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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 10-2C


Belldandy looked up at the restaurant's big sign, then took a deep breath, opened the door, and walked inside.

'Tim's Ucchan was a good business. The food was excellent, and service had improved substantially when the new cook came in. Plus, it was in a terrific location; it seemed like they always had a customer or two, and the place really filled up during lunchtime. Even though half the people still came in with the first week promotion's free meal vouchers, the restaurant still managed to make a profit.

The beautiful goddess scanned around for the owner. Usually, he would be at the table nearest the doorway to the back room, but he really could be unpredictable sometimes— look, there he was! What was her line again? Ah, yes.

Belldandy walked up to the pink-haired man in the Ryouga-style outfit and greeted him with a bright smile. "Hi!" She quickly held up a twenty-dollar bill. "Could you please give me change for a twenty?"

'Tim shrugged. "Sure." He stood, made his way over to the counter with the cash register, and reached over to trade the bill for smaller ones.

This was it, thought Belldandy. She pulled out a small, portable television and placed it on a nearby table, then held her hands together a little under her mouth. "Spirit of rest," the goddess began lovingly, "help this man be still for a short while."

An almost indiscernible glow flowed around her for a second, and 'Tim was caught in the effect. His movements slowed and he stood motionless. The others in the room similarly stopped.

"Thank you," Belldandy whispered to the Forces That Be, which blushed slightly, glad to be of help.

A spiraling spark flashed around the handheld TV, and with some effort, Urd squeezed out of it. "All right, my turn!" she said, rolling up her sleeves. "SHIFT AND CHANGE," she incanted dramatically, her hands raised and an echo in her voice, "HE TO SHE, SO LET IT BE!"

'Tim's body decreased in mass and height, a slight bulge at the chest forming and hair length extending, leaving a long, pink mane down her back. Her sight, petite figure was dwarfed by her unflattering travelers' garb.

Belldandy continued. "Authorized from high above, you have been promoted; from an undiscovered class, you are now granted the full rights and privileges of Goddess Fourth class, with limited powers. Stand and present yourself now, Tammi, Goddess of Errors, assistant to the Norns."

A circle of light formed around the new goddess' body, and a pillar of light descended, infusing its divine energies into the being. A few seconds later, the light dissipated, and Tammi stood up, looking rather dazed. Her outfit had shifted into a better-fitting green and pink robe, with a green bandanna tied into a big bow around her head, a little above her thin eyebrows.

"Wh-what d-d-did you—" Tammi stuttered, an instant before Skuld appeared out of a glass of water, grabbed her from behind, and vanished back into the wake of the teleportation spell.

"You know," Urd commented thoughtfully, "I think he looks a lot better like that."

Skuld stepped out of the woodwork. "Yggdrasil, end program."

The restaurant scene vanished in favor of a shining white circle of levitating magical mirrors.

"That's eight for eight," Urd said to her youngest sister.

The black-haired goddess nodded. "Yeah, that's probably enough simulations for now. We've got it down perfect."

"Let's try it for real now!"

"Hmm," Belldandy looked down and put a concerned hand to her mouth. "I thought about it a little more and now I'm not so sure this is a good idea, Urd. Ambushing him and turning him into a low-class goddess might upset him."

Urd shook her head and shrugged. "Of course it'll upset him, but the plan's perfect like it is."

Belldandy frowned. "How do you know that?"

"Everything I come up with is perfect!"

"What about marrying off Sailor Pluto to the Atomic Starlight Knight?"

It was Urd's turn to frown. "Uh, hey, it was a good idea," she said defensively. "It's not my fault Setsy-chan bungled it up by not letting him use the time portal. A relationship is supposed to be give and take! So, she should have taken a chance and let the poor guy use the darn thing. How was I supposed to know she'd get all crabby?"

"Umm, how about we try something else?" suggested Belldandy. "We could raise his height a little, declare him Demigod of Errors, and we could fix the bugs basically just by changing his outfit."

Urd considered that while a little, rabbity bug hopped out of some random instrument. "Well, I don't like having to turn him into a girl that much, either—"

*Squeak!*

Skuld's lip trembled a bit. "No, no, NO, NO!!!" the youngest goddess shouted, stomping her feet and smashing her croquet mallet against the bug in a huff, causing it to vanish in a pink puff of smoke. "The bugs'll just KEEP ON appearing until we change his whole profile! We have to affect EVERYTHING! That's the point of the plan!"

"But I guess we have to," Urd finished.

"Maybe you're right, you two," Belldandy nodded.

"Okay," Skuld calmed down. "T-minus one hour 'till the real thing."


Amy looked at it.

It looked back at her and squeaked.

It was a mushroom, sort of. Standing about five and a half inches tall, it had a sort of fuzzy red wig, a white-painted face, large floppy red shoes, baggy pants, and a large, red ball for a nose. It hopped out of the box and began to wheel around on a unicycle on top of Amy's hardened cast.

"Hey, that's cute," Amy giggled.

*Honk-honk*Mumblegrumble* The mushroom honked its nose and started to juggle a few tiny rainbow-colored beach balls, mumbling to a carnival tune.

"Oooh." This was the most entertaining thing Amy had seen since her last MRI scan. "Encore!"

The clown mushroom stopped, took a bow, then produced a seltzer bottle, shook it up, and pulled down a handle, instantly drenching the girl from the shoulders up.

Amy let out a shocked gasp, and the mushroom took the opportunity to dive down the girl's wide-open mouth.

*ULP!* ACK-ACK-ACK!* She choked and flailed around in horror as the thing squirmed down her throat.

*Thwack* Amy accidentally pushed over her IV stand, which fell to the floor and knocked the drug timer out of kilter.

*BEEEEEEP!*

All the colors in the room started shifting around and the walls gradually melted. Amy's cast began to crumble.

The girl stared in a daze at the scenery.

"Climb inside, Amy," her belly button whispered, "fun awaits you, if you climb inside!"

"Woof, woof, whine, whine, fluff the cushion a bit," her pillow added.

"EE-Tee phone home," the alien in the jigsaw puzzle said, pointing a glowing digit at the stars behind it. "Mmmmh, pull my finger."

"Whoooooo," Amy found herself floating toward the jigsaw puzzle, and slipped through its thin plastic wrapper.

*NREO-NREOW-NREOW!!!* An electric guitar strummed an intro.

The injured girl felt the last bit of her cast fall off and a pair of feathery wings sprout from her back.

*RRR-Nreow-Nreow-NREOW!*

Amy flew through space and time, stars whipping past her.

A Metallica concert boomed in her eardrums.

o/WHOOOOOOOOOO!!!!\o

*WHEEEEEEOOOOW!* A high chord was struck and someone with a deep quasi-British voice began to sing some heavy metal.

o/AMY'S ON A TRIP TA-DAY!\o

Amy flapped her wings and sped by the rings of Saturn.

o/THIS GIRL'S GONE OUT TA PLAAAY!\o

She flew through a nebula, ionized gasses moving in her wake.

o/LET ME ASK YOU, IF I MAAAY! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH!\o

The winged girl buzzed a Vorlon scout cruiser, spinning it around wildly.

o/MAY I HAVE FUN WITH YEW?!\o

Amy did a few spins and dove through the corona of a star.

o/LIFE IS WAY TOO SHORT, TO JAM AND CRANK THE 'RAWK!\o

Amidst a great interstellar battle, the girl flew right through a large assault-carrier, slicing it in half.

Green aliens popped out and started shouting and shaking their tentacles angrily at her.

o/THE WORLD IS WAY TOO SMALL, TO GO AND SHOP THE MAWL!\o

Amy snatched a few crystals from the ring around a gas giant and started munching on them like potato chips.

o/AMY'S GONE OFF THE WAWL, SO WE'VE GONE ON THE CAWL!\o

She pointed at a few stars in a handgun sort of firing gesture, causing them to supernova, then made her way back to Earth's solar system, trailing lots of glistening interstellar compounds behind her.

o/CAWL ME AND WE WILL SEEEE! YOU'VE GOT NO TIME TA FLE-EEE!\o

Amy did a few cartwheels off the Earth's atmosphere, then sped very close to the lunar surface, snatching the United States flag as she went by, which she tied around her neck into a sort of cape. The little flag rippled majestically between her wings.

o/AMY'S GONE TO THE MOON, SHALL WE GO AFTER— WHO?!\o

The caped superheroine dove down into the heavy, acid clouds engulfing Venus, twirling and spiraling like mad.

o/THE CLOWDS ARE BRIGHT TA-DAY! WILL YOU COME OUT TA PLAY!?\o

Amy saw a crushed, molten landscape underneath the clouds.

o/COME OUT TA PLAY WITH MEEE! THEN YOU AND ME SHALL SEEE!\o

"These lyrics lack proper grammar and pronunciation," Amy commented to herself. "And they aren’t all that good, either."

