- Larry Reeves
"Or maybe they aren't truly some kind of sissy."
- Ken "Snake" Yakata
Black Dragon Productions presents...
A Guardian sequel/spinoff...
Which also happens to be a Sailor Moon crossover...
All characters not created by me don't belong to me. Like, duh.
Knowledge of Guardian is required for full enjoyment of this fanfic. An unstable mind fueled by black rage and madness is NOT required, but recommended nonetheless.
Notes: Story may contain references to stuff in Guardian that haven't happened yet. To answer any and all inquiries to this effect, YES, that stuff will eventually happen.
Other Notes: Sounds, techniques or emphasis, 'thoughts', (side comments)+writing, computer readouts+
Igov took a deep breath of the early morning air as he stepped out of Kotomaro plant's small industrial garage, having completed his check of the alien combat drone that he had stolen. Well, stolen again.
The device looked promising, but modifications were clearly in order. Its tactical applications were sharply limited so long as it had to be tethered to an immobile power supply, and according to what data could be harvested from its nearly incomprehensible cybertronic core, it was an obvious and severe weakness as well.
Igov wasn't really surprised. For all Yoshi Konta's scientific genius, he did not concern himself overmuch with the particulars of combat, just the potentials of the technology.
The Russian nodded to a pair of interior guards - terrorists, of course - as he fished his cigarettes out of his coat pocket. The men turned a corner as he lit up, and he turned his gaze back toward the skyline as the first hints of sunlight began to creep around the buildings and into the streets.
Igov sighed, and a thick cloud of smoke poured from the corner of his lips. Apparently his superiors among the Freedom's Angels were mollified by his recent successes; his early career with the terrorists had been marked by a notable string of crushing defeats (and a trail of burning, twisted metal), which had consumed a great deal of resources and severely damaged his reputation as a worthwhile commander among the Angels. Apparently the recovery of the alien technology had turned much of that around.
His recovery of the drone had been noted, but as the objective was just to recover a weapon that had been accidentally lost to the enemy, it wasn't given nearly as much attention. Which was quite fortunate, as he then had no reason to reveal that he had been beaten by a DAPC officer because he had stopped to fight a group of idiot girls in ice skating uniforms.
Igov whirled around as a shout of surprise came from around the corner of the garage, and his combat scanners activated.
His eyes narrowed as he stalked over to the corner of the building, his footfalls pounding the concrete and ensuring that whoever was hiding in the early morning shadows knew another challenger was arriving.
Igov considered it the height of arrogance that the enemy hadn't heeded such gracious forewarning; there in the dark space between the garage and a tall fence separating the facility from the next property, a teenage girl was biting deeply into the neck of a dead guard, blood spilling from the corner of her mouth and dripping off her cheek. The other man lay dead on the ground further down the alley, blood streaked across the wall of the garage and his rifle at his feet.
The cyborg general took a deep drag off his cigarette as he stared at the scene stonily. Those two had been relatively good guards; in a terrorist organization, guards who didn't goof off on their shift or push around anybody who didn't have a gun of their own were rare and valuable, after all. They were not poorly trained either, but no doubt had been caught completely by surprise. Who could have guessed that a young girl would be any kind of threat? He shook his head sadly. Such a waste.
The vampiress frowned as she let her meal fall to the ground, and idly wiped the blood from her mouth as she eyed the newcomer warily. She was used to more... shock and terror when somebody stumbled upon a scene of a girl chewing on a man's jugular. Then again, this fellow was worth a few stares on his own; was that really a cybernetic eye?
Nonetheless, she darted forward for the attack. Her other kill was still fresh and full of precious life fluid (other than that which had been splattered all over the wall, anyway), and she didn't want anybody sounding an alarm.
Igov puffed out a bit of smoke as she approached.
Thwack! Next thing the young vampiress knew, she was skidding across the concrete, her cheekbone and jaw smashed into so many little splinters within her mouth.
Igov took another puff, letting his arm fall back to his side. Then he silently walked forward as the midian rolled to a stop some seven meters away.
The vampire girl laid on the ground stunned for a moment, then scrambled to her feet, her eyes tearing as blood, saliva, and bits of bone dribbled from her mouth. She didn't fully understand what had just happened, but she knew that she had somehow stumbled onto an opponent she was completely unprepared for at a time when she was mere minutes away from losing what little power she commanded. Pushing the rapidly numbing pain to the back of her mind, she jumped up over the wall separating the two adjacent facilities and broke out into a run.
Igov stopped in his tracks, and took a few more puffs on his cigarette. Then he tapped the cybernetic peripheral on his ear and waited.
Forty seconds later, the sound of light footsteps on metal filled the early morning air, and Igov snapped his head to the side as a shapely raven-haired android fell down onto the ground, landing in a crouch.
"Target has escaped to east, moving on foot. Wounded. Uploading visual data," Igov said, tapping the peripheral on his head again as the Mk. III android nodded its head in understanding.
The cybernetic girl's eyes fixated on the ground, and they narrowed at the blood trail being left by its new target.
Having received her target's visual profile and located a simple means of tracking her, the android leapt up onto the wall and then further up onto the wall of the next building to carry out its mission.
Igov took a final, long drag on his cigarette before plucking it from his lips and flicking it onto the ground.
Then he tapped his optical unit again, waiting patiently as he heard a dial tone followed by the sound of a familiar number being dialed.
"Ah, Tokima-san! Good morning! Is Igov."
Good morning to you too, I suppose... what's this about? Can it wait? You know this number isn't perfectly secure.
"Igov make it quick, then. Has been numerous killings in hideouts and base recently, yes? Igov has just found most likely cause. It would seem there be parasites in Tokyo."
Parasites? Hmmm... I'll meet with you as soon as possible. Give me half an hour.
"Indeed. Igov will have battle plan drafted by then to eliminate this new threat," the Russian said, his grim expression splitting ever so slightly into a grin. "Igov out." After a brief burst of static, the line was cut.
The Russian was about to go back into the plant, when he stopped and stared at the two corpses.
Walking back to the one that the girl had been draining, he picked up the corpse by the arm and inspected the damage.
"Hm. Shredded jugular and blood loss. These ones still good for conversion."
Smiling slightly to himself, the cyborg walked over and grabbed the second body by the leg, and then dragged both bodies behind him as he walked into the rear section of the plant. No reason to waste a perfectly good cadaver, after all.
A gentle mechanical hum filled the room as the examination table tilted backward so that its occupant was lying flat on her back.
A terrible grinding noise came from the mechanism responsible for the shift as it jammed, having received too much damage the night previous to complete its simple task.
Seras sighed as the device shut off with a brief spray of sparks, and glanced at Usagi, who lay strapped to the surface of the machine. "Well, that tears it; every damn one of the tables is broken, now. How did you two end up destroying the entire lab, again?"
Usagi bigsweated as she smiled nervously. "Well, uh... it all happened so fast, you see... and there may have been a gas leak, maybe..."
Across the room, Ranma stood at attention next to Ami and Rei.
"Can you actually fix the damage to her neck?" Ami asked timidly. "From what I've gathered, her automated repair systems have done all they can, but the damage is extensive enough that to fully repair it they'd need special materials."
Seras sighed wearily. "I'll be honest; I seriously doubt it. I'm a doctor, not a cybernetics expert."
"Yes you are," Ranma said immediately.
The drunk blinked. "I'm what? A doctor?"
"No, you're a cybernetics expert," Ranma clarified, arms crossed over his chest.
Seras looked stunned by the statement, which caused Ami and Rei to sweatdrop. "I am? Since when?"
"Since six o'clock this morning when I said you couldn't have any more beer until you fixed Usagi-chan!" Ranma scowled. "Now stop complaining and get to work! You can have this when you finish!" He held out a bottle of Tequila and shook it for emphasis.
Seras immediately brightened and started rummaging through a suitcase next to him packed with his spare tools.
"Putting aside the fact that your 'doctor' is a drunken idiot," Rei began dryly, "is this place really the best room to be fixing her in?"
To accentuate her point, the raven-haired girl pointed to the gaping hole in the wall and the vast stretch of scorched ground and the twisted, melted metal that stuck out of it awkwardly.
Ranma shrugged helplessly. "Well, the only other labs we have are in the sub-levels, but those are still in lockdown. The captain wants to get the rest of the HQ mostly squared away and make sure we're ready for another attack before we check downstairs."
Rei raised an eyebrow. "Why?"
"On the off-chance that one of the bloodsuckers got down there and started messing around; we have stuff locked up down there that would be pretty difficult to stop if it got free, including one of their fellow vampires."
FSSSSHT! All other conversation stopped for a moment as Seras held the acetylene torch to the patch of foam in Usagi's neck, much to the blonde's obvious discomfort.
"Are we SURE he knows what he's doing?" Rei asked suspiciously of Ranma.
"We try not to ask those sorts of questions around here," the pigtailed man responded evasively. "We might not like the answer."
Seras put the torch to the side, then took out a sharp-looking metal scraper and proceeded to dig the remaining foam solution out of the wound.
Rei watched for a moment, then turned back to Ranma. "So how are you guys holding up after the attack? A bit shaken from being nearly killed?"
Before Ranma could answer, Snake poked his head in through what used to be the wall separating the lab from the maintenance closet. "Hey Ranma! I'm ordering new business cards! What sounds better to you, 'Vampire slayer' or 'Bane of the walking dead'?"
Ignoring Rei's facefault, Ranma considered the question. "Go with bane. 'Vampire slayer' is kind of played out, you know?"
"Ah, good point. Thanks!" Snake turned his head and shouted down the hall as he left. "Hey, Kyle! You can have 'Vampire slayer' after all!"
Ranma turned back to Rei, who was just standing up. "I'm sorry, what was your question again?"
"Never mind," the raven-haired girl mumbled. "So what are you going to do now? Besides making sure all your officers have that weird garlic spray stuff, I mean?"
"We're going to hunt them down, obviously," Ranma said, his face turning unnaturally grim. "They gave it their best shot, and they lost. Now we're going to take the fight to them."
"Okay... so where's that?" The raven-haired girl asked.
Ranma held his serious expression for a few more moments before he deflated. "I have no idea," he admitted. "We probably should have left one of the attackers alive... er, undead. Whatever."
PSSSSSSHT! Usagi's eyes went wide as she felt some kind of pressurized fluid burst out of her neck. "Hey! Hey! What are you doing? Is it supposed to do that?!" She wanted to crane her neck and try to look at the wound, but was afraid that she would only make the problem - if there was one - even worse.
"Don't worry about it!" Seras chided as he positioned himself around the jet to try and seal it. "I'm the cybernetics expert, right?"
"That doesn't sound like a rhetorical question," Rei deadpanned.
To Seras' credit, he managed to seal the breach in short order, and Usagi gulped as he took a length of wire and some forceps before turning the torch on her neck once more.
"What about you? What are you going to do?" Ranma asked.
Rei immediately lowered her voice so that Seras couldn't hear her over the sound of his work. "We're going ahead with the attack plan on the terrorists for now. But Ami thinks that if she could get a hold of one of the vampires and do a good scan on one that she might be able to find some kind of energy signature to lock on to. With that, we could track the vampires to wherever they're hiding." She hesitated for a moment. "Though if that doesn't work out, I have another source."
"Really? What kind of source?" Ranma asked. Much to Rei's annoyance, he wasn't being nearly as careful about keeping his voice down.
"A secret source," Rei snapped. "I can't tell you who it is, or that person might get in trouble."
Left unsaid was that Ranma and company would probably be the ones causing the trouble for her source if she revealed it; Rei didn't know if accidentally blowing a cop's cover while he was on a mission was actually against the law, but she didn't doubt that these cops in particular had ways of exacting retribution regardless.
"You said you had a captured vampire, right?"
Ranma shrugged. "Yeah, but he's down in the lockdown area. Come back tomorrow and we might be able to help you out."
Rei frowned, and glanced briefly at Seras again before she spoke. "If you're busy, couldn't the Senshi drop down there and check it out for you?"
The pigtailed officer sweatdropped. "Ah... thanks, but if something DID get loose, the last thing we want is someone firing high-yield missiles and huge magical blasts down there, you know? Something else might get loose."
The fire Senshi groaned, but relented. "Fine, fine, whatever. You just do your thing and try not to kill anyone who doesn't deserve it."
GZZT! "Ha! Done!"
Rei and Ranma both blinked in surprise before turning their attention toward Seras, who was looking down at Usagi in satisfaction.
While the cyborg's neck wasn't completely repaired - the skin and dermal armor was still missing, leaving the interior components exposed - the wound that had been a mess of twisted metal and torn wires was now an orderly-looking collection of tubes and metal rods.
"That... That was fast..." Rei mumbled doubtfully.
"Usagi-chan? You okay?" Ranma asked.
Usagi blinked, and her eyes seemed to lose focus for a moment.
+Testing system repair...+
+Respiratory and circulatory systems running at 98.47 percent. Calibrating systems... Function restored to 100 percent. Restoring dermal layer.+
Vwrrr! The two repair drones scrambled out of Usagi's shoulders and clung to her neck, releasing a thin film over the exposed components that slowly seemed to solidify into a solid covering.
"Oh, good!" Usagi breathed a sigh of relief as Seras deactivated the table restraints, allowing her to sit up. "It looks like I'm okay now!"
"Wow... the drunk actually did it," Rei muttered in disbelief.
Seras cleared his throat, and looked at Ranma expectantly.
