Pre Story Notes:
So, now that the character has his upgrades. How useful are those upgrades? Do they break the game? Are they ultimately useless? Or do they add some depth to the story and open up options?
Realistically speaking, having a weapon does not make a person a god in the story. In fact, the weapon may be ornamental if you're unwilling to use it on someone. But what signifies the willingness to use a weapon, and on who?
And then it hit me…
My eyes snapped open as adrenaline coursed through my veins. And in an instant, a million and one possibilities rushed through my head as the trigger of my travels made itself crystal clear. It was so obvious I can't believe I didn't realize it sooner. So much for scoring 'SUPERIOR' on pattern recognition in the WAIS II IQ test.
This quickly passed as I realized my location was too comfortable to be a tank. It was also too quiet. No flippin' way! I couldn't have been out for more than a few seconds. But I couldn't deny it. This was not the uncomfortable inside of Mike'. And how the hell did I go from a sitting position to lying on my back?
I froze, fighting the urge to sit bolt upright, forcing my breathing to remain relaxed as I quickly went through a mental checklist. I could be anywhere. Anywhere, but most certainly in a very specific location in that anywhere.
Some girl's bed… WHY?
It was round four in the strange cycle of waking up in dangerous places. I continued to fight a slow creeping panic as I recognized the cold plastic and metal feel of the Mossberg shotgun in my hands. Good, I still had it. It might be the only thing standing between me… And a very unpleasant situation…
Forcing my fingers to relax their death grip on the weapon, I tried to take stock of my situation while I had the initiative. I was in a room, dark, in a bed. The sound of breathing and close warmth indicated that it did actually have an occupant. Most likely female, and from the slow deep breaths she was taking, was still asleep.
Lovely as this scenario sounds, I had already learned quickly from my past three experiences that this wasn't anywhere close to a good thing. In fact, as I was most determinably NOT suicidal, this was actually very, VERY bad.
Invariably, this would also be a 'fictional' world. A fictional world I knew the details on. From the past few experiences in the matter, the girl would be a character I knew the details on quite well. Based on the kinds of characters I liked in fiction, and the ones I knew in detail, this situation was promoted from 'Very Bad' to 'Far, FAR worse.'
I did my best to cross-examine myself right there. Something that you shouldn't really do when you're running on close to no sleep while being on your feet for in excess of twenty-five hours. But when you're running on almost no sleep for twenty-five PLUS hours, you start to get a little loopy.
I came to the conclusion very quickly that as a person who is unspeakably capable of getting along nicely with bipolar individuals extraordinarily well, I had a skewed taste in female personalities favoring that kind of mentality. Ones who had strong personalities, and violent tempers…
In short, I liked the 'Tsunderes'… They were entertaining.
Based on the last three hops, I landed in bed with at least two tsunderes, Ayeka and Motoko, and you might be able to count Ritsuko into that category if you interpreted it right. If this little pattern held true…
God, I have dangerous tastes in women.
That could be Lina Inverse next to me. I could be in some Inn in the Slayers universe next to the one sorceress who's power and temperament often got her compared to a nuclear war waiting to happen.... And I could be a toss-and-turn away from the center of the next pocket nuclear explosion. I don't think Washu's nanomachines can fix something that's been blasted into sub-atomic particles. And a shotgun wasn't going to stop her.
I didn't want to be rendered ground zero. I had to get out of this position. Fast.
Only, if I move fast, I'll wake the occupant of this bed, and it's Game Over.
Turning my head slowly, oh so very slowly, I tried to find the direction of escape. There, on my right, the edge of the bed… If I could just get off the bed without disturbing the girl… Dangerous, I'm so screwed if I do…
I started to roll onto my side, using my foot to rotate, stopping as the bed creaked due to the shift in weight. SLOWER! I had to move slower, I was a worm. Slow is fast, and fast is slow.
At least it wasn't as bad as my bed back home. That thing made so much noise if I so much as turned my head.
Slowly… Yes, that's it. Now I knew what it really felt like to be a sniper. Sometimes they had to move this slowly for hours on end to sneak up on a target. I had to become the sniper. Be one with the bed sheets, become the very fabric my body was in… If only to avoid waking the person in this bed up, to drape softly and caress as gently as a summer breeze as the finest of silk, smooth on the skin-
I really do need about twelve hours of zeds, don't I?
