"Al, what makes you think that these girls are responsible for
killing Maxfield Stanton?!" Doctor Sam Beckett whispered to the
hologram walking next to him, careful to be quiet enough so that
the two other girls with him, Serena and Terra, didn't hear him.

        Al held up his hands in bewilderment. "Hey, I don't know! All
we've been able to find out is that this girl, Serena..." He thumped
the link. "I _still_ can't get a last name for some of them, but
Serena, Terra Incognito, Amy Anderson, and Raye Hino are _definitely_
involved. As is Molly."

        Sam glanced at Al. "Yeah, speaking of Molly, what have you been
able find out from her?"

        The middle-aged hologram sighed and shook his head. "Sorry,
Sam. She's freaking out in there. She started to calm down... but
that took a couple _hours_! And then, she got a look at her
reflection... well, your reflection, and fainted..."

        "...Fainted? So, maybe you could wake her up, and we could-"

        Al grimaced. "Did I say fainted? I meant went catatonic."

        The misplaced time traveler frowned. "Catatonic?"

        "She's just standing there with her mouth hanging open, Sam!
We haven't been able to snap her out of it yet. To top that off,
Ziggy's still on the fritz, giggling about girls and mini-skirts
and stuff. Looks like you're on your own for this one."

        Sam sighed. "Great... What are my odds?"

        Al pushed a few buttons on the hand link. "Well, Goushie's
managed to fix a little bit of Ziggy's programming... So, if
these figures are right, then there's a seventy-five percent
chance that Maxfield Stanton dies tonight... His body is never

        Dr. Beckett shuddered inwardly. As much as he had dealt with
the strange and terrible that invariably came with his mode of time
travel, murder still unnerved him. "And you _really_ think these two
girls here are involved? I've only been with them for a little while,
but they don't exactly act like they could kill anyone!"

        Al shrugged helplessly, then stopped, as if listening to
something. "Look, Sam, I hate to leave you like this, but Molly's
coherent again. We'll see what we can find out." He pushed a button
on the link. A shining doorway opened, and he stepped in. The doorway
slid closed.


        And, no more than a foot or two away, also walking home from

        "Terra," Serena began, "what do you think about Jade?"

        "I think she's adorable," the perpetually happy redhead
replied. "It's very refreshing to see a youma general with a nice
singing voice and vocabulary."

        Serena frowned. "Do you really think she's from the Negaverse?"

        Terra smiled. "Of course she is."

        Serena's frown deepened. "What makes you think that?"

        It was Terra's turn to frown. "I have no idea." She continued
smiling. "Aside from the fact that she drained energy, blasted
that... nice... overly friendly old man through the roof, tried to
kill Melvin, and literally _sang_ to us that she was a youma
general... Nothing remotely conclusive, really, but still, I think
that we should keep an eye on her."

        The twin-pigtailed blonde nodded slightly. "Yeah, I guess
you're right... But she didn't do anything remotely evil!" She
paused. "Well, yes, she DID go after Melvin... but... I mean, who
wouldn't in her place?"

        "Well... Perhaps she isn't from the Negaverse, then."

        Serena gasped and smiled as an idea struck her. "Or... she
_is_ from the Negaverse, but she escaped and is trying to hide from
all those evil youma around... and the song was just a slip-up, since
she just got here and doesn't know her way around and how to act here
on Earth! And, she called herself 'Jadeite' because he's one of their
toughest warriors and she wanted to be as strong as she thought he
would be through this!" She paused, thinking about this. "I mean,
this has _gotta_ be hard for her..."

        "It sounds like a plausible way for it to have happened."

        "You think so?"

        "Well, the odds against it are _astronomical_, but I don't see
why it couldn't happen... Come to think about it, Arby did say he
had rescued two youma from execution yesterday."

        "...He did?"

        Terra started to nod, then stopped with a thoughtful look.
"I... think he did..." She shrugged. "He might have..." She smiled.
"Yes, he did. I'm sure of it."

        Serena looked at her friend. "That's funny... He didn't tell

        "What a coincidence... He didn't tell me either."

        Serena blinked. "Then... how...?"

        "Well, he did tell me... but he didn't tell _me_."


        "As Luna probably knows, I have a-" Terra broke off and winced,
holding her head in momentary agony. Then, she perked up, looked at
Serena, and smiled.

        "A what?"

        "I don't know," Terra replied happily. "But, back to Jade...
Even if she is from the Negaverse, she doesn't seem to be a threat.
Do you think she would like to be friends?"

        Serena smiled. "Hey, yeah... Maybe we could inviter her to
go shopping sometime... You know, get to know her better."

        "It sounds like a wonderful idea! What about Perry, though?
If Arby rescued two youma, then he is probably the other one."

        "Oh yeah! Perry... I almost forgot about him... I guess we
could take him along..."

        Terra blinked. "Are you sure that's such a good idea...?"

        "Well, why not?"

        "Have you ever tried to take your younger brother shopping?"

        Serena chuckled evilly and began to nod, then realized
something. "Wait... did we just talk about all this in front of

        Terra gasped and held her hand to her mouth in shock. "Oh my!"
The two stopped, and looked back at Molly, who walked right past

        "Er... Molly?" Serena asked uneasily.

        The reddish-brown-haired girl jumped in surprise and turned
toward them. "Uh... sorry? Did I miss something?"

        "Yes," Terra replied cheerfully, "you missed our discussion of
Jade and the possibility that she might be from the Nega-*MRPH!*"

        Serena quickly clapped her hand over Terra's mouth, giving
an uncomfortable smile toward Molly. "Eh heh... Nothing, nothing at
all! Right, Terra?"

        "YPHE," the redhead said, blissfully heedless of the hand over
her mouth.

        "You've got to stop doing that," Serena whispered to Terra,
who smiled and nodded pleasantly.

        Molly raised an eyebrow at them, then sighed and shook her
head. "Nevermind, then." She paused and stole a glance to her left.
"Al..." she whispered, "what did you... Oh!" She looked at her
friends. "Look, I need to get home soon... So, I'll see you later,

        "Bye!" Terra said, waving as Molly quickly walked off.

        "Bye..." Serena said, watching her leave. "Hmm... Come to
think about it, maybe Amy was right. Maybe something _is_ wrong-"

        She was cut off as her communicator chimed quietly. She
took it out and turned it on, seeing Raye's face on it. To say
that the priestess looked concerned would have been quite an

        "Serena," Raye began, her face extremely pale. "I've got
some bad news..."

        "You and everybody else!" Serena exclaimed.

        "Serena..." Raye continued, wide-eyed and trembling slightly.

        "Whoa... Raye, what's wrong? You look like you've just seen
a ghost or something."

        "More like a demon..."

        Serena frowned. "What is it?"

        "It's about the Starlight Knight."

        Serena rolled her eyes. "Oh, Raye! You need to stop worrying
about him! I think it's _painfully_ obvious that he's on our side."

        Raye coughed, gritted her teeth, and slowly shook her head.
"I... did a fire reading on him... and finally got something."


        "It's bad."

        "How bad?"

        "Absurdly bad."


        "Like... responsible-for-the-deaths-of-billions bad."

        Serena sighed. "Oh, come on! If he's bad, he can't be _that_
bad! And... he's not bad!"

        Raye looked at her, deathly serious. "Serena... I think, if
he shows up, you should, at the _very_ least, keep your distance."

        "Naah, I don't think we really need to worry about him...
Why don't you check again? And while you're at it, maybe you should
check up on that _creep_ Darien to see if we can trust _him_."

        Raye frowned. "Tuxedo Mask is most definitely with us. Darien
isn't evil; you don't need to worry about him. The Starlight Knight,
on the other hand-"

        "Nope! I'm NOT listening to this! Goodbye, Raye, we'll talk
about this when you've calmed down!" Serena almost yelled into her

        The priestess stared at her, agape. "Am I just not getting
through to you, meatball head?!"

        "Don't... call... me... Meatball Head!" the meatball head in
question replied, and switched off her communicator, steaming. "That
Raye... makes me so mad..." She turned to Terra and took a deep
breath. "Terra, you... don't think Starlight's evil, do you?"

        "As much as he would claim otherwise if asked, no."

        Serena raised an eyebrow at the way the response was phrased.
"Okay..." She looked at the street they were at, and made a turn.
"Well, bye. I guess we can talk about this later, alright?"

        "Alright. Goodbye," Terra replied cheerfully, going in another

        After a moment, the redheaded girl stopped.

        Something was wrong...

        She looked around for some sign of the problem. Soon, she saw
it: she had taken the wrong turn.

        "Oh my..." Terra said as she thought about it for a moment,
then shrugged, smiled, corrected her direction, and went on her merry
way, humming a cheery tune.


        "'Ey, ev'rybody, lookit meeeeeeee!" the female black cat
screeched in an annoyingly high-pitched parody of an English accent
as she rode by on a unicycle, juggling an excessive amount of blue,
red, and yellow-painted plutonium rods.

        The green-patterned seal on the other side of the geometrically
impossible room blinked, adjusting his spectacles. After a moment,
he frowned, shrugged, and continued scribing his elegantly complex
mathematical equations with a feather quill pen onto a piece of
crisp, clean parchment.

        "Ar'by!" the cat shouted, doing a backflip to land by the
seal, "ya gotta stop doin' th't. 'Tis bad fo ya' teeth, doncha know!"

        Arby sighed and slowly shook his head. "Luna," he began in
a clear, melodious tenor, "you do not understand the importance of
my work." He gestured at the parchment he was writing on. "If I
complete this, it could be of invaluable use to us all."

        Luna blinked and looked at the paper. "Oh, looks loike a
buncha tadpol's ta me..."

        "...Tadpoles?" Arby groaned in frustration. "_This_, my
intellectually perverse colleague, contains the secret of creating
vast agricultural benefits without the need for excessive water or
fertilizer." He pointed at a specific section on the parchment.
"Here, you can see that the mushroom, or 'decomposer,' as we in
the scientific community like to call them," he chuckled slightly,
"can easily be modified to produce-"

        Luna rolled her eyes and bobbed her head in boredom.
"Mush'rums? Ya can't do th't with mush'rums... Ya gotta dew suh'um
betta' wit ya loife! Loike takin' garb'ge n' feedin' it ta the

        Arby blinked, then stared incredulously. "You really don't
understand, do you?" He sighed. "That, however, is what I have come
to expect..." He brightened. "It is of no matter, though. I am
certain that my work will move forward, in spite of this."

        The dark-furred cat blinked and shrugged in blissful ignorance,
beginning to dance in an unnecessarily strange rendition of "Ring
Around the Rosies."

        Arby shook his head. "I fear I shall never understand her..."

        "Luuuuuuuuuunuuuuuuuuuuh!" another voice called.

        "S'Rena!" Luna answered happily, "Ar'by's makin' no sense
'ere! Plese cum in 'ere n' cane me absurdly!"

        A blonde girl with long twin pigtails entered, carrying a
giant wand. "'Kay!" She proceeded to smash it up and down on Luna's


        Arby raised an eyebrow. "Hmm... I suppose that could be called
an absurd caning..." He frowned. "Though she _is_ using a wand..."

        "Roighto!" Luna shouted obnoxiously as she proceeded to swallow
the wand in one gulp. She smiled. "Mmmmm-mmmm!"

        Two girls, one with short blue hair and another with long,
black hair entered. They were wearing clown and chicken costumes,

        Arby waved halfheartedly. "Er... Greetings, young ladies...
How may I be of assistance?"

        The blue-haired girl in the chicken costume spoke in monotone.
"Graen baens arrre maede auve thaese... Wheo aem Aye tao disaegrae?"

        The girl in the clown costume continued in a halting voice.
"A... dirty bedsheet is... fighting us. Bones... can you get a
reading on that?"

        Luna gasped. "'Tis raw, Jim!"

        "Raeght," the blue-haired girl said, pulling out a handful
of uncooked spaghetti. The other two girls did the same.

        "Maercury Paeowaer."
        "Mars... Power... Scotty, beam me up."
        "Muuuuuun... Puhrusuuuuhm... Pohwaaaaaaaaaaaaah!"

        All of their clothes vanished, quickly to be replaced by
color-coded full-body dolphin suits. "Sashimi Pohwaaaaaaaah!!!"
the girls shouted in unison, rushing out of the room, followed by

        Outside, there were the sounds of gratuitous whistling and
the splashing of water. "Eee-eeh!"

        Arby calmly walked on his tail toward the door, only to see
the three girls in dolphin suits swimming around midair and jumping
through hoops, along with a bedsheet in a killer whale costume.

        The seal stared for a moment, then finally shook his head and
sighed. "It makes absolutely no sense..."


        Asleep under Serena's bed, and curled around a piece of paper,
Arby chuckled.

        Luna looked at him thoughtfully. "I wonder what he dreams
about..." She reconsidered. "On second thought, perhaps we would all
be much better off not knowing..."

        Being extremely careful not to wake her student, she pulled
the piece of paper from Arby's grip. It read, in elegant handwriting:

        "I.O.U. 400 transformation wands."

