It was night. The sound of running water was near, and when several people turned on their flashlights, they could make out the place as possibly a river bank. There were trees and other plants, and further in the distance there might've been buildings, it wasn't easy to make it all out in the darkness.
The ground was a bit uneven as well, and it wasn't long before some of the party were feeling the effects of the chill in the air.
"Brrr," Gretel said presently, "Should we continue here or go back to - " she suddenly stopped short and looked around. "What's that?"
Bez squinted. "What's what? All these flashlights are messin' with my night-vision."
"That." Gretel said, pointing upward at a shadowy structure and dark silhouette barely visible by it.
Bez frowned. "Thande? Matrix?"
"It is a man." Thande said. "On a bridge."
"Man on a bridge." Bez repeated. "Well, maybe we can figure out where we are from 'im."
"He is standing on the edge."
"What?" somebody else said in an alarmed whisper.
Bez frowned. "On the-" She stopped abruptly and gaped as the shadow dropped from the bridge and into the river.
There were several gasps and shrieks in reaction. Ameh's was particularly strong. "Oh my God!" she screamed, frozen to the spot.
"We've got a jumper!" Bez bellowed, charging to the edge of the river, and, after hastily shedding her coat and several electronic devices, plunged in after the man.
"Bez, what're you doing!?" Indy yelped.
"Bez, wait!" Matrix called out, but too late. He and the others bolted to the place on the riverbank where Bez had jumped in. "The current's too strong...!" Matrix fretted. "She won't be able to get herself back, never mind with a grown man in tow!" Without further ado, Matrix strode into the current and swam after Bez.
For several tense minutes, the only sound was the cold gurgling of the river.
Sigma squinted into the murk. "They've been gone too long!" She said nervously. "They've-"
With a loud splash, Matrix burst from the water, Bez holding to one of his arms, while both of them maintained a tight hold on the stranger. Bez and Matrix dragged him several yards away from the river before Bez relinquished her hold and quickly picked up her jacket.
"S-sheesh..." She muttered, her teeth chattering. "T-that r-river's f-fr-freezing."
"No kidding, Sherlock." Matrix shot. He looked over the man carefully, admonishing Bez all the while. "You should have let me or Thande go in. Didn't you see the river? That thing turns into a deathtrap when it passes the bridge."
"W-well ex-excuse m-me f-for b-being a g-good p-person!" Bez shot back, any real venom she might have had diffused by the cold.
"Yikes!" Ameh breathed. "What about him?" she indicated the stranger.
"He should be okay, but we need to get him warm and dry." Matrix said, ignoring Bez's comment. "Judging on how high that bridge is, he's lucky we were here. That impact must've hurt like heck, and with that current being what it was, he was in no shape to swim. Poor guy's out cold."
Pippi winced. "In that case, being unconscious is probably somewhat of a blessing."
Matrix looked over at the others. "I can fix the bruising and cracked ribs, and I can start a fire. Only trouble is, we need to get him out of these wet clothes, and, eh, none of us are his size. I assume Capri can magic something up for us? Oh, and for Bez too."
"No sweat," said Capri, and in a few moments, Bez's, Matrix's and the stranger's clothes were dried via magic touch. The effect was like watching something dry out but took a much shorter time. "Bit of a shortcut, I could've tried coming up with a couple of new outfits for ya," she said, "But, thought this might be more practical for now."
"Great." Matrix said with a smile.
Capri returned it with a smile of her own, but soon turned serious again. "That was - it took 10 years off my life."
Matrix began to work on his patient. "All right, there's plenty of wood around here. Thande, you mind getting us some timber?" He asked.
Thande nodded and left the group.
"W-who made y-you c-captain?" Bez asked. "G-giving orders a l-lot..."
"Well, I'm the first officer, so that means when the captain is incapacitated, I take over." Matrix said matter-of-factly.
Thande returned with an ample supply of wood.
"Great." Matrix said, quickly building a fire, with Pippi and Capri helping. "Now everyone huddle in. I don't want to turn over my patient to the local authorities until I know he's okay, and we don't really know the area that much anyway...in other words, I think for tonight, we camp out." He looked up and smiled. "On the plus side, we have a great view of the stars."