Ranma reached toward the counter behind him. "Yeah, yeah. Here you... huh?" Holding up the bottle to the cybernetics genius, Ranma blinked as he realized the bottle was now empty. "What the hell? What happened? Did it break?" He grew increasingly confused as he failed to find any evidence of a breach in the bottle.
Rei frowned. "Where's Ami?"
The genius Senshi was, at the time of Rei's question, making her way down the stairs to the second floor, and having considerable difficulty in doing so without tripping and severely injuring herself.
'Probably shouldn't have drunk the whole bottle...' she thought to herself as her grip tightened on the hand rail, the room around her momentarily spinning.
After waiting for her surroundings to get themselves back in order, Ami slowly lowered herself down another step.
"Easy there, cousin."
Ami would have recoiled in surprise and fallen down backwards were it not for Asuka taking her arm and holding her steady. "Wh-Wha? Where'd you come from?"
Asuka sweatdropped. "I was walking straight down the hall. I was right in front of you." Then her nose wrinkled, and then her eyes narrowed. "Are you drunk?"
"Jus' a little," Ami insisted drearily, letting her body slump forward onto her cousin.
Asuka rolled her eyes and lifted the girl up and down to the bottom of the stairs. Although Ami was actually slightly taller than her older cousin, she was a slim little thing, and the police captain possessed considerable muscle.
"Look, I'm glad I ran into you. Can I speak to you alone?" Asuka asked, not waiting for an answer before gently pulling Ami into one of the side rooms.
"Ah? Shure," Ami slurred, the alcohol settling further into her system as she was guided through the doorway.
Asuka sat Ami down in the single chair next to the long table in the room, and briefly stopped to wonder what exactly this room was for besides a convenient place to hold a private conversation. It possessed only a table, a large cabinet, and a few chairs, most of which had been stacked up in a corner. Rows of broadband outlets near the back of the room made Asuka guess that it was intended to be some sort of computer room that had never been supplied with actual computers; the DAPC had several redundant rooms due to its pitifully small staff, as well as the limited talents of the staff they had. When it came to computer skills, Tiro was considered the most adept in the department, and only because he needed to hide his vast internet pornography collection from her on the HQ's servers.
"Listen, Ami-chan, I wanted to talk to you about this whole Sailor Mercury bit you have going on," Asuka begin.
"Wha? I'm nah Shailor Mercury," Ami insisted drowsily.
"Yes you are," Asuka said firmly. "I have your registration file in our records, and combined with that, it's too convenient that you'd simply happen to be friends with Miss Borg up there, who's already admitted to being Sailor Moon, without being involved in that Senshi lunacy at all."
Ami flushed and looked away. "She has SOME non-Senshi friends," the bluette mumbled.
"Regardless, I assume your family doesn't know about this?" Asuka guessed, crossing her arms over her chest as she stared down at her cousin.
"Nope. Why? That a problem?"
Asuka sighed and rubbed her head. "Well, I suppose not. If I kept in touch with aunt Chisato I'd feel obligated to tell her, but as I haven't seen her in so long, it's hardly my place to get involved." She frowned. "So, how did this come about, anyway? I take it you don't spend a few years in magic school and then get assigned a miniskirt by a governing body. What happens that turns people into 'magical girls'?"
"Ahhh..." Ami flushed for a moment as she thought it over, the red tinge over her face growing more pronounced. "Well, it just sort of... happens."
Asuka groaned. "Ami-chan, I know how smart you are. You can offer a better explanation than that, even if you ARE blitzed out of your skull."
The younger girl blinked and squeezed her eyes shut for a moment, as if trying to consciously summon her mental faculties to her. "Ah... right. Well... it involves an alien kingdom which existed long before recorded history. Long story short, it fell to a bunch of monsters, and sent its power into the reincarnated souls of its royal families, and I'm one of them."
"So... you have the reincarnated soul of some warrior from a long-dead civilization?" Asuka asked.
"That's it? And did you wake up one morning and find out that you had magic skirt powers?"
"No, a talking animal told me."
Asuka rubbed her forehead as she tried to wrap her mind around all this. "Okay. So... a talking animal comes up to you, tells you about all this, and then you turn into a magical girl and start fighting to save the world and whatnot?"
Ami nodded hesitantly. "Yeah. There's a lot of drama and time travel involved too, but that's the gist of it."
"I see..." The police captain rubbed her chin thoughtfully for a moment. "So, is there a catch to this? I mean, is it common for long-dead civilizations to simply send magic envoys forward and hand out magic wands?"
"Well... we ARE tasked with saving the world, and far too often, seem to be the only ones capable of doing so. Also, enemies tend to target us specifically, which is kind of a downside."
"Okay, fine... but... why do it?" Asuka asked, still troubled by the situation. "Why send these powers forward, however the hell they did it? Couldn't they have used that power to try and save themselves?"
"I dunno," Ami said simply.
Of course, she DID know, or at least had several very likely theories, but explaining that would involve several detailed explanations of the Senshis' past experiences, future goals, and secret weapons, including her very own thesis on time travel and its various mechanics.
Which she probably shouldn't blurt to someone who had stumbled upon her identity by accident, and whose loyalty belonged to the federal government. Besides, she was too sloshed.
"Ugh." Asuka leaned on the table and massaged her head. "Ami-chan, I know you've been doing this for a while, and I don't know what you've been through, but... you don't seem like much of a fighter to me."
"Well... I'm NOT much a fighter, really," the ice Senshi admitted. "You have to understand; the engagements we fight are very different from the ones you do. Our magical powers are the only things that stand between us and annihilation. We don't have weapons, or training, and we usually know very little about our enemy."
"Hmmm..." Asuka tapped her lip thoughtfully. "And I assume, of course, that for some stupid reason, you can't hand your powers off to someone more suited, or anything like that. This 'reincarnation' business doesn't seem that convenient."
"No, I suppose not," Ami admitted uncomfortably.
"Well, I suppose that will do for now," Asuka said, standing up. "I wanted to talk to you to get a better feel for just what you were doing and how you might handle it."
Ami looked doubtful. "And... what do you think?"
"Honestly, I think that I should find someone else to join Ranma as part of your guard to keep you all from getting killed," Asuka said bluntly, causing Ami to wince, "but that's impossible, of course. I don't really have anyone to send that wouldn't cause more problems than they'd prevent, and we're shorthanded enough." Then she smirked slightly. "Besides. You've survived this long on instinct, luck, and your silly powers, so there must be SOMETHING to it all." She winked. "But seriously though; if you guys get into a bind, give us a ring, all right?"
Ami sighed and stood up. After stumbling and nearly failing in that task, Asuka took her cousins hand.
"Good grief, woman, just what did you DRINK?"
"'S 'is own fault fer not keepin' an eye on dah bottle... ooh, my head..."
"Igov... what are you doing?" Alexandra asked with a raised eyebrow at the scene before her.
Behind the voluptuous woman, Bei winced at the sight that greeted them; Igov was observing a ghoul closely as he held it around the neck, as if he hadn't seen such a creature before. The ghoul, in turn, was struggling mightily to bite and claw at the Russian's arm with very little success.
The cyborg cocked his head to the side, then glanced at the newly arrived woman. "This... is most odd."
"This is not a secure area, Igov," Alex chided. "A T-virus outbreak here could be extremely dangerous. Destroy that thing, please."
"Is not T-virus," Igov said simply, holding the ghoul up and staring at the wound on its neck as the creature kicked its feet weakly. "All scans negative. This man was not killed by virus carrier."
Alexandra blinked, appropriately stunned. "What? Then... what IS that thing?"
"Igov is not sure," the Russian admitted. "Igov call Tokima-san here because Igov see girl what kill two men. Was taking corpses back for conversion to cyborg when this one start moving again."
Alex frowned. "A girl, you say? Not a creep or a zombie?"
"Definitely not zombie. Girl move fast, and with obvious intelligence. She have fangs, and drain blood from this one's neck."
Bei and Alex both blinked.
"Wait... you're saying... we have VAMPIRES?" Bei asked incredulously.
"It would seem so. Or there is other biological weapon in Angels' labs that Igov knows nothing about."
"Hmmm... there are, but nothing like this..." she frowned uncertainly. Vampires? The idea sounded ridiculous, but she was the commander of a force of nightmarish mutants and cybernetically enhanced undead. Who was she to dismiss vampires as a possible cause of isolated dens of people in hiding vanishing without a trace?
"So. What do you plan to do about this?" The brunette asked, crossing her arms under her ample breasts as she stared at the Russian.
Igov smiled, and gently put greater pressure on the neck in his grip.
Bei winced as the ghoul's head tumbled onto the floor, rolling past her foot. Doubtless Alexandra noticed as well, but her expression betrayed nothing.
"What shall I do beside my duty? Igov will see to complete elimination of threat, of course," he said firmly, dropping the limp torso on the ground and kicking it to the side as one would a piece of garbage. "If dead would come back to trouble living, Igov must insist they do so under his command. Is quite troublesome otherwise." He hesitated. "Then there is fact that these dead feed on our living. This will not stand."
"Are you sure we can afford to fight another opponent? Our strength is waning badly enough as it is," she mumbled, rubbing her chin.
"Igov is sure we cannot afford to ignore this new threat," he said gruffly, his eyes narrowing. "If these creatures truly are... willful undead, they'd best be destroyed now. Our cause gains nothing from their predations."
"Still... I'd really like to leave the defense of the city to the city's actual defenders," Alex groused. "That we should waste our own resources when our enemies could be getting themselves killed..."
"That would certainly be option... were it not that our own soldiers are at risk," Igov said, shrugging.
Alex frowned, then sighed. "Very well. Do what you have to do. But see if you can bring back a few of these creatures alive... or at least as alive as they get."
"It is as you say," the Russian said stonily. "Igov make preparations. By your leave."
Sailor Saturn grimaced slightly as she turned over in her sleep, her forehead creasing gently.
"Oh Saturn-chan? Are you ready to wake up? Hotaru?"
She twitched for a moment, and her eyes slowly crept open and consciousness came to her.
"Wha... What? What is... where am I?" The princess of Saturn mumbled, not getting up as her head turned to take in her surroundings.
She was laying on a long cushion in the middle of an exquisite, if not terribly dusty library, and as she rubbed her eyes and sat up, she realized quickly that she had no clue how she got there.
"Ah, good. You're awake. Are you well?"
Saturn turned toward the voice and blinked. She should have been surprised at seeing a semi-transparent man stooping over her when she woke up whether or not she remembered the spectre from her arrival. But... for some reason, she didn't find his presence disconcerting or out of place at all.
"Oh, hello Nal'Shek," the violet-haired girl mumbled before yawning.
"Are you all right? You seemed... confused."
Saturn looked up at the spirit, confusion indeed evident on her face. "Well, it's just..." she stopped and looked around. "Where am I, exactly? Why did I fall asleep here? It's kind of hazy..."
"Ah, yes. Well, I think that's hardly important right this moment, don't you think?"
Sailor Saturn was about to ask what Nal'Shek meant by that, when her rumbling stomach revealed something very important to her: she was absolutely famished. And dreadfully thirsty, too. In fact, it was as if she hadn't eaten or drunk anything in days.
"Oh. Uh... do you have anything to eat?" she asked timidly, her cheeks flushing.
Nal'Shek regarded the girl with a kind smile. "Of course. Right this way, my dear." Floating to the side, he gestured past him toward the door, and Sailor Saturn hopped up off of the cushion, thoughts of nourishment banishing all thought of her strange confusion upon awaking, and the haze that had overtaken her recent memories.
Still, she DID remember Nal'Shek, and that he was trying to help her with... something... so that was good enough, right?
"It should be in here..." Nal'Shek floated toward a dusty old door after guiding Saturn through the hallway, and then held a hand toward it. "I haven't had any need for sustenance in quite some time, so the machines have been in disuse, but the technology is extremely reliable. My supplies should still be edible, and the water filter should have survived even after all this time..."
The door shook for a moment as lights to the side of the barrier lit up, and slowly the door creaked upward, a light shower of dirt and dust falling onto the floor.
Saturn didn't even wait for the door to finish opening before she ducked through the doorway, idly brushing the falling dust out of her hair as she scanned the interior of the room for any sign of food. In one corner of the room were several large crates, while along one wall was an old, rusted-out machine with a clear plastic pipe full of water next to it.
Not immediately seeing any food, she went for the machine, pushing the biggest button she could find in her haste to get something in her mouth. At once the sound of grinding machinery filled her ears, and a thin stream of water started spilling out a spout near the button she had pressed.
Without a thought for decorum, she lowered her mouth to the spout and greedily sucked up the water as fast as she could.
Nal'Shek smirked at the sight. "Within those crates you'll find sealed packages of rations. It's nothing tasty, but they last long enough to have remained edible after all these centuries, and they're excellently fortified in terms of nutrition."
Saturn gulped down another mouthful of water, then practically leapt at the crates; she didn't care if the food was several MILLENNIA old and rotting as a result at this point. She had to eat, or she wouldn't be able to stay conscious for much longer. Normally she didn't eat much, and what few friends she had tended to comment on her eating habits with great concern; with so little body fat to fall back on in times of starvation, she was on the verge of collapse.
The spectre waited patiently as the purple-haired girl gorged herself, stuffing down ration trays full of unidentifiable, hardened substances and then tossing the packaging haphazardly into the empty crate before attacking the next package. Every once in a while she would start coughing violently, and then quickly scramble over to the purifier to gulp down more water. Nal'Shek really couldn't decide if the scene was delightful or pathetic.
