Insertion

Part 93

Stress relief.

+++++++++++++++++++

"Captains log, Stardate, twenty-nine thirty-seven. Captain Trunks, of the, starship, Mikon Taka reporting. We have, encountered, a new threat to our, mission. This, infectious condition, seems to have affected all, onboard. This, boredom, threatens to take us all."

"We need something to do. I wish we'd thought to bring a Gameboy or something," grumbled Dan.

Trunks was leaning over the console of the Mikon Taka watching the stars pass by lazily. He wouldn't have to do more than flip a switch for about two days. They had been underway for about a week and it was a pretty boring trip. Yosho now commanded his own ship. Tenchi also had a vessel under his command. The third ship was commanded by a large gruff looking Juraian man with a beard almost like the Emperor's. He always looked at everyone very firmly. Carrot and Ranma both liked him, even if he didn't have a sense of humor.

Still, that left him with nothing to do but watch the stars streak by. The next time he had to touch anything was still two hours away, and everyone else was sleeping. Cerio would have to be pretty fast to catch them now, and he was losing hope of every being released from his boredom.

"Maybe we should stop at the next asteroid belt and let off a few rounds?" said Dan.

"Hotaru will be pissed if we screw up her calculations," pointed out Ranma.

"Since when has that ever stopped us?" replied Carrot cheerfully.

"Maybe it should! Hotaru worked hard on those calculations," commented their collective conscience.

It was of course dealt with in the usual manner.

"How many light years before the next one? Maybe we can do it before anyone wakes up?" said Carrot as he turned their head towards the controls.

"What about the Senshi?" grumbled Pissant.

"I'm sure they won't mind a little training exercise to loosen them up a bit," replied Carrot.

"Yeah. Sometimes a soldier has to blow something up, or they'll go nuts," agreed Dan. "I bet you all of them have been staring at those weapons for a while now."

"They aren't obsessed with blowing things up like you two!" replied the annoying voice.

"What do you mean? Ranma is obsessed with explosions now too," said Carrot irritably.

"Yeah," replied the original occupant.

"Still! They aren't thinking about those stupid guns all the time!"

"Nah. Just a couple of hours or so, not much to do in those ships, just like this one," replied Dan. "Probably not all at the same time either."

"Well, maybe they are. They'll get plenty of chances to use them."

"I want to make sure those weapons work the way they're supposed too. I haven't seen anything in the way of tests. I don't trust Washuu to properly test what she builds," replied Carrot calmly. "She's smart, but also very arrogant. She may not have tested it at all."

"What about Yosho and the others? They'll get ahead of us," muttered Pissant hopefully.

"We can catch up to them easy. We've got a couple of months to do it remember? This thing is faster than those cruisers," said Carrot as he waved the comment off. "Shouldn't be a problem at all. We're keeping our speed down so we don't shoot ahead of them."

"Hey. Cool! There's asteroids coming up ahead! A nice size belt too," Dan pointed at the screen with a wide grin on his face.

"Finally," muttered Ranma.

The diminutive boy wheeled around towards the communications console and started flipping switches. "GOOD MORNING VEITNAM!" cried Trunks over the intercom as his image appeared on the senshi's screens.

Rei and Makoto both screamed. Minako simply jumped, and Rei managed a quiet gasp. Usagi was hysterical with terror. All of them calmed quickly as they realized who they were looking at. Nabiki appeared to be sleeping still.

"Um? Hello Nabiki, are you up?"

"What?" she replied sharply without opening her eyes.

"She's been quiet for hours," said Minako. "She put us under radio silence about four hours ago."

"Heh," said Trunks cheerfully as he grinned widely. "Hey Nabiki. Wanna blow some stuff up?"

The girl's eyes snapped open.

"There's an asteroid field just ahead. We're gonna stop for about an hour and do some maneuvers. Squeeze off a few rounds. Recess basically."

All of the girls leaned forward and gripped their flight sticks.

"Yeah. That's what I'm talking about," said Trunks as he started flipping switches on his console. He paused for a moment as the cabin began to flash with a yellow light. "Huh?" He shrugged it off and continued working.

The ship began to slow down and the stars slowly shrank down to slow moving pinpoints of light in the distance. A sun burned in the distance with several planets circling around it slowly.

In the near distance the floating ore hung in open space, twisting and turning slowly within itself under the pull of gravity.

"My god. It's beautiful," whispered Usagi.

"Yeah. Let's break it," said Trunks cheerfully.

An annoying alarm sounded inside Carrot's cabin. He slowly turned his head towards the now red flashing light. "Huh?"

"Um, I get the feeling we've been caught," muttered Carrot.

"No shit," replied Dan.

"I hope you're proud of yourselves!" beamed Pissant.

Ranma didn't particularly care if the senshi noticed him punching the rest if himself in the face.

"Holy shit!" cried one of the Senshi. Makoto's cockpit was flashing with warnings as well. The others followed almost immediately afterward.

"What's going on?" growled Nabiki.

There was a commotion from the back and what sounded like pounding feet. To his surprise it was Washuu, and not Hotaru, who burst into the cabin gasping for breath. "What are you doing?"

"Stopping for target practice. Field test for the weapons," replied the boy dumbly.

"You have no idea how right you are," snapped Washuu as she pushed him aside. "We need to start calculating our jump and get out of here! I've got to get to my station!" She whirled around but found herself unable to walk due to the boy grabbing her collar. He tossed her into the seat next to him.

"Sit down and start talking," he said calmly as he finally found the switch to turn off the alarms.

"You idiot! There are ten Juraian cruisers right behind us!" snapped the woman as she tried to jump up out of her seat.

"Cool!" said the boy cheerfully.

"Don't you get it? They aren't trying to disable us! They belong to those men Nabiki and Hotaru betrayed on Jurai! They got wind of their cover being blown and found out who it was. All of them got into their personal ships the minute you left the planet and escaped Jurai in the confusion! They had to avoid the trap that was set for us, but thanks to Cerio..."

"Is he with them?" asked the boy calmly.

"Just behind them. If they catch us, so will he."

"Gets to keep Ayeka as payment for his info I guess?" replied Trunks with a small nod.

"Yes. I was hoping we'd lose them."

"They know where we're going," replied Trunks calmly. "We'll have to deal with them sooner or later."

"Without those cruisers..." growled Washuu angrily.

"Don't think we can handle it?" muttered the boy calmly.

"That's not the point," she muttered half-heartedly.

