by Jason C. Ulloa
Channel 02 - Captain Moon and the Lunateers
For years now, the problem with waste management was that no one really wanted to manage it. I mean, who would want to work with trash, day in and day out? So a group of people gathered together to try and solve this problem.
However, the best solution they came up with was to change the job title from trashman to sanitation engineer.
Satisfied with their accomplishments, the committee adjourned for an early lunch.
When it was later discovered that this was not the problem that they were supposed to be discussing, the committee promptly reconvened.
More discussion led to the following suggestions:
1. Get people to stop generating waste. Of course, this required people to stop buying things, and for certain manufacturers, marketers, shipping agencies, retailers, and shopaholics this was a threat to their very way of life and should be avoided at all costs.
2. Expand on current waste holding facilities. There were already many places designated to hold vast amounts of waste; a.k.a. landfills and the like. All that was needed was to build more. However, land to use as such was growing very scarce, and the very idea of building one so close to home wasn't well received, even if the trip would be vastly shortened. Being downwind of such a facility killed any positive impacts this would generate.
3. Dump waste elsewhere, possibly the Moon or Outer Space. While being a possibility - and an interesting one at that, seeing as Space is pretty damn big and no one would really notice (is that a asteroid or a trashbag?) - actually implementing Operation: Space Waste would be quite difficult, as no one had a spare space shuttle lying around that could be used for something other than hauling satellites and astronauts around. Not to mention that space shuttles and space launches could get very pricey. As the saying went, it was too rich for their blood.
4. Burn, baby, burn! Trashbag inferno!
The originator of this suggestion was promptly shot in the head. His suggestion was then appropriately rephrased.
4. Waste incineration. This was already put into affect at certain facilities; however, his suggestion was to increase the rate of incineration to keep up with the current waste generation rate. A good idea, however, with the rate of generation as it was, it wouldn't be long before the skies above such facilities would resemble Los Angeles during peak rush hour. Not a good thing for those who enjoy activities such as breathing.
5. Recycling. The idea of taking existing waste and reconditioning certain articles to make them usable again. For many, this was a wonderful concept. It would cut down on natural resources lost and provide a whole new source for manufacturing resources. The only downside they could think of was that no one really wanted to dig around in the trash for their reusable resources.
However, since no one could really think of anything better, option 5 was the plan of action they decided to put into effect. Besides, they could always hire people to root around in the trash for them.
Then, weeks passed...
After that, months passed...
Then, a couple of years passed...
But before that, two days, five hours, four minutes and twenty-nine seconds passed...
However, this has absolutely nothing to do with the story.
For those of you who might be annoyed and/or irritated with the author's pointless space-wasting nonsense, please direct all hate mail to /EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED DUE TO EXCESSIVE FLAME EMAIL/.
And now, the author finally gets on with the story...
At a certain set of latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates, lying in relative obscurity, an island peacefully existed, floating happily in the middle of the Pacific. Normally this tropical little paradise would be considered a prime vacation getaway location, however, seeing as it was not listed on any map as being inhabitable, it was usually overlooked.
Normally, conditions like that would make this location an ideal "Survivor" locale; however, it was believed that even though the island was uninhabitable, the surroundings were too opulent to be used as a struggle-to-live environment. That, and the island surroundings were too lovely and distracting for them to get any proper backbiting, scheming, betrayals, and idiotic beach games done.
As such, the island enjoyed its calm solitude.
Now, although the island is listed as uninhabitable on whatever lists that list islands as habitable, the truth is that the island was, in fact, inhabited. Just not by humans.
In the center of this tropical island was a small building constructed mostly of bamboo as its frame, with wide open windows and hallways to allow breezes to easily pass through, cooling the area. The roof was made with tightly woven thatch which surprisingly worked very well to keep the rain out on the rare occasions it did rain. The floor was wooden, sanded until it was very smooth and lightly varnished.
Near the center of this small building, a small chamber held the building's only occupant, who was resting quietly in a bed with a frame made of some sort of white crystal.
Well, so much for resting quietly.
"Ugh..." The figure slowly sat up, having been shaken almost violently awake. "How long was I asleep for?" The figure then stood up with a groggy shake of the head. "And why do I feel like something's wrong...?"
As the figure stepped out of the room, bits and pieces of memory slowly brought themselves online. An ancient kingdom. A dark, evil menace. A massive war. Death. And a warm glow enveloping the soul, giving rest until the time of awakening.
Somehow, it felt like this awakening was several years too early.
The figure entered a large room, moving toward the wide crystalline mirror-like object that hung on the wall across the room, as if pulled. The mirror-like object seemed to draw the eye...
"What the hell?!?"
The trickle of memories now became a torrent as the figure beheld the image in the reflective surface.
Once, a guardian of a planet. Now, the figure beheld the countenance of a guardian spirit. Once, a powerful warrior; now, a gentle healer. Once, a leader of many; now, a solitary sentinel, one unable to leave the island that was now home.
But, this wasn't the problem.
Long, flowing robes of violet, delicate and shimmering, fluttered in the breeze as the figure stared at the reflection in the crystal's mirror-like surface. The figure's long, black hair played in the breeze, loose strands whipping across face and shoulders, some hanging half-draped over the shoulders as the rest hung straight down the back. A thin band of gold encircled the forehead, providing decoration and function, as it kept the hair away from the face.
Overall, this gave the appearance of regal, dignified femininity.
Or rather, it would, if the figure in question wasn't male.
"Is this your idea of a joke, Serenity?" the former Prince of Earth, now Spirit of Earth demanded of the crystal. "The last time I checked, King Endymion never dressed like this!" He was silent for a moment. "Is this because I was dating your daughter?"
The small quake shook the hut slightly, also serving to knock the Spirit of Earth off his balance. "Should I take that as a yes?"
As if to answer his question, the crystal's surface began to shimmer, changing from reflecting the Earth Spirit's image to displaying several different images of ecological disasters. Oil spills, raging forest fires, beached sea mammals, cities covered in smog.
And this was just in California.
"Just what in the hell is going on?" he demanded of the crystal as more images flashed by. "Are you trying to tell me that a millennium after I'm dead, my people have screwed this planet over THIS much?!?"
He glared at the crystal for a few more moments before turning to leave. "That does it! It's time for me to straighten out some of these idiots."
Just as he was about to leave, a familiar force held him, preventing him from leaving. "Queen Serenity!" he exclaimed as he turned back toward the crystal to see her ghostly image displayed on the screen.
"Yes, Endymion," she said with a regal nod. "I'm afraid that I have some terrible news for you."
"Don't tell me that I'm going to be forced to wear this outfit for a long time."
"Let's not get ahead of ourselves," she chided. "There're more important things that you need to know about."
"I knew it," he sighed in defeat. "At least tell me that this was meant as a joke or was somehow unintentional."
"As you have undoubtedly seen, your world is facing a grave peril."
"It wasn't a joke?"
"In the time after the reign of King Endymion of the Earth Kingdom and the ending of the Silver Millennium, humanity has forgotten how to live in harmony with the Earth."
"So, you really did intend for me to be dressed like this, didn't you?" he mumbled under his breath, half-pouting as he hung his head.
"As history progressed and technology advanced, humanity's carelessly destructive ways have only intensified along with this ignorance."
"At the very least, you could've not dressed me up like a woman."
"However, all hope is not lost. There are some people out there who are genuinely concerned for the welfare of their planet."
"You know, I think this's the same outfit my mother used to wear."
"ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME?!?" Serenity shouted angrily, snapping him out of his funk.
"Yes, ma'am!" he acknowledged smartly.
Despite being a ghostly image, Queen Serenity sweatdropped as she sighed in exasperation. "And my daughter had to fall in love with him," she grumbled to herself.
"Anyway, it is for this reason that you've been reincarnated as the current Spirit of the Earth," she explained.
"What happened to the previous Spirit of the Earth?" he inquired.
"She won the California Lottery and retired early. I think she's living in a modest-sized mansion in Beverly Hills."
"How can you describe a mansion as 'modest-sized?'"
"Never mind that," Serenity continued. "what matters is that you will need to summon-"
"The Sailor Senshi, right?" he asked knowingly.
"...not as such," she hemmed hesitantly.
The nascent Spirit of Earth facefaulted. "Don't tell me they got reincarnated as Earth Spirits, too?"
