What's this? Gendo actually doing something...nope, he's just playing mind games and having a bro talk with Akainu.

Wait what?

Misato has a nightmare about her evil bitchy alternate self killing Shinji with an explosive collar and wakes to find herself and Noriko under attack from robot dogs. Well...I guess the colonel isn't having a great day now is she?

And speaking of crappy days, Rossiu is shot when mistaken for one of the intruding succubi and then knocked out when he won't shut up about Shinji's lack of a tattoo. Despite a major breach of security, Kaiba is more pissed about being interrupted from a children's card game where he was about to beat Yugi.

I bet Yugi would've beaten him. Just me though.

Team B plays monopoly and discusses Oz politics and the moral implications of unintentional mass collateral in the millions. On the roof, Van is mind-screwed by one of the worst anime villains of all time and starts to doubt his own masculinity and power. He also somehow missed seeing an entire block's worth of buildings get cut in half. I suppose Legato did that to screw with him even more.

Hikari, Ninamori, Coop and Stocking discover that Kiva is actually Scanty and a fight ensues. Clothes are destroyed, buildings are cut and then the demon girl gets stomped on by Coop in a moment of surprising intelligence and tactical ability. Bit, Van, Hitomi, Nia and the rest of the gang arrive in time to see the demon girl summon Zodd who threatens to kill them with evil satanic powers that he got from eating a bunch of cute woodland christmas critters.

That and being one of the strongest and most badass demons in his home universe. But I'm more worried about what he got from the woodland critters...

Meanwhile, Shinji awakens and gets sensually interrogated by a hot demon girl. One that has been investigating him and will make him question whether or not his so-called newfound family really have his best interests at heart or if he's being manipulated all over again like with his parents.

I mean his father! Surely his mother loved him right?...Right?

In the underground, Simon stops touching the black stone and starts hearing voices in his head. How original. A gainax boy hero who starts going crazy and hearing things...

He then meets up with Roger and Dorothy and discover a central computer with all of the information that they need. But a shocking discovery leads Simon to panic and set-off the security system which gets him knocked out by thousands of rapidly fired dodgeballs to his face.

Thousands of miles away, Banagher Links somehow feels these dodgeballs and gets strange looks from his comrades. But, they still decide to send him on a dangerous mission despite potential brain damage from beating the Kobeyashi Maru on steroids.

Why exactly can Banagher feel the dodgeballs that knocked out Simon? What will his discussion with Kneesocks cause Shinji to discover and do? Can the Security team rescue Shinji and stop Kneesocks from...whatever her evil plan is? Can Misato get herself and Noriko to safety from the evil robot attack dogs? Will Bit and Van be forced to kneel before Zodd? What will Simon and Roger discover as they fall deeper and deeper into the depths of Old Angel Grove?

Stay tuned to find out.

Kneesocks and her Captive

"S2 Engine? Isn't that what Unit 01 has-" Shinji wasn't sure why he'd just heard Simon's voice in his head. But he felt a sense of urgency and fear from his fellow ranger. "ANIKI!"

"Simon?" Shinji asked himself. "Did I just hear Simon's voice?"


"Aniki?" Caught between Simon's voice in his mind and the succubi that looked like she wanted to jump his bones, Shinji was caught in a myriad of emotions. "Sorry, you've told me a lot. It's a lot to...take at face value."

"The truth is bitter pill to swallow. But it is a pill that you must accept." Kneesocks soothed her hand over Shinji's cheek. Shinji's face broke into a blush, his eyes trying in vain to keep from drinking in the red girl's attractive figure. "The fact that you even know who Enoch is was accidental. Do you believe that Kaiba himself would have told you? No. He kept this from you and let you believe that the attacks on this city were coincidental."

"Aniki...Nia...I'm really sorry..." Simon's voice drifted further and further from his hearing, leaving Shinji alone with this girl. He had to find out what was happening.

He had to leave. "That or Kaiba's ego draws a lot of enemies."

Kneesocks giggled. "You're cute. But don't dodge the truth. Kaiba is using you for his own means."

"How do I know that you're not trying to use me?" Shinji asked his captor. "If I decided that I wanted to end this conversation and leave. Would you let me? Or will you keep me here to try and use me?"

"No. If you want to leave, there's the door." Kneesocks offered, stepping back from the surprised Shinji and pointing to a single door in the room. "But what good would that do for you?"

"I'd find out about Enoch myself." Shinji rose out of his seat, cautiously keeping his eyes on Kneesock's face. "After I catch up with my friends."

"Are they truly your friends?" Kneesocks asked, Shinji tried to ignore her and walk towards the door. "Or are they just using you like your father did? Like Misato did?"

Shinji kept walking. "No. They're not like Nerv-"

"Do you know that? Or are you just running away?" Shinji felt his feet stop within an inch of the door as she said that. "Are you just telling yourself sweet lies to hide from the truth. To keep from facing reality. The reality that your so-called family is using you."

Shinji was tempted to use his invisible gun right then. "Based on what facts?"

"If Miss Horaki really loves you as you love her, where was she in Tokyo-3?" Shinji turned back to Kneesocks, ready to smack her for what she implied. "How do you know that she's not just using you now so she can feel better about herself?"

Shinji growled. "What the hell do you know about Hikari? She's honest, kind and hard-working-"

"If that's true then where was she when Toji beat you up?" Kneesocks stepped towards Shinji like a lion approaching a buffalo calf. "As class representative, she had a duty to hold him accountable for assaulting you on school property and yet she was absent. Was he punished for his wrongful attack on you? No. She evidently turned a blind eye right after you had saved the city from destruction."

His mind flowed back to that day. Remembering Toji's fists beat his body and throw him to the hard ground. He remembered being accused of getting Toji's sister hurt. He remembered lying on the ground afterwards.

Kneesocks compassionately signed. "I see it in your eyes. You know that I'm telling the truth. Did she later thank you for being the better man and saving Toji's life? After he had endangered himself by leaving his shelter against safety protocols?"

Shinji blinked, unable to answer.

"You were in her class multiple times and yet she never stopped once to thank you for everything that you had done? All of the pain that you endured? All of the sacrifices that you gave for the city?" Kneesocks' breasts were pressing against Shinji's chest again. "I see the answer in your eyes. She didn't, did she? That doesn't sound like an honest and kind person, does it?

"Did she inquire about your well-being at any time?" Kneesocks pressed on, her hand massaging Shinji's neck as he purred. "You left home for days and she never tried to see if you were alright? It was only by accident that Toji and Kensuke found you. It was only by chance that you reconciled with Toji and he acknowledged that he was wrong. But that had nothing to do with the hard-working class representative, did it?"

"No...Toji did that on his own." Shinji found himself answering. But it was the truth. Wasn't it?

"She failed in her duties to your detriment. Yet, she used her duties as an excuse to keep from getting to know you better. Did she ever once try to speak with you outside of class?" Kneesocks asked. "Well, let me amend myself. She did interact with a friend of Asuka's."

Again, the hot succubus was telling the truth.

"And during the incident with the 7th Angel, you were training with Asuka in synchronization in order to work together as a team. No?" Hearing no disagreement, Kneesocks went on. "Toji, Kensuke and Hikari visited you during that training. But Asuka kept making mistakes and took her frustration out on you."

"Then Ayanami and I pulled a perfect combo." Shinji remembered, causing Kneesocks to nod. "Asuka got mad when Misato suggested that Ayanami should replace her. Hikari throttled me and told me to take responsibility."

"For what?" Kneesocks moved her face close to the doubtful Shinji's. "Asuka was the one making mistakes, not you. Rei was the one who showed her up, not you. Misato was the one who suggested that Asuka be replaced, not you. On what basis did Hikari blame you for the actions of others?"

"She may have thought that I was messing up with Asuka on purpose..." But that wasn't true. Shinji had been performing the assigned moves perfectly. Looking back, he remembered that Asuka was always too fast and sometimes even attacked Shinji after she missed a move. "Still..."

"She was wrong to do that." Her eyes were staring right into Shinji's now. "With all of that in mind, why is she now trying to be with you? Is it truly love? Or a sad attempt to make herself feel better? Does she really love you? Or does she love being with you?"

Shinji ground his teeth together. He wanted to scream at this girl, but why should he? Why should he be angry when everything that she was saying was true?

"So she made mistakes in the past? So what?" Shinji nearly shouted in the demon girl's face. "I wasn't perfect either. I was weak, sneaky, dishonest, cowardly, and I hated myself. But I grew up! I changed! I'm strong! I'm brave! I'm bold! I'm honest! And I stand up for myself! Why should I judge someone for their past when I was a worse person in mine-"

She kissed him.

"Shinji...stop her! Stop her!" But instead of stopping the kiss, Shinji deepened it without coercion. One hand massaged her back and the other groped her breasts, his legs moved against her own. "What the hell are you doing, Shinji?"

Kneesocks stopped the kiss and pushed herself out of Shinj's grip. Her chest heaved with heavy breaths and her face was a mixture of surprise and delight. "That was a delicious kiss. Thank you."

He wanted to say that she came onto him, but he didn't stop her. He was the one who pressed things further.

"You were always strong Shinji. You were always brave. You were always honest." Kneesocks declared to the utterly confused and guilty boy. "The only difference now is that you're asserting yourself as a man. A man who won't let others control him anymore. But how can you say the same for Hikari? What proof has she given that she's a better person than when you were with Nerv? How do you know that her love is genuine and not just another sweet lie?"


"Broken your loyalty? Your faithfulness? Your trust?" Shinji didn't resist when Kneesocks nipped on his neck. "When love is in doubt, there can be no trust. Without trust, there is no love. Is this Agape or Pragma? Eros or Ludic? You know what you want Shinji, but is Hikari giving those things to you? Or is she taking your love and giving nothing in return?"

District 29

"Socialism Cyclone!" Zodd spun in place, creating a torrent of demonic fire which cut against Escaflowne's barrier and forced the guymelef back with dents in its sword. Escaflowne slashed upwards in response, sending a slashing magic torrent at the grey demon. Zodd caught the attack with his bare hand and flung it off to the distance. Liger leaped upon the demon from his right with claws glowing with solar-treated radiation.

Zodd didn't flinch when Liger struck. "Feudalism Face-plant!" Zodd grabbed the Liger's head and slammed it head first into the ground. Escaflowne charge-tackled the demon and slashed to send Zodd flying into nearby rubble.

"Are you alright?" Van panted in exhaustion. "Bit? Are you there?"

"I'm fine...just need a minute..." Bit responded with equal weariness. "This guy's tough. We're hitting him with everything we've got and he's not even slowing down."

"Constitutional Crossfire!" The mecha barely avoided the cross-shaped furious blast that scorched the ground where they were resting. Zodd charged and pummeled the off-guard Escaflowne with a swift elbow to the head. A flurry of punches were thrown right into Escaflowne's power crystal before Liger could barrage the demon with it's gauz cannons. "Communism Cold bolt!" The demon threw a lightning bolt that struck the zoid and threw it onto it's back.

"This isn't cold! This isn't cold at all!" Bit cried out, Liger frantically attempting to put out the steaming blue fire that covered it.

"Shut up! I came up with that one on the fly!" Zodd paused when he saw Escaflowne's sword impaled through his chest. "That was a cheap shot. I was talking!"

"A true warrior never lets his focus wonder." A channeled arcane burst blew open the demon's chest and spine and sent it flying across the District. Satisfied with its work, Escaflowne fell to its knees, using its sword to brace its stance. "I think...we got him..."

"The cold fire's put out. Thanks for helping." Bit sarcastically stated, part of Liger's hull burnt black from the cold fire that it had starved out. "Hey Coop? You need help over there?"

"I'm good." Megas lazily broke the last head of Cerberus. Then it regrew two heads which bit down on the Megas' arms. "This worm-dog just refuses to die."

Bit realized something. "Wait...shouldn't it go away since it's summoner just died-"

"Oligarchy Omni-Stomp!" Liger moved in time to keep its head intact. But failed to save its left front leg from being utterly crushed by Zodd's flying stomp assault. Zodd brought back its other leg and kicked the damaged Zoid into the air and down onto an overpriced restaurant.

"Bit!" Van cried out and saw the demon. It drew forth a large, curved black sword and pointed it straight at Escaflowne. Van growled when he saw the demon's fatal wounds repair and stitch its body back together. "So you can regenerate. Haven't seen that before."

Zodd grinned, smelling the unspoken fear in his foe. "Yep. And I get a power boost from surviving."

Van's eyes widened a bit. "Neat. Just like the last horned enemy we beat."

An annoyed Zodd growled. "'re gonna die."

Van readied himself for another round. Escaflowne's gauntlets turned black as he prepared to strike. "I have to at least hold him off for Hitomi and the others to escape. I hope that they're alright."

Princess Flight

"RUN!" Yoko warned, shooting behind her at the lightning fast pursuer.

"I knew Hitomi's psi was bullshit!" Leena led the pack, pumping her shotgun and checking ammo as she sprinted.

"We're gonna die!" Hikari cried out.

"I don't wanna die!" Nia complained.

"I don't think that she cares!" Annie pointed out before the girls ran into a building and shut the door behind them.

"We've gotta keep moving!" Euphemia tried to tell the others, all panting and sweating from their sprint. "She's still after us!"

"Don't tell me what to do murderer!" Hikari protested and pointed her katana at the princess. "For all we know, they're working for you!"

"Okay...seriously?" Ninamori inquired as she finished relocating her leg. "Can't you drop your hate boner for about five minutes?"

"Girls can't have boners." Annie pointed out to the shock of her older caretakers. "I know all about sex and making babies. My mommy gave me the talk."

"Anyway..." Leena spat at the broken wall and punched it. "Maybe we should just fight. If we keep running, she'll just pick us off one by-" A red arm punched through the wall and grabbed Leena's face.

"One." Nia finished as Leena's face was pulled into the wall and then the entire section was pushed onto her.

"Ow!" Leena shouted as she stood from the debris and the girls saw an infuriated Scanty standing in the hole in the wall. Before anyone else could react, she double kicked Hikari and Euphie right before she drop kicked Leena through two buildings nearby. Ninamori swung her guitar at Scanty who blocked the attack and elbowed Eri in her chest. Scanty followed up the attack with a series of swift punches to her face and stomach before round-house kicking her into the ceiling.

"So all three of our best fighters are down." Nia pointed out as Scanty landed and looked back towards her remaining prey. "Hikari? Could you call-"

"My cellphone's broken, remember?" Hikari reminded Nia. "Come to think of it...where are Naota and Jamie?"

District 30

"At least you're still alive."

"She was in a she didn't have time to finish me off." Kiva explained to Jamie and Naota. "But she stole my uniform and broke my weapons! There's no replacement for for my suit in this timeline!"

"Oh yeah, I forgot that you're from the future." Naota admitted. "Maybe the Command Center can come up with something that'll due. Maybe one of those pilot suits that Shinji has?"

"Oh no...I'm not wearing one of those thin birthday suits." Kiva stated bluntly, much to Jamie's disappointment. "Makes me wonder why Shinji doesn't wear armor over his suit."

"I think Shinji asked the same question." Jamie noted as a pair of ladies dragged themselves onto the scene and finally took a seat at an empty bench. "Hey! Misato! Noriko! What's up?"

"Come closer! We'll tell you all about it!" Misato cheerfully called out while Noriko was uncharacteristically sad and quiet. "Do either of you have a phone? We need to make a few calls!"

As they approached, Jamie threw the colonel a minute-phone that he'd bought from the Zilla Salesman at the gas station. "We were gonna give it to Hikari since we couldn't find a replacement battery. But we figured that this would work-"

"Hikari?" Noriko immediately got up and put her face into Jamie's. "Where is she!"

"Back at my place, crying her guts out over personal stuff. She broke her phone and we tried to fix it. That didn't work so we went to get a new battery." Naota explained. "But we couldn't find a new battery and decided to get a new phone. Then we found Kiva..." He leaned into to Noriko's ear and went on. "I think she's a robot in disguise."

"She's not wearing her usual outfit..." Noriko agreed and then spoke out loud. "So...Hikari's alright?"

"Yep...just tearful and emotional." Jamie asserted and blinked when Noriko stormed towards a closed diner and broke it in half with a single punch. "For some reason...this doesn't phase me."

"Damn! Damn! Damn! Damn!" Noriko continued to punch debris until only a pile of dust was left of the thankfully abandoned and unowned diner. "It was all for nothing! All of those men...all of their deaths...I let die for nothing! For fucking nothing! Damn it!"

Kiva went over to calm the girl down as Jamie kept his distance. "So...what's her story?"

