Disclaimer

Mahoromatic and all associated characters are the property of Gainax, TBS, Pioneer LDC and the character creators, Ditama and Nakayama. I don't own any rights to them at all nor do I want to, I just want to borrow them for a while. Any other characters are property of their respective copyright holders, not me.

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Renewal

Chapter 2

Secrets Revealed

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Minawa yawned and hefted her schoolbag higher. She's gotten up rather early this morning, it was the first day of the new school term and she was a bit nervous. It would also be the first time since her return to xxx that she would see her old friends and classmates. Over the past couple of weeks she'd thrown herself into her duties as the maid in Sera's home. She still felt, however, that she had a long way to go before she measured up to Mahoro's old level. But she was getting better, why last night she'd only broken two dishes and a chair. And this morning, even though she'd been up earlier than usual to do her chores before school, she'd managed to salvage most of breakfast... although getting the burnt-fish smell out of the house was going to take a bit of doing.

-----

Slash wrinkled his nose in disgust as he strolled into the house. Sera was seated at the dining table, dressed in her waitress garb and holding her head in her hands. "I'm glad I've got a good sense of humor," the cat heard the other android mutter. "She means well," he growled, stalking up to the table and sitting down on his haunches.

"I know she does," Sera said, looking up. "But it's always something."

Slash sniffed and was immediately sorry he did. "Well, she's certainly no Mahoro."

"No, she isn't," Sera agreed.

"I didn't know you'd ever met Mahoro," the great cat commented.

Sera got a faraway look in her eyes as if she were talking to someone Slash couldn't see or hear. After a moment her eyes cleared. "I... um... well..." Sera glanced at her watch. "Goodness, look at the time! I'll be late for work. Bye!" She stood up, grabbed her jacket and hurried out.

Slash watched the Saint android leave with a puzzled expression. "What the hell was that all about?" he wondered.

-----

Damn it was cold. Toshiya Hamaguchi shivered and sighed deeply. Summer was always a rough time lately, ever since Suguru, Minawa and Mahoro had disappeared. Suguru and Mahoro were bad enough, but he'd just started getting close to Minawa when she'd transferred away. Odd, all of them leaving at about the same time. And then there was that new woman that had moved into Suguru's house; she claimed to be Mahoro's cousin, but she wouldn't tell anyone where they had gone. She was terribly cute though, but he really missed Minawa; it had been over two years and he still thought about the petite strawberry-blonde klutz. Frequently. Very frequently. Hamaguchi didn't realize it, but he was a boy in love.

Hamaguchi sighed again and picked up the broom he'd leaned against the building. It sure was nice of Kawahara's father to give him a job, even if it was only part-time. He started to sweep the walk in front of the liquor shop. And what was it with Kawahara lately anyway? He was spending more and more time with Rin; the two might disappear for hours at a time. Hamaguchi just didn't understand, didn't Kawahara know that his friend was in pain? That he needed the comforting presence of his old pal? Hamaguchi'd even tried to explain to Miyuki what he was feeling, but she'd just patted him on the arm and told him to deal with it. He'd actually considered asking her out at that point, and he was pretty sure she'd have accepted, but he'd chickened out at the last minute. Besides, cute as she was, Miyuki was like, well you know... one of the boys. Damn, he missed Minawa.

As he contemplated his sorry life, his sweeping became more and more agitated; dust and small pebbles flew in all directions causing passersby to give him a wide berth. He didn't realize it, but he was mumbling to himself as well. Hamaguchi tried to concentrate on the sweeping, but his mind just wasn't into it today. Just as well, probably, he had to go clean up, it was almost time to leave for school. One last flick of the broom and he started to turn towards the door of the shop.

Only to be knocked down by a tallish, blonde girl. He landed on his back, with her sitting on his chest. The broom skidded into the street causing a passing bicyclist to swerve, hit the curb and fly head first over the handlebars and into a trashcan. The bike did a perfect somersault and bounced off a vending machine to land on the hood of a parked car, setting off it's alarm.

