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 8: Plotting, Meditation, Torture, and Knitting?
It was a typical day in the Dark Kingdom.
"JADEITE NO BAKA!"
With a wham from her giant staff, Queen Beryl sent her loyal First General flying over the horizon.
"Aiyah!" cried Zoicite in a cutesy Chinese voice. "Crazy queen-lady hurt Airen!" He jumped on a slim motorbike and sped off in the direction of Jadeite's flight, ringing the little bell on it as he went.
"Uncute tomboy!" Nephrite berated his leader. "Yer always hittin' on us for things we ain't doin'!"
"You don't care about me!" sniffled the tall woman. "I want to rule the solar system and you can't beat up a few obnoxious little girls for me! Waaaah!"
Kunzite, wearing a pair of extremely thick glasses, came in riding a unicycle and poured Beryl a cup of tea. "Beryl-sama! Will you finally accept my love and become my bride?"
The queen suddenly became all forlorn and dewy-eyed. "I will if you kill off all the little Sailor girls for me."
"Yes, my love!" replied the Fourth General, and unicycled off into the darkness.
Behind her throne, the gigantic force known as Metallia flowed around and glared at Beryl with a huge demon face. "BERYL, WHY AREN'T YOU GATHERING ENERGY FOR ME?!"
The redhead folded her arms and pouted. "Well, I would have, if it wasn't for those darn kids and their cat!"
"YOUR FAILURE MEANS NOTHING TO ME," replied the monster, "AND FOR THAT YOU MUST DIE!!!"
Metallia promptly swallowed the queen in one chomp, then licked her jaws and said, "TASTES LIKE CHICKEN!"
And then Queen Beryl, ruler of the Dark Kingdom, woke up.
Beryl opened her eyes. She was slumped against the arm of her skeletal throne, apparently having dozed off after the rough evening she had. Her faced still burned from the tears of frustration she had shed over the past couple of days. Her emptied wineglass lay shattered on the stone floor where it had fallen. "Jadeite…."
Her general was the latest casualty in the cross-dimensional campaign to conquer the Earth. A month ago, she had expected to lead her forces unchallenged onto the planet and take control with barely a fight. After all, her youma armies were immune to most normal human weapons, and with sufficient numbers they could establish strongholds to cement their foothold upon the planet. But unexpected resistance came in the form of their old enemies, the Sailor Scouts — or Soldiers, as they now called themselves. Thousands of years ago, she had watched them all die at the hands of her demon goddess, but they had somehow been reborn or reorganized. This complicated things tremendously.
General Jadeite had been a master of planning. All of his plots were reviewed by the others and deemed impossible to fail, with too many contingency plans to be stopped entirely, and yet wherever he struck, the Sailor Soldiers were there to confront him. Even the first foothold they had gained upon the Earth was obliterated by them with the help of the traitor fleet commander, who must also have been reborn in this time.
Jadeite came up with the perfect plan to stop the Sailor girls once and for all, with the help of the other generals. He sought to kill them and use the energy from their souls to fully revive Metallia and open a bridge from the Dark Kingdom to Earth, and achieve victory once and for all… but it was not to be.
The little coward, Sailor Chibimoon, proved to be especially troublesome. Like a cornered rat, she fought the four generals to a standstill and weakened Jadeite enough for him to be killed by the other Sailors' attacks. Beryl had watched it happen through a scrying spell in the crystal ball atop her staff. No one should have been able to fight like Chibimoon had. The girl moved impossibly fast, but had been badly injured in the process, and should have died, but…
Queen Beryl looked at the parchment on which the attack plan had been written, then she crumpled it in her hand and threw it against the wall.
…but, the strumpet still lived.
At that moment, Zoicite walked in. His movements were slow and he only used one eye, the rest of his face, save his mouth, having been bandaged up while his terrible burns continued to heal. He came and knelt near Beryl's throne. "Your majesty."
"Zoicite," Beryl replied perfunctorily, and eyed her minion's condition. "Are you still recovering, after all this time?"
"No, my queen," the bandaged general hissed, "I am ready to go back now. It's true, isn't it, that the… child still lives?!"
"Yes," Beryl said with no small hint of malice. "I've been watching her movements, thinking of how to dispose of her."