There music stopped with a great sound of a record scratching badly in the subspace ether.

"NOW YOU'VE INSULTED US."

*Crash!* Amy felt a big, bone-shaking ripple and fell to the ground. She sat up. "How rude. Oh well, it was bad music anyway."

The girl took stock of how she felt: Better than perfect. She maintained a wide-eyed, broadly smiling expression. Her wings were gone, so all she had on was her hospital gown and a red, white, and blue cape. For some strange reason, she also wore knee-length riding boots and had about a dozen strings of beads tied around her neck. Plus, her hair had apparently grown half a meter and was done up in a big, puffy 'fro.

"That's odd," Amy said, fingering her beads and hair as she examined her surroundings. She was in a lush, yellow forest with mushrooms, tri-diamond-leaved plants, and exotic South American trees growing every which way.

"Whoa, flashy duds, babe," a giant, black-scaled dragon said, sitting on a huge mushroom as he pushed back his rose-colored glasses.

"Where are you and who am I?" Amy questioned, then paused as she realized her mistake. "I mean, where am I and who are you?"

"I'm Puff," he said, pausing to inhale deeply from the hookah extending from a fuming water pipe, "the Magic Dragon." He exhaled a blue horseshoe-shaped smoke-image. "And you, girl, stumbled upown theee hottest spot on the whoooole planet Venus!"

Amy was puzzled. "I'm on Venus? Isn't that planet full of crushed volcanoes and ultra-high-pressure hellish landscapes?" she prodded, being analytical.

"Shhh," Puff shushed, putting a clawed finger over Amy's lips. "Don't you go tell no one, ya hear, but we've got one huge secret: It ain't!"

"It ain't?" parroted Amy. "What about all the probes that got sent and landed?"

[Ha. Ha. Ha. Silly Girl,] a Venera probe said in a Russian accent, with Vega 1 on one robotic claw and Pioneer Venus 2 on the other.

[Tee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee!] Vega and Pioneer Venus giggled mockingly at Amy, then the trio padded off on their metal legs.

Amy's world suddenly collapsed out from under her. "What???"

"Come on, babe," Puff the Magic Dragon said, his voice changing slightly. He stepped off his mushroom and slapped a gigantic scaly arm around the girl's shoulders, escorting her slowly to another site in the forest. "You're, like, our idol around here! Everyone loves Sailor Mercury."

"You know I'm Sailor Mercury?"

The dragon took a long puff from his pipe and nodded. "Hoo, yeah."

"Who told you?"

"Your computer, babe."

Amy thought about that and found it illogical, or at least she was about to think it illogical until she saw something even more illogical in a clearing ahead of her. "Curiouser and curiouser…"

There was a MONSTER kegger going on. Dozens of exotic, mythical creatures danced around like maniacs, drinking colorful fluids that came out of large barrels, and many were doing strange things with fire; sticking burning twigs in their noses and things like that.

"YEEEEEEEEAAAAAAHHHH!!!" Puff lumbered forward to join in on the festivities for a moment, danced the Rumba, then after chugging something orange and glowing, he went back to stand with Amy.

A blond-bearded dwarf with a colorful outfit of love beads and charm bracelets began to sing.

o/Puff,\o he began, pausing to inhale from his pipe.

o/the magic dragon, lived by the sea…\o He let out a blue star-shaped cloud of smoke.

Puff paused, looked down at Amy, then grabbed the girl by the wrist and hauled her into the festivities. "C'mon, babe! This is our song!"

o/—the autumn mists, in a land called Hawn-ah-lee!\o

Amy suddenly found herself dancing an unholy mix of a waltz, break-dancing, and river-dancing with her gigantic companion to a few famous children's songs. "Curiouser and even more curiouser," she commented in a daze, successfully completing a complete 1440-degree spin on the soft-packed ground while tapping her riding boots against it.

*THWAMM!* "YEAH! That's it, kid!" Puff performed a backflip, causing a small-scale tremor, and began to dance the Macarena.

"Is this some sort of bizarre hazing ritual?" asked Amy, dancing along, then encountering herself sitting down cross-legged and playing 'patty-cake' with the hulking dragon.

"Yeah!" replied Puff with a wide, toothy grin, slapping the girl's hand and clapping, "Ain't it great?!" He snatched a magical pixie from the air and started gnawing on it, then caught and tossed another one to his dance-partner. "Here, you try it!"

Amy caught the fairy and looked down in confusion at it. The mythical thing squirmed a bit and giggled up at her while ringing its belled, three-pronged cap. It ineffectually fluttered its wings for a second. It had "Slurp Me" written on its green jester shirt. "Curiouser and curiouser…"

Four distinct individuals separated from the main party-group. A five-foot-tall, blond, pointy-eared elf began to dance around a bonfire with a bearded dwarf, a two-foot tall faerie, and a unicorn. They carried spears and had on white, one-shouldered robes with Greek letters on them. "TO-GA! TO-GA! TO-GA!"

Trussed-up above the fire was the Mercury computer, opened and looking more dilapidated than ever. The screen remained shattered and sparking wires hung out of the keyboard.

"Hey! That's my computer!" Amy exclaimed when she took notice of the new dancers. She dropped the magic pixie and rushed toward the bonfire. She really liked her computer, and worried about it. It wasn't exactly like a friend, but hey, it wasn't just something that could be picked up at Radio Shack.

"Hey! You didn't even slurp your pixie!" Puff said, then coughed and spat out the creature, snatching Amy and pulling her back. "Whoa, don't break the circle, kiddo!"

"Ooga-chacka! Ooga-ooga-ooga-chacka!" the mythical creatures chanted, hyping up the tempo of their dance. Many of the partygoers bowed down in apparent reverence of the ceremony.

"Ooooh-oooh-ooo-oooh, ooo-ooo-oooh!" the crowd began a baseball team's Indian-style tomahawk chant with their arms moving in a chopping motion.

"What are they doing?" Amy asked, looking very distraught about the condition of her computer.

"They're fixin’ yer box, babe."

A glow began to build up around the broken machine.

"Parabailar-labamba!" The dance grew even more intense.

The glow faded and the dancing group fell to the ground, exhausted.

Puff snapped his claws in disappointment. "Awww. Gosh-darn it, they weren't tough enough ta do it."

"My computer's still broken," Amy noted.

"Oh, NO! Dagnab it, we're on our way to SQUARESVILLE, babe! We just can't do it, MAN!" the black dragon held up his hands and paced around in a huff. "We need more JUICE ta—" he broke off.

*Th-thump!*Th-thump!* Amy's big 'fro began to pulsate.

"Hey now!" the elf stood up. He walked up to her and reached into the ball of blue hair. "You been holdin' out on us?" He withdrew a big, quartz-like crystal.

"Wow, I picked that up in outer space!" Amy boggled.

"Yeah, cool! That's usin' yer head!" Puff reached in and pulled out another crystal. Quickly following, the dwarf, the faerie, and the unicorn each yanked one out as well.

Out of curiosity, Amy reached up into her 'fro and took hold of yet one more, then probed around and found that it was the last one. "That's all."

"Groovy," Puff took a magical breath on his pipe and pushed up his glasses to rest on his forehead. "These'll work like a chaaaarm."

"Everyone join hands," the unicorn ordered with a side of fries. Everyone did so. "Okay, everyone say, 'Totally Cosmic Crystal Power, Dude!'"

"Totally Cosmic Crystal Power, Dude!" everyone except Amy said.

The crystals charged, a hum built up amidst the group. Time and space bent under the magical maelstrom. Those participating began chanting to the tune of the Hamster Dance. Power built between them, sparking and lancing around the crowd, and finally, FINALLY—

Nothing happened.

The other members of the circle gave Amy a dirty look.

"What?" Amy asked in a dazed voice.

"Ya forgot ta say yer phrase, babe," Puff whispered.

"Oh. I'm sorry."

"Let's try it again. AHEM!" Puff stood up tall, held his arms to his sides, starting to dance the Funky Chicken. "TOTALLY COSMIC CRYSTAL POWER, DUDE!!!" Tight, sinewy dragon muscles tensed and his tail swung back and forth.

