On My Deathbed… Maybe!
Disclaimer: Urusei Yatsura and all characters are copyrighted by Rumiko Takahashi. Only Mayuko is mine!
Ok, I have NEVER written a fanfic in my life. I'm not even a naturally born English speaking person. So please bear with me! I hope you'll enjoy my story. I know, some characters are a bit too emotional, but, hey, it's my fiction and I decide, right? I am using present tense for the whole fic. Parts in past tense are used to recount previously happened events, especially when knowledge of these events are needed to understand what is going on. Yes, I know I should have used past tense as it's easier to read… and, I did mess up a bit here and there, but, I like it more like this. Please do comment, and maybe I can learn to write a bit better next time. Thank you!
I am no expert on Urusei Yatsura. I did see all the anime, most of the OAV and films; I also own the manga and read it all. But, I did so more than ten years ago, and in all reality, I do not have enough time to read and watch everything again to be sure that I'm not doing something too way off the series. So, I tried to do my best, but if you feel something or somebody is too out of character, please bear with it! But, do point it out so, again!, I can eventually do better next time...
And now on with the story!
It has been about a month since the terrifying Second Tag Race took place. The world has been recovering from the damage caused by Rupa's dreaded mushroom invasion, although only Japan had suffered any consistent destruction, so much so that a special international monetary fund had to be put in place. Even the Uruseian government had sought to send help and reconstructionhad now basically ended, thanks in part to the Alien technology temporarily brought over. The troops of the JDF, the UN, and the Uruseian military had closely guarded the technology, but in the end, every Uruseian ship, (including the invaders' Star Carrier spaceship), had peacefully left Earth orbit. The only aliens officially remaining on Earth are Lum, Ran and Ten (Rei would also occasionally pop up, as did Benten and Oyuki).
Ataru had been thinking a lot, after that day. The final day of the Tag Race, the day he had screamed to Lum, the world and the Galaxy, that he would never forget her, only minutes before the memory erasing device went off.
He also clearly remembers why he refused to declare his love for Lum throughout the entire race. Trust. No one would have ever trusted HIM with sincerity in professing his love for Lum, considering the situation and the welfare of the planet at stake! Gods, he even tried to explain it to her and their friends.
And Lum, stating that she wanted to hear those words nonetheless, even if it was a lie, did not make things better.
Dominating his mind was a sense of confusion regarding his relationship with Lum and an uneasy feeling of total misunderstanding with everybody else around him.
Being happy and carefree, was a thing of the past. Well, at least from his point of view! Everybody else actually noticed very little change in him, since Ataru's girl-hunts continued, as did Lum's efforts in stalking and lightly zapping him. It was business as usual, some would say.
But, life went on, with Lum progressively growing even more possessive of her Darling (if such a thing could be possible), and Ataru constantly running away from her and spending more and more of his free time girl-hunting, wolfing down gyudon, and eluding, whenever possible, the company of his classmates (and, again, reflecting about Lum and himself).
Apart from Lum and her friends' presence on Earth, nothing weird happened after the outcome of the Second Tag Race, oddly enough. There were no new alien visitors, cosmic diseases, parallel dimension warps, or galactic wars... only ordinary, smooth and relatively peaceful everyday Japanese town life.
That is, until an apparently insignificant event basically threw a wrench in the above described smooth clockwork. A new girl had moved into Tomobiki-cho from nearby Tokyo Metropolis: Mayuko, Hiromi's sister, one of Ataru and Lum's classmates.
Mayuko had attended a High School in the big city, and had Seniored last year. Having failed the exams to enter a Junior University, her parents wanted her back to help run the family business, a specialized academic book shop. She was older than her sister's classmates, being already 19, and she has visited her sister at the rebuilt Tomobiki High at least a couple times last week. Mayuko was stunning... and she was very much aware of her graces!
Every time she visited Tomobiki High administration offices for business, she became the eye-magnet of the campus. Of course, Ataru noticed her immediately, and has since been planning for the last couple of days a way to "catch" her, and at the same time, avoid Lum's divine retribution!
This morning, Ataru has a plan... he calculated timing with great precision. Lum is now out of the way; he actually managed to make her believe that he was girl-hunting in the female Volleyball team quarters, on the other side of the school. He has few, precious minutes. He takes a deep breath, and sharply turning around a corner, he bumps into Mayuko in the main corridor. A pair of folders fall to the floor.
"Ooops! I'm so sorry, please allow me to help you," he offers. Grinning madly, Ataru immediately tries a 'quick feel', running his hand over her very curvaceous sides while kneeling to pick up the fallen papers, and of course, he expects a reaction; none comes. Both are on the floor picking up the remaining sheets, and he smiles to her while keeping a pile of papers in one hand and the other… on her lower hip.
As both stand up, Ataru tries to start a conversation. This time, for some reason, the intended victim's feedback is very encouraging. Mayuko not only does not slap him and run away, but replies kindly, smiles, and is seems interested.
Scratching the back of his head, and genuinely surprised by this unexpected success, Ataru sees much of his most lecherous behaviour fade, as he is confronted by someone with great self control (she even manages to limit Ataru's groping with nonchalance); the conversation goes on for a few minutes longer, and in the end, Ataru cannot believe his luck as Mayuko agrees to a date. "Just as long as you behave, Moroboshi-san."
As Mayuko leaves, he can hear Lum's voice in the distance calling him. A single trickle of sweat crosses his forehead, as he smiles. I made it!
Lum appears from the window, as he forlornly waits for her, leaning against the inner wall. "Darling! What are you doing here? I was waiting for you to have lunch! Always girl-hunting huh?" Her voice was harsh, but no electricity arced around her (yet).
"Lum, please, do NOT start this all over again!" Ataru turns around, keeping his back to her, his arms crossed.
"But, Darling, I love you so much! Don't you love me? Even a bit?" Her tone is now pleading.
He turns to face her. "Lum! I am free to do as I please! I don't care for your lame whining!"
A deep growl escapes Lum throat. Ataru recognizes the signs, and starts running!
"Darling! Come back here! I need to talk to you," she insists as she flies after him, and in the end, he finds himself cornered in a corridor; the split second he hesitates changing escape route, Lum strikes him with a mild zap, around 75% of the strongest yield she'd use on a human being. Ataru is down, charred... and when he comes back around, he's pretty upset. The shock does seem to have calmed Lum down, as she helps her Darling up.
"Darling, please! Let me talk. I want to tell you that this Sunday is my birthday. I want to have a present from you! Please, let's go out for a date! Please..."
Ataru is anxious to have her let go of him. Besides, Mayuko's date is Saturday. So, Sunday is not going to be a problem, is it? He nods. "OK, just as long as you DO NOT bug me until Sunday morning. OK?"
Lum jumps up and down, excitedly. "Yes! Oh, thank you Darling! I'm so happy!"
Gods, sometimes I really can't stand her. At least, I'll be free to date Mayuko!
Mayuko, once back home, happily tells her sister Hiromi of the date. A surprised- and rather horrified- look crosses Hiromi's face. "Onii-san, do you realize what you just threw yourself into?"
"Aw, come on, Imooto-chan, what are you talking about? I'm bored here, I need some fun, and Ataru-san is not half bad. He's actually got a handsome body."
Hiromi tries to talk her sister out of the date, reminding her older sister just who Ataru is; he had already hit on Mayuko when he was only eight years old! But in the end, Mayuko goes straight to the point: "Imooto-chan, do you know if Ataru-san ever seriously abused or hurt a girl?"
"N-no, not that I know of, but who cares? He could lose control, jump on you, Gods, even rape y-"
"Well, I already asked around in your school. Everybody says Ataru-san's a letch and a sex crazed moron, but NO ONE could say that he had his way with ANY girl he hit on against her will in the whole school, or anywhere else in this city, for that matter. I believe he respects girls, when it comes to that! Has he ever had his way with you?"
Hiromi's angry gaze is reply enough.
