Track 2: The Return of the Queen
The audience hooted and cheered. Caught up in the moment, Ranka
let out a squeal as the opening notes blared from the loud
speakers. The spotlights came on and illuminated Sheryl. As
she sang, Ranka swayed to the rhythm of the song along with the
Carry me! Bring me on a date through the falling
Here is a rare challenge, let's ignite our ecstasy!
Fly higher! Your chest smells sweet.
Leave it all to me,
I'll make you feel better, trust me.
Sagittarius, 9pm. Don't be late.
As soon as she sang that line, Sheryl pointed her mic in her direction
and spotlights focused on her. The crowd pulled away, leaving her
alone. When she looked up, she was greeted by the familiar
ceiling of her bedroom. Meanwhile, her phone flopped about on her
bed, prompting her hand to grope around and catch it. Satisfied
that it got its master's attention, it belched into silence.
As her eyelids slipped over her pupils, her half-awake mind begged,
"Just a few more minutes..." The next thing she knew, the
doorbell downstairs rang insistently. Irritated, she wondered who
it could be and glanced at her phone. 10:23 AM.
Her eyes widened in realization. "I'm late!" She sprang
from bed and rummaged through her clothes for something new to
wear. Once ready, she ran downstairs and opened the door.
"Good morning!" greeted Sheryl. "We've come to pick you
up." Behind her, Dr. LaSalle stood next to a hovercar.
Ranka bowed deeply. "I'm so sorry for being late!" When she
straightened, Sheryl reached out. Before she could react, her
fingers began to unravel the knot of the scarf around the collar of her
"It's a bit crooked..."
Cheeks aflame, she did not know what to do but wait patiently for
Sheryl to finish.
"As a professional, you're expected to be punctual and
presentable." Her nimble fingers tightened the knot. She
winked at her. "Your fans expect a lot from you, so don't
disappoint them. So, are you ready?"
"Ah, yes! Just let me lock up."
Once the Lee residence was secured, Dr. LaSalle drove them to the
Protoculture lab. Instead of a formal meeting room, Dr. Jenus and
Dr. Zore met them in a cozy break room.
"Please make yourselves comfortable." Dr. Jenus gestured to
several stuffed chairs. After they were seated, he lifted two
teapots. "Tea? Coffee?"
"I'll have some coffee," replied Sheryl.
"Umm... me too."
While Dr. Jenus poured them coffee, Dr. LaSalle put a tray laden with
pastries on the coffee table in front of them. "Please help
Ranka's mouth watered at the food. Her stomach growled at the
lack of breakfast. However, she just decided to sip her coffee.
Judging from her appearance this morning, it was obvious that Ranka did
not have breakfast. Her mind wondered why. "Is it because I
told you to be professional?" When she saw her at the door, she
felt like teasing her. Maybe, she went too far. "I didn't
realize that you were so impressionable..." In an effort to get
her to relax, she placed a croissant on her plate and began to eat it.
When Sheryl started eating, Ranka felt relieved and also selected a
pastry to eat. She looked up at Dr. Jenus who simply smiled at
"Thank you both for coming. While you have your breakfast, my
assistants and I would like to inform you about what we do. So
please sit back, enjoy the food and listen."
The scientists explained their work in turn. Then they described
the process in which they analyzed alien species. Ranka and
Sheryl did their best to follow their explanations despite the
sprinkling of unfamiliar terms and acronyms. Eventually, the
sheer amount of information buried their minds. However, their
attention renewed when they started talking about the queen.
"Since our instruments are not able to penetrate the sphere, we devised
this vest and headband." Dr. Jenus showed them a simple vest
modified with various pieces of equipment. A wire connected the
vest and headband. "If you wear this vest, we will be able to
monitor your vital signs. The headband will monitor your brain
activity. Near the collar, there is a highly sensitive
microphone, so even if you whisper, we can hear it."
"Measurements will be transmitted through this shielded cable.
Since it must be attached to the vest, please be aware of it and watch
your step." His eyes noted the empty plates. "Now, I
assume that you've finished eating. If you don't mind, we would
very much like to hear your story."
By coincidence, Ranka and Sheryl looked at each other at the same
time. Who would go first? Sheryl decided to take the
"When I was in that sphere, it seems like the queen can talk directly
into my mind. However, she spoke to me through an image of my
"Really? It was my mother for me!" exclaimed Ranka.
"Interesting... this implies that she read your memories in order to
take a form that would be non-threatening to you," noted Dr. LaSalle
who scribbled into a digipad.
"If she can read your minds, is it possible for you to read hers?"
asked Dr. Zore.
Sheryl and Ranka did not answer at once. The implication that
their memories and thoughts were bare before the queen shocked them
speechless. Somehow, Sheryl managed to gather her wits.
"It's... probably possible. All the exercises we did involved
trying to figure out what the Vajra are doing on various places in the
"Have you tried reading her mind?"
Each of them shook their heads. "No... I was so busy trying to
focus on a particular Vajra, I didn't think of reading her mind," said
"May I suggest that you try?"
"By the way, Ranka, when she talks to you, does she use 'we' to refer
to herself?" asked Sheryl.
"Yes, she does."
"Did she ever use I?"
Ranka shook her head. "No, not once." Then she suddenly
remembered. "In fact, on Galia 4, I saw at least 5 images of my
mom and they spoke to me at the same time."
"Interesting," noted Dr. Jenus. "Perhaps she speaks for all
"In some cultures, royalty use 'we' as a symbolic way to represent the
country," added Dr. LaSalle.
Then Sheryl and Ranka alternated describing all the exercises that the
queen made them do. The exercises involved sensing a Vajra's
location, describing the things that it saw and the sensations that it
felt. The scientists hurriedly scribbled notes on their digipads.
"Are you planning to meet her today?" asked Dr. Jenus.
Ranka nodded. "Yes, after lunch. She will teach us for two
or three hours."
"In that case, we'll prepare the shuttle. And speaking of
lunch..." He checked his watch. "It's about time. If
you like, please join us at the cafeteria."
"I'm afraid that we have plans for lunch," said Sheryl as she stood
up. "Please excuse me. I'd like to call our escort."
Dr. Jenus nodded. "Of course."
Meanwhile, Ranka's hair twitched in surprise. Sheryl did not
mention anything about lunch this morning or yesterday. Despite
that, she was glad that she did not have to eat with the scientists.
Their escort, Lt. Lisa Maxwell, picked them up in her hovercar and
drove to the edge of a large meadow. She dropped them off and
Sheryl told her to come back in an hour and a half. They walked
to a grove of trees that were surrounded by flowering bushes.
"Wow, these are so pretty!" remarked Ranka as she surveyed the myriad
of colors around her.
"Isn't it?" Sheryl spread out a blanket under the shade.
As expected, lunch was delicious. As Ranka licked salad dressing
off her fingers, Hope crawled near and sniffed her plate before
crawling towards the bushes. She thought, "I wonder what it
usually eats around here..."
Suddenly, the petals of the flower closest to Hope snapped in her
direction. Her tail whipped forward and hit the flower.
Then Hope jumped and bit the flower's stem. The flower fell to
the ground. Like a cat, she pounced on it and her little legs
came out to hold a wriggling petal down. She bit a piece of the
petal off and began to chew.
"Apparently..." said Sheryl in voice that failed to mask her surprise
and apprehension, "it's dangerous to stop and smell the roses."
They laughed nervously. Ranka looked around for Ai-chan and found
her hovering over a tree with large pink flowers. Ai-chan reached
out, grabbed a blossom and ate it while it struggled in vain.
