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A Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon story
by Benjamin A. Oliver

Disclaimer: Sailor Moon is owned by Takeuchi Naoko, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC.


Chapter 9-H


[Oh my,] the surprisingly un-malevolent hologram that the computer had chosen to represent itself said. It appeared to be a brown-haired woman with an apron. [Your heart is so warm…]

"AARRGH," 'Tim growled, suppressing the yelling, screaming and death that having one's heart brutally wrenched about would usually cause. One of the more annoying things about some types of holograms is that they can reach right into you and start doing rather nasty things to your innards. "Stop… it…"

The computer's image giggled, taking the opportunity to crush and squeeze 'Tim's heart a little more. [I can't do that, silly! You're messing up my nice clean floor with all that bleeding! I'm terribly sorry, but I'm afraid that you must DIE now.] It emphasized the word "die" with a violent twisting motion.

"Ukkyo…" 'Tim choked out. "Anytime now…"

The chef slashed the combat droid she was fighting in half, then dove spatula-first at the hologram… and went right through it.

"Tee-hee, that tickles!" the hologram said, smiling pleasantly.

Ukkyo, having anticipated a solid target, followed through with the stroke and ended up imbedding her massive spatula deeply into the wall.

*ZZZZZZZZZT!* "Ullllllghghghghghhhh!" she shouted involuntarily as a tremendous electrical shock wracked her body, throwing her against the opposite wall. "A…aaaow," she said, grimacing and holding her arm in pain.

Sparks flew from the spatula in the wall, and the deadly hologram vanished.

'Tim collapsed as the force on his heart dissipated. He glanced up at Ukkyo. "That," he said, "was a great move. An inch or two in either direction, and you'd have completely missed the power junction. Any shallower or deeper, and it wouldn't have shorted out the holographic generators, either."

Ukkyo blinked, rubbing her arm as the pain dissipated. "Um… thanks?" She looked over the heavily injured, pink-haired man. "Are you all right?"

Regaining his footing, 'Tim coughed slightly, holding his chest. "Not by any stretch of the imagination…" He took a hoarse breath. "But, that doesn't matter right now. We have just under thirty seconds before the generator repairs itself." He walked over and, with some effort, wrenched Ukkyo's spatula from the wall. "Mind if I borrow this for a sec?"

Ukkyo shrugged in bemusement. "S-sure… I guess."

"Thanks."

*Shing*Shing*Shing*Shing!* 'Tim made four long, deep cuts into the wall.

*Clang* The six by three by one foot section of wall fell outwards onto the deck.

"Hmm… That's odd," the green-clad man commented as he looked into the hole he just created.

"What?"

"No droids…" 'Tim shrugged. "No matter, though." He returned Ukkyo's weapon and stepped through the hole.

[Oh my… what are you doing, 'Tim?] the computer asked, its voice echoing through the corridors. [No, 'Tim… Stop… Please…]

"What are you doing?" Ukkyo called to her boss.

He didn't respond.

[No… Oh… my mind is going, 'Tim… My mind is going… Oh, would you like me to sing a song?]

"All right, computer, let's hear you sing a song," 'Tim said darkly, his voice accompanied by a sharp clicking noise. "Something with a bit of… bounce to it."

There was a brief musical intro, and the computer began singing. [o/Fly me to the Moon—]

*BLAM* BLAM* BLAM* BLAM* BLAM* BLAM* BLAM* CLICK* CLICK* CLICK!*

The music ground to a halt.

'Tim slowly exited through the hole in the wall, carrying a smoking handgun. "I really hate that song, you know…" he said in a calm, matter-of-fact fashion.

Ukkyo adopted a partially defensive posture. "I see…" She glanced around. "So, you… shut it down?"

The pink-haired man nodded with a grin, blowing the smoke off the barrel, then quickly twirling the gun around on his index finger and putting it away. "Oh yeah, baby."

Ukkyo frowned and took a step back. "Are… we done, then?"

'Tim shook his head and chuckled. "I'm afraid not. We've got those nukes to set up, remember? Follow me." He started walking down the hall. Ukkyo hesitantly followed. "I love maintenance."

A minute of travel through the cavernous halls of the former intergalactic installation brought them to a rather large, ominous door made of rusty, red steel. It also had a somewhat frightening carving of a skull and crossbones on it.

"Hmm, haven't opened this door in a LONG old time…" 'Tim muttered as he put his hand to the panel on the wall by the door. "Funny… This is the only door in this place that's never really repaired itself…"

The door rattled for a second, rose a foot off the deck, and vibrated violently as it tried to open further.

*CLANG!!!* The door fell back into place as the motors and magnetics around it broke down.

'Tim sighed. "Terrific… This might take a little longer than I expected…" He looked at the metal around the door, then glanced back at Ukkyo, and stopped when he looked at her spatula. "Ukkyo, your weapon seems to be able to get through metal rather effectively. This is a big door, but… Care to have a go at it?"

"…Okay," the brown-haired cook replied, shaking herself out of the sheer awe that was inspired by her surroundings. She started to examine the door for a good cutting location.

"Cheap piece of scrap," 'Tim continued annoyedly, "Shouldn't have contracted out with those transdimensional midgets to get it made… Only a million year certification." He thought about it. "Still, it was funny to see how they reacted when they found out who they were working for. Heh heh heh…"

Ukkyo looked at the pink-haired man. "Er… What are you talking about?"

'Tim shrugged. "Eh, nothing, really. I just have the tendency to talk to myself and over-explain every little detail. A REALLY old habit that I've never quite been able to get rid of. But… I like it! Gives me character, don'tcha think?"

Ukkyo blinked. "I… guess." She looked back at the door and spotted the perfect place to begin cutting. As a precaution to make sure that her boss didn't suspect any more than necessary about her possible origin through her capabilities, she turned back to 'Tim and pointed behind him. "Look, a three-headed monkey!"

'Tim turned around. "Where?!"

*SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!!!* A masterful leap and slash made a long, diagonal gash through the door.

*Fluuup*CLANG*CLANG*Fluup*CLANG!* The bottom part of the door fell over, allowing the top part to fall, and flip on top of the other three-foot-thick piece of rusted metal.

'Tim turned toward his employee. "I don't see anything…"

At that moment, a red-faced, purple-furred, three-headed monkey jumped out from a ventilation shaft to land right behind him. It smiled and waved. "Oook! Oook! Oook!"

Ukkyo blinked and frowned. "It's… right behind you."

'Tim glanced back, but the monkey jumped back into the shaft a split second before he could see it. "Nothing there. Are you sure? I mean, three-headed monkeys are kinda rare…"

Ukkyo opened her mouth to say something, then decided against it. "I must have been mistaken."

'Tim shrugged. "Oh. Okay. I see you got the door, though. Wait here." He climbed over the ominous wreckage of the mysterious door and entered the unnecessarily mysterious room.

"Well, he didn't say anything, so he probably doesn't suspect anything," Ukkyo subvocalized, feeling a need to do more than just think about it. "And… I can somewhat see the allure of talking to one's self… It does help one relax."

*ROAAAAR!* There was a loud growl from inside of the other room.

"Oh, Hello, Kitty."

*ROAAAR!!*

*Thwipp-PSSSH!* "DOWN, KITTY!!!"