"I really wish you'd told me about this sooner. I'd have stopped hours ago," said Trunks as he sped up the ship a little and blasted towards the Asteroid field. "Follow me girls. I think you get the point of this now correct?"

"I could have lost them by altering our course without slowing us down," grumbled Washuu as she looked out the cockpit window at the asteroid field. "At least we've got cover."

"Isn't that dangerous?" asked Carrot.

"What? The asteroids?" said the woman in confusion.

"No. Don't be silly, that altering our course thing."

"Well, if I didn't install that super computer in the back, yes. I can do it no problem though."

"Glad I stopped."

Washuu frowned at this, but didn't say anything. It didn't really sound like he was talking about the dangers of the alterations.

"We need to keep them from following us?" replied Nabiki after the pair had finished talking as she led the girls into the floating mountain range just behind his ship. A stone the size of a car forced her to shift slightly, but she still had quite a bit of room to maneuver between stones otherwise. That would probably quickly change. Ten Juraian cruisers appeared a short distance behind them suddenly. Each one launching dozens of fighters out of it's belly as soon as it had slowed enough.

"Seems our friends had quite a following," grumbled Trunks. "Ungrateful jerks."

"In case you people haven't noticed. We have a battle stations situation here. Please feel free to man the guns, or run our advanced diagnostics and communications system at any time now."

"I'm sending word to Tenchi and the others," grumbled Washuu.

"Don't bother. Our mission is to cripple them, lose them, and make sure they can't follow. You're going to plot a new jump for us when we reach the other side of the field. For now, we're going to get our speed down and eat away their fighters before we make an attack run on those cruisers. The fleet we'll be facing on Earth will probably be bigger than this. He'll find a way to man the fighters on those moon kingdom ships, even if he has to grow them himself, or however the hell they make Youma. He knows who's coming for him."

"I could look into how that's done," said Washuu casually as she strolled back towards her station. It was really a pretty good plan all things considering. The boy had been itching for a fight anyway. "You know if it was anyone else besides you guys, I'd be a lot more worried."

Trunks simply smiled as he twisted through two large and spinning Asteroids that passed dangerously close together just after he went through them. "I guess this is a better batch of Juraians to fight against. Don't have to feel that bad about killing em afterwards."

"Like any of you would have!" snapped his conscience.

He paused and thought about it for a moment as he buzzed the surface of a particularly large asteroid and turned back towards the oncoming ships as he suddenly stopped the forward momentum. "I guess you've got a point there."

+++++++++++++++++

It had been a while since she'd seen them, and it was both comforting and nerve-wracking. Other people didn't really go into the jungle as deep as they had gone. They surrounded her on all sides, passing with their lives as always. They were getting a few odd looks as they strolled through the middle of the street in the open market. There were around a thousand people in the village, apparently it had grown quite prosperous once it moved. Still, it was a hole in the ground Chinese village as far as Akane Tendo was concerned. She didn't like to rough it. Camping with her family was fine, but what she was doing now was a little more than a weekend with her father and sisters.

She frowned as she glanced around the area surrounding the village. Her eyes were well hidden behind her shades as she watched the crowd carefully. Gohan and Trunks told them they had to be very careful outside the field. Ranma basically controlled China at this point. "I'm getting a bad feeling." She was wearing a full pack on her shoulders and was dressed in her uniform. They had extra clothes with them of course, but the wardrobe choices were minimal. She was thinking about buying something else to wear a little earlier, but the feelings she was getting made her a little anxious to leave.

Jadeite was standing next to her with a backpack full of supplies. The two of them had been assigned to restock some of the things they were getting low on in their hideout. "What do you mean?"

"I feel like we're being watched," she replied honestly.



"The whole village stares at us every time we come here. I imagine they'd like to know what we're doing down in that place. They think it's cursed."

"I bet they don't like us much."

"Be glad they'll take our money at all."

The girl frowned at him and hefted her pack a little higher onto her shoulders. "We should go. We don't want to wear out our welcome any sooner than we have too. I don't think we're staying where we are long."

"I agree," replied the man with a small shrug.

Akane froze and gasped as her eye caught something for a split second through a hole in the crowd that quickly closed. When the view cleared again she frowned. "Jadeite."

The man had already started walking and turned towards her again. "What's up."

"I saw something," she replied calmly as she pulled her pistol out calmly.

The villagers quickly dispersed from around her and she didn't seem to care or notice. One of them made a lunge for her and she blasted him in the chest. It was a young Chinese man in ragged looking clothes. He was sent sprawling across the ground writhing in pain. He stopped suddenly, but his chest continued to rise and fall. People were scrambling to get away by this point.

"You'd better have a good excuse for this one," said Jadeite calmly as two frightened looking men crawled towards the fallen man. He waved them over and pointed at the man. They seemed to catch the hint and rushed up to carry him away.

"There's something here. I saw it, but it vanished into that crowd."

"What did it look like?" asked the man as he drew his own weapon and flipped the safety off.

Akane had already replaced her sidearm with the long silver rifle that was strapped onto the side of her pack. "One of us. It wasn't anyone I know though. I think he's using the company against us."

"What? That's insane, he knows we'd..." His eyebrow cocked slightly as he saw the man step out into the open. His face was a stern frown as he looked at them both from behind a pair of black shades. "Great. Try not to hurt him too badly alright?"

This earned them both what appeared to be the very faintest of grins from the man. It was gone as quickly as it had appeared. "I must inform you, that you are quite mistaken."

"Who are you? What do you want?" growled Akane.

"Miss Tendo, you may call me Agent Smith," he replied calmly.

"Well Smith, care to tell us why you're here, and who sent you? I've got a pretty good idea."

"I'm here to kill you," he replied calmly. He had yet to move and simply stood in the street opposite them both.

Akane fired at him with an irritated looking frown on her face. She kept pulling the trigger and sent a volley of blue energy balls at the man. Her irritation soon gave way to disbelief. "What the?"

He moved with impossible speed as he simply shifted out of the way of her shots without moving his feet. He dusted off his lapel as he stood up straight again.

"Shit. I don't think he's human," growled Jadeite.

"Those two were right about Ranma then," said Akane as she glared at the thing and tensed her body.

++++++++++++++++++++++

"Hello, Mister Saffron. My employer thought you and I should have a little talk." Smith was standing in front of a golden cage. Inside the former ruler of the phoenix people was locked away. He could escape, but knew the penalty for attempting to do so quite well.

"What do you want?" he growled angrily.

