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.

Chapter 37: Dispatches and Departures

Her brow furrowed with the deep concentration going on in her mind, but Akane found that her thoughts kept on circling the same idea. Oh, a part of her sang over the possibility that she could escape exams and idiotic boys with a trip into adventure. If it could have been anything like what were in those comics her sister read, she could have met interesting people, traveled to exotic lands, and done much good. And she had to admit that beating up some jerks... and having it be what she was expected to do was appealing.

But then reality set in, and she quickly began to realize that jumping into that sort of chaos just wasn't for her. For all of the attitude that Nabiki said that she had, she tended to have things calm and controlled. There were responsibilities, and she'd always admired how Kasumi could not only manage college courses, but was able to help out in the house on a regular basis.

No matter how much she had to admit that her attempt at stroganoff had been a disaster, what was around Akane was even worse. Buildings were shattered, grooves were cut into the street, and lampposts had been sheared like branches in a windstorm. It was like a 'perfect storm' in the form of a typhoon, earthquake, and a inferno combined had settled upon this place.

And it had all been done by an alien pervert gnome, a boy of her age, and a delicate girl.

Akane's hands tightened on the handle of her schoolbag as she recognized the level on which the fight had happened. Having fought the best high school athletes that were around, or decking a jerk who groped her ass on a train was one thing, but she hadn't been able to touch any of these guys. What she had done was like a fly trying to swat at a person, and no matter how she cursed her weakness, she wasn't going to ignore it. Hell, she didn't even know if she wanted to get into a headache that big.

Her concerns were more mundane, and as she considered it, she figured that she liked them better than she did her chances in going into that. Suddenly, dealing with boys who admired her more for her lithe physique, or girls who delighted in how 'cool' she was, was more welcome than she had ever thought. Seeing as she hadn't trained her whole life in some esoteric fighting style, she wasn't going to start tempting fate now. At best, she could learn some advanced techniques and hope that she could do better when the next chance came along.

In the mean time, she could do other things if she wanted to. Perhaps she could even go out and join the Self Defense Forces, if she still felt like going to distant lands. Right now though, she was looking to keep her grades up, get into a good college, and find a good man to marry.

Not wanting to be some thoughtless tomboy who would just jump into acting, Akane turned on her heel and started marching way from the ruins that had been the street. She had things to do, and they wouldn't get done if she was daydreaming around there. There was homework to struggle through, and her training would suffer if she didn't keep it up. On top of that, she had chores do to, and knew that her help eased the burden on her family.

That wasn't to say that she didn't glance back over her shoulder as she walked and wondered if she would see that boy with the pigtail and the petite girl in the stylized sailor uniform again.

"Anyone have any idea as to what just happened?" General Hammond asked no one in particular.

One voice echoed in through the darkness. "Sorry, sir."

"Then could you find out, Siler. Having my command so vulnerable isn't exactly something that I enjoy."

"Of course, sir. We'll move as fast as we can, but without the computers..."

"Understood," the general allowed, and then scowled. "I just hope that the power will be up in time to make those damned machines usable."

"Uhhh... Sir?" came a hesitant voice.

"What is it, Walter?"

"The computers aren't exactly off..."

"But the power is down."

Harriman's voice was apologetic as he spoke. "I'm not sure about that, sir. You see... the screens..."

"What about... What is this?" Hammond muttered as he looked over the flickering images on the displays.

"Communications with Cheyenne Mountain are down," said the Sergeant. "So we can't transport you back there right now."

"Oh," said Ranma, eyeing the transport rings.

"Are you up to another mission?" asked the Sergeant, cocking his head. "There's a reconn mission your skills might be suitable for."

"Why? What's up?" asked Ranma.

"There were multiple reports of what might have been Jaffa pilots making emergency landings," said the Sergeant. "There's one in territory where we'd need civilians to do the initial investigation as a military presence is NOT authorized. We'd need to find a translator though. We don't have equipment set up for automatic translation of this dialect."

"Where is it?" asked Ranma, not committing but still curious.

"China," said the Sergeant. He spread out a map on the table. "Here. Bayankala Mountains."

"After seeing that gnome creature," put in another soldier, "we're giving slightly more credence to these reports."

"Great," said Jack-chan. "Tell me I've got a target to take this out on."

"Unfortunately, sir, the aliens appear to be stored as subspacial data within the sphere," said Samantha, who was sure to put a table between her and the neo-woman. She'd already noticed that going to female form messed up Jack's emotional equilibrium, thank you very much. Jack in his empowered girl form was also much more prone to lash out in simple physical terms as opposed to his more usual snarky comment.

"No chance I can just reach in and slap 'em?"

"Ranma Saotome? Hotaru Tomoe?" asked the woman. "Melissa Mao."

"Oh, yes," said Hotaru with a bow. "I remember you from the assault on Beryl's base."

