Stop looking at me like that. LOTS of stories take decade plus breaks.
Anyways. Have a chapter. Because I felt like it! N-not because I l-like you or anything!
(This chapter is dedicated to Brian Randall. I miss you, you dumb bastard.)
Michiru hummed softly as she stirred the soup on the stove, lifting the wooden spoon to her lips for a taste. She added a little salt to the bubbling pot and cracked the curve of the spoon down harshly to the counter at her side without looking. A muffled curse and the rapid removal of the hand that was reaching for the cookies cooling there was her reward.
"I told you no sampling before dinner." Her voice was calm, with an amused undertone.
"I was just going to have one!" Haruka's slightly pained voice protested, however futilely.
"The answer's still no. I swear, sometimes I don't know what to do with yooooOH!"
Michiru's voice trailed off to silence as Haruka's arms slipped around her waist and pressed herself against the cooking girl's back. The taller girl's lips pressed to that little spot just behind her ear that always manged to make her knees go weak and murmured.
"Can I sample the cook, then?"
"Hotaru will be..."
"Spending the night at a sleepover with some schoolmates."
"Vanished with Ranma. Probably screwing like mad lemmings by now...let's just undo that...oh, my. Those are... I love you, you know."
Ranma bounded through the kitchen door with the kind of energy that usually can't be found in anyone over the age of six, grinning like a loon. He bounced through the kitchen with a far-too-perky greeting for the two girls sitting at the table, pausing only to snatch an eggroll from one of the take-out containers dotting the table.
"Hi, guys! Bye, guys!"
Setsuna followed through at a far more sedate pace, nudging the door to the garage closed behind her as she went. She nodded in passing to the girls as well, utterly ignoring the indescribably suggestive grin on Haruka's face. Just as she was about to step out of the kitchen, she paused, then slowly backed up a few small steps. One eyebrow lifted as she delicately sniffed at the air, glancing first at the take-out on the table, then at the burnt soup pot resting in the sink. Her brow arched higher as a knowing look entered her eyes. Michiru colored slightly, while Haruka's grin transformed into an out-and-out leer.
"You two are like rabbits, you know that?" Setsuna dryly remarked as she returned to her trip out of the kitchen. As she stepped out, one hand lifted and flicked the lacy, sheer bit of fabric hanging off the edge of the door frame into Michiru's lap. "I believe those belong to you, Michiru."
Behind her, Setsuna heard the clear sound of Michiru's face meeting the palms of her hands, followed by Haruka's cry of, "Hey, that's where they went!"
"So, Setsuna..." Haruka's voice drawled languidly from her post leaning against the door frame of the elder woman's room. With a wide grin, she stepped into the room, bumping the door shut with her hip as she went. She settled onto the bed and leaned over, elbows digging into the coverlet as she propped her chin up on her laced fingers. "Ranma certainly seemed...cheerfully exhausted. After spending all day in your company. I'm just saying..."
Setsuna rolled her eyes with a heavy sigh. As she tucked a bookmark into the book she was making heavy annotations in (Hawking's "A Brief History of Time") and tucked her pen behind her ear, she muttered. "You're about as subtle as a brick to the head, has anyone ever told you that?"
"Michiru does all the time. But, as I keep telling her, it works." Haruka cheerfully admitted, getting into a more comfortable position on the bed. "Now, spill all the dirty, dirty details."
"Dirty details?" Setsuna repeated in a slightly incredulous voice, then slowly smiled a thoroughly devilish grin. She leaned forward and dropped her voice to a husky whisper. "All the details, you say? About how I had to talk him into it the first time, but after that he nearly begged me for another time, again and again? Perhaps I should tell you how nervous he was? Or maybe why I'm just a bit sore and we're both walking a bit funny? Or maybe I should start with the straps that the other girls had to help him get adjusted right..."
Haruka's eyebrows slowly rose into her hairline at Setsuna's words, ending with her jaw dropping at the mention of "straps". She wiggled her way closer to the viridian-haired woman as she trailed into silence. "Well...? Well?! Don't stop there! I mean, I never thought you had it in you, but..."