When Saturn had filled up, it happened all at once; in the midst of ripping open another package of rations, she suddenly grimaced and rolled backward onto the floor, heaving a sigh that seemed half-way between contentment and misery.
"Well, it would seem you've eaten your fill. Normally I'd suggest you rest after eating so much, but you've rested quite enough."
"Oh. Well..." Saturn looked around for a moment, clearly confused. "Now what? Uh... shouldn't I get going?"
Nal'Shek smiled again. "You wouldn't want to leave before your training even begins, would you?"
"I... wait... training?" Sailor Saturn rubbed her head for a moment.
"Yes, of course. Your training in the ways of the Force." The spectre smiled. "You wouldn't want to leave now, would you?"
"I..." The Senshi of destruction hesitated. She knew... somewhere, in the back of her mind, that she had... SOMETHING else she was supposed to be doing, or at least that this situation was somehow wrong, but for the life of her she couldn't put any logic to it. The person - using the term loosely - had done nothing but converse with her and feed her, and now she was to be given training... "Okay, I'll stay. I don't see why not."
"Usagi-chan, are you SURE you're up for this?" Rei asked anxiously.
In response, the blonde cyborg simply smiled back at her and gave her a thumbs-up.
"Don't worry about it. I've got this in the bag."
Minako blinked. "You've got it in the WHAT? What does that mean?" Her friend briefly rolled their eyes and ignored her.
"I still wonder how reliable the tutoring you got with the DAPC could actually be," Ami murmured uncomfortably.
"What, you don't actually think they're as dumb as they act, do you?" Makoto asked.
"I'm basing my hypothesis entirely on what their commanding officer tells me," the genius Senshi said. "And she insists that the five of her officers put together couldn't complete a crossword puzzle."
Rei shrugged. "While I pretty much agree they're all idiots, in all fairness Usagi could barely START a crossword puzzle."
The blonde cyborg twitched. "Hey... I'm right here, you know..."
Minako stepped forward and patted her on the shoulders. "Don't worry about it. You'll do fine! This is what you spent all that time preparing for! I know you'll pass!"
Usagi cheered instantly. "Right! This'll be a snap!"
The other blonde nodded as she stepped back. "Exactly! Snap your neck!"
Makoto slapped herself in the forehead as Usagi flinched back, her eyes wide.
"The expression is 'break a leg,' Mina-chan," the brunette mumbled.
Minako frowned. "Well... that hardly seems much better, really."
"Usagi-chan, you should probably get to class before we completely demoralize you," Rei deadpanned.
"Uh, okay, sure." The ponytailed blonde gave a final wave as she dashed toward the double doors to the main hall, ready for the mid-terms that would determine her future at her current school.
'I can't fail... NO! I won't fail! Usagi Tsukino will-' Thud! "Ouch!"
Usagi winced as she fell flat on her face, her foot having caught the edge of one of the steps.
+Minor impact damage sustained. Total systems down: 0. Kinetic dampeners at 98. Total damage negligible.+
Usagi rolled her eyes as she stood up. 'Thanks, but I think you can save the damage reports for when I actually get hit by something. I fall down an awful lot.'
+Understood. Reconfiguring data analysis parameters.+
'Good. You do... that. Do you have my notes ready?'
+Affirmative. All data has been stored and categorized according to pre-set specifications. This unit is ready to begin.+
Usagi smiled and gripped a hand into a fist, which got some attention from the other students that had watched her fall. 'All right! Let's go ace a test!'
Ami and Minako glanced at each other uncertainly before staring back through the doorway into their dorm room.
Usagi was slumped down in the chair at her desk, a veil of gloom hanging over her. A paper was lying on the desk in front of her, face-down, and both of her repair drones were on the desk, staring at her in silence while occasionally glancing at each other.
"Why are those spider-things out?" Minako whispered.
"I think her condition might actually be so bad that they mistook her condition for actual damage," Ami whispered back. "... Or maybe they're on watch in case she tries to cut herself?"
"Usagi-chan wouldn't do that!"
"Yeah, but they might not know that," Ami mumbled.
Gathering up her courage, the bluette stepped into the room and slowly approached Usagi, hands clasped behind her back.
"So..." Ami hesitated as Usagi failed to budge at her voice. "Wanna talk about it?"
Vwwrrr! Without Usagi actually moving at all, a servo arm emerged from her back and snapped up the piece of paper on her desk.
The oiled gears of the arm buzzed softly as it swung over in front of Ami, the claw twisting to show her the front of the paper.
Ami winced. "Okay... so you got an 'F' in history..." She glanced at the desk, where she could see more papers underneath the first one. "And English... and phys ed, too? How did you mess up THAT badly in gym class?"
She took a step back as a vein popped up on Usagi's head. "Oh! Uh, sorry... but... how?"
Minako's jaw dropped as she stared at the papers. "How did this happen? You were so confident!"
Usagi sniffled and slumped backward into her chair. "I don't KNOW! I can't believe this! How could I have failed after I worked so hard?"
(Three hours previous, in the history professor's office.)
The professor twitched as his eyes scanned down the paragraph of clumsy, if easily legible writing, looking for some sign as to whether this was a joke or not.
Sadly, he could find no such indications, and his brow furrowed in anger.
'What the hell is this? Every single answer she gave has something to do with America in it!' The questions that actually WERE about America were all spot on, at least, he had to give her that.
Well, all except a single question near the end of the test.
+What is the war atrocity committed by the United States at the end of World War II, and where did it take place?+
+Due to the threat of enemy attack from the numerous military bases on the Pacific Isles, America launched several assaults to take well-entrenched, strategically unimportant positions. Naturally, America won, but the U.S. forces suffered terrible losses that all could have been avoided if they'd just built those nukes a little faster.+
Clenching his teeth angrily, the professor reached for his red marker.
(Two hours previous, in the English professor's office.)
The professor stared at the gibberish written across the page before her, uncomprehending.
"I... I just don't get it..." she mumbled, peering closer at the horror of writing as if the problem had anything to do with being nearsighted.
The test read, in English:
+Explain your favorite hobby in as much detail as possible; what it is, how often you do it, and why you like it.+
Below it read, in admittedly flawless English:
+Ice cream shops I raid+
+Sweets and snacks so dear to me+
+I like manga, too+
"A haiku? ... WHY?"
Shaking her head, the professor reached for her red marker.
(One hour previous, on the sidelines of the soccer field)
"Good GOD... what the hell is she DOING? What is this?" the teacher's aide asked in equal amounts of awe and horror as he stared out at the field.
A fairly constant stream of injured boys and girls (the class was mixed for soccer) were being helped off the field due to injuries created, quite deliberately, by a single blonde girl racing across the length of the field.
It wasn't THAT uncommon for certain players to start taking the game too seriously, or use the activity to work off some aggression, but the player in question was Usagi Tsukino; without question the most lethargic, uncompetitive, and uninspired student this gym teacher had in his class.
And judging by the way she kept slide-tackling people, including those who weren't anywhere near the ball, it was evident she had gone completely off the deep end.
In fact, the soccer game itself had come to a complete halt; it was already twelve to nothing for Usagi's team, and the opposition was now simply running away from her in a constant loop around the playing field, completely ignoring the ball and the game that was supposed to be happening. Some of them tried to flee before they were injured, but the blonde would descend on them immediately with inhuman speed, striking them down before they could make it to the safety of the bleachers with a grim and determined expression on her face. Her own team had stopped trying to play, instead choosing to watch in morbid fascination as their worst player massacred their opponents.
"Coach? Shouldn't you do something?" the aide asked, frowning.
"Kid, did you see when the ref waved that red flag in her face and told her she was off the field? She actually stood there and argued the rules with him, and then threw him into the bleachers when he tried to force her off!"
The aide frowned. "Well... yeah. Shouldn't you reprimand her for doing that?"
"I have a much safer and more permanent way of reprimanding her, kid."
He took out his red marker, and pressed it against the clipboard. "Tsukino-san... you're done."
"BWAAAAAAAAH!!" Ami and Minako sweatdropped as they were subjected to the painfully familiar sight of their friend and princess descending into a sobbing wreck. "My college education is OVER! I'm going to spend the rest of my life sweeping floors, or flipping burgers, or being a reporter!"
"Uh... I'm pretty sure you need a degree to be a reporter," Minako said gently.
Usagi seemed alarmed at the news. "What? Why? They're all idiots!"
"Well... they're educated idiots," Ami said, shrugging.
"I can't even make it as a journalist?! WAAAAAAAAAH!!"
Leaving their sobbing leader, Minako and Ami quickly convened on the other side of the room.
"I don't know... maybe we can do something to change the grade?" Minako suggested.
Ami's eyes narrowed. "Mina-chan, I'm not going to let this turn into another major scandal like-"
"For the LAST TIME! I was NOT sleeping with him for better grades, I did it because he was hot and a sympathetic listener!" the blonde hissed.
"Okay, okay! But what are we supposed to do?" Ami asked tiredly. "If it was just a C instead of a B or a single class instead of three classes, we might be able to talk a professor into raising a grade so that Usagi-chan won't be kicked out of school, but no amount of pity is going to fix three F's."
"Well... what if we, you know... cheated? Just a little bit?" Minako said carefully.
A vein popped up on Ami's head. "Mina-chan..."
"Yeah, I know you're big on the 'hard-working, goody-two-shoes' bit, but hear me out!" Minako insisted. "This is more important than it seems! Usagi's future career isn't the only thing at stake here; we can't be separated at a time like this! She's been turned into a cyborg, and we have vampires swarming all over the city! She needs our help and support more than ever, and we need to stick together more than ever! This is NOT the time for academic turmoil!"
Ami twitched, and her hands clenched into fists briefly before unclenching. "Maybe..."
"I mean, this all started because she was kidnapped! What teacher wouldn't accept that as an excuse as missing a stupid math test?" Minako pushed. Of course, by the time the actual test was occurring, Usagi was back and had recovered, but hopefully Ami wouldn't be so sensitive to the details. "But it's not like we can tell them WHY she missed that test!"
As she could see the shorter girl's moral resolve quickly breaking down, Minako put a hand on her shoulder and went for the killing blow. "We have to do this! Not just for a friend's future, but for the greater good of Japan! Maybe even the world!"
Ami sighed as the last of her strength to resist faded. "All right, fine. But we need to hurry." She started rubbing her chin. "The professors aren't the ones that handle things like judging whether to remove students based on their GPA, and probably won't submit their grades for another few weeks. If we change Usagi's grade in their books, then they'd notice for sure, but if I can get into the Dean's office and-" she jumped slightly as she felt something needle her arm, and she turned quickly to see one of the repair drones that had jabbed her with a leg.
"Uh... hello there," she said awkwardly, not having any idea just how intelligent the drones were, or if they could even hear and process speech. "Did... did you want something?"
The second drone scurried over next to the first across the kitchen counter, dragging a folded piece of paper via what looked like a miniature crane.
Minako and Ami stared at the pair of spider-like droid, not comprehending.
Frowning, Ami picked up the piece of paper, expecting it to be ANOTHER class that Usagi had somehow failed, or perhaps a message from the drones themselves since they didn't seem to be able to talk.
Her eyes bugged out as she read the letter, and she whirled around toward Usagi. "They kicked you out ALREADY? Your last class was less than two hours ago!"
Minako's eyes bugged out as well as she read over Ami's shoulder. "You broke some guy's leg?"
"It was an accident," Usagi mumbled weakly. "And Ranma-kun never said it was against the rules, anyway..."
"Well... hmmm... okay, yeah. This precludes pretty much anything we could have done to save Usagi's enrollment," Ami deadpanned.
"You've gotta be kidding me!" Minako gasped. "It can't end! Not like this! We have to do something!"
Ami grimaced. "Well, we'd better do it quick. She's ordered to be out of the dorm by seven o'clock tonight. They even say they'll call the police to kick her out if she isn't."
"Eh? Who'll call me?"
Both girls jumped to the side at the sound of Ranma's voice, squeaking in surprise as their hearts leapt into their throats.
"S-Saotome-san! Don't DO that!" Minako said, holding a hand over her heart. "How long were you standing there, anyway? I didn't even see you come in!"
Ranma blinked. "Not long. I've been... around. I was just checking back in to make sure Usagi-chan is okay. I'm pretty good at moving around without being noticed. Sorry if I scared you."
Ami frowned. "Isn't a bodyguard supposed to be EXTRA visible to scare away potential attackers?"
"Maybe if the potential attackers aren't an army of cyborgs and monsters," Ranma shrugged. "Besides... I'd rather not explain why I'm always hanging around the campus when I don't go to school here."
"Ah. Yeah. About that..." Minako said slowly, glancing at where Usagi was still sulking at her desk behind them. "That won't really be a problem. Usagi-chan isn't going to live here much longer."
Ami sighed. "She failed all her mid-terms. They're kicking her out of school."
"What?!" Ranma looked alarmed at the news, and raced over to Usagi. "Are you serious? How did you lose the soccer game after all the training I gave you?"
Usagi sniffled. "I don't know... I did everything you told me!"
"You didn't hit the goalie, did you? I made that mistake the first time, too. You're not allowed to make contact with the goalie."
"But I didn't!" The cyborg insisted. "I did it just like you said! 'Aim for the knees, hit the center of the line, make sure to catch the ones running for the edge of the field so they can't flank you'!"
Minako and Ami stared at the confused police officer with lidded gazes. "Suddenly it all becomes clear," the blonde deadpanned.
Ranma shook his head. "Okay, well, it doesn't make any sense to me, but we can take care of this."
