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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 10-2B


Oh yeah, thought Guardian Jadeite triumphantly, take THAT!

In the mental ether, he sat back with a psychic bag of popcorn and a soda and watched the fireworks go off.

*Munch-munch*

Oh my. Gerbils?! he thought. No, that's just plain WRONG! I can't bear to watch!

Occasionally glance, yes, but watch, no.

*Siiip*

o/Oh, say, can you seeeeeeeee…\o he smiled as he sang the Martian Planetary Anthem.

Ah, the beauty of the rockets' red glare against that foul corruption's backside! It was gonna hurt when he finally got his body back, but it was worth it just to see the monstrosity suffer.


A girl of about fifteen to sixteen years of age was in the middle of pondering over two great philosophical questions, namely: ‘Should I grow up and treat men as my fellow human beings, or should I just treat them as the stupid, hormone-driven, insensitive garbage they all are?’

And…

‘What in the world just happened?!’

There was a party; she remembered that. She had been invited as a special guest to play the violin at an upper-class, formal business meeting-slash-social night of the local Ayrie Contractor's Guild (a respectable textile industry with a spotless record). She and the band had just finished their rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody Number Four when loud explosions started wracking the building.

Yes, she'd just replayed the part about the poor boy from the poor family, when large chunks of concrete had started falling down. Then, the shaking floor knocked her down, and she saw a broken metal girder fall down edge-first toward her, there was some sort of big green flash, she blacked out, and awoke face-up, half-buried in a grey dust. She slowly stood up and brushed the dust off.

FRIGHTFULLY SORRY ABOUT THAT. HAVEN'T GOTTEN AROUND TO DUSTING IN A WHILE.

"Ha hah, very funny," the girl basically ignored the voice and finished dusting off her dress.

EXCUSE ME?

"Yes?" the violinist replied, not looking up.

ARE YOU ALIVE?

The girl nodded. "Yes, I'm fine." She patted herself down and checked her pulse, finding everything to be in order. "Perfectly healthy, aside from being a little hungry. You?"

FINE, THANK YOU. I HAVE A LOT OF WORK TO DOUBLE-CHECK.

"Well, whatever." She heard someone shuffle off, but when she lifted her gaze, the girl couldn't tell who had been talking to her. "Hmm. That's odd."

Looking around, the violinist saw that she was near the center of a gargantuan crater in the earth, with a few tall buildings apparent at the rim. However, she was not by any stretch of the imagination alone. Hundreds of people wandered around in a daze, probably just as confused as she was.

Several people could be recognized as patrons of the party last night, some of which had gotten, to put it bluntly, pretty dang smashed from the 'lemonade' being served.

"Whoa, what a monster headache," one grumbled, sitting up and holding his head. He took in the scenery, then caught sight of the girl. "Hey, Kaioh-girl!" He paused. "Michiru! What the heck happened back there?"

"I have no idea," Michiru said, smoothing back her shoulder-length aquamarine hair, "but try to remember, unless you wish to have your face rearranged again, Tachiwakimakehaki, I prefer to be called 'Michelle'."

"Oh, right, Michelle! Of course!" Tachiwakimakehaki bowed, then stumbled off. "Just great. Vic's gonna be mad."

There's one, Michiru thought. The man she'd just spoken to was a guitarist on the company band, and the manager of the branch office. He was really annoying, and really annoying people got to call her 'Michelle'. Her friends could call her whatever they liked, but she had taken a shine to the name. It was actually kind of comforting to hear people say it.

However, she had no idea why she was quibbling over names while other matters seemed to be of more pressing importance. For example, where was her violin? There didn't appear to be any trace of it. She loved that violin. It was a Stradivarius, very rare, and an heirloom. Replacing it would not be an easy task. It would take a lot of thought to be able to come up with that much money.

Michiru started to walk off, directly away from a large wooden case that she didn't notice was labeled, [Stradivarius For Sale: 10 Yen.]

///

Hey, there's a rip here!

\\\

Michiru's attention was drawn to the fact that most of the people seemed to be walking away, toward the crater rim. It seemed to be a good enough idea, since all that was here was a bunch of dust, sand, broken rocks, and huge slabs of steaming, medium-rare meat.

"Meat?" thought the teenager aloud. "That's odd. Why would there be huge steaks scattered all around?"

///

Something BIG must have blown to weaken the barrier this much.

*The device couldn't have done this by itself.*

\\\

Michiru's question went unanswered, and taking it all in was a real mental chore at that moment. Why this, why that, why that falling girder hadn't hurt her, why there was a v-shaped tear in her dress right above her heart with a similar rip exactly on the back, why was there a huge crater here, where was she, and so on and so forth.

The girl sat down on a nearby rock and thought about it for a bit. Fingering the rock, she found it to be surprisingly smooth.

///

*Ooh, there's someone outside!*

Move over! Ah, yes, I see her.

\\\

Michiru turned her head, thinking she heard someone.

///

She's cute.

*Blue-green hair?

Heh, what kind of dimension is this?*

\\\

There's something odd about this boulder, thought Michiru. She stood and examined it. Upon close inspection, the black object had small yet detailed gold engravings on it.

Something about the object jarred a long-forgotten memory, and brought a word to her lips. "L-l-lodestone?"

Whatever it was, it felt creepy, and made her uneasy. The teenage schoolgirl looked at it and found it familiar, but for the life of her, she didn't know why.

*Vrrr* The rock began to glow ominously.

"It’s dangerous," Michiru recognized, and began to back off.

///

She knows something. She must not be allowed to destroy it.

*Can't let her get away.*

Her soul's mine.

*Not if I get to it first.*

\\\

*ZRRR!* The lodestone hummed and sparks began to dance around it in the earth and the air.

Michiru shivered, beginning to get goosebumps, knowing that something was about to happen.

The environment grew as dark as night, and lightning flashed around the rock. A jagged midair rip opened above the Lodestone, and a shadowy figure jumped out, quickly followed by another.

*TH-THUMP!* Their feet made a heavy sound as they took a single, rapid step forward, allowing Michiru to get a good look at them.

  • Six feet, six inches tall.
  • Blood-red fur and skin.
  • Shadowy, chitinous armor, covering neck to ankles.
  • Four arms.
  • Six fingers on each hand with six-inch claws.
  • Big, sharp, six-inch fangs.
  • Upwardly curved six-inch horns.
  • Metal-shod, hoofed feet.
  • Enough muscles to make Arnold Schwarzenegger faint.

