Ataru gurgles as he found himself sliding down the embankment, splashing into the Tomobiki Creek. Blood seeps from dozens of wounds across his chest and back; it was a miracle he was still alive. Rolling until his mouth is clear of the sewer-slick creek now serving as nothing more than a drainage ditch, he finds himself drifting slowly downstream, towards a sluice gate which would lead into the Edo River cutting through the heart of Tokyo. He has no energy to do anything other than stay afloat; the pounding that moron Rei gave him was more vicious than anything he could ever dream possible.
Truth be told, Rei had no reason to get so angry; it was not Ataru's fault that his supper got wrecked. The Oni pilot long ago got the message that Lum no longer wanted him and that if he did want a home on Earth, Lan was available. They had been at the Mendou estate that evening, celebrating the end of term. Ataru had been too weak to chase girls; studying for end-term tests drained him. So all he resolved to do was keep Lum from glomping him and try not to fall asleep. Good luck! In moments after everyone had enjoyed their evening snack, Ataru had dozed off in Lum's lap.
That innocent act had set off Mendou and Megane's squad of idiots who enthusiastically called themselves "Lum's Bodyguards." They jumped Ataru, demanding he quit seducing "their" Lum. Ataru was able to deflect Mendou's katana into slashing Megane's face and decking Chibi before Kakugari and Paama shoved him off Lum...and right into Lan, spilling the big dinner she had cooked for Rei! Enraged, the polymorph transformed into his tiger-bull form and the rest of the evening passed by in very painful fashion for Ataru.
Ataru feels his consciousness fade as his body falls into the sluice valve. Soon enough, Lum would come rescue him. Once he was recovered, he was not going to show those morons any mercy. One call to his grandmother would solve that; Nagaiwakai Moroboshi would round up some of her ninjas to terminally remove Mendou, the guards and Rei from Ataru's life. Lan too, if the Seishin teen decided to protest the issue.
But as the last vestige of his mind slips into a delirium, part of him wonders if Lum would even bother to rescue him...
* * *
"Is he alive?!!"
"Shit, look at him!! Six broken ribs and a punctured left lung! He's drowning in his own blood!!"
"Can we get him to a hospital?! This is the Chairwoman's grandson, remember!"
"No, he's too far gone! The only way to save him is to..."
The voice trails off, the ominous warning hanging in the air. Ataru struggles to regain consciousness, try to interpret what was going on. He was safe with his grandmother's people, no doubt there. Yet..."Chairwoman?" Nagaiwakai's many companies usually addressed her as "President" or "Chief Executive" atop her baronial title of "Lady" and her Zephyrite title of "Most Righteous Lady." Where in Nagaiwakai's organization was she called "Chairwoman?"
"Okay," the first voice grimly sighs. "We've no choice. I'll tell the Chairwoman myself; once she understands the nature of his injuries, she'll concur. Get him to the factory!"
Ataru feels an icy grip seize his heart.
Now, he knew where he was going...
* * *
Anime on Display
a story about Japanese animation and ASFR
by Fred Herriot
**** **** ****
Based on Urusei Yatsura, created by Rumiko Takahashi,
Magic Knight Rayearth, created by CLAMP,
and Sailor Moon, created by Naoko Takeuchi
**** **** ****
GENERAL NOTE: For those of you in ASFR not familiar with the anime stories this fanfic is based on, please see the writer's notes at the end of Part Three.
* * *
PART ONE - ATAKO AND HARUKA
"Hey, you okay?"
Brown eyes flutter open as the bright light of a laboratory shine on the newborn bioroid. Groaning, she moves a slender hand up to rub her face, then she looks left. Staring concernedly at her is a middle aged man dressed in a scientist's smock and work clothes. "You're awake," he smiles. "How do you feel?"
"Dizzy..." she grunts, then the memories of Ataru's last moments in his previous existence thunders back. "I'm in Prince and Company's Prettygirl factory, right?"
"Right," he nods. "You realize what's had to happen, don't you?"
"Was I that messed up?"
"It's a miracle you survived floating down that sewer from Tomobiki to Shinjiku where our remote sensors picked you up," he grimly sighs. "But there was no way we could've rushed you to the hospital in time to cure you the normal way. Don't worry; your grandmother's aware of what's happened. She's relieved that you're still alive where it counts."
The bioroid smiles. "Can I see...me?"
"Sure!" he beams, elevating the work table. "I think we've made ourselves a real masterpiece this time."
The bioroid blinks as a full-length mirror enters her vision. Staring at the gorgeous creature reflected in the glass, it takes all her energy not to drool in mad lust. After all, that was HER she was looking at!
"Gods...!" she exclaims.