Setsuna leaned forward and purred into Haruka's ear, one finger reaching up and stroking along the blonde's shoulder slowly as she continued. "Or maybe you want to hear about how I had to nearly beg him to try his cursed form...and how he turned out to be a natural with it..."
Haruka let out a little whimper as she tried to pinpoint, exactly, when she lost control of this little interrogation session. Though, at the moment, it was far more important that she remembered just how pissed Michiru would be if she even considered how nice Setsuna looked in the emerald peignoir she slept in. Far, far more important. Wow, did those skirt suits the eldest Senshi so often wore hide things.
"But I'd bet you're most interested in the little scream Ranma made the first time I slid my hands up to his shoulders...and pushed him out the door of the plane." Setsuna's voice suddenly turned so dry the Sahara would be utterly envious. "Skydiving, Haruka. I'm a certified jumpmaster. I took him skydiving for his birthday."
Haruka's eyes shot open in shock as Setsuna's hand fastened onto her shoulder and gave her a sudden hard push, sending her sprawling to the floor with a loud snort. One delicately-boned finger pointed at the short-haired girl in accusation as she flatly stated.
"You really need to get your mind out of the gutter, you lech. Now shoo. I want to finish reading my book."
Haruka fled from the room, shutting the door firmly behind her and leaning against it. Slowly, one hand lifted and settled against the center of her heaving chest. She took one long breath, then another. And then, she straightened up from the door with a sudden determination, a burning glint in her eyes as she stalked down the hallway, almost kicking open the door to her room.
"Oh, Haruka! So, did you get all the gossip? Haruka? What are youOH! Haruka, that was expensive! Be careEEK! You're right, I can buy more. Just don't stop doing thaaaaaAAAHHHat!" There was a long silence, followed by a joyous scream of "OH, HARUKA!"
"My, she must have shared something pretty juicy."
"Hmmm? Oh, no. They went sky diving."
"...sky diving? What caused THAT, then?"
"...Setsuna's evil, that's what caused that."
"I'll have to thank her for it, then..."
"You'll what? Michiru, what are you-"
"Just shut up and kiss me, love."
All the Small Things: Chapter 11
Still poorly written by Slacker
None of them are owned by me, I'm afraid. Well, except for the original ones. But they're easy to spot, they suck.
Ranma sighed softly as he stepped off the train into the bustling crowd on the platform. He really didn't want to be here. Not now, at least. Just this morning, he was still riding the high of skydiving as he sat down for breakfast. All that glorious time in the air! Technique after technique after technique, chained together in a way he'd never been able to accomplish before, no matter how hard he jumped or what tricks he developed to cheat gravity out of a few more seconds. It was the closest he'd ever been to flying...and he nearly wept with the joy of it. For a few eternal moments, all that existed was him, the art, and glorious freedom. And then it was banished with a single statement from Setsuna.
"It's time for you to visit Nerima."
And he'd argued. He'd flat refused. He'd threatened every bone in her body and few that weren't. He swore that he would never go that far from Usagi until he knew she was under no threat. Setsuna, for her part, cheated. She called Usagi.
And now he was back in Nerima. Miles and miles away from the rest of the Senshi. Miles and miles away from where he was needed. Distantly, a deep corner of his brain wished for the simpler times back before he had to start worrying about the safety of a group of demon-fighting, alien invasion-repelling, pose and pretty speech-making teenage girls. Oh, back when all he had to worry about was getting hit on the head and thinking he was a girl, or who Pops had sold him to this week, or what weird plan Cologne was hatching, or... Come to think of it, his life hadn't been simple in a long, long time, had it. Well, at least he was never bored.
Ranma moved through the crowd with a fluid grace, slipping past people so easily that most didn't even notice until he was far past them. He strode confidently forward, ignoring the buzz that followed him, sparked either by the distinctive (to a long-time resident of Nerima) stance and movements of a high-level martial artists, or the notoriety that he'd managed to gain in the years he'd spent running through, jumping over, and blowing up significant portions of the area.
