"Power," Terra muttered. "Must get more power..."

        Her Atomic Starlight Knight was going to need a great deal
of energy to do what they had planned. It wouldn't be NEARLY enough
to destroy a world, but... that didn't matter at the moment.
Destructive energy wouldn't work for this plan, anyway. Just seven
years ago, she would have had enough of that to convert into the
type she needed, but now she didn't. So, she'd have to go locate
a nice energy source and tap into that.

        "Hello, Terra," Princess Serenity said pleasantly as she
passed her. "Have you seen my Star Locket?"

        "Hmm..." Not hearing the question, Terra briefly considered
draining the life out of her sister. "Nah." It wouldn't do much for
her reputation. Besides, human energy wouldn't work, either... Now,
if she had some Juraian energy... "That's it!"

        "Where?" Serenity asked, looking around.

        Terra grabbed her sister by the shoulders and looked into her
eyes, smiling brightly. "Juraian energy isn't that different from
Human energy! Well, when you're trying to convert it, that is. The
method I know, at least."

        The blonde princess sighed. "What are you talking about,

        Terra's smile turned into a grin. "ENERGY, my dear sister!
Energy! Can I drain all of your life energy and convert it into
something useful so I can use it in my master plan to... ER...
You didn't hear me say that."

        Serenity giggled and shook her head, then left Terra's grip
and walked off, continuing the search for her locket.

        The redhead stood, slightly stunned. She frowned. "Hey...
You didn't even take me seriously! Get back here! I'm not through
with you yet!" She began to follow, but the panda from earlier
decided to walk by at that instant.

        "Growlf," it said calmly, then continued walking by.

        Terra gazed after it thoughtfully. "Hmmm... There's an idea,"
she whispered, considering a new possibility. She glanced around
and saw no guards... or witnesses of any kind whatsoever... No
magical scrying going on, either...

        Princess Terrifying grinned evilly and began to nonchalantly
follow the large creature. "Oh, Mister Panda..."


        "Well, that's better," A.S.K. noted at the sudden increase in
his energy reserves. "It should be enough... Right type, too."

        [Admiral, they've almost broken through the doors!] Tactical
called urgently.

[Emergency Explanation Power, Make Up!!!]

        What had happened was that the trio of escapees had struggled
through the poorly-lit junkyard and managed to find something which
made the admiral remark, "YES! THAT'S IT!"

        To which the other two had replied, "What's what?!"

        And the admiral had looked quite happy and had pointed toward
something that looked rather like an old, rotten log in the poorly-
lit area.

        "It's... an old, rotten log," Tactical had said.

        "No, look closer," Communications had responded. "See the
insignia? It's Nemesian."

        "It's an old, rotten... Nemesian log?" Tactical had asked,
scratching his head.

        "No! Look deeper... See the outline? It's a-"

        "Starship!" the admiral had shouted triumphantly. "I told
you I'd get us another one!"

        To this, Communications had raised an eyebrow. "Sir, it's
an old, rotten, WOODEN Nemesian GARBAGE SCOW!"

        The admiral had merely responded: "Picky, picky, picky...
Come on!"

        They had then pried open a hatch and entered the ship,
whose interior was an exact replica of the exterior: old, wooden,
and rotten.

        "WHAT KIND OF SHIP IS THIS?!?!" Communications had screamed,
completely breaking character. The admiral and Tactical had looked
at her, shocked expressions on their faces.

        The admiral was the first to recover. "It's an old, rotten,
wooden Nemesian garbage scow."

        Communications fumed. "What POSSIBLE use could it be to us?!"

        "Well," the admiral had begun, "this model, I believe, used
the old magical anti-grav and airstone stuff. I think it might still

        Then, they had checked the systems through the bridge's
diagnostic network. Yes, most of the key components were in workable
condition, but there was no power to them.

        Finally, the admiral had spoken the words dreaded by many a
military officer... "I'll take care of it." And so, he had gone
into the engineering section... what passed for the engineering
section, at least, and began to repair some of the systems.

[End Explanation.]

        "Try it now!" A.S.K. called into the partially operational
internal comm system.

        The ship shuddered for a moment, then became still.

        [No good,] Tactical responded.

        The green-armored man sighed and looked down at the pink
flower in his hand, then toward the smashed power core. "Well,
I guess I'll have to use you sooner than I thought..."

        A.S.K. placed the flower in the center of the broken,
wooden platform and concentrated. The flower writhed slightly.

        <Come on... Enhance the energy field... Something similar
to Earth's should work for it...>

        The flower seemed to calm slightly.

        <More power!>

        The small blossom grew marginally.

        <I SAID MORE POWER!!!>

        The plant took root, imbedding itself into the power core,
glowing a soft, light red.

        Lights blinked on, illuminating the area. Ambient humming
began throughout the old, creaking vessel.

        <YES!> A.S.K. thought triumphantly. "Try it now!"

        [Aye, sir!]

        The ship shuddered, then slowly accelerated upwards. Soft
jingling was heard outside as debris cascaded off the old hull.

        [That did it, Admiral!] Communications called down. [But
there's still one problem. We're trapped in. This ship has no
weapons, so we can't blast our way out... And I don't think the
hull could take any ramming!]

        Oh yeah... That could be something of a problem, now, couldn't
it? "Gimme a sec. I'll think of something!"

        [Hurry,] Tactical said urgently, [they've penetrated the
blast door!]

        "Okay," A.S.K. replied, rubbing his hands together. "What now?"

        <Try a Juraian shipyard technique,> one of his inner psyches

        The admiral thought about it. He slowly nodded. Juraians used a
sort of tree to generate a living ship. He knew; he was there, just
seventy years ago, while they desperately tried to create one to
fight him off with.

        No part of that shipyard, the planet it was on, OR the enormous
fleet the Juraian government sent after him would ever be found...
Well, scraps larger than a centimeter across, that is.

        Oh well. Never mess with a pro, as they say...

        Anyway, the process shouldn't be TOO difficult to reproduce
in an Invid Flower of Life. It should, actually, power itself
through most of the process. This old, rotten, wooden ship SHOULD
be easy to incorporate it into, being mostly biological plant
matter anyway...

        "Cross your fingers, people!"


        "Zorak," one of the lead nameless minions began, "they have
managed to salvage a starship."

        [What the... I thought those were all scrapped!] Zorak
replied, somewhat shocked.

        The ship that had pulled itself out of the scrap pile...
looked like it *belonged* in the scrap pile, actually. Approximately
twenty-five meters long, it was slightly reminiscent of a water-bound
sailboat. It would have resembled one more if the sail was deployed,
or if the mast had still been intact. In addition to that, the
hull was badly pitted and cracks were showing nearly everywhere from
stem to stern. Barnacles and a coral reef would not have been at
all out of place.

        "They were, but it appears to be repairing itself," that same
nameless minion noted in its usual monotone voice.

        [Excuse me?!]

        Sure enough, the old, battered hull seemed to be smoothing
itself out, re-knitting the cracks and ridding itself of the ugly
blemishes covering it. It now had a well-polished exterior with a
brownish, glossy sheen.

        "Ooooh," the nameless minions said in awe, staring at the
majestic-looking garbage scow.

        [What are you waiting for?! Destroy it!]

        The large group of completely and utterly nameless minions
shrugged, lifted their laser rifles, and began to fire.

right on missing. Union rules.


        [WHOA! What'd you just do?!] Tactical asked in wonder.

        The flower now filled the entire power core, and it appeared
quite content. It had absorbed the dead wood, expanding its being
and its power, becoming one with the ship.

        A.S.K. smiled. Now came the fun part: telling the plant in
question what kind of vessel to become. He placed his hands near
the main stalk of the plant, preparing the proper energy pattern.

        "Tactical, arm weapon systems."

        [What weapon systems...? Hey, where'd this panel just come


        On deck, the communications officer was at her station,
marveling at the change the ship was going through. The open-air
bridge, after having regenerated itself, had grown a roof and
sealed itself tightly. Stations and displays were molding themselves
into place throughout the entire section.

        The broken mast and other components, such as the perimeter
railing, had been absorbed into the rest of the structure, shaping
itself into a much more aesthetically pleasing design.

        The partition separating the upper and lower sections of the
deck had smoothed out, becoming almost level with each other, and the
formerly rectangular multi-section railing had curved into a single,
round bar, tapering off toward the edges.

        The bridge had also taken on an almost... living quality.

        "Admiral, what's happening?!" Communications called down to
her commanding officer.

        {Don't worry about it,} the admiral's voice replied, sounding
much more full with the improved internal sound system. {Are weapons

        Tactical checked his readouts. "I... think so."

        {Good, target the outside dome, and fire when ready.}

        The tactical officer smiled. They were finally getting out
of here. "Aye, sir!"


        The nameless minions watched as the ship molded itself into
a seed-like object. Its surface was perfectly smooth, a green
energy occasionally illuminating random areas.

        *BLAM*BLAM*BLAM*BLAM*BLAAAAM!* They were still trying, and
failing, to hit the vessel. At this point, they were doing it as
a matter of principle.

        The energy that had been flickering on the surface of the
small vessel began to concentrate itself at the tip, humming
ominously. The energy condensed down to one point, then shot out
in a thick beam...

        *KABLAM!!!* That thick beam blew a huge, gaping hole in the
side of the cavernous room, allowing a faint light to pour in from

        The small ship quickly flew out through the hole.

        "They have escaped," an almost, but not quite, entirely
nameless mantis said through the Portable Communications System(TM).

        [Oh, great. Now I'll have to send out a ship to get them.]


        Tactical glanced around at the many panels he was currently
in charge of, amazed at the power levels he was seeing, and at the
fact that they were all labeled in a his native language. "We're in
business, sir!"

        {Excellent! I've finished programming everything down here.
I'll be up in a minute.}

        "Programming?" Communications asked quizzically. Tactical

        A.S.K. walked in and took the newly formed command seat,
situated in the center of the nice, roomy bridge. "Report!"

        "We've just left the atmosphere of what appears to be Nemesis,"
Communications noted, having configured her station to also display
the sensor readings.

        "Nemesis, eh? Figures. They don't have much of an official
government down there, and that sort of setup usually attracts
bad-guy types like-" the admiral said before being cut off when the
ship jarred violently.

        *Snick!* Safety restraints latched on to the crew, preventing
them from being thrown from their stations.

        Tactical looked up from his station. "Admiral! We're under
attack by three enemy vessels! They're behind us, sir!"

        "Evasive maneuvers! Identify!"

        "They appear to be of the same configuration that attacked
the fleet."

        Communications paled. "Uh oh..."

        "Tactical, bring us about. Ready weapons. Communications,
open hailing frequencies," A.S.K. said calmly.

        "Aye, sir!" the two crewmembers replied in unison.


        The small, seed-like vessel swung around quickly, concentrating
energy at its tip as it weaved out of the way of the purple energy
weapons being fired by the enemy forces.

        The three spider-like ships each launched a black shape,
which split into several groups of fighters.

        The fighters fired, but their shots were intercepted by an
energy field projected by their target.

        The seed-like vessel fired the energy it had at its tip in
a tight, focused beam which impacted the center of the lead ship,
slicing it neatly in two. The halves shriveled, signaling the
destruction of that ship.

        The other two enemy ships backed off, their fighters
withdrawing with them.


        "The enemy forces are hailing us," Communications said.

        "On screen," A.S.K. replied.

        The front part of the room rippled, the image of Zorak fading
into view.

        <Hmm... I thought I blasted that guy,> A.S.K. thought. He
shrugged. <Oh well.>

        "Greetings," the admiral said in a friendly manner, "you are
in violation of sections seventeen through thirty-seven of the
Silver Millennium Agreement. Surrender and prepare to be destroyed."

        "Admiral?!" Communications blurted out in shock.

        On screen, Zorak laughed as if he had just heard the Funniest
Joke in the Universe(TM). [HAHAAHAHAAAAA! In case you haven't
noticed, you are not in any position to make demands!]

        A.S.K. still looked calm. He smiled. "I've just destroyed
one of your vessels in a single hit. Doesn't that... frighten you?"

        The green mantis leader smirked. [I have nearly a hundred
more where that came from!]

        Tactical and Communications gasped. They glanced at each
other nervously. Nearly a hundred?! It had taken FORTY of Earth's
finest warships on suicide runs to take out fifteen!

        "Hmm," the black-haired admiral replied, unimpressed, "they
wouldn't happen to all be in the hangar, would they?"

        *Bloonk!* Zorak blinked. [Most of them... why?]

        A.S.K. stood and grinned, holding up a small device with
a very large, obvious red button in his right hand. He pushed that

        *Beep!* The small device made a quiet noise.

        *KABOOOOOOOM!!!!* On screen, there was a rather loud noise
in the background, signaling the sudden demise of nearly a hundred
Shadow vessels. A moment of Silence, please.

        Zorak stared for a moment, wide-eyed. *Bloonk!* He blinked.

        "Hah hah!" A.S.K. laughed at the mantis snidely, pointing at

        [Th-tha-that's... That's impossible!] Zorak replied in

        "Impossible, eh? Ya ain't seen nothin' yet!" A.S.K. said.
He turned toward Tactical. "What is the status on the ship's

        Tactical shrugged. "It's stable, all systems-" He cut off
as his information changed. "The ship... it's expanding!"

