"War is a series of catastrophes which result in victory. "
It seemed like time stopped for a moment, a blinding flash of light like looking at the sun at noon, even through the lids of my eyes. I could feel heat on the entire front of my body as matter and antimatter annihilated, releasing the purest energy known to science. The air, I imagine, superheated in almost an instant, expanding with the force of a bomb.
The concussion that it created hit about a quarter of a second later. And at this range, it practically knocked me over. Things seemed to return to normal speed as my ears protested the loudest noise they've yet handled in this mess.
Opening my eyes, and trying my best to blink away the red and green dots in my vision, I attempted to survey the damage. I couldn't really see well, but where I had fired my round looked like a wall of black smoke and dust rising quickly away from the surface.
If people didn't know there was a fight going on down town, they sure did now. I mean… MAN! The test shot the other day had given me a good feel for how much power the rounds had. But in that wide-open field I just didn't have any context for scale. But now, surrounded by buildings, I started to get an idea of just how tightly I'd managed to pack that shot. Any more narrow a space and I'd have risked taking out portions of whichever buildings had been closest.
Hell, even now I noticed windows across from me peeking through the smoke were missing.
That almost made me regret firing that shot.
My eyes snapped down, still trying to see through the red and green smears in my vision as I scanned the base of the smoke column.
I need to make sure my target was neutralized. Normally I'd write anyone who takes a direct hit like that off, but Dark Generals tend to be tenacious little bastards. Nephrite survived having a hole in his chest the size of a basketball for a good five minutes. And Zoicite was still moving even after taking a grenade to the face.
Dammit! I can't see well enough. Even with my eyes closed, I was partially flash-blinded. And who knows how many rads I soaked up by being this close. I'd better check in with Washu about that ASAP. The last thing I want is for my hair, what little of it I have, to start falling out.
I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to minimize the exposure in the hopes of getting my vision back a bit faster. Though, from experience, that's never really helped, all the times I've been stupid enough to look at the sun for a few seconds, or walk into a dark room after being outside on a bright day.
Opening my eyes, I squinted down at ground zero again. The dust was dispersing enough to see the ground now, though colors and shapes kind of looked at the same at the moment.
Then I caught a hint of movement just a little right of center. Was it?
I blinked again and looked.
I think it is...
GODDAMN! He's still moving after taking a hit like that?
My vision was slowly starting to correct itself, allowing me a better view. Kunzite was...
He was still moving, but he was down. I was a little far to really tell what state he was in, but he was on the ground.
I can't believe he's still moving after a hit like that. The guy was slowly pushing himself to his feet. I would have at least figured that if he wasn't dead, he wouldn't be getting back up any time soon. But he's actually standing.
I tried to blink away the spots again and squinted. Kunzite was standing, but I think he'd seen better days. Judging by the way his uniform looked from here. At least one entire side was much darker than the other. Side hit? Maybe my aim was a touch off… Or his shield... It had to be his shield. That's the only way he could have survived a hit like that.
The general stumbled a few steps, dropping to his knees, and then forcing himself to his feet again. I found myself reaching for another round. I didn't care what round. Only that I had one to fire. My brain was screaming 'Finish Him!' right down to the blood red lettering and Shao Khan voice-over.
My fingers found a round, and I went through the loading actions automatically. The bolt clicked back, casing of the previous round ejecting with only the slightest hint of smoke. The next round chambered manually before the bolt closed on it. My breathing relaxed as I braced and brought my weapon up.
Kunzite stumbled to his knees again. And I tracked my sight right into him. Guts, nuts, Center Mass. No fancy head shots.
My finger gently rested itself on the trigger as I prepared to fire.
The air around Kunzite rippled like light through a glass of water and he vanished, dust on the ground getting sucked up and kicked away in his wake.
"DAMMIT!" I swore. "Almost had him…"
"HEY!" The voice I had been all but ignoring prodded more urgently than ever. "Hey! HEY HEY! HELP! HELP!"
My brain turned over as I lowered my weapon. It was Usagi's voice, and it was scared.
"What?" I quickly spun to the moon senshi. "What's wrong?"
Sailor Moon was a few feet away sitting flat on her ass, looking about wildly like a deer caught in headlights.
"I..." she began in a near panic. "I- I can't see! I CAN'T SEE!"
She looked at the shot?
"You looked at the SHOT?" I moved next to the senshi, quickly shouldering my weapon by the strap. "I told you not to look at the shot!"
"I didn't get a lot of warning!" She replied. "What happened? I saw a bright flash and now I can't see anything!"
"You've been flash blinded," I commented, crouching down next to her.
"Blind?" Sailor Moon's voice went up an octave. "No, NO! I don't want to be blind! I can't be blind! I'll never get to play a game ever again! I-"
"Easy, EASY!" I ducked as she flailed helplessly then grabbed her by the shoulders. "I'm right here. It's only temporary. Just relax okay?"
"Relax," I stated again. "Flash blindness only lasts a few minutes. It just means the receptors in your eyes have been overloaded. Your vision will come back in a little bit. Okay?"
"Are you sure?" she asked.
"Yes, I'm sure," I reassured her. "You'll be fine. If it makes you feel better, just close your eyes and wait."
"Are the weird color blobs normal?" she asked.
"Yes," I replied, standing up. "The weird color blobs are normal."
"What are they?" she asked.
"Pigment," I replied. "You can ask Ami all about it okay?"
There was a rustling from my right and I started to unshoulder mossy just in case, but found it wasn't needed when Jupiter bounded into view looking absolutely shocked, Mars next to her.
"Holy CRAP!" the lightning Senshi belted out when she saw us. "What the hell was THAT? I've got spots in my vision that won't go away, and my ears are still ringing!"
"Is everyone okay?" I asked. "Where's Mercury and Kamen?"
"Over here!" I heard a call from behind me. The Ice Senshi was jogging up, looking a bit winded. Tuxedo Kamen was right behind her, glancing every so often at the direction where Kunzite had been. "What happened? I've never seen a blast like that in my life!"
"I gave the general a dose of reality," I responded. "How are your eyes?"
"I've got spots in my vision from the flash," she replied. "But I'm fine. What do you mean a dose of reality? Did you get him?"
"Yeah," Jupiter chimed in. "Did we get him? That jerk almost put me through a wall with those attacks of his."
Looks like we're all okay…
"We didn't quite get him," I sighed, watching the faces of the other girls fall. But then I added:
"But he's hurting… At least one side of him I think was cooked pretty well. That tends to happen when you take a nuke to the face."
