Chapter Twelve

Nabiki sadly returned to the party and immediately went in search of the one person she felt she could find solace in. In the dining room she found Tatewaki chatting casually with a few business associates and made her way up and placed a trembling arm around his. He could sense her trouble and allowed her to lean up against him.
"It seems my alternate half is here," he told the others around him. "Hm, and a bit tired. You must excuse me"
They walked off Tatewaki guiding Nabiki along waiting for her to speak.
"Tatewaki," she whispered, resting her head on his arm, "I'm fish food"
"I can tell there are troubles with our plan"
"Major problems." She stopped and looked up at him. "What are you doing in here anyway"
"Well, I was hungry"
"So let Tsubasa or Konatsu bring you food. You know Maeda's just chomping at the bit to pull you into his den"
"Now, now, my dear Nabiki," replied Tatewaki, gently patting her hand. "Konatsu and Tsubasa are exceeding in their blockade of our gracious host"
He took a casual glance over his shoulder and saw way across into the other room Maeda fretting angrily at Konatsu, who appeared to be confused and scared, pushing a cart back and forth blocking Okura's attempts to get past.
"Heh, heh, heh. I feel like a convoy in the Atlantic during the Second World War," he finished.
"You better hope your screen doesn't develop holes in it," said Nabiki. She recalled her current dilemma and sadly rested her head back on Tatewaki's arm. He frowned.
"Nabiki, this is not like you, although the change is quite appealing to me"
"Tatewaki, Akane got herself drunk somehow, and now she's upstairs threatening to blow our entire plan wide open if we don't get Kodachi's sobering drink up to her"
"Akane drunk? If I recall, Akane has no tolerance for alcohol"
"Yes, and now I have to figure out a way to sneak that drink up via the dumbwaiter in the kitchen without Maeda's chef or Tanyun noticing"
Tatewaki did not like the implications of that. "Hmm, maybe I should make plans to call a cab or something"
"Don't you abandon me, Tatewaki Kuno"
He laughed. "Fear not, Nabiki. I will not leave you in the clutches of Maeda. We can share the cab fare back to town"
"Tatewaki"
"Just kidding. Don't worry, I feel that you family curse is about to strike at any moment now. That should provide you with ample opportunity to get Akane her medicine"
"It's not medicine, and there is no Tendo Curse on our family"
"Let's call it ill-wanted coincidences then"
Nabiki moaned pressing her face into his chest. Tatewaki smiled enjoying this side of Nabiki Tendo. It was always a treat to see her helpless and in need, he rocked her gently and then just up ahead spotted Victoria making her way through the crowd towards them with a determined gaze in her eyes.
"Uh, Nabiki. I would not worry about Akane's problem now, but the problem you are about to have with your current supervisor"
Nabiki's head shot up and she let out a moan as Vicky approached. "Oh no, she's got that steel grip look on her face! Tatewaki, protect me"
He did not need to when a loud crash came from the kitchen. Akari burst out holding the door open gazing fearfully around while behind her everyone saw Kasumi and Jean-Claude in an old-fashioned brawl. Kasumi landed a sharp uppercut that sent the Frenchman sprawling back to the floor out of view behind the center preparation tables. She swiftly whipped off her kitchen mitts and leaped executing a vicious back-elbow drop down on Jean-Claude; who let out a throttled cry. Tanyun, laughing hard went over to break them up only to find himself tangled up in the flailing arms and fist and he too dropped out of sight.
"Uh, Round Two!" announced Akari, and she went back inside.
Vicky let out a growl, pulling at her hair and rushed off to the kitchen. There was no need to find Ukyo, giggling happily along as she passed. Nabiki shook her head and looked up at Tatewaki.
"Uh, 'coincidence'?" he asked. Nabiki could not believe this and hurried off to face her impending doom.
Tatewaki stood watching with the rest of the crowd as the battle cries increased, and then began clapping his hands. "And I was wondering when the entertainment was going to begin," he said.
The rest of the guests, too stunned to question it, just agreed and started clapping right along with him.

"And I told you not to fight with Kasumi!" shouted Vicky as she throttled Jean-Claude. The brawl's combatants were neatly separated, Nabiki and Akari holding back a struggling Kasumi while Vicky disciplined her errant chef across from them. Ukyo, sensing this was their chance casually made her way over to the dumbwaiter and activated her comlink.
Ryoga. she whispered low.
Yeah, I can barely hear you, Ukyo
Did you find the dumbwaiter yet
No. What's a dumbwaiter supposed to look like anyway
She tensed; stopping a second wishing the Eternal Lost Boy would find some bearings just for a moment. Reaching the door, Ukyo paused and observed the battle going on.
