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.
MISTER R. B. FISH?
THIS IS DEATH.
"Oh, 'ello sez Oye ta you ta me and yew back in return!"
I'VE COME FOR YOU.
"Well, now! This is a surproise, Oye must say."
FOR MOST, IT USUALLY IS.
"'S’bout mouldey toime."
"Don't all ArbyFish go to Heaven?"
I DON'T KNOW.
"And just why not?"
NONE OF YOUR RACE HAS EVER DIED BEFORE.
"'Course we 'ave! Whoy, there wuz Flanburger just last week!"
HE GOT BETTER.
"Oh. Well, then. Yew troyin' ta tell me Oye’m the first one?"
"So where does Oye go, then?"
I'LL HAVE TO LOOK IT UP.
"Yew do that, young man."
ARE YOU A TYPE OF AARDVARK?
"Oye moight be…"
"But wot if Oye wuz a varoiety a' pygmy marmoset?"
IT'S DIFFICULT TO EXPLAIN.
"Oh, it IZ, is it?"
YOU'RE TAKING THIS WELL. COME ON, I'LL INVITE YOU TO BREAKFAST.
"Can dead ArbyFish eat breakfast?"
NO. HA HA.
"'Course Oye can! Wotch me."
YOU ARE CURRENTLY DISEMBODIED. YOU CANNOT.
"Don't make me destroy yew loike Oye destroyed that Monkey."
YES, WELL, COME WITH ME. YOUR TIME IS UP.
"Are there mushrooms in Heaven?"
It was near dawn, and darkness reigned over the city of Tokyo. The electricity had been out for several hours, though workers and officials had been trying to make repairs and establish a firm idea what in Cho Yun Fat's great, unspotted name had just happened.
A few glints of sunlight shot over the horizon, revealing to the world a ghastly sight. A gigantic smoldering crater scarred the more central parts of the great city; a good ten percent of Tokyo turned into a stunning replica of a Nevada nuclear test site.
"Cheesy Americans and their little cherry-bombs," a crotchety old mad scientist commented from a distance.
Other than the billions of yen of property damage, it wasn't that much of a deal. I mean, what remained was amazingly preserved, aside from a broken window here and a fallen-out wall there. Nothing serious, though a really big, fat sumo-wrestler at the rim of the crater must have been really hung-over from the party last night, due to the fact that as he began his morning showering routine, he failed to notice that half the bathroom was missing.
"La-LA-la-laaAaaH!" Larudo Sannin yodeled off-key, scrubbing his portly backside with a huge, long, bent-handled Reach bath brush.
At the bottom of the crater, hundreds of prone forms lay scattered to and fro. As the sunbeams poured down upon them, they awoke one by one. Many stumbled to their feet, momentarily as confused as drunken men of their whereabouts and circumstances. Others simply yawned, sat up, and looked around.
"AAAH! I'M BLIND!!!" cried one when he saw the bathing scene through the fallen walls.
"We don't wanna see that."
All except a few recalled the sudden explosion that came towards them, but all were grateful to be alive.
"Man, I got ta cut down on them there spicy beaaaaans!"
"Yeah, Lester! You done blew up half the city!"
"Hoooo-dogies. That stinks, sonny-boy!"
"Ranma Saotome! This is all your fault!!!"
"Whoa, I think we just found the Ultimate Destruction card…"
"Kiroberosu, I'm NOT going up against whatever card caused THAT. Thank you, but NO! We're leaving NOW."
"I mean it!"
"Could this be the work of the Dragon-Spooker?"
"We will get our treasure back…"
"Wow, I had no idea the Green Vaccine was so… potent!"
"It's… not supposed to do that."
"Humph. Hmmm. Huh. Well, we're just going to have to cut down on those carrots, kid."
"It looked kinda like Muu, but I guess it wasn't."
"It was a giant MONKEY, Genki! How's that supposed to look like Muu?!"
"Yes, we lost the Omega Particle."
"Okay, WHO launched the Nova Bomb? Tyr?!"
"It wasn't me!"
"Heh. Evolutions— NOTHING! I think you're doing just fine like you are."
While all the confusion of whose fault it really was echoed throughout the landscape, the one who really knew was searching nearby. The small black cat padded through the deep dusty plain, looking for some sign of a familiar face.
Luna had been searching for Sailor Moon and the others for hours. She had also been keeping a watchful eye out for some trace of her old associate, Arby. Her search, however, had been all for naught. She found no sign of any of the girls, nor of others she knew. The cat stopped and sighed, bowing her head and tightly closing her eyes.
She recalled the night before. She had had a dream; she felt that someone was calling her; she felt that someone was saying his last goodbye to her. From the looks of the crater, she presumed that there had been some sort of climactic battle, and felt that one very close to her was sacrificed in the process. She had called out Arby's name when she awoke from her dream. He may not have survived, but what of the others? Were they gone as well?
Luna shook her head. She couldn't lose hope. No, she wouldn't lose hope. They had to have survived. She didn't know how, but they just had to. The moon cat took a breath and called upon her telepathic abilities. Perhaps she could find where to continue her search.
*Shhhhhh* The crescent moon on her forehead began to glow brighter little by little, the light grew in intensity, and in a pair of seconds, it dimmed once more.
Luna sensed them. Yes, they were alive. One, two, three, four— Serena, Raye, Amy, Terra— they were all there. She breathed a sigh of relief. She repeated the search and felt the presence of Tuxedo Mask— Darien, but no sign of Arby. He was really gone. Luna nodded and began to slowly move toward the nearest girl she felt.