Her attention was interrupted by Sheryl's proud declaiming voice.
"The Vajra, the super-dimensional lifeform whose power was both feared
and revered by Protoculture itself... eats flowers as part of its diet."
Ranka laughed heartily. The scientists would have a field day
with this one. But just in case, they ate lunch as quickly as
possible and moved the blanket away from the bushes. Sheryl laid
down on it and basked in the sunlight. A rustle to her right
indicated that Ranka laid down as well.
This time, it was Ranka who started singing. Their voices wove
together in the melody and harmony of Infinity #7.
Remember, on the day we decided to escape this
What lay before us was nothing but the passing wind?
The more feelings I have to convey, the more my words
Unable to tell you anything, the truth is I live in
After singing for twenty minutes, they simply lay there in
silence. The warmth was very comforting and the gentle breeze
felt soothing over their skin.
"Mmmm... if we didn't have to see the queen, I'd take a nap right now,"
whispered Sheryl softly.
"Yeah... me too..."
Something brushed up against Sheryl's skirt and right thigh. Her
eyes popped open as her thoughts raced with her heart. "Is she...
groping me...? Is this... what you meant when you said that you
won't lose to love or singing?"
Meanwhile, Ranka held her breath as the gentle pressure pushed against
her left thigh. Her eyes saw the sky above her, but her mind was
imagining something else. "Sheryl... you... are you..." Her
hand twitched and was confused on whether to advance or retreat.
"I'm Sheryl Nome... I'm Sheryl Nome..." She repeated her
name like a mantra to convince the abandoned orphaned child within
her. "What would Sheryl Nome, the Galaxy Fairy do?"
"All this time, I've loved her music... adored her as any fan... and
even got to be a singer like her... but doesn't she love Alto?
What should I do?"
"Sheryl Nome faces life with a confident smile and a song ready.
She won't back down. But you love Alto, right? Maybe...
just maybe...you're ready to forget about him..."
"Alto didn't come to visit her at all. Is she lonely? But
why me?" Then she remembered that Sheryl purposely looked at a
very embarrassed Nanase in the shower. Her eyes widened.
"Could it be... that she swings that way? If she is then...
Their heads turned to each other in unison.
As they stared at each other, something brushed up against their
hands. Together, they looked down to see Hope crawling on their
hands. She tilted her head and wagged her tail which hit the side
of their thighs.
Slowly, laughter built up in Sheryl's throat. She totally misread
the situation and just narrowly avoided an embarrassing
misunderstanding. Propping herself up on her elbows, she picked
"Thank goodness it was just you! I thought it was one of those
Ranka giggled along. "I was thinking the same thing."
A buzzing above them indicated that Ai-chan was near. She held
out a pink flower with wiggling petals.
Ranka held up a hand in refusal. "Um... no thanks, Ai-chan... we
already ate lunch."
Just then, a horn honked from a distance. Sheryl turned to see
the hovercar. "It's time to go."
They packed up and got in the car. They arrived at the lab
without incident and boarded the shuttle with the scientists.
Along the way to the mothership, the scientists fitted the vests and
headbands on them. Since the skull squadron was away, half a
dozen NUNS valkyries escorted them instead.
When they got there, Sheryl and Ranka sat on the pod to receive their
lessons while the scientists set up their new equipment. That
day's lesson was similar to yesterday's. An hour into the lesson,
Sheryl gathered enough courage to read the queen's mind. Instead
of the subject Vajra, she envisioned the queen instead.
Immediately, she saw images of countless places. For a brief
moment, a cacophony of high-pitched melodies filled her ears. She
felt warm hands around her head and then silence.
Then the queen's soft voice whispered, "It's too much for you.
You must learn to listen to only what you want to hear."
The projection of her mother was now standing before her and covering
her ears. Sheryl was surprised to see her so close and even more
surprised to see a toddler version of herself holding her hand.
However, she had green skin and dark eyes.
Caught like a child with her hand in the cookie jar, an embarassed
Sheryl resumed the requested exercise. Finally, the lesson
ended. As she and Ranka walked towards the shuttle, Sheryl took
the opportunity to stretch her limbs.
"You're coming for dinner, right?" asked Sheryl.
"I'd love to... but your nurse..."
"I asked a different nurse this time. Plus, I want to invite
another person to dinner."
On the way back to the lab, Ranka told her that she tried as
well. Her experience was the same.
"Did you understand anything?" asked Ranka.
Sheryl shook her head. "No... she shut me out pretty fast.
But I do get the feeling... the sounds I heard weren't from the Vajra
on the planet. It seemed more distant..."
"Like a bunch of echoes?"
"Yeah... it's like shouting on stage and the acoustics of the hall echo
"It was the same for me."
At the lab, they reported the results of their lesson to the
scientists. When Sheryl mentioned what the Vajra ate, the
scientists were even more excited.
"This is a wonderful discovery! This will give us insights to
their feeding habits. Dr. Zore, please assemble another team and
look into it."
After their discussion, they left the lab. As usual, Lt. Maxwell
was waiting for them. While she drove them to the hospital, they
received a call from Cathy who wanted them to do a special
concert. They agreed. When they got to the hospital, they
did not go to Sheryl's room. As soon as they reached a particular
corridor, Ranka guessed where they were going. "It's nice of her
to arrange this," she thought as they entered Nanase's room.
"Ranka! Sheryl!" greeted Nanase cheerfully.
They hugged each other. Meanwhile, the nurse entered with their
dinner and placed the tray on the bedside table.
"Dinner time!," announced Sheryl while adjusting the movable tray over
Dinner consisted of lasagna, minestrone soup and tiramisu. While
eating, they chatted over their lessons with the Vajra.
"Were you scared?" asked Nanase after they told her about their first
"Um... a little bit..." admitted Ranka.
"Since Ranka told me what to expect, I was more curious than scared,"
replied Sheryl. "By the way, will you be well enough to see the
commemoration festival in a couple of days?"
"It should be on the news," Sheryl pointed to the monitor near her
bed. "Since I'm getting discharged tomorrow, President Glass
asked me and Ranka to sing at the festival to celebrate the operation
of the food facilities. It's an important milestone for the
colony, even though there's still lots of things to do."
"I don't know... I'm not sure if I can be out for a long time."
"Tell your doctor that we've reserved a special seat near the stage for
you. You won't have to mingle with the crowd."
A hint of tears formed on her eyes. "Really? Thanks!
I'll ask him to let me go."
With the festival in mind, they enjoyed the rest of their meal in a
good mood. After dinner, they bid Nanase good night and walked to
"Say, since you're getting out tomorrow, you won't get home cooked
meals anymore. How about I return the favor and cook for you?"
"Mmmm... I don't know... I like having an early breakfast," said Sheryl
with a teasing note in her voice.
Ranka blushed. "That... that was just this morning! I
usually get up early to cook breakfast for onii-chan before he goes to
She counted on her fingers. "Let see... 10 AM at the lab... so
how about 8:30? That should be plenty of time to eat."
"8:30 then. I'll see you bright and early. Good night!"
Ranka almost skipped her way to the exit. As Lt. Maxwell drove
her home, she made a list of things she needed to clean and prepare
that night. By the time she got ready for bed, she had to calm
the giddy feeling that had grown within her so she could get some
sleep. The last thought in her mind as she drifted off to sleep
was that of having a delicious breakfast with Sheryl.