"What?" Ami looked quite uncertain. "How? She's already been kicked out."
"We'll work out a deal," Ranma decided.
"I'm a bit concerned about who you meant when you said 'we'," Ami mumbled. "Do you mean us Senshi? Are we going to work together on this?"
"I meant me and the guys," Ranma said. "Snake probably has some ideas, and Kyle... well... probably doesn't."
Usagi slowly got up from her seat, looking slightly hopeful. "Do... do you mean it? Can you help?"
Ranma grinned and gave her a thumbs-up. "Don't worry about it! Just leave it all to us!"
"With all due respect, isn't that how she got INTO this mess?" Ami asked.
"Total fluke," the pigtailed man explained away dismissively. "We're way better at convincing people to do what we want than we are at tests and stuff, anyway."
"I'm just saying, perhaps it would be best if one of us were there to keep an eye on you," the bluette said cautiously.
"Keep an eye on us?" Ranma asked. "We're cops, not Frat boys."
Ami crossed her arms over her chest. "I've been to your headquarters, and I've talked to Asuka-chan."
Ranma was silent for a few moments. "My point is still technically correct..."
Usagi sweatdropped. "It's okay, Ami-chan. If Ranma-kun and the others are willing to help some more, then I accept."
"I'm just a bit concerned about what they might end up doing..." the bluette hedged, glancing suspiciously at Ranma.
Ranma smirked. "Like I said, we're cops! We're authority figures and everything! We can get this all sorted out, no problem!"
"Without shooting anyone, I hope," Ami mumbled.
Minako tsked. "Ami-chan, you need to lighten up. You're starting to sound like Rei. Weren't YOU the one who was telling US not to be too hard on these guys before?"
The genius Senshi nodded reluctantly. "Yeah, but... you're right. I'm sorry." She sighed. "It's just that Usagi-chan has been through so much, recently... I guess I'm just feeling a bit overprotective."
"Aw... Ami-chan..." Usagi's eyes started tearing up, and she rushed forward to trap the bluette in a hug as she was overcome with warm and fuzzy feelings. "I love you guys so much! I really do! I couldn't ask for better friends!"
"Well, then you should probably let go before you lose one," Minako said with a nervous smile.
Usagi blinked, and then looked down before her eyes bugged out at seeing Ami's cheeks rapidly approaching her hair in their coloring. "Ack! Sorry!"
"Cough! It's Cough! okay... I'm all right... Cough! Wow... you really don't know your own strength, do you?"
In the meantime, Ranma slunk further into the far corner of the dorm, glad he had been saved from having to make any kind of response to Ami's comment.
'I'd like to make sure no one gets shot too... but the only way to do that is to leave Snake out of it. And I can't do that, because he comes up with the good ideas when it comes to this sort of thing.'
Of course, Asuka came up with the BEST ideas, in that they usually worked, were well-received, and never ended with him being in the center of a fiery explosion. But the police captain didn't usually support the abuse of police power for personal benefit - or in this case, the benefit of a friend - so her participation was not only unlikely, but would probably end with the complete scrapping of the objective and maybe a few bruises to boot.
'Well, whatever happens, we're going to be busy tonight, which means no vampire hunts.' He sighed. 'I wish someone else could take on the stupid raids once in a while. It's exhausting...'
"Sir, there's someone here to see you," the guard said uncertainly, stepping into the overseer's office and bowing politely.
Behind a large oak desk, a rather plain-looking but taut man with a goatee frowned at the intrusion. "Well, send them away. I'm not to be disturbed now."
Ignoring the guard's slightly nervous expression, the overseer of the Lucky Six singles' club went back to staring at the girl sleeping in the corner of the room.
The girl was young, perhaps around fourteen or even younger, and had unblemished, pale skin and thin, almost gaunt look, as was the appearance usually taken on by young vampires.
Well, actually, her skin wasn't ENTIRELY unblemished. The slowly healing bloody tears in her cheek and lower jaw could certainly be considered blemishes. Her face had been wrapped loosely in bandages, but the job looked haphazard at best; none of the vampires were doctors, and even if they were, there were very few medical experts who would know what to do with an injured midian who wasn't yet capable of regeneration. The best they could figure was that they didn't want to tie the bandages too tightly, or else the bones might not be able to grow back in the proper place... or something to that effect.
The overseer's neutral expression shifted into a hateful scowl, his lip rising over sharply pointed canines. This girl was a favored thrall of his; an attractive, rebellious teen who had desired to find some manner of freedom from her strict and unforgiving parents. Such an attitude by mothers and fathers were greatly appreciated by vampires, as tight rules helped keep their children virginal while creating an undercurrent of resentment for the newly turned vampires' minds to grasp onto when it came time for them to rationalize their new existence.
She had returned to him after her first solo hunt with her jaw caved in and tears streaming down her cheeks... along with other, more repulsive fluids. He had been unable to make any sense of her pained mumbling and choked sobs, so he still wasn't sure what happened, but he got the distinct impression that what happened was no accident.
There were people on the streets who lived the hard life, going without reliable shelter or steady income, and they tended to fight back in their final moments with whatever weapons they carried around with them. Though it was very rare that they even managed to hit the one preying on them, much less hurt the creature, lucky shots did happen, and in these days where the danger of the nighttime streets was becoming more and more obvious, those who had no shelter were taking more precautions.
If it had been some random street tough and his crowbar that had hurt the girl, and that fellow was still alive, then he would dearly wish he had simply bowed his head and died there.
The man turned sharply as his office's guard crashed through the door, and he opened his mouth to reprimand whoever was coming through after him.
His words died a quick and painful death as he recognized who had just hurled his minion through the door; and thus, who he had just denied a meeting with. "K-K-Kimiko-sama! It's you! I... I had no idea that... I mean, I couldn't... uh..."
The vampire on the ground coughed painfully for a moment, then noticed his superior's response to the appearance of the woman. "Eh? Is she someone important, boss?"
The overseer looked horrified as Kimiko glared down at the guard, her eye twitching. "I grow more and more weary of the foolishness brought about by these moronic operations. Are we so numerous now that some of us aren't aware of the chain of command?"
"I-I'm sorry!" The overseer pleaded, rushing around his desk and bowing deeply. "The fault is mine! We were ordered to increase security so suddenly, I gave him no training! He doesn't know any better! Forgive him!"
"At the least you could have chosen someone with manners," the platinum-haired woman snapped before turning toward the man on the ground. "You there! I don't know what sort of upbringing you had, and I don't care. But abandoning your humanity is no excuse for abandoning all pretense of civilization. From this day forward, you will greet guests kindly and defer to them, asking their name before you arrange their audience with your superior. Is that clear?"
The man stared at her blankly, then flipped to his feet in a show of dexterity that would have impressed anyone... if they were human and not particularly athletic. "Who the hell do you think you are, coming in here and talking to me like that? How about a little RESPECT, bitch?"
The overseer's eyes widened in horror.
Splortch! The vampire guard emitted a high-pitched shriek as his back burst open and the contents of his abdomen spurted out onto the floor. He didn't know what to do; he didn't know what he COULD do. One moment the woman had been rolling her eyes, as if she was about to let the whole thing go, and the next, the silk mantle around her neck was suddenly rising, as if lifted by a sudden breeze. The moment after that... well, here he was, impaled on what he was starting to suspect was more than just a fashion accessory.
Kimiko snorted as the guard started rasping and coughing up globs of blood and other fluids. "Since you seem a bit slow on the uptake, I'll spell it out for you; being rude not only lets people know that YOU'RE an incompetent moron who thinks his very important job of standing in front of a door makes him better than everyone else, but it also reflects poorly upon your employer... think about it. If you insult a guest, and you're put in the guest's way by Johta, then it may as well be Johta himself insulting that guest. And who knows what that individual has to offer? Money, supplies, information, protection... all lost, because you decided your pride was more important than common courtesy."
Then she blinked, as if suddenly remembering something. "Oh. Also, this sort of thing won't happen." She gestured to the mantle gently quivering within the vampire's body. Then the mantle lifted him up into the air, and swifly retracted itself from the guard, letting him fall onto the floor with a wet Splat! "I mean, LOOK at this mess. Who's going to pay to have that carpet spot-cleaned? Are you going to give the cleaners attitude too?"
In response, the guard gurgled incoherently, and spat up another puddle of fluids onto the floor.
"... Kimiko-sama..." the overseer, apparently named Johta, finally gathered the nerve to speak. "... You show great restraint and patience to leave this fool in one piece. I am deeply grateful, and apologize once again for this incident." He bowed deeply, though in his head he was annoyed that she had not simply killed the fool. Now he had to do so himself after she left; no one could get away with treating a vampire lord like that, and what Kimiko hadn't taken out of the guard's hide she would deduct from his standing among the superiors.
"Nonsense. I would never kill someone over an insult. I have nothing to gain from this one's death." She stepped forward over the writhing midian, and a chair slid out of the corner to rest behind her just before she sat down.
The guard groaned pitifully, and did his best to drag himself to the door after finding that his legs had been rendered useless. Evidently the vampiress's mantle had punched through his spine. All damage that would heal, of course, but given that he was less than a month dead, it would take days.
His plight was largely ignored by the two older vampires. Kimiko opened her mouth to speak, and then frowned as she noticed the girl curled up in the corner. "What's wrong with her?"
"She took something in the face while she was out feeding this morning; I'm not sure what." Johta sighed regretfully, though he was glad he had a topic to take attention away from the man bleeding all over the floor of his office. "She got back just after daybreak and fell right asleep. She still hasn't woken up... even with all that noise we were just making..."
"A regenerative trance," Kimiko decided after a moment. "It looks like she fed before she was hurt, so she'll sleep straight through the night and probably all day tomorrow. After that she should be fine. Though I'd rather like to know what hit her..."
Shaking her head, Kimiko pursed her lips as she brought herself back to the uncomfortable reality of why she was here.
Kimiko had been ordered to slaughter the DAPC. She had been serving under Ran long enough to know that showing up at his doorstep and asking forgiveness for her failure wasn't really an option. Oh, he wouldn't kill her for failing him or anything so cliche as that, but rather he'd simply yell at her a lot and then send her out to complete the same task again. Ran tended to approach every problem like a target that would eventually fall so long as he fired enough shots at it, and always kept firing until it did so. Such stubborn perseverance had its advantages, but more often than not for a vampire it was an impediment to rational thinking. Kimiko considered herself an expert at rational thinking, so she would know.
The main problem was that she had expended the unlives of two elder vampires fruitlessly; she couldn't confirm a single death among the enemy's ranks - though she imagined that they MUST be numerous - but everyone in her strike force save herself had been cut down. This was beyond unacceptable, and frankly she didn't know how her master would react to the news. Yamato in particular had known Ran for more than two centuries, and they had been good friends as well as master and subordinate.
Although vampires WERE entirely ageless, there were few indeed among their number that could claim to be more than even a century old. They were the elite, having come from a time when the old ways had been followed and new midians were scarce; masters of stealth, cunning, and discretion, open combat was somewhat new to them, but their powers were formidable and their wisdom honed from witnessing the passage of entire generations of humans.
And yet it had not been enough. Somehow, human ingenuity and modern weapons had triumphed against centuries of experience and dark magics right out of man's worst nightmares.
There were times when she really hated being right.
"There has been a grave miscalculation in a mission I was carrying out," she mumbled darkly, and Johta flinched. She had not seemed nearly so disturbed when his guard had insulted her, and the flash of emotion frightened him quite badly. "My assassination team was wiped out. I require ten vampires, in addition to your own services."
She realized after she had retreated that despite all her common sense and caution, she had made an idiotic tactical error in waiting until the DAPC was more or less together and then assaulting them in a fortified building well-supplied with weapons. She had been acting like her younger brethren, assuming that victory was assured from the start and planning the attack in such a way to simply minimize the time it would take.
If she had been patient, like the vampire lords she had idolized during the first decades of her undeath, she would have taken the assassin's path, tracking them down to their homes one by one and slaying them in their sleep when they were alone and trapped.
She sighed as she watched the overseer ponder her request carefully. It was too late; her best allies were slain and the humans would now be on their guard. But she would try again, and this time she would lead the attacks personally. That way, at least if they were all wiped out again she'd be spared the humiliation of having to explain things to Lord Ran.
"Is MY personal participation absolutely necessary?" Johta asked, being careful not to look too put-upon. "There are many tasks I have to see to here, and fights start easily nowadays when I'm not around."
"I understand, but this task is of the utmost importance, coming from Lord Ran himself," Kimiko explained, satisfied at the wince she got from the younger vampire at the mention of their lord's name. "I cannot risk further delays," she continued, being careful to keep vague exactly what the "delays" were that she had already suffered, "and should I fail, Lord Ran would be MOST displeased. And when Lord Ran is displeased, I'm usually quite displeased as well."
The sound of the office door closing could be heard from behind the two conversing vampires, and Kimiko smirked as she glanced at the blood smear running from behind her chair back to the door where the severely wounded guard had just made his exit. "You've seen that I can be rather vindictive when someone disappoints me. Not as much as others, perhaps... but it would be best for all concerned if you'd follow orders."
"Understood," the overseer said calmly, despite the threat. It was true, after all, that the vampiress before him was far more rational and forgiving than any of her peers. He didn't want to test the limits of that patience. "I will make preparations immediately. When will we be leaving?"
"You can expect... hmmm..." She frowned for a moment. "Did you hear that?"
"Hear what?" Johta asked, blinking.