"Fortunately not," she told him.
"So, what's the problem? If you've reincarnated them, they should have access to their Sailor Senshi powers, right?"
"Right?" he asked again, slowly becoming worried.
"...well...," she dithered.
The Earth Spirit sweatdropped again. "Don't tell me..."
"I... uh... messed up... a little."
"A little?!?" he exploded. "You bloody well dressed me as a woman!!! You call this A LITTLE?!?"
"You try reincarnating an entire kingdom after sealing away a great evil, using up all your life energy in the process!" she shot back. "It damn well isn't easy, I can tell you that!"
She took a breath to calm down. "Anyway, I did what I could to fix things, but being an ethereal being, I can only do so much." She waved her hand and a crystal display pillow along with a pedestal materialized into existence. "I can give you these as a substitute for the Senshi's power sets. However, you will have to search for them and guide them along their destiny."
He looked over the five simple-looking rings that sat on the pillow that rested on the pedestal and frowned. "That sounds almost impossible. Finding five people without knowing where to look is going to take a very long time."
Serenity waved another hand and suddenly a wave of knowledge flooded his brain, providing information about himself, his powers as the new Spirit of the Earth, the current situation on the Earth, the rings, everything.
Though why he had this sudden urge to say "Woah" or "I know Kung Fu," he had no idea.
"Your time is growing short," she said as she began to fade. "You must find the chosen five who will wield those rings. Only then, will this planet's greatest hero be summoned."
"Yes, your Majesty," Endymion replied with a respectful bow. "But, before you go, could you possibly give me a different outfit to wear?"
"Maybe you should've thought of that before you started dating my daughter without my permission!" Serenity said and disappeared.
"Well, this sucks," he muttered to himself as the crystal went blank. "Here I am, Spirit of the Earth with power over the elements and all of Nature, and not only can't I leave this damn island, I'm stuck dressed like my mother!"
He turned back toward the pedestal behind him which held the five rings. There was one for each of the four elements - Earth, Fire, Wind, and Water. The fifth ring, Heart, wasn't an element, per se, but it was a vital power that binded the other four together.
"At any rate, since I can't go to them, I might as well bring them to me," he said as he waved a hand toward the pedestal. The pillow and pedestal vanished, leaving the rings to float in midair long enough for a soft glow to envelope them for a few seconds, then vanish, taking the rings with them.
Above a small floral shop in downtown Johannesburg, South Africa, a young man walked down the stairs into the main store area, yawning as he blinked wearily.
"Good morning, you lazy bum," the man behind the register said with a wry grin.
"You're up early today," he continued amusedly. "It's only half past ten. I'd half expected you to get up sometime past noon."
"Aw, shuddup," the young man grumbled.
"Anyway, I need you to pick up some new stock from the nursery today. The shipment arrived yesterday."
"But Dad, I just finished offloading that big order last night," he grumbled. "Can't you get someone else to do it? We do have other employees, you know."
"They're off taking care of other orders," he replied with an apologetic shrug.
"Feh. Fine," he grunted irritably. "I'll take care of it."
"Thanks. Oh, and Ryoku?"
"Next time you come down after getting up, could you please put on some clothes? There are women and children present."
Ryoku blinked as he realized that he had left their apartment wearing nothing but a pair of boxers. "Ah. Sorry." With that, he turned and went up the stairs, trying his best not to die of embarrassment.
"You'll have to excuse him," his father apologized. "My son's not a morning person."
An hour later, the young man was out on the road in their truck - which also doubled as the company's truck - grumbling to himself.
The Kino family had moved to Johannesburg from Tokyo roughly five years ago, shortly after Ryoku's mother had died in a freak car accident, driving the young boy into a fit of rage, swearing that he would not rest until that driving cat was brought to justice. The reason behind the move wasn't connected with the driving cat's hit and run, but the author felt that it should be mentioned nonetheless. Actually, nobody really knew why the senior Kino chose to move to South Africa, but for the purposes of moving this story along, we'll just assume that there was a good reason for it and leave it at that.
Aside from this, a year or so after the accident, his father remarried and Ryoku found himself with a stepsister a few months his junior. The two had gotten along famously, until his new stepmother's job had offered her a promotion to a branch office in Kiev, Ukraine. Since his dad's business was just starting to take off, his dad didn't want to move. So, the two parted ways, his stepmother taking his stepsister with her. He'd see them again every now and again whenever they came to visit - they didn't divorce; they just separated - but for the most part, it was just him and his father.
"Hey, Ryo!" a dark-skinned woman called out from the nursery entrance. "Good to see you again!"
"Hey, Mandisa," he replied with a wave as he got out of the truck. "I hear you got something for me."
"They're all in the usual place," she said with a wave of her hand in the general direction. "You need a hand loading the plants?"
"Probably not. I'll let you know if I do, though."
"Have fun, then," she said as she turned to go back in the building. "Don't be straining yourself, now."
It didn't take long to maneuver the truck into position and start loading the plants. As he was loading a particularly large specimen, he accidentally stepped on a loose bag of potting soil, causing him to lose his balance. He ended up falling back on his behind with the pot in his lap, tipped so that most of the loose soil spilled in his lap.
"Wonderful," he grumbled as he set the pot down and brushed as much of the dirt back into the pot as he could. As he was brushing the last of the dirt from his pants, a small flash of light from inside the pot caught his attention.
"Hmm?" he said to himself as he brushed some of the dirt aside, revealing a strange-looking ring. "Hey, Mandisa! You lose a ring or something?" he called out, waving the ring in the air.
Mandisa poked her head out of the building's entrance. "No, that doesn't look like one of mine. But, if you want it, you can have it."
"Are you kidding?" he shot back. "Why would someone like me wear a ring, anyway?"
"I think it'd look good on you," she said with a laugh as she went back inside.
"Hmph. Not bloody likely." He gave the ring a critical glance. "It looks like a kid's toy. Something you'd find as a prize in a cereal box." The stone set at the top of the ring had a greenish hue to it and it had a globe-like symbol etched in the metal underneath it.
"Still," he added, giving the ring a second glance, "it's pretty well made, for a cereal box toy. I guess it wouldn't hurt to try it on for a moment." Besides, the story wouldn't progress unless he did so, anyway.
Ryoku slipped on the ring.
Outside a popular nightclub in New York City, New York, a young woman left the building, waving back at the people still inside.
"Are you sure you don't wanna stay for a few more weeks, Rei?" one of the men asked. "You're still a big hit, you know."
The raven-haired young woman shook her head with a smile. "Sorry, but I've got to try for bigger things. I can't stay here forever."
The man shrugged. "Well, you're always welcome back here," he replied. "If you ever become famous, be sure to stop by every now and again, all right?"
Rei laughed. "I'll be sure to sing some of your favorites, then." With that, she waved again and closed the door behind her.
Rei Hino was a Japanese native who had moved to New York with her father, who was a Japanese ambassador to the United Nations. As such, she was required to learn English, as fluently as possible so as not to embarrass her father. Even so, she still occasionally embarrassed her father by getting several English words and phrases wrong, most of the time intentionally, just to put a tweak in her uptight father's shorts. Her most infamous example was when she congratulated her father's senator friend on his successful re-erection. Watching her father try hard to mollify the old man's ire was very amusing.
After graduating high school, she immediately started singing professionally, easily landing a gig at a popular nightclub downtown. Of course, it helped that not only was she a good singer, she was incredibly attractive and had a noticeable accent that many patrons thought was "very hot."
Rei opened her daily planner and looked through her schedule for the day. She had to meet with her new manager in order to try to find a local recording label that would pick her up for a few years, hopefully allowing her to eventually record a couple of CDs.
"Hey, there," someone called out as she felt a hand grab her by the shoulder.
With a swift motion, she pocketed her planner as she turned around while shaking off the hand on her shoulder. "What do you want?"
"Nothing much," the young man said as he stared her up and down. "Just thought I'd say hi and see if you'd wanna go out with me 'n some of my buddies." He nodded over his shoulder toward three other guys who were stepping out of an alleyway, each wearing similar white t-shirts and tattered jeans. One of the guys was smoking a cigarette.
"Sorry, I don't date smokers. They make me sick," she replied and turned to leave, but was stopped as the man grabbed her arm.