"That sounds good to me," said Indy, "I haven't camped out since I was little." She wasted no time taking her place at the fire, shivering from the night chill and the stress of nearly seeing someone's life come to an end if it hadn't been for these good people.
Pippi ushered Ameh over to the fire and invited her to get comfortable as she could.
Blankets were brought out and everyone eventually hunkered down for the night.
Bez stirred and opened her eyes slowly. She sat up and stretched, rubbing her shoulders.
The sun was rising, throwing their surroundings into sharp focus. They were near a large tall bridge over a gushing river. They seemed to be in a city, though the architecture appeared to be somewhat older than what Bez had expected.
Bez looked around the camp. People were moving about, though some were still asleep. Matrix and some of the others had tidied up the camp, putting away anything that wasn't being used.
"Hey, Scaly." Bez said, addressing Thande. "Crazy night, eh?"
Thande cocked his head at Bez curiously.
"Oh, forget it." Bez said playfully. "Matrix! How's your patient?"
"Quiet well." Matrix said. "In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised if he woke up soon."
"Really?" Bez questioned, moving to Matrix's side and looking down on the sleeping stranger. She frowned. "This guy...looks familiar, somehow."
Matrix frowned, studying his face. "Now that you mention it, he does."
Before they were able to muse any further about his appearance, he stirred slightly, and slowly opened his eyes.
Bez smiled. "Good morning, Starshine!" She said good-naturedly.
The man looked at her with an expression of slight bewilderment. He looked around, taking in his surroundings with the sharp gaze of one accustomed to putting odd things together.
Bez watched him for a moment before shaking her head. "Hey, guys, he's up!" She called.
The others approached the man. He regarded each of them evenly, watching their every move.
Matrix folded his arms. "It's uncanny..."
Several of the others looked on with a mixture of curiosity and concern.
When it appeared that the man had taken in his surroundings and was prepared to talk, Bez introduced the group to him.
"I'm captain Bez Marshall, this is my first officer and Ship Doctor, Matrix, our resident xenobiologist, Sigma Notrahn, for all intents and purposes, weapons and defense officer, Thande, and-ehm, we're still finding a position for Criterion MacAfee."
"And we're friends of theirs," said Gretel, stepping forward. "I'm Gretel,"
"I am Madonna Gale," she smiled and then indicated for the others to continue the introductions.
"My name is Pippi Longstocking, this is Capri Monroe, Ameh Chase, and Indy-Mae Who." The others said their hellos as they were introduced.
"All right, now that you know who we are, we'd like to know who you are. Intro please?" Bez prodded.
He looked over the group one last time, shrugged the blanket off his shoulders, and stood. He meticulously adjusted his uniform before squaring his shoulders and addressing the group. "Inspector Javert."
Bez gaped. "Hey, now, wha-?"
"Eh?" Gretel breathed.
Ameh shifted nervously, she was just as surprised, and also feeling terribly awkward. What could be said to this complex man who, even after all this, still seemed determined to keep a very stiff upper lip? "Nice to make your acquaintance?" That sounded incredibly tacky now. She finally decided to go with a nod.
Matrix broke into a broad grin. "I knew it!"
Thande remained expressionless, though his crest rose fractionally.
Pippi and Capri exchanged excited glances.
Criterion frowned and looked to Sigma. "Who is Inspector Javert?"
Sigma was beaming. "He's a character from a fantastic book, Les Miserables. He tracks down the main character, Jean Valjean, throughout the entire book, until in the end, he starts to have a change of heart-but he-can't quite handle it, so he-" Sigma's eyes went wide. "That's what he was doing on the bridge!"
Bez nodded. "And we stopped him...wait now, that means we're in Les Miserables?" She smiled sheepishly. "Guess I should've given that book a read-over..."
"Holy mackrel!" it was Gretel's turn to beam.
Capri tried to remain stoic, but she couldn't help the grin of recognition from coming over her face.
Javert frowned at the group. He had never seen these people before, and yet they knew who he was. It was enough to make him wary.
Ameh, feeling intimidated, turned aside and pretended to get something out of her eye.
"Where are you from?" Javert asked cautiously.
Indy exchanged looks with Pippi. How to explain this...?