"Wait," Mercury interrupted. "Did you just say you NUKED him?"
"Yeah," I nodded. "I nuked him."
That got a series of incredulous looks.
"As in… Nuclear Weapon nuked?" Mars asked.
"No other kind of nuked last I checked," I replied.
"H-HOW!" Mercury all but exploded. "Where did you get a nuclear weapon, and how did you get it to have a yield that small? We should all be dead from even the smallest known weapon design!"
"That was small?" Jupiter glanced at her friend.
"That was TINY," Mercury insisted. "The smallest yields possible destroy entire towns, and leave radioactive f-"
"Oh god you used a NUCLEAR WEAPON in the middle of the city!" The ice Senshi looked like she was starting to lose her composure. "Are you out of your mind!"
"Why do you think I wanted that bastard in the biggest open area we could find?" I asked.
"That's not the point!" Mercury shot back. She really was losing her usual composure. "The entire area's contaminated now! The radioisotopes used in your weapon would have been spread by the blast! The air we're breathing is POISON now!"
"Poison?" Moon's voice piped in fearfully.
"No it's not," I stated in almost a flat deadpan.
"What?" Mercury asked. "Yes it is! Fallout doesn't just disappear!"
"I have to agree with her," Tuxedo Kamen spoke up for the first time. "The radioactivity is going to be a problem."
"No it won't," I better stop this before they all freak out. If Mercury keeps up with her paranoid rant, they're going to panic.
"Why not then?" Mercury glared at me. "Where did all the radioisotopes go then?"
"There aren't any radioisotopes," I informed her. "The bullet I used didn't have any."
"Then what-?" she began.
"Antimatter," I stated matter-of-factly.
You'd figure she should have seen this coming, what with the portal, and medium transfer principle, and the whole 'your life is my entertainment' bit… But the fact that the Goodfellow round was an anti-matter bullet just seemed to leave Sailor Mercury completely thunderstruck.
"I-" she began. "But-"
"Matter," Kamen began. "And antimatter. When they meet, they annihilate."
I nodded at him; he nodded back in understanding.
"And you get a burst of pure energy," I finished. "After that, nothing, not even radioactive contamination."
"So we're all fine then," Kamen concluded for the girls.
"No poison then?" Sailor Moon piped up in a hopeful tone.
"No poison," he soothed, then stopped. "Are you okay?"
All the Senshi looked down where Sailor Moon hadn't bothered to move. The disguised princess just stared off into space while laughing uneasily.
"Oh, I just can't see at the moment," she tried to bury her anxiety in downplaying it. "Just smears of green, and red, and purple… Well, purple's new…"
"What happened?" Mars turned to me quickly. "Is-"
"She was looking directly at the blast," I shook my head. "Just a little temporary blindness."
Sailor Jupiter walked over and crouched down, waving her hand in front of Sailor Moon's face. The latter just stared blankly through her.
"Oh wow," the Lightning Senshi commented. "That's real?"
"I can't believe that's the worst of it," Mars shook her head. "I thought for certain a few times one of us was going to get hurt with the way we were throwing attacks."
"Yeah," I sighed. "We did come out of that fight pretty good, considering who we had for an opponent... Does that seem like it's too easy to you?"
I don't trust it when it's that easy...
"THAT was EASY?" Jupiter turned an incredulous look on me. "You've got to be kidding. I hate to sound grim, but I'm rather worried about all those people who got caught in the crossfire."
"Me too," Mercury piped up. "That accident on the Inner Circular Route was huge."
"I still think it was too easy," I turned, probably looking slightly paranoid as I glanced around. "Someone like him... Normally don't villains have a backup plan, or a dirty trick of some kind? I didn't spot anything particularly dirty or underhanded..."
"I'll have to agree with him," Mars nodded. "He's been really good at calling the shots, and I have a bad feeling about this. Something's missing."
"Like what?" Jupiter asked.
I immediately resisted the urge to slap my face, garnering a confused look from all present.
"You..." I began. "You had to ask. Don't you know what happens when you ask that?"
"What?" Jupiter asked. "Did I say something wrong? What happens?"
I hate to sound like I was saying 'I told you so', but about the moment she finished that question, there was a sudden shout from behind. We all turned quickly to see Luna come pelting through the trees looking terrified and exhausted.
"We've got a big problem!" she huffed. "VERY big problem!"
"That happens," I sighed.
"What's the matter Luna?" Mercury asked.
Luna continued to breathe heavily for several seconds.
"Rhett," she began. "Rhett Butler!"
Everyone's head looked behind Luna as one. Of all the things that could possibly happen, I guess that still having to fight the monster of the day would be one of them. But when did he...?
"I don't see any-" Mercury began.
My blood froze then boiled as I jumped ever so slightly. Don't ask me how. But something about the particular way that sound occurred behind me without so much as any warning. And the tone of the sound, the way I could feel it in my teeth. Something BIG was right behind me.
The Senshi just stared past me, their faces a mixed bag of shock and horror.
I turned my head, slowly. The first thing I noticed was the leg. The large furry leg the size of my entire torso, bulging with muscle as it began to rise from a crouch.
I think if ever there was a time where I could have soiled myself, this was it. I remember the line art drawing for Rhett Butler's from the Sailor Moon show. But like with 'Grumps', it just didn't compare.
Okay, so 'grumps', the monster from a week ago should have been a good indicator of what to expect. But I don't think anything can prepare a person for this. Let me give a nice clear picture of this critter.
Imagine a creature that reminds you of a cross between a cat, and a grizzly bear. It stands bipedal on two, highly muscular legs at a room-filling eleven feet tall. The arms and upper torso are disturbingly anthropomorphic, with hands that are almost human, ending in razor sharp, four-inch claws. The head was definitely feline, and as it peeled its lips back for a guttural growl, it revealed a set of teeth large as steak knives.
It was built like a tank. Not only were the legs muscular, but the entire body was just plain ripped. If Luna could be considered the prototype for the concept, this creature was probably the finished product. All said and done, the critter probably weighed fifteen hundred pounds.
It was the perfect killing machine.
And it didn't look happy as its ears flattened back.
"Oh my-" I began. Then 'Rhett' yanked its head back and let loose with a deep, throaty roar not too different from a tiger.
I am officially freaked the fuck out.
"GET MOON OUT OF HERE!" I turned; the look on my face must have been pure panic. My hands came up, quickly working to bring Mossy off my shoulder as I tur-
I lost all sense of direction as my breath left my lungs unexpectedly. The ground become the sky, the sky became the ground. I felt something strike my head and back and then world came to a sudden halt around me.