"Let's not be so hasty, babe," he said smoothly as a tiny smirk flashed across his face. "I'm sure we could have some fun."
"Maybe I'd have a little fun if one of your friends dressed in drag and started doing the Hustle while singing "It's Raining Men," but with my luck, he'd probably sing it so badly that I'd develop an aneurysm and die," she shot back acerbically as she pulled back her arm again. "But I bet you'd all probably enjoy that more than what company my measly, little self can possibly offer to the likes of you. Have a nice day."
This time, he grabbed her by both arms and slammed her against the wall. "You've got quite a mouth on you, girl," he said as he shoved her toward her friends, who then shoved her into the alley they came out of. "Haven't you ever heard the phrase-"
"'If you can't say something's nice, it's probably crap, after all?'" Rei asked with a thick accent, feigning ignorance.
"That's enough outta you!" he shouted as he cocked a fist and swung at her.
"Oh?" Rei countered as she ducked out of the way, grabbed his arm and threw him over her shoulder in a perfectly executed Judo throw. "You don't say?"
The other three guys then rushed her at once, but were all stopped as Rei opened up a can of whoopass on them. Due to the graphic nature of the ass-kicking involved, the author has elected not to describe how she put the smack down on their candy asses.
"Oh, I forgot to mention," she said as she made a show of dusting off her hands and sleeves, "I have a black belt in kempo, sandan, and a black belt in judo, nidan. That's third degree and second degree, respectively, by the way." She then reached down and plucked the still-burning cigarette from one of the guy's mouth. "And I'm sure I told you that smokers make me sick."
She turned to leave as she coolly flicked the cigarette butt into the nearest open trashcan. No sooner did the butt hit the bottom of the can then a large explosion knocked Rei off her feet. The explosion was followed by a column of fire spewing embers and flames into the air from the aforementioned trashcan. The four guys scrambled to get away, despite the grievous injuries they had sustained at her hands, but Rei remained behind; her gaze transfixed on the burning tower of fire.
"That...," she whispered to herself, "...is so cool..." She glanced around. "That's some awesome special effects! Is someone making a movie around here?"
As she visually scanned the area, a small ring conked her on the head and landed on the ground in front of her.
"Hey! Who threw that?" she yelled as she jumped to her feet. "Show your face so I can rearrange it for ya! No one assaults Rei Hino with a-" She broke off as she finally noticed the ring. "-a Cracker Jack prize?"
She grimaced in chagrin as she bent down to pick up the ring. "I guess whoever threw it just missed the trashcan," she speculated as she grabbed the ring.
And quickly dropped it.
"Ah! Damn, that's hot!" she exclaimed as she waved her hand vigorously to ease the burning sensation, but she stopped as soon as she realized that there was no burning sensation.
"Huh?" she said in complete bewilderment as she stared at her hand. "It felt hot, but my hand didn't burn. That's weird..." She tentatively reached out toward the ring again, but only poked it with a finger. It felt hot, but not quite as hot at it did before. It felt like she could pick it up now.
"Hmph," she murmured critically as she examined the ring. "Well, it's certainly simple-looking enough, but it feels more like a real ring than a stupid Cracker Jack toy." She turned the ring to look at the symbol underneath the red stone. "Fire, huh? Appropriate enough."
With a small laugh of amusement, Rei casually slipped the ring on.
In a forest outside the city limits of Kiev, Ukraine, a young pony-tailed brunette dressed in a martial arts gi sat underneath one of the larger trees, meditating silently. She enjoyed leaving the city every now and again to come to this place, especially since the trees reminded her of her stepfather and stepbrother, both of whom she missed from time to time. Her mother was mostly busy managing the new branch office of the investment company she worked for, so for the most part, she usually was by herself.
It didn't matter that much; she was used to it.
This quiet forest was perfect for practicing her family's style of karate, Reizan no Ishi, Shinohara-ryuu, also known as the Shinohara style of the Stone of the Holy Mountain school of karate. The Japanese name was much shorter, so she always went with that. She also practiced some of the Kino's style of karate, but she had yet to learn the style's name, since her stepbrother never mentioned it.
Some warm moisture dropped on her head, breaking her concentration. Her eyes snapped open as she slowly reached up to her head, hoping that the wetness she felt on her head wasn't what she thought it was. One touch was all she needed to confirm her fears.
Makoto Kino - formerly Makoto Shinohara, before her mother remarried - leaped to her feet in anger as she shook the bird droppings from her hair. "Hey, you!" she raged at the birds sitting on a branch above where she had been sitting. "How dare you take a dump on my head, you stupid birds!"
The birds merely cheeped at her in response. One of them hopped around and shook its tailfeathers at her, while another one raised a wing in a gesture surprisingly similar to giving one the finger.
"You...," Makoto growled, incensed at seeing a bird flip her the bird. "I'll wring your feathered little necks! Hah!" she shouted as she kicked the tree, causing it to tremble. As a group, the birds all took off, leaving Makoto feeling a little better about herself.
At least until she remembered that she still had bird crap in her hair.
"Che!" she spat angrily as she reached for the gym bag that she had sitting behind the tree she was sitting under. A snarl formed on her lips for a moment as she realized that the same birds had also crapped on her gym bag. A moment was spent brushing some of the crap off the bag before she opened it up and took out a towel and a full bottle of water. She opened the water bottle and splashed it on her head to wash out the bird crap and dried herself off with her towel.
"I hate birds...," she grumbled to herself as she tossed the towel back into her gym bag.
Once cleaned of the avian excrement, she strode toward the clearing away from the trees and cleared her mind of her anger. Once she was calm, she slowly went into one of her school's more deliberate and graceful katas. A light breeze blew, cooling her as it chilled her damp gi and played with her ponytail.
A bird's cheep sounded over her head, but she was so concentrated on her kata that she ignored it. However, it was a little bit harder to ignore the sharp thwack to the top of her head.
Makoto quickly jumped to her feet in a defensive position and glanced around to see who hit her. Her gaze stopped on the same birds that crapped on her earlier, chirping in tones that sounded almost like amusement, flying away. She scowled as she watched the birds high-five each other in mid-flight, a feat that she would never have believed of the creatures had she not witnessed it with her own eyes.
"I really hate birds," she grumbled again as she turned her back on the departing flock.
Before she resumed her kata, her eyes caught on a small object lying on the ground. "What's this?" she wondered as she picked up a small ring with a white stone on it. Engraved underneath the stone was a spiral-like design. "Is this some kinda toy or something?" She grinned. "Well, why not?"
Makoto slipped the ring on.
Somewhere near the docks on Osaka Harbor in Osaka, Japan, a young girl sat watching the various ships sailing to and from the many piers. The cool sea breeze blew through the young girl's short hair as she carefully sketched the ocean scene in front of her. It was a calm, lazy kind of day today, perfect for doing something like this.
Ami Mizuno loved to sketch. In fact, she was quite good at it. She was able to sell some of her sketches, but she made most of her money on writing and drawing for several doujinshi manga-ka. Not only that, but she had her own series under a pen name, Aya Hisakawa, based on a dream she had where she was a soldier of justice in some sort of magic kingdom or something.
It sold surprisingly well, actually.
However, all of this was merely a means to an end. Ami wanted to become a doctor, and Ami's mother told her that she needed to at least earn her first year's tuition before she'd get any help from her or her father.
And so, the list of jobs Ami had taken was long. Burger flipper, pizza delivery girl, grocery cashier, pet shop clerk, gardener, art model (fortunately, not a nude model, to her relief), and traffic director at a construction site, among other various part-time jobs in addition to her sketching and her somewhat-lucrative doujinshi series. However, what she didn't count on was that some of her friends had taken pictures of her at some of her part-time jobs and posted them on a website dedicated to her and her somewhat-famous doujinshi series.
That particular picture of her wearing a bunny suit - the non-ecchi kind; think Easter Bunny - carrying around a sign that advertised the newest cellular phone and service from a new communications company, embarrassed her to no end. Especially that stupid red nose they made her wear.
They actually did want her to wear the bunny-girl outfit originally, but when she threatened to beat them to death with their own cell phones, they thankfully reconsidered.
"Oi, part-timer!" a grizzled man called out to her.
"Aah!" Ami yelped for two main reasons. The first being that she had been so wrapped up in sketching that hearing someone call out to her startled her, causing her to jump slightly. As for the other reason...