"Oh, ehm, whadaya think, guys?" Bez asked, turning to the others. "Tell 'im? I say yes. After all, he gave Thande a good look over without so much as blinkin' an eye at him."
Matrix nodded. "He can take it."
"All right." Bez said. "Technically speaking, I'm from across the pond, in the States. But my companions here, two are alien species, one is a holobot-a man built from metal, in essence, and Sigma is a human from another planet."
"I honestly don't know where I originate from," said Pippi, "I was born at sea, and moved around a lot. The rest of our company hails from various locales."
Javert regarded them silently for a few moments. After what he had just been through, he was willing to believe them.
"I see." He said at length.
"Good." Bez said. "Now-"
Bez was cut off by an unclear yet very unnerving sound. There was a faint cry in the distance, followed by shouts, then a thwacking sound, then another cry.
"What's that!?" Ameh, already on edge, stiffened.
"Where's that coming from?" Indy became terribly alarmed.
"Sounds like it came from over there." A pale-faced Madonna gestured up and to the right.
The distressed sounds came again.
Thande cocked his head slightly and sniffed. "We must hurry." He said. "There is blood in the air."
Capri flushed, then turned pale, but said nothing as she also was trying to figure out where it was coming from.
Bez frowned. With each distant thwack, she flinched involuntarily.
Pippi's expression mirrored everyone else's, she too thought she could recognize these sounds, and they meant nothing good. She had to fight the desperate feeling of just wanting to run and stop it. First, it was a matter of finding out where exactly it was coming from. Every cell in her being screamed for her to get over there and put an end to it.
Thande loped up the river, followed closely by Gretel, wwho called out to the others, "This way! Thande's got something!"
Thande paused briefly for another sniff, and carried on as the sound s and scentsgot stronger and nearer
The group hurried along, and finally they could make out a lone figure standing, shouting, and seemed to be making downward slashing motions. The second figure hadn't come into view yet, but could be heard crying out in pain as the lashes hit their mark.
Thande was first to reach the scene. His crest was fully risen, and his intense, baleful glare fell on the attacker. He let out a vicious snarl.
The figure shrieked, recoiled and turned to run, but she was out of time.
The rest of the group had arrived
They all rushed forward, Bez and Gretel in front.
There was a struggle and more shouting as Bez brought the lasher to her knees and then to the ground.
"Hey, what are you doing?" The violent bully squealed.
"What am I doing, you sick little maggot?" Bez snarled. "I could ask you the same thing!" There was a wild and furious look in Bez's eyes, one that fell like a physical blow on the bully. "You derange little cretin..." She muttered venomously. Though the anger in her eyes was plain, there was also a glassy look to them, as if she were only partially aware of her actions.
"No kidding!" Pippi said sternly.
Gretel managed to retrieve the whip as the blighter had lost her grip on it. "Yeah," She added. "Give us a reason not to pummel you into oblivion!"
Pippi and Sigma approached the victim, knelt down, and got to work untying her.
"Anything I can do?" Capri joined them. "What ailed that little mouse to hurt you?"
"I don't know," said Pippi, incensed. "There's a lot of blood here. Matrix, Capri?" She implored.
The victim was trembling violently and having trouble drawing breath.Her eyes were full of fear and pain.
"Easy now, they won't hurt you again." Capri tried to reassure her.
Matrix walked quickly to the victim's side. His face went ashen as he examined her wounds. "I can fix it." He said quietly. "I can fix it...but it might sting a bit." He added gently. "But I'll be very careful. I'll get you patched up."
The victim nodded numbly, and Matrix carefully began to close the wounds, cleaning up whatever blood he could as he did.
Meanwhile, the bully had been struggling violently against Bez in an attempt to get back at her victim. "And I'm not a mouse!" She protested.
"You are, next to me!" Capri glared back at her. "Oh, Gretel, wait, don't toss that thing," Referring to the whip, "Give it here, I'll dispose of it once and for all."
"Nooooo!" The perpetrator wailed.
"Shut up, scum!" Gretel snapped, giving the bully girl one lash with it before going over to hand it to Capri.
The infernal little bully brat howled as she watched Capri take the whip from Gretel. There was no way she would ever get it back now.