        A.S.K. turned back toward Zorak. "You're gonna LOVE this!"


        The small, brownish, seed-like vessel began to elongate and
widen, grooves starting to appear at irregular lengths in its
otherwise smooth exterior.

        Sections of the hull began to bulge. Dark spines of varying
lengths erupted from the bulges, curving forward and ending in
sharp, black points.

        At the front, two large spines with an inner serrated edge
protruded from the main structure, one on the top, one on the bottom.
The bottom one was slightly longer than the other. They curved gently
toward each other, not touching. As the forward spines grew, the
front of the ship slowly turned a dark, metallic purple, the color
spreading across much of the surface, fading to the original beige
wood-color as the change reached the stern.

        Hundreds of small nodules appeared, evenly spaced across
the outer hull.

        During this, the ship grew... I mean REALLY grew. I mean a
thirty-two-times-the-original-size sort of grew. It started at
twenty-five meters long... It ended at nearly eight hundred.

        The ship widened imperceptibly as four unobtrusive forward-
facing energy cannons formed, each approximately seven meters wide.

        Then, finally, the ship stopped its dramatic transformation.


        "Now, Zorak, is it? I'm trying to send a message out here:
this is MY territory. Anyone who wants this system will have to
get through ME first, understood?" the overconfident former galactic
destroyer said, sitting back down.

        Zorak didn't hear that last statement; he was too busy looking
at his sensor readings. The expression on his face informed the
admiral that his ship was just as powerful as he had hoped.

        "And I suppose that I'll have to thank you... A certain flower
in your little garden has proven... most beneficial in this matter,"
A.S.K. continued.

        Zorak looked up and *Bloonk!* blinked. "Flower?!"

        A.S.K. nodded. "Yes... a mantis like yourself wouldn't exactly
know the true force of flower power, would you? Let me guess... you
just had it in there with those other plants because it looked like
it might jump out and bite someone, right?"

        *Bloonk!* Zorak blinked. "What are you talking about?!"

        A.S.K. shrugged. "It doesn't matter... At least, it won't in
a minute or two. Tactical, arm the main weapon. Target the base and
prepare to fire. Close hailing frequencies."

        The screen switched to a view of the planet Nemesis.

        Tactical looked around for the controls to the main gun, found
them, looked at the energy readings, then stopped. "Uh, sir... about
the main gun..."

        The admiral looked up at Tactical. "What is it, Lieutenant?"

        "I... don't think we should have a planet in front of us when
we fire."

        "Well, you've seen what they've got. This is no time for half
measures. If we're going to take this guy down, I want it done

        Communications coughed nervously. "Sir?"

        A.S.K. turned toward her. "What? Oh... this is that planetary
destruction thing you've got so much against... FINE! Be that way.
Tactical, activate secondary weaponry. Lowest power setting."

        "Aye, sir!"

        A.S.K. rolled his eyes. "Bunch of pacifists here..."


        The large, spined vessel rotated into place, its four secondary
energy cannons glowing with a red energy.

        The cannons fired all at once, sending their dark red beams
lancing toward the base, stabbing into various sections of it, which
promptly exploded in a brilliant flash of light.


        The light engulfed Zorak, burning through his hard exoskeleton
in mere microseconds, vaporizing him instantly...

        All that remained of him, his base, and his minions was a
smoking, radioactive crater...

        He was never heard from again... Ever.

        Then he woke up.

        "Whoa," Zorak said, sitting up, his eyes still closed, "what
a nightmare..."

        "Zorak?" a voice called.

        "Mommy? Mommy, is that you?" the mantis asked. "I had this
horrible dream... I dreamed that I... got back into the evil mantis
business... Then Space Ghost... he blasted me, momma, he blasted me
and kept on blasting me... And then... and then... He forced me to
work on his talk show! And he started blasting me more, and kept
blasting me, and blasting me, and..." Zorak sniffled.

        "There there," the voice said, "you're back on the talk show,
and you're never going to leave again!"

        Zorak's eyes shot open. He beheld a man in front of him...
a man in white tights, an orange cape, and a black cowl. There
were red PowerBands on his wrists and he wore a belt of the same
color. Oddly enough, he wasn't wearing any shoes or boots...

        "Easy, Zorak," Space Ghost said, holding out his hand and
clenching it into a fist. "Daddy's got a Destruct-o-Ray to make it
all better!" He pushed a button on his PowerBand.




        "Direct hit! Target destroyed!" Tactical said triumphantly.

        "Well, that was over a bit too quickly for my tastes," A.S.K.
commented, then shrugged. "Oh well. Our work's done here... Lay in
a course for Pluto."

        "Pluto, sir?" Communications asked. "That area of space is off
limits without proper clearance... and I don't think you have that."

        The admiral paused and glanced at her. "Do you have the
Plutonian capital's current date and time, right off hand?"

        The communications officer thought about it and glanced at her
watch. "Two, thirty-seven, nine hundred ninety-one. It would be
just about eleven-hundred hours now. Why?"

        "Good," A.S.K. said, "then I haven't missed it!"

        "Missed what, sir?" Tactical asked.

        "Sailor Pluto's birthday! Her official birthday, anyway...
Quick! Open a channel to Uranus."

        Tactical smirked.

        Communications groaned at this and manipulated a few controls.
"Channel open."

        The viewscreen shifted to the picture of a nondescript,
middle-aged, brown-haired man. He looked surprised. "Admiral! I
was informed that you had been killed defending Neptune!"

        A.S.K. smiled. "News travels fast, doesn't it? Well, Lord High
Chamberlain, or whatever the heck it is they call you nowadays, as
you can see, I'm not dead... I don't think, at least. So... spread
the word. I found the group that instigated the attack against
Neptune... and obliterated them. They were on Nemesis-"

        The Chamberlain cut the admiral off there, an angry expression
building up on his face. "Nemesis! I should have known. Those
insolent pirates have absolutely no respect for our peace! Why can't
they just go back to their planet and stay there?! I'll see to it
that a full siege group is sent to put that forsaken world out of
its misery! They-"

        "AHEM!" The admiral cleared his throat. The man on screen
stopped his rant. "Who asked you to go and jump to conclusions?
I think it's only fair to say that I don't believe that a SINGLE
Nemesian was involved in the attack in any way whatsoever. And
as much as I'd like to see some systematic planetary destruction,
my communications officer already talked me out of it! Do you
believe this!?"

        The Chamberlain blinked.

        "So," A.S.K. continued, "how's Uranus doing?"

        Tactical chuckled.

        The man on screen cleared his throat. "Ah, the Senshi, or
the Planet?"

        "First, let's go with the planet. Politically speaking, has...
Neptune been having problems with Uranus?"

        Tactical laughed a little more. Communications stared at him.

        "Actually, we've been getting along rather well with Neptune."

        "I'll bet. How's the Princess of Uranus doing?"

        "Which one?"

        "Oh, I don't know... the eldest. How's Sailor Uranus doing?"

        "Fine, as far as I know."

        "How's her brother doing?"

        "I... don't know."

        "Hmm... Why don't you know?"

        "He's not here. He was invited to a party..."



        "Pluto, right?"

        "Why... yes, how did you know? I mean, that's highly classified
information... We are on a closed channel, aren't we?"

        "Yeah, probably. Thank you for your time, Chamberlain. It is
Chamberlain, right? Close channel."

        The screen went blank.

        "What was that all about?" Communications asked.

        "Absolutely nothing whatever," the admiral replied. "Open
a channel to Neptune."

        "Channel open."

        The screen faded into the image of an aqua-haired young
woman dressed as a Sailor Senshi.

        "Ah, Sailor Neptune," A.S.K. greeted. "A rare pleasure indeed.
So, what brings you to speak on this lowly channel?"

        Neptune smiled. "I heard about the battle and am glad to
see that you've survived. I answered the call because I wanted
to thank you personally. My people have recovered the data
recorders and reviewed the situation. What you and your crews
did out there was phenomenal. On behalf of my people, I thank you."

        "And," the admiral replied, "on behalf of the many Terran crews
that were crazy enough to stick around and obey my orders, you're

        "By the way, I don't recognize the configuration of your ship's

        A.S.K. looked around. Yup, his bridge didn't look anything like
the usual Earthling style. The configuration was, actually, quite
similar, but the organic qualities made it look totally alien. It
was, of course, but aren't we all? "Good. Neither do I. I just built
the thing with an old scrap heap, a flower, and a small amount of
pseudo-Juraian energy."

        Neptune laughed. "It sounds like you may yet outdo the ArbyFish
when it comes to constructing something out of nothing."

        A.S.K. raised an eyebrow. "The ArbyFish?"

        "Sailor Pluto's advisor. He took over after Charon retired."

        "Retired? Charon was her cat, right? I didn't think those
things ever retired."

        "There is a first time for everything. I understand that the
workload was rather... daunting. Pluto needed a replacement, and
Arby was the only thing available."

        "'Thing?' You mean cat, or advisor, right?"

        Neptune shook her head. "No, I mean 'thing.' He was a Mercurian
lab accident, I believe."

        "A lab accident?"

        Neptune nodded.

        "Working for Sailor Pluto?"

        Neptune nodded once more.

        "THIS I gotta see... Oh, by the way, have you been having
problems with Uranus?"

        Tactical began rolling on the floor, laughing hysterically.

        Sailor Neptune raised an eyebrow. "No... why do you ask?"

        A.S.K. had not lost his straight face. "No reason. Bye. Close

        The screen went blank.

        Communications glanced down at the laughing tactical officer
and looked at the admiral. "That was uncalled for."

        "That was GREAT, sir!" Tactical said, regaining his footing.

        Communications sighed and shook her head. "Admiral, I'm almost
certain that making crank calls to high-ranking foreign officials on
designated military channels is a court-martial offense."

        A.S.K. thought about it. "No... actually, I think it just
gets you a reprimand on your permanent record... Attacking a
restricted area, however... Hmm... Lay in a course for Pluto. Arm
all weapons."

        "Um, you're _absolutely_ sure, Admiral?"

        "Of course I am!" the admiral replied. He had a party to crash
and planetary defenses to overcome. "Pluto's going to LOVE what I've
got for her this year."


        Queen Serenity sighed, looking over the passed-out form of the
large panda. It had been advising her on a large multitude of marital
aspects for such a long time today. He hadn't even complained of
becoming tired throughout the entire discussion.

        She didn't know how long it had been since the creature had
rested. It had shown up earlier, attempting to find food any way it
could. Poor thing... It looked positively starving when it came.

        "Take him to the guest quarters," Queen Serenity told her
awaiting servants, then left.

        The small group of servants looked at each other, then down
at the panda, wondering about the best way to pick up such a heavy

        "'Spose we could chop 'em up..."

        "AAAaao... I guess we could."

        "But that'd leave a mess all ova' the noice, claine car'pet!"

        "Oh, well, the _carpet_... Can't mess that up."

        "We could use a system of levers and pulleys..."

        "Naah... Wouldn't be propa' ta set up machinery 'ere... Though
the ropes'd be a good idea..."

        "Roight! We could tie 'em ta a stone bridge-"

        "What'd that do, Bevis?"

        "Nothing, Vera... But we could collapse the bridge and have
that haul it off..."

        "Noooo... We get a bunch a' apples n' pears n' roll 'em away!"

        "Couldn't we use swallows fo' that?"

        "Hmm.... I s'pose so. But the swallows'd be crushed! I mean,
a five ounce swallow couldn't bear the weight of a five-hundred
pound panda!"

        "But if we yoked up a whole LOT a' swallows..."

        "They wouldn't 'ave enough strength!"

        "No, wait, if we could use Jovian Swallows..."

        "Do we have any Jovian Swallows?"

        "No... So, I guess that wouldn't work if we don't 'ave any...
Ya know..."

        "I still think we should chop 'em up..."

        "...'Think so?"


        "Roight," the servants all concluded with a nod, taking out
various Sharp Things(TM)... right before the panda began to rouse.

        "Urrllgh... Grolf..." it said, sitting up.

        The servants looked at each other.

        "Does this mean we don't get ta kill 'em?"

        "...I don't know."

        "Well... 'e's up, so we kin go 'ave tea..."

        "But I want to cut 'is 'ead off!"

        "Oh, cut yer own head off!"

        "I want ta 'ave tea!"

        The panda listened to the conversation, and wisely decided
that a rapid exit would be the most prudent course of action,
even though he was not exactly renowned for his wisdom...

        "Alroight... We'll kill 'em first, then 'ave tea n' biscuits."

        "Oh, not biscuits..."

        "'Aven't we done this joke before...?"

        "No... We couldn't 'ave... 'Ave we?"

        "...We could 'ave... But what about Tea?"

        "No biscuits, please!"

        "Alroight... Not biscuits, but let's kill 'em anyway!"

        "Roight!" the servants concluded in unison.

        They looked around.

        "'E buggered off!"

        "So 'e 'as!"

        "'E's scarpered..."


o/Brave Sir Panda ran away!
  Bravely ran away away!

  When danger reared its ugly head,
  He bravely turned his tail and fled!