The doorbell rang at 8:29. Ranka took off her apron and dusted
herself. Using the reflection on the shiny surface of the
refrigerator, she checked her hair before going to the door.
"Good morning," said Sheryl warmly.
"Good morning!" replied Ranka.
"I bought some fruit." She handed her a basket.
"Wow, thanks! I'll put it on the table." The fruit was
added to the already crowded table with plates of bacon, omelets, hash
browns and pancakes.
"This looks great!"
Ranka pulled out a chair for her. "Here you go."
"Thanks." Since Ranka's hands were on the chair, she noticed
it. "Did you cut yourself?"
Ranka hid her bandaged hand behind her uninjured one. "Just a
Sheryl reached over and took her injured hand. "My mom showed me
a trick to make it get better." Her head bent down and gently
kissed each bandaged finger.
Ranka could only stare in shock as those warm lips pressed against her
skin. Her arm broke out in goosebumps while her knees were
turning into jelly. Quickly, her free hand grabbed another chair
Instead of a quick peck like the one her mother did, Sheryl's lips
lingered longer on those bandaged fingers that attempted to make
breakfast. Each kiss showed her appreciation for Ranka's
efforts. When she was done, Sheryl smiled casually. "There
you go... it'll heal in no time."
"Th--thanks..." stammered Ranka. "W-we should eat... the food is
Once seated, they began their meal. Sheryl tried a serving of
everything. The chicken omelet was especially tasty.
"This is good," remarked Sheryl. She added another serving of
omelet to her plate.
Her cheeks warmed up at the compliment. "Thanks... please eat as
much as you want."
They enjoyed the rest of breakfast with animated conversation about the
best and worst meals they had ever eaten. By the time they
started dessert, Ranka decided to ask.
"I've been thinking, Sheryl... is it really ok for me to sing?"
"Of course, it is! Why are you asking that?"
Her hands tightened around her cup of tea. "Some people don't
like me. Whenever someone's nearby, I feel... like they're
She touched her arm to reassure her. "It's not your fault...
it'll take time to show them that. And Cathy understands.
That's why she asked you to sing... to convince them and improve your
"I suppose so..."
The aura of depression around Ranka tore at her heart; how remarkably
different from usual cheerful self. It almost made her want to
cry. No, she would not. If she did, Ranka would surely
break down as well. She had to do something.
"Hey, how about we play hooky?"
"We deserve some free time too! Let's ask the queen to let us off
this afternoon. Consider it our day off." She winked.
"Is that really all right?"
With practiced ease, her lips curved to her most confident smile.
"Of course, it is."
"Well... it'll be nice if she lets us..."
Once the meal was done, they put the dishes away. When Sheryl was
not looking, Ranka brought her bandaged fingers to her lips. As she
traced the path of that healing touch, she wondered, "Is this... an
indirect kiss?" The idea sent thrills down her spine.
for Lt. Maxwell who arrived promptly. As usual, they were escorted to
the mothership with the scientists. At the first opportunity, Sheryl
asked the queen.
"A day off?" The queen looked puzzled.
"Yes, so we can unwind a bit."
"We don't understand... is this a human mating ritual?"
"No! Not at all! I'm not sure how to explain it...
Human beings need to do something else from time to time." Her
mind raced to figure out how to explain it in words that the queen
"Very well, but take Hope with you. Leave Ai-chan with us.
There is much for her to learn."
"Thank you." Relief flooded her heart. At least, she was
spared from explaining it.
This time, they finished around 1 PM. The queen reasoned that
since they were not coming in the afternoon, then the morning lesson
should be longer. By the time Lt. Maxwell dropped them off at
Ranka's house, they were famished. Leftovers from breakfast were
hastily shoved between two slices of bread and consumed. The
basket of fruit also met the same fate.
Sheryl plopped down on the couch which grunted under her weight.
"She really made us work this time..."
Ranka sat next to her and rested her head on top of the couch's
cushions. "I thought my head was going to explode."
"How many did you do?" For the last exercise, the queen asked
them to gather Vajra and command them to fly in various patterns.
"18... when I added one more, I couldn't get them together."
"16 for me... but cheer up! You did better than me."
"Two isn't much of a difference... I'd say we're even."
"Even so, I need to catch up. Sheryl Nome doesn't back down on a
"Sheryl... about that... I... I take it back."
"Huh? But why?"
"It's not worth it... to work yourself so hard because of a challenge."
"I didn't become the Galaxy Fairy overnight. It was tough
fighting my way up the charts, doing recordings and shows. So
don't worry. Unlike Cathy, I'm not made of glass." She
Ranka caught the pun and laughed, releasing some of her anxiety.
"But still... I worry... if something happened to you... I..."
Words caught in her throat and she turned her head away.
When Ranka did not continue, Sheryl looked at her. "Such an
innocent girl..." she thought. She reached out and mussed up her
hair as if she were a child. "You worry wart! What am I
going to do with you? Everybody gets sick from time to
time. It didn't help that I stretched myself thin because of the
battle. But I'm better now. So cheer up! Worrying
doesn't suit a beautiful girl like you."
This time, Ranka pouted. "There you go again... teasing me..."
"When Sheryl Nome gives a compliment, it's not out of politeness.
She means it. Besides..." She cupped her chin and continued in a
reassuring tone. "I'm not the only who thinks so. Your fans
can see that just as good as me. So have more confidence in
Ranka blushed. Unable to hold her gaze, she stared at the wall
over her shoulder. "Umm... thanks..."
"So cute..." she thought. She stood up and grabbed her
hand. "C'mon, it's our day off. Let's go and play."
"I know just the place."
They left the Lee residence and went to Sheryl's suite in a luxurious
hotel. When she found out that they were going to her suite,
Ranka wondered what Sheryl meant by 'play'. Her heart began to
beat rapidly as her imagination went overboard. She watched
nervously as Sheryl looked through various pieces of luggage and rolled
out a wheeled container. She opened it up.
"A karaoke player?" asked Ranka as she knelt next to it.
"Yup. Latest model. Our own virtual concert hall."
Sheryl fiddled around with the controls. "Normal difficulty is
too easy... superstar's what we need." She handed her a
mic. "Just tell it what song you want or browse the list."
"Let's see... 'Do you remember love?'"
The screen shifted to the corresponding music video and the lyrics
appeared at the bottom. To her surprise, an image of her was
superimposed on the video.
Upon hearing her gasp, Sheryl giggled. She sat back to watch her
sing. "Just a little push here and there, and you've managed to
come this far. But you've only been singing songs that someone
else sang or told you to sing. I wonder, what your heart really
wants to sing..."
When the song was over, Ranka's score was 92. "Not bad..."
She stood up and held up her own mic. "I'll show you what it
means to challenge the Galaxy Fairy." With a commanding voice,
she requested, "An Angel's Paints."
Ranka sat down and leaned back on the comfortable sofa. At first,
it was fascinating to see Sheryl's face superimposed over Minmay.
However, her eyes shifted over to watch the real Sheryl. Even
though it was just karaoke, Sheryl sang and moved as if she was on
stage. As she watched her sing, her shimmering golden-coral locks
and her swinging hips mesmerized her. By the time the song ended,
she was surprised to find herself sitting on the edge of the sofa
A score of 98 flashed on the screen. With dramatic flair, Sheryl
twirled and held out her fingers in a victory sign. Her eyes
narrowed. "And that... was just a warm up."
As Ranka stood up, her hand gripped the mic tighter. It was time
for a counterattack with 'We Will Win'. This time, she moved to
the beat of the song. The screen flashed a 97.