*Squish* The cat stepped into something grey and juicy. "Eew," she said, looking down at the object. It was a steaming slab of meat. It smelled good, too. She looked around and noticed something that she hadn't before: there were huge chunks of crisp meat scattered all over the crater. It looked tasty, she thought wryly, but she didn't know where it had been or what it was from, but it certainly smelled good. Maybe it would taste good…
Everyone was out of danger for right now, so she thought it was okay if she took a break. After all, in the mad rush to look for the Senshi, she'd forgotten breakfast!
Speaking of breakfast, there existed a restaurant somewhere in this same city which sat by a small video arcade and bore a big sign outside that read, in large, friendly letters, "Tim's Ucchan," 'Ucchan' being in business-like letters and 'Tim's' being in cursive on the upper-left corner. Inside, a few scattered customers were pondering over the breakfast menu while the joint's owner was conversing with his only employee over a tall glass of strawberry juice.
"Why," asked Ukkyo with a raised eyebrow, "strawberry juice?"
"Because I happen to like it," 'Tim replied with a nod. "Don't know why; I never did before." He shrugged. "But now I do."
The brown-haired woman shifted in her seat. She drummed her fingers on the table, trying to figure out 'Tim's mode of thinking. Of course, it was futile, but she hadn't figured that out yet. "You mean, you never tried it before?"
"Oh, I'd tried it before," affirmed 'Tim, "but I never really liked it back then."
"So you've lost taste buds or what?" Ukkyo still wasn't quite getting it. Oh, yes, people could develop a liking for things, like strawberry juice, but 'Tim could be just plain confusing when he tried to explain things.
"Something like that," 'Tim anxiously rubbed his neck, trying to find some good way to put it. After a moment, he snapped his fingers. "Ah! Remember how I looked when we first met?"
"A green tiger-striped bandanna, a black jerkin, green and black camouflage pants—"
"No, further back. I looked a lot different."
Ukkyo glanced around and leaned in a little closer. "You mean the 'knight' thing?"
"Yeah!" 'Tim brightened. "The Knight thing." He looked at her intently. "That's a lot closer to my real self, don't forget. You know me as 'Tim, but my full name is The Atomic Starlight Knight."
"You mean, you turn into the Atomic Starlight Knight."
"Nooo," 'Tim was starting to look frustrated. He muddled over his thoughts for a second, then remembered something. "Oh! Sorry for not explaining it to you fully before: I'm a quasi-energy spirit/ physical being created by my true self a long, long time ago."
Ukkyo relaxed somewhat. "Oh, that's kind of," she searched for the correct word, "nice. Your doctor says I'm human, but for a while I was something like that."
"Really?" 'Tim looked interested. "You were a nine-billion-year-old invincible beast with nigh-omnipotent powers bent on the destruction of the universe?"
"Uhhhh," Ukkyo blinked, her mouth falling open to express the fact that the man's statement was completely, utterly unexpected. "No?" She wasn't even sure she heard right what he had said.
"Well, I was," 'Tim said proudly, "and I'm planning on continuing my career, after I can get back together with my old self."
"Yeah, but she's not ready. We're too different, personality-wise. I've been making progress, getting some of our memories connected, but we're just not compatible yet. I don't know how long it'll take, but I'm still working on it." 'Tim sighed and looked down, concentrating. "I'll have to spend more time with her to make sure all goes well."
Ukkyo stared, half-smiling at him, not being able to tell if he was explaining something important in great detail, or trying to hint something to her in some wacky esoteric fashion. It occurred to her that it might be his way of saying that he wanted to be close to her and learn more about her.
'Tim looked back at her. "So, how've you been doing?"
The attractive ex-youma smiled, smoothed out a wrinkle in her shirt, and tried to look as cute as she could when she began, "Well, I've enjoyed working here with you. I like cooking, you know that, and you've been very nice about all this."
She went on to give a rundown on how business had been going. For example, a lot of very strange characters had come in, requesting everything from rice to beans to Gaggh to dragon liver pot pie and back again. It was rather annoying that they kept on asking for anything but okonomiyaki. Besides, it was almost impossible to get dragon liver at this time of the year.
"You could put up a banner and try advertising," suggested 'Tim. "Or I could hunt down some people for you." He flashed a grin and patted his side where Ukkyo knew he had a concealed firearm and who knows what else. "I know where they live…"
"Hmm," Ukkyo considered those options. "I'll try advertising." She hoped her boss had been joking about that last part, but knowing him, he probably wasn't. "Can I have a publicity budget?"
"Sure," 'Tim said, reaching back and pulling out his wallet. "How much do ya need?"
The restaurant's number one employee frowned. "A lot more than just some spare change."
"I'll write you a check, then."
Deep below 'Tim's Ucchan, a hypercomputer was observing a remote connection it had with an android it had sent in to play the stock market. On a computer screen, a news program went by, showing transactions on a blow strip going by on the bottom, with other useful information being explained above.
[Oooh!] the computer calculated emotionally, [Microsoft is going down, buddy! Sellsellsellsellsell!]
The news program flashed to Wall Street, where one woman in a business suit was waving her arms frantically.
"In latest news, Microsoft Stock has dropped by thirty percent, probably prompted by their latest release…"
[Yaay! Ayrie stock is going way up! Buybuybuybuybuybuybuy!]
"On the other hand, a relatively new company, Ayrie Textiles, has risen significantly…"
Another transmission came in on a side screen. It was a man dressed like a US General. "Very well, Miss Pewter. We have accepted your company's offer. We have examined the prototype, and would like to purchase fifty more units."
[More military contracts! Waaaaaai!]
'Tim pulled out a small communicator, which looked like a miniature cell-phone, and held it up. "Computer," he whispered, "Do we have several hundred thousand dollars we can spare right now?"
*Beep* The communicator gave off a small tone. [Negative. No liquid assets available. Working…] It gave off a few more tones. [Sixty million yen now at your disposal in your checking account.]
"I wanted dollars," 'Tim whispered.
[You're in Japan, sir.]
