No Tendo: A Fusion Tale
by Greylle (Kestral) and Kender_Sci
DISCLAIMER: Don't own anything. Don't have money. Just written to hone skills and amuse readers. Originally written by myself and Kender_Sci over at the Anime Addventure.
Many of the crossover/fusions featured are just spice, there is no attempt to keep those particular characters in the mix. If you want to run with one as a story of your own, please e-mail and i'll forward the request to Kender.
Chapter 35: Captains and Generals
"You're Captain Harrington?" asked Kinsey.
"Yes sir," said the Captain, looking calm and in control.
"You're younger than he expected," provided Senator Tezuka, rewarded by a few chuckles in the audience.
"I see," said Captain Harrington, a slight tilt of the head acknowledging the attempted save.
"Honor Stephanie Harrington, Captain of the United States Space Battleship Iowa," said Senator Tezuka, informing both the audience in the gallery and his colleague of who she was. "Nicknamed 'The Salamander' because you're always 'where the fire is the hottest'?"
"That has been said a few times, sir," acknowledged Captain Harrington.
"You've served aboard both submarines and carriers it says here," said Senator Tezuka, tapping the paperwork in front of him. "That, and your combat experience, certainly indicates why you're suited for work on a space-going battleship. Submarines have similar lifesupport and logistics, while you also perform roles as a carrier and supply ship in addition to being a battleship."
"Yes sir," said Captain Harrington. "Though I must give at least some credit for my appointment to General Hammond's recommendation."
"Yes, General Hammond HAS been quite busy, hasn't he?" began Senator Kinsey. "Having involved himself in bringing in foreign operatives to top secret US projects, letting secrets be bandied about internationally, and interfering in entirely different branches of the military. He's Air Force and shouldn't be trying to run the Navy."
"It was a recommendation, as I understand it," said the Captain. "Senators? If I might ask, why exactly was I summoned to testify? My own participation in these events has been as the commander of the Iowa."
"Can you give us an overview of how you became involved in this farce, Captain?" asked Kinsey.
"If you mean the current situation, sir, yes." The Captain considered for a moment. "Several months ago I was approached for a highly classified position that required a bump in rank from Lieutenant Commander to Captain. I was assigned to the USS Michigan at that time. When I met with General Hammond, I was also introduced to a JSDF and a BOLO liason at that time. I was given the opportunity to refuse the assignment at that point. That position was the command of the Iowa, which was being built with assistance from the BOLO."
"The 'BOLO' being the alien tank," pointed out Kinsey. "Handing over secrets of our construction to alien machines."
"There is no part of our construction process that they aren't already familiar with, Senator," inserted Captain Harrington. "The aliens who constructed the BOLO followed a technology path similar to our own, but were hundreds of years ahead of us at the very least. Only diverging from our own projected future when they devoted much of their research into nanotechnology. The concern of our dependence on alien technology is shared by many, but at this point there is little that can be done about it."
"So Genma Saotome learned his Art from a demonic 'Master'?" asked Smith.
"And then sealed him in a cave," said Jones.
"So there MIGHT be some secrets of his ninja arts there," said Smith.
"Exactly," agreed Jones. "We just need to find out exactly where."
"What do you mean 'there is little that can be done about it', Captain?" asked Kinsey.
"Sir, are you familiar with this?" asked the Captain, setting a device on the table.
"It's a cellphone," said the Senator, scowling.
"Yes, sir," said the Captain. "Now imagine the founders of our country, just a couple of centuries ago, being presented one. If you were to explain its use, they could certainly call anyone in that time period who had also been given one. Some, Benjamin Franklin for example, would understand a good deal more than others. Could any of those people or their craftsmen duplicate the phone? Make new ones?"
"This is NOT two hundred years ago, Captain, we understand a great deal more of how the universe works," pointed out Kinsey.
"The BOLO builds things through a form of nanotechnology that is beyond that even of the Goa'uld," said the Captain. "The BOLO is limited in what he can do, but taking materials apart at the molecular level and rearranging them was what his creators did on a regular basis. What might look like a solid cube of metal can be dozens of connected devices, with an electron microscope necessary just to see the circuit paths."
"'It'," said Senator Kinsey.
"Pardon me?" asked Captain Harrington.
"You keep referring to the BOLO as a 'he', it's a mere machine," responded Senator Kinsey.
"My pardon, Senator, but the BOLO uses a male voice when speaking," said Captain Harrington. "I haven't met the BOLO myself, but I understand that over a kilometer of tank with some very impressive guns is worth granting some measure of respect. That the BOLO is our most open ally against the Goa'uld and those that slew his own creators is also worth at least a touch of respect. If the BOLO wanted to use a feminine voice and the name 'Ethel' - I wouldn't have a significant problem with that either."