She had just lost her balance and fell off the edge of the harbor. Fortunately, the grizzled man had caught Ami's sketch pad before she fell.
"Sorry, 'bout that, part-timer," the man said with a thick Osakan accent as he glanced down into the water below. "Just came ta tell ya that we're done fer the day. You can pick up yer wages from Amagi-han."
"Thanks, Boss," Ami replied as she treaded water. "Say, could ya direct me to the nearest ladder outta here?"
Lest anyone miss it, yes, Ami has a bit of an Osakan accent, too.
Once the way was pointed out to her, Ami quickly swam over to the ladder and started climbing.
"Yer lucky yer sketchpad didn't fall with ya," her boss said as he idly started flipping through some of the sketches. "Some o' these're real nice. You goin' ta art school or somethin'?"
"No," she shook her head with a small grin as she reached the top of the ladder, her working clothes dripping wet with sea water. "I'm tryin' ta save up enough for medical school."
"A doctor, is it?" he said with an amused smirk as he handed back her sketchpad to her. "Well, I wish ya luck in it. Hope ya get to go real soon." He patted her on the shoulder and gave her a fatherly grin. "Yer a hard worker, part-timer. I think ya'll do fine."
"Thanks, Boss," she said, smiling gratefully. "You'll let me know if somethin' else comes up, right?"
"Ya'll be tha first one I call, part-timer," he told her as he turned and left.
Ami stood there with sketchpad in hand for a few moments longer. "Oi, Boss! Aren't ya gonna offer me a towel, or somethin'?" She jogged after him, her shoes and socks squishing the entire way.
An hour later, after Ami had picked up her wages and dried off some, she went back to the harbor again to finish the sketch she was drawing. There were a few damp spots where she had dripped on the pad, but for the most part, everything was still intact.
Flipping back to where she had left off, Ami sat down and started sketching again. Granted, none of the boats that she was sketching were out anymore, but she still remembered what they looked like. So, with pencil in hand, she proceeded to finish up her latest sketch.
"There," she said as she completed her sketch. "Finished."
A seagull landed behind Ami and waddled up to her as she set down her sketchpad, and examined the drawing. Finding the artwork pleasing to its eye, it decided to let its opinion be known.
Seeing the young artist startle and fall into the ocean... again, the seagull decided that now would be a good time to leave.
"Why me?" Ami grumbled after she surfaced the water. "An' I just got dry, too..."
A small bump against her side caught her attention as a fin broke the water's surface next to her. "Huh?" she said as a dolphin suddenly jumped out of the water and landed behind her. "How pretty...," she said in awe... until she noticed that the dolphin's tail was headed-
-for her head.
Ami later awoke amidst much coughing and sputtering, finding herself bobbing next to the ladder out of the water with the dolphin supporting her enough so that she wouldn't drown.
"Oooohhh...," she murmured, rubbing her head. "How long was I out for?" She glared at the dolphin. "That wasn't very funny, ya know. Ya coulda caused me ta drown."
The dolphin squeed an apology as it poked its nose at her.
"Yeah, well, don't go drownin' people like that again, ya understand?" she admonished.
The dolphin squeed again as it poked its nose at her hand and opened its mouth, depositing a small ring in her hand.
"Eh?" she said as she looked over the ring. The ring had a light blue stone with some strange squiggly lines on it. On further inspection, she figured that the lines sort of resembled ocean waves.
She smiled at the dolphin. "I'm flattered, but it'd never work out," she joked. "I mean, just think of what the children would look like."
The dolphin replied with an annoyed squawk and blew a stream of water out of its blowhole and into Ami's face. With another annoyed squawk, it turned and swam away, splashing Ami yet again with its tail flipper.
"Was it somethin' I said?" she wondered to herself as she glanced down at the ring in her hand. Dolphins usually don't swim into Osaka Harbor and start handing out rings. Whatever the reason, this ring was probably something special.
"Yeah, and next thing ya know, I'll be dressed up in a sailor fuku, flingin' water at people," she laughed skeptically. "Maybe I've been drawin' too many doujinshi. It's startin' ta mess with my head."
She glanced down at the ring again. Well, far be it for her to refuse such a gift from an aquatic mammal... or, something like that.
Ami slipped the ring on.
Outside the city of Manaus, Brazil, a young blonde girl poked through the thick leaves hanging down from the tall trees of the Amazon Rainforest, seemingly searching for something. The girl seemed quite knowledgeable of the area... at least, until she tripped over an exposed root and landed face first into the soft dirt.
"Owww...," she moaned as she rubbed her nose gingerly. "Who put that thing there, anyway?"
Minako Aino knew this part of the Amazon like the back of her hand, having grown up here for a good portion of her life. It was almost like her playground, much to her parents' displeasure. Fortunately, it seemed as if she had an instinct for the rainforest that almost matched that which the old Manaós tribe possessed. It was once joked that Minako might've been the reincarnation of an old Manaós native, but she always replied that there was no way that could be possible, since she sunburned way too easily.
Her family's relocation to Manaus happened almost by accident. Her father had apparently won some kind of sweepstakes or lottery or something, and between him and his wife, they decided that they wanted to live somewhere exotic. Minako being all of four years old at the time didn't have much say in the matter, so the house was sold and off they went, traveling around the globe, choosing destinations by spinning a globe and having Minako poke at it at random.
Oddly enough, this led them to such interesting places such as Hell, Norway; Fucking, Austria; Intercourse, Pennsylvania; and Middelfart, Denmark. It was then decided that her mother would pick the places they visited.
After a visit to São Paulo, Brazil, a freak accident caused their plane to go down in the Amazon Rainforest several miles north of the Amazon River. Several sources disputed the cause, but according to her parents, Minako knew that the plane crashed because the pilot and co-pilot both had the fish instead of the chicken, and no one else knew how to fly the plane... oh, wait. That was from the in-flight movie. Actually, it was due to some kid being let into the cockpit and spraying the controls with Diet Dr. Pepper.
And everyone knows what happens when you spill diet soda into the controls of an airplane 3,000 feet in midair.
So we'll spare you the gory details.
For some reason, Minako seemed to feel at home in the rainforest, easily leading her family to the nearest city, Manaus. Upon their arrival, they decided that this was a nice place to live and subsequently had their home built there. They had a tough time learning the native language, Portuguese, but they somehow managed. Minako, on the other hand, had no trouble at all and spoke both Japanese and Portuguese very fluently.
At any rate, she would come through this part of the rainforest often, sometimes five of six times a week, exploring new areas or just watching some of the animals as they went about their lives. Most of the animals there knew of Minako's constant visits and slowly became accustomed to her presence. A few even befriended her, sometimes accepting food that she would bring for them. There was one creature in particular...
Ah. Speaking of which, there he was now.
A small white-headed capuchin monkey dropped down from a tree and sat down on her shoulder, squeaking happily. "There you are, Artemis. I was looking for you." Her gaze stopped at a small object that the monkey held in his hands. "Hey, whatcha got there?"
At her inquiry, the small monkey held out the ring as if offering it to her. "Oh? For me?" she said as she took the proffered trinket and examined it. The ring had a yellow stone with a heart design engraved underneath it.
"Aw, how thoughtful!" she said as she hugged her simian friend. "Let me try it on."
Minako slipped the ring on.
There was a flash of light and a gust of displaced air as four young women, one young man, and a monkey suddenly found themselves occupying a space that they hadn't found themselves occupying a few moments ago.
"Welcome," Endymion greeted as he stepped toward the new arrivals, gesturing grandly. "Welcome to Hope Island."
There was a short, stunned silence for about three seconds.
Then, five different voices began complaining simultaneously in five different languages.
"Oh, yeah. She's definitely doing this to me because I dated her daughter," he grumbled to himself resentfully.
/eyecatch: Captain Moon and the Lunateers/
/Quick montage of each Lunateer using their ring's powers, followed by the show's logo./
(Scene opens at a newly opened branch of a popular arcade/café known as The Crown. The place is fairly busy with several patrons sitting in various booths talking or eating. There are several arcade machines in use, however, the most popular ones are the row of Sailor V video games sitting near the middle. The camera focuses on a young boy with spiky black hair, intently focused on one particular Sailor V game. Suddenly, the boy moans disappointedly as his last player dies and a giant "GAME OVER!" appears on the screen. Undaunted, he digs out another token and tries again.)