"We were sent to look for Hikari...we ran into a decepticon ambush." Misato explained, wincing from a bandaged wound on her stomach. "She's taking it pretty hard."

That was when Leena flew right into Noriko and Kiva and sent all threw sprawling through the street. "Not as hard as she took that." Jamie quipped when he, Misato and Naota checked on the three young women. "You guys alright?"

"I'll live..." Noriko admitted though still sour and depressed.

"Arm's dislocated, but I can manage." Kiva answered.

"Thanks for catching me...but no...I'm not all that well..." Leena admitted and coughed blood onto the ground. "Why didn't you call us and tell us that Hikari was with us?"

"Coop's locked out of the directory." Jamie explained as Leena spat a broken tooth on the ground. "So it looks like you got thrown out of a fight. Want help going back into it?"

"Screw that! I'm making a bigger gun." Leena reached into her cleavage and brought out enough ornate pieces and gears to fit a large suitcase. "Damn it! My arm's broken. Do any of you know how to put a caster gun together?"

"Oh yeah! Coop and I used to play with those all the time!" Jamie replied happily. "What model's this one?"

"Anten Seven MK 74." Leena answered and grit from the pain of her broken arm. "Careful misplaced part and pulling the trigger is a suicide trip."

Jamie shrugged. "I can manage."

"How long will this take?" Noriko asked. "A few minutes?"

"If I wanted this to be a mini-tsar bomba then yes." Leena sarcastically replied. "To get it right, an hour at the least."

Misato wasn't going to wait that long. "Which way were you thrown from?"

Beautiful Brawl

Scanty flinched from the brick that Annie kicked into her face.

The daemon recovered in time to avoid Ninamori's guitar and deliver a spinning kick into the side of the drifter's head. Sending Eri flying, Scanty ducked under Hikari and Stockings' slashes and fired bursts of green-gold energy into their chests that shot them into the wall.

Scanty effortlessly grabbed Euphemia's fist and threw her into the wall. She then proceeded to block and grab each and every one of Nia's rapid fire punches and kicks. After blocking Nia's last fist, the spiral princess cried out in pain and gripped her broken hand.

"That last one actually bruised me." Scanty wrung out her hand before she punched Nia's face hard enough to send her tumbling across the floor. "But you're out of your league little girl."

"What about me?" Scanty saw the attack coming, but it moved too fast to evade or block. The little red-head girl kicked the succubus in her stomach and caused her to gasp in utter shock. Annie fell on her back while Scanty gripped her stomach and fell on her knees, sobbing from the sheer pain that gripped her entire body.

"Damn...good kick, Annie." Ninamori congratulated the little redhead as the rest of the ladies took the next ten minutes to recover. All while Scanty tried her hardest not to scream out or to lose consciousness. All while the succubus' skin began to grow darker and darker.

"She's still alive! Do it again!" Sadly, Scanty grabbed Annie's head and proceeded to throw her into the ground multiple times. Euphie tackled Scanty from behind to force the demoness to release Annie, but Euphemia was basically asking to get wrecked.

Scanty obliged by punching the princess in her face.

It wasn't very effective for some reason.

"Wrong target!" Euphemia shouted as she punched Scanty's face. The princess seized up with pain and held her broken hand in naked pain while Scanty smiled. "Why is this so painful!"

"What's the matter princess? Don't like being on the receiving end of pain and suffering?" Scanty kicked down Euphemia and held her boot on Euphemia's chest. "How many Japanese asked that very same question as you gunned them down in cold blood? How did it make you feel to watch them all suffer and die? I bet it felt euphoric because I'm getting off from breaking your ribs."

"Or maybe you just tell yourself that to hide from how pathetic and empty you are inside!" Euphemia spat blood into Scanty's face despite her own pain. "Human beings were put on this earth to love and have fellowship with one another! It is inherently harmful to our soul to kill another even if it's necessary!"

"Oh please! You really think you're so different from me human?" Scanty punched Euphemia's stomach to emphasize her point and make Euphie cry out. "You humans have too much practice with killing each other because you could. It's in your very DNA to take from others and destroy whatever you can! You enjoy killing others and thrive on it! Your entire history is filled with humans soaking themselves in the blood of their enemies and those whom they are told to kill by persons of authority! Slaughter and destruction are your legacy! Just like what the Britannians did to the Koreans and the Russians; or the Muslims did to the Byzantines and North Africans; or Christians against Jews and other Christians with small but different beliefs from them; or the Americans towards Asians and South Americans; or the Japanese against the Chinese-"

"No!" Feeling a stab from behind, Scanty was thrown forward by Hikari's thrust and winced when the school representative slashed a bloody line through Scanty's face. "I am not gonna get lectured about the inherent nature of humanity by a succubus who eats children's souls and steals men's potency for her own sick pleasure!"

"Steal?" Scanty caught Hikari's katana and low-kicked her in the hip to throw her off of her feet. "So what if I am a succubus? At least I'm honest about what I am. Unlike you Miss Horaki, who's stuck in hypocrisy so deep that it could drown a house of kittens."

"NOBODY HURTS KITTENS!" Annie's full-force drop-kick landed right into Scanty's lower spine and left her staggered for when Scanty double-slashed her across her chest and sent her flying out of the room. "Did I hurt her?"

"Let's ask." Nia answered happily. "Hey demon person! Are you hurt?"

Scanty walked back through the hole where she'd been thrown and growled. "I've had worse." Faster than anyone could see, Scanty brought out a pair of pistols and proceeded to barrage the room with demonic energy bullets. Screaming the whole time, Scanty wasn't in the right mindset to properly aim and fortunately failed to hit any of the girls.

"And I thought Luna couldn't shoot for shit-" Euphie was cut off when the building collapsed on them. Scanty happened to have shot everything else except for her target.

Eye of the Winged Seer

"Am I dead?" The girl's consciousness floated within a space of stars and light. "No...I'm not dead...but I did get shot."

"Go Hitomi! Beat that demon with your-" Hitomi head jerked back from the demon's swift headshot. "Useless ass psychic powers!"

She still felt the pain of the bullet hole boring through her skull. Her body lied still upon the ground in a pool of blood, suspended between life and death.

" what?" The girl asked herself and leaned against a non-existent wall in thought. "So does that mean that I'm going to become like Lalah Sune and all those dead newtypes that Kamille talked about?"

"No're just in a flux of reality." Hitomi turned and saw an old tortoise meditating next to a peach tree. Hitomi also saw that she was now standing on a serene grove with leaves resting on the ground near her feet. "A plane born from possibility and serenity."

"Neat, who are you?"

"A tortoise enjoying the breeze." The tortoise tilted up his head and smiled when the gentle wind brushed against his old cracked skin. "And you are a child who has lost her way."

"That tends to happen when you get shot-"

"That is the least of your concerns, child of Hearts." The tortoise smiled when he looked right into Hitomi's eyes, but to Hitomi it felt like this old tortoise was looking into her soul. "I see the eyes of a gentle soul overwhelmed with sorrow and pain. You carry your own burdens, but now you see the pain of others and it makes you weary. Enlarging your own sorrow beyond what you believe you can endure."

Hitomi couldn't deny a word that this tortoise had said.

"A common mistake." Hitomi gasped in surprise when she saw many scenes unfold all around her. Scenes from Nia's life; Hikari's life; Euphemia's life; Yoko's life; Leena's life; and even her own life. "When one sees into the past of another, they will be drawn to crossroads. Roads where one past will connect to another until you find that the life of a stranger is interconnected to your own."

She saw her sister.

"Kozuki..." Hitomi recognized that spiky red hair anywhere. Hitomi saw herself trying to keep up with her big sister like always. Kozuki was always better with martial arts than Hitomi and their father loved her for it. But Kozuki was always there for Hitomi, always pushing and helping her to find her own identity.

Even now, Hitomi teared up to see Kozuki and Hitomi speak and laugh together. Though no sound could be heard, Hitomi knew what they were talking about.

"You were right Oneesan..." Hitomi saw Kozuki rub little Hitomi's hair like she always did. Little Hitomi happily hugged Kozuki who returned the gesture with one arm and used the other to sooth little Hitomi's hair. "I did become a good runner...I did...become a heroine in my own name...I had my own adventure...found love...found friendship...and it's not even over yet."

"It is painful to recall those who are no longer with us." The Tortoise placed his claw upon Hitomi's shoulder as she shuddered and wept. "It is a heavy burden to feel the pain of others...if one's own sorrows bring you to your knees, how can you carry others' sorrows?"

The tortoise pointed to each vision and Hitomi's eyes widened.

She saw Nia crying from the wounds given by her own father as she sat within a dungeon. Her back, arms and knees were covered with horrific and infected cuts, her bones and muscles strained from the physical chores that she was forced to endure and her eyes were vacant from despair. But then the dungeon broke and Nia happily cried out when a cat-claw man entered and picked up little Nia to carry her to his home. Nia's eyes regained their light and Nia swore to never lose that light again as long as Nikapol loved her.

Leena lied beside her brain-dead brother. waiting for a miracle that would never occur. When she awoke, she both smiled and cried when her damaged, but awake brother called her by name. She knew that he would never fully recover, but hearing him say her name and know who she was made her smile. He somehow remembered Bit and the others too, including their father. It made Leena glad... glad to know that there was some part of her brother that survived despite the accident.

Yoko watched her lover suffer in silence, keeping himself going by sheer guts and courage. But she couldn't help but be inspired by how he encouraged so many around him. She couldn't deny that his strength despite his condition had made her stronger as well. Yoko saw that Kamina was going forward without any regret for his decisions as long as he did something for others. He was too damned awesome to go out quietly into the night and Yoko would stay by him for as long as she could.

Hikari cried alone at a table with a single cake prepared with six blown-out candles. A cake prepared for a brother who was never born because he died along with his mother. Hikari heard a knock at the door and wiped her tears. She opened the door and saw Suzahara and Aida with that day's homework and another surprise. Her pen-pal from Okinawa had come by to surprise her. Hikari laughed happily and welcomed all three into her home. She never told them what the cake was for, but they enjoyed her cooking and ended up staying the night.

Euphemia kneeled within the French Square as thousands of men and women lined up to throw stones, bottles, mud, filth and other items at her. Her own father had already left a bloody mark on Euphemia's face, he sat nearby watching as her restrained daughter was about to be "punished" for her sins. But then a priest stepped forward, shielding Euphemia from the crowd and asked the sinless to throw the first stone. This provoked an argument as the crowd was angered by the priest's defiant repeating of his statement and no one saw the small Japanese girl from the iron shop free Euphemia and heal her wound back at her home.

"Life is not only pain and sorrow, child." The tortoise explained, allowing Hitomi to observe the moments of joy and sadness that her friends had experienced throughout their lives. "You are much like many young ones that I was blessed to meet. All of them constantly looking backwards towards the past or to the future. Always too concerned about what was and what will be. There is a saying: yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift."

"That is why it is called the present." Hitomi laughed at the tortoise's wordplay. "You see? You laugh now when you were sad before. The pain of the past is merely in the past."

Hitomi looked back towards the visions of her life, watching Kozuki happily spar with little Kyoji while Hitomi rested nearby. "But it still hurts to remember it."

"Yes...the past can hurt. It is not easy to merely learn from it or to accept it." The tortoise acknowledged and soothed a claw on Hitomi's cheek. "But you must remember: if you forsake the present for the past, then today will pass and become history. History which you stopped yourself from seeing. Inner peace is only possible with one who accepts the past as it is so that they can learn from it; to accept the future as what may be or what will be according to our actions and consequences; and therefore, chooses to make the most of today so that they do not miss their present."

Hitomi absorbed the words that this ethereal tortoise had told her and then she paused on a question. "So how do get back to my friends?"

The tortoise chuckled at Hitomi's puzzlement. "That's easy, you just wake up."

Broken Beauties

Hitomi woke up screaming.

Her skull felt worst than the time her little brother threw a baseball at her on accident.

"At least Kyoji didn't know his own strength!" Hitomi mumbled as she set herself up and found that her body wasn't in the state that she thought it was in. Sure, her head hurt like hell, but her muscles and nerves were responsive to her intentions and her senses didn't appear to be damaged at all. "If I ever see that tortoise again, I'm gonna thank him for healing me." Hitomi rubbed her forehead and swore that she felt something metallic just under her head. When she looked into a broken piece of glass, Hitomi saw nothing abnormal...

Except that her hair was as spiky as when she was a child.

And that the building that she should be standing in was largely gone.

"Now let's play a game little girl!" Hitomi heard a malicious and angry voice shout. "I'm gonna whip the ginger off of you! If you scream then I shoot one of your friends! But you'll get a prize for every 20 savage lashes where you don't scream!"

"What...will I...get if I...don't...scream?"

"Another savage beating!" Hitomi heard something tear upon flesh and suddenly she realized exactly what was happening. "Not bad! I guess I'll raise the power!"

"Leave her alone!" Hitomi heard Hikari cry out as Hitomi marched closer to where her friends were in danger. "If you want to torture someone then torture me! You'll just kill us all anyway!"

"I will abide by the ruurus of this game!" Hitomi arrived in time to see the succubus Scanty whip Hikari on her face. Like the others, Hikari was partially trapped under debris and at the mercy of the red woman whom tied up little Annie who was trying to be brave despite her fear and pain. "And besides, I am torturing you, Japanese slut! I'm torturing you for wasting my time when I could be back with my sister!"

"Is she also unpleasant and ugly like you?" Nia asked in defiance and earned a bullet through her hair. "You cannot shoot for shit."

"I'm warning you whore-"

"I won't bother." Hitomi palmed the demon bitch as hard as she could and threw her into the remains of a wall. "Sorry...I had to take a nap."

"Take a nap?" Ninamori repeated with a baffled expression. "You got shot!"

"I got better." Hitomi mused and looked to where Scanty had regained her breath. "Why didn't you guys shoot her while she was-"

"None of us have guns."

"All the same, why didn't you-" Hitomi slightly moved her head to avoid the speeding demonic bullet that was an inch from hitting her nose. "Not this time bitch."

"How the hell are you still alive?" Scanty asked with growing rage as each bullet she fired was avoided by Hitomi. "That was a guaranteed kill shot and I saw the bullet go through your head."

Annie thought for a second and shrugged in acknowledgement. "She has a point there."

"Like I said, I got better." Hitomi repeated and slash kicked Scanty onto her head. The demon girl responded by wrapping her thighs around Hitomi's neck and throwing her into a nearby wall. Scanty shot towards where she threw Hitomi and was instead stunned to see Hitomi grab her guns and use them to whip Scanty across her face. Scanty roared and snatched one of her guns from Hitomi's grasp before punching her in the gut.

"Get better from this!" Scanty kicked Hitomi in the chin and fired her gun at her face. But the bullet was stopped and crushed by an unseen barrier much to Scanty's utter shock. "The hell? When did your haki get stronger than my power?" Instead of answer, Hitomi headbutted the demon assassin and proceeded to throw her down with a series of rakes, punches and palm strikes. Scanty elbowed Hitomi on her neck, but the attack did not phase her and her arms struck upon the demon's shoulders as if in direct equal and opposite reaction to Scanty's energy.

"I wasn't in the best mood before." Hitomi admitted as Scanty fell to the floor stunned and badly hurt. Hitomi winced and tapped on the raw scar on her forehead to find a small sliver of blood leaking down her face. "You shot me out of that flu. Thank you." Hitomi then assumed a martial arts position that drew shock from Euphemia and Hikari.

"The Lotus Paws of the Panda?" Hikari remarked in awe. "That martial art has been lost for thousands of years! Where did you learn that?"

Hitomi smiled before she replied. "From a panda."

Everyone face-faulted.

Except for Euphemia who was excited. "A Kung Fu panda? Where did you find him?"

"He was a friend of my dad's." Hitomi was abashed and blushing despite the recovering succubus behind her. "I trained with Master Panda for close to a year at his home in the mountains. He's a funny person, but his training almost killed me no less than five times every day."

"That hard?" Hikari asked in curiosity, rubbing the bruise on her forehead with a wince. "My master only tried to kill me once a week."

"To be fair, Master Panda never intended to kill me. He said that he just wanted me to be motivated-" Hitomi gasped when she felt Scanty's pistol on the back of her head.

"Motivate from this." Scanty pulled the trigger, knocking Hitomi's head forward as her arms were thrown upwards. "Now then...with her out of the way-" Those same arms wrapped themselves around Scanty's head and threw her forward to crunch her back against Hitomi's knee.

"What made you think it would work the third time?" Hitomi let the limp Scanty fall off of her knee and reached back to painfully dig the demonic bullet out of her hair. "Why does it hurt more than the first time?"

