"Of course you realize... This means War."
- Bugs Bunny
The words were out of my mouth almost before my brain had fully processed the image.
It wasn't what happened, but more of why it happened. By nature, I'm a nice guy. This is known by just about everyone I meet. So I have a habit of trying to be friendly and give people from all walks of life the benefit of the doubt. When I win at something, I'm not really one to gloat. When I lose, I try to just shrug it off. It's part of the reason why I'm so hard to anger in the first place. I'm just straight up difficult to offend.
But I can be offended.
Because I like to be the nice guy, I'm more sensitive than most to acts of cruelty. Be those acts against me, or someone else. There's no point in it. It's just people being an ass simply for the act of being an ass. As I may have stated previously, I'm nice so long as you're not being an ass, but if you wrong me...
For Kunzite, just fighting him and him fighting back, I could have let any number of attempts to kill us slide as one professional combatant to the next. But he'd done the one possible thing he shouldn't have done. It wasn't him striking Luna to fight her off, it wasn't even blasting her like he did.
It was the boot to her stomach.
In that single move, he crossed the line. Because it went beyond simply fighting us.
He kicked Luna just to be cruel.
And I don't like it when people are cruel.
Luna has been nothing but helpful to me in the last week. She's smart, cute, strong, and essentially my pillar of sanity in a situation that has been pushing me further and further to the edge. Someone like that does NOT deserve the kind of disrespect and mistreatment dished out by a jerkass super villain more concerned about his pride than his 'mission.'
I've only been truly angry once in this whole fiasco, and that was after being strung out for the better part of a day, exhausting all my options. But when I saw what Kunzite did. When he not simply hurt Luna, but when he disrespected her...
Something clicked. My fear; my anxiety; my second thoughts. All those annoying self preservation instincts went blissfully away as one thought took precedence over all others.
That fucker was going down if I had to drop a building on him.
So in three simple words, I had issued the command; issued the challenge.
"HIT HIM... NOW!"
My voice was louder than anyone else's. Even through a helmet.
As the command echoed and Senbei launched into action, mossy came up to eye level, the firing routine cycled, and the trigger squeezed. It almost felt like I had stepped back and let a machine do it all. Mossy thundered, kicking as hard as ever as the backlash round bolted from the barrel. Kunzite's shield flashed to intercept it but cracked from the force of the impact. At the same time, my right hand was already cycling the action, loading the next round before I had even compensated for the climbing effects of recoil.
The second shot was away and I was going for the third before Kunzite even had presence enough to stumble into the mad dash around the corner, leaping into the air to try and fly. I advanced as I let the third round fly, trying to keep him in the line of sight, intent on showing the asshole just how fucking far he'd crossed the line.
The third round connected, and the shield made a rather spectacular display of breaching, sounding like crunching gravel as the round punched a hole through it. Unfortunately, it missed striking Kunzite himself. A fourth round cycled and ripped free before I even realized the third wasn't even a Backlash.
It missed entirely. Who knows what I tore up with that shot...
Kunzite retaliated once he was airborne, desperately firing a dark-force blast to prevent my advance. It was as wild as my fourth shot, so it only blew out dirt in front of me. But it was enough to keep me from getting lined up for a fifth shot.
"GET DOWN HERE!" I snarled through my helmet in a voice that would have made Scorpion proud. In retrospect, I really think I did sound terrifying. Most of the time when I raise my voice, it climbs in pitch. Using my 'drill' tone requires some level of conscious effort to pull off. This time however, I could hear the baritone fueled by my desire to practically yank him out of the sky.
Interestingly enough, the words were barely out of my mouth when the general seemed to falter in mid air and then drop back down to the street, almost face planting on the asphalt.
Coming out from the between the buildings, I marched myself purposefully clear of the alleyway into the open as he stumbled to his knees, casting an angered sneer over his shoulder. My weapon came up as he forced himself to turn in a rather lock-stepped fashion. That wasn't normal... Senbei must be bogging him down.
Even so, I pumped my weapon and took aim as the general raised his arms above his head.
Dark energy swirled and warped about his hands as I braced, and he strained to coalesce the disturbingly unnatural visual effect into an orb of 'darkness'. We were effectively quick-drawing, but trigger squeeze is faster...
Mossy barked at the same time his hands were flung forward to project whatever stunt he was trying this ti-
My perspective turned sideways as something tackled me from the side. There was the sound of a loud boom, and glass shattering before everything came to a stop, with Mars pinning my body down.
"Sheesh!" she snapped, looking up in a near panic. "Did you go insane? What happened to not taking him head on! He almost annihilated you!"
"His shield is down!" I snapped. "Hit him while it's down!"
"What?" she looked up again as the sound of a weak thunderbolt crackled.
"Concentrated force!" I snapped again as the Senshi let me sit up and roll to my feet. "His shield is weak to concentrated force!"
"What does that mean?" Mars asked.
"It means you need to make your attacks hit a smaller area," I replied, picking mossy back up.
"SMALLER?" Mars seemed aghast. "You want me to make my attack SMALLER?"
"Same intensity, smaller cross section!" I snapped. "It's basic physics. More energy in a smaller area in a shorter amount of time! Like a hammer hitting a nail!"
Just like a hammer hitting a nail. You take a block of wood, and you beat on it uselessly all day with your fist... You just end up with a broken wrist and an unharmed block of wood. You put a hammer in your hand, and a nail on the wood, and the same motion you use to beat on that wood can now drive a metal spike right through it. It's basic mechanics all the way back to simple machines.
Unfortunately Mars wasn't quite following me, her eyes darted up and she wrapped her arms around me, and the next thing I knew it was back in the ejection seat, sound of another blast below my feet.
"GAH!" I snarled when we landed.
"Explain!" she snapped. "How do I do that?"
"Try a superheated gas jet instead of a fireball," I managed to belt out. Jupiter was running offense on the general as I looked up. "It's the same principle as an antitank missile!"