Then followed the others.

*RIIIP!* The Dwarf yanked off most of his beard: "TOTALLY COSMIC CRYSTAL POWER, DUDE!!!"

The Elf started jamming Stairway to Heaven on a lute: "TOTALLY COSMIC CRYSTAL POWER, DUDE!!!"

The Faerie munched on a large Ritz cracker: "TOTALLY COSMIC CRYSTAL POWER, DUDE!!!"

The Unicorn pulled out a comb and organized his mane: "TOTALLY COSMIC CRYSTAL POWER, DUDE!!!"

And then…

Amy blinked: "Umm, Totally Cosmic Crystal Power, Dude?"

The process began again! All the crystals began to glow, and a beam shot out from each of them, interconnecting all with the computer tied up above the bonfire. Everyone started chanting to the tune of the Hamster Dance, and finally, FINALLY—

Piece by piece, the computer reformed!

"HOOORAAAY!"

"Your box is, like, totally healed, babe," Puff replaced his shades with a confident flourish.

*Rrrreow!* "'SWHAT I'M TALKIN' BOUT!" the elf jammed a chord on his electric lute.

*Pheeeee-oooooooow* The pixie blew on a kazoo and dove to his knees, lips curled and shouting: "Let's PAR-TEEEEEEEEE DAAOOOWNE!!!"

And the Great Venusian Kegger continued!


Amy woke up with a migraine headache the size of Ted Kennedy.

*UNNNNHHHH!*

"Somebody shoot me, please…"

"Amy! You're awake!" the girl heard her mother's voice, then opened her eyes and blinked a bit. "We almost lost you back there."

"What in the name of Great Grandma Moses happened?!" Amy asked weakly as the image of her mother's face cleared up on the back of her retina. The girl found herself laid out on a soft hospital bed, stinging white fluorescent lights everywhere. She gasped and sat up, recalling what had to be a long, drug-induced dream. "Was there an overdose?!"

Dr. Anderson frowned. "No. Your blood's fine. Actually, the nurse forgot to set up the medication, and a good thing, too."

Amy noticed something else. "I can sit up?" She patted her body down from neck to stomach. "What happened to my cast?"

"We took it off. Doctor Kalypso— the doctor who first examined you— was found to be psychologically impaired. We got your x-rays in. You're perfectly healthy. No broken bones, no bruises; not a scratch."

"Didn't I lose my leg?"

"No, it was just hidden under the covers. You didn't feel it?"

"Come to think about it, I never did lose feeling…"

"Well, there you go."

Amy meditated the last part of her dream. "And my computer?"

"I traded it in for a new one. It's on the shelf," Dr. Anderson reached over to pick up a plastic bag with Radio Shack scrawled all over it.

Amy's eyes bugged out. "M-Mother! You traded in my computer?! It— It—"

Doctor Anderson reached into the bag and withdrew a small, glistening new, light-blue laptop with the Mercury symbol on the lower left corner. "Don't worry. It's right here."

Amy took hold of the computer, flipped it open, and turned it on. "What—?! A new Mercury Computer," she boggled, then noticed the statistics piling up on the startup checklist. "It's— It's faster and has more memory than the other one!"

Dr. Anderson was glad to see her daughter happy. "Apparently, it had a lifetime warranty."

That took a moment for Amy to process. She wasn't sure what was weirder, the dream she had, or the fact that a company like Radio Shack had its grimy mitts on Moon Kingdom technology. "They had it at Radio Shack?!"

"They have everything at Radio Shack. I thought you knew that. They even managed to salvage the hard drive."

Amy's face suddenly fell, colliding with the laptop's screen.

The blue-haired doctor looked concerned. "Is something wrong?"

"Oh, no, Mother, of course not!" Amy sat up and laughed, inwardly wanting to scream at Luna for having made such a big deal about how the Mercury Computer was just SOOO special and irreplaceable.

"Everything's fine now, dear."

"So it was just a dream, then," Amy sighed, greatly relieved, then turned her thoughts to another preoccupation. "What happened to me? Why did you almost lose me?" She hoped it wasn't anything serious. After all, she wouldn't want to miss any more study time.

The girl's mother examined a clipboard. "We had to do surgery. You had something blocking a major blood vessel."

"What?"

"We found this stuck in your aorta," another surgeon held up a small plastic bag with something dark in it.

"In my aorta?!" Amy frowned, knowing her anatomy well. "That is serious." She took the bag from the surgeon and held it up to the light.

Upon closer examination, the object was a small, red clown shoe.

"AAAAAH!" Amy screamed, leapt out of bed and ran outside. Her big, blue 'fro bobbed up and down at each lengthened stride and the girl's red, white, and blue cape flowed behind her, almost getting caught in the door when she slammed it shut.

"She took it better than you did," Doc Kalypso commented to Doc Anderson.

"She did indeed."

"We did an excellent job of rebuilding her, wouldn't you say?"

"Impressive work. I could barely tell the difference."

"Well, when the price is right, miracles can happen."

"Six million dollars, huh?"

"Shopping at Radio Shack, we were able to get more materials for an economically low price."

"We saved money without sacrificing quality, then?"

"Yes," Doc Kalypso threw an arm around the woman's shoulders. "So, what do you say to lunch? My treat."

"I'd love to. The buffet again?"

"The buffet."

"I enjoy that, but one thing…"

"What?"

"Don't call me your 'treat'."

Somewhere, a clown-like mushroom hopped around on one foot, looking for its missing shoe.


Somewhere on the outskirts of Tokyo, a certain youma general was having some difficulty locating a particular girl.

Nephrite examined his crystal, then looked around frantically. "This thing's useless!!!"

*Vroom!* A bearded black guy with mirrored shades in a corvette drove by, rolled down his window, and handed him a pamphlet. "Crystal girl-finder not workin'? Radio Shack has what ya need, man!" He reached over and twisted a lit cigarette butt into Nephrite's forehead, laughing hysterically.

*Hiss* "WAIT! WHAT ARE—"

*RRRK!*VROOM!* Before Nephrite could respond physically, the man sped off, tires shrieking. The general stared after the dust trail for a second, aghast, looked at the paper, then crumpled it up and tossed it away. "Insufferable insult-propaganda machine!"

He sat down on the curb, rubbing the ash off his forehead to consider his options.

Following the Star Crystal's signal for over an hour, the general hadn't turned up one lousy sign of anything. Well, he found a pair of lovers kissing in a park somewhere and a pair of homemade red leather bellbottom trousers, but no Molly.

This was really starting to worry him.

A strong breeze blasted by, allowing him to cool off somewhat.

Nephrite slapped his fist against his hand and cursed under his breath. He had lost her! Any moment now, they'd be tearing the poor girl to shreds. He HAD to save her, somehow!

The youma general paused, finding that he had very strong feelings for the girl. Why? He barely knew her; she was nice and all, but why would he be putting his life on the line for her?! He had a position to protect, and anyone else was just a barrier to his success!

The question went unanswered, and the strong desire to rescue Molly remained, as did the question about how to find her. I mean, it wasn't like they were going to be advertising where they were holding her…

At that moment, the breeze blew a poster into Nephrite's face. Annoyed, he pulled it off and was about to crumple it up and toss it away when he saw what was on it: [Nephrite, we're holding your girlfriend in the rent-a-space lots on Kabuki Street, find us if you can!]

There was also a small map of the city with a big X drawn on a specific block.

Nephrite narrowed his eyes. Could it really be that simple? Perhaps it could.

However, if this wasn't a trap, he was going to change his name to Snuggle-cakes.


"Heeey-yah!" *Slap!*

"Hoo-yaaaahhh!" *Whack!*

"Hiii-yah! Hoo-yah!" *Splat!*

"Hooo-hoo! Yooh-hooh!" *SLAM!*

As the last firecracker went off, Raye, Serena, and Grandpa Hino stopped chanting and dancing around Jadeite, who was tied upside-down above the Sacred Fire by her feet and somewhat bruised from the giant trout they had been swinging at her.

"You still possessed?!" Grandpa Hino asked, brandishing his fish like a club. The trout blinked a couple of times, opening and closing its mouth to see if it was back in water yet.

*HACK* "No," Jadeite coughed out a small muskrat, which squeaked emphatically up at her and scampered off, "the voice is gone, I think."

Raye and Serena cheered, dropping their trout and holding each other by the hands and jumping around in a circle. "Yaaay! We did it! We did it! Take THAT, Jadeite!"

Jadeite gritted her teeth and barked, "Get me down, NOW!"