"Eh have silver stuff in your hair-" Annie was shocked when the silver screen on the back of Hitomi's head disappeared, leaving only raw skin behind. "Never mind."

"I'm...going to sit down now..." Hitomi sat against the wall, only know realizing that the other girls were looking at her. "What?"

"We saw you die!" Yoko shouted, speaking for just about everyone. "You don't just sweep that aside! Also you just killed her."

Hitomi looked over to where Stocking boredly stabbed and poked at Scanty with her sword. But the demonic girl gave no response as she stared upside down at the world.

Realizing what she'd done, she hugged her knees close to her chest. "Oh no...I didn't...I didn't mean to..."

"Are you crying?" Hikari asked as Hitomi's tears filled with water. "Oh Kami! You are crying! Why are you crying for the woman who just tried to kill you!"

"It is not a sin to have compassion for your enemy!" Euphemia rebuked Hikari. "It takes strength to mourn for those who hurt you and to pray for those who persecute you-"

"If being strong means giving a damn about people who kill the innocent and crippled my sister, then I'll stay a weakling my whole life." Hikari defiantly declared to the Britannian princess. "Nothing you say means anything to us."

"It means something to me-"

"Shut up Nia!"

"Make me." Nia dared her friend. "Just because Euphemia has done bad things, that doesn't mean that she can't impart wisdom."

"Did you pray for Lordgenome whenever he tried to kill you?" At that question, Nia grimaced and shook. "Didn't think so."

"You can all hush...I'm not crying for her..." Hitomi muttered. "I'm crying because I lost control...I only meant to knock her out...not kill her..."

" you don't care that you took a life?"

"I do feel remorse that it had to come to that. But no, I don't feel too bad for killing her." Hitomi wiped her eyes and stood on her feet.

Then she fell right onto her face.

"She's dead again?" Ninamori leaned down and poked Hitomi. The girls were glad to hear a groan and to see her hands flinch. "So who's carrying her and who's carrying the bitch?"

"The bitch is gone." Annie pointed the others to where Scanty's dead body had disappeared.

Too stunned and shocked to move, the others didn't stop Euphemia from walking over to Annie.

"Language!" The princess shouted when she smacked the little girl's head.

Hikari rolled her eyes at the scene. "Coming from the murder princess...that's rich..."

Command Center

Dark rings under his eyes, Shinji looked upon his hands and unzipped pants with disgust.

Disgust at himself.

"Miss Horaki at least ensured that you can please a woman." Kneesocks mused as she clipped her top back onto her huge bosom, licking her lips in anticipation. "You need not feel bad about what you did. It's not as though I didn't consent to your massage-"

"I shouldn't have done that..." Shinji zipped up his pants and spat on his hands in desperation to try and wash them. "Hikari will hate me for it...I...used another woman's cleavage and...and..."

"And you liked it." Shinji shook when Kneesocks pressed her chest on Shinji's and purposefully moved them in circles, drawing Shinji's attention yet again. "You like it because my affections for you are true. Unlike Hikari's...did she ever let you poke her cleavage?"

Shinji's face turned red from even more indecent thoughts. "We...we did...a lot of stuff..."

"Was she as good as me?" Kneesocks wrapped a leg around Shinji's waist just to make him even hotter. "We can do more if you want-"

"No!" Shinji pushed Kneesocks off of him and backed away towards the door. "I've done enough as is...I...I can't go any further or...or..."

"Or what? Hikari will be mad at you?" Kneesocks inquired with a smirk. "She doesn't even love you-"

"But I love her!"

"Did that stop Yui from leaving you?" Shinji's eyes widened, recalling vivid images from a time long repressed in his mind. Kneesocks stepped towards Shinji as he silently sobbed. "You loved your mother, but that didn't stop her from abandoning you. You loved your father, yet he still used you as a tool. What you need to understand is that love is not true love unless it is reciprocated... otherwise it is merely an invitation to be used and tossed aside like a broken toy."

"That's what happened to me and my sister." Kneesocks continued as she embraced him and nibbled on his earlobe. "Our father...we loved him with all of our heart. But...he didn't care about us...he tortured us, abused us and finally, he tossed us into the inferno when he realized that we would not be his pawns anymore. It was only by arranging a pact with Mayor Corset that we escaped that hellhole and made our way in the world. After that, I knew that only my sister loved me and I decided that I would love her until the end of all things."

"Give me your love Shinji-kun and I will give you mine." Shinji whimpered in tears as he felt Kneesocks touch him in a way that made him feel like he was rising. He didn't want it and yet, he thought it was only fair since he'd done indecent things with her body for the past two hours. "I will fulfill your every desire... your every need... lust, companionship, power, understanding, and anything else that your false friends, lovers and family have deprived from you for the past 11 years."

"I think...I'm about to say yes..." Shinji admitted within himself as more and more of his psyche was drawn to this woman's charms and temptations. "Please...somebody...Simon! Misato! Hikari! Nia! Kamina! Roger! Van! Bit! Heero! Kaiba! Asuka! Ayanami! Anybody! Help me!"

Instead, Shinji could only feel the woman's touch. "No...I'm alone. There's no one here...There's no one who can...who can help me...I'm going to fail and I'm going to break Hikari's heart...I'm too...weak and lustful to resist. I can't-"

"Shinji you may feel ready to lose faith in others, but do not lose faith in yourself." The voice of Optimus echoed through his mind from a memory fogged by doubt and shame. "You may believe that your burden is yours to bear alone, but do not allow the fear and hopelessness of the present to isolate you from those who respect and care for you. Pain is an inevitable part of the sentient life-form, it is only through that pain will we grow."

"You want to be strong? Then get strong!" The scarred pirate's voice declared as Shinji remembered their departure. "You have to work and struggle to make the life you want to live! It's hard and tough and you're gonna stumble! But I didn't make you my nakama just because I like you! I believe that you can make it! I believe that you can find love and find your strength! So get off my ship and go get it!"

"Captain, this is my submarine-"

"Shut up Admiral!"

"Shinji? You're my brother...why can't I call you aniki?" Shinji heard Simon's voice now. "I'll walk with ya! That's what bros do when they love each other."

"If I did not care for you... I would let you die..." Nia's tearful rebuke went straight to Shinji's heart. "If Hikari did not care for you... she would not have risked her life to make sure that you came here and neither would Noriko... Simon would not call you his 'aniki'."

"You seem to be in denial that people care for you. That's not true... we love you... I love you... Shinja..." Then Shinji's eyes flared and he gripped Kneesock's shoulders to push her off of him.


"No. I won't do this." Shinji stated with resolve despite his tears. "I don't know how... but I forgot that what you doubt is real. I made a mistake by not leaving you as soon as you started flirting with me. But I won't stumble again. I won't hurt Hikari anymore than I already have."

Instead of being offended, Kneesocks smiled. "If you're so insistent on staying with that hypocritical whore, then she can join the three of us. Foursomes are quite fun-"

Shinji awkwardly pointed at Kneesocks with his fingers. "Sorry bitch, but I'm a one-woman man. Unless your name is Orihime Inoue, in which case me and Hikari can make an exception... and maybe Ayanami or Asuka... No! Fuck Asuka, she's a bully and bitch. Ayanami's more like a sister so... My point is that I'm not interested."

"What will you do then? Shoot me with your invisible gun?" Kneesocks mockingly inquired as Shinji narrowed his eyes. "Do you think that you can intimidate me?"

Shinji cocked his thumb as he looked right into Kneesock's eyes. "Who the fuck are you?"

"Kneesocks Daemon, daughter of the mayor of Daten City." Kneesocks answered with a seductive gaze. "My sister and I came here to meet you. Then we'd persuade you to come with us if we liked you. And from the taste that you gave me, I know that we'd love to keep you around."

"But if rough-play is your desire," Shinji gulped as Kneesocks bent down and began to sensually pull off her knee-high socks, "then I'll be glad to play around until you're-" Kneesocks suddenly seized up and blood gushed from her shoulder as another red-skinned girl pulled herself out of Kneesock's gaping wound and fell upon the floor.

"Damned Japanese and their damned kung fu!" The light-green haired girl shouted as she stood on her feet; only pure resolve to be faithful to Hikari kept Shinji from dropping dead from the gorgeous nudity that was displayed uncensored for him. "Oh... you must be Shinji-kun... I'm Scanty Daemon-"

"Yeah... your sister already told me about you." Shinji replied as both girls were staring deviously and lustfully at him. Part of Shinji was genuinely flattered, but the other part woke up to the fact that these horned red-skinned women may not have the best of intentions for him. "Quick question?"

"Yes?" Both girls seductively replied as they pressed their sensual bodies together in an erotic embrace.

"Why is your skin red?"

"We're half-demons." Shinji blinked, trying to comprehend that answer in spite of all of the crazy stuff that he'd seen and experienced since meeting Misato at Nerv. "Though admittingly, we're mostly demon now thanks to our apathetic father. But I digress."

"I'm being stalked and seduced by a pair of incestuous bisexual demonic schoolgirls with big breasts." The fact that the girls weren't ashamed of Shinji's label made the situation all the more ridiculous. "It's a good thing that the others aren't here or I'd never hear the end of it."

District 29

"It's a good thing that Shinji isn't here or he'd get a kick out of my misery." Van laughed as Escaflowne stood upon its feet and gripped its sword with one hand. The other one limply hung due to the severe cut which the demon had given it.

"Good thing? I'd rather be laughed at than slaughtered!" Bit shouted, his Liger heaving under the weight of its damage. "By the way, remind me never to let half of the team run off without a way of contacting them."

"Same for me." Zodd cut in. "Now both of my summoners are gone...this is why I don't fight for amateurs! But no! The demon code forbids me from declining service to a spiral summoner! Even though working under a summoner weaker than me limits how much power I can use! I hate that code."

"You have a code?" Bit asked in curiosity. "In fact, why are you telling us about your code and how you're weaker because of it?"

"Because I'll still kick your ass." Zodd honed in his point by kicking Liger straight into the air and cutting Escaflowne upon its right shoulder. Zodd was surprised when Van blocked the next strike and pushed him off. "You should probably lose that arm. Or take a page out of my book-"

"How about I burn your book!" From above, Liger Zero's Solar claws bit deep into Zodd's skull and Bit angled his zoid to carve down through the demon's back. Blood smoked off of the liger's remaining front leg while the zoid growled at the standing demon. "You took that pretty well..."

Zodd laughed.

"You just lost half of your head and spine...what are you laughing about?" Zodd's laughter increased, unnerving Van from sensibly stabbing through the demon's heart. "What's so funny?"

"What's so funny?" The demon boomed as its muscles began to ripple and expand. "You dumbass humans really think that you can stop me? Do you even know who the hell I am? Do you not know of how many times Nosferatu Zodd has been faced with powerful adversaries and won? How many paladins tried to slay me and failed? How many warriors I've slaughtered for fun? The wars I've won? The battles I've dominated? If you'd had your friends with you then I'd have a true challenge. But alone? Alone, you're-"

"Enough to kill you!" Bit screamed and unloaded on Zodd's exposed back with his gaus cannons. Thrown out of his awe, Van joined in with several arcane slashes that flew out and covered the demon with cuts and wounds. "King! Kick his ass!"

"Right!" Van focused his mana, watching as Escaflowne's gauntlets turned black as he prepared his next attack. "Torch of Astrape!" Fire seemed to sprout from Escaflowne's black claws and stream around the wounded demon. Then as if ignited, the fire grew hotter and each fork of flame birthed a bolt of lightning which surrounded and filled the demon's body.

Bit blinked in surprise. "When did you learn to do that?"

"Just now..." Van admitted as the fire and lightning died down and Zodd's charred and silent body fell onto it's blown open back. "Victory! Shows him right!"

"Hold up." Liger hopped up to the demon and fired five rounds into Zodd's head. When he saw no reaction, Bit was content and walked away from the demon's corpse. "Okay. Now we can celebrate."

"Van!" Escaflowne turned over to where Hitomi waved at the two rangers leading the other girls in various states of injury and distress. "Van! Are you alright?"

"Escaflowne needs repairs, but otherwise I feel great!" Van replied and looked over to where Megas obliterated the worm-dog named Cerberus with a mass of cannon fire while Coop maniacally laughed. "Looks like we've won the day!"

Princess' Relief

"I need another hot bath..." Yoko spoke for everyone else, all of them were battered, tired, strained and either wounded or still sore from the beating that they'd endured. "Good job girls."

"Thanks Yoko..." Nia replied and felt something rumble. She blinked and inclined her head to the side, wondering why she felt something rumble at its own rhythm. "Does anyone hear that beat?"

"Beat?" Euphemia inquired. "What beat?"

"You mean that rock that keeps hitting the ground over and over again?" Annie seemed to be hearing something, but what she heard was different from how Nia would describe the sound. "It sounds like a toddler hitting his chalk on the chalkboard."

"Oh no..." A newly and barely conscious Hitomi lamented. "It's still alive...VAN! The Demon's still alive!"

"Very good." Zodd's body trembled, his laughter booming in the ears of the mortals who heard him. "Very Good!" Then as they all watched, Zodd's body began to grow crimson fur and enlarge its body even as it began to pull itself up.

"Why aren't we shooting him-" Bit gave up when he realized that shooting the demon would be pointless. Now the beast was easily towering over Megas and sprouting two massive horns from its feline head. The wounds on the beast's body became nothing more than faded scars with claws like black steel emerging from the beast's fingers.

"Question." Coop inquired as the newly transformed Zodd turned to the Megas. "You're actually a 50 meter cat-minotaur demon disguised as a 15 meter tall demon? That's the worst disguise ever!"

"It's not a disguise, fatass." Suddenly, a massive ball of heat and fire appeared between the demon's massive horns. "I just don't waste this form on weaklings. Since you're clearly not a weakling, I decided to let the dogs out."

Van blinked in confusion. "But Coop killed your dog."

Zodd's face went completely still. Then the demon quickly turned to Escaflowne and suddenly the ball of heat had crashed on the guymelef before anyone realized what had happened.

"VAN!" Hitomi screamed as the ball dissipated to reveal a smoldering and terribly damaged bleeding Escaflowne. "Van! Van!"

"Wait..." Euphemia noticed something very strange. "Fire can't kill a dragon! Fire is only half as effective against dragons!"

"Yep. But even dragons get burned when the fire's hot enough." Zodd declared just as Megas punched him square in the face. "What took you so long human?"

"Charging up." Coop answered as Megas' arm opened up to reveal a massive cannon. "Smile." Zodd's form was enraptured by the great beam of a Master Blaster while Megas stood and directed the attack.

"Go Coop! Kick that demon's ass!" Bit cheered and blanched when Zodd emerged from the beam and grabbed Megas to pull its body into its own attack. "That's...that's not...fair..."

"Hey! No cheating!" Coop objected as Megas' arm was damaged by his own attack. Coop retaliated by grabbing the demon's horns and throwing Zodd onto his back. "Hey Bit! You got my back?"

Bit looked at the critical condition of his zoid and signed. "Need a few minutes to repair Liger, can you hold out till then?"

"Sure thing, I've got this guy." Coop was immediately corrected when Zodd gored Megas torso and sent the machine flying into the air.

"How far up is he going?" Ninamori inquired calmly while the others looked on in complete horror and shock as Megas flew up further and further. "Shit...he's not coming back down any time soon, is he?"

"Not gonna bother waiting." Zodd remarked before he swiftly gored the surprised Liger through its back and kicked the zoid off of its horn, leaving Liger crippled beneath it. "So the plant's out till he recharges. That just leaves...who else?"

"Go get em Stocking!" Hikari declared and then noticed that Stocking Anarchy was stuffing her face in cakes. "What the hell are you doing?"

"Eating." Stocking remarked, slicing several cakes into perfect pieces for consumption. "If you want me to fight Nosferatu Zodd, a Platinum B Apostle, then it's not gonna be on an empty stomach."

"Platinum B?" Ninamori repeated with terror on her features. "Well...we're fucked."

Nia turned to Ninamori with a fierce glare. "Don't say that! There's a child here! Also, don't give up hope-"

"She's being realistic, you're all fucked." Zodd's voice boomed to the girls. "Unless you have any other worthy foes for me to fight, then I'll just ignore all of you."

Hikari gulped as she spoke. "And...if we don't?"

"Then I'll have to settle for all of you." All of the girl's eyes widened upon realizing that the 50 meter demon actually wanted to fight them. "I mean you can't be that weak if Scanty got driven off-"

"I'm not weak!" Hikari pulled out a pistol and fired at the demon. Zodd stood and watched each bullet harmlessly bounce off of his skin.