Kimiko concentrated, extending her unnaturally sharp hearing to an even greater and more sensitive range. It was a difficult skill, as she was right next to a night club, and the din of music and the people talking over it punished her delicate ears, but she was among the elite of the elite, and such things were not beyond her.
"Kimiko-sama? Is something wrong?"
The vampiress's frown deepened. "It was a cracking noise... like something breaking... or maybe a gunshot? And now..." Her head snapped up. "Footsteps. Lots of them. Somebody's marching this way. It sounds like there's some sort of scuffle going on, too."
Johta blinked, not understanding what was going on. "What? Within the club? It's probably just-"
"No, from outside the club," she said quickly, cutting him off. "From about... twenty meters from the premises in that direction," she pointed toward the office door.
"And... you can HEAR that?" The overseer boggled.
"The footfalls are heavy. Too heavy." She glanced at Johta. "Prepare an evacuation. I do believe the Central Organized Response Echeleon has found us."
Johta's eyes widened.
Kimiko was wrong. Completely, utterly, horribly wrong.
But in the end, she may have wished she had been right.
"Eh? What's that?" One of the four guards holding the front of the night club leaned over a bit as he saw a red glare piercing the shadows of a dark alley ahead, trying to glance at what was hiding further in.
With his vampiric night vision, the darkness was little impediment, and he could easily make out a tall, heavy-set figure in a long coat stepping out of the alley.
He could also see the large rifle slug across the intruder's back, but that wasn't what grabbed the midian's attention. "Wh-What the hell?" The intruder's face was entirely covered by a metal plate with a single red lens where its left eye should be, and his left arm ended in ragged stump into which led dozens of wires and a thick metal rod connected to a bizarre mechanical claw.
The other guards turned, and the one of them that was armed drew his pistol rapidly, aiming at the bizarre intruder. In response, the cyborg stopped in place and turned its head dumbly toward them.
Blam! Blam! Ptnk! The tiny 9mm. bullets from the midian's pistol bounced harmlessly off of the various metal plates under the plain brown trench coat, and the cyborg turned its body toward the guards, stopping and waiting as four more of the biomechanical soldiers stomped out of the alley behind him.
Blam! Blam! Blam! Click! The lone armed guard gulped as his pistol clicked empty and numbly stared at the five intruders along with the other guards as they lined up and stood in place. He hadn't expected to actually need the weapon and therefore hadn't bothered to bring additional ammunition; after all, who could he possibly face that he'd actually need a gun to fight them?
More heavy footfalls alerted the guards to someone approaching from the streets down from the main alley, where their patrons usually came from. Six more of the strange cyborgs in trench coats stomped forward in a plain line formation, with a seventh leading them to the front.
The one in the lead seemed different, though, and the vampires' eyes were immediately drawn to him. He was clearly a cyborg, but his movements were sure and steady, rather than the slow, clumsy-looking gait of the others.
"H-Hey! What's going on here? What are those things? Who are you?" One of the other guards asked. The vampires were on edge, unable to decide on whether to charge or flee. They were fairly certain that they had to do one of them, as their senses screamed that the intruders were indeed hostile, but were paralyzed at that decision, each of the midians waiting to see what their comrades would do before they made their move.
Igov smiled around the cigarette in his mouth. "Creatures of the night, Igov comes in peace! We seek audience with your leader, so that our peoples may yet prosper together in harmony." More cyborgs filed up behind the first two groups, stopping in careful formations of ranks.
The vampires stared, too confused by the introduction to make any progress on their fight-or-flight response. "No dice, freak," one of the vampires snorted, "We don't make deals with walking hunks of fresh meat, even if they happen to have bits of metal sticking out of them.
Igov blinked. "Ah. Well, is for the best." He shrugged as he snapped his fingers.
Immediately, the cyborg soldiers reached behind them, grabbing the bolt rifles on their backs and moving into firing position.
"Igov not make deals with walking hunk of rotten meat, even if still look fresh. Igov kindly ask you to perish now."
The "lead" vampire, being the one that had managed to actually find a handgun to use, made his decision and dashed toward Igov. His friends leapt to the side, moving for the smaller concentration of cyborgs that had come up from the secondary alleyway.
Gunshots momentarily cut through the nighttime silence, and two of the charging nosferatu fell to the ground, the force of the cartridges killing their momentum at the same time they blasted bloody chunks of flesh and bone out the midians' backs.
The last vampire, either through wild dodges or sheer luck, managed to avoid the initial volley, and leapt snarling into the cyborgs' ranks, grabbing hold of one soldier's rifle and lurching forward to bite deeply into its neck.
The guard was surprised at the amount of resistance he got from the skin, as well as the general lack of panicked flailing that he usually got from his victims, but dug his fangs in as deep as he could before drinking deeply of the tangy, bitter, unidentifiable substance that was now leaking out of the cyborg's neck.
As slow as the cybernetic soldier was in reacting to this threat, it took advantage of vampire's vulnerability in his current position, releasing its rifle and then slamming a fist into the creature's stomach before activating its melee weapon.
Thoonk! The vampire gagged and released his victim as a heavy pile punched through his stomach and out his back, and writhed about painfully as the cyborg swung its arm and tossed him to the ground.
Stepping forward roughly, the cyborg pinned the midian down with its foot, ignoring the thick, dark fluids seeping from its neck and dripping down its shoulder.
Target incapicitated. Initiate termination protocol.
The other cyborgs, which had been more or less standing in place after the initial assault, turned and aimed their weapons at the downed vampires trying to crawl away to safety.
Br-aap! Br-aap! Br-aap! Br-aap! Br-aap! Br-aap!
Igov spat out his cigarette as the lead vampire closed rapidly, preparing his defense for any odd weapons or truly impressive strength from the creature.
He needn't have bothered. When the vampire slashed at his face, the Russian simply grabbed his arm and swung him to the side, dislocating the midian's shoulder and smashing him into the alley wall hard enough to leave cracks among the smear of blood.
"Weakling. Your kind dare to prey upon humans?" Igov asked imperiously, stepping up to the undead man.
The vampire jumped up suddenly and lunged, but Igov stopped him again, this time by clamping his right hand over the midian's face.
The vampire clawed desperately at the cyborg's arm, but where sharp, hardened nails would have sliced through ordinary flesh and muscle, they only managed to rip up Igov's sleeves. "Igov is disgusted that you cause so much trouble. We will end your misery." Crunch!
Snorting, the general shook his hand to rid it of the gore and bone fragments as he turned to watch his army move into position.
"Boss, you sure about this? This raid seems kinda... risky, you know?"
As the specks of vampire turned to dust on his hand, Igov glanced behind him at the genetically enhanced terrorists forming up the rear ranks behind the cyborgs. Having independent officers in charge of his units was annoying when there were so few suitable men for the job, but it was a necessary problem; the cyborgs were extremely slow to respond to changing battlefield conditions on their own if not following orders, and he was usually too busy fighting or monologuing to control the entire army himself.
"Do you have concern you wish to share?"
The terrorist winced. Igov wasn't particularly vindictive or impatient, but as a rule, soldiers in such organizations as the Freedom's Angels had to be very careful about questioning their superiors. "If we're really fighting vampires - and judging by the choppers on that creep who just disintegrated, we are - wouldn't it have been better to attack during the day?"
Igov nodded. A simple question from a simple mind. "It would make battle easier, yes. But vampires unlikely to congregate during day, and also much weaker. If attack at night, these creatures believe they can win, and can be forced to make stand. During day they have no chance, so they have no choice but retreat. With our limited ability to pursue through city streets, it is imperative that we destroy targets, not rout them." He glanced over at the muscle-bound warrior, his optical implant rotating with a soft whirring noise. "Do you find fault with plan?"
"No... No, I guess not," the terrorist mumbled, moving past his superior meekly. He didn't really see anything wrong with chasing the vampires away instead of fighting them down to the last one, but then, he was the genetically enhanced muscle and Igov was the tactical genius with a machine gun in his hand.
"Good. Advance troopers and launch assault on my signal. Go!"
"Are you sure? How did they find us?" Johta asked worriedly as he moved around his desk.
Kimiko scowled, her fangs lengthening. "Gee, I wonder. What with armed security standing around a singles' club and wounded vampires limping back to roost, how hard would it be to track us here?"
The overseer glanced over at his thrall, looking uncertain. "Surely you don't think-"
"We must hurry!" Kimiko interrupted, opening the office door sharply and slamming it against the wounded guard that had only recently managed to drag himself back to his feet at his post. "They're surrounding us!"
The vampiress frowned as she looked over the railing at the main floor below, where unsuspecting humans and vampires danced and mingled. "We need to evacuate. A fire alarm should do it."
Johta winced as he followed after her. "Isn't there some other way? Why can't we fight them off? How strong can they be?"
"I don't know, and I don't intend to find out. The humans have surprised me too many times recently, and it's been a rather unpleasant streak," she murmured. "Now let's see... we have a few moments. The authorities must have ascertained that there are normal humans here. They won't attack if there's a danger of harming civilians."
Crash! Tinkle! Crash!
The vampiress blinked and looked down through the mass of confused people as the shaded windows suddenly shattered inward, spotting the object that had been used to break them; a small metal cylinder.
"Gas grenades! Damn!"
Once again, she was wrong.
Boom! Boom! Boom! Screams and pained shouts started rolling through the crowd as the grenades started exploding violently, sending viciously scything metal shards into the tightly packed throng within the club.
Kimiko blinked some more, her mouth hanging open. "Fragmentation grenades? ... That's downright mean."
The crack of gunfire momentarily rose above the screams of the panicking crowd, and more glass rained down onto the floor as rifle fire poured in through the windows and cutting into the club occupants indiscriminately.
Kimiko snarled and turned to the overseer. "Grab anyone strong enough to climb a wall bare-handed. We'll escape through the roof."
"Wh-What?" Johta looked flabbergasted as he watched humans and vampires run toward the entrance in a disorderly tide. "And leave them all here to die? Can't we fight back?"
Wham! The crowd scrambling for the front entrance pulled back as it was kicked in from the outside, sending the splintered remains of the door rolling into their feet.
A single figure strode purposefully into the club, ignoring the background of screaming and volleys of gunfire. The red lens that glared brightly where his left eye should have been swept across the fearful crowd, and human and undead alike flinched back in fear and confusion.
Behind the Russian General, dark, looming shapes started shouldering through the doorway, their weapons held at the ready. More red lights from sensors and lenses glared at the crowd from armored faceplates and peeked through folds in bandage wrappings and scarves. Each one of the biomechanical soldiers was different, a unique example of twisted mechanical artistry. Some looked entirely human save the bright red sensors that replaced their eyes, their implants hidden under folds of thick clothing. Others were bizarre monstrosities with strange, mechanical hands, whirling buzzsaw blades, and extra servo-articulated limbs mounted on their shoulders and torso.
One vampire's fear inspired him to action rather than paralysis, and he dashed out of the crowd with his fangs bared, careless of the humans that were watching.
Igov's hand snapped upward as the midian's fingers dug through a thin layer of false skin, only to find near-impervious armor underneath. Grabbing the undead by the throat, the Russian snatched his body right off the floor, and then grabbed one of the vampire's legs, holding the creature up parallel to the floor as it thrashed about uselessly.
KrrrrhHP! The crowd watched in stupefied horror as the vampire was literally torn in half before their eyes, and people in the throng started moving backward toward the other end of the building, braving the rifle fire rather than facing the cyborgs at the front entrance.
Igov carelessly tossed the lower and upper torsos in his hands aside, and then swatted another vampire away that tried to charge him, knocking the midian back into the chaos of the panicked mob.
Raising one hand, he briefly motioned forward. "Fire at will."
Chak! Chak! Ch-chak! Numerous rifles fell forward into firing position, and Igov's firing line opened up on the throng.
"Tch! This is worse than I expected. Much worse. Who ARE those... things?" Kimiko said, turning her gaze away from the rapidly thinning crowd below.
After a few seconds of trying to ignore the screams and gunshots, Johta rushed back out of his office with four other vampires in tow and the now awake vampiress from his office in his arms.
Kimiko scowled. "We're leaving, and we're not taking any wounded with us. Leave the girl here."
The overseer gaped as the girl in his arms clutched him tighter. "Wh-What? But I couldn't, she-"
"That was an ORDER, Johta, not a request," the vampiress snarled. "This isn't even a retreat anymore; it's a rout. Anyone who can't jump and scale walls on their own-" Her shoulder suddenly burst into chunks of dark red gore as a rifle round punched through it, splattering blood all over the floor.
She glanced at her wound in annoyance as it regenerated, then glared at the overseer, who seemed paralyzed with indecision, and the younger midian, who was quite clearly paralyzed with fear. "Come on, you fool!" Her mantle lashed out and smacked the young vampiress aside, and then she grabbed hold of Johta's arm before pulling him quickly toward the roof access. She herself could simply float upward through the ceiling, of course, but none of these others had even power enough to levitate, much less phase through solid matter.
The girl let out a muffled whimper as she rolled to the ground, and then a brief look of determination crossed her features as she got up to follow the retreating elders.
Spack! Spack! Thunk! She flinched away as the wall in front of her burst into small explosions of wood and drywall, and she glanced anxiously at the throng below.
The cyborgs had advanced into the club proper now, wading into the carpet of dead and dying and shooting into the retreating crowd pushing outward toward the rear exit. Some were battling vampires in melee that had decided to fight rather than get cut down from behind, and those attacked slowly but firmly with whirling blades and bone-splintering hydraulic piles as the midians clawed, tore, and bit uselessly at the automatons.