        Luna raised an eyebrow and looked around. Sure enough, there
was no sign of any of the wands Arby had made earlier. She looked
back at the note and turned it over. There was more writing:

        "Dearest Luna and Arby,

                I am afraid that it is not expedient at this time for
         this much power to be exploited. Also, it is unlikely that
         a crisis requiring this magnitude of strength will ever
         occur. I do, however, commend Arby's diligence in his
         practice. If, indeed, such a time arises, your capabilities
         could prove invaluable.
                In the meantime, I strongly would advise you that you
         must not play around with powers that are most assuredly
         beyond your control.

                                  Sailor Pluto, Guardian of Time"

        Luna blinked. "Well... This is certainly a surprise."

        Arby instantly bolted awake. "Eh?! Wot? Wot?" He looked
down. "'Ey! Sum'one stole all me transfo'mation wands! Wuzzn't
very noice of 'em..." He looked around, searching for any trace
of the magical sticks, and didn't find any. After another moment,
he shrugged. "Oh well... Gotta go n' make more, then."

        He fluttered off.

        "No, Arby! Wait!" Luna shouted urgently, following him.


        "Oh my," the surprisingly un-malevolent hologram that the
computer had chosen to represent itself said. It appeared to be
a brown-haired woman with an apron. "Your heart is so warm..."

        "AARRGH," 'Tim growled, suppressing the yelling, screaming and
death that having one's heart brutally wrenched about would usually
cause. One of the more annoying things about some types of holograms
is that they can reach right into you and start doing rather nasty
things to your innards. "Stop... it..."

        The computer's image giggled, taking the opportunity to
crush and squeeze 'Tim's heart a little more. "I can't do that,
silly! You're messing up my nice clean floor with all that bleeding!
I'm terribly sorry, but I'm afraid that you must _DIE_ now." It
emphasized the word "die" with a violent twisting motion.

        "Ukkyo..." 'Tim choked out. "Anytime now..."

        The chef slashed the combat droid she was fighting in half,
then dove spatula-first at the hologram... and went right through it.

        "Tee-hee, that tickles!" the hologram said, smiling pleasantly.

        Ukkyo, having anticipated a solid target, followed through
with the stroke and ended up imbedding her massive spatula deeply
into the wall.

        *ZZZZZZZZZT!* "Ullllllghghghghghhhh!" she shouted involuntarily
as a tremendous electrical shock wracked her body, throwing her
against the opposite wall. "A...aaaow," she said, grimacing and
holding her arm in pain.

        Sparks flew from the spatula in the wall, and the deadly
hologram vanished.

        'Tim collapsed as the force on his heart dissipated. He
glanced up at Ukkyo. "That," he said, "was a great move. An inch
or two in either direction and you'd have completely missed the
power junction. Any shallower or deeper, and it wouldn't have
shorted out the holographic generators, either."

        Ukkyo blinked, rubbing her arm as the pain dissipated.
"Um... thanks?" She looked over the heavily injured, pink-haired
man. "Are you alright?"

        Regaining his footing, 'Tim coughed slightly, holding his
chest. "Not by any stretch of the imagination..." He took a hoarse
breath. "But, that doesn't matter right now. We have just under
thirty seconds before the generator repairs itself." He walked over
and, with some effort, wrenched Ukkyo's spatula from the wall. "Mind
if I borrow this for a sec?"

        Ukkyo shrugged in bemusement. "S-sure... I guess."


        *Shing*Shing*Shing*Shing!* 'Tim made four long, deep cuts into
the wall.

        *Clang* The six by three by one foot section of wall fell
outwards onto the deck.

        "Hmm... That's odd," the green-clad man commented as he looked
into the hole he just created.


        "No droids..." 'Tim shrugged. "No matter, though." He returned
Ukkyo's weapon and stepped through the hole.

        [Oh my... what are you doing, 'Tim?] the computer asked, its
voice echoing through the corridors. [No, 'Tim... Stop... Please...]

        "What are you doing?" Ukkyo called to her boss.

        He didn't respond.

        [No... Oh... my mind is going, 'Tim... My mind is going...
Oh, would you like me to sing a song?]

        "Alright, computer, let's hear you sing a song," 'Tim said
darkly, his voice accompanied by a sharp clicking noise. "Something
with a bit of... bounce to it."

        There was a brief musical intro, and the computer began
singing. [o/Fly me to the Moon-]


        The music ground to a halt.

        'Tim slowly exited through the hole in the wall, carrying a
smoking handgun. "I really hate that song, you know..." he said
in a calm, matter-of-fact fashion.

        Ukkyo adopted a partially defensive posture. "I see..." She
glanced around. "So, you... shut it down?"

        The pink-haired man nodded with a grin, blowing the smoke off
the barrel, then quickly twirling the gun around on his index finger
and putting it away. "Oh yeah, baby."

        Ukkyo frowned and took a step back. "Are... we done, then?"

        'Tim shook his head and chuckled. "I'm afraid not. We've got
those nukes to set up, remember? Follow me." He started walking down
the hall. Ukkyo hesitantly followed. "I love maintenance."

        A minute of travel through the cavernous halls of the former
intergalactic installation brought them to a rather large, ominous
door made of rusty, red steel. It also had a somewhat frightening
carving of a skull and crossbones on it.

        "Hmm, haven't opened this door in a LONG old time..." 'Tim
muttered as he put his hand to the panel on the wall by the door.
"Funny... This is the only door in this place that's never really
repaired itself..."

        The door rattled for a second, rose a foot off the deck,
and vibrated violently as it tried to open further.

        *CLANG!!!* The door fell back into place as the motors and
magnetics around it broke down.

        'Tim sighed. "Terrific... This might take a little longer than
I expected..." He looked at the metal around the door, then glanced
back at Ukkyo, and stopped when he looked at her spatula. "Ukkyo,
your weapon seems to be able to get through metal rather effectively.
This is a _big_ door, but... Care to have a go at it?"

        "...Okay," the brown-haired cook replied, shaking herself out
of the sheer awe that was inspired by her surroundings. She started
to examine the door for a good cutting location.

        "Cheap piece of scrap," 'Tim continued annoyedly, "Shouldn't
have contracted out with those transdimensional midgets to get it
made... Only a million year certification." He thought about it.
"Still, it was funny to see how they reacted when they found out who
they were working for. Heh heh heh..."

        Ukkyo looked at the pink-haired man. "Er... What are you
talking about?"

        'Tim shrugged. "Eh, nothing, really. I just have the tendency
to talk to myself and overexplain every little detail. A REALLY old
habit that I've never quite been able to get rid of. But... I like
it! Gives me character, don'tcha think?"

        Ukkyo blinked. "I... guess." She looked back at the door and
spotted the perfect place to begin cutting. As a precaution to make
sure that her boss didn't suspect any more than necessary about her
possible origin through her capabilities, she turned back to 'Tim
and pointed behind him. "Look, a three-headed monkey!"

        'Tim turned around. "Where?!"

        *SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!!!* A masterful leap and slash made a
long, diagonal gash through the door.

        *Fluuup*CLANG*CLANG*Fluup*CLANG!* The bottom part of the door
fell over, allowing the top part to fall, and flip on top of the other
three-foot-thick piece of rusted metal.

        'Tim turned toward his employee. "I don't see anything..."

        At that moment, a red-faced, purple-furred, three-headed monkey
jumped out from a ventilation shaft to land right behind him. It
smiled and waved. "Oook! Oook! Oook!"

        Ukkyo blinked and frowned. "It's... right behind you."

        'Tim glanced back, but the monkey jumped back into the shaft
a split second before he could see it. "Nothing there. Are you sure?
I mean, three-headed monkeys are kinda rare..."

        Ukkyo opened her mouth to say something, then decided against
it. "I must have been mistaken."

        'Tim shrugged. "Oh. Okay. I see you got the door, though. Wait
here." He climbed over the ominous wreckage of the mysterious door
and entered the unnecessarily mysterious room.

        "Well, he didn't say anything, so he probably doesn't suspect
anything," Ukkyo subvocalized, feeling a need to do more than just
think about it. "And... I can somewhat see the allure of talking to
one's self... It does help one relax."

        *ROAAAAR!* There was a loud growl from inside of the other

        "Oh, Hello, Kitty."


        *Thwipp-PSSSH!* "DOWN, KITTY!!!"




        "Ah, that's better. Just stay right there while I turn around
and pick up the thermonuclear-"


        *Crackle-snap-crackle* "Yeeeowch! The back... Why is it ALWAYS
with the back?!" *CRUNCH* "Oookay... four down, twenty to go. You can
do better than that! Gimme a break!" *KERRUNCH* "Better, better... I
do believe you got one of my lungs that time... Speaking is becoming


        Ukkyo winced as she heard the sounds of carnage rage on. "Do
you need any help?" she called in concern.

        "Naah! Almost done here!" *SNAP* "Ooooh... you just wait till
it grows back!"


        "Ow... KITTY NO BAKA!!!"


        The sounds of fighting ceased.

        'Tim walked out of the mysterious room, carrying a Very Large
Mallet(TM) over his left shoulder and a backpack on his right,
looking all the worse for wear from his fight. He was missing the
lower half of his right arm, and had claw marks on his face and
chest, where his clothes were rather shredded.

        Oddly enough, he was still grinning in his usual, mildly
psychotic way. "Ha! Blunt trauma. Gets 'em every time."

        With a flick of his wrist, the mallet vanished. The so-termed
"mild-mannered restaurant owner" shrugged his backpack into a more
comfortable position.

        Ukkyo gasped, wide-eyed. "Are you alright?!"

        'Tim coughed up some blood, and glanced at the cauterized
stump where his arm was supposed to be. "That," he said, "has to
be the most idiotic question I've heard all day." His eyes rolled
back into his skull as he started to collapse.

        Ukkyo rushed to his side, holding him up. "We have to get you
to a healer... a doctor... or something!"

        'Tim coughed, gritting his teeth as forced strength into his
unresponsive limbs. "Doctor nothing... What I need is a good ol'
jolt of mass destruction." He started to slide down in Ukkyo's hold.

        Ukkyo sighed helplessly. "You need serious help!"

        "Darn straightly," 'Tim replied dazedly, "and the Finns made
new ways to survuhuhuhvive in the cold weather, and then has
forescored and seven years ago... Heh. And then I got the chivalVary
and toook Abraham finkleton acCorse the... Washingtonminumshumishum
machine penninsula..." His eyes fell closed.

        The insane mumbling ended as his breathing slowed, and
finally stopped.

        Ukkyo felt a sense of foreboding. She shook her boss slightly.

        A hand grabbed her shoulder and 'Tim drew in a deep, gasping
breath. "And THAT's what they get fer messin' with a pro!" He shook
his head violently in an attempt to clear it. "Okay, what's the deal
here? Ah! I understand... Too much pain to truly ignore... The pain
receptors are overloaded, and it's hard to feel... Yeah... That's the
ticket... but we can easily fix that, can't we?" He reached into his
pocket and pulled out a small metal cylinder with an odd apparatus at
the tip, which he placed to his neck.


        "Oh yeah, that's the stuff..." 'Tim muttered contentedly,
quickly draining the device. He put it away and attempted to stand
and stay standing. He succeeded, albeit wobbling slightly. "Much
better. Come along, Ukkyo, we've got to set these up." He indicated
his backpack with his remaining arm.

        Ukkyo grimaced as she stole a glance at 'Tim's missing arm.
"Really, are you alright?"

        "Ukkyo," 'Tim said with a sigh, "That's the third time you've
asked that. Now, look at this:" He indicated his ravaged arm. "And
then there's this:" He pointed at the scratch marks on his face,
chest, and underneath his backpack. "And these:" He indicated the
arrow and axe wounds on his back. "Now, really, what does it look

        Ukkyo had turned away when her boss started pointing out
the more painful-looking wounds. "I don't-"

        Heedless of the chef's reaction, 'Tim continued. "I'm doing
just fine! I spent all of last night getting torn apart by an
assorted group including, but not limited to: Raditz, Sabertooth,
Apocalypse, Zelgadis, Lina Inverse, and some red robot with this
really big hairstyle called Zero. Now, I'm a relatively fast learner
when it comes to things like this, so as of this morning, I have
been able to take quite a beating before I conk out. And enjoy
every moment of it, too. Cool, huh?"

        Ukkyo coughed nervously as she turned back to face the pink-
haired man. <This guy is a complete wacko!> "You wouldn't happen to
be related to a certain... Starlight Knight, would you?"

        'Tim blinked. "What?"

        The chef inwardly chided herself for the slip-up. "Er...

        'Tim paused, taking a moment to look over his employee a little
closer. "And... you wouldn't happen to be related to a certain...
razor-sharp spatula-wielding, taunt-throwing, wound-giving youma,
would you?"

        Ukkyo frowned as she realized that her cover was blown. "Oh

        "Oh my..." 'Tim whispered in realization, simultaneously
wondering why he had picked that particular phrase.

        Ukkyo closed her eyes and almost sobbed in sadness. "No... This
doesn't mean we have to start fighting, does it?"