"Oooh, look at the pretty birdies," Hamaguchi mumbled as he regained his senses. He reached out to steady himself and grabbed something round and soft, yet oddly firm. The girl let out an "Eep!" of surprise and when Hamaguchi's eyes regained focus he saw he was holding one of her breasts. He felt the blood rushing to his head and released her almost immediately. "Almost", because for a brief moment, a part of him reveled in his predicament and was reluctant to change states.

The girl quickly got to her feet. "I'm so sorry," she said, helping Hamaguchi up. "I wasn't watching where I was going, my mind was elsewhere." The car alarm continued to sound and by now people were looking out their windows at the pair.

"Uh, yeah," said Hamaguchi, rubbing the back of his head. "I wasn't paying attention either, so it's my fault as much as it is yours." He smiled. Damn, she was cute. And there was something vaguely familiar about her but he couldn't quite place his finger on it.

"No, it was entirely my fault. I'm sorry, really." She bowed and started to back away. "I'm sorry, so very sorry." When she was about ten paces away, she turned and hurried off. A faint smell of burnt fish lingered behind her.

Yes, something familiar about that girl. He glanced at his watch. Damn! He was going to be late for school! He stopped just long enough to help the stunned bicyclist remove the trashcan from his head, then hurried into the shop to wash up and change into his school uniform. He was grateful when Kawahara handed him his jacket as the two hurried out.

"I saw what happened," Kawahara said. "It was most amusing."

"Gee, thanks," Hamaguchi replied with a scowl. "I suppose things like that never happen to you."

"Sure they do, but I make sure no one's around to see them when they do." Kawahara smiled. "That girl sure was cute."

"Yeah," said Hamaguchi. "There was something familiar about her though."

-----

All of the senior class students had gathered in the assembly hall to hear the announcements of the school administrator. There had been whispers and rumors of a new teacher joining the faculty and everyone was anxious to meet him or her. Except Hamaguchi; his thoughts were still dwelling on the girl from the morning incident. He was trying to place where he'd seen her before and felt that soon he'd have a revelation. Thus he almost missed it when the administrator announced the new senior class science teacher and a familiar figure strode out onto the stage. The sighs and moans of the female students brought his attention back to the here and now.

"Hello, everybody. My name is Tor Ryuga and I'll be your science teacher for your senior year. Some of you I recognize from a couple of years ago when I taught in Junior High. I know you'll all do just fine in my class." Ryuga smiled and looked out at the students. His smile broadened as his gaze stopped on the stunned faces of Rin, Miyuki, Chizuko, Kawahara and the almost clueless expression in Hamaguchi's visage. If they thought this was a shock, just give 'em a few moments.

Ryuga gave way to the administrator, who had a few other announcements to make until at last...

"And I have one final announcement to make. We have a new transfer student joining us. I'm told she attended this district for a short time several years ago." The administrator looked over at the side of the stage and gestured to someone. "Miss Andou, would you care to come introduce yourself to your classmates?"

The blonde girl from that morning shuffled out to stand next to him, her head bowed so that her medium-length hair covered her face. "Y... Yes," she said quietly. She lifted her head and looked right at Hamaguchi. "My name is Minawa Andou, and I'm pleased to be back."

Kawahara looked at Rin, who shrugged and elbowed Miyuki. Startled, Miyuki jumped and knocked Chizuko almost out of her seat.

"Ouch! Watch it!" the tiny girl exclaimed, rubbing her shoulder. "Is that really our little Minawa?"

"Yes, it is," said Ryuga, who had quietly moved to stand near the group.

"Wow!" stated Miyuki. "She's really changed in two years. She's not so little anymore."

Hamaguchi couldn't take his eyes off the girl on the stage. His mouth opened and closed several times as if he was trying to speak, then he looked down at his right hand, flexed his fingers as if her were squeezing something. He looked back at Minawa and his eyes rolled back into his head and he fainted. Kawahara jumped to his feet and caught him just before he hit the floor.

Minawa looked at the small group of her friends and saw the chaos her reappearance had caused. "I'm sorry," she announced and started to bow rapidly. "I'm so sorry..."

