This story brings back the Dark Kingdom Renegades from my earlier story "Sailor Moon : Refugees". To make a long story short four youma who weren't evil got out of the Dark Kingdom just before the end and tried to vanish unnoticed into Tokyo. This became impossible when an old enemy decided to attack them in their new identities. Things got even more complicated when the youngest of the four decided to appear in public under the name Sailor Polaris. All of this brought their existence to the attention of the Sailor Senshi resulting in a few complications. It ended with the DKR trying to fade into the background again and the Sailors deciding to leave them alone as long as they didn't cause trouble.
Unknown to both groups two other youma had used the DKR's collapsing dimensional gate during the fall of the Dark Kingdom. They were displaced in time and space arriving in a city known as MegaTokyo.
1. Who are the DKR?
2. Why do those names look familiar?
3. What is Bubblegum Crisis?
4. Who are the Knight Sabers?
5. What connection is there to my other BGC fanfics?
6. How do you tell the difference between Whizzo Butter and a dead crab?
7. Short profiles of the DKR members
1. Who are the Dark Kingdom Renegades?
The DKR is composed of four members of a youma subspecies variously known as Renegades, Heretics and several more obscene names. Lacking the intrinsically destructive nature of normal youmas Renegades were killed on discovery as genetic freaks. The only way for a Renegade to survive was to learn to act like a normal youma. In addition to being Renegades this foursome are humanics. With the exception of unusual hair and eye colors they can pass for human. Like most youma they can cast a glamour spell to make themselves appear completely human. The DKR consists of Calcite, Titanite, Azurite and Pyrite. The name was coined by Titanite, currently she is the only one of them to use it.
2. Why do those names look familiar?
With a Sailor Moon story it's natural to go to the mineral kingdom looking for youma character names. I think I was the first on alt.fan. Sailor-Moon to use those particular names ("Refugees" was posted in February '96) but I can hardly claim copyright on a mineral. I've seen other fanfics with a Calcite (can't remember the title) and an Azurite ("Phoenix Reborn"). There's little chance of confusion as the other Azurite is male and doesn't wear a leather sailor fuku. At least not in public.
3. What is Bubblegum Crisis?
Bubblegum Crisis (BGC) is an anime OAV series from 1987. It's an excellent cyberpunk/superheroine series and here's a little background:
In 2025 AD the second Kanto Quake destroyed most of Tokyo. Hundreds of thousands died and millions more were rendered homeless. The multinational GENOM corporation, best known for their biomechanical androids called Boomers stepped in to rebuild it. Now in 2033 the city has been revitalized, rebuilt and renamed MegaTokyo. GENOM owns most of the city and has made it their corporate headquarters. As Tokyo was restored GENOM has risen to become the greatest commercial power of all time. That is not enough. Behind their benevolent facade the corporation works towards achieving global economic and political domination. A key to this are their various illegal experiments which secretly use the citizens of MegaTokyo as guinea pigs for GENOMs ends. The AD(Advanced)Police, formed to combat high tech crime have become obsolete. Morale is low and casualties high.
Enter the Knight Sabers. Apparently a mercenary group composed of four women with the most advanced powered combat suits on the planet. The truth is they are a force dedicated to keeping GENOM from its goals any way they can. They are best known to the public for destroying rampaging Boomers that the ADPolice can't touch. Sometimes these are genuine berserkers, sometimes GENOM conducting firepower tests using live targets. While the Sabers hate GENOM they cannot destroy it as that would destabilize a world that is increasingly reliant on it. The best they can do is maintain a balance.
4. Who are the Knight Sabers?
There are four members.
Sylia Stingray - The leader of the team and the inventor of the hard suits. Her father, Dr. Katsuhito Stingray died shortly after perfecting first generation Boomer technology. GENOM took over his invention and used it for military applications he had forbidden. Sylia seeks to avenge her father and keep GENOM from profiting from his murder. Sylia wears the white Knight Saber armour. She is cold, hard and brilliant. Think Ami/Sailor Mercury with no sense of humour. 23 at the time of this story. (ages from "BGC : Grand Mal" by Adam Warren, Dark Horse Comics)
Priscilla Asagiri - A rebel with no shortage of causes Priss hates Boomers "Priss" and GENOM intensely. Her hotheadedness makes her prone to taking extreme chances during combat. Were it not compensated for with excellent skill in using her hardsuit she would have died months ago. Despite her hatred of Boomers she became friends (and perhaps more) with two sentient boomers who appeared to be human. She is 20 years old, a singer, and would not take kindly to comparisons with Rei/Sailor Mars. Wears the blue armour
Linna Yamazaki - The most mercenary of the supposed mercenaries Linna still never hesitates to help people without payment. An excellent fighter, possibly better than Priss as she's not as reckless. 21 years old and wears the green armour. As she goes through a lot of boyfriends the best Senshi to compare her to is Makoto/Sailor Jupiter.
Nene Romanova - By far the cutest member of the foursome Nene prefers data gathering and system hacking to combat. Overly fond of sweets which can be a problem when you have to slid into almost skintight armour. While not a fighter by nature she is still far from useless. Closest match to a Senshi - who else but Sailor Moon. By the second series, "Bubblegum Crash" she is still a ditz but has become a lethal fighter making her closer to Minako/Sailor Venus. 19 years old, 22 in the ADP database she wears the Pink Knight Saber armour.
Mackie Stingray - Sylia's 16 year old younger brother. Not really a Knight Saber though he does have a powered suit. Mainly helps with maintenace and repair of the hardsuits along with transporting the Sabers incognito on missions. It is his goal in life to see the Knight Sabers in as many states of undress as possible.
5. What connection is there to my other BGC fanfics?
None. Totally different universes. This story does not impact on "Tokyo Babylon", "Knights' End", "Libel" or "Hurricane Season" (Current project, forthcoming end of August). Hopefully this will prove I can write a BGC story without destroying everyone's life.
6. How do you tell the difference between Whizzo Butter and a dead crab?
The butter is the one without the legs.
[Gratuitous Monty Python Reference. No reason]
7. Short profiles of the Dark Kingdom Renegades
Name - Calcite
Sex - Male
Age - 23
Aliases - Calvin Hobbes, Gray (superhero), Lord Calcite (supervillain)
Hair - Light green
Eyes - Purple
Other distinguishing - Blue blood, green finger and toenails features
Known powers - Superhuman strength, Force shield, Teleportation, glamourcasting, shockwave bursts, psychoplasm generation and shaping. Can transmit energy through his created weaponary.
Comment - The leader of the Renegades and the most powerful member. Normally quick witted and decisive he has a blind spot when it comes to women. Managed to overlook all the negative feature of his youma lover Margrave (presumed dead) and is unaware of Azurite's desire for him. An expert warrior adept in the use of his powers.
Name - Titanite
Sex - Female
Age - 15
Aliases - Titania Hobbes, Sailor Polaris
Hair - Light green
Eyes - Blue
Other distinguishing - Blue blood, green finger and toenails features
Known powers - Superhuman strength, Force shield, Teleportation, glamourcasting, "Polaris Missile" and variations
Comments - Calcite's younger sister and Sailor Senshi Wannabe. Grew up in the Dark Kingdom shielded by the older renegades so she never lost her innocence in the struggle to fit in. An avid anime fan she dreams of one day becoming one of the Senshi. Is currently being trained to use her powers effectively should the need arise.
Name - Azurite
Sex - Female
Age - 22
Aliases - Azure DeWitt, Sailor Arcturus
Hair - Bright blue
Eyes - Red
Other distinguishing features-Green blood.
Known powers - Superhuman strength, Force shield, Teleportation, glamourcasting, wind control, micro hurricane generation.
Comment : The group's other trained fighter. Has no desire to be one of the Senshi, merely created the identity to let her use her powers in public. While she is Pyrite's lover and loves him she has also been in love with Calcite for years. She avoided making a final choice while Calcite was infatuated with the youma Margrave fearing rejection. Now that Calcite is alone she is trying to confront her feelings and make a choice. Does not suspect Pyrite knows this.
Name - Pyrite
Sex - Male
Age - 24
Aliases - Piram Troy
Hair - Black
Eyes - Yellow
Other distinguishing - Blue blood, black finger and toenails features
Known powers - Superhuman strength, Force shield, Teleportation, glamourcasting, Aura blocking, Energy sensitive/manipulator.
Comments : An expert in both theoretical and practical applications of magick based youma "technology". Required Calcite's assistance to survive in the Dark Kingdom and has developed an inferiority complex regarding his cousin. An observer by nature he knows of Azurite's feeling for Calcite. He has avoided confronting her on this fearing he might drive her away. Believes he cannot compete with Calcite if she makes a choice. Thought she was near giving up until recent events left Calcite single again.
Enough background. Go read the story.
Dark Kingdom Renegades/Bubblegum Crisis : Bad Moon Rising
By Mark Latus
Part 1 : Future Shock
Tokyo - The Present
Sailor Polaris moved along the darkened corridor quietly. This abandoned construction site seemed quiet but she knew her enemy was out there somewhere. She was pretty sure he'd taken Sailor Arcturus hostage which meant he was planning to use her as bait. The floor ended ahead of her, she was able to look down to the lobby four stories below. The area was lit by a few working bulbs leaving large patches of shadow. In the center of the lights Sailor Arcturus slumped against the pillar she'd been shackled against.
Obviously a trap but she had to rescue Azurite. Together they could take him, alone it was a just a matter of time. Alright ... he was probably lurking down there somewhere. Blasting him with the Polaris Missile attack would be the best idea but she couldn't see any motion in the shadows. Damn. OK new idea, distract him long enough to free Azurite. Hopefully flushing him out in the process. She concentrated a moment and the forcesphere formed between her hands. Now for her new trick. She focused on the sphere and it silently began fracturing into golfball sized pieces. Now she held a sphere made up of smaller spheres. Right, she thought, here goes nothing.
She launched herself into space and began freefalling towards the captive Senshi. "POLARIS CLUSTER BOMBLET SPECIAL!" The microspheres sprayed across the lobby leaving indentations in the floor. She landed in a crouch hardly feeling the impact and surged towards her comrade. She hadn't hit him, he wasn't waiting in ambush! Where was he?
She was behind the pillar and could see the handcuffs holding Arcturus's wrists together. Easy! She slammed downwards with superhuman strength and the central links shattered. Arcturus whipped her arms from around the pillar and turned to face Polaris. Before Polaris could say anything Arcturus's right hand was around her throat and her head was slammed against the pillar. She saw the red eyes glowing and the left hand spearing towards her face and involuntarily closed her eyes.
An index finger tapped her on the forehead. "Zap, you're dead."
Titanite (aka Sailor Polaris) opened her eyes. Azurite had already released her and smiled at her. From above a voice called down, "Score another one for the badguy." She looked up to see the figure in black leaning over the sixth floor balcony.
Ti was a little peeved. "Come down here and say that!"
"Sure." He vaulted the rail and dropped the six stories cape billowing majestically behind him. Her opponent landed with a theatrical flourish and the helmet with the glowing eyeholes regarded her. "So what's up?"
"I want to see your face for this."
"Fine by me. You are the one who insisted I wear this outfit, remember?" A touch on a wristband and the black with skull motif costume reshaped itself into a light grey sweatsuit. The helmet morphed into a pair of glasses which the wearer removed and slipped into a pocket. Calcite studied his sister. "So what's up?"
"Cal you cheated! It was supposed to be me and Azure against you. You weren't supposed to team up on me!"
Azurite shrugged. "Sorry Ti. Soon as he caught me he hit me with his mind control powers and brainwashed me. I feel very badly about that."
Something clicked for Titanite. "You set this up before we began the exercise!"
Her brother nodded. "Absolutely." His amiable expression vanished to be replaced by a deadly serious look. "I am your enemy. I will do whatever it takes to defeat you. I don't play by any rules or concept of fairness. Never forget that!" His expression softened. "Let's not forget who asked us to train her. Frankly I can think of better ways to spend Sunday morning." Azurite nodded.
Ti hesitated, feeling a little mollified. She could understand what they were trying to teach her but she still felt hard done by. "You could have at least given me a clue."
"You can't count on your enemy being careless. However I did give you a clue."
"He did." Azurite held up her wrists which still had the shattered handcuffs locked around them. "Ti I'm a lot stronger than you. Why could you easily break a chain I couldn't?"
Titanite glared at her but said nothing. "Now don't sulk! By the way Cal ..."
He nodded and touched the cuffs. They melted back into the psychoplasm he'd sculpted from. Instead of letting the psuedomatter disperse he began reshaping it. "OK Ti time for the next part of your lesson." He focused and locked the psychoplasm into its new form. "Catch."
"It'll hold that shape about an hour then disperse. It's a lot easier to lock smaller forms. Your job is to at least break the lock early. If you can try to reshape it into something else. You know all the exercises now you just need to practice."
Titanite studied the ball then looked at her brother. "Uh Cal ... so far I've had absolutely no luck with this stuff. Why you're all convinced I've got the potential for the same powers as you I just don't know. Besides you mainly use this stuff to form swords, knives and other stuff. That's fine for you guys but it's not exactly my style. See I'm planning to be a Senshi fighting for love and justice ..." Her voice trailed off as a large wooden mallet appeared in her brother's hand. She studied it with awe.
"It doesn't have to be edged weapons." Her brother examined his newly created hammer critically. "Pity, I thought you'd want to learn how to pull these things out of nowhere like your favorite heroines. I understand they're useful for keeping your boyfriends in line. Still if you really aren't interested ..." The mallet dissolved.
"I've changed my mind." Ti studied the baseball. "Reshape it into something I imagine, huh?"
"That's right. But use the south corridor. Azurite and I'll be using the lobby for an exercise of our own. Don't be worried if you feel the air temperature rise."
She nodded and walked off. Azurite looked at Cal with a certain admiration. "Interesting motivational technique."
"You just have to learn how anime fans think. Not that it's hard with her watching the stuff all the time."
Azurite sighed, "And when she isn't hogging the TV Pyr's watching Star Trek."
"Four youma left and half are otaku. One's a Trekkie and the other's an anime freak."
"Which makes us the only sensible ones."
Calcite glanced over her Sailor Arcturus outfit. "Then we're all doomed, aren't we?"
"So it goes. Shall we get on with it?"
"Just a sec. That floor looks a little dusty for this outfit." Azurite tapped her spiked wristband and her senshi outfit morphed into a bright blue tracksuit. She settled to the floor in a crosslegged position. "Give me a minute to get relaxed."
"Take as long as you need. If the power's there it's not going away." Azurite nodded and tried to relax. Time to find out if she was imagining things. A few weeks earlier during Magnesite's impersonation of Zoisite she'd used her wind control powers to toss a fireball back in his face. Thinking back on it afterwards she'd realized that the plasma laced hurricane she'd thrown had seemed hotter than the fireball. Perhaps she'd boosted the intensity somehow with previously untapped plasma based powers. If she had any such ability.
One thing Renegades and ordinary youma had in common was being born with powers. Powers that didn't come with instruction manuals. As you grew up you felt energies surging inside you and tried to feel how they worked. To ask for help was to admit weakness and make yourself vulnerable. So youmas tried to work out their powers for themselves. It wasn't that uncommon for youngsters to immolate themselves before they learned how to control their abilities. One advantage the Renegade subspecies had was they could trust each other. With the result that Calcite, Pyrite and Azurite had been able to help each other perfect control of their para-abilities. They had thought they knew the full range of each others powers but it wasn't unheard of for abilities to be deeply buried and emerge years later. Which was why Calcite was going to look into her mind and see if he sensed anything.
Calcite's telepathic abilities were severely limited. Controlling minds to implant orders and make people think it had been their own idea was one thing. Actually entering someone's consciousness was another. Some telepaths could read anyone's entire life the moment they met them. He couldn't access anyone's mind without a long time rapport with them. He also doubted his ability to do that if the person was conscious and resisting psychic invasion. Not that he wanted to do this. He rarely mindsurfed. Rummaging around in other people's thoughts seemed like a violation to him. But there were times it was necessary.
Azurite indicated she was ready and Calcite knelt behind her. He gently placed a hand on both sides of her head. He wasn't sure the physical contact was really necessary but it seemed to help. Azurite still seemed a bit edgy. "Try to relax. I won't be going anywhere near your thoughts or memories. Matter of fact I can't touch your thoughts."
"It might simplify things if you could. Then you'd finally realize I've been in love with you for years. Back then I didn't say anything because you were mixed up with Margrave. I was afraid you'd chose her over me and that would destroy everything. I had your friendship and that was something and I met Pyrite ... I love him but not the same way I love you ... At least I think that's how I feel ... When I thought Magnesite was going to kill him ... Now Margrave's gone with the rest of the Dark Kingdom and you're single again and I should tell you and finally resolve this but I don't want to hurt Pyrite and what if you rejected me I couldn't take that. I've faced death a dozen times without flinching I'm no coward. Why can't I just talk to you?" Azurite managed to choke off this stream of thought. For now she'd just focus on finding her power. If it existed. She summoned the image of a winter day not long ago and watching the fire burning in the hearth. Focus on that alone. She seemed to feel a light touch inside her head.
Calcite's point of view shifted. His consciousness constructed a visual analog for what he was experiencing. He was walking down a long corridor, apparently a house. Wrong! He focused again and he was in a concrete floored passageway. A power generation plant he decided. Signs rippled into existence on the walls as he imposed his reality on Azurite's consciousness. Ok this way to the generator room. When mindsurfing the trick is to just make a few embellishments and let your host's mind show you the way.
He opened a door and found a room full of outlandish equipment. The giant fan must represent her wind control abilities, the hammering piston her strength, the steel wall in the center of the floor her forceshield. There was a silver statue flowing from one shape to another. That must be her glamourcasting power. These were all known powers. What he needed was some hint of any other powers. He strained his pseudosenses to the maximum. He might sense the powertrace as a sound analog (the crackling of fire), or touch (a heated object) or even taste (smoke in the throat). Wait ... yes over there. He could make out the faint scent of something burning. He took a step towards it when a tremendous crash from outside jolted him back to his own body.
Instantly he was on his feet in battlestance, as was Azurite. Where had that come from? South. "TI!"
Both Renegades plunged down the corridor forceshields glowing. Then skidded to a stop as they saw Titanite standing in front of a wall looking sheepish. "Uhh ... hi guys!"
"Ti what happened?!"
"Umm nothing really Azure ... just one of those things."
Calcite stepped around her. "What are you hiding sister?"
"Don't worry about it big brother I just ..." Calcite could see the the circular hole in the wall she's been vainly trying to cover. It was about the size of a baseball.
"What did you just do?" He peered through the hole, the ball was embedded in a support pillar in the next room.
"Uhh ... well I had this really neat idea ..."
"Tell me about it while we collect the ball."
"Yeah well ... see I wasn't having any luck reshaping the ball then I got to thinking. My Polaris Missile is focused TK, right? Kinetic force. So I got to thinking ... why don't I try using that power to throw a baseball. See the girls team softball tryouts are coming up at school so I thought ..."
"Ti you can already throw a ball harder than almost anyone else in the world."
"Yes but I'm not so hot at aiming. Now with my TK bursts I always hit what I aim at. So I thought if I could learn to use them and just look like I'm throwing the ball I'd be the best pitcher in the school."
Calcite reached into the hole in the pillar and tapped the ball. "I'm not a big baseball fan but I think there's a rule about blowing holes through the catcher."
"I guess it needs a little work." He looked at her. "OK a lot of work."
"Stick to regular pitching. It's a lot safer than using your powers in public." The ball was stuck which could raise questions. Except that it was psychoplasm and would dissolve soon. A thought struck Calcite and he reshaped the ball to the image in his mind. "Well Ti you have found a new use for your powers so you deserve a prize. Here." He handed her the reshaped baseball.
"Oh wow! A Superdeformed Sailor Polaris doll. It's so cute. Wait till Meiko see this ..." A thought struck her. "Hey how long will this hold its' shape?"
"About half an hour so you'd better get to work stabilising it."
Azurite wasn't too surprised to see Ti stick her tongue out at her brother as soon as he turned his back. Cal pretended not to notice. "Right, where were we?"
A few hours later Calcite and Azurite were catching some sun on a bench. Ti had headed off to meet up with some friends after changing her Senshi fuku to jeans and a t-shirt. They looked like a couple who'd been out jogging together. Calcite was saying, "I think we're starting to get somewhere."
"Maybe. Still we're a long way from any anything useful."
"These things take time. Anyway hopefully our fighting days are over."
Both fell silent and remembered. The sky had been lit up last night by another one of those energy burst. The press was full of stories (all unconfirmed) of monsters and bizarre events along with dozens of sightings of the Senshi. Something was definitely going on. Luckily, so far, it hadn't impacted on them.
Calcite broke the silence by asking, "Do you think I'm being to hard on Ti with the training."
"Come on! Compared to the way we learned?"
"Different environment. We had to learn fast or die young."
"True." Azurite sighed. "I have to admit Ti's very different from the way I was at her age. Still she's probably adapted to Earth better than any of the rest of us."
"That's because she got to have a childhood. We didn't. We were young once but we were never really children."
"We couldn't afford childhood. We had to make ourselves fit in so we could stay alive." Azurite sounded wistful. "Which is why Ti has an innocence neither of us ever had."
Calcite nodded. "It's also why we've got an edge she doesn't have. One that if she's very lucky she'll never need."
"Let's hope." Azurite paused then added, "You did a good job bringing her up."
"I didn't exactly bring her up. We did have a mother."
"Except when you were 13 you got stuck taking care of a five year old while playing Dark Kingdom power politics. How you managed to do both successfully I'll never know."
"It wasn't alone. I had you and Pyrite to help out."
Azurite shook her head. "You did most of the work. Ti's turned out great, you should be proud ... You'll make a good father someday."
Calcite shook his head. "No chance. Our genetics are too different to interbreed with the humans. As there's a shortage of female youma I'd say I won't be fathering any children. I suppose I could adopt if I ever got married or whatever." Azurite opened her mouth as though to say something then closed it again. Calcite didn't notice. He continued, "Kids probably wouldn't have been Renegades anyway. That's the problem with recessive genes." He paused. "Of course there's no reason you and Pyrite can't have kids someday."
Azurite took her time about answering. "I've thought about one day having children. The way I look at it is like this. Right now we are the last of the Youma. It's a terrible to be the last of your species. But it's a worse thing to pass that on to someone else. I will not have children just so I can doom them to be freaks in a world they'll never quite fit in."
She fell silent and Calcite decided to change the subject. "You were saying something the other day about an acting part?"
"Yeah, it'll make a change from modelling. Of course if the project ever gets off the ground is another story. It won't be Shakespeare, we're talking a B movie with a lot of skin."
"So what's the name of this cinematic masterpiece."
"That's the funny part. Ahem, would you believe 'Sailor Arcturus : The Movie!'"
"Nope. I swear they're planning a live film based on her."
"And you play ...?"
"The sadistic evil queen, they keep changing her name. Said I wasn't right for the title role. So I'll get to wear a PVC bikini, brandish a whip and torture a lot of people before dying in a very gruesome way."
"Guess there's a certain logic to this. Right now Sailor Arcturus merchandise is the hottest seller of the senshi junk. Except you appeal to a different demographic than them. They have the young to teenage girl market you get males 16 and up."
Azurite shrugged. "Well I am the only one old enough to be legally fantasised about."
"Nothing to do with your wardrobe?"
"Well it certainly doesn't hurt."
"Heh. Well to celebrate your potential stardom how about we find some brunch?"
"Think we ought to ask Pyr to join us?"
"Cal he's been running tests on those tissue samples since yesterday. I doubt he even noticed we left."
"Just the two of us then ..." That's when they heard the explosions and the screaming. Without a word both Renegades charged toward the noise. Turning the clock back a few minutes we switch the scene to Pyrite.
At their house Pyrite continued testing the tissue samples he'd shipped to Hawaii and back. Or rather the dust that had been tissue donated by all four Renegades. The recorder in the package indicated cellular decay beginning as soon as it left the synchronistic zone. The zone, which centered on Tokyo manipulated probability to make all the anomolous events in the world happen in this area. It also allowed anomalies to exist. Living beings that were just a little too alien to survive on Earth unprotected. Anomalies such as Pyrite and the other Renegades. It was clear his latest efforts to let them exist outside were a dismal failure. Another dead end. Damn. As far as Pyrite was concerned the sooner he found the answer the better. From the weird energy fields he'd sensed lately something major was going on. All he knew was that it involved the senshi and that meant trouble. Ok maybe they'd had no choice but he was never going to be able to relax while trapped in a city with the people who'd practically exterminated his entire species. Hell if it hadn't been for Calcite's foresight in organizing an escape the youma would have suffered total geonocide.
Thinking of his cousin made him remember that he was off training with Azurite. He felt a pang. This time he could count on Titanite to act as an involuntary chaperon. This time.
The last youma scientist sighed. He knew how Azurite felt about Cal, he'd known for years. It was his nature to observe and deduce. While she'd become his lover he sometimes feared her heart belonged to Calcite. Not that Cal knew it.
He didn't doubt she loved him to an extent. But he wondered if she loved him the way he loved her. For years he'd tried to tell himself she was just infatuated with Cal. Sooner or later she'd give up on him and they'd truly be a couple. She hadn't. While Cal was fixated on Margrave Azure remained fixated on him. Then they'd fled the Kingdom and Cal became single. Still she didn't drop him and Pyrite had silently rejoiced. Yet he soon realized she was still watching Cal. He saw her jealousy when Cal became involved with that teacher. It seemed she still hadn't chosen. There were times he wanted to scream at her to make her choice.
He'd kept telling himself he should confront her about this but he always froze up. She might well chose Calcite over him. Calcite was certainly the better looking of the two of them though she wasn't shallow enough to chose on that basis. But Pyrite couldn't deny that Cal had more courage, charisma and drive than him. It was no accident that he was leader of the group. Like Azurite he was a warrior and self reliant. In some ways there was a bond between them he'd never be part of. While he'd fit in a lot better than Ti he knew he'd never have survived his youth in the Dark Kingdom without Calcite's help. Sometimes he felt so useless.
That was when the sensor alarm went off. Pyrite turned to it in amazement. During his first trip to Earth Calcite had seeded a park with sensor crystals. They'd never been removed and had been useful during Zoisite's apparent resurrection. He'd set them to track major anomolies only and left them in place. They hadn't been activated since.
Now they were indicating a massive space/time distortion. A dimensional gate similar to the one the Renegades had used to flee the Dark Kingdom. The gate surged then faded. It hadn't collapsed, it was closed but it still existed. Why it had opened in the first place and if it would reopen was a mystery. As he moved to study the readings Pyrite wondered if anything had come through.
Across town Calcite and Azurite were moving through the fleeing crowd.
"You know Cal we're heading straight for whatever it is they're running away from."
"I was wondering about that myself ... we must be planning to reconnoitre whatever it is. For data in case it's a potential threat."
"Absolutely! My feelings exactly. It's not as if we're planning to do anything heroic."
"Definitely not. We're survivors not heroes. Heroes tend to die young."
Having reassured each other that they had good reasons for doing this they ducked into an alley. Whatever was going on could require a paranormal response. So it was time to use the good guy identities they'd created. They triggered the morphing bracelets and adjusted their glamours. Exit Calvin Hobbes and Azure DeWitt, enter Gray and Sailor Arcturus.
Turning a corner they saw the source of the trouble. There were six of them, showing a uniformity uncommon among the monsters that plagued this city. THe six humanoids stood 2 metres tall and were a dull blue in color. All had a metallic sheen and bore a strong resemblance to the Terminator in it's fleshless state. The jaws on several were distended exposing a weapon with which they spat energy bursts randomly along the street. Holes were blasted through walls, mailboxes and cars. There was smoke everywhere. Several people were sprawled on the street, some whimpered or screamed, a few lay still. A little boy tugged at his mother's limp wrist. She lay face down and unmoving on the asphalt. One of the creatures seemed to notice him. It stalked towards him flexing clawed hands in anticipation.
The forceblast knocked it away from the child and into a lamppost. It began to reorientate itself and track its attacker. A knife thrown with superhuman strength punched impossibly through the triple armoured skull. Energy surged through the blade and melted its brain.
Azurite was already moving as Calcite took out the first whatever. Her air vortex struck one of the creatures in the chest and pinned it against a wall. The force of a hurricane focused on an area a few centimetres in diameter. The chestplate buckled and imploded. Pressure forced fluid to erupt from the creature's joints. She jumped clear before a second could bring its weapon to bear and charged. Adjusting her forceshield to withstand kinetic shock rather than energy bursts she punched the creature in the belly. Her arm ripped through the stomach plates and into the interior. They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. It seemed to hold true for these things as well. The interior felt disturbingly organic. She'd thought these things were some sort of machines. It toppled over dragging her with it. Shit! Her arm was caught on something inside. She began trying to rip herself loose as a third creature advanced. The weapon in its mouth glowed blindingly. Azurite warped her shield to repel energy bursts and prayed to whoever might be listening that it could withstand the blast at this range.
Something slashed through the blue neck and the head came loose. The metallic skull rang on the roadway as the body began toppling. Calcite stood behind it holding the sword he'd just forged. Azurite ripped free of the corpse and looked for another foe. She saw what was left of the other two, one cut in half, one in small pieces. She looked for more enemies, she needed something to fight. Nothing like a few seconds of terror to get the adrenaline flowing.
No one left to fight. Victory. Caught in the surge she turned to look at Calcite. To find him looking at her. They held eyecontact for a moment then Calcite broke it. Idiot, he chided himself, she's got something special with Pyrite and you want to spoil it! To break the tension he said, "No sign of these guys disintegrating."
Her mind whirling with conflicting emotions Azurite nodded. "No sign of the Senshi either. Aren't they supposed to deal with this sort of thing?"
"It's a big city. Maybe they've got other worries."
"Maybe." They glanced around at the fallen. No one seemed to be bleeding to death which pretty well exhausted their knowledge of dealing with human injuries. Best thing to do would be leave it to the professionals. Already in the distance they could hear sirens.
Azurite leaned down and picked up the severed head. Looking it in the eye she intoned, "Blasting our new home is the biggest mistake of your life as well as the last. By the power of the red star Sailor Arcturus will obliterate you!"
Calcite frowned. "I think you're supposed to do that before the fight starts."
"This way is a lot more effective. It saves having to adlib a speech while someone is shooting at you."
"You also dropped the 'I will punish you' line."
"Dressed like this it can be counterproductive. When I broke up that mugging about a week ago the victim begged me to punish him as well."
Calcite refrained from comment. When Azurite designed the Sailor Arcturus costume she'd got a bit overboard with the studs and leather. Many people wondered how she could walk in heels like those let alone run.
Anyway it was time to get out of here before the authorities arrived to ask questions. "Let's get out of here. Bring the head. Maybe Pyrite can tell us just what we just wiped out. I can't decide if they were machines or creatures." They teleported home leaving a large mess for the authorities to deal with.
While the police were getting used to calls to weird attacks they normally weren't this messy. Normally they'd just find crowds of weak people several of whom claimed to have seen both monsters and the Sailor Senshi. Both the monsters and the senshi would always been gone without a trace. While they could describe the monsters no one seemed able to accurately describe the senshi. This time there was a street full of injuried people, major property damage and the scattered remains of six ... things. Ambulances were brought in to ferry the injured to hospital and the street was closed. The police called in trucks to haul the creatures remains to an impound warehouse for storage. That would do as a temporary solution while they tried to figure out just what the hell was going on.
Meanwhile Pyrite sensed both his cousin and lover teleport in. Something had happened, normally they used more mundane and inconspicuous methods of transportation. He hurried to meet them.
"Azure, Cal we've got a problem ... what the hell is that?"
"We were hoping you could tell us." She handed him the head.
"So ... something did come through the gate." He turned it over in his hands probing in physically and psychically.
"Gate?" Cal and Azure glanced at each other. "There were six of these things. Do you know what our friend here, the terminator lookalike, is?" Calcite shifted his clothing back to the sweatsuit.
"Not a clue cousin. All I know is a dimensional gate suddenly appeared briefly on the site of our gate from the kingdom. It's inactive now but it's still there." Pyrite paused then race downstairs to his lab. Cal and Azure shrugged and followed. Pyrite had the head resting on a slab of crystal, three gemstones hovered around it. Both settled down to wait, when Pyrite got like this you couldn't distract him. After a minute he plucked the stones out of the air and turned to them. "That confirms what I thought. This thing has been in contact with a youma. And before you say anything snide I'm not talking about either of you."
"Another youma. So this thing's a youma creation."
Pyrite shook his head. "No, this thing looks technological rather than magical or magickal. It has however picked up aura traces from close contact with a youma."
"No way to determine anything more?"
"No, these are faint traces. Neither of you noticed them right?" Both shook their heads. "If not for my sensitivity to energy fields I wouldn't have either. There is one thing though ..."
"For traces to linger this long on a nonmagickal artifact the source must be extremely powerful."
"Terrific." Calcite sighed. "We'd better get a look at this gate. Think you can open it long enough to send a probe through?"
"Sure. I am this group's resident genius."
"A real genius wouldn't have worked through the candlelight dinner I set last tuesday."
Pyrite suddenly looked a little guilty and Calcite added, "You know she forced me to let Ti drag me to that anime film festival just to get you two the night alone."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to forget ... it was just that I found this exciting lead on field enhancement ..."
"Hmph. Let me you tell you something mister. Do that again and you are going to suffer."
"Is that a promise?"
Calcite's voice broke in. "Let's investigate the gate first people. Oh and Azure that sort of threat would sound more effective without the costume." Azurite swore and she realized she was still dressed as Sailor Arcturus. She morphed it back to the tracksuit.
"I didn't mean it that way."
"If you say so."
"Save it for later you two. Check your glamour and let's go!" Pyrite nodded and shifted his eyecolor from yellow to blue. The black pigmentation vanished from his fingernails. That would do it. Unlike the others there was nothing unusual about his haircolor. Black was common enough though green and blue remained rare. Being rare it was noticeable, and the renegades preferred not to be noticed.
The park was looking a little the worse for wear with large footprints through the grass and flowerbeds. Curious onlookers traced the prints back to the place they suddenly appeared but wandered away when they realized there was nothing to see. The trio approached the spot with no sign of urgency. Just three friends following the trail.
Azurite murmurred, "They must have been under orders to get somewhere crowded before starting to cause trouble." Calcite nodded. Oblivious to this Pyrite unobtrusively glanced at what appeared to be a walkman. Fiddling with it he muttered "I think I've got it. Hopefully it'll be invisible to the naked eye. Here goes." Calcite and Azurite saw nothing but felt something. Pyrite nodded and fished something out of his coat pocket. It looked like a small scale model of the Enterprise. At Calcite's look he muttered, "Defensive camoflague. It looks like a simple Star Trek toy."
"I believe you. Ready to launch?"
"Make it so."
Trying to decide if his cousin was trying to be funny Pyrite tossed the probe into the invisible gateway. No one but them saw it disappear. Pyrite did something with his disguised equipment and the sense of presence vanished. "Ok don't want anyone stumbling through the gate so it's back on standbye. It'll be about an hour before the probe is ready to return so how about we get some breakfast?"
"Why not, there's a little cafe near here I've been meaning to try."
Over breakfast Pyrite told the others his theory. "The location of that gate was no coincidence. It had to appear on the site of our original gate."
"Why? Our gate's long gone. The place it connected to just doesn't exist anymore."
"Normally that would be true. I think the problem is our gate hadn't totally collapsed when the Crystal's erasure wave hit it."
"Just what are you saying?"
"I think instead of the gate just fading out the crystal slammed it shut. This affected the local continuum creating a weak spot."
"A fracture point in reality. A minor breach in the integrity of space and time."