They were identical; completely indistinguishable from one another, except for the white plastic picture/barcode IDs clipped to the collars of their armor.

Judging by the tags, they were named Bob and Rick.

They snarled and leered at her, licking their lips.

"Oh dear. Lawyers," Michiru whispered, really wanting to be somewhere else right now. First the party blows up, and now demons were standing right in front of her. "I really don't need this right now!" She spun one hundred-eighty degrees and ran.

*Th-th-th-th-thump!* The creatures matched her pace, and within about two seconds they overtook her.

Bob slashed at her with its claws, which Michiru barely managed to duck.

*Whump!* Calling upon some martial arts training she didn't even know she had, the girl connected with a hard kick to Rick's chest in an effort to knock it over.

*Thwack!* Rick ignored the kick and made a backhanded swipe, effortlessly knocking Michiru to the ground.

*OOMPH!*

Bob didn't miss a beat and took the girl by the legs, lifting her into the air with one pair of claws and holding her arms with the other. It opened its mouth wide, demonstrating several rows of sharp, dagger-like teeth.

Michiru wasn't typically the type to go about screaming, but just this once, she made a special exception. "AAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"

{Do not panic, you have power! You can defeat them!} Michiru heard an ethereal voice. {I will awaken it.}

*Bzzzr!* A blue, trident-like symbol burned on the young woman's forehead. Her screams stopped and she started recalling things. She began to remember a long-gone life entirely different from this one.

She remembered it all! She had once upon a time been a swordsman named Kenshin Himura. She was good at killing people and liked to say 'oro' a lot! With her undefeatable sword techniques, she would—

Michiru blinked. Nooo, that wasn't what she was looking for.

Digging deeper, she found it! Images flooded the girl's mind, about a Silver Millennium, about planetary Kingdoms, and about a group of female soldiers called to protect their worlds, their people, and above all to protect the Queen and the Moon Kingdom.

She also recalled that she had been one of them, and one of the top tail-kickin' powerful ones of 'em, to boot! As a member of a sort of border patrol on steroids, she had beaten hundreds of snaggletoothed monsters. Why should this be any different?!

Michiru cocked an eyebrow at the demon that was holding her upside down. She didn't have to take this from THEM!

*KERUNCHH!* The delightful young lady let loose with a quick knifehand into Bob's nether-regions.

*WOOOOOOOOH* Bob growled in agony, letting go of Michiru's arms to shield its injured weak spot.

Michiru took the opportunity to kick-flip out of the monster's grasp, landing several yards away.

Rick cautiously stood back while Bob continued to writhe in agony.

*Flash* In a small sphere of light, a little wand with a stylized ball and a star with an engraved lined-trident on the tip appeared in front of Michiru who, with a flourish, took it in hand. "Neptune Planet Power, Make Up!" she called, raising the object aloft.

*BSSSH!* A circle of liquid-blue energy splashed into a circle around her and in a flash, rose from the ground into a spiraling watery wall several meters high. This power merged to form her blue-jewel-tiara’d, dark-blue-miniskirted, blue-bowed, tied-up slippered Sailor Soldier™ outfit.

So exhilarated by the power rush, Sailor Neptune brushed back her hair and struck a pose.

*Bling!* A light coat of pink lipstick completed the ensemble.

{Now you can fight them.}

"Awakened by a new threat," the newly aware Sailor Senshi called upon her skills of dramatics, "when the fight of men and women against demons escalates, I am Sailor Neptune, acting, humph, gracefully."

Bob and Rick looked at each other, grunted something in an unintelligible language, then looked back at Sailor Neptune and crouched into an attack stance.

*Graaaah!* Bob growled, stamping one of its hooves in much the way a bull prepares to charge.

Rick leapt high into the air and dove claws-first into the ground, passing effortlessly through the hardened rock and dust beneath it.

*Th-th-th-th-thump!* Bob then rushed forward at an incredible I'm-not-kidding-you-quick rate.

{Use your strength!}

Sailor Neptune sidestepped the slashing strike, leveling a well-timed kick to the beast's back, knocking it over.

*CRASH!*ROARRRR!* Rick emerged from the rock beneath Neptune, punching through her suit and imbedding its claws knuckle-deep into the girl's sides.

"ARGH!" Neptune shouted from the pain.

Bob stood back up and raised its claws to slash downward at Neptune's stomach, making six long, deep red slices there, then made another slash toward her face…

*Flash*

Sailor Neptune found herself floating in a serene pure-white environment. She wasn't in any pain or anything, but she felt numb. "W-what happened? Did I die?" she jumped to a conclusion.

"Close, very close," a feminine voice behind her said.

Her head tilted back and unable to turn around, Neptune simply asked a question. "Who are you?"

"I am the one who awakened you."

"You awakened me?"

"Yes. The world needs you, and I need you."

"Hey, baby! I need you too!" *GLOMP!*

Michiru suddenly felt very uncomfortable, as if her entire form was being— "HEY now—"

"Get off NOW, Star child!" *WHAM!*

The creepy feeling quickly subsided.

"Honestly, invading personal visions. What is this universe coming to?"

Michiru breathed a sigh of relief. "Why do you need me? And what was that?"

"That will all become clear. If I take time to explain, you may not survive." The soft voice took a pause. "Your wounds are healed. The beasts are powerful, but you have even more potential. However, use your magic this time, for heaven's sake! Please, please, PLEASE do not get into any more hand-to-hand fighting! They're faster and can hurt you that way."

"Yes, I've noticed."

"That is all."

"Wait! I don't even know who—"

*Flash*

Sailor Neptune awoke facedown on the ground. She could feel a few of tears in her outfit, but all the lacerations were gone. Bob and Rick had turned away, one hi-sixing the other. She considered a flurry of kicks to knock them down, but then recalled the words she had just heard and remembered the effects that close-quarter combat had inflicted upon her. Wisely, she decided against it.

*Grawlh?* Bob noticed that Neptune moved a little.

"Hah!" Sailor Neptune rolled away into a kneeling position. She raised her hands above her head, gathering together a large blue sphere of watery energy, which flowed like great midair streams into her grasp. "Deeeeep," she began, and thrust her hands in front, firing the ringed ball toward her foes. "Submuuurge!"

The demons grunted and rushed toward her, confident of being able to resist the blast.

*CRASH!* Deep Submerge slammed into both creatures, burying them under its power.

*AAAAH!* Rick evaporated under the assault.