His travels through the back alleys and side streets were remarkably easy. Suspiciously so, in fact. He grew tenser and tenser with every minute that something didn't happen. He could feel the cosmos lining up for the kick to his delicate bits. But the kick never came. In fact, he was just starting to feel hope that maybe, just maybe, this whole idea wasn't going to go immediately to hell when he heard it: The voice that signified he was now firmly on the good intention paved path.
"Hello, m'boy. I missed you. You picked a good little hidey-hole, didn't you."
Ranma froze, then slowly turned to face the trashcan that he knew, he KNEW, had been empty mere seconds ago. The wrinkled, bald figure there was grinning in a manner that could, and had, sent men running for the hills for decades. Happosai was Not Pleased.
"Old lech." If anything, Ranma's reply was even flatter and colder than the aged master's comment. "How about you go molest someone and leave me the hell alone?"
"Oh no, boy. After all, I haven't been able to play with my heir for...why, it must be months, now. A good, respectful heir wouldn't just vanish without telling people where he was going." Happosai finished thumbing tobacco into his pipe and lifted the bowl to his lips, blowing across it softly before settling the stem into his mouth. A slow curl of the pungent smoke lifted free into the air as he offered a conclusion. "I think you need another lesson about respect for your master, I do."
Ranma's eyes narrowed as he mentally shot a most virulent curse toward Setsuna, where ever she was at the moment. "You ain't my master and I ain't got no respect for you, lech. Bring it."
And with that, the battle was joined.
Girl's gym class at Furinkan was always a tense affair. Not so much during the part out on the field. But at the start and end. The time spent in the showers. Luckily, thanks in a large part to Akane and, later, Ukyo's presence, none of the male students had the sheer guts needed to try an attempt at peeking in the showers any more. But that didn't stop certain other...creatures from making their presence known. There was a reason every single locker had a readily accessible weapon next to it, a weapon the administration never commented on. And that reason was named Happosai. In a weird way, the girls were almost used to the perverse little gnome bursting in. Once he'd made his daily appearance, they could calm down a little, since he rarely stopped in twice.
But it was nearly time for school to get out and he hadn't shown his face yet, which was making all the girls nervous. Usually, that only happened if someone were trying to fight him. Taro had been showing up nearly every other week, and getting better with every fight...which made Happosai need a bigger and bigger recharge every time. And that translated into greater humiliation for every girl present in the school, eventually.
So it was with a paradoxical sigh of relief that the reedy voice was finally heard. It took a few precious seconds for the girls to realize that it wasn't in the usual high cackle, though. Instead, it was most definitely in the much lower tone that indicated Happosai was screaming out his chi attacks. As one, the girls stopped reaching for their weapons and turned to flee the showers, clutching at whatever sparse covering they could get. In this case, modesty was defeated by practicality. They could hear the anger in those attacks.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your views, none of them had the chance to even reach the doors when the ancient menace entered their prescence. Though, it probably shouldn't be held against them. Happosai usually bounced in through an open window, or the doors. Not by opening a new, pervert-shaped hole in one wall. And a set of lockers. And the wall behind them.
Happosai finally came to rest in the middle of an aisle between lockers, head shaking slowly. Bleary eyes blinked up at all the nubile, supple young flesh around him. Slowly, his lips parted, whispering the word that had been his battlecry for decades.
"Sweeto." And with that, he bound toward the nearest, most thoroughly endowed student.
"No." And with that, Happosai continued on his trek through walls and lockers, aided in his journey by a fist from a red and black clad figure.
Ranma paused for a few moments, glancing around swiftly as he wiped blood from his eyes, ignoring the fact that it was immediately replaced with more from the freely flowing gash that bisected his forehead from temple to temple. As usual, his clothes were basically a write-off, only managing to hold together enough to preserve decency.
"Is everyone okay?" At the lack of response, he demanded again, harder. "Is everyone okay!"
At the chorus of hesitant nods and noises of assent, he nodded and sped into puruit of his opponent once more, leaping through the hole leading out to the athletic field. It took several second of shocked silence before someone ventured.
"Wasn't that Ranma?"
It was several more seconds after that someone else added.
"Did he just see us all naked?"
Then the screams began.
News travels fast in Nerima. In fact, if Einstein was still alive to study the way it moved there, he likely would have scrapped his theories about the speed of light and started completely over. Nothing moved faster than gossip in Nerima. Nothing.