  Yes, Brave Sir Panda turned about,
  And gallantly, he chickened out.

  Bravely taking to his feet,
  He beat a very brave retreat,
  Bravest of the brave, Sir Panda!\o

        Amidst his strategic retreat through the Roman-esque
architecture, the panda looked around in confusion as he heard the

        Trying not to listen to it, he found a secluded spot and
took out a mirror: one that had apparently been shattered and
pieced back together with masking tape.

        Quickly pulling out and peeling an onion, he shed a tear
on the mirror, which crackled for a moment.


        The panda and the mirror vanished in a flash of light.


        And, on the planet known as Pluto... in the bedroom of Sailor
Pluto, as a matter of fact...

        "Thanks for the lift," Sailor Pluto called back as she exited
the small, blue structure with the words "Police Box" inscribed above
the doorway.

        A small, green creature also fluttered out of the Police Box.
It wore a very long scarf. "Thank'you, sir!"

        "Arby, give that back," Pluto ordered.

        "Oh, but I loikes it!"


        "Oh, foine," Arby said, fluttering back inside. He came back
out without the scarf and carrying a green Jellybaby, which he
swallowed. "Quoite tasty... loike mushrooms."

        *Vrrr!*Vrr!* The Police Box disappeared, making odd noises as
it did.

        Sailor Pluto turned toward Arby. "This will be the last time
that you will _ever_ accompany me through the time gate."

        "Oh, but I loike to!" Arby said pleadingly. "Gives me a chance
ta look up the real big mushrooms. They 'ad GIGANTIC mushrooms back
then. Nowadays we got these lil' mushrooms, ya know... get up ta
portabello mushrooms... but they still aren't very big... But when
we go back in toime, they've got **HUGE** mushrooms. I mean, they've
found skelet'ns a' ancient mushrooms that've dwarfed office
buildings! If I got a 'old a one a those, it could be worth

        Sailor Pluto blinked. "I see..."

        "Yeah. The skelet'ns weren't quoite as big as the real thing."

        "Mushrooms do not have skeletons."

        "Oh, that's just wot they want'cha ta believe, innit? It's a
conspiracy, I tell ya. Tryin' ta cova' up th' fact that mushrooms
ar' a 'igher lifeform than cucumbers. Well, they're not quite as
advanced as beans, but... Ya know... Mushrooms, beans, cucumbers...
sorta a package deal when ya come ta think 'bout it. But... when
ya turn the cucumbers inta pickles, they've got a technol'gy that
far exceeds the mushrooms in most respects... But until that 'appens,
mushrooms 'ave, by far, made the most progress."

        Pluto sighed, shaking her head at the odd little creature's
rant. Arby was one of the very few special beings that threatened
to drive her completely insane. Glancing at the smashed tip of her
timestaff, the guardian of the Gate of Time continued her
explanation. "Your actions nearly put the timeline in jeopardy."

        Arby fluttered up and landed on her head. "Well, if th'
mushroom was too big for th' staff... 'moigt 'xplain why it broke,
ya know... Gimme eight seconds n' sum cheese, n' I'll 'ave it fixed
up real noice for ya."

        The green-haired Senshi sighed and held out her staff. Arby
flew off the top of her head, clamped onto the staff with his front
flippers, and dragged it off, humming an odd tune.

        "He's going to be the end of me," Pluto whispered to herself,
absolutely sure of it. Well, she didn't exactly KNOW it was going to
happen... it wasn't DESTINED, per se, but sometimes, it sure felt
like it.

        The ArbyFish flew back in without the timestaff. "Oh, by the
way, 'Appy Birthday." He fluttered off.

        Pluto closed her eyes and concentrated.

        Calm in...

        Frustration out...

        Lather, rinse, repeat...

        Eny, meeny, miny, moe...

        The universe is chock full of unsolvable mysteries. Pluto
knew most of the solutions... but there were a few that escaped
even her.

        The one that weighed most heavily on her mind at this moment
was the question of why she had allowed old Charon to retire. He was
highly reliable, rarely made any small mistakes... and NEVER made a
major blunder. He also was very good at keeping temporal secrets. He
didn't do half bad on the reports that had to be made, either, being
a grammatical master as well. She could never have hoped for a more
perfect advisor.

        The replacement, on the other hand... He was something...
something... Well, he was something...

        Scary, that is.

        But, she didn't want to think about that right now. She had a
party to attend. Each year, it was always fascinating to see what the
ones she invited get her. After all, what do you get for the person
who's supposed to know everything?

        She made a point of never doing a temporal scan of her
birthday... A girl's gotta have SOME pleasant surprises in her life,
after all. If she didn't have this day for good surprises, all she'd
ever get were the surprises that threatened to destroy everything.
And those weren't nearly as fun as they're cracked up to be.

        Normally, Sailor Pluto would ask Charon to keep an eye on
this day's temporal events, and warn her if there was something
dire, which there invariably was, but not usually until her party
was over. It seemed that the universe had at least SOME sense of
decency when it came to things like this.

        But since Charon had retired... Arby would have to look after
the timeline for today.

        Pluto shuddered. She wouldn't trust that thing to sort her

        Arby fluttered in. "Finished sortin' ya socks." He flew off.

        Well, okay... maybe if there weren't any mushrooms or other
added surprises, she would trust him to sort her socks. But she
wouldn't trust him with anything more important than that... like
having her clothes dry-cleaned.

        Arby fluttered in once more, carrying in an ornate dress on
a hanger. "Got ya dress noice n' dry cleaned. 'Ere ya go." He gave
Sailor Pluto her dress and left again.

        As she noticed the extreme lack of mushrooms on her dress,
Pluto began to consider the possibility that Arby was not a total
loss as an assistant. But, he simply wouldn't do as an advisor. She
would have to assign someone else to check up on things like the
planetary defense grid.

        Arby entered again. He flew up in front of Sailor Pluto and
saluted, hovering within inches of her face. "I check'd out th'
status of th' Plane'ary Defense Grid, n' found the auta'mated
syst'ms ta be a lil' unstable. I assoined a few repair crews ta
go n' fix it." He left again.

        Sailor Pluto stared after the odd, greenish creature. Okay,
so he does well with those things... but could she really trust him
to monitor today's time stream? He seemed to have something of a
short attention span... Would he merely stand by, watching for any

        Sure enough, Arby entered again. This time, he was dragging in
the timestaff. "Found sum cheese. Got it fixed up. 'Ere ya go.
I'll be off now ta watch th' toimeloine. 'Ave fun at ya party."
He began to flutter off.

        "Wait," Pluto said. Arby stopped and turned around, fluttering
midair. "Are you certain that you will not be... bored while doing

        Arby shook his head. "Nope. Brought a book," he said,
indicating the strap over his shoulder, which connected to a sack
slightly larger than he was. Poking out was a rather thich book, the
title of which was, "The Sailor Senshi: Phenomenal Cosmic Powers...
Itty Bitty Mini-Skirts."

        Pluto twitched. It was THAT book again. "So, you are reading
Admiral 'Tim's work, then?"

        Arby nodded. "Indeed."

        Pluto sighed. Well... MAYBE he'd be able to do the job...
The danger seemed low enough to risk it. "Very well. Continue."

        "Thank you," Arby said before leaving... again.

        "What next?" Pluto asked rhetorically, knowing exactly the sort
of response that would be elicited from that statement.

        "NOW!!!" a voice rang out. Within one half second, Pluto was
surrounded by a large group of armed, black-uniformed soldiers.

        Pluto put her hands up and sighed. "Access Alpha one, five
six, theta jay, beta charlie."

        The soldiers lowered their weapons. One stepped forward with a
scanning device. After taking a few readings, he stepped back and
nodded at another soldier. "Confirmed. It's her."

        The group of soldiers collectively breathed a sigh of relief.
The leader stepped forward. "Apologies, Lady Pluto. The internal
sensors picked up an unauthorized entry. The sensors said it was
you... but we did not detect the timestaff. We do now, but-"

        "And to answer your question," Pluto cut in, "the reason for
me not notifying you of the unusual circumstances concerning my
arrival was in order to test security."

        The soldier looked puzzled. "Test us, my lady?"

        "Our security is far too slow. Had I been an actual intruder,
there would have been untold damage done before you arrived... and
your current weaponry is far too underpowered for any intruders that
would have been able to breach our defenses. Upgrade to the nine
thousand-delta series. The larger ones."

        The leader of the group looked down at his rifle, then back
up at Pluto, and smiled. "Yes, my lady. And, Happy Birthday," he
said before vanishing, along with the rest of the security team.

        Sailor Pluto slowly shook her head. The security force had
completely forgotten to ask her for the secondary code. There was
none, of course, but that question was mandatory in intruder cases.

        Somebody was going to get a reprimand in their permanent
record... This was Pluto, after all! It had the tightest security
in the solar system. There was a time travel device to be guarded!


        In orbit of that same planet, a few repair crews were being
moved into place in order to fix an instability in the orbital
defense system's artificial intelligence matrix.

        A majority of Pluto's defense systems were automated,
containing the most advanced technology the human race had ever
known. Having access to a time machine does tend to help one's
research capabilities, and they needed all the power they could
get to defend that time machine.

        Sailor Pluto was the very last line of defense. The planet had
its own security force, stellar navy, and research facilities to
improve the other two.

        Research had not been emphasized in any significant way until
seven years ago, when the defenses had been proven completely
ineffective against an extremely powerful foe. That foe had gone
on to greatly undermine the destinies of the other worlds.

        It had been decided that such a thing could not be allowed
to happen again, under any circumstances. It had been suggested
that an ultra-high technological level would be the most effective
way to strengthen the planet's defenses.

        [SCV three reporting: Defense platform sixty-three checks out.
Moving on to sixty-four.]

        [Starbase four reporting: Level two diagnostic complete. All
systems nominal.]

        [Battlecruiser twenty-nine reporting: All systems are go.]

        And, while we're at it, why not be safe in numbers?

        [SCV one reporting: Control nodule twelve is stable.]

        An interesting thing to note is that while nearly all of
the orbital equipment is automated, almost none of the planetary
security is controlled by an AI.

        [SCV nine reporting: Defense platform diagnostics complete:
all units are functioning within specified parameters.]

        [Starbase five reporting: Level one diagnostic complete. All
systems nominal.]

        [Battlecruiser thirty reporting: All systems are go.]

        That comes to a total of sixty-five defense platforms, thirty
battlecruisers, and five major starbases. And that's only the lower-
tech stuff that required periodic maintenance. Pluto had technologies
at its disposal that were completely indistinguishable from pure

        [Special class multi-purpose fighter 'Spectre' one through
fifty are all working within specified parameters.]

        All of this was controlled by an artificial intelligence that
was equally distributed throughout the defense system via the control
nodules. Pluto, unlike Earth or Jupiter, simply didn't have enough
people to throw around as cannon fodder.

        [SCV one reporting: Beginning scan of control nodule

        Wouldn't it be just terrible if the entire system were to
suddenly... malfunction?

        [...Danger! Control nodule thirteen is _highly_ unstable.
Attempting to sever its connection to the network.]

        The maintenance workers held their respective breaths. This
could be bad.

        [Nodule thirteen disconnected. Checking network for possible
spreading of instability.]

        If it spread... this could be VERY bad.

        [Entire AI control mechanism has been corrupted... attempting
to shut down.]

        The defense platforms rotated to face the planet. The
battlecruisers did the same. Fighters began to pour from the

        [Shut down procedure has failed. No more failsafes are in
place. Situation analysis: We're doomed.]

        [Aw, shoot,] an SCV pilot said sadly. [And I was just two
weeks from retirement, too.]

        [Um, guys? These things' weapons are targeting us...]

        [Perhaps we should notify home base...?]


        [Right. Base: This is orbital SCV one, we have a proble-]

        The transmission broke off as the entire maintenance crew
was blasted to pieces by the berserk fighters.


        *WOOOP*WOOOP!* Alarms sounded throughout the enclosed
Plutonian installations. The personnel had been informed of the
malfunction in the AI and had disabled all automated ground units
before the problem could strike them.

        "Planetary shield is operational. Raising... now!"

        A three-dimensional tactical display in the center of the
command room showed the planet being surrounded by an energy field.
That display also showed the maverick orbital "defenses" outlined
in red, and the friendly forces in green.

        Unfortunately, there was a lack of green in this particular
informational projection.

        "Great Sainted Jumping Blue Monkeys..."

        A decided lack.

        The supreme commander fainted into his chair from shock.

        The secondary command officer quickly took control. "We
must take action. Activate the manual targeting systems. Attempt
to eliminate as much as possible. Has anyone notified our Senshi?"

        "No. She is otherwise occupied at the moment."

        "Dang! Why'd she have to pick NOW to skip out?!"

        "Remember the current date? Her birthday..."

        "Oh, well, being a mysterious time guardian does have its
fringe benefits, I suppose..."

        "Pay attention to your station, mister!"


        "Greetings," Lady Pluto said mysteriously, entering
mysteriously, and sitting down at the head of the table...
mysteriously. She wore an ornate, mysterious gown, and looked...
positively mysterious in a mysterious sort of way...

