"The other line moves faster."
Tokyo, the city of ten million people, plus.
Timeline discrepancies and universe hops make being certain about anything a little up in the air. Luckily, it still appeared to be Tokyo far as I could tell. Granted, having never actually been to Tokyo in my life, that's not saying much, now is it?
Now, for anyone who's ever gotten lost in a large city. Consider yourself lucky that when you get lost, you have at least some idea of where you are. Where you want to be. And most importantly, can actually read the signs.
That was the first, biggest thing I noticed when we left Hikawa. When looking for an area called Shinagawa, actually being able to identify locations might just be desirable, if not preferable. And considering how Washu's language program seems to have gone on strike at some point. The best I could do was struggle with bits of hiragana like a three-year-old in the Library of Congress.
Luckily for me, I had Luna to act as my navigation and 'translator' when it came to this sort of thing.
This did not make me any happier.
Partially because Luna thought it was funny to get me turned around a little which I pointed out wasn't quite so easy considering I navigated by landmark... But mostly because it was friggin' COLD and I was running around in a short sleeve shirt.
Now you might make the comment right about now: 'Isn't Washu's suit keeping you warm?'
But that's where I would point out that I was not currently wearing the damn thing. Why?
Easy, it was soaking wet.
Short version is this. Once Luna had shown up on the, I guess you could call it 'porch' looking like a diabetes-inducing ball of cute in a Miko outfit, I had taken my leave to get my own quick bath. You know, two days without one and all...
If you remember how it worked out the first time I stripped the suit off for a bath... Well, that was just a few hours of work.
This time the funk almost killed me. If I hadn't already puked up the entire contents of my stomach before hand, it was likely that I would have done so right then and there. You think your clothes stink when they're dirty? Man, this thing hugs the skin, and doesn't breathe. I think the closest analogue to the smell would be spending a week in a fiberglass cast in a warm, humid environment.
It reeked so badly I gave myself the twice over to make sure I wasn't sporting any Gangrene. Thank GOD it seals. Er... Thank Washu.
Actually, same thing now that I think about it.
Once I had my bath, and actually looked like I was somewhat human again, I remembered how Hino mentioned he hadn't used the bath water for laundry yet. A quick shouted question and a confirmation later, and that stink factory was under water. I apologize to later items of the laundry, but this was for a good cause.
Once it was clean, I opted to hang it up upside down to dry, rather than risk wearing that thing soaking wet. I'm thinking that part of the reek was because I had put it back on shortly after I washed it the first time, without letting it dry all the way out.
I think I can get away with not having it on for a few hours. I went a week without it after all.
Mind you, I'm not mentioning that point aloud. You know how that works.
Needless to say, I was internally regretting the decision before very long. I had underestimated just how much the suit was really keeping the wind chill from being a real factor, and I figured I'd be snug and warm in a jacket soon enough.
Soon enough was not soon enough. Even though the walk was only two miles, two miles on foot is a long way.
"Yeah dumb move," I admitted as I stepped out of a place called 'Suga Shichiya', then immediately shivered from a gust of cold wind. "Luna, scold me."
"Er," Luna began as she followed me out onto the sidewalk. "What?"
"NeverBRRR..." I shivered. It's GOT to be getting colder. It's what? FORTY? "Okay, I need to get a jacket before we do ANYTHING else. Or we'll be having Rei defrost me the hard way."
"You want this?" Luna motioned to the outfit she was wearing. "I could always change back-"
"No," I interrupted. "I'll be fine. Besides, I don't think it'll fit me, and I might draw a little too much attention."
Luna looked around.
"More attention then it already is?" She asked. I followed her gaze to a guy who quickly looked away.
"Different kind of attention I think," I replied. "You're cute in that... Me? Not so much."
Luna smiled and blushed; I was admittedly getting a kick out of causing that reaction with almost clockwork ease with every compliment I gave her. I mean, hey, I tell it like it is. Luna WAS cute. What do you want me to say?
Trouble of course, was that she might be a bit TOO cute with all the attention she'd been drawing. I'm not oblivious to the stares. Luna, for her part, couldn't decide if she was enjoying the attention, or uncomfortable like she'd been the other day.
The Miko outfit was of course, NOT typical city-wandering attire, which only fueled the fires. In fact, we probably looked a touch ridiculous now that I thought about it. A crazy stupid foreigner with no sense to put on some warm clothes and the cute Miko wandering around like a tour guide for said crazy stupid foreigner.
I should have brought Senbei with us. Then we would have looked so absurd, that we probably would have vanished right off the public spectrum.
"Well let's get you a jacket then," Luna continued after recovering her composure. "How much money did you pick up in there again?"
"About five hundred bucks," I replied.
"Buck-su?" Luna blinked.
I'm still not used to swapping terms. What's the trade off, about a hundred to one? Give or take... Carry two zeroes...
"Fifty thousand yen," I replied.
"That's all?" Luna looked at me confused. "I thought you had a lot more gold-"
"I only brought a few coins with me," I shrugged. "Did you really expect me to sell them all at once no-questions-asked? You saw how that guy looked at me. I thought he was going to call the police for a second."