"Haki user? Not bad, but...Haki doesn't do shit to demons..." Zodd explained as Hikari continued to unload on the demon. "But fine! Waste your ammunition even though its completely futile-" Zodd screamed out when a bullet found his crouch and brought the apostle to his knees screaming like a child.

"Hikari? Where did you get that gun?" Nia asked as the demon held his wound and continued to scream out.

"Stole it off of that demon." Hikari answered proudly and then realized something when she looked back towards Zodd. "I just made a mistake."

"Yes. You. Did." Zodd roared as he brought up his arm and slashed the air in front of Hikari. Before Hikari could try and duck, she felt someone grab her and throw the two of them to cover as everyone ducked or got low from the great airburst that ripped through the area.

"" Hikari looked up to see that Euphemia was holding three cuts on her torso and holding herself up against a piece of debris.

"I...fine..." Hikari answered. "Why...why did you do that?"

"You would've died if I didn't..." Euphie answered with a smile despite her pain. "I know...this won't make up for Nygoya...but it was the right thing to do..."

"Well to be fair, that was a heroic thing to do." Hikari looked up to see Zodd looking down on the two of them patiently. "But you realize that you're now on the top of my shit list, right princess?"

"One more thing you have in commen with my father..." Euphie remarked with ebbing energy. "Or do you only kill men?"

"No worries...I'm an equal opportunity demon." Zodd said as he brought up his arm again. "Feminism Bitch-" A clash of steel interrupted Zodd and he looked upon his raised arm to find it cut in half.

"Sorry about that. But I have a job to do." A white and gold Knightmare frame stood off on the side, it's energy sword burning off the blood from Zodd's decapitated arm. "You were going to hurt the princess."

"No! I was just gonna pet her pretty pink hair!" Zodd roared at the knightmare frame brought up his remaining arm to shield himself from the wire-guided blades which the knightmare frame shot at Zodd. "Stop it! That tickles!"

"Is that...the Lancelot?" Hitomi thought as the girls regrouped and watched Zodd fruitlessly attempt to strike the knightmare frame.

"The Lancelot Conquista." Euphemia clarified with pride. "Piloted by none other than Sir Suzaku Kururugi, Knight of Eleven of the Knights of the Round."

"Traitor..." Hikari muttered under her breath, despite being very glad that Suzaku had just saved them. "So he's here for his princess?" As the Lancelot's sword was broken by a punch from Zodd, the demon shuffled to avoid the claws of the Liger in its Sunflower mode.

"I'm not the only one letting loose! Great!" Zodd laughed as he looked upon the glowing Liger and the knightmare frame that had severed his arm. "Now its an even fight!"

"Not for long." Suzaku remarked and brandished out another sword before attacking with a thrust. Zodd leapt up to avoid the attack was about to strike downwards when he saw that a spinning sword was above him.

"GREAT..." Suddenly, a Black armored knightmare frame appeared to grab the sword and shifted its weight downwards. "AETHER!" The blade took on blue fire as it severed Zodd's shoulder from his body along with his remaining arm and sent him flying down to earth. As Zodd cratered onto the ground, the newcomer landed in between Zodd and the Lancelot.

"That's...Sir. Issac Gawain, the Knight of Two." Euphie exclaimed with surprise at the second newcomer. "And his knightmare frame, Alondite wielding the blessed Tempest Sword, Ragnell..."

Nia turned to Euphemia in confusion. "Why are you telling us these things?"

"Show off." Suzaku remarked as Liger jumped upon Zodd's back and started clawing into his back with glowing gold claws.

"Shut it. I came when I was needed." Ike replied confidently just as Liger was thrown into a downed building. "You alright over there?"

"I'll live." Bit sternly answered as Liger recovered and roared at the demon. "I call bullshit!"

"It's not my fault that you couldn't handle the Armless Bitch Slap!" Zodd stated as he got up with his shoulder and arm regrown and holding the second arm like a makeshift club. He then charged towards the knights and used his arm to smash upon Alondite's head and nail him into the ground. Zodd dodged Suzaku's cut and used his arm to strike Lancelot's back to send him flying across the scene.

" would be great if Coop landed about now." Bit looked up and saw no sign of Megas. "Oh come on!"

"Now would be a great time for Shinji, Simon and Roger to show up." Van managed despite his extreme pain. But his visuals showed no sign of his comrades. "But no...they're not here! Where the hell are they?"

"Wherever they are, they better get here soon." Bit stated as the knights danced and hacked at the demon, but weren't doing any real damage to it. "Or...I might have to wipe out this whole district..."

"What was that?"


Monument of the Grove

"This Grove will be a message to the future." Roger was barely conscious, a sooth motherly voice whispering in his ear as he lied on a cold metal floor. "You must make that message endure. You are the successor of our people, the last of its heroes."

"All is lost." Roger heard himself answer. "What if Zamboa is right? What if we're just going to destroy ourselves anyway?"

"Then find your own answer." The woman...a wise and sorrowful librarian said to him. "Use the knowledge of our people... use it to create a new world... use it to protect our successors. With your spirit, you must guide them or else they will repeat our mistakes."

"Do you feel it, negotiator?" His eyes fully opened, Roger looked up to see Schwartzbald standing over him. "The weight of your failure? The burden of the lost begging you to awaken? Do you hear the voice of the dead?"

"Roger!" Roger's eyes shot open, Simon was kneeling next to him with a cut on his face. "You're awake! Good!"

"Dorothy..." Roger managed as Simon moved the negotiator, letting him lean his back against a cool wall. "Where is... Dorothy..."

"Over here." Dorothy answered, Roger turned his head and saw Dorothy repairing several gashes in her left arm. "You are a louse... I could've caught Simon without trouble."

"When you tried to save me, the balls got you in the head and Dorothy broke her arm saving us both." Simon remarked regretfully. "I'm really sorry about that."

"For getting hit with a thousand balls? Don't be." Roger joked and winced from a pain in his chest. From what he guessed, he had at least one broken rib. "But unless there's a medical ward around here, we'll have to cut this adventure short."

"There is no navigational data on this area." Dorothy answered, fully restoring her arm and increasing the illumination of her head-lamp. Suddenly, Roger and Simon were amazed to see exactly were they were.

A storage chamber.

A very big storage chamber.

"Are all of those things... pods?" Simon asked in amazement, the many countless pods lining the walls of this massive facility were almost countless. Roger guessed that there were at least hundreds of them if not more than thousands. "What's in them? I bet its treasure!"

"That would explain Kaiba's wealth." Roger added with a chuckle and walked up to a worn out control console. He wiped away dust to reveal a sequence of symbols that were unfamiliar to him. But one thing was clear. "This isn't human lettering. Not even ancient lettering."

"Hold on..." Simon found another console and took out his spiral core. "Maybe I can get the computer to speak english."

"Simon, this computer's been worn out for who knows how long-" Of course, Simon had already pressed his core into the console and was already spreading his power through its system. "Simon... don't stick that into things that you don't know about-"

"Grove Preservation and Hibernation Chamber 542... Chamber 542... active..." A computer voice stuttered as light along all of the walls began to radiate through the whole chamber. "Welcome... General..."

Simon smiled in approval. "Now the computer can talk to us."

"Assuming that it isn't corrupt." Roger pondered, truly impressed with Simon's ability. "I need to stop underestimating Spiral Energy... or Simon."

"Wait though..." Simon realized. "Mrs. Dorothy, how can the computer speak english if this was made by non-humans?"

"Perhaps the system analyzed data from your core and adapted its vocabulary and vocal coding for translation." Dorothy answered and placed her hand on a pod. She soothingly rubbed her hand upon its black and sleek bulk, her features becoming sad and wane. "It's quiet here..."

"Of course it's quiet." Roger figured. "We're the only ones here-"

"Must this one become selected?" Dorothy asked him... a younger and sadder Dorothy whose hand touched the glass within the open pod. A young child slept within, wires and tubes connected to his body while he remained unfeeling and unaware. "He is just a boy-"

"His capacity is among the lowest." Roger saw a tall armored warrior stand apart from Dorothy. He was tall with his steel blue and white armor, his dark blue helmet adorned with a blue-silver circular plate. His chest piece was marked in its center by a single aztec symbol.

Immediately, Roger that this symbol denoted an honorable warrior.

"Even so..." Dorothy weakly countered. "Are we no better if we sacrifice him..."

"Others with higher capacity have been selected as well." The warrior looked to the many pods lining the hall, veins in the floor leading outward towards the central chamber of the entire Grove. "Without this measure, all of them would die. This is the only way."

"That doesn't make it... right..." Dorothy turned from the pod, a tear spilling from her eye as she approached the warrior. "Would this be easy for you if our child were among the lowest?"

"We have no children. That question is irrelevant." Dorothy smacked the warrior and walked away. The Warrior walked to the console and had the pod door slide over the glass. "May your dreams be better than my reality."

"Roger?" Hearing Simon's voice, Roger was thrust back into the present. "You zoned out again. Did you remember something?"

"Yes." Roger walked further down the hall, looking up and down, back and forth just to make sure he knew exactly how many pods he could see. He looked to the symbols and letters next to each pod and nodded in understanding. "This whole batch here was... selected... That one was cleared... selected... cleared... cleared... selected... selected... priority... selected... priority..."

"Roger?" Simon asked in confusion as he and Dorothy ran after him. "Hey computer? Can you hear us?"

"I hear and obey... obey... General..." The chamber cpu stuttered. "How may I be of assistance?"

"Oh! I'm not a general, I'm Simon." Simon replied. "We're lost and we don't know where we are. Do you know?"

"You are within... within... the 542nd Hibernation and Preservation Chamber of the Reverent Research and Development Grove Sanctuary... Sanctuary..." The computer replied. "If you would like to return to the Living Quarters, then please follow the NW hallway to the cleansing facilities-"

"No thanks." Simon replied. "Uh... whats in this preservation chamber?"

"At the moment, there are no lifeforms preserved in this chamber." The computer answered. "Data is corrupt concerning the last exit point of the chamber's last occupants."

Roger found another console and looked to the pod next to him. "This is it... she was... selected... computer! Open Pod KG-BNS!"

"Order accepted." Smoke and steam rose from the pod as the door slide down off of the black cylinder. Roger's breath quickened when he looked inside and saw what he knew he would see.


"Hey! It's Neutro-Blu!" Simon remarked when he came to the pod. "It looks pretty fresh too... I guess this is how Kaiba makes it!"

"He... he didn't make it..." Roger stepped back in sheer horror and then looking down the hall at the innumerable pods in this chamber. "He... he found it... just like... his father did..."

"Roger." Dorothy grabbed his shoulders to stabilize him, it was soon clear that she knew exactly what he had discovered. "Roger... it was... the only way..."

"That... that doesn't make it right!" Roger yelled to himself, yelled to the monster who did this deed which his eyes could not turn away from. "I called Katsuragi a hypocrite when... I'm... I'm the worst hypocrite of all!"

Simon turned to Roger, concerned yet ignorant of Roger's plight. "Roger?"

"This place." Roger realized with stark loathing. His eyes dancing from pod to pod with anguish upon his soul. "I made it... I made this place. This... this is a monument to all of my sins."

"Are you okay?" Simon asked despite clearly knowing the answer.

"Neutro-Blu... I now know why V wanted me to find this place!" Roger shouted. "That liquid... it was the start! Ikari found it and I helped her refine it... refine with Enoch's blood and... Don't you see Simon?"

USS ArcAngel

"NEUTRO-BLUE IS PEOPLE!" Banagher slapped both of his hands on his mouth. But was too late to keep half of the personnel in the lounge from looking at the Lieutenant oddly. "Practicing for a play! Heh... I'll just continue in my room."

"Go see Romary." Athrun commanded. "Refuse and I'm telling Audrey about this."

"Fine! Fine!" Banagher stood up and left the lounge. He rubbed his head as he moved through the hallway of the ArcAngel and attempted to make sense of all of the information and images that were stuck in his head."

"Grove? Dorothy? Pods? Neutro-Blu? Aniki has a helix?" None of it made sense. Links rubbed his temples as he entered the medbay and practically ignored the noise coming from the nurse's office. "Romary's already got an appointment."

Unsurprised, Banagher found the most comfortable chair in the room and sat down. "Someone was reaching out... the confusion, the shock... the fear... what did you find out? And why am I hearing you?"

"That was great Asuno! I really needed that!" A shirtless Asemu Asuno exited carrying and snogging a half-dressed Romary Stone. They only stopped to take a breath and then went right back to the romance.

Banagher just waited. He wasn't a stranger to this stuff and he'd be a hypocrite to get angry or annoyed.

"So Sei hurt his hand messing with Theta Gundariam again-" Crown Prince Reiji first saw Asemu and Romary when he entered. He blinked and blushed and then turned to Banagher who waved back at him. "Fraternization clause 46?"

The couple broke off and immediately saw Reiji. "You! What...what are you long have you been standing there?"

"Not as long as he's been sitting there." Reiji pointed to Banagher which caused Asemu to growl and drop a surprised Romary. "Which has been how long?"

"Two minutes? Give or take?" Banagher blocked Asemu's heavy punch and held the fist there. "How about this? Can Romary just say that she checked on me and cleared me for duty and therefore, I never saw you guys breaking F clause 46?"

"The same clause that you and Audrey break all of the time?"

"The same clause that everyone breaks." Reiji admitted. "But Captain Ramius isn't as lax as Major Mass or Commander Flaga."

"Okay! Deal!" Romary agreed while buttoning up her uniform and straightening her skirt. "So why were the two of you in here?"

"Minor headache." Whatever was wrong, Banagher doubted that Romary would be able to help anyway.

"Sei hurt his hand messing with Theta Gundariam again and I need the treatment ointment before he gets a permanent burn." Reiji reported without apparent fear. "Also, I need the paperwork to report this so that he doesn't do anything this stupid again."

"You know that won't stop him."

"Worth a shot." Reiji stated. "He's always been reckless, but it's gotten worst and worst since China died..."

"He's trying to keep his mind off of his grief." Romary sadly replied. "That's why he's been working on designs and flirting with Luna. What happened to China hit him pretty hard-"

"We all saw the body, no need to bring up that disturbing scene-" Romary slapped Asuno and then promptly marched back to her office. "What did I do?"

"You're more insensitive than your father for one-" Reiji was motionless when Asuno started to shake in rising anger. "It's true. Even your dad would know not to talk so insensitively about someone's death."

"Why you... I'm gonna..." As Asemu's hands balled into steaming fists, Romary returned and forced her lover to swallow two pills. The effects were immediate and caused Asemu to calm down and become drowsier. "I need... a... nap..."

"My bed... it was just cleaned." Asemu slumberly stalked away while Romary threw a specialized medpac to Reiji. "If I have to give that kid one of these again, he's grounded."

"No promises." Reiji departed the medlab while Banagher couldn't help, but notice how routine that incident was.

"None expected." Having no reason to sit in the medlab since Romary had "cleared" him, Banagher left for the data archives for some personal research.

Crossroads to the Core

"I did this to them!" Simon heard Roger shout ahead of him and Dorothy. Right after shouting about Neutro-Blu's real source, Roger ran off forcing Simon and Dorothy to chase after him. "I'M THE MONSTER! I'M THE DEVIL IN BLACK!"

"We must keep him from causing harm to himself." Dorothy assessed while rapidly traversing the sanctuary's tunnels. Simon wasn't slow, but he was surprised as to how fast Dorothy could run. He supposed that being a robot meant that you could run forever as long as you had power.

Imagine if she had spiral power...

"That would be awesome." Simon admitted to himself when he and Dorothy stopped at a crossroads of some sort. The roads were made of brick and stretched out above a murky lake of liquid that Simon didn't trust himself to call water. "Hey Roger! Have you hurt yourself yet?"

"Why shouldn't I?" Roger's voice called from ahead. Dorothy was the first to break into a run, followed by the tired and perplexed Simon. He had been shocked by what Roger had said about all of those pods in the hibernation chamber.

But why was Roger going crazy? This all happened before he was ever born, didn't it?

"Then again... how old is Roger?" Simon realized that he'd never asked the Negotiator his age, he'd always assumed that Roger was in his thirties or late twenties like Heero and maybe Bit. But if Roger thought that he did all of the stuff with the pods that meant that either he was crazy or...

He was older than the Grove itself.

But right now, helping Roger was more important.