Grandpa Hino grabbed the rope from the pulley-system and let the blonde down, straight into the middle of the fire.

"AAAAAAAAAHH!!!"

The old man laughed nervously with a hand behind his head. "Oh, sorry!"

Jadeite rolled out of the fire, trying to extinguish what little remained of her clothes, which had been partly obliterated by the fireworks a few minutes ago and now were being finished off by the happy little combustion elements. "HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT!!!"

*Splash!* Raye dumped a bucket of cold water all over the cute girl, dousing the flames. "Congratulations! You've just been exorcised by a professional! How do you feel?"

Jadeite gagged, recalling everything they'd jammed in her mouth. "I think I'm going to throw up!"

Raye gasped and her eyes went wide. "Bad Juju! Projectile vomit is a sign of possession!" Her hand went toward another rocket clipped on her new utility belt.

"Stop!" Jadeite put out her hands and fought back the nausea. "Look! I'm fine!" She patted her upper-chest and neck in an effort to demonstrate the truth of her last statement. "No more voices! I'm cured! Okay?!"

Serena smiled widely at her. "You're really okay, Jade?"

"Yes," Jadeite coughed, "never been better. Can I go now?!"

Raye shook her head. "No, we still need to keep an eye on you to make sure you don't get repossessed."

"What do I look like?! An automobile?!"

*Da-dum*Thwish!*

*Chirp-chirp*Chirp-chirp* Crickets rubbed their legs together amidst the following silence.

The pun was lost on the two girls. "Huh?"

"Automobile?" asked Grandpa Hino with a big grin. "I'd sure like to take you out for a ride. Hee hee hee…"

"GRANDPA!" reprimanded Raye.

"I was just kidding," laughed the three-foot-tall old man. "But we should keep her here for a while, I agree."

Jadeite pouted. "Do I have to stay here?" She glanced nervously at the fire, knowing that it could be a danger to her wellbeing if they decided to do another fire reading, or if someone suddenly decided to toss her into it again.

"We have to stay with you," Raye asserted.

"Well," Serena glanced at her watch, "school's out. It was a half-day. So, we could all go someplace together."

Raye thought about it, too. "Hmm, Jade needs to relax for a little while. It needs to be somewhere calm; somewhere fun."

"Like where?" Jadeite felt a sense of foreboding.

Serena and Raye whispered among themselves, then looked the blonde in the eyes. "Let's go shopping!"

That caught the ex-general off guard. "What?!"

"Yeah, you should go to the mall," Grandpa Hino said, "it's the best place for youngsters like you to head-off together and blow off some steam!" He fished around in his pocket and pulled out a thick wad of bills and handed it to Raye. "Here, go buy this lovely young lady a new dress."

Going shopping for clothes with a pair of teenage girls wasn't number one on Jadeite's 'fun things to do' list. "Wait a second," she said, her hands held up defensively while slowly backing off. "I'd rather not."

"Yeah, that's probably a good idea," Raye agreed. "Your clothes are a mess. We could have been easier on you while curing you, so I guess we owe it to you."

Serena nodded really brightly in agreement.

Jadeite was about to protest again, but there was something about Serena's cuter-than-puppydog-eyes that just melted through all her resistance. "Oh, alright!"

Serena jumped for joy. "Yaay! We're going to the mall!"


Trees, buildings, billboards, rabid hamsters, and feral chickens rushed by at a phenomenal rate.

*Squeak-squeak!*

*Vrooom!*Cluck-cluck!*

Nephrite was going WAAAAAAY over the speed limit in his hot Ferrari convertible as he tore up the road, rushing toward where the crumpled-up poster indicated that Molly would be held.

He screeched to a halt in front the old storage building, checked the map again, leapt out of his vehicle, rose high into the air, scouted the area, then put out his hand and blasted the door to the building where Molly was sure to be held.

Nephrite strode inside, his hands glowing with energy, ready to strike at a moment's notice.

There was a small rustling sound as rats skittered through some papers on an old, worn-out desk.

Maintaining caution and glancing every which way, the brown-haired general approached the desk and noticed a poster taped to the wall to the left.

It read: [Oops! Sorry, Snuggle-cakes. We drew the maps wrong. She's not here. We're actually over HERE—]

The poster had another map with another big, red X on it.

Nephrite growled in frustration, then reached over and tore the map off the wall, only to find, scrawled on the wall in a sloppy red acrylic: [Oh, and this IS a trap, by the way!!!]

*BLAAAM!* Through the door, Nephrite could see his car explode. The light from the blast illuminated several silhouetted figures marching toward him. Chunks of metal and red fiberglass fell to the ground.

Nephrite narrowed his eyes and took a step back, vanishing into the shadows.

The attacking youma rushed into the building, scouring every corner of it. After a little less than a minute, they stopped.

"Hey! He got away!"

"Uh oh…"

"What?"

"We forgot to block teleportation this time."

"D'oh!"


Somewhere in the universe, on the colossal ArbyFish homeworlds of Axiom and Idiom, a phenomenal funeral was held in honor of the First One, who had passed away defending His great principles.

No ArbyFish had ever died before— only congealed to be revived a couple thousand years later— so as one might imagine, they were a little perplexed on the subject of how a funeral was to be done.

Representatives from thirteen separate ArbyFish races debated long and hard over how to organize it; even the foul Pink Ones had a say, so great was their desperation! All had the usual ideas: singing songs, talking a bit about what a great 'Fish the First One was, putting something in a casket and covering it with a bunch of dirt.

Actually, the Brown representative suggested that last bit.

"Why dirt?"

"'Cos Aye loikes dirt!"

"Yew would."

The discussion went on for seconds, and after what seemed like minutes, they finally came to a conclusion.

Drag racing. Everyone could be happy with that.

*VROOOOOOOOOOM!* Protongan, mounted atop a hedgehog, representing Yellow, whipped past Klein Bottle, who was mounted on a Woodchuck and representing Black. "Eat moie dust!"

Flanburger, on a large pirate-ship with oars, representing Green and Coca-Cola, scooted by Protongan, blowing a strawberry in his general direction. "Let's be festive, 'ere! 'Abberjug! Willywug! Row fasta'!"

"Oye-Oye!" saluted the pair of grey seals, making sure to demonstrate fully their scarves with 'Coca-Cola' written on them and to sip a couple bottles of their sponsoring product while doing so.

*Siiip*Aaaaah!* Habberjug and Willywug demonstrated their joy.

"Shameless promotionaries," grumbled Bloke, representing Red, and rocketed past them on a pressurized lava-bomb, jets of hot toxic gas spewing out the back of it.

"Sez yew," pridefully laughed Tee-Boggins, representing Purple, as he floated by Bloke on a magic carpet. He placed his flippers on his cone-shaped wizard’s hat and concentrated, ever-increasing the carpet's velocity.

"And so it iz," remarked Carob in a cute, high-pitched voice from the announcer stand, having been denied participation in the race because she was representing Pink. She adjusted the red bow tied around her neck and fluffed her furry cheeks. "We 'ave a noice race! Tee-Boggins moves up into the lead! But wait, 'ere comes Kloine Bottle!"

The Black ArbyFish in the bleachers cheered, raising a toast with their Klein bottles in appreciation.

"Who made that AbryFish announcer?" growled Marshall, lugging behind on a slow, levitating cursed knife. He represented White, and was all too happy to show off the annoyance that his colleagues were content to hide for the moment. "Inferior species!"

"Oooh, looky!" Carob announced, grabbing close the microphone. "Marshall's pickin' up speed! He'z boypassed Protongan and's goin' roight for Flanburger!"

"DIIIIIIE!!!" Marshall's war-cry rang throughout the track.

*VRR-CLUNK-CLUNK-CLUNK-CLUNK!*

"N' it's Skoywalka', comin' up front!"

'Clobbins, a Purple ArbyFish on security, looked at the non-ArbyFish in a supersonic pod-chariot on the racetrack. He pulled out a walkie-talkie. "'Ey! We've got an interloper!"

*Whoosh*JRRRR!*BLAM!* A dozen Purple ArbyFish nodded and pulled out a few Mark III Phaser Rifles, aiming, firing, and vaporizing poor young Anakin.

*Crash!* Freud, the Blue representative, smashed through the racing-pod's wreckage atop a floating humpback whale, rowing along with a pair of long polo-mallets. "Hey, this is fun!"

*Poof!* Freud promptly puffed out of existence in a cloud of blue smoke, his thirty minutes up.