Feeling strength flowing through her arms, she pushes herself off the table, walking up to take a closer look. Gone was the lanky seventeen-year old boy who had received every punishment in the known universe many times over. In his place stood a young woman capable of turning the heads of every boy and many girls who passed her. Her brown hair was still shaggy short. Her cheeks were more rounder, her lips fuller. Even without makeup, she was stunning! Going downstairs, she encountered a trim model's body with perky breasts and demure nipples (Ataru loved that!), slight but very strong arms, a slim waist, firm hips, a trimmed triangle of pubic hair and legs that went on and on and on! "Not bad," she muses. "I better be careful or I'll end up chasing myself!"
The worker laughs, pulling up a housecoat to slip over her shoulder. "There you go, just in case you're getting cold."
"I don't feel cold," she admits, but slips on the housecoat anyway. No sense in causing trouble with this place, especially after they just saved her life...though from this day on, the life of the being which once was a man named Ataru Moroboshi would be forever changed.
"In the meantime," he sighs, "...since the transformation was so sudden, we'll let you relax. Unlike those who voluntarily become Prettygirls, those who had no choice in the matter have the right to refuse the second step."
"Thanks," she nods.
He escorts her into a small lounge next to the gestation chamber. The Prettygirl factory is located in the sub-basement of Prince & Co, Tokyo's trendiest ladies boutique. Formed in 1946, the boutique originally served dependants of American service personnel on occupation duty. In the 1950s, as Japan recovered from the carnage of the Greater East Asian War and launched into its extensive building boom, Prince & Co became the centre of Tokyo's famous Ginza, keeping abreast of world fashion trends. The first bikini to reach Japan, the first blue jeans, the first mini-skirt...all came out of Prince & Co's showrooms.
There were many reasons Prince & Co maintained its lead over the nearest competitors. The first factor, as with most Japanese companies, was the stupendous service. Every person who came into the company was greeted by a floor clerk, escorted to the section of interest, then treated like royalty until they passed through the cashiers. To keep this up, the staff were generously paid, well trained and motivated. It also helped very much that most of the staff were female, those active on the floor themselves...and those frozen in display windows and on stands throughout the store.
The bioroid who was once Ataru knew well Prince & Co's most remarkable secret. In the late 1950s, right after the Zephyrites anointed his grandmother as a Righteous Gentile, Nagaiwakai made contact with another race, the Niphentaxians. They were a dull, imitative lot; like the Iotians from the Star Trek episode A Piece of the Action, they had the ability to accurately replicate the technology, culture and society of whomever they contacted. At that time, they were on the lookout for a new icon to base their stagnating society around.
Nagaiwakai's spies made a surprising discovery. On one of the Niphentaxian colonies, there was a bio-genetic engineering...or "bioroid"...factory placed there fourteen millennia before by the Zephyrites' ancestor race, the Sagussans. Horrified that a backward race like the Niphentaxians had stumbled onto this relic of their Ancient Homeworld, the Zephyrites asked Nagaiwakai if she could convince the Niphentaxians to let the bioroids (they called themselves Avalonians) go. Nagaiwakai pulled it off; bartering for the factory, she introduced the Niphentaxians to Elvis!
The bioroid factory and those bioroids existing at that time were moved to their own planet in Zephyrite space. Nagaiwakai, with an eye out for her own advancement, took one of the gestation chambers and used it to create a corps of workers for her dairy farms, trading firms and Prince & Co. It was then that Nagaiwakai made another discovery. Using a special polymer preservative, the Avalonians could be frozen into display mannequins, more versatile (and as fully posable as a real girl) than the wooden and wax dummies coming out of local factories or imported from abroad.
Thus were the Prettygirls born.
Instead of making bioroids from scratch, Nagaiwakai launched a policy of taking volunteers from her work force, cloning them a new body built on Avalonian genetic standards (normal Terrans could not survive the freezing process), transferring their living spirits into the new bodies, then employing them as mannequins (the name "Prettygirl" was soon coined since these statues were real girls) for as long as was considered healthy. The bonus, atop their aging process being stopped when they were frozen, was that the new Avalonians gained the genetic heritage Sagussans claimed: an 800-year lifespan (after puberty, Avalonians aged one year physically every 12 years chronologically), telepathy and empathy.
Since 1958, hundreds of women and dozens of men (the Avalonian factory could only create females) had endured the transformation and the dreamy years-long haze of being a beautiful mannequin, on display for all of Tokyo and the world to see, dream of, lust after. Now, Ataru had taken that first great step...or rather, he had been forced into it. Now, the bioroid standing in his place had to decide if she would take that second step.
It would not be a bad life. Frozen as a mannequin, she would not be want for food, drink or the other basic needs which even bioroids required when active. Making new friends was no problem, either; the Avalonians, being telepathic, always stayed in psionic contact with each other. Being frozen was even quite erotic; many times did Nagaiwakai hear of her frozen workers boast of the wild sensual feelings they encountered when in the windows, especially when they were dressed and posed. Further, Prettygirls were paid for the time they were on display, wages much more lucrative than floor supervisors at other stores. After all, they had to endure countless dressings and undressings, freezings and unfreezings, not to mention the potential embarrassment of being undressed during working hours in front of a store full of strangers.