For just a moment, I forgot to breathe before I realized I was staring face up at the clouds. There was yelling, and snarling, and my body refused to move.
'Wiggle your big toe' flitted through my mind in an instant before I managed to blink and suck in a lung full of air, getting my focus back. I... I 'm alive. I'm conscious. I can feel my legs. And I feel...
Yes, I believe those are all positive checkmarks. Well, all but that last one. My chest felt like it was on fire or something.
There was a scrabbling sound next to my ear and a pop before something began pulling at my head... Or my helmet... Something...
'-alk to me... TALK TO ME!"
A hand quickly found the base of my helmet and began working to open the facemask. I found control of my motor functions quickly enough a moment later to reach up and give it some help by releasing a plastic latch. So hard to breathe...
"Say something," the voice pleaded once more. I opened my mouth to do so, but only found myself coughing instead.
"Thank god," Luna's face appeared in front of mine. I could feel one of her hands slip under my shoulders to help me sit up. The act of doing so seemed sluggish and excruciating.
"Come on," Luna continued with some anxiety, checking over her shoulder. "Get up! Hurry! While the girls keep him busy..."
I managed to force myself to my feet with her help, looking down to notice a pile of wood and metal around me. A few thumps and a loud crack nearby vaguely caught my attention before Luna started urgently pulling on my arm.
"Come on," she exclaimed.
"Did that-" I began, reaching up to try and correct a dizzy spell. "What did I-..."
"I take back everything I said about that helmet," Luna continued as she dragged me into a cluster of trees.
"You just hit your head," she continued. "When Rhett hit you..."
Critter... yes. Critter... Big, cat monster critter. It just jumped us...
He hit me?
"H-how bad?" I asked. "Luna, how bad? Am I bleeding?"
"I don't see any blood," the Felis Sapien continued. "Are you okay?"
"I-I don't know," I shook my head. If we're fighting, I'm going to need my gun. Slapping for the strap, I checked twice and realized...
"My gun," I began, looking around. The action of twisting sent a shot of pain through my chest. "Erght! MY GUN!"
"Don't worry about it," she hissed in a quieter tone. "Let's get you out of here first."
"No," I pulled away. "I need my weapon. We need to stop Rhett before he kills someone!"
"He nearly killed you in one swipe!" Luna yanked on my arm again.
"I-I'm not dead yet," dizzy again. "Just a little... I'm okay."
"No," Luna admonished, grabbing me in a disturbingly iron grip. "Let the girls handle it. They beat all these monsters before, remember?"
They did beat all the monsters, even Rhett. And Rhett was supposed to be the strongest of the group they had to fight...
"No," I looked around. Breathing was like torture. "Not Rhett, they didn't fight anything like that... They didn't fight what hit me..."
No, Rhett was passive for some reason. It was... Was because of Luna! He never attacked! There was no fight in that episode!
"Shit!" I swore. The very act of doing so was like being stabbed through the heart. "H-He never attacked originally!"
Luna froze dead in her tracks. My mind was starting to put itself back together.
"They don't know what they're fighting!" I began again. "Moon... Where's MOON!"
"Tuxedo Kamen got her out already," Luna replied. "We have to back off until she gets better."
"Before or after that thing kills a bunch of bystanders?" I asked, turning again. "We have to keep it bus-"
Luna practically yanked my arm out of its socket, causing my chest and back to release such a sharp jolt of pain that I almost fell to my knees, were it not for a tree I could lean on.
"We can't HEAL him without Sailor Moon," she hissed. "Come on!"
"Not enough time!" I snapped. "Moon won't be able to aim for several-"
There was a vicious snarl behind me. Luna's eyes got large.
"Run..." she began, then turned to pull me. "RUN!"
I turned to look. I probably should have just followed the command instead. Because when someone shouts 'run' the way Luna did, you just do it no questions asked. The ten-foot high killing machine that was formerly Rhett Butler was racing towards us like a locomotive.
I did my best to turn in the direction Luna was indicating, but my body refused to move as I wished, immediately springing forward as if I'd been shot out of a cannon. Unprepared for it, I toppled face first to the ground. The pain across my chest was excruciating. I think it actually caused me to yelp.
Worst of all, I was a sitting duck like this.
I tried to scramble, but I already knew I'd never outrun something that big and fast.
Sailor Mars interrupted the beast's charge with her new attack cutting right across the path. The monster, with reflexes like lightning, managed to leap sideways and use a tree trunk like a springboard.
I almost thought it was going to flow effortlessly into Mars when it suddenly changed direction.
Turns out it was a quarter of a second ahead of a lightning bolt.
"Go!" Jupiter shouted from a tree. "Get him out of here!"
"Bakan-e!" the monster growled at her. For a moment I paused and blinked.
...It actually has a name?
Jupiter dropped another lightning bolt, one of the impressive kind, right at Bakane's feet. The giant monstrosity backed up and let loose with a hiss that sounded like an air conditioning vent cranked to full blast.
"Here kitty kitty kitty..." she taunted evenly. "Right here! Come and get me!"
Bakane replied with a spring. An unearthly fast spring I thought was physically impossible for an animal that big. But it came off its hind legs so fast I swear it was more like watching a carrier launch a jet.
Jupiter dove out of the way the best she could, almost being gutted like a freshly caught tuna as Bakane's claws shattered the tree branch she'd been using as a vantage.
"WHOA!" She yelped. "Not as planned!"
Bakane came to a halt in the tree. That's right, fifteen hundred pounds of rip and tear standing in a tree... Well, not standing so much as burying its claws right into the trunk and using that to anchor itself.
My eyes flitted to Jupiter, scrambling to her feet after taking the landing rough. Bakane zeroed in on her and attempted to pounce. Luckily, the Senshi seemed to be on the ball, and quickly darted between more of the trees, forcing the monster to work its way through.
"Okay!" she called nervously. "I could use a little help here!"
Mars, who'd come over to assist Luna in 'attempting' to pull me further into the trees towards safety, broke off and quickly dashed to assist. A small fireball leapt from her hands as she did so, landing with a 'pwoomf' right next to the critter... What happened to the anti-tank burst?
"HEY!" she shouted, running almost right up to it. "HEY!"
Even in my slightly addled state, that struck me as a TERRIBLE tactical move.
"What are you-" I began, but Luna capped my mouth before I could finish, lest I called the monster's attention back to us.
"Come on!" Mars challenged, stopping just outside of its swinging arc.