"Imooto-chan, I'm sure that Ataru-san is a different person than everybody thinks. I also believe he's just perfect for the type of date in which both parties know that they may make out in the end... and I want to find out just how this date ends".
At this point, Hiromi stares at her sister, her mouth shut in irritated silence. She turns to the door, and without looking back, acidly adds "Mayuko, you're making a BIG mistake. You are forgetting about Lum-san. You'll be sorry, and don't come back whining that I didn't warn you about it," closing the door behind her.
At 6:00 PM, Ataru is nervously waiting for Mayuko under the clock in Tomobiki Park. He managed to keep this date a total secret; no one actually saw him talk to Mayuko in the corridor, plus, he chose this particular evening because Onsen Mark scheduled an English cram class, and he knew that Lum and most everybody else (especially Megane and Mendo) would attend. He will deal with the consequences later...
Fifteen minutes later- a perfectly calculated delay- Mayuko meets her date: she had chosen a very flirty dress, and Ataru cannot avoid imagining what she looks like beneath the dress!
Flowers are given, plans are exposed and accepted. First, a short walk in the park, some tea in a cafe', then, a brief dinner. A perfect date; incredibly enough, Ataru is caring, intelligent, and funny, acting as a proper gentleman (well, most of the time at least- his hands sometimes "disobey him"). He genuinely believes he is in complete control of the situation (and Mayuko certainly knows how to maintain this illusion), so he feels no need either to rush things or ruin the mood.
The occasional observer would believe them to be an affirmed young couple.
At 11:00 PM, Ataru and Mayuko are slowly strolling back towards home. Ataru feels comfortable; he's definitely happy and fantasizing. Maybe I'll get to kiss her, and who knows... hehehe.
For the first time in a very long time, Ataru does not think about Lum.
But then, Mayuko unexpectedly turns to gaze at Ataru with a strange light in her chestnut eyes. She wants to follow through with the date, having decided that she likes him enough; she managed to choose this route for a reason. Just as a very light rain starts falling, she stops abruptly. Ataru turns his head to her, puzzled.
"Mayuko-san, is something wrong?"
With a resolve that surprises Ataru, she faces him and pecks lightly her lips to his, and with a wide and innocent smile, silently invites him to the love hotel right in front of them.
Ataru is taken totally off guard; he smiles broadly as a fire of lust burns in his eyes.
"A-Are you sure?"
"Yes!," she huffs. "Come on!". As expected, Ataru makes the mistake of the century. He follows her in.
They both take a shower. As Ataru emerges snickering out of the bathroom (his shower set a new time record being counted in mere seconds, not minutes!), all he can think of is Mayuko's great body, and then reality kicks in.
Mayuko is there, naked, and with an elegant and very smooth movement, she slides sensually in between the sheets and invites him to share the bed with her. She's everything he imagined... and more!
I mean, WOW!
With only a towel around him, a very familiar, stirring and powerful sensation tickles Ataru's body. As excitement builds up, and a hot feeling makes him sweat, he briefly fears he's going to bleed from his nose. Clenching his fists, and breathing evenly, he knows that nothing could stop him now! Gods! This time I made it! YES!
Suddenly, an image of crystal blue eyes and green locks fills his mind, along with a beautiful, fanged smile, and a heady, musky scent.
I'll never forget! You... Lum.
Ataru freezes, his wind gone.
Mayuko is impatient, inviting him again to join her.
"I can't do it".
Only slightly surprised, she asks why.
He stumbles:, "I just can't... I..."
"Now, now…" Mayuko jeers, mockingly "What is the problem? Thinking about some other girl? Hey, I'm not jealous..."
"Well," he falters, "I... I am married!" What? I can't believe I said that!
Mayuko, now genuinely surprised, watches him speechlessly while he hastily tries to put some of his clothes on.
"Married? You're not talking about that alien bitch?"
The magic moment is totally gone, and Ataru is utterly confused, torn between an almost irresistible sex drive still urging him to jump on the girl, and the haunting, hammering memory of himself screaming he'll never forget Lum... though he did forget her - at least until a few moments ago.
"I can't believe it! You try to hit on any girl you see, you say you're this big stud! You're full of bullshit! I decide to give myself to you, and you back off? You're a fucking COWARD!"
"No! I'm not a coward, I choose to love who I want!"
Mayuko is on the verge of crying. "So you reject me? I'm not good enough for you?"
Ataru is very nervous. Gods, I don't believe how much I screwed up this time, why oh WHY... Shit, I need to get out of here!
"Will you answer me?" Mayuko asks, standing by the bed in nothing but a babydoll.
"I... I want to be free from a girl because I want to keep loving her!" With these confusing, and confused, words Ataru reaches the door.
"Who are you talking about! I am not going to stand here making a fool of myself! Boy, you're gonna pay DEARLY-"
Ataru clears the door and starts running towards the staircase. Mayuko, still with only a babydoll on, runs screaming after him.
"Hey! Where do you think you're going!"
Ataru flies down the staircase, furiously thinking a way out of this mess. His first objective is to get out of the hotel.
As he jumps out of the hotel's doors, Ataru runs into Lum: she has been looking for him all day after cram class, now soaking wet under the downpour. The upset look in her face lights up with happiness: "Darling! Oh, I was so worried!".
But, once her gaze shifts to see who just came out of the building following his Darling, something in her expression changes. Lum always jumped to conclusions, but this time there was very little left to the imagination.
Lum stares at Ataru, at his open shirt and the shoes in his hands, then back to Mayuko. She then notices the hotel sign, and the fact that Mayuko is basically in the nude except for her babydoll.
Mayuko has enough experience to silently move out of the picture... and to casually retreat back inside the hotel.
"Lum, I can explain! Really, this time I can, please listen to me!" Ataru also starts retreating along the sidewalk with his hand up. Oh, Gods. This looks really bad…
She bares her fangs and electricity begins to arc around her body. Rage fills her heart. All the times Ataru ran away, all the delusions, the heartburns! And now this… outright cheating!
"You! You... have... oh no, NO! D-darling," Lum growls, as a blind rage possesses her. A red veil covers everything, a pulsing pain stabbing her heart... a fire never before felt burns, consuming her; something inside her breaks.
In the few seconds in which all this is happening, Ataru realizes something is very wrong: energies are way out of scale, and showers of sparks are flying around Lum, as rain keeps coming and the streetlights are dimming down.
"She's drawing on the city power grid?" Ataru is scared stiff, but struggles to remember a major detail, stuck way down in his mind. Something really important. Then it comes to him!
"Lum! You are under a downpour, there's a storm! Stop, you CAN'T DO THAT!"
Before he can finish the sentence, a mighty blast of energy, seemingly coming from nowhere, strikes Lum. A deafening roar fills the air, breaking car windows and making Ataru dive for cover. As the thunder and blinding flash fades away, he can see her eyes turn dull. Everything for her goes black; she falls to her knees and slowly crumples lifelessly to the soaked ground as all the streetlights slowly die from the sudden blackout. Car burglar alarms sound in the dark street, dimly lit up by the occasional burning scraps of fabric that a few seconds ago were her school suit.
"Lum! Oh, Gods!"
There's a reason why Lum always feared storms and lightning.
The Next Morning
Lum wakes up.
What seems like a terrible hangover is torturing her.
Hmmm, oooouch, I have to tell Benten to stop doing mixer parties, Father is going to catch us sooner or later... ohhh... shit, my head!
Rei. You perverted little... jerk... damn, it's over a month, and I still wake up thinking about him, Rei! It still hurts, how I'd like to get back at you.
She stirs slightly in the Futon, eyes still shut.
Nahhh, it was fun yesterday after all, what a hunk that boy Benten brought,... mixer my ass, she staged it with me, hmmmm...
Something's out of place.
I can feel... gravity? Sleepiness disappears as she opens her eyes.
Ataru's room. But to her now, it's a totally alien environment!
I remember getting back to my UFO, what's this?