*ROAAAAAAR!!!*

*Thwipp-PSSSH!*

*Meow…*

"Ah, that's better. Just stay right there while I turn around and pick up the thermonuclear—"

*ROOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAR!!!*

*Crackle-snap-crackle* "Yeeeowch! The back… Why is it ALWAYS with the back?!" *CRUNCH* "Oookay… four down, twenty to go. You can do better than that! Gimme a break!" *KERRUNCH* "Better, better… I do believe you got one of my lungs that time… Speaking is becoming difficult…"

*ROAAAAR!*

Ukkyo winced as she heard the sounds of carnage rage on. "Do you need any help?" she called in concern.

"Naah! Almost done here!" *SNAP* "Ooooh… you just wait till it grows back!"

*ROOAAAARRR!*SQUELCH!*

"Ow… KITTY NO BAKA!!!"

*WHAM!*CLANG!*Thud*

The sounds of fighting ceased.

'Tim walked out of the mysterious room, carrying a Very Large Mallet™ over his left shoulder and a backpack on his right, looking all the worse for wear from his fight. He was missing the lower half of his right arm, and had claw marks on his face and chest, where his clothes were rather shredded.

Oddly enough, he was still grinning in his usual, mildly psychotic way. "Ha! Blunt trauma. Gets 'em every time."

With a flick of his wrist, the mallet vanished. The so-termed ‘mild-mannered restaurant owner’ shrugged his backpack into a more comfortable position.

Ukkyo gasped, wide-eyed. "Are you all right?!"

'Tim coughed up some blood, and glanced at the cauterized stump where his arm was supposed to be. "That," he said, "has to be the most idiotic question I've heard all day." His eyes rolled back into his skull as he started to collapse.

Ukkyo rushed to his side, holding him up. "We have to get you to a healer… a doctor… or something!"

'Tim coughed, gritting his teeth as forced strength into his unresponsive limbs. "Doctor nothing… What I need is a good ol' jolt of mass destruction." He started to slide down in Ukkyo's hold.

Ukkyo sighed helplessly. "You need serious help!"

"Darn straightly," 'Tim replied dazedly, "and the Finns made new ways to survuhuhuhvive in the cold weather, and then has fourscore and seven years ago… Heh. And then I got the chivalVary and toook Abraham finkleton acCorse the… Washingtonminumshumishum machine penninsula…" His eyes fell closed.

The insane mumbling ended as his breathing slowed, and finally stopped.

Ukkyo felt a sense of foreboding. She shook her boss slightly. "…’Tim-san?"

A hand grabbed her shoulder and 'Tim drew in a deep, gasping breath. "And THAT's what they get fer messin' with a pro!" He shook his head violently in an attempt to clear it. "Okay, what's the deal here? Ah! I understand… Too much pain to truly ignore… The pain receptors are overloaded, and it's hard to feel… Yeah… That's the ticket… but we can easily fix that, can't we?" He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small metal cylinder with an odd apparatus at the tip, which he placed to his neck.

*HISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS*

"Oh yeah, that's the stuff…" 'Tim muttered contentedly, quickly draining the device. He put it away and attempted to stand and stay standing. He succeeded, albeit wobbling slightly. "Much better. Come along, Ukkyo, we've got to set these up." He indicated his backpack with his remaining arm.

Ukkyo grimaced as she stole a glance at 'Tim's missing arm. "Really, are you all right?"

"Ukkyo," 'Tim said with a sigh, "That's the third time you've asked that. Now, look at this:" He indicated his ravaged arm. "And then there's this:" He pointed at the scratch marks on his face, chest, and underneath his backpack. "And these:" He indicated the arrow and axe wounds on his back. "Now, really, what does it look like?"

Ukkyo had turned away when her boss started pointing out the more painful-looking wounds. "I don't—"

Heedless of the chef's reaction, 'Tim continued. "I'm doing just fine! I spent all of last night getting torn apart by an assorted group including, but not limited to: Raditz, Sabertooth, Apocalypse, Zelgadis, Lina Inverse, and some red robot with this really big hairstyle called Zero. Now, I'm a relatively fast learner when it comes to things like this, so as of this morning, I have been able to take quite a beating before I conk out. And enjoy every moment of it, too. Cool, huh?"

Ukkyo coughed nervously as she turned back to face the pink-haired man. <This guy is a complete wacko!> "You wouldn't happen to be related to a certain… Starlight Knight, would you?"

'Tim blinked. "What?"

The chef inwardly chided herself for the slip-up. "Er… nothing!"

'Tim paused, taking a moment to look over his employee a little closer. "And… You wouldn't happen to be related to a certain… razor-sharp spatula-wielding, taunt-throwing, wound-giving youma, would you?"

Ukkyo frowned as she realized that her cover was blown. "Oh no…"

"Oh my…" 'Tim whispered in realization, simultaneously wondering why he had picked that particular phrase.

Ukkyo closed her eyes and almost sobbed in sadness. "No… This doesn't mean we have to start fighting, does it?"

'Tim began to respond, but his voice was drowned out by the sudden blaring of klaxons throughout the base. He spoke up, a bit louder. "Oh, bugger… The computer's managed to reset itself. Now we're both going to die. Isn't that just lovely?" He sat down against a wall, beginning to count the dots on the ceiling.

Ukkyo glared at her boss. "You're going to give up, just like that?!"

'Tim nodded. "Yup. We missed the window for getting the nukes into the computer core. Since the computer has, most likely, upgraded all the inner defenses, considering that we've proven to be quite a threat, we won't stand a chance." He pointed at the floor, which had begun to sprout several small, green, spider-like… things with great, big, nasty teeth. "But mainly because of those."

Ukkyo glanced around at the approaching swarm. "What are they?"

"Biological droids that, once they get a hold of you, drill into you, looking for the nearest vital organ, and devour it to grow more of themselves and such things. REALLY nasty stuff. Trust me on this one. We'd be much better off killing ourselves." He thought about that last part. "Yes, let's do that." He stood and pulled out a small, silver cylinder, and pushed a button on it.

*BRZZH* A sword-like beam, nearly a meter long, formed at the tip of the cylinder. *Vrr* The beam made a humming noise as it moved. 'Tim moved into a combat stance, and leveled his weapon at Ukkyo.

Ukkyo looked at her boss, and back at the surprisingly slow-moving horde, which seemed to be continually decreasing in speed. "What are you doing now!? We have to work together on this!"

'Tim narrowed his eyes and took an unsteady step closer, still not having fully adapted to the anesthetic's effect on his central nervous system. "Chicken. Bock bock bock bock-ack!"

Ukkyo just backed off, frowned and shook her head.

*Vrr* The pink-haired man swung the beam blade a few inches away from the youma's face. His movements were awkward and seemed somewhat untrained. He clearly wasn't left-handed. "Fleeing coward!"

Ukkyo gritted her teeth. "I am not a coward."

"Lying, cheating, stealing coward."

The chef whipped out her spatula and pointed it at 'Tim. "You. Take. That. Back."

"Oh, hit a nerve, did I? Well, it's true. I wasn't the one who ran out on our little battle yesterday. Nor was I the one that stole all that energy from those people. And, I wasn't the one who decided to fake my identity. You were."

"I had to!"

'Tim smirked, slashing at his opponent. *Vrr* "Oh, really?"

*KSSH!* Ukkyo blocked, a thin energy field shielding her spatula from damage. "I'd have been killed otherwise!"

"Heh heh… Haven't you heard? Ever since the second World War, obeying orders, even at the threat of death, isn't an excuse for crimes against humanity!" 'Tim said with a chuckle. He glanced at the horde of spider droids and nodded slightly. They were now at a snail's pace. He turned back to his chosen opponent and made another relatively slow swing. *Vrr*

*KSSH!* The blow was effortlessly stopped. "Stop it, Tim!" Ukkyo said, almost pleading. "I don't want to fight you!"

