We were able to get them to come to for a little while and they told the doctors enough to help them figure out what might have happened. Hotaru received a very minor concussion after falling in the explosion.  When she’d been thrown against the wall later, the injury’s severity increased to the point that she became terribly dizzy and fairly tired. However, she should be fine and nothing major has been ruptured. She just needs to rest for a bit is all and she should be fine soon.”

Hikari breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that her very closest friend was safe.

“As for Niji, well...Her bruising was the result of ruptured blood vessels that ripped after falling on her side. The area was actually quite swollen -but I won’t go into the grim details of that for obvious reasons. We were able to treat that well enough and she’s a lot better at least. She apparently neglected to realize that she’d suffered a concussion slightly more severe much like Hotaru when you’d all fallen into those tunnels; which is most likely why she fell unconscious. The pain in her side was a result of pressure and the ruptured vessels. It will take some time to physically go away, but we’re able to treat it otherwise with ease and she shouldn’t feel too much pain anymore. As for her concussion, it will probably take the same amount of time to heal over as Hotaru’s.”

“Will they be able to fight with such injury?” Nexus asked, raising her brows. Akio put a hand to his chin in thought.

“Well, the other Mews are genetically modified and can adapt to various changes,” Akio replied. “Healing normally would take several weeks- But because of the genetic modifications in the Mews’ code, they might only need a few days. Suchlike with your minor cuts and bruises- I don’t suppose you’ve really paid close attention, but they don’t last very long, do they?”

“Now that you mention it...” Chrysalis chuckled, scratching her head.

 Hikari looked down.

“What’s wrong?” Akio asked, leaning in slightly. Hikari shook her head.

“I just...I don’t know...what are we going to do now?” She mumbled. “We’re out of Ideas and we only have like a week or so before those thousands of parasites come to life...”

Akio put his hand on her knee and smiled.

“Don’t lose hope, okay?” he told her. “We’ll get through this. I’ll figure things out, I promise.”

Nexus could see that his eyes were full of uncertainty, despite his smile. She looked away and held her arms together.

“I could just slap that girl,” Chrysalis scoffed. “She’s tried to kill us how many times? I don’t even know anymore. She’s gone too far with her stupid ploys.”

“Well, Ehne is angry at us,” Hikari noted. “She doesn’t like what we’re doing and we don’t like what she’s doing. We struck first but we didn’t really even know that this was something major by her until late into the game.”

“At which point she attacked you,” Nexus added. “She is a hostile being, after all. It is apparently in her nature.”

“That’s no excuse!” Chrysalis grumbled angrily, folding her arms.

At that moment, the doctors opened the doors to the room the two injured mews had been in and let them step out to greet the rest of their team. Hikari sat up in her seat with happiness while Chrysalis raised her brow with curiosity. Hotaru yawned quite a bit and still displayed relative signs of dizziness and vertigo, but otherwise she seemed alright. Niji’s injuries still seemed apparent, but she looked far better than before, having been able to rest and be treated. Hotaru hopped over to Hikari and sat down beside her, grinning with her usual energetic nature, while Niji simply stood against the wall next to her team.

“Are you guys doing okay?” Chrysalis inquired. “I mean, you went through some pretty nasty stuff back there and all.”

“I’m feeling a lot better now!” Hotaru giggled. “I still feel kinda dizzy but I’m not tired anymore! The doctors told me to not move around too much though for at least a few days, which is really boring!”

“Well I’m sure even you can sit still for a few days,” Chrysalis laughed, unfolding her arms.

“What about you, Niji?” Nexus consulted her silent friend. Niji held her side for a moment.

“I’m much better,” she said simply. “My bruise still hurts and I still feel a bit sleepy but at least I’m alive.”

“We don’t know what we’d do without you!” Hikari grinned, kicking her feet back and forth “I was really scared when it was just me and Chrysalis....”

“Luckily Akio came to our rescue!” Hotaru chimed in happily. “We would have been toast if he didn’t!”

Niji shifted her eyes to the side and didn’t respond. Akio looked at her with concern, though he didn’t speak up. He simply turned to the other Mews and smiled lightly.

“I’m just glad that you’re all okay; that I was able to find you at all.”

“Too bad about the radios though...” Chrysalis sighed. “At least one of them worked even a little bit.”

“Well, we do have an extra set...” Akio scratched his chin.

Whaat?!” Hotaru exclaimed. “You made a big deal about not losing them and now you’re telling me you can easily replace them?!”

“Well, not exactly!” Akio laughed. “They are quite difficult to make and calibrate, not to mention very pricey, but we can replace them. It’s just better if we don’t have to, considering what it’s worth and how lengthy of a process it is to recreate them. I had the spares made last year in the case that they did break, which in the long run was very wishful thinking. But that doesn’t mean you can go and break them whenever you want!”

He raised his brow.

“Much like the ship you left behind in Russia...”

“Oh...I forgot about that!” Hikari groaned.

“Well, it is one advantage we have though,” Nexus mused. Akio tilted his head.

“What do you mean?”

Nexus smiled.

“Ehne thinks we are dead.”