Zoicite stood and held up a clenched fist. "Allow me to go, majesty, and I'll make her wish she'd never been born!"
"Silence," Beryl spat back. "She made all of you look like fools, and you still want to face her alone?"
"Not alone," Kunzite said as he entered from the shadows behind Zoicite. He put his hand on the other man's shoulder and motioned for him to keep quiet. "I have something ready. That sailor girl is already walking into my trap."
"Trap?" inquired the queen.
The silver-haired general nodded. "Yes, indeed." He looked into the shadows beyond Beryl. "Advisor! Would you mind explaining the plan we devised?"
There was a deep, dark and melodious masculine chuckle from beyond the edge of the light. "Not at all, you fascinating creature," the voice said. The clickety-clack of metal against metal and cloth echoed throughout the hall. "About that girl, Sailor Chibimoon. She has powers far beyond what any of us had expected. I doubt you could kill her alone, however hard you tried."
"Why wait until now to tell us?" asked Beryl.
"It wasn't so obvious before that night," explained the mysterious, dignified voice. "She did well to conceal her powers. Perhaps before she activated them, we may have stood a better chance, but now that she knows how to use them, we had best beware. She may even be touched by the one I seek, the one whom I wish to kill."
"We have to be more covert," explained Kunzite.
The Queen nodded. "A sneak attack, then, to kill her."
The dark voice let out a long, mocking peel of laughter. "Oh, no, no, no. A simple death? Tell me, would that satisfy your thirst for vengeance, General Zoicite?"
Zoicite clenched his blackened teeth. "No. Death is too good for her, for what she has done to my face!"
Kunzite grinned evilly. "What we plan to do is to capture her, brainwash her, and make her our slave for the rest of her tortured life. We've put a lot of preparation into this. We set the plan into motion before we actually fought her. We had assumed that she wouldn't join the others to fight us, but now that she has, our plan has taken on new meaning and importance."
Beryl stroked her chin. "I see. On our side, she would become a valuable weapon. But will it work?"
The voice chuckled once again. "I took care of your little 'Sailor V' problem, didn't I?" A broken crescent-shaped compact fell into the light, as well as a few shattered scraps of what had been a crystalline sword. "She and her ditzy friend are gone forever."
The ruler of the Dark Kingdom smiled slightly, her eyes twinkling. "You make a compelling argument. Very well, Advisor. What do you require to carry out this plan?"
"Nothing, darling. Nothing at all except your patience," the voice said. "Soon, I'll make your wildest dreams come true."
"Thank you, Advisor."
"Oh-ho-ho, yesss." Out of the shadows, the Advisor hopped forward. He was a small creature, pure white, vaguely cat- and seal-like. His red irises glowed in the darkness and he carried a pair of knitting needles as well as a scrap of cloth. He tossed the needles away and tied the cloth around his neck into a long, sparkling white cape, embroidered with patterns of other shades of white. "And don't worry about titles. Please, call me Bruce."
The Irish girl huffed and puffed as she dashed into the building where her interview was to be held. "I'm late," she gasped. "So late!"
After Terra left Rei's shrine and got on the bus, she discovered that she'd taken the wrong one. Its stop wasn't too far from where she needed to be, but it was far enough to make her late, even if she ran.
That slowing-down-time trick she'd figured out a few days before sure would have come in handy, but despite her efforts to engage it, the power wouldn't come. Maybe it would only work when she activated her Chibimoon powers, and transforming in the middle of the street in broad daylight probably wasn't the best idea in the world.
She arrived at the doors of the tall building about five minutes late and barely able to speak as she tried to explain to the security guard why, exactly, she needed to get in right that instant.
"Hold on there, girl," the gigantic, scary guard said. "Let's see some ID first. Show me your driver's license."
Terra sighed. "I'm fourteen! I don't have a driver's license." She dug through her Sack of Confusion and located some other forms of identification. "But I've got my passport and visa. I think my school might have a card ID system, but I didn't get one from them yet."
"Passport and visa are fine," the guard said, examining the two items. Finally, he nodded, let her in, and pointed her in the direction of the receptionist's desk.
"Excuse me," Terra said to the receptionist. "I need to see the CEO. I've got an interview," she looked at the clock, "seven minutes ago."