*RAAACHH!* Bob rushed out of the way of the blast wave as soon as it could, losing strength to its legs. It collapsed near the black Lodestone, and then, amidst its melting flesh, it raised one hand to touch the rock, and vanished in a flash of darkness.

The nighttime image vanished and morning once again ruled the environment.

"Hmm," Michiru smiled, crossing her arms with a hand against her cheek. "It's good to be back."

"Hey!" an annoyed-looking six-foot-tall pink-haired guy hovering in the air about ten meters away called, shaking his fist, "I wanted to blow 'em up!"

"I saw them first!" Sailor Neptune replied with dignity, not knowing or particularly caring whom this man was, and began to run the mile and a half toward the rim of the crater.

"Darn fledgling superheroines," 'Tim grumbled, then thought for a second. "Hey, that was Sailor Neptune! I remember her!" He paused. "Don't I?" He shrugged. "Eh, doesn't matter." The man clapped his hands together. "I wanted to vaporize something, but it's O-KAY, I can deal with it. Show's over, let's go back home."

*Whoosh!* 'Tim powered-up and sped off. "I can see my house from heeeeeeere!"


Breakfast was nice, thought Luna to herself. The steaks were of a very high quality, and quite tasty, too. She didn't know what they were from, and it didn't really matter, she supposed. They weren't bad, though she would have preferred fish heads. She had always preferred fish heads, even when she had spent time as a human in the Silver Millennium. Nummy-nummy! Now, there was a taste that transcended all boundaries.

Anyway, after she was filled, she walked around a little more and went to Serena's house. The girl had already left for school, so she decided to spend some time on other things. She squeezed into Arby's under-house sanctuary and went through his personal effects.

"Hmm… A mushroom, another mushroom, a half-finished henshin stick, a Kenshin comic book, some little bits of string, a few bacteria samples… Eww… a three-month-old dead swallow."

She dug down deeper.

"Fifteen, sixteen… no, twenty Elvis Presley eight-tracks, a framed picture of a clown mushroom… Wait— a 'Hello Kitty' dartboard? With feathered Zulu assegai stuck in it? Arby, I had no idea…"

Luna searched through the mess even further.

"A burnt-out light bulb collection, and other assorted odds and ends. Golf balls, hockey-pucks, and a book on 'How to Crochet: The Difficult Way'. What— A badger skeleton? A jackelope? Then maybe he wasn't joking that time…"

Now for the nitty-gritty stuff.

"A five-inch stack of very long cards entitled ‘Clow Cards: The Gathering’ in a big painted-green book with 'Sakura' crossed out and 'R. B. Fish' scribbled in; a little key with a star-shaped gem and a paper mushroom taped over it; several stacks of half-finished personal memoirs, all written in reverse-alphabetical order… Plans to take over the universe? Ugh. These look like they might actually work."

The more Luna looked, the more she decided that some things were best left buried. She climbed out of the hole and covered it behind her with a mound of dirt. The cat nodded to herself, feeling like she had just accomplished some great, mind-bending feat. Come to think about it, she also felt more than a little icky, so she sat down and gave herself a much-needed cat bath, keeping the mouthwash and sterilizing solutions handy.

Finishing that, the moon cat thought it might be appropriate to have a short funeral service for her dearly departed companion… but she didn't feel like a funeral. What she felt like doing was inviting all her friends out to a fancy restaurant and having a big, fat party.

And that's exactly what she did. She quickly organized and brought about a special wake for her old ‘friend’.


*PHOOO-OOOH!* Luna blew on her noisemaker, looking insanely cheerful in her cone-shaped, rainbow-colored party hat. "YAAAAY! Arby's dead! Arby's dead!"

"Pika," a large yellow electrical rat with a stripe across its back commented, holding up a pair of white flags with red spots in the center, "Chuuu?"

"Chuuu?" a small bipedal mouse added, munching on a piece of cake on the table all the cute, cuddly creatures were sitting at.

In addition to Pikachu and ChuChu, there were a few other beasties. Ryo-Ohki was there, for example, munching on a stack of carrots. Kiroberos, something that looked like a small stuffed lion with tiny black eyes and white wings, reclined in front of a plate of heavily-frosted cookies and other assorted sweets. Also present was a rabbity creature with a gem on its forehead named Mokona.

"Puu?" Mokona asked the waiter, holding up an empty brandy glass in his cute little fuzzy paws.

"You are over your limit," the dark-skinned, cranial-crested waiter said brusquely.

"Puu," the rabbity thing pouted, then looked up, his eyes full of glistening stars of hope. "Puu?"

"I'll ask," the waiter grunted, and went into the back room.

Kiroberos waved, trying to get the departing waiter's attention. "Hey, can I get some more of those," he said, rubbing his chin as he tried to think, "gingersnaps over here? I'm out."

"Miyaaow?" Ryo-Ohki turned to look questioningly at him.

Kiro shrugged. "So what? I speak Japanese. So sue me." He grabbed hold of the straw in his cup, taking a big sip of Jolt Cola. He looked at the hostess of the party. "Say, Luna, when're we gonna get the show on the road? I gotta get back to Sakura soon."

"Puu?" Mokona asked, tugging on one of Kiro's wings.

Kiroberos, the Guardian Beast, sighed and nodded. "Yeah, the old ball and chain. Don't get me wrong, she's a cute kid, but sometimes…" He looked down and shook his head.

Each of the cuddly group hummed and nodded in agreement.

Luna looked at them all, then at the clock. "Yes, I suppose you're right." She hopped up on the table and rang a bell, drawing everyone's attention. "We all gather here together," Luna said cheerfully, calling the meeting to order, "to remember one of our own."

Kiro laughed sadly. "Heh, right. That Arby. Now there was one huge nutball for the ages, eh? We still haven't figured out what he did with all of Sakura's stuff, either!"

Pikachu nodded vigorously. "Pika!"

"Chuuu." ChuChu seemed more interested in the cheese on the table than in the conversation.

"Puu." Mokona shrugged.

"Oooghh!" a tribble purred, sitting atop its bowl of grain.

"Miyaaaow!" Ryo-Ohki added, emphatically swinging around her paws.

"Yes, Ryo-Ohki, I was getting to that," Luna continued. She cleared her throat. "Ahem, many of us have gone into battle and fought bitterly for ones we care about, but whom of us can truly say we did as much as our dear departed friend Arby did last night?"

Everyone looked at each other, then back at Luna. Ryo-Ohki and Kiroberos each raised a paw.

"Except for you two."

The 'funeral' speech went on while the owner and the waiter held a heated debate.