I managed to get one leg out over empty air, and then came the hard part as I tried to shift enough weight to roll over my arm. My progress was slow, but I was getting there. The problem was going to be shifting my body off the bed without shaking it. I'd have to rotate into a sitting position and stand up carefully in order to-
I was unceremoniously shoved off the bed as the occupant tossed around in her sleep, shoving a knee into my kidney. I guess that's one way to do it. I froze in terror though as I heard the tossing and mumbling of the girl. The sound must have disturbed her. Not to mention having hit something solid… Did it wake her up? Please, no, stay asleep…
As I lay there, I kept focusing on my breathing. I absolutely must NOT make any noises to give myself away. There was another mumble that sounded like the girl calling someone 'stupid' while half awake, before I noticed the sheets and blanket that had been tugged with me during my sudden descent get yanked back up. Another flop, and some shifting, and it was quiet again.
I continued to focus on silent breathing, waiting for five painfully long minutes staring at the red display of a small digital clock nearby before I dared to move.
A little past four AM…
Once I was certain the young lady behind me was back in dreamland, I twisted into action. I could move quickly now, but I still needed to move silently. Raising up on my elbows and shuffling across the floor as quietly as I could, I high-crawled my way over to where the door should be.
A good look at the wall now that I was close enough to see it in the dark indicated it was some kind of classic Japanese architecture, found in old buildings and temples. The ones with the sliding doors like the one I encountered in Ayeka's room and at Hinata.
Feeling around, I found the opening part, and gently stuck a finger in the crack. Then I began to tap gently, widening the crack bit-by-bit while trying to keep the noise of the sliding to a minimum.
It was a maddeningly slow process.
Finally, I had the door open wide enough to slip through without hitting it, and quietly peered into the hallway. So far, so good…
I briefly considered turning to shut the door just to erase any evidence of my presence, but decided that getting the hell out of there was more prudent. If I dawdled around to get caught, the status of the door was moot.
Once clear of the room, I gathered myself up and raised to my feet, wincing as a few joints cracked frighteningly loud in the comparative silence. If it weren't for the chronic, random popping of various joints on my body almost every time I moved, I could move in total silence. Believe me, I've tried to find methods to get around it. No luck…
Now that I was away from the door, I relaxed just a little. I wasn't out of the woods yet, but at least now my every movement wouldn't potentially end my life. Still, I had two more issues to deal with.
The first being that it was dark, and I could barely see out of the light sensitive corners of my vision. Maybe I should have swiped Ritsuko's night vision goggles with all the times I seemed to show up at O-Dark-Hundred.
The second, was that I didn't know which way was OUT.
I was lost in the dark.
I guess it's better than lost in the dark with carnivorous critters trying to eat me like in Pitch Black.
This place couldn't be very big. Finding the way out was just a matter of using my noggin for something besides holding up my glasses.
As I crept around in the dark, hoping for any deity, perhaps Washu, Tsunami, or Tokimi even to hear me that I didn't walk directly into priceless clay pottery, I listened with everything I had. There wasn't the rumble of an air conditioner, the hiss of fans, or even the whining drone of a refrigerator's compressor that would tell me where the kitchen would be. The place had working electricity unless that clock was battery powered, but there was no other indication. It was sadistically silent, which made me the loudest thing in the building.
It made my skin crawl…
Slipping around a corner, I finally heard something that made me almost jump for joy. The sound of distant traffic.
I crept forward a little faster, making my way towards the dim gray glow of an open doorway with a half-sized statue in front of it. An exit if I ever saw one.
Then I'd just have to figure out what universe I was in, and a place to hide… Because I don't think large cities in Japan really cared for a guy armed to the teeth. Unless this was like, 'Full Metal Panic' or something… Which I doubted…
Stepping quietly into the threshold, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was home free.
The statue moved at the sound…
It whipped around in the dark quite fast, and seemed to stare at me for a few seconds, then it spoke.
"WHO ARE YOU?!"
I about soiled myself at this point, but managed to force that aside as I tried to place the voice. It was raspy, male, and sounded like it had vocal cords made of sandpaper.
It was an old man, not a statue.