"He put extra flour in my Tempura batter! He's tried to dump vinegar onto my Gyoza!" raged Kasumi, "He keeps turning up the heat under my soups! He's even sprinkled Nutmeg on my Sashimi platters"
"Gross!" exclaimed Nabiki, "What part of France are you from? Italy"
Vicky pushed Jean-Claude further back. "Are you hard of hearing?" she said.
"But Miss Saffron! I cannot stand by and watch this debauchery of food preparations with a cleen conscious! You must allow me to coorect this woman's mistakes—GORRRARWK"
Ukyo giggled. She's throttling him again
Who? Who's getting throttled
Never mind. Carefully, Ukyo pulled the nauseous drink out from her front pocket and hid it behind her. With her free hand, she reached back and slid the door up just enough for it to fit past and then re-shut it.
Ryoga, I'm about to send the drink up
I still don't know what I'm looking for, Ukyo
Listen for the dumbwaiter and follow the sound, okay
Listen. Okay I'm listening
A few steps to her left and Ukyo made sure nobody was watching then hit the up button with her elbow, starting the dumbwaiter. In the office, Ryoga head a faint hum and desperately looked around trying to pinpoint the source of the sound. It was no good, his sense of direction or lack thereof preventing him from locating the door.
"Oh great, this must be the reason why I never get picked to go work the Visitors Information booth at the airport"
The sound began to taper off and he felt he had failed them all when a green light over next to one of the cabinets began flashing.
"Thank you, Thomas Edison!" he said and rushed over. The brown panel door slid up and Ryoga took the glass out. Ukyo! I've got it
Don't open it yet. I'll tell you when. Later, I've got to go back to my entertainment
Akane suddenly let out a short hum startling Ryoga. You better hurry, Ukyo. Akane's starting to hum
"Deyeah," grumbled Ukyo, returning to the conflict at hand.
"That is it, Jean-Claude!" shouted Vicky, "You are getting an escort… no make that two escorts with orders to pound you if you even make a move towards those stoves! Tanyun, get up off the floor"
Tanyun pulled himself up visibly shaken, clothes bedraggled. "I'm going to go get a few of the boys," he said and staggered out the kitchen door.
Ukyo came up catching Nabiki's eye. With a slight arch of a brow she signaled that the deliver was complete. Relief flowed through her and she turned Kasumi around. "Big sister, please stop fighting with Mister Jean-Claude-whatever"
"…Pierre du'Riviale Chateaugion—GAACK"
"Yeah, right. Please, Kasumi? Vicky promises you will have no more interference from him"
Kasumi glared at the rival chef and then at Nabiki. Her pleading eyes brought the steam away from her ears and she settled back into her normal calm self. Picking up her cooking mitts, Kasumi said, "I better get back to 'MY' cooking," and returned to her duties. Jean-Claude snarled at her but kept his distance.
Nabiki sighed. "So, shall we go back to the party?" she asked Vicky.
"I'll wait for Tanyun," answered Vicky. "You, the little timid one. Go get me a tall glass of water"
Akari, muttering Vicky's demeaning description of her to herself, did as she was tasked.
"Tylenol?" guessed Ukyo, receiving a narrow stare from Vicky. "Ah, yes. We better go, Nabiki. Duties call"
Grabbing Nabiki by the arm before she could protest, Ukyo pulled her along out the door…

"What's the rush?" said Nabiki as she stumbled along behind Ukyo. Ukyo did not answer leading her out to the front where Ranko and Mousse were. She chanced a quick look a round and then reached up to the comlink.
Ryoga
Yeah
Okay, you've got to get Akane to a restroom somewhere
A restroom? How am I going to find a restroom up here
Do you want too blow this for us all
Ryoga smirked knowing he should not be arguing with Ukyo at a time like this. Okay, but I don't know if I can find one on my own before Akane starts singing
Try, Ryoga, please try
Ukyo looked at Nabiki. "Akane's starting to hum"
"Damn! Did I hear you say Ryoga has to take her to a restroom"
"No time to explain." Ukyo called Ryoga again. Ryoga, have you attempted to find a restroom yet
I just got her up under my arm! This woman is not light, you know
With a grunt, Ryoga carried Akane over to the office doors. He gently opened them and peered out checking to see if the coast was clear. It was and he stepped out.
Okay, I'm in the hallway, which way now
"This boy," growled Ukyo, "How the hell did he become a police officer"
"I better go up there and help him," said Nabiki. She started to head for the stairs, but Ranko quickly tugged on her sleeve and pointed back out into the main room. There not far away stood Maeda eyeing the foursome with a suspicious gaze. Nabiki smiled and waved cheerfully at him.
"None of us can go anywhere now," she said through grit teeth.