During lunch all the girls gathered around Minawa's desk shooting questions at her about where she'd been the last two years. All she would tell them was that she'd been away receiving medical treatments and physical therapy; which was true, as far as it went. What she didn't, couldn't, tell them was that the facility she'd been in was in synchronous orbit behind the moon. Although the existence of Saint was no longer a secret, only high-level government officials were supposed to have contact with the aliens.

Excusing herself from the gaggle of girls, Minawa walked over to where Hamaguchi sat staring out the window, totally lost in thought. Miyuki shushed the others as she strained to hear Minawa's soft voice from across the room.

"Um, excuse me, Hamaguchi," Minawa said quietly. "I don't mean to interrupt; I'll leave if you want."

Hamaguchi started at the voice and turned to look at the girl. "Oh, Minawa. I'm sorry; I should have greeted you earlier." He was embarrassed and somewhat at a loss for words.

"No," Minawa shook her head slightly. "I want to apologize for this morning. I should have stopped, but I didn't want to be late on my first day back."

"That's all right," the boy said. "I understand. How are you feeling? You look well."

"Yes, I'm all repaired. And I've had a few enhance... erm... I've grown a bit too."

"Yeah, I noticed." Hamaguchi turned red remembering the morning incident. He didn't notice Minawa's strange choice of words; but Miyuki did, and so did Chizuko. The two girls looked at each other and turned back to the conversation.

"You've gotten taller yourself," Minawa continued. "I almost didn't recognize you at first. Are you working for Kawahara's parents in their shop?"

"Yeah," Hamaguchi looked down and started to draw little circles on the desktop with his finger. "It's not the greatest job, but it gives me some spending money." He looked up at her. "So, where are you staying? Have you heard from Suguru or Mahoro?"

Minawa smiled sadly. "No, I don't know where they are. But I'm staying at Suguru's house again as the maid. One of big sis... erm, my cousins is house-sitting until Suguru returns."

Hamaguchi's expression momentarily brightened. "Oh, she's your cousin. I've seen her around, isn't she a waitress at that western-style restaurant across town; you know, that burger and fried chicken place."

"I think so. And she's actually more of a distant cousin. We've never been really close, until lately."

"Oh, I see." Hamaguchi looked back down at his desk.

There was an awkward silence for a moment and Miyuki took a step toward the pair but Chizuko put a hand on her arm to stop her.

"Um, Hamaguchi?" asked Minawa. "Are you mad at me? I mean about this morning, or about anything at all?"

Hamaguchi looked up, eyes wide. "Good Lord no! Why would you think that?"

"Well, because... because..."

"Minawa, there hasn't been a moment in the last two years that I haven't thought about you, wondering if you were all right, if you remembered me." He stood up and put his hands on her shoulders; she was almost the same height as he was now. "I've missed you, Minawa. We've all missed you." He looked over Minawa's shoulder at Miyuki and the others snickering behind their hands.

Tears began to form in Minawa's eyes. She wriggled out from under his grip and threw herself at him. "I've missed you too, Hamaguchi!"

Unfortunately, Hamaguchi was unprepared for this sudden show of affection and tumbled backwards into his desk. The edge of the desk caught him behind the knees and he sat down; but the desk, being on a freshly waxed floor, was no longer under him. And so it was Hamaguchi, with Minawa still wrapped around him, who was now on the freshly waxed floor.

"Oh! I'm sorry," apologized the girl, attempting to disentangle herself from the boy.

Hamaguchi cautiously put his arms around Minawa's slim waist. "That's all right," he told her. "I sort of like it like this."

Minawa snuggled into his shoulder. "Yeah, me too."

"Hey, hey, HEY! Get a room you two!" called Miyuki.

Minawa and Hamaguchi both turned bright red. Hamaguchi got to his feet and helped Minawa up. "Can I talk to you after school?" he asked.

Minawa nodded "Yes, I'd like that." She leaned over and gave him a peck on the cheek. "Bye."