Yeah. I put three gold coins on the counter and asked the pawnbroker what I could get for them. He took one look at the money that had originated from Those Who Hunt Elves and looked at me as if to say 'what scam are you trying to pull?' Luckily, that look went away when I mentioned Hino sent me here, and that all I wanted was the gold value of the coins.
Luna's Miko getup helped convince him there. Apparently he knew the place, or knew Hino, or something... Eh, old guys probably had connections to each other around here. Wouldn't surprise me in the least.
The guy broke out a test kit, and after a few minutes weighing the coins, only decided to pry slightly as to where I picked them up from.
Where they were from and how I got them were questions I had been preparing for between shivers on the walk over. Where they were from was easy. 'I don't know.'
How I got my hands on them took a little more thinking. But I settled on: 'Found them hiking back home in the states.'
That's when I got the question I wasn't expecting.
After examining the design on the coin. The broker had pointed out the coin weren't made by a mint he recognized. In fact, they didn't look like they came from a mint at all. They might be very rare, and worth a fortune to a collector. So 'why did I want to sell it for a fraction of what it might be worth?'
Honestly, for lack of a better answer I simply stated that I didn't have time to sort out how much the coins were really worth. I needed the money now.
Partially true in retrospect...
He almost didn't buy it. The guy almost refused to buy the coins from me for feeling like he was ripping me off when we didn't know their value. Even when I mentioned I had a few more back home, he refused. I wish I knew more honest people like this. Honestly, if presented with that kind of opportunity under normal circumstances, I'd find myself having a real hard time passing it up.
It was Luna who saved the day by throwing in a cute please, followed by an accidental 'nya'/'meow'/whatever, for which she immediately covered her mouth in shock. The effect was cute enough that the pawnbroker laughed and caved.
We settled on fifty thousand yen while Luna was examining a few antiques to hide her embarrassment. A far cry from what he thought they might be worth if they really were rare. But I 'wanted to be on the safe side if they were worth nothing,' (Well, since they have no historical value in this world, they really WERE worth nothing, rare or no. They'd just be considered 'fake'. But I wasn't telling him that.) So he agreed to buy them for what the normal going price for gold coins would be.
So I walked out of there with fifty thousand yen. A purchasing power of approximately five hundred bucks American as far as I am aware.
Far as I was concerned, that was more than plenty of money to take care of business today...
Ah yes, business. The culmination of two days of planning since the fiasco with Motoko. I had stuff to buy. Some essential changes in clothes, a few amenities... An electric razor that actually worked... It'll be nice to get rid of this shag carpet I'm growing on my face. Much as I hilariously draw parallels to video games, the sandpaper texture was annoying.
"Point me at the nearest department store before I turn into a frosticle," I continued. "The sooner we get there, the less I freeze."
Luna took a quick glance around, then smirked.
"Right there," she indicated with a nod.
I looked at the building the feline indicated, 'REMY' depicted in large, gratuitous English letters above the entrance.
"Convenient," I nodded, my expression no doubt saying 'typical'. Though now that I think about it, it was probably logical to have a shopping outlet here. Considering that just to the right was an elevated rail station, in the middle of a huge city.
"Come on," Luna grabbed me by the arm and pulled. Not one to be left behind freezing my ass off, I quickly took the lead.
Now, as a modern American, I've grown up around the likes of Sears, Mervin's, Wal-Mart, and various other department and grocery stores. You know, huge department 'warehouses'. I've also been to my fair share of malls.
I had never been in a store quite like this place.
REMY, or Remy's... However the name ends up working, was like a grocer meets department store meets shopping mall, crammed into an eight story building with a cross section smaller than a food court.
A quick rundown based on what I could make out of the floor map... (With Luna's help.)
First floor and basement: General Grocery.
Second floor: Household goods, and some snack shops.
Third Floor: Generic Clothing, more shops.
Fourth, fifth, sixth: Various smaller fashion shops, and lady's beauty shops.
Seventh: A bookstore.
Eighth: I'll dub this the actual 'food court' of this building.
I blanched inwardly. Three floors of fashion and beauty shops? Luna had walked me right into a building that was marketed for women in general. I almost made an about-face on principle... Until the gust of wind from the doors reminded me that further exploration of the local city would be done at my own discomfort.
Very well then... If fate wants to deal me this hand today, so be it. I don't feel good, I'm cold, I'm hungry, and I'm tired. I won't fight it. After all, I'm a guy, with a (cat) girl, in a department store marketed at women, shopping. What could possibly happen?
Mind you I'm being completely facetious here.
"I've never actually been in a store like this," Luna commented into my thoughts.
"No pets?" I asked dryly. Luna closed her eyes and sighed.
"Yeah," she admitted. "I'm used to that kind of thing."
Okay, so maybe she didn't do it on purpose, but still...
"Where to first?" Luna asked.
"Third floor," I stated in a no-nonsense tone. "That should be where they keep the jackets."
Luna shrugged, then pulled me on into the fray.
Finding a jacket was surprisingly painless. I honestly expected Luna, having been hung up on all the little aspects of her humanoid body to fall apart into a gushing shop-a-holic at any second. You know, something more akin to what Usagi might do in a store.