"No, I'd imagine you wouldn't," said the Senator, looking grim.
Magazines were lined up in their colorful little rows as they vied for readers. This was perfectly normal.
That these were all Special Editions was quite understandable if being a bit less normal. Their quality control was not quite up to their usual standards, though this was also understandable due to the rush in getting them out.
"Did you notice that the 'Popular Mechanics' has the 'nics' displaced?" asked Daniel Jackson, quite understanding as to the pun involved.
"Considering it deals with what was observable regarding the giant robot that attacked Washington and the SAMAS that defended it, that's understandable," said Jack O'Neill, who was currently reading an issue of 'Discover' dealing with potential space habitats.
"That really interesting?" asked Daniel.
"They managed to get ahold of some people that know their stuff," said O'Neill, "goes into detail about the problems and probable benefits. They even got ahold of some of Tomoe's old stuff."
"Oh?" asked Daniel.
"The USS Iowa has three main turrets on deck, one below," said Captain Harrington. "Four secondary batteries. Four Phalanx-D type anti-spacecraft turrets. We have six missile launchers, six torpedo tubes, an armored hull, forceshields, and connection ports for fighter spacecraft to refuel and contribute to our defense. How, Senator, can you refer to my ship as 'underarmed and unready'?"
The audience around the podium stirred as the Captain's voice revealed a full measure of steel present. She hadn't moved terribly much, but she was suddenly radiating a degree of presence that was perfectly befitting someone in charge of the United States' space-arena flagship in a combat situation.
"I - I meant," said Kinsey before scowling and seeking to regain control of the situation. "Don't give me that, Captain. I simply meant that your crew was untested, this is your first command, and you were still bolting armor onto your ship when you were heading into orbit!"
"Sir, any implied criticism of my men or my ship is misplaced," said Captain Harrington. "We accomplished the mission, as evidenced by our being able to have this conversation."
"Denny's Beer & Tackle" was exactly the sort of place you might expect from the name. Small location near the Cedar River, a little off the beaten track, something the local area residents went to but didn't exactly cater (nor turn away business) from out-of-towners.
Not only was it IN Iowa, it was OF Iowa. The old ship. Quite a few of the older patrons had served at least one term in the military.
Someone from a big city might view the place as a little hole-in-the-wall redneck joint, no different from dozens of similar places in backwoods and small towns across the United States. In that they were right, except that the original bar/tackle shop owner had served in World War II aboard the USS Iowa and had various mock-ups and items from that ship scattered about the place as decorations.
Those who went to Denny's Beer & Tackle regularly came to regard themselves as connected to the USS Iowa, even if it was a distant and tenuous connection.
"Ya know," said William Robert (he didn't like being called Billy Bob, which of course meant a lot of people DID call him that) Edwin. "I was wrong."
EVERYONE in Denny's Beer & Tackle came to an absolute halt at that.
"Billy Bob, are you okay?" asked Harold Apen.
"THAT," said Billy Bob, pointing at the TV with the hand holding a beer, "might be a woman but she's sure as hell Navy."
There was a few mutters and calls of agreement at that, and several hands raised glasses (or bottles or mason jars) to the TV screen.
"We are Jaffa! Where is the force that can defeat us?" The Jaffa raised his staff weapon high. "There is none! We are the supre-"
The other assembled Jaffa looked down at where their leader had suddenly fallen down.
"Where are they? Come forth and meet us cowards!" said the second-in-command, looking around at the buildings. None of those nearby looked to have anyone armed. "I call you cowards too honorless to face us in -"
The remaining Jaffa looked down at their deceased second-in-command before diving for cover.
"You cannot win against us, Tau'ri!" said one behind an old Ford Pinto.
Burning wreckage arced up, then began raining down.
"I think we found their warriors," said one of the remaining Jaffa to his fellows.
Stressful situations were something that Honor had been through before, but she had always preferred to be actively doing something to handle the problems at hand. Political games weren't something that she liked at all, as they were messy and tended to distract from what she thought was important. Not that she could avoid it, as she'd come across so many officers who'd come from more of a culture of favors and cliques that tended to be focus on an 'old boy' situation. Of course, she didn't think that every one of the members of the old rich families, or those from long lines of military service were that closeted, but there were enough to make military politics the sort of thing that she'd avoid. And just remembering what had happened in the academy shower rooms that one time...
Actually, it probably wasn't the best to think about that at any time, especially now.
Right now she was having to face the sort of official that she tended to find bothersome and ignorant, but she kept that off of her face. She wasn't about to disgrace herself with a loss of control, and to be honest, he really didn't deserve it. As she was there to do her duty, she wasn't about to show any of the disdain that she actually felt for some 'armchair general'.