"I've been sent to discuss the future of your people, and how you relate to that."

"I'll order them to destroy themselves."

"We would appreciate such an order. It will make leading them much easier, and remove any potential further use we might obtain from you. Please feel free. I'll have a podium set up so that you may issue the order immediately."

Saffron hissed through his teeth as he shook his head and slumped down against the back of the cage in defeat. "Is he too busy to see me himself?"

"He thought you might enjoy talking to someone else a bit more," replied Smith diplomatically. "Now. To business."

The birdman raised his eyes and leveled a glare at that thing.

"I am hoping you might look upon this as a blessing. We are being quite kind to you in the future."

"What are you talking about? You call this kindness?" spat the broken creature angrily.

"You will be allowed much more freedom. How does ruling every human on this planet sound to you?" The look on Smith's face told him that it wasn't a very appealing idea to him.

Saffron gasped as he stared at the thing.

"My employer has already proven that he is your superior in power. We are prepared to grant you even more than you've dreamed of, if you follow us."

"Details," growled Saffron quietly from the shadows.

Smith offered a fake looking grin. "We'll rule the planet through you. As long as you keep them under control and follow our commands, we'll let you do as you wish with the humans when this is over. Whatever you wish. If you ever need support to keep them from becoming rebellious, we'll handle that as well."

Saffron sat silently behind the bars of his cage and said nothing for a very long time. "What's in this for you?"

"My employer doesn't wish to be bothered with trivialities like ruling such a worthless herd of creatures. He will one day rule the Universe, and is kind enough to offer you what will be left of the planet once he's through with it."

"Big plans," growled the birdman.

"I wouldn't know," replied Smith stonily. "Our offer?"

"I'll think about it."

"We are on a timetable. You have twenty four hours to think it over."

Saffron didn't even turn his head, but followed with his eyes as the man walked away and left him. The door closed, and he imagined he had twenty-four hours of solitude to think things through.

Unfortunately, it was more time than he needed. The man had made him an offer he couldn't refuse and he knew it.

+++++++++++++++++++++

The afterburners of all seven ships roared to life as one. Asteroids began to explode ahead of them as the first wave of fighters to reach them blasted their way into the field.

Trunks chuckled as he opened a CD player that was installed on just under the console. He flipped several switches and shifted in his seat as he cranked the volume to the maximum.

"What are you doing?" asked Washuu angrily. "We're putting out on every frequency!"

"This is that CD I had you burn for me. One should always have a good soundtrack for any space battle." 'Going too fast' from the movie 'Driven' started blasting through the ship at maximum volume. He put on a headset with a microphone on it and everyone else onboard was forced to do the same. "With these we can talk normally despite the volume. Cool huh?"

"Oh," replied the woman as she adjusted her headset and plopped herself down at her workstation. "You're making us a target."

Trunks grunted and swerved around a massive protrusion from one of the asteroids.

Nabiki spared him an irritated glance, but really didn't have time to argue with him. For the first time ever, she locked onto a real live target as one of the Juraian fighters curved through the air in front of her. The ships were about ten meters long with fin like protrusions jutting out of a sort of bubble that held the cockpit. They looked a lot like a scaled down version of the larger ships. He was weaving back and fourth through the debris of various asteroids, blasting away at anything in front of it as it tried to keep her off its tail. Blasted pieces of stone and metal flew in every direction in its wake, making tailing it a bit complicated. She spun around a particularly large chunk of metal and fired off two small missiles.

"Damn it," she growled angrily as they both impacted on shattered asteroids. The explosion left a large bubble of flame in the void for an instant and her view went bright orange for the briefest of moments as she passed through it. The Juraian ship was turning right sharply and she kicked in her side thrusters and twisted to run along side it.

Her head whipped back and fourth between her target and the oncoming rocks. She could see the man inside well enough to realize he was doing the same. A small smirk formed on her face as she saw his eyes grow wide as her main turrets swiveled to face him.

He exploded in a ball of flame as he impacted with one of the larger asteroids. Nabiki didn't even bother to watch as she turned her turrets forward again. Rei's ship roared by overhead and she turned about to follow the two ships hot on her tail. "Hino! Call for help if you need it."

She appeared on Rei's screen and the girl breathed a sigh of relief. "I can handle it, there's only two of them." Two more exploded in front of the red ship despite her situation. She hadn't taken any damage yet, but things were getting a little frantic.

Nabiki moved a little higher up and her ship jolted forward suddenly as she picked up her speed. She could see the two ships below her in a small screen on her right instrument panel. The black ship took a nosedive and fired off two missiles just before it passed between the two ships. Both of them exploded just after she passed and both girls streaked off together towards the nearest group of fighters.

"These things aren't very maneuverable. The ties were faster and had a better turning radius. This is almost beneath us." She glanced at her rear view monitor and noticed three ships grouped in formation tailing after her. She snorted and flipped a switch on her console. A barrel like canister floated out from her rear towards the ships. They all turned to avoid it, but the blast radius was large enough that they were all sent flying and burning into different asteroids. "I'll have to have a talk with Hino later about using her rear defenses."

She veered towards the right as a moon-sized chuck of rock forced her to alter her course away from Rei. A good-sized group of fighters ahead of her among some of the smaller debris caused a small grin to form on her face. She hated to admit it, but the soundtrack was appropriate. She opened her engines to full throttle and shot forward towards them.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

"There are hundreds of them," growled Makoto as she jammed her stick to the right and spun into a barrel roll as she avoided the lasers of the ship behind her as well as the debris of the exploding asteroid. Large pieces of it passed above and below her ship. Without missing a beat she flipped the ship over and opened up both cannons on the oncoming ship. It faltered in space as the electric charge of her cannons forced his systems into failure. She fired off two more missiles and ignored him as he slammed into an asteroid and expired. "What's our count?"

"There are three hundred ships, around thirty from each cruiser," replied Ami over the link. "There are two hundred and fifty remaining."

"Two hundred and forty eight," corrected Usagi as she streaked by directly in front of Makoto with both of her main cannons blazing. She spun up and took a position on the girl's right wing. Both of them turned as four ships appeared in front of them.

"I've got this," said Ami calmly. She pulled up behind them and shot forward between them. The main gun on her ship appeared to be a large chain-gun. Thousands of tiny ice shards streaked across space at impossible speeds and impacted on one of the ships in front of them. "There are five more setting up a trap just ahead in that big asteroid."

"Where the hell is Minako?" asked Makoto irritably as she led Usagi towards it.