Leaning back, the bioroid gazes at the ceiling. Besides, what sort of life did Ataru have? An hyper-jealous "wife" who never once accepted that he did not love her, certainly did not want to marry her. One who zapped him with her bio-electricity every time he so much as looked at another girl. All Lum's alien friends with all their problems. All the boys at school who would kill him if that gave them a clear shot at Lum. Parents who did not love him, wished he was never born and who kept him cut off from his grandmother, who did love him! No friends to speak of. Atop that, two annoying priests who plagued him with premonitions of bad luck every waking moment. What life was that?!
Further, if she elected not to become a Prettygirl, it would not take Lum long to find her; even as a girl, she was quite distinct. Further, Ataru was a trouble magnet; would that change? What could happen if she was found? Lum would try to change her back to a man, that was certain...and everything would go back to the same maddening grind which had killed Ataru.
Sighing, she rises, stretching herself. Sitting around and doing nothing was something she loathed; she needed to get around. Walking out of the lounge, she finds the elevator and heads up to the main floor of Prince & Co. It was well into late evening by the clock on the wall; the only people who would be present were the cleaning staff, maintenance staff and whatever Prettygirls were unfrozen at the time. Sure enough, she sees one chestnut-haired woman relaxing before a television, draped only in the terrycloth robes the Prettygirls donned when moving about. Walking up, she smiles. "Hi, can I join you?"
The girl looks over, then smiles. "Sure! You're the new one Yutaka-kun found, right?! I'm Kaori Makimura."
"Hi," the other bioroid relaxes beside her, drinking in the lovely perfume Kaori had sprayed over herself. "I'm...ah, I used to be, pardon me...Ataru Moroboshi."
Kaori's eyes widen surprisedly. "Nagaiwakai-sama's grandson?! So it is true! Are you okay?!"
"A little shaken and disorientated, but fine," she looks down at her hands. "I guess I can't call myself 'Ataru' anymore, huh?"
"Not if you want those crazy aliens to come here after you," Kaori muses, then considers the point. "I know! Why don't you call yourself 'Atako.' It's not too different."
"Atako..." the newborn bioroid muses, rolling the name on her lips as her mind clicks in the kanji for "-ko," the usual ending to a girl's name in Japan. "Yeah, it is different! Besides, those dorks in Tomobiki are so stupid, they'll never put it together."
Kaori laughs, then returns her attention to the screen. "So, have you thought about...?" her voice trails off.
"Becoming a Prettygirl?" Atako finishes, then shrugs. "I don't know. There'll be loads of advantages in staying here, I admit. Plus, I have to get used to being a girl."
"Some of the male-converts were like that," Kaori nods.
"How long have you been a Prettygirl?"
"Six months...though it feels like just a few days sometimes with the way you zone out when you're frozen," Kaori then frowns. "Just couldn't hack my partner constantly jumping every girl who crosses his path. I tried to stop him any way I could, but..."
Atako feels a twinge of guilt. Admittedly, there were many things Ataru had done which were pretty disgusting, deserving of punishment. But having his whole life taken from his control? That was Lum's fault, not to mention everyone who backed her!
Atako then blinks as the sense of dislocation hits her. It was as if Ataru and Atako were two different people. If she kept thinking on that format, Ataru would be dead. Would that be so bad? She wonders what happened to her old body. Probably in the basement awaiting her decision on its fate. Some Prettygirls elected to forge new identities when they became Avalonians, so the old bodies were conveniently dumped where they could be found and the old self officially declared "deceased." Nagaiwakai's business and government intelligentsia could easily forge new identities.
And there was the escape. Just dump the body in Tomobiki Creek where Lum could find it...and it would all end. Even the headstrong Oni would not question a mutilated carcass, especially if Nagaiwakai then swept in to claim the body, prevent Lum from making a clone to create an Ataru she could control. Atako would steal what little Lum had left of Ataru. The perfect vengeance; turnabout was fair play! Besides, Atako needed time to figure where her life was going. Prince & Co. could give her the chance.
Atako tenses as Kaori's hand gently grip hers. Thanks to their telepathic powers, she could sense what the newborn bioroid had decided. "I'm glad you've decided to stay," Kaori sighs. "It's been...kinda lonely for me here. I could use a friend."
"Would you let me be something more?" Atako muses.
Kaori flushes. Sagussans were traditionally bisexual, so what Atako was proposing was not odd. "I'll think about it," she blows her a kiss.
* * *
"You want to do it?!" Yutaka blinks, then nods. "Of course! I'm sure Nagaiwakai-sama wouldn't mind; at least here, she can keep a closer eye on you than she ever could in Tomobiki!"