Luna instead made a surprisingly purposeful beeline right into the jacket section, firmly pulling me the entire way. (I admit, part of that was a result of my tendency to browse as I wander through a store, causing me to walk slower and glance around.) Once there, she took exactly three looks at me, glanced at a row of jackets each time, and then reached out and plucked one off a rack.
"Try that one," she stated.
To my surprise, the jacket fit. Slightly snug in the backside, but the arms were just the right length. This however, did nothing to make up for the price when I caught sight of it. Either my basic math skills have gone down the toilet, or this thing was about three hundred American easy...
"Ouch," I commented and quickly put the jacket back on the hanger.
"What?" Luna asked.
"I'm not buying a three-hundred dollar jacket." I stated simply. Luna blinked once.
"Thirty-thousand yen," I continued.
"Is that too much?" the catgirl asked.
"That's INSANE," I stated simply. "Three thousand yen is a better price range here. I don't need a fur coat."
"I'm not exactly an expert in pricing clothes," the Felis Sapien shrugged back.
A few more minutes of looking and I finally found something I could go with. A simple, black, zip-up jacket that was like, thirty-five hundred-yen...
"Well that was easy," Luna commented when I announced I had what I wanted. "I was thinking this was going to be harder."
"Harder?" I looked at the transformed kitty.
"I was dreading you'd start acting like Usagi in a jewelry shop with all that looking around," she returned.
"You thought I-" I began, letting a wry smirk cross my face. "I thought you-"
"Thought what?" she asked. "That I was going to act like Lazy Bones?"
Luna looked around her at the racks of jackets we were currently standing amidst.
"I wouldn't know where to START," she finished with a lost look.
I followed her head around. I guess to someone who's spent their entire life as a cat, the 'fine art' of shopping was lost on her. Still, she's got a wicked mean eye for sizing.
Something tells me that Luna's got all the makings of a killer bargain hunter. Oh, she'd get along with my mother easily... If my mother wasn't such an impulse shopper for anything that said 'SALE!'
I mean SERIOUSLY. There's bargain shopping, and there's 'why do we have this again?'
Looking back at the Miko-dressed catgirl, I realized we'd probably need a few items for her too.
"I'm going to go grab a spare set of pants," I stated informatively. "Go see if you can find one or two outfits that fit."
"Me?" she blinked. "You sure?"
"Unless you want to borrow everyone else's clothing," I returned. "Find something practical, I'll be over here."
Luna nodded and wandered towards the ladies side of the general clothing while I went over to examine things. A decent pair of black pants in my size wasn't hard to find.
Figuring out my size, however, wasn't so easy.
Yeah, I lost a bit of belly because of this whole thing. Even my current pair of pants would be loose if I hadn't been using the type with the nifty auto-adjust waistbands. Thank you George.
But finding anything similar here quickly proved to be a futile act. So I had to try on six different pairs of pants before I found the size that fit.
And everything had to be in centimeters.
When I finally had all that sorted out, I went back to check on the Felis Sapien.
I found Luna looking quite flustered while being assisted by one of the sales people. Oh no... No no no.
"You look absolutely stunning in that," the woman complimented the catgirl as I walked up behind her.
"You sure?" Luna blushed at the compliment. "I mean, I'm sure it looks nice but-"
"Of course you do," the sales lady continued to lay on the charm. "No guy could ignore you like that. It's perfect."
"And how much does it cost?" I asked. The sales lady visibly jumped in surprise, since I'd effectively pulled a Batman on her.
"This particular set is only twelve thousand yen," she smiled.
'ONLY' twelve thousand-yen she says? Yeah-no...
"We don't have the budget for that," I stated directly.
"Oh..." the woman seemed only slightly put off. I need to get rid of her. You give her any slack and she'll steam roll you-
"What do you have a budget for then?"
-Just like that...
"Not enough," I stated curtly. The woman laughed slightly.
"I know what you mean," she waved it aside as a mere joke. "We could always use a little more money, right?"
I don't have the energy for this routine. I need to dump this girl before I run out of steam. My temper is not the best when I'm already tired.
"Anyway," I continued, turning to Luna. "I think I can handle this from here. Thanks for the help."
"You sure?" the sales lady asked. "If there's something in particular you're looking for-"
"Nah," I waved. "We're good. Thanks though."
Take a clue please.
"Okay," she nodded. (THANK YOU!) "If there's anything else you need, don't hesitate to ask."
After a moment to let the lady wander off to some other sucker, I turned to Luna, who sighed.
"Thanks," she stated. "I've seen it happen to people, but I never realized how hard it is to make them stop once they get started."
"Tell me about it," I rolled my eyes. "You have to go into those conversations like you're jumping into a pool of sharks."
"I can't believe you brushed her off so easily though," Luna shook her head. "How did you-"
"I got talked into joining the Military by an Army Recruiter," I shrugged. "They're a lot more pushy."
"I'm going to apologize to Usagi about her shopping habits the next time I see her," the catgirl stated exhaustedly. Luna must be starting to wear down from all this wandering around. "I never realized she could put up with that."