"I see her!" said Usagi cheerfully as a large followed by what appeared to be a golden beam of light erupted on the surface of the asteroid.

"The cruisers are just sitting there," said Makoto as she and her wingman moved towards Minako's pyrotechnics. "Will you look at her! There won't be anything left by the time we get there!"

"Maybe they're afraid of the asteroids? They are pretty big ships."

"Those are Juraian ships. The shields on those things could handle asteroids no problem. Something is up," said Nabiki as she appeared on screen. "Where is the Mikon Taka?"

"We thought it was with you," said Usagi as she blinked for a moment. Another fighter tried to ambush the two girls and ended up in a spectacular ball of flames.

Makoto shifted back into formation. "Worry about that later, we're coming up on that asteroid."

++++++++++++++++++++++++

"I am not having fun." She kept repeating the mantra over and over again inside her head. It wasn't right for her to be enjoying what she was doing. Six fighters had appeared from behind one of the larger asteroids and she was on the defensive. Rather than take the fight out into space, she was running along the surface of the giant stone. Inside one of the canyons as the occasional laser blast shattered one of the walls of rock beside or in front of her. She wasn't particularly concerned with the shots impacting behind her.

Her path was narrow, and she knew it could end at any moment abruptly. Still, she twisted through the crack at high speed, just ahead of her pursuers. With an almost casual flip of her wrist she fiddled with her weapons console and adjusted a small analog stick. Targeting systems appeared on her rear view console as her main turret twisted all the way to the rear. A sharp angle forced her to turn the ship on its side as she tore around it. She passed within inches of the wall and fired off her lasers. A huge cloud of dust and debris erupted from the wall. She pulled up sharply and out of the canyon as all of the ships behind her slammed into the wall. "That was almost too easy," she said cheerfully.

"Watch your back! There are more of them!" snapped Makoto as she appeared on her screen.

"Huh?" said the girl as she glanced down at her radar screen. Sure enough, around eight more targets appeared to be moving towards her fast from the edge of the screen. "Come on. They aren't even in rage yet," she muttered irritably as she spun around to face them. "I'm going back towards the surface of the big one."

Two of them appeared behind the girls as they emerged from their hiding places behind two nearby asteroids.

"Shit!" snapped Makoto angrily.

Minako jammed her stick forward and fired her rear launching thrusters. Her tail end flipped over the cockpit and she fired two missiles and a hail of golden laser fire on them both. Both missiles struck targets and the lasers ate through the remains of the hull just before the concussion weapons exploded. "Ha! I'm gonna eat laser death!"

"What?" snapped Makoto angrily. "You idiot!"

"What?" said Minako. "Should I add whipped cream and a cherry or something?"

"Fly, just fly damn it," muttered her friend as she ended the transmission.

+++++++++++++++++++++++

Trunks had his headset on and grinned at the image before him. A large Juraian man in dark clothes appeared on the communications screen and looked quite proud of himself.

"Fools. We have you now. You will suffer for crossing the house of..."

"I hope your insurance is paid up," interrupted the boy as he flipped on a pair of shades. He was cheerfully piloting through a tight mass of asteroids with fighters exploding all around him. Some of them were from George and Hotaru's fire. Others were from the sheer number of obstacles floating around.

"Turn off that infernal racket and surrender at once. I may choose to spare the rest of..." started the man as his temper rose.

"Blow it out your ass. In case you hadn't noticed, you've only got about a hundred fighters left. Where you planning on using those big guns of yours any time soon?" He pulled down his shades as a pause between tracks on the CD gave everyone a moment of silence. Rammstein's 'Feuer Frie' began playing and he twisted into a downward spiral causing the death of no less than four fighter pilots in the process.

The man merely frowned. "I see."

"Nah. You're blind and stupid, and really think you're going to win because I'm too stupid to know what I'm facing. I hate to tell you, but I'm not planning on losing."

"You are a fool then."



"Hey. Has Cerio shown up yet?" asked Trunks he was having no trouble annoying the man as he blasted his forces into oblivion.

"Desist at once! Do you have any idea how many galactic laws you are breaking?"

"At my count? None, Especially since you've all been ousted from Jurai and are seeking revenge by killing me. Once I've destroyed or disabled your starships I'll send word to Azusa to come clean up the rest of you. Can't have you roaming about the universe stirring up trouble."

"I will make you suffer for this. Target him and open fire! All guns!"

"Hey Washuu. What do we have that'll get through those ships shields."

"Those Anti-Matter missiles should do. I fitted a few on all of the ships."

The man on screen's face went white quite suddenly. "Open fire! Destroy them. All ships ahead full! Go into that field and get them! Shut that damn screen down!" The transmission ended as he started giving orders to his crew in a panic.

"We're coming a little close to the edge of the field," commented Hotaru.

"I'd noticed that as well," agreed George.

"I know this is your fault. I'm gonna beat your ass for this later," grumbled Hotaru.

"Aw, you know you're having fun," said the boy as he waved her comment off.

"I was having a good dream damn it!" she snapped angrily.

"Why are we leaving our cover?" asked Washuu.

"Don't want one of these missiles to hit something too close to us," replied the boy as he fired off two of them. After they got about three feet in front of the ship, they blasted forward heading for the ship in the middle of the group of cruisers. Large beams of light shot out from the ships and Trunks actually twisted around the outside of one of the beams as it passed by into the asteroids.

"Whoa," said Trunks as both missiles impacted on their targets finally. A massive shock wave of blue gold and white power ripped through space as the starship expired in flames. It formed a sphere of power with a ring of energy that tore through the asteroid field. There was actually a gap in the field for a few seconds before natural movement filled it in. The Juraian ship that took the most direct hit slowly listed in space and the hull was visibly being eaten away by the energy. "That was cool! I'm gonna do another one!"

The fleet of cruisers was in disarray as they tried to get their bearings back after the initial blast. Their shields had left them mostly intact, but they couldn't take another blast at close range. At least two more were heavily damaged by the blast and a third wouldn't be moving under it's own power any longer.

"I think we made them nervous, every ship in that group is targeting us directly," commented Washuu.

Trunks realized that he was flying straight for them. "Hmmm. Maybe we should..." He fired off two more missiles and veered to the right after they were away. A hail of laser fire formed a complicated web of death around the ship and he spun and twisted through the void to dodge. "Now this is what I'm talkin about!"

George was leaning over his turret with a slightly sick look about him. "I don't want to die..." he muttered irritably as he watched what was going on outside.

