Ah! I've been out of state for a bit and then sick with some mega-flu :p and this chapter was just not working, so I threw out all but the first couple of paragraphs and re-worked. Some of it is a bit...I don't know. I blame part of it for the fact I've been screen-capping R for my website. Thank you very much to everyone who has reviewed or added me as a "to follow" in the mean time ^_^
"God damn them." Uranus says. She looks for a moment like she's going to tear off after them, but then her sword dissolves and she goes down the nearby alley. I go into a nearby bookshop and Mars back into the clothing store. A few moments later we are back at the car.
"They make no sense." I say, getting into the back this time.
"Maybe they do on their planet." Rei answers, "and the red-head was new…"
"I've seen her once before," Alex says, "Calls herself Lead Crow. There was another one with her that time…Aluminum something."
"So, they've been around for a while?" I ask.
Alex shakes her head, "A couple of months, maybe? We've, man, we were here a week or so before we started seeing things. It might have been here before we got here. I hope. I dread to think we brought it with us."
"And the aliens?" Rei asks.
Alex hisses a little, "I don't know for sure. We've been trying to track them down since we saw them; but we have day to day obligations. I was doing the sub job as a favor. I have racing commitments—Michiko has her…work."
"Maybe we should just all talk together?" I look at Rei.
She chews on her lip, "Depending on what Mi—Venus says."
We look to Alex, "I'll have to check myself, but I don't see why she'd say no. Speaking of which I really need to let her know I'm not dead," she gives a sly smile, "I'd appreciate some privacy while I make the call. I can drop you off anywhere you need after."
Rei nods, "Alright. We'll check where Venus is and get everything sorted out."
I'm not sure whereabouts in town we are when she pulls over into a parking strip in front of a small public garden her phone is already dialing. Rei and I get out of the car.
As we're walking off I hear Alex saying, "Now, you know you can't get rid of me that easily." Her laugh is different when talking to this person, so I imagine it must be her "Michiko" which I suppose is also why she knows Japanese, "I hope your meeting was less eventful than mine wound up being."
Rei heads down the path to the right and pulls out her own phone, "May as well check back in with Minako."
I look ahead for places we could hide out and talk.
Rei laughs when she opens her phone, "Alright, well, she tells me what she meant before was that she had arranged a meeting with Michelle Ocean and was in it when I texted her back. She wasn't able to get in touch with Usagi or Mamoru," she flips to another text message, "or Mako either but left messages," another flip, "no answers back from anyone so far." She presses the button to call Minako back.
In the end we go into a small canopy hut that has a bathroom in it and she pulls a sign across the door saying it's closed for cleaning.
"Moshi moshi minna-chan!" Minako exclaims, loudly enough to be heard before Rei puts the speaker phone on, "How are things?"
"Well," I say, "we met a senshi, fought a youma, a controller, and got into it with the aliens again."
"Wow," Minako says, "You guys have all the fun. I'm kidding, Rei-chan," she adds hastily, "So, what happened?"
"You first," Rei says, "How were things with Michelle?"
"Meh," is the answer, "They were going okay-ish. She got several phone calls during the meeting and then Ty showed up."
"Ty?" I ask.
"Seriously?" Rei says, sounding more than a little disgusted, "What did he want?" She looks over at me, "I'm guessing she means one of the Three Lights band."
"I guess he was just in the area, and then he saw us. He was being a bit…weird." She shrugs, "I really don't know. I feel like he's not comfortable with a lot of what's going on—or well, it was like everyone was stuck between everyone else. I think he had wanted to talk to Michelle about something and I was there. I wanted to talk to Michelle about stuff and then he showed up, and everyone keeps getting messages and, then, of course, all three of us in one space it's like some fan nexus. Tell me again why I agreed to this idol thing?"
"Why you agreed?" Rei demands.
"Oi, oi." Minako chides, "Whereabouts are you guys?"
"I think we're at Ascot Hills?" I try to picture where we were versus the street maps I've glanced at, "Alex, said she'd bring us back where we needed to be, besides we're hoping for a meeting of the minds."
"Well, she is the other senshi we were talking about. Uranus." Rei puts in, "She apparently has a partner in not-crime, and we have you, so we figured we'd take it from this side instead and meet up somewhere. Once we here from her."
"Civilian or senshi form?"