Calcite rolled this concept over. "A fracture point. What does that mean in layman's terms?"
"Basically that someone trying to access this world from another continuum would find that to be the easiest entry point."
"I was afraid of that." He sighed. "Wherever the Senshi have got to when they hear about this mess and trace it back it'll lead them to the fracture point. If they somehow trace it to us they might decide we're partially responsible."
Azurite frowned. "It's not like we intended to do that. Hell it was Sailor Moon who created the erasure wave!"
"Intention doesn't matter as much as action. Besides if there are youma on the other side of that thing causing trouble we'll get caught up in it anyway. Best thing to do is see if we can deal with it ourselves then collapse the gate."
Azurite nodded then turned to Pyrite. "Can't you just collapse the gate right now."
"Yes but the fracture would remain. There'd be nothing stopping whoever built this gate from recreating it."
"Not your fault. Guess we'll have to have a word with the builder."
Calcite glanced at his watch. "Finish your coffee then let's stroll back to the park to pick up your probe." He caught Azurite's eye and she filled in the unspoken part. "... and let's hope it's coming back unaccompanied."
Ten minutes later Pyrite was again fiddling with the disguised warp key. Behind him Azurite and Calcite tried not to show signs of battlereadyness. Azurite was close enough to Pyrite to wrap her shield around him if any of those blue things stepped through. The air seemed to faintly waver around Calcite's fingers as psychoplasm was generated and held waiting. Pyrite gave a grunt of satisfaction and they felt the gate open.
A tiny spaceship blinked into existence and was snatched out of the air by Pyrite. He did something to the tool in his hand and the gate was gone.
"More like on standby. Well let's see what my little friend found out."
They found a bench and Pyrite cradled the probe in both hands. After a few minutes he blinked and slid it back into his coat pocket. "Well there were no youma near the gate. It didn't pick up any with in the area it scanned."
"So no-one within a kilo of the gate."
"Right. Various human signatures scattered around, air has a few more pollutants but otherwise the environment seems interchangeable with here. Literally. There's another synchronistic zone over there."
"Makes sense. How else could youma survive outside the Kingdom."
"Unless it was equivalent to the Kingdom the other side. But it isn't. Seems identical to Earth. Climate seems to match more or less to Autumn in Tokyo. No large scale magick flares detected. No evidence of magick use within the scanned area. That's about all we're going to get out of a probe."
"So if we want any more information someone will have to go and take a look?"
Calcite nodded. "How soon can you get that gate open again?"
"Will it last another six hours?"
"I'd say it's got twelve at a minimum before collapse."
Azurite stared at Calcite, "Wait a minute ..."
"I'm the best choice to go. Previous experience and the most power."
"You might need backup, I can ..."
"I appreciate the offer but this is a recon mission not a raid. I won't be looking for trouble. Just a quiet investigation. Like I did on Earth on my first trip. You're in charge in my absence."
Which translated to "do whatever you think best if I don't return."
She sighed. "Just remember not to do anything heroic on the other side."
"Absolutely. Low profile all the way."
Calcite turned back to Pyrite. "Might as well get on with it."
"To boldly go where no youma has gone before."
"To go boldly where at least one youma has gone before."
Soon they were back at the gate. Pyrite had opened it but Cal wouldn't step through until there were no witnesses. "Give me six hour then reopen it. In the meantime see what you can find out from Yorick back at the house."
"Cal ..." Azurite sounded hesitant. Pyrite felt a pang.
"... uh ... take care of yourself ok. I don't want to have to explain to Ti why you never came back."
"Trust me. I haven't let you down yet."
Azure seemed on the brink of saying something else but just nodded. For a moment there was no one in sight. Calcite waved and stepped forward. From his perspective suddenly he was alone in the dark.
MegaTokyo - October 2033 AD
It was already evening on this side of the gate. The area seemed to be surrounded by crumbling ruins. The buildings didn't look that old. They'd been damaged and destroyed by something. It didn't appear to be war induced. In the distance Calcite could see tower blocks jutting into the night. Ablaze with light, many of them bigger than the ones he'd seen in Tokyo. Looming over them all was one massive building. Almost like a pyramid, a giant high tech pyramid. Calcite could sense humans nearby. He wasn't looking for contact just yet. Fixing this place in his mind he slid silently through the darkness.
The megalopolis had several areas like the one Calcite had arrived in. When GENOM began rebuilding Tokyo they preferred to build up rather than out. Several areas were left as they were to rot into slums. They became havens for gangs, criminals and those unfortunates who couldn't afford to live in the new city. It was almost as though GENOM was cultivating areas crime would flourish. But that was ridiculous. Why would the largest multinational in the world want a breeding ground for thugs and people who wouldn't be missed on the doorstep of their corporate headquarters?
In another slum, known to the locals as the pit, a woman was walking. One glance would show you she didn't belong. Tailored black blouse and skirt, perfect complexion, styled blond hair. She looked like a mid level executive who'd taken a shortcut, had her car & phone break down and decided to walk out. It happened occasionally, there were people who made it happen. Get the license of any car that drove through semi regular, hack the traffic database to get an address and rig the car's electrics to fry at a remote signal. Sometimes gangs were paid to do it as a means of eliminating business rivals. Sometimes they just did it for fun.
Heels clicking loudly in the stillness she walked on. A few individual predators watched but stayed back. Probably a gang target, spoiling their fun could be terminal. One of them, drunk enough to ignore the danger, stagggered towards her. She sniffed the air and shook her head. Her lips peeled back in a wide grin and flashed her teeth at the would be mugger. He stopped dead and backed away, crossing himself for the first time since childhood. She stopped smiling and resumed her apprehensive look, darting nervous glances at every patch of shadow.
A few minutes later she was approaching the unofficial no man's land between the pit and MegaTokyo proper. No luck tonight. Oh well. Might as well head for a bar and pick tonight's bedmate. Then she stopped as the figures edged out of the shadows. Five of them. Looked like they liked to stop their prey just in sight of sanctuary. Their leader stepped forward. Big man, scarred and proud of each one. He smelled of violence and ... metal? That scent tickled a memory. Yes,it was him.
"Leaving so soon honey?" His friends chuckled and made various comments on her anatomy. "Not safe for a woman to be out here alone. We'll give you a escort out of here."
"Yeah ride you'll never forget."
"Not for the rest of your life."
She pulled her empty hands from her pocket. "Keep your distance. My hands are lethal weapons."
One of the followers giggle, "Oooh I'm scared guys. She's a karate expert."
The big guy smiled and brought his left hand into view. After the amputation he'd got the toughest cybernetic he could. The hand was plain steel, no attempt made to make it look natural. It had been further modified by a black market cybertechnician and now sported claws and spines on the back. "What a coincidence. So is mine."
They moved to surround her. She kept watching the leader. Her earlier look of fear was gone. Now she watched him defiantly. "That explains those wounds on Janet. I couldn't understand what cut her like that."
"Janet Ombari. The woman you raped and left to die four weeks ago."
"Kind of short? Red hair?"
"Black, taller than me, sure people were basically good."
"Oh her. I get them mixed up sometimes." Something was wrong. No sign of anyone following her, she wasn't packing a gun. Why wasn't she scared? "We taught her you can't talk your way out of everything. Cooperate and we won't hurt you too much." From the way the others started laughing that promise wasn't worth a whole lot. "Friend of yours?"
"I don't have friends. But she was one of ours and no one hurts our people except us." Before he could question that she said, "You're the last."
"Last of the ones who hurt Janet." She smiled, "You've lost a lot of friends lately, haven't you?" He snarled and pulled the claw back to slap her and break her cheekbone. Kasugi and Bradley moved in to hold her in place. Then she was gone and something else stood there.
He didn't get much of a look at it except for a white blur. A white blur surrounded by red. His hand was still arcing forward as his followers began falling. Then his cyberhand was falling from his wrist and blood was pouring from his throat. He tried to staunch the flow with his remaining hand but felt it running through his fingers. The thing his would-be victim had become stopped moving and he got his first good look at the white shape. Green eyes with oval pupils bored into his. A voice that would have been seductive under other circumstances whispered, "I was born a monster. What was your excuse?" Then the world seemed to fade and he dropped.
She watched him fall and finish bleeding to death. Around her the other four lay scattered. None would be getting up. She concentrated and her image changed to a psychoteen biker girl. She should look dangerous enough to move on unmolested. After she got some distance she'd resume her normal glamour. Which bore little resemblence to either this or her potential victim face. Best to get moving. She was close enough to the edge of the slum that someone might just call the police when they saw the bodies. The hunt was done. One last little touch. She bent down and tucked the card between the metal hands second and third fingers. Then loped away.
It was done which should please Lord Jadeite. While he hadn't forbidden her this he hadn't encouraged her. Though after the success of last night's test he was already in a good mood. Now his big plan (whatever it was) would begin. Maybe he'd even tell her what was going on. After all who else was available to marvel at his genius?
In the hidden repair bay under Raven's garage Mackie Stingray turned as the door opened. His sister walked in trying not to show a limp. "Well?"
He shrugged. "The prognosis hasn't changed since last night. Nene's took the least damage so it should be fully functional again in five to six days. We're talking weeks before the others are operational again. Frankly given the structural damage I still think it would be best to junk them and start from scratch."
"That would take months. I don't think we have months."
"It's not like you're out of commission. We have the old suits ..."
"Which are weaker and we nearly lost with the new suits. I need them functional again and ready for upgrade immediately." Sylia Stingray looked over her creations, the four Knight Saber hardsuits. The new improved designs which had trashed Dr. Miriam's Superboomers during the attempted ADP HQ takeover. The best combat exosuits on the planet. They all looked like they'd been run through a carcrusher. Sylia winced as another pain echoed up her leg. She'd been fortunate not to suffer broken bones. If she'd been really fortunate she wouldn't have been beaten black and blue. Still if you could walk away while your opponent fell that was a victory. Wasn't it?
She realized Mackie was watching her. The deadly serious expression looked foreign in place of his normal wiseguy look. "Sis ... do the others know just how close you all came to dying?"
She sighed. "Linna does. Priss can't conceive of herself losing a fight, as for Nene ... she's sure everything will always work out in the end so she never worries about it."
"Maybe we should just let this go ..."
"WHEN HELL FREEZES OVER!" The anger was a stark contrast to Sylia's normal emotionless mask. How had things gone this wrong? One Boomer ... one lousy Boomer had nearly finished all four of them. How had GENOM come up with a monster like that so quickly?
Mackie asked, somewhat hesitantly, "Uhh ... so have you found anything?"
Sylia gave up trying to hide her frustration. "Nothing. It's a normal C-55 Boomer. No special armour, no indication of programming for new weapons, nothing to indicate how it morphed into that other form ... it's totally impossible but it happened!"
"Easy Sis. You beat it in the end." He put a hand on her shoulder feeling the tension. She couldn't let it go. "What if there's two of them next time?", he thought. But he didn't say it, he knew his sister. She'd go to fight them anyway.
About 40 minutes later ADPolice detectives Leon MacNichol and Daley Wong were heading to the edge of sector 4. Slum zone, police went in heavily armed and as infrequently as possible. Leon was driving and Daley was on the videolink. "So why are we heading for some N police gang homicide?"
"Seems it was a literal gang homicide. Five skullcrushers killed with an edged weapon. They think it might be our friend the Werewolf Vigilante.
"Sheesh, what a name. First it was vampires, now it's werewolves. What a city." The vampire murders hadn't exactly been solved but they had stopped. An investigation into the illegal mecha believed involved in the crimes (which had been found linked to a dead sexaroid) had faded out the way all investigations that impacted GENOM did. "Anyway no one's proved the Wolf is ADP responsibility. Why bother?"
"Well we could sign off and head for a motel."
"Not tonight Daley, I have a headache."
They arrived at the scene and were waved through the sparse crowd. Several of whom seemed to be there to check the guys in question were really dead (and to piss on the corpses if they could).
The detective in charge headed for them.
"Evening Leon. Hello Daley, you look handsome as ever."
"Carol you know you're not my type so why keep bother?"
"Same reason you keep after Leon. Just in case he changes his mind."
"So what have we got?"
She waved them over to a bodybag. "Same as the others. Single wound, fatal instantly or damn close. This one got cut straight through the ribcage and into the heart." THe ADP men looked at the four parallel slashes on the chest.
"ID the weapon yet?"
"No but check this out. We haven't bagged this one yet." She nodded to the man standing by the sheet covered body. "Take a look!"
Leon shrugged. "Slashed throat. What's the big deal."
Daley frowned. "Check out the left arm." Leon looked. At the elbow it stopped being flesh. The cybernetic ended suddenly, neatly severed just below the wrist.
Carol nodded. "We've bagged the hand. It was holding this card." She produced an evidence bag. Leon read the small card inside.
"Let's see, 'I'm not a vigilante I just like killing things.' What the hell?"
"Weird isn't it? Everyone who's turned up dead from whoever or whatever this is is a career criminal. Like our friend here. Got arrested for rape at 16. Did three years and we filed his DNA signature. We've got seven others he did over the past two years, the last one just four weeks ago. That's just the ones where we found the victims. Great thing DNA tracking. You know who did it but if you can't find them, so what?"
"No shortage of places scum can hide in this town."
"Right. Anyway all the wolf's victims are guys like this. It's no secret we aren't exactly busting our backs trying to track him. Hell, he's got fans at HQ. Then he leaves a note claiming he's just a serial killer. Like he doesn't want anyone cheering him. Crazy."
"Any trace of anything useful?"
"Not a thing. He killed them and got lost. Think it's a boomer?"
"Doubt it. It's far too efficent. Besides whoever heard of a furry boomer?" The killer had been dubbed the Werewolf Vigilante by the trash media. It had originated when a blood soaked girl showed up at an N Police substation claiming she'd been saved from an assault by a white furred thing. The first she'd known of it was when the man holding her down fell over spraying blood. His friend was already down, his head barely attached to his body. Their killer had looked down at her and snarled, "Go!" She'd gone. The bodies were right where she'd said. It was obvious she couldn't have inflicted damage like that. The media picked up on it. A werewolf that killed muggers. It was tied into other unexplained deaths of criminals and MegaTokyo had a new legend. The Werewolf Vigilante. Leon thought it was a pretty stupid name but he'd learned to say it without wincing.
Daley was studying stumpy again. "Straight throught the metal. Maybe the killer has their own bladed cyberhand."
"Cyborg? Could be. Doesn't explain the fur part."
"A costume. Or a fur coat maybe. The only witness was fairly traumatised."
"It's a theory. Well nothing for us to do here. Let's go Daley. Send us a copy of the forensics Carol."
"Sure. Daley can drop by my apartment for it."
"Just fax it to us."
"Can't win 'em all."
"I'll happily drop by for the report."
"Dream on Leon."
The ADP officers headed for their car. Elsewhere in the city security guards at the Central Library were agreeing with Calcite that he was free to use the facilities. They were also showing him how to blank his image from the security system and promising to forget they'd ever met him in a few hours.
Tokyo - The Present
The closed street had become a major tourist attraction. People would marvel at the damage, point to the chalked outlines and trade stories about what had happened. A trio of teenage girls were leaning on one of the hastily placed rails and surveying the scene.
"I heard someone saying the Sailor Senshi were here."
"They're just a myth Meiko!"
"That's what you think Kaori. My brother saw them once."
"I wouldn't trust your brother if he said the sun would rise tomorrow."
Meiko turned to the third member of the threesome. "You've seen the Senshi haven't you Ti-chan?"
Titania Hobbes considered her answer. "Well they were around my old school a couple of times. At least there were people there who swore they'd seen them." She could feel aura traces, both her brother and Azurite had been throwing power around here. Who had they fought? There seemed to be a dozen stories circulating. "I heard someone say it was one of the new Senshi."
Meiko nodded. "I've heard of them. Arcturus and ... the other one."
Titanite restrained an angry response. "Polaris. I think that's the name."
"Could be. My brother's a big fan of Arcturus. He's got a couple of those posters of her."
Kaori seemed to remember something. "Oh right she's the one who looks like a slut. No wonder Yoshi's a fan."
"That's her. Wonder why she dresses like that?"
"Funny sense of humour and no shame about her body."
"What did you say Ti-chan?"
"Nothing important. Guess there's nothing else to see here. Let's get some lunch. My treat." While she really wanted to know what was going on she'd learned a little self control. If it was urgent they'd have called her by now. Of course she did sort of resent Sailor Polaris getting left out of whatever had just happened. She'd find out when she got home. As soon as she could gracefully exit she would.
Back in Pyrite's lab Azurite was watching him dissect the head. It looked disturbingly organic. He shook his head. "Looks like Cal was closer than he thought with that terminator crack."
"Well the Terminator was flesh on the outside, machine on the inside. This seems to be the reverse."
Azurite looked at the brain pan with horror. "You mean that's a human brain?!"
"Sorry didn't mean to imply that. It's organic but I think it's a close copy of a human brain. With some alterations here and there and interfaces to the computer systems."
"Interfaces? How's that possible?"
"No idea. Human technology isn't my strong point. I've learned some stuff but I've got a long way to go. However I'm pretty sure that this is way beyond what they can do right now. This should be just SF."
"Then how ...?"
"I guess the rules are different on the other side."
"So now what?"
"Wait and see what Cal found out I guess."
A few hours later they were back in the park standing by the gate. "3, 2, 1 ... Energize" Azurite sighed. Calcite appeared and squinted momentarily at the shift from night to afternoon. "Welcome back. Where have you been."
Calcite handed him a copy of the MegaTokyo Times. "Sort of the future."
Pyrite saw the date and whistled. "2033. Forty year chronological displacement. Actual time travel!" Then noticed Calcite shaking his head. "What?"
"It's the future but not out future. Here, I made a hardcopy of this one."
Azurite took it. It seemed to be the local paper for several weeks earlier. "I don't get it."
"Check the date."
"I saw it but what ... wait a minute that was the day Magnesite showed up! The headline should be something like, '30 stricken in mystery incident at school.'" The headline concerned political corruption. "What is this?"
"Artifact of another world. Don't ask me why it's a different year over there. But their past was different. I was looking back for clues about what might have happened ... be going to happen ... to us. There's no trace of any of the trouble Magnesite caused. Or any of the events any of the generals set up.. Nothing about the Senshi either. It seems neither they or the Dark Kingdom existed in that world."
"But there's at least one Youma over there. One who sent weapons through to this world. Which implies knowledge of this Earth."
"That is the mystery. Could be someone from our Dark Kingdom who somehow got thrown into that dimension."
"Someone with the power to open an interdimensional gateway. Cal, there weren't many who could do that and all the prime candidates were already dead before the last day."
"I didn't detect anyone but if they were shielded I wouldn't unless they were using a lot of power or nearby. Let's go home. I'll give you a rough outline of what it's like over there." They nodded and headed out of the park. "Here's the really short version. In the year 2025 Tokyo was hit by a major earthquake. If that'll happen here I don't know but we'd better be able to leave town by then. Anyway thousands died and the city was wrecked. A multinational by the name of GENOM seems to have taken control of the rebuilding. The city is now called MegaTokyo and this company basically owns it. What's significant for us is that one of this company's main products are biomechanical androids."
"Like our friends from this morning?"
"Right. They're called Boomers for some reason. Maybe it's a corruption of an acronym and it was originally B.U.M.A."
"Big Ugly Mother of an Android?"
"Maybe. These things come mainly in construction and military design."
"So our mystery youma got hold of a few military models and sent them here to look for the Senshi. Maybe as a first strike, maybe just as an initial recon?"
"That's my current theory. The thing is there's no shortage of Boomers on the other side."
"So next time instead of six it's six hundred?"
"I think we'd better do something about that." Pyrite looked intrigued by the concept of visiting a future Earth. One step close to the next generation.
Azurite looked grimmer. "I think you're right. Cal we're coming along next time!"
"Saves me asking you."
When they entered the house they found Titanite waiting. "So who's going to tell me what's going on?"
Later Titanite was studying the paper intensely. There was something familiar about MegaTokyo. Where had she heard it before. "So I get to stay here?"
"Lots of kids your age would welcome getting the place themselves for a day or two. Hold a party if you really like."
She considered protesting but caught the look in her brother's eye and subsided. She'd learned when he was unwilling to compromise and this was definitely one of those times. "So when are you leaving?"
"Tomorrow afternoon. There are some arrangements I'd like to make first." Some of them to take care of Ti in case they didn't come back. He'd leave her sealed instructions that would open after a few days absence without any word. "Oh and try not to overdo the Sailor Polaris appearances in our absence."
"Ok. Mind if I hang on to this paper?"
"Sure. Just don't let any of your friends see it."
Ti nodded and headed for her room. Behind her the three adults began discussing plans and going over the information Calcite had gathered. Once she was alone she continued combing the paper. What she was looking for she wasn't sure.
It was a small article buried in the gossip section that did it. It reported rumours that the mercanaries/vigilantes known as the Knight Sabers had finally bitten off more than they could chew and been killed by a new model boomer. Knight Sabers! She'd heard that name before. A quick scrabble through her collection didn't produce any results. Oh well she knew who to ask. There was a boy in her class with every anime series ever produced and absolutely no life. She was a fan but she wasn't totally obsessive so she'd tended to avoid him. But now ... she'd have a word with him tomorrow. Hopefully he wouldn't choke up at a girl actually talking to him.
End of part 1
Next : The Renegades arrive in MegaTokyo to find it's a very different place from the city they know. Also Tinsel City's resident Youma show up. Part 2 : A Night On The Town.
Dark Kingdom Renegades/Bubblegum Crisis : Bad Moon Rising
By Mark Latus
Part 2 : A Night On The Town
MegaTokyo - October 2033
The concealed Boomers switched out of standby mode when the three figures appeared. These biomechanicals were neither sentient nor especially enhanced, they were simply there because the gate's creator had worried about a certain person arriving. As a result the Boomers had a very specific attack profile programmed. Two of the three were male, therefore not viable targets. While the third was female she did not seem to match the profile. The lead Boomer remained hidden but commenced a more detailed scan. Conclusion, subject was nonhuman. Not a potential target. The Boomers reverted to standbye mode.
Calcite and Azurite looked for movement as Pyrite scanned the area. As the Boomers stayed still and lacked auras they remained undetected. The DKR members were thinking in terms of potential ambushers being either human or youma. Not surprising as they'd only met their first Boomers yesterday. Pyrite closed the gateway again. The space/time corridor back to their adopted homeworld remained but it was currently inaccessible from either side. There were no signs of alarms triggered by the opening. Whoever had created the gate evidently assumed no one else could unseal it. He planted a few alarms of his own around the gate. Best to have a few sensors on this side of the gate as well. Time to go have a look around the city and see how the future turned out.
Marking the spot mentally (in case teleporting here became necessary) the three moved off singlefile. Calcite took the point with Azurite bringing up the rear. Leaving keeping watch to the other two Pyrite returned to his scans. So far there was no evidence of youma energies. However if the builder was shielding you wouldn't detect him her or it unless they were using large amounts of power.
As they moved through the slum they drew attention. All three were dressed far too well for this part of town. A few people considered asking them to contribute something to the community but stopped short. While the one in the middle seemed oblivious to his surroundings the other two seemed aware of everyone watching. Both moved with the unhurried predatory grace of those who know there's no need to strut because they can handle everything thrown at them. Still when your gang is large and well armed enough you might ignore these warning signs.
Pyrite suddenly walked in Calcite's back. His cousin had stopped very abruptly. Behind him Azurite had also paused. Both studied the darkness around them. Pyrite's own Dark Kingdom honed senses belatedly kicked in. He'd been too busy studying his scanner to pay attention to their surroundings. Getting distracted like that was one of his major failings and the main reason he'd never made a good warrior. Of course just surviving in the Kingdom had been a challenge. Pacifists wouldn't last long. He activated his forceshield and traced the energy patterns in the darkness. "12 humans, close by and excited." The others nodded silently, continuing to shift their gaze from one watcher to the next. Calcite considered the best way to handle this from what he'd learned on his last trip. There should be little threat. While energy weapons existed by this time they were bulky devices and not in common usage. Projectile based guns remained the weapon of choice and their shields should handle the kinetic impacts. On a purely physical level the humans couldn't match them. Hell even Pyrite, their weakest member, was three times stronger than a champion weightlifter. The problem wasn't getting past this gang, the problem was getting past without hurting anyone too much. Mangling these jackals could bring attention. Maybe the glowing eyes and sepulchre voice routine would work? Maybe not. This was the future, that sort of thing could be a trick anyone could do.
Then the thugs decided to take matters into their own hands. Twelve against three unarmed people is pretty good odds. The DKR found themselves surrounded by large muscular thugs, all sporting multicolored mohawks and spiked noserings. The leader (purple mohawk, three rings, multiple steroid injection arm scars) seemed to think drooling was intimidating. "Leave your money and the girl and you walk away alive!" Calcite winced slightly, Azurite was going to be a little hard to control after that.
"Jesus, what a cliche!" Azurite stalked up to the hulking figure. "My turn. Get the hell out of our way or I kick your balls into orbit."
"Uh let's try and avoid violence."
The leader leered at Pyrite, "Scared of fighting little man?"
Calcite chuckled slightly, "He wasn't talking to you. She's not kidding. This is your last chance to walk away without becoming a eunuch."
The gorilla glanced around at his gang. Several were looking very apprehensive. Maybe these three had reason to think they could walk through this place unprotected. Maybe they were just bluffing. He caught Vincent's eye. Vinnie had a detector wand. "They packing?"
"They are not!"
"Nice try bitch." His hand descended on Azurite. "Take's a lot to hurt me, more than you ..." The crunch was audiable to everyone. He didn't scream, it hurt far too much to draw breath, just folded up and collapsed.
"Next?" For a moment the thugs were frozen. Then the knives and clubs came out and the eleven left swarmed at them. Most went for Azurite which was a big mistake. Calcite disabled his opponents with speed and minimum force. Pyrite swung wildly, breaking noses and whatever else got in the way. There were six down around Azurite clutching various parts of their anatomy. Four were down around Calcite, unconscious or semiconscious. Calcite was a little puzzled. He hadn't been using that much force so why did so many of them have broken limbs. The remaining two were scattered by Pyrite's feet. One was out of it, the other sat dabbing at the blood running from his nose. Pyrite turned to Azutite and that was when it happened.
Bloody nose reached inside his jacket and pulled out a gun. He started to aim it at Pyrite's back. It was unlikely the bullet could have penetrated his cousin's shield, even at that range. But you don't live long in the Dark Kingdom by making assumptions about invulnerability. Calcite's reaction was instinctive. The shock blast slammed into the gunman. It should have knocked him over and torn the gun from his hand. Instead he catapulted backwards into a wall. There was a cracking noise as he hit. Then he slid down leaving a stain along the bricks. Calcite looked at his hand in shock! What the hell had just happened?
The conscious thugs began dragging themselves away as fast as possible. One was hysterically muttering, "... pack of fucking boomers ... I said there something wrong but nobody listened ..." All that were left were the unconscious and the Renegades.
"That should have just stunned him." Calcite had knelt by the body but was keeping a watch on those fleeing. Just in case they tried for vengeance.
"Is he dead?" Even as he said it Pyrite knew it was a stupid question. The back of the head was caved in. Calcite didn't bother answering it.
"I lost control. How the hell could I do that for a threat this minor?" Azurite laid a hand on his shoulder. To be unable to depend on your powers was a terrible thing. Also a potentially fatal one. In a thoughtful tone Calcite continued, "First time I've killed a human."
Azurite surveyed the bloodied and broken corpse. "One thing you have to say for youma. We die a lot neater."
"Good point. This guy is not going to spontaneously combust." This was unknown territory. "Should we do something about the body?"
This wasn't something either of them had had to deal with before. All their other kills had been members of their own kind. Half an hour later all you needed was a dustpan and the problem was solved. "Can we destroy the remains?"
"I'm not sure. I can make it explode or burn up a lot of it but total destruction is a bit tricky." He considered. "Probably best to leave it. We don't exist in this city and if our description gets circulated we'll just change glamours. Now let's get out of here before they come back with friends and we have to hurt a few more." A thought struck him. "Pyr, your scanner was on during the fight?"
"Yes. I didn't bother switching it off."
"Good. Review and see what powerlevel I used. I have to compensate for this fast." The Renegades moved off towards the city core. No one saw them depart.
Elsewhere in the city a man calling himself Jason Deite looked up in puzzlement. Strange, for a moment there he'd thought he felt something familiar. Ridiculous. He was jumping at shadows. According to Margrave's story (which she'd verified under mind control) they'd been the only ones to escape the Kingdom. At least the only ones who'd arrived here. He shook off the feeling and returned to his calculations. Everything seemed perfect. While the test hadn't gone exactly as planned he now had access to all the Boomers he needed. A momentary irritation flit across his mind. It had been unfortunate that the Boomer failed to kill the Knight Sabers. There was something about females fighting to defend people that really irked him. Which reminded him, he wondered how Sailor Moon had liked his little present. The six combat boomers must have chewed up a good chunk of the city before they were destroyed. And they had been destroyed as none returned. At least it was back to having just one Senshi to worry about. Margrave had told how Mars, Mercury and the two he'd never met fell before the final battle. Which Beryl had lost decisively.
Sort of a pity, he'd have liked to pay her back for sealing him in that crystal. As he remembered it he shivered involuntarily. Trapped like a fly in amber but aware. He'd be having nightmare's about that for the rest of his life. Which would be a very long time indeed.
Still there was one positive thing about the otherwise horrific experience. He felt a sharpness he hadn't felt in centuries. Looking back he'd become incredibly complacent after remaining unchallenged for so long. Secure in his power he'd gone against the Senshi without considering the possibility they could be a threat. If he'd just taken the trouble to eliminate them before he started draining humans. He shook his head again. Just thinking back on his blunders made him wince.
Well now he had a whole new world to conquer. After arrival he'd taken Margrave and stayed inconspicuous as he studied it. Once he had confirmed the Senshi didn't exist here he'd begun making plans. This had lead him to GENOM. A little study of the company had convinced him he'd fit right in. A lot of study had convinced him the company's elite would have thrived in the Dark Kingdom. During this time he'd come up with the idea that perhaps he'd lost because part of him didn't want to hurt young girls. A holdover from his human days. Shortly afterwards over a two week period seven girls between 13 and 16 fell victim to a serial killer. No one saw them abducted or saw anyone dump the remains. The mutilation of the bodies shocked even the hardened detectives of MegaTokyo's N Police Homicide Unit.
Having determined he had no qualms about hurting the young and innocent Jadeite had returned to making plans. Curiously it was about this time that Margrave ceased her constant seduction attempts. But he was enjoying the novelty of sex with human females for the first time his transformation from human to youma centuries ago.
Then the plan had come to him. After tests to ensure it was workable he created identities for himself and the cat woman and moved in to take his place in GENOM's hierarchy. Nothing too major. He wasn't about to take over everything at once. He'd bided his time and waited. As he waited he gathered the energy he would need to make the plan workable. Killing time and as many people as possible.
The test two nights earlier had been the turning point. The first combat demonstration of his Hyperboomer. There had been quite a crowd there, including Chairman Quincy. Actually it hadn't been Quincy, it was a boomer double. Probably none of the humans had picked realized that. He wondered if Kate Madigan, his number one hatchetwoman, had known it was a fake Quincy. His mind drifted back to Friday ...
David Webster watched J. Deite intently but was careful to show no signs of his hatred. He'd been on the verge of unveiling his new upgraded BU-12C heavy combat units when Deite stole his thunder. Hopefully the boy wonder was about to fall flat on his face. On the various monitors a BU-12B model was rampaging. Typical 12B, Rocket Launcher on the left arm, 50 mm chaingun on the right. The heavy duty monster had already accounted for fifteen civilians and six ADP police officers. To say nothing of inflict dozens of casualties, serious and trivial. Mainly serious. The concealed cameras continued sweeping as they waited for the stars of the show to arrive. The ADP had pulled back as they waited for their heavy armour to be airdropped in. Then the 12B's bullet shaped head spun to three o clock. An aircraft was approaching swiftly and silently. It wasn't ADP. Looked like the Knight Sabers had arrived.
The Boomer launched three rockets at the VTOL. It dodged with ease and its counterfire destroyed all three missiles. The Boomer's tactical programming made it conserve the remaining rockets. Four armoured figures dropped from the hovering plane. They slowed their falls but still hit with impacts that should have overbalanced them. Three of the four landed smoothly. The pink suit seemed on the verge of toppling before regaining its' balance. Or rather her balance. Unlike the massive exosuits used by the police and the military these didn't conceal the sex of the operator through shear bulk. The suits were formhugging and made it abundatly clear that the wearers were female. Despite the relative thinness of the suits they could outperform state of the art military equipment. GENOM would have given a fortune to acquire the secrets of those suits. Considering the costs of the hardware the Knight Sabers had wrecked they already had. The ton & a half Boomer loomed over the foursome. The fight seemed totally one sided.
It was. The Boomer didn't have a chance and they all knew it.
Each of the suits was a different color and each operator displayed different characteristics. The Blue suit fought like a maniac frequently cutting herself off from support in her zeal for killing Boomers. The White suit fought calmly and methodically yet no less lethally. The green suit seemed to support the white suit and aid the Blue suit when possible. The Pink suit avoided combat as much as possible but had been known to destroy Boomers. Her function seemed to be mainly tactical and technological support.
All four were in motion from the moment of touchdown. The Boomer launched a rocket at the Green Saber who was instantly arcing over the Boomer. As the missle chewed up the side of a building the Saber touched down behind the Boomer. The "ribbons" trailing behind her wrapped around the Boomer's upper left arm. Suddenly they were charged and pulled through the arm like monofilament cord. The Boomer lost its' primary weapon. As this was going on the White Saber was dodging the Boomer's efforts to bring the chaingun to bear. As it seemed to get a lock the Saber fired a Beam Cannon from her right palm. The chaingun exploded and the Boomer was literally disarmed. A plate in its chest opened as it prepared to deploy the supernapalm spray available in this model. The Blue Saber slammed her railgun into the halfopen hatch and fired at pointblank range. Then kicked off from the boomer, riding the jump and the shockwave from the blast as the Boomer immolated itself.
All over in seconds. Not the sort of tape to show potential clients for GENOM's military hardware. Deite smiled slightly and nodded to his executive assistant Catherine Margrave. She sent a remote signal and the Boomer stepped from concealment. Time for the real test to begin.
The Pink Saber must have picked it up first because she began waving excitedly to the others. What appeared to be a standard C-55 Boomer stepped into view of the monitors. Blue, about two meters tall, main weapon a mouth mounted particle cannon. A far weaker machine that the BU-12B being designed primarily for urban combat. Also in pre-activation form they could pass for human, at least visually, which made them excellent spies and assassins.
The Blue Saber took aim and Deite nodded to his assistant. She triggered their secret activation protocol. Only Margrave and Jadeite knew it was a fake signal. Jadeite reached out with his mind and awakened the seed he'd planted in the C-55. It suddenly swelled increasing in size about 50%. What looked like blue hair sprouted from the chest and shoulders. The face twisted to become lionlike with a fringe of blue hair it. The hands and feet reshaped themselves. The feet were now had three clawed toes with a spur on the back. The hands became clawed as spikes grew from the knuckles. The Knight Sabers seemed momentarily off balanced by this transformation. Jadeite began the play by play.
"As you can see ladies and gentlemen the Hyper Boomer has shed its' camoflague and is now fully operational. This particular design is designed to impose a psychological response in the enemy. Namely fear."
The Blue Saber moved in fast ignoring the raised hand of the White Saber. The White and Green Sabers moved in to support their collegue. The Blue Saber ducked under the line of fire of the Boomer's particle beamer and surged towards it. Her armmounted railgun's mouth blurred towards the Boomer's face. Then stopped abruptly as the Boomer's hand caught her wrist.
