Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and Sailor Moon are properties of their respective owners who are not me. This is an original work by the author and any resemblance to the works it derives from is totally intentional and meant as a form of praise and flattery. No money is being made off of this in any way.
Part 2: Left 3.5 Dead -or- Those Who Don't Know History Can Make Really, Really Dumb Mistakes
Usagi stood alone in the dim light of the setting sun, her ginzouishu glinting from her hand as it caught the last rays of Earth's star as she examined it. For all the good it really did her, she wasn't an expert in the thing by any means. Sure, she knew what it did, but as for how it worked, she might as well be looking at a supercomputer. Intellectually, she knew that she should take the thing to Ami, but that would mean explaining exactly what was wrong with it and having to explain why she didn't go to the genius-girl right away the first time the gender-switch had happened. She thought that if she had to explain that she was changing into a guy she'd just die of embarrassment.
Speaking of Ami, she and the other senshi, plus Tuxedo Mask, had headed off after The Enforcer when, instead of answering their questions, she had simply stated that as they weren't the Queen or Princess of the Moon Kingdom, she didn't answer to them and just took off. Usagi had used the opportunity to simply hang back, waiting until she, then a he, could no longer see or hear them, then ducked into a nearby alley. After hesitating a moment only, Usagi dropped her Moon Knight costume and was again relieved to find herself as a girl again. She had wandered for a bit, lost in thought, until she found herself in an alley, ginzouishu in hand, pondering her transformation item and symbol of her ancient and future royalty. Sighing deeply, she turned it in her hand again. It was like coming home from school to find your house completely repainted jet black on all surfaces. Sure, it was your house, and it had the same family and furnishings, but it was uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and disturbing all at once.
Her contemplation was interrupted by the chirp of her communicator. Startled slightly, she fumbled the crystal, caught it, and sighed as a second chirp went off. She dug into her stuff-space and pulled out the communicator. "Moon here."
Sailor Mars' angry voice barked from the tiny speaker, "Moon, where the hell have you been? We've been looking all over for you and had a youma battle!"
Usagi flinched slightly, "I was...at Naru's place." she was glad for the small screen as it hid her blush from lying quite well. "I had to have my communicator on silent."
"Then who was by the subway entrance? We all saw you..." she trailed off as someone, Sailor Venus from the sound of it, interrupted her with a quick statement. Mars snapped back to the person off-screen, "We all saw her pigtails!" Another statement from Sailor Venus and Mars huffed, "OK, fine, we didn't see enough." She turned back to the screen, "You're off the hook for now...hey!" The view on the screen shook and jostled. Usagi blinked in surprise, then smiled as she saw Jupiter's face.
"Listen, we've got a problem. There's some chick in old Moon Kingdom armor who's claiming she's here to arrest you. We were trying to get more info, but she took off before we could. We lost her somewhere in a warehouse district, so she could be anywhere in Juuban by now. Mercury's trying to...what did you say you were doing?" Sailor Jupiter said this last to someone obviously behind the communicator she was holding. After an apparent reply, Jupiter focussed on Usagi again, "She's trying to get a bead on the energy signature of the girl's weapons and armor, but so far we've turned up nothing."
Usagi, pretending ignorance, grunted in acknowledgement and said, "I'll...keep an eye out for anything like that. I gotta go." Not bothering with Jupiter's surprised reaction to her abrupt termination of the conversation, she switched off the communicator, snapped on the 'silent' switch, and shoved it back into stuff-space.
She turned her attention back to the ginzouishu. She felt angry, betrayed, and confused, but mostly just frightened at something that had been a reliable aid and, well, almost a silent friend throughout the last four years of her life. It was also the only real link she had to her first mother, Queen Serenity the First.
Her lips pressed into a line and her eyes went from tearful to steely, she gripped the diamond tightly, thrust it into the air, and shouted out, "MOON ETERNAL MAKEUP!"
For a moment, her transformation lit the area more brightly than the setting sun.
Not a whole lot of full sized graveyards exist in Japan. This is expedience, for the most part. Island nations are generally faced with either burying their dead at sea or they resort to cremation. In terms of respect, either route works fine for honor-based societies, though the desire of the living to want to hold on to something does create a tendency toward cremation.
There is still, however, a thriving trade...if it can be called such...in actual full-bodied burial. The wealthy, especially, tend to favor having actual boxes and holes in the ground into which their bodies will be interred.
Just such a place felt the unwelcome steps of one Hikaru Gosunkugi. Rather, the body of everyone's favorite failed Goth stepped onto the grounds of one of the several cemeteries that dotted the Nerima city-scape. Gos' mind had been checked out and the body was under new management and wasn't forwarding messages or mail.
The malevolent entity that responded to Gosunkugi's not-summons stretched forth his borrowed hand and muttered an incantation.
Successfully, the author would like to point out.
Which should tell the reader just how well and truly screwed the residents of Nerima were going to be.
Sailor Moon looked down at herself.
Yes, her self. She was a she again! She was a girl again!
Howling with pure, unadulterated relief and joy, she bounced up a pair of facing walls and began roof-hopping across the shops of Juuban's shopping district toward the harbor. Curiously, through the nearly drunken haze of happiness she was feeling, she became aware of...something. Something powerful inside her, just waiting to be used. Feeling like nothing could go wrong, she simply decided to let it loose.
She gasped in excitement as suddenly her speed nearly doubled. She was peripherally aware that she was now leaving a sonic wake behind her as she plowed through the air so fast she could feel it resisting against her. A small twinge of guilt tugged at her as a window pane shattered behind her, but as she was nearly a full kilometer away by the time her brain even registered that the noise she heard was a sheet of glass being shattered by the pressure waves of her passage, she realized that she wouldn't really be able to do anything to help with a simple broken window. 'sides, if she wasn't around, they couldn't exactly chew her out, now could they?
After another exhilarating twenty kilometers or so she stopped. Rather, she skidded to a stop, leaving a bit of a furrow in the tar and gravel roofing material of the building she happened to stop on.
She was grinning like a maniac and gasping, more from the adrenaline rush than actually being out of breath, when she realized she wasn't alone on the rooftop.
Ranma sighed heavily.
"Don't move." admonished Konatsu sharply.
The tragically bad zombie movie had ended, and rather than go on to the next movie right away, Kimi had suggested they raid the make-up stash and do makeovers. Konatsu had, naturally, jumped on the suggestion straight away. This led to Ranma, the least femininely inclined of the slumber-partying trio, to become the mannequin for the other two, who were showing themselves to be very proficient.
Kimi began commenting on Konatsu's technique, "That's fantastic!" she spouted. "I can't believe how much you bring out her eyes like that!"
Konatsu beamed, "Oh, yes! It's basic technique at the parlor my step-mother owned. One has to find ways to properly accentuate the best features. Covering up the things you don't like usually just accentuates it."
Kimi nodded sagely. Ranma supposed she, like most girls, learned such a fact through some sort of girl-bonding that they did when guys or guys-who-weren't-guys-at-the-time weren't around. Kimi continued, "Oh, but I must know, where did you get the inspiration for the hair?"
Konatsu began to pat down surface powder to keep the make-up in place and give it a "dry" look. "I visited Ranma-sama's home and met her mother." Ranma desperately fought the urge to sneer at being called 'her,' only barely winning. "She has the most gorgeous do...and well, I thought, 'like mother, like daughter.'" Ranma was, indeed, wearing a style of hair very much like her mother's. She was very surprised what the judicious use of a curling iron could do.