/As writing appears on the screen/ Arcade tokens: $20.
(The scene then shifts to two teenagers sitting in a booth, watching the young boy play the Sailor V arcade game. The male has the same hairstyle as the young boy and his facial features are similar, easily identifying him as the boy's older brother. The female sitting across from him has black hair as well, cut in a short, boyish style. Both are talking over sodas.)
/As writing appears on the screen/ Sodas: $4.
(The scene then shifts to a young man and woman sitting in a larger booth, seemly waiting for something. The woman seems to be waiting patiently while the man has practically collapsed weakly on the table. The man has similar hairstyle and facial features as the two boys, showing him to be the boys' father. The woman, obviously the man's wife, watches the man while trying not to seem embarrassed by his childish behavior.)
/Moaning piteously/ How long's the food gonna take? I'm starving!
/Patiently/ Dear, you know that with the amount of food you've ordered, it always takes a while.
/Sighs/ I know, but I'm still starving!
(A server stops by their table.)
Sorry for the wait, but your order should be coming shortly.
/Calling towards the children/ Boys! The food's coming!
(The two boys suddenly appear in their seats as if by magic. The older boy looks confused for a moment, then blinks in realization. He then disappears again and reappears a moment later with the girl sitting next to him.)
/To the elder boy/ You know, I hate it when you do that.
(The boy shrugs sheepishly in apology.)
(A moment later, a team of servers approach the table while another pair of servers bring a table and place it next to the booth as an extension to the booth. Tray after tray of food is placed on the table, causing the man to sit up in his seat gleefully.)
/Placing a hand on the man's shoulder/ Dear, please remember to restrain yourself until AFTER the last tray has been served this time.
/Droops noticeably/ Ohhh... all right.
/As writing appears on the screen/ Hamburgers: $55. Fries: $45. Steaks: $85. Spaghetti: $50. Sandwiches: $95. Cheeseburgers: $125. Potato wedges: $65. Breadsticks:...
(Once the list of food items fills the screen, the voice pauses and a sound similar to an eraser on paper is heard while the writing is slowly erased.)
/As writing appears on the screen/ Three orders of everything on the menu: $795. /In parentheses; not spoken/ (Including tax and gratuity.)
(As the last tray is served and the three males ravage their food voraciously with little to no regard for table manners, the scene thankfully pans toward the woman and girl, both sighing in vexation with large sweatdrops running down their heads. Behind them, a young blonde-haired man wearing an white apron stood watching them, sweatdropping as well.)
/Rubbing the back of his head sheepishly/ I guess their appetite is the same as always, hmm?
/As writing appears on the screen/ Taking the family out to a quiet dinner/The words "a quiet" are then quickly scribbled over/ priceless.
/Sighing as she hands over a credit card/ Sorry about the mess, Motoki-san.
/Takes the credit card with an understanding smile/ That's quite all right, Ma'am. I have a young female friend whose eating habits are surprisingly similar. I'm used to it.
(The scene then shifts to a close-up shot of an open restaurant-style check holder sitting on a table with a ridiculously long bill that rolls past the camera's frame. A MasterCard credit card is sitting on top of the bill just above where the customer's signature goes. The signature and the name stamped into the credit card both read "Son Chichi.")
There are some things that money can't buy. For everything else, there's MasterCard.
/In background, yelling/ No, you can't have any dessert, Goku!
/eyecatch: Captain Moon and the Lunateers/
/Each Lunateer drops into frame one after the other, starting with Ryoku, then Rei, Makoto, Ami and finally, Minako. The five each raise an arm into the air, ring hands clenched into fists. Captain Moon then flies down on-screen just as the show's logo appears, causing her to trip over it and fall flat on her face, much to the Lunateers' chagrin./
"All right!" Ryoku shouted loudly, switching to Japanese - it seemed Afrikaans wasn't a common spoken language among those assembled and English was having limited success - as he made a silencing gesture with both arms. "Everyone just calm down for a minute." He turned to Endymion as soon as everyone quieted down. "All right, pretty boy. Start explaining."
Endymion frowned at the remark but let it pass. "I am Endymion, the guardian spirit of the Earth. I have gathered you here because you are needed. The world is facing a crisis. Industrial pollution, deforestation, hazardous waste, animal extinction, cable television; all these things and more are destroying our world. If nothing is done, soon humanity won't be able to survive and may become extinct as well."
"That's nice and all," Rei cut in, speaking in Japanese as well, setting the language everyone would be speaking in. "But what does that have to do with us?"
"I was getting to that," he said irritably. "Anyway, millennia ago, you five were the guardians of a great kingdom, wielding great power in its defense."
"And what does this have to do with what's going on now?" Ryoku inquired flatly.
Endymion responded by raising a single finger. In response, a lightning bolt shot down from the sky, flew through an open window and struck Ryoku in the backside. He yelped in pain as he hopped forward, rubbing where he was struck as he glared at the Earth Spirit. Artemis hopped off of Minako's shoulder and hid behind her legs, squeaking anxiously.
"Shh...," she said soothingly as she picked the little monkey up and tried to calm him down.
"Anyone else want to interrupt?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.
The others wisely remained silent. Minako continued to sooth the startled Artemis. Ryoku grumbled under his breath, but gestured that Endymion could continue.
"As I was saying, when you five were reborn, unfortunately those powers didn't stay with you. However, a substitute was created to enable you to wield the powers you once held; those rings that now adorn your hands.
"Ryoku," he continued as he turned to the first of the five, "your ring controls the power of Earth."
"Okay," he nodded.
A short silence passed between the two.
"Well?" Endymion asked.
"Well, what?" Ryoku shot back.
"Aren't you going to try it out?"
"I thought you didn't want me to interrupt," he replied flatly as he raised an eyebrow.
Endymion sighed and shook his head. "Just try it out already, smartass."
Another short silence.
"What now?" the Earth Spirit asked curtly.
"I'm waiting for the instruction manual."
"Artemis! Calm down! HEY! GET OUT OF THERE!"
"Now, then," Endymion continued as Ryoku hopped up and down, rubbing his backside again where a second lightning bolt struck him, while Minako struggled to remove Artemis from his hiding place inside her blouse. "All you have to do is concentrate on what you want your power to do and speak the name of your element."
"You could've told me sooner, you know," he grumbled as he stepped toward a window and pointed his ring outside. "Earth!"
A greenish glow lit up around his ring for a moment, then flowed down into the ground. The ground shook for a moment as a column of stone burst up through the ground. As the column grew, four other columns - two on each side - burst up next to it.
"You know, niisan, that kinda reminds me of something," Makoto mused.
"Heh," Rei smirked. "Nice highway salute."
"Very funny," Endymion muttered as he made a sweeping gesture, causing the stone columns to crumble and disappear back into the ground. "At any rate," he continued, turning toward the raven-haired girl, "Rei, your ring controls the power of Fire."
"I guess, I'm supposed to try mine out as well, huh?" she said as she glanced at her ring, then pointed it out in front of her. "Fire!"
A reddish glow lit up around her ring for a moment, and then shot out toward the ground in front of her, setting the floor on fire.
"Woah!" she exclaimed, her eyes widening in surprise. "Kick ass!"
"Dammit, quit scaring my monkey!"
"That's great and all, but can we put out this fire before it spreads and burns down the place?" Makoto inquired pointedly.
Endymion turned to the ponytailed girl. "Makoto, your ring controls the power of Wind."
"All right," she said as she pointed her ring at the small blaze. "Wind!"
A white glow lit up around her ring for a moment, then a strong swirl of air blew out from the ring, snuffing out the fire.
"You know, maybe you could've suggested using it outdoors rather than in a hut with a roof made of flammable thatch," Ryoku told Endymion. "It's not like she knows how to use it yet."
"Shut up," he replied and turned to the blue-haired girl. "Now, Ami, your ring controls the power of Water."
Ami nodded and walked over to the window next to Ryoku and pointed her ring outside toward the ocean. "Water!"
A blue glow lit up around her ring for a moment, then shot out toward the ocean. A larger glow formed in the ocean as a large wall of water shot into the air, then came down over the building like rain.
"Hey, what's my power?" Minako asked, interested. "Lightning? Metal? Wood? Gravity?"