The startled Saber ripped off a burst of fire. Which tore into the sky hitting nothing except a luckless pigeon. The Saber tried to break free but the Boomer's grip remained unbreakable. It began to squeeze and the Blue Saber's struggles became more frantic.
The Green and White Sabers moved in simultaneously. The White Saber's blade slid out of the armsheath as she landed in a crouch at the Boomer's feet. She surged upright blade out intending to disembowel this one as she had so many before. The blade scittered across the Boomer's armour without cutting in. The Green Sabre came in from above wrapping her combat ribbons around the arm holding the Blue Saber. They activated but didn't cut.
Jadeite continued, "As you can see as a result of the metamorphosis the unit's armour has retained the same mass while more than doubling in tensile strength." A lie but easer than explaining the forceshield.
The Boomer's free hand struck the White Saber knocking her down. Then the Boomer flung the Blue Saber into the Pink Saber who hadn't moved since contact. Both went down. Grabbing the Green Saber by the combat ribbons the Boomer began to swing her like a flail. Using its new weapon the Boomer began to pummel the White Saber.
Both Green and White Armour were now covered in dents. The Blue Saber broke free of her tangle with the Pink Saber and aimed her railgun at the Boomer. Nothing happened. It must have been damaged by the impact. Then something red, large and humanoid touched down by her. It must have been launched from the VTOL. The red mecha opened to reveal a human shaped space in the middle. The Blue Saber slid into place then charged the Boomer. With the mecha framework she was now about the same size as the Boomer. While it sported a large cannon she didn't dare use it with her battered collegues so close to the target.
The Boomer released its grip on the Green Saber's ribbons and moved to meet its attacker. The Green Saber lay unmoving at its feet. Both giants locked into hand to hand combat. For a few seconds they seemed equally matched. Then the red mech's limbs were forced backwards. Its' joints began to whine and smoke. The Boomer tired of playing games and focused its' particle cannon on the Blue Saber's head. Her armour wouldn't hold at point blank range.
A laser bolt glanced off its' skull. The Pink Saber was partially upright and firing from a kneeling position. With terrible timing (from Jadeite's viewpoint) the battered White Saber tried her armblade again. This time punching into the Boomer's armour. Jadeite cursed silently, he hadn't been able to get his enhanced Boomers to shield against both energy weaponary and physical assault simultaneously. It had to switch regarding the type of attack. It had reactivated the physical shield to stop the Saber cutting any further but this left it open to laser attack. The ablative covering wouldn't protect it for long. It turned its head to track and fire on the Pink Saber before the laserfire caused damage.
It was temporarily ignoring the White Saber. The shield would prevent her blade from inflicting further damage. Her beam cannon was obviously nonfunctional from damage inflicted with the Green Saber. So it concluded she was not an active threat. A mistake.
The Saber didn't try to cut further. She left the blade in place and channeled all her remaining power through it. Energy poured into the Boomer and it began to cook from the inside. Jadeite suppressed a curse. He'd underestimated them, probably because they were just humans inside those suits. An error he would not make again.
He felt the seed dying and deactivated it. The Boomer suddenly morphed back into a standard C-55 then exploded from overload. The White Saber was blown over and lay still. "I appear to have underestimated the Knight Sabers and should have deployed two units. However I believe the potential of this variety of Boomer has been adequetely demonstrated."
On screen the VTOL landed. The Pink Saber helped the Green Saber to stand upright and half walked, half dragged her into the VTOL. The smoking red mecha scooped up the still White saber and carried her into the waiting aircraft. The Pink Saber jumped back out just long enough to locate and grab the Boomer's head. She ducked back into VTOL which roared upwards and noved swiftly out of camera shot.
"Deite?" The Quincy replica's voice echoed across the table
"What will they learn from that salvage."
"Not a thing sir. All they'll find is a standard C-55 Boomer." Why should they find anything else? After all there were no mechanical changes to the design.
Webster saw the chance to score a few points. "And we have to take your word for that don't we? After all you've been keeping the whole enhancement procedure top secret."
Deite smiled. "You haven't been able to learn anything from the materials you had stolen from B lab have you?" Webster began a furious denial and Quincy raised a hand.
"Enough bickering gentlemen. Deite, I like what I've seen. Madigan?"
"See that Deite has access to all the material he needs and go ahead with the Brazil tests on sunday."
The meeting broke up leaving Webster and his number two along with Deite and Margrave. She gathered up their equipment and followed Deite out. Webster snarled at Hashimoto, "I am going to find that sonofabitch's secrets. When I can replicate his results we won't need him anymore. No one will object if anything happens to him."
"Some of our female employees might." Deite was cutting quite a swath through them. The odd thing was just how successful he was. No woman seemed able to say no to him. Including the ones who loathed him. Yet all said it had been of their own free will, no coercern.
"Scumbag. Lucky scumbag."
"Were you able to get anything out of Margrave?"
Webster glared at his subordinate. It was common knowledge that though fiercely loyal to Deite his Executive Assistant was willing to sleep with anyone. At least the first time was easy. Few got to try a repeat performance. Anyone who though it would give them any kind of hold over her was mistaken. Deite didn't care who she screwed and she didn't seem to feel sentimentally inclined to any of her lovers. Bothering her would lead to a very loud, very public appraisal of your performance and its shortcomings. Webster had decided to try his luck. After she'd agreed (without noticeable enthusiasm) he'd set things up. She seemed to be always want to be in control so he'd take that away. She seemed like the type who needed mastering and he liked being a master. Once he dominated her she'd do anything for him. Including getting him the information she wanted. At least that was the plan.
During the evening she had evidently gotten bored, snapped the bonds (and how the hell did she do that?) and grabbed him by the throat. "Listen up little man because you aren't worth telling this twice. You have no idea what real power or real mastery is. It isn't these silly toys, it is part of who and what you always are. Lord J. Deite (strange way to say it) is one. There was another but he's gone. You aren't even close to them." While he was massaging his throat and gasping she'd got dressed and left. All things considered not a very successful evening.
To hell with it. He'd show that bitch and her gloryhound boss. "We're going ahead with the fieldtest. Make the arrangements!"
"Sir the Sabers might not be in condition to engage our upgrades ..."
"We'll give them two days to recover. Then we'll demonstrate that Deite isn't the only one who can build improved Boomers!"
Jadeite's thoughts returned to the present. All things considered the test was a success. Now he had access to all the materials he needed. You have no idea just what you've unleased Quincy, he thought. By the time I'm through you'll wish that Largo clown was all you had to deal with.
In her apartment Margrave poured a drink and toasted a black framed picture. Then flushed in embarrassement, which wasn't easy for her. Why did she do that? Why even keep a picture? She was alone and had dropped her glamour. A fur covered hand with retracted claws picked up the picture. Green eyes with catlike pupils gazed into the smiling features of Janet Ombari. Very white teeth contrasting sharply with the dark features. The way Margrave would always remember her. Much better than how she'd looked at the morgue.
Janet had been born in Kenya. She'd come over with her parents during the rebuilding after the quake. Finishing growing up in MegaTokyo she'd decided to stay and joined the horde of gaijin who crowded the city. She'd joined GENOM as a Motivational Counsellor and been a success. Her sunny personality seemed to be infectuous and she'd been credited with boosting productivity 10% in Boomer Bioconstruction Facility Epsilon. Reassigned to Boomer Development had brought her into contact with Catherine Margrave, the Executive Assistant to J. Deite. There were two sections working on the next phase of Boomer design. The two directors, Deite and Webster were constantly feuding and a lot of bad feeling was spilling out to their employees. So Janet had her work cut out for her. She'd been remarkably successful. Perhaps because unlike so many Counsellors her smile was real, she genuinely was a cheerful and good natured person. All counsellors smiled but with most it was just painted on. Scratch the surface and you found a bitter and cynical person.
It had just been a few weeks ago that Janet had dropped by her office. She was always dropping by on one pretext or another.
"Good morning Catherine." Margrave had suppressed a hiss. How anyone could be so cheerful so early was beyond her.
"I'll take your word for it. I keep telling you I go by either Cat or Margrave. Preferrably Margrave." Ombari loomed over her, at 6'3" she tended to tower. Margrave waved her to a chair.
"If you like. How about 'Grave to shorten it up a bit?"
"NO!" Why she reacted so strongly to her old nickname she wasn't sure. Perhaps because of who'd used it the most. Ombari was watching her carefully but didn't comment.
"OK, well then ..." The talk turned to various staff members who were having problems. Nothing really significant and nothing really to do with her. Margrave sighed.
"Janet, why are you really here?"
"Just trying to cheer you up. You seem to be down lately."
"Why? Everyone else has around given up trying to be friends with me. After they found out I wouldn't be buttering up the boss for them."
"Way I look at it is this ... it's as easy to be nice as nasty so why not be nice."
"Interesting logic. However I think this is the wrong company for that attitude."
Janet had shrugged. "In this town no matter where you work if you look under the surface it'll trace back to GENOM."
"I suppose. However it's easier for bastards and bitches to advance."
"So let them go. I don't want to climb the ladder. I'm happy down here. If the nastier people head up up and away that gets them away from me."
"Maybe. But I'm one of the bitches. Why bother with me?"
Janet had grinned. "To tell the truth you fascinate me. You've been here six months and I think every night you've gone home with a different man."
"A slight exaggeration. Anyway so what? I'm a little more extreme than most but it's not unique behaviour." It's also a lot safer for me than human females, she'd added silently. I can't catch human diseases and even if my breeding cycle activated there's no risk of pregnancy because of the genetic differences.
"Folks say you have the morals of an alley cat."
"They have no idea how right they are."
"What I say is you haven't found who you're looking for yet."
"WHAT!" In a cold tone Margrave had continued, "What makes you think I'm looking for someone!"
Ombari hadn't been daunted. "The fact you've gone through so many once only. If it was just sex you should have found a good lover by now. You're looking to forget someone and you need a substitute." Margrave hadn't said anything, she just stared. "Want to talk about it?"
"No ...", a brief pause, "Yes ... I mean maybe ... look why the hell should I tell you?"
Janet had looked genuinely concerned, "Because I think you need a friend. And I'm about the only shot you've got."
"That doesn't answer why you'd want to be my friend."
She'd shaken her head. "I honestly don't know. All I can say is you fascinate me for some reason. I think you have hidden depths."
"True there's none I wouldn't sink to."
Janet smiled. "Well sink down a few fathoms and betray a few confidences to me." To her surprise Margrave smiled back and nodded. Ombari had paused for a moment then asked, "Is it Mr. Deite?"
"No. Not that we weren't lovers for a time but that was more a matter of ... allegiances. When he decided to expand his horizons it was over. No big deal." I sort of regretted not captivating a Youma lord, she thought. Except after what he did to those children my skin crawled when he touched me. I wonder why? They were only humans, after all. Aloud she continued, "No need to be so formal about him. After all you've slept with him too."
Janet had nodded and looked a little puzzled. "I've wondered about that. I wouldn't have said he was my type but when he asked it seemed like a great idea. He's got remarkable stamina." Margrave had nodded, reflecting that a man with mind control powers could get any woman he wanted. If he chose to do so. Which brought her to thinking about someone else.
"So do you want to tell me about him. No need for names."
Margrave had sighed and sorted through her feelings. After a moment she said. "This was some time back. The guy was one of several I was seeing regularly. He worked for one of Deite's rivals. The brains behind his boss."
"Did he know about the others?"
"Yes. Seemed to accept it was part of who I am. He wasn't jealous."
"Said he wasn't or ..."
"Really wasn't. Guess he felt it was better to share me than lose me. Smart guy but had some blindspots about women. Never caught on that while he was around Azure's tongue was dragging on the ground." Unprompted she said, "Azure was this friend of his, personally I couldn't stand her. Drove her wild I got him before she could. Also she thought I was a bad infuence on his sister."
"Maybe this guy was just operating on your terms? Sex without any attachment, just for pleasure."
"It wasn't without attachment! Look if you use it right sex is a tool. What else did I have? I wanted to advance but I didn't have the power to force my way up the ladder. So you find someone who's got power and attach yourselves to them. And you use what you learn to move upwards."
Janet looked disappointed. "So this man was just a means to an end."
"NO! ... well partially. Initially it was just physical attraction and what he could do for me. Later on ... " Margrave trailed off.
"So he meant something to you but you didn't drop the others?"
"HE DIDN'T TELL ME TO! Besides I needed what I could get from them. They got a great time, I got to learn a lot of stuff that helped me."
"Do you think he understood that?'
"I ... I'm not sure. One thing I hope he realized. With them it was just screwing, with him it was making love."
"Did you ever tell him that?"
"No." Margrave's tone was flat.
Ombari tried to sort through what she'd learned about Margrave's moral code. After a few moment's silence she asked, "So what happened?"
Margrave had stared off into space. When Janet though she wasn't going to say anything she suddenly spoke. "Things went very wrong. Everything was going to hell. That's not a figure of speech. I was facing death and went looking for him. He had an escape route planned. He didn't even look back! Just cleared out with the people he'd chosen and left me to die." She was silent for a few moments. "It was only by chance that I stumbled into Deite and we both got away." She fell silent, immersed in her memories.
Janet tried to think what to say. "So he abandoned you and ..."
"You don't understand." Margrave was shaking her head. "I thought I had him but he was able to leave me without a qualm. After all I had no further value and would just have complicated his escape. A perfectly calculated, cold decision. I was the one with the false expectations. I should be proud of him."
Janet had just looked at her for a while. "Cat, you have a lot of problems."
Margrave's memory returned to the here and now. She extended an index claw and tapped the picture. "Why did I tell you all that? Don't tell me it was because I liked you. I'm a youma, humans mean nothing to us!"
"Then why did you avenge me?" the picture seemed to ask. She sipped her drink and remembered.
Four weeks ago she'd finally agreed to a girls' night out with Janet. Nothing sexual, if the other woman was coming onto her she'd have smelled the phermones. Just a night out for two friends. She still wasn't sure why she'd agreed. Probably she'd felt it would help maintain her cover. At any rate Janet arranged to meet her at Margrave's apartment. She never showed up. An hour after she was due to arrive the police called her. Janet had been found on the fringes of a slum zone. She was critically injured and undergoing emergency surgery at MegaTokyo General. Her attackers had left her electronic notebook which had Margrave's address displaying. The police had found it and called her. The constable advised her to upgrade her security system and watch out for strangers. Janet's attackers would also have seen the address.
By the time she got to the hospital Janet's abused body had given up the struggle to live. The police asked her to positively ID the body. She did. It was hard to associate the bloody ruin with the vibrant woman she'd known. The detective explained what had happened. They'd found Janet's car with a "crab" attached. A small robot designed to slid under a car and link to the electrical system. On a given signal it would fry the cars electronics with a localized pulse that would also knock out cel phones. Janet had been cutting through a downscale neighbourhood. Not quite a slum though on its way there. When she was stranded without transport or communication she must have thought it was a good enough neighbourhood to walk until she could flag a taxi.
They'd been waiting for her. The detective was saying they'd have to run tests to determine the number of attackers. Margrave already knew, she could scent five men. She could also tell the detective didn't hold out much hope for finding them.
So that was that. There was a company memorial and the next day it was business as usual. Janet's replacement came round to offer grief counselling but left hurridly at Margrave's request. Just a dead human, not worth getting upset about. Another statistic in a city full of them. Despite knowing all this Margrave couldn't let it go. Why?
Since she didn't have Renegade tendancies there had to be a reason she felt something must be done. Privately Margrave doubted there ever were such things as Renegades. Probably just a myth created to dispose of enemies by accusing them of it. That left her looking for a good youma reason why she wanted to do something about Janet's murder. After much thought she had the reason.
The Boomer development wing was the equivalent of Lord Jadeite's new fief which made the employees his vassals. Everyone knew only the Dark Generals (and her majesty) were allowed to kill their own servants. Someone had stolen that right from Lord Jadeite. Only he had had the right to kill Ombari. So it was up to her to avenge this attack on Lord Jadeite's privileges.
She'd begun stalking the slums. It had been easier than she'd expected. Go in looking helpless and wait for the predators to appear. One by one she'd encountered Janet's killers. After they'd got overenthusiastic and realized Ombari was dying they'd split up and hidden out in different slums until the hunt died down. Some had stayed loners, some had joined gangs. Now all were dead, along with quite a few others who wouldn't be missed. Lord Jadeite had seemed amused by her actions when he'd learned of them but he hadn't told her to desist. Now the hunt was done.
She'd always been a good huntress but no one in the Dark Kingdom had regarded her as more than a sex kitten. Not that she minded being a sex kitten but she sometimes wanted to be known for more than that. Well almost no one. Once again her thoughts turned to Calcite.
She remembered the last day clearly. She'd tracked Calcite and Titanite to the Eternal Sleep Chamber. Ti smelled injured. It was hard to keep her footing with the quakes rocking the Kingdom. She'd made it into the chamber to see Calcite standing with his back to her. Pyrite to his left, Titanite to his right, Azurite in front of him facing in her direction. All four had linked hands, energy danced around them. The crash and roar of the quakes was deafening. Azurite's gaze flicked to her then back to Calcite. Her old rival's expression showed no sign of triumph, just concentration. Margrave had known enough to recognise some sort of space warp. As she was screaming at Calcite to wait there was a flare of light and they were gone. A sparkling curtain of blue energy remained but began to shrink.
Then Lord Jadeite's crystal toppled from its pedestal and slammed into her. Both her and the crystal rolled into the field. Suddenly the Kingdom was gone, her senses were going crazy and everything hurt. She'd instinctively grabbed onto the crystal and locked her grip around it. The only solid object in this insane place. Somehow they'd been thrown into this world. Perhaps an effect of Lord Jadeite's own spacewarping powers as transit began breaking down the crystal. In any event she'd lost consciousness before arrival. The next thing she remembered was being shaken awake by Lord Jadeite. He was surrounded by fragments of the crystal and was demanding information on what had happened during his imprisonment.
That began her career as Jadeite's last real follower. The only person in this world who could truly appreciate him. His adoring audience. She was now the highest ranking follower of Lord Jadeite. Top of the heap at last. It was nowhere near as enjoyable as she'd expected.
Jadeite was also the only person in the world in whose presence she could truly relax. With all other people she had to maintain her glamour at all times. During all activities. Otherwise looking like a cross between a white persian cat and a centerfold would attract comment. Maintaining enough control to keep the glamour going meant exercising a self restraint during sex she wasn't used to. Of course she also had to ensure she kept her claws sheathed and her fangs unused. Humans were a fragile lot, especially after years with a lover with very strong bones and excellent healing abilities. It was rather frustrating. Conversely many of her lovers came away puzzled. The glamour would convince them that what they saw was real as tactile sensation told them they were touching fur, not skin. The glamour always won out but it caused psychic shortcircuits in a few.
When she'd first encountered Calcite they'd both been 13. It was shortly after he'd wiped out the youma boss by the name of Vekris. Vekris had decided to wipe out all the relatives of the leaders of a failed coup against him. One of them was Calcite's aunt. Calcite's mother was killed on Vekris's order and Calcite, his cousin and his sister were targetted for termination. This turned out to be Vekris's biggest and final mistake. After that Calcite acquired a reputation for two things; being a stone killer and protecting what he considered his. And avenging it if his protection failed. Margrave was ambitious but knew she had little real power. Her speed and strength weren't that unusual. Her only real powers were minor precognitive abilities. Not the sort of thing to overawe other youma. She'd realized there would be a lot of advantages if Calcite considered her his. So they had become lovers and she'd made sure it was well known Calcite wanted her healthy. From then on in the circles she moved no one dare touch her unless she wanted them to. It also also increased her appeal to officers of the smaller youma bosses. By having her they put one over on Magnesite's deputy. Margrave had smiled and collected information from them to boost her own standing in Jadeite's legion.
Wherever Calcite had gone it wasn't this world. So she'd never have to answer the question of what she'd do if she met him. To screw his brains out or rip his heart out, that was the question.
She finished her drink and put the picture back on the coffee table. Best to dispose of it before Lord Jadeite saw it. He'd been happy with today's test of the enhanced Boomer he'd sent to Brazil. Tomorrow, he'd promised, he would finally put reveal his plan. Tonight ... a quiet night for a change. Sift through her memories and get a full night's sleep. She had the sense major changes were coming. Perhaps her precognition was trying to tell her something.
Across town Calcite was talking to the desk clerk at the Imperial Hotel. "So I imagine we need a variety of documentation in order to check in?"
"Yes sir." English from his accent. There was something fascinating about his eyes.
"But you could bypass that if you wanted to?"
"Yes. It would be easy. I'd just have use my backdoor commands here and here. I just need pictures of the three of you. Insert verified credit history and airport arrival ... There, everything is clear."
"That's very helpful. Is anyone monitoring us?"
"Everything is recorded on the security monitors. They run a check every morning to see everything's fine. And to keep an eye on the staff."
"No way around that?"
"I could introduce a glitch into the security system. That happens sometimes. Luckily maintenance is slow about fixing it."
"Would you be so kind?"
"Of course. Let's see ... there we go, five minutes of static."
"You're very good at this."
"Well I've been using it to cover overcharging guests and skimming off the excess."
"I see. I think you'd better forget telling me that. Along with our having this conversation."
"Thank you. Now I'd like two adjoining rooms. Both doubles."
"Luxury or standard?"
"Standard. Less conspicuous."
"Rooms 16 and 17 on the 20th floor. Here are you key cards. Would you like a porter."
"No, thank you." The threesome headed for the elevators. The desk clerk stared after him for a moment then shook herself and turned her attention back to the screen.
Calcite took 16, Azurite & Pyrite took 17. They unlocked the connecting doors and met in 16. Azurite noticed Calcite was looking more concerned than usual. "Still worried about what you did to that guy." He nodded.
Pyrite thought he knew the problem, "Cal I realize you feel terrible about killing him ..."
Cal looked surprised. "I don't." Pyrite was astonished, Azurite nodded in agreement. Pyrite wasn't a warrior, there were some things he just didn't get.
"Cousin he was trying to put a bullet in your back. He had no way of knowing it wouldn't work. Matter of fact we don't know for sure it wouldn't have penetrated your shield. I didn't intend to kill him but I'm not going to weep over him either. He acted, I reacted. That ends the moral implications from my point of view."
"Still he was a human being ..."
"I've thought about it and there's no intrinsic reason killing a human is worse than killing a youma. In both cases you're ending the life of a sentient being. Destroying all they are and all they could be. Ending a universe from some viewpoints. Sometimes it's necessary. This wasn't necessary but in combat it's easy to make terrible mistakes." Pyrite looked uncomfortable. Azurite could follow Cal's reasoning perfectly. In some ways she was radically different from Pyrite. But perhaps that gentleness was what she cherised about him.
"What really concerns me is that if I can't control my powers ..."
"That may not be the problem." Pyrite was back in his area of expertise. He held a paperback sized block of crystal and ran his fingers over it. The room filled with lights. "If you examine this power index ...", a coiled red spiral, "...and compare it to your measured kinetic wave potential ..." a multicolored soccerball sized sphere, "then we see that you just used a level 3 blast."
"Level 3? But that means ..."
Pyrite nodded. "It means he should have just been knocked over and lost his grip on the weapon."
"So how the hell ...?"
"I don't know. Perhaps his bones were abnormally brittle."
Azurite frowned. "Why would someone so weak try a physical assault."
"Hard to say. He was part of a gang ... maybe he was in the gang because he couldn't take care of himself. He had to run with a pack."
"Maybe. Alternately he was physically normal but our powers are more effective in this dimension."
"We'll have to be careful until we know for sure."
"Better find someplace to test our powers."
Pyrite didn't both agreeing. He didn't have much in the way of offensive powers. However he did have a sensitivity to energy fields and he felt something flare. His fingers danced over the crystal and the holograms vanished. Scanning ... There! "I'm getting a ... what looks like a lifeforce drain two kilometers west. It matches the profile for a youma created drain. Incredibly powerful!"
"That means jumping blind." Calcite dismissed his worries, this was what they came to find out. "Pyrite find us a clear space to land. Azure, you're with me." She nodded and tapped a bracelet. Her clothing morphed into her Sailor Arcturus costume. Calcite activated the transmutor in his watchband and felt his clothing shift to the Gray bodyarmour.
Azurite frowned. "No one's going to have any idea who and what I'm supposed to be."
"New worlds to conquer. I suppose this makes you the first Sailor Senshi of this world. Pyr, found a touchdown place?"
"Here! That'll put you near this tunnel. All the action's taking place underground. Link to these coordinates."
"Got it. Ready?" Azurite nodded and the two linked there teleporting powers. A few seconds to power up and sense their destination. Then there was a flare of light and Pyrite was alone.
Meanwhile the Knight Sabers were meeting at Sylia Stingray's apartment. Nene was the healthiest of the four having suffered only minor bruising. Priss was sporting a cast around her right forearm and multiple bruises. Linna was over her concussion but had three cracked ribs and a lot of aches and pains from being used as a whip. Sylia was limping and like the others had bruises over most of her body. They'd come perilously close to armour breach and that would have meant death.
Sylia decided to get the meeting underway. "As we all know our last outing didn't go very well." That got a snort from Priss and pained smiles from the others. "You must all be wondering what we ran into ..." Sylia actually looked uncertain for once. "Frankly I still don't know. The head Nene recovered tests out as a standard C-55 Boomer."
"That thing was no C-55!"
"I know Priss. While I might not know what it was I believe I know who designed it." The screen behind her lit up displaying the profiles of two men. Biographical data scolled by underneath them. "These are the heads of GENOM's local Boomer Development Division. The one on the left is David Webster. Nene managed to break into his files. He seems to working on a standard Boomer upgrade scheme. Faster CPU, better programming, improved servomechanisms, that sort of thing."
"Now the one on the right is Jason Deite, though he prefers to be known as J. Deite. We couldn't access anything out of the ordinary in his files, or his workers. In fact we couldn't even find a hint of what they're doing. They're maintaining a secrecy which I would have thought impossible in this day and age. The word around GENOM is Deite has a radical method of upgrading Boomers. But no one seems to have any idea how this method works. All we have are rumours that Deite alone supervises the final phase of the process and is keeping it top secret."
"Not much to go on."
"You're right Linna. The odd thing is when we traced Deite's background is doesn't seem to ring true."
"So GENOM created an identity for him. Probably he's wanted for illegal research somewhere."
"Could be, except it's so obviously artificial. They're generally more careful than that."
"So he could be an outsider who's wormed his way into GENOM to execute his own agenda?"
"If so he's somehow conned them into buying this phoney background."
"Maybe they're just letting him think he's got away with it. As long as they get his work in the end who cares?"
"Perhaps. But there are no indications of security checks. GENOM is treating his background as gospel truth."
Nene piped up, "His number two, a Catherine Margrave's got an equally fake background. And a reputation for going through more men than Linna."
Priss shook her head, "That's just not possible."
Linna looked at Nene, "Excuse me ..."
"I've got statistics from emails I intercepted."
"Just what are you two implying?"
"Still to beat Linna she'd have to ..."
"HEY! I don't have to take this. When was the last time either of you had a date."
Sylia sighed, things were about to degenerate. "Children, please!" The three subsided though Linna was still shooting dark looks at the others. "Returning to Deite. Thanks to Nene's hacking we've learned that he's removed 12 BU-12B's from storage along with 3 C-55 Boomers. As far as we can tell they didn't pass through the enhancement procedure." A city map replaced the GENOM executive's faces. "Company transport records indicate he deployed the Boomers here."
Priss frowned. "What the hell! That's a quakezone! Nothing left but rubble."
"Correct. There have been no indications of Boomer firefights there so the Boomers haven't been activated yet. Why he placed them there we don't know but we're going to find out." She paused a moment. "Since Mackie is still getting the old suits functional we'll let it go for tonight and hope them don't activate." A white lie, the old suits were fully functional. However another day to heal would help. Hopefully the Boomers would stay quiet tonight. "Tomorrow we will pay a visit to the Boomers." Priss cracked her knuckles. Then winced and glared at the cast on her arm. Sharply Sylia continued, "This will be a reconnaissance mission initially. If I feel it is necessary to engage the Boomers then and only then will we initiate combat. Is that understood." She said it to everyone but she was looking at Priss. Priss held her gaze for a few seconds then nodded. Another crisis averted. "Good. Now everyone go home and get some rest. I have a feeling tomorrow will be a rough day."
Calcite and Azurite materialized in the spot Pyrite had picked. They were shielded from view by an equipment shed. A few feet to the right was an access panel to the tunnel. It was sealed and marked, "Maintenance staff only". A look past the shed showed a police barricade across the roadway leading down to the traffic tunnel. There was a burst of fire from the tunnel but the police didn't answer. Perhaps afraid of hitting the civilians inside. They seemed to be waiting for something. Probably a SWAT team. Who might well use this entry for access. They had to move quickly.
Calcite created a thin knife and cut through the four clamps locking the hatch in place. His blades could cut just about anything. Being constructs of his mind they were as sharp and strong as he willed them to be. They'd probably just set off alarms. Time to find out what was going on before everything hit the fan. Azurite heaved the hatchway aside and Calcite dropped down into the accessway. Azurite followed, also ignoring the ladder. Squeezing past the cables filling the corridor they proceeded silently. There was a hatch in the floor ahead of them. Opening it they found themselves on a catwalk above the roadway. Cars were scattered all over as were bodies. Nothing moved. Silently both went over the rail and dropped down to the road. Calcite landed by a car with the driver's door open and a body hanging half in, half out. He suppressed a startled cry. The body appeared to be wizened and completely desiccated. Almost as if it had been mummified for centuries. A look of shock flickered across Azurite's face then vanished. Calcite tapped the skull gently and saw a large piece cave in and crumple into dust. Worry about this later, right now was time to seek the source. It wasn't hard to find. Both could feel something resembling a youma aura not far away. They moved quietly toward it.
The source appeared to be a Boomer. But a Boomer with a bizarre, almost lionlike appearance. There was an energy sphere held between its two clawed hands. A sphere that was steadily diminishing as it transmitted the energy somewhere. Suddenly its head turned towards them. Trouble. It had a forceshield. To make matters worse it was standing in front of a tank labelled "Tritonex - Warning Extremely Volatile!" OK, finesse time. Step one, break the shield. "Mid range!" Azurite nodded and slammed a microhurricane into Boomer. It stood its ground as the shield absorbed the impact. A full power burst might have breached the shield sending it flying backwards. "Again!" Azurite's second vortex hit the shield as Calcite threw the knife he'd created. The Boomer ignored that as it was already shielding against kinetic weapons. As the knife reached the shield it reverted to its charged psychoplasm form and slid through the shield and the Boomers shell. Inside the Boomer it disappated, discharged the energy bound to it. The power surge threw the Boomer's systems into disarray. Including the forceshield.
Azurite saw the shield go down and ceased attacking. Over to Calcite for a neat finish. A forcesphere formed around the Boomer. Like his sister Calcite could create kinetic energy spheres. Unlike her he had a special variation on it that was perfect for this situation. The sphere shrank rapidly. As it reduced it got stronger. The Boomer began imploding from the pressure. Suddenly there was an energy discharge from the mangled biomech. It reverted to a standard C-55 Boomer and was swiftly crushed into a ball about two feet in diameter.
In his office Jadeite felt his link to the Boomer shatter. He'd got most of the lifeforce it drained so it wasn't a total loss. Besides right now he didn't need the energy he was simply storing reserves. But what in the Abyss had it encountered? He'd linked into its' vision and seen a woman dressed something like a Senshi. But he'd sensed what seemed to be a youma aura. What just happened? How had whoever that was known how to disable the Boomer? Well in thirty seconds or so it might be irrelevant.
Calcite disappated the sphere. The Boomer's crushed remains fell to the ground and splattered a variety of fluids. Nice and neat, no risk of explosion. He was taking a step towards the remains when Azurite grabbed his arm. She pointed to the side of the tanker. Calcite saw something moving. A digital display changing rapidly. 25, 24, 23 ... Calcite's shield flared to maximum. Azurite grabbed his hand and they linked their teleporting abilities. A flare of light and they were back on top of the tunnel. The hotel would have been better but they'd automatically warped to the last access point. No more time! They wrapped their arms around each other and combined their forceshields.
The tanker exploded as the Tritonex combusted. Directed by the tunnel a wall of flame roared towards the exits. Every car in its path exploded and all the bodies ignited. A pillar of fire erupted from the hatchway Calcite had cut open and the ground shook. Fortunately it was more of a firestorm than an explosion so the tunnel didn't cave in.
The rumbling underfoot stopped. Calcite and Azurite untangled themselves. There was screaming from the tunnel mouth. A fireball had emerged and engulfed several police vehicles and their occupants. Along with a few news crews who'd been pushing in too close. Paramedics were moving in.
Nothing they could do here. The two renegades fixed the location of the hotel room in their minds and warped back there. Pyrite's greeting froze at their grim expressions.
An hour later they were watching the news and trying to figure it out. The official story was that terrorists had seized the tunnel and taken those inside as hostages. Before they could issue demands a bomb they'd been planting had prematurely exploded. This had killed the terrorists, their hostages and another ten people outside the tunnels. Dozens more had suffered burns ranging from first to third degrees.
"So the Boomer goes in shooting and starts draining energy. The people on the fringes get out and call the cops. The shooting makes them think terrorists. To cover what happened a bomb is planted on something extremely flammable. The fire covers the fact that the victims were already dead and the heat can be blamed for the condition of any bodies recovered intact. The Boomer must have been expendable. There wasn't enough time to get it clear before the blast."
"Feels right Cal but that doesn't explain the bodies." Azurite paused to collect her thoughts. "Look I know theoretically energy drain can kill. But you can't drain energy from the dead. And those people would have dead long before they got that ... that ancient. Hell you saw them. They looked like they'd been dead for centuries."
"Under normal circumstances I agree." Cal's voice was slow as he thought it through. "But what if it happened a lot faster than normal?"
"What do you mean?"
"A normal drain takes a minimum of ten minutes before the victim is in danger, right?"
"Everyone knows that."
"But what if it happened in seconds?"
"What if a total drain took place in seconds? So that they were reduced to those mummies so fast they didn't have time to finish dying until then?"
It was a very unpleasant picture. "Metallia! ... I mean Jesus! If something could do that ..."
"Then it would be someone very powerful. Someone best avoided. Pyrite!"
"Yes?" He'd been listening to the conversation quietly.
"Is there any way to permanently collapse the gate from this side?"
"I'm afraid not. At least no way I know."
They were silent for a few minutes. At length Pyrite asked, "What do we do now?"
"Not a lot we can do right now. We keep our auras stealthed and tomorrow we look around this city for a few answers. And if there's any way to avoid engaging whoever's behind this we take it." A pause. "I also wish I knew why whoever it is wants human energy badly enough to kill for it."
No one had an answer.
The following morning the first thing they did to obtain some local currency. On his initial visit Calcite had discovered gold was still valuable so he'd brought some of his stockpile. Finding a semihonest dealer they changed the bullion for new yen. Although they didn't know it they'd got a very good deal. Seeing the ease Calcite had handled the bars the owner had suspected he was a Boomer and this was part of some GENOM covert operation. No one tries to cheat GENOM.
After some discussion they split up. Azurite and Pyrite headed east, Calcite headed west. The day dragged on as they relentlessly scoured the city. They kept in touch through their communicators but there was nothing to report. Either whoever it was had shielded their aura completely or they just hadn't stumbled across the right place yet. Towards evening Calcite got a call from Azurite.
"Still nothing. We're going to take a break and grab something to eat."
"Understood. Nothing new this end. I'll meet you both at the hotel in a few hours."