The fire stopped abruptly as the missiles hit their mark once again. The cruisers had spread out quite a bit by this point. Only two of them were damaged by the blast, one of them was because the energy ring ripped it neatly in half. The boy grinned as three of the others began to list in space as some of their systems failed, and one appeared to lose power completely.

"Holy shit!" Trunks pulled up into a barrel roll as another large cruiser appeared out of light speed just in front of him. "Hey! It's the gay wonder! I was wondering when you'd show up!"

Cerio's face appeared on the screen. "You'll soon regret ever meeting me boy."

"You're late to the party! Here, have a missile!" said Trunks as he twisted the ship around on its axis and fired away another anti matter missile directly into the boy's hull.

"What?" cried Cerio as he staggered under the force of the impact.

"Yeeeehaaaaaawwwwwww!" cried Trunks as he blasted away at full throttle towards the field. The pink haired boy had a panicked look in his eyes as the transmission ended quite suddenly.

Metallica's 'Fuel' was blaring at high speed as he dodged and twisted through the field around asteroids. The energy shockwave was tearing through it behind him, eating a huge chuck of asteroid field away as it rushed towards them.

Slowly it dissipated and he gasped a sigh of relief as he slowly pulled the throttle back down. His eyes were wide and his palms were sweaty. He was actually shaking and looked like he couldn't really believe he was still alive.

His face cracked into a grin. "That was so...awesome."

"I'm gonna kill him!" screamed Hotaru over the intercom.

"George! He's gotten sick on his weapons systems! You're cleaning that up yourself you know! Get it all off and I'll repair it for you. That means you have to take it apart yourself!" said Washuu.

The boy simply put his face into his palm as he calmly piloted towards the other side of the field. The senshi were still ahead of him in the belt, doing sweeps to make sure they had a clear path through the field. He could see the occasional small explosion in the distance as the girls continued to squeeze off rounds into the smaller debris.

"Should we sneak up and surprise them?" asked Carrot.

"Are you insane?!" cried Pissant.

"Let's not push our luck," agreed Dan.

"What about you, Ranma?"

"I'm with them," he said instantly.

"Wuss."

"Wait a minute! You killed Cerio you asshole!" snapped Dan angrily.

"So?" grumbled Carrot irritably. "It was cool wasn't it?"

"We wanted to watch him make Tenchi suffer!" snapped Ranma. He refrained from any physical punishment though. "You ruined it!"

"Don't worry, Jurai has lots of guys who'll try to kill him. We'll have plenty to keep us occupied," replied Carrot as he waved it off.

"He didn't deserve to die!" cried Pissant.

There was a moment of silence inside the boy's head as everyone took in what was said.

"We should have been more dramatic about it at least. That was too anti climactic," said Dan as he calmed down a bit.

"You have to admit, it was a good explosion," muttered Ranma reluctantly.

"He's lucky it was, we'll forgive him this time," agreed Dan.

"I'm not forgiving any of you kill happy jerks!" snapped Pissant.

"Does he have an off switch or something? He's ruining the song for me," said Carrot as they furrowed their collective brow.

"Yeah. Pipe down. We're having fun right now. You can whine about it later," agreed Dan.

There was a slight whimpering as the voice finally complied.

"Hey. Cut it out you big baby. We gave you the chance to stay out of this when we came back," snorted Ranma as his eyes became slightly misty.

"Yeah," agreed Carrot.

+++++++++++++++++++

"Some kind of new Youma?" growled Akane as she rolled across the dusty street with her weapon gripped firmly in her hands. A dust cloud was rising into the air from where the thing's fist had impacted the ground.

"We have to get out of here," growled Jadeite as he attempted to take a few shots at the creature. "We're going to need help with this thing."

"There is no escape," said Smith as he rushed up to the man and planted his fist across his jaw. Jadeite was sent sprawling, but managed to keep a firm grip on his rifle. He spun it around and appeared to fire it just over his shoulders. The pack straps were burned away and he jumped to his feet and moved aside as the man kicked his pack about a mile outside of the village. He pointed the barrel at the thing's head.

"You missed."

The barrel was in Smith's hand before Jadeite could react. It was stripped from his grasp and used to belt him across his face. The man dropped the weapon to the ground and calmly walked towards where Jadeite was slowly pushing himself to his feet. The man's jaw was bloodied and he spat out one of his back teeth onto the ground.

"Get away from him!" screamed Akane as she rushed towards them both and fired repeatedly.

The agent shifted around her shots as before but remained in place. Jadeite rushed away with his head held low as the girl's blasts tore the wall beside him to shreds. The people inside the place were rushing away from the scene as fast as they could.

Akane cursed as she realized there were two bodies on the floor on the other side of the remains of the wall. "Shit."

Smith simply calmly turned towards her and started walking.

"We've got to go!" cried Jadeite as he rushed up beside her and pulled on her arm.

The agent started walking after them at a quick pace as they started running down the street in front of him. He frowned as they started to pull ahead and started to run, swinging his arms as he shot towards them.

"He's gaining!" snapped Akane angrily as she fired a few shots with her pistol back at him. They were all easily dodged, but kept the agent back behind them.

Jadeite got the same idea as they neared the edge of town. "If we can get to those woods and find some cover we might be able to lose him. He's too fast."

The girl nodded and they dashed off the road towards the woods. "He's gaining!" She fired off a few more rounds and pushed the thing back a bit further. "What should we do?"

"Split up. He can't chase both of us. One of us has to make it back to report this."

"What?" she gasped as they dove into the tree line together. Both of them fired behind them repeatedly as they twisted and turned through the trees.

"Whichever one of us he follows stays behind and stalls him." The man had a smirk on his face that told her he had every intention of that being him.

The tree bark between them splintered suddenly and both of their heads whipped down the line of fire in unison. Smith was standing with a pistol in his grip watching them calmly.

"He's armed," muttered Jadeite irritably.

"Shit," growled Akane as she dove to the side and fired off a few rounds towards the thing.

Smith simply sidestepped the fire and continued to shoot at her. He unloaded a full clip and quickly slipped in another one. He tilted back slightly as another blast of energy bolted by just in front of his nose. He fired two shots towards Jadeite without looking and whipped around his head. The forest was silent and he could see nothing but trees. He started walking as if there was no danger and replaced his weapon inside his coat. He glanced around calmly and swiftly as he strolled through the forest. "I know you're still here somewhere. You haven't had time to run away yet. I'm going to find you, and when I do..." Without warning his hand snapped out and pulled Jadeite out of a large patch of shrubs by his throat.