"I see, and what's your name?" the lady inquired, taking out a long schedule listing.
"Terra. Terra Incognita."
"Terra? Hmm… Oh!" The receptionist looked up and smiled at her. "Incognita-san, we're glad you could make it. Take the elevator up to the penthouse level and go straight in. She's waiting for you there." She pushed a button and spoke into a microphone. "Ma'am, your four o'clock is finally here."
"Thanks," Terra breathed a sigh of relief. She went over to the elevator and got straight in when it opened. Someone came out past her. She stopped when something like a shock jabbed through her mind. It was like her mind was trying to tell her something, but when she looked around, the individual had vanished.
The redhead shrugged it off and went up to the penthouse level. It took a few minutes for the elevator to get there. Dude, thought the girl, this is a totally tall building.
"But… I don't say 'dude'," Terra whispered to herself. "It wouldn't be proper! Actually, I don't know anyone that says 'dude'. Not even Arby talks like that."
"Woof-woof, tweet-tweet, give the ArbyFish a 'shroom," someone behind Terra said. She turned around and sure enough, it was Arby. He was wearing a tattered brown robe, its hood on fire, and he carried a tin cup, which he rattled. The creature looked positively gnomish and bizarre as it looked up at her from the floor.
Terra sighed. "Arby, what are you doing here? And why are you wearing—" Then she stopped. She remembered that terrible, terrible things had a nasty habit of occurring when she asked the creature questions. "Never mind! I don't want to know anything!"
Arby smiled broadly. "Nope! Too late. You gets an answer." He took out a mushroom from the tin cup, which had a nickel balanced on its top, and hopped onto the girl's shoulder.
Don't ask why he's got an American nickel in Japan, the girl coached herself. Don't ask what he's doing. I don't want to know what he's doing. I don't care what he's doing.
"Oye's givin' you a recharge!" Arby announced. He squeezed the 'shroom and squirted some mushroom juice onto the mushroom mark on the girl's neck. "It's Ritualistic!" Ritualistic was spoken like yet another expensive buzzword.
The mark hissed, burned, and glowed.
Terra let out a yelp of pain as she clutched it. Then, before she could catch Arby, he flew out the open elevator escape hatch. "Aaaarbyyyy!"
A falling mushroom nailed her in the face when she tried to climb up the wall. Then the elevator chimed. Terra wiped the mush off her nose and straightened her borrowed outfit. She had her hopes and dreams to pursue, after all. The mark on her neck was glowing strange colors, so she pulled up her collar to hide it.
The door slid open to a beautiful silken-padded paradise. Light shone down from tinted windows, illuminating what amounted to giant lava lamps and crystal decorations. In the midst of it all sat a busy-looking woman in a pants suit at a desk.
"Incognita-san," the CEO said in a melodious voice. "Please, come in and have a seat. We have much to discuss."
Terra obediently and demurely sat down in the chair across from her interviewer. She felt a bit nervous and had to place her hands firmly on her legs to keep them from shaking. She'd never been in a real job interview before.
The woman smiled reassuringly at her. "No need to worry. I'm only going to eat your soul."
Terra laughed nervously at the joke. "Um, yeah."
The CEO glared at her. "I SAID I'M GOING TO EAT YOUR SOUL, YOU TWIT!"
The girl laughed some more. She'd switched off her brain somewhere after Arby had popped up and hadn't yet found a reason to turn it back on. "Yeah, heh. Cool."
Then her mind gave her a whap upside the skull and told her, Hey, this woman here can't be the real CEO of a major modeling company. I mean, look at her, turning into a bat-winged grey creature like that. Do you call that professional behavior? Honestly, some people have no manners.
But it was too late. The youma already had Terra on the ground, choking her, strangling her, draining her energy, and being generally weird. She wasn't really worried. After all, she'd beaten four generals just the other day. Surely she could handle one youma by herself. Why, it'd be a trifling effort! She'd fight it off with one finger and then brag about it to her friends afterwards.
"Moon Prism Power, Make Up," Terra whispered. Even in the youma's enervating grasp, she transformed normally, pink miniskirt and all. "I'm Sailor Chibimoon," she said through her partially blocked windpipe. "I've fought four generals, beat them all at once, and you're next!"