Combat training kicks in; ignoring the stabbing fit of pain of suddenly standing up, she scans the room in a defensive stance, performing a threat assessment drill. She's unharmed; but all the automated defences in her vessel in place! Whoever had kidnapped her from her UFO must've been real good!
Confusion, rage, and fear dominate her mind.
Think, girl! Think!
She looks out the window, seeing a clear blue sky with the Sun shining, the air crystal clean after yesterday's downpour.
I'm on a planet, but this is not Kōun System... It's too hot, the buildings are different, and that vegetation... Maybe that star is Sol? This must be Earth, but what the fuck am I doing here? There's a non-interference directive on this planet: it is under military jurisdiction! If I get caught here before our invasion... this time I am in real deep shit!
Her right hand reaches slowly into her bra. Good, the remote is still here.
Moving very quietly and calculating every step as if the whole place was booby-trapped, her mind is hard at work trying to plan an escape and at the same time guessing who pulled this trick on her.
Neptune and Earth are both in the Sol system. Oyuki could have brought me here using her warp system. I bet she and Benten...
A door suddenly slides open.
"Lum," Ataru exclaims, "you're awake! Thank god, I was so scared! Please let me explain that what you saw, is not what it see-"
Lum turns around startled, her surprise lasting only fractions of a second, as she unleashes a powerful blast that leaves Ataru charred on the floor.
Wow, Ataru mentally notes. This was really strong even for her standards! She really is mad!
Lum is in a combat stance, ready for close quarters battle. By the Dragons of Q'aar, who the hell is this animal?
Ataru slowly recovers from the shock. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, he shakes away the dizziness and numbing feeling of electricity from his system and looks at Lum. She is glaring him with an intense and cold stare. To the untrained eye, she seems to be in some martial arts guard.
OK, that was to be expected... but, that's not a familiar glance she's got. Her eyes...? The stare contest lasts a couple of seconds, then Lum breaks the silence. "Well, now that we have physically introduced ourselves, can you please tell me who you are, where we are, and what I am doing here?"
Ataru is surprised. An angry Lum he could somewhat handle, but this was... different.
"Lum... don't you recognize me? I'm Ataru, and this is OUR room. I-"
"No, I do not know who you are. What do you mean this is OUR room?"
"Lum, look, are you alright? I... ahem, don't you remember? We are together- I mean we're married" – Gods, I slipped it again! She'll think I am committing to her... shheeeesh!
Lum's reaction is the exact opposite Ataru would ever had expected: total indifference. Her mouth twitches in disgust as she produces the most inhuman and terrifying cold stare he has ever experienced.
Her eyes bore into him like cold steel, chilling him. He felt like an insect about to be squashed.
It... it's like I am nothing to her, Is this really my Lum?
Then she relaxes a bit, and lets out a hearty gale of laughter.
"You should be my WHAT? Ha, that's a really good one, I can't believe I actually almost fell for it!" She pauses, looking around. "Benten? Where are you? This must be your game" she calls. "Hey Oyuki, we had a laugh, now come out and let's call it a day! Benten? BENTEN!"
Ataru is shocked.
"What the... Hey, Lum, it's not a joke, you really don't remember?"
"Look lowlife" Lum snaps, turning to him. "I've got nothing against you. Maybe Benten coaxed you into this, but PLEASE, everything has a limit. Even drunk I would have never done - uh, with you! I mean, look at yourself! Apart from being a 'lesser', how could you even be credible?"
Lum is now turning nervously around.
Ataru is shocked to hear all the insults Lum is delivering, not believing his own ears! He stands up.
"Where the Q'aar's hell is Benten? I'm going to kill her for this, by the Great Void, it's embarrassing! Will you STOP STARING AT ME?"
Her cold glare is again bolted on Ataru, who actually feels the bite of ice at his extremities!
"Lum... I... don't understand, we've lived here for the last two years! Please listen, I..."
He walks up to her tense figure and takes her left hand.
CRACK! A mighty spark of electricity hits his hand hard, she whips around insanely fast and instantly concentrates all of her mass in her right hand and executes a perfect palm strike, delivered to his face. Physical contact between them, the very first time Lum hits Ataru. The pain is unbelievable. He flies through the air to slam against the closet door, crashing into it and passing out.
"Lowlife, don't you ever touch me again with your filthy hands! Next time you do so, you will be DEAD."
She tears down the window with another blast and flies out, extracting the remote with which she calls down her UFO in low orbit.
Several minutes later, Ataru comes around. His head and face hurt, blood has come out of his nose and mouth. His parents are extremely concerned, and frightened. "This is no good," He worries. "I have to get help!" Stumbling from the damage he endured and holding a cold pack to his face, he runs downstairs and reaches the telephone. "I hate to ask him, but he's the only guy that can help me now!"
Lum has since reached her spaceship, and as she boards it, hails the mainframe.
"I want to go home now! Activate subspace navigation systems and start up core engines!"
[Yes Miss Lum. Please enter code]
"What are you talking about, what code?"
[Miss Lum, you entered a code to authorize ship operation. Without mentioned code, communications, navigational and space propulsion systems are disabled]
"Computer, execute DNA scan, confirm my ID, and override code!"
[Miss Lum, I do confirm your DNA and ID, but I was especially programmed by you to ignore this request, until code is entered all space navigation and communication remains inoperable. I also shall add that all onboard weapons systems and higher computing functions and support are also locked]
"WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? CUT IT OFF!"
[Miss Lum, getting angry with a machine will not help. I am not able to carry out your command. You have full access to everything else BUT interplanetary navigation, propulsion, weapon systems and communication]
By the Great Void, I'm totally helpless, why in my right mind would I have ever entered this command? Protecting the space vessel from MYSELF? And why can't I remember doing it?
"Computer, why did I do this?"
[Miss Lum, I am sorry, no further requests are allowed until code is entered. Please use the terminals to access on planet travel and life support. A local mainframe subsystem will assist you for daily needs]
This is ridiculous. I cannot believe it. How in hell can I ask for help?
Raging, Lum exits the UFO and gets back to the ground.
Totally lost, she looks around, recognizing nothing. But... How weird, I do not feel that this place is a threat. It's... familiar. Well, in a couple weeks Uruseian forces are going to take over anyway! But... when Papa finds me here, what will he do...? Lum is also worried sick, now.
Why did I get back on the ground? I should hide! If someone sees me here...!
She sees a car approach, followed by several military-style jeeps. Shutaro Mendo, and his bodyguards have arrived. Mendo's organization -through JDF connections- had traced the location of Lum's UFO and he rapidly reached the site.
Fearing the worst, she takes a defensive stance. Her ship is defenceless as all weapon systems are down, and her lightning is no match for direct energy or even projectile based weaponry. Even attempting to escape by flying would be useless. I'm done for.
"Lum-sama! Here you are. We were so worried. Is everything all right? Can I be of any assistance to you?"
Lum is genuinely surprised. "Who are you? How do you know me?"
Mendo is set back. So, Moroboshi was telling the truth- Lum is indeed suffering from amnesia!
"Lum-sama, please pardon me. My name is Mendo Shutaro, and these people are part of my staff. We are your friends and intend you no harm. We believe that you lost part of your memory, maybe total amnesia, and we want to help you. Please, even if you do not remember now, we will help you recover."
Lum considers the situation and takes a good look at Mendo.
Amnesia! Ha! Could he be part of our undercover beachhead special forces preparing the invasion? Anyway, what a handsome man. Hmmmm, looks like he also knows how to properly talk to a woman. Well, why not.
"My pleasure, Mendo-san, I might as well accept your help."
"Please, Lum-sama, this way".
At his family mansion, Mendo is thinking about what to do, while Lum is shown her accommodations and is allowed to rest and refresh herself.
"Young master, should we contact Moroboshi-san in regards to Lum-sama?"
"No. Not a word must leak out of the mansion about Lum-sama, especially to Moroboshi. I will hold you all personally responsible of maintaining this classified information. I will decide what to do later. In the meantime, Moroboshi is not to be allowed access on the premises for any reason".