"Klingons do not wait tables," the waiter affirmed.

"Oh come on, Mister Wharf," a balding man replied in a French accent, not seeming to take the complaint seriously, "we only need three thousand yen more and we can buy the transspatial unit to activate the warp core to trigger the tetryon particle emissions to stop the Borg invasion and restore the timeline to its proper course!" He sucked in a long, deep breath and handed the Klingon a bottle. "Now give that gentleman what he ordered!"

Commander Wharf didn't look very happy. "Aye aye, Captain."

"And furthermore," Luna continued, "if it were not for Arby's Great Sacrifice, he would still be here to torment us all."

"Mi-yaaaoah!" Ryo-Ohki agreed, holding up her carrot.

At that moment, the waiter passed by the tribble on his way to deliver the high-proof beverage.

*EEEEK!*EEEEEEEK!* The tribble started screaming wildly.

Shocked by this, most of the cuddly creatures looked around with frantic, feral eyes and went wild.

Ryo-Ohki shrieked and dove on Mr. Wharf, clawing at his eyes.

"ARGH!"

Mokona and ChuChu leapt at other customers, messing up their hair and scattering their meals.

Pikachu hopped behind the bar and grabbed a bottle of the hardest stuff there, then popped the cork and chugged the whole thing in just a few seconds.

"Piii-kaaah!" Pikachu giggled, little 'X's forming over his eyes, and snatched another container.

Wharf got hold of a table leg, ripped it off, and tried to beat at the cabbit assaulting him, but it was to no avail.

"Wait one minute!" Luna tried to calm everyone down.

"Yikes!" Kiroberos dove for shelter behind an overturned table. A moment later, he transformed into a huge lion with large feathery wings and defensively knocked aside a table that was thrown at him. *ROAAAAAR!*

"Oooghhhh!" the tribble started multiplying wildly.

"Pikaaaa," the electric rat started, pushing away the bottle and getting ready to sneeze, "Pikaaaaaaa-CHUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!"

*BLAAAAAAM!* The snazzy restaurant went up in a sphere of flashing, roiling lightning.


~~~Meanwhile, a thousand years into the future, in the Happiest Place on Earth…~~~

Birds were chirping, the buildings shining, and repair crews with wands worked on the damage caused by the latest rebel assault. In a brilliant display of modern construction innovations, elegant walls reformed little by little, shimmering with a bright magical glow behind the mobile wooden 'closed for refurbishing' barricades.

Ah, the future, full of such wonders, blah, blah, blah. A lovely bit o' utopian society it was, let me tell you. Everyone happy, no fighting, and everyone liked it, well except that crazy old grey-haired bloke living as a hermit in the mountains that liked to come in, get a personal audience with the Queen, and rough up a lot of classy gents, just to get banished to the mountains again for another few years until probation let up.

But we're not talkin' 'bout him. Nobody cares about him.

It was the happiest place on Earth; this Magic Kingdom had dominated the minds of humanity for centuries, and showed no sign of weakening anytime soon.

Crystal Tokyo? No! This was that OTHER Magic Kingdom.

Disneyland.

*Dunh-dunh-daaaahn*Dunh-dahn-daaahn* Someone struck a minor key as someone else with a helicopter drew back to film a quick, ominous pass-by shot.

Anyway, when Haruka and the crew back home asked what Setsuna was going to do now that she was actually considering marriage, they'd thought she was joking when she said where she was going.

Setsuna surprised everyone and made good on her threat.

"Wheeeee!" the ancient time guardian called out in glee at the thrill of the G-acceleration on the Matterhorn™ ride.

Disneyland was back, bigger, better, and more life-threatening than ever before! The Matterhorn was actual size, Space Mountain had gone hypersonic, and Star Tours was a historical event. The Dumbo Ride was basically the same, though. Y'know, classics and whatnot.

"Yikes," Ranma was forced to admit when he saw the approaching sharp drop-off finale, "this is BIG!"

"This is much better than last time I was here," Setsuna added, holding tighter to her fiancé, who was going pale and inching back on his seat. She turned and gave Ranma a kiss on the cheek. "I love you."

Ranma let out a little, terrified whimper as they hit the fourteen-thousand-foot vertical drop.

*AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!* The ride's passengers screamed bloody death and murder as they hit terminal velocity.

After a moment, the ground loomed close.

"Are we gonna die, Setsuna?!"

"Yes, my love!" Setsuna exclaimed with a smile and her hair rippling in the wind, "We're going to die!"

The air whistled past them as they fell.

*CRAAAAASH!!!* The little ride-car smashed through a bank of snow and was caught in a semi-mobile dragnet, then was eased back onto the track and clunked to a halt at the exit point.

A pair of thrill-seekers were the first to leave. They shook their heads and curled their lips in disgust.

"This bites!"

"That was lame!"

"Too short!"

"And way too slow!"

"Let's go back to Space Mountain."

"Yeah!"

"Did you enjoy that, Love?" Setsuna prodded Ranma with a finger. "Love?"

The boy only whimpered, still in shock and glued to his theoretical future wife.

"A vulnerable side? Willing to admit that something scares you?" Setsuna smiled down at him. "I like that in a man!"

"That was," Ranma said, "really far up there."

"Shh, save those words for when we go on Splash Mountain." Setsuna stood and placed her fiancé on the ground. Ranma stumbled alongside her, his hand in hers, through the exit way, and straight into the gift shop. "See anything you like, Love?"

Ranma didn't say a word for a few minutes. They left the gift shop and walked through Critter Country.

*Munch-munch* A giant Kodiak Care Bear idly gnawed on a tourist, smiling and waving when the couple passed by.

Setsuna finally spoke up. "I think you just passed off the first requirement on the preparation phase of Intimidation through Property Damage. You know, finding a really scary threat, and surviving it. A very gallant beginning, I must say."

Ranma's color slowly returned to his face. "Hey, yeah!" He whipped out his new little training book and put a checkmark beside a paragraph. "That's one. I'm gonna want to spend some more time on this later. I HAVE to learn these!"

"You should know: this theme park is currently listed as one of the top training grounds in the world."

"Disneyland?" Ranma looked confused.

"I'll show you. We'll get permission later and go into the gear system," Setsuna clarified, "but first, we're going on the Dumbo Ride."

Crystal Tokyo had been getting a little stressful, and everyone was horribly gossipy there, and Setsuna didn't feel like torturing her fiancé anymore, plus she didn't enjoy all those stupid Middle Eastern comments that were floating around, either. So, that meant it was vacation time. Millions of people still flocked each year to the famed theme park, despite it being outlawed by the Crystal Tokian Safety Act of 2904. The rides just kept getting more extreme every decade, y'see.

Even so, it was the best gosh-darn theme park in the whole post-apocalyptic world, with the possible exception of Six Flags Over Armageddon, and nobody DARED shut that place or Disneyland down. There'd be a revolt and all that nasty stuff, don't-cha-know.

Besides, what would the world be like without the Dumbo Ride? Oh, the great Dumbo Ride. More than a thousand years in service, and it still managed to attract large crowds and lines several miles in length.

Setsuna flashed her VIP pass and scooted to the front of the line, causing much mumbling and grumbling amongst the rest of the would-be riders.

The ride operator actually looked a bit surprised to see this particular Crystal Tokian here. After all, Sailor Pluto was famed as the Sailor Senshi that had absolutely no vacation time whatsoever, which was ironic, since she was also the only one that could travel through time.

Nevertheless, with a smile and a welcoming gesture, Setsuna and Ranma passed on and boarded their elephant.

In a moment, the ride began, the plastic elephant-thingies being lifted up and spun in the air, suspended by a few metal beams, providing a nice view of the park. "It's a Small World" loomed like a great white megalith a short distance away.

This calm experience gave Setsuna some time to reflect.

The time-guardian smiled. Ranma really was a nice boy, wasn't he? After all, in addition to shrugging off the horrible torture she had intended to do to him, he demanded to go through with some of the other things in that wretched book, no doubt just to show to her that there were no hard feelings whatsoever.

"No one has ever been this caring to me," the time guardian considered as she slowly recovered from the internal stress generated in the past few days. "No one."

Setsuna was highly regarded and respected by all, and even feared by some. Rightly so, given nature and difficulty of her job, but was that what she truly wanted?

Did anyone really love her?

Had anyone ever loved her?

The woman recalled portions of her long past to find one fact: Her life had been almost entirely devoid of that special key element. She stayed apart from any close relationship that could compromise her responsibilities.

Setsuna glanced sideways at her fiancé and thought of a few past instances when she had allowed someone to become close to her; the times when she dared to open her heart to another. Rare was the man that could get her to do that, and nonexistent was the one that had stayed. Or survived, at least.

Longevity was one thing that put up a barrier. The ones that were worth staying with weren't anywhere near immortal, and the ones that were had already been taken. Like that dragonrider guy, what’s-his-name… Oh, he was an elf, so it wouldn't have worked out anyway.

Setsuna lowered her head and put a hand over her eyes, trying to recall the names of her past suitors. One thing about living a REEEAAALLLY long time was that most memories tended to slip away after a few hundred years, or decades, or months. Okay, FINE, so she'd forget her name if it wasn't on all her stationery.

Yes, though. She remembered them. Some were still alive, some were dead, and some she wished were dead.

On the dead list, one man stuck out like a rotten badger on Groundhog Day. OOOOOOH, how glad she was that he was gone. The jerk, he used her like no one else ever DARED. Just thinking about him made her want to wrench his teeth out with a rusty set of pliers. If he wasn't already consigned to the void, she would…

Setsuna paused, surprised at the mental outburst. How could anyone have hurt her so badly? What did he do?

More importantly, what was his name and how did it happen?