Atako smiles, staring at Kaori, who winks reassuringly at her. "But, first," she sighs, "...there is the problem of my old body."
"What do you want done with it?" Yutaka muses.
"I had my old body cremated and scattered over a farm," Kaori proposes. "Most of us go that route. I really don't consider myself different from the Kaori I used to be."
Atako bites her lips. "However, unless Lum is fed a bone, she'll tear Japan apart until she finds me," she growls. "Yutaka-san, have my body dumped in Tomobiki Creek, somewhere where it wouldn't flow out of sight. Close to Tomobiki High School should do it. I'm sure there's no signs of my mind being sucked out when you transferred it into this body."
"None whatsoever," Yutaka smiles. "Besides, the Urusians don't have the technology to detect the mind-transference. Further, given how much Nagaiwakai-sama loathes Lum, your so-called wife won't be on Earth long enough to probe further into this."
"True," Atako sneers. "I'll just tell Grandma to get Lum booted off the planet. One threat of the Zephyrite Inquisition coming after her would scare even that giant pig of an old man she has! Once she's gone, Tomobiki's dreams are gutted forever!"
"We'll get it done right away," Yutaka nods, then glances at Kaori. "We've some time before we'd have to prepare you two for next week, not to mention getting the paperwork done. I assume you don't want to use 'Moroboshi' as your last name."
"Use 'Hana,' it's my grandma's maiden name," Atako proposes, then rolls her new name. Atako Hana. It had a nice ring to it.
"Okay," Yutaka nods.
Kaori escorts her from the offices at the eighth level of Prince & Co. Like all major department stories in the Orient, it is a multi-level shopping complex. Prince & Co's eight floors and basement were divided according to service task. Floor Eight was administrative offices. Seven held private rooms reserved for the Prettygirls while they were unfrozen. Six was lingerie and night clothes. Five was sports. Four was work and casual. Three was business. Two was wedding dresses, kimonos and exotic apparel. One was fashion accessories, specials and a restaurant. The basement had kiosks for imported goods, ramen stands, sidewalk cafes and a supermarket. Parking was in a separate building across the street connected to the store via an elevated bridge.
Knowing who she was dealing with, Kaori walks Atako into Floor Six. The new bioroid's eyes bug out on seeing the sleek bodies scantily clad in luxurious silks, knits and lace. "We normally unfreeze the girls in order of windows, Floor One, then move up," Kaori explains as they stop in front of three girls seductively draped in silk teddies. "I was on Two in a wedding dress, so I got free early. After a week on one floor, we move up. At any one time, fifteen girls are on display on any floor, plus thirty for the windows on One."
"One hundred and twenty girls, got it," Atako nods.
"You can start on whatever floor you want," Kaori continues. "I actually kinda hated being in a wedding dress; reminded me of the times I dreamt of marrying my boyfriend."
"What if you want to avoid certain floors? I don't think I can hack Three just yet."
"If you want to switch, you find a girl on the floor you want and swap with her. It's quite simple. So, where do you want to be for your first week?"
Atako glances around the room. "I'll start here first."
"My, you're brave," Kaori chuckles.
"Actually, there's a practical reason," Atako smiles. "Most guys I know feel a little shy and insecure if they walked into a lingerie store, especially if they run the risk of friends seeing them and making the wrong assumption. I don't know if any girls from Tomobiki shop here, so if I stay away from One or the windows for the first bit, I'll feel a little safer."
"Okay," Kaori nods understandingly.
"And...I'd like you to be with me," Atako smiles at her.
Kaori blinks, then nods. "Sure," she smiles. "I'll ask Masako if she'll swap with me; she owes me one. Now," she glances at the three Prettygirls frozen beside them. "Atako, may I present Atsumi Shirushi, Yoshiko Ishizue and Tomoko Musubu. Girls, this is Atako Hana, formerly Ataru Moroboshi, our Chairwoman's grandchild. She's our newest Prettygirl."
Suddenly, Atako felt very foolish, talking to three statues. "Um...ah, hi!" she haltingly waves.
Then, her embarrassment is washed away as three powerful minds gently touch hers. <<Hi, Atako!>> a voice Atako automatically knew came from Atsumi, the curly black-haired girl on her left, replies. <<Welcome to Prince and Company. I'm glad you're here.>>
<<It's okay to be embarrassed,>> Yoshiko, the redhead with waist-length hair in the middle, cuts in. <<I was the same way when I first encountered a frozen Prettygirl. By the way, I used to be a guy myself; I used to be called Yoshimaru.>>
Atako then mentally "sees" an image of a nerdish-looking boy who would never attract a girl's interest. "It's quite a change!"
<<Crazy, huh?!>> Yoshiko snickers.