"B-but," Mars stuttered. "HOW?"
"I don't KNOW!" I snapped, remembering I had only one round left in mossy, so I reached for my strap to pluck more backlash rounds. "It's YOUR magic!"
I managed to get a round loaded when Jupiter caught a face full of Kunzite's next attack, a reflected bolt of lightning he'd managed to channel off a newly recreated shield. DAMMIT! It's already UP!
"Shit!" I snapped. "COVER JUPITER!"
Mars put her hands together and grit her teeth as Mossy came up, action pumping. I was a bit slower than I wanted to be though, thanks to that last jump. Some of the soreness was already starting to set in.
"MOON TIARA ACTION!"
Sailor Moon beat us to it, her glowing buzz saw headgear of death ripping through the air. In retrospect, it kind of looked odd. Like a tracer round lazily making its way to the target. Not to downplay the lethality of that thing, but it did look kind of absurd for an attack.
Almost right on its heels, I could feel the temperature drop sharply, seconds before visibility dropped to zero. Mercury was still around, somewhere, making herself as useful as she could for a lack of really effective attacks. I'll have to prioritize her and see if I can give her an early jumpstart on her flash freezing variant of the Shabon Spray.
While I was thinking that, and effectively immobilized, I could hear a cracking sound, and a pitiful complaint from Moon.
"It's not fair! My attacks don't work!"
I didn't have to be able to see it to know Kunzite had homed in on her voice. From the sounds of things though she dodged like she always did. But just how far did that luck go when the general was playing for keeps? Without her plot device, Usagi's attacks were…
What were they? Did EVERYTHING past the first season essentially incorporate a high level power up and/or the crystal? In that case, she had exactly one attack, and it was about as useful as a box of rocks.
God DAMMIT that girl's a combat liability!
Another blast from Kunzite, and it didn't really matter that he was blinded by the fog. He was just making them bigger. It was enough to knock me backwards, stumbling to land on my already sore ass and elicit a yelp from Mars, who apparently had been trying to work on a fire attack.
When she yelped, I felt heat, and heard the thump of the air as it went off out of control. That resulted in yet another blast in our direction, I could feel it, deathly close, only missing because it was aimed at her voice, not the ground where she landed. The shockwave combined with the heat from her attack was already rapidly dissipating the fog. With my momentum from my previous anger arrested, my brain was screaming about the vulnerability we had.
"We're sitting ducks if we don't keep moving!" I snapped, working to my feet and grabbing the Senshi's arm. I towed her up almost effortlessly, suddenly remembering I had two-times multiples of physical strength on. I wonder what else I can do to make use of it.
"COME ON!" I snapped again. "MOVE!"
I pulled mars over to the wall, taking partial shelter where Luna had gone down. The former was struggling to get back on her feet through grit teeth. Mercury was furiously going at her computer and visor checking her over.
"You okay?" I asked.
"I think," the Felis Sapien grunted as she finally stood up, learning against the wall. "I was trying to pounce him and use the mass change to hit harder. But something didn't quite work right... I didn't hit as hard as I wanted"
"That was crazy and stupid," I snapped. "And not in a good way. I had a clear shot."
"I was just trying to help," the catgirl frowned back. "This is the first time I've been able to really give it a shot."
"Well DON'T," I snapped, turning to look around the corner. "Just because Junpei taught you how to give a guy a concussion doesn't mean you can take Kunzite on."
"Well what am I supposed to do?" Luna's voice raised.
"Stay out of the way," I replied curtly. I only realized a second later that might have come across a bit rude, and quickly covered it up. "Where's Tuxedo Kamen? Is he still here or did he take off?"
"He's protecting Sailor Moon," Mercury piped up. "They're both keeping Kunzite distracted."
"His shield's just too strong," Jupiter snapped as she jogged over to us. "I don't know how you brought it down..."
The number of people here was growing and starting to make me nervous. Better get out of this spot and soon. But not before getting a few thoughts in...
"Okay listen up real quick," I snapped, waving her over. "Yes, the shield is strong, but it's not unbreakable. You just have to hit it with concentrated force."
I glanced around the corner again, spotting the General through the almost completely dissipated fog.
"Mars," I turned back to the Senshi I had assembled. "Look, I'm sorry this is a bit rushed, but when I said you need to make your attacks more like gas jets... Well, just imagine that flame that comes out of the back of a fighter jet- Have you seen any movies like that?"
The fire Senshi nodded.
"Good. Just like that, but smaller, hotter. Can you do that for me? Jupiter,"
"Listening," she replied.
"Not to be mean, but you need to stop throwing those pansy ass sparks and lob some real thunderbolts," I advised, glancing again around the corner again. "You're the patron guardian of Jupiter. A storm on that planet is the size of Earth. Think BIG and lob some lightning bolts worthy of your namesake. I want the entire city of Tokyo to know when you launch an attack. Got it?"
Another thump and the sound of debris flying. This fight was getting bigger.
"Fog's good, but I can't see through it-"
"You're not magic," she replied with a quick nod. "There's nothing I can do for that."
"I know," I nodded back. "See if you can't time them a bit better for me. We need to blind Kunzite and then blindside his ass before he resorts to just leveling everything around him."
"Also," I continued. "I'm going to cheat a little here. Your natural powers are ice based. Your second default attack is called Shabon Spray FREEZING. It flash-freezes whatever you hit. See if you can't pull that off here. Got it?"
"I understand," she replied.
"Good," I nodded in satisfaction. "And remember to keep moving. You stay still; you're dead. Keep that mindset."
Reaching down to my wrist, I gave my 'watch' a twist, amping the strength multiplier up to four X. That would give me about twenty minutes of power. Not very much time, but in a battle, more time than I knew what to do with.
"Okay," I hefted my weapon. "Let's get that shield down again. Once it's down, you have about ten seconds before it comes back up. So make it count. Ready?"
A round of nods from those assembled.
"Here we go," I took an apprehensive breath. Time to make him pay for hurting Luna. "GO! GO! GO!"