"Despite the fact that you managed to get through your mission without getting the planet blown up," Kinsey growled, "just barely, on top of it, you aren't experienced at all. This is your first action as a commander."
"Technically, yes," she allowed.
"What do you mean 'technically'?"
"I have had to command vessels before. The first time, I had to take command when my captain and the other bridge officers were out of action. Later on, all the officers above me were killed in action, and I had to take on command."
"Really. Why don't you regale us with the tales of your exploits," Senator Kinsey sneered, looking quite disbelievingly at her.
"Unfortunately, I can not."
"What? Are you afraid to have the truth to come out?"
"Of course not, sir," Honor answered calmly. "I have respect for the need for handling information properly."
"Just how do you think that can be the case?"
"Because I am only allowed to inform you of those events. Other than that, the files on the incidents are coded as being 'Top Secret' and above. Due to that, I can not speak more on that. If you desire to know what actually happened, I'm sure that you can read the files, Senator."
If a look could actually be heard at the moment, the one that Kinsey was giving the captain would have been at top volume and curses.
"I'm sure that if we need to know, we can go and do some research," Senator Tezuka helpfully put in.
In Kaname's eyes, the situation wasn't exactly the sort of thing that she was finding all that favorable, but it wasn't like she was getting to make the decisions in this. "Are you serious about this?"
"I'm not sure that I understand your concerns, Miss Chidori," Kalinin evenly replied.
"I'm talking about how we're going on with this. I mean, Tessa got pulled into this, even though it wasn't like we even tried to mention her!"
"Yes, but we must work through it."
"It's not like not I don't get that," she muttered, stabbing her fork into the food on her plate. "The thing is that I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing here."
"Your involvement is already set into what is going on," Sosuke pointed out.
"I know that, stupid!"
"Good. Then we must figure out what your mission will be."
"You have proven to be a major assistance in our sort of work," Kalinin told the high school girl. "And I doubt that will be able to end that any time soon."
"Beyond this sort of material, there are still questions as to why we have to go these sorts of lengths at all," Kinsey insisted, stiffening himself up in his chair."
Honor clasped her hands in front of her and gave him a flat look. "Do you want to protect our planet, sir?"
"How dare you ask me that? What kind of question do you think that was?"
"A pertinent one. You see, we are at a distinct tactical disadvantage, and our forces must work hard to close that gap. And one of the best ways to secure our future is to both work hard for increasing our abilities, and to gain allies who we can trust and count on in a fight."
"Is that so?"
"To fight something like this, we need all the help we can get," Captain Harrington informed him.
"Why not?" asked Kaname Chidori.
"Indeed," said Tessa. "Why not?"
"It just seems so..." Mizuki Inaba seemed to consider how best to say what she was thinking. "Out there."
"Well, yes, the whole 'final frontier' thing," agreed Kaname. "That's definitely 'out there' - distances starting at twenty two thousand miles in fact."
"You have to admit, it is a new field," put in Kyoko Tokiwa.
The teacher twitched a little as she listened, but the assignment HAD been to write down the three choices for future career one was going to try for. It was a normal activity for students of this grade, and was intended to get the students thinking about how to go from where they were to those goals.
It was just that certain news stories and recent developments had thrown the traditional choices (which she was prepared to lecture on) aside to make room for whole new ones.
Mechanical Design Specialist
Engineering Crew, Spaceship
The teacher shook her head and looked at the next one, hoping for some normalcy. When she saw whose it was, she knew she'd be disappointed.
Security Forces, Starship
Glancing over a more normal person's shoulder at their paper, there was an unusual choice there too.
Communications Officer, UN Space Forces
It was the most normal girl in the small group that elicited the biggest twitch from their teacher.
Pet Store Clerk
The Jaffa were having a little trouble. One involved the Staff Weapons.
The Staff Weapons were large, visible, sturdy, and fired a pulse of plasma that flash-fried targets in a manner that was meant to be dramatic. If they'd faced regular tanks or APCs, those weapons would have been devastating because they DID pack quite a punch. They were, however, inaccurate and did not have a particularly good rate of fire.
If any targets tried to take cover behind relatively-flimsy cars or buses, they could be taken out when the cover was hit.
That left many others who were NOT using flimsy cover. Who were using firearms that ranged from completely legal to the level of firepower that was already causing some agents of the ATF to head in that direction. (Not that they were going to arrest anyone BEFORE the rogue Jaffa were stopped. No, thank you very much. They'd wait until the Jaffa were stopped and would then arrest everyone that would stay still long enough.)
