In a darkened room, several miles away from Gracia, Angelia, once-beautiful, blond and battered, tasted the bitter flavor of blood in her mouth once again.
Her kidnappers were angry. It wasn’t surprising given the circumstances. Alex had woken up that morning and discovered that his powers had been taken, which had ruined their whole plans. The plans, as far as Angelia gathered, had involved killing Daniella Thomas first—then offing the rest of her allies, one by one. Alex had made the mistake of thinking that his powers were inexhaustible and didn’t think of a back-up plan. Angelia had no sympathy for him. She silently thanked Ingrid and Aidanne for doing her and the rest of the Senshi that justice.
At the moment, Alex was about to shake her into submission. The days without comfortable sleep and little food were taking their toll on her. She hadn’t been paying attention to his ranting. But then again, she probably wouldn’t have done so if she was in her right mind.
Amanda, who had been watching from across the room, raised a hand. “I think we should lay off her for the moment.”
Alex frowned at Amanda. “We can’t just give up now! She knows where that sonofabitch is with my powers.”
Amanda shook her head. “No, she doesn’t. None of those silly Senshi know where he is.” She glared at the wall. “I can’t even find him anymore with that aura detection sensor you stole.”
As Alex expressed his disbelief, Angelia’s hope soared. So it was true then! Orlando was the rightful Sun Prince!
Ingrid had come to her in a dream with the same story she had told Danie, Ami, Moira-Selene, and Duo. She had recognized Aidan immediately; his resemblance to Orlando had been uncanny. But the story had brought one thing to light for Angelia: Alex did not deserve to possess the powers of Nova.
And with those powers bestowed rightfully upon Orlando, he would save her.
At this point, Angelia figured, Felice had found him. She recalled the day she had seen her in the hallway. If only she had been strong then! If she’d had the courage to ask Felice what she was looking for, so much pain could have been avoided. She could be with her best friend right now, and they would be laughing about this over pizza and Cokes (all his idea). They would argue over the remote and end up watching the news. She missed those moments with him that she took for granted.
So, with that sentiment, she sent a message with her mind: My dearest friend, be careful. Ganbatte. I love you.
* * *
Orlando was in the middle of his mental training when the words suddenly appeared in his mind.
Felice had been walking around him very swiftly in a circle in the sand. Every few seconds, she would implore him to “come and get” her, and if he missed her, they had to try five more times. She was testing his reflexes and his sense of hearing. But his focus on the situation at hand was suddenly shattered. His eyes flew open and Felice paused.
She had seen that look in his eyes before, whenever Angelia came up in conversation. Felice strode quickly to him without a word, striving to maintain order.
“What happened?” Felice demanded.
There was a pause. The wind wafted through Orlando’s dark hair. He looked into her eyes. They were grave. They were…ringed with gold.
Felice had never seen this before—not in Lina, or in Fiona, or in…
Those eyes. What did they mean?
“Orlando?” Felice’s voice was quiet. “You need to speak to me.” She raised a hand to touch him, but he pushed it away. He stalked off down the beach and then broke into a run. Sighing, Felice ran after him. He stopped after several yards, collapsed to his knees and punched the sand. Much to Felice’s dismay, his aura was heightened to a dangerous level, and there was no way he could handle that yet.
“Control your anger!” she ordered in a firm tone. “Orlando, reign in your emotions or—”
Orlando rose to his feet and turned around slowly. His eyes were completely gold. The Sunfire symbol was on his forehead, but there was something about his eyes that sobered Felice immediately.
He was not Orlando anymore.
This can’t be happening! It wasn’t supposed to. Aidanne told her that such a thing was not possible…
“Who are you?” Felice whispered.
A voice came from behind her. “That, my dear Felice, is my great-grandfather.”
* * *
In Gracia, the Sunfire symbol appeared on Danie’s forehead.
“Danie-chan!” exclaimed Usagi.
Danie’s violet eyes widened. She could feel her power heightening. The symbol on her forehead seemed to sear her skin. She was lucky that she was at the Tiger House having lunch with Usagi, Duo, Heero, Trowa, Quatre, Jennifer, and Minako and not at her cancelled meeting. She wouldn’t have been able to explain this one.
“What’s happening?” Jennifer demanded. She climbed to her feet and walked around the coffee table to her cousin. Her blue eyes were watery. “What’s happening to Danie?!”