Terra poked the youma with one finger. Surprisingly, the monster didn't recoil back against the other wall and shriek in agony like she had supposed it would. "Oh my." She tried again and it still didn't work. Plus, she was getting kind of drowsy at this point. "Oh, right! I remember. Chibimoon Temporal Flux Compressor!"
As much as Sailor Chibimoon attempted to grab onto the fabric of space and time, it kept slipping through her metaphysical fingers. It felt like she'd need a lot more power to try that out again. Her only other trick was to try and hit her opponent really hard.
Much to her dismay, her punch bounced ineffectively off the creature's face. What's more, the youma yanked her arm out of its joint and twisted it around rather painfully.
"Stay still," the youma hissed. "This will all be over soon! BWAHAHAHAA!"
Let's see, Terra went over in her head, what other tricks did I learn? Oh yeah, there was the psychic projection stuff. That was much easier than compressing time. And besides, a Sailor Knight Centurion with a nice, sharp sword and armor is just what the situation calls for.
"Chibimoon Psychic Projection," the girl called out in an imitation of what her friends always did to use an attack. She stuck out her hand and pointed somewhere behind the youma, then focused her will into a cohesive form like the previous time. "Sailor Knight Centurion!"
In a puff of smoke, a figure appeared where Terra had pointed. Short, squat, pale and with a horrified look on its face, it was a naked anemic midget with a broken stick falling out of its hand. What's worse, it was drooling as its eyes rolled back into its head. It collapsed, seized up, and died before the poor creature mercifully vanished in a sickly blue haze.
Chibimoon grimaced. That wasn't supposed to have happened.
Finally, Terra's body went numb, the youma let go, and it stood a ways off with its arms folded. The girl tried to move, but while she found herself perfectly conscious, she was totally paralyzed.
Not good, not good, not good! her mind frantically yelled at her. We're a sitting duck! We could get captured, killed, tortured, or whatever else the enemy's got in its mind!
"Then… mind?" Terra whispered. "Help… me out… of this…."
It was your stupid idea to come here in the first place, she chided herself. You get us out of this.
Chibimoon didn't have a chance to wonder when she'd developed a dual relationship between herself and her own mind. She was actually more concerned about the portal that opened and the bandaged-up Negamafoozle general that walked through — Zoicite, probably. She could see the blond hair sticking out of the full-head bandage. Jadeite was the only other blond general, but he'd been fried. Besides, there were other telltale signs like the not-so-bulky body and short height. Actually, remembering his face, if she'd never heard him speak, she might think he was a woman.
Gee, Terra told herself, for not thinking, my head's awfully loud.
"Quiet, you," Chibimoon whispered. She could move her eyes and head just a bit, so she looked up to Zoicite when he came to gloat over her. "Hi, Zoi," she said softly, "how's that energy-blasted face working out for you?"
YOU FOOL! Terra's mind screamed. Taunting's fine, but do it when we're not helpless!
"My face?" Zoicite said, deathly still and even-toned. "Let's see how you like it." He held out his hand and gathered a ball of yellow light into it. "Yes, let's see how your face looks when it's been totally burned off. FEEL MY PAIN, CHIBIMOON!"
Terra wasn't particularly worried about the energy blast. She'd been "killed" before and gotten away without a scratch. For all she knew, she was invincible. "Bring it on," she whispered defiantly, "you weak little complaining pansy." She feared no death; death was something that happened to other people.
"DIE!" screamed Zoicite before he unleashed the attack.
But somehow he missed. The blast crashed into the tiled floor a foot away from Terra's head, spraying dust and ceramic fragments everywhere.
Zoicite recoiled, holding his wrist and bleeding. He pulled out a small throwing knife from his forearm. He looked around. "Why?!"
"Stick to the plan," said a deep voice, "and you'll have your revenge. Patience, my pet. Patience."
Terra heard a hissing noise. She looked over and saw a snake-thingy slithering toward her from under some of the padded furniture. Her eyes went wide with horror. Try to kill her, sure. Torture her? Well, that's proper; this was a war, she was caught unpowered and off-guard, and she'd want the same advantage had their roles been reversed. But… to have sent a snake after her?