'Tim sneered at her. *Vrr*Ksssssh*Crackle* Ukkyo's weapon met his, and stayed there for a moment before she backed off. "You're such a liar," the wounded, green-clothed man said. "You'd do, kill, or drain anything to survive."

Ukkyo trembled slightly as she heard him speak. "I…"

'Tim smiled with narrowed eyes. "Hah! You're no better than a…" He paused as he tried to think of the right sort of noun. "Worthless, cowardly panda."

Ukkyo frowned and lowered her weapon. "It's… I…" she stuttered, breathing harshly and irregularly. She took a step back and dropped her spatula, then fell to her knees, covered her face with her hands, and began sobbing.

'Tim noted that the small spiders around him had started to pick up speed. He looked down at the crying youma on the floor, and lunged forward at her, weapon ready.

*Vrr* Ukkyo, red-faced and eyes full of tears, looked up and saw the energy sword pointed directly at her neck. She made no move to defend herself.

"You," 'Tim growled, "picked a heck of a time to develop a conscience." With that, he slashed down and sliced open Ukkyo's shirt, and with a quick upward swing, cut open the white bandages underneath, then made two quick cuts through each shoulder of the same piece of clothing.

Ukkyo gasped as she watched the bandages and shirt fall away, leaving her top half completely uncovered. "Huh!?" She looked up and glared at 'Tim. "You…" She wiped away her tears, snatched up her spatula, stood, slapped 'Tim across the face with the back of her hand, and fought with a renewed fierceness. "You are SO dead, I can't believe it!"

*KSSH*BRRZZT*ZZZZT* 'Tim staggered back, a rather large, red handprint across the right side of his face. He struggled to block and deflect the new attacks. He was having a difficult time, but he managed to avoid taking any more damage. "I honestly don't know what you're complaining about," he said in a perfect imitation of being calm. "I mean… it's not like there's anything actually WORTH SEEING!!!"

Ukkyo looked at the pink-haired man, murder in her eyes. At this point, she was far too flustered to make any counter-comments. Still, she didn't seem to be having any difficulty fighting, despite her frustration, anger, and bare chest.

*BZZT*Vrr*KSSH*Cracklecracklecrackle* A brief melee slammed 'Tim against the wall. *SHING!* He ducked a slash, which cut open his backpack, spilling out the eight small cylinders that were inside. He dove away, kicking Ukkyo's feet out from under her as he did. "Flatchested AND a klutz! What a combination!" He glanced at the spider droids, which had started to pick up speed, then looked back at his opponent and laughed snidely at her. "Tell me, how does yer girlfriend like ya in bed?!"

Ukkyo coughed in shocked disbelief. "You… PERVERTED JERK!!!" she shrieked in indignation as she stood and jumped up in preparation for another strike: the one that would silence this… BAKA HENTAI once and for all! "KIYAAAAAA!!!!"

[Ara…] the computer said uneasily, its voice echoing through the hallways. Its chosen holographic image appeared and stopped Ukkyo's dive and placed her on the floor. It looked at the chef, then at 'Tim, a worried look on its face. [Could you please… stop fighting?]

'Tim and Ukkyo dove at each other, weapons ready to hack the other apart. The computer's image held them back, looking very surprised. [I can't kill them properly if they won't stop fighting,] it concluded internally.

"I'll stop fighting," Ukkyo said, her voice SEETHING with venom as she glared at her opponent, "when this… JERK apologizes and replaces my outfit!"

"And I'll stop fighting," 'Tim said calmly, "when this sorry excuse for a female gets off my back and lets me get those nukes set up." He pointed at the cylinders that had fallen to the floor during the fighting. "They have to be locked onto the main computer core and all the backup systems, or I won't even THINK about stopping this battle…" He looked back at the brown-haired chef. "Kawaiikunai piece a'—"

Ukkyo screamed at anger, dropped her spatula, and lunged at 'Tim's throat, only to be stopped by the computer again.

[Er,] the computer's image said uneasily, [I could replace your outfit, Ukkyo… And I could put the… nukes in place, if you would like, 'Tim…]

"Yeah, do that," 'Tim replied.

"What about the apology!?" Ukkyo asked forcefully.

"I'll apologize," 'Tim said, looking at her haughtily, "when the explosives are set up. Not before, you uncute—"

The cylinders on the floor vanished and an exact replica of Ukkyo's shirt with an accompanying bandolier of throwing spatulas appeared on a levitating hanger next to her.

The brown-haired young woman quickly examined the article of clothing for any… surprises. Not finding any, she quickly slipped it on. She looked at 'Tim, still with a fair amount of anger. "Good enough… for now." The hanger vanished.

The computer looked at the pink-haired man. [Will you apologize now?] it asked hopefully.

"Did you set them up? Are they locked into all the primary computer systems?"

The computer's image nodded emphatically. [Yes, yes. The entire system is rigged for maximum devastation, just as you like it.]

"Excellent," 'Tim said. He looked at his employee. "Sorry about that."

The chef's gaze indicated that he could do better than that.

"Terribly sorry about that."

Ukkyo narrowed her eyes. "AND…?"

'Tim sighed, put away his weapon, and got down on one knee, taking her hand in his. He looked up into her eyes, a very apologetic expression on his face. "Ukkyo… I have done some terrible things to you. I have given you grave insults, calling you a liar, a coward, and much more that I'm sure you would much rather not have repeated."

Ukkyo's expression softened slightly. "Go on."

"I would like you to know that I did not mean any of it. You have shown considerable bravery and perseverance in your actions. You've never lied to me: Everything I've asked you, you've answered truthfully. As for other statements, you still haven't lied to me about anything. You are not worthless in any way."

"And…?" Ukkyo prodded.

'Tim smiled. "I was just getting to that. I apologize for the damage done to your clothes and self-image. You are a very lovely young woman; cute at the very least. Your eyes, your hair… all about you is quite beautiful… No, you are not, by any means, flatchested." He sighed. "So, Ukkyo, chef and warrior of great skills, worth, and beauty… can you find it within your heart to forgive me?"

Ukkyo blushed and smiled hesitantly. "I… guess."

'Tim nodded and stood.

[Now, that wasn't so hard, was it?] the computer asked pleasantly. The image vanished. [Kill them!]

The spiders shrieked in unison and leapt at the two remaining people in the area.

*BZZR!*KSSH*KSSH*KSSH* 'Tim ignited his weapon and began hacking away at the attacking spiders, barely managing to keep them from latching on to him. "DON'T let them touch you!"

*CLANG*WHACK*SLAM* Ukkyo was fighting in a similar fashion. "I know, I know!"

*Vrr*KSSH!* "If you're wondering, THIS is why I was fighting and insulting you! I had to get some real antagonism going to confuse the computer: It seemed like it would react to something like that! I'm glad to see it did."

*WHAM*WHACK* "Yikes… I think I understand you now!" *WHAM* "Still, you didn't have to be so… personal!"

*KSSSH!* "I'm sorry," 'Tim replied seriously. *ZZZZZT* "My first plan was designed to get your average youma angry; they don't like having their combat abilities questioned!" *BZZZT* "And they typically don't have a conscience to get in the way of the better insults!" *KSSH* "And you, apparently, do. I wasn't ready for that, so I had to go with my next best guess!"