Ranma permitted herself an eyeroll, which was largely ignored by the other two as Kimi smiled brightly.
Then, Ranma and Konatsu felt It.
Konatsu carefully put down the powder puff and began studying his surroundings carefully, as though for the first time. Ranma had suddenly leapt to a crouching, almost feline stance, opening her senses up to the world around her.
Kimi was taken aback by the sudden change in their behavior. "W..." was all she got out before Konatsu put a finger to her lips to silence her without even looking at her.
He spoke in a low, quiet voice that is quieter than a whisper, "Ranma-sama, where?"
The other martial artist merely prowled a bit, then seemed to glare at the wall for a moment. She then pointed. "West."
Konatsu nodded, and suddenly leapt into a blur of motion. Kimi, now frightened, remained still as the small house suddenly seemed to become oppressive. She heard a series of sounds that she momentarily realized were doors and windows closing and locks being engaged. Not a few shutters being drawn as well. Ranma was pacing around Kimi while this was going on, her power and grace humming in the air.
Konatsu returned as suddenly as he had departed, startling Kimi into making a small squeak before she clapped her hands over her mouth. "The house is secure, Ranma-sama." reported the ninja.
Ranma nodded. "Kimi," she turned to face the girl, "You stay here." The voice of command was clear and wasn't open to discussion. Kimi, now very frightened, nodded vigorously.
Soundlessly, the two warriors glided to the back of the house, Konatsu undoing his lock on a back window and opening it. Ranma slipped through like mercury, her companion close behind. The kunoichi closed the window and secured it with a bit of cord and a ninjitsu knot and both martial artists leapt to the rooftop.
Back at the Tendo Dojo, Kasumi was humming gently, though in the last few minutes she would pause, making an almost questioning sound, as she went about the task of cleaning her kitchen. She couldn't have told anyone exactly what was disturbing her normally tranquil demeanor, though it had only begun a few minutes earlier.
As she slid some pans into their respective cupboards and closed the doors, she found a curiosity that was a bit closer to home and much more identifiable. The cabinet doors didn't close all the way. This was often an indication that Akane had been at it in the kitchen again, but this time Kasumi knew her sister hadn't been anywhere near the kitchen for several days...and besides, none of the other indicators (like the HAZMAT team not making a visit) were present.
Curiously, she knelt down and opened the cupboard, emptying it's contents out carefully onto her so-clean-you-could-eat-off-it floor. As she was pulling out a large cookie sheet, a piece of paper came out with it. Curiously, she detached it from the cooking tray and read it. As she did so, her brow crinkled up and she glanced from the note back into the cabinet. After re-reading the note, she peered deep into the cabinet, her head tilting as she found something that didn't belong with the other dishes.
Usagi whipped her head around, finally spotting another figure on an adjacent rooftop. Recognition dawned even as she realized she was in for even more of the ridiculous chaos that seemed to be cropping up in her life these days.
"Sailor Moon," intoned The Enforcer with an authoritarian voice, "You are hereby under arrest for crimes against the Moon Kingdom and will be held pending a tribunal before the Royal Court."
Now Usagi was sure something strange was going on. "Wait, aren't I...hang on now, what crimes?"
The Enforcer started walking towards Moon, who took a tentative step back, subtly falling into a stance that would give her several different options, whatever the situation called for. Not that she was conscious of this, her mind was racing a mile a minute trying to figure out what she could have done wrong.
The Enforcer spoke again, "Your crimes are abandoning your post during the invasion of the moon by the forces of Queen Beryl and for failing to fulfill your duty as guardian to the Queen and Princess, resulting in their deaths."
Now Usagi was really confused. Surely an Enforcer of the old kingdom would know what happened... "Hey, I think we need to clear some things up..."
"Explain it to the tribunal," snapped The Enforcer, un-shouldering her firearm and aiming it at Moon from her hip, "You will come with me now."
Usagi normally didn't have much of a temper, what she did have was generally reserved for her brother, but her nerves had been frayed of late, and there was just a bit too much weirdness going on for her, resulting in her temper being rather shorter than usual and much easier to bring to the surface. "Hey!" she snapped, "You don't get to tell me what to do!"
The Enforcer didn't reply with words, she tucked her firearm under one arm and pulled out what looked like to metallic bars joined by a short chain from her belt. Usagi's brow creased as she tried to figure out what the odd choice of weapon was supposed to do, until the Enforcer threw it at her. She raised her arm to block it and one of the metal bars struck her wrist. Instantly, a glowing white arc of energy sprang up around her wrist. With a gasp, she realized that the device was a pair of restraints; handcuffs to be precise. While Sailor Moon was taking this fact in, the Enforcer closed the distance between them and grabbed her free wrist. "Hey!" snapped the magical girl, and she did a twisting crouch that threw the other girl into a slide across the roof.
While the Enforcer stood, Usagi tugged at the chain, only to realize that it was well and truly fixed to her wrist. She glared at the newest stress vector in her life and barked, "Take this off now!"
Ranma and Konatsu landed in the middle of the street having just finished a roofhop. They weren't concerned that they were in the middle of the street, for there was no traffic whatsoever. While this wasn't necessarily unusual for Japan, it only served to heighten the tense mood the two martial artists were experiencing.
Ranma squinted her eyes and peered into the darkness. Konatsu simply found his center and extended his senses. As one they turned to an odd sound, a sort of rustling. Assuming battle-crouches that would compliment the presence of each other, they prepared themselves as the sound maker approached.
To their complete surprise, it was a person. A business man of average height, apparently walking with a limp. They couldn't yet see his face as the shadow of darkness wasn't quite penetrated by the streetlight, but they did see that while one leg was moving, the other was...dragging. There was something else off about the man as well. His clothing seemed more dirty than one would expect, even after a long day at work. His arms hung limply at his sides and he seemed to be breathing in a heavy, gasping cadence.
"Sir...?" ventured Konatsu, "Are you all...ri..." The ninja's question died in his throat as the figure stepped fully into the light. His face was pasty gray and white, his eyes were completely clouded in sickly yellow, and his hair was clumped and matted. His jaw hung slack, making his breathing sound like the quiet whisper of summer breeze over the standpipe of a bamboo clock. The rhythmic thump-thump of the man's limp lent a bizarre credence to the macabre simile.
Ranma swallowed the bile rising in her throat back down as they began hearing more heavy, sickly breathing and shuffling from the shadows and several more figures join the first in the dim streetlight. "This is just getting out of hand!" she muttered angrily.
The aquatransexual and the kunoichi glanced at each other and nodded, the same thoughts running through their heads. They began the almost-dance of a martial artist tactically retreating while pulling out their transformation items.
The Enforcer, if she was at all intimidated by Sailor Moon's order, didn't show it. Instead she calmly stated, "No matter how far you run, no matter how far you go, the Law of the Moon shall be enforced."
At the word "run," Usagi's mental gears kicked in. Remembering her run not five minutes before, she smiled wickedly and said, "Well, you'll just have to catch me, then." So saying, she took two steps back to the nearby roof's edge, then calmly jumped off.
The Enforcer darted forward to the edge, looked down at Sailor Moon's already fleeing form and snarled an oath. Leaping off the edge herself, she kicked on her boots as she descended, breaking into a skating chase.
Usagi's smile tore into a vicious grin as she picked up her speed, tapping into that source of power that she didn't quite understand. Her world started to blur as once again started pushing the sound barrier. As she leapt over an intersection with cars passing through it, her momentum carrying her well over the traffic, she chanced a backward glance and a small part of her was glad that the Enforcer had managed to keep up.