"What was she trying to help you with anyway?" I asked.
"Oh," Luna perked up a little. "Size... I don't know mine."
And yet you can size me at a glance... Oy vey kitty. What am I going to do with you?
"Well let's see what the tag says," I commented through a sigh, reaching out.
Luna cooperated as I fished the tag out from the back of the neck and gave a quick glance at the unintelligible Japanese writing, and the number next to them.
"Size..." I began... "Seven? I'm guessing."
That number seems small to me. But then again, I'm in Japan.
That was about the moment it finally caught with me just how short Luna was. I hadn't noticed it before, paying attention to her feline nature more than anything. But I'd been mentally complaining about how all these teen girls were taller than me like Motoko and Ayeka, and here Luna barely comes up to my nose.
"Seven," I continued with more affirmation, letting Luna turn back around. "Let's see..."
I turned and started rifling through hangers. There were all kinds of blouses and shirts for the season.
"Let's find you a nice sweater and a pair of pants so you don't turn into a Popsicle." I continued. "If it gets any colder, you can just use my jacket."
"You sure?" Luna asked.
"Anything you're not wearing, I have to store," I pointed out. "And the suit will keep me warm anyway. Jacket's just an extra and-"
"Stop!" Luna snapped, causing me to jump.
"What?" I turned.
"Go back to that last one," she stated, walking over. I pushed a few hangers back until she stopped me at a heavy wool turtleneck. The Felis Sapien quickly reached out and turned it so she could see the front. It was white, with the outline of a simplified cat's face and- wait a second.
"Hello Kitty?" I voiced aloud. You've got to be kidding me. Seriously? How old IS that franchise?
"It's so cute!" Luna gushed. I mean, actually GUSHED. I've seen her display a lot of emotions. Most of them on par with what I'd expect from the kitty. I've even seen her downright angry, and 'acting' all cutesy. But this was the first time I saw Luna actually act like a... Well, like girl over anything.
Then again, it's a catgirl, gushing over Hello Kitty merchandise. I should have known.
"How much is it?" she asked quickly, fishing for the price tag.
"More importantly," I began. I'm pretty certain it wasn't as expensive as the absurdly overpriced blouse she was currently trying on. "How big is it?"
Luna pulled the hanger off the rack and quickly examined it. Then her face fell.
"Twelve," she pouted. Way too big...
It was one of those moments where I just can't resist being the nice guy. Something that actually made under appreciated kitty smile like that. And then the mood-whiplash... I just won't have it! There's got to be another Hello Kitty sweater in this mess. There's ALWAYS another sweater. In ten million different sizes, in eight different colors, including eye-searing hot pink...
"Keep looking," I advised, rapidly going through hangers. I did indeed find a hot pink one, but it was size nine, so I glossed over it. I'd rather avoid that color if at all possible.
Several minutes of frantic (at least, as frantic as my sloth-like shopping ever gets) searching through dozens of shirts, and just when I was about to give up and go back to that size nine half way back up the rack, Luna emerged with a huge grin on her face.
"Found one!" she announced triumphantly. Another customer, who'd wandered into the section, looked at her in a rather startled fashion as she all but skipped over to me.
"Awesome," I announced in English, stopping only to shrug at the random person. From what I could see, the sweater was all but identical to the one she first found.
"I've got to try this on," Luna all but beamed. I wonder if now would be a good moment to point out how much like Usagi she was acting. Then again, she found something she liked. I'm not about to spoil it.
I managed to keep Luna from practically racing to the change room long enough to sort out a decent pair of dress pants. Or three candidates... But only just. In doing so, I'd managed to get a view on the price tag for the Hello Kitty sweater. It was an even three thousand yen, which as far as I could tell, seemed about right for a heavy shirt with a franchise plastered all over it.
Taking a mental inventory while Luna changed, I quickly summed up a change of clothes for Luna, a change of pants and a jacket for me. My 'Short Math' on this was thirty, thirty, twenty, twenty... Give or take. Given some of the other things I had to buy, the first ten thousand yen was decent in budget. An electric razor was probably going to cost me forty-to-sixty bucks...
I keep parsing things into dollars...
There were a few other odds and ends I needed to add on top of my current list.
For one thing, a notebook... With all the various things I've been doing, I'm starting to have a hard time keeping track of everything and everyone by memory alone. I'm usually real good about tracking things mentally, but even I have my limits. And given my current situation, and the number of times I've wished to be able to write things down, it was becoming one of those 'cheap but invaluable' little things.
Then of course, there's hygiene. Like a toothbrush and toothpaste to brush these scuzzies... Or at least some mouthwash so I don't kill anyone with my breath.
Off the top of my head, that was really all I could think of at the moment. I'm sure before long I'd have a full purchase order of various tools.
"Hey," Luna's voice came though the door, sounding calmer again. "I have a question."
"What's up?" I asked.
"I was just thinking," Luna continued. "What are we going to do about Usagi?"
"What about her?" I asked.
"Well," Luna continued. "She IS the princess. And all this time she's been right under my nose. I was thinking, wondering. How should I tell her?"