<<Yoshi-chan does that all the time!>> Tomoko, the wavy-haired blonde on the right, mentally laughs. <<In the meantime, you mind undressing us? We can't unfreeze if we have clothes on; the clothes'll burn when the plastic on our skins evaporates.>>
Atako feels her heart accelerate, her libido fire immediately into overdrive. Knowing these were real women, women who WANTED her to undress them...could she take that? <<It's okay, Atako,>> Yoshiko soothes her. <<You can do me. We don't mind if you feel us up; we'll feel you up when you're frozen and we're free.>>
Kaori, Atsumi and Tomoko laugh while Atako's face turns beet red with embarrassment. "I'm GLAD they pay us well!" she stammers, then walks onto the stand behind Yoshiko. "Okay, here we go..."
Kaori moves to undress Atsumi. Another Prettygirl from Floor Three, Reika, walks up to undress Tomoko. Atako stares at the lace string keeping Yoshiko's teddy in place, then gingerly undoes it. Drawing the lace out, she gasps as Yoshiko's large, round breasts are exposed. "Oh, wow!" she gurgles, her eyes locked on those gorgeous mounds. "I've never seen better!"
<<Thank you,>> Atako senses a demure smile in Yoshiko's voice, as if she happily accepted the compliments about her new form. <<You can move my body around, just like a real girl. Saves the wear-and-tear on the clothes.>>
"Um...right!" Atako nods as she shifts Yoshiko's arms back to draw the teddy off her shoulder.
Her nose brushes against the girl's cleavage, eliciting a surprised gasp from Yoshiko. Atako stops, then out of the corner of her eye, she sees Reika spending more time kissing Tomoko than undressing her. Kaori, while not being so intimate with Atsumi, still enjoys every moment of the latter's disrobing.
With that example before her, Atako devilishly smiles as she leans down, taking Yoshiko's right nipple into her mouth. The plastic-sheathed skin moves like stiff rubber and tastes like silicone, but it does bend with pressure. Yoshiko cries out as her nervous system goes haywire from the stimulus. <<Oh, Atako-chan, yes!! Yes!!! Keep going!! Squeeze me!! Squeeze me!!!>>
Atako purrs as her right hand massages Yoshiko's other breast, her left diving down to draw her panties away. Each Prettygirl, to keep them standing straight, had a support rod affixed to their rectum, so Atako had to take it easy so as to not rip the panties off. Looking down, she smiles on seeing the curly red pubic hairs over a vaginal opening sheathed with flesh-tone plastic to protect the internal organs. "Mmm..." she shifts Yoshiko's head so their eyes could lock. "I think you need a more personal examination, Yoshi-chan."
Yoshiko quivers with delight as Atako's hand reaches between her legs to draw the frozen girl off her support rod. As the hand brushes Yoshiko's frozen clitoris, the girl screams out in erotic delight as an orgasm rocks her. <<Oh, yes...yes...YES!!!!>> she howls as Atako takes her off the rod, her mind now soaring to indescribable heights of ecstacy.
Atako bends Yoshiko at the hips to sit her down, then draws off the panties from her legs. "How was that?" she smiles.
<<You were great...>> Yoshiko slurs lustfully.
An unfrozen Prettygirl then arrives with a low-bed trolley to carry her friends below. "Okay, load them on!" she smiles.
<<Atako-chan, stay with me?>> Yoshiko mews.
"Sure," Atako smiles...
* * *
In an hour, all 120 Prettygirls who now call Prince & Co home are mobile. As the clock strikes twelve midnight, Kaori and Yoshiko escort Atako around, introducing her to their friends and acquaintances. Yutaka then comes along with a series of forms Atako needed to sign to officially inaugurate her employment.
First, to Atako's surprise, came an alien registry form from the United Nations which recognized Atako Hana as an Avalonian, a landed alien permanently residing and working on Earth. Becoming a Prettygirl meant that literally, she was an alien on her own home planet. Yutaka explains that since Atako was shedding her old identity as Ataru, she would have to start anew so as to not alert curious authorities in Japan to what was going on. Technically, nothing which happened in Prince & Co was illegal, but its unique nature could attract unwanted attention and criticism.
Next came a consent form which made Atako foreswear never to claim anything linked to Ataru. Atako happily signed that. Ataru had nothing outside a private bank account replenished by a monthly allowance from his grandmother; in his will, the money would revert back to her. Lum would gain nothing, even his body; it would be buried on Nagaiwakai's estate. None of his DNA would be released for cloning. Further, Atako had no interest in Lum, so by signing this, she guaranteed the Oni would be expelled to her home planet of Uru; without Ataru, Lum had no legitimate reason to remain on Earth. Atako doubted she would stay, especially after Nagaiwakai was finished with her.