Hamaguchi turned even redder as the girls across the room broke into a fit of giggling. "Y...y... yeah. Bye." He reached up and rubbed the spot Minawa's lips had touched. I'm never gonna wash my face again, he thought. He turned and took a half step... and tripped over the leg of his desk, scooting it even further out of place. He managed to keep his feet and moved the desk back to its proper place.

-----

Minawa gingerly stepped into the hot water of the bath. It felt strange to be back here again after all that had happened. Strange, yet comforting. The day had gone rather well, aside from its inauspicious start. Hamaguchi had walked her home and on the way had asked if she'd like to see a movie sometime over the weekend. At which point she'd of course, tripped over her shoelaces and ruined the moment. But she'd agreed to go out with him, as long as everyone else went along as well. He'd looked a bit sour at the idea, but eventually gave in, and even told her that she could pick the movie.

Then, after dinner (which Sera had prepared; it was plain, but edible), Miyuki had called and invited her to join them at her family's bathhouse. Sera was, of course. invited as well, but she begged off, saying she already had a date and told Minawa not to wait up for her.

"So, Minawa," Rin spoke up from where she was seated against the wall. "You never did tell us what was wrong with you, why you had to go away."

Minawa looked over at her friend. Rin was up to her chest in the water, her full breasts seeming to float on their own. The young cyborg glanced down at her own chest and squeezed her arms together. She wasn't as big as Rin by any means, but what she had would probably have made big sister jealous. She sighed. Growing up was no fun at all.

Minawa waded over and plopped herself down next to the other girl. "Well," Minawa said quietly. "I had some problems with my bones. But it's all taken care of now. I'm operating at 100% capability."

Rin looked at her oddly. "Really. What a strange way of putting it."

"Is it? I don't know. How should I have said it?"

"Well, most people would say that they've been cured, or are all healthy now."

Minawa put her chin down and splashed at the warm water with her index finger. "I'm sorry. I'll try to remember that. I'm healthy now."

"Hey Miyuki!" Chizuko's voice called out from the dressing area. "There's no towels left!"

"Wait a second," Miyuki answered. "I'm bringin' 'em. It's been a busy day around here ya know."

There was the sound of Miyuki dropping an armful of towels on a shelf. "There ya go. That should do for now. Let me go get my things and I'll join you."

"Right," said Chizuko. "Hurry up, Minawa and Rin are already in the bath."

"Yeah, yeah..." There was the sound of heavy footsteps on the tile floor, then Miyuki yelled. "HEY! Wait, where the hell do you think you're going? That's the ladies bath! DAD..." Miyuki's voice cut off suddenly.

Chizuko poked her head around the corner and saw a tall man in a trench coat walking toward her. She quickly snatched up a towel and covered herself. "Eeeee! A pervert!" she screamed and threw a shoe at him. The leather missile bounced off his head but otherwise didn't appear to affect him at all. He walked past her paying her no attention.

Minawa looked up at the sounds coming from the outer areas. Her skin grew cold as the man stalked into the bathing area. "Oh no," she whispered. She tried duck down behind the edge of the bath, but her legs got entangled with Rin's who was standing up and getting ready to run away. Rin tripped and banged her head against the tile wall, sinking back into the warm water in a daze. Minawa ended up under the water, blowing bubbles and trying not to get water up her nose. The man paused and looked around, seeing only Rin floating face-up in the bath. Oddly enough, her nudity didn't seem to affect him at all.

"Where is V 1046 R Mahoro?" he asked, looking at the semi-conscious Rin. Rin mumbled something incoherent. "V 1046 R Mahoro is known to frequent this bath. Where is V 1046 R Mahoro?"

Minawa finally managed to get herself untangled from Rin's lower extremities and she surfaced with a gasp. The man's gaze fell upon the young cyborg. "You. You are Management Combat Cyborg 3-7-0," he said. "Your mission was to watch and gather information on V 1046 R Mahoro. Where is V 1046 R Mahoro?"

Minawa caught her breath and was finally able to talk. "You're a Management android, aren't you?" she gasped, hanging onto the edge of bath and hiding her nakedness.