"Ah, well there was a lot going on then," said the woman. "Forget my military ranking with Mithril, as I'm going in as a translator and guide. We're not operating with the blessings of the Chinese government after all."

"Analysis complete, Behemoth's performance was less than optimal."

"What was your first clue, that the operator went nuts and on a rampage through Washington DC in front of the cameras?"

"No, and you know that's not what I meant. Behemoth should have swatted aside those attacks like you would a swarm of mosquitos. We can build a better one."

"Let's drop the giant robot angle actually, gentlemen. Warships are the wave of the future. Let the construction industry use such things as giant robots. We'll be pulling everyone's strings including those who play with such puppets."

"Captain Harrington's been transferred?"

"Yes, that's what I've heard. Something to do with Senator Kinsey's office getting some revenge for making him look like a fool. She's going to be flying a desk on something they're building in an outer orbit. A 'Gauss Cannon Anti-Ship Satellite' is what I heard."

"Too bad. I thought she had promise."

To say that Hotaru had never gone camping before would have been actually fairly inaccurate. With the soldiers that had become her surrogate 'aunts' and 'uncles', she had been taken on fishing trips and picnics all the time. And while she had not grown terribly knowledgeable about such things, they had been fairly nice times for her to feel cared for and to be a part of a 'family'.

She just hadn't been quite aware of just how different it was to be taking a journey like the one that she was on now.

"Are you feeling okay?" Melissa Mao asked her as they hiked along the mountain trail.

Giving an embarrassed smile, Hotaru ducked her head. "I'll be okay. It's just that this isn't like the camping trips I was on. And it wasn't like when we were setting up Refuge..."

"I'd figure as much. Remember, we're not looking for a nice day trip, kiddo. But there is one thing."


"Don't get too tense." The soldier gave the teenaged girl a meaningful glance. "You could get yourself all worked up and jump before you need to."

"Oh, right. I'll try to do better."

"You're doing fine. Just keep an eye out, and you should be fine."

"And not only for those pilot guys," Ranma murmured.

Mao glanced over at the pigtailed boy. "You think that the PLA will be that quick to act on finding us out here?"

"Nah. Sure, if you get the wrong guy, we could be in trouble, but that's not the point. You see, the way that my old man put it, there were plenty of tribes out there that don't really care about whose in charge of the country. They just keep on going however they like it, and might not be too happy to have someone fighting on their lands."

"I hope that we don't get them mad..." Hotaru breathed.

"You shouldn't worry about that too much," Melissa pointed out. "Who could just stumble into trouble that quickly?"

Leaning back in his chair, the section chief took a long look at his subordinate and thanked his lucky stars that he hadn't gotten one of those arrogant blowhards. Instead, the boy that he'd been assigned didn't seem to have any sense of self importance, and understood that a desk job wasn't exactly a 'do or die' mission. The guy might have been terribly easy going, but that wasn't really any sort of condemnation, especially when all that they had to do was to continually do the same sort of paperwork.

So, as he folded his hands over his slight paunch, he peered at that young man over the computer system on his desk. "Are you sure that you really want to go that far in this?"

"Well, don't we have a duty to make certain that this is done?" his subordinate asked.

"Yes... But this is the pension department, son. It will be done in its due time.

"Perhaps, but don't we owe something to the people who have worked so long and hard in the service of our military?" the younger man stated, raising his brows as he did so. "Especially an admiral who is as well respected and beloved as this one?"

"I suppose that you are right. Though I'm surprised about your insistence."

"Really? Why?"

"Well, you didn't seem to have a patriotic fervor before. It's nice to see that you have such dedication to your job. I'm impressed," the elder officer admitted.

"Well, thank you, sir. I joined up as soon as I saw those ads, you know. I figured that if all those women were going into outer space, then I should too. And I will say that I really seemed to blow my interviewer away."

"That really is good to hear. We do need good individuals in the forces now."

"Dependable and consistent, that's me. I don't need some medal or something. All that I ask for is a regular paycheck and a nice place to stay," the new recruit insisted.

"Very good. Such dedication is fairly rare."

"Just what I try for, sir."

"Then I won't delay you any more. We can finish our game later. You go and deliver that pension check."

"Don't you worry, sir. You can count on me. I, Justy Ueki Tylor will go forth and make certain that Admiral Hanner gets his due reward for all that he has done as a fine officer," the brown haired man declared, snapping a cheerful little salute as he did so.

"They are really something else," Ono-D commented as he leaned against a wall.

Shirai gave a small sniff as he looked down his nose at the other boy. "Well, what did you expect?"

"I don't know. We could have gotten anything..."

"Me? I always hope for the best."

"I'd say that we more than got that," Ono-D chuckled.

"You're right about that."

The objects of their discussion didn't seem to deign to even acknowledge that the conversation was happening. Instead, the pair of twins continued on down the hallway, keeping themselves apart from the general crowd around them. Yet, being along didn't seem to bother them, as they didn't even try to talk to anyone.