*Bweeooooo?* The whale was looking very confused, wagging a flipper in an attempt to swim.

Carob was getting really exited. "Tee-Boggins'z got up ta lap four, leavin' 'em all behoind!"

"Well," said Flanburger, pulling out a banjo, "we mustn't let our sponsor down, shall we?"

Habberjug and Willywug saluted. "No, SAH!"

Flanburger cleared his heart, began playing, and sang:

o/Oh, Oye sailed a-many ships, Oye did,
But most were green, you see!
A-and if you took just ooone of them,
You would see no frumjious point— Ya know!\o

"Wowie!" Carob smiled, bobbing up and down. "Flanburger’s using a Special Move: Marshal Auts Opera!"

o/Oye have some mould to give,
Mo-ie crew if they would live! La-la-la!\o

Habberjug and Willywug sang along, rowing with more power.

o/He has some mold to give,
Hi-is crew if he would live! La-la-la!\o

The brave ship and crew creaked on by Klein Bottle.

o/Oye will play it to the be-eest!\o

Protongan's hedgehog was caught in the craft's wake, smashing into and sticking to the bow.

o/He will hit us with his frumjious pil-low!\o

Carob waved around a Green handkerchief. "Oh, go, Flanburger!"

o/We will do it 'cause Arby says so—\o

"'Ey!" Bloke wasn't too happy about getting knocked around by someone's boat, so he kicked up the thrust a bit, the little rock starting to glow a deeper red. "'Smore loike it!"

o/We will have some mould—\o

The race became deadlocked, with Tee-Boggins, Bloke, and Flanburger head-to-head.

Flanburger and his rowers sang together, determined to win honor in battle for their kind sponsor.

o/And Fungus, too,
'Till the Race is won!\o

They all passed the finish line at the same time and deployed their parachutes, rapidly slowing down.

"And it's a toie!" Carob cheered, then paused at 'Clobbins' shaking head. "No, wait! It's a photo-finish!"

A big screen 127' television set popped out of the ground by the track, showing who was actually in front.

"And the winner is," Carob blinked, "Protongan?!"

Protongan wrenched his hedgehog out of the ship's hull, then raised a flipper together with his mount's claw. "FEEL OUR POWER!!!"

The Yellow ArbyFish in the bleachers cheered, holding up and waving around foam rubber #1 Extend-O-Flippers™.

Flanburger frowned. "Hey! Oyme not supposed to lose!"

Habberjug and Willywug weren't that happy either. "Roight! We sung our special song and everything!" They examined their contracts. "But hey! We still get paid if we place fourth or betta'!" The two high-fived each other. "YEAAAAH!"

"Grrrr," Bloke growled as his bomb scooted to a halt, looking like he wanted to punch someone in the nose.

"Oye lost," Flanburger was still miffed.

"I meant to lose," Tee-Boggins said, calmly counting a thick stack of bills.

"Took a bribe, huh?" Marshall asked.

Tee-Boggins only chuckled.

"Oh," Carob hopped off the stand and onto Flanburger's ship, "Oye’m so sorry!" She reached up to touch his face, but her flipper was smacked away.

"Eeew, don't touch me with your Pinkness! Yech."

Carob's little-big eyes watered. "But…"

Anyway, they went on with the second stage of the funeral ceremony, which, after the traditional Drag-racing Memorial Bout, was, they decided, Three-Legged Cotton-Picking!

Teams of three were lashed together at their tails and had to cooperate, bouncing around in circles until a three-legged piece of cotton walked into grasping range, whereupon the three involved had to 'fishpile on it and weave it into a green sweater, dying it from a chemical in the local grass.

Marshall won this one. He was a bit slow on the pickup, but he could weave a sweater faster than anyone else.

Flanburger won second place. He came up with a scarf.

Carob tried to comfort him again.

Tee-Boggins was seen stuffing even more cash into the folds of his purple magician's robe.

The third event was the Great Traditional Cook-off, Clogdance and Cranberry-Juice-Drink-off Memorial Competition.

A few of the more famous 'Fish were paired off, each stuffed waist-deep into a medium-sized wooden clog, and Polka music was played in gigantic speakers while the members of each team locked flippers, pranced around in a circle in front of a barbeque pit, and drinking regularly from a magic always-full jug of cranberry juice that was tied to their left flippers.

The goal was to burn a pork-roast in the most stylish way possible while extra points were awarded for the time spent drinking from the jug.

Klein Bottle was the victor alongside Pigwallow, a Brown ArbyFish. In second were Tee-Boggins and Ashfrenzy, a Violet ArbyFish. By the trim of his fur, Flanburger placed third jointly with Bloke. Black ArbyFish are most excellent when it came to downing fine liquids, and lucky for Bloke, Green ArbyFish can figure out a way to cope with just about any sort of personality. Red ArbyFish despise clog dancing and anything that might contain water, and was therefore being very uncooperative during the competition. Bloke was pretty fast at burning the pork roast, though.

Carob kept empathizing with Flanburger, much to his disdain.

The fourth game was simple and straightforward: Whack the Foozle.

Each 'Fish participating was issued a croquet mallet and they had to run around a gopher-field, waiting for a depressed white harp seal, with a dunce cap that had 'Foozle' written on it, to poke his head out of a hole so they could knock 'em on the noggin. First one to whack the Foozle wins.

"Oh dear," the white seal droned, poking its head out a gopher hole, then popped back down again.

"Quick! Get 'em!" Ashfrenzy shouted, diving after the Foozle.

The entire field was a scene of confusion, 'Fish against 'Fish, all fighting to get in close enough to whack their Foozle.

In the end, Flanburger won this one. He'd discarded his mallet for a Heavy Blunt Object™ he'd recently inherited and gave the seal a nice thwap on the head, knocking it down.

"Thank you," the seal looked grateful, not entirely unlike terminal patients who ask the plug to be pulled on them.

Medals were then awarded for skill, technique, style, and overall standing.

"'N the winner is," the Foozle muttered in a very depressed voice from beneath a bench, "Flanburger. Thank you ever so much."

The numerous throngs of Green 'Fish cheered and carried Flanburger along like a big hero.

Carob followed close behind, wanting to congratulate him personally.

Then, after all that, a special 'Shroom day was held, out of place, as a sort of holiday in the First One's honor.

A carved marble monument was raised on this particular 'Shroom Day, as was the custom, and a plaque was placed at the tail of it. The carving was of the deceased individual, with a pious expression on the eighty-meter-tall statue. The plaque read, in broken letters and dialect markers: [In Memr'y of our 'Eritage. We wuz prit'y good. Wuzn't we?]

Everyone dusted their flippers off and declared it a job well done, then went on to pursue their normal, everyday tasks, forgetting all about it and the First One.

"Whelp, that does it, lads! It's over. Let's go."

"Alroight."

"Flanburger! Can Oye invoite you to a box of chocolates?"

"'Ow many toimes do Oye 'ave ta tell you: Oye do not associate with those of your koind, Carob."

"But Oye’ve got truffles!"

"Oh, that's different, then. Let's go."

Except one.

A single caped white individual remained to study the image.

"Why did You have to die?" pondered he, voice cracking and a flipper raised to touch the warm marble. "You were the First One." He pounded in anguish against the pedestal, as if doing so could change what had happened. "The First One!"

The White ArbyFish lowered and shook his head in somber meditation, almost grieving.

Almost.

Bruce rubbed his flippers together. "I must discover why He would choose to die. For what; for whom?" He glanced around, all shifty-eyed and stuff.


Getting ready for a trip to the mall with friends to look for clothes can be an involved process or a simple one, depending on whom you're going with. Considering that Jadeite was going with Raye and Serena, it was going to be a painful one.

Raye grabbed Jadeite, stripped her down, and dumped her in the bath for a few minutes. She then went through her wardrobe, trying to find something that would fit the smaller girl, and finally stumbled upon it: a frilly pink party-dress with lots of red ribbons and white lace from when she was twelve. The skirt was just above knee-length and it had a little white poodle on the side.

"Wow! That'll be PERFECT for her!" exclaimed Serena. She looked at Raye. "What was it from? A special get-together?"

"Yeah," Raye said, "it was really fun," she reminisced, blushing slightly. There had been handsome dancers, decorations, and rock n' roll music. But for the life of her, she couldn't remember WHY she had the party. It wasn't her birthday, or anything like that, and it was just a couple years ago… Was she twelve or thirteen? Oh, it didn't matter.

Jadeite finished her bath and scrambled out, wearing a towel and suffering from a major headache. She freaked out when she saw the dress.