Ranma, now garbed in her Sailor Moon "armor" (as she liked to call it, as it was WAY more girly than she'd normally be caught dead wearing and calling it armor lessened the ignominy, even if just in her own mind) punched another zombie in the jaw. Like the previous three before it, it's jaw and lower portion of it's head crumpled with a disgusting "squelch!" Fighting a wave of nausea, she shook the gore off her fist and turned to face the next shambling horror. That the zombies all seemed to congregate on her and Konatsu was small comfort, it meant that there were likely no civilian casualties while they were busy playing whack-a-zombie.
Assessing the situation, she realized that Konatsu, a.k.a. Sailor Mercury was not fairing as well as she, her arms being pinned by two zombies each, her Ice Katana broken off at the guard and pushing off a zombie with a leg currently being grappled by a torso with arms, it's head and legs having been already cleaved off by the newest Senshi. Sailor Moon's surprise at her friend's overwhelmed state was just enough of a distraction for two of the faster zombies to grab her arms and start pinning her in a similar fashion.
Now straining with fear, Moon whipped one arm around, hurling the zombie away. Unfortunately, this left her other side open for two more of the foul creatures to latch on and pin her further. Now immobilized, she was nearly helpless as a refreshed wave of undead piled on, a couple of them biting the air uncomfortably close to the exposed flesh of her arms, legs, and head. A particularly disturbing zombie, half it's head missing from one of Ranma's earlier strikes, leaned uncomfortably close, it's jaw poised open to bite her face. It's rancid breath nearly caused her to vomit the pizza she had earlier. A detached part of her mind was morbidly amused that the only thing she could think just then was that it'd be a damn shame if she did hurl, 'cause she really liked the pizza.
A flash of metal spun across her vision and through the neck of the zombie, severing the head and causing it to fall to the side, the rest of the zombie collapsing in a heap on top of two other undead and allowing her some freedom of movement. Wasting no time, Sailor Moon heaved herself back up to a standing position, used her now free arm to begin peeling off the goulish creatures and started kicking and punching wildly. (or as wildly as the best martial artist of a generation ever does) Freed of her captors, she glanced around and noted the presence of a third warrior fighting the zombies, now helping Mercury. Her blade sheathed, the Moonlight Shinobi was instead using a bo to dispatch their attackers. Catching each other's eyes for a moment, Moon's confused expression relayed her unspoken question as they both beat and bludgeoned the undead. In response, the Shinobi merely cocked her head to the side. Ranma, following the direction of the nod, saw an opening in a gate on the street, opened, but the entry arch was covered in kanji. In a flash, she realized it was the entrance to one of the local Shinto temples. Still not quite sure what the Shinobi was trying to tell her, but taking a guess anyway, she picked up a zombie one handed and launched it at the portal. The Moonlight Shinobi, showing the lightning quick reflexes of a true martial artist, spun the bo, catching a zombie by the collar of it's tattered clothing and hurled it on a similar trajectory.
What happened next shocked both Moon and Mercury as the zombie Ranma threw passed over the threshold. The creature practically disintegrated, it's parts simply flying apart as the evil magics were banished by the blessings on the holy site. The other zombie, however, did not. In fact, it stopped looking like a zombie at all. A business man, beaten and bloody, collapsed in a heap as whatever spell was on him dissipated.
Gasping, Sailor Moon and Mercury ran to the man's prone form, the Moonlight Shinobi following close behind. After they passed the archway, the zombies stopped following them and merely waited. Mercury inspected the man, checking his injuries.
"He's bruised, but otherwise fine," the kunoichi announced. So saying, Mercury turned back the collar of the man, a festering bite mark seeming to evaporate in front of their eyes, the blessed ground purging the dark mark.
Moon's brow furrowed, "The punch I gave him should have killed him..." she shuddered, "Why isn't he dead?"
The Moonlight Shinobi spoke up, "The illusion on this victim must have had a component that shielded him and kept physical attacks from causing too much damage. Your magical attacks would likely have caused significant injury, perhaps even killing him."
Mercury's countenance fell as Moon looked sick. "Oh...dear..." murmured the blue clad senshi.
"Do not worry, the first wave of zombies that attacked you were truly undead," proclaimed the Shinobi, "I observed from a distance before joining the battle." Moon could have sworn the ninja smiled behind her mask, "The illusion is...less effective from a distance."
Mercury now looked like someone had granted her a pardon from Death Row. Moon's vissage hardened. "That means this was a trap!" she growled.
The Moonlight Shinobi nodded as Mercury looked up in curiosity, "What do you mean, Moon-sama?"
Sailor Moon's fist bunched up. "If we were the target, then the only way to 'defeat' the zombies would be to 'kill' them, which means we would be murdering innocent people unfortunate enough to..." she waved at the man, uncomfortably aware that some of the purpling bruises were shaped like her fist.
Mercury gasped at the implications, adjusting the man and casting a nervous glance at the zombie hoard building up at the shrine gate. "...and it looks like we were the target."
"I would suggest," said the Shinobi, "That if one or both of you are the target, then this is likely not the only place the zombies are appearing."
The two senshi's gaze met as their thoughts whirled.
"The dojo!" exclaimed Moon as Mercury gasped out, "The restaurant!"
When they turned back to their ally, their eyes met only an empty patch of ground.
"Damnit!" muttered Moon, "That's the second time she's done that to me!"
Usagi, a.k.a. Sailor Moon, felt the air whip by her ears more than she heard it. Her mind simply was tuning out the roaring sound that near-supersonic speeds will produce. A grim smile lit her face as she carefully picked her path through Tokyo, avoiding the more densely populated areas and silently thanking Ami for the foresight to make sure the team memorized the carefully prepared maps of the city for planning future battles.
Suddenly, she felt a flare of heat and light ripped through the air to her left. She realized that The Enforcer wasn't going to simply let this go as a chase. The smile turned into a slight frown as Sailor Moon realized that she was going to have to go on the offensive to keep damage and civilian casualties to a minimum. Slowing her pace a tiny fraction, she moved to the side just enough to bring her up parallel with the mystery girl. She yanked off her tiara and started to call out, "Moon Tiara...!" but before she could finish, The Enforcer pulled out a smaller weapon, a pistol of some sort, and pulled the trigger.
Her instincts reacting faster than her conscious mind, her hand flipped the tiara, now a glowing disk, out so the flat of the disk was facing the enforcer, her arm arcing to intercept the plasma projectile. Nearly floored by her own reaction but not willing to look a gift horse in the mouth, she kept the spinning magical tiara out as a small shield, blocking another bolt from the pistol.
The Enforcer responded by throwing the strap of her longarm over her torso and yanking out another pistol. Bolts tore at Usagi with horrific speed that she found herself blocking with, not necessarily ease, but certainly much greater agility than she had given herself credit for.
Those who had business out on the streets of Tokyo's business district were treated to one of the fastest and most intense running firefights anyone had ever seen as the magical girl and the armored girl ripped through the streets, plasma pulses arcing between them and splashing against buildings and the occasional parked car.
So preoccupied with their dance, Sailor Moon didn't realize where they were until The Enforcer cursed loudly and suddenly braked. Usagi turned to see where she was going and was startled to see that they had arrived at the oceanfront. Her eyes going wide, she realized that she would have no way of stopping before plowing into the water.
Then, she had...an idea.
The Ucchan was quiet. The two new senshi breathed their own quiet sighs of relief as they ran past, making the fastest possible time for the dojo, the restaurant happening to be just slightly out of their way between the temple and the Tendo home.