The beast turned, snarling as it turned to face her, rearing up to its full height. It was like watching a horror movie, or maybe Alien...
Yeah, like watching Alien, only less TV drama, more 'holy fuck its five feet away'...
Mars froze. Even in the dim I could see the color leave her face as she realized just how massive the creature was up close, and how big a mistake playing distraction was this time around.
"FOR FUCKS SAKE!" I managed to pull Luna's hand away from my mouth. "RUN!"
My comment was enough to distract the creature, causing it to jerk its head back towards us. Mars took that moment to bolt, the sudden motion drawing attention back the other way.
I would almost say I'm glad the monsters seem to be mentally challenged. Were it me, I'd have taken her head off, then moved on. So far, Bakane had yet to actually pursue anyone. Just as soon as it was distracted, it changed targets.
That gave me an idea as the beast tore after Mars…
With a grunt, I dropped to the ground, scrabbling around until my hand closed on a rock.
If it has the attention span of a two-year-old…
Standing back up was much more difficult than I expected, my body furiously protesting the action. But I managed to regain my feet as Luna gave me a 'what are you doing' look.
I didn't really think about it, I just wanted to make sure the cat-monster didn't manage to catch Mars and do to her what it just did to me. I'm wearing a suit that doubles as light armor. She's wearing, what, a magical miniskirt and a tiara?
I hope those things had magical reinforcement or something…
My arm came back as I took a bead, and then I threw it as hard as I could manage.
There was the strangest sensation. That funny feeling as if my arm had suddenly been dunked in lukewarm water... It's usually the only warning you get that you've just physically done something very wrong to your body… And it only lasts a second.
And after that second, the pain hit.
Luna nearly jumped out of her skin as I practically screamed and grabbed my throwing arm with my free hand. My chest was hurting bad enough, but now it was as if someone had set my arm on fire.
This day just keeps getting better and better…
Luna tried to pull me away again as I cradled my arm, but froze and looked over where I had thrown the rock.
Between sucking in hissing breaths over the pain, I followed her glance, and noticed that Bakane was on the ground, shaking its head as it pushed itself back up.
Did I do that?
With a measly rock?
I'm still set to four-times my physical strength, and I just chunked a rock with everything I had.
Yeah, that would explain the arm. I'm not properly conditioned to handle going all out, let alone doing so with several levels of physical strength amplification. I must have torn something. Getting the sense knocked out of you is not good for the memory. Augh… I'm going to feel this tomorrow, all of this.
I flexed my arm. It hurt, but it was moving. That's better than nothing. God I hope I didn't tear it too bad. I just got use of that hand back.
"I think you got its attention," Luna commented into my thoughts.
My eyes returned to the beast, it was looking right at me, and it seemed to be even more pissed than before.
Strangely, that didn't really scare me. The sensation of 'oh my god' just didn't come to me like it had less than a minute ago. I guess retrospectively, I was just hurting so much and had been going at this fight for so long that I was pretty much maxed out on adrenaline.
"Indeed," was all I could manage to say. Everything was just so muddy with the pain. If only I had my gun so I could fight back.
The beast charged, but before it even made it half way to us, Jupiter interrupted it again with a thrown rock of her own. Compared to how hard I must have thrown mine, it wasn't much. Just bonked Bakane in the shoulder... But it was enough to redirect attention in another direction again.
The Senshi ran the other way as soon as it had its attention on her.
This time, I allowed Luna to pull me away with less fuss. While the catgirl lead me, I watched as Jupiter bounced and scrambled around the trees.
"This way," I heard Luna direct, but only just barely.
Jupiter kept running, then Mars interrupted again.
The beast changed direction and went right after her.
That's a good pattern to know, but it's only a matter of time until it catches one of them. They need to attack…
Wait, why aren't they attacking?
Why aren't they fighting back?
That thing's fifteen hundred pounds of crush-kill-destroy, and they're not even trying to fight it! They're just running away! We don't have time for this!
I grit my teeth as Luna pulled me next to a small building for cover.
For the third time, where's my GUN?
There was a loud crack, and we both looked to see Bakane getting rapidly fed up with a wild goose chase as it effortlessly shattered a tree trunk. Jupiter, who was again being chased, yelped in a higher than normal pitch as she ducked some of the splinters that rained down on her.
What are they-?
Mars flitted past her, taunting loudly and quickly picking up pace as Bakane followed. The creature started to chase, then stopped and picked up a park bench, hurling it as easily as we'd been throwing rocks. The fire Senshi barely managed to avoid being creamed as it shattered on the tree she ducked behind.
It was learning...
I continued to watch the spectacle unfold. Bakane was starting to wise up very quickly. In the mean time, Mars and Jupiter were all but in disarray just trying to hold its attention for a few seconds until the other could interrupt. Where'd Mercury go? What happened to the cohesion? What happened to the firepower? Two minutes ago they were practically wasting Kunzite with enough firepower to level several city blocks.
What is, I don't even...
"What- WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" I finally managed to shout. "FIGHT BACK!"
The beast stopped and turned our way as Luna yanked me back.
"GRR!" I grit my teeth to suppress the pain. "What are you-"
"Quiet," she snapped. "The girls are trying to keep it busy. Quit trying to draw it to us, you're hurt!"
"Keep it busy without attacking?" I asked. "That's retarded! We need to take that thing down!"
"That's STILL Rhett Butler in there," Luna looked aghast. "We can't attack it or we'll hurt him. We have to wait for Sailor Moon to recover so we can heal him."
There was a yelp from around the corner, and a snarl. Dammit...
"We don't have time to goof around like that," I snapped back. "That thing's the size of a BEAR, and it's getting smarter by the second. If we don't stop it right now..."
And if it remembers how to do any dark magic attacks...
"But we mustn't hurt Rhe-" Luna began.
"It's trying to KILL US..." I interrupted. Luna's mouth closed with an audible snap. Then she paused and took a breath, her gaze hardening.
"Okay," she began. "I understand. But can you at least try?"
"Only if we have a way to heal it," I began.
"How'd you heal Grampa?" Luna asked quickly. "Sailor Moon wasn't there. Mars did it, right?"
Yeah... she- Motoko's Tanto! I still have it!
"Yeah-YEAH," I voiced.
Turning the corner again, I scanned around, noting several more destroyed trees in the process.
Mars, Mars? Where is- THERE SHE IS!
"MARS!" I shouted.
The fire Senshi looked my way. So did the monster.
"Operation Exorcism!" I snapped, and ducked back.