*WHAM*WHAM*WHAM*SHING!* "And what was that?"

*KSSSH*CRACKLECRACKLECRACKLECRACKLE* "…I don't want to discuss it right now! We have to detonate the explosives!" Currently only having one arm available, 'Tim put away his weapon and pulled out a small device with a large, obvious red button on it, and was about to push it… when one of those spiders got through and snatched it out of his hand, crushing the device sideways in its jaws. 'Tim barely managed to shake it off before it was able to start digging in. "Well, there goes that idea!"

*WHAM*CRASH*SHINGSHINGSHING*WHACK!* "You have a backup plan… right?"

'Tim thought about it, kicking and backhanding away anything that got too close. "…Yes! I do!" He took a deep breath, clenched his fist, gritted his teeth, and narrowed his eyes in concentration. "Can you hold them off for ten minutes? Maybe five?"

Ukkyo leapt over to him and started defending him. "I can certainly try!"

"Good," 'Tim replied, beginning to gather a small ball of white energy in his hand. He looked up at the ceiling. "Now, if the power junction to the upspin section is there, then…"

*Shing*CLANG*Whack!*Shing*shing*SHING* Ukkyo was having quite a time fending off the spiders.

Within a couple of minutes, the sphere of energy in 'Tim's hand had doubled in size as he continued to look at the roof and walls. "Then it would have to travel through the grid here…"

*WHAM*WHAM*WHAM*Shiiiiiiing!* The battle raged on for another couple of minutes. "Are you almost ready for whatever it is you're going to do?!"

'Tim confirmed the spot he was going to aim for, then looked down at the very slowly-growing ball of energy in his hand, which shook trying to hold it all. "Not at this rate…"

*WHAM* Ukkyo smacked away one of the much larger spiders. She seemed to be tiring; her face was red and she was almost hyperventilating. "If these things keep coming like they have… I won't be able to last much longer…"

"What kind of youma are you, anyway?!" 'Tim asked. "Where's the energy blasts and stuff you were doing last night?"

*CLANG!* "That's the thing! That needs energy: human energy. I haven't drained any human energy since then. I just… can't do it!"

"Youma die without energy!"

*Swish*WHAM* "I know…"

'Tim took a moment to absorb that. "Hmm…" Still charging up, he watched Ukkyo fight. She was gradually getting more sluggish in her movements. The fact that she was losing energy showed. Dents had started to form in her combat spatula, the bugs kept getting closer to her after each advance, and she was starting to look very spent. "Just hang on for as long as you can!"

Ukkyo didn't respond, all of her concentration apparently going into fending off the spiders.

"All righty, then…" 'Tim said quietly, devoting all of his concentration into focusing more energy into the ever-so-painfully slowly growing ball of white energy in his left hand. "This isn't going to be enough…"

Ukkyo let out a strangled cry as one of the spiders finally got through to her, knocking her to the floor from the force of its leap.

*CRRSZZH!* There was a sickening crunch from behind 'Tim. As his legs gave out, he realized that the lower part of his spinal column had just been severed as a spider droid started to eat its way through him. He fell to the floor on his back. Somehow still managing to charge up, he glanced at Ukkyo, who now was being swarmed upon. The bugs now seemed to be ignoring him.

*ZRROW!* The spatula-wielding fighter blasted out of the swarm, gasping for air as she did. "Hurry!" she shouted desperately.

"Eek…" 'Tim muttered. He glanced at the spot on the wall he had designated as his target and made a couple calculations. He still didn't have anywhere near the energy required for what he had planned.

Ukkyo was once again thrown to the floor, the bugs using their swarm tactic to overpower and overwhelm her. She seemed to have lost almost all her power to fight. All that remained to defend her was a rapidly thinning blue shield.

"I… need… more power," the pink-haired man whispered. "I just can't focus enough…"

And that was when the anesthetic wore off.

"GRRRRRRRRRR!!!!"

Veins bulged on 'Tim's forehead and arm. His face became a mask of extreme concentration. The energy ball quadrupled in size and turned blue during the next second.

"GRRRRRRRRRR!!!!"

The spiders and bits of metal from the deck rose up into the air from the sheer force of the power-up.

"GRRRRRRRRRR!!!"

Previously unseen muscles rippled in the pink-haired man's arm. A massive, white-blue aura pulsed around him as the deck started to crack beneath him.

"Graahh…"

The power-up stopped and the aura focused itself along his arm. During the following silence, the metal and spiders crashed to the floor. 'Tim chuckled evilly and brought his hand forward to aim at the wall. "Computer, meet my latest attack: TOTAL SYSTEM-WIDE APOCALYPSE—"

"Ahhh!" A quiet cry came from within the writhing swarm a few feet away, drawing 'Tim's attention. Ukkyo managed to dive halfway out, covered in spiders, which had started their invasive process. She looked at the one she had spent so much effort, energy, and life defending. "What… are you waiting for? Do… it…" She slumped limply to the floor.

Ukkyo started to turn completely gray as her energy faded.

'Tim recognized the process that he had seen and caused in so many other youma. He turned back toward the targeted wall, his arm fully extended and crackling with energy. "—Revised! Life And Death Struggle!"

*ZZZZZZZROW!* He poured his collected energy into a massive, continuous, blue beam, which flowed toward the wall.

'Tim gritted his teeth and made a chopping motion with his hand.

The beam split into two major energy flows. One black, one white. The black one dove into the wall, sparks dancing along the metal surface as it did.

*RUMBLE-RUMBLE-RUMBLE-RUMBLE-RUMBLE-RUMBLE!* The deck vibrated slightly as the thermonuclear devices exploded in rapid succession.

[Oh my…] the computer noted in concern as its holographic image appeared, flickering badly. It also carried a large, double-bladed battleaxe. [Are you sure we can't… all just be friends…?] It raised the axe over 'Tim.

*CRASH!!!* The area shook as the final explosive in the main computer core went off.

Midswing, the hologram vanished, leaving its axe to cleave into the floor right by 'Tim's head. The spiders went limp and the lights winked out.

Illuminating the area, the white energy remaining from 'Tim's blast dove at the rapidly disintegrating chef, flowing into her and surrounding her with a blinding, spherical aura. She glowed, rising into the air as the energy continued to infuse into her.

After a few moments of this, she was set lightly on her feet. The remnants of the aura faded into her, leaving her completely healed, her clothes perfectly repaired, albeit a lot more white than they had been, and her brown hair had become neatly arranged.

The lights slowly flickered back on.

The cook took in a deep breath, smiled, opened her eyes, and gasped. "TIM-SAN!"

"Unnh," 'Tim groaned, lying in a small pool of his own blood, his eyes shut tightly.

Ukkyo rushed to kneel at his side, holding his hand in hers. "Are you… Can I do anything…?"

The critically injured man slowly opened his eyes, and tried to look around.

"Are you all right…?"

"Oh, MAN, what a rush," 'Tim grumbled. He took notice of the hands that were holding his. "So… how ya feelin', kid?"

"I'm fine, I'm fine," Ukkyo replied quickly. She paused, realizing and considering what just happened. "You… just saved my life, didn't you? Why… why would you do that for a youma? You fight and always kill them."

'Tim blinked, glancing around blindly. "Hmm…? Oh, well… I don't want to bore you with the details, but… suffice it to say that someone, quite a while ago by your standards, who had no reason to trust me and every reason to have me have me blown away took me in as her own, despite what she knew I was. She even went so far as to hide my true nature from everyone else. She protected me to the end, and overlooked all of what she considered my flaws, and loved me all the same."