Ono-D grinned. "We've got ourselves some exotic beauties..."

"Those girls are Chinese, right?" Shirai asked, though it was clear that he knew the answer.

"Uh-huh, and that's not all. Look at those legs. All long and slender..."

Pursing his lips, Shirai almost looked thoughtful. "Yu Fan does have that long ponytail..."

"I don't know. There's something to be say for Yu Lan's short hair."

"At least they have the right... bounce."

"You got that right."

From her position nearby, Mizuki let her brow furrow for a long moment before snorting at the boys' behavior. The two might not have been normally all that friendly with each other, but they had apparently found something to somewhat bond over. However, what they were 'appreciating' wasn't exactly what she thought all that highly about.

"I can't believe those two. How could they be so much like pigs?" she growled.

Pushing her glasses up further on her nose, Kyoko peered at the two boys in question. "I don't know, but I'd think that I'd expect it of them. But didn't you used to date Shirai before?"

"Don't remind me. To tell the truth, it might have been best for me to have Kaname and that idiot Sosuke mess it up on me."

"Then why did you go out with him in the first place?"

"He's way handsome and had a great sense of style?" Mizuki protested. "How was I supposed to know that he was a hound dog?"

"I guess that I can understand that. But you certainly did luck out in this case."

"Don't I know it."

Neither boy seemed to take note of the fact that the two Japanese girls were watching them, as they were too busy gawking at the backs of the Chinese twins' skirts.

The Guide got all sorts here. Not many tourists, but those few who did show up were a motley crew. Sometimes they could be trouble though. Just look at what happened when those escaped criminals had come through four years ago.

So when three foreigners showed up, he quickly sized them up.

The boy was easy - a martial artist. Black lantern pants, red silk sleeveless shirt, bracers, typical wear. Heavy backpack. Muscular with that slender-seeming build that accentuated speed and accuracy. The Jusenkyo Guide saw enough martial artists in this area of China to determine that the boy was among those ranks.

The guide of the three looked Chinese but had an odd accent when she spoke. Also a martial artist, or some kind of fighter. She acted relaxed but the flick of her eyes as she checked out potential ambush points gave that much away. Other than that he was unsure of her. The predominant accent was Hong Kong, but the Guide thought maybe she was from elsewhere.

The young girl who didn't stray far from the boy was quite obviously his girlfriend. Her own backpack was less than half the size of the others. Almost delicate looking.

The boy and girl spoke Japanese predominantly, with many English words peppering their brief conversations.

Oh well, time to do his job. "This is scenic Jusenkyo. Over one hundred cursed springs here."

"'Cursed'?" asked Melissa.

"This is a training ground where two martial artists duel by leaping from one bamboo pole to another, right?" asked the boy which was eventually translated by their guide.

"That is how the springs were used, but it is too dangerous now," pointed out the Guide. "Anyone who immerses themselves in a spring is hit by a transformation curse. Whatever initially drowned in the spring sets the template. When a victim is struck by cold water, they then turn into what the spring's template is. Hot water reverses."

The two younger customers talked about this, and the name 'Jack' came up several times. Though the Guide understood that 'Jack' was also a slang term in English that could mean the operator of a vehicle. They also mentioned someone named 'Sam' who might find this interesting.

Nobody sparred on the poles, which meant the Guide could do his job and not worry about people getting cursed. For which he was moderately grateful.

Being shown the other places in the area though, he regretfully informed them he could not do that. Something had recently happened which had caused some very odd martial arts fights to break out and as such it wasn't safe to go further in.

Which, of course, the three tourists found interesting enough to go further in.

Martial arts groupies of some kind then. The Guide shrugged as he waved goodbye to them. He was simply glad he wasn't a martial artist himself. Too often it seemed to shut down any common sense they might have been born with.

"Okay," said Melissa Mao, checking the sketched map from the Jusenkyo Guide. "We've got this Fortress Of The Musk over here, and this village of Chinese warrior women this way, and some inn over that way, and some mystic mountain over there."

"I didn't follow much of what he said," admitted Ranma. "I've spent a little time in China, but I didn't learn any of the local talk. You familiar with any of them?"

"Not a one," admitted Melissa. "I know this was just off the old Silk Road up until the Ming Dynasty went isolationist. The Fodor's I got said there's a lot of Muslims around here. There's quite a few prisons and work camps out here. Other than that just some minor details."

"Let's try the village of women then," suggested Hotaru. "If it's a village, they might be more willing to talk to travelers."

This day was just the sort of thing that Lieutenant Yamamoto had trained for, not that he was particularly fond of it. He was a naval man, who should have been on the bridge of a ship, helping to guide a crew in a battle, not organizing a security squad on land. But then again, it was the task of a soldier to go wherever his commanders needed him to act. Of course, it would have been easier to deal with if he didn't have two admirals barking orders to him from back at Norfolk, which was not only distracting, but was a pain, since they couldn't seem to agree, but were both in his command chain.