Capri suddenly shuddered, eyes going wide. "I better hang on to this." She hurried off, lash in hand, only to return in a moment without it.
Capri turned her attention back to the victim and was about to help Matrix with the final bits of healing.
"Wait a minute," a shaken Indy approached and got a look at the woman's face.
"Out of the way, Indy." Said Pippi quietly. "This woman needs Matrix and Capri's help now."
"Yeah, but, I think I know her." Indy refused to move out of the way, she looked imploringly at Pippi, then back at the victim, then at Matrix and Capri. "Is this- Mira Belle?"
The victim looked astonished, but still afraid. She nodded. "Indy?"
"Oh man, what barbaric sadistic puke-face did this to you?" Indy, pale-faced, only drew nearer, looking into Mira Belle's face and trying to smooth her long black hair back.
"Senna," Mira Belle began, and took another ragged breath. "And someone else...a man I don't know. She-got him to help her tie me up."
"What the freaking - "Indy's fury suddenly took over. She straightened up, shaking with anger, face going crimson, a dangerous glint in her eyes. "I'm gonna kill that wench! I'll kill 'er!" she stormed off.
"Oh, her..." Capri muttered in disgust.
"Indy, wait!" Pippi moved off to confront the victimizer, and see that her friend wouldn't take things too far in this state of rage.
Capri reassured Mira Belle and told her to lie quietly, that she would be okay.
"She's right." Matrix added. "You're going to be fine." He took a step back from Mira Belle to give her some breathing room. "Just take it easy for awhile. You'll be a bit sore, but that should only last till tomorrow at the latest."
Mira Belle nodded. "Thanks." She said, smiling out of relief and gratitude.
"You're welcome." Matrix replied. "Just rest now. Doctor's orders."
Senna had continued struggling the entire time, and muttered an unintelligible insult at Bez.
Bez blinked, the glassy look in her eyes passing to be replaced by their usual sharpness. "Ah, shuddup, craphead." she snapped, swatting Senna on the back of her head. At seeing Pippi and Indy approach, Bez roughly pulled Senna to her feet. "You're gonna get it now," She hissed softly. "They have experience with ya, which means they'll wanna tear you apart even more than I do."
Senna scoffed. "Oooh, I'm scared."
"You should be!" Indy snarled. "Give it to 'er, Bez!
Bez swatted Senna again, this time with the butt of her Burner.
"Youch!" Senna yelped.
""You deserved that and more!!" Indy shouted. "Just be glad she got to you first!"
Senna scowled at them both. and declared "That won't stop me from doing this!" She took out a pair of scissors from her pocket. "I can still chop off that stupid long black hair of yours, Mira Belle, then you can't say Treize is in love with it any more and I'll use it for-YOUCH!"
Senna was pushed violently from behind by Indy.
Pippi got quickly in front of Indy, preventing her from pummelling Senna to pieces.
"Hey what's the big idea!?" Indy protested.
While Senna was still prone on her front, Pippi knelt and flipped her over on her back. "So, Senna," She hissed menacingly. "We meet again!" Without giving Senna a chance to answer, Pippi wrenched the scissors out of her hand. "I don't think Mira Belle is the one about to get a new hairdo."
"No!" Senna wailed, struggling in vain.
Indy began kicking at Senna, causing her to cry out. "Where's your partner, Senna!?" She demanded venomously.
"Indy!" Pippi admonished. "Enough!"
But Indy wasn't listening. "Where is he, you self-serving idiot!" She demanded, kicking Senna again.
"Ouch! I don't know!"
"Liar! Where is he, you bloodthirsty little worm!?"
"Indy! I said enough!"
"I haven't even warmed up yet!" Indy snapped. "You're gonna get it in the neck, Senna!"
"Cool it, Indy!" Pippi roughly hauled Senna to a standing position and tried to drag her out of the way of Indy. "You'll answer to us, Senna," She said, furious as Indy but much more controlled. "Where is your partner?"
"He's-" Senna didn't get a chance to say.
Indy was determined not to be denied, and she continued attacking Senna.
Senna fought back as well as she could, and Pippi kept managing to get between the two fighting girls so that she was the one taking the brunt of their fury.
She finally managed to grab hold of them both and hold them apart so they couldn't scrap.