The apparent stalemate was caused by those remaining Tau'ri using VERY accurate weapons that had a GOOD rate of fire. Of the six Jaffa who rose to destroy the less prudent Earth-natives, one was sufficiently lucky that his helmet had deflected enough of the force of the blow that he survived. The other five were now deceased.
If a Jaffa held ANYTHING up, there was a very good chance that some primitive projectile would come along and smash into it at a high rate of speed. As Fee'ur of the Jaffa could attest as he'd bent over to rummage in the glove box of one of the overturned vehicles. His only comfort was that one of the bigger guns hadn't picked that target, so that his buttocks were injured and not completely missing.
On the outside, it might appear to be a waiting game. The Jaffa were waiting for nightfall in order to slip away in the dark. The Tau'ri were waiting for the news crews to go away as they couldn't be filmed throwing explosives into the area without being the subject of all sorts of nasty legal repercussions. Though they also had some hope that a nearby SWAT team would bring something suitable. Apparently all the local police had were smoke and tear gas, and it had already been pointed out that the Jaffa were from outer space and likely to have some kind of environmental protection.
"I move we recess," said Senator Tezuka, adjusting his little beret. "We've covered a lot of ground, and I'm sure that I and my colleagues have a great deal of information to dig through."
"I'm not done yet," said Kinsey, covering his microphone.
Tezuka also covered his microphone. "Yes, you are. You need to go over some different briefs. I'll send some over. There's no reason to keep Captain Harrington here. Everything she did and said during the battle was recorded and we can go over them later."
Kinsey almost sneered. "You don't know the way things are run around here, so let me clue you in. It's all about spin."
"Not now," said Tezuka softly. "We're both of the same party, so I ask this as a colleague. Step away from the microphone for now."
Kinsey glared at his associate briefly.
They were briefly interrupted as an Asgardian transport beam materialized one of the aliens near the Captain's seat.
"Arr me mateys, this be the..." The Asgardian took out a small device and thwacked it. "Faction reputation insuf-" thwack "Sorry, translator trouble. Now, Captain Harrington, this is to inform you that your request for Asgardian self-repair technology is being considered but is unlikely to pass. We simply don't know enough about you and certain forces within your governments have proven... untrustworthy."
"I was specifically asking about Iron Gloop-34," said Captain Harrington. "As I understand it, you have moved several stages beyond that technology yourselves."
"Understood, and that you even know about it is quite surprising," admitted the Asgard. "In light of that, we are more seriously considering the Europa Tower you proposed."
There was a stir as the Asgard had just turned towards the table shared by Kinsey and Tezuka.
"'Europa Tower'?" weakly asked Kinsey.
"Something a commitee I work with tossed out," said Tezuka, handwaving off the whole reference. "Since we're allies with several species, having some neutral meeting ground might be nice. Maybe in the vicinity of Jupiter, and if we put it near Europa we would get quick access to water in the form of ice. Not all our potential allies would be comfortable with Earth gravity, and there's also the concerns the CDC is raising about potential extraterrestrial diseases."
"Might as well call it 'Babylon,'" grumbled Kinsey.
There was brief ripple of conversation in the audience as Tezuka looked off into the distance. "Hmmm. Not bad. I'll relay the suggestion."
A table built of solid oak dominated the room, and the wall paneling matched it to give off a sense of strength and comfort, but that oddly fit the girl sitting there. Her tall form had the sort of shapely beauty that women much older than her would have been envious of... not that she seemed to be flaunting it. Yet, as she sat there, she almost looked older than her years, as she filled out her school uniform quite well, and had a quite core of confidence within her.
And she was currently sitting there with her hands fidgeting in her lap.
"Ummm... Why am I here?" Makoto asked the man in front of her.
Major Davis gave her a small smile before leaning forward. "It is only understandable given the situation."
"What situation? I mean, I can't think of anything that the United States would have to come to me for. Other than fighting those monsters."
"You are selling yourself short, you know."
Under such praise, the brunette could only blush in a way that betrayed her age and experience.
"But events are coming about concerning you. I assume that you have been paying attention to the hearings in Washington."
"Only a little," the teenager admitted as she gave a small shrug. "I don't understand a lot of it, and my English isn't so good."
"Well, a lot of it doesn't have to do with you. The important part has to do with the 'Babylon Project' that was suggested there."
"Right, that meeting place thing? Isn't it supposed to be good?"
"Yes," the Air Force major agreed. "A lot of the nations have shown interest in it. Having a place to talk to other races far from the Earth seems to be good to them."
"Isn't that the point? Why would I have a problem with that?"
"They're looking to put it near Europa."