We rushed from the cover of the wall, not that it would have actually provided cover against the crap the General's been firing, but you take what you can get.
Mars and Jupiter went up, using their power jumping to get on the roof above while Mercury went the long way around. That left me to utilize old fashioned locomotion to move. Running is bad enough, running while sore from all that G-shock?
I think the only thing positive about that was the fact that the suit was making it a lot easier to run from the strength boost.
Didn't really stop the pain completely though. Especially how stiff my neck was getting...
Once I was around the corner, my mind did its best to take a snapshot. Kunzite floating wide over the street so he could get a clear view of his enemies, a dark shadowed person on a building to the left, which was probably Tuxedo Kamen, and Sailor Moon bounding across a gap to the right.
The General was busy trying to attack Kamen, so he wasn't looking my way.
I advanced with a sprint.
And almost lost control of my body, having realized a moment too late that I hadn't had much practice at four times my physical strength.
Luckily, I managed to catch myself against the hood of a parked car.
Unfortunately, such actions aren't subtle. When you strike aluminum, it makes noise. And that noise got Kunzite's attention, which earned me a blast.
Luckily, something threw his aim off, because it smashed the car and blew out the windshield instead of me. I hope the owner had insurance.
Rolling away from the debris, I silently exhaled in relief about my choice of helmets. Face screen successfully prevents shattered glass from destroying your face. My advance halted before it began, I did the best I could do, ducking into the building the car was parked in front of.
A moment later, the windows shattered from another blast that had been more accurately aimed at me, had it not been for my urge to seek cover.
The rain of razor sharp fragments rang out almost as loud as the ear-piercing shriek of fear.
Great, just what I need, bysta-
I'm in the middle of a city, how many BYSTANDERS are there? The count was what, ten million? How can I FORGET about them like this? This isn't a video game! The terrain isn't static! THESE AREN'T EMPTY BUILDINGS!
How big was that blast that gutted that building a minute ago?
Oh my GOD...
OH MY GOD!
"GET DOWN!" I turned to what appeared to be a woman and two guys. "GET IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BUILDING AND GET DOWN!"
There was a crack that sounded like one of Jupiter's lightning bolts. A little louder than the one's she'd fired before.
"What's going on?" one of the people in the building asked. "Who are you?"
"JUST HIDE!" I snarled.
Crunching over the shattered glass in my boots, I went to the frame and scanned, quickly finding my opponent dishing out more firepower. Right around the moment I did so, my vision was blinded by a bright blue-white streak. After the resulting boom and time for my brain to process the resulting image momentarily imprinted into my retina, I realized it had been another of Jupiter's lightning bolts, already bigger than the ones she was throwing earlier.
Retaliatory thump and more shattering glass.
How many people?
"I don't think so!" I snapped, stepping out to take aim.
Something I hadn't accounted for, or really put much thought into. The Senshi somehow managed to have their fights with their enemies in the middle of one of the most crowded locations on the planet, undetected.
Or at least, undetected enough to be urban legends.
And that fight with Zoicite was in the middle of a big empty area so I was able to let fly without worrying TOO much about hitting anyone. But now we're lobbing attacks with the explosive power of grenades back and forth between OFFICE BUILDINGS!
This time, I found my target before he found me, and I lined up the shot. Mossy kicked and the round covered the distance in less time than it took to realize that he teleported, resulting in a piece of building farther back spontaneously erupting in concrete and plaster from the hit.
"God damn fucking..." I began in English, pumping to chamber my next round.
Kunzite reappeared near the ground. And almost instantly, a light pole near him lit up in sparks as if it had been subjected to a massive electrical surge. Then the screws, which I would note are MASSIVE on most utility and light poles, burst free and the whole thing appeared to try and fall on him.
I had to take pause. I had, never seen something so stock-action-movie-footage-ish happen... Ever.
"What?" the General snapped, teleporting again to avoid the object.
While he was distracted, I advanced, taking more care not to lose control of my body as I approached the corner where the light had been and placed.
There was a flash of light above to my left, and a burst of fire that looked like a jet engine's afterburner cracked in front of me. Despite the helmet, I could feel the blast of heat from the air racing away from it.
The general threw a shield up as he reappeared to defend against the attack, causing it to scatter off it and catch the tree on the corner ahead on fire.
"Good going Mars!" Moon's voice snapped sarcastically from somewhere down the street to my right. "Why don't you set the whole city on fire!"
"Sorry for not being perfect dumpling head!" Mars retaliated.
Uh, hello? Firefight?
"KEEP MOVING!" I roared as loud as I could, lining my sight up again. Kunzite immediately teleported upon spotting me. Dammit, we can't pin him while he keeps that up!
"SHABON SPRAY FREEZING!"
Mercury popped out of a corner and quickly extinguished the burning tree before it could catch anything else. In the mean time, I quickly yanked my head around, looking for the general. Damn my neck's getting sore...
He didn't pop back up for several seconds, forcing me to slowly back away from the street, glancing behind me once out of a bit of paranoia.
He's not retreating is he? No, that's almost too easy. He wouldn't just retreat without a parting remark. He's being sneaky. A teleporter with his raw power backing it up? And he's not nearly as unnerved as Zoicite had been. He's not finished yet. Teleportation, flying. If I had that skill, I'd be trying to engage a numerically superior enemy on my own terms.
Only a matter of time before he gets that figured out and starts picking us off one by one.
First step to fighting a mobile enemy: Deny them that mobility. After that, suppress them to prevent them from attacking.
"You might want to wake up a little," Senbei commented next to my ear, I practically jumped out of my skin. "I think he's after you."
Glass shattered to my left, and something purple came whipping out, only to get intercepted by an object that apparently had fallen from above. About the same moment, there was a loud snap right past my ear as I looked and something red struck Kunzite smack in the palm of his still outstretched hand.