"Well, have it your way," 'Tim whispered back and put away the device, then took out a check and signed it. He handed the check over to his employee. "Here, take as much as you need."
Ukkyo had heard what the computer had said. She fell off her chair, face-first into the floor. "I'll," she coughed into the tile, "go down to the bank when I get a chance." The girl slowly stood up and attended to a couple people that had come in.
After taking their orders, Ukkyo pulled the giant spatula/ bakers' peel/ deadly blade off her back, and with a determined expression on her face, rushed into the kitchen. Within seconds, she had fixed their food and brought it out to them with a smile before she sat back down with 'Tim.
"That was quick," the boss noted. "Has every morning been like this?"
"Not all the time," Ukkyo replied. "Some days are tougher to deal with than others."
"Really? Like how?" 'Tim asked, pausing to sip his strawberry juice.
"Well, usually I just have to dodge a few assassination attempts by Ninja Burger, but yesterday there was this really big mess, and…"
As the conversation between the two progressed, 'Tim spat out his morning sugary fruit drink in surprise, completely drenching the head cook. "There was a battle with a level-ten super Sayajin and you didn't tell me?!" He sat up from his chair and lifted himself from the table to look down at the girl. "We could have gone out and had dinner!"
Ukkyo flinched, placing her giant battle-spatula to the side, taking in for a moment her newly moistened condition and considered how to respond. "Look, I didn't know about it until I asked your computer what that big flash outside last night was!"
"Hmm," 'Tim mused, "okay. But do you know who ate who? A fight with Sayajin isn't finished until the other's completely devoured." He paused. "Or, at least, that's the way I liked to do it."
Ukkyo shrugged helplessly.
"Thanks anyway, though."
Ukkyo sighed and slowly wiped away a strand of her soaked hair. "Don't we have anything more serious to talk about?"
'Tim cocked an eyebrow. "Like what?"
The pink-haired man paused, standing up straight as he pondered his response. "Us? Well, I think I had the right idea when I said we'd be better off keeping everything professional for now. I mean, you're an ex-soldier from General Nephrite's NegaForces and I'm a Knight in Shining Armor made and designed to destroy you and everything like you."
"Opposites attract," Ukkyo offered.
"Hmmm," 'Tim paused, holding his chin as if making a sudden, brilliant discovery. "You're right. We could make this work. I think it's a great idea."
Ukkyo's hopes began to rise. "Really?"
"Yeah," 'Tim nodded. "We started out fighting, but then there was a change and you ended up with me again, this time fighting to defend me. Then you were giving your life for me—"
"Then you saved my life," Ukkyo added.
"And in the end we were both okay and we're together again," 'Tim finished. "It's perfect, I like it—"
"—I like it, too—"
"Plus, there doesn't seem to be any reason for fate to get in the way. We've both got enough power to protect ourselves if someone else does, and I don't have any other romantic entanglements that come to mind."
"I don't have anyone else either. I'm in a strange world and I think you're the best thing in it. Before you, all I can remember is death, fighting, and evil. There was no love there. You're different. I like you better."
The two moved closer, face to face, each with a loving smile. A hug and a kiss later, it was official.
Peering from around a corner, Paracite hi-fived the holographic doctor. "Yeah!"
The patrons of the restaurant also applauded politely between mouthfuls.
*Zrrrr!* 'Tim's golden crescent moon-mark suddenly glowed for a second and sparked. "Whoaaaaaah!" he blurted out, the shock forcing the two apart. "Something is NOT right here."
Ukkyo took a step back. "What happened?!"
"There's something— Something REALLY bad going on. I can feel it right here!" 'Tim moved his hand to his right temple and tapped it. "It's like… Me, my self— my other personages are shouting at me to get out and do something, because everything's pointing to a battle." He turned around. "It's going to be-be-beeeee— Over there!" He pointed out toward the crater visible in the distance through the restaurant's front windows. "No time to lose!" his tone took on a sense of urgency. "I have to go!"
Before Ukkyo could say anything, 'Tim rushed past the tables, nearly knocking over a pair of girls as he left.
*Whoosh!* 'Tim's image flickered out as he started to run faster than the human eye could detect.
Ukkyo stared after him, keeping in mind that her boss and new boyfriend was probably going to fight the Dark Kingdom again. "Hope he isn't going to kill anyone I know," was all she could say to ease her peace of mind, then sighed sadly at the broken moment and went back to work.
"Ow… Hey!" Serena and Raye shouted as some tall pink-haired guy in a Goku getup rushed past them while they entered the newish restaurant. "Watch it!" Raye called back, but lost sight of the rude individual when she turned around.
The two shrugged it off and took a seat at a table near the entrance. "Why did you have to invite me to breakfast sooooooo early, Raye?" Serena yawned.
"Because we have school later on!" Raye replied. "And I REALLY need to talk to you. One on one, you know, like— like—"
Serena brightened. "Like friends?"
The waitress chose that moment to approach them. She was looking somewhat uncomfortably soaked with fruit juice, but nevertheless maintained an enthusiastic demeanor. She had on an apron that read "Kiss the Cook". She straightened up and smiled, greeting them with, "Hi! I'm Ukkyo, and I'll be your waitress for this morning." She pointed to her nametag. "Can I get you anything to start with?"
Raye held up two free meal coupons. "Are these still good?"
Ukkyo retrieved the paper slips and examined them. "They don't expire for another couple months, so I guess so." She gave half a smile and tucked the coupons away. "Actually, I don't know how my boyf— Errr— BOSS keeps the place open with so many of these flying around." She consulted a notebook, then looked back at them. "What'll it be?"
"I'll have a," Raye read from the menu, "Senzu soup special with," she continued trying to read, "Toad 'in the 'Ole," a British accent coming out. She turned the menu upside down. "Then some crumpets and buttered scones with tea."