Which is why Nabiki was yanking her sister out of her seat in class and pulling her towards the athletic field almost before Happosai landed on it. By the time Ranma's feet were on the grass, she was already issuing directions to her agents on bets. The very instant that Ranma's first punch managed to land and send his tiny opponent skipping across the grass, though...
That instant seemed to stretch for an eternity, growing ever tighter as Happosai lifted himself to his feet. Slowly, he reached into his gi, pulling out his thin black pipe and thumbing it full of tobacco. Ranma sank into a ready stance as the diminuitive martial artist took a long puff and blew out the smoke in a thick stream.
"Well, then." That was Ranma's only warning as Happosai blurred, vanishing in a burst of speed as he charged forward, the laquer of his pipe smacking into the younger martial artist's ribs with a dull impact, sending him flying in a flat arc into one of the trees ringing the field.
"Tha-" Ranma's words were stopped by a hacking cough as he lifted himself to his feet. "That was a new trick."
"I'm just full of them, m'boy. I let you have you fun. Now you need to learn your lesson." Happosai's tone was rich with the pleasure of his self-appointed role as teacher of that lesson. He blurred forward again, pipe lashing out in a low, upswinging arc that caught Ranma in the hollow of his left armpit. The loud, cracking pop that resulted sent a wince through the crowd, one that was repeated as he promptly introduced himself to another tree.
Ranma had to grit his teeth as he regained his footing, hissing out a rather nasty curse he'd learned from the Queen of Saturn, ages past. He meet the smirking gaze of his tortmentor with a low snarl of pain, a noise that only got louder as he forced himself to reach up and pop his freshly dislocated shoulder back into place in a burst of white hot agony. He took a deep, slow breath, then moved forward onto the field again, hands lifting into a ready position. "You ain't got any lessons to teach me, stumpy."
"A short joke? That's the best you could come up with?" Happosai's laugh was mocking as he knocked a bit of ash from his pipe after taking another long draw from it. "You've really gotten out of shape, where ever you've been hiding."
"I ain't been hiding, old man. I've been learning something you can't ever teach me." Ranma's voice was firm as he took another step forward, fist tightening. "I've been learning something that nobody here bothered to try and teach me."
"Oh, and what's that?" The antique martial artist asked with a snort, not bothering to wait for a response before vanishing into the same technique that had proved so effective previously, pipe leading his charge towards Ranma's skull and a pressure point that would the fight quite effectively.
The crack of the impact echoed through the schoolyard. At the sudden silence following, Akane slowly unscrewed her eyes, fearing the sight that would greet her. Which she never expected to be what actually was there:
Ranma, standing tall, with one fist extended. In front of him, Happosai was examining the splintered remains of his pipe. The outstretched arm was slowly retracted, moving to a ready position as the pigtailed boy calmly noted.
"Third time's the charm, hey grandpa?"
"That was my favorite pipe." Happosai's voice was low. He dropped what was left of the black-laquered wood to the grass, following it with his eyes as it fell. When they rose to meet Ranma's again, they were almost literally ablaze. "That. Was. My. Favorite. Pipe."
"Oh, that's not good." Nabiki needlessly commented from the sidelines, as she decided to retreat behind the low concrete wall nearby, along with the majority of the student body watching the fight.
In later years, Nabiki would be hard-pressed to actually describe what happened in the fight that followed. She was used to the speed Ranma could put out when he was really trying, as was Akane. After all, they'd seen more of his fights than nearly anyone. Perhaps if Cologne had been there with her decades of experience, or Genma with his intimate knowledge of both his son's and master's unique fighting styles... But her limited experience failed her for this, reducing the fight to a series of lulls in an impossibly fast exchange of blows. There were no ki blasts, no subtle, tricky techniques. Merely two far-beyond-experts deciding to see who could beat each other into the ground first. And it all started with Ranma's deliberate, goading response.
"I know. That's why I broke it."