"Very well, young master. Please excuse us." …
An hour later, Lum is having tea with Mendo on a terrace with a breathtaking sight of the mansion grounds. She is still quite suspicious of him. She does not want to give away anything that may hinder her father's plans for Earth, in case this man is NOT Oniboshi's agent.
"Mendo-san, you have quite a wealthy estate,", she said, with a touch of admiration in her voice.
Visibly pleased, Mendo acknowledges the compliment, and after a few minutes of rambling on about the estate, he changes the subject.
"Lum-sama, do you remember anything about your stay on this planet?"
"What should I remember? This is the first time I've seen you or this planet, for that matter."
Gods this is an occasion I can't miss! Mendo's mind wanders to the first time Lum had been a guest in the mansion on a strikingly similar occasion. Ataru had managed to ruin everything by penetrating all his defences and allowing Lum to remember! Not this time, Moroboshi! You will not succeed!
"Well, I do believe that you have been on this planet for some time now, Lum-sa-"
"Please, Mendo-san," Lum says, abruptly interrupting Mendo. "I have had enough of this." Almost talking to herself, she continues. "I remember very clearly having gone to a party that my friends Benten and Oyuki-"
"Pardon me if I interrupt you now, Lum-sama, but if that is the case, why don't we call them? They are also our friends, and…"
"Mendo-san, You ADMIT knowing them?" A very surprised expression crosses her face.
"But of course, Her Grace Princess Oyuki of Neptune and Benten are..."
While Mendo goes on, Lum comes to a realization. Ah-ha! I get it. He's not an Oniboshi agent at all. This is all a set up done by the girls! I'll play along with this line, then.
Lum interrupts his rambling. "I cannot call them, Mendo-san. I am locked out of my spaceship, but perhaps you could...?" She lets the sentence hang with a teasing hint in her voice.
"Lum-sama, neither can I, as we do not have transwarp communication capability on this planet. But, I can send a conventional radio signal to Neptune. It is in this same solar system, and the signal will eventually reach Her Grace Princess Oyuki. It will take at least a day to organize the message and it will take about four hours for the signal to reach her planet. She can then use a warp route to visit us. So, at least until tomorrow morning, would you care to remain my guest here?"
Lum reflects on the whole situation.
Well, well, well. Isn't Benten nice? I think I recognize her touch, I'm sure she organized this to let me have a real good time with this playboy here. Mendo must be a friend of Oyuki, she always likes to keep all her toys secret! Why not, I may even enjoy it...
"I would be honoured to be your guest, Mendo-san. I greatly appreciate it".
At about noon, on the other side of Tomobiki, Ataru is restless. Ten is presently at his mother's homeworld for the weekend. Ran is not reachable, although her homeship is stationed, as usual, in the park. Mendo is unable (or unwilling?) to provide any valuable information. He feels totally powerless, and a glooming sense of guilt for what happened haunts him.
If only I had not invited Mayuko to that date! No, that's stupid, I mean, I do it all the time. If only she did not want to do... hey, that's even worse! Okay, if I had not been such a fool, now Lum would be here with me! And maybe we'd be fighting, as usual - No! NO! That's not the point!
Conflicting trains of thought cross through his tortured mind. The image of Mayuko, giving herself freely to him, is still so bloody arousing... he cannot help but visualize her sliding sensually between the sheets...
Her beautiful, naked skin, her breasts, her smooth green hair, and… GREEN HAIR?
He shakes his head vigorously! "NO! I gotta do something!"
Ataru makes a phone call. He heads out, running, and meets up with Sakura at her shrine.
She waits for him outside. "I sincerely hope that you're actually in need, Moroboshi. I am not inclined to condone any of your tricks, today."
"Sakura, I am absolutely serious."
Ataru tries to grope her as soon as they are close enough, but a well-placed elbow strike takes the wind out of Ataru in no time!
"Ouuuch... Sorry, that was a conditioned reflex!"
"Don't worry, Ataru. Mine was a conditioned reflex, too. How about you explain what you're having a problem with, and what happened to you. You have blood stains on your shirt."
He tells her the whole story, including all of the details. In the end, a couple hours later, he's on the verge of tearing up.
"It seems to me that you have a rather trivial problem, Ataru," she concludes. "But, alas- I believe that I cannot help you with this".
Ataru jumps on his feet and shouts. "TRIVIAL? What are you talking about? There's nothing trivial about Lum having amnesia!"
"I am not talking about Lum, I am talking about you, Ataru. Your 'problem' is that you're hopelessly in love with Lum, exactly as she is with you, and you cannot admit it to yourself. You are so self-convinced that you do not love her, that you hit on and try to make love to every girl you see –but every single woman you hit on is a 'surrogate' of Lum."
"Every time you hit on a girl, you are actually subconsciously courting Lum!"
"That cannot be! I've always courted girls, way before Lum came to Earth!"
"Exactly, Ataru. Your habit has not changed in form, but in substance: in the past, you ran after girls to make up for the subconscious lack of affection and love you felt, and now you run after girls because you subconsciously want Lum's affection and love, but cannot openly admit it".
Ataru is flabbergasted. Hey, he loves variety! Matter of fact, very, very few of the girls he runs after look like Lum. And, the few times Lum had an impact on him in the past, it was when she presented herself in a totally different way he was used to, hence, as if she was a different girl! Yet, there is sense in Sakura's words, as hard as it is to admit.
"Hey," Ataru blurts out, "But this means that you knew all along!"
"And why haven't you told me before? Or any time I hit on you?"
"Well, you never asked. And I am not Lum, so I am not pleased that you try to hit on me while subconsciously desiring Lum. Neither would she, I suspect."
"I can't believe it. This is crazy!"
"Let's talk about Lum, now. You say that she was hit by lightning during a storm?"
"Yes, she always was afraid of lightning and thunder during storms, and I recall her telling me once that it was dangerous for her to use her powers in a thunderstorm. I did not believe it, but while it was happening yesterday, I realized she was right all along. I cannot understand why, though."
"I have some theories, but I need some more information. Do you have any idea where Lum is, now?"
"No. Well, sort of. I did ask Mendo to help me find her, though... and he is very difficult to reach now, which is very suspect."
"Well Ataru, I will call Ryoko-san and see if Shutaro is indeed hiding something. Now go home. I will call you there," she says. As usual, Sakura cuts short and almost kicks Ataru out of the shrine!
Going back home, Ataru is worried sick; especially since there IS a possibility that Lum could be in the grasp of Shutaro Mendo. And he may very well have been who put her in his hands! Holy shit, I'm so angry.
The wall along which he was walking suddenly becomes alive. Two Kuroko present themselves in front of an aghast Ataru, with a scroll.
"On behalf of our beloved mistress Rioko-sama, honourable Moroboshi-san".
As they disappear, Ataru cannot but admire how efficient Ryoko is every time she chooses to hinder her brother's plans! Then, he reads the letter.
An expression of disgust and anger twists his face. "Mendo, I'll make you pay dearly for this!"
In the afternoon, Lum is relaxing in her room. Mendo's been exceptionally gallant, and she enjoyed her time at the mansion. She had been roaming around (always escorted by Mendo's bodyguards), and asked a lot of questions. Everybody was previously instructed to reply very generically, except when the questions regarded Ataru: he was to be depicted as precisely as possible! Omitting, of course, any relationship with Lum.
I'll have to thank Benten for this present. Mendo-kun may not be as much of a stud as Rei, but at least he's got some brains in his head and knows what women want...
She sighs. This is exactly what she needs to forget Rei, after they broke up. She had enough of his insatiable hunger, his being so dense on everything, his perverted ways with her, his total lack of manners... for some time she had the illusion to love him dearly, and be loved in return. But, it was all a lie. A big lie! Although, some affection did come to her. Hey, Mendo is exactly the opposite of Rei!