Their relief was short lived as they approached the Tendo's, however. A hoard of zombies, similar in size to the one that had congregated around the temple were amassed around the front gate. Not even trying to fight their way through, the two sailor-suited warriors simply leapt over the mass by bouncing on heads and shoulders. Finally leaping over the wall, the two were startled to see no zombies on the property whatsoever.
In fact, it was positively serene.
Blinking in surprise, the two senshi carefully surveyed the yard. Eyes alighting on the front door to the home, Moon saw the eldest Tendo girl tentatively peaking out, a push broom hesitantly held out in a somewhat defensive manner. Seeing the two newest arrivals, she jumped, and her expression went from frightened to pleased.
"Oh, my!" she exclaimed, suddenly rushing out and bowing deeply before Sailor Moon-ne-Ranma. Apparently not noticing the redhead's poleaxed expression, Kasumi continued, "I wasn't expecting guests such as you! Welcome to my humble home, Sailor Moon!" The mentioned senshi gulped and nodded, and Kasumi, still bowed, turned to Konatsu, "And you as well, Sailor Mercury!"
As the kunoichi turned senshi blushed from head to toe, Ranma realized that Kasumi was practically giddy. It was hard to notice on so calm and tranquil a person as Kasumi, but when you live with someone long enough...
"Kasu..." Moon was interrupted by a stern glare from Mercury. She rolled her eyes and continued, "Er, miss? Where is everyone else that lives here?"
Slowly standing, seemingly reluctant to stop bowing to her visitors, Kasumi replied, "Oh, Father and Mr. Saotome are out visiting some local businesses..." Ranma's mind mentally translated that to, 'going to get drunk off their ass,' "...my little sisters are out working on some projects, they didn't say what, Mrs. Saotome went to pick up some ingredients for a special recipe for breakfast..." ...probably for a hangover cure, Moon's internal translation provided, "...and Ranma is off at a sleepover with a friend." Sailor Moon grimaced as she remembered where she was supposed to be that night.
Ranma-ne-Moon turned to face the gate, more to hide her expression from Kasumi than anything else, "So any idea why these guys are here?" she waved at the gate, which stood open, but none of the zombie hoard were crossing the threshold. Just like the temple...thought Moon.
As Kasumi was shaking her head 'no,' a voice cut through the night air, penetrating the eerie calm. "SAOTOME, YOU WILL RELEASE AKANE TO ME, NOW!"
Sailor Moon stood silent for a moment, her mind processing the voice and remembering who sounded like it.
Then, she slapped a palm to her face, her other fist bunching in frustration as she said, "Oh, hell, not him!"
When one has An Idea, they tend to form A Plan. The problem with plans (so the saying goes) is that they tend to only last so far as one's first encounter with an opposing force. Such plans are usually known in military parlance as "strategy," and are generally not viewed favorably by those implementing said strategy, as the implementors and the strategizers are generally not the same person.
Occasionally, though, one gets An Idea in the midst of a situation where the threshold of the encounter with the opposing force has already passed. Generally such ideas are quickly discarded as, at any time, they are charitably called "batshit insane." When an idea has taken enough root to form A Plan, no matter how insane or hastily cobbled together, and further implemented, it's done by the only person who can implement said plan, as there hasn't been enough time to spell it out, explain it, codify it, make sure everything is done in triplicate, then delegate it with extreme prejudice. This also has a name, it is called "tactics." Good tactics of any stripe are impressive, awe inspiring, and demand respect even from one's worst enemies.
They are still, however, batshit insane.
Such was the sudden Idea, which formulated into A Plan, that Usagi concocted in the approximate 1.2 seconds between her realization that she was about to hit the water and the time she actually met it. The origins of the Idea were many, but the primary sources were a surprisingly good American anime her brother was fond of and the realization that if she slowed or stopped she'd wind up in the water and rendered the moon-rabbit equivalent to a sitting duck.
The other primary source was an absolutely goofy American import wherein the main character quite frequently said, often at the worst times and in completely contradictory circumstances, "Let's speed it up!" That said character was played by an actor who would later star in a creepy sci-fi that still had her checking the back of her neck for a plug every so often and who did similar things as herself (e.g. - Saving the world) only cemented in her mind that this hastily thought up, totally batshit insane, seemingly counterintuitive Idea might actually work.
Leaning into her run, she pushed herself to run even faster.
Possessor-type youma, the author would like to note, are not actually very strong. As point of fact, only the extremely rare possessor-type youma are capable of posing any real threat to, well, anybody. This is entirely due to their nature as incorporeal creatures. Having no solidity or any "real-ness" makes it difficult to threaten with so much as a broken lollipop stick, let alone anything more damaging to a body. In fact, most possessor-type youma can't even penetrate the minds of the average person. They need an "in," if you will, some weakness that may or may not be obvious. Of course, the youma penchant for needing a strong life force to feed on tends to eliminate most drug abusers, alcoholics, etc., those with the obvious bad habits that would invite an incursion into one's mind. Indeed, these creatures are pretty low on the youma totem pole, to the point where they may as well be the dirt the totem pole is buried in. Just as the totem pole can't stand without the dirt, however, youma need a foothold amongst the human realm, and the possessor-type youma are usually the only ones who can get the job done.
Gosunkugi, at first glance, doesn't seem the type to be targeted by a youma of any stripe other than as "cannon fodder." He's generally un-noticeable, he hasn't got any particular strength about his frame, and his features rest comfortably on the low end of 'average.' Completely without significant threat to any of the nominal Nerima Wrecking Crew, he exists primarily in the shadows of the other people who usually take the limelight; indeed, other students who aren't high-powered martial artists, associated love interests, conniving manipulators, or any sort of crossdresser also tend to overshadow the somewhat gothy boy.
It should be noted, however, that the poor soul is also rather spry, passably good with a camera, somewhat stealthy (in that there's just something about him that keeps people from noticing him), and has a focus of desire that keeps him going on a task even when others have given up.
He has also gone toe to toe with Ranma Saotome and done what not even Ryoga, Prince Herb, Kuno, or Ryu Kumon have been unable to do. Granted, he had a supersuit that leveled the field a bit, but where a "normal" person would have likely wet their shorts when being stared down by a demigod of physical and spiritual power, Gos stood the line and held his own...right up until the suit self-destructed.
Such was the personality that the possessor Youma was dealing with when it possessed Gos. Consequently, the imperative that the possessed boy go out and create all sorts of deceptive havoc with the specific intent of creating misery for all involved, both short and long term, said imperative got...re-written.
Thus it was that the normally unnoticed and unnoticeable Gosunkugi stood behind a hoard of "zombies" just beyond the Tendo gates. Such a personality as his would NOT be deterred from his primary goal, especially given the amount of real, raw, working power at his fingertips. That Gos was mentally checked out didn't matter, his subconscious had essentially embedded his primary goals onto the Youma.
Ranma pinched the bridge of her nose in irritation. "How did Gos get a working spell?"
Konatsu wasn't so concerned with that as much as the fact that a field of energy seemed to be luminescing over the fence. Curiosity was answered when a zombie lurched forward toward the gate, only to be bounced back by the field as it burst into a flaring aurora and died down as soon as the zombie recoiled. "What's causing that?"
Kasumi spoke up at this point, "I don't know, but it has been doing that since they started arriving." her brow furrowed, "I'm just glad that they aren't coming in, I have no way of serving that many guests!"