"This leads to the core." Simon heard Roger's thoughts as if he were talking. Roger's voice was so clear that Simon only knew them to be thoughts because Roger's mouth was closed when Simon and Dorothy found him. "And I hooked the Grove's core to... Enoch's core... I bet Kaiba hates me... doesn't he?"

"If he hated you, he'd have killed you by now." Simon blurted out, shocking Roger out of his gaze and bringing his heavy eyes to stare up to Simon's. "Are you okay?"

"No." Roger answered and let out a bitter laugh. "How can I be okay when I just learned that I sent millions to their deaths? I'm worst than Stalin, Lenin, Hitler, the Huns, the Zabis, Char, the Titans, Oz and Mariemaia combined... aren't I? Not even Britannia or America have as much blood on their hands as I do."

Even Simon knew enough from that list of names to know that Roger was troubled. "Why did you do it?"

"Does it matter?" Roger buried his face into his hands and wept. "What excuse could I have for all of those lives? Worst yet... we've been using all of those people as fuel! I broke down living beings... even children... into a power source. I don't think even Kaiba knows about how Neutro-Blu is made... only how and where to find it..."

Simon blinked and looked to Dorothy. "Why did Roger turn those people into Neutro-Blu-"

"She won't tell us." Dorothy's blank expression seemed to agree with Roger. "It's like I said earlier, I'd told her to let me be surprised. And boy do I deserve this surprise... there's a seat waiting for me in the eleventh level of hell for this act."

"There's only nine levels of hell." Simon corrected, remembering when Rossiu let him borrow a book called "The Divine Comedy". But it was neither funny nor awesome, so Simon quickly finished it and preferred the video game instead. That was way more awesome. Rossiu didn't like the game, so Simon punched him to make him shut up.

"Come to think of it, why do I punch Rossiu so much?" Simon realized, remembering that Rossiu was always dependable and one of his first friends once he came to the surface. Bro said that punching Rossiu was meant to purge him of 'un-awesome cynical pessimist nonsense.' It seemed to work, though Simon realized that he should probably apologize to Rossiu at some point for punching him when he didn't deserve it.

However, he did have an idea.

"Roger!" Simon shouted and cracked his knuckles. "Grit those teeth!" Simon punched Roger in his face and sent him sprawling across the floor.

"I deserved that..." Simon heard Roger mutter as he got to his feet. "I deserve more than that... I deserve to die... no... worst than die! I deserve to die a death worst than William Wallace suffered."

Now Simon was even more confused. "Whose William Wallace?"

"William Wallace was a legendary freedom fighter hailing from Scotland." Dorothy answered. "He fought against the occupation of England and was eventually captured. After being tried and found guilty of treason, Wallace was executed by having his stomach and chest disemboweled; his genitals were removed and burned before his eyes; he was dragged through the street by a horse; he was hanged to be strangled and then cut down; and finally beheaded. His body was cut into four pieces and set on pikes at London Bridge, Newcastle, Berwick, Stirling, and Perth."

Simon blinked, understanding how deep in despair Roger really was if he wanted to die worst than Wallace. "More punching it is."

So Simon grabbed Roger and punched him. He punched him again and again to try to get him out of his despair.

But it didn't seem like it was working.

"Yeah... keep that pain coming... I deserve all of it..." This was not working at all. "Hit me again! Again!"

Instead, Simon dropped Roger.

"No. Punching you only makes your depression worse." Simon said in realization and tapped his foot trying to think of another way to get through to Roger. "Oh! Empathy!"

Roger chuckled. "Empathy?"

"Yeah! Aniki says that understanding people's feelings helps you understand and help them better!" Simon recalled his conversation with Shinji as the idea formed in his mind. "Shinji says that reading people and listening to them lets you understand what they want and how to help them. Though he admitted that he still needed work since he liked to close himself off to others. Like you're doing now."

Roger blinked in confusion. "What?"

"I can feel that you're really confused and horrified by what happened." Simon explained to Dorothy's surprise. "Part of you doesn't want to believe that you did this, but the other part knows that what you found out is true. So you're in a lot of confusion about who this makes you."

"Do you have the answer to that?" Roger inquired, deciding to humor the boy. "Well Simon? What's your diagnosis? What does the monument to all of my sins say about who I am?"

"You're you." Roger fell on his back and his bitter laughter echoed through the chamber. Simon felt that Roger didn't believe the boy. "Really. You're still you. In fact-"

"LAUGH! LAUGH AT YOUR OWN PERIL!" Simon fell on his knees, holding his ears as a loud voice cried into his mind. "DOMINUS... YOU BIRTHED ME... YOU TORTURED ME... YOU DEPRIVED ME OF THE LIGHT OF DAY!"

"Simon!" Roger crawled over to the struggling Simon and looked over him in frantic concern. "Come on Simon! Snap out of it!"

"Tell that to him-"

"ALL OF YOU UNGRATEFUL AND PUNY HUMANS..." The voice shouted again as energy began to gather above the crossroads. "ALL OF YOU WHO TOOK EVERYTHING FROM ME WILL FEEL MY LOSS..."

Roger apparently couldn't hear the voice because he looked upon Simon in confusion. "Him? Whose 'him'?" Roger was soon answered when the energy began to circulate and grow into a luminous bloom of chaotic energy.

"ALL... ALL... OF YOU UNGRATEFUL HUMANS... YOU TOOK EVERYTHING AWAY FROM ME!" A large red lizard burst from the bloom and thundered onto the scene with a mighty roar. "NOW... YOU WILL FEEL MY LOSS AND DESPAIR!"

"Call Big O now! He doesn't like you!" Simon still held his head as he pointed to the massive lizard that loomed over them and was charging a big black ball of energy in its mouth. "And he wants to shoot you."

"Gee! I never would have figured that out!" Roger shouted as the trio scattered and dived into the water to avoid the orb of energy that crashed and exploded upon the pathway. Simon quickly surfaced and grabbed his drill core.

"Lagann! SPIN ON!" The water around Simon glowed and rose as Lagann arose to the surface. Simon stood on top of its canopy as Lagann epically posed before the patient Biolizard. "Roger! I'll act as point while you have Big O shoot it-"

Simon now noticed that Big O had not been summoned.

"Roger?" Simon paled when he saw Roger lying on a pool of liquid, unresponsive due to his emotional trauma. Simon looked back at the Biolizard which seemed to smile a wide toothless smile.

"This isn't fair." The Biolizard swat Lagann into a wall, apathetic to the unbalanced hand which Fate had given Simon in this hour...

Command Center Sub-basement lvl. 1

"The one with scythes?" Heero confirmed as he led Briefers and three other guards through the first level of the Command Center's sub-basement. "What do you know about her?"

"Her name's Kneesocks." Briefers replied, wielding a gun that looked like it came straight out of Ghostbusters. "She's just as obsessed with rules and order as her sister, Scanty. But between the two of them, Scanty's more dangerous. She's intelligent, patient and has more control over her emotions...on top of being powerful."

"How did you stop her the last time you saw her?"

"I didn't... I made a smokescreen and ran." Briefers admitted without shame as he looked upon his double-barreled gun. "That won't happen this time."

"Don't make that promise." Heero stated from experience. "We may need to retreat if the situation seems untenable. If Duo were with us, I'd be more secure. But since he's apparently out-"

"Heero!" The newcomer screamed as Heero's bullet glanced scratched across the side of his chest. "Happy to see you too."

Heero kept his pistol leveled on Father Maxwell. "Briefers. Check him."

"Nope. He's clean." Briefers stated while looking upon the meter on his gun. "If Duo were the source of the psychokinetic energy in the area, we'd know."

"Looking for the succubus too? Your guess is as good as mine." Duo muttered. "Rossiu had been right after all. She was Shinji the whole time... got the drop on us in the prison cells and kicked our asses. Also, don't make the apology long cause I forgive you-"

"Incoming." Heero brushed right past a miffed Duo and pointed his gun straight at two attractive young ladies coming towards them. "State your names and ranks."

"I'm Tatkita and this is my sister Tuichi!" The secretary frantically answered and motioned to her nurse sister, who was holding a still bag over her shoulders. "I'm sorry it's just that... our friend Mizuho is dead... the demon bitches... they killed her..."

"Sorry for your loss." Duo replied and eyed both Heero and Briefers. An action which the two of them repeated as the three guards got closer to the women. "Why is she in a bag?"

Tuichi sniffed and tears splashed from her eyes. "I... it was too horrible to describe... I... I can't..."

"Don't bother." Heero remarked and saw the body flinch within the bag. "Are you sure that she's dead?"

"It's a nervous twitch..." Tuichi morbidly explained and lovingly caressed her friend's covered body. "I... I just want to go home..."

"Don't worry ma'am, you'll be going home real soon." Briefers assured and quickly glanced at Duo. "Once our security systems are back to a hundred percent, all will be well."

Duo walked over to Heero and whispered into his ear. "I think it's them."

"Want me to shoot them to be safe." Heero quietly asked, his gun already set to kill.

"There could be chance that it's not them, better wait for Optimus-"

"WARNING! CALLING ALL GROOVE PERSONNEL!" Optimus Prime's voice roared through the halls. "Security Scans confirm that the Intruders Scanty and Kneesocks have infiltrated the Sub-Basement's first level! They are currently in the 43rd quadrant! Proceed with caution! Capture if possible and terminate if necessary! Good luck."

"Quadrant 43? That's where we are-" The guard's neck was quickly snapped in half. As he fell, his co-workers were sliced into pieces by strikes of the two ladies they were guarding.

"Damn it sister!" The Secretary rebuked the bloody nurse. "We could've handled that a lot more cleanly-"

"I just felt a japanese schoolgirl snap my whole spine. CLEAN ISN'T A RUURUU OF PRIORITY RIGHT NOW!" The Nurse roared as she dropped the body bag and jumped at Briefers. Briefers avoided her lethal hug and threw down a flash grenade that blinded everyone in the hall.

Except for Briefers himself, thanks to his really thick and curly hair.

Naturally, he used this to his advantage. "Banzai bitches!" Briefers' shotgun surprised his prey and threw them to the ground. But they recovered and would've torn the boy apart if not for feeling a beam-treated blade slice the air in front of them.

"Good timing Optimus." Duo mused before he swerved to avoid a kick from the nurse. Duo parried the nurse's attack with his personal customized beam-lined steel scythe and spun to deliver five slashes which all sliced through the woman's arm. But the girl recovered as the secretary jumped over her to kick Duo in the face. "Heero? Help?"

Heero jumped to hit his knee on the secretary's face and knock her into the wall. "Acknowledged." He pulled out his pistol and unloaded four bullets into the secretary's face. The first hit between her eyes, but the next three were warded off by a kneesock that transformed into a scythe. "Switch."

"Gotcha." Duo didn't bother looking when Heero intercepted the nurse by shooting her in the knee. Duo shuffled towards the secretary and clashed his own scythe against her two smaller ones. "This is much better."

"Agreed." The Secretary mused as she revealed her true form. "I haven't killed a priest in a long while."

"Nice to know." Duo parried her attacks and swiped her legs from under her. "What was his name?"

"Some Irish man with a welsh luck charm." Kneesocks explained as Duo suddenly appeared above her and slashed to slice across the front of her chest. She grimaced and charged her scythes with green power and counterattacked. "Friend of yours?"

"Yeah. I liked Father Braden!" Duo yelled as he avoided each and everyone of Kneesocks' attacks despite his injured condition. "He saved my life!"

"Pity. Think of how many lives would've been spared if-"

"And they'd all be slaves of Romefeller and the Alliance!" Duo shouted as he interrupted Kneesocks and bashed the pommel of his scythe on her skull. Stunning her for when Heero turned away from Scanty and shot her in the back of the head. "Hey! She's my kill!"

"No time! We have to kill both quickly!" Heero swiftly explained and caught Scanty's pistol in his hand before she fired. Heero remained cold faced as the bullet entered his hand and he pulled the gun away before putting his own in between her breasts and pulling the trigger. But he'd shot an afterimage and ducked in time to avoid a powerful energy blast fired from both of the demon's pistols. "Or they'll just recover!"

"Oh... that would've been helpful earlier!" Duo shouted to Briefers, who was checking on a barely conscious Shinji. "How's Ranger Ikari?"

"Her boobs were like pillows..." Shinji said amidst a heavy daze. "I liked touching them..."

A recovering Kneesocks heavily blushed as she turned to Shinji. "You... liked-" She was thrown back and to the right when Heero shot her again. But this time, spat the bullet out of her mouth and charged to throw Heero into the wall. Giving ample opportunity for Scanty to carve through his shoulder with her chainsaw and block Duo's attack as daemon sisters began to double-team Duo.

Heero stood up and absently stared at the blood streaming from his wound. "I'm retreating. Hold them there!"

"Like I have a choice!" Duo sarcastically cried out as he barely managed to hold up against the sisters through his speed and stealth.

Heero ran over to Briefers who was aiming at the scuffle with his rifle. "Fire when ready. Preferably when Duo is out of the way-"

"This gun isn't meant for flesh and blood." Briefers declared before two streams of white energy sprang forth and caught the daemon sisters in mid attack. Duo stood in place for a second and quickly retreated to Heero's side. As the two gundam ex-assassins looked on, two more beams fired out of Briefers' gun and crossed streams before hitting the demons.

The explosion that followed was bright enough to force everyone to shield their eyes.

Command Security Safe House

Kaiba growled as his command center rumbled. "Someone's getting sued."

Command Center Sub-basement lvl. 1

"Some mother(beep)ers are always trying to ice skate uphill." The gun was glowing and still had electricity sparking off of it as Briefers Rock dropped it to the scorched ground. "I always wanted to use that quote! I don't know what it means, but it just sounded cool-"

"It was cool." Duo admitted. "But you did just blow up half of the sub-basement."

"If it were half, then the whole complex would be collapsing in on itself." Heero concluded as the four of them looked upon the smoking remnants of what remained of half of the sub-basement's first level. As Duo guessed, half of the level was indeed demolished. But the Infrastructure prevented complete collapse.

At least for a few days before the integrity's compromised. But the heroes wouldn't need to worry about that right now.

"Nice shot." Shinji complimented Briefers, who rubbed his shaggy orange hair in abashment. "Why didn't you use that gun at the start?"

"It needs to absorb ambient psychokinetic energy before it can fire." Briefers explained with more than a hint of pride. "But those bitches have so much of the stuff that my gun charged up faster than expected... in fact... there's another energy mixed in here..."

"Who cares. They're dead-" Duo paused when he saw that his scythe had been shot out of his hands. "Heero, don't be mean."

"It wasn't me." Heero pointed out as the smoked cleared to reveal two alive and livid ladies. "Yell at them."

"Hey! You shot me!" Duo roared out. "Also! Why aren't you dead? Briefers! Did you make the gun correctly?"

"Of course I made the gun correctly!" Briefers objected amidst anger and fear. "The PKE Cannon should've obliterated them with their own power-"

"In his defense, the gun wasn't defective." Kneesocks began courteously. "If we'd been hit with that gun at any time before a week ago, we would have died."

"Except that we got another toy." Scanty taunted and displayed her pistols as they glowed with an energy that made Heero pause. "Oh... you've seen this before."

Duo gulped. "How the hell did you get spiral power?"

"I'd tell you, but you're going to die." Scanty laughed and pointed to Shinji. "Unless you give us back our Shinji-kun!"

"Guys... just do as she says-"

"You'll kill us anyway." Heero said and chopped his hand onto Shinji's neck to knock him out. "There's nothing you can say that we can trust."

"To be fair, they'd honor the bargain." Briefers admitted with distaste in his mouth. "But why exactly do you want Shinji? Are you after Unit 01 as well?"

"Please! We could care less for Shinji's failure of a mother-" Kneesocks slapped her sister on the back of her head before she said anymore. "What? They already know by now!"

"Another edit for Angelfall." Heero calmly commented while Duo and Briefer's jaws had dropped. "You didn't figure that out?"

"I thought that... I thought that part of her life-force or something was in that thing." Duo admitted. "Not that her whole being was trapped there! I thought Gendo was a bastard before!"

"Trapped? She volunteered for the contact experiment." Kneesocks corrected to her enemies further shock. "And poor Shinji doesn't know. What else is Kaiba keeping from him? From you?"

"Speaking of secrets... where the hell are Roger and Simon?" Heero had been trying to call them for the past hour, but couldn't get their signal. Did it get lost in their exploration through the Grove's secrets? Or was something else blocking their signal. "I have a third option."

"RETREAT!" Briefers fired at the demons again and this time created a thick smokescreen around them. "While they're distracted, let's get out of here-"

When he looked to his sides, Duo and Heero had already grabbed Shinji and booked for the elevator shafts.