All this was needed to secure the safety of yet another admiral, and that man's daughters, but he was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Not only was the admiral in question living up on the top of a building, but the armed thugs who'd taken him hostage had a high yield explosive. So, he couldn't send in an attack squad, but at the same time, his superiors were demanding that he do something, which was about all that they agreed on.

Unfortunately, the only problem with that was that he was not supposed to do such things. Such work was supposed to be done by other agencies, and the only reason that he was brought in was to control what was obviously a dangerous situation. However, he was supposed to wait for some agents from NCIS to pop on over, whenever they would manage to get to it.

All of this was making his head hurt, and he could feel himself grinding down on his teeth. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, he didn't know what he could do, but he did have some angles to work. At the very least, he had some very skilled commandos at his disposal, and he knew that if he could get a chance to give the order, they could do an infiltration. What he needed was that opportunity, and provided that he timed it right, he could make it into a major success. So, he looked over the various video feeds again... only to see someone strolling over to the building.

Slamming the door to the mobile command trailer open, he stormed over to where the much shorter man was idly walking right up to the front door. "Where do you think you're going?"

"Hmm? Right, here. Why do you ask?" the stranger said in a sleepy tone, but brightened when actually looked at the lieutenant. "Oh, hello there, sir. Sorry to bother you."

"Are you serious? Don't you know what's going on here?"

"Yes, you really do have a serious problem here, don't you? Myself, I don't envy you for the hassle that you have to deal with. Hostage taking is such a nasty business, don't you think?"

"Well, of course it is! Why, someone... Hold on! This isn't the time to discuss that! There are more important concerns right now!" Yamamoto snapped.

"And it speaks well of you that it's your job to handle it. That sort of task is always such a major thing, but you are such an excellent officer that you will accomplish your duty."

"Exactly, and all that is going on around you is my responsibility."

The other man's droopy gaze kind of ruined the serious nod that he gave. "Then I won't keep you busy, since you have other things to worry about. Besides, I have my own duty to accomplish. Right here, I have a pension check to deliver, and for the honor of the service, I can't let one of our own, especially a highly decorated man, go without his due reward, no matter how basic it is."

"Good for you," the lieutenant muttered, and then turned to nod for a moment at the list an aide passed into his hands. When he turned back, the stranger was already heading into the building. "Where do you think you're going?"

"The admiral is waiting for his pension check, and it is that is the task that I, Justy Ueki Tylor, have been given. So, I'm going to give it to him."

About the only think that the officer could do was stare as the apparently clueless man slipped right inside and disappeared.

"You know, there's been something that's been bothering me," Ranma said as he walked up the mountain trail.

Melissa turned her head to look at him, but didn't break her stride. "What's that?"

"We're supposed to be looking for those alien guys, right?"

"Something like that. Though I'm sure that if we find something else, we can work around it too."

"Oh, I'm sure about that. The thing is..." he began.


"What do we do with them? They ain't gonna want to go down all that easy."

"If we capture them, you mean," the older woman stated, letting the 'other option' go unsaid.

"Pretty much. I mean, it isn't like they're just going to want to let us walk them down the mountain."

"We could always use those pools back from when we talked to that guide," Melissa drawled with a snicker.

"You're going to transform them?" Hotaru commented, blinking slightly. "If it does work..."

"Then I'm not going near it," Ranma grunted.

"You think it works too."

"Hey, I've seen too much to second guess that sort of thing. Alien psychos, giant robot tanks... magical girls..."

At the mention of her own abilities, the violet eyed girl ducked her head.

"With all that we've seen, I'm not tempting fate, especially if it makes me wind up like Jack."

Wincing, both of his companions found that they had to nod at that.

As an officer, Yuriko Star liked to think that she was capable of handling most situations. One didn't succeed in the service if they didn't keep a good head on their shoulders. That might have mean that she did deny herself some things in life, but she was trying to do her best to her duty, and that meant that she was going to have to have self discipline and respect. With such control, she'd managed to deal with plenty of issues, from combat emergencies, to the idiots who only thought that young women were there to hit on, to the intricacies of intelligence analysis, to the vagaries of naval politics.

Not that she'd been particularly expecting to have being a hostage part of those experiences, but then she hadn't exactly been looking to add such an appointment in her day planner.

It didn't change the fact of her current situation though, as she was currently stuck in a run down apartment with two armed thugs watching over her and the residents. Apparently they were part of some 'Peace Force' looking to make 'friends' with the aliens, but the rifles that they carried were at odds with such 'idealistic goals'. There was something seriously off about them as well, since they kept on wearing hats tugged down low on their heads, and didn't show any of the signs that she'd have expected to see in anxious, self righteous and arrogant 'protesters'.