"GAAAAH! ANYTHING BUT THAT!!!" squealed the young blonde, huddling backward against the wall in the corner.

"I know it's a little fancy just to go out to the mall," Raye said, thinking it over, "but it's the only thing I have that will fit you. Everything else is just too big for someone like you. Plus, all the spare robes are at the dry-cleaners. I hope you don't mind." She did, after all, want to leave a good impression.

"But you'll look great in it!" insisted Serena.

Jadeite felt her skin crawl. She could go along with it and pretend to like it, which would go a long way toward maintaining her low profile, but there were some things that even she could not talk herself into tolerating.

"I'M NOT WEARING THAT, MAAAN!" Pant, pant.

"Awww, come on, Jade!"

"No, no, a million times NO!"

There was some strange force in the universe that made one fear what other people would think, even if that person in question actually did not care one whit about it. "It's embarrassing," is the common way of describing it, for those that cannot trace the true source of the feeling. It essentially causes a general uneasiness and a 'shrinking' feeling just above the diaphragm, among other things. This was, in fact, exactly the sort of thing Jadeite was feeling at the moment.

"Awww, come on," Serena looked at her with THOSE eyes. "Pleeeeaaaase?"

Jadeite was startled when found herself slipping on the whole outfit, starting from the beginning and ending with the tights and lacing-up the ballet-like slippers. She felt the horrible uneasiness grow so powerful that it started to strangle her. As if dumped into the Arctic Ocean, her breathing waxed even more rapid and shallow, the vacuum below her heart becoming unbearable.

Almost there, she could almost hear a faint voice say. Let's let them know how much you appreciate their efforts.

The girl almost felt like it wasn't HER who stood up, smiled, curtsied, and twirled around to give the other two girls a good look at how she wore the dress. "Tee-hee!"

"It looks perfect!" acclaimed Serena. While Jadeite had been bathing, she had switched from her school sweat suit into a casual sweater and slightly-more-than-knee-length skirt.

Raye opted to just stay in her robe, thank you very much. She had to be ready for further youma possession battles.

Jadeite momentarily developed a slight preoccupation concerning Serena's outfit, thinking that maybe, just maybe, they had been hiding the fact that Raye had other, less embarrassing things to wear available to her. Perhaps it had been a trick to get her into the dress. But, it was a little too late to worry about that, now, wasn't it?

"Alright, let's go!" Serena said excitedly, taking Jadeite by the wrist and pulling her out the door.

"G'bye! Have fun!" Grandpa Hino waved as they left. "Don't spend it all at one place!" He saw how cute Jadeite looked in Raye's old dress as she went by. His eyes went wide and he whistled in appreciation. "Heeey, nice outfit!"

Jadeite glared daggers back at him. She was so miffed that she could barely speak while her two female companions quickly boarded the bus and rode it over to the best and most expensive shopping center in this part of town.

And then, they shopped.

They shopped for clothes all over the place at a phenomenal rate, and Jadeite could barely keep up. There was some sort of unstoppable POWER that radiated from Raye and Serena; something that the ex-general didn't comprehend, and perhaps never would.

For example, there was the visit to a Western Outlet where they all tried on the cowboy hats and a couple leather articles. Jadeite found herself being dragged around the store, mesmerized by the whole experience, going through just about everything from hats to boots to vests to belts, and when it was all said and done, Jadeite selected a pair of boots, a belt, and a vest that she actually sort of liked. Raye and Serena vetoed the selection, laughing at her and saying that it looked silly.

The cute blonde was pouting-mad. "I'm wearing this and you call these silly?!"

"Well, it doesn't match your eyes," Serena noted.

"My eyes?"

"Yeah, it just doesn't look right," agreed Raye.

Jadeite just wasn't getting the hang of this 'fashion' nonsense. Oh, certainly, she knew the proper and fashionable way to dress for a twenty to thirty year old male— actually, she had gotten it down to a science, including a daring foray into the world of pierced ears and earrings— but this was too much for even her to handle right now!

Maybe if she hadn't just gotten attacked by someone trying to possess her body, she might have been able to handle it. She could have had the mental strength to just take it as it went; to grin and bear it. Might have. Could have. Would have had. Oh well, there's no point in complaining about the past; it is done. Onward, then.

The ex-general was hauled through a Sears invasion, and when they were done with that, they rampaged through JC Pennys like a whirlwind in Kansas City. They went just about everywhere; Jadeite barely managed to talk them out of a Victoria's Secret visit, using the excuse that, "No! We're… too young for that!"

Even so, a couple of times, Jadeite found a few things that actually made her admit that looked GOOD on her, and with Grandpa Hino's copious amounts of money, BOUGHT them. She was disgusted with herself. How could she succumb to such a thing?!

Fortunately, the purchase of a simple, cute near-ankle-length white dress with green trim allowed the ex-general to finally change out of the pink party ensemble. The pressure on her diaphragm dropped slightly and she could breathe a little more easily.

"Hmmm," Serena looked the shorter girl over thoughtfully, "that's good, but now you're going to need new socks and shoes with that. The tights don't go with it either."

"And," Rei added, "you'd look a lot better with one of these." She tied a big, puffy white bow into Jadeite's hair, making a short blonde ponytail. "Hmmm, you DO look a lot better with a ponytail."

Serena hovered over and examined Raye's handiwork. "I liked her better without a ponytail." She pulled the bow off. "She doesn't need it."

"I think she DOES." Raye tied it back on.

"No, she doesn't!" Off.

"Yes, she does!!!" On.

"Doesn't!" Off.

"Does!" On.

"Doesn't!!!" Off.

"Does!!!" On.

This went on for a minute.

"Does too!" On.

"Does not, meatball-head!" Off.

"…Hey!" On.

"Oooooh, Raaaayeeee!"

Jadeite started hyperventilating again while the pair above her yanked her around by the hair, blowing screaming raspberries at each other. Finally the two turned their backs, arms folded and glaring daggers at one another.

"Well," the subject of the style issue thought it over, trying to diffuse the situation because maybe she didn't want her head torn off right now, "maybe it's just a matter of opinion…"

Serena and Raye thought it over, laughed, shook both hands, and made up. "Yeah, you're right. Let's go get Jade's shoes."

They began to walk, and Serena couldn't help but ask, "But, which do you like better, Jade? With or without the bow?"

Oh, the bow, definitely, a voice inside Jadeite's head said. "The bow," she said without thinking, then gasped and snapped her hands over her mouth.

Raye looked smug. "Toldya so, meatball-head."

Serena glared sideways at her. "Raaaaye…"

"When will this end?" despaired Jadeite to herself as she got dragged to another store to find some new shoes. Somewhere along the way, the bow got tied back into her hair. It made her feel a little more uncomfortable.

There was a fight over which shoes she would get, as well. Finally, she blew the whistle and settled on a pair of sneakers.

"Sneakers with that dress?" pondered Serena.

Jadeite nodded slowly.

Raye shrugged. "Okay. If you really want them…" She shelled out the cash to buy them, and then they went out for ice cream.

Surely the mental attack had weakened her somehow, yes, that had to be it. But whom did it come from? She still couldn't trace the origin: It couldn't have been Beryl; it had felt like it had come from directly inside her own skull! No one had inserted anything; it was just THERE.

Jadeite thought this over while taking another lick of her vanilla ice cream cone.

"So, how's the vanilla?" asked Raye.

"Bland, like your personality," the blonde quipped back.

Raye frowned.

"How do you like your new dress?" Serena inquired.

"It's," Jadeite closed her eyes, concerned, pointedly examining her skirt's fabric with her fingers, "I like it a lot," she replied and added to herself, "A lot better than the last one!"

Raye and Serena flashed a thumbs-up at each other, pleased at the results and glad to have a new friend.

Melvin ran by the ice cream shop, waving his arms and shouting frantically, "Fifty percent off sale at the Manga store! Hey, Serena! There's fifty percent off in the Manga store!"

"Fifty percent off!?" Raye and Serena jumped up and ran off. They glanced behind. "Come on, Jade!" Then, they continued out of view.

"I despise this," Jadeite half-growled, looking down at her ice cream. "Ice cream. It's always that DARNED ice cream. I hate this. It'd be a shame to waste it, though." She finished off her cone and tossed the leftover white napkin into a nearby wastebasket.