"Ah, yes," she nodded sagely. "Of course. Makes perfect sense." A short pause. "WHAT THE HELL KINDA LAME POWER IS HEART ANYWAY?" she roared angrily as she throttled the nascent Earth Spirit.
"Easy! Easy!" Ryoku said as he pried her off Endymion and held her back.
"Calm yourself and I'll explain," Endymion said, showing no signs that he had been thoroughly choked a few moments ago. "The power of Heart may not be as powerful as the other four, but it is still a vital power, nonetheless. It is a power that binds the other four together. For when your powers combine, you can accomplish things many times greater than what you could do alone."
"That's great and all, but what does my power do by itself?" she asked.
"Try it out," he suggested.
Minako shrugged as she held up her ring. "Heart!" A yellow glow lit up around her ring and completely surrounded her.
She closed her eyes and placed her ring on her forehead. 'I think I understand now.'
"Wha?" Ami exclaimed as she placed a hand to her head. "I thought I heard her speakin' in my head."
"I heard her, too," Makoto agreed, putting a hand to her head as well.
'Not in your head,' Minako said without moving her mouth. 'Your hearts. This power lets me see what you see, and feel the emotions you feel. No matter how far apart we are, with this power we can stay in contact with each other. I can do the same with other people to a lesser extent, and with animals like Artemis to an even lesser extent.'
A short pause. "Ryoku, stop staring at my legs," she said as she opened her eyes and gave him a flat look.
Ryoku blushed slightly as he turned away. "Eh, heh, heh... Sorry."
"Naughty boy," she added with a playful wink.
"At any rate, now that you are familiar with your new powers, we have an emergency on our hands," Endymion cut in.
"So soon?" Ryoku asked. "Can't we at least let our family know where we are? I've still got to finish taking our new shipment back to the shop."
Rei's eyes widened. "I've still got to meet with my manager! He's expecting me in a half-hour!"
"Don't worry. Your families, friends and associates have all been contacted and informed of your whereabouts and why you are here," Endymion explained. "Everything has been taken care of."
"Well, isn't that convenient?" Ryoku muttered.
"You want another bolt in the ass?" he inquired flatly.
"So, what's this you say about an emergency?"
The Spirit of Earth turned and waved a hand toward the crystal display. "See for yourselves," he said as the display flickered to life.
"Luna, what's going on?"
"Oh, Sailor Rangers! Thank goodness you're here! There's big trouble!"
"Sailor Rangers, Queen Beryl has sent another Youma to attack the city."
"Again? That's gotta be what? The third one this week?"
The display went black as Endymion waved at the display again. "Hmm... So, that's the TV function...?"
"Um... the emergency?" Rei prompted impatiently.
"Right," he said and waved at the display again. This time, a view of a coastline could be seen in the display. "Ah, here we are.
"An emergency has arisen off the southern coast of California. An oil rig that had been constructed recently is leaking oil into the Pacific. The local wildlife are in danger from the spilled oil."
"So, what?" Rei asked. "Are we supposed to be some kind of volunteer service? I mean, I feel sorry for the little guys," she said as she gestured toward the display showing seagulls slicked with oil, "but aren't there other people that can do this? I mean, I'm just a singer."
"You five are much more than you think you are," Endymion said sagely. "You have the power to make a difference in this world."
"I dunno about makin' a difference in the world, but I don't really feel right seein' this and doin' nothin'," Amy said as she watched the display worriedly.
"Same here," Ryoku added. "Besides, I'm not about to say no and get another lightning bolt in the ass."
On that, he got no argument.
"So, how are we supposed to get there?" Rei asked, folding her arms. "We're on an island, right? Are we supposed to swim?"
Endymion sighed in frustration. "There's transportation available outside. Just go already, dammit!"
Makoto raised a hand. "Um... can I at least change out of my karate gi first?"
The spirit of Earth groaned. This was going to be a long day. He just knew it.
Since Ryoku was the only one present that had a valid driver's license, he was chosen to operate the vehicle Endymion gave them: the Geo-Cruiser. When asked if he had any piloting experience, he told them that he was an expert at flight simulator and aerial combat games so they should be fine. Although that statement didn't make anyone feel better, no one had any better ideas.
When he heard the name of the jet, at first he had thought it might've been something similar to a Geo Metro, but unfortunately, he had been far from correct. It was not a type of car (of course, he should've figured that much out, seeing as they were on an island), but a type of small plane. Or jet, rather, seeing that it had thrusters in the back. The solar panels on the wings clued him in to the fuel source: solar power.
A solar-powered mini-jet? He was curious as to who made it, but seeing as there were no corporate markings, it must've been privately made. That, and the fact that it was painted pure yellow.
It felt like he was flying a Twinkie. A solar-powered Twinkie.
Anyway, the Earth spirit had fortunately allowed a quick change of clothes, especially considering that Rei said that she was definitely not going to fight in high heels a second time today. This statement brought looks of surprise to everyone's face - including the monkey's, as improbable as that sounded - except for Endymion's, who muttered something about how Mars never complained about fighting in high heels before. Whatever that meant.
At any rate, now everyone was wearing roughly similar clothing; T-shirts, short sleeved jackets or vests, shorts and tennis shoes. Although the question remained as to why there was clothing here in their sizes, they knew better than to complain at this point. Well, Rei did complain, but a raised finger crackling with lightning silenced any further complaints. Ryoku wanted to complain about his not getting a warning before getting zapped in the butt, but thought better of it. After all, he didn't want to get hit again. His pants and boxers were already getting close to having a hole burned through them.
"So, anybody got any ideas on what we're supposed to do when we get there?" Rei asked, her arms folded in annoyance.
"I'm sure we'll figure it out once we get there," Makoto offered with a grin.
"Oh, I just realized something!" Minako said, pounding one hand into the other. "We haven't really introduced ourselves, have we?"
"Didn't that Earth Spirit guy already kinda introduce us ta each other?" Ami pointed out. "After all, he seemed ta already know all of our names. There's Ryoku-han, Rei-han, Makoto-han, and you're Minako-han," she said, pointing to each person in turn.
"Ah, but you forgot about my friend, Artemis!" she said, holding up the white-furred monkey.
"O-of course...," she replied, smiling uncertainly. "And Artemis."
"At any rate," Rei said with a sigh, "how long until we get there, Ryoku?"
Ryoku glanced back at her over his shoulder and grinned. "That's the interesting thing; we'll be there in less than an hour."
Her jaw dropped slightly. "You're kidding me. Most planes take five and a half hours just to go between L.A. and Hawaii!"
He shrugged in response. "Well, according to the controls, we're going fast enough to reach our destination in less than an hour. Here, see for yourself," he suggested, pointing to a specific control panel. Rei got up and moved over to where Ryoku was sitting and glanced at the indicated control panel. In the area where she assumed the speedometer was supposed to be, a display panel showed a single line. At one end, there was a circle with an 'S', which was highlighted in light blue. The light blue color stretched across the line until it stopped partway across, where the line suddenly changed to red and continued until it terminated at another circle with an 'F'. Above the line, the display showed the words 'Estimated time of arrival: less than an hour.'
"Uh...," she blinked, momentarily stunned at the inanity of what she was beholding.
"'You had to ask,' right?" he asked sympathetically.
"Um... yeah," she nodded. "Something like that."
Rei shook her head and turned back to her seat. "I give up. Just let me know when we get there."
"Yeah, sis?" Ryoku replied, glancing over his shoulder again.
"Where's the honey-roasted peanuts?"
"...it's not that kind of flight."
Less than an hour later, the Geo-Cruiser landed on a long strip of beach. As the group exited the jet, Ryoku pressed a button on the key, causing the doors to close by themselves. Another button made the lights flash and the horn honk as the alarm set.
"Why is there a car alarm on a solar mini-jet?" Makoto asked, scratching her head.
"Don't ask me, sis. I just fly the thing," Ryoku replied with a shrug. "Anyway, let's just do what we can here."
Everyone split up and took an area of the beach. Ryoku took out his keys and popped the trunk on the Geo-Cruiser and brought out oil spill cleaning equipment that had been conveniently stored inside a compartment labeled 'In case of oil spill' for reasons he didn't particularly care to explore.
After depositing the equipment in a spot in the center of the part of the beach they landed on, Ami stepped forward and extended her ring hand toward the buckets. "Water!" At her command, a large column of water rose from the ocean and landed in the buckets. "Hey! Did ya see that?" she called out, pleased with her work.