She acknowledged and signed off. Calcite put away the communicator (which looked like a cel phone from a distance) and walked on. He was in an industrial district now. Most of the buildings seemed to labelled GENOM. Plants with branch offices attached. He was currently heading toward one marked "GENOM Experimental Boomer Development Lab Beta Complex."
The restaurant wasn't too busy so Azurite and Pyrite were able to get a table in the window without much trouble. It seemed a little incongruous, sitting down for a gourmet meal in a futuristic city while knowing that somewhere out there is a Youma who's killing people with Boomers. Strange days. Azurite sighed.
"Something wrong? ... Besides the stuff that's going on I mean"
Apart from being in love with your cousin and avoiding making a choice?, she thought. "Just life generally. It gets complicated sometimes."
"Current thinking is that order inevitably gives way to chaos. That chaos is the natural state of things."
"Thinking back on our lives I would have to agree."
"In short things will only get worse?"
"I'm afraid so. I'd say expect the unexpected except that just doesn't work."
"Ah well, a toast then. To the hope that everything works out for the best anyway."
Calcite was passing the Beta Complex when he felt the aura surge. There was something very powerful in there. Worse that surge was caused by a sensor wave. It knew he was out here. Fight or flight time. Either would probably be disasterous. He examined the building itself. It seemed to consist of several long, low buildings attached to an office block. So labs and administration? Probably. Perhaps the source of the Boomers who'd invaded 20th century Tokyo.
Running would probably be a big mistake. Fighting without knowing the enemy a worse one. Calcite headed for the doors. Inside a security guard put down the phone and unlocked them. Mr Deite was working late tonight. He'd just called down and said to let someone in. He didn't know who it was but he wanted them in. No security considerations! Crazy! The guard got to give the newcomer the once over. He kept his hand hear the holster. "Raise your arms please sir."
Calcite's eyes glowed briefly. "Everything's fine."
"Oh well that's a relief."
"Who told you to let me in?"
"Mr. Deite, sir."
"Mr. Jason Deite, the director of this project."
Jason Deite ... J. Deite ... Jadeite. How incredibly original. Thinking this way kept the fear at bay. Jadeite himself .... was it possible? He had been still alive when the Kingdom fell. And they'd built the warpgate in the Eternal Sleep Chamber. It could actually be him. A man with power and a definite grudge to settle with Sailor Moon and her hometown. Time for some last minute adlibbing ... Ok that might work. "Where would I find Mr. Deite?"
"Top floor, turn right as you exit the elevator. You can't miss it."
Believe me I'd like too. Calcite exit the elevator and headed to the right. He neededn't have bothered with directions, the aura was impossible to miss. The doors swung open as he approached. Calcite deactivated his translator for the first time in months. He bowed deeply to the man behind the desk. "Lord Jadeite, this is an honour."
"Straighten up and name yourself."
"Forgive me my lord. I am Calcite, formerly of Magnesite's legion."
"I remember him. Formerly?"
"He ahh failed to escape the Dark Kingdom."
"I see. How did you escape?"
"I had constructed a warpgate with the aid of my deputies. We located it in the Eternal Sleep Chamber to avoid detection."
"So you considered it likely Queen Beryl would fail and the Kingdom fall?"
"It seemed advisable to consider the possibility."
"You ran when the Kingdom fell. You didn't consider staying to fight until the end?"
"Not for a second."
Jadeite nodded. "Very sensible. Now where have you been, why are you here and why did you wreck my Boomer last night?"
He recognises my aura from the tunnel. "In order my Lord; I have been hiding in Tokyo under the noses of the Senshi ..."
"Unfortunately if Sailor Moon could destroy both Queen Beryl and Metallia then she is beyond my power to harm."
"But not beyond mine. Continue."
"I discovered the gateway when six Boomers arrived."
"Did they spread terror and chaos across the city?"
"They were destroyed fairly quickly."
"Unfortunate. Ah well just an initial probe. The main event will be unstoppable."
Main event? "I crossed over and found this city. I explored and learned that this was not the future of the world I had been living in but rather a world without Senshi."
"Ah yes. You keep saying 'I' but you were with someone last night. A women who looked a lot like a Senshi." Despite the relaxed tone of Jadeite's voice Calcite could sense power building.
"Your servant seemed about to attack so we destroyed it. Had we known it was yours ..."
"Yes, yes, go on.
"As for the Sailor Arcturus guise, that is an old jest of Azurite's"
"Azurite?" That name definitely registered. "Yes of course, the blue hair and the aura should have tipped me off. By the way there were four of you?"
Damn, it must have been true that the sleepers could see. Jadeite saw all four of us open the gate. "Unfortunately my Lord the gate was somewhat hurried and improvised. While it required four teleport capable Youma to activate it the gate could only safely deliver two to the destination."
Jadeite smiled. "You told the other's this?"
"So you ensured that you would be the two to make it?"
"She was the most useful of the other three."
Jadeite chuckled. "I'm sure she was. She seems to have grown up nicely." He noticed Calcite tense slightly. "Relax. I have no intention of stealing your bedmate. If I did you might fight me and I would have to kill you. That would be a waste." Jadeite considered mentioning Margrave's survival but dismissed the notion. Why would Calcite care about the existence of a low rank youma? "Where are you staying?"
"I have arranged a room at the Hotel Imperial."
"Return there and wait for word from me. I must consider how to fit you into my plans."
"I live to serve you, my Lord."
"Yes. You do. Now go." Calcite bowed again and vanished. Jadeite made a note to erase the guard's memory of his arrival. He replayed the memory of the "Senshi" he had seen last night. "Daddy's little girl seems to have grown up nicely. Perhaps I should acknowledge her."
In an office within the GENOM tower David Webster gave an order. "All right activate the Boomers. Let 'em run wild and bring us the Knight Sabers." The Knight Sabers were already enroute when they heard about the rampage. As they were planning a reconaissance mission rather than combat they were being transported in an unmarked truck. Mackie was driving, the four Sabers were in the truck. He was watching them through the monitor but he'd missed the real action. Still Nene looked good in the skintight softsuit. Only Sis and Linna were actually in their hardsuits and they'd left the helmets off for now. Nene and Priss had changed to the softsuits and their hardsuits were waiting for them. Priss was massaging her wrist again and looked pissed at life in general. Looked like the cast had come off a little early. Nene was sitting by the truck's terminal monitoring radio traffic. Then she looked up startled.
"Sylia, ADP's getting reports of Boomers running amuck in the sector fifteen restaurant district! Possibly BU-12 types."
"Change of plans. Mackie I know you're watching. Take us there now!" The truck screeched to a stop and did a quick U turn.
"It'll take us at least ten minutes to get there."
"I know Linna. But there's no option." As she said this Priss was already sliding into her hardsuit. Nene stayed by the terminal to keep monitoring. They were five minutes away when she looked up puzzled. "Wait a minute!"
"It's over. They're still calling for emergency vehicles but N police are saying the Boomers are down."
"Yes. They're telling ADP they don't need SWAT teams anymore the Boomers have been disabled. However they want ADP investigators on the scene."
"Something to do with how they were disabled. They're refusing to give any more details than that."
Mackie's voice came over the intercom. "What now Sis?"
Sylia shrugged. The movement was lost inside the hardsuit. "Turn around and head back to our original destination."
The truck slowed as Mackie plotted a route back and made a turn. Priss snorted, "Must have been really wimpy Boomers if N police could take them down."
Sylia made a note to investigate this matter further. Bu-12's were not pushovers and there wasn't a heavy police presence in the area.
Back at the restaurant a few minutes earlier Azurite and Pyrite were talking over coffee. Azurite's mind was wandering. She couldn't let matters continue she would have to make a decision. And live with the consequences afterwards. This could tear everything apart for the Renegades. So now wasn't the right time to make that decision. She should delay until after they'd sorted things out. When they were safely back in their Tokyo she'd settle matters. Even as she thought this she was pretty sure she was lying. The queen of procrastination.
"Sorry I'm afraid my mind wandered."
"Anything I can help you with?"
She hesitated. It was unfair of him to not know the situation. On the other hand ignorance is bliss. Then again ... She frowned, "Did you hear an explosion."
"I heard something loud. It could have been ..." There was a louder noise and the building shook slightly. "What the hell?"
A car nearby exploded. Suddenly the street outside seemed to be a madhouse as people fled in panic. Something green moved around the corner. It seemed to point towards them. Azurite shouted "Shields!" A moment later the missile roared through the front window and exploded.
Patrolman Akira Ishikawa realized he was on lying on the street. The past few minutes were a blur. Things exploding, screams, the taste of blood in his mouth. His head was ringing. No it wasn't! Those were very heavy footsteps. He looked up to see the advancing green shape of the Boomer loom over him. His hand scrabbled for his gun but he knew it was useless. The Boomer seemed to study him a moment then reached for him clawlike fingers. He wasn't even worth a bullet.
"Hey ugly!" The Boomer turned towards the intrusion. So did Akira, he gaped in amazement. The woman emerged from the shattered front of a restaurant. She didn't seem concerned about the fire burning around her. Her attire was odd. Despite the circumstances Akira couldn't help goggling at her. The leotard-like torso covering was bright red with a large black ribbon across the chest. The calfhugging lace up black boots seemed to be leather. As did the miniskirt, spiked collar around the throat and domino mask. Her arms were enclosed in skintight red gloves with studded bands around the wrists. Despite the fact the street was strewn with rubble she seemed to have no trouble walking on four inch stiletto heels. Sort of like the traditional sailor fuku as redesigned by a fetishist.
Watching by remote David Webster shrugged. Some crazy hooker was trying to get herself torn apart by a Boomer. Might be fun to watch. She was saying, "I am trying to sort a few things out. Last thing I need is some asshole machine blowing the restaurant up in my face."
The Boomer noted her lack of weaponary, prioritized her as secondary target and turned back to the policeman. No significant threats. Activating terror inducing termination methods. Amputation sequence begins.
Akira's gaze turned helplessly to the Boomer. It extended blades from its fingertips. He heard the woman say, "Introductions. I'm Sailor Arcturus. Go to hell!" Something ripped from her hands and struck the boomer's head. It torqued backwards then ripped free. Trailing wires and parts of its nervous system it embedded itself in the opposite wall. Had Webster been a little less anthromorphic and placed the brains in the body it would still have been operational. As it was a ton of dead metal dropped towards Akira. Then stopped. His eyes shifted from onrushing death to see the woman holding the Boomer by the chest. She heaved and the biomech fell backwards. Akira stared up at her. She was already moving as he opened his mouth. That was when he saw the second Boomer. It was chewing up the street behind her as she ran.
Azurite jumped soaring over the Boomer's head. It tried to bring the gun to bear but couldn't traverse fast enough. Time to disarm it. Landing behind it she grabbed it on the upper gun arm with one hand and dug her other into its' back. Bracing herself she heaved! It stayed fixed. Damn! It was tougher than those blue bastards. She was sweating from the effort. Come on! There was a popping noise then the arm tore free. She overbalanced and the Boomer spun striking her with its remaining arm. She flew several meters, rolled and was on her feet again. The damaged machine was pointing a rocket launcher at her. Winds howled around Azurite. Driving debris right into the launcher should do it. There was a flare of light and the Boomer suddenly had a golfball sized hole melted clear through its head. It toppled and crashed to the street.
Akira saw a second figure emerge from the restaurant. Behind him a blue wall blinked out revealing a room in dissarry from fleeing people but untouched by explosion. The man wore a tuxedo and top hat along with mask that concealed his eyes. He carried a cane. The woman looked at him. "I told you to stay down. I was about to take it out."
"I had a clear shot so I took it. I wouldn't have fired if you'd been moving."
"Well thanks but you should leave this to the professionals. Nice outfit by the way."
"Well I couldn't think of anything original so ..." He sounded embarrassed.
She nodded at the cane. "One of your pulse crystals?"
"It seemed more effective than tossing roses."
"More power than I thought. Or did you ...?"
He nodded. "I fired all its energy in one burst."
"Good thing you didn't miss."
"I do have a few more."
Akira managed to sit up and find his voice. "Uh excuse me but who ... what are you?"
She shrugged. "I'm Sailor Arcturus and he's ... oh screw it. Let's get the hell out of here." The unnamed man nodded and the two figures walking back into the burning restaurant. Akira blinked and couldn't see them anymore. Dazed he dug out his radio. The sturdy device was still functional. "Uhh dispatch we need ambulances pronto. There's dead Boomers all over the place and I don't know what's going on maybe I've gone crazy but ... just send help. Medical the Boomers are down, don't ask me how but they are."
Azurite and Pyrite rematerialized in their room. She sensed a presence nearby then recognised it. "Hi Cal."
"Well if it isn't Sailor Arcturus and Tuxedo Pyrite." Pyrite flushed and morphed his clothes back to the suit he'd been wearing earlier.
Azurite took off her mask and peered in a mirror. A lot of soot to clean off. "We've just had a rough few minutes Cal."
"Believe me I can top it. Jadeite's in town. For real this time." Azurite felt her stomach drop into her feet.
"Please tell me you're joking."
"Believe me. I wish I could." He recapped the meeting with the last general of the Dark Kingdom. "... so he only knows that two of us exist. As for your little escapade tonight ..." He took off his transmuter and tossed it to Pyrtie. "Program mine to do 'Tuxedo Mask' as well. I'll tell him it was me with Azure tonight. We'd better be ready in case he asks for a demo."
Azurite had been thinking. "This may not be so bad. Sure he's got power but he's incompetent. Hell he couldn't handle Sailor Moon on her own. Or beat her, Mars and Mercury before their powers got boosted. If we're careful we should be able to take him out."
Calcite shook his head. "That was true but not any longer. He's not the same man he was in the Dark Kingdom. There he was careless and blinded by his own arrogance. Soft after having things the way he wanted them for centuries. The man I met tonight was hard edged, sharp and very very dangerous. Maybe it was losing, maybe his time in the crystal but he's changed dramatically."
"Maybe it's this world that's changed him."
Both of them looked at Pyrite. "What do you mean?"
"I'm not sure but ... look we just saw the casualties reports on that rampage we broke up." Calcite nodded. The report had been barebones, fatalities and injuries only. Nothing about a women dismembering Boomers with her barehands. "Eleven dead, thirty injured, many critically. In a city where this sort of thing is so common they've got a special police unit to handle it."
"Now six of those things arrived in our Tokyo. A city totally unprepared for them. How many fataliites?"
"Right. Just two serious injuries. Next we arrive. You hit that guy with a powerburst that should have just stunned him. That I think would have just stunned him back home."
Both Azurite and Calcite looked puzzled. "Where are you going with this?"
"I'm not exactly sure. All I can say is that it seems like ... like the rules are different here. As if people in our continuum can take damage that would finish them here. As if probability is skewed somehow so that the violence is more likely to be lethal here. I mean how many people did Jadeite kill in Tokyo?"
"Approximately?" Pyrite nodded. "Well approximately ... none."
"Tonight he wiped out a tunnel full of people with a new energy drain technique. Look this is just a theory but maybe ... maybe a world has its own nature. When you enter it you somehow change to fit in. Assimilated by the new reality."
"If there's anything to this then we are going to be changed."
"Perhaps. It is just a theory and the process might be gradual ..." There was an urgent beeping noise. Pyrite fished a gemstone out of his pocket. "The gateway just activated. Tracking ... it's opening from our side!"
"Negative. Pattern matches youma config ... It's Ti."
"I told her to only use the key in case of emergency."
"Maybe it is." Though she said it Azurite doubted it. Probably came for a look around the new world.
Pyrite looked at a clock. "Given the time discrepency evening here corresponds to afternoon in Tokyo. I'd estimate she's finished school for the day in our continuum."
"Great. OK I'll go get her." Calcite visualized the area by the gateway in his mind. "For her sake it had better at least be Armaggeddon on the other side."
Pyrite looked at the watchband he was holding. "He forgot his transmuter!"
"He shouldn't need it. Besides if Jadeite knows we're in town the disguises are sort of useless."
True. What next.
Jadeite's own evening was about to become more eventful. He was unaware that David Webster, nearly psychotic after the impossible failure of the fieldtest of the BU-12C class Boomer, had decided to eliminate the golden boy. Jadeite's car was waiting for him when he finished up. Tonight's conquest was waiting for him patiently. She was a receptionist who'd caught his eye. In more ways than one. He sometimes wondered if it would be worth seeing how many women he could snare without mind control. After all he had always been the most handsome of the generals. Still as he had the power he might as well use it. Besides he had to enjoy the women of the world while he could. Time was definitely running out.
He entered the car and ordered the driver to his apartment. He looked into the woman's placid features and tried to decide if he wanted her passive or passionate.
Not far away the killers waited. They preferred being called freelance combat specialists to mercenaries. Like most GENOM executive cars this one was bulletproof. Joey nodded, infared confirmed the back was occupied. Gavin locked the lasersight on the passanger door and fired. The armour piercing rocket impacted and the car flipped a half dozen times. The burning wreck came to rest on its side. Nothing was coming out of that alive.
Joey grinned. "Real subtle."
"Hell he ain't paying for subtle. Let's book!"
They were turning to go when the figure ripped through the remaing door levitated over the wreck. Both froze as Deite glared at them. He was spattered with blood, none of it his, and looked very angry. "You broke her!", he snarled. "I wasn't finished with her yet!" He dropped to the ground and blurred towards them. Next thing Gavin knew he was on the ground with a broken arm. The twisted remains of the launcher beside him. Deite had Joey by the throat. "I could just rip the answer out of your mind but it wouldn't be as satisfying. Who sent you?"
"Fuck you!" Then light flickered around Joey. In seconds he withered to a man in his nineties. Deite dropped him and old bones broke. The helpless old man lay there gasping. Gavin felt his heart turn to ice.
"Oh God! How ...?"
"Let's just say he aged real fast. Now listen carefully. If don't answer me I will not kill you. I'll just turn you into an ancient like him. You could last a few years like that ... helpless, hooked to machines, looked after by people who can't wait until you die so they'll be free of you. Now who sent you?"
"Webster! David Webster!Youruinedhistestsomehowandhewantedyoudeadshit don'tdoitmanI'mtellingyouthetruthitwasWebster!"
"I believe you." Jadeite picked him up effortlessly and stuffed him headfirst in the burning car. He slapped a forceshield over the hole and thought for a few moments. The screaming was weakening. Jadeite looked at the old man and shrugged. "What the hell." The throw draped the senior over the car. He tossed the rocketlauncher after him and concentrated. Reality warped and the car disappeared. It had been slightly displaced in time. Though not in space. As everyone knows planets aren't stationary they orbit stars. The car was in exactly the same position it had been in a minute ago. However the planet had moved on. Jadeite wondered briefly if they'd finished burning to death before vaccuum boiled their blood. He vanished.
David Webster was enjoying a drink when J. Deite appeared. "Holding my wake? I'm afraid you're a little premature."
The glass shattered on the floor, "What the ..."
"Please David, keep drinking." Involuntarily Webster poured himself another drink and gulped it down. "Again. Good, one more for the road. Now then write this down please, 'I have failed utterly my life is a disaster. I welcome it's end'. Good."
"Why am I doing this?"
"Because I want you to. Normally you'd think this was all your idea but you've annoyed me so I've left you capable of seeing the strings. Now my puppet do you own a gun."
"Get it. Good. It's loaded? Excellent. Now unlock the door. Fine. Is there a neighbour who would come if you called. Great. Call her and tell her you need a favour. Don't mention me or give any indication you are in trouble." He listened to the phonecall absently. Sweat was running down Webster's face as he tried to break free of the compulson. Time to wrap up. "She's on her way?" A nod. "Excellent. Now open your mouth and push the barrel in. Aim upwards. That's fine. Now listen carefully. When your neighbour enters and sees you I want you to pull the trigger. If it misfires keep pulling the trigger. If it still won't work get a knife from the kitchen and slash your throat. Shouldn't have messed with me David. Goodbye."
Jadeite rematerialized outside the window. Now would David have a fear induced fatal heart attack before the neighbour arrived? The door opened and there was a gunshot followed by a scream. Clear case of suicide. Jadeite teleported to his own apartment. Not a total loss of an evening. Anyway he should figure how to fit the new youma into his plans. He chuckled softly, "Look at it this way Dave. By dying early you avoided the mass exodus to the afterlife. No worries about getting lost in the shuffle."
End of part 2
Next : What Titanite's been up to and Calcite meets the Knight Sabers.
in Part 3 : First Contact and FAQs
Dark Kingdom Renegades/Bubblegum Crisis : Bad Moon Rising
By Mark Latus
Part 3 : First Contact and FAQs
Tokyo - The Present
Titanite kept running over the activation sequence as she headed for the park. Despite her incredible feeling of anticipation school had passed faster than expected. Probably because she'd dozed a good part of the day. Which wasn't normal for her but staying up all night watching the complete set of Crisis and Crash discs had cut into her sleeping time. Followed by messing around on the internet once she had the series background. Still it had been time well spent. By now she should know more about MegaTokyo than the rest of the DKR even if they'd already spent a day there.
The others had departed through the gate yesterday evening. Which would have meant arrival in MegaTokyo well into night. As soon as they'd gone she'd headed for Toji Kimua's house. Toji was a painfully shy boy in Ti's class. While he possibly knew more and owned more anime than anyone else in the school his complete lack of social skills kept him from joining the local anime circle. Everyone tended to avoid him, they'd got used to it over the years. So he'd been very flustered when Ti approached him during lunch. She'd managed to get him talking anime which seemed to calm him down. As she'd hoped he had identified the series starring the Knight Sabers and owned laserdiscs of the OAVs. She'd arranged to drop by and borrow them that evening.
His mother had been surprised at anyone, particularly a girl, dropping by to visit her son. Surprised but happy. She seemed to think it meant he was overcoming his shyness. Ti had let Toji show off his collection and taken care to avoid commenting on the posters adorning his walls. She'd also made sure to miss spotting the large pile of hentai material spilling out from a halfopen closet. It seemed he was a big fan of the tentacle porn genre. Due to an unpleasant childhood incident she'd never be comfortable with that. Staying just long enough to be polite she'd borrowed the discs and headed home. She wondered if she was now figuring in some geek fantasy of his. The beautiful outsider who falls for the worst possible guy in the school. Having not been born on this planet she certainly qualified. Actually he might not be so bad if he learned the concepts of hygiene and personal grooming. Along with airing out his room every now and again.
So here she was, about to open the interdimensional gateway. Pyrite had given her the key and told her how to activate it. Her cousin had also made her promise not to use it unless there was a dire emergency. I.E. a youma hunt by the Senshi, Doomsday, massive earthquake ... that sort of thing. As she saw it possessing vital information about the world they were visiting certainly qualified.
There should have been weird noises and strange pulsing lights as she used the key. But Pyrite hadn't wanted anything noticeable so the gate's opening was silent and invisible. She could feel its presence but couldn't see a thing. No one around, time to go. "Tinsel city here I come!" She stepped forward and vanished.
MegaTokyo - October 2033 AD
Leon McNichol looked at the N police officer with the bandged head. "So this women dressed in an S&M version of a schoolgirl uniform comes out of that restaurant .. after it's been hit by an antipersonnel missile ... says her name is Sailor Arcturus, destroys both Boomers then heads back into a burning building with a guy in a tuxedo?"
Akira Ishikawa sighed. "Look I know I have a concussion but it happened the way I said."
"I believe you." McNichol didn't look happy about saying that. "We've got security vids that show her kicking boomer ass. The city is going totally nuts." He walked off without waiting for Ishikawa to reply.
Forensic techs were swarming over the fallen Boomers. They'd better get what they needed quickly before GENOM came to collect the biomechs. According to GENOM these were prototypes for a new export model. They'd been stolen from the testing lab by terrorists. Possibly the same ones who'd blown themselves up in the Shimizu Tunnel yesterday but had already preset the Boomers to attack tonight. Yeah right. Total bullshit but HQ would accept it. He sometimes wondered why GENOM even bothered covering up releasing the damn things. GENOM owned all the higher ups. If it told them to bend over and keep smiling they'd do it.
Daley was watching a monitor displaying the mystery woman making an impossible leap to land behind a Boomer. On the screen she proceeded to rip its arm loose. Daley froze the picture. "So what do you think?"
"If she had a hardsuit then I'd accept this. As it is ..."
"Well one thing's clear. She's not human."
"Amazing! Just from watching her dismember a Boomer with her bare hands you can conclude something like that. Holmes, your deductive powers never cease to amaze me."
Daley smiled at his partner. "Sarcasm aside, what do you think?"
"Christ knows." He studied the figure closer. "Killer bod though ... Is there such a thing as a combat sexaroid?"
"Good a theory as any." Daley stroked his chin. "Boomers in human form aren't new. Human form Boomers that can take out combat models are a different story."
"And she didn't have to bulk up either." leon was silent for a moment. "So where do we go from here?"
"Why ask me?"
"You're supposed to be the brains of this partnership. You do the thinking, I do the macho posturing."
"And you look very attractive doing it. Anyway I'd saw tomorrow morning we go and have a word with Jason Deite."
"GENOM's new hotshot Boomer designer. He's rumoured to be doing some radical stuff." He nodded at the screen. "That is definitely radical."
"Can't argue with that." Daley started the picture moving again. "Techs still can't agree on the weapon that guy used on the Boomer."
"Must be really compact to fit in that cane. Yet it burned clear through an armoured skull."
"So we've got a mystery boomer and some guy with a tux and an unknown weapon out there somewhere ..."
"Don't forget the Werewolf Vigilante."
"...not to mention something roaming the city leaving bits of scumbags all over the place. I tell you Daley things cannot get any weirder."
Daley looked pained. "I really wish you hadn't said that. Someone up there might take that as a challenge."
Meanwhile an unmarked van was sitting in a secluded spot of one of the slumzones. A few scavangers had moved in to strip it but had left quickly when guns popped out of the roof and tracked them. Word had spread and the inhabitants were giving it a wide berth. The van cameras had found and focused on the concealed boomers. The biomechs were clearly in standby mode, waiting for something to happen. The question was what?
Inside the van Sylia watched the screens patiently. Nene kept monitoring ADPolice channels and tried to avoid dozing off from boredom. She was doing a little systems penetration to keep her mind occupied. She'd hacked into the cab's videofeed to see what Mackie was watching. At which point Sylia saw her flush bright red and cut the signal quickly. She shook her head, Mackie, Mackie, Mackie ...
Linna was leafing through a financial magazine taking extreme care not to shred the pages with the hardsuit's fingers. Priss had popped out of her suit after the emergency ended. She was currently pacing up and down the truck massaging her wrist. "Look, the hell with waiting. Let's suit up and take them out!"
Nene blanched. "Priss there's a dozen heavy combat Boomers out there and we're back to the old suits."
"We've got the advantage of surprise."
"Priss I told you this is a reconnaisance mission. If the Boomers remain inactive a few hours longer we'll plant cameras and pull out." There had been no sign of activity on the Boomers part. Why did Deite place them here? They all seemed to be watching the same place. But why? Nothing there but the crumbled remains of a department store. Looted of everything years ago there wasn't even enough shelter for squatters. Then the monitors went crazy. All the scanners were displaying gibberish. Sylia and Nene tried to compensate for the interference.
As suddenly as it started it cleared. All systems were normal again. Linna was looking at the screen displaying the point the Boomers seemed to be watching as it resolved from a blur of color. "Where'd she come from?"
There was a girl in a brown and white school uniform standing there. She was leaning against a twisted old support girder. Evidently dizzy. She looked to be about 15 and far too neat and clean for this area. The pack on her back shifted as she straightened up. She was looking around with a frown as she brushed her brown hair back. "Sylia, three of the Boomers are moving. The camouflaged C-55's!"
"Priss, Nene suit up! We have to intercept before ..."
"Too late! They ... WHAT THE HELL!"
Titanite felt the disorientation pass. Interdimensional travel didn't seem to be as rough as teleportation. Now where exactly was she? Let's see ... big brother had mentioned landing in a slum and heading east. East was which way? She heard someone moving towards her and saw the three figures emerge. They looked a lot like those thugs in the "Revenge Road" episode. They must figure she was an easy target. They were about to be surprised. The disguised Boomers studied her. Young, female. Probable target. Confirmation required before commitment of combat units. One of them drew a knife and charged her. She activated her shield and shifted her weight. As it came down in a downward arc she grabbed his wrist and used a judo throw to toss him into the ground. This guy was heavy, she had to use a lot more strength than expected. The Boomer impacted the ground backfirst. Confirmation. Target exerted superhuman strength. Initiating operation. In the surrounding rubble the concealed Boomers stirred.
Titanite saw the guy she'd thrown swell. His clothing and skin exploded away as he increased in size about 50%. His two friends, who'd been standing watching, underwent the same transformation. Titanite saw the blue metal revealed by the metamorphasis and realized she was in trouble. She was already moving as the Boomer sat up. The force sphere formed between her hands then slammed into the Boomer. Its' chest bent inwards and it slid back several feet. Then it flopped over. One down but the other two were tracking her and they both had glowing mouths. They were about to hit her with their laser cannons! One of them suddenly flew forwards as something impacted it. It smashed through a wall raising a cloud of dust. The other Boomer began turning towards the new threat then fell apart in two large pieces.
Still holding the sword he'd created Calcite landed beside her. "You seem to have stirred up the locals." Before she could reply the Boomer he'd shockblasted heaved itself out of the rubble. A knife suddenly sprouted in its' forehead and pulsed energy into its brain. The Boomer hit the ground as a ton of dead metal.
Calcite was lowering his arm when the 12 combat boomers exploded out of the rubble. He blasted the nearest but it got back up. Bullets began chewing up the ground. Calcite's shield began taking multiple impacts. If he dropped the shield to teleport they were both dead. They were closing in. Several of the Boomers were exposing energy weapons. Not good. "Ti, get out of here." Before she could protest he grabbed her and tossed her away from Boomers. Then charged them with the sword swinging.
Ti somersaulted in the air and hit the ground feetfirst. The Boomers had defaulted into combat mode and prioritized Calcite as the primary threat. Two were down but he'd had to switch his shield to repel energy bursts. Which left him open to physical attack. He was close enough for a Boomer to strike him. She saw his head snap back and blood spray.
"CAL!" she started towards him and felt a hand close on her shoulder. In her state of distraction she hadn't noticed the armoured figures approach from behind. She looked back to see four armoured figures, each one a different color. The blue armoured one held her back. "The Knight Sabers!" Then she heard a cry and turned back see her brother go down and eight Boomers pile in for the kill. She screamed and started forward again. Priss was about to tell her to forget it, the guy was dead but she was too startled by power required to hold the girl back. Her heels dug into the ground for traction.
Then the Boomers exploded away, striking the ground hard. The figure in the shredded clothes stood up his face twisted in fury. His eyes glowed a solid purple and his hair had shifted from blond to light green. With a cry he flung himself on the nearest Boomer and ripped its head off. He snapped the head into another Boomer then jumped at a third. It washed laser energy over him but he didn't feel it. As he pulled its arms off another Boomer slammed a blow into his back. Armour formed to blunt the blow but Ti heard something crack. Cal winced momentarily but spun and proceeded to beat the Boomer to death with its' collegue's limbs. A fragment of shrapnel sliced across his face. Blood had barely begun to flow when the cut closed. While it was impossible to read expressions through their armour Ti was willing to bet the Knight Sabers were frozen in astonishment. Certainly they didn't move. Still how often do you see a man rip apart eight Boomers with his bare hands?
Ti was pretty sure she knew what had going on. She'd heard of this happening once before. Years ago when their mother had been killed and they'd been marked for death Cal had gone after the youma boss responsible. He'd gone alone. At the time they didn't know Azurite was a Renegade, she was five years old and Pyrite wasn't reliable enough in combat. Somehow during the battle that followed he'd become a berserker. His healing ability boosted to incredible levels enabling him to survive wounds which should have killed him. His strength and energy shield had also boosted and he'd been consumed with rage. Anyone who challenged him that day died very quickly. It appeared to have triggered again.
Calcite dropped what was left of the last Boomer. His gaze shifted to the five watchers. Ti wriggled free of Priss's grasp and saw her brother stare at her. HIs face seemed to have shifted from blind anger to calculation as he decided if he faced a new threat. "Uh Cal you remember me right? Your lovable younger sister Ti?" The purple gaze swept on. He was ignoring her but he was studying the Knight Sabers. Ti had the nasty feeling that if they made any threatening move he'd attack. And wouldn't stop until they were dead or he was. She heard movement behind her. "Wait Priss!" She had to snap him out of this state somehow. Maybe ... yeah that might annoy him enough to work. She tapped her braclet and her clothing morphed.
On the Sabers' comm. link Sylia was saying. "Hold steady. We don't know what we're dealing with here but he may not be an enemy."
"Sylia she just called me by name WHAT THE FUCK!" The girl's clothing shifted and reformed. She was now wearing a very abbrieviated version of the traditional sailor fuku. Yellow miniskirt, green boots, white gloves and leotard. Her hair had shifted to a light green identical to the boomer destroyer's. She made some complicated hand motion and intoned, "Destroying all these Boomers before the heroines got a shot really ruins the screenplay. How dare you waste all Sonoda Kenichi's work by preempting them? On behalf of Youmex and fandom Sailor Polaris will punish you!"
The solid purple light in his eyes began to flicker and vanished. Now the only purple was in his irises. "Ti I've told you not to start a fight by giving those ridiculous speeches ..." His voice changed from exasperated to puzzled and he noticed the shredded Boomers surrounding him. He sat down heavily. "What the hell?"
The girl made an impossible leap to his side and hugged him. "You're allright! I was so scared you were going to ... " She stopped talking and buried her face in his shoulder.
"Easy Ti, I'm Ok. Just a bit weak and very confused." He looked over his sister's shoulder and tensed up. "Ti? Who are they and why are they wearing highheeled armour?"
Ti straightened up. "It's OK big brother. Those are the good guys, the Knight Sabers. The Blue one is Priss, next to her is Linna ... That's Sylia their leader ... and last but not least is Nene." The helmets concealed the shocked expressions on the Knight Sabers faces. Though it was a bit of a giveaway when Priss raised her railgun and shouted, "How the hell do you know that?"
Calcite bypassed the translator to switch to their native language. "Is this common knowledge?"
Ti answered in Japanese, "Uh no it's a big secret. Almost no one knows their real names."
"I think a fast exit is called for. Link to my teleport now!" Ti nodded and took his hand. She felt the power build and tried not to think about warp sickness. There was a flare of light and Nene's sensors went crazy for a moment. Then both figures were gone.
"They've stealthed! Everybody ready." Sylia hesitated a moment then raised her visor. If they were able to fool the helmet displays only visual observation remain. No one there. Sylia stalked over to the wrecked Boomers replaying the fight in her mind. Right about ... here. She'd found what she was looking for. "Nene! Get a sample of this stuff before it dries!" Quite a bit of blue blood stained the concrete.
Linna had also raised her visor. "Nothing. We've lost them."
"Not necessarily. I tagged the girl with a tracer." She switched frequencies, "Mackie!"
"Right here Sis."
"Get me the location of tracer alpha one."
"Hold on. I'm scanning the area ... Nothing in range. I'll patch into the main system and check the whole of MegaTokyo. Gonna take a few minutes to infiltrate the communication networks."
"Acknowledged." She took another look at the demolished boomers and shook her head. What had she just seen? "Nothing left to see here. Back to the van."
Watching for ambushers they withdrew back to the waiting truck. As they reached it Priss was saying, "He must have been a Superboomer. The girl too. Just like Largo."
Nene cut in sounding worried. "You don't suppose he is Largo do you?"
"No." Sylia's voice was firm. "I'd have recognised Largo no matter what he looked like."