        The invited guests were getting rather nervous at all of this
mysteriousness. First, they had to go through all of the different
levels of security Pluto required, then there were all the strange
scanning devices that the Plutonians used... and didn't bother to
explain what each scan was for... they had been greeted by the
advisor, subjected to a nearly endless tirade on types of fungus,
scanned again, and had only been allowed to enter once they openly
admitted their deepest, darkest fear.

        Why did they put up with all this just to get into a
birthday party? Well, it was an adventure of sorts, and in the
end, Pluto may just let slip some interesting fact about their
future. In addition to that, improving relations with Pluto would
give them a chance of acquiring some new technology.

        Pluto was the most advanced planet in the solar system, with
Mercury being the only other world that could even begin to compare.
With Earth quickly becoming something of a threat to the other
worlds, this was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Nobody
really trusted Admiral 'Tim with that kind of firepower... except
perhaps Earth's leaders, but even they were relenting.

        Besides, they HAD been invited. It simply would not have
been proper to get invited to an occasion as important as this
and not come. There was royal protocol to be observed and upheld,
after all!

        "You are, of course, wondering precisely why I invited you
here," Pluto said mysteriously, eerie music playing in the

        The guests slowly nodded, visibly spooked.

        "It is because," Pluto continued, "each of you has a... most
fascinating destiny."

        "Destiny?" a tall, short-haired blonde man asked.

        The Keeper of Time stood and walked behind him. "Yes," she
said, looking extremely fascinated by him, "you, Prince of Uranus,
above all these others, have the most interesting one..."

        "Can you tell me what it is?" the prince asked hopefully.

        Pluto smiled. "I can."

        "...Will you?"

        "I will."

        There was an uncomfortable silence. "Well?" the blonde prince

        "You are," Pluto began.


        "Someday going to recieve..."


        "The powers of Senshi Uranus," Pluto finished mysteriously.

        The prince's jaw dropped. "Um... that position has been filled.
My sister is Sailor Uranus... Besides, the Senshi are all women. As
you can plainly see, I'm not."

        Pluto didn't say anything; she simply smiled at him. A maniacal
laugh from her at that moment would not have done more damage to the
poor prince's psyche than the Time Senshi's enigmatic smile.

        The white cat next to the prince looked at him sympathetically.
"Oooh, tough break, pal."

        "Quiet, Artemis," the prince muttered forcefully at the cat.

        Pluto moved toward the cat. "You, Artemis, also have an
interesting destin-"

        *RUMBLE* Lady Pluto was cut off by a low rumble that shook the
room. The guests looked around worriedly. Pluto did not look

        "What was that?" Artemis asked.

        "Nothing of importance," Pluto replied. "Ignore any further
interruptions. Let us continue."


        The main control room on Pluto was bustling with activity.

        "Maverick orbital defenses are penetrating the shield!"

        On the tactical display, the energy field surrounding the
planet was beginning to look mighty thin. Small sections of the
surface were now flashing red.

        "Ground defenses are having a marginal effect. Orbital
platforms one through twenty-four have been disabled."

        *RUMBLE* The room shook slightly as another shot hit the

        "A direct hit on sector G-fourteen! That's cutting it awfully
close to the Time Gate!"

        "Um, about the Time Gate..."

        "What about it?"

        "The orbital weapon systems are beginning to generate a
tachyonic grid to coordinate more fully. Unfortunately, they're
using the Gate of Time as a nexus point. It cannot handle this
for much longer. If not stopped, the feedback will create a
VERY large temporal explosion!"

        "Do we have anyone down at the gate?!"

        "Only the advisor. We're sending additional 'tech crews,
but the gate is a magical system!"


        Arby was cheerfully reading his book, occasionally glancing
up at the timestream through the Gate. "Still no mushrooms," he
muttered, and went back to his book.

        The intercom became active. [Advisor!]

        Arby, startled, tripped over his book and landed in a pile
of paperwork he had been glueing together in his spare time. "Eh?
Wot?" he asked, his head poking out of the pile of strewn, slimy

        [The Time Gate is overloading! Can you lock it down in there?!]

        The green-patterned seal thought about it, looking up at the
Time Gate, which was glowing and sparking dangerously. "Oh, I s'pose.
Got any plywood?"

        [Plywood?! What do you need plywood for?!]

        "Oh, well, ya know... plywood... toime trav'l... sorta a
package deal when ya come ta think 'bout it."

        [What the... Oh, forget it! I'll send some down immediately!]

        "Thank'you, sir," Arby replied.


        "The Time gate is stabilizing... for now."

        The activity in the control room was getting a little more
frantic as the shield started to flicker totally out of operation.

        "Can we get any more power to the shield?!"

        "No, sir! The main generators have been destroyed, and the
secondary systems are maxed out!"

        "The battlecruisers are almost in firing position!"


        "What now?!"

        "We're detecting a large hyperspace distortion, sector A-five!"


        Above Pluto, a burst of light flashed and a swirling, blue
tunnel formed in the fabric of space. A large, spined, metallic
purple vessel emerged, weapons blazing as it sped across the
orbit of the planet, blasting away at the defense platforms like
there's no tomorrow.

        Literally millions of light red plasma disks fired from the
nodules on the ship's outer hull an incredible rate, obliterating
fighter after fighter and inflicting heavy collateral damage to the
enemy forces.

        Dark crimson beams lanced from the front of the ship, tearing
into the starbases as it sped by, breaking through their shields and
blasting huge, sparking holes in them.

        The hordes of robotic military equipment took notice of the
new arrival and adjusted their tactics accordingly.


        "Why are we doing this again?" Tactical asked, frantically
targeting the Plutonian forces.

        "I have my reasons," A.S.K. said reassuringly. "Report!"

        "All of the orbital defense platforms have been disabled or
destroyed. I count three thousand fighters destroyed and... four
starbases heavily damaged."

        *RUMBLE* The ship jarred slightly.

        "Admiral, the cruisers are retaliating!"

        "Evasive maneuvers... Bring forward guns to bear! Blow 'em
apart as fast as you can!"


        The large ship spun around, its forward cannons firing every
few seconds. The flurry of plasma disks around it kept the fighters
at bay while tearing deeply into the hulls of the oncoming

        By the time the cruisers broke off pursuit, half of them had
been destroyed; either worn down by the plasma barrage or vaporized
by the energy cannons.


        "The rest of the ships are withdrawing," Communications noted.

        "Okay, slow us down," A.S.K. said. "Status on the shields...?"

        "Shields are holding at seventy percent," Tactical reported.

        *RUMBLE* The ship vibrated.


        The fifteen remaining cruisers had circled back around the
attacking ship and started using their more powerful weaponry.

        Huge, flaming bursts shot out from the center of the vessels,
blasting into the spined ships' shields, creating brilliant
flashes as they impacted.

        The cruisers tracked their target as it tried to evade,
continuing to fire even as the plasma disks tore them apart.

        As the last cruiser was taken out, its very last shot got


        *KABLAM!!!* On the bridge, things all over the place exploded.

        "MWAHAH!! Now THIS is what I call a battle!!!" the admiral
exclaimed, getting intense enjoyment out of the scenario.

        "Admiral, shields are down and we have a direct hit to the-"

        *Rumble* Communications broke off as the ship vibrated

        Tactical looked at his displays... Well, the ones that were
intact, in any case. "Intruder alert! I count... fifty large,

        *BLAM!* A portion of the floor exploded upwards and a big
bipedal mechanical monstrosity with a very large gun leapt up and
aimed its weapon at the admiral...

        *Whoosh*Ching* And promptly got a grenade imbedded in the
barrel of its gun. It looked down at its weapon in confusion.

        "Bye-bye!" A.S.K. said, creating a sword in a flash of blue
flame and decapitating the robot in one quick slash. "I love

        The robot fell down the hole it came through.

        *Blam!* An explosion from below sent some metal shrapnel into
the roof of the bridge.

        Something like dark purple vines began to grow across the hole
and weave themselves together. Damage across the bridge started to
repair itself in much the same manner.

        "You know, this is a pretty big bridge," A.S.K. noted.

        "Moderate damage, all decks... Sir, it's getting worse!
They're tearing the ship apart from the inside!"

        "Well, isn't that just lovely," the admiral commented.

        Tactical looked at his displays frantically. "Your orders,

        "Make an EMP wave. Destroy their control circuits."


        A.S.K. sighed. "Arm the main gun, release the containment
field, and create a level six forcefield around the bridge. Not
necessarily in that order."


        Near the core of the ship, a robotic fighter was blasting
away at the power conduits...

        Well, at least until its head began to billow smoke...

        It fell over with a dull clang.


        "I... think that's got it, sir," Tactical said.

        "Okay, now reestablish the containment field and drop the
forcefield," A.S.K. commanded.

        "Aye, sir."

        Another large mech materialized, mere feet from the admiral.
It pointed its gun at his head.

        A.S.K. turned toward Tactical. "No, wait... Don't tell me...
We missed one, didn't we?"

        Tactical nodded, semi-nervously looking at the hulking piece
of machinery in the middle of the Bridge.

        The green-armored admiral turned back to the robot, holding
up his hands defensively. "Not in the face, not in the face!"

        The robotic soldier stopped, puzzled.


        A.S.K. blew gently at the now still robot. Its arm fell off...
quickly followed by its other arm, head, and right leg before the
whole thing collapsed into a sparking heap.

        "Where'd you learn how to do _that_?" Tactical asked.

        The admiral shrugged, waving off the smoke arising from his
sword. "Just made it up now. Nice combat stuff... It'd probably be
fun at parties, too..."

        "Parties, sir?" Communications asked, raising an eyebrow.
"We're in the middle of a battle here, and you're talking about
parties?!" She paused. "Why are we in this fight, anyway?"

        "Tactical, give me status on the shields," A.S.K. said,
evading the topic.

        "Well, we've managed to regenerate a full thirty-five--"
*BLAM!* "Strike that... shields are down!"

        The admiral narrowed his eyes. "Alright, that's it... I
don't know what fired that shot... and I don't care. Target them
with the main gun... maximum firepower!"


        Several *HUGE* vessels, perhaps twenty kilometers in diameter,
faded into existence, green energy rippling around them. They fired
periodic bursts which blasted into their target. As they advanced,
they began to blanket the area in a dark haze...

        The spined vessel, somewhat damaged with several gaping holes
along its surface, sluggishly turned and rotated toward the
newcomers, making slight course corrections as the incoming shots
pummeled its hull. The two front spines began to glow as energy
built up between them...

        The large newcomers advanced, tightening their formation and
continuing to fire, beginning to tear the much smaller ship apart.
The haze engulfed the metallic purple vessel.

        The energy between the ship's forward spines began to fade.


        "We're losing power!" Tactical shouted in rage, pounding
against his console in a vain attempt to reestablish it.

        *BLAM!* Another shot hit the hull.

        "Okay... this could be a bad thing," A.S.K. noted, not batting
an eyelash. Something occurred to him. He looked at the sword in his
hands. "Yes... these were used as a key to these types of ships...
I suppose it could work."

        *BLAAAM!* The bridge rocked badly, sparks flying everywhere.
A twisted, organic beam broke free of the roof, smashing directly
into the unmanned navigational station.

        "Whatever you want us to do, we have to do it NOW, admiral!"
Communications shouted.

        "Right!" A.S.K. called back as he concentrated on his sword.
A floral design worked its way into the hilt.

        <Really think it'll work?>

        <Of course it'll work! Juraian ships use a sort of 'key' to
help operate them and provide an energy link, typically in a

        <And how, exactly, do we know this?>

        <Part of the shipyard program.>


        A.S.K. stood, his eyes closed, and concentrating his will
through his sword and into the ship in a roundabout sort of way,
amplifying its power.


        Despite the energy-dampening haze, the glow trapped between
the spines began to shine even more brightly. It finally hit its
peak and shot out a river of bright, golden energy.

        Like the wrath of an angry god, the blast swept away the haze
and shredded the oncoming fleet, leaving nothing but ionized atomic
particles in its wake...


        In Pluto's main control room...

        "All orbital defense forces have been totally destroyed!"

        And there was much rejoicing!


        "Pay attention to your station, Ensign!"

        "Um, aye, sir!"

        "Alright... Hail them. Let's-"

        "Sir! The ground defense computers have been corrupted!"

        "How'd that happen?!"

        "We don't know, sir!"

        "Can we shut them down?"

        "I'm afraid not, sir!"


        "Alright... lock onto the ground-based weaponry with the
secondary guns," A.S.K. commanded.

        Tactical looked up from his station. "Sir... we're losing power
to all systems. We've taken too much damage..."

        The admiral looked up at him. "Well, then... You'd better

        "Admiral, are you ABSOLUTELY sure that you know what you're
doing?" Communications asked, becoming extremely worried about the
battle and its consequences.

        Going near Pluto without direct permission was one of those
things that you were just NOT supposed to do. _Attacking_ it while
doing so was just plain ludicrous... not to mention suicidal.

        "Quite sure, Lieutenant. Tactical, proceed with your orders."

        "Oookay, sir. You got it."


        The battered vessel accelerated into a fast orbit, then rotated
toward the planet, firing lances of crimson energy at key points
along the surface, obliterating its targets.