She started to move forward again, only to stop as another vampire jumped up through the splintered railing to the side of her, clawing furiously to get up onto the higher floor.
Brakka-brakka-brakka! The vampire's back was ripped apart as a spray of gunshots dug through his spine and ribcage, and bits of blood and flesh splattered across the carpet as he slowly slid back over the edge of the floor, falling back down to the lower level as his body started to disintegrate.
The girl couldn't quite explain what drew her to seek out the source of the man's demise instead of trying again to escape, but she timidly crawled to the edge of the floor, poking her head out above the shattered wooden railing to look down into what used to be the club's dance floor, and was now a carpet of corpses, blood, and metal.
A single red eye glared back up at her, and her breath caught in her throat.
'That... That man... with the gatling gun arm, he... he's the one who... I...' she scrambled backward until she hit the wall, her body going even colder than usual as she trembled. 'He followed me. Somehow... he followed me back. This... This is all my fault...'
Igov stared up at the second floor for a few more moments, and then reached behind him to get another vampire that was trying to get at his throat.
Grabbing the undead creature by the shoulder, Igov shoved his gatling gun into the midian's chest and fired off a brief salvo, blowing the creature's chewed-up torso out its back.
Stopping only for as long as it took to toss the body to the side, the Russian turned to another cyborg that was pinning another vampire to a column and slowly crushing her skull in one hand while restraining her arm with the other.
"Sergeant, send small detachment up to second level immediately. Find original target and secure for transport. They are ordered to hold fire until further notice," the general said.
The soldier turned toward him briefly. Affirmative. Relaying commands. Unit three moving into target area.
Turning back to its foe, the cyborg released the vampiress's arm before pressing its fist up against her head.
BLAM!! The concealed shotgun blew the midian's head into scraps, and the cyborg stepped down for a moment as it accessed its communication relays.
Units seven and nine are reporting that they have successfully held the barricade. All enemy targets neutralized. Sniper team Beta reports that a small detachment of enemy units have made it to the roof, and-
It stopped suddenly, and swiftly grabbed up its rifle before aiming it at someone trying to crawl past underneath the tables.
Igov glanced at the man that had frozen in terror at being sighted, and shook his head. "Hold fire. That one is human. Is not enemy. Do not waste ammunition."
Affirmative. The cyborg intoned sharply, turning away from the man as he scrambled further toward the door. Heavy assault team Omega is on standby for pursuit of fleeing enemy units. Orders?
Igov smirked as he twisted a segment of his left bicep, causing dozens of spent bullet casings to sprinkle onto the floor from his elbow. "Launch pursuit. I will lead the hunt personally." Letting his arm fall back into place at his side, the Russian's body briefly glowed with a bright blue-white corona, and then vanished without a trace.
"Hurry, hurry!" Kimiko snapped as she floated up through the roof of the building, watching impatiently as the other vampires clambered swiftly up the ladder. Normally she would have expected any adult vampire to simply leap up such a paltry height, but they were undergoing a rather traumatic experience so she cut the young fools some slack.
Johta in particular seemed to climb to the roof as if he were carrying lead weights, his face straining to remain cold and neutral.
Kimiko fought down a groan and decided that either a sympathetic pat on the back or a cold, heartless scolding was due after they escaped. She had no idea why the overseer was so attached to that teenage brat - though she suspected there was a significant sexual factor - but he'd have to get over it. It was moments like this where only the strong survived and the weak were trampled beneath their feet.
The vampiress glanced over the edge of the roof toward the back, and winced as she saw a steady stream of people, human and vampire, rushing out into the streets only to find a sandbag barricade in front of them... complimented with a small squad of the strange cyborg soldiers and a few heavy machine guns. Those vampires that tried to break off from the crowd or climb the walls were being ambushed and engaged in hand-to-hand combat by strange identical redheaded women in form-fitting outfits that, oddly enough, seemed to be winning those particular fights.
'What is all this? These are not ordinary foes... it would seem that we've stepped on some dangerous toes indeed.'
She turned to her fellow vampires and pointed to a spot high on the wall of the adjacent building. "Over there. Those strange women are concentrating on the crowd evacuating. We can escape-"
Thwip! One of the nosferatu let out a strangled cry as he slumped forward, a new hole in his skull.
"Snipers too? Damnation!" She snarled. "Leave him! To the walls! As fast as you can, run!" A bullet pierced her own skull, spilling blood and fluids into her long mane of platinum hair, but she ignored it as flesh and bone moved to plug the hole and push the bullet out onto the roof.
The four remaining vampires from the club leapt to the adjacent building, touching lightly on the surface and then scrambling upward rapidly in a manner not unlike geckos.
Kimiko was more graceful, and floated upward at a speed to match the lesser midians' progress.
Thwip! Another of the vampires spasmed suddenly as blood splattered across the wall in front of him, and he lost his grip, plummeting down to the ground below.
'Tsk. They're the oldest of this group... but still so young.' She shook her head.
The death of their comrade seemed to spur the other vampires on faster and they clambered up onto the high-reaching roof of the tenement adjacent to the club, their eyes darting nervously from side to side.
Kimiko disgustedly blocked a sniper bullet with her mantle as she touched down on the roof with her subordinates, searching about for the best escape route.
She fought off a sigh as she looked at her fellow midians; their eyes darted from side to side nervously, and despite the fact that vampires were quite impervious to even the mild discomfort caused by a late evening chill, a few of them were trembling.
These creatures had been undead for less than a year, but the harsh reality that they could be hunted down, could be driven out, could be KILLED struck them like a hammerblow. No doubt they had all been victims of the same sweet allure, the shaky facade that vampires were kings among cattle and conquerors of death. These ones had not been schooled as she had been in the danger presented by those they hunted, and the deceptive frailty of their bodies.
She walked across the length of the roof, forcibly ignoring the lingering screams and spurts of gunfire below. She then pointed to the next rooftop adjacent to the one they were standing on. "There. We can make our way across the rooftops to the graveyard, and enter the sewer via the mausoleum tunnels."
"The sewers? Why? Can't we just go to one of the other hideouts?"
"If they followed us here, they can follow us there," Kimiko snapped. "Until we know more of their methods for tracking us, we will use EXTREME caution."
"This is wrong..." Johta mumbled. "This is all wrong! How could they do this? How could they find us and beat us so easily? At night, with so many of us?"
"Tsk. Johta-kun, you'll find that in this world, there are many things more terrible and powerful than the vampire. Humanity is one of them; you'd do well to remember that." She hesitated for a moment. "I suppose you can include those... things below as well, if they aren't human themselves."
The assembled nosferatu looked absolutely devastated at the news, and Kimiko fought off a sigh. "Let's move quickly. We may have only a short time before-"
Shoooooft! The vampires' head all snapped toward a glowing mass of blue and white energy that appeared on the rooftop they were about to leap to, and they snarled when it faded away to leave a tall, foreign man with light gray hair, a cybernetic eye, and a gatling gun for an arm.
Kimiko's eyes narrowed, but she held her position. This enemy was an unknown power, much like that blonde girl had been. So long as she held her peace, however, she too was an unknown power; few were able to guess at her strength and abilities by looking at her.
Igov gazed at the undead on the adjacent roof, and he slowly took out a carton of cigarettes out of his pocket as he spoke. "This was good raid. But is... sad, that coven of such creatures as you not provide better defense." He clenched the last of his cigarettes between synthetic polymer lips and tossed the carton away. "Is this all that ancient, feared vampire has to offer?"
Before any of the others had a chance to say something stupid, Kimiko spoke up in a firm, clear tone free from any fear or arrogance. "Perhaps it is. Did you attack seeking a challenge? Why are you here?"
Igov looked up, his biological eye locking gazes with the vampiress. "Igov is here as exterminator, nothing more. You feed on men. Igov objects to this. Igov will crush you all, so that men are safe. Surely you filth expect such things."
One of the midians snarled angrily and looked like he was about to speak, but Kimiko silenced him with a glare. This was not lost on the general.
"Pardon my rudeness, but you do not seem... how to put this tenderly... human," Kimiko said wryly. "What right have you to judge us as monsters?" Her ears twitched slightly in the late evening chill as a distant roaring sound was heard above another volley of rifle fire.
"Hmmm..." the cyborg seemed to seriously consider the question as he rolled the cigarette about between his lips. "One may not call Igov... 'human,' but Igov still clings to humanity as species of birth, if nothing else." He raised an eyebrow. "What troubles vampires so that they so quick to kill and eat own kind?"
"We cannot help our nature," the vampiress said, distracted as she was trying to glance about her discreetly to spot the source of the noise. Judging from the sudden nervousness of her companions, she wasn't the only one, either.
Igov simply snorted. "Humans choose own nature. Are you truly so weak, you cannot hold onto even this?" The source of the noise became apparent as two large, bulky shapes rocketed over the nearby buildings, cresting the roofs as moonlight glinted off of their blue armor.
Fzsht! Igov smirked in amusement when the midians across from him winced from the sudden flash of light produced by his Tesla claw as he lit his cigarette; while both he and the undead were fighting in extremely low light, neither of them suffered any hindrance from it. Bright light, on the other hand...
Kimiko watched carefully as the two blue-plated robots gently set down atop the roofs of the building to either side of her group; they were now boxed in, with guns to the front, to both flanks, and an army to their rear. Which way to go...
"Do not trouble me, tin man," the vampiress said suddenly as her mantle billowed out, stretching wide to curl around her entire company, blocking any fire from any side. "I am in the middle of a retreat. You have seen vampires in battle; disorganized, foolish, and easily panicked. You would not wish to face such a beast that's been cornered."
'This woman... she is playing a different game than the others...' Igov wasn't sure what it was about her that tipped him off, but he sensed that the platinum-haired midian was definitely the leader... and perhaps more. The others, though obviously agitated and frightened, refused to act out of turn or interrupt her speeches, and she seemed to be willing to protect them instead of launching an attack.
Igov smiled at the woman through her mantle as the Devastator-class boomers leveled their heavy cannons.
"My good lady... There is no retreat here. There is only blood and ash." He tapped the button on his optical peripheral.
Kimiko was prepared for the robots to open fire. No matter how powerful their shots were, she had been determined to stand firm through the first volley, and then escape through one of the boomers as the dust settled.
She was utterly unprepared for the two robots to instead activate their high-beams, splashing spotlight-power rays of light through her mantle and into her unprepared retinas. She spat a curse as her eyes clamped shut, as did many of her companions'.
THEN the boomers opened fire.
At the roof under the vampires' feet.
Igov smirked as the top floor of the building collapsed into a cloud of dust and rubble, confident that the midians had been too stunned to react well to the fall.
Two more explosions threw more brick and debris into the air, and the boomers up top launched their full salvo of rockets down into the caved-in roof of the tenement.
He briefly considered adding his own firepower, but relented as one of the heavy cannon shells tore through a key support, and the entire structure shook violently as it started to crumble.
"This is General Igov to all teams," he spoke quickly, fingering his radio antennae, "the eastern structure has sustained heavy damage and may topple. All units, clear out to twenty meters."
A deep rumble momentarily drowned out the gunfire from below, and Igov frowned as the structure started to sink, the top floors slowly collapsing one by one on the floors below.
He changed the frequency on his transmitter. "This is General Igov to decoy team. Status report."
Ksht! This is unit Red Flag, reporting. Two dispatches have broken from pursuit of the decoy teams and are headed uptown... one moment... three dispatches. Police reports are swimming with reports of heavy weapons fire in your area. ETA eighteen minutes.
"Has Core or the DAPC been dispatched?"
Core has been contacted and is readying quick response units, but it's unlikely they'll deploy in time. There have been calls made to the DAPC... but nobody at the station is picking up, for some reason.
Igov raised an eyebrow. "Curious. However, is possible they may hear of the disturbance via police radio frequencies. Order all decoy teams to withdraw; mission complete."
The cyborg glanced down at the pillar of dust that was rising from the fallen tenement, and then started setting the coordinates for a chrono jump. 'Odd that they aren't there, though. I wonder what they're doing...'
Usagi fiddled nervously with the bow on the top of her blouse as the waiter left the table, having taken her order. She was currently wearing her casual clothes against recommendations by Makoto and Minako, and was dressed in a perfectly girly but conservative pink blouse with bows and a pair of jeans.
Though she had been surprised when Ranma offered to treat her to dinner, he had assured her that his intentions were professional (his exact words were something to the effect of "I'm not tryin' to hit on your or nothing, really!"), and she believed him. Makoto and Minako both scoffed at that, and though the former expressed much regret that the pigtailed cop wasn't HER beefy-looking bodyguard and eventual body pillow, they both eagerly recommended that Usagi doll herself up and prepare for a night of romanticism and wild passion.
Judging by the fact that the man sitting across from her was dressed in uniform, complete with body armor and sidearm, Usagi had to guess that she had made the right call.
"I heard this place has some really good calamari steaks, so I thought I should try some," Ranma said, clearly a bit uncomfortable himself as he tried to stir up conversation.
"Oh, really? Maybe I should have ordered that..." the blonde cyborg said, fiddling some more as she trailed off.
There was a long, awkward silence as the both of them tried to think of something to say.
"So... uh... Ranma-kun..." Usagi squirmed for bit, uncertain.
