Aidanne had long since left. Sunset was quickly approaching, and Felice was still on the beach with Orlando.
Orlando had not said much after he had returned, so to speak. Felice was not shocked. Orlando had just experienced something that otherwise would have been beyond his comprehension if he hadn’t been exposed to her beforehand. She understood if he was trying to sort it all out. Being a Senshi suddenly did not settle on a mortal’s mind lightly. She knew this training…others, and it was true for all.
She walked up to him and placed a hand on his shoulder. He didn’t jump.
“How are you?” Felice inquired.
Orlando lowered his head, then shook it. “Felice… What’s the use of having power when I can’t use it to save the woman I love?”
Felice blinked, shocked at the statement. “You…love Angelia?” But she’s not the one for you…
He turned to her, brown eyes full of emotion. “Of course I do. She’s my best friend. She knows me better than anyone.”
Felice nodded. “I understand.” She hesitated, trying to find the right words to say. “But you will get your chance to save Angelia some time. And perhaps you’ll save everyone.”
Orlando smiled faintly at the prospect. “Can you imagine that? Me? A superhero.” He shook his head. “Who would have thought, you know? I thought I’d be in a movie or something before I handled fire in the palm of my hand.”
Felice smiled—but did not laugh—and was prepared to comment. Suddenly, the sound of a car engine caught their ears. Seconds later, a dark-haired man appeared with a woman walking behind. Felice frowned. Orlando’s anger rose again, his memory positively identifying their two new guests.
“Well, look who’s discovered us,” he muttered.
* * *
At the Tiger House, Danie put her communicator away as everyone sat in varying degrees of shock. Angelica had just signed off from the Angels’ makeshift control center and left the group in silence. She stood and prepared to go out to battle. This had been a long time coming.
“What are you doing?” Duo asked.
Danie turned back to him at the doorway of the living room. “If my hunch is right, that Los Angeles location Angelica mentioned is where they’ve got Angelia.”
Duo climbed to his feet as well. He was ready to save his sister. “Then let’s go.” When Danie gave him a look, he reasoned, “You can’t possibly go alone. That would just give them more opportunity to kill you.”
“Fine.” She looked to his comrades. “Heero, you’re coming, too. Trowa, I want you to stay here with my cousin.” She looked to the other Senshi. “Mina-chan, Usagi-chan, I want you to stay here. If we need anymore help, we will let you know. The more people we take, the more we risk ourselves.”
Quatre, who sensed Usagi and Minako’s discontent and disappointment, nodded. “Danie is right,” he agreed. “I will watch everyone else.”
Minako pouted a little. “We’re not children. We don’t need to be baby-sat.”
Quatre sweatdropped. “Eh…I know that… I just meant I would make sure that you wouldn’t go after Danie or allow you two to get hurt.”
“Oh!” Minako patted Quatre’s shoulder. “You’re so sweet.”
Quatre’s sweatdrop turned into a blush.
Usagi looked up at Danie. “Be careful, Danie-chan.”
Danie gave her a small reassuring smile. “I will.” She looked to Duo and Heero. “Come on you two.”
With that, Danie, Duo, and Heero left. Jennifer rushed to the window and looked out as the trio transformed and disappeared into the night. She sighed and sat down beside her husband-to-be.
Trowa took her hand to comfort her. “Jennifer, everything will be alright. Don’t worry so much about your cousin.”
Jennifer nodded. He was right, as usual. She had faith in her cousin, and in Duo and Heero. It was Fate that she didn’t trust as much these days.
* * *
Felice stiffened and stepped in front of Orlando to protect him from Amanda and Alex. Orlando looked to the shorter girl incredulously. Placing a hand on her rigid shoulder, he stepped around her. Felice blinked up at him.
“N-nani?” Felice uttered.
Orlando shook his head. “It’s about time I started taking care of myself, don’t you think?”
Felice began to protest, but the obstinate gleam in Orlando’s eyes stopped her. Before she could convince him that he was not ready, he stepped forward and faced a smirking Alex. Unlike his opponent, Orlando was deadly serious.
“I think it might be best if you let her protect you,” Alex said as Amanda looked on quietly and smugly. “You do remember what happened last time, right?”
“Of course I remember what happened last time,” Orlando responded evenly. “I promised that I would get my revenge. Do you remember that, don’t you…brother?”
Felice’s eyebrows arched. Different tonal quality… The use of the word brother… This meant…
Apparently, when the two souls were merged, Orlando must have received some of Aidan’s memories, too, Felice mused. Then that means… She fixed her gaze upon Alex. This is not Alex. Not completely. It’s mostly Fiore from the past since he is the more powerful of the two. At this rate, Alex…might not exist for much longer.
At Orlando’s statement, Alex faltered a bit, then his eyes narrowed. “Oh, I see. So my brother got to you before I could. Well, that doesn’t mean shit. I killed him, and I will probably kill you, too. I just thought I’d warn you before you went blindly into your death.”
“The only person that is blind is you,” Orlando countered. In a move that Felice did not show him, he held his hand out at the side. A moment later, a sword appeared in his hand. The Japanese-cut blade was gold, and the hilt was orange-red. Felice had seen that weapon before. It was the sword of all the Sun Princes. She had trained another with it.
