“What do you mean by that?” Ophelia asked, her tone more harsh than she meant it to be.
“Apologies, Captain,” he said, slinking back. “But many of our own people have entered the Himestrix’s garden and none have returned. Even the spies our nation sent to seek the truth vanished as though they never had been.”
“Himestrix?” Ophelia asked.
“There is no equivalent term in your language,” the second Yujin joined in. “In ancient times it was believed that the Himestrix came to our world from our third moon. Now, we believe she came from elsewhere in the universe.”
“She is all powerful,” the first continued. “Her will becomes reality. If you will permit a transmission.”
“We’re ready to receive it,” Ophelia said.
The transmission showed soldiers frozen in place as their weapons vanished. A regal, dark blue-haired woman appeared.
“Yujin, cease thy foolish in-fighting!” she declared. “We declare this war at an end, now!”
She vanished as she had come, the soldiers quickly regained their ability to move and began bludgeoning each other. The transmission cut off.
“There were many such incidences near the start of the war,” the first Yujin said. “Always she declared hostilities at an end.”
“If she’s all powerful why didn’t she just take all of your weapons?” Ophelia asked. “Why let you go?”
“The Himestrix does not force her will,” the second answered. “She will make it known, but not compel anyone towards it.”
“So, why didn’t you listen to her?” Grace jumped in.
“We respect her counsel, but she does not always understand. Peace is impossible as things are.”
“So, she just gave up trying to dissuade you and moved to her little garden?” Ophelia asked.
The two nodded.
“Thanks for the warning,” Ophelia said. “We’ll see what we can do on this end.” She cut the transmission.
“You don’t sound worried,” Grace observed.
“They said it themselves, she doesn’t compel anyone towards her will,” Ophelia said. “If we can assume they’re right, then we can also surmise that anyone in her garden is there by choice and, if anyone desires to leave, they’ll be allowed to. Still, I think I should look up some Yujin records. Maybe I can find out more about this being and get some clues as to what she can actually do.”
“Do you think she’s really been around that long?” Grace asked.
“It doesn’t seem likely,” Ophelia said. “Maybe some other world has been sending similar looking women with advanced tech for some purpose. Maybe she really does have extraordinary power.” Ophelia glanced at Grace. “See if you can find the power source in the garden.”
“That’s the fifth Lunais we’ve passed,”Kat stated. “Do you suppose that we’re dealing with some kind of projection?”
“Projections, clones, identical sisters, androids, you make the call,” Allison said.
“Maybe she’s doing her materialisation trick to get in front of us,” Lucy said.
“What’s the point?” Leon mused. “Is it just to show us that she knows what we’re doing?”
“I think it’s more than us,” Kat stated. “Have you seen the Yujin react to her?”
“Like adored royalty,” Leon said. “You love what they’ve done but you also know they could end you on a whim so you try not to give them an excuse.”
“Which isn’t a bad thing really,” Lucy stated. “Look at them, all on their very best behaviour.”
“Yuri!” Allison yelled. She dashed forward, past the rest of the group and leapt into the android’s arms.
“Allison, this is not your assigned search quadrant,” Yuri stated. She looked over at he others, registering their presence. “Did something happen?”
“We lost your and Farah’s signals,” Lucy explained. “We came to make sure you were functioning normally.”
“Where is Farah?” Kat demanded.
“She is attempting to persuade Mister Olison to return with us,” Yuri answered. “I was to return to a location where I could send a transmission to inform you all that we located him.”
“Allison, go back with Yuri and contact the ship,” Lucy said. “Tell Ophelia everything. The three of us will meet up with Farah.”
“Sure thing, Boss!” Allison saluted. She linked arms with Yuri. “It’s going to be a long walk, we might as well get comfortable.”
The trio watched them walk away.
“Is it wise to pair the two of them?” Kat asked.
“It’s a long walk, Allison won’t drag it out,” Lucy stated. “Besides, she was really panicked for a while. We might as well give her some time.”
“Is it necessary to grip my arm so tightly?” Yuri asked. “Your proximity is causing my pumping systems to accelerate and my temperature to increase.”
“I’m pretty sure that just means I excite you,” Allison said. “You could just say your heart is rushing, you know.”
“I do not have a heart,” Yuri stated.
“I know,” Allison said. “But you can use the term colloquially, just t make it easier to understand you.”
“I will attempt it,” Yuri said. “Your proximity is causing my heart to accelerate.”
“That’s not really a bad thing, is it?” Allison asked. She guided Yuri’s hand to her chest. “You’re doing the same thing to me.”
“I understand,” Yuri sated. “It is a symptom consistent with a strong attraction.”
“You know,” Allison said. “I was really worried when we lost your signal. I kept thinking the worst had happened. It made me realise something.”
She trailed off, occasionally glancing at Yuri.
“What did you discover?” Yuri inquired.
“That I really, really like you,” Allison answered. “It’s not just about getting you into bed or anything like that. I just wanna be with you. I wanna hold you close, whisper sweet things in your ear and also hilarious things that I couldn’t get by with everyone hearing. I want what we have to be special.”
“I had thought that it already was,” Yuri stated.
“I suppose it is at that,” Allison said. “Yeah, you’re right.”