"From what I get, that's far away, so as far as I can see someone's thinking right."
Wondering how much emphasis was put on astronomy in educations here in Tokyo, Davis tried to keep himself from giving her a censuring look. "Europa is a moon of Jupiter, and as the Senshi of that planet, it'd be something that you should keep in mind."
"Oh, okay... I didn't realize..."
"We'd also like it, if you don't mind having such a station there, for you to make sure that things are set up for it. You are supposed to have one of those Castles there and we'd prefer to not have your defense system blow our diplomatic center out of the sky."
Ducking her head, Makoto tried to not look as embarrassed and silly as she felt.
There wasn't much that Ranma understood about all that was going on, at least in an organizational situation. When he was growing up, his father had merely dragged him around, going from training spot, to tournament, to secret storehouse, and so on. Near as he could tell, there had never been much of a method to the madness, and he hadn't really fought for an explanation.
However, even he understood that when handling a situation, one needed a plan. Wandering around the countryside was fine, but even his father understood that one had to have a good place to sleep. Now, being in Tokyo made that much easier, as he not only spoke the language, but there were plenty of hotel rooms to stay in. Why, he was pretty sure that he could even find a good place to camp out if it came to that.
Considering that he had Hotaru with him though, that didn't seem to be the best idea. Keeping her indoors seemed for the best, as he didn't see a reason to force her to nap outside. After all, there was no point to it, and he didn't want to suffer if he didn't have to himself.
"Alright then, we should be almost there," he murmured half to himself.
Looking around with uncertainty in her violet eyes, Hotaru frowned. "Do we have to go so far?"
"Pretty much. I mean, we don't have much in the way of money, and you didn't seem too happy with staying where we were."
A delicate flush worked up her cheeks and she turned her head as if her face would broadcast her thoughts.
He didn't seem to notice though. "Of course, they did charge by the hour, so that could have been a mess too."
"There was that..."
"This works out better for the both of us. The way I see, we won't have to pay, and we get to be somewhere that we're actually wanted."
"Then we'll be staying here," she commented as she glanced at the nameplate that read 'Saotome'.
"Pretty much," the pigtailed boy confirmed, and then rapped a knock against the door. "'Sides, it'll let us get a visit in before they come to pick us up."
"Ranma! Hotaru!" a positively gleeful looking Nodoka Saotome declared as she opened the door to her home.
William Robert Edwin was a regular at "Denny's Beer & Tackle" - which was sort of a "redneck joint" with a US Navy motif in the decor. He worked nine-to-five at a meatpacking plant, where he did hard boring physical labor for an extended period. On Saturdays he'd be at the bar, on Sunday mornings his church. He'd never really questioned much of his life or how it had turned out, it simply was what it was.
There hadn't been any reason to question his life, if he did - he might not be content with it but unable to change anything. So why bother?
As the hearings went into recess, he was not the only one who quietly went over to the magazine racks and looked over the titles ready for perusal.
There were the usual ones about this or that celebrity's latest diet, the latest photos of someone Billy Bob didn't even recognize because he didn't follow the latest music trends in the latest celeb-scandal, and the other typical stuff. Billy Bob didn't even understand why anyone would bother with that sort of thing. He knew there were people who obsessed on it, but he figured he'd understand alien snake demons before he understood that sorta thing.
Then there were the magazines he didn't normally glance too much at but would usually at least thumb through. Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Wired, and so on. Sometimes they had an article in there he'd be interested in, like when they dealt with an eval of the latest set of outboard engines. All of these magazines were rush jobs - some of the type on the cover wasn't even lined up right. All of which dealt with some of the revelations that'd been dropped on them in the past few weeks.
Vampire thingies out of Japan. Little girls that should have been worrying about cheerleading practice who apparently were instead playing 'Buffy the Slayer' on those vampires. Alien spaceships.
"Oh my gosh," said one of the others in the bar. "LOOKATTHAT!"
Billy Bob glanced up at the big TV screen that'd normally be tuned to whatever sports game was playing, and then froze into staring himself before he could ask. "What the heck is THAT?"
"Them newsguys got a hold of this footage," said Harold ("Hairy") Apon. "THAT is the BOLO."
It was in the distance, and you could see that there were mountains all around it, but it just gave off this impression of size and mass as the thing emerged and the picture froze. It was a little blurry, but you could tell a lot about it. Such as it had more guns than a battleship.
"BOLO?" asked Billy Bob. Where had he heard that before?
"That there is our biggest ally in outer space?" asked Hairy.
"Looks plenty big to me," opined Billy Bob, now placing it.