Did I mention yelling like that hurt?
"Okay," Luna began. "Mind telling me what you're planning?"
"Not in detail," I huffed. "Just work with me here."
Okay first thing's first. We have to get control of the initiative. Initiative is control of the offensive. As long as Bakane has the offensive, we're playing catch-up. Catch-up is BAD. So question one: Why don't we have initiative?
Answer? Nobody knows what to do.
Question two: Why don't we know what to do?
Easy, we don't know how to properly fight Bakane. On one hand, we should nuke the thing like I did Kunzite. On the other hand, it's like Grampa. It's a monster with a hostage inside. A hostage that belongs to some little girl...
Dammit! Why does it have to be like this? Why does it always have to be so hard?
Okay, focus. Every problem has a solution. Use that head of yours for something besides holding up your glasses. The girls damn near kicked Kunzite's ass just by following my lead. They're listening to me because I know what I'm doing to an extent.
Okay... That means if I can figure out what to do, they'll fall right into line. They do their jobs just fine when they know what to do.
Jobs... Jobs... Every soldier has a job. The Senshi had clear-cut jobs when we were fighting Kunzite. So that means they each need a job here. Even I have a job. And my job is to assign their jobs so they can do them. Unit cohesion is my responsibility.
First, first... order of battle. "Step one... Confuse the enemy."
"MERCURY!" I shouted, causing Luna to jump. I waited a few seconds before continuing.
"FOG OF WAR! NOW!"
It didn't take long to get a response. I don't know what she was waiting for, or why she was waiting so long. But I felt that now familiar, sharp dip in the temperature causing the moisture in the air to almost instantly condense.
"Step two," I continued, now narrating my thoughts out loud. "Suppress enemy's ability to attack..."
"JUPITER!" I turned the corner to shout again. "Atta-"
I went down, pulled from behind rather suddenly and hitting the ground hard amidst the sound of something made of metal and wood scattering near my head.
I think talking about how much I was hurting at this point might be getting a bit redundant. Because honestly, just about everything hurt now. It was all just starting to blur into one universal sensation of 'sore' with no defining features aside from breathing becoming harder and harder, and my ability to think straight for five seconds following close behind.
"FUCKING SHIT!" I managed to cough out when I realized that the reason I was on the ground, was because Luna had tackled me. And apparently the reason she'd done so was because of the now raining hail of wood bits and metal pieces that had shattered on the wall above us.
"Bench!" the Felis Sapien snapped.
"Thanks," I grunted, spitting the copper taste in my mouth out. Of course, the only reason I could 'spit' at all was because...
"This won't do at all," I began as I reached up and pulled the facemask back down.
Then I stopped for a second to blink, as right across the middle was a huge gash in the plastic ending in a small puncture hole.
No wonder I got the shit knocked out of me. Damn critter got me right in the face too. And it almost got me again with that, what did Luna say, Bench? Right in the head.
Wait, it threw a park bench at my HEAD?
In THIS fog?
Dammit! That thing can track targets even when blind! It really does have cat like features. It can hear where I am, and it's got whiskers the size of a car antenna. Whiskers are used by cats to detect air currents to more accurately judge what is around them and-
I rolled Luna away and started scrambling to my feet, coughing and swallowing more copper as I tried to shout again.
"Don'- " I began. "DON'T APPROACH IT!"
"Don't worry!" I heard in the fog. "I've got him!"
"N-" I hacked and tried again. "NO! HE CAN STILL S-"
There was a meaty crack and a loud yelp bordering on a scream.
That's not a good sound.
"Jupiter!" I heard Luna gasp from next to me, then she quickly ran into the fog, leaving me standing blind.
"I've got her!" Mercury's voice joined in from somewhere slightly to the right. "Mars! Cover!"
"No problem! " I heard the fire Senshi's voice. "Come on beast! Let's see how you handle this!"
I heard a roar and a snarl, then Mars' voice started from another position, quickly cycling in an almost hypnotic tone.
"AKUYO TAISAN!" she shouted.
Come on... COME ON!
Another snarl. And it didn't sound too happy, followed by a yelp.
Oh shit, SHIT!
"Mars!" I snapped, then immediately clamed up in case I earned another projectile like a utility pole or stone lantern. I just can't see anything in Mercury's fog. It's a damn double-edged sword for me. And like this, that critter's going to pick us apart like a bad horror flick! Come on, think... THINK!
I need to...
We need to get control.
Didn't I already-
GOD DAMMIT I CAN'T THINK STRAIGHT!
What was I-?
Rei's exorcism attack is like, a bajillion times more powerful with Motoko's Tanto!
I've got to get Rei the Tanto. Need to distract the critter. And quickly, before it gets lucky and manages to kill one of us.
Senbei? Senbei! YEAH!
"Senbei!" I shouted. No idea where he is at the moment. "I need some cover!"
The fog was starting to lift now. I could see more than a few feet, and ahead of me, the ghostly images of shattered trees made the immediate area look more like a bomb went off.
There was movement to my left. I could see what appeared two people helping a third stagger away. That accounted for three. Where's Rei?
"SENBEI!" I shouted again.
"A little hard to steer in the fog," he commented in an apologetic tone. "Especially when I can't sense you."
"Distract the beast," I ordered. There was no time to listen to the demon God's explanation.
"You sure you don't want me to just attack him?" Senbei asked. "I'm sure a little bad luck on his part will-"
"Just do it!" I snapped.
"Roger!" Senbei made a sour face and a mockery of a salute, then with a pop, teleported out. The fog was really beginning to break up now. And little brief sensations of icy cold pinpricks indicated that it was getting ready to rain.
"Gotta' end this..." I huffed to myself. My eyes tracked through the gray before I ducked back.
I fished Motoko's prized Tanto out of my pocket, thankful that I'd forgotten to return it to its owner. Dagger of plus five anti-demonic power. With this, Rei could force the monster out of the cat.
I turned the corner again, my eyes wandering the dim that was now settling into a mist, doing my best to pinpoint the bright red of Mars' skirt. She had to be here somewhere. I didn't hear her actually take a hit. And where did Bakane go? That thing's huge. It can't just vanish.
The raindrops continued to come more frequently. It was still just a light drizzle, but would soon be soaking all of us. And if that low thrumming rumble of thunder was any indication, it might become a full-fledged downpour within minutes.
That's really weird sounding thunder though...
Wait... That's no thunder I've ever heard. That sounds more like-
I was about to turn when something cold firmly grabbed my shoulder, I jumped and began to react to the sensation, but the grip was solid, and I could just barely hear a voice in my ear.
