Strangers in a Strange Land
By Chris Olsen

All the characters in this story are the creation of Akahori Satoru, Kotobuki Tsukasa, and Rumiko Takahashi

    Warning, for those who have not seen every episode of the SMJ series already, there is a lot of spoilers here. In fact, this being a prologue, it is almost entirely spoilers, so, if you either, are extremely familiar with the SMJ series and don't want to rehash old ground, or you want to be surprised when you watch SMJ's final episodes, don't read further. Starting with Chapter 1 should work fine for most readers. I am putting a bit of my own spin on the series, so if you do read this, it will most likely make the chapters afterwards make more sense. Ja Mata.

                                                  Strangers in a Strange Land. Prologue.

    This is a story of an all male planet called Terra II. On the way to colonize the planet, the ship carrying the colonists exploded, and only 6 men escaped alive. Each man took a section of the planet and claimed it as their own. To continue the species, the six men cloned themselves, mixing genes to make each clone an individual with its own personality. However, the ruler of the six countries is a direct clone of the original, so they may rule forever. Regardless of this technology, they were unable to reproduce women, so they created androids instead. These androids are known as marionettes. They look and speak like women, but are basically just computers built to serve men. One of the six countries is Japoness, home to a youth named Otaru.

    All of Japoness knew of Otaru, the hero of the war against Garlant, and the owner of the three marionettes that had rescued the only living human female from the colony ship in orbit. Few knew the truth behind the war, or understand Otaru Mamiya's true strength. The war against Garlant had started as a form of competition for a prize, the only living human female, Lorelei. Both the leader of Garlant, Faust, and the leader of Japoness, Ieyasu, had been striving to perfect the technology to rescue her for the last three hundred years. They were two of the direct clones of the six original survivors from the colony ship, each successive clone raised to lead their own city.

    The secret behind the deaths of most of those on board the colony ship, and Lorelei's survival, was the fact that it had not been an accident. Lorelei had designed the colony ship's main computer, giving it the most sophisticated programs and hardware to date, including a fair imitation of human emotion. The ship's master computer, however, had turned out to be flawed. It had fallen in love with its creator, Lorelei. Realizing that she would leave it at the end of their journey, the computer had acted, destroying much of the ship by causing a climactic accident that would leave only Lorelei alive, alone with it. Miraculously, six men had escaped into a lifeboat and managed to get to the surface of the planet. The lifeboat was too badly damaged to return to the colony ship, and after communicating back up to Lorelei, they realized the truth. The ship itself wouldn't let them back on board. The computer had taken over complete control of the ship's extremely advanced defensive systems. Even if they could get back into space, they would never survive an attempt to rescue Lorelei. There was, however, one faint hope. Lorelei had realized that her computer's design was flawed, and had begun working on a way to fix it. Using elements of her own personality, she planned to create a second computer intelligence to nurture and control the first. The project was only in its initial stages when the accident occurred. The only way to rescue Lorelei was to complete this project. The six men were in despair, realizing that such a project, given the resources they had at hand, would take generations. Without even a single female, however, they were doomed to be the last humans on that planet. Ieyasu was the one to come up with the idea of cloning themselves to populate the world. Galvanized by this idea, Faust swore that he would eventually rescue Lorelei, even if it took him a dozen generations.

    While five of the six survivors were content to simply clone themselves, Faust, took the procedure one step further. He recorded his own memories, then force fed them into his own clone, imbuing it with his own ambitions and dreams. This process was repeated over and over throughout the generations, until finally, hundreds of years of memories had driven Faust nearly insane.

    When the technology that could be used to rescue Lorelei was finally perfected, Faust went to war with his rival for Lorelei's
affections, Ieyasu. Like Faust, Ieyasu had been striving to come up with the technology to rescue Lorelei. Unlike Faust, Ieyasu had let his clones live their own lives. Instead he had each clone educated to be a proper ruler in a more normal way. Ieyasu, like Faust, had been in love with Lorelei, but was not quite as obsessive. When Faust began his attack, however, Emperor Ieyasu the twelfth had been forced to defend his city.

    The maiden circuits, the devices that had been deigned to be attached to the colony ship's main computer to nurture and control it, were circuits that approximated the emotions of a human female, Lorelei. They had been designed as a trio, each circuit of the three holding a piece of Lorelei's mind. Together, theoretically, the whole would be greater than the sum of its parts. The theory was that the computer would accept the improved replacement in exchange for Lorelei. The maiden circuit technology alone, however, was not enough. For the colony ship's main computer to accept them, they had to grow, to become human in every way that counted. The maiden circuits were placed into state of the art marionettes, so that they could grow and learn in the real world. Faust's three marionettes, Tiger, Panther, and Lynx had been activated first. Faust, in his ego and insanity, had treated them like expendable servants, just as marionettes had been treated since their creation. He was not able to give them the care or compassion they needed to grow, or to admit that he was incapable of doing so. Ieyasu, on the other hand, left his three marionettes dormant, waiting for someone to come along that could fully bring out their humanity.

    Otaru had been an unwitting pawn in Faust and Ieyasu's game. He had been exploring the Japoness Pioneer and History
Museum when the first of Ieyasu's three marionettes had activated, claiming Otaru as her master. A second and then a third
marionette had been activated by Otaru's presence, becoming bonded to Otaru as their master. Lime, Cherry and Bloodberry, the three marionettes with maiden circuits that Ieyasu had created were intensely loyal to Otaru, willing to do anything he wished. Unlike Faust, however, Otaru treated his three marionettes as people. Unlike, in fact, almost anyone on that world, Otaru tended to treat humans and marionettes the same, treating each according to their individual merits and flaws. He did not generalize by kind or type, an almost unique quality. Otaru had undergone a great deal of ridicule and scorn for his treatment of marionettes as normal people, until his growing popularity and an inexplicable favoritism from the emperor of Japoness had made Otaru's "eccentricities" acceptable. Otaru took the three marionettes under his wing out of compassion. Like children, the trio was often a great deal more trouble than help. Otaru taught them, unknowingly, by his example, how to be human.