"You're getting the hang of it now, aren't you?" remarked Sheryl
while she selected her next song.
She giggled. "Yeah! Watch out, 'cause I'm catching up!"
Song after song, excitement rose within Ranka. However, it was
not the same kind of excitement as she felt during the Miss Macross
competition. As she watched Sheryl sing, she wondered, "Is this
what it feels to have a rival? Or... is it because she's
listening to my songs?"
The battle of songs drew to a close after they sang ten songs
each. The player tallied the total: Ranka 969, Sheryl 981.
"I lost this round, but next time, you better be ready!"
She grinned at her like a cat stalking a mouse. "I'm ready
whenever you are."
Ranka shivered at the sight. Somehow, she seemed strangely
sexy. Internally, she berated herself, "What's wrong with me?"
"All that singing made me thirsty. What do you want to
drink?" She went to the bar and poured some hot water into a cup
to make some jasmine tea.
"Um... if there's iced lemonade, that'll be great."
Her eyebrows went up in surprise. "Ranka, did anyone ever tell
you not to drink cold stuff after singing?"
"Well, your throat muscles will contract when you drink something
cold. And if you keep doing that, it might become less elastic
and affect your voice. So I suggest that you drink something warm
"Oh, I see... in that case, may I have some green tea?"
"Of course! Coming right up!" She prepared the tea and
served it. Then she handed her the room service menu. "If
you're hungry, here's the menu. Order whatever you want.
It's on Cathy's tab."
"Wow, that's nice of her. Let me see, I'll have a slice of lemon
"Good choice. I picked that one too." She turned on the
view panel and ordered their choices. "It'll be here in ten
minutes. By the way, Elmo dropped off some outfits for the
festival. Wanna try them out?"
"Sure!" Ranka followed Sheryl to a walk-in closet. She
marveled the number of outfits and was even able to recognize the ones
that Sheryl wore in previous concerts. She touched one in
particular. "I remember this one!"
"Do you like the design? That's one of my favorites."
"Yes, it looked so good on you!"
Sheryl pulled it off and added it to the pile of new outfits.
"Why don't you try it out too?" She picked up the pile and jerked
her head towards the bedroom. "Come on. I have a big mirror
They went into her bedroom. Sheryl held up the outfit that Ranka
saw. "How about trying this one first?"
Ranka took the outfit. "Ummm... where's the bathroom?"
"It's over there. Here, let me hold that for you." She held
out her hand to take the outfit back.
"No need... I'm going to change." She turned in the direction of
"Huh? Why not change here? Aw, don't tell me you're
shy." Ranka's cheeks began to turn pink. Her hand rose to
her mouth as she suppressed a small giggle. "Well, if it makes
you feel better, I'll just turn around while you change." She
turned so that her back was towards Ranka.
Ranka stood still for a moment. Then she put the outfit on the
bed and began to unbutton her blouse.
Sheryl fidgeted in place. The rustle of clothing was putting
strange images in her mind. Maybe it would better if she had
changed in the bathroom. Finally, Ranka spoke.
Sheryl turned around. "You're so cute!"
Ranka held an arm over her chest. "It's a little loose."
"We can fix that... let's see..." Sheryl pulled several facial
tissues from a box and folded them into two fat wads. "How about
we stuff this in for now?" She reached towards Ranka.
Ranka took the tissue from her. "Let me do it myself.
Umm... can you... turn around again?"
Sheryl suppressed a chuckle and complied.
She turned around and promptly laughed.
"It's because..." She steered her towards the mirror.
Her face flushed when she saw her reflection. Her chest was
totally out of proportion. Embarrassed, she covered it with her
"I'm sorry... it was just..." One look at the mirror renewed her
"You're so mean!" said Ranka as she removed the wads of tissue.
"But other than that, it looks nice on you. If we had a
seamstress here, she'd adjust it for you."
"No, that's all right. It's your dress."
Just then, the bell rang. Sheryl opened it and got their
food. Meanwhile, Ranka changed in the bathroom since she did not
want to get any pie on the dress.
When she was done, they sat down and ate their lemon pies. After
eating, Sheryl picked up a green dress. "How about you try this
Once again, Sheryl was subjected to an audio only version of Ranka
changing clothes. Finally, she was allowed to look.
"Oh, you look adorable! The colors compliment your hair nicely...
and it emphasizes your curves pretty well." She moved her in
front of the mirror.
This time Ranka had to agree. The dress felt snug against
her. She twirled before the mirror.
"The cut of the skirt is good too. It flares up just enough to
show off your thighs. Your fans would love it for sure."
Ranka colored like a lobster. "Maybe it's too revealing."
"No, it's just right. Besides, you can wear gym shorts
"Here, try this one next." She held up another outfit.
"But I've already tried two and you haven't tried any."
"I already tried them yesterday. But just for you, I'll wear
whatever you want me to wear." She began to unbutton her dress.
"Ah!" Ranka turned around so her back was to Sheryl.
"Please don't just undress right away!"
"I don't mind. We're both girls. Besides, you've already
seen me in the shower."
"Well, yes... but... ah! I mean, no! It was just a
glimpse... I really didn't see too much..." protested Ranka, her voice
Internally, she smirked to herself. "Gotcha... I had a
feeling you were peeking over the partitions." She slipped the
blouse on. "How does this look?"
Ranka turned around and immediately resumed to her previous position,
covering her face with her hands. "Please wear a skirt!"
But it was too late. The image of Sheryl in her light purple
underwear was burned into her mind.
"But I thought I'd get your opinion on which skirt would match
better. I really couldn't decide last night."
She swallowed. Sheryl needed her help, so she had to look.
Slowly, she gathered her courage and turned around. As she did,
she noticed something pink moving from the corner of her eye.
Alarmed, she stared at the clothes bin where she last saw it.
Whatever it was, it rolled from the bin and behind a tall vase.
"Sheryl... I think I just saw something..."
"Over there." As soon as she pointed at the vase, the pink blob
hopped and slipped under the magazine rack.
With bated breaths, they watched the rack anxiously. Eventually,
it crawled out and dove under the padded chair.
Sheryl's fear was replaced with anger. "Oh, no! Not
again!" She ran towards the chair and peeked underneath.
While she peeked, the pink blob jumped out and ran towards the window.
"Ranka! Catch it!"
With all the speed she could muster, Ranka grabbed it with both
hands. It squirmed and chirped. As soon as she heard it,
"Hope! What are you doing? You shouldn't make Sheryl
mad!" When Hope peered from under the pink cloth, Ranka poked the
red crystal on her forehead to chastise her. Immediately, a
strong, musky scent filled her nostrils. Her skin felt like it
was wrapped in something silky and warm.
"What is it with Vajra and my underwear?" Sheryl quickly removed
the pink garment over Hope.
A drop of sweat rolled down Ranka's forehead. Her mind had
gathered the facts and presented a conclusion. "If it was... then
what I smelled..." The revelation shocked her senseless.
Only the bitter taste of warm blood on her lip broke her trance.
Quickly, she pinched a wad of tissue to her nose. Behind her, she
heard Sheryl call the hotel staff and asked them for laundry
service. As another piece of evidence fell into place, the room
seemed to spin and she quickly sat down.
Sheryl moved the bin near the door. "That should take care of
it." Her eyes bored down on Hope. She wagged her finger in
reproach. "Hope, stay out of that bin, you hear? If I ever
catch you again, I'll leave you with the queen!"
Hope seemed to shiver. She wiggled out of Ranka's hand and hid
under the couch.