The General snarled in pain and cursed as he stumbled back. Then a brilliant flash of light lit up the front of the building as Jupiter cut loose with the largest bolt of lightning she'd tried so far. The discharge actually caused some of the metal framing around the shattered window to emit a burst of white-hot sparks. The crack was so loud I could hear car alarms in the distance go off.
"For someone who keeps telling us to keep moving," Tuxedo Kamen strode up beside me. "You sure don't move a whole lot."
"I'm about as mobile as a box of rocks!" I replied with a shake of my head. "If I could move half as well as you guys, I'd be doing so!"
"We need to slow him down," Tux continued. "We can't hit him if he keeps teleporting."
"I was just thinking the same thing," I nodded as the flash vapors cleared, then turned my head to Senbei.
"Do you think you can jam him?" I asked. "His flight and teleportation are a pain in the ass. If you can slow him down, we can hit him."
Senbei floated silently in the air for a second, then turned his head to follow as Kunzite teleported again.
"Tricky," he commented with a tap to his chin. "I can't actually block his teleports, but if he has the misfortune to fail them-"
"Can you do it?" I asked. Senbei turned to me with a calm smile on his ken-doll sized face.
"I make no guarantees," he advised. "But I'm feeling good today."
"What is that thing?" Kamen asked.
"Short version, Luck Demon," I replied. "He's with me."
"Anyone else I should know about?" he asked, cautiously looking around as I remembered to backpedal out of the open of the street.
"I'll keep you updated," I snarked "Now go cover Moon. She has exactly one functional attack, and it's worthless here."
"What?" his eyes widened behind the mask.
"GO!" I snapped. "I can handle myself."
Tuxedo Kamen turned and catapulted into the air. A moment later, the sound of another bolt of lightning lit up further down the street. Given the fact that we were taking on one opponent, if he was there, it was safe to advance.
I broke cover from the side of the building at a sprint, quickly crossing the street and moving past the now smoldering tree. You know, I'm quickly coming to appreciate just how big a single block really is. As much as we've already been fighting, we've only been fighting around about three buildings. Three occupied buildings with who knows how many people that can be hurt. And the longer this takes...
I really hope people managed to get half a clue from all the fucking EXPLOSIONS going off and ran by now...
Another thump further down the street. Glass shattered and rained down ahead, prompting a retaliatory bolt of lightning, followed by a yellow 'tracer' that could only be Moon's attack. Then Mercury queued in and doused the area ahead in fog, probably knowing I was too far back for it to hinder.
Dammit, I need to be faster! If I can't keep up with the fight then I'm just as much a liability as-
My brain cut off in mid-sentence to the sound of displaced air from a teleport next to me.
I stumbled but managed to stop and turn my head, only to see gray. The bastard was splitting us up!
Mossy came around, but the General was just in too close. I saw the concern draw across his face as he lashed out at the barrel, knocking it to the side just enough to have the weapon fire harmlessly over his shoulder.
The recoil of that last round made me stumble as the general moved to attack. I planted my foot and desperately came about. Just because I can't shoot doesn't mean I'm unarmed!
Kunzite threw his arm up to deflect again, and stumbled back as he discovered the four-X strength setting I was operating at.
I advanced into my second attack, intending to beat on him just like I did to Zoicite, just like he did to Luna!
"KILL!" I snapped. Like always, gain momentum, then hammer away.
Kunzite managed to avoid the brunt of the blow by backpedaling, but failed to open up significant distance as I began to advance systematically, taking another swing.
However, my third strike was violently repelled by his shield as he brought it to bear. Almost immediately the general struck back, practically knocking my weapon right out of my grip.
I managed to keep my hand wrapped around the pistol-grip, but ended up standing wide open as he opened his hand to fire a point blank attack. On sheer defensive instinct, I brought my free hand up to swat at him, if only to deflect his aim.
We both stumbled back slightly. There was a whining sound in my ears, and my right hand was numb as if I'd just been violently shocked. The hell? The general seemed no less surprised as he looked up at me.
The opening was all I wanted. I took my stance and brought mossy back up, pumping for emphasis, and fired.
There was the briefest of pauses as Kunzite flinched, then we just stared for a second or two.
Oooooohhhh... I did NOT just hear it cycle empty. Did I really hear that noise? Did I seriously lose track of ammo? OH FOR FUCK'S SAKE!
"GOD DAMMIT!" I swore heartily in English as I dropped my stance and advanced; the red on the back of my glove matching my mood. "I'll just beat your head in the hard way!"
Kunzite was more prepared for my physical assault this time, quickly jumping back and swatting away my first strike. With enough distance between us, I found myself stuck wide open as he smirked.
"Oh god dam-"
I stumbled back and fell flat on my ass before I even registered the hissing, whistling sound, that had preceded the bright flash and burst of heat. For a second I thought I'd actually been hit. But then realized my opponent hadn't fared as well as I had, considering he'd been thrown a good dozen meters straight backwards.
"What the HELL?" I turned to see where that had come from, trying to ignore the ringing in my ears.
Sailor Mars was standing a few dozen meters away, looking rather shocked and just blinking away with her mouth open. Her arm was outstretched, two fingers pointing at Kunzite with her thumb stuck out as if she were a kid playing finger-pistols. A small match-sized lick of flame was visible on the tips of her fingers.
Whoah... That attack was HER?
I looked back to where Kunzite was slowly pushing himself to his feet, his uniform was clearly scorched on the front left side where the blow had landed.
Well, THAT'S MORE LIKE IT!
"NICE SHOT!" I snapped.
"I did it?" Mars blinked out, then started to grin, looking more like Usagi for a second.
"I DID IT!" she crowed.
"GOOD!" I called, turning my head to her. "Now do it again!"
Mars stopped and looked at me as if I was insane. As she did so I started fishing another round off my chest strap and loading it into Mossy. Kunzite too heard it and his head snapped up.
"And again, and again, and AGAIN..." I continued for emphasis, stuffing rounds into the chamber.