A waste, wastebasket, so much wasted effort, she thought. So much wasted energy. Why run off in pursuit of such infantile concerns? Bah, she remembered when she was in the service of Queen Beryl, gathering energy so easily from these humans. They were all sooooo pathetic. Why, if she were still doing that, she could…

"Wait," the girl paused, "this is too perfect." She smiled malevolently. "So many children running around, spending their energy, trying on clothes and eating ice cream. It could be taken so easily here…"

Could she do it in her present state? Yes. She had the power, and would have even more once she had taken it from her 'friends'. She laughed quietly. It could work.

Now to find them.

*Beep-beep* Jadeite heard a small alarm go off inside her head, and then a voice came.

Heh. Time to put you out of your misery.

What was that?!

*BZZZR* Much to her shock, Jadeite found that she couldn't move. A magical spark ran its way around every inch of her body, causing a sort of pain, and then a warmth, and then…

It tickled.

The girl found herself giggling despite all efforts to suppress it. She could feel another energy build up within her. No, it wasn't just building up— It was like a dam ready to burst; a lit powder keg! How could so much power be inside her without her knowing about it?! It was beyond anything she'd ever experienced!!!

The energy was very near to something else—It was the curse that she'd been placed under! She'd found it! But if it's there, when the power-rush breaks, it could get wedged in; damaged and impossible to control!

Whoever was doing this obviously did not care or know at all about what was going to happen to her! It was—!

Suddenly, the dam broke.

The keg exploded.

"Tee-hee-hee-hee-HEE-HEEEE-HEEEEE-HEEEEEEEEEEE!!!"

A Pink Power coursed through the blonde's veins, wiping through her mind like a great electromagnet scraping its way across a treasured and irreplaceable hard disk. And there were no backups.

How does it feel not to have control over your own body?

W-WHO ARE YOU?!

Hiya, Vinnie. It's your Uncle Bingo. Time to pay the check!

Jadeite's small body was not enough to contain this surge, and the magical form had to make changes to adapt. Her height shot up by nearly a foot, her dress straining slightly against its now-larger occupant.

Patrons of the ice cream shop later bore record that they saw a cute fourteen-year-old turn into a stunning twenty-four-year-old, whose ample figure dared not be hidden by the tight white dress she was wearing.

DO YOU REALIZE WHAT YOU'VE DONE?!

Sit back and Vhatch, 'Miss Jade'. I belieFF juu vHill findT vhhat ghhhhappens next most amusinCK.

Jadeite put a hand to her mouth and let out a darling laugh that caused several deprived men, including the ice cream man, to faint. Levitating several inches above the ground, she floated quickly outside, and rose into the air, passing two floors, finding a rented suite where some high-ranking government official from another country was having his birthday party.

The magically enhanced beauty lifted a hand, causing the dual doors to swing open, and she strode on in.

NO!!!

You cannot stop me now. I'm afraid your fate is quite sealed, my old friend; yes?

Dozens of internationally renowned bureaucrats halted their breathing when they saw Jadeite enter. She walked on in towards the guest of honor through the middle of the room on a red laid-out carpet. None dared speak.

The government official, whom we shall call for the sake of causing arguments, Bill, looked a little confused at the woman's entrance. The secret servicemen in suits at his sides stood ready, but at a glance from Jadeite, they backed down.

The woman's eyes had a hint of a glow to them when she opened her mouth and began to speak. "Happy birthday to you," she whispered in a full, rich, overpoweringly sensuous voice.

Bill's party hat slumped forward, bouncing off his nose and settling to hang around his neck.

Jadeite took a deep breath, her red lips puckering slightly before she repeated, "Happy birthday to you."

Aged senators went to their knees, clutching at their strongly beating hearts, which threatened to stop at any given second from the strain.

The visitor reached toward Bill, caressing the back of her hand against his cheek. She edged toward him to seat herself on his left leg, her right arm wrapping its way around his shoulder. "Happy birthday, Mister President," she whispered, kicking one leg into the air, thwacking away one overcurious and drooling secret serviceman. She then planted a great, big, thirty-second smooch on Bill's cheek.

There was a great silence until the kiss ended.

Jadeite drew back slightly and ran a finger from Bill's forehead down, passing his nose, lips, and resting on his chin. "Happy birthday to you." She stood back up, looking right into Bill's eyes. She puckered up again, and blew a soft stream of white magical dust into the President's face.

Bill fell off the side of his seat and slumped to the floor, his face a mask of awe and wonder.

Having accomplished that, Jadeite stood up straight and spun around once, cupping her hand horizontally in front of her mouth and blowing the same fine mist she did before until it settled around the entire suite.

All present stared on, spellbound.

The air-conditioning suddenly kicked up to several times its normal power, creating a wind that rushed from above to below, creating an upward scooping effect when it went at an angle to the floor.

Jadeite smiled and closed her eyes, using one hand in front and the other in back to hold down the light fabrics of her skirt. Step by step, she made her way out and closed the door.

Those present at the party slowly regained their ability to move and think.

The President sat up on the floor and glanced sideways at his shocked and horrified wife. "Aww, Hilary, it happened again!"

Outside, Jadeite stood against the wall, her breathing very controlled.

Hurts, don't it? Guardian Jadeite whispered mentally.

YOU— the General was unable to complete the thought.

You ain't seen nothin' yet.

WHAT— WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!

The woman closed her eyes, pursed her lips, and held her arms at her sides. "Getting rid of you," she said through closed teeth.

Jadeite underwent another state of energy flux, a great battle raging on inside of her. A large part of her power expended, the girl decreased in size, apparent age going down. Her figure lessened, lips thinned, legs shortened. Gone was most of the excessive magically enhanced beauty, having transformed into something of a slightly different nature.

Momentarily obtaining an amount of control and feeling, she noticed that her dress fit much better now, and still flattered her young appearance. Looking into a nearby mirrored glass wall, she estimated her age somewhere around sixteen years.

Jadeite's mouth fell open. URGH! WHAT'S HAPPENING TO ME?!

Why, you're growing young, 'Jade'. Having a second childhood in your old age.

The Guardian regained control and, aided by some power greater than her own, she marched across the hallway. She raised her hand toward another suite in use.

The large door creaked open, where a few World War II soldiers, German and British were facing off in a head-to-head showdown, with real bullets in their guns, hiding behind overturned tables, but they stopped when they saw the girl that entered.

Jadeite strode into their midst, and looked to the British troops, who took off their caps and stood at attention.

The Germans stood and went for their guns, but backed down when Jadeite looked at them, smiled, and batted her eyelashes.

It was a tense moment for all present.

Then, Jadeite proffered her hand to a young German soldier, inviting him to come closer. The soldier edged closer and took her hand. In a rush of magical power, he suddenly learned English. Flustered, he began to sing.

o/You wait, little girl, on an empty stage,
For fate will turn the light on!\o

o/Light on!\o echoed Jadeite in a melodious singing voice.

o/Your life little girl is an empty page,
That men will want to write on.\o

o/Write on,\o trilled back the girl. She leaned in close to his ear and whispered, "Just pretend I'm sixteen."

The soldier took a surprised breath, eyes filled with magic dust, and nodded. He took up a lead dancing position.

o/You are sixteen going on seventeen
Baby, it's time to think!\o

The soldier began to swing-dance with the girl, twirling her around once. Jadeite waved a hand toward the rest of the commando groups, sparkles flowing through the air at them.

A German's expression went blank, then he took out a violin and started playing, accompanied by an Englishman on a flute.

o/Better beware, be canny and careful
Baby, you're on the brink!\o
continued the dancing soldier.

Jadeite danced along with him, actually looking like she was enjoying it. The young man continued singing.

o/You are sixteen going on seventeen,
Fellows will fall in line,
Eager young lads and rogues and cads,
Will offer you food and wine!\o

Four other soldiers held up offerings of meat and drink. Jadeite danced close and took an olive on a toothpick.

o/Totally unprepared are you to face a world of men:
Timid and shy and scared are you,
Of things beyond your ken,
You need someone older and wiser telling you what to do!\o

The soldier sighed.

o/I'm seventeen going on eighteen;
I'll take care of you!\o

Jadeite smiled when the handsome German lieutenant finished and picked up her line.

o/I am sixteen going on seventeen,
I know that I'm naive,\o

The blonde put an air-headed finger to her cheek.

o/Fellows I meet may tell me I'm sweet,
And willingly I believe.\o

The girl giggled before continuing, making a lasting impression on all the minds present, especially one certain ex-general, who was screaming in agony and rage inside her own head.

o/I am sixteen going on seventeen,
Innocent as a rose;
Bachelor dandies, drinkers of brandies—
What do I know of those?\o

Jadeite crossed her arms in front of her and blinked in the most guiltless way possible, then continued her dance with the German soldier.

o/Totally unprepared am I to face a world of men
Timid and shy and scared am I,
Of things beyond my ken;
I need someone older and wiser telling me what to do.\o

The girl put a hand to her mouth and giggled emptily.