The guy had to be four foot nothing, he barely came up to my chest. It's no wonder I dismissed him as a statue. Quick! How many absurdly shrunken old men did I know in the fiction I partook in? And whom did they live with?
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?"
I brandished the Mossberg, taking a step back to make sure I was just a bit out of reach. Between the two shrunken old men I knew, one of them would be able to disarm me in a microsecond if I remained close enough for it.
"Stay back!" I snapped, silence abandoned. "I was just leaving…"
"So you've come to rob the shrine?" he asked, eyeing the shotgun carefully. "Desecration!"
A thump alerted me to the female in the other room waking up. Shrine? Old man, and young female? I had a feeling I had my location about figured out.
"I did nothing, I wasn't doing anything, I'm just leaving," I advised, trying to creep my way towards the door. I made sure that while brandished, I didn't aim the weapon directly at the man. Around the corner, I heard the voice of the girl shout as she slid her door the rest of the way open.
"REI FREEZE!" the old man snapped in a tone far stronger than he normally should have had for someone his age. Bingo. That name gave me all the information I needed. Even before she came around the corner, only to stop as the tone of her grandfather's instructions struck home.
I was surrounded. But at least this time the situation was even. I had the firepower and the knowledge, they had home advantage. Rei, the girl behind me, was Sailor Mars… And while it dawned that she could roast me with a fire-based attack, she wouldn't transform in front of her grandfather so long as the stalemate was in progress.
Not unless I looked like a bigger threat…
The problem was I had two opponents, in two directions, and one weapon. Now, while I would be loathe to fire on Sailor Mars or her grandfather until I was quite certain I was about to die painfully, I still had a technical conundrum of their perceptions to worry about. Pausing to think about that, I checked to make sure my finger was OFF the trigger and out of the trigger well. We don't need any accidental discharges making my day worse, thank you.
Anyway, if one of them perceived they could take me. Or that I was a danger to the other… I would probably get tackled. Then I'd be in for a ground-fight much like that of Motoko. This time however, I have the feeling it wouldn't go my way. Despite my apparent physical superiority over both of these people…
I'm not even entirely sure what gramps here could be capable of when pushed into a corner to 'defend' his granddaughter. Old temple priests had a habit of being Monk Class fighters in fiction.
I tried to grill my memory for any details on the old guy as we stood there in silence. After a moment, I remembered. He could indeed fight quite well. It was a later episode of the series that showed it, but it was enough info to know he'd break me like a twig if he got a hold of me.
"Okay listen up," I tried to stay as calm and confident as I could, decidedly keeping my weapon trained in gramp's direction. "I'm leaving. I stole nothing; I wasn't doing anything. I have no intent to harm anyone if I don't have to. I'm simply passing through. Let me out, and you'll never see me again."
I started to creep towards the entrance again, allowing my weapon to drift across 'Grampa' as I calmly made my way out onto the threshold, my feet popping a little more as I made slow, careful steps.
The old man stared confidently down the barrel of the weapon, but didn't move as I passed within arm's reach. Once I was far enough away from him, I let the weapon drift back down and to the side, slowly backing away from the two as Rei moved up along side her grandfather.
I could see the two better, now that there was some light from the surrounding city.
Grampa was bald, short, and a little more grizzled than I expected, but that could have just been the hour. Rei was like my other 'hosts'… She was pretty; she was dangerous.
She was pretty dangerous.
Oh… I need some sleep, the bad puns are out in force.
Even though I was high on adrenaline, I couldn't help but belt out a random yawn at the thought of sleep.
"Late nights are bad for you, you know," Rei commented snidely.
"You're one to talk, Ma-iss…" I managed to correct myself before I could blow my cover. Slipping into English to slide the word. That was too close. I was losing it.
"How would you know?" she asked. Then, after a pause, she displayed some surprisingly good insight.
"You were in my room, weren't you?" she continued. "My door…"
It was a loaded question, and I knew instantly that I took too long to answer.
"Why you perverted little!" she began, preparing to rush at me.
"NO!" her grandfather snapped. Blocking her path with an outstretched arm. "He holds his weapon like a soldier."
How the fuck could he TELL? I know the guy's probably been around and could recognize it, but could he see what I was doing in the dark? As I backed up, I eyed a small bridge leading off around the corner of the shrine.