"AAAAAAAH!!!" Terra screamed, attempting to squirm out of its path, but it kept coming. She hated snakes. To make matters worse, it was some kind of alien snake with all sorts of mouth and jaw junk — toothy, spiny, yellow, and icky. It moved so quickly that the girl didn't have time to reflect on the terrible slimy cold feeling when it climbed into her mouth, burrowed through her soft palate, wrapped around her spine, and connected itself to her brain. "Oh my!"
Silly me, her mind noted before she slipped into unconsciousness. "Oh my" doesn't even begin to cover it.
"Hurry up!" Sailor Moon panted as she frantically climbed the stairs. "We might still have time!"
Just behind her, Luna and the other three Sailor Soldiers easily kept up. Mars had the note in her hand which had informed them of the trap. It was written in scrawled green, broken Gaelic, so Mercury had needed to take out her computer to translate it properly, but the message had been unmistakable. Terra was going to be captured and brainwashed at a mock interview in revenge for what she'd done to the generals last Saturday. There was no threat in the message; it was merely a statement of fact.
The message had arrived just a few minutes after the Irish girl left, wrapped around a very heavy, slimy mushroom, and thrown through a closed window in the shrine. Usagi had been so dismayed by the message that she insisted on running the whole way there, despite the fact that if they'd taken the bus or a taxi they would have been there so much sooner.
"Maybe it's a false alarm," Jupiter suggested.
"But Sailor Moon's right," Mercury said. "We shouldn't take any chances with these kinds of things. We have to check it out."
"Anyway, we're just about there," said Mars when they reached the door to the penthouse level. Jupiter kicked it hard sending the reinforced steel door tearing off its hinges and bouncing through the room beyond. The four Soldiers ran in to see General Zoicite and another one of those gnarled gray Dark Kingdom youma standing triumphantly over a fallen, unconscious Sailor Chibimoon.
"Stop right there!!!" Sailor Moon commanded, pointing at them. "Toying with a girl's idol superstar modeling dreams is… Well, that's just plain wrong! In the name of the Moon—"
"—We will punish you!"
The four miniskirted warriors for love and justice struck a great, big photogenic group pose that would have won them dozens of awards and marriage proposals at sentai series cosplay conventions.
"Oh-ho-ho-ho!" Zoicite covered his mouth and laughed. "You lose, Sailor Brats! She is already under our control." He kicked the girl. "Get up, Chibimoon, and fight off these brats for me, will you?"
Chibimoon's eyes opened, and they burned with an inner white light for a fearful instant.
Terra opened her metaphysical eyes and was suddenly mistreated to the sight of what her mind really looked like. The view was fuzzy, but she could tell things were quite messy.
"Ew," she whispered. "Luna was right. This place is messed up. And it's so blurry, too." She turned to a passing memory troglodyte. "Excuse me? I was just attacked by something nasty and I think it's doing something to my brain. What can I do?"
"Nothing," the rickety troglodyte said.
The girl blinked. "What do you mean?"
"Don't worry about it. It's in the bag."
"No, no, I don't think you understand—"
"I'm a part of us. If I don't understand, then neither do you, kid. But I got something we might like. Look at these." It held up a stack of photographs. "I've got great pictures of your boyfriend if you want 'em. Real cheap, too."
Terra covered her mouth in shock. "NAKED BEEFCAKE PICTURES OF TUXEDO KAMEN?!"
"Wow, it sure didn't take long for you to figure out what you wanted, did you? I got 'em here! In focus and everything."
Terra instantly reached for her purse, but then remembered she was in some sort of mental dreamscape. "Ooh — I mean, no, no! Bad mind! Bad!" She shook her head quickly and smacked her face a couple of times. She was a good girl and didn't go for those kinds of things. Or, at least, she thought she didn't. If she did, she was a lot more messed up than she thought. Or perhaps not, given what adolescence does to teenage minds and preferences. "What I meant to say was that we should probably try to mount some kind of defense before my mind gets taken over." She saw a color sweeping the edges of her view. It was an icky yellow, the same as the alien brain-snake. "There! Look! We're in trouble!"
The girl got roughly yanked aside and found herself face to face with… herself, albeit herself with shorter hair and a slightly older appearance. "The snake-head's trying to brainwash us," her double explained, then grinned like some sort of sadistic woman that liked to do very naughty things with whips and leather. "But we're stronger than it is."