“Calm down, Jennifer,” Trowa said gently. “There is no need to get worked up.”
Danie raised her head. “Trowa is right.” She squeezed her cousin’s hand. “You need to worry about yourself right now.” She looked across the room. “And Trowa.” The tall young woman rose and squared her shoulders. “I think redemption is coming sooner than we planned.”
“What are you talking about?” Duo asked. “Unless a big rock came and collapsed on Amanda and Alex, I don’t see how that could be possible.”
“No,” Minako broke in, “this might have to do with Orlando.”
The Senshi shared glances. According to Lina, the training was supposed to take longer than a day! There was no way that it could be sped up, unless a miracle had been bestowed upon Felice and Orlando during their labor…
* * *
Felice, much to her surprise, found Aidanne the first standing behind her.
She appeared the same as she had in Orlando’s dreams. She wore a white dress under an orange-red robe adorned with sparkles. Her long dark hair flowed freely. She wore no adornments, no jewelry. Her brown eyes were filled with strength and humility all at the same time. Of course, she was humbled being among her great-grandfather, whom she had never met…
“Your great-grandfather?” Felice repeated incredulously. “I thought that he was…”
“Dead,” Aidanne finished. “I know. I had believed that too, but somehow Orlando’s fury spoke to his spirit and brought him here to Earth and Orlando’s body.”
Felice frowned thoughtfully. “But…I don’t understand…” She looked at the man before her. “You never answered my question before.”
Orlando—or whoever he was—looked at her, then spoke. “You must forgive me, then. I did not mean to frighten you, but your superior is right. My name is Aidan. I do not mean to interrupt your work, but I have some distressing news.”
“Then explain yourself!” Felice cried. “You cannot inhabit this body for much longer or Orlando will die! His soul is not strong enough yet.”
He shook his head. “Orlando is stronger than you believe he is. But…” He hesitated. “My brother’s spirit will likely be on the move because of the current situation.”
Felice put it all together as quickly as she could. “So your brother’s spirit will try to inhabit Alex’s body?” She shook her head in disbelief. “I didn’t think it could get any worse… Orlando’s not going to be ready. I don’t know what else I can do. You can’t stay in his body.”
Aidanne and Aidan, in Orlando’s body, just stared at Felice as she spoke. They seemed to know something she didn’t. Not that she didn’t expect that. After all, they were several centuries older than she was. They waited for her to stop so they could bring her to reason.
“Felice,” Aidanne began slowly, “if Fiore can invade Alex, don’t you think Aidan can do the same?”
“Orlando will die,” Felice insisted again.
“No. He won’t. Aidan doesn’t want to fully inhabit Orlando’s body. He just wants to give him some of his abilities so that he will be prepared to fight Alex when the time comes.” Aidanne took her hands. “And you’re the person to do it. All you have to do is call upon Aidan’s strength and power and merge it with Orlando’s existing soul. Orlando will still need a half-day to ready himself, but you will not need the rest of the week.”
“I’ve never…” Felice trailed off. There was a lump in her throat. “What if I fail?”
“From what I have seen you do,” Aidan suddenly said, “I do not think you will fail.”
* * *
At the enemy’s base, Amanda suddenly perked up as something started to beep at her. Angelia, who had been in a daze, looked up as her captor was making a clamor.
“Alex!” Amanda yelled. “Alex! Where are you?”
There was no answer. Amanda threw open the door to yell for him again when Alex himself appeared. There was a long silence. Angelia herself looked up at him and felt dread dropping like a rock in her empty stomach.
“Baby,” he said to Amanda with a triumphant boom to his voice, “I’m back.”
* * *
Meanwhile, with the Wolfe triplets at their makeshift control center, Angelica gave her own cry of triumph.
“What’s going on?” Angela asked from a computer. She had been searching for Angelia’s aura.
Angelica pointed to the computer screen where two dots were blinking. “Things are getting pretty interesting. It looks like I’ve found both Mr. Mysterious and Benedict Arnold.”
“Both of them?!” Angelique, who had been searching for Felice’s power cloak, scrambled for her communicator. “Oh holy crap. This is not good.”
“Like I said—interesting, ladies. Let’s be optimistic.”
Angelique rolled her eyes. “Whatever, Gel. I’m just going to be real about this and call the other Senshi. They should know about this turn of events.”