Time to go…
"I'm leaving," I advised. "You're safe, I stole nothing, and I was NOT being a pervert. Don't follow me. I'm sorry for being a late night pest, but I've spent the last twenty-five hours living in the twilight zone. You'll have to excuse me for being freaked out and paranoid… Goodbye."
And with no idea where I was going, I turned and ran, sprinting across the bridge in these annoying Hinata house slippers as fast as I could. As soon as I was out of sight of the two, I heard a loud shout from the elder Hino that sounded like 'Rei!'
Crap, she was going to play the heroine and chase me down. Most certainly in her transformed state. I didn't have the stamina to outrun a girl who could leap across rooftops! I had to lose her, and FAST.
I dove into the trees and almost broke my neck stumbling down the backside of the hill behind the Temple, emerging suddenly into a corner between two buildings. I had to pick the back way out. Tokyo was a lot more cramped than back home. There was a row of buildings on my right fenced in, a funky shaped building on my left, and a path down the middle.
I didn't think, I ran. First the path down the middle. I passed an opening on my right, but it looked too open compared to the cover provided by some trees ahead. So I ran past a second row of buildings to duck under the trees, then turned right and ran up the side street, or alley, or whatever it was.
When I reached what appeared to be an actual street, I turned left and hugged the building, trying to keep a mental idea of where my pursuer would be by now. A few really late night… Or was it early morning pedestrians looked surprised as I ripped right past them.
Spying an opening across the street to my right, I checked for traffic and then crossed over. It started to hurt as I forced myself up a staircase between two buildings. I couldn't keep this up for long.
Reaching a line of trees separating the current plot from another building with several parked vehicles, I hung a right sprinting until I ran into a side street. Then doubled back in the general direction of the shrine along it before bounding over to another gap and slipping between two buildings.
After another a left, and a right, I came through a back alley area filled with trees. I was about out of breath. With a quick rest at a corner, I continued my run, swiftly dashing into the cover of the trees.
I really need to get back in shape… Or take Washu up on that GP treatment. At least then this would have been nothing. Doubling back toward the shrine would be good to keep her off my trail, so I turned right as I hit the next small side street… Back alley… Whatever these ten-foot wide mini-streets could be called.
I guess you can't hide from a girl on her own turf.
I stopped short to pant for air as her flaming attack intercepted me, cutting me off from any further advance. Well, at least I'd get a breather… How long would this take?
"How dare you terrorize the innocent in the middle of the night!" Rei, pardon… SAILOR MARS, began from the top of a telephone pole. "That nice old shrine keeper and his incredibly beautiful granddaughter didn't do anything to-"
Way to ham it up REI… Blah-blah-blah-blah… Righteousness this, justice that. It was almost enough to make you WANT to become a super villain, just to have the morals needed to kill her on the principles of corny dialogue alone. Still, you keep talking Rei. I'll sit here and catch my breath.
"-And for that, I SAILOR MARS! Will punish you!"
Damn, I guess she didn't have as much hot air as I was hoping.
"I thought," I huffed, deciding to try throwing her off with the familiarity routine. "I told you not to…" Damn shortness of breath. "To follow me Rei."
I could see her hesitate for just a moment. Them Sailor Senshi just didn't know how to cover for blown cover.
"I- What are you talking about?" she mocked innocence. Airi could act circles around her.
"IDIOT!" I snapped in English.
"What?" she asked.
I huffed once, waving it away while I caught some more air. Now I was tired, sore, jelly legged… Ugh. AND CRANKY!
"Don't play dumb," I continued. "Sailor Mars, Hino Rei… Hino Rei, Sailor Mars... Kind of obvious when the only real difference between you is a change of outfit."
"I have, NO idea what you're talking about," she continued to try and hold the charade. I guess she was hoping I was taking a stab in the dark. Oh god dammit. I was running out of patience for this kind of thing.
"Fine," I huffed. "Your first day as a Senshi involved that suave asshole Jeidite posing as one of the new helpers at the shrine. He was actually using the local buses to cart people off before zapping them for their life force. You argue on a daily basis with Tsukino Usagi, also known as Sailor Moon. You current primary attack is 'Fire Soul', and you use a psychically charged Ofuda scroll as a secondary attack to dislodge evil spirits. You have two pet Crows, named Phobos and Deimos, which happens to be the names of the two moons of the planet Mars. Crows who are quite intelligent and can sense Evil. And, mind you, did not react to my presence. You act as a Miko for your grandfather's shrine, but you dream of one day being a singer. Would you like the bullet point list with your birth date, favorite gem, star sign, and least favorite food? Or can we skip the clueless routine and get with the program? Because you can't act to save your life."