Terra attempted to shake her imaginary head and clear her vision without much success. "Be that as it may—"
"Wake up," her double ordered, just before drawing back and smashing her fist into Terra's cheek.
Terra's eyes snapped open and she stood up. Aside from being a bit woozy and having an uncomfortable squirming lump in the back of her neck, she felt okay. Taking stock of the situation, she found herself facing Zoicite and the other Negamafoozle.
"Kill them," Zoicite said. "Watch as your friends are forced to fight you."
Chibimoon turned around to see her four fellow Sailor Soldiers in a group pose. But they looked worried and were hesitating.
"Chibimoon, no!" Sailor Moon cried, her eyes full of tears.
"This is terrible!" Luna exclaimed.
A tingling at the base of her skull stung Terra, but it didn't force her into action. Zoicite believed her to now be susceptible to suggestion, her mind told her. She had no attacks, but perhaps there was a way to exploit this momentary advantage.
Chibimoon held out a hand and addressed the general. "Give me a weapon," she ordered, discovering that her voice had gotten deeper and acquired an additional vibrato due to the snake's effect on her larynx.
Zoicite gave her the throwing knife he'd pulled out of his wrist. "Use this. Make it slow."
Terra felt her control wane somewhat. She felt urged forward towards her friends, brandishing the knife. She had to get rid of the snake somehow. If she just let it do what it was doing, she really would be possessed.
"No, better yet," Zoicite corrected, "kill yourself in front of them. Put that dagger into your heart."
An idea occurred to Terra. "How about my neck?"
The general shrugged. "Fine. Just do it."
Sailor Chibimoon raised the knife above her head, and then jammed it into her neck right about where the snake was squirming. It must have been quite a nice direct hit, since whatever connected her brain to the snake's was sending her a deathly amount of pain. To gasps of shock from her friends, she widened the incision, grabbed the yellow alien serpent, tore it out of her body, and flung it at Zoicite.
Then Terra fell to the floor because her spine was badly traumatized and her brain juice was leaking out.
A flurry of attacks were then let fly by the group of enraged Sailor Soldiers.
"MOON TIARA ACTION!"
Zoicite, struggling with the snake, glanced frantically at his minion. "YOUMA!"
The fake CEO obediently jumped in front of the attacks and took their full brunt. It disintegrated in the combined wash of energy.
Sailor Moon stalked toward Zoicite. "I won't forgive you. In the name of the Moon… I'LL PUNISH YOU!"
Rather than face the full force of a berserk teen with a powerful energy disk, Zoicite vanished in a shower of cherry blossoms, saying, "I'll still get you! I'll get you all!"
"So, she wasn't really brainwashed," Sailor Mars whispered, looking at her fallen comrade.
"Not all the soap in the world could wash that brain," Luna commented.
"No, no, no!" an angry voice yelled from the shadows. "This is all wrong!"
Mars looked around. "Who's there?!"
"DIE!!!" the voice screamed, and a something white with a blade flashed past Mars and Jupiter, leaving them with deep cuts in their sides — so deep, in fact, that they fell down from the pain.
The flash zipped toward Usagi and nailed her squarely in the forehead, shattering her tiara and leaving her face bloodied.
It was about then that Luna got a good view of their attacker. "N-no! It can't be!" She started to back off. "It bred?!"
"And I had the perfect plan, too," Bruce growled while slashing up Sailor Mercury to relieve his disgust. "If it weren't for you… uncooperative things!"
"What is it?!" Jupiter cried.
Mars grimaced, clutching her wound. "I have no clue!"
Mercury desperately switched on her computer and tried to get a scan. "It's a… rare breed… elite class… White ArbyFish? This one's fifty thousand years old. And its power readings are off the scale!"
"They're evil mutants!" Luna screamed, pointing at the White ArbyFish. "Mutants, I say! Run, everyone! Run!"
Bruce's eyes gleamed. "There's no escape for you. You're doomed." He slashed Mars' unprotected legs and toppled her over.
"It'll kill us all!" Luna wept.
"Kill?" said Bruce with raised eyebrows. "Oh no, never kill. Not you. You all have to live, and deal with what I'm about to do to you." He sniffed the air and his grin grew deeper. "You smell like immortals as well. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to wallow in freakish misery forever?"