"What's wrong with you?"
Ranka moved her hand away and stuffed the tissue between the seams of
the chair's upholstery. "Ummm... I felt a sneeze coming, so... I
tried to stop it." Unfortunately, her lie threatened to reveal
itself when she noticed that Sheryl was standing skirtless before
her. "I... er... excuse me!" She hurriedly went to the
bathroom and left a very puzzled Sheryl behind.
Once inside, she leaned on the closed door and took several deep
breaths. Just for show, she poured some water in the toilet and
flushed it. With one more deep breath and hope that Sheryl
decided to wear a skirt, she opened the door.
"Well? Should I wear purple or blue?"
Immediately, her hands went to her face. "Please just wear one!"
With all the self-control and discipline at her disposal, Ranka managed
to make it through the rest of the session despite all the instances of
Sheryl being in various forms of undress. In the end, she picked
the green dress while Sheryl selected a light blue blouse and purple
"Say, Sheryl, what do you do in your spare time?"
"Oh, me? I like to try exotic pastries and do yoga."
"Really? I didn't think you'd be interested in yoga. What's
"It's really relaxing for me. Plus it keeps me fit and
flexible. Wanna try it?"
"Is it hard?"
"No, not at all. Give me a minute to find my mats."
Sheryl rummaged through her luggage and pulled out two mats. She
spread them on the floor next to each other. Then she looked at
"You need to wear comfortable clothes that won't restrict your
body. Let me find a shirt and a pair of shorts for you."
Once they were adequately attired, Ranka did her best to copy Sheryl as
she demonstrated various poses. Occasionally, Sheryl manually
corrected her body position.
"Twist a little bit more this way," said Sheryl as her hands gently
guided Ranka's hips. "Are you getting the hang of it?"
"A bit... it's tricky to find my balance sometimes."
"You'll get better the more you do it. Do you like it?"
"Yes, it's pretty relaxing, and stretching feels good."
"In that case, do you want to do it together? It would be nice if
I had someone else to do it with."
"Sure! But I thought yoga was a one-person exercise. Does
it require two people?"
Actually, she just wanted to know if Ranka might like to take the yoga
class in the hotel's athletic club with her. Her answer indicated
that she misunderstood the question. However, the
misunderstanding produced an interesting question. She decided to
go along. "You can do yoga by yourself or in a group. There
are even poses that you can do with a partner."
"Really? Can we try it?"
She smiled warmly at her enthusiasm. "Of course. Anything
you want. We'll do the easiest one, Double Down Dog. Do the
regular down dog, and I will be on top to put a little bit of pressure
on your back."
Ranka did as she was told. Because of her head position, she
could only see Sheryl's feet. Then she felt Sheryl's hands on her
hips and something soft and warm on her lower back. Her hands
traveled down her thighs and pushed against her kneecaps.
"Is this too much pressure?" murmured Sheryl.
The soft pressure on her back and the sensation of her hands caressing
the skin of her thighs temporarily stopped all rational thought.
It took a few moments for Ranka's brain to respond. "...No..."
she managed to squeak out.
"We'll hold this pose for about thirty seconds..." said Sheryl softly.
After the allotted time passed, Sheryl's hands left her knees and
slowly swept upwards to settle between her thighs. "I'm going
pull outward. Tell me when to stop."
Breathlessly, she whispered, "There... that's good..." Even
though its purpose was to make her relax and stretch, the very fact
that Sheryl had her hands where they were was causing her to tense
up. Sheryl must have noticed and lessened the pressure.
"Try to relax into it... don't be tense."
She tried and at the same time, debated with herself. "It's just
yoga... there's nothing wrong with her touching me... this is just part
of the pose..." However, her giddy mind did little to calm her
Finally, her hands went to her hips and she lifted herself from her
back. Ranka's legs buckled and she knelt to a knee. Sheryl
knelt next to her.
"Was that too much?"
She took a deep breath. "...ah... no... it felt really good."
Sheryl smiled sweetly. "I'm glad. Do you want to try
"Um, sure... but... can I be on top, this time?"
She laughed. "As you wish..."
For the next one, Sheryl went into child pose and instructed her to lie
on her back so that she faced the ceiling. Although her back
muscles were stretching nicely, somehow it felt less
satisfactory. Disappointed at just resting on the floor, her
hands twitched with impatience. Then Sheryl told her to kneel on
her buttocks and apply gentle pressure on her spine. Her hands
eagerly moved to comply. As her hands slid gently over her back,
she could feel her breathing.
"Mmmm... that feels good right there... just a bit more... ahhhh..."
Pleased at being praised for her efforts, she continued to apply
pressure as requested. When the stretch was done, Sheryl sat
"This one is called boat pose. You'll see why in a minute.
Give me your hands... good. Now spread your legs apart and push
against the soles of my feet. There you go... Now, here's
the tricky part. We're going to lean back, lift heart to heaven
and lift our feet as high as possible. Ready?"
"Yes.." nodded Ranka. Slowly, their feet rose above their hands
and only their buttocks were in contact with the ground. Afraid
that her head would hit the floor, she gripped Sheryl's hands tighter.
"Don't worry... I won't let you go."
That simple statement calmed her fears and she allowed herself to
relax. Sheryl pushed their feet outward and she felt her pelvic
muscles stretch. They held the pose for at least thirty seconds.
Then just as slowly, Sheryl lowered their feet and pulled her forward
into an upright sitting position.
"How was that?"
"Wow... I can't believe we managed to keep our balance like that."
"It's not easy. I've tried it with other partners before.
But with you, it lasted the longest."
Her cheeks warmed up to her praise. "Really?"
"If you think this is hard, there are tantra yoga and kama sutra poses
that are much more complex." She regarded her thoughtfully.
"It's pretty advanced, but maybe, you might be able to do it."
"Can you do it?"
"Of course, but I need a partner."
"I'll be your partner!"
"Are you really sure you want to try it? Usually, it's not taught
"Please let me try!" came her confident answer.
"Alright. We'll start with an easy one."
The next series of poses were not just more complex, but required even
more body contact. A pose often resulted with Sheryl's face being
mere inches from her own and/or having their hands touch various places
on their bodies. By the third pose, Ranka was breathing hard even
though the poses did not demand high flexibility.
"Is this too much for you?" asked Sheryl softly, tickling her
ear. "I can show you more later."
"I'm fine... I just... I feel like I'm floating..."
"These poses encourage your energy centers to open and activate.
Do you feel a slight tingling in your solar plexus?" Her hand
hovered over her torso.
If opening her energy center felt like having butterflies in her
stomach, then yes, she did. "I... think so..."
"That's a good start." Sheryl lowered her limbs carefully.
"The first set opens your energy center. The next set aligns the
energy with your body and encourages it to flow more freely." She
knelt by her mat and began to roll it up.
"Aren't we going to do the next set?"
Sheryl looked surprised. "You still want to do more? Aren't
you tired? It seemed that you were out of breath after the last
"I... I was just trying to breathe deeply, like you said. I'm not
tired at all."
"Are you sure? I don't want you to strain yourself."
"Like I told you before, as quarter zentraedi, my stamina's pretty
She chuckled as she knelt in front of her. "Alright. We'll
do a few more poses, and then we have to go get dinner. Are you
Ranka beamed. "Yes, I'm ready!"