"Keep up Briefers!" Briefers heard Duo yell as Briefers sprinted as fast as he could to catch up...

Crossroads to the Core

"Damn it all!" Simon cursed as Lagann skid across the murky pool. The Biolizard roared at the tiny gunman and fired a pink beam in its direction. Lagann jumped to avoid the beam and quickly skipped along the dense beam of chaotic energy right towards the Biolizard's head. Before its legs completely melted away, Lagann jumped off of the beam and over the head to deal a Drill-strike at its generator.

The Biolizard cried out in pain, Simon's drill cutting into the pulsing energy reactor to try and destroy it. But Lagann's drill was broken by several dozen energy balls that flew at it and Lagann itself was levitated into the air.

Where more balls threw themselves at Lagann.

"Damn it!" Simon cursed again, reeling from Lagann's fall onto the platform below. "Lagann's not strong enough to penetrate all the way through!" Worst yet, Simon watched the beast's energy quickly repair the damage to its own reactor.

Simon exhaled, oddly calm despite his situation. "So this isn't working." He opened the hatch to Lagann and jumped out, much to the Biolizard's utter confusion. "Five minutes. Give me five minutes and then you can go back to trying to killing me. K?"

Without words, the Biolizard understood Simon's request. Simon felt its aggression decrease, he felt the beast choose to lower itself and begin to recharge its stamina. With that, Simon walked over to where Roger was still on his knees, mumbling stuff that caused him despair and confusion.

"I'm a monster... I'm a monster..." Roger repeated as Dorothy watched him. "Dorothy won't deny it... I'm a monster... cultivating and harvesting people like they were damned tomatoes... I deserve to die... I deserve to-"

Simon hit Roger as hard as he could.

The trail left in Roger's wake smoked along with Simon's rage.

"You done yet?" Simon asked, watching Roger get on his feet and turn to Simon in bewilderment and fear. "I'll hit you again if you'd like. I'll hit you as much as it takes for you to get a hold of yourself."

"Get a hold of myself?" Roger laughed, still clearly mad from his revelation. "HAVEN'T YOU BEEN LISTENING TO A THING THAT I'VE BEEN SAYING?"

"I've been fighting that thing for the past ten minutes!" Simon shouted, pointing to the Biolizard who was looking at an oversized pocket watch. "And you haven't done jack to help me! I can't beat that thing on my own! I need your help!"

"What does it matter..." Roger chuckled to himself. "Why come to a monster for help..."

"I'm not asking Roger the Monster for help!" Simon grabbed Roger by his collar and forced him to look at Dorothy. "Do you think that she'd stay at your side if you were a monster? Do you think she'd have a child with you if you were a monster? It doesn't matter if you ever were a monster or not! You are who you choose to be now!"

"That's easy for you to say!" Roger pushed Simon off of him. "You're just a child! You don't know what it's like to be me! To not know if who you are today is a mask for who you were yesterday! Or maybe the man you were yesterday is the real you and you're just acting out a lie! It would be different if I didn't remember being such a horrible person! But that's what I now know! I know that I and I alone condemned millions of lives to die so that they could become battery juice! How do I know that the man who did that isn't the real Roger Smith and the Negotiator is just a facade?"

"Then what the hell are you crying about?" Simon growled. "You want to talk about evil people? Nia's dad beat and abused her since she was a baby! Nia doesn't remember a day when her father didn't nearly kill her! He even killed all of her sisters out of boredom! He created the beastmen that oppress me and other people thrown into the underground! And he's been doing that for who knows how long! Rossiu thinks that it was at least a thousand years if not longer! I didn't even know that there were other humans outside of the underground until we got out of there! And the kicker? He doesn't give a shit!"

"You remember when we met him?" Simon continued, rage building in his heart both from Roger's state and from the memory of that man. "When I told him that he was my oppressor... that he killed my parents... HE DIDN'T CARE! He was an evil man and he didn't care! That's because evil men don't care if they're being evil or not, they just act like evil monsters! Evil men never worry about not being good guys!"

"That's why you're you! Roger Smith!" Simon roared, the Biolizard tossing away its watch with a fling of its tail. "You're a good man! A good man whose hurt because he did something bad! But that doesn't make you evil! It just means you made a mistake! And I bet that you didn't repeat that mistake again! You resolved to be better than the man who you call a monster! You became a man who tries to reason with others and to avoid death! You use your brain and your wit to make people understand each other so that they don't have to hurt each other! You married Dorothy and you love her! You had a daughter and you love her! You became my friend and you've helped me through so much!"

"And right now... I need you to get up! I need you! I don't need Roger the Scientist or Roger the Monster! I need Roger the Negotiator! Our home needs Roger the Black Ranger! Annie needs Roger the father! Dorothy wants Roger the lover back!" Simon felt something click in Roger's eyes. He felt so many emotions all at once, but they all led to the Negotiator's will building in his eyes. "And if you're worried about ever being a monster then that's why I'm here! If you're worried about slipping then I'll be there to bring you back! So believe in yourself! Believe in the you that believes in yourself because I believe in you!"

"The beast is done waiting." Dorothy dryly remarked, referring to where the Biolizard was creating a net of pink energy balls around itself. "Will the two of you hurry up? Annie's life signs are wavering and I want to check on her."

Simon smirked when Roger tightened his fist and brought out his watch. "Word of advice, Simon. Next time that you want to motivate someone, keep the speech short."

"Bro says those are the best kind." Simon replied, completely unconcerned for the Biolizard's charging attack. Instead, he turned to see Lagann waiting for him with Boota piloting and jumped into the Lagann's cockpit. "Ready when you are."

"A minute, youngster." A rejuvenated and empowered Roger stood on his feet and brought his watch to his face. "Big O. SHOW TIME!"

District 29

"That was a great game humans!" Zodd declared, dusting off his hands as he stood over the defeated Knights of the Round, Liger Zero and Escaflowne. "But... I'm bored now. Got a better game that we can play?" Zodd was answered when Megas XLR delivered a flying kick right on top of his head.

"Whack a mole!" Naota shouted as Kanti flew into the demon's face and swat two guitars onto his head and sent him flying into a debris mound. Naota poked his head out of Kanti's chasis and shouted to Megas. "Where the hell were you, Coop?"

"Where the hell were you!" Coop shouted back as he waged Megas' finger towards Naota. "Did you get lost again? It can't take that long to find a cellphone battery!"

"Are they serious?" Yoko asked as Ninamori just laughed. "The demon's still alive-"

"Just wait for it..." Ninamori suggested just in time to see Zodd jump stomp Kanti into the ground and choke-slam Megas. "Cause and effect..."

"You realize that your friend and boyfriend just got stomped..."

"Wait for it..." Ninamori said again as Kanti flew through Zodd's hand and bashed his guitar onto the demon's skull. Megas pulled out a missile launcher from its shoulders and proceeded to unload on the shouting demon. "You can all cheer now."

"Did someone say cheer?" Zodd threateningly asked as the bystanders felt heat gather around them. "There can't be any cheer without any fireworks."

"Really? That's the line you go with?" Nia asked just before an explosion of fire threw her into a broken wall and broke her leg. "Everyone! Are you okay!"

"I think everyone's okay..." Hikari remarked as she took a head count and seemed to have lost track of someone. "Where's Annie?"

"Human Hostage no jutsu!" Zodd declared as he held up the little red head in his hand. Annie struggled against Zodd's grip, but seemed to slacken and grow still when he squeezed on her. "For a little girl, you're pretty tough. What do your folks feed you?"

"Annie!" Euphemia cried out, voicing the fear and concern that the others possessed. Including Kanti and Megas who had backed off from Zodd though were reading to strike when an opening presented itself. "Yoko! Do something!"

"It's a fifty meter demon! Shoot it!" Ninamori exclaimed to the concentrating Yoko. "This is like shooting an elephant! Even a child could hit him-"

"Human meatshield no jutsu!" Zodd shouted and held Annie out closer to her friends. "Go ahead and shoot! If you'd like to risk your friend!"

"Damn it!" Yoko exclaimed, unable to get a good shot on the fifty meter demon without hurting Annie. "I've got no shot!"

"Sucks for you. Time to pop the-" Zodd wasn't sure about when a black fist had broken through his chest. He wasn't exactly sure about how a giant black and clunky robot could sneak attack him without so much as a sound. He wasn't sure about where this robot got enough strength to force his right arm from its socket.

But it was all happening whether Zodd believed it or not.

Roger caught his daughter in his arms and looked at the demon whom Big O had impaled with its fist. "Bang." The piston popped back into it's sheath and sent a force of rage and pure kinetic energy through the demon that tore apart his muscles and sent it flying straight up into the air.

Everyone stared at the scene with complete and utter shock.

"Did he just send that Platinum level demon flying into the atmosphere?" Suzaku quietly inquired as Zodd kept going and going further into the air away from everyone's sight. "If that demon isn't dead right now, he'll be dead when he hits the ground. But seriously, where the hell did the black robot come from?"

"We teleported here." Simon answered, shocking everyone present except for an impressed Coop and Naota. "Well... I don't know exactly how we did it either..."

Flashback to the Core

With another punch, Big O threw back another black ball that flew through the Biolizard's barrier of energy balls. Big O opened up its arm cannons and fired thousands of impact bullets that stuck to the creature's hide. At first, the demon endured the barrage without harm...

until thousands of pistons indented into its skin and exploded.

While the beast roared and thrashed, Lagann rolled along the tubes attached to its jaw right up to the device on its back. Lagann flew up above the device and formed a large drill beneath it before it flew down.

"LAGANN! IMPACT!" Simon shouted just as Lagann's spiral drill penetrated the beast's core, causing it to roar even more. Meanwhile, Simon concentrated as Lagann's power began to hack into the machinery and take control of it. But since the beast was a living being, hacking the device was going to be more difficult than usual. "Roger! I don't think I can take control of it's backpack! Hit it while it's distracted!"

"On it." Roger replied and fired multiple chains from Big O's waist which attached to the beast's wounds. Big O grabbed the chains and proceeded to lift the Biolizard off of its legs and throw it into just about anything he could spot. Walls, devices, the ground, the ground beneath the water, the ceiling and finally the ground again. "This beast is tough...but its power is unstable. Keep this up for a while and the lizard will exhaust itself to death before we kill it-"

"Annie's life-signs are weakening." Dorothy uttered the last sentence that Roger wanted to hear that day. "We must return to the surface immediately."

Roger snarled and looked at his own watch. He switched to his daughter's life readings and indeed saw that they were weakening. "Simon! Any way for you to make the lizard kill itself?"

"I could destroy the device." Simon suggested as the Biolizard created a massively great vortex of great and small energy balls around it and its opponents. "But that's not gonna stop those balls-"

"DO IT! WE NEED TO LEAVE!" Roger roared and grit his teeth, his breath quickening as his options were very limited. Even if Simon and Roger killed this Biolizard, it would take hours for the two of them to get back to the surface. "Damn it! If only Leeron put his warp device into our mecha..."

"Roger..." Dorothy pleadingly muttered, Roger felt the urgency of this crisis increase more and more and his wife's mournful glare wasn't helping. "We have to save Annie...we have to get to her."

"I'm trying to figure out how to do that..." Roger replied as the gravity around the Biolizard decreased and it began to fly up to the ceiling. "DAMN IT! STAY WHERE YOU ARE! SIMON! DO SOMETHING!"

"I AM DOING SOMETHING!" Simon roared back, getting a kickback from the Biolizard's energy that he didn't expect. And Lagann jumped off of the levitating beast's back and landed on Big O's shoulder. "Don't ask me how I know, but it's getting ready for a kamikaze attack! We need to kill it soon or it'll kill us first."

Roger scratched his manly hair and came up with an idea. "Simon, hack into my arm."

Simon smiled and complied without question, transforming Lagann into a spiked red gauntlet with him riding on it's knuckle. "Too bad that you can't fly."

"My boy, you've never seen an elephant fly!" With the other arm, Big O launched a chain that wrapped around the Biolizard's neck just as it combined its net of energy balls into one massive orb which rapidly rotated around itself. "HERE WE GO!"

"Here we come Aniki..." Simon held on as Big O pulled itself up to the floating demon with its right arm ready to strike when the moment emerged. The Biolizard saw its prey approach and began to drop down at its foe to obliterate them with its energy barrier of death.

"IMPACT..." Simon and Roger roared as Big O popped the piston out of its right arm. "PUNCH!" Thinking of nothing more than saving their friends and loved ones, something strange happened.

It wasn't that Big O's spiral powered punch punctured the Biolizard's orb as if it were glass.

It wasn't that Big O's punch pierced the beast's hide and began to scramble its insides from the sheer power behind the attack.

No, the strange thing about this situation was that everything around them turned into a stream of rapidly moving blue, green and white light.

And that Big O was flying after all.

Command Center Sub-basement lvl. 1

"My head..." Shinji said as he regained consciousness and stood on his feet...

just in time to see Duo get pulled down by his pony tail and shot in his back.

"DUO!" Shinji cried out and was grabbed from behind by a familiar set of hands. "Can't keep your hands off of me...can you?"

"Can you blame me?" Kneesocks playfully inquired while Scanty took out her gun to execute her defeated foes. "You might want to look away-"

"Kill them and you'll set off the bomb!" Shinji frantically cried out, halting Scanty from pulling the trigger. "Heero has a bomb in his body! If his heart goes out, he'll set it off and kill us all! Briefers was one of his students and Duo is his friend, so kill them and he'll set it off with a computer in his brain!"

"Duo isn't my friend." Heero stated as Duo just looked at his friend. "But Shinji is correct, I do have a bomb in my body. And I'm about to set it off."

"Taking the coward's way out?" Scanty mocked Heero. "Don't be a pussy! Suicide is never the answer!"

"Actually, I'm not a pusillanimous, I'm merely willing to sacrifice my life to keep you from getting what you want." Heero explained as Kneesocks and Scanty blinked in confusion. "You do know that Pussy is short for 'Pusillanimous,' right?"

"I always thought it was talking about a woman's genitals." Briefers commented. "Like, if you're not a man then you'd might as well be a woman."

"Yeah, another unfortunate situation where men are put down for not living up to unrealistic expectations of masculinity and manhood." Duo mused in disappointment. "So, are you gonna let us live?"

Scanty shook her head as she addressed her sister's captive. "Nice try Shinji-kun, but you shouldn't lie. I thought you were better than your father."

Then it felt like the entire world was shaking.

Suddenly, all six of them were rocked to their feet as a screen of blue, green and white light enveloped them and a Black Megadeus appeared before them with its red fist impaled upon a dying bright orange lizard.

"Roger? Simon?" Shinji asked as the light caused all of them to float and then as soon as it appeared it was gone. And Shinji found himself sprawled on dirt and getting up in time to see Big O send a big-horned demon flying through the air. "Nani?"

Command Security Safe House

"Sir! The North-Western Sector of the Command Center has sustained heavy damage!" Kaiba listened to Captain Price report. "No deaths or injuries, thank God. But the damage is going to take months to repair."

Seto Kaiba growled and shook with silent rage. "And someone's on my shit list."

"Everyone's on your shit list!" Yugi pointed out, pissing off Kaiba even more. "Including your parents! Oh're adopted!"


Price just lit a cigar and chuckled. "That's an order we wouldn't accept." Price just kept smoking as Seto's rage echoed through the whole Command Center.

District 29

"Roger was thinking of Annie and I was thinking of Aniki." Simon explained. "But since I was the source of the spiral power making the space-time hole, we teleported to Shinji first and then teleported to Annie. I guess we made one big warp hole with Shinji as the first point and Annie as the second. Then we went through the hole and here we are!"

Bit nodded, clearly impressed. "Congrats for making a really complicated set-up sound extremely easy."

"We didn't really know what we were doing." Roger admitted, holding and assuring his gasping daughter. "It's alright Annie...daddy's're safe now..."

"But look who you brought with you!" Scanty laughed as she stepped on Simon's head and bounced off to throw Shinji into his own cockpit and kick Roger from off of Big O. "Thanks for the lift, Negotiator!"

"If I'm going down, you're coming with me." Roger shot a grappling hook that wrapped around Scanty's leg and pulled her off of the megadeus. Annie and Roger tugged to throw Scanty onto the ground, allowing her impact to lessen their own fall as Roger gracefully landed on his feet. "What do we say Annie?"

"Thanks for breaking our fall!" Annie managed with a smile as a fuming Scanty got onto her feet. "Where's your sister, demon?"