The man gasped as he gripped the arm and simply choked under the grip. He was lifted off his feet and found the back of his head was being pressed into the bark of the tree behind him.

"Ah. There you are." The agent gave a sort of pleasant looking smile as he talked to his prisoner. "I suppose I should keep you alive so your friends come after you. However, I feel that they probably will anyway if I kill you. Human emotion has a way of doing that to people."

There was a loud blast from behind him and he turned his head to locate the other target. However, all he saw was an increasingly large shadow. His eyes turned up and he dropped his prisoner on the ground as a massive four-foot tree trunk slammed into him from above. It hit the ground with a resounding boom as it'' branches tore through the forest in its wake. Splinters of wood and broken branches went flying around.

Jadeite found himself covered in small twigs and fresh leaves. "I told you to keep going back to camp."

Akane frowned at his tone as she inspected the burned out remains of the bottom of the tree. "You're glad I stayed behind though."

"You could have killed me," he growled as he looked up and down the length of the trunk. "Look at the size of this thing."

"You were dead anyway. Besides, I didn't miss did I?"

"Akane. Take a look at this," muttered Jadeite as he stared down at the tree trunk. A black suit clad arm was poking out from under the tree.

"Yeah. It's dead," she said in confusion. "So?"

"It's still there. This isn't a Youma, it's something else."

"Still nasty whatever it is," she replied sourly. "I hope Ranma doesn't like losing it."

"I'm not so sure he'll care. We need to tell the others. This thing was designed to blend in with humans I think. It never transformed into anything else."

"What's so strange about that?"

"When I made Youma I could disguise them as people if I wanted. Once they changed, they couldn't revert back. Their power was limited when they were in disguise, they had to remove it to fight at full strength."

"That wasn't this thing's full strength?" muttered the girl as she stared at it in horror.

"No. That's just it," he replied. "I think this thing can fight at full strength without shedding its disguise. Either that, or it looks like this normally."

"What should we do? We still need supplies," said the girl as she glanced back.

"Supplies can wait. We need to tell the others about this," said the man firmly. "We also need to find out if our two guides know anything about it."

"That's a good idea," said Akane as she kicked the hand.

Jadeite pulled out his blaster and shot the appendage off at the shoulder. "I'm bringing this along. Maybe we can learn something about it?"

"How? We don't have any of our analyzing equipment."

"I think our problem may be bigger than you think Akane. I don't think this thing is a Youma. I think its some sort of human clone. It was way too smart to be a monster of some kind."

"What? That thing is human?" muttered the girl in horror.

"Yes. Genaku loved the idea of growing an army. Serenity never let him go through with it though. Without her around to stop him, there's no reason he can't do just that."

The girl nodded seriously and picked up the severed arm. "I don't see why it matters. They can die after all. Sure didn't act human."

"I suppose you're right. Still, we should find out as much as we can. When I said 'human' I only meant that part of it is probably human. It's nearly impossible to make a Youma look this human without some sort of disguise."

The girl shrugged and started walking. "I guess we should go then."

"Yeah," agreed the man absently as he looked back at the fallen tree. "I guess I am glad you stuck around after all," he said quietly as he slung the arm over his shoulder and followed after her.

+++++++++++++++++++++++

"We have lost one," said Chibi Usa as she glared at her father. He was floating in the sky with hundreds of Chinese fighter planes roaring by him in every direction. Each one was manned by one of the phoenix people as they started their advanced training.

"I am aware of that," he replied calmly. "It performed admirably. I'll send a few more to keep those fools contained until I feel like dealing with them."

"That's unlike you," replied Chibi Usa as she watched one of the fighters rip by and veer away from them quickly. "Where did you get these anyway?"

"It wasn't much trouble to sack the government of their entire airforce. I just killed everyone within a mile of the airbases."

"Is that wise? The humans..."

"Are pathetically weak. They have no idea where we are anyway."

"I wouldn't count on that with all this activity."

"I wouldn't worry. Hong Kong is gone, and I've sent a warning to the government telling them to leave me alone. China is being stubborn about getting help, just as I'd planned. Not that it would have mattered much if they had."

"My, but you've been busy," snorted his daughter irritably.

"The army is mobilizing to the south of here. I've already spent most of the day keeping missiles and rockets away from our planes. It's bad enough these idiots have already lost five of them. Four of the pilots survived."

The pink haired woman merely nodded at this. "What about the Chinese army?"

"Do what you want with them. The ships arrive in a month or so, and we won't have to worry anyway by that point."

"I'll enjoy that," she replied simply. "What of those women?"

"Jokezuko? Leave them be. We're going to need labor for the terraforming project. I'll have Cologne assassinated and negotiate with the remaining leaders."

"What about these people?" she snorted.

"They don't breed fast enough," he replied with another shrug. "I've got everything under control. Besides, I've got a special fate in store for Akane Tendo."

"Why fixate on that lowly human?"

"I made her what she is, and I want to enjoy destroying her."

"Sparing your enemies for any length of time is unlike you. She could grow to be a danger."

Her father said nothing for a long time and his shoulders began to shake. His daughter seemed confused for a moment until she realized he was laughing. "A danger? Too me? You must be joking. I can wipe out this entire planet in a single blast. Believe me daughter, you overestimate their chances. The real danger comes from that other me. He's the one you should be worrying about."

"What of the goddesses?"

"What about them? You failed, that's why they're still around. I doubt we'll have a clear shot at Keiichi anytime in the near future. We'll be rid of him soon enough. I don't want that place turning into a safe haven for the rats when I decide to take over."

"You mean when we decide to take over?"

The boy cocked his head back and smirked as he saw Kuroi standing behind him. "Of course. Simple explanations for a simple mind."

"Ah. I see," replied the boy calmly as he floated behind them both.

"What are you doing here? You never come out," said Chibi Usa as she watched him carefully.

"Just thought I'd check up on things personally today. There is quite a bit to see. After all, you've just brought China to its knees and the world is aware of us now. I hadn't planned on that until our armada arrived."

"We have to train them. We can't just throw them in the cockpit and expect them to know what they're doing. I'm glad I did it. Other than a few small mishaps, they've taken to mechanical flight much better than expected."

The boy snorted. "I suppose you're right. Perhaps we should test them against live targets?"

"When I think they've learned enough. I'll handle that sort of thing personally though. I don't want to lose too many of them before the big fight."