Although Sheryl was happy that Ranka wanted to do more, she began to
see the peril in doing the advanced poses. Those poses required a
lot of body contact and so whenever their skin met, Sheryl felt a
slight tingle where their bodies exchanged warmth. It was as if
there was a static field like the one generated by a portable light
projection display. Even worse, sometimes her hands seemed to
have a mind of its own. On several occassions, she had to clench
her hand whenever it strayed too close to Ranka's chest or inner thighs.
The clock read 6:42 PM by the time they finished the seventh
pose. While Ranka changed behind her, Sheryl could not believe
that they did that many poses together given her aversion to changing
in front of her. She grinned smugly to herself when Ranka took
the bait of learning supposedly more advanced yoga. She expected
that she would only last for one pose. However, even when she
chose to end the lesson, Ranka asked for more.
"You continue to amaze me, Ranka," she said to herself as she watched
her change via the reflection on the mirror. Absentmindedly, she
scratched her palm. By the middle of the sixth pose, it took all
her concentration and discipline not to touch the green-haired girl
inappropriately. Her mind was nearly driven insane by the effort
whenever her hands touched Ranka's bare skin. But Ranka trusted
her, so she fought against her own urge.
For dinner, they ordered from the room service menu. While
waiting for the food to arrive, they quickly tidied up the dinning
table. Soon, a waiter came with their food on a cart and
transformed the ordinary table into one typically found at an expensive
restaurant. He finished the job by lighting two candles inside
Sheryl pulled out a chair for her. "Please have a seat."
"Thanks." Then the lights dimmed, further increasing the ambience
of the candles. From the karaoke player, piano music began to
play. Before this elegant table, Ranka felt like she was on a
date. The atmosphere reminded her of scenes from teenage romance
novels. Read from the comfort of her bed, her imagination tried
to recreate the scene from the descriptions in the books. Right
now, her imagination fell horribly short of reality.
Sheryl sat down. "Let's eat!"
As expected, the food was delicious. While they ate, they talked
about the upcoming concert and their song selections. Suddenly,
Sheryl stood up when a particularly moving piano solo was
playing. She grabbed a pen and a piece of paper and proceeded to
write furiously. Curiously, Ranka stopped eating and just watched
her. By the time the solo ended, she straightened up and filed
the paper away in a folder.
"Sorry, I just had an idea of some lyrics. I had to write it
down." explained Sheryl as she sat down.
"Wow... you're so talented, Sheryl. I've never written my own
"Have you tried to?"
Ranka bowed her head. "A couple of times... but I couldn't get
the words to work out."
"If you're up for it, how about we try after dinner?"
"Ah! I'm really not very good at it!"
"That's fine. You have to start somewhere. I have hundreds
of lyrics written, but only a few ever get recorded."
Her eyes went wide. "That many?"
"Yes... you can say that those were the failures. If it doesn't
work out, no big deal. I learned why it didn't work.
Besides, I can always try again. Because the moment I stop
trying, I stop being a musician."
Her heart filled with admiration over the girl. She clasped her
hands before her and spoke in her most obsequious voice. "Oh,
great songmaster! Please teach this lowly singer how to compose!"
Sheryl laughed heartily. "Stop that! I'm just an
idol! I can't compare to real composers!"
She laughed with her. Eventually, they finished their dinner and
moved their used dishes onto the dining cart. Then the cart was
wheeled outside the room for pick up.
For their composing session, Sheryl took out a portable keyboard and
put it on the table. She handed her a pen and a pad of paper.
Then she sat next to the keyboard and looked at Ranka
expectantly. Will she finally hear her true song?
"So, mademoiselle... what is it that you want to sing about?" asked
Sheryl while she fingered the keys to play a simple melody.
"Well... I like to sing happy songs."
"Then write about your happy feelings. Think of a time when you
were really happy. Then just let the words flow. You don't
have to write a lot. Just enough to get started."
She closed her eyes to help herself remember. She remembered
occasions when she felt happy: her best birthday party, winning
the baking contest, being awarded a silver medal for track and
field. But somehow, she could not remember details. The
memories were too distant for her to describe exactly how she
felt. She could only rely on what she felt right now. She
opened her eyes to see Sheryl's smiling face.
A warm glow filled her heart as she recalled that afternoon. It
was the best day off she had ever had. Her lips drew taut with
determination and her fingers positioned the pen on the pad. "I
don't want to forget this day... these feelings..." she thought as she
began to write.
Your song filled my lost heart
And awakened my true self
Your guiding hand led me
To the promise of the future
One day I will find myself,
my truth and my voice.
So hear my heart beating
To the melody of your song
Will you take my hand
And fly with me
In the sea of stars?
About thirty minutes later, Ranka showed her the lyrics. "Is this
Skipping through the various corrections and illegible scribbles,
Sheryl read lyrics. "Not bad for her first try..." she
thought. She handed it back to Ranka.
"Yes, it's enough. It's pretty good actually... better than some
of my earlier lyrics. So now, here's the hard part. You
have to set the lyrics to a melody. Pick a melody and try to fit
the lyrics into it. In general, you match one syllable per
note. Usually, you may have to modify the lyrics a bit to get it
to work. Here, let me show you an example." On a digipad,
she displayed some lyrics on its screen. Her fingers played the
melody as she sang the lyrics.
Being with you is fantastic.
My love, tell me what you want
And I'll give it to you.
"It doesn't sound quite right, so what if the lyrics were rearranged to
the right number of syllables for the melody?" Then she sang.
Let me know what you want, I would give
How fantastic to be with you. My love!
"Ah!" exclaimed Ranka, understanding dawning on her face. "That's
from 'What 'bout my Star!'"
"That's right! What's on the screen is the original. I had
to move things around to match the song. So now, think about a
melody to go with a song. It doesn't have to be fancy. Just
something that could bring out the feeling in your lyrics. If you
want some ideas, you can try the rhythm maker on this keyboard."
Sheryl showed her how to adjust the tempo, pitch and instruments.
After experimenting for about twenty minutes, Ranka settled on a
"Hmmm... nice arrangement... it suits you." remarked Sheryl as she
saved the melody in the keyboard's memory.
Sheryl nodded. "I think that without meaning to, a part of the
composer shows through his or her song. Just like yours does."
Ranka blushed with her praise. "Does... does it sound childish?"
"Of course not! It's got a very upbeat tune. Sorta
cheerful, just like you are. Anyway, I'll transfer the melody to
the digipad. And then I'll link it to this scoremaker
program. There you go." She handed the digipad to
Ranka. "Use the stylus to move the syllables around. If you
want to change the words, just select the measures and write in the new
While Ranka was busy editing her lyrics, the phone rang. Sheryl
answered it and Elmo Kridanik's face appeared on the view panel.
"Hello, Sheryl. Sorry to bother you so late. Are you busy?"
She looked at the clock on the view panel and was surprised to see
10:38 PM. Time had passed without her noticing. "No, what's
"I'd like to meet with you and Ranka about the festival. Do you
have time tomorrow? It'll be a couple of hours tops."
"Hmmm... Let me ask Ranka."
"Oh, she's with you?" asked Elmo, sounding surprised.
"Yes. Just a moment, please."
They agreed to ask the queen to start the lessons later in the
afternoon. Sheryl relayed that information to Elmo and bid him
goodnight. Meanwhile, Ranka was deeply focused on her
editing. Amused, she smiled at the sight. Reluctantly, she
tapped her shoulder.
"It's getting late, Ranka. You should go home."
Ranka did not look up and moved a couple of syllables before
responding, "What time is it?"
Then she looked up. "What? Already?"
"Yes. Shall I call Lisa?"