"Why are you doing this?!" asked Sailor Moon.
"There's someone I do wish to kill," replied the creature. "But it looks like my plans to draw him out have been thwarted for now. So I'll just have to take out my displeasure on all of you instead. It won't be over quickly, I can assure you. I know how to make these things… endure."
Then something on Terra's neck glowed, a bit below the deep cut. That drew the White ArbyFish's attention. "I feel a strange power. What's this?"
Bruce flew over to the girl. What glowed was partially covered by her choker necklace. He pulled that down and his eyes went wide. "It's—"
The mushroom mark shone green with a frightening, burning intensity. Bruce slammed up against the wall from the force of its power. The light increased to such a magnitude that all the girls had to cover their eyes. The ArbyFish seemed to find its presence difficult to endure.
"THE MARK OF THE FIRST ONE!" Bruce growled. "On the body of a human! How can this be?!" The light flared up to a new level. "AARGHH! Too much! If he can do this to me without even being here, I'm no match for him yet!" He slashed a portal through the space-time continuum with his knife and dove into it.
The mushroom mark's power lessened somewhat, then flickered at an unusual rate. The wounds on Terra's and the other Soldiers' bodies sealed themselves and vanished within seconds.
Sailor Chibimoon sat up, holding her head and rubbing her neck. For now at least, the mark had died down to its more normal levels. "Aaaaowwww," she moaned. "That was the second most horrible experience of my whole life!"
Mars got up and put her hand on the redhead's shoulder. "I'm glad you're all right. You had us worried for a minute."
Sailor Moon rushed up and hugged Terra. "I'm so glad you're okay, Chibimoon!"
"Hey now," Makoto said. "Don't get too friendly there."
"I can't explain it, but she's like a sister to me," Usagi said, helping her friend get back up.
"Thanks, Sailor Moon," Terra whispered. "I thought I could handle them, since I fought four generals at the same time and won."
"You can't get lucky all the time," Rei replied with a shrug.
"One question, though," Mercury began. "If this was the second most horrible experience of your life, what was the first?"
"Running naked through the city for hours with a crazy ArbyFish taking pictures of me and selling them to the highest bidder," Terra explained.
Rei burst out laughing. "Oh boy, that's a good one."
"It's true, then," Luna spoke, obviously not wanting to believe something that she now knew to be a fact. "Arby… lives?"
Terra nodded. "As much as I'd wish otherwise." She rubbed her neck. "On the other hand, something he gave me actually came in handy."
"Strange," Luna noted.
"Indeed," Chibimoon added while leaning against one of the heavily padded couches. It fell aside to reveal a woman, gagged and bound, with a nametag that identified her as the company's chief executive officer. "Oh my!" The girl quickly untied her. "Are you all right?"
The woman nodded slowly, rubbing her sore wrists and ankles. "I am now, thank you. Someone knocked me out and tied me up back here! Did you see who it was?"
Terra nodded. "Yes, but I don't think you'll be able to catch up with them. Different dimension and stuff."
Sailor Moon leaned toward Chibimoon and impishly suggested, "Hey, maybe if you ask very nicely, she'll give you that job interview you wanted."
Terra's eyes widened. "That's right!"
The five girls hurried out of the room to undo their transformations. The other four waited outside while Terra went inside.
The company chief seemed surprised when Terra entered, but since the Irish girl was on the schedule, she decided to go ahead with the interview. They sat across a small table from each other while the businesswoman thumbed through a thick portfolio she had somehow obtained of Terra in various poses and outfits. They seemed to be from the past few weeks or so.
Terra tried not to think of how much Arby must have been stalking her. Still, though, she felt pretty confident about her appearance. "So, what do you think?"
The woman placed the portfolio on the table and, with cold geniality said, "We at this company hold our models up to the highest achievable standards." She crossed her legs. "Incognita-san, you are adorable. However, there are some issues."
Terra frowned. "Such as?"
Her interviewer recoiled from the way the girl spoke. "You are being quick with me, so I shall be quick with you. Our markets are targeted toward a more complex, mature audience. We're not much for tattoos around here, either." She pointed at the mushroom mark on Terra's neck.