        'Tim began to respond, but his voice was drowned out by
the sudden blaring of klaxons throughout the base. He spoke up,
a bit louder. "Oh, bugger... The computer's managed to reset itself.
Now we're both going to die. Isn't that just lovely?" He sat down
against a wall, beginning to count the dots on the ceiling.

        Ukkyo glared at her boss. "You're going to give up, just
like that?!"

        'Tim nodded. "Yup. We missed the window for getting the
nukes into the computer core. Since the computer has, most likely,
upgraded all the inner defenses, considering that we've proven to
be quite a threat, we won't stand a chance." He pointed at the
floor, which had begun to sprout several small, green, spider-like...
things with great, big, nasty teeth. "But mainly because of those."

        Ukkyo glanced around at the approaching swarm. "What are they?"

        "Biological droids that, once they get a hold of you, drill
into you, looking for the nearest vital organ, and devour it to grow
more of themselves and such things. REALLY nasty stuff. Trust me on
this one. We'd be much better off killing ourselves." He thought
about that last part. "Yes, let's do that." He stood and pulled out a
small, silver cylinder, and pushed a button on it.

        *BRZZH* A sword-like beam, nearly a meter long, formed at the
tip of the cylinder. *Vrr* The beam made a humming noise as it moved.
'Tim moved into a combat stance, and leveled his weapon at Ukkyo.

        Ukkyo looked at her boss, and back at the surprisingly slow-
moving horde, which seemed to be continually decreasing in speed.
"What are you doing now!? We have to work together on this!"

        'Tim narrowed his eyes and took an unsteady step closer,
still not having fully adapted to the anesthetic's effect on
his central nervous system. "Chicken. Bock bock bock bock-ack!"

        Ukkyo just backed off, frowned and shook her head.

        *Vrr* The pink-haired man swung the beam blade a few inches
away from the youma's face. His movements were awkward and seemed
somewhat untrained. He clearly wasn't left-handed. "Fleeing coward!"

        Ukkyo gritted her teeth. "I am not a coward."

        "Lying, cheating, stealing coward."

        The chef whipped out her spatula and pointed it at 'Tim.
"You. Take. That. Back."

        "Oh, hit a nerve, did I? Well, it's true. I wasn't the one
who ran out on our little battle yesterday. Nor was I the one that
stole all that energy from those people. And, I wasn't the one
who decided to fake my identity. You were."

        "I had to!"

        'Tim smirked, slashing at his opponent. *Vrr* "Oh, really?"

        *KSSH!* Ukkyo blocked, a thin energy field shielding her
spatula from damage. "I'd have been killed otherwise!"

        "Heh heh... Haven't you heard? Ever since the second World
War, obeying orders, or even the threat of death isn't an excuse
for crimes against humanity!" 'Tim said with a chuckle. He glanced
at the horde of spider droids and nodded slightly. They were now
at a snail's pace. He turned back to his chosen opponent and made
another relatively slow swing. *Vrr*

        *KSSH!* The blow was effortlessly stopped. "Stop it, Tim!"
Ukkyo said, almost pleading. "I don't want to fight you!"

        'Tim sneered at her. *Vrr*Ksssssh*Crackle* Ukkyo's weapon met
his, and stayed there for a moment before she backed off. "You're
such a liar," the wounded, green-clothed man said. "You'd do, kill,
or drain anything to survive."

        Ukkyo trembled slightly as she heard him speak. "I..."

        'Tim smiled with narrowed eyes. "Hah! You're no better than
a..." He paused as he tried to think of the right sort of noun.
"Worthless, cowardly panda."

        Ukkyo frowned and lowered her weapon. "It's... I..." she
stuttered, breathing harshly and irregularly. She took a step back
and dropped her spatula, then fell to her knees, covered her face
with her hands, and began sobbing.

        'Tim noted that the small spiders around him had started to
pick up speed. He looked down at the crying youma on the floor,
and lunged forward at her, weapon ready.

        *Vrr* Ukkyo, red-faced and eyes full of tears, looked up
and saw the energy sword pointed directly at her neck. She made
no move to defend herself.

        "You," 'Tim growled, "picked a heck of a time to develop
a conscience." With that, he slashed down and sliced open Ukkyo's
shirt, and with a quick upward swing, cut open the white bandages
underneath, then made two quick cuts through each shoulder of the
same piece of clothing.

        Ukkyo gasped as she watched the bandages and shirt fall away,
leaving her top half completely uncovered. "Huh!?" She looked up
and glared at 'Tim. "You..." She wiped away her tears, snatched up
her spatula, stood, slapped 'Tim across the face with the back of
her hand, and fought with a renewed fierceness. "You are SO dead, I
can't believe it!"

        *KSSH*BRRZZT*ZZZZT* 'Tim staggered back, a rather large, red
handprint across the right side of his face. He struggled to block
and deflect the new attacks. He was having a difficult time, but he
managed to avoid taking any more damage. "I honestly don't know what
you're complaining about," he said in a perfect imitation of being
calm. "I mean... it's not like there's anything actually WORTH

        Ukkyo looked at the pink-haired man, murder in her eyes. At
this point, she was far too flustered to make any counter-comments.
Still, she didn't seem to be having any difficulty fighting,
despite her frustration, anger, and bare chest.

        *BZZT*Vrr*KSSH*Cracklecracklecrackle* A brief melee slammed
'Tim against the wall. *SHING!* He ducked a slash, which cut open
his backpack, spilling out the eight small cylinders that were
inside. He dove away, kicking Ukkyo's feet out from under her as
he did. "Flat-chested AND a klutz! What a combination!" He glanced
at the spider droids, which had started to pick up speed, then
looked back at his opponent and laughed snidely at her. "Tell me,
how does yer girlfriend like ya in bed?!"

        Ukkyo coughed in shocked disbelief. "You... PERVERTED JERK!!!"
she shrieked in indignation as she stood and jumped up in preparation
for another strike: the one that would silence this... BAKA HENTAI
once and for all! "KIYAAAAAA!!!!"

        [Ara...] the computer said uneasily, its voice echoing through
the hallways. Its chosen holographic image appeared and stopped
Ukkyo's dive and placed her on the floor. It looked at the chef,
then at 'Tim, a worried look on its face. "Could you please... stop

        'Tim and Ukkyo dove at each other, weapons ready to hack the
other apart. The computer's image held them back, looking very
surprised. <I can't kill them properly if they won't stop fighting,>
it concluded internally.

        "I'll stop fighting," Ukkyo said, her voice SEETHING with
venom as she glared at her opponent, "when this... JERK apologizes
and replaces my outfit!"

        "And I'll stop fighting," 'Tim said calmly, "when this sorry
excuse for a female gets off my back and lets me get those nukes set
up." He pointed at the cylinders that had fallen to the floor during
the fighting. "They have to be locked onto the main computer core
and all the backup systems, or I won't even THINK about stopping
this battle..." He looked back at the brown-haired chef. "Kawaiikunai
piece a'-"

        Ukkyo screamed at anger, dropped her spatula, and lunged
at 'Tim's throat, only to be stopped by the computer again.

        "Er," the computer's image said uneasily, "I could replace
your outfit, Ukkyo... And I could put the... nukes in place, if
you would like, 'Tim..."

        "Yeah, do that," 'Tim replied.

        "What about the apology!?" Ukkyo asked forcefully.

        "I'll apologize," 'Tim said, looking at her haughtily, "when
the explosives are set up. Not before, you uncute-"

        The cylinders on the floor vanished and an exact replica
of Ukkyo's shirt with an accompanying bandolier of throwing spatulas
appeared on a levitating hanger next to her.

        The brown-haired young woman quickly examined the article
of clothing for any... surprises. Not finding any, she quickly
slipped it on. She looked at 'Tim, still with a fair amount of anger.
"Good enough... for now." The hanger vanished.

        The computer looked at the pink-haired man. "Will you apologize
now?" it asked hopefully.

        "Did you set them up? Are they locked into all the primary
computer systems?"

        The computer's image nodded emphatically. "Yes, yes. The
entire system is rigged for maximum devastation, just as you
like it."

        "Excellent," 'Tim said. He looked at his employee. "Sorry
about that."

        The chef's gaze indicated that he could do better than _that_.

        "_Terribly_ sorry about that."

        Ukkyo narrowed her eyes. "AND...?"

        'Tim sighed, put away his weapon, and got down on one knee,
taking her hand in his. He looked up into her eyes, a very apologetic
expression on his face. "Ukkyo... I have done some terrible things to
you. I have given you grave insults, calling you a liar, a coward,
and much more that I'm sure you would much rather not have repeated."

        Ukkyo's expression softened slightly. "Go on."

        "I would like you to know that I did not mean any of it.
You have shown considerable bravery and perseverance in your
actions. You've never lied to me: Everything I've asked you, you've
answered truthfully. As for other statements, you still haven't
lied to me about anything. You are not worthless in any way."

        "And...?" Ukkyo prodded.

        'Tim smiled. "I was just getting to that. I apologize for
the damage done to your clothes and self image. You are a very
lovely young woman; cute at the very least. Your eyes, your hair...
all about you is quite beautiful... No, you are not, by any means,
flat-chested." He sighed. "So, Ukkyo, chef and warrior of great
skills, worth, and beauty... can you find it within your heart to
forgive me?"

        Ukkyo blushed and smiled hesitantly. "I... guess."

        'Tim nodded and stood.

        "Now, that wasn't so hard, was it?" the computer asked
pleasantly. The image vanished. [Kill them!]

        The spiders shrieked in unison and leapt at the two remaining
people in the area.

        *BZZR!*KSSH*KSSH*KSSH* 'Tim ignited his weapon and began
hacking away at the attacking spiders, barely managing to keep
them from latching on to him. "DON'T let them touch you!"

        *CLANG*WHACK*SLAM* Ukkyo was fighting in a similar fashion.
"I know, I know!"

        *Vrr*KSSH!* "If you're wondering, THIS is why I was fighting
and insulting you! I had to get some real antagonism going to
confuse the computer: It seemed like it would react to something
like that! I'm glad to see it did."

        *WHAM*WHACK* "Yikes... I think I understand you now!" *WHAM*
"Still, you didn't have to be so... personal!"

        *KSSSH!* "I'm sorry," 'Tim replied seriously. *ZZZZZT* "My
first plan was designed to get your average youma angry; they
don't like having their combat abilities questioned!" *BZZZT*
"And they typically don't have a conscience to get in the way
of the better insults!" *KSSH* "And you, apparently, do. I
wasn't ready for that, so I had to go with my next best guess!"

        *WHAM*WHAM*WHAM*SHING!* "And what was that?"

to discuss it right now! We have to detonate the explosives!"
Currently only having one arm available, 'Tim put away his weapon
and pulled out a small device with a large, obvious red button
on it, and was about to push it... when one of those spiders got
through and snatched it out of his hand, crushing the device
sideways in its jaws. 'Tim barely managed to shake it off before
it was able to start digging in. "Well, there goes that idea!"

        *WHAM*CRASH*SHINGSHINGSHING*WHACK!* "You have a backup
plan... right?"

        'Tim thought about it, kicking and backhanding away anything
that got too close. "...Yes! I do!" He took a deep breath, clenched
his fist, gritted his teeth, and narrowed his eyes in concentration.
"Can you hold them off for ten minutes? Maybe five?"

        Ukkyo leapt over to him and started defending him. "I can
certainly try!"

        "Good," 'Tim replied, beginning to gather a small ball of
white energy in his hand. He looked up at the ceiling. "Now, if
the power junction to the upspin section is there, then..."

        *Shing*CLANG*Whack!*Shing*shing*SHING* Ukkyo was having quite
a time fending off the spiders.

        Within a couple of minutes, the sphere of energy in 'Tim's
hand had doubled in size as he continued to look at the roof and
walls. "Then it would have to travel through the grid here..."

        *WHAM*WHAM*WHAM*Shiiiiiiing!* The battle raged on for another
couple of minutes. "Are you almost ready for whatever it is you're
going to do!?"

        'Tim confirmed the spot he was going to aim for, then looked
down at the very slowly-growing ball of energy in his hand, which
shook trying to hold it all. "Not at this rate..."

        *WHAM* Ukkyo smacked away one of the much larger spiders.
She seemed to be tiring; her face was red and she was almost
hyperventilating. "If these things keep coming like they have...
I won't be able to last much longer..."

        "What kind of youma are you, anyway?!" 'Tim asked. "Where's
the energy blasts and stuff you were doing last night?"

        *CLANG!* "That's the thing! That needs energy: _human_ energy.
I haven't drained any human energy since then. I just... can't do

        "Youma _die_ without energy!"

        *Swish*WHAM* "I know..."

        'Tim took a moment to absorb that. "Hmm..." Still charging
up, he watched Ukkyo fight. She was gradually getting more sluggish
in her movements. The fact that she was losing energy showed. Dents
had started to form in her combat spatula, the bugs kept getting
closer to her after each advance, and she was starting to look
_very_ spent. "Just hang on for as long as you can!"

        Ukkyo didn't respond, all of her concentration apparently
going into fending off the spiders.