~~~Flashback to the distant— really distant— past~~~

'Twas the last decade leading toward the end of the Great Silver Millennium, and all was relatively calm in the solar system. The worlds were at peace with each other, though the political situation grew tense with Earth's recent surge in military power.

The few skirmishes that existed were often between would-be interstellar conquerors and the Outer Senshi, who had been quite effective in warding off the assaults with the exception of some incursions against the protectors themselves.

War simply did not exist between planets of this solar system, but notable outside attackers included Jurai, a few random fighters of Invid origin, those so-called 'goddesses' from some unpronounceable place that claimed to be able to bring true peace and prosperity to the solar system when everyone knew that Queen Serenity the First already had, and other annoying people like that.

Defending their homeworlds often led to escapades with high levels of romantic tension, for example a Senshi falling in love with a lower-ranked soldier or with a brilliant commander from a neighboring world or vice versa, who either died by the end of the struggle or went back home for a childhood sweetheart.

Life was tough that way.

Nevertheless, all eventually managed to acquire a romance that stayed, and good thing too, because otherwise it would be difficult to maintain the planetary monarchy, which still went by direct lineage to transfer powers and authority. This provided for a very stable, long-lasting form of government.

The few psychotic and/or rebellious children that popped up were almost always brought back into line by their extraordinarily loving mothers. In a thousand years, there had only been a total of three recorded cases where a royal mother had failed to raise at least their crown prince/princess correctly.

The planet Pluto, however, required no such bureaucracy, its population too small and everyone knowing everyone else by their first name. Following a strict military-like code, all their resources were dedicated to one thing: guarding the Gate of Time. As a sort of commander in chief, Sailor Pluto supervised all that went on.

This meant that if she wanted something done, it got done, no questions asked.

In this instance, Perimeter Security had detected the approach of a starship. The crew on their work shift followed their protocol.

"Unidentified starship," the Spokesman Alpha transmitted, "this is a restricted area. Withdraw immediately or we will authorize lethal force. You have fifteen seconds to comply."

A verbal response came through: [This is Captain StarKnight of the HMS Ferrite Mirage. Stand down. We've been authorized.]

The scan results came in, confirming the captain's statement. This week's sensor equipment apparently could tell that a ship was coming long before they could tell who it was.

They were going to have to fix that if they were going to be getting any more regular visitors.

A three-dimensional schematic of a medium-sized winged craft went up on a big screen in front of the crew, along with statistics.

{Ship name: Ferrite Mirage, HMS (His Majesty's Ship). Registration No.: 148-C Date Commissioned: 04/11/980 S.M.S. Date Refitted: 10/31/992 S.M.S. Alignment: Terran Mass: 2025 Tonnes Crew Compliment: 151 Defense: Electronic Shield, 1,750 MSBP (Def) Structural Integrity Field, 223.45 MSBP (Def) Armaments: Mass Driver (4), 300 MSBP (Off) Particle Projection Cannon, 1500 MSBP (Off) 'Bulldog' Heavy Rockets (69), 800 MSBP (Off) Point Defense Laser Cannons (9), 175 MSBP (Off) Cargo: Iron (50 CM) Silver (15 CM) Platinum (6 CM) Gold (9 CM) Terran Gemstones (90 Kg)}

"Confirmed, Captain StarKnight," Spokesman Alpha continued, allowing Scanner Theta and Armorer Beta to go over the scans. Beta and Theta looked at Alpha and shook their heads. Alpha nodded. "Ferrite Mirage, you are heavily armed. Explain."