Ranko gave Mousse a gentle nudge and whispered for him to stand still. She stepped behind him and activated her comlink. Ryoga, the only time you ever have a good sense of direction is when you have to go
So
So pretend you have to go now
Well, actually, I kind 'a do have to go
Then go
Ryoga realized that Ranko was right and turned instinctively to his left carrying his laden partner along down the hall until he reached a door at the far end. He opened the door and smiled.
Found it! he said, dragging Akane inside.
Ukyo tapped Nabiki, giving her a wink.
So what now? asked Ryoga.
Kodachi said this was going to be quick, so be ready to act
Ranko frowned. "Why?" she said, but Ukyo did not stop to explain.
Ryoga dragged Akane over to the benjo. Another low hum came form her and she began rocking from side to side as if following the beat of some unheard song.
We got to hurry! She's in happy mode! said Ryoga.
Now then, when she opens her mouth, take off the seal on the glass, hold her head and dump the contents down her throat
And then
Close her mouth, and when her eyes bulge, turn her around and watch the flow
Ranko started and her mouth dropped open in shock. "You mean like puke?" she said.
"Puke?" echoed Nabiki with surprise.
"Kodachi said it should be quick"
"No!" said Ranko. Ryoga, Ryoga don't do it
"Why not?" asked Ukyo.
But Ranko was too late with her warning. As Akane drew in a deep breath ready to let out in song and merriment, Ryoga took her by the chin with one hand and with a flick, the foil seal came off the glass. He dumped its contents down Akane's throat and then closed her mouth. Not even a second later, Akane's eyes went wide as saucers and he spun her around pointing down towards the benjo.
FOG HORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRNNNNNNNNN!
All eyes went skywards as the long droning sound carried along through the walls of Maeda's estate. Okura himself gazed up in surprise and shock wondering what this nauseating sound could be. He looked at Nabiki and her companions and started heading towards them.
"That's… why he shouldn't do it," explained Ranko.
"Uh oh, uh oh, uh oh!" Mousse called out, "Bad guy inbound"
Nabiki did not respond smiling innocently as Okura stalked menacingly over towards her. He stopped fixing a vicious gaze upon her and she winched in empathic pain. He placed his fist on his hips and waited for some sort of an explanation.
"Um… s-strong draft you have here… boss?" she said.
"What is that noise," he asked.
"What noise"
HORRRRRRRRRRRNNNNNNNNNN!
Nabiki dipped her head slightly and then grinned. "Oh, that noise!" she finished.
"What is causing that, Nabiki?" Okura asked again, just at the end of his patience.
Can I do it again, Nabiki thought to herself. She cleared her throat and leaned close towards Okura. "I didn't want to embarrass anybody, boss, but uh… one of the guests got a tad bit… sick"
"Sick"
"…okay, more like drunk sick"
"Drunk sick"
Nabiki inched back before Maeda's outburst, wincing sharply expecting some sort of blow. He stood glaring at her then looked up the steps.
"I better go see if they are okay," he said.
"Uh, no, boss!" exclaimed Nabiki, blocking his way. "Uhm, somebody's already up there with her"
"Her"
"Yeah…. Yes… uh, surprising isn't it"
Okura stared at her in disbelief. "No, no not really. I still should go up and see if she is alright"
"Ah, no, no, no, boss. We barely got back down here and it was kind 'a getting messy then. You don't want to see that now, do you"
Maeda paused and then shook his head frowning in disgust at the image in his mind.
"Don't worry, we'll take good care of her and we'll clean up the mess. No one will be the wiser"
HORRRRRRRRRRRRNNNNNNNNN!
"…okay, maybe just a tad bit knowledgeable"
Okura looked up the steps again and then gave Nabiki a curt nod. "Go tell your bartender to start watering down the drinks. I do not want anymore 'drunk sick' people happening to upset my guests. Is that clear"
"Oh, I am so on that!" said Ukyo, cracking her knuckles expectantly.
Maeda glared at Nabiki and she timidly grinned back. He cut the stairs one last look and then turned putting on his best smile and addressed his guests. "Sorry about that, my friends! Somebody had just a little too much spirits. Please, please go back and enjoy yourselves, nothing to see here, nothing to see"
He ushered the guests back into the main room, giving Nabiki one last angry glance over his shoulder before rejoining the party. Nabiki's smile slowly drifted away as her fear passed. Another bullet barely dodged, she asked Ukyo how Akane was doing.
Ryoga how's Akane
There was silence at first then Ryoga answered the call. Maaan! No wonder she weighs so much! She hasn't digested anything since she was born
Cut the jokes, Ryoga. How is Akane
I'm not joking! You don't see this mess I'm seeing. Where did she keep it all? I mean she was so thin in school, she should have been a balloon
Ryoga! Akane
Ryoga stared down at Akane's kneeling form huffing and heaving over the putrid mess she just delivered moments ago. He found a towel, wet it and tapped her lightly on the shoulder, handing it to her. Her trembling hands wiped her mouth and face clean, Akane looked up with a low moan.