Unfortunately, she couldn't do much more than she already had, and it wasn't just because of the obvious bomb that they had. Her friends were there with her, and were apparently the actual targets of this attack. Sure, it was the home of a retired naval officer and his twin daughters, but Yumi and Emi's father was the famed Admiral Hanner, who had not only been a highly experienced officer, but was respected by both ally and enemy alike. His actions on the battlefield had been such that he had even been an inspiration to those he had fought.

And to think that he had been reduced to being an invalid dependent on his daughters for his care. Of course, her childhood friends had never shown any sort of issue with having to watch over him, but the idea that he was reduced to this was a horrible shame. For all that he had done for the service, and his country, he should have been taken care of, and not left to fend for himself.

Instead, they were there, were a pair of nasty customers looking to do bad things. Considering the fact that the two choices were either to be shot or blown up, she wasn't keen on going through with either one. That basically meant that she had to wait for a rescue, or see about getting herself and her friends out of it. About all that she could count on was herself, and she just needed to see when she would get a chance to act.

There was an opportunity to do so when she realized that there was a hole behind her. Although the admiral was too infirm to go, his daughters could have escaped that way, and she wanted them to get to safety. After all, as officers, it was the duty of herself and the admiral to sacrifice themselves for others if they had to. Even if there was no guarantee of success, she at least had to do something. But it hadn't work, and now she was stuck gritting her teeth as she saw the taller man holding a gun to the admiral's head. Despite the fact that as an officer and a father, he likely would have been willing to sacrifice his life for them, they couldn't let themselves cause his death.

Right then was when the bell was heard at the remnants of the front door.

"Pardon me!" called out a cheerful voice. "Seaman Justy Ueki Tylor, of the United States Navy, at your service!"

"The Navy!" Yuriko gasped, happy that someone had come.

Rising from the bedside of the admiral, the blond terrorist pointed his rifle at the door.

That didn't seem to faze Yumi and Emi, who smiled as they responded in their usual chorus. "Have you come to solve our problems? Alright!"

"That's right. Seaman Tylor of the United States Navy," the young man said as he slid into the apartment. "Admiral Hanner, I'm here from the pension department to deliver your overdue check."

Everyone, including the terrorists, stopped to gape and stare at him.

"Sorry to interrupt. I can see that you're busy, but I thought that you'd want me to deliver this to you in person. Excuse me."

In his current state, all that the admiral could do was to lay there and smile as the seaman pressed the envelope containing the check into one of his hands.

"Don't be sad, admiral sir. I'd be glad to come and play chess with you any time."

Admiral Hanner gazed intently back at the young man.

"Okay, if you'll excuse me."

"Hold it right there," growled the squat one of the terrorist pair, jabbing the muzzle of his rifle into the seaman's cheek.

"Oh, but sir, I have other deliveries to make," Tylor gently protested... and then took a look around him. His gaze swept from Emi and Yumi, who both smiled at him, and then to Yuriko, who scowled. When he seemed to perk up at her attitude, she turned her nose away from him.

"Your deliveries, or your life," growled the stout terrorist. "Take your pick."

"Well, I suppose that I could hang out for a few minutes," Tylor idly allowed, and stepped over to where the women were sitting, plopping down among them. "Hello there. My name is Tylor. Looks like you've gotten yourself into a real jam. But now that I'm here, everything's going to be okay. Just relax and leave everything to me."

"Hold it, who do you think you..." Yuriko began.

"Excuse me. Shouldn't I be handcuffed? If you don't have any more, I can share hers."

Blinking, the young Naval officer could only sit with her mouth open as he gave a reluctant complaint as another set of handcuffs was produced. 'What is with this guy?' she thought to herself.

Genma was a bit thickly built, but nobody who'd seen him fight or train would mistake him for being simply fat and lazy.

"Most of you will drop out," said Genma as he addressed the crowd. "Those of you who stick through the next three weeks will improve your martial arts skills. You'll be working in small groups with advanced trainers. That is the 'Basic' course. Now, some of you may be wondering what the point of martial arts is in this day of automated warfare and space battles."

Nobody moved or twitched. All of this particular crowd were either Jaffa or military personnel. They knew better.

Genma Saotome continued. "Reflexes, spatial awareness, discipline. All of these benefit from martial arts training. Now some of you will be going on further. That's what the 'Advanced' course is for. Some of you might be under the misunderstanding that you'll eventually reach Ranma's level or my level in the Art. The goal of this course is not to reach our level, it is to reach the maximum level YOU are capable of."

Some brief stirring at that.

"I let you know that right off the bat because the three Senken schools I've invented and refined over the years are sealed to general students. Those are the highest end of the Martial Arts School I've developed, and trying to pull those off without having years of experience building up to them is likely to be fatal. Each group will be four students working with one of the advanced students," said Genma. "The advanced students are wearing red armbands. Squad leaders, I turn this over to you now."

Shampoo glared over the gag, straining against the chains holding her in place.