"So what are we dealing with? Are they rogue boomers GENOM's hunting? And how'd they get past us twice?"
"For that matter how did the girl's clothing change?" Sylia sighed. "I don't have all the answers. If we find them maybe we can find out."
They entered the truck and popped their helmets. Mackie's voice came over the intercom. "Sis I've got her. About 3 1/2 kays northeast. I'm patching in the city maps ... seems to be in a commercial district ... zoned for hotels."
"Can you get sound?"
"I'm boosting the signal. Give me a minute."
"Good. Patch it through as soon as you've got an understandable signal. Then head back home." Sylia unhinged the top of her armour and climbed out. This mission had raised more questions than it answered.
"I've got it. Here we go."
There was a hiss then a women's voice saying, "...so you came through the gate to show us these?"
"Absolutely." It was the girl.
"What kind of a name is 'Bubblegum Crisis' anyway?"
"Well I saw a good explanation in the FAQ. The idea is society is at a crisis point. Like a bubblegum bubble it's either going to implode and collapse or explode. They don't actually use the term in the series. Look if you just watch them ..."
"Unfortunately we can't do that Ti." A thoughful sounding man's voice. "The entertainment center on the TV can't handle discs that size. Make's sense really. Laser discs that big have probably been obsolete for years."
"Oh ... I didn't think of that."
"Among other things." That was the mystery man. Sounding a lot calmer and quite a bit weaker.
"Easy Cal." The other man again. "Ok examinations done. Physically you're in fine shape. Old signs of massive trauma but they're fading rapidly. By morning you should be good as new."
"I feel like a wet dishrag."
"This hyper healing evidently takes a lot of power. Also from the sound of it you were using energy fairly recklessly."
"Cal ...", back to the woman, "What do you remember happening?"
"Nothing specific. I was hurt and losing a lot of blood. I suddenly felt this incredible anger at being beaten and failing everyone. Then the pain was gone and I felt strong enough to destroy everything." A few moments silence. "After that nothing is clear until I saw Ti doing Sailor Polaris. I don't think I was really thinking at all. Just reacting."
"Maybe that time, Ti. But fighting that way is a good way to get killed."
"If you could learn to harness it somehow. Fight at that powerlevel while retaining your intelligence ..." The woman again.
"It would be useful. But I have no idea how to induce that state short of sustaining major injuries that aren't instantly fatal."
The other man's voice broke in. "Anyway you're feeling weak because of the energy you used. A day or two and your reserves should be back to normal."
"Let's hope we have that long. Anyway Ti getting back to why you're here. The idea that there's any connection between this world and those discs ..."
"May not be totally crazy after all."
"What are you talking about Pyr?"
"I've been reading the notes on the back. They definitely mention Boomers and GENOM. You did say those armoured women you met matched the picture on these covers."
"OK I concede the point. Maybe all your information is accurate Ti. That still raises the question of why you came."
"I thought this information could be vital to you."
"Ti, this is your big brother you're talking to."
"Uhmmmm. Well I sort of wanted to see this place for myself. Do you have any idea what any BGC otaku would give to be here?" The girl continued. "After I had the background I went cruising on the internet for more info..."
The other woman muttered, "I said it was a mistake getting her that computer."
"Anyway I found the Bubblegum Crisis FAQ and a lot of fan speculation. Now I can write the ultimate FAQ and get answers to the questions that have bothered the fans for years."
"Like what exactly?', ther other man asked.
"Well like ...", there was the sound of paper being pulled out of a bag and unfolded. "Is Priss a lesbian/bisexual? Just what did happen between her and Sylvie?" Priss blanched. "Is there any truth to the rumours about Nene and leather bars?" Nene turned a bright red. "How many guys has Linna ..."
"Ti!" The green haired man's voice broke the flow of questions. Just in time, in Linna's opinion.
"Yes big brother?"
"I hate to sound like I'm interested but curiosity makes me ask this; if you eliminate all the questions about these people's sex lives, what is left?"
"Uh ... hold on." There was the sound of pages turning. "That seems to bring it down to 'Is Mackie adopted?' and 'Is Sylia a boomer?'"
The other male asked, "This Sylia is the one mixed up with this Priss?
"No that was Sylvie. See Sylia is the leader of the Knight Sabers. Her father was the guy who invented Boomers but GENOM killed him so it could take control of them. Anyway Sylia grew up looking for either revenge or justice and formed the Knight Sabers to keep GENOM under control."
"Four women in armour keep a worldwide multinational under control?"
"Well yeah. Lucky GENOM keeps running their most dangerous and illegal experiments in MegaTokyo."
"Next to their corporate headquarters?"
"Uhm yeah. Now that you mention it ..."
"It is a synchronistic zone Cal. You have to expect this sort of thing. As our own experiences demonstrate."
"True enough Pyr."
The girl continued, "Anyway Sylvie was this boomer Priss knew ..."
"Hold it." The other woman interupted. "Boomer as in those big, ugly machines? Even if those things were anatomically correct a human would have to be pretty hard up to ..."
"No Azure. See Sylvie was this special class of Boomer. They looked like women ... I think they were called the 33-S series. Anyway they were better known as sexaroids ... see they were designed to ... ah ..."
"I think we can figure it out Ti."
"Ok. Well there were several of them on this spacestation and they decided to escape ..." The girl's voice continued detailing things no one outside the Knight Sabers should know. Even a few things that no one except Priss should know. The same question was on all their minds. Who the hell are these people?
The girl's voice finished telling the tragic story of Sylvie and Anri. After a few moment's silence the berserker said, "Ok let's say, for the sake of argument, all your information is one hundred percent correct ..."
"It is. I even memorized the words to the songs. From the date on that paper all the Crisis stuff should have happened. Crash isn't until next year."
"Fine. Well, not to put to fine a point on it ... so what?"
"Ti you say these Saber Riders ..."
"...these Knight Sabers spend all their time fighting GENOM. Good for them but it's nothing to do with why we're here."
"We're not here to save the world. We're here to take out Jadeite before he does something worse to Tokyo."
"JADEITE!" She definitely sounded scared of that name.
"We just found out he's alive and well. Now we have to figure out our next move." A sigh. "Those must have been his Boomers left to guard the gate. Wonder why they didn't attack us."
"If they were put there to stop the Senshi then they were probably programmed to attack teenage girls. Ti fit the critera, we didn't."
"Makes sense cousin. Think it's riskier to send Ti back or keep her with us?"
"It's probably riskiest to open the gate again. If someone goes back and Jadeite senses it then sees you and Azure are still here he's going to know you lied to him about our numbers."
"Ok. Ti you're staying."
"But you're staying in this hotel until we sort this mess out."
"But ... OK big brother."
"Good. Now I need some rest. I'm the invalid so I'm keeping the bed. Ti you get the couch."
"Uhm the bed looks softer. And it's a double so there's plenty of room."
She sighed and acquiesed. The other pair announced they'd be heading back to their own room. There was the sound of a door closing. After a few moments the girl asked. "Can I watch TV?"
"Keep the volume down."
"Thanks ... Uhh Cal I'm sorry about triggering those Boomers but ... look coming here wasn't just for me. I thought it would help you."
"I believe you Ti." A pause. "By the way do these stories have happy endings?"
"Well the Knight Sabers always win. But sometimes the people around them get killed." Then quickly," It's not all grim stuff though. The one staring Nene is very cute."
"I see. Goodnight sister."
"Goodnight Cal." There was the soft whisper of channel surfing but no more conversation.
Mackie parked the truck and the Sabers disembarked.
"I say we hit them now. Drag them back here and find out what they know."
Linna looked at her friend. "Come on Priss. They're sitting in the middle of a crowded hotel. A lot of people could get hurt. Besides which can we beat them? If all four of them are as tough as that guy ..."
"We will not assault a civilian building without far more reason than we have. We haven't even determined if they are enemies." Is it possible that despite all they know about us we are irelevant to them? Or did they know we were listening and hope to confuse us. If that was their intention it succeeded brilliantly. "Mackie, you and Nene break into the Imperial Hotel's database and get us their names. Then find out if the name Sailor Polaris means anything. Priss and Linna, you'll keep monitoring the tracer. Take it in shifts." Sylia looked at the fluid filled tube she'd taken from Nene's hardsuit. "I'm going to test this stuff and hopefully get a few answers."
Tokyo - The Present.
The impound warehouse stank as the wrecked Boomers' biological components decayed. The police were still trying to pass the matter over to the defense ministry. No one had any experience in what to do in a situation like this. Various universities and corporations were petitioning to get a look at their hardware. Ufologists wanted to study them so they could proclaim mankind's first contact with extraterrestrials. They'd have been disappointed once they spotted the GENOM patent numbers.
Due to the stench all the guards were posted outside. So there was no one to see the woman wearing the sailor fuku materialize. Her hair was a darker shade of green than Calcite and Titanite's. Unlike them she was 100% human. Taking care not to bang her staff against the carcasses she moved to the center of the pile. A look around confirmed what the letter had told her. These things clearly did not belong in this place and time. No big surprise as the letter came from someone she trusted implicitly. Herself. Or rather a future version of herself. In any event premature access to this level of technology could radically change what was to follow.
She raised the key and felt the power build. Now! For a moment the gate between Earth and limbo flickered open. The Boomers tumbled in and began a fall that would never end. At least not this side of eternity. The first part of her orders were completed. Now she just had to wait until the moment came to obliterate the other anomaly. It wouldn't be long now.
End of part 3
Next in part 4 :Calcite had a rough night and he'd appreciate a nice quiet morning. Unfortunately he's due for a reunion with Margrave. Part 4 : Hell Hath No Fury ...
Dark Kingdom Renegades/Bubblegum Crisis : Bad Moon Rising By Mark Latus
Part 4 : Hell Hath No Fury ...
MegaTokyo - October 2033 AD, 3am the same night
Sylia Stingray swore and rubbed her eyes. Her calm facade was long gone after hours of studying this damned blood sample. This completely impossible bloodsample.
It wasn't boomer circulatory fluid. That much was obvious. Boomer organic tissue was composed of artificially gestated primate flesh. This was something new. In some ways the DNA sequence was identical to human, in others it was completely alien. She'd switched from thinking they were dealing with a Boomer to believing it was some sort of genetic experiment. Except given the limits of biotechnology research who had the capability to create a fully sentient adult lifeform? Let alone one that could not merely survive an attack by a dozen Boomers but triumph. Organic lifeforms just weren't that tough. If it wasn't for the similarities to human DNA she might even at grasped at the possibility she was dealing with extraterrestrials.
Maybe they were aliens. It might explain how they'd gained their knowledge of the Knight Sabers. If she thought about it perhaps she could remember ....
Sylia shook off the paranoia of alien abduction theories. She must be really tired if she was considering that. Time for a break. She rose and stretched then walked out of the lab. In the crash room Linna was sitting with a headset on as she fiddled with a handheld disc reader. She took the set off as Sylia entered.
"Just snoring. I think the girl's out for the night. Speaking of which ..." Priss was slumped back in a padded armchair snoring lightly. Had anyone told her she looked very cute when relaxed she would probably have killed them.
"When does she take over the watch?"
"Another hour and a half." Linna paused a moment. "Sylia, do you have any idea just what we're mixed up in this time?"
Sylia sighed. No longer the cool, collected ice queen with all the answers. Instead she looked tired and as puzzled as the rest of them. "Not a clue. I don't know who or what these people are." Linna knew she was the only one Sylia would let see her like this. Nene would panic and Priss would figure she had to take charge. "One thing I do know."
"They aren't GENOM. If GENOM had half the information they've let slip we'd all be dead." That thought jolted Linna fully awake.
"I'll see if Mackie and Nene have found anything more."
"I think Nene's asleep."
"Then I'm definitely going to look in on them."
Mackie was sitting in front of the screen with his chin resting on his steepled hands. He mumbled a greeting as Sylia entered. Nene was dozing on the couch looking very vulnerable. Sylia made a quick check to ensure her clothing hadn't been tampered with. Everything seemed to still be buttoned and zipped. Mackie must have caught her reflection. He turned around looking more than a little offended. "I do have a few ethics you know."
"Then you've got nothing to hide do you?" He scowled and mumbled something uncomplimentary about sisters.
"So do you have anything more?" Mackie and Nene had come up with quite a bit. First they'd broken into the Imperial Hotel's database and retrieved pictures of the guests. Calvin Hobbes was a dead ringer for the berserker except that his hair was blond rather than green. But it had been blond before he berserked. The couple in the adjoining room had also been a goldmine. When they hacked into the ADP system they'd found the report on Sailor Arcturus. Change the haircolor of Azure DeWitt, add a mask and you had the mystery woman who'd also taken out one Boomer and crippled the other. So two people capable of fighting Boomers barehanded staying next to each other. The girl wasn't in the register but there was a definite resemblence between her and Hobbes. However those were undoubtably fake names. Tracing their records in the hotel computer backwards lead to a dead end. Who they really were remained unknown. The system was still cracking databases worldwide looking for matches but having no luck. They seemed to have exhausted all their avenues.
Mackie looked uncertain. "Well I may have something but it's a bit crazy. No, I take that back. It's completely crazy!"
"Mackie I am willing to grasp at any straws right now."
"OK, here goes. I was trying to trace those names, Sailor Arcturus and Sailor Polaris. I widened the search to every database I could think of then made it Sailor and other astronomical terms. What I got was this." He tapped a key and various cartoon graphics filled the screen. All of them of teenage girls wearing outfits similar to the green haired girl's. "These are from the cartoon 'Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon'. It was aimed at, and very popular with girls pre to early teens back in the 1990's. There was also a manga version. Anyway the characters were always Sailor something. Planets mainly. So there was Sailor Moon, Sailor Venus, Sailor Mercury and so on."
"So we have the inspiration for our two sailors identities?"
"That's not the crazy part. See I was reading a synopsis of the series and this picture caught my eye." He tapped the screen and a graphic expanded. A blond man in a light purple uniform. "This is one of the villains from the series. His name's Jadeite. They used a lot of mineral names for the bad guys. Anyway, look familiar?" Sylia nodded. He looked very familiar. Mackie split the screen and reduced the graphic to a headshot. The face of Jason Deite appeared next to it. "So what do you think? Separated at birth?"
"This is ridiculous!"
"I warned you."
"So you did Mackie, so you did."
Mackie glanced at her. Sis sounded unnaturally cheery. "Are you all right?"
"Never better. See if you can dig up some copies of that show. I'm going to get a little sleep. I want to look good when I meet our Boomer crushers in the morning."
"Are you feeling all right?"
"I've made up my mind. The only hope of learning anything is to talk to them. Since they already know who I am there's no further risk of exposure."
"It could be a trap!"
"Then it's too clever for me. So I might as well walk into it. You've done well, now get some rest." Sylia glanced at the sleeping Nene. "In your own room please."
Sylia headed back to tell Linna she might as well call it a night. Still no answers. What a night. Maybe tomorrow would be better.
In her own apartment Margrave's night was about to take a turn for the worse. Though it would be even more unpleasant for unit MAR6N (MARVIN). Margrave was currently writhing in the embrace of MAR6N. She wasn't using her glamour for the first time in ages. Being equally nonhuman MAR6N wasn't shocked by her appearance. The sexaroid had been a present from Lord Jadeite. A crumb thrown her way to celebrate the inaugaration of his plan. She was doing everything she could to avoid thinking about what he'd told her. Now she knew what he was going to do. Her blood had run cold on hearing him. But she wasn't suicidal enough to either object or get in his way.
When he'd produced MARVIN she'd been surprised. While she'd heard of sexaroids she'd thought they were only in use offworld. She'd also been unaware of the existence of male sexaroids.
Lord Jadeite had pointed out that sexaroids were intrinsically neither male or female. Gender was determined by the final modifications of the skeletal structure and the placement and shaping of the tank grown flesh. The majority built were female because most of the powerful who sought to own sentient slaves were both male and heterosexual. This world had been, and still was, a man's world. Which, after centuries of obeying a psychotic queen, was fine with Jadeite.
So she'd thanked him and brought it ... him home with her. Then she had dropped her glamour and proceeded to test the unit's capabilities. Several hours later she had to admit they seemed adequete. The problem was that Margrave was used to mintaining a certain level of self control. While it had been strained it hadn't broken. Not quite. Until now.
To explain the problem here is a quote from Larry Niven's essay, "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex", a speculative essay on the problems of sex between Superman and a human woman.
"The problem is this. Electroencephalograms taken of men and women during sexual intercourse show that orgasm resembles 'a kind of pleasurable epileptic attack' One loses control over one's muscles.
Superman has been known to leave his fingerprints in steel and in hardened concrete accidentally. What would he do to the woman in his arms during what amounts to an epileptic fit?"
Margrave didn't have that level of strength but was far stronger than a human. She also had claws that could cut steel. MARVIN's night was about to take a definite dive.
Margrave howled and her claws extended involuntarily. Driven by the spasm her hands dug into the sexaroid's back. Literally.
The Boomer's CPU went into overdrive as the spinal column was severed in four places. Nerves reported massive trauma and the loss of large amounts of circulatory fluid. Upper body mobility was lost as the nervous systems pathways were cut. The lungs ceased drawing air as the autonomic nervous system went down. The CPU calculated the time organic components could survive withouot oxygen and tried to use alternate pathways. Error messages multiplied and the CPU found itself unable to work around the damage. Failure cascaded and MARVIN suffered total systems crash. Or died, depending on your point of view.
Margrave became aware of the Boomer's total stillness. Maybe it wasn't recharging after all. She realized her hands were soaking wet and had a sudden nasty suspicion. Rolling the Boomer over the damage became obvious. Great, she'd broken it. Long time since she'd done that. Years ago, besides she hadn't meant to pull out his kidneys. "So much for the afterglow." After a moments' thought she dragged the carcass into the bathroom and dropped it in the tub. That would hold it temporarily. Then she scrubbed the bits and fluid off her hands. What a mess. Combing this crap out of her fur was going to take a while. After she was done she surveyed the bedroom. The sheets were a disaster area, stained with a variety of fluids. They'd never wash clean, best to dispose of them. Maybe the mattress was salvageable though it'd be simpler to replace it. She dropped the sheets on the body for disposal with it. Finally, the bed being a mess, she curled up on the couch and went to sleep.
She woke the following morning unable to remember why she was on the couch. Stumbling into the bathroom she found a reminder. She'd half expected the body to disappear during the night. OK, no shower this morning. She'd have to dispose of it somehow. Lord Jadeite could make it vanish easily enough but he might take offense at her destroying his gift this quickly. She'd never had to do this before. Her vigilante victims got left where they fell and her youma enemies had crumbled to dust after death. She'd have to dismember it and smuggle it out of the building. Margrave made a mental note to pick up a few heavy duty trashbags.
Finishing breakfast, and not in the best of moods, she headed for the office. First she reestablished her normal glamour. She didn't make her shape appear to alter. Instead she just overlaid the image of skin over her fur. Everywhere apart from the areas humans were supposed to have hair. She saw no need to alter its' color. She was fond of white. Let the humans speculate about hairdyes. Just one minor alteration to her eyes and she was set. Her pupils changed from oval to round. Perfect.
She arrived to find the receptionist arguing with two men. "What's all this about?" The taller one took a moment to appraise her. The other produced his ID. "ADPolice Detectives Wong and McNichol. We'd like to ask Mr. Deite a few questions about an incident last night."
How had they known? Easy, they didn't. Well nothing to worry about, neither Lord Deite or herself had been up to anything last night. As far as she knew anyway. She smiled at them. "I'm afraid Mr Deite is an extremely busy man. However I'm his executive assistant Catherine Margrave. Perhaps I can help you. She watched them consider forcing the issue then give up. So, no warrant and no real hope of obtaining one. They followed her into her office. She took a moment to pop a few buttons and turn the full force of her appeal on them. She gave a seductive smile and purred, "Now how can I help you?"
The distraction didn't work as well as she'd hoped. While McNichol was ready to eat out of her hand (or wherever) she seemed to hold only aesthetic appeal to Wong. He kept his cool and said, "We'd like to ask you about you new Boomer development."
"I'm afraid all that information is classified to avoid industrial espionage."
"I understand. I was just wondering if you'd misplaced of your new boomers."
"Misplaced?" What the hell was this about. "Those are very expensive and experimental pieces of hardware. If we'd lost one I'm sure we'd have noticed."
He was watching her closely. "Can you at least ell me if these new Boomers are designed to look human?"
"Why would we want to do that. The human shape isn't the most effective one for either construction or military work?" Where was this leading?
McNichol produced a photograph. "The reason we ask is that last night someone who looked human demolished two Boomers stolen from your competing development section."
"That sounds like a security breach in Webster's division. You should talk to him."
Wong nodded. "We'd like to but he committed suicide last night."
"Oh. I hadn't heard that." Wonder if he finally pushed Lord Jadeite just a little too far.
"Why? He was an SOB when he was alive. Why say nice things about him just because he died?"
"Probably true. Anyway Leon ..."
"Gotcha Daley. This is from a surveillance video recording of the woman who destroyed those Boomers." Leon held up the picture. "She called herself Sailor Arcturus." Margrave stared at it in shock.
Leon heard Daley swear and turned to look at him. "What's wrong"
Daley seemed to be staring at Margrave in shock. He shook himself. "I ... uh ... it's nothing forget it."
This gave Margrave time to compose herself and at least appear calm. "This woman destroyed two boomers? I assume she was heavily armed at the time."
"No. She used her hands."
"Her hands ... could I see your ID again?"
Leon slammed a hand on the desk. "Look lady, this woman did things no human could do. That makes her a Boomer. A new type of boomer."
"So you decided we'd made it? Sorry to disappoint you but our Hyper Boomers could never pass for human. Why would we want them too? We're designing military hardware not Ms. GENOM contestants."
"Can we see the factory?"
"Not without a warrant. As I said we have security considerations and no connection to this incident anyway. Mind leaving the picture? It'll give our technical staff something to chuckle over."
"Fine. Let's go Daley." Hopefully they'd rattled her enough to make her run to Deite. Which would hopefully stir up a few things. Leon was sure there was some sort of connection between this place and that ... whatever.
When they were outside the building Leon asked his partner, "So do you think this is some sort of internal feud? Webster lets his new Boomers run wild to test them so Deite deploys his new model to trash them. When they get wiped out so quickly Webster gets drunk and suicidal?"
"Hey what's up man? You're kind of out of it."
"I ... I'm not sure. Look when you showed her the pictures did you see her face?"
Daley smiled. "That's because you were watching her body. I was watching her face." He stopped smiling.
"So what's the story. She looked like she recognised it."
"It was more like she looked scared. But it was her eyes ... look this doesn't make any sense but ..."
"For a second I'd swear her eyes changed."
"The pupils stopped being round, they turned oval. Like ... well like a cat's."
"Uh huh. Maybe you should get some sleep, you've obviously been working too hard."
Daley shrugged. "I said it didn't make any sense."
"Maybe just weird contacts or something." Leon opened the car door. "I've never liked cats. Always preferred dogs. They're loyal, cats don't give a damn about anything but themselves."
"I like cats."
"Then I guess we're incompatable. So you might as well give up on me."
"Nice try Leon."
Margrave controlled her anxiety until security reported the ADP officers were heading out of the parking lot. Then she headed for Jadeite's office as fast as she could without appearing to be an olympic sprinter. She barged past his secretary and strode into his office slamming the doors behind her. So they wouldn't be understood if overheard she switched into their native tongue. "Lord Jadeite we face an emergency!"
Jadeite looked up from the document he was composing. Using this guise meant having to provide reports on the projects fictional progress. The brainwashed technicians provide similar reports. He looked forward to the day this nonsense wasn't necessary.
Before he could demand she explain herself Margrave slammed the picture on his desk. "There is a Sailor Senshi in this city. She destroyed two Boomers last night."
"She calls herself Sailor Arcturus. I ..." She trailed off as Lord Jadeite began laughing loudly. "My Lord ...?"
"Ah yes you don't know do you? This so called Senshi is in fact a Youma."
"Her name is Azurite." Margrave gaped in surprise. "She escaped the Kingdom in the company of another humanic by the name of Calcite." Jadeite found the look on her face priceless. "It seems when I sent my little gift through recently they spotted the gate. They took the chance to escape a city patrolled by Sailor Moon and fled to this world. After you left last night Calcite wandered by. He was searching for the creator of the gate. No doubt intending to force them into servetude if it was someone weaker. When he realized it was me he immediately offered to serve me."
Margrave's sense of smell kicked in. There was a familiar scent in here. One she'd been to preoccupied to notice earlier. "He was here?"
"Indeed. He is not alone, Azurite accompanies him."
"I saw four youma open the gate."
"Two didn't survive." It didn't occur to Jadeite to wonder if a lesser youma would lie to him. Who would dare? "Only two could successfully make the jump. He chose himself and his lover." Jadeite missed the expression on Margrave's face attributing it to the shock of learning they weren't alone."
"How ... how did they react to learning about us?"
"Us? Oh I didn't bother mentioning you."
"Of course my Lord ... Lord Jadeite, how will they fit into your plans?"
"I haven't decided yet. For now I have told them to wait at the Imperial Hotel and await my orders."
"Very good Lord. My apologies for disturbing you over this."
"Yes, yes. You've shown you're dedication." It was a dismissal. She bowed and backed away. Margrave returned to her office. With every step she took her anger built. Calcite and Azurite! That bitch finally got her hooks into him. So he takes her and leaves me to perish along with everyone else. That lousy stinking sonofa ... She slashed the desk in anger leaving a row of four parallel gouges. She sheathed her claws and seethed. The Hotel Imperial.
Margrave stalked out of her office and glared at her secretary. "Kasumi hold all my calls! I have an errand to run."
"But Ms. Margrave you have a meeting at ..."
"I SAID HOLD ALL MY CALLS." The white faced secretary nodded and watched her stalk off. When Margrave snarled at her she'd have sworn she saw fangs.
She'd leave her car in the lot. Head out and catch a taxi. So intent was she on her mission that she missed the couple who saw her leave the building.
The man's eyes followed her down the street and around the corner. The woman beside him elbowed him and said, "If you're going to girl watch would you try to be a little more subtle about it?"
"I'm sorry Azure!" Pyrite removed his sensor equipment from his pocket again and resumed scanning the building. He was the only one of the four able to completely blank his aura. This ability had come in handy on several occasions. He could extend the blocking field to anyone in close proximity. So Azurite was now equally undetectable to aura scanning. Even Jadeite couldn't spot them at this range or sense the modulated sensor waves he was using. At least that was the theory. "It's just that I'm sure I've seen her somewhere before."
"Considering this is only our second day here that's a little unlikely." They'd come here to get some definite readings on Jadeite's capabilities. Maybe they were over-rating him. Unfortunately from the look on Pyr's face that wasn't the case. Ti was still asleep when they planned this. Cal was still weak (relatively speaking) so he couldn't come. Besides Jadeite had ordered him to stay there. They needed information but didn't dare appear to be defying the last General. So they'd evolved this plan. Cal had stopped shielding his aura to make it obvious where he was. Pyrite had used a few tricks to make Ti's aura match Azurite's. At least from a distance. So if Jadeite thought to check he'd sense two youma in the hotel. If they got a signal from Cal that Jaeite wanted them they'd both 'port back and Pyr would block Ti's aura leaving hers exposed. So again only two youma would register. As she turned this over in her mind Pyrite searched his memory. That woman had definitely reminded him of someone.
Outside the hotel a nondescript van was parked. Inside Sylia Stingray waited along with Priss. Sylia was wearing a smart blue skirt with a matching jacket and a ruffled white blouse. Priss was wearing a softsuit and standing next to her hardsuit. "Try and relax Priss. Hopefully there won't be any trouble."
"I still say this is a stupid idea. If all four of us went in ..."
"This place is full of civilians. How many times do I have to say it!"
"You all right Sylia?" She definitely didn't sound as cool as usual.
Sylia supressed the urge to grab Priss by the shoulders and shake her while screaming that of course she wasn't all right, everything about the Knight Sabers seemed to be compromised. Instead she said, "I'm fine. It was just a rough night." She picked up her secured phone. "Anything."
"I think she just got out of the shower." Linna paused. "They're talking again I'll patch it through." Due to space limitations everyone else was back at base. Linna was monitoring the tracer again.
Ti emerged from the bathroom with a large towel wrapped around her. She headed for the backpack she'd brought with her. A thought occurred to Calcite. "You didn't bring any other luggage with you did you? And with those laser discs in there you can't have had room for much in the way of clothes."
"If I'd brought clothes you'd have known I was planning to stay. So I just tossed a change of underwear in here. Mind turning around?"
Calcite complied. Wonder where she picked up this modesty? It wasn't normal for youma females. Or even renegades, Azurite didn't worry about it. At least physically. He sometimes got the idea that when it came to expressing her feelings Azure could be a little shy.
Behind him Ti finished wriggling into her Sailor Polaris costume. She didn't notice the small device stuck to the back of the skirt. "All clear."
"Ti that is going to look a little conspicuous at breakfast."
"No problem big brother. The bracelet's programmed for one other pattern besides this and my school uniform. She tapped it and her clothing shifted. The transmitter fried and Linna swore as she pulled off the headphones to escape the white noise.
"Sylia we just lost the bug!"
Back upstairs Calcite was looking at his sister. She was now wearing blue slacks and a white T-shirt with some anime character on it. "Fine, now do your glamour."
"Why bother? There's no shortage of odd colored hair around here is there?" After a day walking around the city Calcite had to concede that. "Please big brother. How often will I get the chance to walk around completely undisguised?" Calcite sighed. When she did her big eyed innocent look he tended to give in way to easy. Well why not?
"Just this once. Now let's get something to eat."
In the van Sylia saw the pair from last night cross the lobby as they headed for the restaurant. "Here I go."
Priss nodded. "I'm reading you loud and clear. Just whistle and I'll be there. Good luck Sylia." Sylia took a momnet to center herself then got out and headed for the main doors. When she got to the restaurant she slipped a large tip to the waitress. Then asked her if she'd mind if Sylia went to surprise an old friend at his table. As the security system wasn't reading any weaponary the waitress didn't see any reason to refuse. Sylia released the other 1000 yen bills and looked around. She spotted the girl's green hair and headed over.
Calcite had opted for the continental breakfast and was buttering a croissant when he realized the woman was heading their way. Human aura ... a bit austere but still very attractive. "Pardon me, may I join you?"
He realized Titanite was staring at the newcomer openmouthed. "Cal... do you know who she is?"
"No I don't. Should I?"
"It's her. Sylia Stingray. The Sylia Stingray!"
She smiled faintly. "Well I'm a Sylia Stingray. I don't know that I'm the only one."
Calcite indicated an empty chair. "Please join us Ms. Stingray."
"Just call me Sylia."
"Of course. Well I'm Calvin Hobbes though I normally go by Cal. This is my sister Titania." Ti was still staring at Sylia with awe. He recognised the name from Ti's story. For that matter the face was a match for some of the pictures on the disc jackets. "Perhaps you are the only one with that name. Stingray is a little unusual."
"Feel free to laugh."
Calcite smiled. "The animal kingdom's no stranger than the mineral kingdom when it comes to names. Now what can we do for you Ms. Stingray?" How'd she find us and what does she want?
Titanite recovered her voice. "This is an honour Ms Stingray. You don't sound a thing like your voice actress. If I could just get an autograph ... Cal do you have a pen?" He handed one to Sylia and she scrawled her name on a napkin. She filed Ti's comments for later analysis. Right now it didn't seem to make any sense.
A waiter placed a glass of icewater by Sylia. She took a sip and checked there was no one else in earshot. "Let me start by saying that I am not a Boomer." Titanite gaped again.
"You see to be a very well informed woman." Obviously she heard Ti last night but how ...? Damn! We checked for magickal surveillance, we didn't think about technology based spying. A mistake in a high tech environment like this. "I have no knowledge of the accuracy of my sister's information. If you have any specific questions you'll have to ask her."
"It was remarkably detailed." Sylia wasn't sure what to ask next. "So much so that it threatens my own operations."
"So you've come to take our measure and see if we truly are uninterested in your ... crusade."
"I prefer to think of it as maintaining the balance."
"So the bubble neither explodes or implodes. That's a worthy goal. However we have matters of our own to resolve."
The taxi dropped Margrave outside the Hotel. She stalked in and caught a familiar scent. Two familiar scents! Confused she pushed past the maitre'd and followed her nose.
Back near the Boomer plant Pyrite suddenly snapped his fingers. "Margrave!"
"What?" Why bring her up?
"That's who that woman reminded me of. It was back while Cal was doing the Lord Calcite routine. She showed up this one time and tried to talk him into taking her along for a look around. She said she'd been practising her glamour then demonstrated. She looked pretty near identical to that woman." He didn't notice the sick look that crossed Azurite's face. "Funny coincidence ... you don't suppose there's any chance it's actually her? No of course not. She had no dimensional shift powers. The only way she could have escaped the Kingdom would have been if she stumbled across our warpgate right after it opened. What are the chances of that?"
"A lot higher than you think."
"What?" Azure looked very guilty.
"Pyr ... there's something I should have told you quite a while back ..." She was interrupted by the emergency signal on the communicator. Grateful for the reprieve she flicked it on. A very worried looking Titanite appeared onscreen. She must have been eating very messily as she was smeared with food.
"We've got a real problem here!"
A few minutes earlier Calcite and Sylia were still verbally fencing. Neither trying to get too specific about anything. Titanite watched with fascination. Then Calcite broke off. He sensed a youma aura nearby. Very well shielded indeed. It'd be difficult to be sure of it if it wasn't so familiar. But he knew this one intimately. Except it wasn't possible. She was dead! He froze in place unwilling to turn around.
Then Titanite gazed over his shoulder and her eyes widened. "Auntie Margrave?!"
"Hi kid. Long time, no see."
Calcite turned to look at her. Sylia recognised the woman from the file on Deite. Catherine Margrave, his executive assistant. Why was she here?
"You're alive!?" Unoriginal but it was all that came to mind. "But how?" Even as he asked it he knew the answer must be Jadeite.
She didn't answer, just said, "So how have you been Calcite? It's been a while. Last time I saw you you were warping out in a hurry without waiting for me. If I hadn't been incredibly lucky I'd be as dead as all the other poor bastards in the Kingdom."
"I ... look we have to talk."
She nodded. "I thought you'd say something like that. You always said that the rational thing to do is think before acting. But you know what? I'm not rational. I'm too angry to be rational!" Her arm swept down in a blur. Calcite's shield boosted to maximum.
It didn't absorb the impact. Calcite slammed across the room demolishing three tables before coming to rest among the potted trees along the wall.
"Cal?!" Titanite started up and grabbed Margrave's arm.
"Stay out of this kid!" Margrave tossed Ti into the buffet upsetting the table in the process. Titanite lay among the spilled dishes wondering dazedly why there was egg in her hair. Sylia pulled herself from under the table and watched.
Calcite had a moment to realize two things. First that in his current state his shield couldn't handle much kinetic force. Second that rage was boosting Margrave's strength. Then she grabbed him and threw him across the room. He managed to roll to his feet and fire a shockblast at the onrushing youma. She slowed but didn't stop. Those were weaker too. Both of them crashed through the window. Margrave broke free of the tangle and grabbed a car. Just how strong was she? The blow slammed him across the street into a parked car. From the way it moved they must be using lighter alloys these days. Margrave charged him screaming, "YOULEFTMETODIE!PICKEDAZURITEOVERME!I TRUSTEDYOU!"
"WAIT!" She didn't. Just grabbed him and rammed him into the wall. Calcite slumped at her feet. Margrave unsheathed her claws and raised her right arm for the killing strike. Her arm swept downwards.