And with that, the fight was on, each pause revealing another glimpse into the depths of a fight that would have sent a normal fighter into traction with the first exchange of blows. Here, Ranma smacking Happosai off his back with a hard elbow to the ribs. There, Happosai introducing Ranma to the old-fashioned art of the headbutt. Nabiki blinked, and Ranma was attempting to dig a trench in the turf with Happosai's face. A blur of movement resulted in Happosai curling himself around the arm that once held him, fist pummeling the ribs it used to be protecting. The sound of ripping silk signalled the loss of Ranma's shirt...and his pants. Distantly, Nabiki prayed that one of her minions had the foresight to get a camera. After that, it all started to blur together for her. Punch after punch, kick after kick, block and counter, grapple and throw, all merged into one seamless display of aggression.
But everything must end. Even a fight between two masters. With an explosion of flailing limbs, two bodies launched out of the blurred assualt, hitting the ground and rolling to their feet in near-simultaneous movements. Both of the two looked much the worse for wear, Happosai with a series of already purpling bruises spreading across his face, Ranma showing a series of scrapes, bruises, and cuts running over his entire form. The crowning piece, though, was the eye that was already swollen shut.
Nabiki was rather disappointed that enough of Ranma's boxers survived to preserve his modesty, though. The rest of him was on full display, showing vividly what a lifetime of intensive martial arts training can do for a body. She had to agree with the conclusion one of her lieutenants had made a while back. Smoking hot beefcake.
...was he taller? Odd.
"Well, maybe you do deserve to be my heir." Happosai's voice was a bit rough as he spoke, one hand massaging his throat. Nabiki seemed to vaguely recall seeing Ranma get out of a choke by sending a palm into his windpipe, which would explain that.
"Maybe you ain't heard me, perv. I ain't your nothing. I sure ain't your student." Ranma's voice, for his part, was more than a little breathless, undoubtedly due to the broken ribs his arm was currently tucked tightly against.
A snort sounded loudly in the air as Happosai straightened out his gi and pulled out a another pipe, this one lacquered in white. "I didn't say 'student', Ranma. I said heir."
"...wha?" Ranma adroitly replied.
The thin length of the pipe arced through the air, ending up in the pig-tailed boy's palm with a soft smack. He stared at it in confusion for a few seconds, then lifted his eyes to Happosai, who was puffing out little clouds of smoke from the black pipe he'd pulled from...somewhere.
"Welcome to being a master of Anything Goes, m'boy. Don't slack off. Next time, I won't go easy on you." And with that, Happosai effortlessly bounded off into the crowd, a distinctly feminine shriek signifiying his liberation of someone's underwear.
"...go easy on me?" Ranma stared after the bouncing, rapidly retreating form of Happosai, face a study in bewilderment. "What the HELL just happened?!"
"I'd say Happosai decided to screw with your head." Nabiki dryly answered, strolling up behind Ranma. She tilted her head to the side as her closer position allowed her to determine that his boxers weren't doing as good a job as she previously thought. Mmmmm, there was no way she was crazy enough to date him, but...nothing stopped her from doing a bit of window shopping. "You'd better have a good explanation for vanishing on me, Ranma."
"On YOU?" Akane's voice could have frozen the sun. "I could have sworn he was my fiance. Is there something you wanted to tell me, sister dear?"
Nabiki rolled her eyes and shot her glaring sister a thoroughly incredulous look. "Give me a break, Sis. I'm not nearly stupid enough to want Ranma. He's got a nice ass and all, but... It comes with homicidal Amazons... and Genma as a father in law."
"Okay, I suppose that is a good point... I'll let you slide, this time." The younger girl grudgingly allowed.
"I'm standing right here, you know. I can hear you." Ranma snorted, arms crossing over his chest.
Nabiki reached up and patted his bare shoulder lightly. "Yes, yes, Ranma. That's nice. The adults are talking now, though." She paused, then laughed. "Ah, I missed that. C'mon, I'll get you some clothing. It'll even be on a discount, this time!"
"Why would I do that?" Ranma asked, glancing down at the scraps of fabric clinging to him. "I'm more or less decent. I've still got my shoes, even." He shrugged and started walking off the field, whistling cheerfully as he tucked his newly-received pipe behind one ear.