"I am a Combat Android, Model N305, code name Gartua. My mission is to find and destroy Vesper Combat Android V 1046 R Mahoro." The android looked around again. "Take me to my target, Cyborg 3-7-0."

Minawa stood up, no longer concerned about her lack of clothes. "No," she said. "Big Sister's gone. Please leave before someone gets hurt worse."

The android took a step forward and Minawa looked around for something to use as a weapon. Finding nothing but water (and a naked Rin) within arms reach, she balled her fist and put all her cybernetically-enhanced strength behind a punch. The male android easily caught her fist and pushed her roughly back. She bumped into the recovering Rin and landed on her rump with a splash. Minawa scrambled to her feet, sending water everywhere and placed herself between Rin and the android. She didn't think he would intentionally hurt the other girl, Mahoro was his target after all, but she had a duty to protect her friends.

Chizuko watched the proceedings from the safety of the other room. She didn't understand everything that was going on, but she understood enough. She ducked back into the room and searched through Minawa's once carefully folded clothing. She found what she was looking for, maybe it would help. After all, she'd seen Mahoro use something like it once at the beach. Chizuko scrambled back to the entranceway.

"Minawa," Chizuko called out. "Here, catch!"

Something sparkled through the air as Chizuko made a tossing motion. Minawa reached up and snatched her broach in mid-flight. Holding it over her head she called out, "Summon the Fang!"

Slash was snoozing in Guri's doghouse when the wormhole suddenly appeared in front of him. With a sigh, he let the little dog slide off his head without awakening. He stood up and stretched. "Well, here we go again..." He gave one prodigious leap and vanished.

The great cat emerged from the swirling red vortex in the midst of chaos. On look told him all he needed to know. He placed himself between the android and Minawa. "That's quite enough," he growled. "Why don't you pick on someone your own size."

The android reached out and grabbed him by the scruff of the neck. "V 1046 R9-SLASH ZERO. Where is V 1046 R Mahoro?"

Slash extended his claws and took a swipe at the other. "Hey, that hurts. Didn't your programmer teach you to be kind to animals?"

The android's eyes glowed red. "Where is V 1046 R Mahoro?" he repeated, giving the cat a shake.

Slash sighed. "I guess not. But that's all right; MY creators didn't program me to be nice to Management flunkies either." He pulled himself loose from the other and felt synthetic skin tearing. The Management android was left holding a handful of black fur and the now bare spot on Slash's neck gleamed metallically in the light. He growled at Minawa. "Take Rin and leave. I'll deal with this pile of Management scrap."

The android turned his glowing eyes on Minawa. "Cyborg 3-7-0, I request your help with V 1046 R9-SLASH ZERO."

Minawa ignored him as she gathered up the semi-conscious Rin and edged out of the room.

Slash chuckled. "Now, where were we?" He leapt for the enemy android who attempted to dodge, but was unable to because of the small size of the room. The cat sank his claws into the other's shoulder and sliced downward, almost severing the arm. Sparks flew from the tear as the android reach across his body and straight-armed the cat into the wall, crumbling the concrete.

Slash quickly regained his feet and jumped aside as his opponent charged him. As the android when past, he reached out again and tore open one of the robot's legs. The android, unable to support his weight, collapsed. But that wasn't the end of it; the enemy machine began to crawl towards Slash, still intent on attack. "Where is V 1046 R Mahoro?" it asked again. "My mission is to destroy V 1046 R Mahoro."

Slash shook his head in disbelief. "Geez, if you can't handle me, how did you expect to take on Mahoro?"

"3-7-0, I require assistance."

"Aw, shut up." Slash reached out with one great paw and crushed the other's chest. The android began sputtering. "What a wimp. You'd think after all this time, Management could send someone worthwhile. I barely even broke a sweat."

"3-7-0, 3-7-0, 3-7-0," the fatally wounded android began to repeat. Minawa peeked around the corner to see what was happening. The dull glow of the android's eyes turned to her. "3-7-0, 3-7-0, 3-7-0..."