"You really think that those five little girls will be so much trouble?"

"It's not those girls I'm worried about," replied Ranma coldly. "They'll all be much stronger when they return. You'd best be ready."

"I think you'll be disappointed."

Ranma merely shook his head. "I can't even begin to hope that is true. You're going to get caught with your pants down if you're not careful Kuroi. It is always better to err on the side of caution."

"Very wise. I'll try to remember that," replied the boy as he vanished into thin air.

"He's growing more cautious."

"Let him. I'm not plotting against him yet," replied Ranma as he continued to watch the training. "Besides, he is impatient. I could use that against him in the future if I need to."

++++++++++++++++++++++++

"Anti Matter?" growled Nabiki angrily as she stared at the readout on her screen. "Who the hell authorized anyone to use those!?"

All five faces appeared on her communications console. None of them looked guilty either.

Minako piped up. "Trunks is using them on the cruisers. That's when they started firing into the field."

"Great," muttered the commander irritably. "I'm still not picking up anything."

"I believe we have cleared the area of hostile forces," said Ami calmly.

"Well, my count is still down by about fifty ships," replied Nabiki calmly.

"Some of them wrecked in the asteroids," pointed out Usagi.

"We don't know how many though. Keep your eyes open."

"Right," was the unanimous reply.

"We should be nearing the rear of the asteroid field. The Mikon Taka should be with us by the time we reach it," said Minako as she peered down at her instruments for a moment.

"Hi girls! Did you all have fun?" cried Trunks as his ship pulled up behind them. There were several scorch marks on the hull, but otherwise it was undamaged.

A blank stare was all he got in reply.

"What? Now what's the problem?" he growled as they exited the field.

"We're going to jump now," said Washuu's voice. The stars streaked by as they shot forward.

Nabiki closed her eyes and tilted her head back. "Keep it on private channels girls."

"Yes Ma'am," they all replied. One by one their faces vanished leaving only Trunks behind.

"Now what?" he grumbled angrily. "What the hell are you so pissed at?"

"I just spent the last hour and a half killing thirty two people. You tell me what's wrong."

"Yes. That's the kind of negative attitude I like to see about that sort of thing!" said the boy cheerfully. "I'm glad you realize that it's your job to make sure they all understand what they just did."

"What?" muttered the girl as she sat upright.

"Call em up individually in an hour or so and give em a talking too. They'll appreciate it, and I'm afraid I'd just screw it up. You're better with people that way."



"Yes. I know." She didn't look happy with it either.

"I want you to transmit a full diagnostic on the ship to Washuu over a secure channel. Tell the girls to do the same."

"Sure thing," she grumbled sourly as the transmission ended. The diagnostic alone would take two hours. She'd start calling the girls when she was finished.

As she turned on the onboard computer she frowned and looked thoughtful. "Just what am I to these girls anyway?" What sort of authority over them did she have, if any? Her orders were always taken, but how much would they really do for her? Would it all end when this was over? She didn't know what to think. There was a bond that she couldn't explain between herself and the girls now, and she had no idea just how deep it went.

+++++++++++++++++++++

"Huh? I thought Agents didn't appear till near the end of this." Gohan picked up the arm and looked it over for a moment before handing it to Trunks.

"I was afraid of this," growled the other saiyan as he accepted it. "Agents are dangerous, not to us really, unless there are a lot of them. I don't think he's got quite that many yet though. We're going to have to start moving soon, and we'll be dogged the whole way by them."

"You knew about this?" growled Zoicite angrily.

"No. You don't understand, by picking you up we've changed things. Not even we can be sure of what's going to happen. Most of you would have died, but he would have used you for a bit longer before he decided to be rid of you. We knew about agents, but the timeframe for them is wrong. This isn't good," answered Trunks calmly.

"What do you mean? 'Not good' how? What kind of shit are we in here?" interjected Kunzite calmly.

"Agents are hard to kill, and harder to get rid of. They lock on to your personal energy signals and keep coming. Inside this field we're invisible to them, but outside they'll home in fast."

"How many?" grumbled Nephrite.

"We don't know. He can grow as many as he wants. We never really found out that much about how he did it."

"Great," said Akane flatly. "So now what? Are we stuck here?"

"We can fight them off. The only problem is there's no other safe zones between here and where we're headed."

"And that is?" asked Nephrite.

"You'd just try to get there too fast. That will only get us all killed," replied Gohan calmly.



"I see," said Kunzite. "This is some sort of covert operation isn't it? You want something from us in the future."

"Yes and no. I'm afraid you're not going to get any more than that tonight."

"We're going to have to plan our route carefully," growled Trunks. "We're going to have to tell them anyway. Agents aren't fun. We can't stay Super Saiyans forever either. They may not know that yet, but it won't take them long to figure it out."

"Fun is not a good description. I'll agree to that," muttered Jadeite as he rubbed at his jaw.

Gohan nodded his head. "I guess we don't have a choice then. We're going to Jusendo. It's near Jusenkyo, and a very important part of what's going on."

The group nodded.

"We'll start planning tonight, tomorrow we're going to test the waters a bit and see how long it takes for another one to find us. I wouldn't count on more than a few days of peace at a time, if that. We need to get you used to what you'll be dealing with."

"Training?" asked Kunzite.



"That would take too long," snorted Gohan.

Akane decked him.

"We only have a few days," muttered Trunks. "None of you are going to improve that much in a few days. You saw that thing."

She blushed and stepped back. "Oh. Still..." She gave him a firm looking at and left it at that.

He looked confused and rubbed his jaw in irritation.

+++++++++++++++++++++

"Tsukino. Are you all right?" Nabiki frowned as she saw the girl on screen staring into space.

"Huh? Oh, I'm fine Ma'am," she replied simply.

"Anything about today you want to get off your chest? This is a secure channel."

"We've all been talking about it. I knew you were going to call me. I'm fine really." She smiled cheerily into the video monitor. "I sort of figured out what I'd be doing when we were training. I've already sorted through all of this."

"I thought that too you know."

The blonde merely nodded. "It's funny. I feel sad, but I can't cry, and I don't want too. Maybe it was because it was ship to ship... I thought I'd feel worse than this. We all thought that. I've heard the others talking..."

Nabiki was once again reminded of some of the things they had lost. Usagi had never been treated the same by the others. It was a mutual decision, and they all seemed to be more business like in dealing with others. They had gone from friendship, to a professional team of mercenaries. Makoto and Minako were a pair now, Rei seemed to hang around Ami more often, neither one of them spoke much anymore, but for different reasons. Usagi was the lone wolf of the group now. It didn't seem to fit her personality well at all really.