"Uh...right." Nabiki hesitantly responded as she followed along behind him. Though, she was willing to bet that if he'd realized just how little fabric was present across this side of him, Ranma wouldn't have been so nonchalant about strolling about. But hey, she wasn't going to complain too much. Beside her, she heard a noise that could only be described as 'lustful' emerge from her sister's throat. Akane had the good graces to blush at the startled look she was given, at least.
"You'd better have a good story for me, Ranma." Nabiki stated, eyes promising her sister all kinds of future grief over that little noise. After all, that's what big sisters were for, right? Never letting an embarassing incident be forgotten... ever.
"Oh, for... Nabiki, in case you forgot, you ain't my fiancee. I don't owe you jack." Ranma looked over his shoulder with a scowl. "I'm only here now because I was ordered to come here and explain some stuff. I got more important things to be doin' than dealing with you and your dumb little money making schemes. I got an explanation for Akane. If she wants ta share it with you, that's her choice."
Nabiki stopped dead in shock, staring incredulously at Ranma's retreating form. He half turned and shot her a wide grin. Well, he showed his teeth, at least. "I'm playin' by a different set of rules now, Nabby-chan. You ain't got nothing that'll scare me, anymore." His finger waggled slowly at her frozen form. "I've seen scary. Scary's five foot nothing, blonde, and makes silly speeches. Scary was the look on her face when she made me promise to tell Akane all about what I'm going. I made her that promise, so here I am."
"Oh, great. You picked up another fiancee..." Nabiki groaned, hand slapping across her forehead as she seized on the only thing out of that statement that made sense to her. "Well, that's just lovely."
"F-fiancee?" Ranma managed to stutter out, face going slightly green. "No. Oh, so very no. Not a chance. That's kinda gross, Nabiki. I mean, just... ew." He shuddered, making a face. "That just turns my stomach a bit. Thanks a lot. I'm gonna have that image in my head forever, now. Sick."
"Uh... you're welcome?" Nabiki hesitantly responded, edging back from the erratically acting boy. "I'm not sure what I did, but apparently I'm good at it."
Ranma rolled his eyes and shivered again, fingers making little warding gestures. "Guh. Anyways!" He gestured over to the caretaker's shed off in the corner of the field. "Mind if I talk to ya, Akane? I'd really like to get back to my task, and I kinda can't do that here, ya know?"
Akane cast a doubting glance at his sparse clothing, clearing her throat a bit nervously. "Look, if it's that important, just tell me, okay?"
"Akane, look. It ain't something I wanna say around certain people." There was no mistaking the way his eyes slid to the masses of intently listening schoolmates around them, lingering for a moment or two on Nabiki. "I just... just... I... I..."
"You what? ...Ranma?" Akane took a worried step forward, hands lifting as her fiancee when chalk white. With a harsh gasp of breath, he staggered backwards, nearly collapsing as one hand lifted, clutching at the left side of his chest.
Ranma took a ragged, staggering step away from the two Tendo daughters, falling to one knee as his eyes opened wide, face somehow paling even more as his face went slack in shock and horror.
"No. Oh, gods no. NononononononoNO!" His voice was an ever-rising litany of denial. He surged to his feet and barreled through the crowd roughly, sending several students flying into their classmates.
Nabiki stared dumbly as the battered martial artist started for the far end of the field at a sprint, voice still chanting his mantra of refusal. The air seemed to grow heavier with every step he took, almost charged. For some reason, she wasn't really surprised when her and the other student's hair started to stand on end.
Electricity crackled over Ranma's form for a moment as he kicked free of the earth, lips curled in a scream of rage. A harsh thunderclap of displaced air slammed into the crowd, sending most of them tumbling to the shredded grass of the field. Akane stood firm, one hand clutching at her blouse as her fiance's form seemed to waver for a single eternal moment... and then he was gone.
Akane's hand stretched out, fingers curling as though attempting to grip the empty space that Ranma used to occupy. Her hand dropped limply to her side as she turned away from the now-vacant field, voice a whisper. "I'm going home, Nabiki."
Nabiki nodded shortly, not trusting herself to speak. As her little sister moved towards the gate, she turned and glared at the spot of sky that had swallowed Ranma. Her eyes narrowed and she growled under her breath. If that boy wasn't dead... he was going to be.