"Hey," he said, "You gonna live"
Akane's vision was blurred and she blinked, trying to make out the shadowy form hovering over her. She squeezed her eye tight and they finally focused. "Ryoga?" she said in a very weak voice.
I think it worked. She knows who I am
Is she okay
"Akane, are you alright"
Akane nodded.
"You feel better"
"I feel… light"
She's okay
Both Ranko and Nabiki let out sighs of relief at the news. "Tell Ryoga to get her back down to that safe, crack it and get that stuff so we can get out of here," said Nabiki.
"What about Doctor Tofu?" said Ukyo, "We haven't heard from him yet"
"Hopefully he'll be up by then. Just get her going"
Ukyo relayed the instructions and Nabiki paused to deliberate their situation. Having the hard copies did at least give them a fighting chance, but not being able to eliminate all of the electronic documents could still give Okura some leverage over her. Doctor Tofu, what's happened to you guys, she wondered.
"Mousse, you better get back to serving the guests. Ukyo"
"Kodachi. Got it"
Ranko started to follow Mousse but Nabiki called her.
"And where do you think you're going"
"Uh, back to serving"
Nabiki smirked and shook her head. "No, young lady. You've got a date with a mess"
"What"
"Maeda might go up and check"
"So you want me to go up there and clean that stuff up"
"A-huh"
"Why me"
Nabiki smiled, taking the serving tray from Ranko. "Because she's your wife," she told her.
Ranko started to protest but then knew it would be futile. She muttered a few curses at both Nabiki and for this whole affair, stomping away to find a mop and bucket.

Ryoga helped Akane along out the restroom and back along the hallway. She could barely walk still groggy from the effects of the liquor and exhaustion trying to clear her head.
"Are you serious, Ryoga? All that came from me?" she said.
"Yep," answered Ryoga, "Don't worry though, you've still left some cement inside your body"
"Oh really… Ryoga, come here"
Ryoga leaned towards her and Akane reached up, flicking the tip of his nose.
"Ow, hey"
"Cement," muttered Akane. She looked around. "Where are we going"
"I thought back to the office, but now I'm not so sure"
Akane shook her head. Not the time to be getting lost, she thought. In the dim glow from below, she barely made out an open door just up ahead.
"You left the door open, didn't you, Ryoga"
She pointed and Ryoga grimaced. "Damn. Good thing nobody came up here and found that, eh"
They traded looks and Akane rolled her eyes. "Let's go," she told him.
He carried Akane inside and set her down in one of the chairs. Akane allowed her body to relax wishing this awful dizziness in her head would go away. She drew in a few deep breaths and tried to sit up. Nope, no good, every nerve in her protested the attempt.
"Ryoga," she called out weakly.
"Yeah, what's up"
"I'm going to be sick again"
"No!" Ryoga rushed over and started patting Akane's hand. "Please, Akane; that will be the end of this mission right quick"
"…then I need some air"
He nodded, telling her to hold on and ran to the windows. A quick peek down below found the grounds clear and Ryoga opened them up, carrying Akane over. The cool air helped and Akane's nausea abated. She sighed and slumped down on the edge of the sill.
"Thanks," she said.
"No thanks yet. So can we get on to this safe"
"Do you really think I'm going to be able to open a safe right now"
"Well… it's getting late Akane, and we're behind schedule"
"Don't you rush me, Ryoga! Ooo, you sound like Ranma"
Ryoga stepped back to avoid any blows. For a few minutes more, Akane rested then she pulled herself up and turned around. 'Earpiece," she said, beckoning to Ryoga. He handed it to her and she put it on.
Anybody… its Akane
In the main room, Ukyo paused, startled to hear Akane's voice. She quickly resumed her business and slipped away off to one of the corners near the bar out of view of Maeda and his cronies. Akane? she whispered.
Bless you, Ukyo… how are we doing
We're waiting for you and Doctor Tofu to do your jobs so we can get out of here
…no need to be so grumpy
No need to be grumpy! shouted another high pitched voice. Akane grimaced, fighting the pain and loud ring in her ear.
Ranko
Yes! And we should have been done by now, I wouldn't be up here cleaning up your mess, and everyone would be safe back home
Ranko, shut up! snapped Ukyo. The net went silent and Ukyo continued. Akane, Doc T is not up yet
What? Then what am I doing here
Don't panic, I'm sure he and Hikaru will be up shortly. Now how long will it take for you to crack that safe
I don't know. I haven't looked at it yet
So what are you waiting for? shouted Ranko.