Finally came the employment documents. Atako's official job title was "merchandise display specialist." The pay was excellent, placed in a private bank account monthly. She would be unfrozen and allowed to travel outside the store every weekend from Friday night to very early Monday morning, although for her safety, she should remain with a companion. One month's vacation per year was guaranteed; this ensured her body did not atrophy due to repeated freezings. Atako had a choice of a 5, 10 or 20 year contract. She chose five years; she had the right to renew. Finally, she signed a release statement allowing the company to take pictures of her, even nude ones, when frozen for public distribution.
"That's it," she hands the forms back to Yutaka.
The other Prettygirls break out in wild applause. Atako flushes as many come up, introducing themselves, welcoming her aboard, wishing her the best, promising to help if she got into trouble. Staring at her new family, Atako is overwhelmed by the variety the bioroid machine created. Not everyone were Asians; there were Caucasians, Africans, Amerindians, Polynesians, even some Australian aborigines! All were utterly beautiful, perfect in body and in spirit. Ataru once dreamt of a vast harem of women serving him. As Atako, she had a harem right at her fingertips!
This was going to be fun.
* * *
Throughout the weekend, Atako meets everyone. Thanks to years of girl-chasing, her mind filed away names, faces, interests and current floor assignments without pause. She was amazed at the stories she heard, many even more tragic than her own. The warmth she felt from them was genuine, the type of love Atako always sought as Ataru. A small twinge of guilt over leaving Lum that had lurked over the new bioroid since she awoke soon vanishes as Atako compares her potential future with her painful past. By the time the Prettygirls began to prepare for another week, Atako had finally accepted that Ataru's life had to be buried with him.
Standing on the roof of Prince & Co., Atako stares in the general direction of Tomobiki, located in the north-west end of Tokyo. Her eyes detect the subtle flashes of light denoting helicopters of the Mendou Clan, obviously "helping" Lum in tracking down her missing Darling. Atako sneers at the hypocrisy of it all. If Mendou could get away with it...and if Ataru was still alive...he would have his rival slain at a moment's notice. Well, Tomobiki was about to get a very rude awakening; Ataru's body would be slipped back into Tomobiki when everyone was asleep.
"Sayonara, Lum," she turns away. "I would say that I'll miss you...but then, I'd be lying."
She heads inside...
* * *
Very early Monday morning, Ayako, a very mature twenty-five year old who was one of the first Prettygirls (she spent twenty years frozen), now serving as display supervisor, gives the new assignments. "Atako-chan, you wanted to be on Six, right?"
"Hai, Sempai," Atako nods.
Ayako checks her list. "Okay, we need four to show off a new line of bras, panties and pantyhose. Kaori and Yoshiko switched with girls so they could be with you..." her voice trails off as her eyes scan the names of girls still available, then she looks over. "Haruka, come here please!"
Atako feels her heart accelerate as a tall, tomboyish but very cute blonde, her hair cut short, saunters up. Everything about her reminded Atako of Ataru's old classmate Ryuunosuke Fujinami, especially the gruff, self-assured masculine demeanour. "What is it, Sempai?" Haruka asks in a husky baritone.
"You mind working on the new display on Six?"
"Sure thing," Haruka nods, then smiles at Atako, hand out. "Hi, Atako. I'm Haruka Ten'ou."
Atako gapes as Haruka gives her a firm handshake. "Haruka Ten'ou?! The race car driver?!! No way!!"
"Way!" Haruka chuckles, flashing a perfect smile. "I came to work here a month ago after my lover and I got into a big fight and we broke up. Oh, by the way, I was born a girl."
"Ah," Atako nods understandingly. "I'm sorry. You remind me of one of Ataru's classmates. Girl raised as boy...involuntarily, I should add. One of my favourites, I suppose."
"Well, I would've preferred to be a boy," Haruka admits, then gazes to the ceiling, a lost look in her eyes. "I wish I hadn't fought Michiru; it was so silly. But by the time I could think straight, I was working here."
"Michiru? Michiru...Kaiou?" Atako thinks. "The violinist?"
"That's her," Haruka sighs.
"She know you're working here?"
"I told her I needed to get away for a while, but I never said where," Haruka admits. "I think she's still pretty mad at me."
"I'm sorry to hear that," Atako smiles sympathetically, then laughs. "Look, if you're looking for a friend, I'm in real need of one. I never had one back in Tomobiki."
Haruka gazes at her. "I'd love that."
Nearby, Kaori and Yoshiko exchange knowing looks...
* * *
"I'm nervous," Atako admits.
It is approaching six o'clock, the sun rising over the distant mountains of Chiba across Tokyo Bay. The Prettygirls stream to the basement to be refrozen for the next week's work. A crew of floor workers truck the frozen beauties into the freight elevators to get them to their assigned floors, stand them on their support rods (or sit them if required), then dress them. Haruka stands reassuringly beside Atako, holding her hand. "It'll be okay," the blonde smiles. "The freezing process takes just ten seconds; you barely feel it. Remember to keep your eyes open, though."