Well, she was to be following her father this time to take over this planet, right? Benten knew this, and arranged this plot to allow her to play with Mendo a bit before... or, actually, maybe to choose the local governor after Uru conquered the place? Maybe Benten and Oyuki have arranged this to find her a... replacement?
By the Great Void, I am so lonely. I want so much to love someone, and to be really, truly loved. True Love. I looked so much for it, no one ever committed to me, no one ever dared. Why? I feel so lonely...
A tear streaks her face and falls on her hand. She looks at it. A single, brief stray thought wanders to Moroboshi. She vaguely sees him smiling, and looking at her with devotion. Why did I just think of that animal?
Her thoughts are interrupted by a soft knock on her door; a maid announces that tea is being served in the central tearoom.
She tries on a couple of the dresses she has found in the infinite wardrobes that line her room.
Lum is stunning in a Chanel dress as she walks down the main staircase of the mansion.
Mendo is refraining from actually throwing himself to her feet in adoration!
"Lum-sama, you are truly beautiful. I have never witnessed such exquisite perfection before."
Lum accepts Mendo's compliments and sits down in the western-style tea room.
"Mendo-kun, I believe you would like to ask something of me?"
Mendo is totally surprised by Lum's very direct comment. "I-er, yes... I," he initially stumbles. "Lum-sama, I formally invite you to attend dinner this evening with me. If you accept, rendez-vous is at half past nine tonight at Main Hall".
"Mendo-kun, I formally accept. Please excuse me, as I would like to have some time alone walking in your beautiful grounds."
Mendo is totally confused; he did not expect such ease in convincing her. And the change in title! Now he's Mendo-kun!
"Ah- I, Lum-sama, I apologize. Before you go, would you care to hear our progress in contacting Her Grace Princess Oyuki of Neptune?"
Lum does not care in the least, believing that this whole situation has been fabricated by Benten and Oyuki in the first place. Nonetheless, she politely listens to all the great things the Mendo family is doing in preparation for the signal to be sent that night.
At 9:30 pm, Lum is ready. She proceeds towards the main hall, where an escort is standing by to pick her up in an A109 helicopter to take her to the restaurant that Mendo chose for this dinner. The helicopter heads downtown, to the executive side of the city.
The exclusive 'Shogo Shima' restaurant is on the top of a high skyscraper in Shinjuku ward, at the 80th floor; right above it, there's a private heliport. Mendo is waiting on the rooftop, in an Italian smocking.
When she emerges from the helicopter, fifteen minutes later, her image is breathtaking. Lum is immensely beautiful, the most enchanting woman ever to walk the earth; she's wearing a form-fitting pearl-black dress that leaves her back and legs bare, and her perfect cleavage is beautifully framed by a deep V-cut.
Her hair and makeup make her look like a billion dollars; high heel shoes complete the package. Mendo, or anyone else on Earth, for that matter (except maybe Ataru when he secretly attended Lum's father "surprise wedding party"), has never seen such a beauty.
"Well, Shutaro-kun. Shall we go in?"
Mendo has been staring at her for at least a minute, drinking in every little detail, almost not believing this to be real. Lum's comment shakes him, and he welcomes Lum to the restaurant.
"Lum-sama – I... Please accept my apologies! You are stunning, and... well, I have reserved the Belvedere table, Lum-sama. Please allow me to escort you to your seat."
The Belvedere is an area of the restaurant that is lined, for 130 degrees, with completely transparent curved glass walls, and a breathtaking view on Mount Fuji. It is slightly raised, and visually separated from the main hall by a low Baroque fence. Dim lights are cleverly arranged so to illuminate the tables but not ruin the sight of the night panorama. Normally housing four small tables in Modern Western style, it has been totally reserved for Mendo, and only one table is sumptuously prepared, while the others removed.
In the meantime, Ataru has already changed into a perfect waiter uniform. Ryoko had prepared everything; a Kuroko picked him up at the building rear entrance, provided fake credentials, and had even supplied a perfectly fitted uniform! The bruise on his face has been covered with a little make up. He hopes to blend in, but he has to disguise himself, using a fake beard and moustaches since Mendo would recognize him anyway.
He was not able to be selected for Mendo and Lum's table staff, but he can still overhear what's going on, being a water boy at a table nearby. Besides, there also is a very pretty waitress at his table.
As the dinner goes on, Lum allows herself more confidence with Mendo.
Undeniably, a nice boy. I definitely know I'm going to have fun tonight! Unknown to either Mendo or Ataru, she has a hidden weapon. She dismisses the staff around the table, then concentrates, focusing her attention to Mendo.
Her pheromones start to influence him. Probably tens of thousands of times more concentrated than human female pheromones (of which scientists still debate their very existence to this day), Lum's scent has an incredible impact.
Mendo's demeanour falters somewhat, but he manages to keep a straight face and maintain proper etiquette.
About halfway through the meal, Lum starts playing the game. Mendo, under the influence of Lum's scent and added psi pressure, is totally clueless and falls in every possible verbal and body language trap. She carelessly touches his hand and very gently plays with his fingers. She took off both of her shoes. Her bare foot occasionally strokes Mendo's leg, in a very sensuous manner. Small wordplay, allusions…
All along, Ataru witnesses all the unspoken advances Lum is making to Mendo. Powerless, and desperate, blind anger towards Mendo starts building up within him. An almost physical pain grips him for what Lum is doing, eliciting vicious jealousy mixed with tremendous guilt. He is also affected by her spell, but his distance allows for a much lesser impact. The waitress he ogled before has totally vanished from his mind.
Dessert is served; it's almost midnight now. Mellow piano music plays in the background, Lum decides that Mendo is ready to play with open cards.
"Shutaro-kun, it has been a marvellous dinner, and I have to say I am impressed. You have been a perfect gentleman..."
"Thank you, Lum-sama, I am flattered by your kind words."
"...but I know full well that, beyond your surface of duty and manners, you just can't wait to make out with me."
Shocked by the bluntness of Lum's words, Mendo cannot reply; his rational self is almost scandalized, but at the same time, deep down, he's overwhelmingly excited. His instincts are on overdrive now.
Nonetheless, rationally, he stares at the woman before him. She's smiling, but her glance is of steel.
Speechless, Mendo nods in an inquiring gesture.
"Shutaro-kun, I beg of you not to play with me. Surely you have not invited me just to show me around this outback planet? Indeed you have aroused me tonight, I'm hot as can be – and I am sure we could have a lot of fun, that is, if you're man enough to satisfy me."
At these words, Mendo starts to lose it. There she is, the woman he had secretly coveted for all these months, now willingly and very directly offering herself to him! But, her eyes remain unfathomable, and her expression is of domination. A sudden pressure hits his mind. Confused, Mendo's last rational thought is a question: is she is really offering herself to him, or rather does she consider him to be a mere plaything? But, this thought rapidly fades as he totally falls under her spell.
"Lum... I... I will try to... to please you," Mendo whispers, entranced.
"Good. So why don't we both move to some place more... private?" She stands up.
Ataru has heard everything; stunned, he lets the water jug slip out of his hand, to crash violently to the floor.
No, this cannot be happening, she has just offered herself to Mendo! She invited him to... to...
Screaming, Ataru runs for the Belvedere table. A pair of Mendo's Security 'Kuromegane' jump to try to stop him, but actually catch thin air; Ataru's legendary agility when it comes to women would allow him to slip through even high-end US Diplomatic Security. Maybe he could even dodge bullets.
Before Mendo can even realize what is going on, Lum slowly turns to Ataru. She stands up, with measured caution, and faces him.
Ataru freezes instantly. The glare in her eyes is overwhelming. Lum's right hand slowly, carelessly rises up, as a concentration of energy with incredible intensity starts dancing above it. Essentially, a globular lightning.
"Good evening, Moroboshi-san. I took the liberty and time to inform myself of who you are, and I am well aware of the nuisance and threat you pose to the young females of this human settlement. If you recall our last encounter, I told you what would happen if our roads crossed again. At this point, I believe that no one is going to grieve you."