Ranko will you shut up and just clean! Ukyo paused to recompose her thoughts. Akane, time is of the essence. With or without Doc T we need to get into that safe
I know. Give me a few more minutes and I'll get on it
Okay. Ranko, hurry it up and get back downstairs. Mousse is under siege again
I'm mopping as fast as I can, Ukyo
"Grief" she muttered. Call us when you're in, Akane
Right
Ukyo pondered the delay. More time meant more chances of getting caught. At least they were closer now to success. "Better go inform Nabiki," she said. Her eyes found Kodachi still having a blast mixing her drinks with reckless abandon. Remembering Maeda's request, a smile appeared.
"But first, I must take care of more important business…"

With her guards in place, Vicky left the kitchen and went in search of Okura; Tanyun accompanying her. They looked around but oddly enough she could not find him anywhere. It was not like him to disappear and leave such important people; Vicky strolled off and found Sachi standing at the threshold of the doorway between the front and main rooms while Chino played policeman ushering the lustful men away from that nervous girl Moussa.
"Sachi, where's Okura?" she asked.
"Out in the dojo taking a smoke, and he's not real happy right now, Vicky"
Vicky did not like the sound of that. She heard some commotion coming from the direction of the bar and looked to see Ukyo berating her odd bartender, pointing and landing slaps to the head as the two maids hosting the main room looked on.
"After all that's happened so far, I don't blame him," she said. "We better go find him before he blows up"
Leaving Chino to watch things, the three went down the hall to Maeda's dojo. The lights were out, Vicky slid the door open and found Okura standing with his back to them out on the porch smoking a cigarette, staring up into the night sky.
"Okura?" she called. He did not answer and Vicky sensed his tension. She shot Tanyun and Sachi a worried look and led them across the dojo floor.
"Okura… I know you're upset and I'm sorry about all of the happenings that have been going on tonight"
Okura took another drag from his cigarette and then let out a brief chuckle. "And why are you sorry, Vicky?" he asked.
"It is my household, technically, and I'm responsible for everything that happens in it"
He laughed, crushed out his cigarette and turned to face her. "No, no, my dear. You are quite innocent tonight," he said, placing firm hands on her shoulders. "It is Nabiki Tendo who is at fault here"
"You want us to go get her, boss?" said Sachi, excitement in his eyes. "We can rough her up right here and make her pay big time"
"Double big time," added Tanyun with a grin.
"No, we are not going to rough up anyone… yet," replied Okura.
He began to pace, thinking over tonight and how his plans have disrupted so far by Nabiki and her associates. "This is all her doing. A way to irritate me… frustrate is a better description"
"Hmm, I don't know. Jean-Claude is making himself quite a pain for me in the kitchen," said Vicky.
"The kitchen? No, Vicky, I'm talking about out in the main room. Tatewaki Kuno to be precise"
"I'm not following you"
"Those two maids of hers. They have radars in their bonnets, both locked on to me. I try approaching Kuno, there's a tray in the way. Get by that, I'm nearly run over by a cart"
"Well just slap'em, boss. They'll both stay out of your way for sure then," suggested Sachi.
Vicky glared at him taking a defiant stance. "Do you always have to resort to violence to solve problems?" she said.
Sachi shrugged. "Direct action seems to work best, Vicky"
She let out a huff, stomping a foot at him with disgust.
"No, no, Sachi. Assaulting one of these girls would only upset my guests. Something I'm sure Nabiki is quite aware of"
"So you think Nabiki is up to something, boss?" asked Tanyun.
"Oh yes, this girl is up too something. But it will not matter once I get Tatewaki Kuno alone. I am confident that once I do that, he will cooperate fully with my 'suggestions"
"And then we get her?" asked Sachi.
"Yes… then we take care of Nabiki Tendo"
The threatening tone did not sit well with Vicky. Deep inside she felt a twinge of concern for Nabiki, somehow regretting to have placed her in this situation. The woman is rebellious, but that did not warrant the threats to her well-being or any form of harm at all.
"Okura, Nabiki did do as you instructed her," she said.
"Yes she did, and quite well. Unfortunately, she is also indirectly interfering with me too"
"If you're worried about those two maids, boss, then now's your chance," Tanyun told him.
"What"
"They were at the bar watching that hot chick Ukyo give her weird bartender a good piece of her mind, plus a few wallops upside the head"
"Their trays were empty also, boss," added Sachi. "I'd bet they're still their right now waiting for a reload"
"How long ago was this"
"Oh… two, three minutes or so since we've been in here"
Okura's face brightened at the news. Here could be a chance to get in and get Tatewaki. The gods must be smiling down upon him.