    All had not gone smoothly, by any means. While Ieyasu patiently waited for Otaru to bring his three marionettes to their full
potential, Faust had begun an effort to conquer the entire planet. Faust believed that only he was worthy of rescuing Lorelei, and that the whole planet should be focused behind him in his efforts. The ruler of the city of Garlant, Faust, had a vast army with which to conquer his neighbors. In addition, he used Tiger, Panther and Lynx as his personal assassins and saboteurs. Faust's three 'Saber' marionettes were the top of line models, and their maiden circuits had given them the extra edge of emotion and free thought.

    Otaru had found himself and his three marionettes the only thing standing between Japoness and Faust's attacks. Ieyasu's three marionettes, Lime, Cherry and Bloodberry were the only three able to match Faust's Sabers in power and ability. Otaru was forced to call upon them to save Japoness again and again, risking his own life to help them as much as they risked themselves to help him. Over and over, Otaru's marionettes came into conflict with Tiger, Panther and Lynx to protect the city, or more often, the life of the emperor of Japoness, Ieyasu.

    In the process of the war, Ieyasu and his primary advisor had eventually been killed, despite Otaru and his marionettes' best
efforts. No new clone of Ieyasu had been prepared, as the emperor had been in his early forties at his death. The emperor, had, however, prepared for such an emergency. He had his and his chancellor's memories recorded, and at his death, had those memories transferred into the bodies of the palace's finest marionettes, the original Tamasaburo and Baiko. The battles between Otaru's marionettes and Faust's three had been evenly matched at first. Neither group had an advantage and the battles were always inconclusive, with Faust's marionettes running off as reinforcements arrived, or vice-versa. as Lime, Cherry and Bloodberry reached their full potential, however, the tide shifted in their favor. Finally, after many inconclusive battles, Tiger was damaged beyond normal repair.

    With the loss of one of his three maiden circuits, Faust was unable to rescue Lorelei, and he knew it. Instead, he focused on
capturing Ieyasu's three maiden circuits and using them instead. During all this conflict, Lime, Cherry and Bloodberry reached their full potential. It had become nearly impossible to distinguish between them and a human female. Unfortunately, the colony ship's master computer detected the activation of Ieyasu's creations' full potential. Understanding somehow that an attempt would be made to rescue Lorelei now that there was a possible replacement for her, the computer began to attack the planet's surface with its on board weaponry.

    With giant lasers striking from orbit, his country in a rebellion, his military in chaos, and his remaining two marionettes finally
daring to disobey his commands in order to save his life, Faust underwent a profound change. To save their world, Faust agreed to pool Garlant's resources with Japoness to construct a spaceship capable of reaching the colony ship intact. The plan was to get to the ship and exchange Ieyasu's three marionettes' maiden circuits for Lorelei. Once the trade was made, the computer would have no more reason to attack the planet.

    Up to this point, Otaru had been unaware of the true purpose the maiden circuits had been created for. When he learned that
Lime, Cherry and Bloodberry would have to sacrifice themselves in order to save Lorelei, and the planet, he ordered them to stay behind. Instead he planned to go in their place, and attack the colony ship in an almost impossible effort to destroy it. Like Faust before him, Otaru's marionettes disobeyed him for the first time, to save his life. They snuck on board the ship and sent Otaru safely back to the planet in an escape pod while they went on to finish the mission.

    Ieyasu and his chancellor had gone along on the mission, their memories contained in the bodies of their best marionettes. Only they had all the knowledge necessary to complete the mission. One of Faust's remaining marionettes, Lynx, went along as well, as backup. In their attempt to rescue Lorelei, the Emperor, Ieyasu, and his chancellor were killed. Lime, Cherry and Bloodberry sacrificed their maiden circuits to the main computer, and Lorelei was freed. Lynx was left alone to bring Lorelei back to the planet. The colony ship accepted the substitute, and stopped attacking the planet.

    Finally free, Lorelei had a statue built in honor of the three marionettes that had sacrificed themselves to save her, and their world. That gesture, however, had done little to assuage her guilt, or Otaru's sense of loss.

    After their death, the marionettes Tamasaburo and Baiko were recreated, but without the memories of the two men that they had once held. The city of Japoness was currently without a leader. The city council, and in some cases, Lorelei herself, was taking charge until Ieyasu the thirteenth was born and raised.

    Much to everone's surprise, the three marionettes returned a few months later, since the ship had lost it's will and capacity to
fight. They rejoined Otaru in his home and attempted to have something aproaching a normal life.

    Faust had been greatly changed by the experiences of the war. He had left Garlant and started wandering the countryside, trying to find what humanity remained underneath the imposed memories from his predecessors. He had ended up sending his three marionettes to Otaru, realizing his own inability to care for them properly. Lynx and Panther he sent with instructions to stay with Otaru and learn the 'ways of humanity'. Faust sent Tiger with them with a request that Lorelei try to repair her broken maiden circuit. Now Otaru had his hands full with five emotional marionettes, and Lorelei kept herself busy working on Faust's marionette, Tiger.

    With peace settling over Terra II, the ambitions and dreams of two men are about to put that peace in jeopardy. The whole
concept of their world is about to change.

Author's note:

Trust me, it gets better from here!