The village had been attacked, with odd grenade-style devices being thrown. She had been one of those knocked out by the devices, and it was obvious what these Outsider Men intended was not going to be pleasant.

They'd already shot several people with these odd staff-weapons. Now all she could do was glare at her captors as they went through the food storage.

Unexpected movement caught her eye, and she tilted her head to the side. More outsiders, those these looked different. A young man, a younger girl, and an older woman.

The staff-wielders immediately bellowed something in their foul language.

The youth said something that sounded like a challenge.

Staff-weapons fired, only to be stopped by a veil of purple that the young girl threw up? When had her clothes changed?

Shampoo blinked and watched as the boy simply VANISHED right in the middle of a fight.

Then he reappeared, this time among the staff-wielders, with one of the staff-wielders beginning a flight as the boy appropriated that particular staff-weapon.

Then the boy began demonstrating that he was actually pretty good at the martial arts. Not as good as SHE was, of course. Still, pretty good on the combat awareness and...

The staff wielder who'd been on top of one of the buildings stood up, levelling his weapon. Shampoo tried to yell a warning through the gag, but noticed the boy already reacting.

Except suddenly that staff-wielder was suddenly blown away by a chi-attack of some kind?

Shampoo's eyes tracked back. That young girl with the polearm was forming another ball of the same energies around the tines of her weapon and looking for targets?

Shampoo blinked as the sounds of fighting abruptly died. Her eyes flicked to the side, but with her field-of-vision restricted it took a few minutes before she spotted the boy again, this time dragging two of the larger invaders behind him by their heels. Whether they were dead or unconscious she couldn't immediately tell.

Yuriko knew that there were plenty of trying times when one joined the military. After all, the stress of being put into a fight where one might have to stay in the line of fire just for some sort of group objective was harsh enough. Then there were all the layers of secrecy and partial information going around which made it even more difficult. And she'd resigned herself to having to work through all these problems with a calm and focused mind.

Unfortunately, she was left to do nothing more at the moment than to glare at the young man who had cheerfully stepped right into a hostage situation. "What did you really think that you were doing?"

"Huh? I told you," Tylor commented, sounding puzzled that the question was even being asked. "To deliver Admiral Hanner's pension check."

"Why that was very..." Yumi trailed off.

"Kind of you," Emi finished off for her sister.

"Wow," he said, grinning widely. "It makes me really happy to hear you say that."

"Now hold on..." Yuriko began.

"But to have met a woman like you in a place like this makes me even happier! So what's your name?"

"It's Yuriko. Yuriko Star. Lieutenant Commander."

"Shut up," ordered the taller hostage taker. "I thought that I told you before. No talking, any of you."

As the muzzle of his gun moved towards the twins, Yuriko leaned protectively in towards them. "Hey, pick on someone your own size."

When the lieutenant commander went to raise herself up, Tylor grew very interested in view of her bottom that he was getting, which drew the hostage taker's interest as well.

Noting the two men leering at her, Yuriko quickly sat back down.

"A revolutionary fighting for his cause shouldn't be acting up like this..." the pension department officer murmured.

"Yes," the terrorist allowed. "You're right."

Turning her nose away from the two men, Yuriko went to look at her two childhood friends. A part of her wished that two cute girls like them didn't have to go through something as messy like this. The problem was that they didn't have a choice, and it was not like they could use being pretty as a weapon. Then again, there was a way that she'd just noticed that could be used as a distraction.

Muttering an apology to Yumi, she tugged up on the girl's skirt, exposing her panties to the two terrorists. That was more than enough to distract them, which was the whole point. Even as the younger girl squealed in dismay, the female officer was already in motion. Sweeping out the taller man's legs with a low kick, she moved quickly to take advantage of the situation. She jumped right up, making sure that her knee landed right in the face of the bulkier crook.

Then Tylor picked up the rifle as it landed on the floor... and handed it back to the heavyset terrorist. "Here, I think that you dropped this."

"Oh, thank you very much," said the hostage taker as he grasped his weapon.

"Why on Earth did you give him the gun back?" Yuriko demanded.

"What do you mean?" Tylor protested. "You're supposed to return things when people drop things."

"Not in this case..."

"Be quiet," the blond terrorist told her as he took off his sunglasses. "How many times are you going to fight back. You're only going to get yourself killed."

"Oh, he's gorgeous!" Emi and Yumi chorused, stars shining in their eyes.

Tylor swallowed hard. "That's one handsome guy."

Rubbing at her wrists, Shampoo looked around to see if she could locate where her village's rescuers were. Luckily, she didn't have to look far, given that they were the center of attention right then. With the crowd of people around them making so much noise, it was kind of hard to not notice their presence.

Of course, she had to wish that it had merely been her that had acted to fight off the raiders. She was the Village Champion, after all, and it had been part of her honor to protect her land and neighbors. But when the strangers had arrived with staff weapons that had shot lightning, she hadn't had much of a chance. Not only were they stronger than the average person, but those blasts meant that they could fight at a distance. Even now, there were burns and crack marks all over the area around her.