Tell Usagi? Well, originally, she got her memory forcefully jump-started in the middle of battle by having her 'One True Love' impaled on a crystal spear courtesy of a one psychotic asshole, and a magic plot device. The whole sequence of events more or less dumped a lifetime's worth of memories into her head, and left her an exhausted wreck. Too unmotivated initially to try and do anything when Mamouru AKA Endymion, was then subsequently kidnapped.
It took Rei dishing out some good ol' Tough Love to get her to snap out of it. And once she recovered, Usagi pretty much didn't seem at all like a princess. To the point even the villains couldn't believe it.
Of course, said psychotic asshole was now dead, and part of the magic plot device is out of range. Telling Usagi might jumpstart her memory or it might not. Given how she acted even with her princess memories surfacing...
"I don't think you should tell her just yet," I commented.
"But she's the princess," Luna replied. "I've been looking all over for her. She's GOT to know."
"And she'll find out soon enough," I shrugged, learning against the wall next to the change room door. "Just not yet."
"Why, though?" Luna asked.
"Because." I shrugged. "You tell that girl she's a princess, and it's going to go straight to her head."
There was a long, silent pause, punctuated by Luna making an odd sound.
"Oh good grief," she stated. "You're right. She's hard enough to handle as it is. If we tell her now, her ego will be unbearable. I mean, now that I think about it... I watched those episodes with Sasami. Usagi was driven to distraction and constantly off task. She practically walked right into every trap with a smile. That girl has no concept of how straight up the Dark Kingdom wants to kill her."
"That brings up another issue," I commented after a moment. "If the princess is known, the Dark Kingdom is going to go gunning for her. They find out-"
I paused and made sure nobody was within' earshot. Then lowered my voice.
"They find out Sailor Moon and the Princess are one in the same, then that pretty much puts a bullzeye on her back the size of Alaska."
"That's even worse," Luna agreed. "So I definitely agree. We shouldn't tell her just yet."
"At least not until we find a way to give Metallia thermonuclear enema," I replied.
"I'm afraid I don't know what that means," Luna replied.
"Just imagine what Metallia did to the Lunar Palace returned a hundred thousand fold in an instant," I replied.
"I like firepower," I smirked at the kitty's response. "If I could get my hands on Sailor Saturn's Silence Glaive, all the better. Nothing like a little bit of Can-Opener-O-Mass-Destruction to make everyone's day all that much better."
"SATURN?" Luna's voice returned in a mild surprise. "I remember Pluto because of the video, but Saturn? My memory must be sketchier than I thought."
The door opened to the changing stall and Luna stepped out.
"How do I look?" she asked, looking over the sweater a few times and turning around in place.
My honest opinion? Just like the Miko outfit, she looked so cute I wanted to stuff her with cotton and stick her on a shelf. She was so cute it was dangerous. Of course, since I don't say that kind of thing aloud, I had to mull on my response for a few seconds.
"It's definitely you," I nodded, giving her another thumbs up. Actually, a cat, wearing a cat logo, that does kind of go together.
Luna smiled giddily before turning and disappearing back into the change room. As soon as she did so, I let my shoulders slouch. Trying to look alive was starting to get exhausting.
"Just how many Senshi are there?" she asked behind the door. "If my memory is really that bad, I mean."
"Nine," I commented idly. "Though the way the timeline's going, you won't see the other half for at least another year. And given how goofed up the timeline is already because of me, Pluto must-"
"Pluto must what?" Luna's voice asked.
The way I've totally fucked over the timeline... Pluto, PLUTO! Oh SHIT! I forgot! She's the guardian of the gates of time. And I've effectively screwed the timeline up something fierce. With the future she's trying to protect, my presence must be driving her up the wall!
"CRAP," I swore under my breath.
This complicates things even more. There's a very specific future in mind, and they're willing to damn near start a TIME WAR to make sure it happens.
I was almost tempted to call up Washu and inform her that there WAS a very good reason for me to get this timeline in order. But at the same time, something else struck me as odd.
Despite the amount of time I've spent here, and knowing Pluto's abilities, I haven't seen anyone who might fit Setsuna's characteristics. And nobody with a big assed key-like staff has tried to catch me in an alley. Given what she's trying to protect, I SHOULD have seen her by now, if only to warn me.
The fact that I haven't tells me one of two things.
One: She is unwilling to act.
Two: She is unable to act.
Actually, I would say TWO... I'm not an expert in timeline manipulation. But at the very least, knowing about it, I would certainly inform Pluto at some later date to drop a message back in time to inform me that she is merely choosing not to act. Assuming I was around or alive to do so.
Now that I think about it, that might even be assuming she's willing to oblige me, or that I remember in the first place...
Okay, I now fully understand why Washu warned me not to think about timelines. This is HARD.
Best bet. Plan for the worst, hope for the best. I must assume situation two; Pluto is unable to act due to alien space bats, time distortions, stasis locks, or straight up being dead. If that is the case, then I must also assume that her timeline fuckery, like sending Chibi-Usa back, won't happen. That means that potentially, the whole Dark Moon fiasco may not happen.