"They named after the sentient, that means it thinks like a person, tanks after a series of novels," said the Professor. His name was Roger, but they all called him "Professor" cause he'd graduated from some big university and actually read books for fun. He might be an interstate trucker and only there on a monthly basis, but he was considered a regular too. To the extent that all he had to do was walk in the door and the guy behind the grill would throw some pastrami on the grill for the "usual" deal.
"Sucker's big as one of them alien spaceships by itself, and it thinks?" asked Billy Bob. He chewed on that information briefly as the commentator talked about a bunch of stuff that made damn little sense to him. Finally he simply raised a mason jar of the House Special towards the TV.
"To big guns!"
Everyone at the bar agreed with that sentiment. Big guns, when they were on your side, were a good thing.
"They're shutting us down?" blurted Susumu Kodai.
Captain Okita sighed as he swiveled his chair behind his desk, pouring himself another drink before addressing his staff again. "Kodai. Sit down."
Kodai sat down, agitated still but remembering his place.
"Is it Article 9?" asked Sanada.
"That is indeed part of it," said Okita. "The official story is that the Yamato will be decomissioned and allowed to sink beneath the atmosphere of Jupiter."
"And the truth is?" asked Sanada before anyone could fully react.
"This is top secret, it does not leave this room, I never said this," cautioned Okita, iron in his voice. When everyone had nodded to that, he finally continued. "It will be 'mothballed' - placed inside an asteroid even now being hollowed out for that purpose. I think the term is 'an ace up our sleeve' in case it is ever needed."
"You'll need a caretaker to keep the systems upgraded," said Sanada.
"Yes," said Okita. "I would have asked you after the meeting. A small resupply station in the asteroid belt will be the cover."
"I will consider it a station of honor," said Sanada, bowing as well as he could from his position and with his wounds.
"Most of the rest of you will be serving either on Babylon as part of the Japanese presence on that station, while others will be either on the Bismark station or otherwise deployed in space." Okita looked over the senior officers he'd assembled for this briefing.
"Sir?" asked Daisuke Shima. "You said 'part of the reason' earlier."
"There are massive lawsuits filed against the Earth Defense Alliance," said Okita. "Battles in space. Deflecting asteroids. Failure to notify of new weapons technologies. Detonation of nuclear weapons, even though this last never actually happened, in violation of the Test Ban Treaty, and so on. Since it is all happening in international courts with the United Nations backing..."
"We're being sued for saving the Earth?" asked Kodai incredulously.
"Basically, yes," agreed Okita, sipping at his drink.
"That's crazy!" declared Kodai.
"It's politics," said Okita, standing. "If that's it then, I wish you the best of luck. It's been an honor serving with you."
"Look! It's a youma!" yelled a young girl's voice.
Haruka and Michiru nodded to each other, got up from their table at the mall's cafe, and strolled around a corner to the ladies' room.
Sailor Uranus and Neptune emerged and leapt to the railing on the other side of the walkway to better gauge when and where they needed to make their dramatic entry. Except that the situation didn't seem quite right some how.
"NOO!" screamed a youma. "It's them again!"
"Come on, you youma, drain us!" shouted one of the schoolgirls.
"Suck our energy out you vampires! We've got you cornered now!" demanded one of the other schoolgirls.
"You can't get away," promised a third schoolgirl while a fourth just nodded and looked angry.
"Eh?" asked a twitching Sailor Uranus.
"Noooooooooooo! I don't wanna!" said one of the youma, her back against the closed elevator doors. "Stay away!"
"Uhm... say what?" inelegantly put Sailor Neptune as she tried to understand what she was seeing and hearing.
"HAH!" said one of the youma, reaching out with one arm to snag a section of overhead railing and then snapping the arm back to normal size. "You can't catch me that easy! Now I can escape! Score one for youma powers... oh CRAP!"
Neptune and Uranus found themselves staring at the one youma who was quickly joined by the other youma, with a quartet of Middle School girls running up the stairs in pursuit.
"Well, that's it then," said the first youma, producing a blindfold and cigarette from somewhere. "Just go ahead then!"
"Uhm... what?" asked Uranus.
"Go ahead and blast me to moondust," said the first youma, standing at attention with the blindfold now in place and a cigarette between her lips.
"Yes, you might as well," said the second, sniffling and falling to her knees. "Where's the point anymore?"
"Uhm," repeated Uranus, looking to Neptune to see if she had any ideas.
"Yes, go ahead," said the first youma. "Blast us into tiny little sub-elementary particles. But... I won't cry!"
"You... already are," said Neptune, noticing tears tracking from beneath the mask. This was NOT how any such operation was supposed to go.
"Hold it there, you youma!" yelled one of the girls coming up the stairs. "You've got to drain us of life energy!"