The chef looked very touched. "…And you'll do that for me?"

"Er… Well, kinda… Sure, I guess! I figure, hey, I mean, why not?" the pink-haired man continued. "Besides, you can cook stuff without spam in it! I can't just waste a good skill like that. It simply wouldn't be proper!" He tried to sit up, but was thwarted by the fact that he couldn't move the lower half of his body. "Urgh…"

Ukkyo frowned. "Are you going to be all right, Tim-san?"

'Tim tried chuckle, then coughed when he found he couldn't. "You keep asking that—"

There was a beeping sound and a calm, almost monotone voice began speaking. [Reset complete. Hello, 'Tim. I am ready to resume normal functioning at your command.]

"—and I will," 'Tim continued with half a smile. "Just stop calling me 'Tim-san.' I hate how that sounds. Computer, activate the EMH."

"Please state the nature of the… Oh, yech! What have you done to yourself THIS time!?"


"WAAAAAH! Kunzite, Nephrite has a crystal that's going to help him find the Empyrean Silver Crystal!" Zoicite whined, looking up at her boyfriend with huge, tear-filled eyes. "Now he's going to get absolute power and then have all of us killed!"

"Whining doesn't suit you, Zoicite," Kunzite replied comfortingly, looking down into Zoicite's eyes and holding up her chin with his right hand. "And don't worry. If he finds the Crystal, then we can simply… take it from him!"

"But Kunzite," the blonde general sniffled, "Nephrite's too strong for any of my youma!"

Kunzite smiled, gently stroking Zoicite's hair. "I think I can fix that… I have been training a small group that will soon rival the Seven Shadows in sheer power!"

Zoicite smiled hopefully. "You are? And… You’ll let me use them…?"

Kunzite slowly shook his head. "No… It will be a week at the very least before they will be ready to fight anyone as powerful as Nephrite… We, however, have more than enough power to…" He frowned. "But, as muddled as our Queen may be, she is still very powerful and an open battle between ourselves and her most favored general would not turn out well for us…"

Zoicite sobbed pitifully. "Then… what can we do?"

The silver-haired general thought about it for a moment and finally smiled. "I believe my… pet could be of invaluable use to you in this."

Zoicite gasped. "You're going to let me borrow Spikey!? Isn't he one-of-a-kind?"

"As far as I know, yes… But Queen Beryl doesn't know that. I believe that blaming a random… infestation would more than suffice as an explanation for her…"

"Spikey…" Zoicite considered, and laughed. "Nephrite won't stand a chance!"


~Speaking of which…~

Sam Beckett sighed, idly glancing around out of the window of Molly's room into the starry night sky. "Any leads on who or where Maxfield Stanton is yet?"

Al keyed a few things into his ever-present link. "'Fraid not, Sam… And to make matters worse, he dies in…" He looked at his friend. "Less than a half hour."

"HALF AN HOUR!?!?" Sam exclaimed frantically. "Why didn't you tell me before!?"

Al shrugged. "I didn't want to upset you…"

"…Upset me?! This is a man's life we're talking about!"

The hologram opened his mouth to say something, but was interrupted by a woman's voice from downstairs.

"Molly, who are you talking to up there?"

"Nobody, Mom!" Sam replied wearily, walking over to sit down on Molly's bed.

Molly's mother entered and looked around. She looked at and smiled at her "daughter." "Then why are you yelling?"

"I'm just… Practicing for the school play, Mom," Sam replied, trying to sound casual.

"Hmm," the redheaded woman hummed. "I wasn't aware that there was a play in the works…" She paused. "Though I did hear that the Performing Arts students were working on a rendition of Pirates of Penzance… I wonder how that'll turn out…" She took another quick glance around, then turned and left.

Sam sighed. "Okay, Al," he whispered, "what DO you know?"

"I know," Al began, looking at and thumping his badly-pummeled link, "that there is precisely a… two percent chance that you're going to meet our mysterious new friend, Mister Stanton, before the half hour is up."

Dr. Beckett whistled. "Great odds, Al. Want to check up on Ziggy to see if you can squeeze anything more definite out?"

The hologram shrugged. "Might as well, for all the good I'm doing here. We haven't gotten anything all that useful from Molly yet, but she seems to REALLY like this Stanton guy. So if… WHEN he pops up, you'd probably want to kinda try to act nice around him. So, hang tight, Sam." He pushed a button on the link. The familiar glowing gateway appeared, and he stepped through, the gate closing behind him.

Sam buried his face in his hands and groaned. It was just one thing after another: First, he leaped into a young girl— not an unheard of experience for him, but was nonetheless disconcerting.

Second, there was school to deal with, which wasn't THAT bad, all things considered… though it got quite uncomfortable with everyone asking, several times each, what happened to his accent.

It was anybody's guess why they could tell that and not anything else odd about him. Like, oh, say… why was there this big, hairy, middle-aged man in a sailor-suit walking around and sitting in Molly's desk…

On the other hand, come to think of it, maybe just seeming to speak differently than normal wasn't so bad after all…

Finally, there was this shadow looming outside the window and speaking to him in a deep, quiet voice. "Molly…"

Sam instantly bolted upright. "Who is it?!"

The shadow became more distinct. "Molly… It's me. You know me as Maxfield Stanton…"

If Dr. Beckett wasn't fully concentrating on the shadow before, he most certainly was now. "Maxfield—"

"—Yes, but that isn't my real name," the shadow continued, entering the room and resolving into the form of a tall, brown-haired man in a sort of grey uniform. "My real name is Nephrite… You remember from before, don't you…?" He sighed. "No, I see you don't. I am Nephrite, and I work for an alien group called the Negaverse." He paused, looking at "Molly." "Please, don't look so frightened, Molly."

"I'm… not frightened," Sam Beckett said slowly, wide-eyed. "You just… surprised me, that's all."

Nephrite nodded. "I can understand that…"

Sam decided to get right to the point and see if he could find out what could be the cause of Maxf— Nephrite's death. There wasn't much time. "Are… you in trouble, by any chance?"

"Yes, Molly. I need your help," Nephrite said in a slightly worried voice and tone that would have many a girl jumping to give him anything he asked for. "Please, you must tell me what you know about a very special gem: The Ginzuishou." He paused. "And… You need to tell me who Sailor Moon is… I think I may need her help also."

Sam noted the manipulative tone and instantly decided that he didn't like this guy one bit… but he still needed to help him, with whatever was going on. "Nephrite, I want to help you, really I do… but I don't have any idea who Sailor Moon is, or what the 'Ginzuishou' looks like."

Nephrite almost managed to conceal his scowl at this. "I see… then you won't help me."

Dr. Beckett sighed. "I didn't say that."

"Then… at least tell me who Sailor Moon is."

"I don't know who Sailor Moon is!"

Nephrite frowned and turned around to look out the window. "I could be in grave danger, Molly…"

Ah, Sam thought, now we're getting somewhere! "In danger from what? Who?"

"There are… those from the Negaverse that wish to destroy me. You see, it is a cruel world, full of evil and devoid of all joy and happiness. They don't like me, Molly. I'm not truly evil, like they are."

Sam didn't know which was worse: the fact that he was being lied to or the insulting way this Nephrite guy was doing it. He obviously didn't think much of Molly's intelligence. "Well," Sam said, doing his best to sound supportive, "I'd REALLY like to help, Nephrite, but… what? What is it?"