As much as it bothered her to have been upstaged by the Outsider warriors, they had saved her people. That truly meant something important to her, and she wanted to pay them back for what they had done. On top of that, the male of the group seemed to be quite dutiful towards the two women with him.

Something about all this intrigued her, and along with her honor and her desire to find a partner like this pigtailed guy, she wanted to redeem herself against this enemy.

Somewhere out there had been a true enemy that had stepped onto her village, and she wanted to take the next fight to them.

"Oh, you're so wonderful!" Yumi commented, staring at the blond of the terrorist pair.

Emi was right up there with her sister. "So elegant!"

"A warrior must not be concerned with his looks," the tall man stated. "That is the essence of manliness."

"Ah, no. Looks are part of being a man. And with yours, I'm surprised that you aren't a model, a movie star, or something like that. Come on, looking at you, I'd say that you spend an hour in front of the mirror every morning," Tylor put in.

"Certainly not."

"Really? I wouldn't have thought that you'd look so good otherwise."

"What use would I have for a mirror?" the blond terrorist sighed.

"That's enough. Don't let him trick you," his pug faced partner snapped, pulling up the gun, which caused the twins to hid behind the blond man.

"Now, now. Just hold on there," Tylor drawled as he stepped in between the two terrorists, before turning to look at the twins. "I mean, if you have to be killed, wouldn't you prefer the handsome one to do it?"

"You got that right," Emi stated.

Yumi twisted around to look at the face of the terrorist that she was hiding behind. "I want this one to kill me too."

"Oh, dear," groaned the blond hostage taker.

"We could forgive anything that a beautiful person would do. If we could be strangled by your long and graceful fingers, we could die happy."

Growing progressively more frustrated with every word spoken, the other terrorist snapped his gun to a ready position. "Alright then. If you want to die so badly, I'll oblige you."

"You be quiet," Emi shot back.

Her sister pinned him with a stern look. "If you're naughty, you won't get fed."

"'Get fed'?"

"Who do you think you are anyway? A man's looks are everything. Do you even think that you have any looks? Ugly men don't exist in this world. Even if they do, they're not men. They're less than human."

As Yuriko stared in confusion at the scene, Tylor stepped up, waggling a finger. "Girls, please stop criticizing. At least explain how he's short and bow legged. And all the other details that make him so very ugly."

"But still," Yumi began.

Emi drew herself up. "A man's face is most important."

"Right?" the twins chorused as the object of their discussion let his features slump.

The cup of tea in front of her was fragrant and steam was wafting from it, but Cologne hadn't drunk from it yet. That wasn't to say that she was planning on doing something like using it for divining, or something like that. She just had a lot on her mind, and knew that it couldn't be ignored forever.

Her people had already tried that already, and look what it had gotten them. After so many generations, the outside world had intruded onto the isolated lands of the Amazons, and they hadn't been able to keep up. Such a thing had long been a possibility, but it hadn't been seen as an immediate concern. In their thinking, there hadn't been any signs of an upcoming intrusion, so there hadn't been a need for scouting sooner than later. Besides, they'd already had what they'd needed, and so what limited contact they did have had sufficed.

And now they had all learned that such danger could come on a moment's notice. Even if it hadn't come in three thousand years of their people's history, that didn't mean that it couldn't come. Rather, it just meant that there hadn't been a reason to do so before. Now, they had been attacked by some sort of raiders, and had to depend on Outsider assistance to save their people.

Certainly by the show of ability that the outsiders had given, it was clear that they'd advanced more than she'd have thought possible. Why, it had not only been a mere three individuals that had done the deed, but two of them were merely teenagers. That spoke of powers and abilities that would be very interesting to see. Besides, if they had managed to advance to this level, who knew what else they could have to be seen. Taking a sip from her cup, the Amazon elder wondered what benefits that they might have for their people.

Perhaps they would even have new strains of tea leaves for her to try out.

A crack in the mirror didn't detract from the ability to see the make up adorned face of the blond terrorist.

"I knew that it'd look good!" declared one of the twins.

He glanced towards his side. "I see."

"The more polished you are, the more manly you look."

"I truly appreciate the power of cosmetics."

"A man isn't his face. A man is his heart," insisted the other terrorist. "His soul. His guts. His passions!"

Just then, the terrorists' equipment started beeping, and everyone looked over to see... the signal that there was a missile lock.

"They're what? They wouldn't. We're still in here!" Yuriko blurted.

"Well, looks like they've abandoned you," the pug faced terrorist said.

Tylor's expression was one of passive acceptance. "Looks like they have."

"Look, if you don't do something, we'll all be killed," Yuriko bit out at the hostage takers. "Or do you want to die here?"

"She's right. Everyone has a right to live, no matter how they look."