Chrysalis widened her eyes and Hotaru scratched her head in thought. The Mews hadn’t considered this possibility before.

“That would be well and good if we still had the tracking device,” Akio sighed. “I don’t know where she’s actually located at this point since the device is probably broken too.”

“Oh...” the Mews’ hearts sank. There went one idea.

Akio rose and stretched his arms. So too did the other Mews. Niji, however, didn’t budge.

“Go get your rest, Mews,” Akio told his friends. “You deserve it after all that’s happened.”

“What are you going to do?” Hotaru inquired. The young man put his hands on his hips and slouched a bit.

“Well....” he began, “I first have to calibrate those new devices to the radar and get them in proper order. After that I’ll have to start coming up with a new plan to counter Ehne.”

“I really hope we can do this in time...” Hikari mumbled glumly. “I just feel really bad that we didn’t accomplish the mission.”

Akio lifted her chin and smiled.

“I don’t care,” he said. “I don’t care if we have to live here for another ten years.  It would be wonderful for this project to succeed and for us to go back home- But you are my friends and I care about you. All I’ve ever concerned myself with was your safety and making sure that you’re alive. The project is important; defeating Ehne’s creatures are important and they’re things we’re all fighting against...But you girls are worth more to me. Please don’t forget that.”

Hikari smiled weakly.

“Thank you,” she sighed, hugging her mentor. The other girls giggled and beamed at Akio’s concern; all except Niji who merely looked away without saying a word. Akio noticed her, but once again he didn’t mention anything.

“We’ll see you later, okay?” Chrysalis called, snapping Akio back to. “We’re going off now. Try not to hurt your brain or anything by working too hard!”

“I won’t,” the young man laughed. He waved to the four girls as they departed the medical facility. Then, he turned to Niji who again, hadn’t budged. He frowned.

“Hey....Is something wrong?” he asked. “You’ve been standing glumly like that for a while.”

“No,” the Mew spoke bluntly. “It’s nothing.”

She began to walk away but Akio grabbed her wrist. He looked into her eyes with gravity.

“Don’t tell me that it’s nothing,” he sternly responded. “I know you better, Niji. If something is troubling you, I’m always here to listen. You know that, don’t you?”

Niji looked away.

“It’s just....” she sighed. “...Look, I appreciate you coming down to Earth just to help us but....It was so stupid of you!”

Akio slowly released his grip and widened his eyes a bit.

“What are you talking about?” He questioned. Niji shook her head angrily.

“You didn’t need to come for us,” she sharply retorted. “If something had happened to you...”

“You were worried about me?”

“I’m always worried about you, Akio! I care about you! You’re not like us- you’re still human; still vulnerable. Even we’re not invincible to any sort of threat. But you couldn’t have defended yourself if you’d gotten into a situation!”

“That doesn’t matter!” Akio shot back, lowering his brows. “Niji, you and your friends are important to me. I wouldn’t leave them behind for any reason and you know that, don’t you? You girls needed my help, in fact even more so than I’d thought! You almost died in there. If we hadn’t arrived with groups of doctors and Astronauts, you might have been ripped to shreds!”

“Look, I know, okay?” Niji shouted. “I just....I just don’t know what we’d do without you, Akio...What I’d do without you.”

Akio put his hands on her shoulders and looked straight at her with a reassuring smile.

“Don’t be so concerned,” he pleaded. “I’m only doing what I feel is best. I promise- I won’t be going back there again unless I seriously have to. Okay?”

Niji leaned in and rested on his chest. She heaved a sigh.

“Okay, Akio,” she answered. Akio gave her a quick hug before pulling back and cleared his throat.

“I should...get to work,” he said. Niji brushed aside a strand of hair and looked down.

“Alright,” she responded. “I’ll talk to you another time.”

Close to nighttime, many of the scientists and astronauts passed by the area to head to the entrance; all of them tired and ready to rest in their cabins after a long day. Akio stayed behind, configuring the new devices. As he tweaked at them and glanced up on the radar, he noticed something odd. There were signals on the screen correlating to devices that belonged to the colony- one in Russia, which Akio could identify as the ship left behind by the Mews before their catastrophic underground endeavor, and the other one....

“What is this.....?” He murmured to himself, squinting closely at the dot on his screen. It was stationed somewhere in Norway, although he could not recall anything left behind there. His eyes widened after a thought struck him.

“No...That’s impossible,” he reassured himself, glancing over to the same area where the ship had been. If he wasn’t mistaken, their tracking device had been left in the generally same area as the ship. However, this was not the case. The device’s signature was nowhere to be found in Russia. Akio looked back and forth between both areas before realizing that it just might be it. He quickly leapt out of his seat and ran to the Mews’ cabin. The girls were all sitting around the room, chatting when they jumped with surprise at the Geneticist’s sudden entry.

“Akio, what’s wrong with you?” Chrysalis questioned. “You look like a mess!”

“I...” Akio panted, “Discovered....something...important!”

“What is it?” Hotaru asked, curious. The Mews all leaned in with interest. Akio soon caught his breath and  leaned over against one of the walls.

“I was calibrating your radio devices,” he explained after catching his breath, “And I noticed the signal of the ship you’d left behind in Russia.”