"Don't... Move..." Mars quietly mouthed, inches away from my helmet. She then slowly leaned away, pulling the both of us back against the wall, her head angling to look up and off to the side in a very smooth, deliberately subtle motion. Taking my cue off her, I followed, trying to ignore the tweaking in my neck to find that Bakane was perched above us, looking around for a target to pounce on. He could 'see' in the fog, but not perfectly as he'd still lost track of everyone.
I didn't say anything, not wanting to alert the monster. However my hand slowly started coming up in the same deliberate motion we had used to crane our necks. After a few grueling seconds, Motoko's knife was in my field of vision, and I slowly moved it out into Mars'.
It took her a second to notice it, but when she did, I saw her own hand come up slowly, then gently pull the weapon out of mine.
'On three...' flitted through my mind as I shifted my raised hand to indicate three fingers. Mars' chin moved up and down ever so subtly in response. Then I closed my hand and raised a finger.
Then gently raised a second finger.
Here goes nothing.
"SENBEI!" I gave the shout all the force I had, pushing off the wall with my arm and racing forward towards the trees. Oh god, I'm not doing that one again. I heard the critter snarl at the sound of my voice, followed by a quick thud. To which all I did was force my legs into overdrive.
"Rin. Pyuo, Tou-"
"HAHA!" Senbei's voice kicked in. "Look at you! You're nothing but teeth and claws and fur with no class whatso-"
Snarl, and a crack. I heard Senbei gasp for breath, and then the monster let out another snarl and the Demon God made the most peculiar noise. My run faltered and I turned to look just in time to see the gaudily dressed show-boater get buried headfirst in a tree.
"Sha, Kai, Jin-"
Bakane turned its attention back my way almost immediately, and bared its teeth in a hiss that meant business.
"Crush-" it stated.
It's saying more than just its name now. That's bad. It's really starting to gain intelligence.
"Retsu... Zai... ZEN!"
Mars came to the end of her chant, practically spitting the last word out as she raised the blade. Bakane turned to see what was going on.
"Akuryo!" the fire senshi snapped. Both the monstrous cat ears turned and focused on her.
I knew what to expect. Sailor Mars came down with the blade of Motoko's Tanto, charged with her magically amplified psychic energy. The arc of flaming power ripped away from her, hell bent on engulfing and exorcising the demonic spirit that had turned a cat into a nightmare.
Except Bakane wasn't there any more.
If I had ever had the time to actually say anything, I would have sworn, profusely. The monster cat had seen, and probably felt the attack coming off the Tanto. And before Mars had even finished swinging, was a good ten feet in the air.
That was enough for him to clear it completely, while simultaneously saddling me with the fact that I was still in the firing line when the attack was launched.
Like I said. If I actually had the time, I would have sworn. However my mind had only gotten as far as to realize Bakane was moving skyward before the blast hit me. The helmet thankfully kept it off my face save for a burst of heat getting through the hole in the faceplate. And Washu's suit kept the rest from burning me. However, the sensation was not the most pleasant experience. Were my brain not so completely saturated with pain signals at this point, I probably would have registered the briefest sensation of what it would feel like to be burned alive.
Luckily, focused more as a psychic blast than any kind of crematory effect, the attack did little more than forcefully place me back on the ground.
"OH SHIT!" I heard the fire senshi shout in surprise. Which honestly, shocked me more than the impact. I hadn't heard that blatant a swear out of any of the girls yet.
Of course, I didn't get any time to reflect on that, as Bakane landed, nearly taking Mars out in the process. The senshi backpedaled quickly, slipping past the corner of the wall as she began her chant again. Bakane's clawed hand only just missed her, taking a chunk out of the wall instead of her face.
Mars continued her stumbling retreat and managed to finish the mantra, raising Motoko's Tanto once more with a flourish.
Bakane cut her off by lobbing a brick from the wall at her. As a result, she lost her grip, and the supercharged knife went skittering off to the side, out of reach.
Honestly, my body just wanted to stay here on the ground at this point. But with this fight far from over, and Mars getting quickly corned, I realized we were seriously starting to run out of options.
My shoulder protested as I pushed off with my elbow, flipping myself over like a pancake to try and get my legs under me.
As I did so, my hand landed on a rock, forcing me to yank it back and almost slip. In the process of doing so, something of a glint caught my eye just a few feet away.
It only took me a second to identify the shape. It's the one thing I've been looking for the whole damn time! My GUN!
That's where the damn thing landed!
I practically pounced on it. Shuffling forward and diving at it like a toddler who's not yet learned to walk. As soon as I got my hands around the barrel, I tucked and rolled sideways, quickly bringing the weapon up on my stomach.
In front of me, Mars was in the middle of going for a third shot when Bakane rushed her. She barely got two steps when the monster took a swipe, resulting ultimately in a trip.
Powers or no, Mars is no match for that thing hand-to-hand! It's just got too much rip and tear. It'll dismember her in seconds if it gets a hold of any part of her body.
...Rip and tear?
Sometimes, I remember some of the weirdest things at the weirdest times. But those keywords took me back three days. Back when Washu was teaching me about the rounds. Back to the Doduos.
And it clicked.
The Doduos of the planet Abason, the most vicious predators in the galaxy... Cat-like, but with something like six-eyes. A bit part side story from the Okuda manga that was sitting on my shelf back home. The one in the story was named fluffy, and Mihoshi had saved it from a hunting trap. It was huge, violent, and so powerful it could rip right through force fields with its bare paws. An animal so lethal that people would hunt it at no less than a mile away, with bullets more at home ripping the engine blocks out of military vehicles than for shooting animals.
Bullets which Washu had scaled down and given to me, specifically for the task of fighting with killer monsters.
I found my hands working before I had finished the thought. The chamber was open, and I was frantically fishing backlash rounds off my chest as quickly as my now shaking hands would allow me.
The rain, which was steadily starting to pick up, wasn't helping any either since it was making mossy more slick than normal.
While I worked, I more heard Luna come running up than saw her as she interspersed herself between Mars and the Doduos wannabe.
"STOP!" she shouted. My train of thought came to a screeching halt.
"Rhett!" she continued. "Stop! Don't do this!"
"It's me," the Felis Sapien continued. "Luna. Remember?"
There was a pop, the girl quickly changing into her feline form.
I did my best to will more speed into my hands. But the harder I tried, the more I had issues getting the rounds into the tube. My hands were shaking so bad I might as well had been trying to thread a needle with mittens on.