Inside her, there was a screaming youma-general feeling his mind slowly being destroyed.

o/You are seventeen going on eighteen,
I'll depend on you!\o

Jadeite finished and took a bow. She put her arm around her dance-partner gave him a kiss on the cheek.

Both the British and German troops sniffed, joyful tears in their eyes. They waved goodbye at their visitor as she walked out.

"Sorry about the war thing, old chap," an Englishman said to the Germans.

"Well, it was sort of our fault, I suppose," a German replied, laughing nervously.

The two warring nations gave each other a big, squishy hug.

Jadeite left and closed the doors behind her. She took a breath, smiled, and clapped her hands together with the satisfaction of a job well done.

So, how does it feel, monster?

RRRRH! I CAN STOP YOU!

Don't try to fight it; it'll just get worse for you.

I WILL DESTROY YOU! RRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAGGGGHH!

"Grrrr," the dual-personality girl struggled for who was to be in control. Lightning whipped around her and she shrunk down even more; when the effect subsided, the general was in control only long enough to gasp at the sight and feeling of having the body of a six-year-old, then the guardian regained control. Her dress was clearly oversized, but if one did not look closely, it could pass for a thick, long party dress.

However, it would need modifications.

Calmly, and humming a sweet Silver Millennium tune often sung by small children in her day, Guardian Jadeite under-folded the long skirt and tied it up with clever use of her belt. She also adjusted the upper parts of her dress, tucking it in places so it didn't look so oversized. She took off her hair-ribbon, tore it in half, and tied it around her shoes to scrunch 'em down, hide their size, help them not fall off, and make 'em look cuter.

You're no match for me; I'm sorry. I'm too cool.

CURSE YOUUUUUU!

*ZRRRR* There was another brief power-struggle.

Hah. Beat you.

WHO ARE YOU?!

Your worst nightmare come back to haunt you.

Jadeite laughed as she gleefully skipped along the mall's aisles and walkways, finding her way to a large sound stage, where a fierce pirate-movie was being filmed. "La-la-la, la la lala!"

With a wave of her hand and lots of magic sparkly things, she made the security guards fall asleep. She continued on stage.

Ah, a theatre! This place has everything!

The cutthroats from the movie glared at her with their mean looks and their eye-patches.

"ARRRR! What be doing this wenchling here, me maties?!" the captain queried.

"Dunno, Cap'n!" the scalawags shouted in reply.

"Catch 'er 'n bring ‘er ta me!"

The pirates leapt off their places in the rigging and the side of the boat and grabbed the girl. She let out no scream and showed no fear when she was picked up. "Got 'er Cap'n!"

The captain hobbled over on his peg leg and lifted up the girl's head with the side of his hook-hand. "What be ye doing here, wenchling?"

"Oh, thtop it, Mythter Myan!" the six-year-old replied with a lisp, waving limp-wristedly at him and looking away.

"Oooh, she's a pretty one," the actor playing the captain teased. The take had been messed up by the entrance of this child, but he didn't believe in being mean to kids, and the director hadn't yelled 'cut' yet, so he decided that he might as well stay in character and have some fun while he was at it. "What say ye, men? Do we take 'er on as the cook, or do we make 'er walk the PLANK?! ARRR!"

"AYE-AYE!"

Jadeite giggled. "What's this ship named?"

"This be The Wraith Scallion, wenchling!"

"Ooooh. How about we change the name?"

"ARRR?! To what think ye we would change it, me pretty?"

"How about Lollypop?" suggested the little girl.

"Loller-pop?" considered the captain, stroking his short beard with his hook. "Why would we be doin' some-thin' crazy like that? What would the other pirates say— ARRR!"

"Hmmm," thought the CUTE little blonde, big-eyed girl. She hopped out of the pirates' grasp and stood at the helm. "They'd just say something like—" She started swaying from one side to another, following an un-played beat, and sang:

o/On the good ship Lollipop,
It's a sweet trip,
To a candy shop,
Where bonbons play,
On the sunny beach of Peppermint Bay!\o

The pirates were impressed; it was such a classic and catchy tune. It would be a shame to ruin it.

It also helped that they were all closet Shirley Temple fans.

They formed lines on either side of their visitor and moved along to the tune.

Jadeite danced her way in this manner toward the upper level of the pirate ship.

The director motioned for the cameraman to follow the girl, entranced by the performance.

o/Lemonade stands everywhere,
Cracker Jack bands fill the air,
And there you are,
Happy landings on a chocolate bar!\o

Jadeite slid down the railing from above to below, to be caught by the captain when she reached the bottom.

The pirate twirled the girl around once with cinematic flair, then placed her on the deck in front of him, where she continued:

o/On the good ship Lollipop,
It's a sweet trip,
To a candy shop,
Where bonbons play,
On the sunny beach of Peppermint Bay.\o

The pirates circled in closer, trying their best to look really happy. It was an interesting sight, what with their knocked-out teeth and their eye-patches.

Jadeite twirled around and went to her knees, facing the camera.

o/Eating sugar bowl,
with a Tootsie Roll,
And a big, fat jelly fruitcake.
If you eat too much…\o

Everyone kneeled in close with the girl to listen to her whisper.

o/Oh! Oh! You'll awake with a tummy-ache!\o

"Har-har!" The pirates liked that one. They picked up Jadeite and started tossing her around to one another while she sang, not missing a beat.

o/On the good ship Lollipop,
It's a sweet trip,
Into bed you'll hop,
And dream away,
On the good ship Lollipop!\o

Jadeite landed in front in a cute pose, while the pirates stood around her, looking proud.

"Aye," said the captain, "we'll be changin' the ship's name, then."

"Cut! That was perfect!" called the director. "Just the scene I need to finish this movie!!!"

"Arr! But what about the copyright infringement, sir?"

"Copyrights be darned! We're in Japan, keep in mind!"

Jadeite smiled, politely laughed with a hand over her mouth, curtsied like a good little girl, and strode out, a fairy-dust effect trailing behind her.

She passed by the black curtains, left through the doors, and shut them behind her. The guardian could feel that the general had been severely weakened by the last activity. Unfortunately, a lot of her power had been used up in the process. But, for now, she could take a breather. This wasn't easy.

Don't you just love being forced to do horrible things contrary to your nature?

I… HATE… YOU!!!!!

You're on your way to knowing how I feel about you.

WHAT YOU FEEL DOESN'T MATTER!!!

Oh yes, it does, and you will know it. You will know it all.

GRRRRRRRRRR!!!

"GRRR," Jadeite collapsed on the floor, grimacing as another full-blown power-struggle wracked her body. A blue shock whipped through her, and she began to grow a little. Her height went up a little, and her dress slipped around to better fit its now-larger occupant.

She stood, a malevolent gleam in her eye.

I AM VICTORIOUS!

Oooh. Eight years old. Some power-rush.

I WILL DESTROY YOU SOON, WHOEVER YOU ARE, AND RESTORE MYSELF TO MY PROPER FORM. THANK YOU FOR LOCATING THE CURSE FOR ME.

Curse? Oh, that. It won't matter in a couple minutes, since it's in my way.

IN YOUR WAY?

Remember last time?

DON'T BOTHER ME WITH YOUR INCESSANT PRATTLE, INVADER!

That was only pulse number one.

…WHAT?!

*Chk-CHK!* There was an audible cocking sound in the girl's mind. The ex-general discovered that she couldn't move.

I'll give you ten minutes to run or block what I'm doing. See if you can. Then I'm firing pulse number two. Just so you know, at the end of pulse number three, I think you'll be pretty well gone, hmmm.

YOU EXPECT ME TO GIVE UP?!

No, 'Miss Jade'. I expect you to DIE. Mwaha ha ha.

The voice faded into obscurity and General Jadeite's face smacked into the floor, once more finding herself in control. She looked down at herself, then scanned her surroundings, eyes wide in fright. She snatched a teddy bear from a nearby shelf and began running away as fast as she could, screaming at the top of her lungs.

After a couple minutes of this, she recalled that there were two people who could possibly help her: Raye, or 'Tim. She had to find one of them immediately!

 


Continued in Part 10-2D

Part 10-2D
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