"This isn't a tattoo," the girl explained.
The CEO waved off the comment. "Or birthmarks, et cetera. In short, you are too young, your singing voice leaves much to be desired, and your hair is… just not what we are looking for at this time."
Terra gasped. "Do… do you really mean that?"
The woman chewed on her lip, deep in thought for a minute, and then sighed. "No, not really. You're rather pretty, and I'm sure we could fit you in somewhere, but you're a foreigner."
Terra nodded. "Nationalism and racism? I can understand that."
"You're Anglican as well," the woman added. "I'm sorry, but… I can't stand British Christians. The Church of England is worst of all. I hope you don't mind me saying so."
"Religious intolerance? No, it's fine. We got that all the time back home. It's to be expected."
"And my niece wants the job, so I don't think I should give it to you."
"Nepotism? Okay, I'm all right with that. If I had a niece, I'd want to give her a nice job, too."
"And we'd like someone with a tight, lithe, slim figure. You're too short, slightly too bulky and you're one cup size too large."
Terra stood up and put her hands on her hips. "HEY NOW!"
"So you see," the woman said smugly, "you simply would not work out here."
"Look, missus lady ma'am," Terra complained, her language skills slipping. "I really think I could be a great star!"
The CEO's eye twitched. "Missus… lady… ma'am?"
"I've got lots of idol potential. You can see it, can't you?"
More twitching. "'You'? As in, 'me'?"
"Yes, yes, of course. You're the one to know—"
But it was too late to say anything else. Due to an incredible lack of honorific usage, the one upon whom Terra had placed all of her hopes and dreams had gone for her pointy umbrella. "OUT, OUT, OUT! AND LEARN TO BE POLITE BEFORE TALKING TO ANYONE EVER AGAIN!!!"
Terra Incognita rolled out of the corporate office building in a large plastic garbage can with a great big scratch on her face.
Her friends watched her as she slid to a halt and crawled out.
"So, did you get the job?" Makoto inquired with great interest.
The bruised and sliced Irish girl looked up at her friend with an expression that read, "What do you think?!"
"Awww, that's too bad," Usagi said in a sympathetic tone.
"Did you remember to use the right honorifics?" Ami inquired.
Terra thought about that. "Um… no?"
The bookwormish girl nodded. "That explains it. You have to be careful around those businessy types, especially the ones with pointy umbrellas."
Rei examined the loaned blouse and blazer. "Looks like you ruined it." She folded her arms. "You're going to have to buy me a new one now."
Terra looked up at her with twitching eyes. "Rei… don't be so mean!"
Rei helped her up and smiled faintly. "I was just kidding. Come on, let's get you home."
"Sorry for dragging you into this mess," Terra sighed.
Makoto patted her on the back. "Hey, it's no problem. Anything for our favorite good luck charm."
"Good luck charm?" Terra asked as they headed towards the bus stop. That sounded good. While it wasn't exactly Kind Fearless Leader, Our Beloved Ruler, or even Sweet Gentle Paladin, it was nice to have a title she actually earned. Plus, it was better than just being known as the comic relief of the group. "I like that. It makes me feel… special or something."
There were no disagreements. There were a few more chuckles, a playful argument or two about unimportant things, some plans for a trip to the mall, and finally some expressed concerns for a huge test going on the next day, whereupon the group split up and hurried home for a last-ditch cramming session.
To be continued.
And now it's time for… MIND YOUR MANNERS!!! with Sailor Nuke.
(Scene of a snake diving into Terra's mouth.)
Sailor Nuke: Today, we learned that you never let snakes climb down your throat.
(Terra rips the thing out.)
Sailor Nuke: It's too much trouble to get it out afterwards. Besides, it's a lot more fun to blow up before it makes it there!
(Scene of the high-level interview.)
Sailor Kawaii: Also, if you're going to be rude to corporate executives that hold your fate in their lives, at least be cute about it.
(The CEO attacks Terra savagely in the head with a pointy umbrella.)
Sailor Kawaii: If she'd been acting cuter, she'd never have gotten attacked like that. Be cute and don't get stabbed in the head. Sailor Kawaii says. Tee-hee!
Sailor Nuke: And blow up snakes before they get to you. Sailor Nuke sez. BWAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAAAA!!!
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