It certainly wasn't normal for her to be so shy, but then, very little had been "normal" recently, even considering the standards to be expected in the life of a demon-hunting magical girl. Her body had been torn apart and rebuilt, her love life had been torn apart and NOT rebuilt, there were big plans and various assaults on robots and vampires and whatnot that were constantly being tweaked and put off "for the right moment," and her friends were suggesting, if not pressing, for her to take advantage of Ranma's current position as her protector and jump his bones. It was more than a little confusing, and she was far less sure of herself than she would have been otherwise.
The situation with Ranma was particularly awkward; he was very attractive, she could give him that, and had a brash, thoughtless honesty that resonated well with her. But, putting aside whether or not HE was interested, her heart still belonged to Mamoru, and Ranma wasn't a perfect substitute. As far as protecting her, sure, he was a good fighter, but he lacked the class and romanticism of Tuxedo Kamen's appearances, and he certainly wasn't very good at encouragement. Off the battlefield, Ranma was easy to talk to and kind-hearted, but he lacked the air of mature, princely dignity that Mamoru had, instead acting laid back and self-assured; honestly, it was a little intimidating.
The pigtailed man didn't look very self-assured right now, though, and it was throwing Usagi off further. Was he wondering the same things she was? Was she being judged against all the girls in his life?
Across the table, Ranma gulped down some tea as his thoughts raced furiously. 'Stupid! You don't even like calamari that much! Even if it is the specialty, you should have stuck with eel!'
"So, Ranma-kun..." Usagi tried again, catching his attention, "... are you... you know, on duty?"
Ranma nodded immediately. "Yup. Still guarding you from evil terrorist robots. Why?"
"Well, I mean..." she looked around nervously. "Did you... have a REASON for taking me out to dinner?"
Ranma blinked. "Oh. That. Heh." He slapped the back of his hand and smiled sheepishly. "Well, like I said, I'm not trying anything weird. This is just... well, it's part of the plan."
It was Usagi's turn to blink. "Plan? What plan?"
"The plan for getting you re-admitted to the college," he clarified. "Snake was very specific that you had to be away from the campus all evening, in a well-frequented area with lots of witnesses. He even suggested that I make the reservation in your name so that there's a record of you being here."
The ponytailed blonde frowned as she thought that over. "Huh... that's odd. Why?"
"Ah..." Ranma sweatdropped as he considered that question.
(A few hours ago)
"So all you have to do is take her out for a little bit. Nothing fancy, just an evening out on the town. Go for dinner, maybe watch a movie, whatever. You can make a date out of it, if you want," Snake shrugged apathetically before he pulled the ski mask down over his head.
Several sweatdrops adorned Ranma's head as he looked over at Junko and Kyle, the former of which was helping the latter decide whether to leave his hair down or to try and roll it all into the confines of the mask.
"Uh... so, wait... are you saying that she's going to need an alibi for... whatever it is you won't tell me you're doing?"
Snake chuckled and patted the pigtailed man on the shoulder. "Ranma, Ranma, Ranma... if you have to ask that, then either you already know the answer, or you don't want to know."
Junko finished with Kyle's mask, and then gave Snake a thumbs-up. "We're all ready! Let's do this!"
Ranma glanced over at the barren front desk of the DAPC lobby. "Uh... aren't you all supposed to be on duty tonight?"
Snake blinked underneath his mask. "Oh! Right! Thanks for reminding me!" He fished into his pocket for a moment, and then produced a key before tossing it to Ranma, who caught it easily. "Do me a favor and lock up, would you?"
"Well... they don't want you to worry about it, that's all," Ranma half-lied, scratching the back of his head. "I'm sure whatever they came up with will work."
"You mean they didn't tell you what they were going to do?" Usagi asked, surprised.
"No, but that's okay. I'm not worried about it," he completely lied, trying not to make eye contact.
Usagi leaned back in her chair. "Well, okay. I'm a little relieved, actually. Mina-chan and Mako-chan were SURE that this was a date." She blinked. "Uh, not that I wouldn't want to date you! It's just that, I'm taken! Or, technically, I guess I'm NOT, but I still don't think it would be good for me to see other people, so... uh..."
Ranma looked slightly overwhelmed from her babbling, but didn't want the conversation to descend into awkward silence again. "So you do have a boyfriend, huh? Or is it someone you're hoping will be your boyfriend?"
Usagi fidgeted for a moment, blushing like she always did right before she went into a long tirade about how wonderful Mamoru was. "Well, he's more than my boyfriend, really, but we're on... I guess you could say... a break, or something..." her blush faded and her expression saddened. "He... uh... didn't take the whole 'cyborg' thing very well."
"I guess most guys wouldn't... then again, you had that magical girl thing before, didn't you? How'd he take that?"
Usagi snickered a bit. "He took it pretty well. Do you remember in the park, Tuxedo Kamen? The guy with the mask and the top hat? That's him."
"Oh, that guy!" Ranma said, remembering the fellow quite well. "Huh. I guess he would work pretty well with a magical girl for a girlfriend. Heh. Those were some NASTY roses."
"Uh huh! Tuxedo Kamen is really strong!" Usagi gushed happily. "He always appears in the nick of time to save me, and he's sooooo cool! He always knows just what to say to cheer me up in the middle of a fight!"
"He sounds all right," Ranma mused. "But he didn't go for the whole cyborg thing, eh?"
The blonde girl sighed miserably. "Who can blame him?"
"Ah, c'mon! There're worse things to be than a cyborg. Hell, you're actually pretty cool!"
"Maybe I'm cool, but who would date me?" She mumbled.
Ranma shook his head. "You're thinking too hard about this cyborg thing. Like I said, there are worse things to be."
"Like what?" Usagi asked slowly, raising her head hopefully.
"Like, say... a klutz who can't cook!" Ranma answered, snapping his finger brightly.
He blinked as the girl across from him suddenly looked even more downcast. 'Maybe I should have gone with violent tomboy?'
"Uh, hey... is it really THAT important to you?" Ranma said suddenly, scratching his chin.
Usagi looked up at him hesitantly. "Uh? Is what important?"
"The dating thing," Ranma clarified. Then he carefully lowered his voice so that even a waiter brushing past their table wouldn't be able to make out what he was saying. "I mean... you're a famous magical girl, right? You have some kind of destiny to protect the world or whatever, and thousands of fans all over Japan. You've got a family that cares about you. You've got great friends at your school, and even in the DAPC. You're a cyborg, and you can sense monsters at long range, shoot energy blasts, dispense candy, surf the internet with your mind, and fly. After all that, is it really that important that you have a steady boyfriend?"
Usagi blinked. Several times, in fact.
"... Yes. Yes it is," she admitted after a long pause, slumping back in her chair.
Ranma sweatdropped. "Oh. Uh... hey! Look! Our food is here!" He said desperately, eager to cease conversation so that he could avoid driving Usagi's mood down further.
Usagi gratefully took advantage of the distraction as well. It was sweet of Ranma to try to cheer her up, but he wasn't very good at it. Food, on the other hand, was always a sure pick-me-up.
"Move! Move! On the double! Let's go!" The terrorist shouted frantically at the line of cyborgs as they stepped into the trucks, their rifles secure on their backs. Into another, more secure truck, a smaller group of the cybernetic cadavers dragged twitching, spasming vampires into the rear, leaving long smears of blood on the ground behind the wounded abominations.
One such vampire, a young teenage girl with her jaw wrapped up tightly, struggled mightily in the grip of a pair of steel, hydraulic-powered arms as she too was dragged toward the armored trailer.
"H-Hey! Hey you!" She shouted at the heavily muscled man, fighting a wince. It felt weird to talk at the moment thanks to her shattered jaw, but apparently she had regenerated enough to speak coherently. "You there! Human! Release me! Please!"
The terrorist glanced at her and snorted, though he gestured for the cyborg to halt. "What do you want, freak?"
"What are you doing here?" She asked desperately. "Who are you people?"
Pchak! The vampiress trembled as the man brought up a pistol and pressed the muzzle into her temple. "We're the Freedom's Angels, dead bitch. We work to remove ALL the enemies of the people. Today, that includes you bloodsuckers."
"Wait... Angels? The terrorists? You guys are terrorists?" She asked in disbelief. "Then... why attack US?"
The man stared at her in disgust. "Why the hell do you think? Just be thankful we don't kill all you monsters off!" Thwack! He smashed the butt of his weapon into the girl's already-damaged jaw, and smirked in satisfaction as he heard bones crack noisily from the blow. "Get this filth out of my sight!" He commanded.
The cyborg immediately stepped back toward the truck, the girl in its arms moaning pitifully.
"W-Wait... please... don't do this... I'm begging you..."
The cyborg did not stop at the sound of her voice, of course, as it was not authorized to take commands from wounded prisoners.
It DID stop as a particularly tall and very distinguished cyborg stepped in front of it.
Igov smirked down at the little midian trembling before him, his cybernetic eye shining brightly. "You feed relentlessly on helpless, and yet when defeated you ask for mercy. How... human of you."
Igov gestured with his hand, and a small group of cyborgs dragged several other vampires off to the side.
The vampire girl stared at them with wide eyes; these vampires had not been destroyed, but were severely wounded; some were missing limbs or even parts of their torso, but had not perished because their hearts and brains remained intact. They were being gathered together, but not into a truck... rather, they were being dragged into a long line, and dropped there as their carriers backed up and withdrew their weapons.
"This is fate of all your kind. Of all creatures that think to prey on humans." He snapped his fingers, and the girl flinched away as a thunderous volley of gunfire came from the cyborgs.
Igov grabbed the girl's head, turning it back to face him. "Know this, creature: nothing that stalks night and haunts men's nightmares is terrible or powerful as man himself. Look around you; these machine forged from flesh are creations of humanity, which you forsake for what? Power? Superiority? Longevity? How foolish."
"Wh-What... What are you... going to do with me?" The girl asked. Her heart would have been pounding if it beat at all.
"What we do with all monstrosities such as you:" the Russian smirked cruelly, "Dissection and experimentation. You and your kind will merely be tools in Angels' armory."
To the side of them, a group of terrified humans advanced slowly with their hands in the air, several cyborgs at their back with rifles leveled.
"General? What should we do with the humans that survived?" The terrorist asked, ignoring the vampire girl as he stepped up.
Igov glanced over them, letting go of the midian. He grimaced. "Ugh. Too young. And these ones too frightened. Leave them be." He waved his hand dismissively, and the cyborgs guiding the group immediately broke off, shouldering their rifles and heading for the trucks. The bloodstained men and women looked confused for a moment, but they all quickly started running away once they realized that none of the strange cybernetic soldiers were watching them.
"Are you sure that's okay?" The man asked, glancing at the fleeing people.
"They know nothing that can harm us," Igov reasoned, distracted by something in the nearby alley. "Is likely they do not even understand what has transpired, even after witnessing battle. They cannot harm us." He turned back toward the terrorist. "Besides, is not best that Angels be known as destroyers of undead monsters?"
The terrorist sweatdropped. "Yeah, but... we destroyed an awful lot of live humans, too."
"Details. Prepare to move out. Authorities are on their way." The Russian started to walk away, but turned and cast a final glance up at the building next to them before he shook his head and made his way to the truck.
Clinging upside-down to the edge of the building, a lone bat stared after the trucks as they moved onto the road and departed, with a few of the strange, unusually strong women clambering up the sides of buildings and following along the rooftops.
'He saw me, I'm sure of it,' Kimiko thought as she spread her wings and took off into the night. She briefly considered attacking the escaping convoy and trying to free the captured vampires, but decided against it. While she probably had surprise on her side, along with her not-inconsiderable powers, her foes may well have more surprises as well... and even if she rescued the hostages, the operation was already a total loss. The vast majority of the vampires were gone, including every one of the midians more than a decade dead, and the club was even now burning to the ground with the corpses of the fallen humans still inside.
More to the point, SHE was still alive (sort of), and she needed to report this new enemy and their weapons to Ran. Regrettably, this would also mean reporting her failure to Lord Ran as well, but Kimiko recognized that the current threat was too serious for her to be worrying about her personal standing in the face of her peoples' annihilation.
Flapping leathery wings rapidly, she made a beeline for Ran's complex, reverting to her humanoid form and landing on a rooftop as soon as she had put a mile of distance between herself and the club.
Kimiko frowned as she felt a minor wave of dizziness overcome her. "Damn. I haven't eaten since before the raid last night... And that fight was draining. I should feed before I return..."
"Mmmm, you were right! That calamari WAS delicious!" Usagi said brightly walking down the street with Ranma next to her.
"Uh. Yeah. Delicious..." Ranma stared forlornly into his empty wallet, boggling at the fact that the night's meal had cost double what it usually did. 'I didn't expect her to eat as much as me! How does she stay so skinny?'
He glanced up at her suspiciously, and then sweatdropped. 'Oh. Right. Cyborg. Well, at least she hasn't asked me for a cup of motor oil or anything weird.'
"Ooh, a convenience store!" Usagi said suddenly, skipping forward toward a gas station.
'Huh. On the other hand, dinner REALLY cheered her up.' He shrugged and smiled a bit as he sped up to catch her. "What, did you want MORE food?"
"Maybe just a little hot dog. Oh, and a soda too!" Usagi turned around.
Usagi blinked as Ranma held up his wallet, holding the folds open so that she could see the vastness of the empty space inside.
The blonde cyborg pouted. "Oh, FINE. I'll pay for it myself."
"You want a tune-up while you're here?" Ranma said, smirking. "Maybe an oil change?"
A vein popped up on Usagi's head, and she stuck her tongue out at the pigtailed boy before running into the convenience store.
Ranma whistled to himself as he waited on the sidewalk, stretching a bit in the cool late evening air.