[My cargo. Space pirates. Enough said.]

"Disable all weapon systems immediately."

[You got it.]

A number of spots on the schematic went yellow.

"Now transmit your authorization code."

[Uhh, code?]

*Beep-beep!* Spokesman Alpha manipulated the panel in front of her. "Permission granted. Proceed to the main landing pad. Transmitting coordinates." She cleared her throat. "You have been given a great honor. Do not abuse it."

[Gee, thanks, Mikey. I feel so special now.]

Theta and Beta snickered a little at Alpha's expense.

"I really hate that man," muttered the Spokesman.

"Mikey, Mikey," Theta and Beta teased in annoying, high-pitched voices.

It was a new thing, really. The only ones that had ever actually gotten clearance beforehand to even approach the planet were Moon Kingdom royalty. Now, this captain was coming every couple of weeks, each time with his cargo hold full of valuable materials, a portion of which went to constructing additional planetary facilities, and the rest went Sailor-Pluto-knows-where.

The Ferrite Mirage received a fighter escort to the main landing pad, where Sailor Pluto personally awaited the arrival of her guest.

The time Senshi admired the workmanship of the spacecraft. It was quaint, but the gleaming metal and birdlike design with sweptback wings had an air of anticipatory power, like a great eagle before it strikes. She impassively watched the ramp descend and the official detachment exit.

"On behalf of His Majesty, Kull, the Great King of Earth," the Captain eloquently intoned, "I, Captain 'Timothy StarKnight do humbly greet you, Honored Senshi of the planet Pluto, Guardian of the Gate of Time."

Sailor Pluto's eyes glimmered imperceptibly. "You are welcomed, Captain. State your request."

"His Majesty wishes to open negotiations with Her Highness."

"His Majesty's request is granted," the time Senshi assented.

As was the official manner, the Captain and the Senshi separated from their guards and entered the inner sanctum. As the outer doors closed, the Terran soldiers crossed their fingers, hoping that all would go well.

Once inside, Sailor Pluto ordered that all security stand down and all surveillance be deactivated.

The two planetary officials maintained neutral expressions as they walked side-by-side into the conference room, then faced each other and threw themselves at each other in a deep, passionate embrace.

"So," the captain began, speaking in between kisses, "did you miss me, shnook'ems?"

"Just-Mmmm," Sailor Pluto replied, savoring the moment, "a little, Muffy-wuffy."

Although the tension was broken for the moment, they continued to hold each other close.

"Must we wait so long between visits?" 'Timothy asked.

"Patience, my love," Pluto rested her head against the man's shoulder. "We mustn't let anyone become suspicious."

The pair of lovers recalled their plans. No one could know about their marriage; at least not in this generation. None would accept it. Everyone knew that the Time Senshi was a solitary being, and was far too dedicated to be swayed by any romantic involvement.

The fact remained, however, that Fate had brought them into contact, and after just a few encounters, they found that they really did love each other.

It was a whirlwind romance. Pluto had been hesitant at first, but her knight in shining armor didn't give up on her, and relentlessly pursuing a worthy goal was a trait that the woman admired.

And, she added to herself, talk about good French kissing…

Sailor Pluto recalled the wedding, with only 'Timothy, herself, and Chronos himself that performed the ceremony. It was beautiful, better than a fairy tale; She in her favorite, jewel-studded gown, and he in shining, princely Terran-style armor. The magical thrill from that experience could still be felt.

The only down point of such a union was that they had to go to great lengths to keep it a secret. The honeymoon had to be postponed for a future date, and they could only meet once in a long while.

They knew that it would only be a matter of time before they could be openly accepted. The wait would be difficult, but they were committed to it. Fortunately, they were both immortals; aging was not a factor. They would cope.

For now, though, it seemed enough just to spend a few moments together; feel their closeness and be able to look into each others' eyes.

"Dearest," Sailor Pluto began again, "Earth's government wanted to trade materials for technology again, didn't it?"

"Sure did, pumpkin," the Terran captain replied, lightly running a hand down his wife's long, dark hair. "The Mirage's cargo bay is full of iron, platinum, gold and gems to be traded for something that can—"

"Sweetie, I'm sure you will be able to create another device to fulfill that need, won't you?"

'Timothy smiled at her. "No worries there, sugar. I did it before, I'll do it again."

The beautiful Time Guardian smiled back. It really was nice to be married to someone that didn't have any reason to take advantage of her great position of trust; someone that didn't have to use her as a crutch.

"That's good to hear, cutey-pie."

"A pleasure, sugar-dumpling."

Earth wanted technology, and that was just fine. Destiny didn't care one way or the other on that, but what DID matter was if they got it from abuse of the Time Gate. That could not be allowed.

"You know, fluffy-dove, I'm getting promoted next week," the captain whispered, drawing his wife closer. "I'm going to become Admiral."

"I am happy for you, pookie-wookie."

This led to another long, involved kiss.

"They won't be-aaah-keeping as many tabs on me. We can have our honeymoon aaaanytime you like, honey-bun."

"Looking forward to it-MMMmh, fluffy-numpkins."

"Think we'll ever get tired of talking to each other like this?"

"Like what, Bitsy-Pookums?"

"My feelings exactly, Shnoogy-woogy."

"MMMmmh—"

*CLANK* They fell to the floor in each others' arms, Pluto on top of 'Timothy. The shock of the fall snapped them both to attention.

Catching themselves, they broke the embrace and stood back up. One of their agreements was that, even though they were perfectly legally married, they wouldn't go all the way, so to speak, until the honeymoon. It had to be something special!

Therefore, the pair spent a bit of time talking about their lives' plans while sharing a large chocolate milkshake. They had done this many times before, and it was always rather refreshing to see a new perspective on the universe.

The captain had an impressive knowledge of the solar system's defensive capabilities; He could name the weaknesses of each Senshi (Except Pluto. He said that he was her weakness, which occasioned a rarely-viewed laugh from the time guardian.), and commented on a few ways to upgrade Terran ships to defend against everyone.

Apparently, in his pursuit of the now-adopted Princess Terra, 'Timothy had needed to fight a great deal with just about every major empire in the galaxy. Hence, his focus on the theme.