        "All major ground weapons have been destroyed," Tactical

        "Excellent," A.S.K. replied darkly.

        "Sir, what are you doing?!" Communications asked incredulously.

        The Admiral chuckled evilly at her. "I'm blasting the living
daylights out of this pitiful little world. What does it look like?"

        Communications gaped at him. "Admiral?!"

        A.S.K. nonchalantly turned to Tactical. "Report on planetary

        "As far as I can tell, all defenses have been destroyed...
wait, no... I'm seeing some ripples on the sensors... kinda like
just before the bigger ships appeared," Tactical replied, looking
uneasily at his commander.

        "Ah," A.S.K. said, "then bring us around for another attack."

        Tactical coughed. "Sir, the power system is shot. We can barely
maintain life support. We're maxed out as it is with what little DOES
work. I could override the system and give us a couple seconds of
firepower, but it'll burn everything out!"

        "Very well. Override the system and prepare to fire."

        "Belay that!" Communications shouted. Tactical stopped.

        "Explain yourself, Lieutenant!" A.S.K. barked, turning toward
his communications officer.

        The communications officer took a deep breath, her gaze locked
with her commander's. Her voice took on a formal tone. "Admiral, your
actions have violated at least fifteen _prime_ regulations. You have
proven yourself Unfit For Command!"

        A.S.K. narrowed his eyes at Communications, beginning to stand.
"Are you questioning MY orders?"

        "No, sir," the brown-haired communications officer replied,
unwavering. "I'm relieving you of duty!"

        "Well," the Admiral said in a dark and quiet voice, before
brightening up, "it sure took you long enough." He sat back into
his seat, chuckling quietly at the fuzzy image of the battered,
burning planet of Pluto on the viewscreen.


        The Plutonian control room was full of a great deal of very
relieved military officers...

        "ALL of the corrupted systems have either been disabled, or
destroyed. The cloaked decoy satellites were not affected."


        "We are being hailed by the unidentified vessel. Voice only."

        "Put it on."

        [This is the Terran vessel... This is a Terran vessel in
orbit around your planet. We surrender! Repeat: We surrender!]

        The officers present looked at each other in some surprise.
An Earth ship that could overcome all of Pluto's defenses?
Unthinkable... but fortuitous. Also, the fact that it was
surrendering would help ease any interplanetary incidents that
may form because of this...

        "This is Plutonian Control," the commanding officer said.
"Your surrender is officially accepted. Lower your shields and
power down your weapons. We will take you into custody as soon as
possible. On an unofficial note, and I believe I speak for everyone
on this planet when I say... thank you."


        Communications blinked. "Thank you?" she mouthed in disbelief.

        "Thank you?" A.S.K. muttered in confusion. He spoke up. "Uh,
yes, Plutonian Control. You're... welcome?"

        [Who is speaking?] Plutonian Control asked.

        "This is Admiral 'Tim, commanding..." He looked over to
Communications, who shrugged in bemusement. "Commanding a new class
of Earth vessel. We haven't decided on a name yet, by the way. I'm
glad you enjoyed the destruction of all your planetary defense
systems... Can I speak to Sailor Pluto?"

        [She is busy at the moment.]

        "That's okay. She won't be soon... One way or another. There's
sort of a... birthday present coming in for her."

        [...Birthday present?]

        "Yeah... check your sensors. Do you see anything like a cube,
several miles across?"

        There was a pause. [Yes. We confirm the sighting. It's on
a direct course for this planet... We detect strong energy readings.
If it proves to be hostile, can you intercept it?"

        A.S.K. looked at Tactical, who shook his head. "Negative."

        [Then let's all hope it's not here for a fight...]

        "And, just what is so wrong with fights?" A.S.K. asked.

        [Well, when we can't defend ourselves, we may not survive.]

        "Oh. That might explain it, then. Don't worry. I'm sure all
that they want to do is play some music..."

        [Music, Admiral?]

        "Well, maybe," A.S.K. said, smiling knowingly.


        The cube flew toward Pluto without slowing down. It
effortlessly wound its way into orbit, then stopped suddenly.

        The huge metallic object began to descend. Slowly, at first,
then quickly... Very quickly... Very, VERY, VERRRY quickly.

        Through a complete and total violation of the laws of physics,
it stopped instantly an inch before impacting the ground... Then
it fell down, impacting with a loud rumble...

        The cube began to dig into the surrounding area... extending
outward and upward...

        Its final shape was that of giant speakers.


        And, some fifty miles away...

        "And you," Lady Pluto continued, pointing at a blonde man
in an Earth guardian uniform, "also have a destiny worth mentioning."

        "Will I ever be able to destroy TIM?" Jadeite asked.

        Pluto smiled. "No."

        "I refuse to believe that."

        "Suit yourself," the green-haired woman said, then whispered,
"Sailor-suit, that is."

        "What was that?" Jadeite asked.


        "What was that?" Artemis asked.


        "What was THAT?" the Prince of Uranus asked.

        [Alright, we're ready to begin 'ere,] a loud voice said.

        Pluto slowly glanced around. "Excuse me for a moment," she
said mysteriously, then vanished.

        The guests were getting a little more nervous...

        [Ta start this thing off, we've got a nice lil' song...
Basically, it's 'bout this boy who meets a girl under a silver
moon... which explodes for absolutely no reason whatsoever! Let's
hear it for... DISASTER AREA!!!]

        [Thank you very much! I'd like to dedicate this song to
all the wonderful people on this planet! It's been great knowin' ya!
See ya on the other side!]

        *WRRRRR!!!!!!!!* A loud, jamming, electric guitar chord struck.

        "Uh oh," Artemis said, wincing from the noise.

        "This is going to be interesting," the Prince of Uranus said.

        And the most correct of the observations...

        "This is all TIM's fault... I just know it," Jadeite grumbled.


        "Arby!" Sailor Pluto called, appearing near the time gate.

        The ArbyFish looked up from his book and put aside his bottle
of glue. "Oh, 'ello. 'Ow are you?"

        "Fine," Pluto replied, "except for the fact that you did
not warn me about this. What have you been doing all this time?"

        "Readin' me book," Arby replied, indicating the slightly
slimy manuscript on the floor by him.

        Pluto looked down at the book. She picked it up and whapped
him on the head with it. "It's upside-down!"

        Unfazed, Arby said, "Oh, well, ya gotta read 'em upside-down.
Otha'woise 'ow'd ya unda'stand it?"

        "By reading it right-side-up," the time Senshi replied. She
examined the book a little more closely, and noted the white ooze
that covered the book and most of her hand. "What in the name of all
that is... Why are half the pages glued together?!"

        Arby smiled up at her. "Well, ya see, there's a lot a' solar
wind from... Alpha Centauri, n' 'alf th' pages are glued tage'ther
so we can turn it inta' th' wind and th' pages won't, um... fly all
ova' th' place! Terribly 'ard ta' read n' keep the pages from
closin' the book on ya."

        "Why don't you just... hold the book open?"

        Arby held up his fins. "Ey, lookit these. These look loike
'oldin'-down-th'-pages flippa's ta you?" He sat back down. "No. So,
we gotta glue th' pages down."

        "There has to be a better way..."

        "Oh, ya think ya sooo tuff 'cos ya'z gots 'posable thumbs..."

        "It isn't that difficult of a thing to do. Have you tried, for
example, a paperweight...?"

        Arby thought about it. "Nope... Can't do any otha' way. I can't
'ave the pages flutterin' 'bout when I've got speeches ta prepare.
The mushrooms'd revolt! 'Soides, gives it cola'... n'... flava'! Th'
mushrooms love it! Get sum 'ard readin' n' stick it tage'ther with
glue from a Neptunian sloime rhinocerous, swish in sum a' ya
ground-up bedsheet pulp, toss in a couple a' refroied brains, n' they
just eat it roight up!"

        Ever see a bemused Time Guardian? It's not a pretty sight.
"You... are insane, Arby."

        The green-furred ArbyFish nodded emphatically. "In-dubitably!
Used up 'alf th' bedsheets on th' planet, too! Includin' yours! They
REALLY loiked those."

        "My... bedsheets? My... imported... one of a kind... Venusian
bedsheets...?" Sailor Pluto absorbed that statement, then tilted her
head back, closed her eyes and did a quick recitation of her mantra.
<I won't kill him... I can't kill him. He is my advisor.> When that
was done, she sighed and regained her composure. "But all of that is
not important now. Why didn't you warn me?"

        "'Cos... well, ya wouldn't a' been able ta do anythin' 'bout
it with th' toime gate."

        Pluto raised an eyebrow. "Really? And why not?"

        Arby stood up on his tail proudly. "'Cos there's a huge
MUSHROOM stuck in it!"

        The green-haired Senshi looked at the time gate. Surely
enough, there was a HUGE mushroom stuck in it, blocking off access.
"Arby, WHY?!"

        "Preventin' an ova'load. Grew a mushroom on sum plywood!"

        "Mushrooms do not grow on plywood-"

        "Oh, that's what they'd loike ya ta think," Arby said,
fluttering over to the time gate. He pointed at a slab of wood
underneath the large mushroom. "See?"

        The room began to shake violently.

        "That'd be the concert, now," Arby noted.

        "Concert?" Pluto asked.

        "Well, yeah. The admiral set it up... afta' destroyin' the
'ole defense grid, fryin' 'alf th' planet n' stuff."

        "...Frying half the planet?!"

        "Yup. 'Tim'z a roight noice destroya' a' wurldz, let me
tell you! Lotsa mushroom clouds in 'is work. Green ones!"

        Sailor Pluto's grip tightened on her timestaff as she checked
the timestream for information on the attacker, simultaneously
spoiling any and all surprises intended for the rest of her birthday
celebration. "Aww... they were going to do that for me?"

        "Yup," Arby noted calmly. "'Ad ta sell foive a' me best
mushrooms ta 'elp get that one set up for ya. Guess th' surproise
is ruined now, eh? Too bad."

        Sailor Pluto sighed sadly as she finished her examination of
today's timestream and looked back at the ArbyFish. "So... you were
trying to tell me that THE admiral caused this? Admiral 'Tim,
commander of Earth's fleet?"

        "Well, the fleet's koinda smashed now, but yeah."

        Pluto slowly nodded as she considered this information. Of
the people, places, and things that threatened to drive her insane,
only two were of any real day-to-day significance. There was Arby,
but he was just... weird, and occasionally helpful. Of greater and
much more malicious meaningfulness was the explosive-obsessed fleet

        "Wot ya gonna do?" Arby asked, fluttering up to perch on the
Garnet Orb at the top of the timestaff.

        Pluto gripped her staff in both hands and looked the ArbyFish
directly in the eye. "I'll think of something appropriate." She blew
at him.

        "'Ey!" Arby shouted, fluttering out of the path of the small
breeze in a vain attempt to keep his fur from getting ruffled.

        Sailor Pluto smiled mysteriously and vanished.

        "I really 'ate it when they do that," the greenish, seal-like
creature muttered in annoyance, smoothing down his fur.


        From his ship, the Atomic Starlight Knight smiled as he watched
the decimation unfold on the planet below... Sonic disturbances could
be quite destructive when employed correctly...

        Sending a request for a Disaster Area concert had worked out
quite well... Apparently, a couple of the band members were fans
of his work... Well, fans of the work he did in his previous

        Not too many entities had been capable of destroying a galaxy
or seven in one shot... and now there would be one less until Terra
reestablishes the connection to their main power source.

        But somehow, despite all this, he--Terra, actually--had managed
to convince the group to come, and here they were, making the loudest
noise of any kind whatsoever...

        The planet was doomed. He was quite sure of it.


        The admiral fell forward with a clunk.

        "Baka," Sailor Pluto said, her voice extremely icy.


        <Yeah... I had never gotten Sailor Pluto really mad before.
Not like that,> A.S.K. mentally noted.

        <But then, I never really had a timestaff imbedded in my
skull before... Not like that, in any case.>

        <Point well taken. How long did it take to get it out?>

        <A couple hours... It was wedged in there pretty good.>

        <Now THAT hurt...>

        <Completely off that subject, the planet Pluto had quite
a nice atmosphere for such a small world...>

        <Yeah... You know, it's interesting... As far as I know,
Pluto didn't have an atmosphere before the concert...>

        Disaster Area was renowned for its odd effects on worlds...
After the show was over, there were, oddly enough, no casualties.
Somehow, everyone survived... Within a year, Pluto had an ecosystem
to rival Earth's or Jupiter's... albeit with a sort of macroscopic
and florescent fungus instead of trees for the general biomass;
home to thousands of species of other plants and animals.

        Well, it all stemmed back to the fact that just about every
act of horrific destruction, like the elimination of Pluto's defense
force or the Disaster Area concert, had a positive effect.

        Who would have thought, for example, that the defense
system would have chosen to malfunction at the moment that he
had decided to attack them...

        It might explain why Sailor Pluto wasn't more ardently opposed
to his interference in the matter. After all, she could have done
much worse than a mere head-bashing...