"Remember me," Luna pleaded once more.
Round in, next round... come on...
In front me, Luna continued to stare up at Bakane as the beast slowly stood up to its full height, emitting that low pulsing growl.
"Remember," Luna almost chanted.
There was a brief pause. Bakane seemed to become very still as it focused on Luna. Pausing from my loading, I was about to hope that her pleas might actually be working.
Then Bakane snorted, raised its massive hand, and batted Luna aside like a toy.
The feline flew several meters and smacked right into a tree.
My hands went rock steady as I bit my lip, choking again on the flavor of copper in my mouth. The fourth round shoved into the tube as I began to roll myself back onto my stomach. My ribs protested, my shoulder protested. And my body just moved like lead weight as I forced myself back to my feet.
Bakane advanced on Mars, who was desperately trying to focus to launch an attack. At this point, it didn't look like she'd manage it, even if she didn't look scared. The monster was too close, and it was going for the kill.
I almost dropped my weapon, stumbling to keep my hands on it and not to drop it muzzle first into the ground which was now quickly starting to mud-up on us. Got to win. Got to beat that monster before it kills Luna and Rei.
My foot planted; the barrel came up. Bakane towered over Mars, emitting another growl as it raised for a blow. Probably a lethal one...
I didn't go through the shooting cycle. I just squeezed the trigger.
Mossy barked: A thunderclap of sound to accentuate the rain.
Bakane snarled in pain. I stumbled back, all but screaming myself. The force of the Backlash's recoil drove the stock into my arm, putting pressure on an already sore chest, causing the worst spike of pain thus far. It honestly felt like I'd shot myself in that moment.
Bakane turned, hissing in my direction. My arm cycled, shoulder screaming at the pressure required to pull and push the pump.
A second round ripped away. Again, feeling all the world like I'd shot myself.
Bakane stumbled back a step even as I did so. Then it stumbled some more as it fought to hold its balance.
Again, I clenched my teeth, locking my breath as I cycled the load. Again, I fired. Again, the pain shot through my chest like I was on the receiving end.
My breathing was coming in gasps. The pain was so intense the corners of my vision were starting to fade. I can't leave. Not yet... Not with this monster... this super beast capable of killing the Senshi by itself still standing.
My shoulder burned like fire as I cycled again. This time, the barrel came up to eye level as I focused down the sights. At this range, I absolutely refuse to miss. I have to end this.
"Sorry kitty," I muttered, putting the dot on the sight right between the creature's eyes.
I refuse to describe what I saw in that sight when I squeezed the trigger. However I will say that a small corner of my mind was happy that Sailor Moon had been blinded and removed from the battle. Because I think if she had to see what I just did, it would scar her for life.
The monster's limbs dropped limply to the side as the echo bounced around the park. Then its knees and legs buckled, collapsing under fifteen hundred pounds of weight without the guidance that kept it erect.
The recoil of the shot felt like yet another brutal round to my own chest, eliciting a spike of pain to my already overloaded mind.
And just like that, it was over.
I stood there, breathing in half-choked gasps. Mossy dropped, my arms almost refusing to hold the weapon any longer. In front of me, just past the former monster, I could see Mars staring right back, her face pale as a week ago when I'd killed Zoicite.
The rain was coming down steady now, already starting to matte her hair. We just stared at each other for several seconds.
"This..." I began English after a long pause. "This is The SUCK."
I managed to shuffle over, switching mossy from my good arm to my bad before using the good one to help Mars to her feet. The strength enhancement helped.
"Th- Thanks." She stated unsteadily. Her eyes had this look to them. I didn't know what to call it. They similar to the look Sailor Moon had on her face earlier.
"Is-" I began, then coughed a little and took a gasp of air. The dizziness returning slightly. Mars reached out and caught me by the shoulder to make sure I stayed on my feet. "Is everyone okay?"
I turned my head as I reached up to open my mask, finding Luna standing up slowly.
"Luna?" I asked. "You okay? Talk to me."
"Been better," the feline groaned. "H- He actually hit me. I didn't think he'd actually hit me."
"I wouldn't count on anything else from the show at this point," I commented with some effort before looking up. "Mercury, Jupiter, you two in one piece?"
The fog had cleared, replaced by rain and mist. I could see the two Senshi in question wander up. They both took one long look at the monster that used to be Bakane before it began to dissolve.
After a few seconds, the monster was all but gone, leaving the former identity. Mercury immediately covered her mouth and turned away. Jupiter just blanched, but was too busy clutching her arm.
"How bad did he get you?" I asked. Jupiter looked at me confused for a second.
"Your arm," I indicated.
"Oh," she looked down. "He got me good. I think it's broken."
"Let me see," I reached out with my good arm. The Lightning Senshi raised her own. It didn't take a medical expert to spot he obvious deformity in her forearm where Bakane had struck. And it only took a few tender pokes to find the bones were not where they should be.
"Ow," she grit her teeth.
"Yeah, that's busted," I commented after a moment, letting her go.
"How about you?" Mars interrupted. She still had that haunted look in her eyes.
"Me?" I asked with almost a laugh. Then my face fell. "I just got violently mauled by a monster the size of a bear. I'm hurting right now. Everywhere... Don't know what's broken."
I swallowed more copper.
"And I think I'm spitting up blood... That's never a good thing."
I had the most inappropriate urge to laugh, causing me to chuckle painfully a few times.
"Heh-eh..." I continued. "Were this home, I'd probably be on my way to the emergency room right now."
"You've also got a concussion," Mercury noted quietly.
"I do?" I asked.
"You should hear yourself," she turned towards me, walking forward. "You're slurring badly."
"Lovely," I sighed, immediately getting a light cough. The ice Senshi stopped in front of me and carefully examined my face.
"I'm almost tempted to give my mother a call," she concluded after a moment. "But I'm not sure how I could explain you to her. We can't just take you to a hospital. They'll ask too many questions."
We both glanced down at my 'watch'. The little timer on my suit was reading two minutes.
"Guess I don't need this any more," I noted quietly, swapping Mossy back to my left hand so I could twist the strength dial.
When normal strength settled in, I really felt it. I was so exhausted... Without the strength enhancement effectively holding me up, I almost fell over.
"Whoa..." I shook my head, which didn't help at all. "I didn't realize how much that was helping."
Mossy got put into the pocket next. No more enemies meant I didn't really need a shotgun out anymore.
"So did we get Sailor Moon out of the fight safely?" I asked.
"Yeah," Mars piped in. "She's safe."