It was clear that he had ambitions as well. Eventually, he kind of wanted to rule the solar system. Hey, why not? That was actually a good point; who wants a husband with no goals?

However, this man also seemed to know things that only Queen Serenity or a long-lived Senshi ought to know. To be sure, he didn't have everything— he showed no understanding of what the Three Talismans were or what the secret of Olympus Mons on Mars was—

"The Secret of Olympus Mons? Hmm… Can you kill with it?"

"Not… precisely, Dearest."

"Well, then what good is it?"

As the Time Guardian continued to question her beloved husband, she realized that he did know about—

Sailor Pluto paused and thought about what she was doing. She really had to stop doing disguised interrogations on her husband so much. She knew he was hiding something; Something big, but it didn't seem to be anything dangerous to Destiny or herself, so she could probably just stop worrying about it.

He's not the only one that hides things, she considered silently, so what's a little mayhem between friends?

"But enough about me," 'Timothy concluded his travel-log. "Let's talk about you. For example—"

"I still want to hear a little more about you, love," Sailor Pluto couldn't resist just one more question. Another fun thing about her love's visits was that she had a chance to discover the hidden mystery. She felt like she was getting close to unraveling it all. "Tell me more about what happened between you and Princess Terra."

"Ah," the captain replied, "that is a secret."

The Time Senshi stared at him.

"What?" 'Timothy smiled.

Sailor Pluto smiled back. "Alright, I admit it. I'm curious." She paused and whispered back, "How about we have no secrets between us?"

'Timothy slowly shook his head. "I'm sorry. I can't—" he trailed off, looking down with a frown. He trembled a little, then regained his calm and looked into her eyes, placing his hands on hers. "I agree wholeheartedly, Beloved."

The Senshi picked up that something had happened, but there was no sign of anything; no energy or force other than 'Timothy suddenly changing his mind. "All right," she continued in a controlled voice, "no secrets."

"You and I both know that I've told you much more than you've told me. So, I want to hear a couple of your secrets before giving out more of mine."

Pluto inclined her head slightly. Yes, that was fair, she supposed. "What do you wish to know?"

Deep behind the man's eyes, there was a hint of desperation. "Where is that time gate of yours? You've never shown it to me."

He didn't know already?

"It is here and yet not; it lies on another plane."

"Will you show it to me?"

That was a steep request. "I-I cannot, my Love…"

"Please, dearest, it's very important to me to see it."

This was a most difficult thing to allow, Sailor Pluto thought over, her mind in turmoil. She indeed loved him, but could he be trusted there? They had gone this far and all had been very well planned out, very patiently. Never had he made such a request…

'Timothy looked at her with hopeful eyes.

The woman made a decision. If she could not trust the man she married, she could not trust even herself. "Yes, you may see it."

The two rose from their seats, and Sailor Pluto raised her staff. The room flickered and vanished, a bright, swirling environment rolling into view. "I do for you what I have done for no other."

In a moment, the Gate of Time could be seen. It consisted of a gigantic pair of glimmering white doors between two large marble pillars.

Captain StarKnight focused his gaze intently upon the structure and took a step forward.

This didn't feel right…

Sailor Pluto put out a hand to stop him. "Look, but do not touch."

Ignoring her and without a word, the armored man sidestepped the guardian and rushed toward the gate.

In a flash, Sailor Pluto was in front of him again, her staff held out defensively in front of her. "Do NOT approach the Gate of Time!"

What was he doing?!

The knight looked at her with a neutral expression. "No time to explain!" He leapt into a full flip directly over the Senshi's head, grabbing a hold of the time staff as he went.

She shouldn't have let him come here in the first place…

Pluto deftly maneuvered the staff, firmly but gently pushing her husband to land safely away from the gate. "I am warning you, 'Timothy. Do not attempt to tamper with the Gate."

'Timothy recovered quickly, stood back up, and his expression became even more determined. "I'm terribly sorry about this, but I need to borrow it. It's very important to me." His stance made it obvious that he was calculating a way to get around the Gate's guardian.

The woman took her staff in both hands and replied, "And it is very important to me that no one touches it."

This was very strange; a complete turnabout in his attitude.

Pluto stood ready. "In the name of our trust, stop." Her husband hesitated for a moment, but did not back down. "Make no mistake, I will fulfill my duty."

Could this be what he had been trying to hide before?

*CRACK!* The man dashed half-past his wife, and delivered a stunning blow to the base of her neck with his elbow, staggering her.

No! It couldn't be! He WAS serious!

Sailor Pluto regained her balance and clutched her neck with one hand. She saw the captain reach the gate and place his hand against it.

All this time, had he deceived her?!

"In the name of our love, stop!"

'Timothy's expression wavered for a moment, but remained focused, his eyes closed as he concentrated on his task. A glow began to build up around the gate.

The time guardian narrowed her eyes. It seemed a near impossibility, but there he was, no doubt trying to open it.

This must not be allowed to come to pass.

*THWACK!* Sailor Pluto swung the end of her staff, delivering a sharp blow to the top of the man's head, driving him down. He winced, then rolled away and unsheathed his sword, taking up a firm attack stance.

"Someone," the knight pressed, his halting breath showing that he was very emotional about the subject, "very important to me is— has died." A pained tear went down his left cheek. Through clenched teeth he declared, "I must prevent that from h-happening to her!"

'Her,' considered the time guardian. So that was it. He was using her to be able to change the past; to stop some poor maiden's demise. Who could it be? A mother? A sister?

A lover, perhaps?

Then his affection toward her had all been a ruse…

"What is it to you," Sailor Pluto began, her gaze narrowing and her posture strengthening, "if that is her destiny? If it so be that she must die, you must accept it! Destiny cannot be changed!"

'Timothy clenched both fists tightly around the handle of his blade. "GRRRR! DESTINY MY EYE!" With a roar, he dove forward, his sword whistling through the air at Sailor Pluto.

*Clang!* Pluto blocked the sword-strike with the handle of her staff and thrust the end at the man's chest, knocking him back. "It must be a very difficult lesson for you to learn," she tried to show a bit of understanding.

Poor man, really. Obsessed for so long to try something like this.

The captain kicked low, knocking the woman off her feet. "Grrr!" He pointed his palm at her and generated a small ball of energy, then leapt once more toward the gate.

Nevertheless, no mercy must be shown to this offender.

*Blam!* Raising her staff, Pluto blocked the strike, the energy washing over her without effect. She stood, no speck of understanding or remorse left in her eyes. "In the name of the planet Pluto, you cannot be forgiven."