ENOUGH! Calcite's left hand surged upwards and grabbed her wrist. Before she could react his right hand speared upwards. Margrave screamed as her forearm broke. Even as she did that Calcite released his grip. His right hand glowed. The shockwave slammed her into the side of the hotel. Lights exploded in her head. Margrave's vision cleared enough to see the blade strike the wall beside her. It exploded and flung her into the street. She lay there unable to move. Calcite was stalking towards her a sword forming in his right hand. Advancing as implacably as death itself. She closed her eyes and waited. The footsteps stopped. There was the rustle of clothing. She opened her eyes to see Calcite kneeling down besides her. The expression of his face had changed from vengeful to concerned. "Margrave ..."
She forced to smile. "You bastard. I never could beat you." She managed to throw an arm around his shoulders and pull her face to his. The kiss was interrupted by him wrapping an arm around her then touching the back of her skull. Energy pulsed and the cat woman faded into unconsciousness. Calcite gently lowered the sleeping youma then probed his chest, trying to decide how many ribs she'd broken.
"Anyone ever tell you, you two don't have a healthy relationship?"
"About average for the Dark Kingdom. And I'm really not in the mood for this now Azure."
Azurite looked down at him. "It's your own fault you know."
"I cannot believe that even weakened you couldn't take her out easy. But you were hung up on not hurting her and that threw you off." She reached a hand down. "Come on let's get you upright then ... oh shit!" The advancing figure in blue armour looked decidedly hostile. Azurite put herself between Calcite and the Knight Saber. Ok armour ... best thing to do is hammer her against something solid then keep up the pressure until it implodes. Should have asked Ti how tough this stuff is.
"Wait!" Azurite didn't know the woman though the Blue Saber evidently did. She'd emerged from the now deserted restaurant with Ti. When the fight began someone had screamed "BOOMERS!" which was followed by a mass exodus. She stalked past the Saber and stopped just before Azurite. Looking down at Calcite she said, "Mr. Hobbes ..." Her train of thought derailed momentarily as she saw Margrave's appearance change as her glamour collapsed. "Cal ... I would like your group to accompany me. There is no coercion though you might have difficulty explaining this melee to the authorities. My brother is on his way with transport to our headquarters." The Silky Doll truck should be here in a few minutes. Nene's interference was keeping ADP from full deployment. She'd upped the scale of destruction so the SWAT teams were trying to mass enough firepower to handle it.
He didn't look convinced. Time to take a wild stab. "Is the name Sailor Moon familiar to you?" That jolted both figures before her.
After a moment he said, "Perhaps we do have things to discuss." His gaze flicked to Azurite. "Where's Pyr."
"Right here!" He materialized a little to the side with several bags. "I went up to strip the rooms of everything special. Then I looked at the window and saw everyone here so I figured, 'what the hell?'" He handed Ti her backpack.
Calcite studied Sylia Stingray. She'd regained her composure remarkably quickly after Pyrite's appearance. How had she heard of Sailor Moon? Given that they were going up against Jadeite he'd grasp at any straw. "We'd be delighted to accompany you Sylia." Azurite caught his signal to stay on guard as she helped him up. Pyrite looked uncertain. Titanite looked overjoyed.
"We get to meet the other Knight Sabers? This is great." She approached the armoured figure. "You know which song of yours I really like?"
Priss was saved from answering by the honking of a horn as Mackie arrived with the van.
End of part 4
Next in part 5 : Things start to snowball and several old secrets are exposed. For the first time the Renegades are truly divided.
Part 5 : Revelations.
Dark Kingdom Renegades/Bubblegum Crisis : Bad Moon Rising
By Mark Latus
Part 5 : Revelations
Sylia studied her guests as the ending theme of Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon episode 1 played. The couple who'd identified themselves as Azurite and Pyrite stared at the screen in glassy eyed shock. The girl (who'd said her name was Titanite rather than Titania) was watching avidly. She was sitting next to Nene who was humming along to the theme. She noticed Sylia watching her and flushed, "Well it is a very cute show."
The girl nodded, "Absolutely. How about running another episode?"
Sylia ignored her and blanked the screen. Her gaze turned to the man beside her. His expression was still carefully neutral. He took a sip of his coffee then turned to face her. "Well this certainly raises a few interesting questions about the nature of reality."
Sylia had to admit that her own sense of reality was taking a beating. After the fight at the hotel Mackie and Doc Raven had arrived in a company van. Doc had come along at her request to drive Priss and the unmarked van back. Mackie stayed at the wheel of the other truck and Sylia had piled in along with the strangers. The girl had slid into the cab to join Mackie and kept a running barrage of questions and comments all the way back to base. Mackie had managed to avoid answering ... in many cases because he was too astonished by her knowledge to form a coherent reply. It had succeeded in distracting him from the outfit the bluehaired woman wore. Sylia had stayed in the back with the other four. The unconscious one had commanded most of her attention. She seemed to be a literal catwoman. There were no signs of grafting. There were also nothing to indicate how she'd appeared human just a few minutes earlier. Someone had splinted her arm though she'd seen no signs of first aid equipment with them. The man who'd called himself Calvin was holding her cradled in his arms. He winced slightly as the wheels struck a bump. As Sylia watched a cut on his face began closing. The blue blood had already stopped flowing. His gaze raised from the figure in his arms to meet hers. He slid an arm free and dabbed at his cheek. "I imagine it's a little late to convince you I'm human?" Something seemed to flicker in his eyes.
"I already knew that. I got a sample of your blood last night. By the way weren't you blond when we met?"
Calcite grimaced. His glamour had collapsed during the beating he'd taken. "Actually this is its natural color. But it's a little too distinctive."
"Cal!" That came from the woman in the strange costume, Azure DeWitt in the hotel register. She'd been keeping a close eye on Sylia while she watched the other two.
"Easy Azure. Our cover is blown and right now I can't do a lot about it. So we might as well see what it's all about. Your mentioning the leader of the Senshi was a surprise Ms. Stingray."
"Sylia is fine."
"Well I might as well do the introductions. My real name's Calcite ..."
"And I'm Titanite." The girl must have been listening to them despite her own stream of words. "Better known as ..."
"Ti, enough." The girl hesitated then withdrew into the cab. He continued, "This is Azurite." The blue haired woman nodded and tapped a bracelet. Her clothing shifted and reformed into a red pantsuit. She'd had red hair in the computer's picture of her. While Sylia was absorbing this Calcite indicated the other man. "My cousin Pyrite." He nodded aimiably and his features changed slightly. His eyes shifted from brown to yellow and his fingernails became a deep black. Now that she thought of it both Calcite and Titanite had green nails. Perhaps it wasn't decoration. "And this is Margrave." He indicated the unconscious woman. Sylia's gaze shifted back to Pyrite. He was suddenly looking satisfied.
Pyrite looked friendly enough but she'd seen him appear out of nowhere. He was an unknown and uncalculatable factor. For that matter she knew both Calcite and Azurite could destroy Boomers with their bare hands. Even the girl had demonstrated unknown powers. Sylia was beginning to wonder if bringing them to her homebase was a wise move. Though the girl might already have known where it was, she seemed to know everything else about the Knight Sabers.
As if on cue Titanite asked Mackie, "So how far is it to Raven's garage?"
"Uhmmm ..." Mackie caught Sylia's eye in the mirror. She nodded fractionally. "Another five minutes."
Pyrite finished the thing he'd been fiddling with and held it up. As soon as they'd entered the van he'd opened his case and reached inside it. The lid had blocked a clear view of what his hands were doing. Now he was holding up a silver circlet. He pushed the case to one side and knelt beside Margrave. "Right, this'll keep her asleep until we know what to do about her." Calcite nodded and Pyrite fitted the band around Margrave's forehead. He tightened it a little to avoid slippage. "Ok all done."
"One less worry." Azurite was looking concerned. "Cal I hate to bring this up but you-know-who told you to stay at the hotel. Maybe Pyrite's blocking will keep him from finding us but if he starts to search it's going to get ugly."
"Is you-know-who Jadeite?" From their reactions her guess was right. Not the most difficult leap she'd ever made. Jason Deite resembled the cartoon character Jadeite. That combined with their own names made it an obvious deduction. Well not obvious as this whole thing didn't make any sense. Was this some long term project somehow inspired by that anime?
The car pulled into the garage and the door opened. She was glad she'd told the others not to suit up. From the look of Calcite and Azurite that would have been regarded as an ambush. Both relaxed a little and Calcite stepped out holding the catwoman gently. Nene and Linna were staring at his burden with amazement. Sylia took charge. "Alright we'll head upstairs to the apartment. You can drop her in the spare bedroom. Then I'll show you what I know about Sailor Moon.
They headed for the concealed staircase from her apartment to the underground Knight Saber base. Titanite was gushing over Nene and Linna, neither of them seemed to know how to react to her. Priss had already unsuited and headed upstairs.
Sylia thoughts returned to the present. She met Calcite's gaze. "What is the connection between this cartoon and Jason Deite?"
"A better question would be what is the connection between this show and Jadeite. That is his real name."
"What exactly are you saying?"
"That what we just saw was a reasonably accurate depiction of General Jadeite's first attempt to gain human energy. I can't comment on the validity of the other sequences not having observed them."
"Are you trying to claim that was somehow real?"
"Yes. Though not in this dimension."
"Given an infinite number of dimensions everything has to happen somewhere, right." This was addressed to Pyrite. "Hmm ... uh yeah. There's this Heinlein book which had the premise that everything fictional would be real in some alternate universe. Number of the Beast or something like that."
"What kind of bull is this!" Priss didn't by this for a second. "You expect us to believe that you're anime characters who somehow walked into the real world?" Calcite didn't reply directly. Instead he said something in an unknown language to Titanite. She nodded and opened her pack. She looked at Nene and asked, "So did Dr. Miriam try to take over the ADPolice building yet?"
"That happened a few weeks ago. It made all the news shows." And I didn't get any credit, Nene added silently.
Titanite nodded, all the Crisis OAVs had happened. Cal's instructions were clear. Show them the discs that have happened. She'd told him that Bubblegum Crash didn't happen until next year. She removed the 8 discs from her pack and passed them to her brother. He handed them to Sylia. "You might want to have a look at these."
Again Sylia felt her sense of reality slip. The pictures on the jackets were clearly recognisable cartoon versions of the Knight Sabers, masked and unmasked. "When were these made Ti?"
"1987. It was originally supposed to be a 13 part series but ..." The girl's voice rolled on but Sylia wasn't really listening. Mackie, Priss, Linna and Nene gathered round to stare at the disks. They looked a lot like Azurite and Pyrite had done a few minutes earlier.
Sylia managed to regain her composure. "Mackie do we have anything capable of playing these?"
"Huh ... uh I don't think so. This format's been obsolete for years." He started thinking about the challenge. "I suppose I could modify the Maxsung decypter to handle something this size. Then if we run the signal through ..."
"Get on with it!" She turned to face Calcite. "Assuming for the moment that this is true, that we are somehow animated characters in another universe ..." Just saying that was an effort. "... why are you here?"
"We came because someone sent Boomers throught the dimensional gateway to our Tokyo. For our own reasons it seemed advisable to deal with the youma responsible. We just learned it's Jadeite, or Jason Deite as he's known here."
"Your names suggest a connection with him."
"It was traditional to give humanics ... that is youma who looked human names ending in ite. We're just looking to live out our lives quietly free of the Dark Kingdom. Jadeite has other plans. I don't know exactly what he's planning but it's nothing pleasant. He was responsible for the destruction of that tunnel last night."
Sylia looked grim. "Over 100 died in that explosion."
"They were all dead before the blast."
"Jadeite had sent in some sort of modified Boomer. It looked almost lionlike ..."
Linna looked up from studying "Double Vision". "That sounds like the Boomer that beat the hell out of us."
Sylia nodded. "Go on."
"As you saw in the video he can drain human lifeforce. He's now got a faster and far more lethal technique. The explosion was set to cover the fact everyone in that tunnel had been sucked dry. The heat could be blamed for the desiccated condition of the bodies."
"If we accept this as true then why is he doing it? Is it connected to the Boomer he sent against us."
"Possibly. If it was somehow powered by human energy ... I don't know."
"Would Margrave know?"
The question surprised Calcite. "I don't know. Jadeite must have known she was in the city. Though how much contact there was between them ..."
Pyrite chipped in. "We saw her leaving Jadeite's building."
"As Catherine Margrave she is Jadeite's second in command." Sylia's answer startled Calcite.
"Catherine ... probably nicknamed Cat. Jadeite's number two ... that probably indicates no more powerful youmas in town or she wouldn't hold the position. I still wonder how she got here?"
Sylia couldn't answer that. One thing she did know, this Margrave might be the key to everything. "Maybe she can answer a few questions." She started for the bedroom where they'd dumped the cat woman. Everyone else followed.
They all trooped into the room making it rather crowded. Margrave was stretched out on the bed in REM sleep. Her breathing deep and even she seemed relaxed. "Hey, she's cute!" That was from Nene. Even Azurite had to concede that much. "Appearances deceive."
Calcite nodded. "The only time she ever completely lets her guard down is when she's asleep. Most of the time she looks like she'd as soon rip your heart out as say hello."
"Most of the time she would as soon rip your heart out as say hello."
Before Calcite could refute this (if he could) Linna asked, "Just what the hell happened at that hotel this morning?"
Calcite sighed. "I guess you could say it was a bit of a spat with an old girlfriend."
"If you want me to be a bit more specific we used to be lovers back in my Dark Kingdom days."
"Lovers?" Linna studied the body before. She could glimpse the fangs behind the lips, saw the claws slid half out of the fingertips in response to a dream. Not to mention the fur that covered the body. "That's disgusting! She's obviously not human!"
Calcite raised his right arm. The sleeve had been slashed open and his arm badly gashed when he'd gone through the window. The wound had healed but the blue bloodstain remained. "I'm as nonhuman as her. Unlike her I look human on the outside." Linna shut up. Calcite added, "Besides there's nothing wrong with furry bodies. They're a lot easier to handle than scales or spines. Claws can be a problem but I've got very tough bones and heal rapidly." He realized Titanite was looking at him. "Well anyway ..."
During this Azurite had noticed Nene staring into her eyes. "What are you doing?"
"Sorry, I was just admiring your contacts. They're much better than Priss's. She uses those tinted contacts so she can claim it's just for her stage act."
Priss growled, "How many times do I have to tell you. I'm not nearsighted!"
"I've seen your medical records!"
"WHAT! You little ..."
"Just kidding. Anyway the red color's so much better in your eyes."
"I'm not wearing contacts."
"Oh." She paused then indicated the yellow eyed Pyrite. "Uh is he ...?"
"No. What you see is you get."
"Ah." Nene's gaze swung back to Margrave. At least she really looked like she wasn't human. Something struck Nene. "Say is she the Werewolf Vigilante?" Nene was a big fan of trash media.
"Who?" She realized she had everyone's attention.
"Well the past few weeks someone's been running around the slums hacking up muggers and rapists. There's a witness who claimed the killer was white and furry with really sharp claws."
Azurite nodded. She felt vindicated. "There! You heard that Cal. She's a killer! Now do you understand."
"We're all killers Azure."
"Only when we have to be. We don't go out hunting for people to kill. When will you accept that the world would be a better place without her! You should have taken her out back at the hotel but you've got the crazy idea that she's somehow redeemable. She's a menace. She came damned close to killing you. I ... we could have lost you because you didn't want to hurt her!"
"ENOUGH!" Pyrite's outburst silence everyone. Titanite had never heard him shout like that before. His voice went cold. "Azurite if anyone's responsible for that mess this morning it's you. If you'd told us months ago that Margrave was there when we jumped we'd have known she could have survived." His tone became bitter. "But you couldn't, could you? Because if Calcite knew that Margrave might be alive somewhere he'd never have given up hoping to see her again. Which would have meant you'd have lost any chance of making him yours."
Calcite and Titanite stared at their cousin. Azurite turned almost as white as Margrave. "You ... but how ... when ...?"
"When did I figure out I was the number two man in your life? Quite a while ago. I'm the observer of this group. I notice things. It wasn't hard. Anyone except Calcite would have." He was silent for a moment. "I kept quiet because I hoped that one day you'd give up ... I really thought you might choose me. But now Margrave's back and it'll be the same mess as before. You'll stay with me but you'll be envying her and watching Calcite for your chance. I just can't take it anymore." He sounded defeated. "So now there's no more secrets. Congratulations Cal. I always knew I couldn't compete with you. I ... I hope you'll be happy." He stalked out of the room. His mind whirling Calcite looked to Azurite. She seemed paralysed, unable to say anything coherent. He sensed teleport energy build and followed his cousin.
"Pyrite wait!" He didn't know what to say. "I ... I didn't know anything about this."
Pyrite's smile was bittersweet. "I believe you. In many ways you're a very smart guy. But when it comes to women you're the dumbest guy on Earth and the Kingdom." Light flared and he was gone. Azurite stumbled into the corridor. She froze and stared at the empty air. She began to reach out to Calcite. Then froze again. Suddenly she stepped forward into the space Pyrite had occupied. Power built and her expression changed from lost to resolved. She vanished.
While the other Knight Sabers gaped at the spot she'd been standing Sylia strode there. She waved an arm through the space and remarked, "That's rather disconcerting."
"Really?" Titanite sounded surprised. "I though you were unflappable."
"Young lady, no one is as cool as I act. Unless they're already dead."
"Oh." She felt a little disappointed. Then looked to her brother. He had his head bowed and held a hands across his eyes. "Uh Cal, are you ok?"
"This day just gets better and better." She'd never heard him sound so weary before. After a few moments more he straightened up and looked at her. "Did you know anything about this?"
"Well ... no. She never said anything to me. I guess ... I guess Azure's always been a big sister figure to me so I never thought that there was anything romantic between you. I just had you figured as good friends."
"Me too." He sighed. "Which appears to have been part of the problem."
"Are you going to go after them?"
"I don't have the power to spare. Besides Pyr might have jumped again when Azure followed."
"Well I could ..."
"You're still getting warp sickness. Until we've got you past that your teleporting is limited. Besides I think they need to sort things out on their own." Gradually the reality of their situation penetrated. "Meanwhile we just lost half our group and our blocking shield. On top of everything else Jadeite is still out there somewhere planning god knows what. He can't detect Pyrite but he could spot Azure's jumps. Ti ..."
"I'm already shielding my aura."
"Good girl." He made a decision. "Right now I'm not totally useless. I might be able to find out what Margrave knows." Everyone followed him back inside.
Nene looked a little squeamish. "Uhh ... what are you planning to do to her?"
"Nothing physically damaging. I'm going to try and take a look inside her mind."
"You can read minds?" That was from Linna.
"Not exactly. In the case of people I have a long time rapport with I can get limited access to their minds. Assuming they aren't fighting me. We have a long time intimacy which should provide the connection I need. Also in this dreamstate her psi defenses should be down."
"I thought you said mindsurfing shouldn't be used without consent."
"I am afraid sister that every rule has its exceptions. This is one of them." And it's the least painful way to learn what we need.
"Oh. Should I come along?"
"No. Stay out here and keep an eye on things. If anything seems to be going wrong then break contact." I hope this isn't an error. Ti seems to think these people are trustworthy and her information appears to be accurate. Something struck him. "But first bring that pack of yours here." She disappeared into the main room and returning with the pack and three remaining laserdiscs. Calcite reached inside and generated a psychoplam band around them. That would make them unplayable until the band was removed. If those discs actually foretold the future of this world they could be a powerful bargaining chip.
He pulled a chair up to the bed and leaned over Margrave. His fingertips lightly touched her temples and he felt contact establish. So far so good. Here we go. He shifted his point of view forward and experienced the familiar sensation of rushing down a tunnel of blurred light.
Priss waved a hand in front of his eyes. He gave no indication of noticing. Sylia observed more carefully. Respiration appeared to have slowed along with blinking rate. He appeared to be in a trance state. At least a human displaying those symptoms might be. There was no saying if the same applied to youma. She felt the strangest sensation. Almost as if there was an almost inaudiable conversation she could just detect. She took a step towards Calcite.
Surrounded by a whirling storm of shifting form Calcite decided to impose some order. Somewhere familiar to her. Around him a gray barren landscape began to spread. Mainly stone with crystalline outcropping, sparse vegetation consisting mostly of fungi and lichen. With a few scraggly trees that whipped their branches to repel herbivores. A dun colored beetle the size of a great dane scrabbled past. Overhead the sky was a solid black lit only by lightning flashes and glowing clouds. It almost made him homesick. Almost. Until he remembered how much he'd hated this place.
Now to give his psi form a shape. He molded a copy of his body then covered it with his old Dark Kingdom uniform. Grey with a red stripe running from shoulder to hip. Why Magnesite had liked this design remained a mystery. No sign of serious resistance so far. Now if he could access her memories ... something wrong! Psi defense? No, it was coming from outside. There was an incoming presence. Ti must have decided to follow him. What was she playing at this time?
He "saw" a sphere of light appear and form itself into a female shape. Ti must have decided to give herself a fully adult body as it was much better developed than her own. The facial features formed and he recognised Sylia Stingray.
She seemed a little disorientated by her arrival. "I was unaware you were a telepath Sylia."
She seemed puzzled. "I'm not. At least not exactly. I couldn't have got here myself but somehow I was able to ... to ride the channel you opened." She looked around. "This is what the inside of a mind looks like?"
"Not exactly. This is a pseudo environment I've created to enable me to move around. Same as the body you "see". With my limited psi powers I find it helps to create a visual analog. It's a natural instinct for visually orientated creatures like humans and youma. Which is why you created a psi duplicate of your own body as a reference point. By the way please don't feel you have to be naked on my account."
Sylia looked down and realized this form had no clothing. The lack of physical stimuli had kept her from noticing. She blushed momentarily then met Calcite's gaze. "Why do you have clothes and I don't?"
"I created these. They're conducive to the environment. Try imagining yourself wearing an outfit." Quickly. "Not that armour. Look too militant and we could trigger psi defenses." She nodded and concentrated. Light flowed over her body and limbs then shifted to become cloth. She was wearing a copy of Jadeite's outfit from the anime.
"I assume this is appropriate for the environment?"
"Zoisite's might have been better but that's fine. Well let's see what we can find." He imagined a path leading to a storage vault. Over there. "This way."
On the outside Nene was watching Sylia worriedly. Her hands rested on Calcite's shoulders and she seemed to be as oblivious as him. "Is she all right?"
Titanite shrugged. "I think she followed big brother somehow. I didn't know she could do that."
"Neither did we."
"Well he's fine so I guess she's fine." Ti glanced around at Nene, Priss and Linna. While they were all waiting here would be the perfect time to ask her questions. Except that it was a lot more intimidating to ask living, breathing women about their personal lives than to speculate about drawings on animation cels. Maybe if she started off with the milder questions.
Mackie entered. "Ok I've got that first disc rolling and it's viewable ... What's wrong with Sis?"
"Far as we can tell they're both in the pussycat's head."
Inside Margave's mind two figure were walking through a valley. "Pretty barren environment."
"That's plenty of life if you know where to look. Though of necessity most of our food was fungi and insect based."
"What does it look like in daylight?"
"This is our equivalent of day. Notice the phosporescent clouds? They fade during the night."
"I admit it wouldn't make many travel agent's lists. But it's totally unspoiled by tourists."
"So the real Kingdom exists next in another continuum? Next to another Earth?"
"It did." He was silent for a moment. "This looks promising." "This" was a cloud of black spheres ranging in size from ballbearings to beachballs.
"What is this."
"I think these are memories."
"These places don't come with manuals."
Sylia studied the hovering spheres. "So which one do we need?"
"Well what sort of sequence are they in? If we proceed chronologically ..."
"Unfortunately memories don't seem to be linearly stored. At least not for telepathic access." Before she could comment he continued, "However size probably indicates it's importance to her. How often she thinks about a particular moment." He reached a arm towards the nearest giant sphere. "Take my free hand." Sylia did and Calcite pushed his fingers into the sphere's surface. The black surface rippled like water. He pushed deeper inside and felt something resist him. He exerted more force and suddenly they were elsewhere.
All around the landscape writhed but the quakes didn't touch them. They were phantoms in the cavern. Ahead of them Margrave stumbled towards the four figures standing untouched by the chaos. Calcite recognised himself and the others. "The last day!" The sides of the caverns were lined with niches. In several sat large crystals with humanoid figures sealed within. The crystals were tumbling from their perches to the rocky floor. They were undamaged by the impacts. Margrave stumbled to a halt and hung onto a pillar as walking became impossible. Azurite's gaze locked with hers briefly then dropped. Margrave screamed at Calcite's back but the words were lost in the chaos. The four vanished and Margrave gave a scream that was also swallowed by the roar. Above her the crystal holding a blond man tipped. He was the only recognisably human one of those imprisoned. "Jason Deite."
"Jadeite." The crystal struck Margrave and flung her forward. Entangled with the crystal she rolled into the energy field and vanished.
They were back before the cloud of spheres. Sylia felt a bit shaken by what she'd witnessed. "What ... what was that?"
"Judgement Day. At least for the Dark Kingdom." He was silent for a moment. "Well now we know how they got to MegaTokyo."
"Wait! If that was her memory ...?"
"...Why did we see her? The simple answer is our minds interpret it to fit our own preconceptions. We're all the centre of our own little universes. Seeing it from another's viewpoint would jeopardise that."
"So we can't truly understand one another even with telepathy?"
"I can't. But I'm far from the best telepath. You noticed all we got was visual and audio sensory data? We don't know what she was thinking at that moment. We didn't feel her emotions. A more powerful telepath could have got some of that. A very strong telepath would have got it all. A supreme telepath would have supressed their self and experienced the memory as she lived it."
"Interesting but it doesn't help us."
"True. Let's try this one." Again everything around them changed. Sylia saw Margrave racing up a hillside. She looked smaller and less developed. More of a kitten than a cat. She held her left arm steady with the right. It seemed to be broken. She was panting from the exertion of the chase. Behind her the three pursuers advanced. All were large and appeared male. While humanoid it would take a lot for any to pass as a man. The leader was a blue minotaur, the second resembled a combination of crab and panther. Clawed feet tore up the ground and lethal looking pinchers clicked. Beside him strode what appeared to be a werewolf made of metal. Margrave gave a hiss of frustration and stopped. She spun to face them letting her broken limb hang free. She raised her good arm and extended her claws.
The trio slowed and the steel wolf walked to the front. "Stupid little bitch. Trying for the empty spot in Jadeite's Legion without seeing who's got it reserved. We had plans for that space. Soon as you're gone we'll be bringing in our choice."
"Take another step forward and there's another space to fill."
The wolf creature laughed. His subordinates echoed him. "Breaking one limb trying to cut my armour wasn't enough for you? Fine, I'll break the rest then we'll have a little fun before you die."
"Leave her one boss. It's no fun when they don't struggle."
The wolf took another step forward and Margrave's face twisted in fear and frustration. Then a new voice cut in. "She must be really tough if it takes three of you to beat her. I like that." All eyes turned to the top of the hill and the figure sitting there. Calcite looked a lot younger, Sylia would say he was about 13. He was wearing a blue tunic and pants and held a halfeaten oval fruit with yellow juice. He regarded them with an expression of cold malevolence. He dropped the fruit and stood up. "I could use a good workout so how about you leave her here to spar with me."
"You get once chance to walk away brat ..." The wolf noticed his men backing away. "WHAT ARE YOU TWO DOING!"
"Boss, a green haired humanic! He's got to be Calcite!"
The minotaur nodded in agreement, "We heard what he did to Vekris and his gang!"
"Vekris was a fool!" Secure in his armoured shell the wolf strode forward. "But people think you're hot. Taking you down will boost my standing." He smiled. "Take your best sho..." He keeled over and hit the ground with a loud thud. His armoured skull had failed to bounced the knife which protuded between his eyes.
Calcite held two more knives waiting. "Like to give it a try?" Both made hasty denials then turned and fled. Calcite advanced and Margrave's expression changed to resignation.
"So I'm yours now?"
He didn't answer just studied her broken limb. Then touched it gently. A cast formed around. He concentrated then nodded. "That should last until tomorrow. If you can't speed heal then you'd better splint the arm when it fades." He turned his back and walked uphill.
He looked back the cold expression in place again. "What?"
"Well ... don't you want me? Isn't that why you saved me?"
"I have no use for damaged women." He resumed his walk. Margrave looked confused.
"But ... but then why bother rescuing me?"
He stopped but didn't turn. "I don't know." Then kept going. Margrave watched him vanish over the brow of the hill.
Reality flickered and they were back. "Our first meeting. Back when I had a reputation to maintain."
"Seems to have been important to her."
"Survival generally is."
"Why did you help her?"
"I was young and stupid. The smart thing to do would have been not to get involved. I still had a few delusions of heroism back then."
"So you wouldn't do it again?"
"That splint on her arm back in the real world ...?"
"I created that."
"Why? She'd just tried to kill you."
"Impulse. Look let's move along."
"First I'd like to know what happened next."
"Why the ... Ok briefly she showed up at my place a two weeks later."
"Well loosely translated she said her arm had healed then asked if I wanted to have sex with her. I said sure. That's basically how it started."
"For the Dark Kingdom that's as romantic as it gets."
"How old were you?"
"13 going on 14."
"Isn't that a little young?"
"You grow up fast in the Dark Kingdom, both physically and mentally. Given the average lifespan you have to. The average youma loses ... lost his, her or its viginity between 10 and 11. I waited until I was 12 out of fear of making some blunder that would mark me as a Renegade. When I was sure I could look like a mean bastard at all times I was ready."
"This place sounds less and less attractive all the time."
"You don't get to choose your birthplace. Anyway enough of the 'my life was hard' routine. Lots of people have difficult childhoods. Was yours easy?"
"No. No it wasn't." What would she have been like if she hadn't grown up determined to avenge her father? Perhaps a much happier person.
"Let's get on with this."
Another memory. A hospital and a dead woman on a morgue table. Margrave staring at the body as the detective by her side explains how she died. Her face twists briefly with rage then resumes a cold expression.
"What was that all about?"
"I have no idea." A friend's death? Couldn't be, youma don't have friends. Unless Pyrite was right and being in this world changes you. Though why be molded to gain a friend only to lose her to violence? How would that synch you into this world?
The next memory seemed related. A woman stalked through a slum nervously eyeing the shadows. Then there was a scream from ahead of her. She hesitated then rushed forward her glamour fading. Sylia and Calcite found themselves flying alongside to keep up with her. Her speed and grace amazed Sylia. The screaming emerged from an alley. Inside a girl was pinned to the ground by a man holding her shoulders against the concrete. A second held her flailing legs and grinned down at her. He never saw what hit him.
Margrave's claws cut deeply through his neck. His head almost severed the would be rapist began dropping. Margrave surged past the body her other arm arcing downwards. The girl had her eyes shut. The man pinning her had time for a moment of shock before his throat exploded. He fell backwards drenching her with blood. The spray snapped her eyes open. She screamed and pulled free of the corpses. A streetlight illuminated Margrave. The girl cowered before the appariton. Margrave looked at her for a moment then snarled "GO!" and pointed a claw to the alleys mouth. The girl bolted. Margrave licked the blood off claws. There wasn't much on her fur as she'd been able to dodge most of the spray. "Shit, shouldn't have let her walk. When she describes me Jadeite's gonna be unhappy." She stopped muttering recreated her glamour and slid away into the darkness.
"So she is the Werewolf Vigilante."
"And Jadeite didn't approve. So why did she do it?"
"Was she avenging the dead woman we saw?"
"I ... I don't know."
"In any case it's not what we were looking for. Mind if I pick the sphere this time?"
"Go ahead Sylia. I'm not having much luck."
It was another three spheres before they found what they were looking for. Several of the Spheres seemed to have fused together. This one seemed to jump around.
The memory started with Jadeite and Margrave walking through one of the seedy neighbourhoods. Calcite recognised it as the place the gate was located. It was probably also the site of their original entrypoint. Four thugs made the biggest (and last) mistake of their lives as they slid out of the shadows to surround the pair. Jadeite smiled and formed an sphere of white light that floated over his upraised palm. Energy flowed from the humans to the sphere. While probably invisible to humans Margrave's youma eyes saw the whole thing. They aged, crumpled and fell. Jadeite looked at the sphere in surprise. "Five minutes for total drain. Remarkably quick."
"Your powers continue to grow, my lord."
"Perhaps. Or perhaps they are just more efficent in this world. No matter. Now we can begin the test."
The scene jumped to a Boomer plant. Jadeite stood before a C-55 Boomer. Nearby a guard stood following the Jadeite's commands to ignore anything he saw. In one hand Jadeite held the sphere of human energy. With the other he reached towards his own chest. His hand glowed white then passed through his ribcage as if it didn't exist. He withdrew his hand, there was no sign of damage to his chest. Between his fingers he held a golden glowing mote. He drew a breath then plunged the mote into the sphere. It changed from white to pale yellow. Jadeite nodded and pushed the sphere through the Boomer's chest wall. It passed through the metal without damaging it. Jadeite appeared slightly dizzy. Margrave took a step towards him and he waved her back in irritation. He straightened up and concentrated. The Boomer's form shifted becoming the lion headed shape both Calcite and Sylia recognised.
There was another shift. Jadeite and Margrave watched a screen. The graphics at the edges suggested this was coming from Brazil. On the screen they were seeing from the point of view of something that was tearing apart ragged armed men. From the flashes of blue it seemed to be a Boomer. From the claws it was on of Jadeite's Hyper Boomers. Jadeite spoke to the executives and generals surrounding him. "Now ladies and gentlemen unit Y0MA will demonstrate its' entropic disruptor weaponary on the surviving elements of the Brazilian People's Independance Army." On screen men and women began collapsing. The Boomer swept its gaze around. Everywhere it showed the survivors were aging rapidly. Jadeite continued, "The true advantage of this weapon is that it causes no harm to either equipment or the economically viable rainforest. The energy is absorbed by the youma and converted to power for its own use. Thus as long as it doesn't run out of advesaries it will not require refueling. This will cut maintainance a minimum of 40% and increase the unit's capability of conducting field operations between 35 and 60%." There was polite but enthusiastic applause as the people on the screen withered and died.
The scene jumped again. Now Jadeite and Margrave were alone. Jadeite was speaking. "You have been wondering for some time just what I am planning haven't you."
"It's ... not my place to question you Lord Jadeite."
"Of course not. But you've been curious haven't you? It's only youman."
"Yes my Lord."
"After yesterday's test everything is ready. The humans think I have given them a military product worth several fortunes. What I have truly done is demonstrate my ability to have my creations drain life force outside the zone that surrounds this city. While we may be unable to leave the zone around this place they have no such restrictions." He smiled and waited for her to ask.
"My Lord. That still doesn't explain your true intentions."
"It's quite simple." A hologram of the world lit up. "Now watch this. Here's a project of how successful the Hyper Boomers will be." Year 1 flickered above the world. Red dots appeared over Japan and other GENOM's client third world countries. Year 2. The dots had spread to the Russian Federation and China. There were sporadic dots throughout India. Year 3. The dots were worldwide. Jadeite grinned. "Three years and they'll be worldwide. And that is when the feeding will begin."
Jadeite tapped a key on his console. The dots expanded and the world's landmasses turned a solid red. "When they are spread far enough the day will come that I command them all to feed simultaneously. Every one of my children will begin consuming all the human energy surrounding them. As they feed they will use the power they collect to expand their draining fields. It will take several weeks but at the end of it the human race will be extinct."
Margrave looked shocked. "All of them?!"
"The entire species. Possibly all the other primates as well. I haven't got all the bugs out of the feeding sequence yet."
Margrave was silent. After a few moments she commented. "It'll be quiet with just the two of us left."