"Umm," Serena fidgeted, unable to figure out what anything on the menu, due to it being written in Japanese or having just a really strange name. "I'll have what she's having."
"I'll be right back," Ukkyo said, and went into the back room.
*Whip!* Whosh!* Slash!* Shiiiing!!!* HISSSSSS* There was a mix of kitchen noises and in a couple of seconds, the cook sped out with the orders, placed them with in front of the girls, and dodged back to attend other patrons.
Raye took an impressed glance at Ukkyo's speed. "Wow. That was fast." She turned back to Serena, who was happily wolfing down her food. "Serena, we need to talk about what's been going on."
Serena yawned and looked up. "Like what?"
"Like the fact that yesterday we got our tails kicked from here to New Jersey and back," Raye said, her speech varying in emphasis. "Terra's mom knows our secret identities, Amy's in the hospital, Terra's so weak she can barely stand, your prism's broken and," she threw open the curtains beside them, "there's a THREE-MILE-WIDE CRATER IN THE MIDDLE OF TOWN!!!"
"So it looks like any ol' chunk of the Mideast!" Serena shot back. "Big deal!"
Raye looked sympathetically at her ditzy companion, then coughed. "Somehow, I don't think you're taking your role as one of the city's main protectors against the Negaverse seriously," she said through her teeth.
"Hey, it's not like there was anything really all that fun in that part of town! Just," Serena counted off on her fingers, "Ten Ban Land, that one park, the bank district, the law offices— No big loss."
A small glob of sweat worked its way down one side of the priestess' forehead. "Errr—"
"Oh, would you relax, Raye!" the blonde reclined back against her cushioned vinyl seat. "You heard the morning radio, didn't you? Nobody was hurt; everyone accounted for and all that, but," she trailed off.
Serena actually looked half-worried. "Have you seen Darien?"
Raye shook her head. "No. Not since he got hit by that guy last night."
"That's funny, I thought I saw him after the fight, in the hospital. You were there. You saw him, didn't you?"
Raye didn't respond.
Darien Shields stumbled along the corridors of the hospital, scanning the doors for the room number he was going to visit. Last night, one of the Scouts, Sailor Mercury, had gotten injured. After returning home and getting some rest, he thought it might be a nice idea to drop by and talk to the girl; let her know he really did care about her and the others.
He didn't have time to pick up a 'Get Well' card because he would have to be getting to Professor Kuno's poetry class pretty soon, but he hoped a visit would be enough. The sign out front said that visitors' hours were not until the afternoon, but the receptionist didn't say anything when he asked to go in, so it most likely would not be a problem.
"Sixty four, sixty six, sixty eight," Darien counted aloud, and breathed a relieved sigh when he found the right room, "seventy."
The door was open, so he walked right in.
Inside, Amy, the blue-haired girl, was a mess. She was hooked up to an IV dispenser, had a cast over much of her body, and gazed off emptily at a bare wall. She showed no sign of recognition as the man entered.
Darien gave a lopsided smile, waved, and said, "Hello."
Amy turned her head to look out the window.
The college student walked over to stand beside her. "How are you doing?" he asked while thinking, "Man, she doesn't look so good."
Amy didn't respond.
"Can't you hear me?" Darien pressed, putting out a hand to lightly touch her arm.
*Whoosh* Darien's hand passed right through Amy's arm. He drew back and gasped in shock. "What—?!"
*Whoosh* He repeated the experiment, getting the same results. "What's going on?" Darien couldn't feel his heart beat faster as he walked to the door in a shocked daze.
*Wha-wharsh* A pair of doctors walked straight through him on their way to attend to Amy. He turned around and watched them.
Darien blinked hard when he heard the voice, then spun around to see an eight-foot tall skeleton in a hooded black robe stride toward him, brandishing a very long-handled scythe with a gleaming silver blade. Despite all the fluorescent track lighting, darkness seemed to permeate the area around him.
SORRY I'M LATE.
Darien let out a girly whimper and passed out.
"Don't worry, I'm sure Darien's fine. He can take care of himself," Raye replied aloud, and said inwardly, "Besides, he's too handsome to die! He has to be okay."
Serena nodded. "Yeah, I guess you're right."
"But we still have to figure out what to do about your powers. Your prism's broken and you can't transform now."
"Don't remind me," teary-eyed, the blonde looked down at the brooch on her blouse's red bow, clicked it open, looked in, sniffled, closed it, and continued semi-desperately, "When are we going to visit Amy?! Maybe she can fix it. I forgot to ask her last time."
"Visiting hours aren't until four. We'll go after school. But meanwhile, we need to figure out what to do if the Negaverse attacks again soon. Amy can't fight, you can't fight, Tuxedo Mask only shows up sometimes, and I wouldn't count on the Starlight Knight's help."
"I had a vision: He. Is. Evil."
"Is not! If he was evil, why would he be helping us out so much?" Serena looked a bit upset.
Raye looked away. "I know what I saw."
"What DID you see?"
The priestess shivered. "Death. Destruction. Murder. All caused by him. I don't think he's with Nephrite or anyone, but—"
Serena's frown faded and she began to laugh. "Oh, don't worry, Raye! You're just being paranoid. He CAN'T be evil or anything like that. He's just not the type."
"Not the type?! You've seen him fight, haven't you?"
"But that's just against bad guys!"
Raye groaned and decided to just change the topic. "Okay. Just be REALLY careful. Back to the question: What do we do if the Negaverse attacks again? If it's anything like last night, we're toast! We're not strong enough for it."
"We could surrender," Serena suggested.
Raye thought about that. The idea had merit, but… "No! We can't give up! We HAVE to figure out some way to win."
"Well, whatever it is," Serena said, "I'm sure you'll be able to handle it." She winked and gave a thumbs-up. "I have full confidence in you, Raye!"