That didn't stop them from hurling insults at each other.
"Wenchpants!" Senna screamed.
"Maggot!" Indy screamed back.
"I don't know how you can excuse Mira's egotism!"
"Her egotism? Senna, please! You wrote the book on that! You're just jealous because-"
"She's got prettier hair than you, and you're-"
"Hardly! Her hair's creepy!-"
"You're in love with that disgusting one-woman crime-wave, Lady Une! Death to her!"
"Yes you are!" Indy taunted Senna mercilessly. "You're her pathetic bootlicking little lapdog,"
"You're so wrong about this!" Senna exclaimed incredulously. "Don't you see that Mira has tried to make Treize into her own bootlicking little lapdog!?"
"As far as Wench Une is concerned," Indy continued. "You sure made a nice little replacement for her when Terrorist Treize finally kicked the bucket!"
"Finally? You sound like you think it's a good thing that he died!"
"Right, here you are, the big tough Senna, you lash someone half to death for real, and then cry over a STUPID celluloid cartoon terrorist who doesn't even exist enough to care one way or the other what either you or Mira Belle think!"
"Knock it off, you two!" Javert snapped, speaking for the first time since their brief conversation that morning.
The two subsided to silence, though Indy still looked like she wanted to rip Senna a new one.
Bez had been chuckling quietly to herself at the sight of Indy viciously tearing Senna apart, and full-on laughed at Javert's comment. "Atta Inspector!" She thought.
Suddenly, Capri, who had done all she could for Mira Belle, approached Senna. "Since you have such a thing for Mira's long black hair,"
"I don't!" Senna protested. "In her stories, she's always going on about it herself!"
Capri paid no attention to this. "You can have it!"
"What? Did you cut it off?" Senna suddenly looked hopeful.
"I was about to, you know!" said Senna. "Then you guys showed up."
"That's not all you were gonna do, your kind always has a never-ending list of sinister ideas and the tools to go along with them!" Capri approached Senna, glowering down at her.
"Yeah, dang straight!" Gretel fell in behind Capri, shooting a baleful glare at Senna. "Two of your comments from your freakin' hate campaign said as much, and they got me screaming for YOUR BLOOD in a barrel!"
"First things first, Gretel," Pippi grinned, and then turned back to throw a disdainful scowl at Senna. "Do you know where we are?" she asked her.
Senna shook her head.
"Early nineteenth century France."
"Whoever brought you here didn't tell you?"
Senna stared blankly ahead, trying to avoid the unfriendly stares from Pippi, Capri, and Gretel.
"So, Senna," Pippi continued speculating, "maybe you wanted a place where you thought you could get away with it, a place where human rights were not yet as advanced as they should be."
Senna winced, knowing she was about to be thoroughly busted.
It was Capri who spoke next. "And whoever brought you here, must've had some motive of their own, but whatever the case," she paused, her expression growing even more baleful, "you're here at a time when such pleasant things as - the death penalty - are still the norm, and we could make sure you get it!"
Senna paled, a cold sweat breaking over her.
"So where's your friend now when you need them?"
Senna only stared and trembled, realizing that she hadn't known real fear until this moment.
"Well, whatever we decide, we'll try to have it done as easily and quickly as possible."
"And when they're done with you, I'll get what's left!" Gretel hissed before moving off.
Senna blubbered frantically, but there was no apology to Mira Belle in among the pleading for her own life.
Capri scowled. "Pippi, you can hand 'er off to me, now."
Senna couldn't help flinching at Capri's menacing manner. She looked and sounded like she could and just might do a lot more harm to her than Indy would.
"Gladly." said Pippi in disgust.
Pippi let go of Senna as Capri dragged her away.
"Oh boy, Senna's really in for it!" Ameh crowed. "It isn't fun getting on her bad side! Indicating Capri.
"Not all?" said Indy. "What else did that amoral swamp dweller have in mind?Not counting the bloodthirsty squirrels thing."
Ameh snickered at this last reference. Indy never seemed to run out of entertainingly derogatory descriptors for things and people she didn't like.
"Who knows?" said Pippi who was clearly as disgusted as everyone else.