Alex’s eyes were transfixed by the sight of the sword. At one time, he possessed the power to call it up, but now that privilege had been stripped from him. The fact that Aidanne favored Orlando instead of him made his anger strengthen. With a growl, he prepared to tackle Orlando, but Orlando lifted the sword. The point came dangerously close to his nose.
“I do believe you were the one about to run blindly into his death,” Orlando retorted. While Alex’s eyes were on the sword, a star formed in Orlando’s free hand.
Felice observed, not quite sure what to do. It seemed that the primary struggle was between Orlando and Alex, but it was clear that Amanda would even cheat to assure her partner’s victory.
Then suddenly a sentence popped into her head.
Attack Amanda, Felice. Attack her now!
Many things happened at once. Felice called upon her strength and dashed toward Amanda. Amanda, on the defensive, lashed out with her legendary ice links attack. Felice ducked out of harm’s way and punched Amanda in the stomach. While Alex was distracted, Orlando blew him away with the attack in his hand. He landed several yards away. Amanda, meanwhile, recovered and grabbed Felice by the throat. When he was assured that Alex was otherwise occupied, he whipped Felice out of Amanda’s grasp and went running toward the house.
“Where are we going?” Felice panted.
Orlando said nothing, just led her to the motorcycle sitting on the porch. “Come on. We’ve got to go. I think you and I are going to return a little earlier than expected.”
“I could have told you that,” Felice muttered, and mounted the bike. She gunned the engine as Amanda appeared, ready to attack. She inhaled sharply. “Hold on, Orlando. It looks like we’re going to fly.”
At that moment, Amanda came forward. Felice put the bike in the proper gear and the duo and the bike went sailing into the air over Amanda’s head. They landed in the street. Felice disabled their car with a wave of her hand. Orlando realized as his eyes adjusted to the failing light that they were shruikens, and she used them to puncture the tires in their car. Orlando nodded his approval at that move.
“That was good thinking!” he yelled over the whir of the wind.
“Thanks,” Felice yelled back. “I’m guessing you learned the art of mental telepathy.”
Orlando shrugged but still held on to her. “I had to tell you somehow. I didn’t want them to hear me and figure out our plan.”
Felice frowned and blinked. “Hold on a minute. We had a plan?”
* * *
At the Tiger House, Danie, Heero, and Duo arrived with an unconscious Angelia. While they had been gone, Jessica, Cassandra, Ami, Moira-Selene, Rei, and Makoto had arrived to wait along with Jennifer, Trowa, Usagi, Quatre, and Minako. When the trio entered the living room with Duo holding Angelia, Usagi shot up to her feet. Jennifer uttered a strangled gasp and squeezed Trowa’s hand. Jessica rushed to Duo and gently took her from him. She urged Quatre, Jennifer, Trowa, and Usagi from the couch and laid her down upon it. Everyone looked on anxiously as Jessica checked her out. Ami drifted over to assist. Minako ran out to get the first aid kit.
Jessica got out her penlight and checked her eyes. “Her pupils are responding. That’s a good sign.” She turned to Ami. “Has she got any broken bones?”
“Nothing on the lower part except bruises and cuts.”
Minako re-entered with the first aid kit. As she gave it to Jessica, Heero came forward and dropped something on the coffee table. It landed with a big crash and startled everyone.
“What the hell–?” Jessica began, about ready to kick Heero’s ass.
“We found that where they were keeping Angelia,” Heero explained, pointing to the power sensor on the coffee table. “I would wager that this is how they found Orlando and Felice.”
Everyone started speaking at once. Jessica put two fingers in her mouth and blew. Silence came immediately. Jessica turned to Heero for clarification.
“You had better have more to say, Yuy,” Jessica snapped.
“He should,” Duo broke in before another sparring match could ensue. He looked to his friend. “Go ahead and tell them. They’re going to find out sooner or later.”
After a lull, Heero started speaking again in his deep voice. “When the three of us got there, Angelia was about to pass out but she was lucid enough to tell us some things. Her captors had not given her much food or water, and Amanda was hitting her because their attempt to capture Orlando had failed. Once we had untied her, she told us that Amanda and Alex had discovered where Felice was training Orlando. Somehow Alex had gotten his powers back.”
Shock rippled through them. Only Ami thought to ask Danie, “How do you feel?”
“Stronger,” Danie replied truthfully. “That makes me think Amanda and Alex haven’t reached them yet. Or they had some bad luck when they did.”
Jessica sighed. “Perhaps that is a good thing.” She went back to checking on Angelia as Jennifer went to find something more comfortable for Angelia to wear. Moira-Selene went to help Jennifer with her mission.
“So maybe we should check out this other location for Felice and this new guy,” Duo suggested. “Maybe now we can defeat those two jerks.”
Heero shook his head. “You remember what Angelia told us. If Amanda and Alex caught up with them, then, given the fact that Danie’s alright, they might be—”
A shout from the hallway averted everyone’s attention. Something dropped to the ground and water flowed along the wooden floor and into the living room. They heard Moira-Selene struggling to speak and a male’s voice telling her not to be afraid.
“No,” said a familiar voice. “She is not afraid. She has been expecting us. And if I know you all well, nearly the whole bunch is here.”
Footsteps descended down the hallway. Jennifer appeared in the doorway with some of her old pajamas with a serene expression on her face.
“Minna,” she began. “They’re here.”