"Gee, thanks," Raye muttered.
*Beep-beep!* Serena's watched beeped. She looked down at it, her eyes widening in surprise.
Sweating, the blonde girl looked up at her friend, who was staring back, a gigantic sweatdrop making its way down her brow.
"AAAAAH! WE'RE GONNA BE LATE!!!!!!"
*VROOOOOOOOM!* The two rushed out, completely forgetting to leave a tip.
"Hey!" Ukkyo called after them. She watched thoughtfully after them for a second. "Wait, they look a lot like—"
"Ahem!" a red-orange-headed teenage girl dressed like a sorceress tugged on the hem of the ex-youma cook's shirt, looking more than a little peeved. "The buffet's empty. I haven't had all I can eat yet!"
"Oh, for crying out loud," Ukkyo whispered, rolling her eyes and getting back to work.
"Indignity of indignities," Jadeite groaned.
"Play ball!" the coach called.
Yes! Even though a chunk of the city had been destroyed, and even though homes of many had been obliterated completely, the school board absolutely refused to call off today. It was a field day at Juuban Junior High School. They had foregone the normal pleasantries of roll call in the classroom and went straight outside for a delightful game of co-ed softball, and now Jade was up to bat.
"I'll try to make this one easy for you!" Melvin called from the pitcher's mound.
"Talk down one more time to me, and I'll—" the exceptionally adorable ex-general began, but remembered the warning she'd gotten from school and city officials about misbehavior, and choked back her disdain, finishing with, "give you a hug you'll never forget."
Several individuals in the dugout giggled at that. "Jade and Melvin, sittin' in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G! First comes—"
Jadeite gave them a negative expression, holding up her left hand, crackling with energy. The childish song ended abruptly. A few whispered amongst themselves.
"Careful. That's the girl with all the gnarly powers."
"Really? She doesn't look at all violent."
"Want to test that? I dare you to invite her out."
"Anyone seen Terra?"
"Hey, anyone seen Molly?"
"Yeah, where's Buckwheat, for that matter?"
"I be ova' here, sho'fry!"
"Okay, here goes!" Melvin called, barely avoiding tripping over his own feet as he tossed the softball toward home plate.
*THWACKK!* Jade effortlessly sent the softball sailing over the horizon.
The team in the dugout cheered. "Woo-hoo! Go Jade!" Serena exclaimed, waving a pair of red flags.
"Humph," Jade squeaked and started to make the short run around the diamond, "my head hurts." She made it to first base. "It's getting worse." She passed second and started to slow down. "Ah—" she fell and skidded on her knees, holding her head and stopping just inches away from home plate. "Ah-ah-AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!" she screamed and a huge, crackling, light-red aura surrounded her.
The other players gasped.
"Ahhhh hah hah hah," Jadeite said malevolently in a masculine voice, her eyes glowing white. Her face twisted and her lips curved into a dark smile. "It begins now. You have but hours to live, pitiful creature." The voice and aura faded and she slumped forward, her eyes wide and breath quickened. "W-wha-what's happening to me!?"
That got Serena's attention. "Whoooooaaaaaaaaaa, something's definitely not right here."
The voice and effects returned to the girl's cute form. "Marvel not. I am taking over. JADEITE SHALL LIVE ONCE MORE!!!" The energy dissipated again, leaving Jade doubly frightened and confused.
"J-J-J-Jadeite?!" Serena blurted out, recalling the name of an old foe. She stood up, ran over to Jade, helped her up and dragged her off by the hand. "I gotta take you to see someone!" Jade was too bewildered to resist.
Guardian Jadeite's consciousness fought a bitter struggle inside his mind. The occupying force was indeed strong, but he had the advantage of surprise on his side.
The possessed Guardian had been biding his time, as he had planned, gathering and consolidating whatever forces he could beckon to his command. While his Great Secret Weapon(, patent pending) remained unused, a great deal of damage had already been done to the black, reeking mind of that incorrigible interloper.
Jadeite typically wasn't the vengeful sort; he liked a more diplomatic solution under normal circumstances. But there was just something about when an evil demon came in, took control of his body, killed all his friends and loved ones, and KEPT ON TRYING TO DO SO throughout a whole new lifetime, that just sort of burned him up.
Oh no, the Guardian thought. Your sorry hide is MINE, buddy!
Then, with a breath and the battle cry of, "HERE'S ONE FOR THE OLD MAN!!!" he continued the assault, shredding through the General's ill-begotten being.
"The stars know everything," Nephrite breathed, a line of sweat moving down his forehead. "The stars know everything, and I must be prepared for what the stars tell me."
The front-page picture of a magazine tossed on the floor began to speak. "You must come and watch my new movie," said Jean-Claude Van Damm.
Nephrite looked down at the picture with narrowed eyes. "What the—?" He thought he must be getting tired or something for his magic to get that far out of whack. "No!" He looked back up at the big, holographic Zodiac in front of him. "I meant REAL stars! Not Hollywood Stars!" He looked back down at the magazine. "And I don't think you qualify as one anyway!"
The magazine lay still, silently mocking him and calling him nutsy for having been talking to it.
"Grrr!" He stood from his seated position in the middle of his large cathedral of astronomical data. After a moment of examining the alignments of the constellations, he could tell that the stars were saying that the world would end because of the power he called down. Although the primary source had been obliterated, there had to remain a highly dangerous residue to deal with. The general had spent hours preparing the magic that would be required to defend against such force.
Though, considering the way his magic had been acting up lately, who knows if it would really work.
However, if his calculations were right, the moment he exited the cathedral, he would be confronted by destructions, devastations, and doomsday demons at every turn. He had to be ready for it, and to be on-guard for opportunities to gather energy to aid his defense until he could make it back to the Dark Kingdom.