        "Alrighty, then..." 'Tim said quietly, devoting all of his
concentration into focusing more energy into the ever-so-painfully
slowly growing ball of white energy in his left hand. "This isn't
going to be enough..."

        Ukkyo let out a strangled cry as one of the spiders finally
got through to her, knocking her to the floor from the force of
its leap.

        *CRRSZZH!* There was a sickening crunch from behind 'Tim.
As his legs gave out, he realized that the lower part of his spinal
column had just been severed as a spider droid started to eat its
way through him. He fell to the floor on his back. Somehow still
managing to charge up, he glanced at Ukkyo, who now was being swarmed
upon. The bugs now seemed to be ignoring him.

        *ZRROW!* The spatula-wielding fighter blasted out of the
swarm, gasping for air as she did. "Hurry!" she shouted desperately.

        "Eek..." 'Tim muttered. He glanced at the spot on the wall
he had designated as his target and made a couple calculations.
He still didn't have anywhere near the energy required for what
he had planned.

        Ukkyo was once again thrown to the floor, the bugs using
their swarm tactic to overpower and overwhelm her. She seemed
to have lost almost all her power to fight. All that remained
to defend her was a rapidly thinning blue shield.

        "I... need... more power," the pink-haired man whispered.
"I just can't focus enough..."

        And that was when the anesthetic wore off.


        Veins bulged on 'Tim's forehead and arm. His face became
a mask of extreme concentration. The energy ball quadrupled in size
and turned blue during the next second.


        The spiders and bits of metal from the deck rose up into
the air from the sheer force of the power-up.


        Previously unseen muscles rippled in the pink-haired man's arm.
A massive, white-blue aura pulsed around him as the deck started
to crack beneath him.


        The power-up stopped and the aura focused itself along his
arm. During the following silence, the metal and spiders crashed to
the floor. 'Tim chuckled evilly and brought his hand forward to aim
at the wall. "Computer, meet my latest attack: TOTAL SYSTEM-WIDE

        "Ahhh!" A quiet cry came from within the writhing swarm a
few feet away, drawing 'Tim's attention. Ukkyo managed to dive
halfway out, covered in spiders, which had started their invasive
process. She looked at the one she had spent so much effort, energy,
and life defending. "What... are you waiting for? Do... it..." She
slumped limply to the floor.

        Ukkyo started to turn completely gray as her energy faded.

        'Tim recognized the process that he had seen and caused in
so many other youma. He turned back toward the targeted wall, his
arm fully extended and crackling with energy. "-Revised! Life And
Death Struggle!"

        *ZZZZZZZROW!* He poured his collected energy into a massive,
continuous, blue beam, which flowed toward the wall.

        'Tim gritted his teeth and made a chopping motion with his

        The beam split into two major energy flows. One black, one
white. The black one dove into the wall, sparks dancing along the
metal surface as it did.

slightly as the thermonuclear devices exploded in rapid succession.

        [Oh my...] the computer noted in concern as its holographic
image appeared, flickering badly. It also carried a large, double-
bladed battle axe. [Are you sure we can't... all just be friends...?]
It raised the axe over 'Tim.

        *CRASH!!!* The area shook as the final explosive in the main
computer core went off.

        Midswing, the hologram vanished, leaving its axe to cleave
into the floor right by 'Tim's head. The spiders went limp and the
lights winked out.

        Illuminating the area, the white energy remaining from 'Tim's
blast dove at the rapidly disintegrating chef, flowing into her and
surrounding her with a blinding, spherical aura. She glowed, rising
into the air as the energy continued to infuse into her.

        After a few moments of this, she was set lightly on her feet.
The remnants of the aura faded into her, leaving her completely
healed, her clothes perfectly repaired, albeit a lot more white than
they had been, and her brown hair had become neatly arranged.

        The lights slowly flickered back on.

        The cook took in a deep breath, smiled, opened her eyes, and
gasped. "TIM-SAN!"

        "Unnh," 'Tim groaned, lying in a small pool of his own blood,
his eyes shut tightly.

        Ukkyo rushed to kneel at his side, holding his hand in hers.
"Are you... Can I do anything...?"

        The critically-injured man slowly opened his eyes, and tried
to look around.

        "Are you alright...?"

        "Oh, MAN, what a rush," 'Tim grumbled. He took notice of the
hands that were holding his. "So... how ya feelin', kid?"

        "I'm fine, I'm fine," Ukkyo replied quickly. She paused,
realizing and considering what just happened. "You... just saved my
life, didn't you? Why... why would you do that for a youma? You
fight and always _kill_ them."

        'Tim blinked, glancing around blindly. "Hmm...? Oh, well... I
don't want to bore you with the details, but... suffice it to say
that someone, quite a while ago by your standards, who had _no_
reason to trust me and every reason to have me have me blown away
took me in as her own, despite what she knew I was. She even went
so far as to hide my true nature from everyone else. She protected
me to the end, and overlooked all of what she considered my flaws,
and loved me all the same."

        The chef looked very touched. "...And you'll do that for me?"

        "Er... Well, kinda... Sure, I guess! I figure, hey, I mean,
why not?" the pink-haired man continued. "Besides, you can cook
stuff without spam in it! I can't just waste a good skill like that.
It simply wouldn't be proper!" He tried to sit up, but was thwarted
by the fact that he couldn't move the lower half of his body.

        Ukkyo frowned. "Are you going to be alright, Tim-san?"

        'Tim tried chuckle, then coughed when he found he couldn't.
"You keep asking that-"

        There was a beeping sound and a calm, almost monotone voice
began speaking. [Reset complete. Hello, 'Tim. I am ready to resume
normal functioning at your command.]

        "-and I will," 'Tim continued with half a smile. "Just stop
calling me 'Tim-san.' I _hate_ how that sounds. Computer, activate
the EMH."

        "Please state the nature of the... Oh, yeech! What have you
done to yourself THIS time!?"


        "WAAAAAH! Kunzite, Nephrite has a crystal that's going to
help him find the Empyrean Silver Crystal!" Zoicite whined, looking
up at her boyfriend with huge, tear-filled eyes. "Now he's going
to get absolute power and then have all of us killed!"

        "Whining doesn't suit you, Zoicite," Kunzite replied
comfortingly, looking down into Zoicite's eyes and holding up her
chin with his right hand. "And don't worry. If he finds the
Crystal, then we can simply... take it from him!"

        "But Kunzite," the blonde general sniffled, "Nephrite's
too strong for any of my youma!"

        Kunzite smiled, gently stroking Zoicite's hair. "I think
I can fix that... I have been training a small group that will
soon rival the Seven Shadows in sheer power!"

        Zoicite smiled hopefully. "You are? And... you'll let me
use them...?"

        Kunzite slowly shook his head. "No... It will be a week
at the very least before they will be ready to fight anyone as
powerful as Nephrite... We, however, have more than enough power
to..." He frowned. "But, as muddled as our Queen may be, she is
still very powerful and an open battle between ourselves and her
most favored general would not turn out well for us..."

        Zoicite sobbed pitifully. "Then... what can we do?"

        The silver-haired general thought about it for a moment
and finally smiled. "I believe my... pet could be of invaluable
use to you in this."

        Zoicite gasped. "You're going to let me borrow Spikey!?
Isn't he one-of-a-kind?"

        "As far as I know, yes... But Queen Beryl doesn't know that.
I believe that blaming a random... infestation would more than
suffice as an explanation for her..."

        "Spikey..." Zoicite considered, and laughed. "Nephrite won't
stand a chance!"


Speaking of which...

        Sam Beckett sighed, idly glancing around out of the window of
Molly's room into the starry night sky. "Any leads on who or where
Maxfield Stanton is yet?"

        Al keyed a few things into his ever-present link. "'Fraid
not, Sam... And to make matters worse, he dies in..." He looked
at his friend. "Less than a half hour."

        "HALF AN HOUR!?!?" Sam exclaimed frantically. "Why didn't
you tell me before!?"

        Al shrugged. "I didn't want to upset you..."

        "...Upset me?! This is a man's _life_ we're talking about!"

        The hologram opened his mouth to say something, but was
interrupted by a woman's voice from downstairs.

        "Molly, who are you talking to up there?"

        "Nobody, Mom!" Sam replied wearily, walking over to sit down
on Molly's bed.

        Molly's mother entered and looked around. She looked at and
smiled at her "daughter." "Then why are you yelling?"

        "I'm just... Practicing for the school play, Mom," Sam replied,
trying to sound casual.

        "Hmm," the redheaded woman hummed. "I wasn't aware that there
was a play in the works..." She paused. "Though I did hear that the
Performing Arts students were working on a rendition of Pirates of
Penzance... I wonder how that'll turn out..." She took another
quick glance around, then turned and left.

        Sam sighed. "Okay, Al," he whispered, "what DO you know?"

        "I know," Al began, looking at and thumping his badly-pummeled
link, "that there is precisely a... two percent chance that you're
going to meet our mysterious new friend, Mister Stanton, before the
half hour is up."

        Dr. Beckett whistled. "Great odds, Al. Want to check up on
Ziggy to see if you can squeeze anything more definite out?"

        The hologram shrugged. "Might as well, for all the good I'm
doing here. We haven't gotten anything all that useful from Molly
yet, but she seems to REALLY like this Stanton guy. So if... WHEN
he pops up, you'd probably want to kinda try to act nice around
him. So, hang tight, Sam." He pushed a button on the link. The
familiar glowing gateway appeared, and he stepped through, the gate
closing behind him.

        Sam buried his face in his hands and groaned. It was just one
thing after another: First, he leaped into a young girl--not an
unheard of experience for him, but was nonetheless disconcerting.

        Second, there was school to deal with, which wasn't THAT bad,
all things considered... though it got quite uncomfortable with
everyone asking, several times each, what happened to his accent.

        It was anybody's guess why they could tell that and not
anything else odd about him. Like, oh, say... why was there this big,
hairy, middle-aged man in a sailor-suit walking around and sitting in
Molly's desk...

        On the other hand, come to think of it, maybe just seeming to
speak differently than normal wasn't so bad after all...

        Finally, there was this shadow looming outside the window and
speaking to him in a deep, quiet voice. "Molly..."

        Sam instantly bolted upright. "Who is it?!"

        The shadow became more distinct. "Molly... It's me. You know
me as Maxfield Stanton..."

        If Dr. Beckett wasn't fully concentrating on the shadow before,
he most certainly was now. "Maxfield-"

        "-Yes, but that isn't my real name," the shadow continued,
entering the room and resolving into the form of a tall, brown-haired
man in a sort of grey uniform. "My real name is Nephrite... You
remember from before, don't you...?" He sighed. "No, I see you
don't. I am Nephrite, and I work for an alien group called the
Negaverse." He paused, looking at "Molly." "Please, don't look so
frightened, Molly."

        "I'm... not frightened," Sam Beckett said slowly, wide-eyed.
"You just... surprised me, that's all."

        Nephrite nodded. "I can understand that..."

        Sam decided to get right to the point and see if he could find
out what could be the cause of Maxf--Nephrite's death. There wasn't
much time. "Are... you in trouble, by any chance?"

        "Yes, Molly. I need your help," Nephrite said in a slightly
worried voice and tone that would have many a girl jumping to give
him _anything_ he asked for. "Please, you must tell me what you know
about a very special gem: The Ginzuishou." He paused. "And... you
need to tell me who Sailor Moon is... I think I may need her help

        Sam noted the manipulative tone and instantly decided that he
didn't like this guy one bit... but he still needed to help him, with
whatever was going on. "Nephrite, I want to help you, really I do...
but I don't have _any_ idea who Sailor Moon is, or what the
'Ginzuishou' looks like."

        Nephrite almost managed to conceal his scowl at this. "I see...
then you won't help me."

        Dr. Beckett sighed. "I didn't say that."

        "Then... at least tell me who Sailor Moon is."

        "I don't know who Sailor Moon is!"

        Nephrite frowned and turned around to look out the window.
"I could be in grave danger, Molly..."

        Ah, Sam thought, now we're getting somewhere! "In danger from
what? Who?"

        "There are... those from the Negaverse that wish to destroy
me. You see, it is a cruel world, full of evil and devoid of all
joy and happiness. They don't like me, Molly. I'm not truly _evil_,
like they are."

        Sam didn't know which was worse: the fact that he was being
lied to or the insulting way this Nephrite guy was doing it. He
obviously didn't think much of Molly's intelligence. "Well," Sam
said, doing his best to sound supportive, "I'd REALLY like to help,
Nephrite, but... what? What is it?"

        Nephrite had turned back toward him and was smiling. "You
finally managed to pronounce my name right..." He chuckled, doing
a fairly good imitation of sounding kind and friendly. "Compliments
to your language instructor, too."

        "Uh, thanks," the time traveler replied.

        "So, Molly," Nephrite said, "I really am in trouble. If you
could help me find the Ginzuishou--or Empyrean Silver Crystal, my
troubles would be over. And... then I would be able to join and
help Sailor Moon, IF you tell me where I can find her."

        Sam held up his hands in confusion. "Who is Sailor Moon?"