Ranma and Konatsu were spared having to respond as a burst of energy and light came from the back of the zombie hoard. It arced over their heads and struck the barrier, causing it to visibly buckle. As Sailor Moon took a defensive stance against a possible breach in the barrier, Kasumi stepped back in fright. As she did, Sailor Mercury noticed a glint coming from the pocket of the eldest Tendo girl's apron. Konatsu blinked and checked that it was not simply an optical illusion.
Gasping, Konatsu said, "Kasumi-sama! You have a Key!"
Even Ranma could hear the capital 'K,' "She what?" spat the shocked aquatransexual.
Kasumi was merely confused, then realized the senshi was talking about the object she had found in her cupboard. "Oh, yes!" she pulled it from her pocket and examined it. "I found it in my kitchen with a note that said it was a gift. I wonder who it's a gift for?"
As Ranma's expression grew strained to hide the incredulity she felt, Konatsu took another approach, "Kasumi, hold the key over your head," confused but willing to trust the Senshi, she did so, "Now say the words that are going through your head right now..."
Kasumi stood, somewhat shocked, her words coming haltingly, not quite willing to believe it was happening, she said, "Mars...Planet...Power...ACTIVATE!"
In the seconds before the brilliant flash of light grew too strong to look directly at, the other two senshi could see tears of joy streaming down Kasumi's face.
Usagi had her eyes shut.
For the first time that she could recall it wasn't merely due to fear or denial, but pure instinct. Her lizard brain (not that she knew what that was) told her she was about to plunge into water, ergo having one's eyes be shut at such time would be a modicum of protection from impact and debris. Her eyes had simply slapped closed on their own before she could make the conscious decision to not have them close.
Pushing aside her instinct, she opened her eyes to reveal the broad, open field of black that was the night-time waters of Tokyo Bay. She could hear, above the white-noise roar of the wind rushing past her ears, the rapid-fire "plip-plip-plip..." of her boots hitting the water at near super-sonic speeds, so fast that the water itself was essentially a hard surface. At the same time, she realized that if she slowed down, she'd be drinking the bay. Small ships that were still out and about left wakes that were like small valleys that she easily jumped and waves made hills. Realizing that she would need to turn lest she wind up in the open ocean, she used the ice skating skills that were part of her inherited memory from her life as Princess Serenity and leaned, her leading foot crossing gracefully in front of her trailing foot and creating a slow arc that also happened to cast a flume of water behind her. Out of the corner of her vision, she saw that the Enforcer was scrambling to catch up, having adapted her skating motions to cross-water transit.
Smiling a predatory grin that would have been better suited to Setsuna than herself, she arced her run hard and did the seemingly impossible of a nearly 75-degree turn to mark an intercept path with her pursuer. In a blink, the distance closed, Usagi swinging her arm seemingly wildly, catching the Enforcer completely off guard as the empty bar of the cuffs clacked against the Enforcer's wrist, the energy brace completing the restraint in an instant. Usagi never stopped, and having the initiative she yanked the Enforcer back and off her feet. The Enforcer slapped against the wakes and waves of the water rather like a skipping stone as Sailor Moon's run gobbled up the distance to the shore. In a matter of a few blinks of an eye they were on solid ground, and Usagi dug her heals in, braking fast enough to cause her to pull to a complete stop right next to a tide-wall, the Enforcer slamming face-first into said wall, embedding so she was nearly flush with the surface.
A bright flash of silvery light indicated the last gasp of Silver Millenium personal shielding as the Enforcer fell backwards out of the human shaped impression in the wall, the stranger was apparently knocked out cold, for she didn't move once on the ground, but the steady rise and fall of her chest told Usagi her would-be pursuer was still alive.
After two breaths, Usagi shouted, "HA!" pointing at the unconscious form with her cuffed arm, "Teach you to mess with ME!" She started doing a jerky dance, "Ooh, yeah, who'da Moon Princess! I'm bad, I'm bad, you know it!"
At about this time her brain decided to remind her just what had just transpired in the last few minutes. She stopped, her arms falling slack to her sides, and gaped at the city, then turned to the bay. "That..." she began, "That...was...so...COOL! I can't wait to tell..." Another shocking realization hit her, this time prompting a palm to the face.
"Nobody's gonna believe this even happened!" she wailed in despair.
The incredible joy radiating from the new Sailor Mars was marred by the background whisper of the sound of zombies outside the walls of the Tendo home. By way of odd accompaniment to the usual Senshi ensemble was a push broom. The oddity was ignored as Mars serenely walked up to the gate. She stopped just inside the odd barrier and assumed an upright pose, her hands in the "pious prayer" position, her palms pressed tightly, her head slightly bowed and her eyes closed. Quietly, the other two senshi heard her say, "Mars Healing Fire," and then she stretched out her arms, her hands opening up so her thumbs and fingers overlapped and her palms were facing outward. Fire licked up from her hands as she touched the nearest zombie.
It must have been one of the first zombies, as it's aura faded, it's muscles went slack, and it crumbled into a pile of bone, dust, and rotted fabric.
"I did it!" gasped Mars as she felt Moon and Mercury's hands on her shoulders and arms, pulling her away from the portal. She slowly regained her awareness and realized that in her adrenaline infused state she had neglected to notice the zombies behind the one she had purged had attempted to grab her. She shuddered and realized her team mates had rescued her.
Her mood swung back to unbelievingly happy again as she spun back to the other two, grabbing them in a tight hug. Mercury was surprised, but quickly returned the hug. The primary response from Moon was a startled squawk and an awkwardly wrapped arm around the taller girl's back. "Thank you!" exclaimed the newest senshi, "Oh, I don't know what I did to deserve this blessing!"
"Uhm..." started Moon, "Yeah. We'll talk about that later, I think we've got more important things to worry about."
Her eyes threatening tears of joy, Mars released the other two. "Oh, of course, Sailor Moon." she bowed to the nominal leader of the trio.
It was about that time they were able to make out some ranting. "...damn you, Saotome! You had to bring the senshi in on this, you honorless cur!" the voice seemed to be fading into the distance. "Just you try and fight all my hordes of undead! If you and your senshi friends can survive, I shall be at Furinken High School, awaiting you to deliver Akane to me..." About that time the sound of the sulky boy's voice was too far distant to hear.
Sailor Moon sighed, "He's right, there's waaaay too many of them for...er, Mars to..."
"Heal," interrupted Mercury.
"Right, to heal. By the time we finished healing one there'd be ten more."
Mercury and Mars both looked thoughtful, clearly trying to come up with a solution. Ranma started pacing, turning first to the gate with the zombies still shuffling outside, then to the other two. Halfway through her third circuit, she paused, something clicking in her head after having viewed one of the defining movies of the zombie genre earlier that night. "Say..." she began, "Do you suppose we can combine powers?"
Mars and Mercury shared puzzled expressions as Moon began smiling widely while staring at the two of them.
Usagi watched as The Enforcer started to stir. She watched as her mystery opponent shook her head, realized the helmet was no longer on, did a rapid inspection of her uniform, and realized that she was missing several tools as well as having her hands cuffed around a streetlight.
The Moon Princess was surprised to find the face of the girl from the train station underneath the helmet, but only somewhat. The way her life was going it wouldn't have surprised her if her little brother turned out to be the reincarnation of Buddha. Idly she kicked at the pile of weapons, bits of armor, and rocket boots that she'd removed from the Enforcer during her unconsciousness. Her hands were on her hips and she was in full "Moon Royalty" mode and ready to milk it for all it was worth.
At the sound of the shuffling equipment, the Enforcer looked Usagi in the eyes. A frown crossed the prisoner's lips, but that was the only emotion that was betrayed.