"Well the three of us are all blown secret identity wise," I point out, "but if you would prefer to be anonymous we can suggest it. Michiko might also prefer that. Alex was speaking about her activities in very guarded terms."
"I'm whatever at this point," Minako replies, "It's not that hard to switch. So, in other words, meeting, yes! Go! Fight! Go!"
Rei rolls her eyes. I can't help but laugh. This whole day has been one thing after another. At this point Michiko could turn out to be royalty from another country and I wouldn't be surprised. Though I can't help but think of the fact that Michiko sounds a lot like Michelle, considering what happened when we were listening to Michelle Ocean's music.
We walk slowly back towards the entrance to the park. I try to inhale the greenery and de-stress myself, but it's difficult to not have my mind wander back to the fact that I'm bailing on my hospital responsibilities, or that we've possibly ticked off an unknown alien species.
"How're you doing?" Rei asks.
I find it hard not to laugh again, "I've been…was this ever easy?"
Rei shook her head, "Not really. It was just different. We were in our native land. It was only this one threat. Now we have other senshi and aliens and possible alien attackers but definitely ano—I should stop. I imagine you already have lists of your own."
I nod, "In triplicate."
She gives me a quick squeeze, "Ah, Ami-chan, what are we going to do with you?"
When we round the corner to the entrance of the park Alex is leaning against the side of her car with her arms behind her looking up at the sky. She looks down just as we're approaching and gives a small wave, "All is well?" she asks.
"We're up for a meeting whenever is mutually agreed." I say.
"Sooner the better," Alex says, "Where am I taking you?"
Rei gives her the corner store near my apartment, "If it's not too much trouble?"
"That's fine. What about the meeting of the senshi?"
We negotiate as to whether or not we'll be in full dress, which we will, and then when we should meet. She can arrange for any time during the rest of the afternoon, which is agreeable to Minako who is already at the apartment. So, we decide to meet in Echo Park an hour and a half from now. She drops us off with a wink and a, "Ciao, lovelies!"
We wave and she speeds off, "How does she not get tickets?" I ask.
Rei shakes her head at me.
"What? Our average speed was fifteen over the limit the entire time we've been out with her." I look at Rei as she's just looking back at me still, "What?"
"Ami-chan," she says.
I'm still looking at her in what is hopefully a quizzical manner.
Minako pounces on us both when we open the door, "I heated up some snacks!" she says, "and I actually got some word from Tokyo! Not a lot," she amends, "they've been busy with something it sounded like she said alien tree…she was calling me back while she was waiting for Mako-chan to pick her up, I guess, but then something happened, wouldn't you know? She said she hoped to get back to me later on."
I exhale, "Alien tree?"
"It was hard to hear her; there was a lot of noise and everything but, I mean, we've got aliens here."
"I don't want to speculate." I say, "My brain is fluxing from mishearing, coincidence to cosmic invasion."
Rei pats me on the shoulder, "Let's just focus on what we've got here, right now, and get food in us and get to the park."
We eat quickly, hop on the bus which gets us there early, but it's worthwhile to give us a chance to track down the spot Alex was speaking about, a gazebo that's off out of the way a little. There are some people in the park, mostly dog walkers and people just meandering. Then we cordon the place off, and change the sign as though it's been reserved for someone, and hide in the woods themselves to transform. We've only been sitting around for a few minutes when Uranus shows up with her partner, based on her appearance she's the Neptune from our shared memory, and Uranus introduces her as such and we introduce Venus.
As Neptune shakes each of our hands she gets a strange look on her face, especially when she shakes Venus' hand. She looks over to Uranus, "Are you serious?" she says, then she laughs, "I'm sorry. That sounds terrible. I just…your energy," she shakes her head again, "C'est la vie."
The three of us exchange looks at that and Venus puts her head down for a moment and laughs herself then, doubled over, gut wrenching laughter, "Oh, man, Mars, you were right, weren't you?"
"That whole lunch mess," Neptune says, "Oh, that was terrible. Uranus, don't worry about it." She takes Uranus hand and they walk into the woods for a moment.
Venus is still laughing, but we take the cue and revert to our civilian forms. A few moments after that Alex comes back out of the woods followed by a young woman. She looks as though she's probably half Asian with almond eyes and long wavy auburn hair.
She bows in greeting and looks up with a quirk to her smile.
"Mizuno Ami," Rei says, "Meet Michelle Ocean."