        <Oh well.>

        <Next time I visited, the planet was quite beautiful...>

        <*Sigh* Just like Sailor Pluto...>

        *WHAM!* <Quiet, you!>

        <I *HATE* Sailor Pluto...>

        <No! Pluto-sama is the most lovely and wonderful woman in the
Universe, and don't you forget it!>





        <GET HIM!!!!!!>


        "Oow," A.S.K. said, holding his head. "I have GOT to stop doing
that... Now, where was I?"


        <Yes! Australia!>

        <No... we were discussing the aftereffects of the flashback.>

        <Oh, like slight dizziness or delirium?>



        <No... What happened after Pluto gave me the staff treatment.>

        <Oh, that.>

        The Invid/Juraian ship nearly died a couple of days later from
the extreme structural damage, but Pluto had some very clever and
very grateful technicians... They had the thing figured out and
patched up pretty quickly.

        After that, Tactical and Communications were reassigned...
promoted, actually. So, they wouldn't be called that anymore... Not
that it mattered. They, along with just about everyone else, died at
the end of the Silver Millennium...

        "How utterly depressing," the green-armored knight commented
to himself. "Now, where was I?" He examined the small, flat device
he had been working on throughout the entire memory recollection.
"What's this for?"

        <It's designed to prevent youma weapons from getting through
the armor.>

        "Oh yeah," he said, remembering. He pressed it on his right
shoulder, where it fused to his armor.

        Watching his shoulder, he de-transformed, fading back to
his pink-haired secret identity known as 'Tim.

        The flat device vanished along with his armor.

        "Not bad," 'Tim commented. "Now, what am I forgetting?"
He paused in thought, then held up a finger in realization. "Sleep!
Yeah, that's-"

        He slumped to the floor in blissful unconsciousness.


        In the restaurant above, the place was completely empty
except for the cook, and an extremely old martial artist that was
wolfing down okonomiyaki like there's no tomorrow...

        The martial artist, while enjoying himself, also felt that
something was wrong about the whole situation... It as if the
large, tasty, flat objects were not what he was after...

        There was something that hovered at the edge of his mind...
something soft... something frilly... and something round.

        He gasped as he once more knew what his obsession was...
"P...Pa...Pan...Pan... PANSIES!!!"

        He bolted for the door...

        *WHAM!* But was stopped as he ran into a huge, flat, metal

        "You forgot to pay the bill," Ukkyo reminded, holding the
bill in his face and adjusting the angle of her giant spatula.

        The old man nodded slowly, looking at the gleaming edge of
the blade, and reached into his pocket for some money... which
he found, amazingly enough. He began to pay the amount listed on
his bill.

        "What?" Ukkyo asked dangerously. "No tip?"

        The old man stopped and looked up at her. He grinned.

        "What are you looking at?" the youma cook asked, noting the
low angle of his gaze.

        The old man felt something inside him reawaken... it was as
if his entire purpose had suddenly become clear. "SWEETOOO!!!" he
shouted triumphantly, preparing to bask himself in the soft, warm...

        "Get off or die," Ukkyo warned.

        The old man ignored her, continuing to nuzzle against her
chest. "So... soft. So-"

        *WHAM!* In one swift swing with her right arm, Ukkyo batted
him off, imbedding him facefirst into the wall. She walked over to
look at his immobile form. "I warned you."

        Immediately, the old man popped out of the wall and leapt
toward her...

        *SPLAT!* And was quickly flattened under the Giant Spatula
of Doom(TM) as Ukkyo brought it down upon his head. "Never mess
with a professional."

        As the brown-haired cook lifted her spatula up, she saw
that her opponent was not under it...

        *GLOMP* That was roughly when she felt a weight on her
chest and something tugging at her shirt.

        "Oh, this is on so tightly! Let me help you off with it!"

        "Oh no, you don't!" Ukkyo brought out an ultra-sharp mini-
spatula and slashed it at her current annoyance.

        The old man leapt away to a nearby counter, and jumped again.
Three small spatulas imbedded themselves into the wall behind where
he was standing, barely missing him.

        "Hehehehe," the old man laughed gleefully, standing on a very
high-tech-looking stove. He ducked as several more spatulas came
at him. They missed him by a millimeter, slashing into the back of
the stove. The cooking utility began to spark, a fog pouring from it.

        [Warning: Hazardous leak detected. Deactivating,] a
computerized voice intoned urgently. The fog stopped coming out of
the stove.

        "Huh?" the old man asked, looking around confusedly.

        *SHING!* Ukkyo took advantage of his distraction, slashing
down at him with the bladed edge of her giant spatula.

        *CRASH!* Unfortunately, he stepped aside just in time. The
blade sped past him, digging deeply into the stove.

        "Hey!" Ukkyo shouted annoyedly. She pulled her razor-sharp,
magically enhanced spatula out of the stove, which was now pouring
dangerous-looking fumes, and leveled it at the old man. "Alright,
this is your last chance! Leave, or I'll-"

        The chef cut off as the old man backed off and tossed a
bomb at her. "Happy-dark-yen! I think," he shouted in confusion.

        *KABLAAAAAAM!* The bomb exploded against the heavily-damaged
stove, igniting the fumes.

        Ukkyo quickly knocked over a table and ducked behind it,
avoiding the shockwave from the explosion. Flames broke out all
over the area.

        An alarm sounded. [Warning: Fires detected. Activating fire-
suppression system.]

        Water began to cascade down on the flames from the ceiling.

        "HaHa!" the old man shouted, seemingly unaffected by the
blast, and tossed another bomb at the okonomiyaki chef.

        Ukkyo readied her spatula, stood, and batted it back at him.
The old man caught it in both hands, not really intending to.

        "What the..." he mumbled, scratching his head. He gasped
as he realized what he was holding, and quickly tossed it behind

        *BLAM!* The bomb damaged a small section of the wall.

        [Warning: Malfunction in the fire suppression system!
A pressure imbalance has been detected! Evacuate immediately!]

        The water stopped, and the room began to vibrate.

        Ukkyo looked around frantically for some clue as to what
she should do. Not finding any, she dove past the smoldering door,
and leapt away onto the roof of another building, running as
quickly as she could.

        The old man looked around.

        [Pressure system critical!]


        Had the class at the local junior high school been looking
out the window, they would have seen a huge geyser erupt from a
building some distance away.

        But, since they were all facing forward, and the three people
that weren't were too busy concentrating on the class in front of
them, nobody noticed.

        Well, the teacher noticed, but she didn't care. She had a
class to teach.

        "Now, class, I'd like to introduce two new students to
you," Ms. Haruna said, indicating the brown-haired boy and the
cute, blonde girl next to her. "Jade and Perry Cyte. They're

        "-_Distant_ cousins," the blonde cut in.

        "DON'T interrupt," Haruna whispered to her in a voice that
left absolutely NO room for argument.

        "Alright, alright," Jade muttered cutely, backing off at the
sheer POWER that radiated from the teacher's voice, for some reason
frightening her as much as of some of Beryl's enraged shrieking
does, or rather did, on occasion.

        "Excellent," Ms. Haruna continued cheerfully, then turned
back to the class. "They're cousins, and they're both in seventh
grade. Say hi."

        "Hi," the class replied in monotone, before whispering among

        "Who's the freak?"

        "I think he's cute... Clothes all rumpled like that and
still smiling. Tee-hee!"

        "Whoa! She's... so... pretty!"

        "Ya, mon."

        "Class," Ms. Haruna said, cutting off the discussion, "let's
begin, shall we?" She turned to the new students. "Please take
your seats."

        Perry nodded, smiling, and sat at a desk in the front row.
Jade, sulking, followed and took a seat behind him.

        "So, what do you think?" Perry whispered back to her.

        Jade pouted, folding her arms in front of her annoyedly. She
watched the students around her, looking so gosh darn cute and
miffed that she caused a couple of giggles in the back of the class.
"Do they HAVE to keep stealing glances at me like that?"

        Perry shrugged unknowingly. "Well... you are kinda cute..."

        The teacher turned around from her lesson and looked at Perry.
"Are you listening, Perry?"

        "Um... uh... No?" the brown-haired boy replied uncertainly.

        "Right answer," Ms. Haruna said, "now pay attention." She
turned to another student. "Molly, what's the cubed root of

        Near the middle of the class, a distracted-looking brown-
haired girl looked up at her. "It's five," she said in a
perfectly clear accent.

        Everyone in the class except for Molly, Jade, Perry, and a
red-headed girl facefaulted.

        "Oh my!" the redhead said.

        Molly looked around in shock. "Did I say something wrong?"

        Ms. Haruna was the first to recover. "Molly, are you okay?"

        The brown-haired girl shrugged. "Fine, I guess. Why?"

        The teacher walked over and felt Molly's forehead. "No
fever... Are you sure you're alright?"

        "Well, yes. I'm fine."

        "Oookay..." Ms. Haruna replied uncertainly, moving back
to the front of the room. "But if you start feeling light-headed
or anything, I'll write you a pass to the nurse, okay?"

        "Um... okay," Molly said indifferently.


        And we rejoin our story... about a thousand years in the
future... give or take a day or two...

        *CRASH!* Ranma-chan, still in her pink-highlighted Sailor
Earth fuku, dodged the oncoming flurry of mailboxes, running
away from her tormentors.

        "She's good at this," Sailor Mars commented, tossing a grenade
at the new Sailor Earth as she, along with Sailors Jupiter and
Uranus, chased her.

        *BLAM!* The redhead leapt aside, barely missing the explosion.

        "Yeah," Jupiter said, throwing a cat at Ranma-chan. "I've
never seen anyone last _nearly_ this long."

        *MREOW!!!* The cat screeched as it flew through the air,
finally catching on the back of the skirt of Ranma-chan's Senshi

        "AAAAH!" Ranma-chan yelled in horror, running even more
quickly than before, the cat trailing behind her as it held on.
She occasionally glanced back, then quickly looked forward,
screaming as she intensified her run.

        *RUMBLE* There was a sonic boom as she passed the sound

        Unable to keep up, the other Senshi slowed down and stopped,
watching the dust trail from Ranma's running continue off into the

        "Hey, it looks like she's got dodging and panicking down to
a science," Sailor Uranus said, very impressed.

        "No wonder Sailor Pluto picked her for the job," Jupiter
said in awe.

        "She's definitely got what it takes to be one of us," Mars

        The entire session lasted a total of three days, nonstop.
For twenty-four hours each day, under the instructions of Sailor
Pluto, Sailors Mars, Uranus, and Jupiter had been, as Pluto had
put it, 'testing' the new Sailor Earth.

        This testing consisted of throwing rather painful objects
at the new Sailor Earth, and seeing if she could dodge, during
which they chased her around all of creation.

        When the Senshi had been told to do this to the poor girl,
their response had been, and I quote, "This is insane!!!"

        Pluto had nodded and indicated that insanity was at the
very heart of the matter, but being the mysterious sort, she
didn't tell what the rest of the matter was. She did, however,
mention that it was a very important matter, and needed to be
taken care of.

        Her phrasing had greatly confused everyone, when she said
that he, apparently meaning the matter at hand, needed to be taken
care of in the most effective manner possible.

        The intonation and added devious look in Pluto's eye had
convinced Mars, Jupiter, and Uranus that she had gone completely

        Thus, they volunteered, deciding to go along with the plan,
just to see what an insane Keeper of Time would do.

        It would, after all, relieve the monotony that slowly
reestablishing human life on the planet Earth caused. Monsters
were a rare thing now, and aside from the possibility of war
due to a political dispute with a neighboring world concerning
a few exiles, there was simply nothing all that interesting to do.

        But now, they were sure that they had been mistaken in
calling Sailor Pluto a 'wacko.' The new Sailor Earth had gone
through endless hours of torment that would have rendered any other
being a gibbering maniac. She was indeed a strong-willed individual,
and would do well in her new role as a Senshi.

        Mars, Jupiter, and Uranus now saw what Pluto's assignment
was intended to do. It had gained the new Senshi a lot of respect
from the elder ones. Accepting her into the tightly-knit group
would now be no problem at all. Insane as it may have first seemed,
it had turned out to be a very wise decision on Pluto's part.

        But they still had to finish the whole test...

        "Okay, concentrate on her position," Uranus said. "Get ready
to teleport."


        Ranma-chan ran from the demonic presence behind her...

        "C-C-C-C-CAAAAAAAAAAAT!!!!" she screamed in sheer terror.

        And suddenly, finally, the cat was gone, having been thrown
off by the force of wind generated by running well over mach three.

        Ranma-chan slowed down and stopped after a few miles. She
sat on a rock to catch her breath.

        "Congratulations," Sailor Pluto said, appearing mysteriously.
"You've just broken the land speed record."

        Ranma-chan jumped up in surprise, accidentally landing in
Sailor Pluto's arms, smiling uncomfortably at her. "Oh, uh, h-hi,

        "Hi yourself," Pluto replied, looking at the redhead she
was carrying. "So, are you ready to give up on this engagement
thing, or do you want spend more time as a beautiful, short-skirted,
sailor-suited warrior for love and justice?"

        For effect, Sailors Mars, Jupiter, and Uranus decided to
teleport in at that moment, brandishing Molotov cocktails, spiked
maces, swords, and several other painful-looking objects.