Sailor Moon chose to break the silence, "The Moon Kingdom fell over a millennium ago." This was fact, though not one known by the general public. So far as most knew, the senshi were simply Japan's unique brand of superhero, vigilantes that were permitted as long as there were no "normal" means of dealing with the various monsters that arrived on Tokyo's doorstep. That the Enforcer nodded in understanding only confirmed to Moon that the Enforcer knew much, much more than the general public. That, along with what looked (to her decidedly untrained eye) like genuine article Moon Kingdom weapons and armor for non-senshi soldiers, told Usagi that this was no mere fan or stalker.
"The whole kingdom." Usagi continued. "All the people, all the soldiers, all the senshi, even the princess and queen."
The Enforcer remained silent, but a bit of steel started to glint in those gray eyes.
"That means," Usagi glared at her captive, "That you are either way, way old, or you were given this stuff by someone and had a bunch of lies told about me. You also failed. As soon as I call the others in Mercury will be taking apart your armor and Mars will be checking your aura."
At that, the Enforcer's lips tightened and she turned away, sinking down the light pole. Usagi realized that, whoever this person was, they weren't necessarily an enemy. She'd hurt as well the day it hit her that all her subjects from the old Kingdom were long since dead, the vast majority murdered. Sighing, she crouched down, her arms crossed over her knees, "OK, so we got off to a rough start. Maybe we can be friends?" So saying, she held out her hand for a handshake.
Imagine her surprise when the Enforcer suddenly looked her in the eyes, studied her for a moment, then blurted out, "Usagi!"
There was an operational limit, it turned out, to how many different weapons Konatsu could summon at once with the Mercury Ice Weapon spell.
The three senshi had gone about experimenting a bit. The first thing they discovered was that there was, apparently, no limit to the number of times they could "cast." Both Kasumi and Konatsu had repeatedly cast during their experiments with no ill effect or weariness, and each casting was as strong, verbose, or robust as the last. They also discovered that, yes, the powers could indeed be mixed, apparently with MUCH greater effect than using their powers solo. A quick test had healed no less than eight undead and four "undead" in less than thirty seconds.
They also discovered that Mars' push broom was much, much more than just a cleaning tool. She could channel her healing fire along it and Moon confirmed it was a very well balanced weapon, testing it as a polearm-slash-bo. That experiment proved highly successful in showing that Moon's power could be channeled down Mars' broom, though the raw attack power that blasted out the head of the broom produced more of a "bowling for zombies" effect than having any healing power, so they scrapped that for the current situation and mentally filed it away under, "Wicked Cool Things To Hurt Large Numbers of Bad Guys With."
The end result of their tests was two highly serviceable Mercury Ice Shotguns with Mars Healing Fire trapped inside. They were quite beautiful, actually.
"OK," said Moon, racking the slide on the shotgun she held, 'chambering' a 'round,' "We need to get to Furinken. Mars, how's your roof hopp...?" Moon trailed off as she remembered who she was talking to, "Never mind. Street-level travel it is." She turned, the other two fell in behind her, "OK, Kasum...er, Mars aint got a shotgun, so Mercury, you an' me are on escort." Konatsu nodded, and though Moon didn't see it, she knew her orders would be carried out. "Let's do this!"
Moon started a lopping run to the gate, Mars and Mercury right behind.
Once upon a time there were two children.
There, of course, were always more children than that, but for this story there's only two that matter.
They were young, still wearing the uniforms of the first grade, but from two different schools. One went to the local public school, wore her hair in twinned ponytails, would start on the path to giving her teachers gray hairs, and would find out in about a decade that she was the reincarnation of the Moon Princess and that she would save all mankind several times over. The other went to a private school thanks to the family being fairly well off from various archaeological discoveries the child's father had made before the child was born.
After school each day the children would both arrive at their respective homes, change their clothes at the stern insistence of their parents, and depart for a nearby playground that just happened to adjoin the two blocks these children lived on.
One day the girl with the twin ponytails was licking a lollypop and playing on the swings. She did so love sweets, and her parents were only too happy to give her them lately, what with mommy "expecting." Exactly what mommy was expecting the little girl didn't quite understand, other than it having something to do with her parents asking her whether she wanted a little brother or some-such. That the circumstances meant that she would have greater access to sweets for the foreseeable future meant that the situation was A-O.K. in her book. It was a magnificently fine lollypop, too, the kind where the confection was nearly as big as her head and if she wasn't careful she could easily drop it from the weight.
Riding her sugar-high, she heard a commotion over by the sandbox. She slowed her swinging and observed as the other child of this story began to cry.
"Yeah, ya crybaby! You better cry!"
The girl with the lollypop frowned. She understood this behavior only a little. She also understood that she didn't like it one bit. Hopping off her swing, she started to stomp her kawaii little feet over to the altercation.
Meanwhile, two other kids, both boys, most likely HIGHLY infected with cooties, were laughing. "Yeah!" began the boy who hadn't spoken earlier, "This is our playground, you can only play in it when we say you can!"
About this time, the little girl had arrived at the site of conflict. "Hey, meanies! You stop that right now!"
The two boys laughed, the larger of the two leaning in close, "Make me squirt!"
The little girl was now seeing red. One thing she just couldn't stand was someone being mean to others. "KYAA!" she bellowed suddenly, her very large, very heavy lollypop came swinging down on the bully's head.
"YOWCH!" cried the boy. He darted away from the apparently possessed little girl. When his buddy acted like he might make a scene, the girl stomped hard on his foot. Now also yowling in pain, the second boy ran after the first.
The girl turned to the poor child now simply crying in the sand. "Aww, are you OK?" she asked innocently.
"N...no!" sniffled the other kid, "Go away! I don't like anybody!"
The girl with the blond ponytails crouched down, her hands on her knees. "It's OK, those two meanies are gone. Maybe we can be friends?" The girl stretched her hand out to shake, a gesture her father taught her was a way of saying you liked the other person and wanted to know them better.
The other child slowly stopped crying, now sniffling through tears, grabbed the girl's hand. "OK. My name's Masami, what's yours?"
The blond girl smiled the innocent, toothy smile she'd manage to hold onto into adulthood and beyond. "My name's Usagi!"
As the two new friends walked off hand in hand, neither of them bothered to recall the now broken lollypop lying on the ground, the disk of candy now broken, the largest unbroken piece still on the stick in the shape of a crescent moon.
Ranma slammed the butt of her shotgun into the face of a zombie, doing her best to ignore the crack in the ice and the melt water that ran down her arms. They needed a chance to stop and replenish the firearms. Both Konatsu's and her gun were showing major signs of wear and tear as the fought their way through the hoards. Kasumi was holding up well, her skills very rusty from years of disuse, she nonetheless managed to heal zombie after zombie using melee attacks as she could.
With the pained sound that only comes from a block of ice fracturing, Konatsu's shotgun shattered as the kunoichi attempted to face-check a particularly aggressive zombie. Ranma chambered the last round of healing fire she had, stepped in right next to her teammate and fired on the zombie at point-blank range. The woman's cursed aura was nearly instantly purified, and she collapsed in an unconscious heap at their feet. The shotgun was finished, though, shattering as the last of it's rounds was expelled.
Now out of options, they began casting their eyes about, searching for any sign of a safe area that wasn't infested with zombies. The trio continued to fight the hoard, but without the ability to permanently de-zombify the hoard, they were being swarmed with ever-growing numbers.