The Senshi were still casting glances at the little cat that had given us so much trouble. It was rather disturbing to see honestly, and I've seen my fair share of road kill...
"Mars," I sighed. "Incinerate the body."
That was enough to shock her out of her stupor.
"What?" she asked. "You mean-"
"What are you talking about?" Luna interrupted. "We can't just do that? That poor little girl-"
"Rhett's dead Luna," I turned to the feline. "I'm not taking a headless corpse back to hand to a little girl."
"But you didn't have to kill him," Mercury jumped in. "We could have saved him."
"We tried," I turned to the ice Senshi, noting the sad look on her face. "I tried... We just didn't have enough options."
"But to burn the body?" Luna asked again. "That girl will be missing Rhett, and go looking."
"That's the idea," I pointed out.
"You don't want to tell the girl?" Jupiter blinked. "That's a bit harsh."
"Look," I could feel irritation in my voice rising. Why was this so hard to grasp? "I just blew the head off of a monster that used to be a little girl's pet. How do you think I feel about having to do that? Do you think I want to go explain to that kid what happened? Better if her cat just disappeared one day. Then instead she'll just wonder what happened instead of knowing."
"You didn't have to," Luna pouted.
"Didn't have t-" I turned and paced, flinching internally as my ribs reminded me I was still in pain. "Luna... We tried. We failed. If I hadn't killed it, it would have killed you and Rei. And likely me next. I'm not exactly going anywhere in this condition."
Luna just looked down, her ears lowering.
"Well," Jupiter frowned. "Maybe if someone hadn't screwed up our time line."
"DON'T," I began. I could feel that anger from earlier resurfacing at the implication. Even if she said it more out of irritation than actual conviction.
"Don't EVEN blame this on me," I continued. "Young lady. I may have made my share of mistakes. But I didn't start this shit. I didn't start ANY of this shit."
Anger provided me with a new surge of energy, my irritation fueled by pain as I turned to face the lightning Senshi.
"I'm doing my best to stay alive, and keep you alive as well," I continued, my voice rising. "Because I don't know if you've realized this yet honey. But THIS, IS WAR!"
Jupiter backed up slightly when I shouted the last part.
"WAR!" I snapped again. "Understand? Your enemy isn't a bunch of street thugs out doing bad just to get a laugh. They aren't stealing candy and robbing banks. They are here for conquest. They are here to kill you all."
I waited a second before continuing.
"Kill," I stated. "Dead. Just like any other war. And while you go to school and make friends and comment on how half the boys you meet look like your Sempai, Beryl's off in her lair, gazing into her crystal ball, plotting the best way to cut off your head and mount it on a STICK."
I was advancing on Jupiter at a decent pace now, forcing her to back up in order to keep some distance between us.
"And if you girls don't start getting your act together RIGHT NOW," I continued, turning to the others. "The enemy will kill you. They already killed you once. You got lucky and the queen managed to get you reincarnated."
I turned my head back to Jupiter, the unfortunate focus of my current rant.
"But thanks to whatever the hell freak event of nature put me here, all bets are off." I glared. "And in three months... You die. All of you."
That got their attention more than anything.
"And without that plot crystal I'm trying desperately to get back," I continued evenly. "Usagi won't be able to resurrect your asses or kill the eldrich horror backing Beryl up. Which means, when you die, you die for real. Game Over. No more continues. The End."
Nobody said anything. The only sound was the rain, now coming down in full, and the wind.
"So if you want to NOT DIE," I continued. "You'd better wake up, and figure out where to draw the line between life, and beating the living shit out of the dark kingdom. Because in a fight... Hesitation will kill you."
Wind's getting louder. I wonder if it's a gust front.
Mercury walked up and rested a hand on my shoulder. Her face was sad, but stern.
"Sorry," I shook my head. "The stress is getting to me."
"It's okay," she stated. "I don't blame you for what happened."
"Neither do I," Mars nodded from behind me. "I blame myself really. If I'd been faster..."
The wind picked up in intensity all of sudden. And I realized that for all the noise it was making, nothing was getting blown around.
"What is-" I began. And the sound continued to climb until it was a full-fledged roar that I could feel in my teeth.
It can't be.
The source passed overhead, drowning everything out completely. Luna desperately stuffed her paws over here ears. The girls instinctively seemed to duck; trying to get away from the sound as it reached deafening levels. There was no mistaking it. The roar of jet engine at full power.
"Nawww..." I tracked the sound above me, hidden by the clouds above. There was a brief orange glow at one point before the trees obscured it.
"Did that just-" I turned, and Mercury was already going full tilt at her visor and palmtop. It didn't take a genius to figure things out at the rate her face was twisting into a more and more shocked, disbelieving look.
"Those..." she began. "Were fighter jets."
"Fighter jets?" Jupiter asked. "HERE?"
"Took them long enough," I shook my head, then remembered not to do so, as that hurt. "Would have loved an air strike."
"There's more," Mercury continued. "There's... One, two, three... Five... A LOT of police and military vehicles converging on the area. I've never heard of a mobilization like this."
"Well," Luna turned to me. "You did drop a nuke in the middle of a city."
"That fight we had didn't help either," Mercury continued. "The police bands are jam packed, and I think the fighters are looking to see if there's anyone they need to shoot down. Nobody seems to know what's going on."
Time to go...
"I think we should vacate the area," I looked around. I didn't see anyone yet, but if what Mercury was saying was true. That wouldn't last like. "Unless of course you want to spend a while in an interrogation room."
"I think that's a good idea," Mercury nodded. "We should leave. NOW."
"Mars," I turned and nodded at the ex-monster on the ground. "If you're going to do it, do it now."
The fire Senshi looked at me, then at the remains of Rhett. Then, after biting her lip for a second, raised her arm. It was like watching a mini flamethrower in action. A burst of flame shot from her fingertip and lit Rhett's body on fire. Then after a moment, the intensity increased until I could actually here the small roar from the flame, and feel the heat on my face.
"Back up a little," she stated. And the heat picked up even more. It was so hot; I could see the water on the ground around us starting to evaporate in little puffs of steam.
After a few seconds, she was done, and what was left of the cat-become-monster was a charred pile of dust in a small, half-melted crater.
"Done," she sighed forlornly.
"Okay," Mercury took charge. "Let's go. They're moving in."
"My apartment," Jupiter stated quickly. "Grab Sailor Moon and meet me there."
"Got it!" Mercury nodded. "I'll get Luna... Mars?"
"I've got him," she Senshi nodded, walking over to me, then making to scoop me up.