“Well, so what?” Hikari mused. Akio shook his head.

“The tracking device should have been in Russia too, right?” he went on. “If you encountered Ehne in the same general area and she had the device, wouldn’t there have been a chance that it would still be there?”

“Well I dunno, Akio,” Niji spoke up, crossing her arms. “Ehne probably destroyed it. You yourself said that it was a possibility”

“But you don’t understand!” Akio exclaimed, stepping off of the wall. “I discovered a device in Norway and I don’t recall us ever leaving anything there. It could be anything, yes, but the Tracking device’s signature never indicated termination, so it’s still functioning at this moment. This signal I found doesn’t appear to be far too different from that of the device left behind in Russia... I can’t believe I didn’t notice it before! I guess I was just so pent up with finding you girls that I didn’t really notice the device’s movement.”

“Are you suggesting that Ehne still has it?” Nexus proclaimed, raising her brow. “That is a very risky claim to make, especially if you are incorrect.”

“No wait-,” Niji protested, putting her hand to her chin thoughtfully. She began to pace about. “Think about this- Ehne doesn’t know we’re alive. She most likely left us for dead after we almost got buried underground. That’s a huge advantage as it is. And now that this other opportunity has arisen, are we really going to ignore it?”

“But how do we know for sure that it’s the tracking device?” Hotaru proposed. “What if it’s something else?”

“But what else could it possibly be?” Akio mentioned. “No other device we know of has been lost. All of the Astronaut’s signatures are different from that of the tech reserved for our specific missions. This signature is definitively one of ours.”

“So....what...are we going to attempt something?” Chrysalis asked, folding her arms with skepticism. “I mean I don’t know....what could we even do with this information?”

“You forgot what I said,” Nexus spoke up. “Ehne does not know we are alive. We can sneak up on her.”

“But how will we destroy the ship?” Niji mused. “She has a ton of Chimera Anima, and no doubt she’ll summon hordes of them to protect her vessel if she sees us- which she will.”

“Maybe someone should draw her out?” Akio suggested. “Go in an area a little further away from her ship and defeat some Chimera Anima to get her attention. Then while she’s out and about, the rest of you can sneak in and destroy it.”

“But how would we destroy it?” Hotaru demanded. “If we’re going to be split up-“

“Which is a bad idea, by the way,” Chrysalis interrupted momentarily.

“- Then we won’t be able to totally destroy the thing right away. Even with combining our attacks and stuff- I mean the ship has to be super big to house a whole laboratory, right?”

“Hm...” Niji scratched her head.

“How about explosives?” Hikari offered. Akio contemplated the idea for a moment, looking down and rubbing his chin.

“That could work,” he said. “I could give you a few remotely controlled, powerful explosive mechanisms to plant all over and inside the ship.”

“Yeah!” Hotaru cheerfully agreed. “And I can go super fast so I can stay with whoever’s gonna plant them!”

“Well then who’s going where?” Niji inquired. The girls all looked around and tapped their chins with contemplation.

“Niji and Nexus are the strongest of your group,” Akio told them. “It would be easiest to assign them each to one party. That way those distracting Ehne will have the strength to escape if she summons too many Chimera Anima and those planting the apparatuses will have a strong member to help fight in case something goes wrong.”

“That... sounds like a reasonable plan,” Chrysalis admitted, listening in with more interest. “And maybe two of us can go to distract Ehne while three of us plant the stuff, that way we get done quicker by having more people.”

“So who goes to what place?” Nexus asked.

“That is up to you girls,” Akio answered. “You each know your strengths and weaknesses in the battlefield better than I do.”

“I’m definitely going to plant the bombs!” Hotaru asserted.

“Then I’ll go with you!” Hikari clung to her friend eagerly.

“I will follow them,” Nexus volunteered. “They need someone to watch over them.”

“Guess that leaves you and me for Ehne,” Niji chuckled, nudging Chrysalis. The Lunar Mew winced a bit.

“Careful, my arm’s still a bit sore!” She reminded her friend.

“Sorry,” Niji laughed.

“So we have a plan?” Akio checked over. The girls nodded.

“And hopefully it will be successful!” Nexus chimed in with anticipation.

“There’s a lot of work I need to do before we get to that, then,” Akio admitted. “And you girls still need to rest a few days so that your wounds completely heal and don’t hinder you in battle.”

“A few days, a week at most, we know,” Chrysalis sighed, placing a hand on her hip. “I just hope this plan works, otherwise we’re totally screwed and will have even more monsters to fight.”

“Don’t think like that!” Niji protested. “Be positive! We got out of this situation and we’ll get through the next.”

“We can do anything!” Hotaru grinned.

“I better go put the order in for the explosives,” Akio sighed. “Luckily those aren’t as complex to set up- it will only take half the time as the tracking device, which is enough time for you to rest. And I can probably give you about ten of them or so and things will be fine. You wouldn’t want too many of them to be too close together, otherwise you’d get an atomic fireball.

“I’d like to see that, actually!” Hikari laughed.

Akio crossed his arms.

“Looks like I have a lot of work to do.”

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