Just as they were back-to-back and the nearest of the shambling undead was about to grab at them, they heard a distinctive sound of generated plasma and the sound of superheated air just before a shot impacted with the nearest undead. It reacted just like the previously cured zombies who were genuinely raised dead and disintegrated. Before they could fully process what was going on, three more shots eliminated three more threats. The zombies, still possessing of at least a small measure of self-preservation, slowed their attack just enough for the trio to search for the source of a very familiar sound...
Ranma reacted as though nails were scraping across a chalkboard. Konatsu blinked in confusion and Kasumi...
"Oh, my...I wonder why a nice girl like Kodachi is out so late on a night like this?"
Ranma's exasperation didn't let her stay silent this time. "She aint a nice girl. Oy, Kodach...huh?"
The group's nominal leader had to pause in confusion, for the results of her rooftop scanning gaze did not reveal the usually black motifed gymnast but a woman wearing chunky but scant armor, colored a mix of red and blue that nearly matched the colors of Mars and Mercury. A helmet covered her head, but dropping out the back was a long, flowing white mane of hair that went to the girl's waist. Her eyes were covered by a visor and a bright yellow scarf adorned her neck.
"Hey, who'r you?" exclaimed Ranma.
"Hmmm," came a rather snooty reply, "You seem to be a magical girl team of some sort. Doubtless of no consequence."
Now it was Konatsu's and Kasumi's turn to bristle. "How can you not recognize the Sailor Senshi?" gasped the ninja.
Ranma held up her hand for silence. "Whatever, looks like you've got the healing fire stuff..."
"Oh, is that what you call it? Frighteningly simple to replicate. I simply analyzed your attacks and replicated them." So saying, her armor suddenly shifted into solid red and she backhanded a zombie, Mars fire arced out and 'healed' her target, this one a salaryman who slid into a gutter, mercifully unconscious.
Ranma kept her temper in check, "Fine, fine. Looks like you can help us, are you gonna fight or jabber all night?"
Their apparent ally smiled in apparent approval at the redhead. "Oh, I shall. After all, it isn't often one gets to just 'let loose,' as the little people put it."
"Fine, fine." Ranma held out her hand for the girl to shake, "Name's Sailor Moon, the one in blue is Mercury and the one in red is Mars. What's your name?"
"I am Protogirl, the first and finest Daughter of Light."
Sailor Moon refrained from rolling her eyes.
Time rolls forward, irrespective of the wishes of little children, and Masami's father found himself on the trail of a new discovery. It seemed a rich businessman had stumbled onto some strange metal in the glacier-covered hinterlands of Alaska while on vacation and decided to send an investigator. Masami's father, being a very good, if intentionally unknown, archaeologist that specialized in the incredibly narrow field of people, consisting of only a handful on the planet, that was investigating the controversial theory that there was a hyper-advanced civilization that had some relations with Earth and had left some indications in trade agreements, artifacts, and sites that was suspected as having been used as landing facilities. Given what happened to the egyptologists who had expressed similar ideas about the pyramids, this small community was understandably tight-lipped and their actions and motives were known only to a few well-heeled and sympathetic sponsors. Therefore, when previously mentioned "rich businessman" spotted the mysterious metal, he recognized it from the findings of this somewhat secretive group.
Thus it came to pass that little Masami was once again crying in the playground when Usagi hurried to join her bestest friend ever.
Ever eager to cheer up others, Usagi hugged her friend. "What's wrong?"
Masami sniffled, "D...daddy is taking me to A...Alaska..."
Usagi's world was crushed Masami was her BESTEST friend (so far) and didn't want to lose her bestest friend. Then she had an idea, "I know, you can live with me! We can even be married! Nobody can take you away when you're married, that's what my mommy says!"
Masami still sniffled, but smiled, nodding. "I'd like that!"
So saying, Usagi and Masami threw together some hastily made plans and ran off to their separate homes. Neither would return to the park, to the heartbreak of both. Usagi's parents wouldn't let her out because it was too close to dinner time and Masami's father, already running late for the plane thanks to his child's impulsive departure for the park, simply whisked them both off to the airport.
Ranma growled as she kicked in the door to the gymnasium of the school. It had taken them three hours to make it all the way there, being able to rest only briefly when they could find safe rooms that they could bar against the (by now) hoards of zombies. They were able to take those brief moments to replenish their weapons and catch their breath, and even Proto-girl needed to pause for a while to let her weapons recharge.
She was understandably unwilling to put up with any crap as she stomped across the gymnasium. She intellectually recognized that Kasumi and Konatsu, still resplendent in their Sailor Senshi suits, though the grasping and clawing (and biting) zombies had done a number on the ribbons and sequins. Proto-girl's armor may has well have not been touched, but the girl's bare torso, legs, and arms showed scratches with something that didn't quite look like blood dripping from them.
The boy who would be Gosunkugi was ranting something on the stage to the side of the gym. Something about "ruling the world," or somesuch similar nonsense that all villains do. Ranma-ne-Moon only really registered that words were being spoken, she was by this time only seeing red. Combat, she loved. A match of skill and going toe-to-toe with a combatant that could match your every move was a form of art that for her rivaled anything by the great masters of painting or music. What Gosunkugi had set upon them was just raw numbers of grinding, thoughtless minions that were only really threatening in that there were so many. And worse, if the Moonlight Shinobi hadn't intervened, they would have wound up killing, by now, countless innocent people.
Where IS the Shinobi, anyway? thought Ranma.
Sailor V recognized that she was being helped. She was, frankly, very grateful for it. She had encountered the zombies roughly two hours earlier and had a running fist-fight just to keep from being caught. She didn't even have time to use her one special attack and wasn't sure if it would be effective on so large a group.
What she did know, however, was that periodically she would see down a darkened alley as she ran, or darting through a nearby pool of light from a street light, the shadowy outline of her silent partner.
The only clue she had to the mystery ally's identity was when she had misjudged a zombie's proximity and it nearly bit her nose off. Only the thunk of a shuriken into it's face stopped it, and Nabiki noted it was in the shape of a heart.
She punched the zombie, it's remains scattering across the sidewalk, and continued running, sensing her ally moving with her.
"...and since I hadn't yet become Sailor Moon, there was no way for there to be a Sailor Moon in the first place. That's why you can't arrest me for abandoning my post, I am the Moon Princess." Usagi's hand rubbed between Masami's shoulder blades. She had unshackled the self-titled Enforcer and they had been talking for a good while. Usagi mostly was updating her friend on what had happened in her life since they had last met on the playground all those years ago.
The two had shared a good cry as Masami began reassembling her Enforcer armor, especially during the parts where Usagi detailed the final end of the war between Metallia and the last remnants of the Moon Kingdom reincarnated on Earth. They shared a good chuckle as Sailor Moon recounted her first "mission" as a senshi, poked fun at the Moon Cats in a knowing way, and commented on weapons and armor and the most effective means of killing a youma, which Masami had apparently gotten a decent amount of experience doing in the Second Beryl War in the Americas, which didn't have the advantages of having a Magical Girl squad specifically tailored to deal with the threat.
The atmosphere had gotten so cordial, in fact, that Masami took Usagi completely off guard when the (only) modern Enforcer suddenly became very serious, knelt on one knee, and bowed low. "My princess," said Masami to the stunned Usagi, "I pledge my fealty, my weapons, and my life to you, in birth, in life, and in death, and in the eternal reign of Your Kingdom. My honor is yours, your pain is mine, and your love is my mother's milk. For the eternal and righteous reign of the House of Moon."