        Ranma-chan glanced at the newcomers nervously. "Umm..."

        "What's it gonna be?" Pluto asked dangerously. "Think
quickly, and choose wisely..."

        The tired girl in Pluto's arms looked back and forth between
Sailor Pluto and the other Senshi. "Uh, can I have some time to
think it over? I've had a long couple of days here..."

        The Senshi of Time narrowed her eyes. Why wouldn't he just
give up?! "Let me repeat myself. Renounce the engagement."

        Ranma-chan fidgeted uncomfortably, beginning to blush as
she began to realize how close she was being held to her fiancee.
"Can't we at least go somewhere else...? Maybe we could talk about

        Sailor Pluto sighed and pulled the girl in her arms closer.
"This isn't a difficult decision. You can either forget your
betrothal to me," she said, leaning over to whisper into Ranma-chan's
ear, "or I'll make you regret it."

        "I-I-um-" Ranma-chan stuttered, not having heard Pluto's
words, her mind being too wrapped up in dealing with her current

        "Well?" Pluto asked impatiently.

        Ranma-chan just couldn't think properly at this moment...
There was the stress from spending so long doing so much above and
beyond what even her tremendous stamina could handle...

        And then there was the tension caused by being, what seemed
from her position, snuggled and nuzzled by what was quite possibly
the most beautiful woman she had ever known...

        That went a long way toward explaining why Ranma-chan fainted
at that moment.

        Sailor Pluto sighed in frustration at the unconscious girl in
her arms.

        The other Senshi, having stayed back until now, stepped
forward. Jupiter and Uranus looked quite amused at Pluto's
situation. Mars wordlessly raised an eyebrow.

        "Sailor Pluto," Jupiter began, chuckling to herself, "what
were you whispering to her? She was blushing pretty furiously

        The green-haired time Senshi blinked. "Excuse me?"

        "So," Uranus said suggestively, "gettin' around, eh? Know
what I mean? Nudge-nudge, wink-wink. Know what I mean?"

        Pluto sighed. "What are you talking about...?" She rolled her
eyes as she realized what they were implying, and regretted having
had to overdose the outer Senshi on Monty Python. "There is nothing
between us. You are imagining things where none exist."

        Uranus smiled knowingly. "I see... Say no more, eh? Nudge-
nudge, wink-wink. Know what I mean? Say no more."

        "You just couldn't stop watching that show, could you?" Pluto
asked, slowly shaking her head.

        Jupiter laughed. "Going to take her out for ice cream next,
Sailor Pluto?"

        Pluto began to turn away in frustration, then stopped as
she considered Sailor Jupiter's suggestion. "Yes... That is exactly
what I'm going to do."


        Now, rewinding about a thousand years... Darn tape...

        *Wham*Wham* That's better.

        Happosai climbed out of the crater, soaking wet.

        After the battle with the chef, and the novel experience of
being shot up nearly a mile by a geyser of water, he had fallen,
in accordance with the law of gravity. Nine point eight meters
per second per second...

        But Physics wasn't the topic... At least I don't think it
was. The point is that he fell, making a rather nice crater when
he finally hit the ground.

        The old martial artist groaned, feeling exceptionally
drained from the battle. He hadn't exactly been up to full strength
anyway, and that cook was tough... She seemed a little familiar to
him, but any attempt to remember more was met by a sharp headache
and a craving for more Okonomiyaki.

        He didn't intend on dwelling on it, though. He was badly in
need of a recharge... And in his current state, what he needed were
some easy targets...

        *WHUMP!* He bumped into a sign. He looked up and read it.

        "...Junior High... Hey, they don't get much easier than that!"
Happosai said to himself, glancing up at the building in front of
him. He casually walked inside.

        Soon afterwards, the screams began...


        Anyway, I'm sure we'll learn what that's about in a little
while. Let's get back to what Ranma's doing...

        A thousand years into the future...

        Sailors Mars, Jupiter, and Uranus sat at a table in the
Crystal Tokyo-based ice cream shop. Sailor Pluto and the new
Sailor Earth sat at another a few feet away.

        Mars was idly sampling her ice cream while Uranus and
Jupiter were listening in on the conversation between Ranma
and Setsuna in hopes of hearing more gossip-worthy things from
them. If things kept going as they had, they wouldn't be

        "Ranma, this is getting ridiculous. You keep evading the
subject," Sailor Pluto said exasperatedly. She paused as she noted
her fiancee's eating habits. "And how can you do that?"

        Ranma-chan looked up from her ice cream. "Hmm? What?"

        "You've been sitting there, packing away _inhuman_ quantities
of ice cream..." Pluto sighed. "But that's not important right
now. I am attempting to be reasonable... You are not-"

        Sailor Pluto was cut of as a little, pink-haired girl sat
down next to her and Ranma-chan with a monstrous bowl of hideously
cute pink ice cream. The girl looked at Ranma-chan, then smiled and
hopped into her lap, hugging her around the neck as she did so,
loosely hanging off to talk directly into her face. "Hihi! Are you
the new Sailor Earth?! I'm Reenie, nicetameetchawhatsyourname?!!!"

        "Gah!" Ranma-chan shouted in surprise, tumbling backwards out
of her chair. At the other table, Uranus smirked.

        Pluto sighed. "Ranma, this is Princess Serena, daughter of
Neo-Queen Serenity and sole heir to the throne. Princess Serena,
this is Ranma."

        "Er, hi," Ranma-chan said, standing and setting her fallen
chair back up, regaining her seated position.

        "But you can call me Reenie," the pink-haired girl continued
brightly, still clinging to Ranma-chan by the neck. "So... how'dya
get here? Where ya from?!"

        The still-confused sailor-suited redhead began to answer, but
Pluto cut in. "Apologies, Small Lady, but that is classified

        "Really?" Reenie asked, giggling. "Cool. How didja' get chosen
to be Sailor Earth?!"

        "Well," Ranma-chan began uneasily, adjusting the small girl
that was clinging to her into a more comfortable position, "I
really... don't know."

        "Oh, okay," the cute little girl replied. "So what kinda ice
cream are you having?"

        "I believe that Ranma is having just about all of them,"
Pluto said, then looked back at her fiancee. "There, you see? You
just aren't going to let me-"

        "Is it true that you're having some kinda secret, intense,
Lebanese relationship?" Reenie asked, once more cutting in.

        "EXCUSE ME?!" Ranma-chan and Sailor Pluto blurted out at once,
staring at the pink-haired girl incredulously.

        Reenie looked up at them innocently. "Well... You know, like
the old PLO in the Mideast? Leb-"

        "Who told you that?" Pluto asked, quickly regaining her
mysterious composure.

        Reenie wordlessly pointed at Sailor Uranus, who smiled
mischievously and waved at them, winking. At the same table,
Jupiter was laughing hysterically, and Mars had her head tilted
back, her eyes rolled, and was groaning at this.

        "Haruka," Pluto said in a controlled tone, "be very glad
that you haven't had time to spread this rumor further... Otherwise,
I would have been honor-bound, as the Guardian of the Gate of Time,
to hurt you very badly. Very very very badly."

        Uranus continued smiling. "What rumor?"

        Jupiter was still laughing at a particularly hilarious concept.
"Ranma and Setsuna, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes
love, then comes Setsuna-"

        Pluto slammed her timestaff against the floor angrily.

        Jupiter stopped singing, but continued laughing to herself

        The heavily-stressed keeper of time sighed, attempting to calm
down. "You have no respect for the hardships I must endure," she

        "Come on, Sailor Pluto, you're not the first girl to have that
kind of relationship!" Uranus said. Pluto glared at her, standing.

        Meanwhile, Ranma-chan had missed the entire conversation, being
occupied by the little girl hanging onto her...

        "What kinda special Senshi powers do you have?" Reenie asked

        "Um, I don't know," Ranma-chan replied, still in a state of
heavy confusion. "Whatever's going on here... I have no idea. The
past few days are a blur... Why is Setsuna having an argument with
that blonde girl over there?"

        Reenie glanced at Pluto. "I don't know... I've never seen her
look that mad before..."


        "Ow... That looks like it hurt," Reenie noted, wincing.


        Ranma-chan blinked. "Uh, yeah. Hey, Setsuna, what are you

        *SNAP!* Sailor Pluto looked up at Ranma-chan, discontinuing
her task of tying Sailor Uranus into rather painful-looking knot.
"Anything Goes Martial Arts Stress Relief. Haven't you heard of it?"

        "Uhhhhhhh," was all Ranma-chan could say.

        Pluto walked back to the table Ranma-chan was at and sat down.
"I trust that there will be no further interruptions..."

        The room was silent.

        "Good," the keeper of time said. She looked at Ranma-chan.
"I'm giving you a chance, Ranma. Either-"

        At that moment, Neo-Queen Serenity entered the ice cream
shop. "Greetings."

        "Hi, mommy!" Reenie said brightly, waving with one hand, and
clinging to Ranma-chan with the other.

        "Hello," Serenity said. She looked at Ranma-chan. "I see
that Princess Serena has taken a liking to you."

        Ranma-chan looked down at Reenie, who smiled up at her and
giggled. "I... guess she has," the martial artist said.

        "So has Sailor Pluto," Uranus muttered suggestively, trying
to work herself out of the bind she was in with the assistance of
the other two Senshi.

        Pluto shot an annoyed glance at her, then looked back at
Ranma-chan. "Ranma, either renounce-"

        "Setsuna, if you don't mind, I would like to speak to our
new Sailor Earth for a moment," Serenity said.

        Pluto sighed, slowly shaking her head.

        "It's no trouble, is it?"

        "No, no trouble at all. Go right ahead," Pluto said
sarcastically, standing and offering her seat.

        The Queen nodded and sat down, facing the profoundly confused
cursed and sailor-fukued martial artist.

        "Ranma," Serenity began, attempting to sound casual, "how
are you doing?"

        Ranma-chan froze, looking at her, awed by the aura of sheer
presence that the Queen seemed to radiate. There was something about
her that gave the martial artist the idea that if there were ever
any time to be polite, now was it. "I'm... fine," she replied,
"Queen... Serenity?"

        Serenity nodded. "My full title is... much longer, but that
is sufficient." She noted that her new Senshi kept glancing at
something behind her. "What is it?"

        Ranma-chan looked nervous. "It's... well..."

        The Queen turned around, and saw what the problem was.
"Whatever happened to Sailor Uranus?!"

        "Pu tied 'er in a knot!" Reenie said enthusiastically. "She
didn't like talking about her secret Leb-"

        "Reenie," Pluto said disapprovingly.

        "Oh, right!" Reenie said, giggling.

        "Haruka, are you alright!?" Serenity asked in deep concern.

        "Oh yeah. Fine," Uranus said, still working her way out of
the uncomfortable position. "Sailor Pluto called it 'Anything Goes
Martial Arts Stress Relief.'" A pull and a shove from Jupiter and
Mars later, she sat up, testing out various joints to make sure they
still functioned. "And it works! I haven't felt this loose in a LONG
time! Thanks, Pluto!"

        The Keeper of Time rolled her eyes. "You're welcome."

        Serenity blinked. "Oookay..." She processed this for a moment
and turned back toward Ranma-chan. The Queen paused, thinking of
some good small-talk in order to ease her way into the conversation.
She didn't want to force her new Senshi into anything; the poor girl
broke and ran when she tried to pressure her into quickly accepting
her new responsibility. "Say, is that a banana split you have there?"

        Ranma-chan looked down at what she had been eating before the
series of interruptions began. "Y...yes it is... your highness,"
she said, still not quite adjusted to Neo-Queen Serenity's presence.

        Serenity sighed. The new Senshi obviously wasn't comfortable
in speaking to her. "So... how is the training going? I understand
that it has been rather... strenuous."

        The redhead nodded, a little more comfortable talking about
her martial arts. "Yeah." She smiled confidently. "I've had worse,
though. Pop used to put me through all sorts of stuff back home...
The old ghoul did some pretty weird things, too."

        "Yes, Sailor Pluto has told me about some of it," Serenity
said, a compassionate expression on her face. "You have been through
much. One technique in particular worries me... I've seen what
it requires. You have truly learned the Neko-ken?"

        "Yup. Don't know what Pop was thinkin' when he did THAT one."

        "More like 'what was he smoking?'" Pluto mumbled to herself.
Even though she fully intended on breaking Ranma's will on the
engagement manner, she would never be THAT cruel.

        "Ah," Serenity said, glad the conversation was settling in,
"so, how are you adapting?"

        Ranma-chan sighed. "Uh, okay, I guess... I haven't had much
time to think about it, really."

        "But do you feel up to fulfilling your responsibilities as
our new Sailor Earth?"

        The sailor-suited redhead looked down, shaking her head. "I...
really don't want to be your Sailor Earth."

        The blonde queen frowned slightly. "Are you absolutely
certain?" Ranma-chan nodded slowly. "We... really do need you."

        Ranma-chan looked at her. "Why? Why do you need me as your
new Sailor Earth? What happened to the old one?"

        Serenity began to open her mouth to answer, then closed it.
She took a moment to collect her thoughts on the matter. There
were a few things she didn't like thinking about. This was one of
them. "She..." The Queen closed her eyes for a second, took a
deep breath, then continued. "She died, a long time ago."