"Over here!" Kneesocks shouted and everyone's attention was drawn to where she held up Shinji with both scythes placed upon either side of his neck. "Here are two ruurus for you all! My sister and I will depart with Shinji-kun with nobody dying. Or else, Shinji-kun dies and then you'll all die soon after him."

"We kicked your asses once, we can kick it again!" Ninamori shouted.

"Actually, I was alone and the kung fu panda psychic was the one who beat me!" Scanty corrected her with a glare towards a ready Hitomi. "With my sister, I am far stronger... right Stocking?"

"She's got a point." the gothic angel admitted, using a small fire to roast a slab of demon meat for lunch. "Unless you have other reinforcements coming in, you might want to stand down."

"What do you want with Shinji!" Hikari cried out in desperation. "He didn't do anything to you!"

"Hikari..." Shinji looked to the ground in shame.

Kneesocks kissed Shinji's cheek as he shuddered. "What's the matter? You liked my kisses before-"

"Leave him alone!" Hikari wanted to charge, but Euphemia held her back. "Let me go!"

"Attack and you'll be falling into their hands." Euphie explained. "Besides, they're in control of this situation right now..."

"INAZUMA KICK!" A heavy foot slammed into Scanty's head and sent her sprawling behind her sister. Growling, Noriko brandished a gun and pointed it at Kneesocks while just smirked.

"Noriko Takaya, Grade: Silver C... not bad for a rookie." Kneesocks observed and brought Noriko's attention to her hostage. "But I don't have time to play, Takaya. If you so much as-" Kneesocks was cut off by the bullet that entered the side of her head and threw her onto the ground.

"Sister!" Scanty ran to her sister and pried out the bullet that was in her skull. She turned to the newly arrived shooter with great rage. "You'll pay for this..."

"" Kneesocks couldn't finish her warning.

Unknown to Scanty and Kneesocks just a second before their defeat, the bullet was a caster shell. The particular shell in Scanty's hand was imbued with the spell called Ice-13. Originating as a beam of ice magic, the power of said beam was sealed into the caster shell to be unleashed once it broke upon impact with its target.

The power of said attack is further amplified when the effect is intentionally delayed by its caster.

Which is exactly what Colonel Misato Katsuragi had done.

"Some Motherfuckers are always trying to ice skate uphill." The beam broke and created a blue and white burst of mana that enveloped the sisters. When the mana had dissipated, the Rangers looked on in awe at the rock-solid ice which imprisoned the infamous daemon sisters.

"Misato..." Shinji ignored the spectacle and ran over to where Misato collapsed onto her face. "We need a medic! Misato's hurt! Hikari and Nia are hurt too!"

"Hey! What about Bit!" Bit complained and pointed to his own wounds. "I got gored by a demonic bull-"

"No one cares crybaby!" Leena remarked as she shot Bit with a healing caster shell. At least, it heals after the initial shock. "Feel better now?"


"Too bad... I can't spare another one." Leena remarked as she took out two caster guns and unloaded on everyone in sight. Though shocked and initially pained, the party started feeling way better than before. "You're all welcome! That's five years off my life that I'm never getting back!"

"Thanks Leena!" Nia replied in true gratitude and ran over to Simon. "Where were you? Are you alright? Are you hurt? Hungry-"

"I'm fine Nia." Simon said, pulling Nia into a tight hug. "I'm glad that you're okay."

"Princess!" Suzaku leaped out of his knightmare frame right into the open arms of his princess. She hugged him and kissed him as Suzaku looked her over for wounds. "Tell me that these people didn't hurt you-"

"They didn't! They've been very kind to me." Euphie replied and nodded to Sir. Ike who stood atop his suit and eyed the rangers and company wearingly. "In fact, if it weren't for them, I'd be dead right now."

Suzaku gave a small smile. "That is a relief... considering that they kidnapped you-"

"No! I went with Lord Leeron willingly!" Euphie objected, earning a sign of relief from Yoko. "I was invited to stay here until Kaiba's fundraiser."

"Why didn't you tell the emperor that-" Euphie's expression told the Knight of Eleven his answer. "Not surprising."

"Nice to know that we've saved the day." Roger lightly gloated and looked over to where Bit and Heero surveyed the scene. "So... what is the story behind the demon I just punched?"

"The bitches on ice did it." Stocking commented in boredom, poking her sword towards the frozen succubi. "Hey Geek Boy! Did you see my sister?"

"She escaped jail..." An exhausted Briefers earning utter silence from Stocking. "Or rather... Kneesocks released her and the other prisoners in their cell block-"

"Other prisoners?" Heero inquired, his eyes narrowing with grave focus as he looked to Noriko. "Contact Shiro. Tell him about the jailbreak and to send recon units towards the city limits and beyond for 100 miles."

"Yokai." Noriko was about to comply until a large weight crashed into the ground and knocked almost everyone off of their feet. "Was that an earthquake?"

"No. Just me." The humans looked to see a winged Zodd rising out of the crater made by his landing. The demon's chest bore a raw imprint where Big O's arm had penetrated it's body, but otherwise the demon was unharmed. "Good news! You've beaten my summoners so I'm gonna leave the mortal realm and sip some hot cocoa."

Unaffected by the demon before him, Simon blinked in confusion. "So why don't you just leave?"

"Bad news for you, I've still got ten minutes-" Zodd was interrupted by an arcane slash through his shoulder. The demon's shoulders slumped down as Zodd signed.

"Fool! You should've attacked instead of gloating-" Van was cut off when Zodd impaled his horn through Escaflowne's cockpit and and threw the guymelef onto the ground.

"Where were we kid? I just really hate that guy-" Zodd caught Lagann's drill and headbutted the Gunman into the soil. He concentrated and exploded multiple missiles with fire before they impacted his body and roared in challenge to Megas, Liger and Big O as well as the retreating Lagann.

"He wasn't that strong or fast before." Coop commented to the Rangers before addressing Zodd. "Hey! Have you been taking steroids? Cheaters never win!"

"Remember when I said that having a weak summoner makes me weaker?" Zodd asked his mortal foes. "Now that they're incapacitated, the contract's expired which means that the limiter is gone. Which means that I'm not held back anymore!"

"Who cares? We'll beat you up anyway!" Lagann took one step forward and promptly fell on its face.

Zodd stood in confusion. "Is he alright?"

"Simon!" Roger shouted and then panicked to see Big O's power readings dangerously drop. "The hell? What's wrong Big O?"

"So that's what it was. You discovered Perceptual Teleportation." Zodd explained with taunting interest. "But since you're green to spiral power, your sneak attack took a lot of wind out of your sails, exhausting you to where you can barely move. That's too bad. I was hoping for a good fight."

"Oh yeah! I'm still here!" Coop roared in challenge and moved forward to grapple the demon. Instead, Zodd grabbed Megas' arm and ripped it off before slapping the blue robot silly and knocking it to the floor. "Hey... use your own arm..."

Zodd spat fire spittle on Megas as extra insult. "I'm in a hurry..."

"Shinji! Call Unit 01!" Misato shouted and saw her ex-ward lying on the floor clutching his chest in extreme pain. "Shinji-kun!"

"Shinji!" Hikari ran over to the gasping Shinji and grabbed the hand that clutched his chest. "What's wrong?"

"I'm sorry..." Shinji repeated amidst his pain. "I'm a horrible person... I'm a horrible person... I'm a-"

"Hey! Is the pussy gonna die?" Zodd demanded as he landed over the boy with menacing speed. "I wasted too much time today for him to die like a bitch! At least not before I kill him!"

"Shinja!" Nia ran up to the demon's leg, clutching Nikapol's pendant and punched the demon's limb.

It wasn't very effective.

"What are you doing?" Zodd calmly asked, backhanding Liger's attack without even looking.

Nia froze in place and looked upon her brushed arm. "Why isn't your leg exploding?"

"Cause you should've gone home and cried for mommy."

"I don't have a mother."

"Sucks to be you-" A roaring purple and red flash socked Zodd in his face and threw him onto the ground. The demon quickly recovered and jumped to its face to face the new foe. "Great! A new challenger appears!"

"Evangelion?" Misato saw that Evangelion Anima was very different now. Its armor was covered by a type of dark crimson aura that concentrated in between the plating on the torso and limbs. Its eyes glowed red and its red core was exposed and within appeared to be two interconnected smaller orbs. "Unit 01? How? Shinji-"

"Shinji! Wake up!" Hikari begged the now limp and wide eyed Shinji. "The Eva is moving on its own Shinji!"

"What's wrong with Aniki?" A barely conscious Simon asked and then saw where Unit 01 was assaulting Zodd though the demon seemed to have the upper hand despite Unit 01's power and surprise. "Did she do this to him?"

"Looks like it, at least she's on our side." Roger bitterly remarked as Unit 01 landed on Zodd's head and wrapped all of its limbs around Zodd's horn. The Eva kicked down the demon, ripping off its massive horn in the process to Zodd's great anger.

"Did you just rip off my horn?" Zodd increndiously demanded, his wound healing as Eva's AT field began to methodically disintegrate the demonic appendage. "Are you turning my horn into power?"

"Shinji!" Hikari held on to the shuddering and wide eyed Shinji, her hair blowing from the rising winds that blew all around Unit 01. She looked and saw a flash of lightning surge in the Evangelion's hand. "Is that..."

"Are you turning my horn into a weapon?" Zodd shouted in offense, despite his regrown crimson horn. The demon was about to charge when he saw the weapon in Eva's hands and a wave of fear surged from the demon's form. "Are you... using my horn... to make... THE GLAIVE OF GAIUS?"

"Gaius!" Roger repeated, a buried memory told him that this weapon was terrible news for everyone. As he looked on, Unit 01's hands were indeed clutched upon a great glaive. The Glaive possessed a double-helical design in it's shaft that was familiar to Roger and its defined curved blade had been implanted with a white luminous gem which now bore two spiraling white orbs that rotated around the gem with increasing speed. "I know now... that's why she did it..."

"Everyone... back up." Bit casually warned as a surge of power bolted from the glaive into the ground around the Glowing Giant. Eva raised up its mighty glaive and hurled at Nosferatu Zodd. The demon furled its wings upon itself as a shield, but the spear penetrated the barrier and twisted in upon itself before exploding.

Command Security Safe House

"Cheer up Kaiba!" Lelouch taunted the fuming President of his own company. Seto was currently seething in rage from the rumbling and shaking coming from his city above him. "You'll get richer from the insurance claims.

Kaiba looked from Lelouch to a silently smiling Yugi. "STOP MOCKING ME!"

District 29

"Everyone alright?" Noriko asked when the light was gone from the world. All eyes turned to the Purple and Red Giant whose great lance waved and waned like an ember within a furious heath. "When the hell could Unit 01 do that?"

"I know now..." Simon concluded angrily. "Now I know why she put that thing into Shinji."

"What thing?" Nia asked and then gasped to see Shinji awaken in Hikari's arms. "Aniki!"

"Shinji!" Misato beat Nia to Shinji's side and grabbed her out of Hikari's grasp to hug him. "I'm so sorry Shinji! I was wrong! I was-"

"Misato..." Misato looked down to see that she'd mashed Shinji into her cleavage. She laughed despite Hikari's visible annoyance and pulled Shinji's face up to her own. "What... happened?"

"You saved the day." Misato assured the half-conscious Shinji and turned him around so he could see Hikari, Nia and the rest of his friends. "Everyone is safe... and I put those bitches on ice."

"You saved my life..." Shinji said in sudden remembrance. "Thanks... even though I... I won't go back to Nerv."

"I don't agree with your decision, but that doesn't mean I don't care about you." Misato said to her ex-ward. "As long as you don't regret your decision, then I'm satisfied. I... I wasn't there for you like I should've been before... I made mistakes and they hurt you. And I'm sorry for that and for treating you so coldly when you're just... standing up for yourself."

"Everyone makes... mistakes..." Shinji paused when his glance turned to Hikari's face and he looked down. "By the way... I'm sorry that I kissed and groped Kneesocks..."

Hikari blinked and looked down at the ground. "Kneesocks..."

"To be fair, she did use her demonic seduction on him." Heero stated while Duo looked at his friend in surprise. "Succubi are known for seducing even the strongest of men. Shinji broke her trance through sheer willpower and his love for you."

"He's right." Briefers joined in. "Shinji was fighting those bitches the whole way when we found them."

"So we're even then..." Hikari answered, surprising both men and women alike. "I'm sorry that I was a terrible person to you in Tokyo-3."

"I was a spineless wimp back then, so I don't blame you." Shinji answered. "So... are we cool?"

Hikari giggled and pulled Shinji into a tight hug. "We're cool..."

"I'm glad that you're cool with each other." Nia remarked as Shinji reached out his hand and pat her forehead. "But... did you summon Unit 01?"

"Wait... Unit 01?" Shinji was helped to his feet and looked over to where Unit 01 stood on guard with the red and purple energy wavering off of its form. "It moved on its own again?"

"Looks like she-" Simon looked up at Roger who was now holding him back from speaking any further. "We're not going to tell him about Unit 01?"

"Not until we know what we'll tell him." Roger explained discreetly.

Suddenly, the ground shook as Zodd emerged from the smoldered crater, his wings torn off and parts of his muscles and skeleton exposed. But the demon was still very much alive.

"Oh come on! Just die already!" The Negotiator groaned.

"Wow! Not going to lie... that almost killed me!" Zodd acknowledged as he stumbled in a bloody stupor. "I mean... seriously? You had the Glaive of Gaius in your possession the whole time? And you wait till now to use it?"

"Glaive of Gaius?" Hitomi inquired in confusion and turned to Unit 01. "Then again... that spear it used is different from the other helix spear Anima uses..."

"NO SHIT! IT'S THE GLAIVE OF GAIUS!" Zodd observed as Unit 01's power concentrated into a nebulous form along its joined hands. "I don't believe it... THAT SPINELESS LITTLE PUSSY POSSESSES THE GLAIVE OF GIAUS?" Zodd lowered his head, breathing in and out as Unit 01 stood by poised to strike. Even while surrounded, the demon laughed a booming and loud laugh.

Roger didn't like this set up. "What's so funny?"

"What's so funny? What's. So. Damned. Funny?" The demon boomed far too happily. "You mortals think that wimp is your friend and I'm the enemy. You think that he's your hero and I'm the monster."

"You have been trying to kill us for the past hour so... yeah..." Bit pointed out as Zodd continued to laugh. "Unless there's a joke that you're keeping to yourself?"

"Oh... there is a joke! And you're all the butt of it!" Zodd laughed as his wings sprouted from his back once more. "You dumbasses have no idea about what that Kaiba-brat's blackmailed you into! You think that you're doing the world a favor by protecting this city from monsters like me? Ha! All you're doing is putting more corpses onto the pile! More fuel for the pyre! Your pyre!"

"I don't get it."

"Don't worry Princess Teppelin, you'll get it." Zodd ominously warned, giving a glare to each of the mortals before him. "The Rangers will get it; All of you sluts will get it; You feddie vets will get it; the class reps are already getting it; the colonel will get it... and worst of all..."

"Worst parent of the year will get it too!"

Unit 01 roared and charged Zodd.

"Can't handle the truth? Fuck you! Zodd out!" The demon spread its wings over its form and produced a dark energy which forced away Unit 01. When the energy disappeared, Zodd was gone along with it.

"Damn it! He got away!" Van shouted and promptly collapsed from his wounds. "Fiend!"

"That demon hurt my princess and got away with it." Suzaku casually remarked. "Lelouch won't like any of this nor will the Emperor. But at least I can blame all of you for it!"

"Blame us!?" Bit asked in shock. "Hey! We didn't ask a demon and a pair of succubi to fight us!"

"But your weakness endangered the princess which got her wounded." Ike pointed out. "Plus, I'm sure that you kidnapped the princess, thus her being in danger is doubly your fault."

"Now wait just a minute-"

"He's got a point there." Simon admitted. "Sorry that Leeron kidnapped your princess. I thought Kaiba was bringing her to a party or something."

"Oh yeah, that fundraiser." Roger remembered. "But still, the Emperor would be right to hate us-"

"So we're going to accept judgement from Britannian dogs!?" Hikari suddenly found her neck inches away from Sir Suzaku's sword.

"Careful, dogs bite-"

"Sir Suzaku! Put away your steel." Suzaku sheathed his blade without question, bowing to Euphemia who stomped towards him in indignation. "Did you intend to harm that girl?"

"No. Merely to impart a lesson of humility." Suzaku replied while Hikari tearfully fell to her knees. "And it worked."

Van drew out his sword. "Guess you need one as well!"

"Van wait!" Hitomi grabbed Van to try and hold him back. "You need to rest! You're wounded!"