*Clank!* Pluto blocked another sword strike and returned it with a sharp kick, which her foe sidestepped.

The tall man continued his efforts to dodge and fight his way to the gate, his expression and attack-style growing ever more desperate by the moment. For over a minute, they exchanged blows, slashes, and kicks. Sailor Pluto was clearly the superior fighter, while 'Timothy was managing to get through only by sheer determination.

*SHING!* Finally, the Terran captain managed a strong swing, which bit deeply into the Senshi's side. He used the opening to snatch the time staff from Pluto's grasp, and in a single bound he was at the Gate of Time, and attempted to use the staff with the keyhole in one door.

Sailor Pluto took a moment to recover, but when she did…

*SMACK!* The guardian stunned her enemy with a stiff slap to the face, then grabbed her staff. "Dead," she whispered, a light building up in the Garnet Orb, "Scream." She thrust the light into her foe's armored chest.

*CRAAASH!* The resulting blast sent 'Timothy spiraling in the air to crash several dozen meters away, where he lay still, his breastplate cracked and lower jaw badly scorched.

Sailor Pluto approached his immobile form, aiming her staff at him.

In a moment, with a cough, her husband opened his eyes.

"Do you yield?" Pluto demanded.

'Timothy clenched his teeth for a moment, but after a tense pause, his expression softened. "Yes. Yes, I yield."

"Do you still desire to use the Gate of Time?"

The man took a breath. "No."

Sailor Pluto's posture relaxed slightly. "You have broken my trust, disobeyed the laws, and made a complete mockery of my love. This is unforgivable. Do you have anything to say for yourself?"

'Timothy closed his eyes. "No."

"Had it been my desire, I could have killed you."

A pained look appeared on the man's face. "I understand."

"We have nothing further to discuss. Get back on your ship, and leave. You are never to return."

'Timothy grimaced, his voice showing great internal trauma, obviously embarrassed at having failed his worthless attempt at time travel. "Right."

"Now, BEGONE!"

With a tap of the Senshi's staff against the ground, her ex-lover vanished.

Sailor Pluto looked around impassively at her surroundings, her duty to guard the gate having been accomplished.

Without a word, or a thought, the woman allowed her staff to clatter to the ground, then went to her knees and buried her face in her hands.

For hours, she wept bitterly. Echoes of her soft, brokenhearted sobs went unheeded in the swirling pools of temporal infinity.

~~~End Flashback~~~


It was over, Setsuna recalled. The best relationship she had taken in millennia was ended by the other's selfish desire to abuse her powers. He was not trustworthy, not like Ranma. The young man probably wouldn't have the first idea how to use the Gate of Time anyway…

The gorgeous Guardian of Time looked at her fiancé, who was concentrating deeply on his surroundings, and decided something.

This time, she would make it last. She would not give up on him. He was her only hope.


~~~The Present~~~

In the past, when Darien considered that someday he'd have to come face-to-face with Death, he didn't think it would be quite this literal.

"What do you mean, 'I'm dead'?!"

I AM HERE TO COLLECT YOUR SOUL. KNOWING THAT, THE REST SHOULD BE OBVIOUS.

"But, but—! I can't be dead! I-I've had dreams! I'm supposed to be alive in the future!"

REVISION.

"What?!"

NOTHING IS CERTAIN, EXCEPT FOR ME. AND YOU HAVE BEEN WRITTEN OUT OF THE GREAT BOOK.

Darien blinked. "What book? Are you saying I'm a character in a book?

Death sighed. The movement of his hood indicated that he was shaking his skull.

IT WAS MERELY A FIGURE OF SPEECH.

"Oh."

ARE YOU COMING OR NOT?

Death's voice was indescribably penetrating. As he spoke, he drummed his bony fingers on the handle of his scythe. He flicked at a drained hourglass hanging from his belt.

YOUR TIME IS UP.

The recently deceased man needed a few moments to get back up and collect his thoughts. He looked down and ran his spiritual fingers through his ghostly hair.

He was dead.

He was DEAD.

He was DEADER than dead.

"I missed the meeting! My study group's gonna kill me!"

TOO LATE.

Darien looked back up to the robed figure. He suddenly remembered an old adage: how we face Death is just as important as how we face Life. —Kobayashi Maru Scenario. "Uhhhhhh!"

Death looked down at him, and let out a peel of cold, stiff artificial laughter.

HA. HA. HA. HA. HAAAA.

The dead man recoiled in fear.

HA. HAAA. HAAAAAA. HAAAAAAAA.

Something occurred to Darien: he really didn't want to die. He had too many things to live for. He couldn't think of anything at the moment, but he was sure that there had to be something. Another thing was bothering him. "Hey, why are you laughing at me?"

Death discontinued his laugh.

DOESN'T IT MAKE YOU FEEL MORE RELAXED?

"No!" Darien shouted back. "It was horrible, creepy, and I don't like how I died!"

Death paused in consideration of the man's statement.

WHAT KIND OF DEATH WOULD YOU LIKE?

"I don't know! I'm frustrated! I've never been dead before!"

WOULD YOU PREFER IT IF YOU WERE TAKEN UP INTO VALHALLA BY A FLIGHT OF VALKYRIES INSTEAD?

Darien nodded and shouted, "Yes! I just might!" He paused, realizing what he just said. "No, wait! I mean—"

THAT CAN BE ARRANGED.

*Dahn-dahn-dah-dah-daaah-daah!*Dahn-da-da-duln-duhn!*

The roar of several sets of rockets and the whinnies of a dozen great stallions split the air.

Darien turned to see an amazing sight galloping down the hospital hallway: there was a large group of horses, mounted by an equal number of really muscular women with long, blonde hair and exceptionally large, figure-hugging metal breastplates.

Behind the women, a pair of huge, ghostly, half-plane, half-robots cruised down the large hallway.

The women started singing in a very high pitch and the robots fired up their engines.

Both groups of Valkyries roared toward the dead man.

"Yipe!" Darien cried, and started to run in the opposite direction, but it was of no avail. The lead Valkyrie scooped him up in one arm and placed him on her horse. "AAAAAAAAH!" he screamed, but his protests were quickly swallowed up in the woman's one-hundred-twenty decibel opera voice.

The entire group passed through the hospital roof and galloped into the sky on a wave of flame.

Watching from the roof, Death folded his arms in satisfaction.

I AIM TO PLEASE.

 


Continued in Part 10-2C

Chapter 10-2C
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