This building offered protection, but it could only last for so long. Sooner or later, he would have to face the consequences of his actions.
Nephrite headed toward the exit, his hands raised to do whatever necessary. He threw open the door and leapt outside. "Hah! I am ready for you, you—" he trailed off.
The sky was blue, the forest green, cuddly squirrels were frolicking in the trees, and little birdies were chirping a happy-joyful-sweet tune.
"Oh," Nephrite relaxed, "there's nothing." He briefly wondered why the stars kept on warning him about the great danger of stepping outside if there were no great cataclysm or danger to him.
The star general looked around, trying to think about the situation. The stars wouldn't just lie to him. Was there some great danger he was overlooking?
All he recalled was that Zoicite had been trying to kill him, was sending youma after him, had kidnapped Molly, and—
Nephrite swallowed hard. "MOLLY!"
He whipped out the Star Crystal, found a directional indication, and took off at full-throttle in search of that one special little girl.
Sam Beckett tried to analyze his situation.
Let's see… He was a girl named Molly that has a friend called Nephrite that he had to save from being killed by a bunch of girls, only the girls aren't out to kill Nephrite, it's really a lot of horrible superpowered monsters and it was these same monsters who kidnapped him and are using him as bait for Nephrite, and everyone seems to have magical powers.
"Grr," a lobster-style monster growled, failingly trying to flip a little copper coin with another held in its oversized pincer-claws. It let out a shriek of frustration and held the coin in front of Dr. Beckett's face. "CAN YOU FIGURE THIS ONE OUT?!"
Dr. Beckett was a scientist. A hardheaded theoretical analyst. He simply wasn't ready for shocks like this.
"AAAAAAAAH!" Sam screamed, then lost consciousness from the incomprehensibility of it all. He fell limp in the chains that held him secure to the wall.
"Oh, leave the poor girl alone," another monster said, looking at a few cards she held in front of her. "Go fish."
A fish-headed youma stood up, grumbled, and walked outside.
"Humph," a circle of youma near the other picked up a few cards from a deck in front of them.
"One, two, three, SPIT!"
"Gin!" They all put down their cards.
"This is boooor-iiiing!"
"You saiiiid it."
"Augh," a trio of similarly dressed youma groaned. One had a big, spined arm, another had a hand full of red nodules, and the other had a big mouth.
"I hate this job," the one with a big mouth said. "Let's quit and go plant some fields, or ANYTHING other than sit around and wait for Nephrite to come into the trap. Waaah! I liked working for Jadeite better!"
*SMACK!* "Shut up! You've got a big mouth!" the other two slapped the youma with the oversized oral cavity.
Teary-eyed, the slapped monster held its cheek. "What? I didn't say anything wrong!"
"Yeah, but you've got a big mouth! Close it," the spined-armed youma growled, then muttered, "and Jadeite was a wussy."
Some of the youma began to nod in agreement. The big-mouthed individual sniffed and began to cry, singing off-key.
o/I'm Serenity the eighth I am,
*Wham!* "No singing!"
"WAAAAH!" One youma stopped, but another soon began.
o/When, oh when will my Neffy-kun come?
"Arrrrrggggghhhh," the main command trio groaned again.
*WHAM!!!* Eight youma with Heavy Blunt Objects for arms clubbed the big-mouthed youma, quieting her down.
Yes, they'd gone and captured the little jeweler's daughter. The execution of the plan had been perfect. Nobody had noticed that Molly had been captured. Nobody had any clue whatsoever where they were hiding, nor how to get there. The building that they were hiding in was heavily shielded against magical detection, and all defenses were ready. No one could find the hideout, and no force on the Earth could scan or localize them.
"Wait a second," the bigmouthed youma said as she dried her tears, "if nobody knows where we are, and if nobody can detect us, then Nephrite's NEVER going to come!"
Everyone stopped and pondered this for a few seconds, then they started griping, stomping, and hitting things.
"We've just been wasting our time!"
"This blows, seriously!"
The lead group folded their arms in thought. "If Nephrite can't find us, and we actually want him to find us to fall into our trap, what do we do to let him know we're here?"
There was a lot of murmuring and indecision of what course of action to follow. Some suggested lowering all the stealth magic, others suggested forgetting the trap idea and to simply start hunting their prey, but at the end, someone with a big mouth just had to come up with her own brilliant idea.
"We could make pretty posters and stick 'em up in public places so Nephrite can see them and make his way over here."
"I like it."
It was agreed. So, all present got down on their knees, took out some paper and crayons, and started to doodle their stuff.
"Hmmm… SEKRET BASE, 2km, ekzit 'ate."
"Da Docks, storage shedds."
Molly Baker was dealing with her situation much better than was Sam Beckett. She could adapt to things a lot better and quicker than the average person. After all, she had been subject to a number of monster attacks in the past, and it was just something she had gotten used to. This was new, however. She had never before been temporally displaced and put into the body of some scientist from the future. In this aspect, it helped to have Al's company. It kept her from losing her grip on reality, sort of.
"Okay, so is there anything else you know about Nephrite, Molly?"
The girl shook her head.
"All right, that's fine, Molly—"
Molly grimaced. "Don't caul me that," she said in her weird New-Yorker/ North-New-Jersey accent, "Aye hate that nayme."
"So, what do I call you?"
"Caul me Naru-chan!"
"Nay-ru-chan?" Al pondered. "Why? Molly's a nice name."
"Cawz Aye loyke Naru betta'."
Al sighed. "Molly—"
"Sooooou!" Molly shouted in a thick Oriental accent and pointed a finger at the man, looking rather irritated. "Bakana inu, watashi o Naru-chan yobinasai!"
Al stared. That hadn't happened before. "Huh?"