        Nephrite frowned. "So that's the way it's going to be, then?"
He sighed. "Very well. Goodbye, Molly." He turned around and started
to fade away.

        "No, Nephrite! Wait!" Sam called urgently, but it was too
late. Nephrite was gone. "Great... Now what?"

        A shining doorway slid open, and Al stepped out. The door
slid closed. "Sam," he said, an amazed smile on his face, "you're
not gonna believe this!"

        Sam looked at his friend hopefully. "You finally got Ziggy
working and know what I should do?"

        Al laughed. "Even better! I had a talk with Molly that's
solved all of the problems with my love life! It's unbelievable,
Sam! She's a great kid to talk to. Her friends she's got here are
REALLY lucky to have her."

        Sam slapped his forehead and groaned, shaking his head.
"Al... How does that solve MY problem?!"

        "I was just getting to that! Molly says that whenever she's
having trouble or doesn't know what to do, she always talks to her
friend Serena. She says that always helps."

        Sam stared at Al.

        "I'm serious, Sam!" the hologram said. "Molly knows what she's
talking about!"

        "Al, I don't think that... Serena would know anything about

        "Hey, you never know, Sam. Ziggy did say she was going to
be involved with Maxfield Stanton's death..."

        "She isn't the murderous type, Al. Besides, even if she
was, what good would talking to her do?"

        "Isn't it obvious, Sam?"

        "Not really..."

        "Just... call her up and tell her about what's going on!
It'll help! Molly said that Serena's number was right by the phone."

        "Al, I'm not going to call up some-"

        "Just do it, Sam," Al said, then smiled. "Trust me!"

        "It's eleven o'clock at night!"

        Al tapped a couple of keys on his link. "Okay, Sam, but unless
we figure out what to do pretty dang quickly, there's... oh boy... a
one hundred percent chance that Maxfield Stanton _will_ die in just
about twenty minutes." He looked at the time traveler. "So, unless
you've got a better idea, I think you should call up Serena."

        Sam thought about it. Al _did_ have a point there...


        The ArbyFish dangled upside down from a rope, hung over a
cauldron of boiling, _seething_ acid. The rope was slowly being eaten
away by the flame of a single candle, and had almost burned through.

        "Oh, goodie!" Arby exclaimed in delight, looking up at the

        Yawning, a cat walked into the kitchen. She stopped and gasped,
horrified at what she saw. "Arby! What are you doing?! Get down from

        "Not 'till you let me make _billions_ of transfo'mation wands
to raise an eternal army a' the doomed ta take ova' the world! Me
mushrooms MUST be avenged!"

        "Arby... you know you're not supposed to do that! Sailor Pluto
herself has told you not to make any more! You used to be her
advisor. You should know that you're not supposed to disobey someone
like her when you're given a direct command like _that_!"

        The small, green seal dangled proudly. "Well, I'm revolting!"

        "I knew that," Luna deadpanned.

        Another fiber of the rope burned through.

        Arby looked down at his teacher. "Ya gots thir'y seconds ta
comply with me demands!" He looked at the acid below him. "That's
made from Charmin Fabric Softena'! Ya know what 'appens ta me when
they use fabric softener?"

        "Er... what?!"

        "I _DIE_!" the small seal said with great emphasis, lightning
momentarily flashing behind him.

        The next fiber of the rope burned through.

        "Arby," Luna said urgently, inching closer, "we can talk about
this. Just get down!"

        "Nope," Arby said, turning his head, spiraling around on the
nearly-destroyed rope, "not gonna do it. Not 'till-"

        The final thread of the rope snapped, and the phone began to


        "Arby!" Luna shouted, reacting quickly, leaping at the
ArbyFish. She caught him halfway down, followed through with the
jump, and pinned him to the floor.


        "'Ey!" Arby shouted. "That's not fair! Ya gotta agree ta let
me take ova' the world..." He scrunched down in Luna's grasp.
"Spoil sport."

        "Now, Arby," Luna said exasperatedly, drawing a sharp claw
and leveling it at Arby, "you will NEVER do that sort of thing again,
is that understood?!"


        Arby looked up at the long, sharp claw...


        ...and bit it off without hesitation.

        "Arby!" Luna said in a mixture of shock and exasperation,
looking at her de-clawed paw.

        The ArbyFish looked back up at Luna. "Careful. Coulda bit ya
'ead off roight there."

        The mooncat stared at him, her mouth hanging open. "What...?!"


        "Well I moight be poisonous!" Arby replied cautioningly.
"Ya neva' know!"

        Luna shook her head and let go of Arby, backing off slightly.
He fluttered off to perch on a conveniently located light fixture.


        "I'll get it," Arby said, flying toward the phone.

        "Oh no you don't," Luna said, pouncing at him.

        "'Scuse me!" Arby said, fluttering out of the way.



        Luna's trajectory sent her crashing into the lamp that Arby
had left a moment earlier. She quickly shook off the debris and
made another attempt.

        "Ey," Arby said in annoyance, once again getting pinned to
the floor. "I'll not be a party to this charade!" He whipped out
a familiar silver cylinder, which Luna batted out of his grasp.

        The cylinder smashed against the edge of a wall, then exploded
in a small flash of green smoke, vanishing soon afterwards.


        "You broke me neuralizer..." Arby whispered in surprise,
then shrugged. "Oh well, 'ave ta use somethin' else, then..."

        Luna pinned down Arby's fins, making him look rather like
a pounced-upon bird. "Arby, STOP."


        "Whoa, what's going on down here?" a young, brownish-blonde-
haired boy wearing pajamas, whom we shall call 'Sammy,' asked
groggily, walking into the room. He looked down at the cat. "What'cha
got there, Luna? Some weird... bir...d..." He trailed off as he took
notice of the boiling cauldron of acid, the rope, the burning candle,
and the intricate, glowing arcane symbols scrawled in red crayon all
over the kitchen. "What the...!?"

        Arby pulled free of Luna's grasp, fluttered up in front of
Sammy's face, and stared at him intently. "You saw nothing."

        Sammy snapped to attention, his eyes dilating. "Yes, master."
He walked back upstairs. Luna's jaw dropped for a moment as she
noticed this, and then she intensified her hunt for Arby.


        Not noticing her brother, Serena trudged down the steps.
"Unnh... Who would be calling at _this_ hour?" She picked up the
phone. "Hello?"

        She raised a tired eyebrow as she listened to the caller.
"No, I DON'T want to pay five percent less on my credit cards!
...What?! Well, same to you, buddy!" She slammed down the phone.
"Ooooh, I _hate_ those stupid late-night telemarketing calls!"

        Serena started to walk back up the stairs, and then the
phone rang again. The blonde girl sighed, walked back down,
and picked up the receiver. "WHAT IS IT?!?!! ...Oh, eh, heh. Hi,
Mol. Sorry about that..." She paused. "Why are you calling so
late? Is something..." She gasped. "Maxfield Stanton?! Oh, he's
a VERY terrible man. I'll be right over!"

        Serena hung up the phone and rushed upstairs. She soon
rushed back down, fully dressed, and bolted out the door.

        Arby continued to flutter just out of Luna's reach. He
hovered in the air for a second, gazing after Serena. "Wonda' wot
she's doin'..." He fluttered after her.

        Luna quickly followed. "Serena, where are you going? ...Arby,
wait! Someone _has_ to keep an eye on you!"

        "In-dubidibly!" Arby called back jovially.


Editor's Warning:

The following scene was not appropriate for most of our readers...

It contained violence and gratuitous gross death.

As a matter of fact, it was completely filled with...




Oh. Oh my...

It has therefore been edited to meet the NA dub standards.


        Sailor V was locked in a ______ struggle. She breathed ________
as she struggled to maintain her footing amidst the loose gravel.
She tried to stay focused and keep from losing whatever waning grips
on her consciousness she had.

        Her foe was something out of a _________. It was tall; very
tall: nearly ten feet in height, but its size wasn't what made it
__________. Its four, thin, ________ arms extending out of its
_____ robe, holding a long, _____________ scythe helped, as did the
_____ and ________, dark-grey wings. However, its most dominant
feature had to be the face: ______ _________ ______ the _________ of
the hood of its cloak, its eyes glowed ___, seeming to ____ ____
___ opponent's ____.

        The _____ _______ a low, almost _________ ____ as it advanced
toward Sailor V. It ____ __ ___ scythe, which _______, _______ in the
Sailor's _____ that had been _______ from an earlier clash.

        The masked Senshi stood firm, making her expression as brave
as she could given the circumstances... which wasn't much at the
moment. Her _____ breathing betrayed one fact: she was __________;
not just ______, she was ___________. She was probably closer to
_____ than she had ever been in her life.

        All of her attempts to fight back had proven completely and
totally futile. She ______ as she held the _____ on the _____ ____
of her _______; a _______ reminder of the ______-_________ _____ that
the scythe could cause: something much more than the somewhat less
than the simple ___ could cause alone.

        The _______ let out a __________ ______ as it dove toward
her, almost too fast for her to see.

        Sailor V took a step back, swinging with her hands in a
vain attempt to call upon her Crescent Beam attack.

        The _______ __________ stopped right in front of her and pulled
back its hood, revealing a ____ of ______ _____ and ________ ____. It
almost seemed to ____ at her as beams shot out of its _______ ___
sockets, _________ through her _______.

        The sailor-suited warrior ________ from the ____ as the fire
began to _____ her _______.

        And, suddenly, mercifully, it stopped.

        Sailor V breathed ________, her vision coming back into focus,
albeit with a more _______ hue than normal. Her enemy was just
standing there, grinning.

        Off to the side, she noticed the appearance of another _____-
robed figure. "Finish her..." it commanded.

        Sailor V _____ as the _______ threw aside its ______, advancing
toward her with ___ _____.

        She was too ____ to ______ as it _______ ____ ___ arms and
______ ___ ______, ___ _____-____ ______ _________ ___ ____.

        She ________, _______ and hearing a _________ ______ as the
________ ____ ___ __ its ____ _____ ____ ___ _____ and ripped ___
___ _____-_______ _____.

        Sailor V looked on in _____ ______ as the _____ _____ ___
_____ to the ground and ________ it _________. "_______________"

        The _____, with another of its ____ hands, _______ her by
___ ____, and ______ upwards, _______ ___ her ____, along with
_ _____ _______ __ ___ ______ _______.

        Sailor V's ____ ______ in ________ ______, somehow still
conscious even after all this.

        The _______ brought __ ___ _____ ____ and _______ the ____
it was _______, and began to _______.

        Sailor V's _____ was ______ to _________ the ________, and
________ in a ___________ of _____ and ____, the ______ ____ and
_______ of ___ ____ moving into a ____ before they fell to the

        The _______ _____ the ___ of _____ and _____ to the ______,
and ______ one foot __ the ________ ______, ________ it in a
___________ of ____.

        In the background, the cloaked ______ nodded, looking down at
the _______ ___________ Sailor.

        "Flawless Victory. You Lose."

        "Aw, man," Paracite grumbled as he turned away from the game,
stuffing his hands into his pockets, "and that was my last quarter!"

        "That is soooooo unrealistic," Jadeite-chan muttered in
pitying disgust, shaking her head as the scenario's added viscera
played out on the screen in an indescribably gory finishing scene,
as if what had already happened wasn't enough. "But still, these
games humans create seem awfully violent for their relatively
puritanical culture. Wouldn't you agree?"

        The young, brown-haired youma gazed longingly at the screen,
which relentlessly flashed its demands for another coin. "But... I
like them. Nobody has to really get hurt."

        Jadeite-chan laughed, shaking her head. "Paracite, where,
may I ask, is the point in that?" She sighed. "But you're young yet,
and have so much to learn..."

        A blonde, twenty-ish young man wearing a multi-pocketed
apron walked by them. "Ah, excuse me, we're closing soon, and
it's late." He smiled as the two looked up at him. "Hey, isn't
this a school night for you?"

        Jadeite-chan looked at him. "Wait... I know you... You're-"

        "-Andrew," he completed. "Nice to meet you. Say... are you
Jade and Perry, the new students over at the Junior High so many
have been talking about?"

        "Umm-hmm," the short blonde girl replied with a bright-eyed

        "Did you _really_ blow up half the school?"

        "Nah," Paracite said, "she only blew a _huge_, gaping hole
through the roof."

        "-And blew a marauder into the next millennium," Jadeite-chan
added. She thought for a second. "Then afterwards I had thought about
amassing a strike force to reclaim my rightful position as active
general in the armies of the Negaforce!"

        Andrew chuckled in a friendly fashion. "Quite an imagination
you've got there... Shouldn't you be getting to bed soon?"

        Paracite perked up. "We don't really need sleep, only energy."

        Andrew blinked. "What?"

        "Perry," Jadeite-chan said, giving her cousin a warning look.
She feigned a yawn and nodded at Andrew, now actually making a
conscious effort to look cute and play the part she was apparently
going to be known as for a while. "I think you're right, though. We
really should be getting to bed. It's _very_ late. Come on, Perry."

        "But-" Paracite said, pointing at the arcade games.

        Jadeite-chan smiled and giggled, pulling him out the door
by his arm. "Come on, silly."