Hino was downright disturbing at times. She seemed to enjoy her work a little too much. She would never be sure, but when she had asked about the Anti-matter missiles, she could almost swear she heard a gasp of pleasure from Rei's ship. She was thinking the girl was getting off on the rush she was getting. It wasn't so much the explosions, as much of the power of the weapons she was handling. According to Washuu, there weren't any ships of their class and weight with a higher top speed, or offensive capability.

Rei found that idea very appealing apparently.

"Tsukino. If you need to talk I'm here." Nabiki had spent the better part of the last three hours talking with the girls at this point. Usagi was the last, and all of their reactions were essentially the same. None of them felt anything more than a disconnected feeling that they should be feeling guilty.

"I know. It's rather comforting in an odd way."

"Scarily so."

"Huh?" said the blonde in confusion.

"It's nothing. Just thinking out loud. My channel is open anytime you need it."

"Right," said the girl as she shifted back in her seat. It was damn comfortable. Washuu mentioned something about electro-something to help her keep her figure on extended trips. It did feel a little weird when she went to the bathroom though. It was taken directly from her bladder or colon by a specialized tube that wasn't quite comfortable to insert. It wasn't a painful process, and after a few moments it was difficult to even tell it was there.

In two weeks they would have to slow down to docking speed so her supplies could be filled from the Mikon Taka's stores. A short time later they would reach the Earth. The fact that the ship was a freighter only made things easier. They couldn't remain docked with the ship in light speed, though and that meant they had to fly them themselves.

"I wonder what my mom's gonna say when I tell her I joined an elite wing of starfighter pilots?"

Somehow, a small prickle of fear started to worm it's way into her stomach. "Say. What is mom gonna think about all this. I've been gone a while. I'll bet she's worried sick...she's gonna kill me." The girl looked up for a moment. "Um, Tendo?"

Nabiki's face popped onto the screen. "What is it?"

"Can we call our parents? I mean, could you ask Trunks about it or something? I'd like my mother to know I'm all right, and I want her to calm down before I get there so she's not still angry when she sees me again. You know?"

The girl blinked and opened her mouth. "Actually. I'm not sure. I'll ask him about it. Who knows? Washuu might be able to pull it off."

"Ah! Ah! Ah! What was that name again?"

"Washuu-chan, the greatest scientific genius in the universe," said Nabiki in a deadpan tone.

"I can do that no problem! In fact, I could help you call your friends, or your second cousin, or anyone you want. As long as I have an address with a telephone in it."

Usagi beamed. Her mother wouldn't be angry at all!

"That's right," cried Washuu cheerfully.

"Family only, immediate family. I'll only allow calls to your homes, or parents directly. This isn't going to become a party line. One call."

"Great," said Minako.

"It could endanger our mission..." muttered Ami.

"He already knows we're coming."

"He doesn't know about us though," replied the frigid looking girl as she simply watched the stars streak by her. "If we transmit that information, it could be intercepted. I suggest censoring any sensitive information."

"No way. My encryptions are far too good. I can disguise it as anything I want. Even a television signal, or even radiation from the sun, although that might give the person you're calling a small burn..." She started thinking about it and muttered to herself. "I'm afraid I am going to limit the conversations to audio only. It's not an easy thing to do from this distance. I'm going to have to warp dimensions just to keep the lag down to inside your lifetimes."

++++++++++++++++++++++

Shingo was calmly talking on the phone. "You're lying." He paused and seemed to think about it. Before he could go on, he reacted to another question. "I dunno. For a while I thought you were dead for sure! Mom went nuts, and then she just started crying a lot, now she's just real quiet. Wow. Can I see your spaceship when you get back?"

His mother stepped into the hallway and saw him on the phone. "Shingo, who are you talking too?"

"It's Usagi. She says she's in outer space." He jumped by her and quickly rushed to his room with a huge grin on his face as he handed her the phone.

"Who?" asked Mrs. Tsukino as she took the phone. Her eyes went wide at the sound of the voice on the other end. "Usagi?" She started crying as she fell to her knees and clutched the phone. "No! Listen! Where are you?"

Her jaw dropped as she heard the response. "What? Is that some sort of club? A city? Tell me and I'll..."

She blinked her eyes and brushed her hair out of her face as she seemed to take something in. "Out...outer sp-space?" There was a long pause. "You're in outer space? My god I've gone crazy..."

"Honey? Who's on the phone?" asked Mr. Tsukino as he turned the corner.

"Kenji, it's Usagi. She says she's in outer space," said the woman as she tried to stop herself from laughing. She was mostly successful and simply handed him the phone. "Say hello."

"What? Ikuko are you feeling all right?" He paused when he heard a voice on the other end. "Hello?"

"What?" muttered the man as he stared into the receiver. "My daughter is missing! This isn't..." he seemed angry. "Usagi?" He stared into the phone. "You're where?"

"You come home immediately! You are so grounded young lady! Do you know how worried your mother is?"

"What? What jets? Are you in another country young lady?!"

"Outer space?"

"..."

"Tell me something. Is that Mizuno girl there too? Who exactly is with you?"

"Kikuko, do you know a Tendo?" he asked her as he put his hand over the receiver.

"No. I'm afraid I don't," replied the woman with a frown forming on her face.

He nodded and started jotting things down. "We know the other girls, but do you have..." He smirked and started jotting down the address of the Tendo dojo.

"What's going on?" asked the woman.

"I'm not sure, but I think it's a good idea if we meet this Tendo family and try to find out what this is about."

"She's still alive," whispered the woman as she clutched her hands to her chest. "You heard her too? I mean, I'm not dreaming?"

"I don't think I am," replied the man as he looked down at the phone again. "She hung up."



"What?" said the woman as she inhaled a sharp breath. "No! I..." She lunged for the phone desperately.

Her husband took her firmly in his arms. "She's not there anymore Ikuko. I'm sorry, she said she couldn't call again before she gets back."

"She's coming back?" said the woman as she stared at him with a bit of hope returning.

"Within a month. If we don't find her before then that is."

The woman nodded slowly and stepped away from him. "Tendo?"

"We're going there now. Get Shingo ready, she says there's another girl there with her, besides her friends. This is her home address. I think we should meet them, if nothing else we know it's related to what happened to her."

The woman nodded and turned to get her son.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

TBC...

Next Time: Meet the parents.