"Right, right," Atako nods.
"Oh, jeez, I forgot!" Haruka blinks, then calls over, "Yutaka-san, we need a protector for Atako-chan!"
"Protector?!" Atako blinks curiously.
"Ah, right!" Yutaka nods. "Here, Haruka, take her down to get her set up."
"See you upstairs, Atako-chan," Yoshiko calls out as the two break from the line.
Beside the suspension chamber was a small office reminding Atako of a gynaecologist's examination room. Haruka guides Atako onto the examination chair in the middle of the room, drawing open her robe. "It's a vaginal protector," the blonde explains. "It's meant to protect our reproductive organs from undue damage during the freezing process. You wouldn't think about it since you were a guy and your sex organs work differently, but if someone hit me in the clit, I'll bet it'll hurt worse than a kick in the balls."
"That's happened to me a few times," Atako winces.
Ayako then walks in. "Forgot about you! Sorry, Atako," she opens a side cabinet, then draws out a rod of plastic reminding Atako of a dildo with the end cut off. "This is superheated when it's first fitted into you so that your vagina is completely covered when you're frozen," she explains, then hands it to Haruka. "Do the honours, Haruka-chan?"
"Sure," Haruka smiles as she positions herself between Atako's legs. "Oooh, you really are something, you know that?"
Atako feels herself flush as Haruka fixes her with a steady gaze. "This'll be uncomfortable at first," the blonde warns, then smiling, leans up.
Atako gasps as Haruka's mouth warmly covers hers...then jolts as the protector is gently inserted into her nether regions. A pained moan escapes her as the foreign device punches through some sheath not so far from the surface, then comes to rest at the tip of her uterus. "Oh, gods...that's wild..." she pants as their lips part.
"That's step one," Haruka smiles, then pulls out a device similar to a waffle iron. "Here's step two."
Atako trembles as Haruka applies the device to the base of the protector. It melts and remoulds into a perfectly-fitting cap covering her vagina. After a moment, Haruka pulls the heater away, then draws a mirror to give Atako a view. "What do you think?"
Atako gapes. Where there was once the most desired region of a woman's body, there is now smooth flesh-toned plastic. "Wow!!" she gasps, then moans as her crotch heats up. "Oooh...that's feels so good...!"
Haruka chuckles. "It's form-fitting since we're all of different shapes and sizes," she reaches into her robe's pocket, then pulls out her own. "So...care to put mine in?"
Atako growls playfully as she slides off the chair. Every movement of her hips sends a jolt of pleasure up her spine; she hoped she would not lose total control of herself before she was frozen. Taking Haruka's protector in hand, she waits for the blonde to position herself, then gently inserts it. Haruka gasps suddenly as the invading feeling inside her almost provokes an orgasm, then calms down as the movement stops.
They gaze into the other's eyes. Haruka, who fled a wrecked relationship, seeking a place to find peace and quiet. Atako, whom Fate helped flee a wrecked life, placing her here where peace and quiet was hers for the asking. Without invitation, they warmly embrace, their lips feverishly caressing as their aching loneliness begins to dissipate. "I'm so glad I met you," Atako sighs.
"I think Kaori and Yoshiko conspired to get us together," Haruka smiles.
"I'm glad they did. How long are you working here for?"
"Five years; same as you. Why?"
"Want to stay together?"
Haruka smiles. "I'd like that."
They kiss again, then reluctantly rise to join the procession waiting for the freezing machine...
* * *
The freezing machine (actually called a suspended-animation preservation device) is a clear cylindrical cubicle three metres tall by two wide. Atako sheds her robe, then hesitantly steps in. It is one of six devices, four now in operation and one open for Haruka. "It's okay," the blonde assures her. "This won't take a moment."
"R-right," Atako nods, standing perfectly still as instructed, tensing further as the door is closed.
Haruka stares at her, then concentrates. <<Atako?>>
"Y-yeah...?!" Atako stammers.
<<Practice your psi-speech.>>
Atako blinks, then concentrates. <<Like this?>>
<<Perfect. Now, remember: keep your eyes open. Keep your eyes open...>>
Haruka repeats the mantra again and again to ensure Atako did not do the wrong thing when the time came. Keep my eyes open, eyes open, eyes open... Atako repeats in her own mind...then tenses as a torrent of mist pours over her. She breathes in deep, remembering to keep her eyes open, then tries to exhale.
She could not!
Atako then tries to move her arms. No response. Her legs were totally stiff, too! Further, her vision had become hazed, like she was looking through tinted sunglasses. Panic suddenly seizes her as she tries everything to get free of this weird place.