"Tanyun, go get two of your men from outside and bring them here"
"Aw, boss. I've already pulled two guys in to watch the kitchen. I'm short outside"
"It will be brief, now go get them"
Tanyun went to get his men. Maeda smiled cutting his eyes over to Vicky, sensing her questioning stare. "Opportunity, my dear," he said. "Once Tanyun returns, we are going to find Tatewaki Kuno and I will get him into my den alone"
"What about those radar guided maids you're so worried about"
"You five will screen me. I want a clear path to Kuno, clear"
They both nodded and then Tanyun returned, two of his security men in tow. A devious grin appeared on Okura's face and he laughed evilly at the thought of thwarting Nabiki's plans.
He straightened his jacket and then said, "Let's go."

Meanwhile at the bar, Ukyo had finished admonishing Kodachi leaving her pouting like a small child after being punished by her parents. Once out of sight, she paused briefly to fix herself back up and finished serving the guests waiting for drinks. Finally caught up, Konatsu and Tsubasa placed their trays on the bar and stopped to take a break.
"Wow, I never thought hosting could be so busy," said Tsubasa.
"We work in restaurant. This should be nothing," replied Konatsu.
"Yeah, but we don't work in high heels, especially the six inch variety. My feet are killing me"
"Starting to sound like Mousse"
Konatsu tapped his tray signaling Kodachi to come over. "I see Ukyo finally caught up to your warped interpretation of 'flow'," he said.
"Ooo, such a mean person that woman," answered Kodachi, "How can you two stand to work with her"
"Simple, we follow instructions and she pays us well"
"Not so sure about that 'pay' part, partner," said Tsubasa.
"Knock it off"
Kodachi giggled, drawing Konatsu's displeasure. "Laugh it up. You don't see us getting bounced around like a beach ball"
"She did not bounce me around. I only allowed her too feel important"
"A-huh, so I need to get her back over here then, right"
That shocked Kodachi. "What? Why, I'm doing what she told me"
Tsubasa smirked. "We watched you fix those last drinks too, Kodachi. A teaspoon of water is not what Ukyo meant by watering down"
"But it's such a crime to dilute such a fantastic collection of spirits. Look, see—." Kodachi knelt rummaging through the bottles of alcohol below. Tsubasa and Konatsu exchanged unsure looks and then she stood up holding a bottle in her hands. The contents were clear, and embossed on the neck was a small lightening bolt.
"You see this? Pure Tennessee Valley Whiskey. Difficult even for the Kuno Clan to procure"
"Your point is?" asked Konatsu.
"I cannot deny this fantastic collection from these deprived people. It is my duty to introduce them to all of these fine spirits"
Tsubasa's head hit the bar covering it with his arms as Konatsu frowned at Kodachi.
"You are not supposed to be doing that, Kodachi!" he scolded her.
She inched back and started pouting again. "Well anyway," she finally said, placing the bottle back under the counter, "when we leave I'm taking that with me"
"Kodachi"
"What? I've stopped mixing my concoctions"
Tsubasa looked up. "Oh, really? So what about these guys over here?" he said pointing down the bar.
Right next to him stood a middle aged gentleman standing straight up holding out a short glass in his right hand, staring at the back wall. Not a muscle moved; no sign of life in him at all. In contrast next to him towered a hulking sumo of a man wavering slowly to and fro his eyes narrow slits making incoherent occasional blubbers as if in conversation. Four more men sat at the far end all huddled together staring down at one solitary glass of Kodachi's special mix fizzing on the bar. The most interesting of Kodachi's victims though was a thin man much like Gosunkugi in stature and build, who would walk face first into the wall. His glasses askew, the delirious man would bounce back, gurgle a few times then repeat his action with nary a pause.
"Them?" Kodachi tittered deviously, motioning to Konatsu and Tsubasa to follow. "Now these four… these are men who dared to challenge my stature as a bartender and did not care about the consequences"
Konatsu stared at them with mouth open in disbelief. "This is not 'Enter the Dragon', Kodachi!" he finally said. "These guys might have spouses here or, or homes to go too"
"It'll teach'em to not to mess with me then, won't it? HOH-hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo"
"What about the rubber ball?" asked Tsubasa.
"Oh him? Another successful experiment"
"Experiment"
She nodded. "You do know I have remote control over all of these fine people"
"No." answered Konatsu.
Kodachi giggled. "Allow me to demonstrate"
Marking the time of her victim's movement, Kodachi waited until he was just backing up and reached out flicking him on the side of his ear. The man wobbled in place like a weeble toy, turning around until he faced out towards the crowd.
"I'll make him walk around the bar, hit the wall and come back," she told them.
A sharp flick and slap of a hand too the back of the head sent the man toddling forwards. When he reached the end of the bar, much to Tsubasa and Konatsu's surprise, he pivoted on one foot, audibly gurgling, and then toddled past en route for the other end. They both started sharply as he repeated his turn and smacked face first into the wall.