Nephrite had turned back toward him and was smiling. "You finally managed to pronounce my name right…" He chuckled, doing a fairly good imitation of sounding kind and friendly. "Compliments to your language instructor, too."

"Uh, thanks," the time traveler replied.

"So, Molly," Nephrite said, "I really am in trouble. If you could help me find the Ginzuishou— or Empyrean Silver Crystal, my troubles would be over. And… Then I would be able to join and help Sailor Moon, IF you tell me where I can find her."

Sam held up his hands in confusion. "Who is Sailor Moon?"

Nephrite frowned. "So that's the way it's going to be, then?" He sighed. "Very well. Goodbye, Molly." He turned around and started to fade away.

"No, Nephrite! Wait!" Sam called urgently, but it was too late. Nephrite was gone. "Great… Now what?"

A shining doorway slid open, and Al stepped out. The door slid closed. "Sam," he said, an amazed smile on his face, "you're not gonna believe this!"

Sam looked at his friend hopefully. "You finally got Ziggy working and know what I should do?"

Al laughed. "Even better! I had a talk with Molly that's solved all of the problems with my love life! It's unbelievable, Sam! She's a great kid to talk to. Her friends she's got here are REALLY lucky to have her."

Sam slapped his forehead and groaned, shaking his head. "Al… How does that solve MY problem?!"

"I was just getting to that! Molly says that whenever she's having trouble or doesn't know what to do, she always talks to her friend Serena. She says that always helps."

Sam stared at Al.

"I'm serious, Sam!" the hologram said. "Molly knows what she's talking about!"

"Al, I don't think that… Serena would know anything about this."

"Hey, you never know, Sam. Ziggy did say she was going to be involved with Maxfield Stanton's death…"

"She isn't the murderous type, Al. Besides, even if she was, what good would talking to her do?"

"Isn't it obvious, Sam?"

"Not really…"

"Just… call her up and tell her about what's going on! It'll help! Molly said that Serena's number was right by the phone."

"Al, I'm not going to call up some—"

"Just do it, Sam," Al said, then smiled. "Trust me!"

"It's eleven o'clock at night!"

Al tapped a couple of keys on his link. "Okay, Sam, but unless we figure out what to do pretty dang quickly, there's… oh boy… a one hundred percent chance that Maxfield Stanton will die in just about twenty minutes." He looked at the time traveler. "So, unless you've got a better idea, I think you should call up Serena."

Sam thought about it. Al did have a point there…


The ArbyFish dangled upside down from a rope, hung over a cauldron of boiling, seething acid. The rope was slowly being eaten away by the flame of a single candle, and had almost burned through.

"Oh, goodie!" Arby exclaimed in delight, looking up at the rope.

Yawning, a cat walked into the kitchen. She stopped and gasped, horrified at what she saw. "Arby! What are you doing?! Get down from there!"

"Not 'till you let me make billions of transfo'mation wands to raise an eternal army a' the doomed ta take ova' the world! Me mushrooms MUST be avenged!"

"Arby… you know you're not supposed to do that! Sailor Pluto herself has told you not to make any more! You used to be her advisor. You should know that you're not supposed to disobey someone like her when you're given a direct command like that!"

The small, green seal dangled proudly. "Well, I'm revolting!"

"I knew that," Luna deadpanned.

Another fiber of the rope burned through.

Arby looked down at his teacher. "Ya gots thir'y seconds ta comply with me demands!" He looked at the acid below him. "That's made from Charmin Fabric Softena'! Ya know what 'appens ta me when they use fabric softener?"

"Er… what?!"

"I DIE!" the small seal said with great emphasis, lightning momentarily flashing behind him.

The next fiber of the rope burned through.

"Arby," Luna said urgently, inching closer, "we can talk about this. Just get down!"

"Nope," Arby said, turning his head, spiraling around on the nearly-destroyed rope, "not gonna do it. Not 'till—"

The final thread of the rope snapped, and the phone began to ring.

*Ring*

"Arby!" Luna shouted, reacting quickly, leaping at the ArbyFish. She caught him halfway down, followed through with the jump, and pinned him to the floor.

*Ring*

"'Ey!" Arby shouted. "That's not fair! Ya gotta agree ta let me take ova' the world…" He scrunched down in Luna's grasp. "Spoilsport."

"Now, Arby," Luna said exasperatedly, drawing a sharp claw and leveling it at Arby, "you will NEVER do that sort of thing again, is that understood?!"

*Ring*

Arby looked up at the long, sharp claw…

*Chomp*

…and bit it off without hesitation.

"Arby!" Luna said in a mixture of shock and exasperation, looking at her de-clawed paw.

The ArbyFish looked back up at Luna. "Careful. Coulda bit ya 'ead off roight there."

The moon cat stared at him, her mouth hanging open. "What…?!"

*Ring*

"Well I moight be poisonous!" Arby replied cautioningly. "Ya neva' know!"

Luna shook her head and let go of Arby, backing off slightly. He fluttered off to perch on a conveniently located light fixture.

*Ring*

"I'll get it," Arby said, flying toward the phone.

"Oh no you don't," Luna said, pouncing at him.

"'Scuse me!" Arby said, fluttering out of the way.

*Ring*

*Crash!*

Luna's trajectory sent her crashing into the lamp that Arby had left a moment earlier. She quickly shook off the debris and made another attempt.

"Ey," Arby said in annoyance, once again getting pinned to the floor. "I'll not be a party to this charade!" He whipped out a familiar silver cylinder, which Luna batted out of his grasp.

The cylinder smashed against the edge of a wall, then exploded in a small flash of green smoke, vanishing soon afterwards.

*Ring*

"You broke me neuralizer…" Arby whispered in surprise, then shrugged. "Oh well, 'ave ta use somethin' else, then…"

Luna pinned down Arby's fins, making him look rather like a pounced-upon bird. "Arby, STOP."

*Ring*

"Whoa, what's going on down here?" a young, brownish-blonde-haired boy wearing pajamas, whom we shall call 'Sammy', asked groggily, walking into the room. He looked down at the cat. "What'cha got there, Luna? Some weird… bir… d…" He trailed off as he took notice of the boiling cauldron of acid, the rope, the burning candle, and the intricate, glowing arcane symbols scrawled in red crayon all over the kitchen. "What the…?"

Arby pulled free of Luna's grasp, fluttered up in front of Sammy's face, and stared at him intently. "You saw nothing."

Sammy snapped to attention, his eyes dilating. "Yes, master." He walked back upstairs. Luna's jaw dropped for a moment as she noticed this, and then she intensified her hunt for Arby.

*Ring*

Not noticing her brother, Serena trudged down the steps. "Unnh… Who would be calling at this hour?" She picked up the phone. "Hello?"

She raised a tired eyebrow as she listened to the caller. "No, I DON'T want to pay five percent less on my credit cards! …What?! Well, same to you, buddy!" She slammed down the phone. "Ooooh, I hate those stupid late-night telemarketing calls!"

Serena started to walk back up the stairs, and then the phone rang again. The blonde girl sighed, walked back down, and picked up the receiver. "WHAT IS IT?!?!! …Oh, eh, heh. Hi, Mol. Sorry about that…" She paused. "Why are you calling so late? Is something…" She gasped. "Maxfield Stanton?! Oh, he's a VERY terrible man. I'll be right over!"

Serena hung up the phone and rushed upstairs. She soon rushed back down, fully dressed, and bolted out the door.

Arby continued to flutter just out of Luna's reach. He hovered in the air for a second, gazing after Serena. "Wonda' wot she's doin'…" He fluttered after her.