"WAAAAAAAAAA!" cried the second youma. "Why was I born if it was just to become dust on the wind?"
There weren't many moments where Sailor Uranus could be found to show extreme bits of exasperation, but then again, she didn't normally have regular schoolgirls trying to chase down a youma. "Will someone explain what the hell is going on around here?"
"It's really simple," one of the youma moaned. "You're going to blast us and we're going to be merely ashes to ashes..."
"You shut up right now. That isn't helping."
"This is really is a troublesome situation, isn't it? We don't have any information as to how this is playing out," Neptune murmured, tapping her lips with a gloved finger.
"Yeah, but it's usually really simple. We come across a plan, cut down whatever the scheme is, and take down the monster. What are we supposed to do when the bad guys don't try to fight back?"
"Unfortunately, an answer isn't exactly coming about this way."
"True enough. But what can we do about that?" the blonde asked, heaving a sigh as she crossed her arms over her chest.
"We can try asking for information," the violinist murmured as she turned to the other teenagers. "Sorry to have to interrupt you when you seem to be in such a hurry, but just why are you after these creatures? Did they do something to you?"
"No, and that's the problem!" shouted one of the girls.
Another of the girls leaned forward with her features hard and serious. "Haven't you ever seen a vampire movie? Those guys are majorly cute and seductive! Just the idea of having such a handsome guy leaving you so weak in the knees, and being at his mercy..."
"It'd be so erotic!" squealed a third girl, with a number of her companions yelping their agreements in one on top of another.
"Pheh," went yet another girl, who flipped her hair and tried to look as high class as she could. "Who cares about that? If these guys are able to suck up the energy like they're supposed to, then that'll just take the kilograms right off!"
"It'll make our diets so much easier to handle!" chirped a second girl, with a bunch of her fellows nodding in agreement.
"Why do we have to go through all this?" sobbed a youma. "Now that our bosses aren't around any more, we just want to survive! And instead of that, we're going to be tortured and blasted to pieces!"
"Are you saying that you don't want to create some sort of plan to gather energy?" Sailor Neptune asked.
"We didn't need to in the first place. Most of what we took was given to the Generals and the Queen, and it was their ideas in the first place anyway!"
"Let me get this straight," Uranus muttered, pinching the bridge of her nose. "We may just have to protect alien life sucking fiends from a pack of over anxious teenage girls."
"Looks that way."
"That is so wrong. So very wrong."
For Ranma, it had seemed to be a simple enough plan. Hotaru and he would go visit his mother, who obviously would have no problem in taking them in. They were already in Tokyo without quarters already arranged, and he hadn't seen his Mom since she'd come to visit over at Colorado Springs. This way, he'd be able to see her and take care of the problem of not being prepared to have come to Tokyo in the first place.
Now he wasn't quite sure of how wise that had been.
It wasn't that he didn't like visiting his mother, as she was both quite loving and a gracious hostess. On top of that, he'd missed her, and rather liked the idea of being able to see her. His problem was that he was sensing some sort of trouble brewing, but seeing as it was not of the combative sort, he couldn't quite figure out just what it was. She seemed to be relaxed enough, but then he didn't know her as well as he'd like, and hadn't grown up in a more sedate setting like this.
That meant that he wasn't quite sure if it was normal for a Japanese homemaker to have magazines out like this. Having reading material available for visitors seemed to be natural enough, but it seemed to be oddly skewed towards girls. Given that it was his mother who'd collected the magazines, that was understandable enough, but then, he still got an odd vibe from them. A number of fashion magazines were there, with a bridal one peeking out here and there. And some of them were even in English!
Since he didn't know what that would mean, he merely sat back and sipped his tea, thanking his good fortune that his mother was a good cook, beyond anything else.
"It's quite nice to have the two of you here," Nodoka murmured, smiling at her son's companion. "To think that the two of you made such a long trip just to visit an old woman."
"No, it wasn't like that... that bad, I mean," Hotaru weakly protested.
"Thank you for giving me that."
"It's true! We don't get a lot of chances for... this sort of thing."
"Why wouldn't you? I mean, wouldn't your mother... Oh, that's right," the Saotome matriarch whispered. "You mother is... no longer here."
"Yes, she... left us, but it was when I was very little."
"Which is still quite bad for a girl to lose her mother."
"I do miss what I could have had with her..."
"Of course, that's only natural. But... I could help you with that," Nodoka soothed the girl, patting one of Hotaru's slender hands.
"Absolutely. You know, as much as I adore my son, I did always want to have a daughter as well."
"I don't mean to try and force you to..." the girl blurted, her violet eyes going wide with the fear of having asked too much.