Molly grabbed the man by the collar and started shaking him around. "Jyoou o shitake ni tsureteiitte soushinaito supriin o tabette, tsubo-atama!" She thwapped him on the head. "Atarashii tomodachi wa toirei ni imasuka? Anata no heya wa hidoi chirakariyou desu." The girl let go of him and walked away. "Watashi ga yaku no o kyokashitte." She spun around and pointed a finger at Al. "Doshite toi nan kotae desu ka?!"
"Three thousand nine-hundred-two, three-thousand nine-hundred-three, three-thousand nine-hundred-four…"
The hospital was silent other than the counting of a single, blue-haired girl in the Intensive Care Unit.
"Three thousand nine-hundred-nine, four thousand," Amy finished counting the little holes in the sheet-rock ceiling. "Hmm," she spoke to herself, "There are exactly four thousand holes. Wow, what are the odds? Now, if we make an average for each square…" She started making equations to calculate the holes in the ceiling of the entire building. "Averaging fifteen rooms per floor and a total of six floors, that would be," she thought for a second. "Three hundred sixty thousand holes in the entire hospital."
There was really nothing better to do right now. After resting for the night, she had promptly begun taking account of every detail in the room. There were four white walls, one door with a small rectangular window, two large windows overlooking the neighborhood, one empty bed, two semicircular curtains, one ceiling with exactly four thousand holes in it, one floor with approximately six hundred tiles (she had to look off the reflection in the window to estimate the data), a sort of shelf with her smashed Mercury Computer on it, an IV drip with a needle in her right arm, and one of those dang assembled and framed jigsaw puzzles of ET, the Extraterrestrial.
Sadly, the puzzle had been glued to a chunk of cardboard in the mounting process, so Amy couldn't even play with THAT.
Amy was not very happy. She was glad that the battle was over and that all her friends were alive, but she was somewhat distressed over the fact that she was losing valuable study time. Oh yeah, there had been horrific damage to her body and nothing would probably ever be the same again in her life, but still, she maintained a great desire to go to school with everyone else. This was a close cousin to impossible due to the fact that a two-thirds body cast had left her pretty well immobilized. To add insult to injury, the doctors assigned her a three month recovery time, plus eight months of rehabilitation therapy and reconstructive surgery.
Hey, just because she only had one leg now was no reason everyone would treat her as a freak! Or, at least, any more than they already did.
The girl took a breath. Her mother had explained to her the seriousness of her injuries. Though her condition was stable for the time being, there existed a host of rather exotic and thorough damages to her left side, going from ribs to lungs to muscles to major blood vessels, and so on.
Basically, she'd gotten pretty well trashed last night.
"That's what I get for trying to fight someone with a base power-level over three hundred million Mercury Standard Battle Points," she mused, recalling the reading she got before her computer exploded. She was still a bit miffed about that loss, too.
Amy was in no pain, but that was probably due in great part to the generous amounts of medication that were being injected into her bloodstream every few hours. Like right now, for instance: With a soft 'beep' from the automatic IV dispenser, a sudden burst of euphoric, pain-suppressing chemicals flowed into her body.
"Oh yeah, that's the good stuff."
Once in a while, she had heard some doctors outside joking around with the idea that they could rebuild her, having the technology and everything, but putting the price tag on such an operation at six million dollars.
"Faster, Stronger, Able to Make Julienne Fri… Dang! Got it wrong again!"
"No, it's: Faster, Stronger, Better."
"Heh. Now, who'd we get to fund that?"
"I'd pay just to see the look on her face.”
"Heh. Yeah, sounds like fun."
"But who would perform the operation?"
"Don't look at me. I'm not doing it."
"Maybe Vic can—"
"No, let's ask Murray!"
"Ha hah, very funny," Amy felt her cynicism rise. Oh yes, she knew these doctors. They were friends of her mother and liked standing outside where the patients could hear them, trying to scare them. Rather childish, really. But, on second thought, maybe being a cyborg or something like that would be better than just lying around for months. Even after just a few hours, she was getting genuinely bored!
She looked forward to visiting hours. Everyone promised to come in and talk to her, sign her cast, and most importantly, bring over her textbooks so she could study in the meantime! How was she supposed to get into High School unless she kept studying and going to cram school?!
"You could goof off and bribe the principal," a small, refined voice suggested. "Humans are very greedy, you know."
Amy turned her head. "Who is it?"
"Forgive me if I do not greet you formally. I am in a bit of a hurry; I have to get to a funeral in a few minutes," the still-unseen individual replied.
"YOURS!!!" the voice shouted malevolently, then paused for a second. "Errr. I mean, mind your own business. AHEM! Anyway, I heard you thinking very loudly, and I am very impressed. Call me Bruce. To make a long story short, I have a gift for you."
*Poof!* In a flash of smoke, a six-by-six inch wrapped green and white polka-dotted package with a black bow plopped onto Amy's chest.
"?" was Amy's general response.
"It used to belong to a good friend of ours," the refined voice said. "Eat it, heh, in good health. Farewell."
"What is it?" Amy asked, but got no response. "What is it?"
The reply was only silence and the far-off murmurs of doctors. Therefore, her curiosity piqued, she examined the package and began tugging on the bow with her one working hand. Who knows? It could be a teddy bear, it could be brownies, it could be a miniature thermonuclear explosive device with a big, red button on it.
In any case, she just loved surprises!
Raye had decided to skip classes, partly because she felt she needed to concentrate on other things, but mostly because her school had been vaporized in the last night's battle. They were temporarily shifting classes all the way over to Furinkan High's building, and she didn't have much of an idea how to get there, and was too busy to try and find out.
Meanwhile, with her being the only Sailor Scout with power left, she had to stay behind and prepare, keeping her senses attuned to any Negaverse activity and gather her strength in case of an attack.