        "Well, what happened to her?"

        Serenity pursed her lips. This was indeed something that
she did not wish to remember in its entirety. "It was... during
our first year as Senshi, fighting an enemy known as the Negaverse.
There was a sort of mission that we went on. As I look back upon it,
it was a very foolhardy to have attempted... but, as they say,
hindsight is twenty/twenty."

        "I can understand... I've been on a few things that were like
that," Ranma-chan interjected.

        Neo-Queen Serenity nodded slightly and continued. "It proceeded
very well at first, but things quickly decayed... One by one, we were
taken... All of us except for Terra, the original Sailor Earth."

        Ranma-chan nodded, listening intently.

        "We were brought to Queen Beryl, the leader of the Negaverse.
She took us to a cavern that held the demonic force known as Queen
Metallia... We were placed near her... cocoon, and she began to
drain us of our lifeforces. It looked as if all was lost... then
Terra came."

        "She saved you...?"

        "Yes... It was incredible. She came and broke us free, clashing
with Metallia's horrific power. The battle couldn't have lasted
longer than a minute... and Terra had won." Serenity paused as she
took in a deep, shuddering breath. "But that victory cost her

        Ranma-chan couldn't think of anything to say to that. "Oh."

        "She sacrificed her life for us," Serenity said, beginning to
weep. "She's gone... and is never coming back."

        Ranma-chan gulped. "That's... gotta be rough..."

        Serenity nodded. "I have faced dangers and horrors that boggle
the imagination... but the hardest thing that I have ever had to
do... was explain to her parents why their daughter wasn't ever
coming home." She looked at Ranma-chan, tears in her eyes. "Even
though it has been so long, it still hurts to remember. Nothing was
the same without her... Losing her diminished us all."

        "It was her destiny," Pluto noted mysteriously.

        Serenity sighed sadly, looking up at Sailor Pluto. "I know...
Since then, we have tried to locate her... if perhaps by some chance
she was reborn like Sailor Saturn was... But it never happened."

        "Things cannot _always_ turn out the way we want them to,"
the Keeper of Time added.

        "I know..."

        "Okay, I guess that answers one of my questions," Ranma-chan
said uneasily. "But... why do you need _me_?"

        Serenity looked at Sailor Pluto. "You explained this to me
before... Could you please explain it to her?"

        Pluto nodded with half a smile, taking out several charts and
a slide projector from one of those staggeringly useful dimensional
pockets that everyone and their cat seems to have. "Please bear with
me for a moment."

~Two hours later~

        "So now, if we trace the destiny line from Terra, it avoids
everything else, and runs smack dab through... nothing whatsoever.
But if you look off to the side, you'll see Ranma," Pluto explained.
"And that's why only Ranma can fulfil this job."

        Ranma-chan was asleep, slumped backward against her chair.
Reenie was also asleep, still clinging to her in the cutest way

        Serenity yawned. "Setsuna... couldn't you have tried a
simpler explanation?"

        Pluto shook her head. "No, time is a very complex thing..."
And keeping track of it is the most boring job in the universe.
"But if you want a simple explanation... There is none. Suffice
it to say that Ranma is the only one that 'fits the bill,' so
to speak."

        "Yes... So, Ranma, did you get all that?" Serenity asked.
There was no response. "Ranma?" She turned toward the redhead
and noticed her unconscious state. "Ranma!"

        Ranma-chan jumped up, grabbed the table, and threw it out
the window, smashing through the glass. "Just five more minutes,
pop!" She sat back down and went back to sleep. The sleeping
pink-haired girl clinging to her remained undisturbed.

        Serenity blinked. "Okay, no problem... We'll have that
fixed." She cleared her throat. "RANMA!"

        "Huh?! What?" the sailor-suited martial artist asked,
opening her eyes and looking around wildly.

        "Do you understand why you must be Sailor Earth?" the
Queen asked.

        Ranma-chan squinted, eyes readjusting to the light.
"Sailor...? Um, no. Why?"

        Serenity sighed. No more beating around the bush, then...
"If you must know... It is because of the emptiness Terra's
absence has caused. You look so much like her... When I first
saw you, I had hoped that... she had somehow returned to us."

        The Queen began sobbing.

        "I should have accepted her loss long ago. Ranma, I'm not
going to force you to be a Senshi if you don't want to be one. It
should have been clear to me before... Sailor Earth is gone forever."

        She finally broke into all-out sprinkler-system crying.

        Ranma-chan drew back nervously, making motions for her to
stop. "Please don't do that... I didn't mean to make you cry."

        Neo-Queen Serenity's fountain of tears continued unabated.

        "Please stop," Ranma-chan pleaded.

        "I'm sorry," Serenity said, still unable to stop crying.
"It's just that... I miss her so much... And you were..."

        The martial artist fidgeted uncomfortably. "Um, look, if it'll
help... I'll be your Sailor Earth. Just... stop crying, okay?"

        The Queen's weeping water-works slowed and finally stopped.
"You will?" she asked, sniffling slightly.

        Ranma-chan paused, considering what she just said. She was
about to begin easing away from the subject, but she looked up
into Neo-Queen Serenity's pleading, tear-filled eyes and saw the
pain, the grief, the heartache, the glimmer of hope... and knew that
there was only one right answer to this. "Uh... S-sure."

        Sailor Pluto's jaw dropped slightly. "Excuse me?"

        The redheaded girl took a deep breath and closed her eyes.
"I'll stop fighting against it... and I'll be your new Sailor Earth."

        Serenity looked at her gratefully. "Thank you... You have no
idea how much this means to me." She stood, walking over to embrace
the one who looked so much like her long-lost friend, but stopped
when she took notice of Reenie. "Oh dear... It's past her bedtime.
Excuse me."

        Neo-Queen Serenity gently took her daughter off of Ranma-chan.
"I'll see you later," the queen said quietly, then walked out of the
building, but not before turning around and saying, "Thank you so
_very_ much."

        "Elvis has LEFT the building!" Sailor Uranus shouted
obnoxiously, grinning at Pluto and Ranma-chan. The blonde Senshi
stood. "I gotta be going, too." She walked past Pluto, leaning in
close to whisper, "I guess you two will 'going' soon, eh? Nudge-
nudge, wink-wink. Know what I mean?"

        Pluto glared at her, clenching her fist.

        Uranus smiled and waved as she left. "Nudge-nudge, wink-wink!
Say no more. Say no more!"

        The Keeper of Time sighed. She really regretted having to
overexpose the Outer Senshi to so much Monty Python. The effects
would lessen in the next couple of weeks, but until then, Sailors
Uranus, Neptune, and Saturn would be... somewhat more irreverent
than usual.

        However, Sailor Pluto's current source of frustration was not,
for the most part, Sailor Uranus. It was Ranma, and the fact that
he always found some way to destroy her plans for breaking out of
the engagement.

        Pluto's current attempt involved forcing her fiance into
something he wouldn't want to do--be a mini-skirted, sailor-suited
Senshi--and use the stress involved with that to break his will
sufficiently in order for him to agree to break off the betrothal.

        By agreeing to go along with it, Ranma had just destroyed
several weeks of Sailor Pluto's work. Even if she convinced him
to cancel the engagement, which seemed highly unlikely if this
went through, she would still never be rid of him.

        Pluto's normal work was very closely tied with the other
Senshi, despite all detached, mysterious appearances. With
Ranma as one, she would be closer to him than ever.

        Mars and Jupiter groaned groggily, waking up and glancing
at the clock on the wall. "Well, it's been fun," Jupiter said.
They left.

        The green-haired Keeper of Time watched them leave, then buried
her face in her hands in frustration. "Ranma, do you realize what
you've just done?!"


        About a thousand years before that...

        The screams echoed throughout the hallways... angry screams.

        They were the tortured, enraged screams of those who had been

        Those who had been stolen from...

        And those that were just a bit uncomfortable, wondering why it
felt so drafty all of the sudden...

        *SLAM!* Ms. Haruna closed the door, cutting off the noise.
"Whatever THAT's about... is no concern of ours. Now, Terra, if you
will please read that section."

        "Sí!" Terra read, smiling happily, glad to be of help and
adding the proper intonation. "He dejado en liberdad los prisonaros
y ahora vengo por ti!"

        "Very good," the teacher said. "Class, you'll probably be
wondering why we're reading this, considering that this is not a
Spanish language class. This is because the classic work that it's
from comes-"

        At that moment, a shrunken old man burst through the door,
slamming it behind him. He was carrying a rather large sack and
had a lecherous grin on his face. "Oh, man! What a haul!"

        *GLOMP!!!* The old man jumped toward the unsuspecting class
and latched onto the chest of a girl in the first row.

        "AAAH!" the girl screamed, pulling at her new attachment.

        "Ah, my silky darlings!" the old man said joyfully, somehow
managing to extract something off of the girl. (We can't mention
what it was, due to the fact of it being an unmentionable. Simply
wouldn't be proper, ya know.)

        Ms. Haruna was not oblivious to this. She was concerned about
her students' welfare, but first, order had to be maintained.
"Alright, class. Remain calm. Sir? Whoever you are, get off of her.

        The tiny old man looked back at the teacher happily. "Okay!"
In an amazing feat of aerial maneuvering, he flung himself off
his current victim, flying directly toward Ms. Haruna.

        The redheaded teacher didn't have time to react; She was
distracted by something one of her students was doing. "Serena,
wake up!"

        *Wham!* Ms. Haruna reflexively made a move to pick something
up to toss at her, but accidentally ended up backhanding the
airborne old man into her.

        "Wha... EEEK!" Serena said in shock as she took notice.

        It was an unpleasant wake-up call, to say the least.

        "Suito!" the small freak of nature said with a slight Japanese
accent, enjoying himself immensely. "Er... Sweeto!"

        "WAAH!!!" the meatball-headed blonde girl whined, frantically
trying to brush off the old man. "Okay, I'm sorry for sleeping in
class again!"

        "Apology accepted," Ms. Haruna said quickly, trying to decide
on a method that would stop the riot that was just about to break
out in the classroom.

        Having taken his fill of Serena, the small, old thing jumped
off of her into a forward-rolling dive, taking a cheap feel as he
went past a certain red-head.

        "Oh my!" Terra said in surprise.

        The man completed this leap, latching onto a stunned Amy for
a couple of seconds, then made a jumpshot above the other students
into the really cute, short-haired blonde girl in the second row.

        "What do you think you're doing?!" Jade exclaimed cutely,
wincing as she heard how she sounded. She attempted to smash the
little old man snuggling up against her.

        "Aw, you're such a cute one," the man said, jumping off her to
avoid being hit, then landing back on her for a second go.

        "Stop it," Jade said threateningly, a black, energized aura
beginning to form and crackle around her. Still, there was something
really cute about the way she was doing it. The rest of the class
didn't know whether to cower in fear, or giggle at the sight.

        "Try to keep a little control," Ms. Haruna said.

        Several female members of the class stood and began to move
purposefully toward the small thing latched onto Jade, murderous
looks in their eyes.

        A loud commotion was heard outside before the door swung
open. A large group of angry-looking girls stormed in with lanterns,
flaming torches, and multi-pronged pitchforks. "THERE HE IS! GET

        "Well, so much for control," the teacher said, slumping back
into her seat in defeat.

        Suddenly, Jade felt an extremely liberating sensation. Almost
as if... "Return those at once!"

        "You're free, my silky darlings!" the old man shouted, further
stuffing his bag with the articles he had just obtained.

        In the next moment, the large group of angry young women

        *WHAM!!!* Unfortunately, their target jumped off his current
prey. And, allowing for Newton's laws, the assortment of strikes
continued their previous course.

        "Not _ME_, you idiots, HIM!" Jade shouted in cute vexation,
shrugging off the multitude of impacts.

        The large group continued to pursue the old man as he leapt
on to several other subjects. "Sweeto! It's all comin' back to me
now, baby!"

        "Get him!"

        "Over there!"

        "Destroy the foul demon!"

        "Vengeance will be ours!!!"

        "In this glorious day, the battle will be won!!!"

        *GLOMP!* The rather strange old person had now secured himself
to Molly, smiling contentedly as he rubbed himself against her.

        "What, exactly, do you think you're doing?" Molly asked in

        "Ahh, my precious," the old man said, snuggling against her.
Then he noticed something. "Hey, I'm... not gettin' anything here..."

        "Is there something that's supposed to happen?" Molly asked
with a raised eyebrow.

        The small, old creature looked up at her, patting her chest.
"Yeah. I'm-"

        *CLAMP!!!* All conversation was cut off as Jade moved forward,
still crackling with dark... yet rather cute energy, and grabbed the
old man's shoulder with an iron grip. "You have a lot of energy...
Let's see it put to good use."

        "Whoa... baby," the old man mumbled and grumbled as a blue aura
began to surround him. Waves of energy wafted off from him, spiraling
into the cute blonde girl.

        "Yes... I can feel your energy," Jade said, glorying in the
massive amounts of power she was drawing from her quarry. She pulled
the small, dazed man off of Molly, raising him above her. "Now feel
the true wrath of the Negaforce..."