Setsuna watched Ranma's scowling face vanish as the train pulled away from the station, hand lifting to give a cheery wave. Behind her, she heard Haruka's barely muffled snickering, followed by the oof of exhaled breath that signified Michiru's elbow meeting her lover's ribs.
She clapped her hands together and turned away from the empty tracks, striding towards the parking lot and pointedly ignoring the way Haruka had captured Michiru's lips in response to the elbow. Once past the two, she rolled her eyes and muttered. "Like rabbits, I swear."
"No, I keep offering and she always says no." Haruka's amused voice floated from behind her. "But we'll wear her down one of these days."
Setsuna glanced over her shoulder, brow lifting as she repeated. "'We'?"
Michiru colored a bit and introduced her elbow to the taller girl's ribs again. Haruka, for her part, just grinned wider and blew her lover a kiss. Setsuna rolled her eyes and waited for the blonde to unlock the doors of the car.
"You've certainly been in fine form the last few days, haven't you." The eldest Senshi's voice was dry as she settled into a seat and watched Haruka weave through traffic with an ease and speed that betrayed her racing passion.
"Hey, what can I say?" Haruka responded with a cheery laugh. "I've been in a good mood. I think things are looking up, you know?"
That statement, by the laws of cosmic irony, was the last sound before the car in front of them was blown completely off the road, slamming into the concrete wall seperating the lanes with a screech of crumpling metal and breaking glass. Haruka bit off a harsh curse and swerved, hands working the wheel madly as she jerked out of the way. She slammed on the brakes once she was past, flipping around to see what had happened.
"Ah... dammit." Her voice was soft as the twisted remains of the car rose into the air, borne by a fatigue-clad figure underneath it. The green covered man bounced the car on his hands a bit, as though weighing it. A laugh rang out as he flipped the shattered steel into the opposite lane, slamming it into the side of another car. A booted foot shot out, clipping the front bumper of a passing car and sending it careening in a mad spin that ended against the concrete lining the side of the road.
"Oh, Seeeeenshi! Come out and plaaaa-aay!" The man called, turning to walk towards the line of cars screeching to a stop behind the smoking wrecks he created. Over the sound of tortured metal, the sound of his cheerful whistle rose as he punched through the hood of car, ripping the engine free with a jerk. The driver stared in horror as the heavy mass of steel was lifted high, then pitched through the wall of a nearby house with a casual flick of the man's wrist.
His hand was reaching for the driver when a ball of golden light slammed into the small of his back. He staggered a few steps, then slowly turned, a wide grin on his face. His voice was a horrible thing of gravelly joy as he proclaimed, "My. I figured I'd be able to kill at least ten or twelve people before you showed up. Pity. I was looking forward to taking my time, too."
Uranus growled and clenched her fist. Behind her, she could feel Neptune and Pluto flanking her. Neptune's whispered voice meant that the call for backup had been sent. Her lips tightened as the aqua-haired Senshi whispered how long it'd take the rest of them to get here. Well, that just left ten minutes for her to kick his ass, didn't it.
With a cry, she sprinted forward, dismissing her World Shaking both because of all the innocent motorists and the intense need to physically beat the grin off the bastard's face.
"I love my life." The man exulted as he lifted a fist to meet the charging Senshi.
"This guy is REALLY starting to annoy me." Uranus growled, ducking underneath the whirring danger of a flung semi wheel. She heard the mass of rubber and steel slam into a car behind her and was silently thankful that they'd managed to delay this asshole long enough that the road had been evacuated.
The camo-clad man they'd been fighting for the last... please, let it be ten minutes already... was really, really good at dodging. Every time they tried to box him in, he somehow managed to slip out of their grasp. At least they'd kept him contained to the motorway, despite his attempts to move into the city proper.
"Sparkling Wide Pressure!"
Uranus breathed a sigh of relief as the other Senshi finally arrived on the scene in the best way possible: Copious amounts of magical firepower. Admittedly, it wasn't so great for the cars and concrete around them, but... those were just obstacles keeping that asshole in one piece.