        Andrew waved goodbye. "They sure are out late," he said to
himself. "I hope they won't have any trouble getting home..." He
remembered something and grimaced. "And come to think of it, _I_
need to be getting home soon, too. I have a _poetry_ exam in
Professor Kuno's class tomorrow..."

        Once outside, Jadeite-chan coughed and gagged, grimacing
as she and her cousin began their short walk toward the restaurant
that was the doorway to their newly acquired home.

        "What's wrong?" Paracite asked, noting his cousin's discomfort.

        "Paracite," the short, cute blonde began, "do you have any
concept of how _difficult_ it is to act like that without losing

        Paracite blinked. "Control?"

        "My... personality seems to be... under assault." Her tone
became almost desperate. "It feels as if... I'm in the danger of
losing myself."

        "Well, it's just like acting like someone else in a energy
draining plan, right? I mean, when acting like somebody else,
you can get wrapped up in the part and-"

        "I know that... And do you seriously think that I would be
_that_ worried about it if it were something _simple_?" The
cursed Negaverse general shook her head. "No. It is something
_far_ more serious than that. I don't know what, but it's keeping
me from acting rationally. Do you recall my... outbursts at the
school earlier?"

        Paracite shrugged. "I thought you were just stressed. You
know, with the curse--being a cute girl and stuff."

        "Normally, I would _never_ blow my cover like that unless
I had been discovered through other methods first. No one had any
reason to doubt our story... yet for some reason I couldn't keep
myself from lashing out."

        "Well, it kept those boys from bugging you for the rest of
the day..."

        "Hmm... Yes, it did..."

        "And most everyone else kept their distance, too."


        "Except for that guy with the glasses. What did he say his
name was?"


        "Yeah! Melvin. That's a cool guy... I _really_ think he likes
you. Going to go out with him anytime soon?"

        "Paracite, if you don't shut up right now, I will be forced
to __________ you and nail your _______ to the wall."

        The blue-school-uniformed, brown-haired youma smiled. "Naaah,
you wouldn't do that. Besides, I'd turn to dust waaay before you got
that far."

        "I could keep you alive--pump in enough energy to sustain
your meager existence while I slowly ____ ___ _____ in an exquisitely
painful manner."

        Paracite smiled, almost laughing. Right now, Jadeite's voice
and appearance was a _little_ too cute for him to take these threats
seriously. "Arent'cha acting kinda... violently, Jadeite?"

        Jadeite-chan closed her eyes and clenched her fist. "_This_
coming from a youma that likes to play Sailor V's Mortal Super Killer
Street Primal Instinct Rage Fighter Deathmatch Kombat IV."

        "That's just a game!" Paracite complained.

        "Hmph. Yes, indeed it is... and I expect the young heroine
whose image has been used in such an... unwholesome form of
entertainment will be wanting to break a few heads herself when she
hears about _this_ particular one... They've certainly deviated a
long way from that earlier game... what did they call it?"

        "Um... I think you're trying to talk about the side-shooter
they had a while back? Super-deformed characters, jerky controls,
innocent, shoot-em-up action-"

        "Whatever," Jadeite-chan cut in. "The point is..." She trailed
off as she gazed in wide eyed shock at the battered restaurant in
front of her. "E...gads... It looks as if the little sailor-brats got
wind of this place and decided to move in and destroy it..."

        The place was a mess. First of all, the windows were shattered
and glass was all over the place. Second, all of the furniture was
broken in one manner or another. Third, scorch marks marred all of
the walls. Fourth, there was an assortment of axes, hatchets, arrows,
swords, knives, and unexploded ordinance imbedded in the walls,
floor, and roof. Fifth... broken and shattered combat machines of
the design Jadeite-chan recognized as belonging to the instillation
below were strewn haphazardly across the floor. And finally, a
few small pools of blood adorned the badly dented landscape.

        "Or maybe Beryl found out about it and sent someone in to
get us," Paracite suggested. "This doesn't look like how the Scouts
work. Tuxedo Mask, either. The Starlight Knight, maybe... but it
usually isn't like this... Unless he was in a blind, killing rage...
but that hasn't happened since those robotic pandas at-"

        "In any case," Jadeite-chan said, glancing around frantically,
"our temporary home is now defunct. The defenses seem to have been
overcome, and that... Tim is probably dead, judging from the amount
of blood splattered around. Paracite, remind me to thank you for
dragging me to the arcade and playing all night. You may have saved
both our lives." She took her cousin by the arm. "Let's get out of
here. Quickly, now." She concentrated, attempting to gather enough
focus for her and Paracite to teleport away... it didn't matter
where, so long as it was _far_ from here.

        "Perry...? Jade? Is that you?" a woman's voice asked quickly,
in such a way that it disrupted Jadeite-chan's concentration.

        Jadeite-chan whipped around, attempting to regain her composure
sufficiently to get back into her 'cute, little girl' act, or more
specifically: to get ready for whatever mental repercussions such
an act may cause. "Er... Hello," she said cutely, smiling slightly.
"I'm Jade." She fought hard to repress a giggle that threatened to
arise--it really didn't fit in the conversation right now.

        "That's us," Paracite confirmed without batting an eyelash.

        "Good," the brown-haired, youngish woman with a white bow
in her hair and a giant spatula on her back said in relief. "My boss
was wondering about you two."

        "Your boss...?" Jadeite-chan asked in a guarded manner, looking
very adorable as she maintained a close arm lock with her much taller
cousin just in case things suddenly turned ugly for some reason and
she still needed to teleport them both out.

        "'Tim, the restaurant owner," the woman replied in a
reassuring tone, attempting to alleviate any fears the small blonde
girl appeared to be having. "He's been badly injured in... in a
battle, actually, and couldn't check, so he asked me to-"

        "What sort of battle? Who attacked?" Jadeite-chan asked,
narrowing her eyes. She glanced at the destruction inside the
restaurant. "Was it... the Negaverse?"

        The spatula-carrying woman shook her head, then paused,
wondering how they knew about the Negaverse. She finally shrugged,
guessing that since 'Tim--The Starlight Knight knew about it, it only
stood to reason that these two that lived with him would, too. "No.
As far as I know, Queen Beryl and her generals had nothing to do with
it. The computer went nuts."

        "Oh," the small blonde replied, now clinging protectively to
Paracite for real this time. The computer. After the experience she
had this morning, she had no difficulties understanding how _THAT_
could be a problem. "Did he _really_ manage to fix it this time?"

        "I don't know, but I sure hope so, sugar. It was a heck of a
fight trying to get it reset." She looked down. "I'd hate to have to
go through it _again_." She shuddered for a moment.

        "He's okay, though, right?" Paracite asked. "Tim, I mean."

        The woman grimaced. "Define 'okay.'"

        Jadeite-chan frowned, then looked up at Paracite, sorrowful
tears in her eyes and shaking. She rested her head against her
cousin's chest, sobbing. "Tim..." she said sadly.

        The cute blonde girl stopped and realized how she was acting.
"Aah!" She let go of the boy she was clinging to and shoved him away.
She quickly regained her composure and looked back at the apparent
combat-chef. "It got him, didn't it?"

        The chef nodded, looking a bit perplexed by the girl's
behavior. "Yes... a number of times, actually. Slashing, biting,
digging, shooting, hacking. The things it kept sending at us showed
no mercy. It was a miracle we even got the job done. He was lying
there, slashed, battered, broken-"

        Jadeite-chan was unable to keep lower lip from trembling. "Stop
it!" she shouted, then drew back slightly, looking somewhat surprised
at her involuntary outburst, and the tone it was in.

        The brown-haired woman sighed. "Sorry to be so blunt, sugar...
but he's a real mess right now."

        "So... he's dead?" Paracite asked, scratching his head.

        The spatula-carrying chef blinked. "What? Noooo... He's alive.
Barely, but alive... The doctor said that..." She paused, trying
to remember the exact phrasing. "'Don't worry. His thick skull has
protected him once again.' So, I guess he goes through this sort of
thing a lot. I don't know how he'd do it, but..." She trailed off
as a few small robots came out of hiding in the restaurant and
started to clean it up: sweeping up the glass, mopping the floors,
redoing the tilework, etc.

        "Hey, cool," Paracite said in awe, smiling. "He's got droids
working up here, too!"

        "Is it safe?" Jadeite-chan asked, looking through one of the

        *Zrrrr-Zrrrrr-ZRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!* A small, tracked droid
with a drill for an arm jumped up in front of the former youma
general, its drill pointed directly at her mouth.

        "AAAH!" Jadeite-chan screamed, jumping backward in shock.

        The droid heedlessly turned and began to file off the sharper
edges of the broken glass window.

        "It... should be safe," the brown-haired woman said, glancing
at the working robots. She took out her combat spatula. "But keep
your eyes open anyway."

        "Okay!" Paracite said, walking in past all of the machines,
into the back room and entering the turbolift. "Come on!"

        "Alright..." Jadeite-chan said cautiously, treading lightly
as she walked around the droids and debris, followed soon after
by the cook.

        They both breathed a sigh of relief when they made it to
the elevator without incident.

        "Computer," Paracite said, "Base Level."

        The computer beeped. [Confirmed,] it said in a professional
voice, then continued in a sweeter one, [Perry-kun.]

        Both Jadeite-chan and the brown-haired chef shuddered at
the sound of it.

        [Proceeding,] the computer added in monotone as the doors
closed and the turbolift activated.



Dear Sir,

          We would like to protest the editing of the portion
        from that last scene. Any and all translations to
        Anime collections should be made without modification
        or deletion, and any violence we may see as a result
        is an integral part of understanding any story.

          Violence and graphic material is a staple of daily
        life and we should not coddle and shield our children
        from life, leaving them unprepared to deal with

          The same goes for lemon material. Most of us are
        mature males around or rapidly approaching the tender
        age of eighteen, and don't want or need to be deprived
        of such things.

          We should not remove vital words and plot points
        simply because we do not believe that others will be
        able to handle it.

-Tarou, _________, Mr.

          As a matter of fact, we should add _more_ violence
        and lemon material to the next scene just to make it
        up to me for what we lost in the last one.


<High-Pitched Saccharine Falsetto>

Dear Sir,

          I would like to protest that last letter. I think that
        all of us would be much better off if we didn't have to
        look at such things and could all just be happy with
        what wonderful material we do have, and enjoy every
        moment of it.

          The important parts of the story will remain, and all
        of us will be able to watch and read it without having
        to worry about having our minds polluted by any such
        graphic material.

-Saotome... er... RANKO, Ms.

          I think we should add more violence and lemon material
        to the next scene to make up for what we just lost.


        Ranma-chan yawned, looking up exhaustedly from the small sheet
of paper she was writing on. "Why am I doing this again?" she asked
the sailor-suited woman sitting next to her.

        "It is beyond your comprehension," Sailor Pluto replied
mysteriously, taking the red-head's composition off the table in
front of her. "Try not to think about it too much. You might hurt

        Ranma-chan raised a tired eyebrow at her. "You've been saying
that a LOT lately..."

        "Only because it's true. Only a small, feeble mind such as
the one you possess could fail to notice that I do NOT like you,
and most certainly do not wish to be engaged to you," the Time
Senshi said emphatically, only to notice that the girl had
fallen asleep at the table. Sailor Pluto inwardly screamed in
frustration, digging her fingernails into the table's polished
marble surface. "Ranma..."

        "Hmm?" Ranma-chan asked, sitting back up.

        "Would you please _stop_ that? It's driving me insane!"

        "Stop what?"

        "There you go... You're doing it again!"


        "Stop it! Stop it, NOW!"

        "What are you talking about?"



        Ranma-chan blinked at the actions of her fiancee, then
yawned and slumped to the table, once more falling unconscious.

        Neo-Queen Serenity glanced sideways at the Time Guardian,
who now had her face squarely planted on the table. "Setsuna,
please control yourself. The ceremony is about to begin."

        And so it was!

        The Grand Post-Battle Awards Ceremony began with a long,
drawn-out speech by the elegantly dressed, purple-tuxedoed Endymion
(Who died and made HIM King?!) concerning the great valor of the
troops, and even though "I couldn't be with all of you brave soldiers
today," his courageous fighting spirit was... or would have been, had
there been a need. Really.

        An hour into the speech, the crowd couldn't take it any more
and started chucking milk-duds at him, booing and hissing, so he
decided to come down from the podium and let the Queen speak.

        "Ahem," Serenity began in an uppity English accent. "We are
not amused."

        There was much applause. Several people held up signs which
read, in this order: 10.0, 10.0, 10.0, 10.0, 10.0, 10.0, and 9.9.
The people with signs looked at each other, then leapt upon and
proceeded to pummel the one who gave the 9.9.

        "Off with 'is head!"


        "Get the saw!"

        The rest of the crowd shrugged and spontaneously leapt at
each other, erupting into a mass scuffle.

        The Queen blinked and frowned. "Ladies, gentlemen?"

        All those included in the categories mentioned froze in place,
mostly midair.

        The Queen looked down at the table where all the Senshi were
sitting. "Sailors?"