"You little... Are you still talking nonsense?" the bulky terrorist ground out.

"A man is his heart, his soul, his guts, his passion. Right?"

"It's too late to try flattering me."

"Oh, no, I mean it. Come on now, a man without feelings couldn't have made that big speech before," Tylor intoned. "A person must have a pure heart above all else. A pure heart, that's human love. But no one understands your pure heart, do they? They're much too distracted by your looks. They don't see the real you behind that horrible face."

"You're right. Nobody understands me."

"No, we don't have time for this. If we don't get out of here, we'll all..." Yuriko began.

"No, that won't be necessary," the bulky man interrupted, picking up the bomb and pressing a button on its side.

"Wait. Are you crying?"

"I guess he does have a pure heart after all," Tylor put in.

"I'm not sad really. I'm just moved to tears. The tears of a man," the pug faced terrorist managed to get out. "Today, for the first time in my life, I've truly met someone who understands my heart."

The lieutenant commander looked hopefully towards him. "So... You're going to put away the bomb and let us go."

"No, I'll never be moved like this again. I'll never receive such understanding from another man. So, let's all die together. Please die with me. We, the abandoned, will die by this bomb."

"Well... if you say so," Tylor stammered, and turned to the other serving military person in the room. "I think I blew it, Yuriko."

"Don't talk like we're friends. Everything went from bad to worse when you showed up," Yuriko ground out. "'Oh, I just came to deliver the check.' 'Just leave everything to me', huh? There's... there's still so much that I want to do. Why do I have to die like this. Give me back my life!"

"Well, I'm sorry, I can't give you back your life. But I can let you hit me. Here use this."

"Are you sure? I can really hit you?" Yuriko asked, grasping the handle of the briefcase that he'd given her.

"Go on. I don't mind."

"I'll hit you really, really hard."

"That's fine."

"Here it comes," the young officer called out as she swung the briefcase around... only to have Tylor duck, with the strike hitting the pug faced man instead, sending the bomb flying out the window.

As those in the apartment watched, there was a blast of heat and light coming from far below their floor.

"Damn it! Can't I be allowed to die?" whined the bulky man.

"You shouldn't want to," Tylor replied. "If you keep on living, good things may happen to you. Who knows? You make become a movie star one day. Think of how boring the world would be if everyone was handsome. Maybe some day women will come to like your kind of face. Better to have what you have than a pretty face and an ugly heart, right."

At that moment, the big man screamed incoherently, and then ran out the same window that bomb had gone through.

"Let me get this straight, you want to come with us?" Melissa muttered as she looked at the aged woman in front of her.

Cologne looked up from where she was standing on her staff and raised a brow. "I wouldn't have thought it to be that complicated of an idea.

"Well, of course it's not. My problem is that this isn't just some sort of field trip. We aren't looking to make up a tour group."

"Understandable. But you would certainly get something out of it."

"Like what?" the military woman demanded.

"Local guides, for one."

"True enough."

"Besides, my great granddaughter wants to go. She feels that she owes those two a life debt for rescuing her, and the others." The Amazon elder gave a wry smile. "And I can't let her go unescorted for too long."

"There is that."

"On top of that, we can help with the learning of the Art, child. We might have been caught blind by those raiders, but we do have some tricks up our sleeves.

Mao thought about it for a long moment, and had to admit that having more combat training to fall back on might not be such a bad idea.

Wincing as the injuries from having a bomb blow up above him were wrapped, Lieutenant Yamamoto scowled as he took in the scene around him. Buildings and military vehicles were ruined, men were sporting varied sorts of injuries, and they hadn't managed to actually get the job done on top of everything else.

And now a dark colored sedan was pulling up along with a familiar looking truck.

Out came four people, each wearing plain clothes, but standing out because of that. It was clear that this was the place that they were expecting to be. The thing was that it was also clear that it was also not in the condition that they expected it to be in.

"Agent Gibbs, NCIS," a man with short white gray hair commented, flashing his badge. "My team. Agents Dinozzo, McGee, and David. You're Lieutenant Yamamoto, I take it."

"Yes, sir," Yamamoto answered.

"That's good. We're going to have plenty of questions."

"Starting with one in particular," Dinozzo drawled, raising one brow as he did so.

"Really?" the Naval officer asked. "What would that be?"

Gibbs leaned right in and gave the officer a flat glare. "How did you let it become like this, Lieutenant?"

Yamamoto swallowed hard, and tried to figure out how to explain the situation.

According to two posters over on the Anime Addventure (Mouse and Char) - David Weber disapproves of use of his characters/settings. Due to that, Honor Harrington was removed as Captain of the Iowa and will not be appearing in this story hereafter.

If any author goes out to say "don't use my characters/setting" - i will remove them where possible or discontinue the story if the character is so central that i can't simply remove them. i count on you, gentle reader, to dispute it if someone makes false claims on that regard as i am just writing in the odd open moment and not doing this professionally.