"You are not supposed to be doing stuff like that!" said Konatsu.
Kodachi gazed innocently up at the ceiling. "The opportunity was there so I took it. I really must thank Nabiki for allowing me such chances (hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo"
"When Ukyo finds out about this you're"
"Gug, gug, gug, gug, gug"
"—sorry, excuse me… When she finds out what you have done she gonna—." Konatsu did a double-take staring at the unfortunate man passing by for a second. "You are not supposed to be doing things like that"
"Can I help it if I'm a curious type of person, hmm"
Tsubasa suddenly tugged rapidly on Konatsu's skirt. "Did you see that?" he said excitement in his eyes. "That guy went back to his corner"
"Just like a little boomerang. You doubted my word?" said Kodachi.
"You are not making things any better here, Tsubasa"
Tsubasa pointed up at the sumo. "And him"
"A work in progress," answered Kodachi.
"…and him"
This time Kodachi's eyes narrowed, her lips pressed tight together walking over to him. "Now he is a challenge"
She knocked on the counter-top. "Sir"
As if waking from sleep, the gentleman's eyes blinked and he cleared his throat. "Mmm-ah, yes, yes my good madam. Another round if you would, please. And if you can, find a stiffer brand of scotch if available, hmm, thank you"
Kodachi sneered at him. "A Brit," she explained. "You could pour a gallon of Vodka into him and he'd still spit in my eye. But I'm not through him yet. I'll break him, you'll see"
"No we won't see because you're not going do anymore of this stuff like Ukyo said!" Konatsu told her.
"But I've got my strongest mix fermenting in the blender under the counter"
"Good, bring it out!" said the Englishman, wavering a bit, "I need something to clear up my sinuses"
Kodachi gawked at him and then went for her mix, but Konatsu grabbed her by the shoulders.
"We're not here for this, Kodachi," he reminded her.
"It's personal now—Hoohoooo, you'll regret those words—I must protect my honor! Let me go"
Tsubasa stepped away from the bickering duo and turned away hoping this would blow over quickly. He scanned the crowd, flinching as a loud bump echoed behind him, and smiled nervously at the guests. Through a seam over across the room Tsubasa spotted Maeda also looking around the room obviously searching for one person in particular. Not good, Tsubasa retreated back to the bar.
"Konatsu, Konatsu!" he said, tugging on the hem of his skirt.
"Will you stop that," snapped Konatsu turning around. Tsubasa pointed out across the room and Konatsu's brows rose up.
"Whoops, looks like we're on again. Drinks"
He looked back and realized in the distraction that Kodachi had not refilled their tray.
"Kodachi! Where are our drinks"
"You never gave me your orders, so I never made any"
Disaster, Tsubasa and Konatsu trading anxious looks. By then Vicky joined Maeda and then Tanyun, Sachi and the two extra men appeared behind them.
"Where's Tatewaki?" asked Konatsu, desperately searching for him. Tsubasa tapped him on the shoulder and pointed to the far front of the room. There stood Tatewaki in casual conversation with some people with his back away from Maeda.
Worse still, they stood mere steps away from the dreaded door to Maeda's den.
"What is he think about?" said Konatsu.
Maeda's gaze finally fell upon Tatewaki, Tsubasa could see, and a triumphant grin appeared on his face. "Uh-oh, bad guys got lock-on," he said. Maeda made a gesture and the two security men started to casually walk ahead of him. "…and it's a bum-rush. He must be on to us!" finished Tsubasa.
"Nabiki is going to kill us!" said Konatsu.
"If Ukyo doesn't first. Think of something, Konatsu"
It had to be fast, Maeda now making his way carefully across the room towards Tatewaki. No drinks, no cart either, they had nothing that could help cover their intentions, and even so the extra screen would surely thwart their attempts. Konatsu glanced back at the bar and then an idea hit him. He eyed Kodachi's victims and smiled.
"Tsubasa, you think you can copy Kodachi's little control thing"
"Well I—." He grinned. "Sure. I think I can"
"Then we're going to fire torpedoes"
"You think it will work? People might get in the way"
"Look at those faces. They look like they're ready to explode. People will get out of the way"
Tsubasa laughed and pulled one of the four men from the corner of the bar as Konatsu held out an arm guestimating the angle of attack.
"Ready?" asked Konatsu.
"No, don't get rid of my toys!" complained Kodachi.
"Quit your whining," replied Tsubasa. "Ready"
"Fire"
Tsubasa imitated Kodachi's pop-n-slap blow sending the inebriated drone staggering off into the crowd. For Maeda, it looked like smooth sailing, not a sign of those two troubling maids and with Tatewaki neatly cornered, he was sure of success.