Something within Minawa snapped. Her eyes went dull and she gasped in pain as a small device rose through the skin of her left forearm, a small trickle of blood running down to her fingertips. She pointed her arm at the fallen android. "I am not Management Cyborg 3-7-0 anymore. My name is Minawa Andou and I am Vesper!" The phased energy beam fired, vaporizing the head of her enemy. With a small click, the weapon retracted back into it's housing, leaving a flap of skin hanging loose. Minawa's eyes rolled back into her head and she fainted.

Slash looked at the remains of the Management android then at the unconscious Minawa. "Whoa! I didn't know she could do that. Hell, why'd she even bother to call me?"

-----

Noises. The whisper of hushed conversation, a giggle, the sound of a drink being poured. All of this impinged upon Minawa's hearing before she was aware she was awake. Her eyes flicked open and focused... on a huge crater. "What am I doing on the moon?" she wondered, the quickly realized that her vision was set on "macro". She refocused and found that the "crater" was actually a pore on the smiling face of Taizo Sakura, Miyuki's father.

"Well, look who's back," Taizo said, turning. "Hey, Miyuki!" he shouted. "Bring little Minawa here something to drink."

"What happened, is everyone all right?" Minawa asked, trying to sit up.

Taizo held her down. "Not yet, you've been out for over an hour. Yeah, everybody's fine. Rin has a bump on her head and Miyuki had the wind knocked out of her, but they're all fine. You were the worry though, except for your arm, we couldn't find a thing wrong with you."

Minawa raised and examined her arm, which was now lightly bandaged. "I've never used this before; it seems I used too much power."

"Yeah, well whatever it was, it sure took care of that robot. Erm... it was a robot, wasn't it?"

Minawa nodded her head. "Yes. I'm sorry. I made a mess out of your bath house."

Taizo shrugged. "Eh, that's all right. It's more excitement than we've had around here since old Mrs. Tamaki slipped on a bar of soap and skidded into the men's section. I heard the local shrinks were busy for months afterwards." He looked back over his shoulder toward the door to the room and Minawa followed his gaze. Miyuki, Chizuko and Rin, with a bandaged head, were all peeking around the edge of the doorframe. Taizo laughed. "Well don't just hover there, come in. She's awake and doing fine." The three girls scrambled into the room, followed by Slash.

Taizo patted Minawa on the shoulder. "I think I'll leave you all. You probably have a bit of explaining to do, and as interesting as it sounds, your friends should be the first to hear it."

"Yes," agreed Minawa quietly. Taizo left and the girls all gathered around Minawa. Miyuki handed her a bottle of juice with a straw, which Minawa accepted gratefully and started to sip.

"So," started Chizuko, eyes bright. "Are you gonna tell us about it?"

"Yeah," said Miyuki. "Are you really a robot?"

Minawa almost choked on the juice. "No," she said.

"Then are you one of those aliens that we've seen on the news?" asked Chizuko.

Minawa shook her head. "Not that either. I'm a cyborg; some of me is human and some is machine. Most is machine."

Chizuko looked at Miyuki. "Well that explains what she said in the classroom then."

"Yep," agreed Miyuki.

"Wait," piped in Rin. "If Mahoro is your big sister, is she a cyborg too?"

Minawa hesitated a moment and glanced down at Slash before answering. The great cat only shrugged noncommittally. "No," Minawa said. "Big sister's an android. We're not really related at all; not by blood anyway."

"So Mahoro's a robot?" wondered Chizuko. "Weird. She was always so warm and loving, like a real person. And she didn't look fake."

Minawa shook her head. "Not a robot, not in the strictest sense anyway. Some of her systems were organic, as I understand it; she can eat, taste, cry... Does it really matter that her brain was made up of micro-circuits and artificial neural paths? Does that make her any less human?"

Miyuki smiled sadly. "I don't get half of what you said; but if I understand you, it doesn't matter what we're made of, it's what's inside us, our feelings and emotions; how we act and react around others, that make us human."

"Exactly," stated Minawa.

"But what about the aliens?" asked Chizuko. "Are they for real?"