As I buried her with the info dump, I watched her face go from surprised, to shocked, to livid, to mortified. I of course, lied about the bullet list. I didn't know her details THAT well, but that info was out there…
"I-" she began after several seconds of completely mixed emotions. "You… What... HOW! WHO ARE YOU!?"
"Someone who knows too much," I snapped back.
"You're a stalker aren't you!" Mars replied. "You snuck into my home! YOU WERE IN MY ROOM! YOU PERVERTED FREAK!"
"OH FOR CHRISTS SAKE!" I roared in English, catching the Senshi off guard. "I've had it up to HERE with this whole goddamn fucking situation!"
I rounded on my heels, spinning in place as I waved my arms in the air. I'd finally gone and lost it.
"I've been awake for twenty-five damn hours!" I continued in Japanese again. "Teleporting all over the god damned place and waking up in beds where the ladies keep trying to kill me. And every time I go to sleep, I teleport AGAIN! Do you have any idea what it's like to wake up in a strange place, run for your life, explain yourself, stress out, and do it all over again the next time you try to catch some zeds? Cut me some fucking slack! If this keeps up, I'm going to go postal! And I have fifty rounds of double-ought buckshot to burn through! PLUS two grenades, PLUS a claymore mine!"
"You were," she began. "In my BED?"
Pin-pon! We have a winner! Give the girl a prize!
"Oh god damn," I muttered. "Usagi catches on faster… YES!"
Sailor Mars looked absolutely disgusted. I don't blame her. In retrospect, I did sound like a raving lunatic at this point.
"YES!" I continued after a moment. "I was in your bed. I teleported in at random. Seems to be a theme for me lately. You kicked me off while I was trying to sneak out. You yanked your bed sheets and covers up while I was sitting on the floor. Your door was open because I opened it to get out. Your grandfather caught me because I mistook him for some small statue. I was trying to keep my sorry ass alive! Look at me! I'm mismatched, overweight, armed to the TEETH. I hurt, I'm tired, and I'm cranky! I must be the most unusual 'stalker' in Tokyo. Don't mess with me! I'm from Texas, and I have a GUN!"
Yeah, I believe I mentioned something about saying stupid things when I'm tired. This was probably up there. Especially the whole 'Texas! Guns! RAWR!' bit. I was raving. Stark raving. There was nothing I could do about it. The lack of sleep was affecting my judgement.
It had the effect of leaving Rei completely flabbergasted though. I don't think she really knew how to respond.
So we just stared each other down. As we did so, I idly thought to myself. How does she keep her balance on that telephone pole? The non-sequiter thought helped to calm me down a little. Enough to realize how crazy I had just sounded. So I closed my eyes and rubbed my face with my free hand.
"Look," I continued at last. "I'm sorry, let's just drop it. The whole story is just too weird, and I bet you'd rather get back to slee-"
I froze as something or someone screamed like they were having their limbs ripped off one by one. It was startling, and quite freaky.
"WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!" I asked in shock.
Sailor Mars spun in place, looking back behind her in similar shock, but a lot more frantic.
"Grampa!" she was about as pale as can be, even in the dim-night glow.
The Senshi wasted no time, catapulting onto the roof of the building next to the telephone pole and taking off at a run back towards the shrine.
For a minute, I watched, amazed at how easily she'd made the bound. You know, even as tired as I was, I could appreciate how awesome it would be to be able to bounce right up onto a rooftop to go chasing after monst-
Ah FUCK! Only one possible situation was occurring. In fact, I knew exactly who was involved, and what was going on beyond my sight.
"Fucking running!" I snarled, greeting a new sprint with a fresh round of adrenaline.
Don't ask me why I took off behind Sailor Mars at that moment. Sometimes, when you know there's trouble, you just want to help in any way possible.
I had a gun.
And I was cranky.
Zoicite better fucking hope he's bulletproof…