Clang! "Ah! H-Help! Somebody help me!"
His head snapped to the side when he heard a woman cry out from a nearby alleyway, accompanied by the sound of rattling trash cans.
Being the heroic young officer that he was (and the ONLY officer of the DAPC that truly deserved that title), Ranma dashed toward the alley, slipping into it without a second thought as to his safety.
The pigtailed man was more than a little confused when he saw that the alley was completely empty.
"Yo! Anyone here? Hello? I know I heard someone just now!"
Frowning, he stepped forward past a pile of trash, expecting to find some thug holding down a girl with his hand over her mouth, preventing her from crying out.
All he saw was trash.
"But... wait... I know I-" Splortch!
Ranma stared wide-eyed at the bolt of silk cloth that would have skewered him if he hadn't jumped out of the way instinctively. His eyes first ran down the length to the end, which had stabbed quite solidly into a trash bag and into some rotting leftovers. Then his eyes ran up its length, where it seemed to be jutting out of the wall of the alley.
"Well. Ya think you've seen it all... and then something tries to stab you with a silk scarf," he mumbled aloud, poking the article of clothing to test its firmness. Despite being solid enough to stab into the trash bags, the length of the silk bolt was soft and flexible, just as any length of stretched-out silk should be.
"Hmmm... excellent reflexes for a human," a distinctly female voice muttered as Kimiko phased out of the wall, floating in mid-air.
Ranma stared at the woman for a moment, and then started rubbing his chin. "Wait, wait... let me guess..."
Kimiko blinked. "What?"
"A new robot?" The pigtailed man asked, pointing to her.
The vampiress raised an eyebrow. "No."
"Okay... some sort of super mutant lady?"
"No... a martial artist, then? That would explain the iron cloth technique."
Kimiko finally stopped to take a good look at the fellow in front of her, and noted the emblem embossed onto his body armor. "Wait a minute! You're with the DAPC?" She asked, alarmed.
Ranma blinked as he finally noticed the pointed canines in her mouth. "Ah HA! You're a vampire!" Ch-chak! He immediately withdrew his Jackal and pointed it at her.
Kimiko's expression fell as she drew her mantle back to her body. "Just great... of all the times and places to run into one of you..." Then her expression hardened, and her mantle waved about in the air before her to act as a shield. "But at least I can return to my lord with SOMETHING for my efforts. And with a full belly t-"
Kimiko's eyes widened as pain exploded in her arm, and gazed in alarm at the hole in her mantle, which had barely managed to deflect the bullet's trajectory from her face. "S-S-Silver bullets?" She winced some more as the pain started to spread slightly. "BLESSED silver. Were you waiting for me?"
Ranma lowered his gun. "Nah, not really. But now that the vampires come after us, it just made sense to back the-" he suddenly shook his head. "Wait, what'm I talking to you for?" BLAM! BLAM!
The two gunshots blew out chunks of brick as Kimiko quickly phased back into the wall she had come from and into the empty room on the other side.
"It seems my unfortunate streak continues... what to do..." she turned around and looked around the room for a moment, as if looking for something to inspire her
Then she shook her head. "What am I thinking? I just fled from seeing an entire bastion of vampires destroyed! I can't risk fighting now, not against a properly armed vampire hunter!"
Her path clear, she moved away from the wall, confident that she could simply find easier prey elsewhere.
Crunch! She was entirely unprepared for an arm to punch through the wall, grab the back of her dress, and then yank her back into the wall.
Ranma was momentarily surprised as he pulled Kimiko back only for the vampiress to go straight through the wall and come out on his side, but he wasted no time in pressing his gun to her temple.
Kimiko glanced at the pigtailed man, making a quick note of the way he was clinging to the side of a building with practically no handholds, as well as his apparent ability to put his fist through a brick wall.
Then she exploded into a cloud of bats.
Ranma nearly lost his grip on the wall as the bat swarm took off, but quickly regained his composure, and launched himself out into the swarm. "Kachuu tenshin amaguriken!" His hands blurred briefly as he passed through the dark, leathery cloud, and about half the swarm promptly fell out of the air and down to the roof below, their bodies broken.
"Tsk!" Ranma landed easily, and frowned up at the remaining swarm. Then his eyes widened. "OW!" He tried to grab for something at his back, but a single bat zipped away with unnatural speed and agility, droplets of blood trailing from its mouth.
"Damn it! Stop BITING me, you freaks!" The martial artist demanded, rushing across the roof after the bats.
He screeched to a halt when all the bats, save the one that had just escaped him, suddenly glowed a bright blue and dove down at him.
"Uh-oh. WHOA!" BOOM! BOOM! KABOOM! Ranma dashed backward as the glowing bats impacted the roof below him with explosive results, not quite doing enough damage to put holes in the roof, but doing enough that Ranma decided he definitely didn't want to get hit.
Up in the air, the bat that was Kimiko fluttered about wildly as her tiny pink tongue cleaned her fangs of the bright red blood that covered them. 'This... This incredible flavor... It's so... powerful and filling... yet...'
She shook her head momentarily to clear it, but the taste still lingered as she felt new strength pour into her body. Not her bat body, of course, but rather her spiritual force which tied the two forms together.
'I have to get away... but... but he tastes so good...' she stared down longingly at the human below as Ranma started hurling roof tiles into the advancing bats, detonating them in mid-air.
'Wait. Why DOES he taste so good?' She wondered suddenly. It wasn't a special blood type, or anything. Rather, it was as if his blood was packed with much more life energy than the average human... and there was something else, besides, in the aftertaste.
'No. He's too resourceful, too powerful, and properly armed. Escape while you can!' She started to fly away, but it wasn't long before her flight path became uncertain and wobbly. 'But it tastes SO good!'
"Ranma-kun! What's going on?"
Kimiko turned in mid-air, and a vein popped up on her tiny head as she glared at the blond cyborg rising up out of the alley, holding snacks in her arms even as the jets on her back propelled her upward.
'They know each other. Of COURSE they know each other. This is getting more ridiculous by the moment.'
"Usagi-chan!" Ranma called as he blew up another two explosive bats with ceiling tiles, "Could you kill that bat flying up there behind me?"
Usagi looked up at the single bat floating in the sky, then looked at the three remaining bats glowing blue and chasing after Ranma.
She shrugged. "Okay." Vwwwr! Rrrrrngh!
Both of Usagi's shoulderblades opened outward as articulated arms unfolded behind her. At the end of each was some sort of spherical device with a pointed rod at the end composed of magnifiers and a thick red lens at the junction.
'This can't be good,' Kimiko decided, arcing away. 'But the blood!' she thought, arcing back.
BWEEEOOOM! The bat zipped backward desperately as a bright red laser beam nearly bisected it. 'Okay! Screw the blood! I have to get out of here! I don't think I can take both of them at once!'
BWEEEOOOM! The second laser neatly sliced through the bat's left wing, and the magical creature plummeted down onto an adjacent room, landing in a burst of wood and ceiling tiles that seemed quite unusual given the creature's apparent weight.
"Gah! DIE, you stupid bat bomb thing!" Ranma jumped back as the final glowing bat dove for him again, and gathered a small spark of ki energy into his hand. "Leave me alone! Hah!" He tossed the tiny ki bolt, which slammed right into the final bat projectile.
Ranma blinked and watched in fascination as the bat didn't detonate, like the others did when he threw tiles at them, but rather fizzled away, its glow fading before its body crumbled into nothing before his eyes.
"Whoa. That was weird," he mumbled. Turning around, he noticed that Usagi was landing a few roofs away, staring at a big hole as she munched on a corn dog.
He quickly made his way over to her, and glanced down the hole she was staring at. "Did you get the bat?"
Usagi nodded happily, her mouth stuffed full. "Yeth! I thot ih thowhn, uhn ih feh doh heah!"
Ranma nodded seriously, having understood every word (when he was growing up, Genma often went on long rants when he either had his mouth full or was dead drunk, so he had plenty of practice with such things). "Well, I can't sense her anywhere nearby. How about you?"
Vrrt! Usagi's sensor fins popped up and twitched slightly before she shook her head. "Nuhp! Ah canth thenth heh eiheh! Hooh wath thah?"
Ranma shrugged. "Aw, just some vampire. Too bad she got away, though... oh well, we should probably be getting back by now..."
Usagi nodded, swallowing the food in her mouth. "Yeah! Snake-san and the others should be done by now, right?"
"Yeah, probably." Ranma stopped for a moment to rub the back of his neck tenderly, then crouched down and jumped down to the streets, landing without a sound.
Usagi followed a moment later in a slightly less graceful manner. CRACK!
Ranma winced at the small impact crater Usagi left as the cyborg got up unsteadily. "Uh... yeah... in the future, you should probably use those jets to slow your fall, okay?"
"Oops! Sorry!" Usagi said, sticking her tongue out and knocking herself on the head.
"No big deal. Let's get you back home."
"Okay! I can't wait to see Snake-san again! I wonder what their plan was to keep me enrolled in school..."
Snake looked over at Kyle. "Ready?"
Kyle nodded from where he was standing over a brunette girl who was gagged and bound to a wooden chair.
Junko nodded from where she stood at the door, listening carefully for any intruders.
"Mmmmnph! Hmm!" The terrified girl struggled a bit against her bonds, but was ignored.
Snake smirked under his mask as he picked up the phone from the oversized tracking scrambler and started dialing.
Brrrring! Brrrring! Click! Hello, this is the Kishimata residence. Who am I speaking to?
"That's not important, Kishimata-san," Snake said. "This IS dean Najoma Kishimata, correct?"
Correct... who is this? I'm very busy, and-
"And I'm sure this is important enough to warrant your attention, Kishimata-san," Snake interrupted. "Tell me, do you know where your child is right now?"
... Wh-What is this? What's going on?
"I can assure you, our intentions are benevolent and our demands are reasonable," the American said, wrapping his finger up in the phone cord casually. "There will be no monetary requests, nor will we require anything embarrassing or harmful of you. But your complete cooperation WILL be necessary. There could be... complications otherwise."
Damn you! What have you done with my son?
Snake blinked. Twice.
Then he turned around and took a hard look at the young woman tied up in the chair.
"Oh. Uh... not that child. The other one."
"What are you babbling about?" Najoma said angrily, sweat pouring down his brow. "What have you done with Renji?"
"What has who done with me, Dad?" the aforementioned boy said, poking his head into the room.
The dean gaped. "Renji! You're... You're all right!"
The boy nodded. "Yeah, sure. The game ran a little late, but we won! I'm gonna take a shower now, okay?"
Najoma watched his son go up the stairs wordlessly, then glared at the phone in disgust before hanging up. "What a disgusting prank to pull... damn drunk college brats."
Snake frowned deeply as the line went dead. "This isn't going as I had envisioned it."
Then he walked over to their captive, his hands planted on his hips. "All right you, what's the deal? The dean doesn't have any daughters." He reached up and pulled the gag down.
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" She started crying immediately. "I was just trying to get out of a parking ticket! I'm not really the dean's daughter! It was a lie! Please don't kill me!"
Snake sweatdropped. "Well, crap... does YOUR dad do anything important for the school, or at least have a lot of money?"
"No! He's a fisherman! I got into this school on a scholarship! Please don't hurt me! You can have my purse and everything in it! Even my iPhone! You can sell those on eBay for like-"
"Shut up," Snake said sharply, rubbing his temples. "Blondie, knock her out, would you? I have to make another phone call."
Kyle nodded, and took out a cloth before holding it over the girl's mouth and nose.
Brrrring! Brrrring! Brrrring! Click! Hello?
"Hey, it's my favorite cyborg! It's you-know-who! How's your night coming along? Having fun?"
Oh, hi! Yeah, it's been all right, though there was this vampire or something a little bit earlier.
"Vampire? Wow, that's interesting!" Snake said as he rubbed the back of his head. "Sooooo... now that you're out of school for good, you'll probably be looking for a job, huh?"
Huh? What do you mean?
"How would you like to become a police officer of the D-" Snake trailed off as he realized that the girl behind him was not unconscious, but was in fact struggling mightily against the genetically enhanced blonde. "Just a sec." He put the phone down. "Blondie, we're trying to knock her out, not suffocate her. You dip the rag in chloroform, THEN you put it over her mouth."
"Ohhh... I was wondering why it wasn't working," Kyle mumbled, pulling the rag away to add the proper substance.
Snake picked up the receiver again. "So, anyway, how would you like to be an intrepid enforcer of the peace? A champion of-" Clack! "-huh? Hello? You there?"
Ranma's voice came from the receiver a moment later, though it was obvious he wasn't speaking directly into the cell phone. Hey! Usagi-chan, wait! Where're you going? You dropped your phone! Hey! What's wrong, why are you crying all of a sudden?
Junko slowly walked up next to Snake, and tenderly put a hand onto his shoulder. "So... to the bar?"
Snake placed the receiver back on the telephone and the machine attached to it. "... No, I think this is more of a 'stay at home and drink yourself into a stupor' kind of night."
The redhead nodded. "Need some company? 'Cause we should all probably spend a few days lying low, just in case-"
Junko turned her head at the noise and then sighed. "Blondie drank the chloroform."
Snake groaned. "This is what I get for making a plan that doesn't involve explosives... man..."
Vampires dusted: 69
Innocent humans slaughtered: 61
Cyborgs dropped in the assault: 5 (1 + 4 buried in rubble from the collapsed building)
Terrorists killed for pretext purposes: 2
Vampires captured: 14