Her eyes returned to the digipad. The stylus tapped on a syllable
in a slow steady rhythm. "I guess..."
"Ok. Let me save that for you." She held out her hand.
Slowly, Ranka gave her the digipad. Sheryl saved the score and
setup a link. "Here. Why don't you keep it for now?
I've created a link for you to automatically display your score by
Her eyes twinkled with joy. "Wow! Thanks, Sheryl!
You're the best!"
Lt. Maxwell arrived promptly upon being called. After Ranka left,
Sheryl picked up the pad. Her fingers traced her awkward script
and corrections. "Such a gentle soul... so pure... who would've
thought that you had such a poet in you? How could they have
missed your potential?" Then she smiled smugly. "I guess
it's up to me then." She laid the pad near her pillow and got
ready for bed.
"What happened to you?" asked Sheryl in alarm.
"I... I had a hard time sleeping last night..." replied a drowsy Ranka
as she locked up.
"You were editing all night, weren't you?" chided Sheryl as she hustled
her into Lt. Maxwell's car.
"No... I really couldn't sleep." She yawned. Last night,
her body felt like it had run a mile. The rush made her restless
and she ended up tossing and turning until 3 AM.
By the time their morning lesson was over, Ranka looked like a wilting
flower. Sheryl decided to do something about it.
"Ranka, you look awful. I'll ask Lisa to take you home.
Then I'll ask Elmo to meet us at your house instead. That should
give you around 2 hours of sleep."
Relief washed over her face. "Is that ok?"
She turned on her uniphone. "Yes. I'll call her right now."
After dropping Ranka off, Sheryl went back to the lab to discuss the
lessons with the scientists.
"She had us harvesting food and feeding larvae. While we were
gathering fruit and flowers, I noticed something..." She rubbed
her chin thoughtfully. "Their forests should be overgrown, but
they're not. The same can be said of their meadows."
Dr. Zore nodded in agreement. "I've looked at all the field
reports. It's as if the grass was kept in check to a certain
"Based on what I've seen and what she asked us to do, I get the sense
that they're keeping order in their own way. If so, then those
exercises were needed to command groups of Vajra to do various chores
around the planet. But to do them all at once... that's the job
of the queen."
"Remarkable insight! As expected from Dr. Nome's granddaughter."
exclaimed Dr. Jenus.
"What did you say?"
"That you've got good instincts as a scientist."
"No, after that."
"About being her granddaughter?"
"Yes... my grandmother... did you know her?"
His eyes softened in memory. "Ah, yes! I met her once, long
ago when she was still a student. At first, I thought she was the
quiet type, but let me tell you, after a few drinks, she..."
Grace once told her that she had no living relatives. Her ears
could hardly believe what she just heard. "Ahem... How did you
know that I'm her granddaughter?"
"...and then she kicked... oh, that... we just received the research
files from Galaxy. A good number of them involve you. In
fact, did you know that your biological data in the Frontier servers
are totally different from Grace's? For example, your records
list your blood type as A, but the Galaxy files list Alpha, a very rare
Mayan blood type. We had to use our most current scans of you to
figure out which was real."
She paled. Why would her files be incorrect? Somewhere,
there had to be answers. "So what else is in those files?"
"About Dr. Nome's research, which includes quite a lot about
Vajra. Dr. Zore, did you get a chance to look at them while we
Dr. Zore nodded and flipped his digipad over so that she could
see. "Yes. The files of interest to you are about your
infection. These are from Grace O'Connor's private
archive." He spoke her name as if he had dirt in his mouth.
"Right now, you're probably feeling minor effects of the virus since
most of it is in your abdomen. However, our scans of your body
show that more of it is spreading to your brain where it used to
reside. Eventually, you'll be sick again. So I'm compiling
a report for you to read. It should be ready this afternoon."
"And how does that help me?"
"Now that we have direct access to the queen, perhaps we can ask for
her help in curing your infection or finding a way to make the virus
Her heart began to beat excitedly at the possibility of a complete
cure. If she could somehow explain the infection to the queen,
then maybe she could tell her the cure. "Thank you! Please
send it to me when it's ready!"
Dr. Zore inclined his head. "Of course! It's the least I
can do for you. As soon as we're done, I shall continue on the
Sheryl left the lab in high spirits. She met up with Elmo and
picked up some lunch. On the way to Ranka's house, she checked
her messages on her phone and found one from Cathy. She read:
The Galaxy files indicate that you are Dr. Mao Nome's
NUNS has managed to locate several people with the last
name of Nome on Earth
and verified that they are your relatives via DNA
matching. See the attachment
for their contact information. Best regards, Cathy.
She leaned back. If it was this easy to find her relatives, how
come they were not found in the first place? All those years
living alone, all of that should not have happened. Why was she
subjected to it? Unfortunately, the one who held the answers to
her questions was out of her reach. If hell existed, she hoped
that Grace would suffer an infinity of pain for her treachery.
They arrived at Ranka's house a little after 1 PM. Sheryl fished
out Ranka's key that she gave her before going to sleep and opened the
door. Elmo began unpacking their lunch while she went upstairs to
Ranka's room. She knocked on her door. When she heard no
response, she opened it quietly.
At the threshold, she stopped. Her room was filled with posters
and a good number of them were of her. Her cheeks flushed
slightly as her heart swelled with pride. Other than that, it was
a typical girl's room with the usual sprinkling of various stuffed
animals, books and a desk.
A mound on the bed and soft breathing indicated that she was still
asleep. Sheryl walked over and opened the blinds to let the light
In response, Ranka's head turned away from the window. A lock of
hair crept towards her face and covered her eyes.
Fascinated, Sheryl knelt by her bed and tucked the hair behind Ranka's
ear. Slowly, her hair slid off the ear and covered her eyes
again. She giggled softly. "So cute..."
The experiment was repeated several times to her amusement. On
her third attempt, Ranka's hand rose and slapped Sheryl's wrist.
"Stop it... nii-chan..." came Ranka's drowsy complaint.
Sheryl smirked slyly and bent towards her ear. "Wake up...
Her eyes opened with narrow slits at first before revealing
reddish-orange orbs. "Ah! Sheryl!" In a flurry of
motion, she pulled the bed covers over her so that only half her face
"Up and at 'em, sleepy head! Elmo's here."
"Umm... can you give me a few minutes to get dressed?" asked Ranka,
trying to hide her blushing cheeks behind the blanket.
Trying her best not to laugh at Ranka's cute yet embarassed face, she
replied smoothly, "Sure. Take your time. We'll be
Once properly attired, Ranka met them at the dining table. They
talked about the festival while having lunch. By the time they
were done, they had selected the order of their songs and their
"Your performances will be on stage 1 at 8 PM. Here's a map of
the festival and your food and token cards. To make sure that
there's enough food to go around, each person is limited to 20 food
credits. You have 100 tokens to spend on games, rides and
whatever else you might want to buy. So feel free to enjoy
yourselves. Just remember to come to the main tent at 7 PM to get
"Thanks, Elmo! We'll be sure to!" beamed Ranka.
"My pleasure. Anyway, thanks for meeting me. I'm going to
see the stage crew now."
After Elmo left, Lt. Maxwell came to drive them to the lab. As
usual, the scientists accompanied them to the mothership.
Once there, Ranka looked around. On the first opportunity she
asked the queen. "Excuse me, where's Ai-chan?"
"She is being prepared." The queen pointed to a very large cocoon
on the far wall.
"To learn from you."