"Yeah, yeah," Rei said impassively. "Let's just get this over with. Fire!" At Rei's command, a burst of flame shot from her ring and enveloped the buckets filled with water, heating the liquid inside.
"Heart!" Minako shouted, aiming her ring's powers toward a small group of animals. "Don't worry," she said soothingly. We're here to help you."
Ryoku and Makoto started dumping soap into the buckets and spread out, each taking a pair of buckets to a group of oil-slicked animals.
"Would you mind taking care of these seagulls for me? I don't like the look they're giving me."
The siblings then swapped groups with each other.
"They're just birds, sis!"
"I'm telling you, niisan! They're EVIL! Those birds are EVIL!"
A few hours later, after most of the animals were cleaned up, the group glanced back toward the oil slick that had continued to spread out from the oil rig.
"Ain't there supposed ta be some kinda government agency to help clean this up or somethin'?" Ami wondered as she glanced around the area. Ever since they had arrived, they were the only other signs of life, other than the oil-slicked animals.
"You mean, the EPA?" Rei said, glancing around as well. "Now that you mention it, I'm surprised that no one's here besides us. Usually, they're pretty good about keeping up on disasters like this. Otherwise, those environmental types would be on their case big time."
"Environmental types?" Makoto repeated. "You mean, like us?"
Rei looked thoughtful. "Well, I never really considered myself much of an environmentalist, but helping these creatures isn't really that bad, you know?" she added with a small lopsided grin.
Ryoku walked back up to the group, having left to go check for additional equipment in the Geo-Cruiser. "Other than what we've got out here, we haven't got enough equipment to clean that up," he said, nodding his head toward the oil slick. "Any ideas?"
"I think we should get in contact with the local police and the EPA," Rei suggested. "That kind of sloppy oil drilling can't be within legal standards."
"I think we should contact whoever's on that oil rig," Minako suggested. "They probably don't realize what they're doing."
"I dunno," Ami said, glancing over at the rig. "It doesn't seem likely that they'd miss somethin' so obvious," she remarked.
"It's their mess; they should help clean it!" Makoto put in. "They should have stuff in case of something like this, shouldn't they?"
"We can always go find out," Ryoku said, glancing around to the others.
"Or, you can mind your own business," a voice said behind them.
"It's kinda hard to mind your own business when there's a huge oil spill staring you right in the face," he replied as the group turned to face the new arrival, a tall man with short blonde hair.
"Yeah," Makoto added, nodding indignantly. "So, who the heck are you to tell us to mind our own business?"
The man grinned smugly. "Oh, I'm just someone who happens to own the land you're trespassing on," he replied.
"Oh?" Rei said, frowning as she put her hands on her hips. "So, why don't you call the police, then?" She smirked haughtily. "Or, can't you?"
"I don't think you should be pushing your luck, girl," the blonde man said as his smile dropped.
"So you're the owner of the oil rig, aren't ya?" Ami concluded.
"The name's Jadeite," the man said. "Jadeite Greedley."
"That's a dumb-sounding name," Minako mentioned to Makoto.
"No kidding," Makoto chuckled.
Jadeite scowled. He rather liked his name. "At any rate, you'd better leave. Otherwise, I can't be held responsible for what might happen."
"So, you're threatening us with a cliché?" Ryoku asked flatly.
"I'm a villain; it's in the job description," he shrugged. "At any rate, consider yourself warned." With that, he walked off.
"Villain, huh?" Rei snorted. "What does he think this is, a Saturday morning cartoon show? Like we're in an episode of 'Power Rangers,' or something. Hmph!" She tossed her head indignantly, unknowingly causing her long black hair to smack Ryoku in the face.
A deep, rumbling sound accompanied by a light shaking of the ground caught the group off-guard. "An earthquake?" Minako exclaimed, glancing anxiously. "So suddenly?"
"It is California, you know," Rei remarked, unfazed. "Things like this happen on a pretty regular basis."
In the distance, the oil rig loudly uprooted itself, broke off its drill, and transformed into a giant mecha that looked suspiciously like a Gundam. It yanked the drill out of the ground, turned, and waved hello.
"What the hell is that?" the hooded figure inquired, glancing toward the author.
Jason smirked. He had the feeling that if he could see the figure's face, he'd see an eyebrow raised in bewilderment. Maybe even twitching. Marvelous. "There just wasn't enough weirdness for my taste," he replied, shaking his head ruefully. "So, I decided to spice things up a bit. You like?"
The figure regarded the waving not-the-Gundam on the screen for a moment, then shrugged. "It's your story. Do whatever you want."
"Don't mind if I do," he replied wiggling his eyebrows in a manner remarkably similar to one Groucho Marx.
"...what the hell?" Ryoku muttered as he and the girls all stared at what amounted to the impossible.
"Can those things do that?" Makoto asked while silently wondering what happened to all the people working inside the rig.
"Normally, no," Ami replied, silently wondering how the gigantic automaton managed to maintain its power grid as it shunted parts of itself here and there.
"I had to open my big mouth," Rei lamented, wishing she could take back her crack about the situation being like 'Power Rangers.' Apparently, someone had been listening.
"If it wasn't for the fact that that robot is going to try to kill us, this could've been pretty cool," Minako remarked thoughtfully. "I mean, you don't see real live Transformers like this everyday."
-SQUEAK! SQUEAK!- Artemis squeaked.
Now, if any of them actually knew how to speak Monkeyspeak, they would know that what Artemis had said could be roughly translated as either "My pants are on fire! Somebody spank my bum!" or "It's a giant Gundam! Run away!"
The author shall leave it to you to decide which translation is the correct one.
"You know," Jadeite remarked, speaking through a bullhorn a good distance away while holding a remote control in the other hand, "I've always wanted to have a giant robot."
"What are you talking about?" Makoto yelled as the not-the-Gundam began to advance.
"Hey!" the blonde man snapped angrily. "I'm describing how I'm about to kill you in a deliberate, yet exotic way! Don't interrupt!"
"But isn't that reserved for villains in spy movies?" Minako asked.
Both Jadeite and the not-the-Gundam paused for a moment. "True," he allowed. "However, we villains are allowed some artistic license."
"Fine, fine," Ryoku grumbled irritably. "So get on with it."
"Well, I've always wanted to have a giant robot, so when I built this rig out here, I decided that I'd have one in case I had some trespassers that needed killing."
There was silence for a few moments.
"That's it?" Rei said sharply. "Isn't there supposed to be some kind of master plan?"
"It's just an oil rig," he shrugged. "I didn't want to bother buying the land just to build the thing, so I just didn't bother. That's it."
"Don't ya have ta rebuild it each time ya do that?" Ami inquired.
"Yes, but that's the price one has to pay in order to operate a giant robot," he replied proudly.
"Are we really having this conversation?" Ryoku remarked aside to Rei.
"I'm afraid so," she confirmed with a tired sigh.
"But enough of this," Jadeite said as he tossed down the bullhorn. "I paid for a giant transforming robot and dammit, I'm going to use my giant transforming robot. You understand how it is. No hard feelings, I hope."
"Are you insane?" Makoto yelled as Jadeite started fiddling with his remote control. "You're trying to kill us, remember?"
"So, I guess that's a no, then?" he replied with an indifferent shrug. "Ah, well. Can't please everyone, I suppose." With that, he began to maneuver the not-the-Gundam into position. "Now, attack!" he shouted with glee as he pressed a button.
"Hey!" the five exclaimed just before diving out of the way as it swung the drill in a manner similar to a spear of sorts, scattering the group.
"Does anyone else get the feeling we're in the wrong series?" Ryoku asked as he and the others hid behind a large rock.
"I've had enough of this!" Rei screamed as she stood up and aimed her ring at the approaching giant robot. "Fire!" A large plume of fire surged from the ring and rammed into the robot's head with no effect.
"Forget that thing! Aim for that idiot over there!" Makoto said as she pointed her ring at Jadeite. "Wind!"
Jadeite dived out of the way as a strong burst of wind almost knocked him into the air. "Hey! Watch it!" he snapped as he rolled behind a small sand dune. "Hmph. Didn't expect you to have any means of fighting back. Well, might as well make this quick, then," he added as he pressed another button.