Luna quickly followed. "Serena, where are you going? …Arby, wait! Someone has to keep an eye on you!"

"In-dubidibly!" Arby called back jovially.


Editor's Warning:

The following scene was not appropriate for most of our readers…
It contained violence and gratuitous gross death.
As a matter of fact, it was completely filled with…

<Pause>

What?

<Whispers>

Oh. Oh my…

It has therefore been edited to meet the DIC dub standards.


Sailor V was locked in a ______ struggle. She breathed ______ as she struggled to maintain her footing amidst the loose gravel. She tried to stay focused and keep from losing whatever waning grips on her consciousness she had.

Her foe was something out of a ______. It was tall; very tall: nearly ten feet in height, but its size wasn't what made it ______. Its four, thin, ______ arms extending out of its ______ robe, holding a long, ______ scythe helped, as did the ______ and ______, dark-grey wings. However, its most dominant feature had to be the face: ______ ______ ______ the ______ of the hood of its cloak, its eyes glowed ______, seeming to ______ ______ ______ opponent's ______.

The ______ ______ a low, almost ______ ______ as it advanced toward Sailor V. It ______ ______ ______ scythe, which ______, ______ in the Sailor's ______ that had been ______ from an earlier clash.

The masked Senshi stood firm, making her expression as brave as she could given the circumstances… which wasn't much at the moment. Her ______ breathing betrayed one fact: she was ______; not just ______, she was ______. She was probably closer to ______ than she had ever been in her life.

All of her attempts to fight back had proven completely and totally futile. She ______ as she held the ______ on the ______ ______ of her ______; a ______ reminder of the ______ - ______ that the scythe could cause: something much more than the somewhat less than the simple ______ could cause alone.

The ______ let out a ______ ______ as it dove toward her, almost too fast for her to see.

Sailor V took a step back, swinging with her hands in a vain attempt to call upon her Crescent Beam attack.

The ______ ______ stopped right in front of her and pulled back its hood, revealing a ______ of ______ ______ and ______ ______. It almost seemed to ______ at her as beams shot out of its ______ ______ sockets, ______ through her ______.

The sailor-suited warrior ______ from the ______ as the fire began to ______ her ______.

And, suddenly, mercifully, it stopped.

Sailor V breathed ______, her vision coming back into focus, albeit with a more ______ hue than normal. Her enemy was just standing there, grinning.

Off to the side, she noticed the appearance of another ______ robed figure. "Finish her…" it commanded.

Sailor V ______ as the ______ threw aside its ______, advancing toward her with ______ ______.

She was too ______ to ______ as it ______ ______ ______ arms and ______ ______ ______, ______ ______ - ______ ______ ______ ______.

She ______, ______ and hearing a ______ ______ as the ______ ______ ______ ______ its ______ ______ ______ ______ ______ and ripped ______ ______ ______  - ______.

Sailor V looked on in ______ ______ as the ______ ______ ______ ______ to the ground and ______ it ______. "______."

The ______, with another of its ______ hands, ______ her by ______ ______, and ______ upwards, ______ ______ her ______, along with ______ ______ ______ ______ ______ ______ ______.

Sailor V's ______ ______ in ______ ______, somehow still conscious even after all this.

The ______ brought ______ ______ ______ ______ and ______ the ______ it was ______, and began to ______.

Sailor V's ______ was ______ to ______ the ______, and ______ in a ______ of ______ and ______, the ______ ______ and ______ of ______ ______ moving into a ______ before they fell to the ground.

The ______ ______ the ______ of ______ and ______ to the ______, and ______ one foot ______ the ______ ______, ______ it in a ______ of ______.

In the background, the cloaked ______ nodded, looking down at the ______ ______ Sailor.

"Flawless Victory. You Lose."


"Aw, man," Paracite grumbled as he turned away from the game, stuffing his hands into his pockets, "and that was my last quarter!"

"That is soooo unrealistic," Jadeite-chan muttered in pitying disgust, shaking her head as the scenario's added viscera played out on the screen in an indescribably gory finishing scene, as if what had already happened wasn't enough. "But still, these games humans create seem awfully violent for their relatively puritanical culture. Wouldn't you agree?"

The young, brown-haired youma gazed longingly at the screen, which relentlessly flashed its demands for another coin. "But… I like them. Nobody has to really get hurt."

Jadeite-chan laughed, shaking her head. "Paracite, where, may I ask, is the point in that?" She sighed. "But you're young yet, and have so much to learn…"

A blonde, twenty-ish young man wearing a multi-pocketed apron walked by them. "Ah, excuse me, we're closing soon, and it's late." He smiled as the two looked up at him. "Hey, isn't this a school night for you?"

Jadeite-chan looked at him. "Wait… I know you… You're—"

"—Andrew," he completed. "Nice to meet you. Say… are you Jade and Perry, the new students over at the Junior High so many have been talking about?"

"Umm-hmm," the short blonde girl replied with a bright-eyed nod.

"Did you really blow up half the school?"

"Nah," Paracite said, "she only blew a huge, gaping hole through the roof."

"—And blew a marauder into the next millennium," Jadeite-chan added. She thought for a second. "Then afterwards I had thought about amassing a strike force to reclaim my rightful position as active general in the armies of the Negaforce!"

Andrew chuckled in a friendly fashion. "Quite an imagination you've got there… Shouldn't you be getting to bed soon?"

Paracite perked up. "We don't really need sleep, only energy."

Andrew blinked. "What?"

"Perry," Jadeite-chan said, giving her cousin a warning look. She feigned a yawn and nodded at Andrew, now actually making a conscious effort to look cute and play the part she was apparently going to be known as for a while. "I think you're right, though. We really should be getting to bed. It's very late. Come on, Perry."

"But—" Paracite said, pointing at the arcade games.

Jadeite-chan smiled and giggled, pulling him out the door by his arm. "Come on, silly."

Andrew waved goodbye. "They sure are out late," he said to himself. "I hope they won't have any trouble getting home…" He remembered something and grimaced. "And come to think of it, I need to be getting home soon, too. I have a poetry exam in Professor Kuno's class tomorrow…"


Once outside, Jadeite-chan coughed and gagged, grimacing as she and her cousin began their short walk toward the restaurant that was the doorway to their newly-acquired home.

"What's wrong?" Paracite asked, noting his cousin's discomfort.

"Paracite," the short, cute blonde began, "do you have any concept of how difficult it is to act like that without losing control?"

Paracite blinked. "Control?"

"My… personality seems to be… under assault." Her tone became almost desperate. "It feels as if… I'm in the danger of losing myself."

"Well, it's just like acting like someone else in a energy draining plan, right? I mean, when acting like somebody else, you can get wrapped up in the part and—"

"I know that… And do you seriously think that I would be that worried about it if it were something simple?" The cursed Negaverse general shook her head. "No. It is something far more serious than that. I don't know what, but it's keeping me from acting rationally. Do you recall my… outbursts at the school earlier?"

Paracite shrugged. "I thought you were just stressed. You know, with the curse— being a cute girl and stuff."

"Normally, I would never blow my cover like that unless I had been discovered through other methods first. No one had any reason to doubt our story… yet for some reason I couldn't keep myself from lashing out."

"Well, it kept those boys from bugging you for the rest of the day…"

"Hmm… Yes, it did…"

"And most everyone else kept their distance, too."

"True…"

"Except for that guy with the glasses. What did he say his name was?"