Ataru is utterly terrified: for the first time he realizes that Lum is meaning business; the energy ball that she's carelessly holding in her hand is so blindingly intense he cannot bear to look upon it directly.
Mendo is petrified. This woman indeed is NOT the Lum he knew. Ataru, keeps his hands up, and moves sideways, backing away and trying to gain a clear escape route.
"So, Moroboshi-san, allow me to put an end to your pitiful and useless life."
With these words, the bolt of energy is unleashed in the direction of Ataru; his superhuman reflexes kick in with a MASSIVE adrenaline rush, time slows down, and all he can see is are Lum's hand and the incoming bolt. He barely avoids the discharge, helped in this by the fact that the metal structure of the skyscraper attracted the electromagnetic energy, deflecting it somewhat.
As the energy impacts with the window frames, it explodes, punching a 35 foot breach in the restaurant's reinforced glass wall, projecting shards of glass everywhere. Ataru barely endures the blast, as multiple hits from the flying glass acting as shrapnel superficially wound him. He painfully rises from the floor, looking at the hole behind him. Gods, if that would have hit me, I'd be shredded to bits!
Lum's carelessness for human life actually impacts on Mendo just as he snaps out of her spell. In his dazed state, he cannot recall whether there were or not tables with people having dinner on that side of the restaurant. The debris is everywhere. Dust and smoke dim the lights that are still on. Innocent people might have just been killed!
"My, my, my. What I have been told is true, then; my dear, you are a human cockroach. You managed to avoid my blast," she croons, the tone of her voice an excessively sweet tease.
She slowly walks in his direction, once again building up energy in her right hand, her gaze never wavering from her target. Ataru stands up, abruptly realizing that he's facing a complete stranger.
"I... I... you-you are not Lum! You are not the Lum I know! Who are you?" He turns to look back, behind him- there's the void, wind is gusting from the enormous breach that tore away most of the wall. 80 floors down, he can see the city streets, populated with people, lights and cars. He turns back to Lum, breathing quickly.
Suddenly, her face is only an inch away from his. She's wearing a gentle smile, her fangs only slightly showing.
Ataru is overwhelmed by her scent. It is the same, familiar scent Lum always had, but... stronger, and something about it is different. Something… pushing on his mind. He has to note that she's NEVER been so beautiful and sexy before, and he fights to control himself, to avoid kissing her, his desire burning like fire. But, as their eyes meet...
There are no more doubts. She really does not recognize him. Everything he experienced with her, all the chances and opportunities he lost, all they shared, good or bad, is no more. Lost in time, and for all it counts, forever. And Ataru now knows he has no more time- maybe minutes, if not seconds, left to live.
I give up.
Matter of factly, and still speaking in a soft, gentle tone, she addresses him. "Well, Moroboshi-san, I imagine that you prefer to do things up close and personal. I will not miss you."
Ataru cannot help but briefly giggle at the unintentional double meaning of what Lum said. It is at this point that his own words, at the end of the Second Tag Race, come back to him:
"On my death bed... maybe!"
This is going to be my last chance. So he looks up to Lum's eyes, and firmly whispers, "Lum, I love you."
It is only a whisper. But, as the silence is deafening, even Mendo, standing more than 30 feet away, hears it.
She does not move. The energy ball is still building up in intensity. But, something changes, deep in her eyes. She looks down on him, as she's now hovering a few inches from the floor. The smile slowly disappears, while the energy ball fades.
At least a minute passes- a minute that lasts an eternity- before Lum speaks again.
"You... well, I guess you're totally fucked up, aren't you? I can't believe you just had the nerve to say that, you're completely hopeless. I... I'm disgusted! You're not even worth wasting!"
"Maybe the best punishment is just to let you continue to live your gross and shameful life."
Lum turns around and slowly walks out of the room. Mendo is no longer in her thoughts. She wants to throw up.
Ataru, not believing she actually spared him, slumps to the floor, totally exhausted, dangerously near the edge in the restaurant wall.
Only seconds after Lum left, waiters and management staff scramble to provide help to injured customers and colleagues. Mendo, his rationality completely restored, shouts orders into his cell phone. An immense sadness grips him.
A half-hour later, paramedics fill the restaurant, as authorities start questioning bystanders.
Mendo is completely aghast by what had happened. He still cannot fully understand- much less remember details- of how Lum entranced him with what, for all accounts, sounds like a spell. Black magic, indeed!
The landlord approaches Mendo. "Honourable Mendo-sama, my apologies. We have a couple of seriously wounded waiters, and about ten lightly wounded customers, but no casualties. A miracle; you had reserved the whole Belvedere for yourself and Lum-sama, so you could be alone. Our estimate would have been of at least 6 customers critically wounded or worse, otherwise."
"Thank you, Marinogata-san. Mendo Conglomerate will take care of ALL costs related to this issue, including renovation and customer damage claims. On the other hand, I trust your discretion on the matter; our name is NOT to be publicized in this accident."
Luckily, no one really got hurt. But, even if it did, nothing would happen to Lum. Mendo recalls the warning those United Nations officials gave him, when he requested JDF to trace Lum's UFO. Lum has TOTAL IMMUNITY. Whatever the damage, even if she maims or kill anyone on Earth, she cannot be touched in any way. It is part of the peace treaty to avoid the invasion; she actually can do whatever she pleases. If anyone dare touch her, the planet can be turned to dust. He had always wondered, before, why no one in the government ever complained about any of Lum's past exploits. But, while she is above any human law, he is not, and has to protect his family name.
Lum is slowly walking along the hall, totally ignoring the calls for help and the chaos that arose from what she had done only minutes beforehand. She feels shaken and puzzled. Why did I spare him? He deserved to be obliterated... I can't believe his nerve! Me and... and that animal!
Strange. The queasiness still is with her, and a strong headache is building up.
She starts to fret. Sweat flows all over her body. The headache is growing and growing, the pain almost unbearable, now.
She's forced on her knees, both her hands holding her temples as a scream escapes her mouth, but she can not hear herself. Instead, everything turns white, pain is incredible, and she believes these are the last moments of her life.
She feels her head explode.
And then, all the memories since that wild night years ago, spent at Benten's place, only days before her mission to Earth on behalf of his father to run the tag race and invade the planet, flow back like an immense mass of water bursting from a failed dam, drowning her and pushing her down in the depths of an ocean of memory. She lives again two years, in two seconds.
The pain subsides.
Physical pain, that is... because the memories did not wash away what she did, felt and thought during these last two days. Shame, guilt, and fear fill her.
She can remember perfectly every single word, emotion, feeling, sensation. Every little detail.
The disgust and pure hatred for Darling. The lust for Mendo. She can even recall being so aroused to 'wet' herself talking to him in the restaurant, seconds before Ataru came screaming to her table. Shame... shame and disgrace! She wishes to die for that alone.
Remembering what she told Ataru. What she just did to Darling! Almost killed him!
And she, too, recalls what Ataru had told her after the second tag race: "On my death bed... maybe!" And, indeed, he honoured his oath: before she could kill him, he expressed his love for her. Snapping her out of her amnesia, and in so doing, dooming her to living hell.
Last but not least, she remembers the obvious unlock code for the UFO: 'darling'.
Wailing, hot tears streaking her face, she flies away.
Ataru is still in the restaurant, sitting on the floor, dumbfounded. A paramedic walks up to him and starts treating his cuts. A SAT Police officer helps the paramedic move Ataru away from the dangerous edge.
Down on the streets, JN Police, ambulances, and firefighters are working, as glass and other debris falling from some 600 feet above threaten to cause damages and injury. Car accidents create an increasingly dangerous situation.
Law Enforcement are shown evidence that all of the damage was produced by Lum. Everything would be simply archived, as usual.
Dark thoughts haunts a depressed Ataru. He believes that Lum, as he knew her, is no more, and that with her gone, there's no longer a reason to live.