Kunzite sneered from his spot, huffing as Mars continued to look flabbergasted. What, did firing that attack tire you ou-
Wait, Kunzite's huffing?
He's tiring out... HE'S TIRING OUT!
He can't keep up this routine forever. He's got too many opponents, and he's wasting too much power to keep up.
That gives me an idea...
"Attack!" I snapped to Mars. "Don't stop!"
I had three rounds chambered by this time, and quickly pumped for emphasis, bringing Mossy to bear. Kunzite retaliated immediately by firing an attack at me, but I managed to avoid being hit with a sidestepping motion.
Mossy Barked, Kunzite dove as a yellow jacket I loaded shredded his cape.
I pumped again, fired my second round, and watched yet another miss as he blocked with a shield.
There was a thump, a whistle, and a crack as Mars fired another of her newer little attacks. Kunzite scrambled and weaved, looking like Usagi usually did when she was dodging a series of attacks.
Ahah! Now the tables have turned bastard!
"Continue suppressive fire!" I snapped, reaching for more rounds. "He can't fight all of us!"
A loud crack and a blinding flash of light indicated Jupiter getting in to our latest offensive with yet another of an ever increasingly impressive set of lightning bolts. Kunzite threw a shield up and blocked it, but stumbled back.
Another bolt of fire exploded against him, the general tried to fly but dropped back in a jump instead.
I fished a black round up and chambered it, then took aim. Another bolt of lightning nearly blinded me, but the general was turtling down at this point, trying to push back with his shield.
"Mars!" I began, bracing my stance and trying to relax for accuracy.
Nothing else needed to be said, I heard the affirmative in her voice as I braced my legs and relaxed my breathing.
Kunzite stumbled, his shield breaking.
Mars fired her attack right on my heals.
The whistling bolt of superheated magical fire slammed into him, throwing him through the air into a car.
"One more for effect!" I called back.
Another bolt of fire ripped past me, slamming into the vehicle like a tank shell, blowing it to bits. At this point, I'd kind of tuned out the little details just trying to keep up. But what was left of the car continued to burn while several bits of shrapnel scattered away from the explosion. I remember this specifically because of the distinct buzzing whistle of a piece of metal, skipping across the road past my leg.
"We did it!" I heard Sailor Moon crow somewhere nearby. "Mars that was AWESOME!"
"We did," she began with a weak laugh. "Didn't we?"
It's never that easy...
"Don't celebrate just yet," I held a hand up. "No body, no kill."
No, in a situation like this, you confirm the kill. Kunzite's just too dangerous to play guessing games.
I began to creep forward, plucking another yellow jacket and chambering it. Considering how tough Zoicite was, exploding cars are no guarantee here.
"YOU WIN THIS TIME SAILOR SENSHI!" A voice boomed from above. I quickly turned to find the General standing atop the corner of the building above. His suit was scorched in two places, and his cape was ripped and burned half way up his back.
"Enjoy your victory while it lasts," he continued. "Because next time, I'm not holding back."
The general took to the air, floating away from the rooftop, and began to teleport.
"The coward's running away!" I heard Jupiter shout.
There was a loud pop, and suddenly Kunzite flailed in the air and dropped. The general managed to partially arrest his fall, but hit the ground and crumpled in a heap. There was a momentary silence all around as the Senshi seemed a bit surprised by that strange event.
"What is-" he began, pushing himself up. "What's going on?"
"I wouldn't try teleporting again if I were you," Senbei popped up next to the General rather suddenly. "Otherwise you may have a rather... unfortunate accident."
Kunzite's face screwed up, looking absolutely flabbergasted at the pint sized demon before him.
"Senbei," the demon introduced himself. "God of poverty and misfortune at your service. And I must say, figuring out how to disable that teleport of yours took some doing. But I got it worked out. You might want to avoid doing it again, otherwise you may find yourself on the surface of the sun."
"WHAT?" The general snapped, anger taking over his features again.
Okay, now we're even.
"It means-" I began, fishing another round off my chest and chambering it. "You're not going ANYWHERE."
The general turned to face me, a new, fully enraged sneer on his face. Kunzite snarled, turning and flinging his hand at Senbei, hurling another dark blast, only for the demon god to vanish with a pop and reappear on the other side of the General's head.
"Non non non..." Senbei chided in his usual flair. "You're not fighting me. You have them as your opponents..."
There was a click on the sidewalk to my right, announcing Sailor Moon's landing as she quickly strode up and struck a pose.
Oh god she's not-
"And in the Name of the Moon!" she began. "WE'LL PUNISH-"
"RARGH!" The general snarled, hurling his hand forward.
My body practically moved on its own as I pushed off with my right foot as I'd practically seen him telegraph the motion. Moon went the opposite way with a shriek as the blast ripped between us. The cement shattered from the blow and the concussion made my ears ring.
I don't remember what I shouted in that moment, but it must have been a command as the next moment everything just started exploding left and right like someone had uncorked a bottle of finely aged whup ass and then smashed the bottle upside reality's skull.
I couldn't keep track of who did what at that point, it just happened so fast I couldn't process it. All I know is I turned and skipped sideways as I exchanged fire with the general, his own attacks zipping past me.
In five seconds, the street we were on became hell. Asphalt, concrete, car parts, it all went flying every which way. I could hear glass shatter and rain down over the whining in my ears as the Senshi shouted something to each other, drowned out by cracks of thunder and the grenade like sounds of explosions.
Having never been to war, this was the very moment it all hit home. THIS is what it feels like to be in war. Although there were less than ten of us fighting here, the ferocity of the attacks was like watching Saving Private Ryan with the volume turned all the way up and plugged into your ears. It was enough to make any normal person curl up in a ball, shaking in fear.
Hell, part of me wanted to turn my ass and run the other way right then and there. A week ago, when this mess started, I would have quickly looked for some place to hide.
I still wanted to find a place to hide, but for different reasons.
I sprinted as best as I could to cover. Since I was already making my way towards the opposite side of the street, the corner of the building there was as good a pick as any other.