"Nothing good." Bez added. "That we can guarantee." She scowled. "Nasty little-" She shuddered, and remained silent.
Matrix frowned and took Bez aside. "Hey, you okay? You sorta zoned out a bit back there."
Bez frowned. "Fine and dandy."
Matrix sighed softly. "Bez-"
"I was remembering something, okay?"
Bez nodded and shifted her weight uncomfortably.
Matrix nodded. "All right."
They rejoined the others. Indy had calmed down, and had begun to tremble uncontrollably and was quite short of breath.
Pippi noticed this and said, "You really overdid it, didn't you?"
Indy nodded. "I didn't feel tired until now."
"That's because your adrenalin was really pumping. But it'll be a while before you're completely back to what you should be after that ordeal with Tonya."
"That's what Senna reminds me of, now even more than ever. Seeing her do that to Mira Belle. That wench totally disgusted me before, but it's even deeper now that I actually saw her in action. I don't want her around, I want her gone!" Just because Indy was tiring out didn't take away from her mood as it turned from simply belligerent to threatening.
"She disgusts me, too, Indy," said Pippi, firmly enough to remove any doubt of that, "but since it was Mira Belle she mistreated, I think we should leave Senna's punishment up to her and the law."
"As long as the law allows me to carry it out!" Indy said, her tone just dripping with menace. "I'm not kidding, I'll see her ended, one way or another..."
Pippi hoped Indy was just blustering, but she really wasn't so sure at this point. Senna had been mean to Mira Belle for a long time, and had said some absolutely disgusting sickening things. Senna had been trounced by Indy in the past for it, but that was only a cyber battle. Now, this was for real, a physical confrontation, and with Indy's own turmoil as she struggled to cope with what Tonya had put her through, it could be likely that Indy's intent toward Senna wasn't just idle or bluff. Indy hadn't been bluffing the other times Pippi had seen her go after anyone who had ticked her off enough. She had only to remember Lady Une to know this was true.
In the meantime, Senna was having problems of her own. She squirmed, thrashed, and sometimes cried out as Capri and Ameh held her in place while Gretel chopped off her hair in massive, uneven clumps.
When that was done, they presented her to Mira Belle, and then Indy.
"Hah! Now she really is a bald-faced liar, look at that!" Indy jeered.
"Shut up, Indy!" Senna retorted.
"Or what? You gonna bore me to death with your stupid Latin lecture - "
"Will you two cut that racket!?" Javert was in no mood to listen to any more jibbering catfights from Senna and Indy.
"Thank you, Inspector Javert." Pippi said once all was silent.
Mira Belle couldn't help laughing as well, but she said "I'll be happy if I never have to deal with her ever again."
"Yeah, see all the friends you've managed to make here," Capri said to Senna. "But it's pretty cold here, and, I wouldn't want you freezing to death on account of your baldness, so let's fix that..." And Capri touched Senna's head.
Within a few moments, Senna once again had a full head of hair.
The others started to chuckle.
"Now, you might wanna get a look at yourself..." Said Capri, who was still too stern to even produce a grin. "Anybody got a mirror? My hands are a bit full right now."
Someone took one from her pack, and Capri told Senna to look at her reflection.
When she did, Senna's mouth dropped open, and she let out a long loud "WHAAAAA!?" Her hair was exactly as Mira Belle's had been, long, blue-black, only Capri had made sure to put in considerably more blue, intensifying the over-all Mary Sue-ness. Senna couldn't believe this! She had now turned into the very likeness of the Mary Sue she had made it her life's mission to hate and trample underfoot.
"Yeah, now you can't rant about Mira Belle's 'stupid hair' without cussing out your own! So what is yours, then, 'smart hair'? Hahahahaha!" Indy taunted. "Good one, Capri."
But Capri was still in no laughing mood. "Oh, shut it." She replied to Indy. Turning back to glower at Senna, "But Indy's right. You have stepped in it big time with us, and you're not getting out of it again until we say so, understand?"
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Senna Marie Jenny Ko Nahid Leila Maxwell etc the biggest Lady Une buttkissing otaku whose online bullying/harassment/stalking and otherwise profoundly desperate attention-seeking, trolling, stupid behaviour and all out bad-seed and Mary Sue personality inspired the story.
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