Jadeite's smile wasn't pleasant. "We aren't staying. Once I've killed all the humans here we will be departing for my homeworld. What will Sailor Moon do when 100,000 Boomers pour though the dimensional gateway? All of them with power to spare after draining this planet."
"A uh ... a most ingenious plan my lord. But ... uh ..."
"Each of the Hyper Boomers requires a portion of your soul fused to human energy to make it operational. Can you divide your own life that much?"
"I am Jadeite. Nothing is beyond me."
Margrave immediately flung herself down and grovelled at Jadeite's feet. "I abase myself before your magnificence. You have conceived a plan even Queen Beryl would not dare."
"That old hag is history. You know in some ways I'll miss this world. Ever since we arrived things have been so much clearer. I was so limited before. Now there are no limits and I will triumph!"
The memory ended. Sylia and Calcite looked at each other.
"Well now we know."
"Can he really do that?"
"Can we ... can you take the chance?"
"No." Sylia looked at Calcite. "You have the full assistance of my organization to eliminate Jadeite."
"I'll need everything I can get. I wonder how long before it occurs to Jadeite he won't need to send a boomer army through. There'll be a whole world to loot once he's done. All he need do is pick up a few A-bombs and push them through the gate. Then wait a few days and go through to pick up the pieces."
"I thought I tended to look on the dark side of things." She shook her head. "Well? How do we get back?"
"Just a moment." Calcite focused on remembering a certain day. A grey sphere formed between his hands.
"What is that?"
"Something I'm leaving behind." Sylia looked at the sphere for a moment then plunged both hands into it. "WAIT!" Too late. Her perspective shifted.
S/He was standing in the only calm spot amidst chaos. All around the shielded area came the crash of falling rock as the cavern tore itself apart. Eternal Sleep Crystals toppled from their niches and joined the debris on the floor. Power flicked around them. Titanite held his right arm. She was fighting to stay upright. The bruises that covered her face were healing. Pyrite held his left arm. His cousin shouted something but it was lost in the noise of the quake. He didn't need to here, he could feel the link between them. Facing him stood Azurite. She held Ti and Pyr's other arms to complete the circle. He was concentrating on the viewing crystal behind her rather than his friend. On it the Moon Princess and the thing that had been Queen Beryl continued their final struggle. The energy both discharged was tearing apart the Kingdom. They'd be deaf soon at this rate and the shield wouldn't last forever. But they couldn't jump until they knew who had won. Suddenly Beryl was engulfed by a sphere of light. Her body crumbled and the energy of Metallia discharged wildly. The psionic scream echoed through the Kingdom. The sphere continued expanding. Energizing gate ... Now! Then they were elsewhere, their senses were going mad and everything hurt. Things shifted again and he was sprawled on top of snow covered grass. The others were scattered around him. They'd made it."
Sylia blinked back to the Margrave's mind. "Very ... intense. I think I got more than sight and sound."
"Really? Odd. Maybe it's because of my telepathic abilities."
Sylia considered. "You're leaving her that memory so she'll know you didn't abandon her?"
"I did abandon her. The others convinced me if I told her we were building an escape gate she'd betray us." He sighed. "They were right, she would have. I was planning to bring her in just before the end but things moved faster than I anticipated. Also after Ti was nearly killed by Magnesite I didn't have time to seek her out."
"But if you'd known she was there?"
"I'd probably have tried to drag her along with us. Before you ask, yes that would have been stupid. Azurite was smart not to draw my attention to her. But she should have told me afterwards."
"Except she had her own reasons to keep quiet."
"I guess. What a mess. I really thought Azure and Pyr were solid. Perhaps they still are. She went after him immediately."
"Unless that was to justify choosing you over him. To try and minimize bad feelings."
He sighed again. "This has to be the worst possible time for this to blow up."
"That seems to be the way life works. In the meantime we have to deal with this Jadeite situation. How do we get back to tell the others?"
"Something like this." They began to levitate. Below them the landscape began blurring into a kalidescope of constantly shifting form. Then was the sensation of motion and bodilessness. Sylia found herself back in the room, her hands still resting on Calcite. She pulled them away and Calcite removed his own hands from Margrave then stretched. This sudden return of mobility startled both Titanite and Mackie.
The two teenagers had been sitting next to each other. There was no sign of the others. "Mackie, where is everyone?"
"Oh, I got the discs working a while back so they all went to watch them. I stayed here to make sure you were all right."
"I've described the stories so he hasn't missed anything."
Calcite looked at his sister. "Ti, why are you wearing your Sailor Polaris costume?"
"Oh Mackie said the suits recordings of last night got messed up so he didn't get to see it." Sylia looked at her brother. He tried to look innocent. "Anyway it's coming up on lunchtime so we were going to go for a burger soon as you came back."
Calcite shrugged. "Fine. But ditch the costume first." Ti nodded and morphed back to her regular clothing.
"Remember to treat our guest with respect. Otherwise ..."
"Got it. Let's go Ti-chan."
Calcite shook his head as they left. "Younger siblings can be a pain."
"I would have to agree. Just how old is your sister?"
"Mackie's 16. Which is turning out to be the age his hormones overwhelm his brain. I'm hardly giving him a normal upbringing so I have to wonder how he's going to turn out."
"I am the last person to ask about that. My own teenage experiences are hopefully completely irrelevant to my sister. Besides she need to integrate with humans. I can't teach her that as I'm still working on it myself. Still she's probably adapting better than any of us. Since we're no longer in an environment where making mistakes will inevitably get you killed I've decided to try letting her learn from her mistakes. She's well equipped to take care of any non paranormal threats. The average teenage girl can't demolish a tank singlehanded. To date it seems to be working. So I should mention that if your brother tries anything she really doesn't like she is quite capable of breaking every bone in his body."
"Is that likely?"
"Ti's very good natured. First time she'd probably just ask him to stop then stuff him in a trash can."
"Sounds reasonable." Sylia heard music from the other room. "The soundtrack from those discs?"
"Could be. I've never watched them."
They joined the others who were criticising their voice actresses and claiming that incidents had been slanted to make them look bad. They'd wait for Ti and Mackie to return before explaining things.
The teenagers took over an hour to return. Once they were back the two leaders gathered everyone around a table. Calcite had begun reviewing who and what Jadeite was when he felt the warp form. He swore and summoned all the power he could. Sylia didn't know what was happening but she caught Calcite's vibes. She slid a gun from a drawer and flicked off the safety.
Pyrite and Azurite materialized. Each had an arm round the other. Calcite relaxed from battle stance. "Welcome back."
Pyrite coughed, "Uhm look I'm sorry about running off in the middle of a crisis but ..."
"But it was all my fault anyway", Azurite finished. "Besides it finally got me to make a decision I should have made years ago. I ... I've had a major crush on you since we were teenagers. But I realized if I was truly serious I wouldn't have let Margrave get in the way. She was just an excuse for not doing anything about it. Besides ... while I do love you I think we'd probably wind up at each other's throats if we were more than friends."
Calcite nodded. "A wise decision. If I was too dumb to notice you all these years then I'd be a really lousy choice." Funny with all the mind surfing he hadn't had time to think about this. What would he have done if Azurite returned saying it was over between her and Pyrite?
"Of course I still think that Margrave is bad news. The first thing you should do ..." She subsided at Pyrite's look.
"Glad you're both back. It's time to tell everyone what Jadeite's planning."
After the explanation everyone looked stunned. Priss shook her head, "This guy sounds worse than Largo."
Titanite answered, "He was the superboomer who seized control of laser satellites. He may or may not have been Brian Mason reborn. Anyway everyone thought he was dead after he fell off the GENOM tower but ..." She remembered her brother's injunction about discussing the future and went silent.
"Thought he was dead?", Sylia wondered. She filled that away for later. One crisis at a time. "Given Jadeite's powers, which you say dwarf yours, how do we beat him?"
"There may be a way." Calcite sounded hesitant. Azurite frowned.
"Cal you aren't having second thoughts because of your possible relationship?"
He shook his head. "That's never been a consideration. It wouldn't slow him down, I can't afford to let it affect me."
Titanite spoke up. "Excuse me. What relationship?" Should he tell her? She did have a right to know.
"Ti there is a possibility that Jadeite is our father."
She looked surprised. "I thought you said Nephrite ...?"
"He was one of the possibilities, Jadeite is the other. As Nephrite was slightly less loathsome I picked him."
"I see." She was silent for a moment. "Still we ... well we might not have the same father, right." She caught the look that passed between the other Renegades. "What is it?"
"Ti I ask you to accept that we share the same father ..."
"Why? What's going on. What are you hiding from me?"
Things were approaching a crisis point. It might be the last chance to tell her. "Ti have you ever wondered why I'm so sure you potentially have the same powers I do? Why we look so similar given the radical varaitions in appearance between youma siblings?"
"Well ... no." She was beginning to wonder if she did want to hear this. "Go on."
"The reason is simple. We are ... That is we were ... Well still are I suppose ... we are twins."
She just looked at him for a minute. "Cal you're eight years older than me. How can we been twins?"
"I was the first born, you arrived a few minutes later. What you have to understand is raising a single child was regarded as a necessary evil by youma mothers. It's a distraction form gaining power and status. Two at once just wasn't an option. So Mom followed Dark Kingdom tradition ..." Well one of them, but he decided not to mention infanticide, "and raised the firstborn putting the secondborn into biostasis." It had been strange growing up knowing that the unchanging infant in the crystal tube was his sister. "When I was eight I could look after myself and help look after you so Mom took you out of stasis."
"Mom froze me!"
"To her it was the best solution."
"This is kinda weird. I mean ... we're actually the same age?"
"Don't even think it sister. You're still a minor." She glowered and stuck her tongue out. "Chronologically only doesn't count."
"So if the parentage wasn't bothering you then what ..."
"As I said I have a plan. Jadeite has certain fears. If we exploit them we'll gain the opening we need to finish him." At least I hope so. "Glamour won't work, he'd see right through the illusion. But a disguise might succeed. The problem is there's only one person here who can play the part." He looked at his sister, his expression dead serious. "Ti, this is going to be risky. Jadeite's was always far more dangerous than Magnesite and he's become even more twisted during his time in this world. Doing this will endanger your life and I can't guarantee your safety."
She swallowed. "But the plan won't work without me and if we don't stop him everyone in this world dies?"
"That could happen."
"Then there's no real choice is there?" Ti looked scared but determined. "It's time I pulled my weight in this family."
She was serious. "Very well. Thank you." To Sylia he said, "We'll need a few props. To start with a blond wig ..."
end of part 5
Next: There's an old military axiom the no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. The final showdown with Jadeite will prove that.
Part 6: "In The Name Of The Moon ..."
Dark Kingdom Renegades/Bubblegum Crisis : Bad Moon Rising
By Mark Latus
Part 6 : "In the name of the Moon ..."
Leon McNichol finished surveying the wreckage of the Imperial Hotel's groundlevel restaurant. They'd been heading for Webster's Boomer Development Lab after visiting Deite's when they got diverted. By the time they got here it was all over. The ADP SWAT unit was packing up and heading back to HQ. Given their casualty rate they were happy to have wasted the trip. Now it was up to the detectives to figure out what the hell had happened.
Pretty minor damage for a Boomer rampage. No casualties, one wrecked restaurant and a couple of cars plus a few holes in the outer wall. The real mystery were the identity of those involved. Staring at the overturned table wasn't accomplishing anything. Nothing he could learn here. The forensic techs were getting excited about some stains they'd found on fragments of shattered glass. It seemed one or both boomers had lost fluid when they went through the main window.
Daley was still running the security system downloads through the video link. He was back at the point they considered the start. Where the blur enters. "Get a description from the waitress?"
"For what it's worth. She was japanese, mid 20's, black hair, blue suit, white blouse, top of the line clothes, big tipper. Really narrows it down."
Daley nodded, "At least you confirmed it was a woman. That does eliminate half the human race."
"Unless she was a Boomer too."
"I don't think so. Why blank herself if she didn't have an identity to hide? The other two certainly didn't."
"Think that girl was human?"
"Hard to say. There's a definite resemblance to the male Boomer." Daley froze the image as the blur followed the waitress to table 7. "Very sophisticated jammer. It kept security from registering her image."
"That's not hard."
"Keeping the security AI from noticing the anomaly was. If they'd had someone in here actually watching the screens it would never have worked."
Leon shrugged. "For that matter if they hadn't switched from magnetic tape to digital video we'd have a picture. The price of progress. Run it forward to the main action." Daley snapped the time index ahead a few minutes. The first time they'd seen this they had been very surprised to recognise the Boomer. Since it had only been an hour since they'd talked to her it would have been hard not too. Catherine Margrave strode up to the table stopping behind the man. Daley switched to a different camera to get a better view of the proceedings. Both the teenage girl and the man obviously recognised her. They were also extremely surprised to see her. The blur had no expression to read. The AI had tagged the incident as a possible altercation based on body language. Then Margrave demonstrated she wasn't human. The slap drove the man across the room, demolishing several tables and scattering an arrangement of minature palmtrees. The AI codes now showed it flagging the incident as an assault and placing a call to N Police. The security cameras were now tracking both participants. Here was one of the weird bits. As Margrave charged her victim he raised a hand and the air rippled. She slowed, her clothing appeared to be caught in a powerful wind, but kept moving. She impacted the man and both went through the window.
"Switch to the external cameras."
Daley looked at him. "Any other incredibly obvious orders?"
"You're touchy today. Hey maybe you did see her eyes change. Some sort of system failure."
"Maybe. Of course we don't know yet if this is her or just a Boomer lookalike."
"We'll find out. We're detectives, it's our job. That's way they pay us the big bucks."
"Hah. Which reminds me, word is insurance deductions are going up again. Seems HQ's decided the casualty rates too high. It's supposed to discourage malingerers."
"Stupid pack of ... Remind me again why we joined?"
"Not sure. Think we were unemployed and not too bright."
"Sounds about right. On with the show."
On the screen Margrave swung a car and knocked the man flying. The fact he was still able to get up after denting a parked car made it clear he wasn't human either. "Back up a little. Freeze. Now forward at 10% realtime. Yup there we go again." As he struck the car the man ... the Boomer's hair shifted from blond to light green. "Any theories?"
"The hair is colorless fiberoptic filaments that shift color as the CPU instructs. Could be a malfunction or could indicate a change to battlemode."
"He is about to start kicking ass. Same shade as that teenager's hair."
"I noticed." The fight had shifted dramatically. In fact Margrave was now sprawled on the street. The other Boomer was advancing with a sword it had pulled from ... somewhere. The techs would have to break down this part byte by byte. The picture blanked. At this point someone had fried all the cameras on the first three floors of the hotel. Some sort of localized electromagnetic pulse. A few fleeing witnesses claimed to have spotted the blue Knight Saber. No one had stuck around to see. Natural selection was weeding out those foolish enough to stay and watch berserking Boomers.
"Doesn't make any more sense the second time through."
"She came here to pick a fight with another Boomer. Vance is checking the register to find how his ID was inserted. Why it was placed here is anyone's guess."
"Could be some sort of internal conflict within GENOM."
"Except that Webster's dead so Deite's got no obstacles."
"None we know about. I wonder if it's connected to her reaction to the Sailor Arcturus Boomer."
"Maybe when she saw it she knew she was obsolete ... still doesn't any sense."
"First thing we should do is determine if that was her or just a lookalike. Still there aren't many Boomer's that can pass for human."
"Sexaroids could and did."
"Except they aren't that tough. Maybe my combat sexaroid theory actually makes sense."
"Well nothing more we can do here so let's go have a few words with Deite. Find out if he's looking for a new Executive Assistant."
Jadeite was still anticipating genocide so he was in a very good mood when the ADPolice officers arrived. It wouldn't last. The first he knew that Margrave had done something stupid was when his personal secretary called him. Two detectives wanted to ask him some questions. He'd sighed. GENOM policy was to give the appearance of cooperation with the authorities so he'd better talk to them. The sooner the day came he could throw off the semblance of humanity he'd been forced into the better. He told them to let them in.
They entered and identified themselves. Ah these endless formalities.
"So what can I do for you gentlemen? I'm a very busy man and my time is limited." Something to do with Webster's death? No, that wouldn't be ADPolice juristiction
McNichol gave a thin smile. "We really hate to interupt GENOM's newest wonderboy but we were hoping to have a word about your Executive Assistant."
"Margrave? Whatever for?" Damn, she must have been spotted hunting. I should have nipped that vigilante business in the bud.
"A boomer who looked a lot like her just got into a fight with a second boomer over at the Imperial hotel."
"What?" Jadeite's mind cast out searching for youma presence. There was no others within the building.
Daley dropped a picture onto his desk. "We got this from the hotel's security cameras." It was clearly Margrave. "Now this one is a little hard to explain." Margrave hefting a car, her hands digging into the hood. Jadeite looked at it as he tried to come up with an explanation. WHat the hell had that stupid furball done. Hotel Imperial? That was where ... The next picture was of blond man. Give him green hair and it was Calcite. Thinking back on it in the moment before he'd looked through Calcite's glamour spell he'd seen a different haircolor. Obviously the locals thought they were dealing with Boomers. After all what else in this world could look human but display paranormal strength? Why had Margrave gone after Calcite? He was clearly far more powerful. The result of such a battle was a foregone conclusion. In fact ...
"This a fairly serious allegation officers. Do you have any proof of this wild story besides these pictures? Which could well have been faked by a malicious collegue. Any evidence that there actually was a Boomer present. A Boomer which allegedly resembles my assistant?"
"If you mean have we found the remains yet, no. But we will."
Good luck. Dead youma don't last long in Earth's environment. The power runs wild without a mind to contain it and consumes the flesh. "So there is no physical evidence."
"We've got a wrecked restaurant and a lot of eye witnesses."
Jadeite laughed. "All of whom will have seen something different. You don't even know if that's Margrave in the picture do you." And with no evidence you won't be able to proceed. "Excuse me a moment." Margrave's secretary answered the intercom. Ms. Margrave ha given instructions to hold her calls and departed. "It seems my assistant is unavailable to talk to you right now." You won't find her anywhere outside of the Abyss. No body means this can't proceed. They look determined to continue this. I could just make them drop it but why risk drawing attention? Easiest thing is to let them deadend themselves and give up. Might as well throw them a crumb.
"Still it's our policy to cooperate with the police. At least when it won't compromise security. Take a look around her office if you like." Where they would find absolutely no evidence she was a Boomer. Or anything else potentially damaging. All the files dealing with the Hyper Boomers are encrypted. In any event they're all fakes designed for GENOM's consumption. I'm the only one who can perform the enhancement. The technicians think they are part of the process because I've brainwashed them to believe that. And to ignore how I create the Hyper Boomers. They just write vague reports that make the fake procedure sound plausible. Citing security to avoid getting too specific. The best these two could hope to find were a few cat hairs. The ADP men left. Jadeite made a mental note to drop by Margrave's apartment and dispose of that sexaroid along with anything else potentially revealing.
Margrave's secretary couldn't tell them much. Her boss had stormed out of the building a few hours earlier. That could have got her to the hotel in time for the festivities. Could have. She might have gone anywhere. No evidence, no warrant to search her apartment.
"He'd never let us in here if he thought we were going to find anything."
"I know. But we have to go through the motions." Leon nodded to the secretary and she unsealed the inner door. Exactly the same place they'd seen earlier. A typical midlevel executive office. Spacious, bright, big window, very real looking fake plants, big desk (artificial wood), collection of executive toys ... which were now scattered around the base of the desk. That was different, they'd all been neatly lined up last time. Had she swept them off the desk in frustration over something? Leon stepped closer and gave a low whistle. "Daley, take a look at this!"
There were four paralled gouges in the supposedly scratchproof veneer. The last time Daley had seen this pattern it had been carved through someone's ribcage. "This definitely looks familiar. Think I'll give Carol a call."
Jadeite returned to his office to find the building had become bedlam. After Leon and Daley had departed he had wrapped himself in a glamour and teleported to the nearest secluded point to the Imperial hotel. After months in this city he had warp-points throughout MegaTokyo. Quiet sites he'd picked to enable him to arrive near anything and everything he wanted. He joined the crowd of disaster junkies who'd arrived after hearing the action was over. Most were complaining about the lack of casualties and blood. Jadeite smiled. In three years they'd be enough fatalities to satisfy anyone. Except there would be no humans left enjoy it. Idly he tried to work out the number of tons of rotting corpses scattered worldwide. He'd probably have to filter the air while stripping this city of anything useful. Except that he now had two other powerful youmas to do the dirty work.
He reached out with his mind. Calcite was not in the vicinity. Not a total surprise. While he could have changed his glamour and remained under a new guise Calcite might believe he had just killed a valued servant of Jadeite's. After all who else could Margrave had represented? So he was probably hiding. No matter. A thorough search would find him. After all it wasn't as if he could leave the zone. The only other place to run was back to the world protected by Sailor Moon. Not an option.
Calcite and Azurite would be far more useful than Margrave. She couldn't even teleport. More powerful than her, far weaker than him. They'd know their place.
He warped back into his office to find his secretary trying to contact him. He ignored her for a few minutes as he called up pictures of women who had attracted him. Selecting tonight's conquest he made notes of places to meet and control her. With that done he answered his secretary. To be told the building was full of N police officers and ADP techs. They were gathering evidence though no one knew for what. However rumours were circulating that Ms. Margrave was connected to the werewolf vigilante case. There were several detectives out there wanting to ask him questions.
Jadeite felt a sudden rage that he could not kill the already deceased catwoman. What had the stupid bitch done to arouse their interest? Now there was no saying how many minds he'd have to control to minimze the damage. He managed to give himself the appearance of calm then unlocked the doors and told his secretary to send them in. He spent the next half hour convincing the detectives he had no knowledge of his assistant's life outside the office. The mere thought that she might somehow be involved in murder shocked him.
Meanwhile Daley Wong, Leon McNichol and Helen Ohta (N police) were forcing the door to Margrave's apartment. They'd obtained the warrant on suspicion of involvement in serial killing. ADP were along because of potential Boomer crime connection.
Leon was talking as they waited. "Lot of nervous guys back Deite's little kingdom. Which do you figure upset them most? The stories that she might be the vigilante or the one that she might be a Boomer?"
"Probably the one that she might be both. Certainly were lots of them. Lady must have been busy most nights. Maybe she was a sexaroid?""
Ohta had been watching the police passkey find the right combination. "Maybe she was human and just liked having fun. Strange how a guy who does that is a role model while a women who does it is a slut." Both of them shut up.
The security override clicked in and they entered the apartment. Ohta, more experienced in homicide investigation, spotted the faint odour from the bathroom. They found the remains in the bathroom.
"Thought she just killed them in the streets. Now she's bringing them home!"
Daley studied the exposed spine. "Guess again, that isn't bone."
"Too extensive. I think this is a boomer."
"Another human lookalike? OK Ohta this is now officially ADP juristiction. Daley get the techs over here."
The body was quickly identified as one of the banned 33-S series. A rare find, made even more surprising by being a male design. The nature of the wounds that had destroyed it matched some of those inflicted by the vigilante. The ADP's forensic unit moved in and began tearing the apartment apart. A number of long white hairs were found but no evidence that the occupant had owned a pet. Another link to the Werewolf? Perhaps.
Jadeite found his office was now full of ADP detectives questioning everyone. Before long his head was aching after continually have to control minds to cover Margrave's fake past. On top of which Kate Madigan had been phoning constantly ordering him get matters under control fast! His good humour was long gone and his plans for the evening were changing. The Hyper Boomers would be hunting tonight. Soon as he figured out the best place to kill a lot of people and cover the effects of draining. He didn't need the power but a slaughter of innocents should defuse the tension. He was still thinking along these lines when his secretary buzzed him.
He repressed the urge to go out there and toss her through the window. "I said no more calls from the police, Madigan, or anyone else at GENOM!"
His tone was sufficent to unnerve the secretary. "I ... I'm sorry to disturb you sir. It's just that there is a Mr. Cite on the phone. He insists that it is urgent and he is an old acquaintance of yours."
"I don't know any ... what was the name again? The full name."
"Mr. Cal Cite. He claims ..."
"Put hin through."
"Good afternoon Lord Jadeite." The language this was delivered in confirmed the caller's identity in a way the voice alone couldn't. With Margrave's passing only three speakers of this language remained. Jadeite answered in the Dark Kingdom tongue. Any listeners on the line would be frantically trying to decipher what was not a code.
"This has been a foul afternoon. Most of which resulted from Margrave's abrupt demise."
"I apologise for destroying your servant but I did not seek her out. She challenged me." Hesitantly, "Had you told me she had survived I could have warned you that she bore me an old enmity from the kingdom."
"Must have been severe indeed to make her challenge you given the gulf between your powers." Perhaps she'd refused Calcite but he'd overwhelmed her and taken his pleasures anyway. Some females objected to that. Like that "no means no" nonsense you heard human women spouting. There had been some female youma who seemed to feel submitting to a more powerful male was wrong. Though they'd never objected to him. Just as well as he'd have destroyed any of them who had. No, they'd never objected to him. Every female in the Kingdom knew ... had known, it was an honor to serve one of the four Generals. Over the centuries many had sought him out to father their children. Hoping for powerful offspring they could mortgauge for power.
On the phone's videolink he saw Calcite shrug. "Females are an unpredictable lot. They are driven by emotion which makes them irrational."
Jadeite nodded, "True. They lack our rationality and calmer perspective."
"Indeed my Lord. I apologise for leaving the site of the incident but I ... ahhh feared I might make an error in my unfamiliarity with this city that would betray me to the police." Jadeite hide his chuckle. A partial truth but the whole truth is you feared I might destroy you after losing a valuable servant. "However you will find myself and Azurite far more capable than Margrave in your service."
"I had better."
"Yes Lord." A brief pause. "I ahh ... might perhaps be able to begin serving you right away. Did you place any of those Boomer creatures near the dimensional gateway."
"What concern of that is yours?"
"My apologies Lord. It is simply ... have you checked their status lately?"
"Perhaps you should." Jadeite frowned and called up the Boomers status boards. Then cursed. Eight of the units had managed to transmit imminent destruction codes. The rest simply didn't respond. They hadn't had time to give notification before being annihilated.
"What is this?" And why had he failed to check the units regularly? Or install a watch program to inform him if anything happened. He'd intended to but he had only deployed the units a few night previously. There had been other demands on his time.
Calcite continued. "I do not know, my lord. I had ventured to the gate because of fluctuations I detected ..."
"Some equipment in my possession sensed that the gateway was perhaps going to collapse so I went to investigate ..."
"Impossible. I created the gateway. I do not make errors."
"With respect Lord there may be factors in this dimension you were unaware existed."
"Silence." Jadeite powered up his space/time warping abilities, expanding his sensitivity to the forces involved. Then mentally reached across the city. Here was the gate and ... and it was pulsating. It should have been steady, waiting in standbye for his order to open. Now it shook and seemed to be nearing collapse. He could open it again easily enough but until he understood how this had happened the new gate would face the same risk. What if the collapse rate accelerated? He might lose all hope of accessing the other world. His vengeance would go unfufilled! Wait. Calcite had mentioned equipment.
"Why bother to investigate the gate when you could do nothing about it? You have no dimensional shifting abilites beyond rudimentary teleportation. If you had I would have sensed them."
"You are correct Lord Jadeite I do not possess such powers. However my late cousin was capable of handling such matters artificially. I appropriated his equipment after his untimely death following our own dimensional jump." Jadeite considered. It would have been easier to open a gateway from the Kingdom to the other Earth because of the existing connections. "I made sure I knew how to operate it before our escape." Jadeite began to wonder if the deaths of the other two had been directly linked to the warpgate. "So I intended to analyse the problem and correct it. As a small apology for any trouble my earlier actions might have caused."
If he could do that then the equipment he mentioned would be very useful. The trick would be to ensure he didn't know he could do anything Jadeite couldn't. Something struck him. "You said you intended to do this for me, saving me some minor effort."
"When I saw the remains of the Boomers I withdrew to assess the situation."
"Then called me rather than continue without my sanction."
"Uhh ... yes Lord."
"Good. It is important that you realize your place." He glanced at the time display. "It'll be dark in an hour. Meet me at the gatesight and you can demonstrate your alleged skill with this equipment of yours."
"Yes sir. Should I bring Azurite? She is eager to pledge her loyalty."
Rather than be disciplined for failing to do so promptly? I am sure she is. "Bring her then. And command her to show appropriate respect."
"She would do that anyway. Until later my Lord."
Calcite hung up the phone and the screen blanked. Azurite nodded toward the nearby Knight Sabers. Speaking in the Dark Kingdom's language she commented, "It's a good thing they didn't understand that. They don't know you like I do and might have taken you seriously at the beginning."
"What makes you think I wasn't serious?"
"Chauvanist!" She punched him playfully in the shoulder.
"Ouch." He realized she was looking at him with concern. "I'm kidding. I'm almost back to normal. Another hour and I'll be fine. Incidently let's switch back to Japanese. Priss is looking a bit edgy at not understanding us."
"Suppose we should stay on her good side."
"I was thinking more in terms of keeping her shooting straight when the time comes. After all we will be standing next to Jadeite."
"That's the part of the plan that worries me."
"Really? I'm worried about everything that came after the part where I said 'now here's my plan'."
"You really know how to boost a girl's confidence." Azurtie sighed and switched back to Japanese. "Cal, how do we keep getting ourselves into these messes? We came over to do a little reconaissance and consider our options. Now we're stuck taking on Jadeite himself and our only backup is women whose combat gear has even more ridiculous heels than mine?"
Nene looked over at Priss. "Why do all the hardsuits have high heels?"
She shrugged. "If the whole world is an anime series then you have to blame the character designer. Maybe there is something to that, it would explain how somebody with no talent except being cute got into this group."
"I resent that. Let's see you cut through GENOM's database for a clean retrieval while dodging three levels of black ice."
During this Azurite and Calcite had wandered out. She realized they were keeping a little distance between each other than usual. "Have to practice my grovelling for when we meet Jadeite."
"Don't overdo it. He's a lot sharper than he used to be."
"He certainly sounded more together. Though he was still dumb enough not to check his guard Boomers."
"He's still got that arrogance. That makes him overconfident. Sending those Boomers through before his grand plan was ready was idiotic. But he was sure that the gate wouldn't be found. Of course far as he knows all the Senshi except Sailor Moon died at the North Pole. Margrave didn't get to stick around to witness the resurrections."
"Something else we owe her for."
"Let it go." Pause. "So everything's really all right between ..."
"Yeah. Good thing you didn't come after us though. We talked ... actually it was more shouting than talking at first. He'd warp somewhere. I'd follow. We'd yell at each other. He'd warp away again. I'd pursue ... could be a lot of ghost stories in tomorrow's paper."
"What's ironic about this whole thing is Jadeite thinks we're lovers. Uhhh is that going to be problem?"
"Not to worry I'm a good actress."
"I reserve judgement until I've seen the movie."
"You are dicing with death mister."
"If it's all the same to you I've had enough of women beating on me for today."
"Pity. I've got the outfit for it." It's probably best to banter about this. Otherwise we might start getting serious again. And who knows where that would lead?
"Are you two supposed to be hanging around alone?" Ti had emerged from the slumbering Margrave's room.
"Don't cause trouble. What were you doing in there?"
"Just checking on her. She mentioned your name big brother."
"I see. Angry?"
"No, sounded more like she was going to cry."
"Wonder what she's dreaming?"
Azurite shrugged. "Probably that you rose high in the Kingdom but ditched her in the process. She was sure she had you."
Calcite didn't respond to that. "Everything ready?"
Ti nodded. "Pyrite got the skirt and boots changed to the right color. The translator's set to give me the voice. All I need are the other props and I'm all set. Sylia said she knew where to get what we need."
"Good. I'm going to have a word with Pyrite."
"Last I saw him he was in there looking through the discs." Calcite nodded and departed. Azurite studied Ti. She wasn't nervous anymore, probably back to thinking of this as an adventure.
"Remember what your brother said. When the shooting starts hit the ground and shield."
"I remember." Now Ti was looking a little uncomfortable. "Say Azure ... when ... I mean how long ago ..."
"When did I decide I was in love with Calcite?"
"...well yeah. It's none of my business I know but ..."
"You're right about that. Let's just say I was younger than you are now."
"So this whole things been going on for years? Why didn't you just tell him a long time ago and sort it out then?"
"That makes a lot of sense with hindsight. The main reason was fear."
Ti just stared at her. "Come on, you're not scared of anything."
"Actually there's a lot I'm scared of. I've learned to suppress the fears of combat beforehand. After we've won tonight I'll get scared thinking about what could have happened. That's when you need someone to hold you. But that's not what you're talking about. If I'd told Cal I'd have destroyed what I had with Pyrite. Which wasn't the same thing I felt for Cal but ... There's love and there's passion. Passion is immediate but it tends to burn out quickly. Maybe it'll become love, maybe it won't. With me so far?" Ti nodded. "Ok. So what if my passion for your brother didn't translate into love? The three of us would have separated by bitterness and I didn't want that. Especially in the Kingdom where unity meant survival. Worse, what if I'd told him how I felt but he still chose Margrave over me? Pyr would have had every reason not to take me back. I'd have gambled and lost everything for nothing except loneliness."
Ti was silent for a few moments. "I ... well I always sort of figured once you grew up you could sort out how you felt and life would make sense."
"That could happen someday. But I'm not holding my breath."
As Titanite had said Pyrite was sorting through the BGC discs. "Still working on your theory?"
"That's right. I'm beginning to think it's the only thing that makes sense for the radical changes Jadeite and Margrave went through."
"Jadeite's certainly changed for the worse but that could be a side effect of months of sensory deprivation."
"I concede that. But I think this is more likely." He was fingering the "Red Eyes" disc. "Jadeite was always dangerous but genocide was beyond him."
"What about the Moon Kingdom?"
"Nowhere near this level of slaughter. Besides from a military standpoint couldn't you justify it as a preemptive strike?"
"I couldn't. But I imagine he could."
"He's acting a lot like this Largo character. Mass slaughter of humans. According to Ti in the second series he's planning the destruction of humanity. He personally commands a lot of power."
"The idea being that things that don't belong in this dimension arrive some force assimilates them so they will belong. You're saying that when Jadeite arrived this world began molding him to fit in. The closest thing to anyone or anything like him was Largo. So he mentally at least he became a second Largo."
"Roughly speaking. If you look at these wave patterns ..."
"Can anyone other than you understand the details of your theory?"
"Well ... probably not."
"I'll take it on faith then. This leaves the question that if Jadeite was changed what about Margrave? How'd she synch into this world?"
"I think I've found a pattern she conforms too. There's a recurring theme in both these discs and this world. Roughly speaking, close friend dies violently at the hands of someone. Vigilante justice is extracted. It's happened to two of the Knight Sabers."
"You're saying she was becoming one of them?"
"Not precisely. More following that pattern. Given her violent nature I'd say she was acting more like Vision than Linna or Priss. Definitely more extreme than them in seeking vengeance."
"But why that role rather than a villain's part?"
"That I can't answer. Maybe contact with you changed her enough to switch from black to gray. Maybe it was just random, she had to become like someone here. Perhaps I'm dead wrong, she hasn't changed a bit and she had her own reasons for becoming a vigilante."
"If you're right then the longer we stay the more chance we have of being changed."
"Cal we don't have to go back. We can survive here as easily as in Tokyo."
"Ti mentioned that. I pointed out she'd have to give up her ambitions of becoming a Senshi."
"That's a good reason not to go back. No one here has heard of youma. No more fears of the Senshi turning on us one day."