Once I had something resembling protection between myself and that much destructive force, I took a second to catch my breath and start reloading mossy again.
I'd completely lost track of rounds. How many I used and how many I had left were the farthest thing from my mind. All I knew is that for the moment, I had plenty.
Chamber checked and loaded, tube full, I glanced back across the street.
And I almost let my head drop to 'thunk' against the concrete landscaping barrier I was crouched against.
Sailor Moon was where I'd last seen here hands on her head, cowering on her knees with her ass in the air like it was somehow going to keep her from getting hit.
"You're shitting me!" I began glancing left into the heart of the fight and then breaking into a sprint. A dark force blast struck the ground a dozen feet to my left, sending a spray of asphalt rocks as big as my fist over me. It hurt, but the suit and helmet kept it to a superficial level as I managed to reach the girl.
Once I was close enough, I could hear her whimpering in panic.
"What are you doing?" I shouted quickly, checking to see if anything was coming our way. "You can't stay here!"
Moon didn't budge, except to cringe more from an even louder lightning bolt. At this rate, she'd just be a target. And given that Kamen was probably busy helping the other two keep Kunzite occupied-
I ducked instinctively as more shattered asphalt sprayed into the air. Good thing he's not bothering to actually stop and aim! Fucking SHIT!
"C'MON!" I turned and shook Moon by the arm. "We have to go! Get up!"
I grabbed her by the arm and started hauling the Senshi to her feet. Despite the strength boost, she was making it an effort.
"GET UP!" I continued. "YOU HAVE TO MOVE!"
I got her to her feet, but she didn't want to budge. This is going to be hard.
"Come on!" I continued into her ear. "Come on! Walk! Walk quickly! Come on!"
More haphazard fire zipped by, colliding with the pavement further up the street.
"MOVE!" I shouted, my point punctuated nicely.
I turned with one arm, awkwardly holding mossy to point down the street and took a potshot at Kunzite, though I inwardly cringed at shooting wildly.
My ears popped, and I half expected to get hit as I flinched, only t realize a moment later when the temperature dropped that it was Mercury casting another fog.
Within seconds, visibility dropped to the now familiar 'halt rush-hour traffic in two seconds flat' that was typical of her Pea-soupers. I would say. Concealment isn't cover, but it's a start.
Now which way was safety?
Shit! I don't know!
"Hold on!" I heard a second later through the fog. Mercury seemed to emerge almost from nowhere directly to my left, quickly stopping next to me.
"Come on, this way," she directed, pointing behind me.
"She won't budge!" I commented as the ice Senshi quickly looped one of Moon's arms over her shoulder. I quickly did the same to balance the load.
"I know!" Mercury replied sharply. "I saw! Hurry!"
"Come on dumpling head," I turned and started pulling in the direction Mercury was leading. "Come on!"
To her credit, Sailor Moon did manage to hop along with us, nearly hyperventilating the entire time.
"Come on, snap out of it Sailor Moon," Mercury did her best to chide. We reached cover, which looked to be the landscaping I had been using before. "Talk to me..."
"I- A-I –Ami... I'm ..." Usagi began as we let her slip down. "I'm... I'm... I'm o- I'm okay. I'm okay. Just... Give me... A second."
"You sure?" Mercury asked. Sailor Moon just swallowed once and nodded in response.
"Combat Stress Reaction," the Senshi turned to me. "I've read about it."
"That last exchange must have been too much for her," I surmised. "It sure scared the hell out of me."
"That's the first time I've ever seen that many attacks fired at once," Ami replied.
"You guys catch on fast," I replied. "If I weren't busy shitting my pants, I'd swear Mars fired two attacks."
"Three," Ami corrected. "Jupiter launched two. Kunzite got off four."
"I'm just worried it's too much," the Senshi indicated down the street. "We've never used this many attacks before! I don't know how much longer they'll last!"
"Not Long if you ask me!" I shot back. "We need to back them up, but Moon here doesn't have any attacks worth a damn without the full Crystal. Just her tiara buzz saw and basic healing."
Wait a second...
"HEALING!" I shouted, then turned to Usagi. It was obvious as day.
"Hey," I began, pulling my helmet open and resting my hand on her shoulder. "You still with us?"
Sailor Moon just nodded.
"What are you," Mercury began. But I silenced her with a hand.
"Okay good," I started to nod, but was interrupted by a spray of dirt and plaster from above. Moon cringed and ducked away from it, but remained on her feet.
"Look," I took a glance over my shoulder. "We need you back out there."
"My," she began with a bit of a stutter. "But my attack's not working!"
"They're not going to work," I instructed. "You're powers aren't attack, they're support."
Moon blinked silently back.
"You play video games right?" I asked.
Moon nodded slowly.
"Look, think about it." I began. "In games you have attackers and supporters right?"
Moon nodded again.
"Well the reason your attacks aren't working is because your skills aren't in attack. They're in support. Your moon tiara is a last ditch attack, and your other attack is a HEALING move. The only reason it beat the monsters is because you healed them to death. Follow?"
This time the nodding was accompanied by a look of recognition, followed immediately by another cringe from the sound of a thunderclap. Even I jumped.
"That means you're not an attack mage," I continued, setting mossy on the concrete next to me and putting both hands on her shoulders. "You're a white mage. You heal damage and give your team power boosts. That's why your attacks aren't working on Kunzite. It's just a self defense move."
"Are you sure?" Mercury cut in.
"No but it makes sense," I replied with a turn of my head. Ow my neck! "Her entire power set is healing and purification. I'd be using her for combat support in an instant if I were playing Final Fantasy."
I turned back to moon who was looking a little better.
"Now get in there and heal your friends up so they can keep attacking," I instructed. "We're right behind you okay? Okay?"
Granted it wasn't the most inspiring ten second pep-talk in the world, but if I could just keep everyone in motion we could win this. Just keep in motion, keep them all working.