She tried to get the queen to explain more, but after getting several
cryptic replies, she gave up. Instead, she concentrated more on
the lesson to make up for a rather dismal performance in the morning.
When they were done, Sheryl asked Ranka to go ahead. "I'll bring
some dinner and meet you at your house."
Although puzzled, she complied. After she left, Sheryl told the
queen about her infection, using Dr. Zore's report as a
reference. It took a lot of rephrased sentences and mental
images, but finally, the queen seemed to grasp the concepts. The
projection of her mother looked thoughtful.
"We must confer. When we have an answer we will tell you."
She sighed. It would have to do.
Meanwhile, Ranka decided to visit Nanase who was reading her email on
the portable terminal. They talked about what had happened since
her last visit.
"And then we did yoga. It was tough at first, but then I got the
hang of it and she even taught me advanced moves."
"Wow, I didn't know that there's advanced yoga! What's it
called?" asked Nanase who opened a link to Frontier Encyclopedia.
"Hmm... I think she mentioned Tantra... and also the kama sutra."
Nanase's fingers danced over the keyboard, typing the words for the
search command. "Here it is!" She selected a search result
and displayed it. "Whoa... Tantra Yoga is a branch of yoga
that focuses on developing and releasing sexual energy from one's
energy centers..." She fell silent. Her eyes were moving
rapidly, indicating that she was speed-reading.
Ranka's jaw dropped in horror. The partners in the pose were
nude. As soon as Nanase moved the cursor over the search result
for kama sutra, Ranka knew that she had already finished reading the
article. Somehow, she must stop this. Her eyes quickly
scanned the surrounding area. Then, with all the clumsiness at
her disposal, she proceeded to trip on the power cord.
The screen blanked off. Nanase stared at it for a moment before
looking up. "Ah! Ranka! Are you alright?"
As she slowly picked herself off the floor, she pretended to
wince. "Ow... I'm ok... Sorry... I think my foot got
tangled up in the cables."
"No, it's my fault! I move the terminal around so much; the
cables are all over the place. Are you sure you're ok?"
She rubbed her knee. "I'm fine. I just landed hard on this
knee. I'll ice it when I get home."
"You should ice it now. We're in a hospital, so the nurse can
look at it right away." Nanase called a nurse who fetched an ice
pack for her supposedly bruised knee.
Determined to switch topics, Ranka talked about her plans for the
festival. She tried to phrase her dialogue to make Nanase think
that she wanted her opinion about certain things. Thankfully,
Nanase took the bait and did not mention yoga. Using an excuse to
meet Elmo about the festival, Ranka took the opportunity to leave.
Once at home, she fired up her terminal and did a similar search.
After reading half of the articles and watching the videos, she had
identified all of the poses that they did together. As she leaned
back on her chair, the enormity of her crime hit her like a
meteor. "I've... I've corrupted Nana-chan!"
They were wrong about Sheryl Nome. She was not just the Galaxy
Fairy. She was secretly the Galaxy Pervert. And then there
were the poses. Oh, the price of truth! Finally, she
understood why she could not sleep on that night.
However, that was not the worst part. She knocked her forehead on
her desk as she remembered the thrill as she did those poses with
her. "I... I loved every second of it... I'm... I'm the
worst!" She banged her forehead again. "I'm just as
Then she stiffened. Sheryl was coming over for dinner. Once
more, her head hit the desk. How could she face her?
Monica's face appeared in a subwindow on his screen. "Major
Sterne, the crew has finally cracked the lockout on the bridge. A
copy of the core dump of the bridge computer systems has been received."
"Please send them my best regards for a job well done," replied
"Yes, Major." Monica saluted and signed off.
Brera connected the link cable to his terminal and the data jack behind
his ear. After spending the last two days doing drills in the
simulator with skull squadron, data crunching was a welcome diversion.
With a goal of looking for anomalies that might harm Galaxy, he
systematically shifted through the data and made recommendations for
the crew to check. On his second sweep, he noticed it. The
number of ghost fighters that were launched, destroyed and docked was
not equal to the original total. As he was about to do a search
on missing fighters, Monica's voice blared from the terminal's speakers.
"All pilots ready for battle! I repeat, all pilots ready for
He rushed to his valkyrie and received a quick briefing. Macross
Quarter had received visual of the carrier and detected three
concentrations of fold waves near it.
Meanwhile, the bridge continued to monitor the situation. Monica
zoomed in on the fold gates and confirmed the appearance of Vajra
carriers. "Vajra carriers have arrived! Detecting launch of
"Engines on overdrive! Launch all valkyries within striking
As they sped towards the supply carrier, Falina, the crew watched
helplessly as the overwhelming numbers of Vajra wiped out the carrier
escorts. Then one of the Vajra carriers rammed into the Falina
and punctured its hull.
"Valkyries have launched!" reported Monica.
"All hands prepare for attack mode!"
The Quarter transformed and prepared its main gun. Two Vajra
carriers turned in its direction and opened their large jaws.
Blazing beams raced towards the Quarter. With agile maneuvers,
the Quarter dodged the beams and at the same time, closed the distance
between the carriers. Sticking its main gun in a Vajra carrier's
maw, it obliterated the carrier.
While its main weapon recharged, Alto and Brera took the opportunity to
fly into the other Vajra carrier and detonated the contents of their
armor packs inside. Meanwhile, Ozma and the rest of the squadron
picked off the Vajra fighters near the Falina.
The last Vajra carrier extracted itself out of the Falina. It
began to retreat.
"Oh no, you don't!" roared Ozma. He flew close and launched
a barrage of missiles at the retreating carrier. Suddenly, all
the Vajra fighters concentrated their attacks on the Falina.
"Protect the carrier! We need those biogenerators!" commanded
Reluctantly, Ozma broke off and rushed to defend the Falina.
From his valkyrie, Luca detected the concentration of fold waves.
"Simon! Peter! Follow it!" He confirmed that his
ghost fighters were speeding towards the Vajra carrier before assisting
In due time, the Vajra fighters were destroyed. All Quarter
maintenance crew rushed to the Falina to repair it.
"Damage report from the Falina is in... they've lost one of the
biogenerators and several crates of parts."
The lines on the captain's face furrowed with worry. Based on
their past experience with the Vajra, they never resorted to
piracy. At least, Luca ordered his fighters to follow the carrier.
"Setup long range scanners to find Lt. Angelloni's ghost
fighters. If there's a nest nearby, I want it found."
Around thirty minutes passed before Monica reported, "3 IFF signatures
detected on a planet about 3 light years away... Lt. Angelloni's
fighters and MG-A55H01E."
"MG? Contact Major Sterne."
Monica opened a channel and Brera's image occupied the main
screen. "Brera here."
"MG-A55H01E. Is that Galaxy's?"
Brera's face grew grim. "Not just Galaxy's. It's Grace's
personal fighter. That fighter was specially modified with an
enhanced slave mode from Grace and also has a spare cybernetic body in
its storage compartment."
The captain leaned back into his chair. "Tell me more about
it. Come over ASAP."
"Yes, sir." He signed off.
"Officer Lange, contact Major Ozma and Captain Stirling. Ask them
to join me in my meeting room."
Meanwhile, Brera flew back to the Quarter. In his rage, he
gnashed his teeth so hard that he bit his lip. As blood dripped
to his chin, only one thing occupied his mind: that damn bitch
Yoga videos: search on youtube
with these keywords:
Partner Yoga Positions : Boat Pose
Partner Yoga Positions : Assisted Downward Facing Dog Pose