Now I have another reason to want that notebook, I need to write down and plot out how many of the future scenarios are completely thrown out the window. It seems suddenly, that the plot of the latter three seasons formed a kind of self-stable time loop with the future. On their own, they'd fix themselves right up. But with me in the middle to introduce completely unknown factors, the outcome is in complete disarray.
"Hey," Luna emerged from the change room in the Miko clothing she started with. "What's the matter?"
"I just nailed down another problem," I returned. "All the timeline stuff that you guys are subject to is completely trashed."
"How bad?" she asked.
"VERY bad," I sighed. "I'm going to have to ask Washu how I can sort out what used to be a stable time loop."
"Time loop?" she asked.
"An event in which a person is sent to the past, at which point they instigate a series of actions that produces the event that sent them to the past in the first place," I shook my head. "It makes a total mess of cause and effect as we know it. We sci-fi geeks call a variation of this the Grandfather Paradox."
Luna turned and placed her hangers for the expensive blouse on a return pile.
"Is this about Usagi's future daughter?" she asked.
"Then for the time being," Luna turned back, wearing a more serious look. "We just won't think about it. We have the here and now to deal with. And I'm sure the next time you ask Washu, she can point you at what you or I, or Usagi. Or anyone for that matter needs to do. Right now, let's just concentrate on the current problem, or the time loop stuff won't matter."
It's nice how Luna's got such a good head on her shoulders. I can understand why she had the position of imperial advisor.
"Let's head down then," I nodded back. "I have a few more things to grab."
Luna smiled and tucked her set of 'keeper' clothes under one arm.
Down to the second floor we rolled. Finding an electric razor wasn't hard. An end cap had a few different brands, including some really old Norelcos, but the price translated into something like one hundred fifty bucks. The battery-powered monster was just too expensive for my taste. Sure, I could have gone with a cheapo-pack of simple disposable razors. But an electric razor's faster. And time is my biggest problem. A bit of browsing brands found a local brand that was far cheaper; A plug in generic thing that barely looked substantial at all. The price translated in my mind into...
It's... a hundred to one that's... four thousand-yen take two zeroes off...
Much better... And if it breaks, well, I guess I can ask Washu for better.
After grabbing that up, we wandered around to find some small office/school supplies. I ended up grabbing a cheap clipboard, some gel pens, and a graph paper notebook. I figure the graphing lines would be better suited in case I had to sketch something up on the fly. I spotted graphing calculators as well, once again on the end cap. And realized after a moment I was looking at some old TI-81s...
Upon examination of the display, I realized these were 'new' TI-81s... VERY new TI-81s...
I was tempted to grab one, but with a price tag of twelve thousand yen... Which was...
WHICH WAS! Come ON! WORK BRAIN!
"Are you okay?" Luna asked.
"Twelve thousand, take away two zeroes," I began, my irritation rapidly climbing. Why can't I do simple math all of a sudden?
"A hundred twenty," Luna blinked in confusion.
"THANK you..." I snapped in relief. A hundred and twenty bucks. That was way too much for a calculator. I could wait until I'm in a later timeline and get the same model calculator for less than half that price.
"Are you okay?" Luna continued to ask again. "You're starting to shake really bad."
I stopped, looked at kitty, and frowned. Why would I be shak-?
Of course... I can't think, I'm getting irritated, and I'm shaking. I haven't eaten, that's the problem. I haven't eaten, and I've been on my feet all morning.
"My blood sugar's low," I sighed.
"Blood sugar?" Luna asked. "Do you need a soda or something? I've never heard of blood needing a sugar level before."
"Nah," I waved it away. "I just need to eat."
"Can you keep anything down though?" she asked.
"I really don't have a choice at this point," I shook my head.
"Well," Luna turned to one of the snack food spots near the front of the store. "Let's grab a bite and-"
"Not here," I interrupted with a shake of my hand. "Food is always overpriced in places like this."
"I don't think you need to be stingy about it if you're on the verge of collapsing," the Felis Sapien warned.
"I'm not on the verge of collapse," I gave Luna an exasperated look. "It's never been THAT bad..."
Luna fixed me with a stern glare, the type she normally reserved for chastising Usagi.
"I can go a few hours like this easy," I continued in response to that look. She refused to relent, and I doubt she was going to buy anything I tried to use as an excuse. Luna had already learned to read me too well for that. I'd have to give in, or at least compromise on it. Otherwise it was entirely possible, given my lack of super suit and her feline strength, that she would literally haul me somewhere.
"Look," I continued. "I saw a McDonalds sign on the other side of the street on the way in. We'll eat there. At least I know what I like there."
The Felis Sapien continued to glare.
"Fine," she nodded at length, leaning away a little. I hadn't even realize how close to my face she'd gotten. "Let's hurry then."
No arguments there...
Back to the first floor for checkout. That went about as average as I could have expected, right up until Luna tossed a pair of Hershey Bars in with our other purchases.
"What?" I began.
"You could have told me about this sooner," the advisor admonished. "Those are for later, just in case."
I made no move to argue. Too tired, too hungry, too much general 'bleh' the way I was feeling. This day was just going to stretch on and on.