Ataru had never realized how strong, and deep, his love for Lum had been. Ironically, all it took was to be really successful in a date in which he was given the chance to actually have sex with that girl; until then, he had worked so hard to date every pretty girl in the universe, just to earn a slap in the face. Besides, all of his girl-hunts were designed to be, sooner or later, discovered by Lum. All his actions were driven to show Lum that... he could choose!
She never let him choose! She never allowed him to choose... her.
And now, I've lost her... forever.
This is not a life I want to live.
Why did she stop? I would have preferred to have been blown to smithereens, than be spared and see her... "having fun."
Ataru and Mendo carefully avoid each other. Mendo finally leaves the restaurant, a personal limo driving him home.
Lum remembers everything. She remembers why she had amnesia. The sight of Darling, half dressed, coming out of a love hotel, with Hiromi's nearly naked sister (what was her name? Minako?), after she had spent the whole day looking for him worried sick, had made her do something real foolish, something she'd never have done in her right mind: use her powers in a storm.
She had basically attracted a lightning bolt, gotten hit by it, and her body had electrically "shorted" violently with the wet and conductive ground, having a similar effect on her mind: a short circuit. Funny, if you think of it. Thinking about what she had seen still makes her outrageously angry. Nonetheless, what she had done in the last 24 hours was just as bad, if not worse, than that.
A stray thought goes to Oyuki, who should have received Mendo's radio message by now. How utterly useless. Sitting on the ledge of the roof, next to the heliport on top of the skyscraper, she looks upon the stars, as a gentle wind caresses her.
Ataru feels hollow. An adrenaline crash slowly takes over. The last 24 hours' fast-paced events has induced an incredible amount of stress, even for as unique a human as Ataru. With so many "highs" and "lows" right after one another, and lack of sleep, the combat stress reaction and high levels of Cortisol in his blood massively increase his depressive state.
He knows that this whole mess is his fault; he regrets dating Mayuko. To think that today is Lum's birthday… What a present to give her. To think that he actually did have a present, a small bracelet featuring a tiger stone. How could he forget? And, to think that now, Lum as he knows her, is no more. He still has not completely understood what happened, but undoubtedly, it is as she never knew him; as if that woman was Lum's twin sister, and had never met him.
Angst and an overwhelming guilt for what happened fill him. Tears again flow, albeit briefly, as he has no more tears to shed. The pain is unbearable. Wandering through the building's corridors, totally lost, he feels the need for open air, so he starts following the "heliport" signs. Finally, Ataru reaches the roof.
He walks drunkenly to the edge, and carefully sits down. The air is unnaturally calm, now. From the helicopter landing pad on top of the building, just a couple floors above the restaurant, Ataru drinks in the beauty of the night, as his mind plays over and over again all the events that had ultimately lead him up on that ledge.
Three hours later, not a single cloud is in the air as a gentle glow to the east announces dawn.
His mind is finally made up, and a serene sadness mixed with peaceful warmth fills his heart. …
Lum is still confused, angry, and sorry, at the same time. She ultimately decides that whatever has happened, she would forgive Darling. It is a relatively easy decision, as Lum always softens up, provided she has enough time to think it over. Now, forgiving herself is another matter entirely. She stands up, hovering a few inches off the ledge. What she needs now is Ataru.
Darling? Where are you now?
Ataru stands up, taking notice of every single detail around him with a newfound level of self awareness, then stares downwards, 80 floors above the street. A decision like this would have never even crossed his mind, even in the same exact scenario, had his amazing instinct of self preservation not been totally shut down by the ill effects of CSR and the totally unpredictable after effect of Lum's "spell."
Lum turns her head, as the glint of dawn dimly illuminates the outline of the building. She notices the standing figure looking down on the street from the opposite corner, less than 100 feet from her. Uh, I'm not alone up here... wait! Isn't that Darling?
Pleasantly numb, Ataru finalizes his decision. Well, it's just useless to stand here and wait. Might as well jump. Go ahead, and jump!
And he does.
"Darling?" What the hell is he doing! NO!
As Ataru jumps, closing his eyes and blanking his mind, Lum shoots by screaming, flying faster she had ever flown in her life. Three seconds later, about halfway down, she manages to adjust her speed to his; Ataru's body has gained tremendous momentum, and his apparent weight is now in the tons range. Clinching him from behind, and reversing her thrust, she desperately struggles to pull out of the vertical dive. Three more seconds, and the street surface is approaching dangerously: she finally manages to defy gravity, save both their lives, and gain almost horizontal flight; before leveling, though, she cannot avoid scraping hard a streetlight.
Lum wearily gains altitude, carrying the limp body of her darling.
She's euphorically shouting. "YEEAAAHHHH! YEAAAH! We made it!"
As the brief excitement for the successful save subsides, she yells next to Ataru's ear. "Darling! What the Fuck did you want to do? Leave me alo-". She realizes Ataru has passed out.
Flying high, towards her UFO, silent tears start flowing as a magnificent dawn is shining, revealing the skyline of the city.
The dawn of a new day.
This time it's Ataru that wakes up in a totally unknown environment. It's a strange room, dimly lit, with curved steel walls and complex looking set of control panels, and a single, very small window. Everything painted in various shades of grey, occasionally broken by a dash of color: yellow-orangish background with black tiger stripes! Gods, this must be Lum's UFO. What am I doing here? Last I remember, I was going to die… Sniffing the air, he recognizes Lum's faint fragrance. Ataru turns his head from the bunk he's lying in, and sees Lum sitting on a peculiar armchair. She seems sort of dazed. Her face is partially hidden in the shadows, and she's leaning on her right arm.
Closing his eyes for a minute, he thinks about his unsuccessful suicide attempt.
He cannot explain it. Actually, it's sort of embarrassing. He would NEVER try to do something like this. Especially to end his life! His love of life is legendary. He had already jumped off high places more than once, but he did so either to go after Lum in anger, or to wake up from a bad dream...
In any case, it seems like Lum has saved him, after all. He feels sort of weird. In his legs, he feels a sensation of stinging pain and numbness that maybe due to how tired he is. What should I say to her? He opens his eyes again.
Fear. The fact that she saved him does not necessarily mean that she has recovered. Maybe she did it only to "play" with him a bit more, or for who knows what. Either way, it's better to know now than later.
A whisper breaks the silence. "Lum."
She suddenly wakes up, and jolts. "Darling! You're awake!"
Hearing her calling him 'Darling' makes him cry from happiness. She remembers me! He cannot stop sobbing. Lum gets up from her armchair, concerned.
"L-Lum... I mean, you are MY Lum, right? I... I'm so sorry, but please believe me, nothing happened that night, and..."
"I know, Darling," she replied in a stern tone, sitting back.
He looks up at her, puzzled.
"You see, I cornered Mayuko this morning, and I squeezed the truth out of her! Before you get too concerned, don't worry: she's OK. Well, mostly OK..." He can almost make out a light grin... "I mean, she is still alive, after all." She speaks with a low tone, almost talking to herself, sometimes suppressing a choked giggle. "I've cleared things up with Shutaro, too," she says with another giggle.
Then her voice once again takes a more serious tint. "I remembered everything, Darling. And the memories, coming back to me, did not erase what I have done in the last three days, so I remember all that, too."
And then, silence. At last, he notices that she has still not moved from her armchair, across the room. She wants to keep at a distance?
Again, Ataru breaks the embarrassing silence. "I understand. I... still want to apologize. Please, I want you to know... that it hurt, seeing you with Mendo. It REALLY hurt, way more than when you beat me up at home, even more than when you almost blew me apart in the restaurant. I..."
He stops. Lum has her face buried in her hands. She is quietly sobbing.
"Lum!" Finally, she moves to face him. A ray of light from the window illuminates her face. Sadness, and humiliation, shines through her eyes. Reddened from who knows how many tears she has shed, she avoids his gaze, turning her eyes down. He can figure that the girl sitting on that chair is very troubled. But he has to know.