That was until his guests parted to allow someone apparently on the binge to stumble into his lead man. They fell back towards him and Maeda cringed once he got a clear look at the man's face. Desperately, he motioned his man to carry this fool away before he let loose and ruined the floor.
"Hit!" reported Konatsu. "Make it a double"
Tsubasa readied two more and then Kodachi called him. "Put a little bit more kick into your wrist action. You'll get a straighter run that way," she told him.
He paused briefly and then gave her a thumb up.
Maeda, shaken slightly by the interruption, urged his group on and then two more drunks hit, colliding with the second man and Tanyun. Both let out desperate cries and hurriedly carried them off. Sachi, bringing up the rear, laughed at the sight only to be abruptly silenced as he too received an unwanted dance partner. As he carried him off, Vicky gave Okura a lost look and shrugged not know how to explain what was happening. Maeda ignored it, not when he was so close to success. He moved on, but then Vicky heard a gurgling sound just too her right and turned to find the human boomerang toddling for her. They collided and Vicky grimaced, turning his head to one side.
"No, no, not the dress," she pleaded, guiding him away.
"Yes! Screens down!" said Konatsu.
Tsubasa grabbed the Brit and got ready.
"But I'm not done with him yet," moaned Kodachi.
"No choice. Ready"
"Fire"
Maeda picked up his pace determined to reach Tatewaki. Suddenly, a man stumbled towards him and it looked like they would run into each other when he stopped just short and smiled at Okura.
"I say, ol'boy. Sorry 'bout that. Can't seem to find my way to your loo," said the Englishman. Okura frowned and pointed back towards the front room. He thanked him and staggered away.
"Dud!" said Konatsu. "Stick with the local stuff"
Franticly, Tsubasa searched for another drone to use. "I'm out, Konatsu, I'm o—." He looked up at the one last person standing at the bar and smiled. "Sumo?" he said.
"Nuke'em!" replied Konatsu.
Tsubasa grunted and pushed their last drone into position, stepping back eyeing the towering man. "This might take a hop-pop-and kick," he said.
"Hurry it up, Tsubasa! Maeda's almost there"
Stepping back, Tsubasa drew in a breath and leaped, slapping the back of the sumo's head and then kicked him forward. The sumo lumbered off through the crowd and they watched in anticipation.
"This is going to be close," said Konatsu.
There stood Tatewaki Kuno, Maeda's eyes lit bright with the impending victory he so craved. Grinning, Okura called out to him and Tatewaki turned around. Excellent, thought Maeda noticing the surprise on his face, he is in shock and vulnerable. I have him now.
"Tatewaki, finally I can"
The hulking shadow looming abruptly to his right stopped Okura dead in his tracks. "Huh?" was the only thing he could say then let out a gasp as Kodachi's last inebriated drone tumbled into him. The sumo's bleary eyes looked down at him and he opened his mouth, blubbering some mishmash that made Maeda cringe.
Grunting under the strain of supporting his guest, Maeda cast Tatewaki a forlorn glance. "I'll… I'll be… right back… in a moment… Tatewaki"
"Oh, please. Take your time. I'm sure you do not want our esteemed friend there to hurt himself"
Maeda shook his head and grunted again hefting the sumo up against him and went staggering away.
"Yes! Are we good or what!" Konatsu cheerfully said.
"Who said we can't stop the bad guy," added Tsubasa.
The pair exchanged high-fives and returned to the bar. "I'm impressed," said Kodachi, "All my toys are gone, but I'm still impressed"
"Well for once Kodachi one of your deviant hobbies has finally made itself useful," replied Konatsu.
"Just make sure you tell that to Ukyo when you see her again"
"Okay, gloating's over, Kodachi," Tsubasa cut in; "We need reloads so we can get back out there and watch Tatewaki"
"Is he still over by that door?" asked Konatsu.
"Nah. He had the sense enough to move once Maeda was gone. I don't think we'll see him anywhere around there again"
"At least not voluntarily," said Kodachi.
Konatsu smirked and rapped his tray reminding her she needed to refill them. "And as for you, don't be wiping out anymore people, and cut back on the spirits. Got it"
She huffed, turning her nose up at them while she worked. "And what am I supposed to do for fun, hmm"
Tsubasa grabbed his tray full of drinks. "Try talking for a change. Who knows, you might find someone you like. Ciao"
"Humph… talking. Such a boring thing to do"
Konatsu grabbed his tray. "Just behave, okay"
Kodachi began pouting again and Konatsu rolled his eyes and went back to serving. "Well… I guess I could try," she said to herself.
Through the crowd appeared Kodachi's weeble-drone victim gurgling incoherently as he stumbled to a stop up against the bar. She smiled, eyeing him a moment and shrugged.
"Oh well, who's going to know… come here my little boomerang."