"But I'd be afraid of waking up some morning and being someone else. Even if we don't change we'll still be hiding what we are from the world. The Senshi make me uncomfortable but it's still a better world. In this world technology is already advancing faster than self control, most people don't even know they're on the brink, the ecosystem is nearing collapse and there's the strong possibility of war between humanity and their AI creations."
Pyrite nodded resignedly. "I have to admit my own faith in salvation through advanced technology has taken a beating. The chance of this place winding up anything like the utopia in Trek is fairly remote."
"But there's something more than that. This world has a ... a darkness ours lacks. I get the feeling that there's always hope over there. For all the Dark Kingdom's plans they didn't get to cause as much damage as a single Boomer rampage does over here. When violence breaks out here it's a lot worse. I don't know why but that seems to be the way of it."
"I think you're judging this world too harshly." Sylia had entered with a stealth Calcite wouldn't have thought possible. "But I accept that this is not your world and you don't belong here. Or, perhaps worse, you would fit in but lose yourselves in the process." There was no answer to that. Sylia opened the box she carried and unwrapped the contents. "How's this?" The earrings and tiara were an excellent match.
Calcite and Azurite waited among the demolished Boomers. Many of them had been stripped of the parts that weren't too badly damaged. The stench of organic decay filled the air. Azurite surveyed the wreckage again and shook her head. "Remind me never to get on your bad side."
"Remind me to avoid getting involved in these situations." Almost zero hour. "Tell me again this isn't the stupidest idea I ever came up with."
"It isn't. That was getting involved with Margrave. However this probably ranks number two."
"Hmmph. Enough banter, let's think youma." She nodded and both put on cold expressions.
The interval between sensing the warp and feeling it was unnervingly brief. Both renegades immediately bowed low before Jadeite. "Arise." He studied both of them paying particular attention to Azurite. He nodded. "You've developed well. Your power is adequete. For a female."
Must have been really galling kowtowing to Queen Beryl all those centuries. Or maybe that's why you think like this. Azurite didn't voice the thought. Just respectfully answered, "I am honoured to meet with your approval Lord Jadeite."
He dismissed her with a nod. "Very well Calcite, demonstrate your vaunted skill and repair the gateway. Then prevent the problem from recurring."
That would be simple as the gateway's instability was caused by the devices Pyrite had planted earlier in the day. The plan was simple. Bring Jadeite to a place with an excellent firezone. Throw him off guard then break his shield and kill him. Calcite opened Pyrite's case exposing his cousin's varied tools. It looked quite a bit like a gemstone collection. Jadeite studied them while trying to appear aloof. Then it began.
"Villains should not outlast their homelands."
Jadeite froze as he recognised the voice.
"We should only recycle popcans rather than bad guys."
He turned. It couldn't be. That costume! The ridiculous ponytails! It was her!
"When the big boss monster loses smaller fry should get the idea it's time to give it up."
Behind Jadeite Azurite built a vortex wave. Calcite created psychoplasm gauntlets on both hands and focused energy through them. Jadeite didn't notice, all his attention was on the girl before him.
"I'm the Sailor Senshi fighting for Love and Justice! The one and only Sailor Moon! On behalf of mandatory retirement and in the name of the Moon I will punish yowwwww!" Jadeite overcame his shock sufficently to throw a hasty shockwave. The Senshi instinctively moved her arms in front of her but it was the force shield that kept her standing. Force shield?
Calcite and Azurite struck simultaneously. Kinetic and energy based attacks. Very difficult to shield against both at the same time. One should get through his shield. Ideally killing him, hopefully at least hurting him so he couldn't maintain any sort of shield. Leaving him open to the second wave. A kill would be perfect but the Renegades weren't counting on that.
As they struck Pyrite heaved out of concealment from his position by Sailor Moon. He'd had to stay close to blank her real aura. The Knight Sabers broke free from their cover in the surrrounding rubble. Railguns and lasers firing another kinetic and beam energy based attack began
It's very difficult to shield against both varieties simultaneously.
But not impossible.
Calcite had an instant to realize Jadeite's shield was weakened but intact before the older youma struck. His own shield buckled and the blow tossed him ten metres. Azurite was stepping back to deliver her second hurricane from outside the blast zone when he seized her wrists and hauled her towards him. He forced her hands skyward making the airvortex rip off into the night. A link in his mind called for assistance. Within the storage section of the development lab red eyes gleamed.
From behind a kinetic force sphere hammered his shield as Sailor Moon attacked. An energy bolt ripped past fired from a crystal held by a man next to her. The Knight Sabers aimed to shoot around Azurite and locked on target. Azurite tried to pull her hands free and so she could deliver a pointblank hurricane to his head. Male humans and youmas share one major vulnerable spot. She brought her knee up with enough force to fell a tree. From the expression on his face some of the impact had got through. Calcite rolled to his feet and summoned a shockblast. Jadeite felt his shield near collapse but he wasn't worried. His children would answer their father's call.
Pyrite sensed the incoming warp wave and began to shout a warning. Too late! The four Boomers materialized and immediately began transforming. Each picked a Knight Saber and attacked. The Sabers now had their own problems. Leaving the Renegades to deal with Jadeite.
"Those bastards can teleport?" They'd never considered that.
The energy burst from Jadeite's hands overloaded Azurite's shield and she screamed. Pyrite yelled her name, distracted from getting a target on Jadeite's head. Calcite ignored the distraction and fired. He barely missed Azurite but struck Jadeite. The Youma Lord swayed. Calcite charged in already forging the weapon he'd use. Jadeite released his grip on one of Azurite's wrists and aimed a hand at Sailor Moon. This force blast overloaded her shield and knocked her flying. The blond wig was knocked askew exposing the green hair underneath.
Jadeite was still staring at her as Calcite cut toward his side with a sword glowing with power. As the sword came down it exploded. The damage from the energy discharge was nothing compared to the psychic feedback from its destruction. Azurite opened her eyes in time to see Calcite fall. Then Jadeite hauled her to her feet.
Meanwhile the Knight Sabers had their own problems. The new arrivals were just as tough as their brother had been. One had nearly finished them. Now they each had their own adversary. Priss's railgun fired a burst into her Boomer's face. The hypervelocity needles ricocheted away without damage. It slammed into her and Priss was thrown back into one of the omnipresent rubble heaps. She hadn't hit that hard so why was it so hard to get up? The hardsuit seemed so very heavy. Around her her friends were batted around by the Boomers. The Boomers weren't using their firepower just their strength. Like cats playing with mice. No one was moving right. Priss tried to force herself upright as the Boomer approached. No good. She had no strength left. The Boomer grabbed her by the ankle then flung her at the one Nene lay crumpled beside. It grabbed the Pink Saber and swung her like a bat. The hardsuits impact slammed Priss's teeth together cracking several crowns. The laughter of the Boomers was harsh and metallic.
Pyrite watched helplessly as the Boomers continued draining energy from the Sabers. Everyone else was down except Azurite who hung in Jadeite's grasp. He couldn't risk a shot. He wasn't accurate enough to be sure of missing her.
Jadeite saw Azurite stir as he watched his Boomers play with the Knight Sabers. Seemed there's been some personality transfer as well. "Boys will be boys. However daughter you are a disappointment!"
"What?" Keep him talking, build your strength.
"How sharper than a serpents tooth is a thankless child. I honoured your mother with a child and this is how you repay me." He shook his head in mock sorrow. "Ah well hardly the first time I've had to kill one of my offspring." He flung her into a piece of the wall that still stood. It exploded in a shower of rubble.
Jadeite heard the scream and turned in time to dodge the charged crystal that slashed downwards. The shockblast hammered Pyrite backwards. That was the last of them. Now should he finish them or ask a few questions first? Perhaps best to kill them it was fairly obvious this was an attempt to take over the operation. Pity. Calcite might have been useful. Besides being potentially dangerous. Fortunately he'd learned a defense against psychoplasm decades ago. If you knew how you could make the creator unmake his creations explosively. Lucky Calcite hadn't learned the appropriate psi defense yet. That left the Knight Sabers. Suck them dry or peel them out of the suits first then dismember them. Decisions, decisions.
Then the hand closed around his ankle. Jadeite looked down to see Calcite the instant before he channneled all his remaining energy through his hand. Jadeite howled and writhed as Calcite hung on. Pyrite's attack had got him close enough to get a grip. This was the last shot he had.
Jadeite's free boot rose and slammed down on his wrist. Again. Calcite ignored the pain and hung on. The foot came down again and something crunched. Jadeite wrenched himself free. "You hurt me." He sounded more amazed than pained. "You actually hurt me!" The kick rolled Calcite over onto his back. That was his last shot and he'd blown it. He saw Jadeite raise his hand and power gather. "Not bad. In a few centuries you might really have been dangerous. Any last words?"
"Yes." He was a bit surprised that he was able to speak. "I really hope you're not my father."
Jadeite looked a little surprised. "What was your mother's name." Idle curiousity.
Jadeite flicked through his memories. That actually rang a bell. Meraphis, Metazal, Metrenar ..." Ah yes I remember her. Attractive female, shiny gold skin, beautiful horns. I would have had her but Nephrite got to her first. I never could stand to touch his cast offs. I'd heard he gave her a couple of brats. So you must be his son. Feel better knowing that?"
"Not really." I was hoping to buy enough time to forge a weapon and make a last effort. Nothing left. Sorry everyone.
"Enjoy the Abyss. Your comrades will be joining you momentarily."
Titanite tried to focus on the action. Her head ached and her vision seemed blurred. What had happened? Someone standing over someone else. Jadeite! Her brother sprawled before him as Jadeite raised a hand and summoned power. Something missing ... Shield! Jadeite's shield was gone. Hit him with a force sphere. Not enough time to create one but she had to. She brought her hands forward and saw the tiara she'd clutched as she fell. The baseball trick! Focus Ti! Something's delaying Jadeite. No he's done talking! Going to kill Cal! DO IT! Driven by the telekinetic surge the replica tiara Sylia had had made tore forward. Jadeite caught the movement and moved to block it.
Just a little too late.
He stared down at the ends of the tiara jutting from his chest. Green blood welled around the entry wound. His expression one of disbelief he managed to look at Titanite. She heaved herself up and managed to gasp "Moon .... Tiara ... Action!" Then slumped down again. Jadeite almost smiled. He opened his mouth as though to say something. Then doubled over vomiting blood. He collapsed on top of Calcite, twitched briefly then lay still.
The Boomer that had raised Linna over its' head paused in the act of striking her back against its knee. Suddenly it shrank reverting to a C-55 Boomer. The sudden change in state immobalized it as its CPU tried to deal with its previous behaviour. Linna felt her strength flow back. Her combat ribbons flicked downwards and wrapped around the Boomer's shoulders. She energized them and the arms holding her separated from the rest of the Boomer's body. She hit the ground rolling and swung the ribbons around cutting it off at the knees. As it fell she was already rising into the air. Both armoured heels came down squarely on its face. The Boomer's head caved in and biomech brain sprayed over her legs.
To her right Priss rained punches on the torso of her Boomer. She'd already pulled the head off and crushed it between her hands. As she hammered its chest into the backbone she kept up a steady stream of curses.
"Uhm I think you've already killed it." Priss ignored Nene. Nene's Boomer was already down. A larger hole where the right eye had been marked a pointblank range laserbolt. Sylia straightened up from the Boomer she'd split from forehead to crotch.
"That's enough Priss. It's over." At least I hope so. The battered Sabers trooped back to the ambush sight. The adrenaline rush from the return of their energy was gone. They were beginning to feel the pain from the beating they'd just taken.
Calcite heaved Jadeite's body off himself. It seemed extraordinarily light. With a crash Azurite heaved herself out of the rubble. She took in the body and realized it was over. "Pyrite!"
Calcite pointed and she hobbled over. He was already stirring. Calcite turned away from them and looked toward his sister. He should check her but he didn't have any strength. He heard crunching footsteps and saw the battered Knight Sabers limp into view. He tried to get up again and failed. Forcing the words out he said, "Titanite ..." Nene tottered over to check. She was careful as she examined the girl. The damaged hardsuit had none of its normal precision. "She's breathing normally. Other than that I don't know enough about your physiology to guess." Azurite and Pyrite stumbled over too join her. Pyrite announced it as concussion. Best left to her healing factor.
Nene stayed with Ti but everyone else gathered around the body. It was becoming less substantial. Fading into glowing motes of light. Azurite watched it happen with an intensity Calcite didn't recognise.
"My father?" Disbelief echoed through her voice.
"Do you want to say anything?" Calcite felt a little stronger. They'd both learned their fathers' identities after more than twenty years. Did it really have anything to do with who they were? He doubted it.
"I'm glad I never bought you a father's day gift." Nobody laughed. After a few moments she added, "I owe him my existence. I thank him for that. Beyond that I can't really say anything as I never knew him. That was his by choice. I doubt we'd have liked each other. If its true that ages ago he was a good man corrupted by Beryl then let's hope he's found peace. Anyone else?"
"More of a eulogy than he deserves."
"How often do any of us get what we deserve?"
The body finished fading leaving nothing except the tiara. Even the clothing was gone. "Let's get the hell out of here."
The truck was undisturbed. When Mackie saw them approach he slid into his own waiting powersuit to haul them in. Though he didn't say anything he mentally groaned at the repairs he'd have to do.
As he drove them back Sylia winced and decided it was time for a vacation. Two severe pummelings within a week was about her limit. The city would have to look after itself for a few weeks. Besides now both sets of hardsuits were writeoffs. Maybe she should just design the next generation of suits and build them from scratch instead of patching these together again.
The Renegades were in worse shape physically but from what they'd said would heal a lot faster than the Sabers. Calcite looked up from his unconscious sister. "Ms. Stingray now that the immediate threat has passed I'd like to discuss an information trade with you."
"We have a second set of discs which are supposed to cover the events of next year. I'm willing to trade it for certain items."
"A complete set of episodes for the Sailor Moon television show and something to enable us to view it. I doubt we can manage it with 20th century technology."
"Theoretically that would give us both foreknowledge of what's going to happen. A very valuable commodity."
"I'm thinking more in terms of staying out of the line of fire."
"You're not planning on trying to rewrite history?"
"That assumes history is predetermined. I prefer to think I've got some free will."
"As do I. Though recent events have damaged that belief."
The following day was spent quietly healing. Or in Priss's case healing while grousing about the unfairness of being able to match the Renegades accelerated rate. The Renegades had decided to depart that evening. They would have been absent from their own continuum for three days (two in Ti's case). Any longer and questions might start being asked. Calcite and Sylia were talking.
"Pyr's sure the presets will work. The gate will collapse behind us which ends the danger of interdimensional conmtamination."
"Good. It's hard enough dealing with our own world's problems without importing someone else's." They heard Mackie and Ti talking. "She seems to be dealing with it all right."
Calcite shook his head. "She doesn't have anything to deal with. Far as I can tell she really doesn't remember killing Jadeite." He paused. "I could probably enter her mind and restore the memory but I don't know if I should. I don't want her growing up to be a warrior. She'll never be a normal girl but she'll be a lot happier living a normal life."
"I sometimes question there is any such thing. On another matter we've finished copying your discs so Titanite can return them to her friend. This little device is a handheld videodisc player. Each of these optical discs has a season of the show encoded on it."
"Thank you. Let's see. Sailor Moon, Sailor Moon R, Sailor Moon S, Sailor Moon SS ... that leads to an interesting mental picture and Sailor Moon Sailor Stars." He looked at them. "Odd to think that the future of the world could be sitting on these things."
"Perhaps. I guess you'll have to see for yourselves. Do the others know?"
"Yes. Don't your friends?"
"I'm waiting until Mackie's reviewed them. If it turns out that any of them die then I'm definitely not saying anything until I've managed to prevent it."
Nearby Pyrite sat with Azurite. "Soon be home again."
"I'm looking forward to that. What I'm not looking forward is our new houseguest."
"You couldn't expect Cal to abandon her."
"No. I could hope though."
Calcite's announcement wasn't a real surprise. Margrave would be going back with them. Once they arrived he'd wake her up and explain the situation. Then offer her the choice of staying with them under their rules or making her own way in the world. The latter option would probably mean she'd wind up doing something youmalike and get herself vaporised by the Senshi. So Azurite hoped she'd pick that.
"Ti will be a little disappointed to leave here."
"I won't. The sooner the better."
"These people aren't ..."
"They're alright, that's the problem. I have the sick feeling that if we stay Cal will end up falling for Sylia. Which means we'll get sucked into her crusade. That's exactly what we want to avoid."
Pyrite looked at her. "What makes you so sure Cal would fall for her?"
"Because she's a worse choice than Margrave. And it seems to be his karma to make the worst possible choice."
A little later Calcite entered Margrave's room and looked down at the sleeping youma. He fingered the cast on his broken wrist as he contemplated her. There she was, the last surviving nonrenegade youma. It couldn't possibly work. Betrayal and deception were part of her nature. Even considering getting involved with her again was idiotic. In the Dark Kingdom his options had been limited. That was no longer the case. The smart thing to do would be leave her here and let her find her own doom. Even as he thought this he knew he'd be bringing her with them.
He shook his head. "I must be out of my mind." She didn't answer, just kept dreaming and purred.
It was evening when they departed. It would still be afternoon in their world. There were various goodbyes then the Renegades prepared for departure. Hair and eyecolors shifted as they activated their glamours. Calcite held Margrave. He extended his glamour to make her appear to be a child. It would be a lot easier to been seen carrying a sleeping child rather than a sleeping catwoman.
"Goodbye Sylia. I hope you maintain the balance you strive for."
"Goodbye Calcite. I hope you find the peace you're looking for."
The watching Knight Sabers were disappointed by the lack of special effects. One by one the Renegades walked forward and vanished.
As Titanite headed for the gate Priss called, "Ever get your answers?" She blushed and stepped forward. She just hadn't had the nerve to ask them in person. She carried the precious disc viewer. If anything happened to it her brother had promised a variety of dire penalties. She wasn't going to let anything happen to this. Not only was it the key to the future it would be one of a kind. An anime unique in their world. The greatest collectors item of all time. She vanished.
Pyrite was the last to go. As he'd promised twenty seconds later there was a brief feeling of vertigo and a faint electrical pop. Priss tossed a brick through the space the gateway had been. It thudded to the ground without vanishing. Sylia picked up one of the crystals Pyrite had placed. It was already blackening and starting to crumble. She dropped it and saw it shatter on the ground. The fragments began crumpling to dust.
"Nothing more to see. Might as well go."
Priss nodded. "Be nice for things to get back to normal."
Linna chucked. "Priss just this year we've dealt with Gibson who was being absorbed by his car, Largo and the laser satellite takeover, Vision's mecha and that mess at ADP headquarters. Not to mention dozens of Boomers running amuck. That's what passes for normal around here."
Priss's reply was unintelligable but probably obscene.
Back in her apartment Sylia confronted her brother. "Mackie you've seen the Crash discs and I haven't yet. Why are you so down?"
"Sis, it's terrible!" Sylia tensed up. "I don't even get five minutes of screen time. I'm hardly in it!" It wasn't often Mackie got to see his sister laugh. "I should mention that Titanite told me many fans don't consider Bubblegum Crash as canon."
"People have changed since the first series."
"Mackie life is change. No one stays the same forever."
"Maybe. I guess you'll have to watch it for yourself to see what I mean. Though right now a Nene who kicks ass and takes names seems a little unlikely." Sylia just stared at him. "Seriously the first thing to do is see if there's anything to this business about Largo surviving."
"Why the hell didn't you mention that earlier?" These disc could be far more important than she'd suspected. Assuming anything in them was actually going to happen.
Time would tell. It always did.
A few other loose ends remained. Over at ADP HQ Daley and Leon were still trying to puzzle it out.
"Ok so everyone agrees Margrave arrives with Deite. Let's say she's a protype. Some sort of combination sexaroid personality and combat boomer. A demo model to prove what he can build. He sends her hunting people no one's going to miss to demonstrate her capabilities. Next thing we know the Werewolf Vigilante is open for business."
"Lab boys still haven't explained the hairs we found. Feline but far too long too have come off a pet cat. Let's leave that and get back to the Margrave unit's successful demo.
"GENOM likes it so they give him a lab. Which really pisses off Webster. He sets his own advanced Boomers loose for a firepower test. Deite intercepts them with his completed combat unit which is called Sailor Arcturus for some reason. It destroys them. Our mystery man in the tux is there as its controller."
"Enter the boys in blue. We go to see Deite and meet Margrave. From her secretary's testimony we know soon we left she barged in to see Deite."
"Maybe she knew she was now obsolete. She's got emotions ... or a damn fine simulation. Anyway she panics."
"So far so good. Now the tricky part. She suddenly goes to the Hotel Imperial and attacks another Boomer. The cameras fry before we can confirm Margrave's destruction."
"Maybe he was the man in the tuxedo."
"Maybe. But that still doesn't explain the smashed sexaroid in her apartment. Or the blur in the restaurant. Or that girl who looked something like the male Boomer."
Leon sighed. "Think we're ever going to figure this out?"
Daley's reply was interuptted by the phone. "ADP. Detective Wong ... Evening Carol ... Really? ... Go on ... Well well well ... I owe you dinner ... call it that if you like but I don't promise anything until the second date ... is it? OK until the third date then."
"So what's up?"
"Seems GENOM's filed felony charges against Mr Deite. He's dropped out of sight and taken all his work with him. From what Carol overheard there's no trace of what they've been pouring millions into. No working models, no data, no Deite. Everyone who worked with him blanks out when asked to describe the process. Some sort of brainwashing technique. A very effective one from the sound of it."
"So GENOM's out a small fortune and Deite's out there somewhere with his own Boomer army?"
"There can't be that many of them. Not much we can do until he reemerges or we hear something more."
"So it's another one for the open files."
"Along with the Vampire, the Werewolf Vigilante, Largo and all the other crazy stuff we've never been able to close."
"Cheer up Leon. Law of averages say we have to solve one sometime."
Perhaps. But it wouldn't be this one. Even if they did who would believe the truth?
end of part 6
Next : The crossover's done but there are a few more loose ends and an epilogue concerning the DKR's return to their adopted home.
Dark Kingdom Renegades/Bubblegum Crisis : Bad Moon Rising
By Mark Latus
The howling had peaked a few minutes earlier becoming a loud purring. Now that had faded until it was almost inaudiable. Azurite unblocked her ears and snarled, "Hasn't she ever heard of self control?"
"Probably heard of it", Pyrite muttered as he tried to doze off again. But Azurite wasn't finished yet.
"Explaining that godawful noise to the neighbours ..."
"The exterior sound baffles will have kept things quiet." Pyrite closed his eyes and sleepily added, "I'll upgrade the interior sound dampners tomorrow. Now why not get some rest?"
"In a minute." Azurite got up, pulled on a robe and headed out of their bedroom. Pyrite shrugged and dozed off.
Out in the hall Azurite sighed. Forced to live under the same roof as that ... that nymphomaniac cat woman! Maybe they weren't in competition anymore but she still didn't like Margrave. With good reason, Margrave was pure youma. You can never trust a youma. On an impulse she looked in Titanite's room. No saying what she thought of all this.
Ti's room was similar to Pyrite's lab. Every surface buried under a pile of clutter so it looked complete disorganized. And yet both of them could somehow find the things they needed instantly. It was impossible to tell what color the walls were because every square centimetre was covered with anime posters. Pictures of something called Ranma 1/2 seemed to dominate. Titanite was sprawled on her bed snoring slightly. Azurite watched until she was sure Ti wasn't faking. She wasn't, Ti was truely fast asleep despite the recent bedlam. "Kid could probably sleep through an earthquake", Azurite muttered.
Azurite sighed again. Ti really liked Margrave, she had no idea what that furry bitch was capable of. She found herself remembering the scene earlier in the day. Margrave had woken up following their return to this world. She seemed a lot calmer than she'd been last time she was awake.
She'd sat quietly while Cal (with interjections from Ti) had explained things. After he'd finished she'd said, "So you're all Renegades. That explains a few things that used to puzzle me." After a pause she'd continued "Then I am the only true Youma in this room. In fact based on what you've told me I am the last true Youma anywhere. Why didn't you abandon me in MegaTokyo?"
Calcite had answered her. "If we'd left you there before long you'd have either been shot by either the Knight Sabres or the ADPolice as a menace. Or wound up getting dissected in a GENOM lab to determine what you were. I realize that wouldn't bother a real Youma but as a Renegade I couldn't ignore the affection I felt towards you from our past together."
She'd nodded. "I think I understand how you feel. Though, of course, I don't feel the same way. Which is the basic difference between us and our kinds." She fell silent for a few moments and thought before speaking again.
"So I have the choice of either staying here and living under your rules or trying to survive on my own. However you have a peace treaty with the Senshi which a single rogue Youma won't have. Should I chose to stay I am free to leave later at the time of my choosing?"
"Yes, but if you change your mind afterwards we don't guarantee taking you back."
"Fair enough. And I cease all vigilante activity effective immediately?"
"That's right. Not that you'd have much luck anyway. 1990's Tokyo is a lot quieter than MegaTokyo."
Margrave nodded then said, "I accept your offer of sanctuary for three reasons."
"What are they?", Titanite asked.
"First, personal survival. I couldn't have survived MegaTokyo with Jadeite, I doubt I can survive here without your assistance. At least until I know the limits."
Margrave rose from her chair and joined Calcite on his. He didn't seem inclined to object. Cuddling up to him she'd said, "Secondly we've always had fun. No reason we can't have some more." Cal hadn't seemed unhappy to hear that. Some guys forget way to quick. She was trying to kill him not long ago! That splint on her right arm was there because he broke it to stop her. What the hell had he seen while mindsurfing that made him so forgiving?
Ti had looked both embarrassed and fascinated by the two of them so she'd gone quiet. So it was left to Pyrite to ask, "What's the third reason?"
Margrave had broken off from Cal and said, "Oh that's the big reason. It'll annoy the hell out of Azurite."
She was right.
Azurite surpressed another sigh. Well for the forseeable future they were stuck with her. She could think of another reason Margrave had stuck with Cal. Power. Youma worship it and Cal had it. While he hadn't struck the fatal blow he'd been the leader of the group that beat Jadeite. The last of the four generals had fallen to him. That proved his strength and as his ... mistress was the polite term, she hoped to make herself part of the group. That was why she'd sought him out back in the Kingdom. She knew he was Magnesite's right hand man and expected him to take over from his boss someday. Hell she'd probably had assignations with the highest rankers she could get on the staff of every youma boss.
But when Cal declined to use his power to carve out his own little empire (which a real youma would) she'd change her mind and look for someone else. Which would probably hurt Cal because he'd likely have been dumb enough to fall in love with her by that point. Hopefully he'd stay smart enough to realize Margrave based their whole relationship on sex and personal survival. If she was a renegade she'd stick with them out of loyalty, friendship or even love. But she couldn't possibly feel those emotions ... or could she? Was it possible Margrave had Renegade tendencies?
Azurite felt a presence in the hall and turned to see Margrave heading from Cal's bedroom to the bathroom. As she did she stopped and grinned at Azurite. She whispered, "You never had a chance with him anyway. Even if you hadn't chosen Pyrite you couldn't have beaten me." Arrogant, stuck up little ... That bitch one of us? Not a chance!
Then Azurite smiled. Why should Margrave be the only one to shake the rafters? She headed back to their room. If Pyrite was asleep she knew a great way of waking him up.
The following morning a rather tired Pyrite was in the kitchen having a cup of coffee with Calcite. Calcite's bathrobe had flapped open and he could see his cousin's regeneration factor steadily healing the claw and bite marks. Pyrite surpressed a yawn and asked, "How long do you figure this little contest of theirs is going to last?"
Calcite shrugged, winced slighly at the stiffness of his muscles, and said, "No idea. But we'd better forget the interdimensional studies until we've improved the soundproofing. And you might want to get as much sleep as you can during the day."
"I can't decide whether to be very happy or very worried."
Calcite sipped his coffee then said, "Look on the bright side, we have superhuman stamina."
Pyrite nodded, "That's true." He paused to drink then added, "The problem is, so do they."
"Good point." Calcite smiled, "Still there are worse fates."
"Can't argue with that. Speaking of fate our little attempt to forsee the future seems to be a washout."
Calcite sighed, "I know. It certainly seemed promising in theory." Yesterday following their return they'd begun examining the second series onward of Sailor Moon. It had been a real disappointment. While the first season, at least the parts they'd had time to watch in MegaTokyo, had been accurate the R series onward were complete fabrications. To be fair the early part of R might have been accurate. They knew that there had been aliens in Juban draining energy and it had concluded with a bizarre battle in an apartment block. But the rest of the series had Jadeite having escaped from the Dark Kingdom before the end with dozens of Youma. After which he spent the rest of the series trying to steal the Silver Crystal and set up the new Dark Kingdom. Not surprisingly Jadeite and his followers were obliterated in the no holds barred battle that concluded the series. The S series was the same premise except that now the villains were based on Egyptian mythology. The SS used villains based on the Norse Gods and the Ragnarock legend. Cal planned to check some of the battlesites from the R series (which theoretically was happening now) but he didn't expect to find anything. It seemed the future remained unknowable. Which raised the question, would any of the events depicted in "Bubblegum Crash" happen in MegaTokyo? He'd never know. He'd promised Sylia they wouldn't return to her world and he always kept his word once he gave it. She'd felt it was hard enough keep technology under control. The last thing MegaTokyo needed was magic on top of that.
Ah well at least Ti would have gained something unique for her anime collection. Though it would have to stay hidden as it exposed the secret identities of all five Sailor Senshi.
"So what do we do now?", Pyrite asked.
Calcite returned to the present and said, "Enjoy life. In addition we'll continue studying the reality fracture. If we can open other gates to alternate universes and not be changed as a result perhaps we can find a better world. One where we can live anywhere we choose."
"Or at least a peaceful world without Senshi? Just in case they change their minds about leaving us alone?"
Calcite got serious. "Yes." He paused to find the right words. "While intellectually I realize they had no choice in the matter they practically wiped out our entire species. That's nearly impossible to accept emotionally."
"Azure and I feel the same way. Ti's probably the only one doesn't."
"She didn't live in the Dark Kingdom in the same way. She grew up in virtual isolation except for our late mother, the three of us and Margrave. About the only other Youma she met were Magnesite and that would be rapist I dealt with. We're still around, now Margrave's joined us. From her point of view all the youma who count are still around." Calcite heard the voices from upstairs, it was impossible not too. "On a more practical level we'd better get to work on the soundproofing."
Pyrite had to agree, "You're right, I suspect it's going to get loud around here."
They could hear Azurite, who wasn't quite shouting, saying, "Where do you think you're going? Not only were you in the bathroom for hours the place is a disaster area. The shower drains clogged with cat hair, there's towels everywhere and ... hey you've used all my shampoo!"
"My fur needs a lot of attention to stay silky soft. Can't disappoint the guy whose going to stroke it. However did I survive without blowdriers? Besides shampoo wouldn't help, your hair always looks like a rat's nest. And I know rats' nests when I see them."
"Is that shade of blue natural? If so you're truly unfortunate.. Who'd want a head like a neon sign?"
Calcite looked at Pyrite and asked, "Did you feel a breeze?"
"Maybe." This could be really bad if Azure was getting angry enough to manipulate aircurrents subconsciously. If it came to a fight the winner wasn't certain. Azure had the greater raw power but was a Renegade, far less inclined to violence than Margrave. Margrave couldn't equal Azure's power but had a viciousness Azurite couldn't match.
Calcite was getting up to intervene when he heard his sister. "Morning Azure, auntie Margrave."
"Oh, morning Ti."
"Morning kid. Uh could you drop the auntie, makes me feel old. Just plain Margrave's fine."
"Sure." Ti must have been listening because she continued, "How about a compromise. I'll clean up the bathroom but I get the next shower. I promise I'll leave it fine for you to use Azure."
"Ti you shouldn't put yourself out cleaning up for her."
"It's ok really. Margrave's new here and she's learning to fit in. I'm sure things will go smoother tomorrow. After all it's a big adjustment from living on her own in MegaTokyo."
"Uh yeah, sure. Like you said Ti." Margrave sounded confused that she was agreeing.
"Ok that's settle then. I'll start cleaning up." They heard the bathroom door close. There was silence from upstairs then two sets of footsteps returning to their respective rooms.
Cal relaxed again and commented, "Blessed are the peacemakers."
Pyrite nodded, "Absolutely. Ti's really matured."
Calcite looked amused, "Really?"
"You don't think so?"
"I think she's still got a long way to go. It's far to soon to say that."
"Come on Cal! If it hadn't been for her quickthinking we'd never have survived. Even if she doesn't remember it we know what she did."
"I don't deny her intelligence or her courage. I never have. But if you think she's miraculously matured overnight and will stop being so impulsive ... then I am afraid cousin that you are doomed to disappointment."
Pyrite shook his head, "I think you're wrong Cal."
"You could be right cousin. And yet somehow I doubt it."
In the bathroom Titanite unplugged the drain. Her mind wasn't on the job her body was doing it was on far more important things. They'd travelled to the world of Bubblegum Crisis, what other otaku could truthfully say that? The adults were planning to study the gateway and so was she. Perhaps every anime series had its own world. She could visit the worlds of all her favorite series. Really meet her favorite characters, get authentic souvenirs and autographs from them. None of her fellow fans would believe her but she'd know it was real and that was what really counted. This was going to be great.
That's one view. "This was going to be trouble" is another.
Pluto surveyed the five figures crossing limbo on their way back to the world they knew. Though it had seemed instantaneous to them to her they seemed frozen in this timeless moment. Disposing of the wrecked Boomers had dealt with one major threat to the timeline. Now it was time to deal with the second. Stranding them in limbo would have been the simple solution. But the DKR had their parts to play in what would be coming so that was not an option. However they could be allowed foreknowledge of the future.
Pluto moved to the frozen Titanite and checked the discreader she held. It was loaded with the first optical disc. That was the past and not a problem. She slipped the disc labelled R, S and SS from Ti's grasp. Now watching these would cause a problem. Pluto vanished.
Having watched her past self vanish Pluto stepped forward. Her past self would travel into the future where she would have the discs animation style analysed so it could be duplicated by computer. She'd have fictional scripts for Sailor Moon written then animated. Lastly the resulting shows would be downloaded to disc, labelled and brought back in time. The same discs she held in her hand.
Sailor Pluto stepped up to Titanite again and slipped the fake discs into place. Mission accomplished, the future was saved from anime inspired attempts to change it. It did leave the question of how the orignal discs had been so accurate. Perhaps she would never know, she was far from omniscient. Maintaining one timeline was enough of a problem. Briefly she wondered if possession of the Bubblegum Crash laserdiscs had altered the future of the other world? Or was there a guardian of that timeline who'd intervened to maintain the future. Or was the DKR's intervention predestined and the future of that world dependant on it? She dismissed the speculation. Her only concern was the future of her own world.
She looked around and saw past and future trails of the DKR crossing dimensions. Sometimes solo, mostly in groups. Past, Present and Future were all one in this place. Even for the guardian of the timeline that was an eerie concept. A thought and she had returned to the gate of time. Without an observer the moment vanished almost instantly being to brief a slice of time to notice.
"DKR : Titanite's Bogus Journey"
"DKR/SM : Thy Kingdom Come"
"DKR/SM : Decade"
Up next Titanite takes the spotlight as the one and only youma otaku decides to try finding the world of Ranma 1/2
Featuring - Calcite vs Akane's fiancees
Margrave vs Cityhunter
Sailor Polaris vs the Overfiend (uh oh) and other weirdness.
A light hearted piece before Sailors Hermes and Zeus arrive for the much more intense "Thy Kingdom Come."
Want to comment? Email me at Mark.Latus@MSVU.CA
Completed- June 11 '96.