        "Yavolt!" all the Outer Senshi except for Sailor Pluto shouted,
kicking away their chairs and jumping up onto the table, waking up
all the half-napping Inner Senshi except for the new Sailor Earth.

        The three standing Senshi struck poses, flowers and chirping
birds appearing in the background.

        "..." Serenity said wordlessly, raising an eyebrow. She
cleared her throat and turned to her left. "Crossover cast?"

        "Yo!" the Knight Sabers, Juraians, Lovely Angels, Sayajins,
and assorted other odd characters and Sentai groups said in unison.

        The Queen nodded, then looked to the side of the Great Hall,
at the window. "Er... You, in the corner... ArbyFish... Arby!"

        "'Ail ta th' Monarch!" the little Great Green-patterned Seal
said, giving a quick salute and toasting his glass of partially
hydrogenated soybean oil. Toast, as in bread. Okay, fine! He stuffed
his drink into what the migratory pigeons next to him were eating.
"Yer rump'z as big az th' Queenz'... n' twoice az fraigrant!"

        Arby tapped his glass with one of the pigeons' and proceeded
to spill the contents all over his head in the traditional ArbyFish
gesture of congenial human brutality. "In-deed!" he said, smashing
his glass on the windowsill.

        "Now THAT's a toast," one of the pigeons said, then started
pecking at Arby's head. The other birds nodded and joined in.

        "Ooookay," Neo-Queen Serenity said, turning back to the
general crowd. "And... I know everyone is excited-"

        "Death to the opposition!" Sailor Saturn yelled, summoning
her Glaive and shaking it emphatically above her head.

        The crowd cheered, waving flags and oversized foam rubber
hands. "We're number one! We're number one!"

        "What is this?" Luna muttered, slapping a disbelieving
paw to her forehead. "High School Spirit Week?"

        "Well," Artemis said, "this is really a big deal for them.
I mean, this is the first time our regular military has made a
difference in a big battle. To top that off, aside from a few
broken bones here and there, I think we made it without any
casualties. Sure, the airborne fighters were destroyed, but
the eject pods worked out great, and in the ground forces, I think
there were maybe... twenty broken pieces of armor, total. So-"

        "I get the point, Artemis."

        "So let us continue," Serenity said, making exaggerated motions
for the Outer Senshi to stop making those embarrassing poses and sit

        The Outer Senshi took a bow and regained their seats. Saturn
still had her Glaive out, though. Sailor Uranus took out and started
polishing her Sword, and Neptune began looking into her Mirror,
doing a touch-up job on her makeup.

        Neo-Queen Serenity looked somewhat embarrassed at the behavior
of the Senshi, and at the same time, confused by how her subjects
were acting. She glanced at the conscious Inner Senshi, who shrugged.

        Mercury looked around the room, then glanced at her watch
and frowned. "Maybe it's just late..."

        Venus smiled semi-maniacally. "Maybe it's what I put in the
tequila..." She coughed nervously. "Er... uh, I mean, the PUNCH."

        Jupiter chuckled. "Just after the battle, a near perfect
victory... Everyone's pumped... But hey, they wanted to have an
awards ceremony, and have it _now_, so of course the thing's going
to be disorganized!"

        Mars shook her head and sighed. "Well, it shouldn't be _this_
disorganized, but I think it would be wishful thinking to blame it
on Chaos getting loose or something like that." She looked up at the
Queen. "Anyway, it's your call, Serena."

        Serenity looked toward her husband. "Endymion?"

        There was a red flash and a rose imbedded itself in the floor
between the audience and the Queen.

        "The people love and respect you," the King said, idly picking
a milk-dud off of his tuxedo. "Believe in yourself, Queen Serenity,
and you can do anything."

        "Right," Serenity agreed, then confidently turned back to the
populace, posing and making hand gestures. "I am Sailo-" She broke
off and glared at Endymion. "You promised that you would _never_ do
that sort of thing again..."

        Tux-boy chuckled. "Sorry, Serena. I couldn't resist."

        The Queen glowered. "For making me look silly..."

        The King shrugged. "It was just a joke."

        Serenity took out the Crescent Moon Wand. "...in front of the
entire military of Crystal Tokyo..."

        Endymion backed off a little. "Eh, heh... Now, don't do
anything rash..."

        "...On behalf of the Moon..."

        "Sazuki knee kawaii," Arby translated in pidgin Japanese to
his friends, who nodded intently, still pecking at his head.

        "...I will punish you!"

        The ArbyFish listened and nodded. "Oh, sh'up, you."

        The birds 'ooo'ed in response.


        "Whoa, Cajun Cookin'!" Sailor Venus exclaimed, standing up
and smiling wide-eyed at the blast that engulfed King Endymion.

        When the energy cleared, a blackened Endymion coughed out a
puff of smoke, holding his hands out in a gesture that I think meant
something like 'May danger pass without harm.' He fell to the floor,

        Luna fainted.

        Artemis stared in shock.

        The crowd gave a standing ovation.

        The crossover cast cheered, making fireworks near the ceiling
with their respective weaponry.

        "Yeah! Show 'em 'ou'z boss!" Arby shouted, hopping up and down
in sync with the birds around him.

        Mars shook her head in disbelief. "Now, that's just... plain...

        "Oh my heck..." Mercury whispered. "That was rash."

        "'Bout time she nailed that evil, _evil_ man," Jupiter said
half-jokingly. "Poor guy should've learned to control himself by
now. How long've they been married?"

        Neo-Queen Serenity stood still for a moment, still holding
out her wand at where her beloved had been standing. She gasped as
she realized what she just did. "Endymion!" she shouted, rushing to
kneel at his side.

        The King coughed hoarsely. "Niiice shot, _Meatball Head_."

        Acting on instinct, Serenity powered up for another shot.

        *ZZZZZZZRRRR* Power lanced from the fabric of reality into
the Crystal atop the Wand.

        "Serena, NO!" Sailor Mercury shouted.

        *ZZZRRRrrr....* The Queen heard the cry and shook herself out
of her trance, letting the power she was gathering fade.

        Endymion groaned as he sat up, holding his head. "This is the
LAST time we hold a public ceremony this late. Everyone starts acting
like they've gone insane."

        "In-dubidibly!" Arby concurred from across the room.

        Serenity closed her eyes and ran her face over with her hands.
"Good idea... And Mina?"

        "What?" Sailor Venus asked.

        "So let it be written, so let it be done: Tequila is never
again to be served at public functions. Understood?"

        "Aww..." Venus whined, slapping her hand against the table
in disappointment.

        Ranma-chan and Sailor Pluto continued to bask in their
respective unconscious states. The former had started to snore.

        The rest of the crowd seemed to be enjoying all of this
immensely, as they continued to clap.


        In the past... what seemed like just yesterday...

        Nephrite chuckled evilly.

        He paused, considering what to do next...

        And he chuckled again.

        The stars had indicated through the Kurozuishou... STAR Crystal
that Molly would lead him to the Ginzuish... Empyrean Silver Crystal,
and the stars know everything.

        That little girl had, a short while after he appeared to have
left, contacted one of her friends: Serena, who was undoubtedly
connected to Sailor Moon... As a matter of fact, judging from the
current stellar alignments, she probably _was_ Sailor Moon.

        All that he had remaining was to confirm this, and once he had,
he would destroy her.

        Nephrite smiled, watching the pigtailed blonde approach the
paved bridge he was standing on. She hadn't noticed him.

        Oh, she would soon enough.

        She had proven to be quite powerful in the past, but Nephrite
was ready for her this time. With her out of the way, his search for
the Crystal would be just that much easier.

        The general gathered his energies raised his hand toward the
unknowing girl...


        Serena rushed along the street, huffing and puffing from the
effort. It was rough, but she had to get to Molly before something
bad happened. "Why... does... the Negaverse... always... have to...
do this stuff... so late... at night?!"

        Arby fluttered next to her. "Well, I s'pose they could do it
durin' school hours, but it's gots so much more effect at noight!
Ya know... gotta 'ave stuff at noight-"

        Luna was keeping up rather well. "Arby," she cut in, "that's
all very interesting, but... stay out of sight!"

        "Nope," Arby said, turning his head, "I don'ts wants to!
'Soides, what'd they care if they saw me? 'T worst, they'd 'ave a
mental breakdown n' they'd grow mushrooms on their 'eads. So,
wa'srong with'em seein' me?"


        Sight soon became irrelevant, however, as that particular
sensory input began to shift and swirl under an unseen dark power.

        Serena wobbled back and forth as she struggled to maintain her

        Luna recognized the feel of the power. "Serena, it's the
Negaverse! Quick! Transform!"

        "Ullllhh..." Serena was mesmerized by the swirling landscape.

        *BONK!* Arby quickly whapped her on the head with his patented
Heavy, Blunt Object(TM). "Come along, then!"

        "WAAH!" the blonde girl cried, covering her head. She paused,
realizing what was going on. "Right!" She did her best to stand up
straight, and raised her hand dramatically.

        "Moon... Prism... Power!"

        Serena was bathed in a prismatic glow. As the glow surrounded
her, ribbons exploded from the locket on her chest, wrapping
themselves around her. In a flash, they formed an almost swimsuit-
like white sailor-style leotard with a big red bow on the front.
Ribbons wrapped her arms up to her elbows as she held her arms in
front of her. More ribbons formed around her feet and legs, becoming
long red boots, each adorned with a gold crescent moon at the knee.
A short, blue skirt rippled as it formed on her outfit. Another
ribbon wove itself together into a bow on the back of her skirt. A
red gem appeared and glowed on her forehead, from which a gold tiara
formed. Red jewels appeared on each of the "meatballs" of her hair.

        Sailor Moon gave a backhanded salute against an ornate crescent
moon background, and her standard transformation sequence was

        "It makes absolutely no sense!" the ArbyFish screamed in
bemusement, quickly--almost frantically--diving off the side of the
bridge, and splashing into the water.

        The visual distortions stopped.

        Sailor Moon saw her enemy: Nephrite, who was standing against
a lamppost with his arms folded.

        "So," the general said, "Sailor Moon is nothing more than a
little school girl..." He moved toward her with a malevolent smile.
"I know your identity, Sailor Moon... or should I say... SERENA!"

        Sailor Moon gasped, wide eyed as she realized that she had
just transformed in front of him. "Uhhh... oops!"

        "I'm sure Queen Beryl will _love_ to hear about _this_."

        "Aheheheheheh..." Sailor Moon laughed nervously, her hand
behind her head. "Um, noooo, you don't need to do _that_!"

        "Not that it matters," Nephrite continued. Without warning,
he dove forward, throwing a small blast of blue energy at the Sailor.

        *BLAM!* Not having time to dodge, Sailor Moon took the blast
right on her chest. She cried out in shock as she was blown back
against the street.

        Nephrite powered up for another shot.

        "MREOW!!!" Luna quickly leapt on his face, clawing frantically
before he tore her off and threw her off the side of the bridge, into
the water.

        "Splash!" Arby called from below.

        Sailor Moon groaned as she struggled her way back to her feet.
"Luna!" she shouted. After a quick pause, she straightened, glaring
at Nephrite. "Alright, buster, you asked for it!" She concentrated.
"Moon... Ti-araaAAA-"

        *BLAM!* Sailor Moon broke off as Nephrite blasted her again.
She sailed back several yards, skidding to a halt on her skirt.
"Ow! That hurt... that hurt!"

        Nephrite narrowed his eyes. "And it's _still_ not enough!"
He closed his eyes and held his hands together. "I ask for power
from the stars!"


        The general was surrounded in a pulsating blue aura as he drew
strength from various Zodiacal sources. He opened his eyes, gritted
his teeth, and held his hands in front of him, palms facing outward
toward his enemy.


        Sailor Moon gasped as she looked up at Nephrite and noticed the
stream of energy headed toward her. She frantically scooted back
along the road as quickly as her legs would push her. "Ayieee!!!"

        She bumped up against the curb, looking on agape as the blast
faded, mere centimeters away from her. The blue-skirted Senshi nearly
hyperventilated, seeing that the blast had taken a rather large,
semi-circular gouge out of the street. She looked up and saw that
Nephrite was powering up for more.

        *KABLAM!* Sailor Moon threw herself aside just as a large ball
of energy vaporized a two meter radius of the street where she had
been lying, blasting debris into the air from the force of the

        "Hmph," Nephrite commented, glaring at her. He held up a hand
and clenched it into a fist, creating a blue, sparking cloud above
the Sailor Senshi.

        Small pulses of destructive energy from the cloud began to rain
down toward her.

        *BLAM*BLAM*BLAM*BLAM*BLAM* Sailor Moon reflexively jumped into
a standing position and started running around in panic, barely
managing to avoid the falling charges. "AaaahAAAaaAAAH!! Can't we
please just talk this over?!?!"

        "Talk is cheap," Nephrite said, crossing his arms as he once
again powered up for another strike. "Death is, too!"

        Caught like a rabbit in the headlights of a really huge, gas-
guzzling American car, Sailor Moon froze as she watched the massive,
roiling blast head toward her.