"Stop worrying. I like you, and having you for a daughter would be a wonderful turn of events."
"Th... thank you."
"And just so you know, I'll love helping you with your bridal training."
"Me, a bride?" Hotaru squeaked as a flush turned her neck, face, and ears a bright red.
As he watched his mother smile with maternal approval, Ranma wondered if there was something about what he was watching that he'd missed.
Sailor Uranus felt compromised. To protect the innocent from those who would prey on them, she would have to defend a couple of life-sucking fiends from some manic fangirls.
This was just so very very wrong.
"KYAAAAAAAA!" said the suddenly more-enthusiastic girls.
Sailor Uranus turned to look behind herself, knowing she was NOT going to like this.
Descending from a floor above, cape billowing dramatically around him, was a bishonen sort of guy. Long hair, aristocratic looking, psuedo-militaristic uniform. Glowing sparkly field around him.
"Oh, great," said Sailor Uranus. "Are you a vampire?"
"No," said the man, sparkly field dying out as he landed on the railing.
"Drain energy?" asked Sailor Neptune.
"Not since the shackles on my mind and powers were loosed," admitted the man.
"Nephrite-sama! Save us!" said the two yoma.
"Nephrite?" asked Sailor Neptune. "One of the Shitennou?"
The man inclined his head. "The humble servant of Prince Endymion. I have something for you! Ha!"
Sailor Neptune caught the card.
"Dark Generals... with business cards?" asked Sailor Uranus, feeling the situation was already well out of hand and just descending into completely surreal.
"Worse than that," said Sailor Neptune, looking over Uranus' shoulder and her voice conveying her disapproval of this development. "It has a coupon for two-for-one admission to the Dark Kingdom."
"Discount coupons?" asked Sailor Uranus, turning a hopeful look to the Dark General. "Trying to lure us into a trap, right?"
"No, actually I'm running a small observatory," said Nephrite. "Astronomy, a bit of astrology and a small cafe. In the month approaching Halloween I'll also be running a small 'haunted house' with benefits to go to a charity concerned with orphaned children. Adieu, Sailor Senshi! We'll meet again."
"Eh?" asked Sailor Uranus, whirling to find that the yoma were indeed gone.
"What did you... there he goes," said Sailor Neptune.
"You're not getting away," said Sailor Uranus, preparing to pursue.
"KYAAAAAAAAAA!" said the young schoolgirls as they mobbed the two Senshi to get the precious coupon.
"So the symbols on this sphere are roughly equivelant to 1000 pages of text?" asked General Hammond.
"Yessir," said Carter. "The civilization went extinct about 100,000 years ago. Not much survived except this and the building it was in. Almost a moonscape otherwise."
"Hmph, be careful then," said General Hammond, knowing they knew this but wanting to put the reminder out. "We don't know that this didn't have a hand in that destruction."
"No sir," said Carter. "We ended up putting it in this case because of some anomalous readings from a medscanner."
"It's not biological, is it?" asked the General, eyeing the mostly-bronze-looking device.
"No sir, though it has..." Carter paused as she tried to find the 'layman terms' to use. "It's made entirely of inorganic materials but it looks to be assembled in a way to resemble a rutabaga or something. The sphere is actually made of tiny cells of each material, each with some slightly different substructure."
Daniel Jackson sighed as he continued working the camera. "So the script is 1000 pages of text, which might make it a sort of index for the rest of the sphere - which itself would have billions of pages of text."
"So it's less a Message In A Bottle and more of an encyclopedia in an orb," quipped Jack from his position near the door and fiddling with the medscanner.
"Ouch," said General Hammond, "well, carry on then. We've got some..."
"What was that?" asked General Hammond.
"We just picked up a temperature change in the sphere," mused Jack O'Neill, glancing at a display. "Uh oh."
"Atomic decay just jumped," said Samantha Carter.
"I've just decided," said Uranus as she managed to rise up off of the floor. "I'm swearing off any schoolgirl who likes 'sparkly vampires' as they are entirely too silly."
"You've got a shoeprint atop your head," pointed out Neptune.
"Let's just go home," said Sailor Uranus. "Maybe tomorrow will make more sense."
Ranma was getting more nervous, almost as if there was an attack coming. It was just he had no idea where the attack was coming from or what kind of danger.
After all, it was early morning. His mother had just taken Hotaru into the kitchen and he heard the murmur of voices - with Hotaru making a squeaking noise on at least one occasion. What was THAT about anyway?
After considering it briefly, Ranma decided to check in with SGC and them. They were supposed to head toward the Ring Transporter that had been set up this afternoon, and it might be a good thing to make sure the schedule was still valid.
Yeah, that was all. Nothing special going on here, right?