"Listen, I... need to understand. What happened at the restaurant? I mean, I realized that Mendo was under some sort of... spell you cast. It was like magic; you were controlling him like a puppet. How-"
"D – Darling... how did you figure that out?"
"Well, it was easy. I was there the whole time. Mendo had his usual demeanor until you did this 'something', and then, his eyes went sort of blank. There was no more light in his eyes. And then, when I ran up to your table, I realized that there was something strange, as I felt sort of dizzy, too".
She stood up, slightly trembling. It was a secret she would have never wanted to reveal, especially to Darling! She starts wringing her hands. It takes one whole minute before she can gather enough words to reply.
"I... have a power, I've never told you about. Very few female Oni have it, and we generally keep it a secret. We can control our pheromones in a way that will basically make any compatible male... just totally submit to us. It is extremely powerful," she admits. She's clearly mortified and embarrassed.
Now Ataru is totally awake. Every trace of fatigue just disappears. He painfully turns to rest on his side, facing Lum.
"What? Why have you never told me?" he pauses, as a primal fear disturbs him. For the first time, he doubts his emotions, his very feelings. He has to know! "Have... have you used it on me?"
Lum shakes her head. Her face is twisted with shame. "Darling, I have never used it on you. I have never used it at all since I've met you, because it only works as long as we are near enough for the pheromones to influence the... target, and also because the "love" it produces is a lie. A lie!" Lum breaks down, and starts almost shouting.
"You are the first man I really, truly love!," she sniffles. "I could never make you falsely love me!"
Lum clasps her hands together, raises them to her mouth. "Please Darling, believe me! Any... any love you feel for me... if y-you still feel love... I assure you that, that love is real. I would NEVER use it on you! I was so foolish back then, before knowing you. When I came to age, I believed that t-this power was something great! I abused it, like a drug," she sniffles. "Mommy tried to convince me to stop. We never could fully understand each other... I mean, I could have just ANY boy I wanted! Even Rei... but then, I realized, no one really loved me. Lies! That was not love, it was a lie! Lust! In the end, I was so lonely! No one ever freely declared their love to me! I was so alone!"
Lum is wailing, clenching her fists, staring at him with despair and shame. After some minutes of silence, broken only by her sobbing, Lum begins to calm down.
"U... Until you-you won at the tag race, when you said you wanted to marry me... you were NOT under my influence, and those simple words, of your own free will, saved me. I know, you really did not love me then, but... I would have waited forever for your love. And now, I would do anything," she pauses.
"To hear the words you want me so badly to say to you?" Ataru replies, in a tone that he immediately regrets, sounding way too harsh.
"No, Darling. To hear the truth."
Ataru is genuinely surprised.
He thinks about it.
"I... But I did. I told you the truth, at the restaurant. I was so sure you'd blow me to dust then, that I told you what I really feel."
Lum's heart misses a beat, as an immense weight flows away like water, leaving her lightheaded and dizzy. He loves me! He really means it! She's so moved that her legs give way and she's forced onto her knees.
Ataru slides away from the sheets and attempts to get up. "Lum! Are you alrig-!" as he stands up from the bunk, an astonishing pain shoots up through his left leg. He feels his leg fail as a badly fractured bone bites in his flesh. Howling, he crumbles to the floor, and passes out; Lum dashes down to him and gently picks him up, careful not to move him around too much. Sitting on the bunk, she then cradles him in her arms, as if he were a baby, kissing him. Poor, poor Darling. I have to take you to an Earth hospital. The impact with the streetlight during her aerial rescue must have been worse than she thought; she did not realize he broke his leg. Who cares... Darling is alive, here with her and he had declared his love!
Ataru is closely watching his latest prey, a gorgeous brunette, with a ponytail and glasses. Being one of Tomobiki's hospital nurses, she's warily approaching him for the daily medical check.
Lying on his bed, with cast on his leg and a big grin on his face, Ataru blows a kiss towards the girl and smiling, asks for her name, address, and phone number! "Please, Angel of Paradise, grant me a date!"
Lum, suddenly materializes from nowhere, leaning on a wall next to the door with both her arms crossed. Actually, she had been standing there for a while, gawking at Ataru's flirtatious attempts.
"Lum! Ah- How long have you been... I... I can explain," he frets, as sweat trickles down his cheek.
"I bet you can, Darling," she growls in a deep tone.
Again, Lum's fixed gaze is colder than the Arctic winter.
The nurse, perceiving a distinct whiff of ozone, rapidly excuses herself and eagerly exits the room, mentally noting to call the ER paramedic team as soon as possible.
Ataru panics, as pure terror grips him (NO! Not that glare, again!), and then he surrenders, gradually relaxing, thinking well, I really can't do anything about it, can I? He closes his eyes and waits for the blast.
But the blast never comes.
Moments that seem to last hours later, he slowly opens his eyes. He realizes that Lum is actually giggling; she didn't move at all, no electricity is arcing around her, and her amazingly blue eyes are now shining upon him with immense devotion and love. He realizes that every trace of coldness and rage was merely pretended.
"Lum, don't do that again! I'm gonna die of heart attack!"
She raises her right hand, and, smiling, blows a kiss to him.
"Darling, I love you as you are, girl-hunting and all. Now I know, I understand, and I accept it. I Love YOU. Please don't ever change!"
"Lum. I..." Any other words just choke in his throat.
Slipping down from the bed, he painfully stands up and opens his arms. A warm, green cloud rushes to swallow him in a loving embrace, pushing both of them on the bed, as tears of molten lead pours from their eyes.
Above all, I want to thank Texty Monster Halcyon, for her help and patience.
A special thanks also goes to Nirin Tani.
I want to stress the fact that this chapter in fact was intended as a short, "one off" story and, as such, can be enjoyed. None the less, I have expanded it into a full length story. I encourage you to continue reading! Kudos and thank you for your time.
- Uru and Oniboshi. Uru is the name of the Planetary System (much like we would call our system the Solar System, from the name of the Sun, Sol), while Oniboshi is the name of the planet from which Lum and the Oni come from.
- yes, I absolutely do love Pink Floyd and Van Halen. So, I put a small homage to them. Every now and then you will recognize other homaes to songs I like, especially in the upcoming chapters.
- I believe that, taking the story to a little more serious tone, the energy Lum is able to yield should be put into perspective; logically, it is a weapon that some Oni have for defense and attack. It should, therefore, be able to do real damage. So, I assumed that, when Lum zaps Ataru, she is actually using a fraction of her actual power; I estimate her maximum power yield to be slightly less than 50 megajoules (which is also her maximum capacity as well, i.e. after using a 50 MJ discharge, she is basically helpless, before she is able to "recharge"). Note that 50 MJ is A LOT of energy. To give you a hint, it is approximately the energy stored in 12 Kg (25,6 lbs) of TNT.
- A large sized bolt of lightning can be in the 1.2 Terawatts range (for 35 microseconds). For somebody that is both bioelectrogenetic and electroreceptive, it can be quite a challenge. In this case, it is not the total energy conveyed, but the intensity (due to the short time). To put it in perspective with Lum's power, we're talking of about 30,000 MJ (and incidentally around 300 Coulombs).
- Lum's Third Power is an idea I had noting how everybody just behaved around her. Also, I imagine that some of it MAY be unintentional (i.e. she does not realize she is actually using it). I mean, seriously, there MUST be something more than just flying, being an electrical powerhouse, having an amazing body, fangs, blue/green hair and horns, right? ;-) If anybody wants to pick it up, go ahead, but, please do credit me!
- Last but not least, I describe a possible behavior due to Combat Stress Reaction (CSR). Depression is something that can be induced by extremely high levels of stress. Fight or flight response associated with adrenaline surges are typical of combat scenarios, and the so called adrenaline crash that follows it (the "low" after the "high"), with high Cortisol levels described can happen. Who is interested in these issues can read the excellent book by D. Grossman and L. W. Christensen "On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and Peace".
In the end… PLEASE REVIEW! Whether you liked the chapter or not, let me know!