"Finally!" The man exulted, hands lifting into the air as he somehow managed to avoid the torrent of energies being poured down upon him. "Now, we can finally have some FUN!"
And that's when Saturn's Glaive slammed into his back like the fist of an avenging god, driving him into the concrete of the roadway with a resounding crash. Effortlessly, she bounded away from him, foot smacking against the back of his head as she went.
"Wha-?" The dark-haired man slurred as he pushed himself up out of the indent in the road, eyes blinking in bleary confusion. His gaze fell on the sailor-suited girls surrounding him and his face went blank in shock as he stared in disbelief as whatever power he'd been using to effortlessly dodge their attacks seemed to fail him all at once.
"Oh." His voice grew harsh. "That's your game, you dirty mother fu-"
"Language." Uranus couldn't help but gleefully chide as Sailor Moon's attack wiped the annoying prick off the face of the Earth.
"Sailor Moon!" The high pitched, panicked voice sounded loud in the suddenly still air. Sailor Moon's eyes shot open wide as she spun in place, blonde hair flying through the air as she turned to face the origin of the voice. The short, pink haired, pink-fuku'd origin of the voice.
"Chibi-Usa?" She whispered, eyes taking in the obviously terrified girl running at her, outfit in tatters and stained by what was undeniably blood. In a flash, she was sprinting towards the pale-faced girl, arms outstretched. Behind her, she heard a dull, thrumming boom... and ignored it. It wasn't important, not when her daughter was screaming for her!
"No! God dammit, no!" She knew that voice, but Nemesis had arrived after the fighting was over so he could deal with that himself. There was a ruckus behind her, the sound of panic, the grunt as flesh met flesh. She saw a form flying through the air, and wondered what had inspired Nemesis to fling the tall girl like that.
After an eternity of running, she finally sank down in front of her child, arms outstretched as her scared little girl smiled at her with a mouth full of needle-sharp teeth and oh. Oh, no.
The Senshi stared in horror as Chibi-Usa's arms stretched, far too long, splitting into endless streamers of a flesh and shadow, wrapping around their leader in a wave, dragging her close as that shark's smile grew wider.
"Thank you, Sailor Moon. I knew I could trust you to care too much." The voice was cold and dark and as empty as the endless expanse of space. As Chibi-Usa's warm pink eyes drained away into black pits, the creature wearing her face peeked over Sailor Moon's shoulder and smiled wide, mouth stretching all the way to her ears, exposing rows upon rows of needled teeth as they both started fading, becoming more and more see-through with every second. "Ta-Ta!"
"NO." The black and silver clad arm clasped the front of Sailor Moon's fuku, Nemesis' face a study in barely controlled rage as his fingers dug into the magically reinforced fabric. "You're not going anywhere with her."
"Tsk. What a pain." There was a sound like glass shattering, a roar of some infernal flame, and a dark torrent of energy emerged from the being's mouth, slamming into Nemesis and throwing him across the cratered surface of the road in a rough tumble, literally setting the concrete ablaze in semi-circle in front of the captured Senshi. "Better."
The mocking laughter that sounded through the air as the pair slowly vanished seemed to linger long after they were gone.
It's been a while, right? How've you been? You look good. Have you lost weight? You smell nice.
Me? Oh, you know. Same ol', same ol'. You remember how I kept insisting that I would finish this story? Yeah? And then I vanished and didn't touch it for over a decade?
Yeah, funny thing about that... this story only has about two chapters and an epilogue left in my head. And this is one of them.
We're in the home stretch, folks. I can't promise the last pieces will be worth the extreme build up they've had, but... at least they'll be done.
And that's a reward all of its own, right?
So, here's the deal: I'm trying to write every day, because that's the only way to actually write. By WRITING. Not always on AtST. Not always on fanfic at all. But something.
Fingers crossed, we'll have an ending to this by the New Year. To be honest, I've had the end game written in my head for a long time. I just couldn't get it out on the page, because I always got distracted by the feeling that I had to revise the old chapters to deal with the Old Shame therein. (So MUCH Old Shame.)
Let's see if I can't learn to ignore that. Wish me luck, folks.