Sitting in front of the great bonfire in the center of her home, she concentrated, trying to find a new way to focus herself enough to be able to use some of the more advanced Shamanistic magic scrolls she'd snuck away from her grandfather. A spell called "Ra-Tilt" looked to be of extra special promise.
Last night, in a fit of overexertion, she had managed to cast a single fireball— which was nice, and much more powerful than ‘Mars Fire, Ignite’, but she couldn't cast anything to brag about yet.
What she really needed was someone who actually knew and could teach her; train her how to use this variety of magic. Where was she going to find someone like that? Raye didn't know, but she could find out through a version of a fire reading.
It was time to get started. She concentrated and started making all sorts of hand-gestures and reciting arcane phrases. The room grew dark.
*Brr-Zeow!* The red fire flickered upward to nearly reach the roof, and turned a bright green.
*OOOOOOooooooooh* A faint, echoed groan could be heard in the distance, but it gradually grew closer.
Raye drew a startled breath and glanced around frantically. After a moment, she caught sight of a light descending through the fire to settle down in front of her. The light shimmered, then coalesced into a medium-tall, grey-robed figure with a bit of cyan hair poking out of the hood.
"Oooooh," the figure groaned, "OOOOOOOH, my aching head."
The robed individual pulled back the hood, revealing a grainy, grey masculine face with pointy ears, and began to rub his forehead. His fingers made the sound of stone against stone as he did so.
"Wh-who are you?" Raye stuttered.
"My name is Zelgadis," the ghostly stone man replied, looking around. "Why am I here?"
"Zelgadis?" Raye thought for a second, and recalled that she had seen the word on one of her grandfather's scrolls. She dug it up. "Zelgadis," she skimmed, "high-class magic user, good friend of Lina Inverse, cursed as a stone chimera, died in battle, whosoever possesseth this scroll may summon to learn the ways of the sorcerer… Oh!" she blushed. "I should have tried that in the first place."
Zelgadis listened. "So I'm dead and got summoned as a ghost to help teach you how to use magic?"
Raye thought about that. "I think so."
"Just my luck," the chimera suddenly sounded very, very down about death at the moment.
"So, can you help me?"
"Sure. Why not? I'm DEAD. I'm not going anywhere."
Raye winced at the complete and utter depression underlying the ghost's words. "You're not upset at me summoning you, are you?"
"No," Zelgadis hung his head, "why would I be? I don't mind talking to people. I don't mind helping people." His expression took on a look of irony. "I don't mind the fact that I've died and I'm still made of stone." He sighed the sigh of one that was used to always getting the short end of the stick. "I don't mind that I have to spend the rest of eternity as a chimera. I don't mind that I never found a cure in life. I'd love to be your teacher."
"Is there anything I can do for you?" the priestess suddenly felt a huge, overwhelming urge to try to cheer up this ghost. "Can I give you something?"
Zelgadis waved slowly at her in a gesture of refusal. "No, keep your trinkets. Don't worry about paying me, either. You know what they say: You can't take it with you."
Raye stared with her mouth hanging open, and began to respond when the door to the chamber was suddenly flung open, the sudden burst of light causing the ambience to evaporate. Zelgadis vanished and the fire was restored to its normal state.
"Raye, you haven't been trying out black magic again, have you?" old Grandpa Hino called from the doorway.
The priestess quickly jammed the shamanistic scrolls into her robes. "Uh, no, Grandpa! What gave you that idea?"
"No reason," the old man said, his expression unknowing. "Look, a couple of your friends came over and they want to see you real, real bad!"
*Stomp*stomp*stomp!* At that moment, Serena ran in, stumbling over him on her way in. She dragged Jade close behind her and half-tossed her in front of Raye. "Raaaaaaaayeeeeeeee!!!" Serena shouted frantically. "There's something wrong with Jaaaaade!"
Jade was panting slightly, her eyes were wide, and her cute face was full of concern. She grabbed Raye by the collar and shouted, "I'M POSSESSED!!!"
The small blonde's tilted back, her expression going blank and eyes glassed over. "Yes," she said in a man's voice, "and it's no use trying to stop me, BWAHA HA HA HA HA HAAAAAA!!!"
Jade's expression returned to normal. She took Raye by the shoulders and started shaking her. "You're a priestess, so DO SOMETHING!"
Raye nodded, her mouth hanging open in surprise. She could feel the evil energy radiating from the poor girl. Definitely, definitely, definitely had something evil taking control of her. "Right!" she snapped to attention and ran Jade over to a pedestal on the other side of the fire. "Sit here!" She rushed to sit down where she could see her subject through the flames. "Sacred Fire, show me the one responsible here!"
*Wharsh!* The flame burned an intense red, Jade's agonized, kneeling image wavered from the blonde girl in a school sweat suit into the visage of a blond man in a grey uniform.
"She said something about 'Jadeite living once more'," Serena added. "I think he's trying to resurrect himself using Jade!"
"This is very bad," Raye said urgently, standing up. "We have no time to lose!" She rushed over to a large chest in the corner of the room, opened it, and pulled out a canvas sack.
Grandpa Hino looked up from his squashed position on the floor. "Raye! If she's possessed, you'll have to pull out the Special Transylvanian Uber-Exorcism Mark Three! Remember, just like I taught you!"
"Got it!" Raye replied, opening the bag and dumping its contents on the floor beside Jade. The shrine maiden pulled out several cloves of garlic and began stuffing them down the befuddled girl's sweatpants.
"Heeeey!" Jade whined.
"Here, let me help!" Grandpa called, grabbing some vinegar-soaked pig intestines and stuffing them into Jade's mouth.
"I think I got it!" Serena said, pulling back Jade's collar and pouring hot chili sauce down her back.
"Quick! Get the Roman candles!" Raye cried.
Continued in Part 10-2B.
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