"Okay," I nodded as Sailor Moon swallowed once to collect herself. "You know what to do, just do it. Now go! GO! GO!"
I gave Moon a light shove with one hand as I turned to collect Mossy and pull my mask back down. Then quickly fell into step behind her. Glass from the building rained down as we cleared cover, but Moon quickly took a bounding step and jumped to outpace it.
The chaos was a little more defined as Mercury's fog lifted. Kunzite was backpedaling in mid air, doing his best to keep all his attackers on one side. The way he was moving though, if the Senshi could fly, this would be a dogfight.
His three current attackers were all over the place. Judging by where one of the firebolts came from, Mars was on a building trying to pin Kunzite below her and exploit the splash effect of the explosions caused. I couldn't immediately spot Jupiter or Tux, but there was a rather violent series of lightning bolts that the General managed to avoid.
"Mercury go around behind that building and flank him," I advised.
"I'm not much for attack," she warned.
"Don't worry about that!" I shouted as I moved forward close to the building. "We just need to hit him once to slow him down!"
The ice Senshi broke away and ducked onto a side street. All we have to do is hurt him. Once he's hurt, he won't fight at full capacity, then it'll be easy to hurt him more, and from there it's just a downward spiral to victory.
I wish I had a way to coordinate this fight better. Communication between everyone during the fight would really help. If only I had a headset, or even a walkie-talkie.
New item on my shopping list...
Sheesh... And I'm the SATCOMM study! I should know these things!
I slipped up to another damaged car, this one flipped on its side. Kunzite was continuing to back away down the street. If only he'd just back away back towards me.
Mossy came up. I had yellow jackets this time, but the general was moving too much for the likes of a backlash anyway, I'd never hit that.
My weapon fired. Thanks to the distance, I could just barely see the rounds as they ripped into the air and down range. Overall, my aim was a little high as they flew straighter than expected. I dropped my aim a little more, pumping, and took another shot.
Judging from the impact flashes, two pieces scored direct hits on the General's shield. Kunzite wasted no time in aiming his hand in my direction.
I lowered my weapon and scrambled away from my cover about two seconds ahead of the dark energy blast. The already totaled vehicle crumbled and spun behind me as I did my best to make sure it wasn't going to spin like a top and crush me.
Another nice thing I realized was that despite their power, those blasts were a lot slower than bullets. At the least at this range I had time to dodge them. Of course, at this range, I couldn't hope to put him down armed as I was.
Dammit! Aside from the surprise attack I pulled off, I haven't really been able to hurt this guy! I just don't have the firepower to really press the attack! Not like Mars has anyway. About the only other thing I have that could really hit him where it counts is a goodfellow, and I can't use it in here!
Okay, enough self-loathing, just keep doing your job! And your job is to be whatever position you can fill! Keep wearing him down and he'll fall. That's all there is to it. Senbei's ECMing his teleports, and he's got too many enemies attacking from too many angles. He can't keep up forever, not at this point. He's GOT to be exhausted.
"Keep moving," I told myself, rushing forward with another sprint. Even with the four X strength, I was starting to really feel it. Especially in my breathing. Even though I knew it wasn't an issue, the moisture recycling with my breath on the inside of helmet was making it seem harder to breathe than it really was. I'm not claustrophobic, but it still gets to me a little.
More bolts of lighting, more exploding bolts of fire, and I assume more armor piercing roses, but I can't see any from here.
Asphalt to my right blasted over sixty feet into the air.
And of course, more dark force attacks!
A shot of some kind came out of a building ahead on the left. It looked like the same one Mercury used to put the tree out a few minutes ago. Kunzite practically fell out of the sky in his attempt to dodge it, just before barely holding off a bolt of lightning with his shield.
I found myself raising Mossy to take aim, intending to take any available potshot I could while a fire bolt buried itself in the asphalt in the middle of the intersection.
Kunzite dipped away and quickly settled on a lamp post for a second, now very obviously straining to stay ahead.
I took my shot.
Kunzite jerked and snarled in pain, but stayed upright and quickly fired at me with his opposite arm. I ducked and scrambled sideways along the building to try and avoid any further shots. But the general had to flee his perch before he could try again, as a series of lightning and fire bolts practically melted the lamp post in its place.
"I hit him!" I called. "Stay on him!"
Kunzite moved to climb, probably intending to get high above us when he was tagged by something small and red. Most likely one of Tuxedo Kamen's roses.
It was enough to slow him down, as it allowed Mars to tag him, the explosion hurling the general directly onto a section of elevated highway.
I managed to make it into the intersection just in time to see at least part of what happened next.
Tires screeched and a horn honked, and I watched in almost slow motion as the general barely avoided getting smeared by an eighteen wheeler.
Unfortunately, as I continued to watch. The truck, swerving so suddenly to avoid hitting him, jackknifed. Almost immediately, I heard the sound of crunching metal as it lost control and slid into the adjacent lanes, effortlessly smashing cars I couldn't see against what had to be none other than Death Walls.
All attacks seemed to stop as the Senshi, still perched on various building corners, stood transfixed as the highway in front of us turned into a death trap. I'm not sure how many cars slammed into that wreck from the ground, but all I know was, I heard a lot of them go 'smash'.
"Oh, no no no no no..." I heard myself chanting out as I watched the spectacle unfold above me.
"No no no... NO NO! NO! NO! NO!"
Finally my brain restarted.
FUCK FUCK FUCK!
FORGET ABOUT PUSSYFOOTING AROUND!
IF THIS TAKES ANY LONGER! PEOPLE! ARE GOING! TO DIE!
I found myself running, adrenaline completely taking over as I screamed for Mars at the top of my lungs. My kingdom for a radio! Like, eight of them!
I sprinted below the highway ramp, crossing a bridge as I did so, even more appalled to realize that there was another, extremely busy surface street right there just the other side of the elevated highway.
This is God Damn TOKYO! We can't get AWAY from people like this! I need his ass in a wide-open space where we can hit him... HARD!