With our purchases bought, and the cold blast of air from the main doors to remind me. I quickly donned my new jacket before we returned to the street with our bags.
That McDonalds was to the... Left I believe.
It didn't take long to get there. Just a walk under the tracks, and across a crosswalk...
And there it was, McDona-
I paused, blinked, and found something that did not belong.
I had to look twice. Either my blood sugar was so low I was hallucinating, or the world-renown 'golden arches' were... Upside down?
"Now what?" Luna asked.
I just shook my head.
"WcDonalds," I stated, as if it answered all our questions. "WcDonalds... That doesn't make ANY sense."
"You wanted to eat here," Luna stated, casting me an un-amused look.
You know what?
"Forget it," I closed my eyes and sighed. "Forget it. I'm just going insane. This is a side effect. I'm insane, and the universe is out to get me. Next I'm going to see Burger Queen and Dairy King, and in a few weeks, I'll probably giving Beryl a foot massage or something equally stupid!"
"Come on," Luna grabbed my by the arm and started towing me inside. "You need to eat something."
"Welcome to WcDonalds!" the female cashier stated with an overly cheery smile.
Do not think about the inversion, don't try and understand what's going on. Your brain is low on blood sugar. Just get some food.
"Hi!" Luna greeted. "What's good?"
"Well," the cashier paused to think. "We've got the Tsukimi Special right now. And I'm partial to the Teriyaki Burger..."
"I'll just take a Double Quarter Pounder combo" I cut in. "No onions, no pickles."
"Is that good?" Luna turned to me questioningly.
"Lots of meat," I sighed, squeezing the bridge of my nose with my free hand. That headache I got when my blood sugar was low was adding its misery to the mix. Then I looked at the cashier trying her best to look like she was enjoying this boring job.
"Another combo for her," I continued. "Same way."
I'm not sure if Luna like pickles or onions. Rehydrated onions are a pain to pick off if she doesn't though.
"Anything else?" the cashier asked.
"A sack full of hundred dollar bills," I began in English. "Keys to the White House, and the secret to who shot Kennedy."
That was a straight up, automatic joke response, and it only earned me stares of total and complete confusion from everyone in earshot.
"Eh... He's REALLY worn out," Luna advised, trying to act like she understood a word of what I just belted out.
"Oh!" the Cashier let a slightly more realistic smile cross her face. "He just flew in, didn't he?"
"Er... Yeah," Luna went with it. "Those long trips are brutal."
"I know what you mean," she smiled. "Total's one thousand seven hundred and twelve yen."
I can't even figure out how much that is in dollars anymore. But I paid anyway. Once that was settled, the Cashier informed us she'd bring us our food herself, and that we should just relax for a minute.
Not one to argue, I sat down after filling my cup with some orange Fanta. I don't even care if it does or does not have caffeine. I just need a sugar fix and some food.
Luna did her best not to fidget in place as we sat down. Unlike that McPhee's place in the last world, the Miko outfit she was still wearing drew glances at us from other customers. That, combined with our shopping articles, made us stick out a bit.
I decided to pay it no heed. At this point, I could only really focus on sucking down my drink.
When we got our food, I could already feel the sugar from the drink doing its job. The first thing going away was that blasted headache. Once I ate, the other annoying symptoms would join it.
Luna, for all it was worth, did her best to act something akin to dignified as she started to eat her monster-sized burger. But quickly preceded to annihilate it as if she were famished. Her fries quickly became victims as well.
Then my fries joined the victim list as I pushed them across for her. I just couldn't stand the way she was eyeing them.
In contrast, I found that while the Soda helped, I still didn't have much of an appetite. I did my best to at least eat a little of it though, before I gave up about half way through. I didn't feel sick like this morning, but my heart just wasn't in it.
"Still can't eat?" Luna asked.
"I tried," I sighed. "But I don't think I'll be able to finish this today."
Then I looked at her.
"You want it?"
Luna thought about it for a moment, probably trying to decide if it was more important that I eat, or try to eat, or give in to the obvious desire for more food.
"Here," I handed the remaining half of my burger over before she could answer. "Finish it."
"Are you sure?" she asked.
"I'll get something later when I can actually eat," I nodded. "This'll cover me for now."
The shaking had finally stopped, and I was slowly getting my head back a little from the fog it was in.
"So," Luna began between bites. "Now that you've gotten that little shopping spree out of the way, what do you have planned next?"
"I don't know," I commented idly. "I do want to get back to the shrine by noon. Otherwise Rei'll have puppies."
"We should probably drop by Crown on the way," Luna nodded. "I need to contact central-"
"You mean Artemis," I rested my hand in my palm.
"I'm going to KICK his ASS," Luna emphasized quietly with a sharp glare. "Playing fool games like that when he knows what's at stake."
Luna fumed for a moment over another bite of the leftover burger before she continued.
"Joke's on him though," she smirked. "I can't wait to see the look on his face when I pick him up by the scruff of his scrawny little neck."
"Go easy on him," I shook my head. "He's just a goofball."