        *Whoosh*SNAP!* There was a red flash, a sonic boom, and a red
rose flew toward into Nephrite, blossom first.

        *SMACK!* The small rose smashed into the youma general's face,
knocking him off his feet and sending him crashing through one of the
the bridge's large steel supports, and over the side.

        *Da dah, da daaaaaah!* Dramatic music played as Tuxedo Mask
made his entrance, jumping in front of the blast, effortlessly
twirling his cane at impossible speeds, dissipating and deflecting
the energy that was flowing at Sailor Moon. *Da dah, da daaaaaah!*

        "WHAT?!!?" Nephrite shouted in anger and confusion as he
levitated back into view, shrugging and snapping off cables that
had entangled him from the bridge's structure and pulling the rose
off his face, which had made a rather nasty, red imprint.

        "I am Tuxedo Mask!" the tuxedoed man said. "And I will not
allow you to harm this girl!" He looked at Sailor Moon and continued
in a more demeaning voice. "Even if she _is_ a such helpless, whiney,
spaghetti-brained meatball head..."

        Sailor Moon breathed a sigh of relief, then glared at her
rescuer. "You just _had_ to wait until the last minute, didn't you?!"

        Tuxedo Mask chuckled. "Oh, come on! What's the matter with the
save I just did, Meatball Head?"

        "MY NAME IS-"

        "Yeah, I know your name: Meatball Head!"

        "OOOOOH, you better stop it now, TUX-BOY, or I'll-"

        "You're gonna _what_, Meatball Head? I just saved your life!"

        Sailor Moon steamed. "Yes, and I was going to _thank_ you, but
now, you can forget about it, you creep!"

        "Suit yourself," Tuxedo Mask said, then smiled. "Meatball

        "Grrrr..." Sailor Moon forcefully chewed on her gloves to keep
herself from trying to massacre her colleague against the Negaverse.

        "How touching," Nephrite growled, "a lovers' quarrel."

        Sailor Moon glared at the grey-uniformed general, advancing
toward him with a flaming background and all the other anger special
effects. "He... is NOT... my-"

        "Whatever," the brown-haired general said with half a shrug,
holding his ground... or air, actually, as he managed to control his
outward fear of the two warriors in front of him. Tuxedo Mask, most
especially. What happened to _him_?! He had been able to block that
strike like it was _nothing_. If he had dodged, that would have been
one thing, but he had _blocked_ the blast entirely. And how had his
little _roses_ gotten so powerful so quickly!? Yesterday, he was
struggling just to pull Sailor Moon up from off the edge of a

        Tuxedo Mask turned back toward Nephrite. "You can't fight both
of us, 'Neflyte.'" He chuckled. "Or even _me_."

        Nephrite narrowed his eyes in rage as he realized the
truthfulness of that last statement. "Perhaps," he admitted, then
looked toward Sailor Moon, "but I know your identity, _Serena_. I can
pick you off at any time I wish." He levitated higher. "Until then,

        Nephrite vanished in a shadow of black energy.

        Tuxedo Mask frowned, then looked at Sailor Moon. "He knows
your identity?"

        The blonde, sailor-suited girl nodded grimly.

        Tuxedo Mask thought about that. "That could turn out to be a
very bad thing..."

        Sailor Moon nodded again, then started shifting uncomfortably
in her fuku.

        The black-haired man noticed her discomfort. "Something wrong,
Sailor Moon?"

        "Yeah," Sailor Moon replied, reaching down the back of her
outfit. She probed around for a moment, and then pulled something
out. She frowned, looking at it.

        "'Ello, Madam!" it said enthusiastically.

        "Arby? What were you doing in there?"

        The ArbyFish looked up at her. "Well, ya see... I wos
concocting... pineal juice--ya know, drawin' offa' ya spinal column
for me genetic 'xperiments. Swallowed plutonium, I did! 'Elps with
the mutations n' stuff. Sure, it's poisonous... but then again what
isn't, if we come roight down to it? Ya drink _billions_ a' gallons
a' wata' ev'ry day, n' ya think it'll make ya feel bet'a'? No, it'll
kill ya. So that's wot I wuz doin' there, thank you very much!"

        Sailor Moon blinked. "Arby... I worry about you."

        Arby smiled brightly at her. "You should." He gave her a quick
kiss on the lips and fluttered off to the sidewalk, examining a
rather fascinating strain of mildew between the cracks.

        Sailor Moon raised an eyebrow, wiping off her mouth with the
back of her glove, then wisely decided not to ponder the odd little
creature's behavior, and turned her attention back to Tuxedo Mask,
who was equally confused at the explanation. "Tuxedo Mask... that
was... great--what you did earlier. You never really did much
fighting like that before. What... How did you do that?"

        The formally dressed man shrugged. "I don't know... This
morning I woke up and I was, something like ten times as strong for
some reason. I think that it has something to do with my dreams..."

        "Your dreams?"

        "Yeah. Besides this one I keep getting about this... princess
that keeps calling me--telling me to free her-"

        "A _Moon_ Princess?" Sailor Moon asked, thinking that perhaps
he knew something about who she was supposed to be looking for.

        "-Right, a Moon Princess. Princess... Serenity, I think. I
don't know how I know that, but... Anyway, besides that, there's
this other one I've had recently... There was this pirate ship and...
NO! It wasn't THAT one... The one that seems like it has something
to do with my fighting ability was about this one short blue guy on
some really _tiny_ planet that has me catching monkeys and trying to
smash bees with _heavy_ mallets. REALLY wacky imagery, let me tell
you. I don't know how that relates to fighting, but for some reason
it felt like it did." He sighed and gave a half-hearted semi-salute.
"Goodbye, Sailor Moon..."

        Tuxedo Mask jumped into the air and flew off.

        "Tuxedo Mask, wait!" Sailor Moon called. "Tell me more about
the Moon Princess!"

        It was too late, though; he had already disappeared.

        Sailor Moon sighed in disappointment. She was _really_ close
to getting something about the Moon Princess. She'd have to ask
him about it next time she bumped into him before class. Maybe she
could get him to stop calling her 'Meatball Head,' too. He could
be a real jerk like that most of the time... but he sure was cute...
especially in the tuxedo. Not as cute as the Starlight Knight, but...

        For a moment, Sailor Moon was absorbed by a fantasy involving
flying through the clouds with both Tuxedo Mask and the Starlight
Knight. Really innocent stuff, actually...

        Arby looked up and stared intently at her. "Wot're YOU
thinkin', youn' 'snort?"

        Sailor Moon quickly shook her head to clear the dream-like
state she was going into. It _was_ kinda late. "W-what? H-huh?"

        "Didn't you 'ave ta go do somethin'?"

        "Like...?" Sailor Moon asked, then gasped as she remembered.
"Molly! Right!"

        She resumed her rush toward the Osa-P jewelry store where
Molly lived. With her enhanced Senshi capabilities, she went very
quickly, leaving a dust trail as she ran.

        Arby watched her leave. "Eighty-eight moiles an hour!" he
exclaimed, quoting his favorite movie. "Of course, if ya go more'n
eighty-eight moiles n' hour, ya moight get me stomach mushrooms
upset..." He stopped and blinked.

        The ArbyFish coughed and choked. "Ack-ack..."


        And then he spat up a huge, black, slimy, fuzzy mass onto the

        "Ewww," Arby said in surprise. He walked up to the mass and
prodded it with one of his fins. "That's the _ugliest_ 'airball I've
eva'..." He trailed off as the mass began to stir.

        "Arby..." it mewled softly.

        The small, green seal smiled. "Oh, it's you, Luna!"

        Luna uncurled herself from her compacted position, attempting
to wipe off some of the semi-corrosive ooze that was covering her.
"Arby," she repeated, "we are going home, and having a _long_, _hard_
lecture about the _PROPER_ use for a digestive tract!"

        "That wuz propa'! Ya'z quiote tasty, aren't'cha?"

        "Let's have that talk NOW, shall we?"

        "Alroight, we'll 'ave a debate. I'll give my reasons n' you
give yours. You start."

        And so the worst night in Luna's life began as she dragged
the small creature along, leaving a thick slime trail all the way
back to Serena's house.


        "WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

        "Quiet, Raye!" Grandpa Hino said, covering his ears. "Do you
want me to go deaf... again?!"

        "Aheheheheheheheheheheheheheheheheheheheheheheheh...." the
raven-haired priestess laughed in a combination of uneasiness and
insanity. "I... don't think you really understand, Grandpa... There's
this... EEEEEEEEEVIL, MONSTROUS guy out there, and there's nothing we
can do to stop him, unless we act RIGHT NOW!!!"

        "I'm not listening!" the small old man said, keeping his ears
covered and turning away. "LA LA LA LA LA LA LA-"

        "STOP IT, GRANDPA!" Raye yelled, violently grabbing and shaking
her grandfather by the shoulders. "THIS IS AN EMERGENCY!"

        "I'm not talking to you until you calm down!"

        "Okay..." Raye replied, and backed off, all the while twitching
with a maniacal look on her face. "I'm calm, Grandpa... I'm calm..."

        The elder Hino tentatively took his right hand off his ear,
then when there were no sudden sonic outbursts, he took the other one
off and turned toward his granddaughter. "Okay, what is it?"

        Raye pounced upon him, knocking him to the floor and looking

        Purple in the face, the temple maiden rolled over, flat on her
back and took a series of long, deep breaths. "So..." she continued,
"can... can you help me?"

        Grandpa Hino paused, deep in thought, and then stood up and
looked down at the girl. "Well... If it means that much to you,
Raye..." He smiled, pulling out a couple of fans and waving them
around in a seemingly unordered fashion. "Sure, I'll help ya!"

        Raye took another breath, this time a sigh of relief. "Thanks,

        The old man's smile shifted to a grin. "I've got some old
Shamanistic scrolls buried down in a my special hiding place!"

        "Sha...manistic scrolls?"

        "_POWERFUL_ magic! The best stuff there is without pledging
your soul to darkness or anything like that. I hear it's GREAT, once
you learn it! Fireballs, spiritual lances, and a lot of other magic
that can bend the astral plane to destroy one's enemies! They're all
written on the scrolls, with instructions on how to call upon them!"

        Raye blinked. "You have something like THAT lying around?! Why
didn't you tell me before?"

        "Well, I try not to think about it. You never know when a
psychic might walk by and find out about it!"

        "Well, I guess I can understand that..."

        "They're all over the place, you know!"

        "Right, uh, thanks, Grandpa! If those... scrolls work out as
good as I think they will, it'll be a BIG help."

        The short man nodded emphatically. "Yeah! They're an old family
heirloom dating back to before recorded history! The secret of their
location has been passed from father to son to cousin to second great
uncle for tens of thousands of years. They're so powerful that it was
decided that NOBODY should EVER so much as look at them! Nobody at
all! But, for you, Raye, I-" He stopped, and slumped. "-Can't make an
exception. Sorry, it's too great a risk. Good night."

        The priest stumbled out of the room.

        "Grand...pa..." Raye half-growled, sitting up. "Why can't you
tell me?! It's a matter of life and death! GRANDPA!!!" She began to
stand up, then stopped, glancing back at the constantly-burning fire
in center of the room. "Hmm..." She walked over and sat in front of
the fire. "Sacred fire... Tell me the location of-"

        Raye's grandfather poked his head back in. "-and there will be
NO using the fire to find them, either! They're too dangerous!" He
backed out and closed the door.

        Raye stared at the door for a moment, then shook her head and
turned back to the fire. "Sorry, Grandpa... but this is an emergency.
I'm sure you'll forgive me later. Sacred Fire... Show me where the
scrolls that Grandpa just told me about are!"

        The fire flared up, and words; very definite words appeared in
it. [You... don't want to know. Trust me on this one. You _REALLY_
don't want to know.]

        Raye blinked. "Either I'm going crazy, or something's wrong
with the fire..."

        The disembodied head of Alec Guiness floated by. "Use the
force, Lu..." He trailed off. "Sorry, wrong galaxy." The head fell on
the floor, bounced a couple of times, then vanished into the fire.

        Raye opened her mouth to say something, then decided against
it. The thought came to her that it might possibly be time to get
to bed. "Hmm..."

        Then, her communicator beeped.

        She pulled it out and punched it on. Sailor Moon's face
appeared on the small display. "Sailor Moon! What is it?! Did the
Starlight Knight-"

        "Would you PLEASE quit bugging me about that, Raye?" Sailor
Moon cut in. "I called because I need your help! I just talked
Molly's mom. Molly's missing, and she stole one of her mom's jewels,
too! She's been acting kinda weird lately, and I think something
might be _really_ wrong with her. It's _definitely_ the Negaverse.
I'm near the jewelry store. I already called Amy and Terra. Can you
make it, too?"

        "Of COURSE I can make it," Raye replied, pulling out her
transformation wand. "I'll be right there."

        "Thanks, Raye!" Sailor Moon said, and the display winked off.

        The priestess raised her wand. "Mars... Power!"

        Once her quick, flame-filled transformation sequence was
completed, she quietly opened the door and left the room, hurrying
toward her destination. Her friends needed her help.