"No one threatens my friends so casually!" Van shouted, struggling against Hitomi's grip in vain. "Name the time and place, Sir Suzaku! Then I shall impart plentiful humility upon you and your blue-haired friend!"

Suzaku smirked. "I'd welcome the challenge, but my beloved princess would not allow it. She hates it when I risk my life in frivolous contests."

"Besides, I don't take challenges from weaklings." Ike muttered and smirked when Van shivered in place. "Offended? Too bad. You'll get no sympathy from me."

"Fiend-" Van stood in place as a thick spray of blood rained out of gashes in his chest and stomach. He looked at his wounds and poked them with curiosity. "Is it bad if I don't feel pain from this?"

"It means you're going to die." Heero bluntly answered as Van fell unconscious from massive blood loss. "Does anyone have an iron on hand?"

Interrogation Cell

The Daemon sisters awoke shivering.

"Rise and shine, ladies." They moved up their arms to block the unyielding light from hurting their eyes. After a moment, they adjusted and saw Duo Maxwell sitting on the other side of a table. "You've been out for a few days, good to see that you're in good spirits."

"We'd be in better spirits if you'd let us go." Scanty sensually asked, gesturing with her breasts to Duo's apparent annoyance. "You may be a man of the cloth, but you have needs as well-"

"My needs are well met." Duo stated without any humor in his face. "You bitches got me shot, I'm not in the mood for games and neither are the people whom you've made your enemies."

"Who would that be?" Kneesocks inquired.

"The Rangers of the Grove." Duo answered as he poured himself a drink. "At least, that's what they call themselves now. You could also call them Seto Kaiba's Mighty Morphin Mecha Rangers, but Grove Rangers sounds better and shorter."

Kneesocks wasn't intimidated. "So what?"

"Let's do a head count." Duo started. "My best friend, the single deadliest gundam pilot alive; an angel-winged king who kills dragons and uses their hearts to power his ancient mecha; a negotiator with astounding diplomatic and destructive capabilities; an S-class Zoids Champion who's much more than he lets on; a kid with an unstoppable drill and a badass big brother; and your target, a young man with a dictionary's worth of psychological, mental and emotional issues. And you went through all of this effort to capture one of these one-man armies?"

"Of course." Kneesocks calmly replied with a taste of smugness. "That was our plan."

"Not a good plan." Duo answered. "Especially since you put all of that effort... all of that planning and deception to capture Shinji. You divided, conquered and struggled for that goal. And you failed."

Scanty just smiled. "Did we?"

"You're captured and Shinji's free." Duo pointed out. "And you were captured by an ordinary human woman. You can't fail much harder than that."

"But we lifted the wool of deception." Kneesocks countered. "Now Shinji-kun knows his so-called friends for who they truly are. Once we escape, he'll have seen the truth of every word that I told him. Next time, he'll come with us of his own free will. He almost did here if not for your interference."

"You kidnapped him twice and carried him in a body bag the second time. That's the opposite of free will." Duo remarked. "Plus, the Rangers aren't happy with whoever sent you. And they're more than happy to put that anger onto you if you don't cooperate. So here's the deal. You tell me who sent you and why; then things are easier for you. Refuse, and your stay in Grove Jail will be long and not at all fun."

The sisters turned to each other and then laughed.

"What is this? The good cop, bad cop routine?" Scanty laughed.

"Something like that." Duo yawned, stood up and retreated from the table into the darkness.

"Do your worst!" Scanty shouted towards the now gone priest. "What can these mortals do to make us talk?"

"Have a drink and I'll tell you." The Daemon sisters turned to see a smiling Yugi Mutoi standing next to them, pouring wine into four glasses. "Or you can just skip straight to talking and this'll be a short chat."

"Flattered, but we're not that easy." Scanty boasted to Yugi's disinterest. "If you want us to talk, you'll have to try harder."

"How about a game?" Yugi offered with a confident smirk. "If I win then you talk; if you win then I'll be your sex slave for the whole month and help you escape."

Kneesocks immediately sensed a trap. "So it's a rigged game?"

"Nonsense! I always follow my own rules." Yugi stated with a haunting chuckle that made the sisters shake in fright. "Also, if you die then you lose. That goes for me as well..."

The sisters looked at each other before Scanty replied. "We accept your challenge. What are the ruuruus of this game?"

"Take a look at your drinks." The two prisoners looked down at the four glasses of wine as Yugi continued. "Three of these glasses have been poisoned with a concoction devised by Briefers Rock and Mokuba Kaiba. The contents of that poison will calcify and erode your entire cardiac system within the span of thirty minutes. And it will hurt every single second that you're undergoing this effect. Especially when you're completely paralyzed halfway through the poison's journey to killing you."

"So all we have to do is drink the glass that isn't poisoned and we win?" Scanty excitedly asked as Yugi just nodded. Scanty smiled wickedly as she reached for the glass in front of Yugi, but Kneesocks stopped her. "Sister! It's clear that he's put the clean glass in front of him!"

"That's what he wants us to think." Kneesocks looked right at the smiling Yugi as she spoke. "He also wants us to believe that both of us have to drink a glass. If only one glass isn't poisoned then poisoning the other three means that he'd be ensuring that one of us would die, thereby undermining his own ruurus."

"Good catch. I never said that both of you have to take a drink." Yugi conceded with his dangerous smile. "So which one of us is dancing with the devil in the pale moon light?"

"Yet, he lays out an obvious trap." Scanty pointed out. "Even if one of us drinks the glass, then that is still leverage he can use upon us. Leverage in the form of an antidote. After all, he can't be our sexy man slave if he kills himself, correct? So it only makes sense for him to keep an antidote on hand to not only preserve his own life, but to use as leverage to coerce our cooperation upon our poisoning."

"It also means that we cannot make any choice based on trust in you." Kneesocks added. "How do we know that any of these drinks are poisoned? Perhaps you're merely lying to us and only one of the glasses are poisoned...the one in front of you. Or else, you poisoned all of the glasses and trust in your own endurance to withstand the effects long enough to consume the antidote."

Yugi smiled and waited. "Done prattling yet? Take your choice and then I'll take mine."

"What kind of poison could hurt us anyway!" Scanty shouted, having lost her patience with this game. "We are demons! Even your ancient Egyptian laser beams are ineffective against us! Perhaps you've underestimated us and given us a poison which would give us a stomach ache at worst! Therefore, we could freely drink any of the three drinks and be fine, but if you drink one, you'll threaten your own life for nothing!"

"That's rational." Yugi quipped. "Are you gonna drink yet?"

Kneesocks saw the trap immediately. "Sister... let's think on this-"

"Not when this sexy fool is handing himself to us on a silver platter!" Scanty cried out, snatching up a glass and draining the whole drink before her sister could stop her. "Ha! Either I've chosen the right drink or there is no poison! Worst yet, I can't taste anything unusual about this... water? This is water!"

"Exactly." Scanty stopped and then gripped her chest as sweat began to pour from her red skin. "I never said that I was pouring you wine. Nope, the contents of the glass you've drunk and the glasses before you and in front of me are nothing more than pure water. But with a prayer and touch from a devout priest, this mundane pure water was transformed into something very deadly to you demons."

Kneesocks immediately realized what was tearing her sister apart now. "Holy Water!?"

"Compliments of the priest you pissed off." Yugi remarked as Kneesocks watched her sister wriggle and squirm in unbearable pain. "You're right about a lot of things. I didn't poison any of the drinks, Duo merely blessed the water as he left. I just let you dig the ditch deeper with your own imagination and assumptions until you did something stupid."

"But... you said you wouldn't break any of your RUURUUS!"

"I followed my rules, it just so happened that those rules were in my favor." Yugi laughed as Kneesocks looked helplessly upon her sister's pain. "Also, the glass was poisoned."

"What-" Kneesocks watched in horror as her skin began to lose life and her left arm began to lose feeling as it turned to stone. "This... this can't be happening..."

"You activated my trap card..." Yugi's laugh grew in intensity as Kneesocks screamed, her arm losing more and more life from the effects of the Powersink Stone trap card that the King of Games had brought to life.

Interrogation Observation Room

"Never piss off Yugi... gotcha." Bit remarked, adding the sadistic king of games to his list of people never to anger. "You sure that he won't kill them before he makes them sing?"

"Kaiba's ordered him to keep the girls alive and capable of talking-"

"When's the last time that Yugi has done anything Kaiba asked him to do?" Briefers shrugged and conceded to Simon's point. "But if these bitches have spiral power...there's only one person that they could've gotten that from..."

"The Spiral King." Roger finished, dreading the very mention of Simon's nemesis. "That bastard... I guess he's done ignoring us."

"Spiral King?" Briefers asked in confusion. "Whose he?"

"A bald monster whose going down!" Simon declared, his face snarling with intensity and rage. "I was always wondering what took him so damned long! Then again, losing two generals, 387 bases, and millions of slaves takes a while to recover from! But now he's done licking his wounds and sent these bitches to take away Aniki and kill all of us off."

"But now that subterfuge has failed, he'll go for another approach." Roger deduced. "I wonder if he knew about the helix... that might be why he wanted the girls to take Shinji."

"Helix?" Heero inquired. "What did the two of you find out in the Grove's ruins?"

"That's what we'll be discussing with you and all of the other Defense Force officers." Roger answered just as Duo entered the room. "There's a lot about this place that Kaiba is hiding from us. There's also a lot that even he doesn't know about. But the secrets of this Grove have drawn the eyes of many forces and factions. If we're going to be prepared for the fights that lie ahead of us, we all need to be aware of what our enemy is after."

Bit's face turned darkly serious as he voiced a single thought. "Enoch."

"Everyone wants a piece of him." Duo remarked as Heero silently stared into the interrogation in thought. "And we're the guardians at the gate? So everyone wants to truck over us to get to Enoch. Neat."

"Guess we're up in the big leagues now." Simon folded his arms confidently and smirked. "Watch out world, cause it's our turn at bat."

Guest Hotel 65th floor

"Euphemia is staying at the Blitz Pad?"

"She's made quick friends with Princess Nia and Annie Smith." Suzaku explained to Lelouch, the latter soundly beating Suzaku in a chess game. "Sir Ike is with her, so she should be in no danger. The man is almost as good as I am."

"Almost is for second place." Lelouch mocked and had a pawn take Suzaku's queen. "And that's checkmate."

Groaning, Suzaku tipped over his king. "And I thought I'd get better after practicing with Schniezel."

"That's your problem, I'm not Schniezel." Lelouch commented and sat up from the table, stretching out his arms with a yawn. "Tell me, how is that king that threatened you? The one with the dragon mecha?"

"He's recovering from his wounds from what Euphie told me." Suzaku answered. "Having her sister with him increased his chances. She's just like her big sister."

"Only more empathetic and less robust in the chest, but not by much." Lelouch remarked and walked out onto the 1st class suite's porch. He breathed the nighttime air and looked upon the city with a grin. "So peaceful... so quiet..."

"What are you planning now?" Suzaku inquired, lying on the couch reading a heavily marked map that Lelouch had signed. "You've had your eye on this place for months, why show up now?"

"I didn't come here by choice." It was an obvious lie, but Lelouch knew that Suzaku would indulge him. "But while I'm here, I decided to satiate my curiosity."

"And Euphemia?" Suzaku's tone turned more dire. "The last time she was caught in your war with Zero-"

"That won't happen again." Lelouch wasn't looking at Suzaku when he said this. If he did, he'd confirm what he'd suspected from the very start. "But make no mistake, Zero won't resist a chance to have at two royals outside of Britannian territory. Both of whom won't have easy stays if our stay here is made public. Half of the city's population comes from the United States or from Japan... both groups hate us for Nagoya and Korea."

"I killed my own father and I'm still popular." Suzaku quipped, earning a chuckle from Lelouch. "All the same, how are you so certain that Zero will take a chance?"

Lelouch looked upon a skyscraper a few miles away. At it's top, he spotted a figure with a black and indigo helmet that saluted the prince before vanishing into the night. "Zero is an agent of chaos and chaos has it's own whims and wishes."

"Speaking of chaos, I'm surprised that these Rangers aren't getting more notice." Suzaku commented to change the subject. "Especially from the so-called Fraternity of Might."

"Believe me, they're noticed." Lelouch replied to the Knight of Eleven. "Like all things, consequences take time to ferment and blossom to fruition. But the days that the world will ignore the Rangers will soon end."

Somewhere in the Eastern Sea

The All blue ocean wavered and flowed beneath a mostly sunny day. Upon this sea sat an odd ship that seemed to be a mix between a classic gunship and a submarine.

Because it could function as both.

"You traveled a long way to get here." The captain of the hybrid ship sat easily and looked down on a young boy. "It must've been rough finding me."

"Tough's a cakewalk for the shuffle alliance." Sekai Kamiki boldly replied, his hand tattoed with the mark of the Jack of Diamonds. "My sensei trusted me to deliver that message."

"His trust was well founded." The captain replied, looking upon the sealed envelope in his hand. "I take it that you don't know what this message is about?"

"I didn't ask."

"You're the New Jack of Diamonds?" One of the captain's crew-members remarked with a smirk. "The standards gone low if a kid like you is wearing George's mark-"

"Screw you! I could kick your ass with one hand behind my back!" Kamiki shouted to the laughing sailor. "Don't laugh at me! I'm Kamiki Sekai! Champion of the Seiho Academy, Disciple of the School of the Undefeated of the East and the Shuffle Alliance's Jack of Diamonds!"

"Kamiki? Never heard of him." Another sailor commented to Sekai's growing anger. "For a second, I thought you were that prince... what was his name? Renji? Reiji? But he's with Londo Bell at the Sanc Academy."

"I get that a lot..." Sekai bitterly admitted and then gasped when he saw the captain tear up the envelope. "What...what are...WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?"

"I should ask the same of that old man." The captain growled with each additional tear pissing off his guest more and more. "Summoning me with a damned letter? Who the hell does he think I am?"

"It's just a letter boss, don't get fired up!" One of the younger crew members advised, ignoring the fuming Sekai. "The rookie's already doing that for you!"

"I won't tolerate this insult!" The Try Fighter champion roared with fire coming off of his being. "I fought a fleet of narwhals... defeated ten pirate crews... and even courted death with the Early Genius! I didn't do all of that just to be mocked like this!"

The Captain tipped up his top hat and blinked with a small smile. "I don't care."

Sekai fumed and was ready to explode. Though the crew just looked on with more curiosity than fear. "Don't you even know what was in that letter! How will you know when you meet sensei-"

"I know what your sensei wants." The Captain remarked as the air on the ship suddenly grew heavier and Sekai was forced to his knees. "This is about Shinji-san and the Rangers, right?"

"Shinji?" Sekai asked in confusion as the pressure was relieved and Sekai stood on his feet. "Sensei requests that you meet him at Hawaii! And bring good food!"

"A party huh? Can't turn that down." The Captain answered smiling. "Tell your sensei that he better have good wine when I get there."

"Tibetan Wine."

"Good." The Captain took out a long pole and set it on fire as Sekai looked up at him. "If that's all, piss off. The Feddies are coming this way and I don't have time to babysit children."

"Children!" Sekai shouted to the man sitting on a small island of wrecked ships and melted mecha. "Hold on-"

Sekai suddenly saw a beam of fire fly right past his face. When the beam was gone, he put his hand on his cheek and flinched from the narrow burn left by the captain.

"I won't ask again." The Captain warned and blew smoke from his finger. "We pirates don't have time for games. And it's gonna be a long swim back to your sensei, kid."

"Start swimming baka." The Tribunal Pirate Lord warned with a jubilant chuckle. "You kids never change. I didn't either."

Author's Notes

What is the extent of Van's injuries? What havoc does the conflict between Zero and Lelouch promise to unleash? Will Simon and Roger tell Shinji the truth about Unit 01? How will the shocking revelations that the Digger and Negotiator discovered alter their roles in Angel Groove and their relationship with Kaiba? What will Roger think of himself with what he's learned of his dark past? What new challenges and dangers await the Rangers as they enter the big leagues of the world's focus? Who sent the nefarious Daemon sisters? Was it indeed Lordgenome or another foe yet to be revealed? And how did Hitomi survive and heal from a bullet through her skull?

All of these questions will be answered...when I feel like answering them.

Not much to say here apart from how I only planned for half of the stuff that happened here. The rest of it was the results of following through with character actions, interactions and personalities. It also had more foot fighting than mecha fighting which was a challenge because I'm used to ship and mecha fighting (as you all know by now), but I'm satisfied with the results though acknowledge that I've got room for improvement.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it.