Mars landed next to me, huffing as she did so. The look on her face I'd never be able to forget.
"We have to end this!" I snapped, stopping myself alongside a concrete support pillar. "RIGHT NOW!"
"I just-" she began.
"NOT NOW!" I snapped. "GET HIM IN THE OPEN! WHERE'S AN OPEN SPACE? WHERE'S A PARK?"
"It's," she looked over her shoulder along the highway. I could see a large number of trees on the other side of an intersection a short way down the road.
"DO IT!" I ordered. "Before this gets any worse! And tell everyone to stay WAY BACK!"
"What are you-" she began, hesitating.
"MOVE! GOD DAMMIT!" I snarled. "And keep your distance!"
Mars bit her lip as she turned and bolted into the street, then bound onto the rooftop. Several people at the light in front of me practically tore out of their car to watch as she did so.
I found myself running again. Only one objective was in my head at this point. A few people rubbernecking at the scene quickly got out of my way when they realized a freak job with a gun was running at them.
But that didn't keep their attention for long. A blast of dark force ripped from somewhere above and blew out the windows of a building on the left. The resulting thunderclaps and explosive thumps that accompanied it served to punctuate it well. And like a flock of birds, those who could see what was going on above us on the ramp started to back away. Then they turned picking up the pace, and finally broke into an all out run.
Got to move faster!
More thumps and booms, and more debris. More running. God damn fucking running! Why can't I teleport? Why can't I fly? Why can't I even power jump? Why am I stuck in this craptacular situation? I didn't ask for this shit!
"MOVE!" I snarled at some particularly slow to act people in my path. "RUN!"
This street was a far cry from the one we'd been on. That one had apparently emptied out very quickly almost from the moment it began. This one however seemed to have a never-ending stream of people come pouring out of the woodwork. What street WAS this?
I extended my strides, doing my best to get as much distance with each step as I could. And I found that the enhanced strength made it rather easy to make half-leaps out of my steps, which really helped me run a lot faster than I normally could like this.
I reached my target intersection, glancing both ways, noting it was in fact, a rather large five-way exchange. I could hear sirens in the distance now. But I didn't really care anymore. No time to worry about who's where so long as the Senshi get Kunzite in the open here...
The traffic in the intersection skidded to a halt as a number of attacks spilled out into the air over it. Kunzite shot into sight, doing his best to stay ahead of the attacks the Senshi were trying to peg him with before taking position over the trees ahead. The Senshi filtered in from several directions, trying to pincer him only for the General to back away more, forcing them to jump down off their respective buildings and give chase on the ground.
People in the intersection panicked. And as I watched, another series of accidents occurred right in front of me as people forgot what they were doing in light of the firefight.
"DAMMIT!" I swore, bolting across the street. Already the fight was carrying towards what appeared to be a hotel tower perched on the hill ahead. Kunzite hovered over the trees as several attacks lanced up (Or down in the case of Jupiter's lightning bolts.) The general fired down into the trees, only increasing the panic.
"IN THE OPEN!" I shouted as loud as I could as I reached the far side of the intersection, hoping they were still listening. "GET HIM, IN THE OPEN!"
Once in the trees, I made a beeline for a sidewalk, sprinting up towards the hotel as I followed the cracks of the firefight. People were running past me every which way, just trying to stay out of the thick of it.
"GO ON!" I shouted as people ran. "RUN! GET TO SAFETY! GET OUT OF HERE!"
I reached the hotel Parking lot, Tokyo Tower visible a moderate ways off to my left, the observation deck shrouded in cloud. Were this any other time, I might stop to admire it, but not now. The fight was now past the building in front of me, so I kept running. I don't know how much more of this I can take...
Everything just continued to blur as I skirted the base of the hotel. People were running down the hill out of the park in front of me in all directions.
One guy in particular quickly reached out and grabbed me in an attempt to stop me.
"BLOODY HELL!" he snapped. "You don't want to go in there!"
"MOVE!" I snapped, shoving.
"Look mate," he continued. The guy had to be British or Australian or something, because it took me a few seconds to realize he was speaking in English. "I've never seen anything like that. That bloody pop gun's not going to do a lick of good."
"You worry about yourself!" I broke free and began to advance up the hill.
"Do you know what's going on then?" he asked, looking. "What's going on?"
"RUN!" I snapped back. "As fast as you can!"
I didn't stop to listen to any further comments as I pressed on up the hill. Oh, this reminds me of last week when I was climbing a hill... Dammit!
Once at the top I came to a halt beside a tree. I could see him. He was over a wide field section of the park, shooting attacks down at the Senshi, who were giving him plenty of space to avoid being struck.
My hand found my portal access, quickly opening it and fishing out the familiar glasses case-like item with the crab symbols on it. With a click, I opened the action on the Mossberg, then broke open the case.
"Red and yellow..." I breathed as I plucked one round out, then shoved it into the chamber.
The case snapped shut with a click before I dropped it back into my portal for safe-keeping. Then I quickly brought Mossy up and advanced to the edge of the trees. Now... I just need to make it so I can hit the damn General... Too risky while he's in the air. If I miss, it's going right into the building. I need him on the ground...
"Sen-BEIIIII!" I began low but quickly raised my voice to a howl.
The general looked around for a second, obviously hearing my shout. Then there was the familiar pop as the little demon god dropped in next to me. I didn't even listen to anything he said, my eyes searching the area for any stragglers. But from the looks of things, everyone had already fled from the scene due to the number of explosions.
"Bring him to the ground," I instructed.
As I waited, Sailor Moon came up behind me, panting slightly from whatever she'd been doing up until now.
"Hey!" she began. "It really works... I can- What are you doing?"
"Whatever you do," I began, as Kunzite started to lose control of his flight, then dropped. "Do NOT look at the enemy!"
"FIRE IN THE HOLE!" I shouted. I waited a few seconds, just long enough for Kunzite to look straight at me, and throw up his hand.
Even with my eyes closed, I saw the sun.