Minawa slowly sat up and swung her feet off the edge of the bed before answering. She was feeling much better. She started to unwrap the bandage from her arm; there was almost no sign of the wound left by the emergence of her weapon. "Yes, they're real," she said. "They're the ones that fixed me. I was dying; my implants weren't allowing my body to grow. They removed them and replaced them with their own technology."

Chizuko's eyes widened. "So, you've really met some of these 'Saints'. Wow!"

Minawa looked down at Slash again. He looked back at her blankly and crossed his paws. "So have you," she said quietly.

"Eh?" said Miyuki. "What do you mean 'so have we'?"

"Mr. Ryuga's a Saint. And so is Miss Sera. She's his older sister."

"WHAT! They're ALIENS?" blurted Miyuki.

"Cool!" said Chizuko. Rin gasped and slumped to the floor in a faint.

"DAD!" shouted Miyuki. "Rin's out of it again!"

"I'm sorry," apologized Minawa, hopping off the bed and bowing deeply. "I'm sorry."

"That's all right," said Miyuki, fanning Rin's face with a piece of cardboard as her father came into the room and stooped to pick up the unconscious girl. "Is there anything else you want to get off your..." She looked at Minawa and felt a small twinge of jealousy. "...chest?"

"Well," said Minawa, watching Taizo pick up Rin and place her gently on the bed. "I found out that big sister is a Saint too, but she didn't know it; she was built here on Earth."

Miyuki scratched her head. "But you said Mahoro... Oh. I get it! The aliens are all..."

"Yes," said Minawa.

Sera rushed into the room, closely followed by Ryuga. Miyuki "Eep'ed" and jumped back; Chizuko watched with bright and interested eyes.

"We heard what happened and got here as fast as we could," said Sera, out of breath. "Is anyone hurt?" Her eyes fell on Rin, who was groaning as she regained consciousness. "Oh dear," Sera moaned, spying the bandage on the girl's head. "I hope it's not serious."

"No," chuckled Chizuko. "She just fainted when Minawa told us you were aliens."

"WHAT!" exclaimed Ryuga, turning to glare at Minawa.

"Oh my," said Sera, covering her mouth with her hand. She giggled. "Oh stop it Ryuga, they were going to find out sooner or later anyway."

"Yeah," said Ryuga. "But I was hoping for later. Much, much later."

"You're not going to, like shoot us with your brain-wipe ray-guns, are you?" asked Miyuki fearfully. "Now that we know your secret, I mean."

"What?" Ryuga looked at her like she was insane.

Sera laughed. "Well, little brother might, if there actually were such a thing. But the only weapon I've ever handled is a foam sword in the Dark Martial Arts Festival."

"Well," Ryuga scratched his chin. He grinned slyly. "I suppose there's no harm in you knowing, especially if there are rogue Management androids running around loose. But please don't go spreading it around too much, okay?"

"Um, yeah," agreed a much-relieved Miyuki.

"Sure thing," said Chizuko.

"What?" said Rin, sitting up suddenly. She saw Sera standing next to her and promptly fainted again.

"Oh dear," said Sera, catching the girl before she could fall off the bed. Miyuki handed her the cardboard with a weak smile.

-----

To be continued...

Here come the Triomatic cheerleaders again... This time joined by Sera. Huzzah!

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Next Chapter: Minawa goes on a date

Minawa and Hamaguchi go out on their date. Things don't go quite right and it's Slash to the rescue, again.

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Author's Notes.

Poor Rin, she certainly got the short end of it in this chapter, didn't she?

Ah, you were expecting hentai? Don't you know that ALL DIRTY THOUGHTS ARE BAD!

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Review Responses

Dennisud – I'm glad you like it. News? Good news I hope.

Ministry Agent – Yes, people are. Especially on MediaMiner where after more than 170 visits, my Kurumi story STILL has zero reviews. And the version I posted here's not doing a whole lot better.

GX – Well, Ryuga comments in the series that even after 20 years, Minawa is still Minawa. That's what I'm striving for.

JohnnyG – Sorry, I'm not writing as fast as I used to. But here's the next chapter.

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BobR 8/13/04