"It would help to know he had Minako trained a whole lot sooner though," Luna shook her head, then took another bite. "Mff... I need to let him know that she needs to meet up with us as SOON as possible."
"Knowing you guys," I quipped. "You'll probably walk right into her."
"In fact," I continued. "Now that I think of it, I can almost guarantee it."
"Really?" Luna asked, then scarfed down the last bite of the burger.
"I'm sure of it," I replied, stopping to take another sip of my soda. "I think the trick for your universe how incredibly insane coincidences you have. Every single time the Dark Kingdom tries something, Usagi walks right into it without so much as trying."
Luna paused for a second, then sat up straight.
"You're right," she snapped, then glanced around and leaned in conspiratorially. "No sooner does she meet the victim of the next attack, then they get attacked. And all this time I thought we were lucky, it's another one of those conventions at work."
"It might even be a power," I commented while Luna took a turn on her soda. "Its commented back home that the Senshi actually have the ability to be drawn to enemies, and to draw enemies to them. That's why majority of the attacks always happen right here in Tokyo, that's why they always seem to show up next to the victim just in time to save them."
"Incredible," Luna hissed. "I'm familiar with their abilities, but that power is just unheard of. It changes everything I had in mind for planning. I mean, if we're always identifying the victim before attack-"
Then Luna stopped.
"Oh no," she gulped. "I already know the next victim..."
"That fat cat?" I asked. "Well we just need to-"
Luna reached out and grabbed my jacket by the front.
"I don't know where he LIVES!" she hissed. Several people took a look at us when she did so. She'd managed to pull me half way out of my spot with almost no effort.
"Luna," I began slowly. "Hands off."
The Felis Sapien paused, then blushed in embarrassment and let got.
"Sorry," she continued. "But if that situation goes exactly as before, then the Dark Kingdom is probably already on the move. And I don't know where Rhett Butler actually is."
"Let's go then," I nodded, standing up to leave the table. Luna quickly followed suit as we dumped our trays and left with our bags.
Once back out on the street, we began heading North. At this pace, we'd probably be back at the shrine just in time to greet Rei. Then we could work something out. Best as I could tell. If this worked as we predicted, just knowing who the victim was would put Kunzite on the move. And chances are, he's probably a little edgy after-
I stopped dead.
He's probably paranoid after the Jedi bullshit I fed him. If he's paranoid, he'll move any timetables he has up in order to get that one monster of the week on his side before he has to face the 'Jedi'. If he's paranoid, he's probably going to be very cautious. Oh man what the fuck was I THINKING?
"Okay," I stated aloud. "I think we've got a problem."
"What?" Luna asked.
"Kunzite was at the shrine this morning," I continued.
Everyone in earshot stopped to look, but after a moment, continued on his or her way.
"I ran him off while you were in the bath," I continued, picking my walk up to a more brisk pace. "But I think I fucked up big time..."
"How's so?" Luna asked, picking up the pace to match mine.
"I tried to scare him with some over the top bullshit," I continued. "And it looked like it worked."
"I don't see how that would mean you-"
"If, IT WORKED," I continued in a more forceful tone. "Then Kunzite is going to gear up to fight something a LOT more powerful than the Senshi."
Luna stopped this time, then quickly jogged to catch up.
"Are you serious?" she asked. "How powerful?"
"There's a saying," I began. "Never bring a knife to a gun fight..."
"What?" Luna began. "I don't get- how does that-"
"WE are the knife," I stated.
Luna grabbed me and forced me to stop, turning me around to look me dead in the eye.
"That's bad," she frowned. "That's very bad."
"Yes," I nodded. "I know. He's probably moved his timetable up. Far as I know, the first Season of Sailor Moon took place over forty-five episodes, with an in-universe time of about one year. There are fifty two weeks in a year, which means each episode on average is a little over a week apart."
I took a breath before continuing.
"And when was the last time we were here?"
"One week," Luna answered, then her features fell. "ONE WEEK!"
"He's going to try something TODAY," I glanced around. "I'll bet you all the gold we have left he does."
"What are we going to do?" Luna asked. "If he attacks today, we won't have any time to teach Usagi any combat skills, or plot anything..."
"Then we'll just have to move first," I continued. "If those stupidly convenient coincidences of yours really work and he we show up just in the nick of time no matter what. Then the sooner we show up, the less time he's spent preparing."
"But what if he's still prepared for..." Luna paused. "A gun fight?"
I turned back to the catgirl; adrenaline was waking me up quite a bit just thinking about it.
"Then we need to bring a cannon to a gun fight," I concluded.
Turning around, I thought about it. If Kunzite was expecting a 'Jedi' to fight, then we were going to need every last ounce of firepower available. That means the Senshi, Luna, AND myself. And if I went, I'd need all the firepower at my disposal. I want as unfair an advantage as possible. I'm going to need Senbei; I'm going to need my shotgun, Washu's antimatter shells... I'm going to need some protection for my watermelon of a skull. Dammit Washu! This is why I wanted a helmet! Now I don't have one. Where can I get one?
Maybe a bike shop or...
"Where's a motorcycle shop?" I turned to Luna... "I need a helmet."