"Look out!" Ami warned as the giant not-the-Gundam began to glow around its chest area. Everyone scattered just as it fired a huge laser beam, destroying the large rock they were hiding behind, as well as melting a small portion of sand into glass.
Minako looked on the verge of panicking. "We are in deep shi-"
"Anyone got any ideas?" Ryoku inquired quickly as the robot started gathering power again.
"You could always die, you know," Jadeite offered.
"Who asked you?" the others retorted simultaneously, then scattered again in order to dodge another blast.
"Wait a minute," Ami said as everyone gathered behind another large rock. "Do ya remember what that Earth Spirit guy told us a while back? About combining our powers?"
"I think I remember," Makoto nodded. "Didn't he say that doing that would let us do things that we couldn't do by ourselves?"
"Do you think that fighting giant robots was part of what he meant when he said that?" Rei asked, glancing back at the giant not-the-Gundam again.
"Either way, I'd rather try that than get shot at by that thing again," Minako chimed in urgently. "So what're we supposed to do?"
The not-the-Gundam fired another blast, scattering everyone again as the rock they were hiding behind burst into small pieces.
"I think I have an idea," Ryoku said as he clenched his right hand into a fist. "Everyone, just follow my lead." He raised his fist into the air, pointing his ring overhead. "Let our powers combine! Earth!" A green beam of light issued forth from his ring and streamed toward the sun.
Rei pointed her ring overhead in the same manner as Ryoku. "Fire!" A red beam of light issued forth from her ring, rushing up into the air to join Ryoku's green beam of light.
Makoto lifted her ring above her head as well. "Wind!" A white beam rose into the air to join the other two beams of light.
Ami raised her clenched hand skyward. "Water!" A blue beam flowed up to join with the other beams of light.
Minako finally pointed her ring toward the point where the other four beams of light gathered. "Heart!" A yellow beam shot out from her ring, colliding with the other four beams of light.
Once all five beams converged, the rings stopped glowing. The beams of light gathered into a white sphere that slowly began to form into a female humanoid figure with long, flowing hair shaped into twin ponytails with a pair of odango where ponytail met head.
"By your powers combined," the figure said as the light faded away, revealing light blue skin and green hair, as well as a red bodysuit complete with a yellow circular emblem just underneath her breasts, "I am Captain Moon!"
"Captain... what?" The group of five stared as the figure known as Captain Moon flew through the air, heading in their direction.
"Who the hell is that?" Jadeite exclaimed as he started fiddling with his remote control. She looked like a superheroine. And everyone knew that superheroine plus villain equals villain getting trounced.
He severely disliked getting trounced.
"Who are you?" Ryoku asked as Captain Moon swooped down for a graceful landing.
Or, at least, that was the intention. Captain Moon stepped on a small loose piece of rock, which caused her to stumble backward. Her feet then began to slip on the sand-turned-glass, and finally she landed solidly on her ass with a heavy thud.
"Owie...," the nascent superheroine announced as she gingerly rubbed her behind. "Hi! Nice to meet ya!" she waved as she got to her feet. "I'm Captain Moon." She paused for a moment and frowned.
"Is something wrong?" Minako asked.
"You know, besides the giant robot trying to kill us," Rei put in sardonically.
"I'm pretty sure this wasn't what Mother intended when she sent us forward into the future," Captain Moon mused to herself. "I mean, my hair is green and my skin is blue! The green hair I could live with, but blue skin? Was Mother drunk when she was wielding the Ginzuishou?"
"Excuse me?" Makoto said, waving to get Captain Moon's attention. "Can we possibly worry about this later? You know, after you save us from that giant robot thing?"
Captain Moon blinked in surprise, then grinned. "No problem! Just give me a minute to figure out how these new powers work."
"What?" the group exclaimed.
"I told you, things got messed up since the Moon Kingdom. The powers I've got are different than from what I'm used to."
"Oh, that's fine," Jadeite said as he stood up from behind the sand dune he had been hiding behind. "Take your time." He toggled a few switches, positioning the giant not-the-Gundam so that it could fire its laser beam at her. The huge robot then fired its laser blast, scoring a direct hit on Captain Moon.
"Thanks," she replied, unfazed after receiving a powerful laser blast to her chest. "But watch where you aim, next time," she added, one arm crossing her chest over her breasts. "It's not polite to fire an industrial-grade laser at a young maiden's bosom, after all."
Everyone present blinked in surprise. Especially Jadeite. "All right, fine," he muttered as he fiddled with the controls again. "We'll just do this the old-fashioned way." With that, the robot swung its drill spear at Captain Moon.
The green-haired superheroine took off into the air and intercepted the drill in mid-swing. "Nice swing, but your form is off," she replied as she ripped the spear from the robot's grip and shifted it around so that she was now wielding the drill spear like a baseball bat. A hugely disproportional baseball bat.
"Now, here's how it's done," she added as she wound up, then swung, knocking the robot off its feet, sending it crashing to the water below as its legs snapped in several places due to the huge pressure than had been forced on it after transforming.
"Aw, crap!" Jadeite spat as he flung down his remote control. "You know how much one of those costs to make?"
"Well, you could always recycle some of the metal," Captain Moon suggested as she swooped down, gathered a huge amount of metal, and started folding it like origami paper until she formed a makeshift cage. "Here, try this," she suggested as she tossed the cage over his head where it landed, surrounding him.
"Hey! You can't do that to my robot!" Jadeite complained.
"Then perhaps you'd like to get the local police and get them to explain to us why we can't do that to your robot?" Ryoku suggested. Jadeite grumbled to himself as he folded his arms in annoyance.
"So, explain it to us again?" Makoto asked after the local police left with Jadeite in tow. The remaining pieces of the not-the-Gundam were left where they were until a salvage crew could gather up all the remaining metal that was scattered all around in on the beach floor. Clean-up crews had also arrived and were busy cleaning up the oil spill and the oil-slicked animals.
"It's simple," Captain Moon explained again with a cheery smile. "I'm your powers combined, just like Endymion said. When a situation gets too difficult for you to control, just give me a ring."
"You know, people have died painful deaths for lesser puns than that," Ryoku muttered. Beside him, a few of the others were slightly grimacing as if they'd eaten something disgusting.
"Hey, it's been several millennia," Captain Moon griped. "Sorry if my sense of humor isn't up to date yet." With that, she took off into the air. "Well, since my job here's done, I'll leave the rest to you Lunateers."
"Luna what?" Rei repeated quizzically.
Captain Moon turned around in mid-flight. "Well, I'm Captain Moon, so that makes you Lunateers." A slight pause. "Unless you all wanna be known as Moonies?"
The Lunateers collectively gagged. "No thanks."
She shrugged. "Fine with me. See you later, Lunateers. And remember, the power is yours!" With that, her body began to glow white before her form dissolved back into five beams of light which returned to the Lunateers' rings.
"Well, that was an interesting afternoon," Ryoku remarked to the others.
"So, what now?" Makoto inquired.
"Well, there's nothin' left for us ta do here," Ami pointed out. "We might as well head back ta Hope Island. After all, Endymion could have another job for us ta take care of."
"Fine, but can we take a break first?" Rei asked. "I know I'm tired from cleaning up after people and getting shot at by a Voltron reject."
"Don't worry about it," Ryoku said as he brought out a set of keys. "I'll take the scenic route."
"How was that?" Jason asked, glancing over at his hooded companion.
The cowled figure considered the TV for a moment. "Not bad, but I think you can do better," he replied.
"So, what do you wanna try for the next round?"
The robed figure slowly bobbed up and down, hovering a few centimeters over the couch as he considered. "All right, how about Yu Yu Hakusho, for a change?"
"All right, then I'll go with Ghostbusters," he said, then smacked the TV with the root beer bottle hard enough for the picture to change to snow. The TV fizzled for a moment, then changed channels again.
Author's Note: Finally, Channel 02 is complete over a year later! I've been meaning to get back to this story, but I've been really busy with work and college classes and so on. Anyway, I'll try not to take another year between this and the next chapter.
Disclaimer: All original materials belong to their respective owners. No copyright infringement is intended. This story to belongs me, so I would appreciate it very much if you would ask for permission before posting it anywhere else. Thank you.
Copyright © 2005 Jason C. Ulloa.
All Rights Reserved.