Sailor Moon blinked, then gulped nervously. She vaguely recalled the official fealty oath of the Honor Guard of the Moon Kingdom, when the Senshi and Moon Cats had realized that eventually they'd need to know (or remember) the proper forms for the building of the Silver Millenium and Crystal Tokyo had dug it up from the archives in the Mercury Computer. Stammering, she struggled to remember the official response.
"Er, uhm...Masami, of the house...uh...oh, I forget your last name! Uh, We accept your oath and...stuff..." she struggled for a moment or two more, "Oh, forget it! Am I the last member of the royal house or not? I get to make new rules if I need to, and one rule is my bestest friend from when I was little doesn't need to bow and scrape!" Smiling, she bent down and lifted her friend's hands off the ground and held them together with hers, standing up straight and smiling as she looked into Masami's eyes. "Thanks, Masami, I accept your oath, and I'll be happy and proud to have such a good friend on my side."
With Masami's visor raised but all other armor in place, the smile and tear-filled eyes were all that Usagi needed to know that she'd said the right thing, formal speech or not.
Interruptions should probably have been expected, but it was several levels of embarrassing when she heard the distinctive throat-clearing of her boyfriend/fiance and Sailor Mars' voice saying, "Did you two need a moment or two more, and should we start preparing invitations?"
The two glanced over at the other Senshi and Tuxedo Mask and both turned bright red as they realized they were in the classic "marriage proposal" pose.
Konatsu was holding Gosunkugi's body, which hadn't stopped laughing maniacally. They had finished off the last of the zombies (in this case, the high school's basketball team) and the resident ninja had slipped in and incapacitated the possessed boy. The laughing started when Proto-girl's armor had gone from blue and red to a somewhat deeper red and gray and her power shot, instead of being the now familiar healing fire, was white-hot plasma that Ranma kept from blasting Gosunkugi's head off at the last second with a well timed deflection.
"Damnit, Protogirl, you nearly killed him!"
Protogirl sniffed haughtily and muttered something about simply ending the problem.
Mars stepped forward, her hands in the prayer position, and began the simple chant that would activate the spell. As the fire started flickering from her hands, the possessing creature that was inside Gosunkugi started truly ranting, "You'll never stop the death of the human race, Senshi! Like every visitation before, your species will fall and never blight this universe agaaaaaaaiiiiiinn..."
Mercury and Moon shared a concerned look as the poor wannabe summoner slumped unconscious in Mercury's grip.
"Well, if that is all, and I don't even get the pleasure in absorbing his power, I'm going home!" Rather like a spoiled princess, Proto-girl stomped her way to the nearest door and disappeared into the night.
"What do you supposed that last part was about? Are these freaks after the original Senshi?" voiced Moon as she hefted Gos' form into a fireman's carry.
"I...don't know." admitted Mercury. "The behavior of these monsters doesn't match any previous pattern."
Not having any further evidence, they chose not to randomly speculate, sticking to more mundane topics as they delivered Gosunkugi to his parents' place. The poor boy apparently had no memory other than a hazy recollection of an evil presence in his room. His parents could easily have been knocked over with a feather at the presence of the Sailor Senshi in their home...had they not been asleep in front of the TV when the group arrived and slept soundly through Mars reviving the boy briefly and tucking him into bed, Moon questioning him on the possession and Mercury checking for and confiscating anything else potentially dangerous from the room. (Two small statues that were actually incorrectly assembled locking puzzles for a pair of world destroying demons, a book on love spells, and what appeared to be a memory altering orb that caused the user to forget they had it, the Mercury armor seemed to be effective in damping it's effects, however)
Moon carried Mars as they roof-hopped back to the Ucchan, Konatsu using a secret stash place on the roof to hide the confiscated items, then they continued back to Kimi's place.
Moon stopped the trio outside the door, listened with her neko-ken and senshi enhanced hearing to confirm they wouldn't be overheard, then turned to the others.
Mars spoke up, "My, is this where you live?"
Moon smirked and responded as Mercury giggled, "I guess the outfits have a disguise field or something. No, this isn't where I live." Moon touched the jewel on her tiara with the intent of dropping the armor. As it collapsed into her yin-yang jewel, Mercury did the same.
Kasumi gasped, "Ranma-kun! Kontatsu-chan? How long...?"
Konatsu gently tugged on Kasumi's elbow. "Later, Kasumi-sama. Please return to your civilian clothes quickly. We have to reassure Ranma's hostess for the night that we're alright."
Still a little shell-shocked from discovering herself to be a Sailor Senshi, Kasumi obeyed, lovingly tucking the key into her apron.
As soon as the keys and jewel were secreted out of sight, Kimi's door flew open. "Ranma! Konatsu! There you are! Who's this with you? What happened? Is everything OK?"
Konatsu's training as hostess from when he served in a teahouse was well used as they entered and reassured the girl that everything was fine. Once Kasumi's relationship to Ranma was explained, she was invited to stay the night, especially given the late hour and the happenings that Kimi had gladly sat out of.
Of course, that didn't stop Kasumi from beaming and being unable to explain to Ranma's friend why she was so gosh-darn happy.
After a round of introductions were made, Usagi and her friends, Masami included, retired to Rei's temple. It was, by then, fairly late, so calls were made to parents as Mamoru made some quick runs on his bike to gather the things the girls would need for the next day. The impromptu sleepover began cordially, with Masami instantly connecting with Minako due to a shared interest in sports, Ami thanks to the Moon Kingdom tech they both were clearly familiar with, and Makoto thanks to the fact that both were in the same situation, parent wise.
Indeed, it had come out in conversation on their trip to the temple that Masami's father had died fairly early in the trip to Alaska in a cave in. The poor girl had been reluctant to give up any details, including who raised her from such an early age, and the others chose not to pry, relying on Usagi's natural tendency to extract people's story through her loving, trust-inducing nature.
Conversations drifted from the Moon Kingdom to the destined Silver Millenium to school and clothes until it landed on what any slumber party, through ancient tradition, was bound to land on: boys.
"Again with your old sempai!" Mina ribbed Makoto half-heartedly.
"Hey, he was hot!" laughed Makoto.
"Say, Masami, do you have a boyfriend?" asked Rei.
At this the Enforcer blushed from her hairline to her pajama top. "I...no...I don't...er...I don't like boys."
Ami glanced up from her computer and smiled warmly. "That's alright," she reassured the newest person that she might call a friend, "Two of the Outers are lesbians."
Makoto's eyes lit up, having something of a hero-worship for Haruka. "Ooooh, so is there a girl you like?"
Masami now had her eyes fixed to the floor, she nodded shyly, her blush practically glowing by now.
Mina joined in, enjoying a good romantic crush as much as anyone, goading Masami into revealing her heart's desire. "Dish, girlfriend! You got it bad!" she said with a smile.
"Oh, well...um...I kinda..." she couldn't seem to continue, but her eyes kept darting up to one person in particular. Mina and Makoto followed her gaze to...
Usagi groaned, slapping her palm to her forehead and collapsing into her futon. "Oh, MAN!" she whined, "Not another one!"
Sincerest apologies to those who have loyally awaited this second half of Chapter 8. I have had many, many life events come up in my life since I published Chapter 8, Part 1; including having little girl, losing a job, getting a job, and coming out as transgender to the world. I've been a touch busy, and it turns out that writing zombies takes quite a bit of effort. ;) Chapter 9 WILL be written, and hopefully soon…although it looks like I may be getting another, better job that will include a MOVE to another CITY…this is what success in life looks like people, you have been warned. :p