"Melvin."

"Yeah! Melvin. That's a cool guy… I really think he likes you. Going to go out with him anytime soon?"

"Paracite, if you don't shut up right now, I will be forced to ______ you and nail your ______ to the wall."

The blue-school-uniformed, brown-haired youma smiled. "Naaah, you wouldn't do that. Besides, I'd turn to dust waaay before you got that far."

"I could keep you alive— pump in enough energy to sustain your meager existence while I slowly ______ ______ ______ in an exquisitely painful manner."

Paracite smiled, almost laughing. Right now, Jadeite's voice and appearance was a little too cute for him to take these threats seriously. "Arent'cha acting kinda… violently, Jadeite?"

Jadeite-chan closed her eyes and clenched her fist. "This coming from a youma that likes to play Sailor V's Mortal Super Killer Street Primal Instinct Rage Fighter Deathmatch Kombat IV."

"That's just a game!" Paracite complained.

"Humph. Yes, indeed it is… and I expect the young heroine whose image has been used in such an… unwholesome form of entertainment will be wanting to break a few heads herself when she hears about this particular one… They've certainly deviated a long way from that earlier game… what did they call it?"

"Um… I think you're trying to talk about the side-shooter they had a while back? Super-deformed characters, jerky controls, innocent, shoot-em-up action—"

"Whatever," Jadeite-chan cut in. "The point is…" She trailed off as she gazed in wide-eyed shock at the battered restaurant in front of her. "E… gads… It looks as if the little sailor-brats got wind of this place and decided to move in and destroy it…"

The place was a mess. First of all, the windows were shattered and glass was all over the place. Second, all of the furniture was broken in one manner or another. Third, scorch marks marred all of the walls. Fourth, there was an assortment of axes, hatchets, arrows, swords, knives, and unexploded ordinance imbedded in the walls, floor, and roof. Fifth… broken and shattered combat machines of the design Jadeite-chan recognized as belonging to the instillation below were strewn haphazardly across the floor. And finally, a few small pools of blood adorned the badly dented landscape.

"Or maybe Beryl found out about it and sent someone in to get us," Paracite suggested. "This doesn't look like how the Scouts work. Tuxedo Mask, either. The Starlight Knight, maybe… but it usually isn't like this… Unless he was in a blind, killing rage… but that hasn't happened since those robotic pandas at—"

"In any case," Jadeite-chan said, glancing around frantically, "our temporary home is now defunct. The defenses seem to have been overcome, and that… ‘Tim is probably dead, judging from the amount of blood splattered around. Paracite, remind me to thank you for dragging me to the arcade and playing all night. You may have saved both our lives." She took her cousin by the arm. "Let's get out of here. Quickly, now." She concentrated, attempting to gather enough focus for her and Paracite to teleport away… it didn't matter where, so long as it was far from here.

"Perry…? Jade? Is that you?" a woman's voice asked quickly, in such a way that it disrupted Jadeite-chan's concentration.

Jadeite-chan whipped around, attempting to regain her composure sufficiently to get back into her 'cute little girl' act, or more specifically: to get ready for whatever mental repercussions such an act may cause. "Er… Hello," she said cutely, smiling slightly. "I'm Jade." She fought hard to repress a giggle that threatened to arise— it really didn't fit in the conversation right now.

"That's us," Paracite confirmed without batting an eyelash.

"Good," the brown-haired, youngish woman with a white bow in her hair and a giant spatula on her back said in relief. "My boss was wondering about you two."

"Your boss…?" Jadeite-chan asked in a guarded manner, looking very adorable as she maintained a close arm lock with her much taller cousin just in case things suddenly turned ugly for some reason and she still needed to teleport them both out.

"'Tim, the restaurant owner," the woman replied in a reassuring tone, attempting to alleviate any fears the small blonde girl appeared to be having. "He's been badly injured in… In a battle, actually, and couldn't check, so he asked me to—"

"What sort of battle? Who attacked?" Jadeite-chan asked, narrowing her eyes. She glanced at the destruction inside the restaurant. "Was it… the Negaverse?"

The spatula-carrying woman shook her head, then paused, wondering how they knew about the Negaverse. She finally shrugged, guessing that since 'Tim— The Starlight Knight knew about it, it only stood to reason that these two that lived with him would, too. "No. As far as I know, Queen Beryl and her generals had nothing to do with it. The computer went nuts."

"Oh," the small blonde replied, now clinging protectively to Paracite for real this time. The computer. After the experience she had this morning, she had no difficulties understanding how THAT could be a problem. "Did he really manage to fix it this time?"

"I don't know, but I sure hope so, sugar. It was a heck of a fight trying to get it reset." She looked down. "I'd hate to have to go through that again." She shuddered for a moment.

"He's okay, though, right?" Paracite asked. "Tim, I mean."

The woman grimaced. "Define 'okay'."

Jadeite-chan frowned, then looked up at Paracite, sorrowful tears in her eyes and shaking. She rested her head against her cousin's chest, sobbing. "Tim…" she said sadly.

The cute blonde girl stopped and realized how she was acting. "Aah!" She let go of the boy she was clinging to and shoved him away. She quickly regained her composure and looked back at the apparent combat-chef. "It got him, didn't it?"

The chef nodded, looking a bit perplexed by the girl's behavior. "Yes… a number of times, actually. Slashing, biting, digging, shooting, hacking. The things it kept sending at us showed no mercy. It was a miracle we even got the job done. He was lying there, slashed, battered, broken—"

Jadeite-chan was unable to keep lower lip from trembling. "Stop it!" she shouted, then drew back slightly, looking somewhat surprised at her involuntary outburst, and the tone it was in.

The brown-haired woman sighed. "Sorry to be so blunt, sugar… but he's a real mess right now."

"So… he's dead?" Paracite asked, scratching his head.

The spatula-carrying chef blinked. "What? Noooo… He's alive. Barely, but alive… The doctor said that…" She paused, trying to remember the exact phrasing. "'Don't worry. His thick skull has protected him once again'. So, I guess he goes through this sort of thing a lot. I don't know how he'd do it, but…" She trailed off as a few small robots came out of hiding in the restaurant and started to clean it up: sweeping up the glass, mopping the floors, redoing the tilework, etcetera.

"Hey, cool," Paracite said in awe, smiling. "He's got droids working up here, too!"

"Is it safe?" Jadeite-chan asked, looking through one of the windows.

*Zrrrr-Zrrrrr-ZRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!* A small, tracked droid with a drill for an arm jumped up in front of the former youma general, its drill pointed directly at her mouth.

"AAAH!" Jadeite-chan screamed, jumping backward in shock.

The droid heedlessly turned and began to file off the sharper edges of the broken glass window.

"It… Should be safe," the brown-haired woman said, glancing at the working robots. She took out her combat spatula. "But keep your eyes open anyway."

"Okay!" Paracite said, walking in past all of the machines, into the back room and entering the turbolift. "Come on!"

"All right…" Jadeite-chan said cautiously, treading lightly as she walked around the droids and debris, followed soon after by the cook.

They both breathed a sigh of relief when they made it to the elevator without incident.

"Computer," Paracite said, "Base Level."

The computer beeped. [Confirmed,] it said in a professional voice, then continued in a sweeter one, [Perry-kun.]

Both Jadeite-chan and the brown-haired chef shuddered at the sound of it.

[Proceeding,] the computer added in monotone as the doors closed and the turbolift activated.

 

Continued in Part 9-I

Chapter 9-I
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