<<Calm down, Atako-chan!>> Haruka's voice echoes in her mind. <<No need to panic. You're just frozen. It's okay...relax!>>
Atako would blink at that, were her eyes capable of moving. Feeling Haruka's soothing words in her mind, she forces herself to be calm. Once the initial fear washes away, Atako then feels great curiosity. She was now frozen, a mannequin, all ability to move taken away from her. This is the state she would be in for the majority of the next five years. Weird!
The chamber is then opened, revealing a janitor. He gingerly takes the frozen woman out of the cubicle, then loads her onto a gurney with the others destined for Floor Six, sitting her on the bench and strapping her in. Yoshiko is there, as is Kaori. Haruka is then placed in front of her. Atako inwardly gasps, awed that as a mannequin, Haruka was classic Nordic beauty, like something the social realists of mid-century would have sculpted or painted. <<Oh, Haruka-chan, you're exquisite!>> she exclaims.
<<You're not so bad yourself, Atako-chan,>> Haruka laughs. <<Hey, Kinnosuke, get a mirror so Atako can see herself!>>
"Right away, Haruka," a muffled man's voice responds.
The janitor walks up, placing a mirror right in front of Atako's face. The newborn Prettygirl mentally inhales on seeing the cool, reserved woman staring back. If the freezing process did anything, it definitely made Atako look like a mannequin. As a breathing person, Atako ran the risk of being recognized as Ataru. As a mannequin, the risk was all but nullified. <<Wow!!>>
<<You like, I take it?>> Haruka chuckles.
<<I'll take it, I'll take it!>>
Haruka laughs. Once that is done, Kinnosuke then guides the gurney into a freight elevator for the trip to Six. Arriving, Atako, who cannot make her head move so she could see everything, watches as floor staff scurry about, positioning the Prettygirls already there into position. Kinnosuke stops the gurney, off loads Kaori, Yoshiko, Atako and Haruka by one display, then rushes off.
Then, Atako feels herself being lifted, her body straightened into a standing pose. An African-American then appears before her. <<Hi, Atako,>> she telepathically hails. <<I'm Celeste.>>
<<You're a Prettygirl,>> Atako concludes.
<<Was for ten years...I stopped a year ago,>> Celeste smiles as she steps out of vision, straightening the others to join Atako on display. <<But I loved working here, so I became a display supervisor instead. Now, we'll get the support rods into you...>>
Atako gasps as something enters her rear end. It fires more jolts of pleasure through her body, though it is not as intense as the vaginal protector. Celeste adjusts Atako into a relaxed pose, the weight on one leg. <<There, you look better now,>> she smiles. <<Let me get the others set up and then we'll dress you.>>
<<Have me hold Haruka-chan's hand.>>
The husky-skinned woman blinks, then looks at Haruka, to Atako's left. <<You mind, Haruka?>>
Atako moans as Haruka's embarrassment...and the start of something else...flows over her. <<No, I don't mind,>> the blonde's voice demurely replies.
<<Okay!>> Celeste smiles as Haruka is moved closer to Atako. <<Let me stand up Kaori and Yoshiko, then we'll get you ready.>>
Minutes seem to fly by as Celeste adjusts the other two mannequins, then draws out some panties. First one leg, then the other is raised temporarily as the silk briefs are slipped into place. Atako sucks her breath in as Celeste's hand brushes past her covered clit. Further, via that touch, Atako could easily sense Celeste's own arousal. <<You like this, don't you?!>>
<<Greatest perk of the job,>> the American Prettygirl laughs.
Once panties are in place, the mannequins are then sheathed in thigh-length pantyhose, each colour-coordinated to fit either the chestnut-haired Kaori, blonde Haruka, red-haired Yoshiko or brown-haired Atako. Garter belts and G-strings come next to secure the pantyhose. Finally come front-closing strapless bras. <<I wanna see a mirror!>> Atako calls out.
<<Not just yet,>> Celeste devilishly smiles. <<Let me get you all dolled up, first.>>
She draws out a makeup kit, then applies light shadow, blush and dark lipstick to Atako. The others are quickly done, then Celeste does final adjustments on their poses. Atako's left hand is pulled slightly back to be grasped by Haruka's right. Her right hand is drawn to her hips, giving her a "what do you want with me?" look. Haruka's left arm is crossed so her hand could grip her right arm, leaning on her left leg in a semi-at ease position, as if she was saying, "you leave my girl alone!"
Finally, Celeste leans back to survey her latest masterpiece. "Beautiful!" she gushes, then smiles. "Be right back!!"
A floor-length mirror is then wheeled into position across the pathway. To Atako's delight, she and Haruka were looking at the same point. Staring at their image, the brunette sighs with contentment. <<That is perfect!>>
<<Yeah,>> Haruka muses.
Atako then senses the image of a beautiful girl, as tall as Haruka's shoulders, with shoulder length wavy green hair. Atako at first expected to see small hornbuds in the beauty's forehead, then relaxes, realizing this woman haunting Haruka's dreams was from Earth. Gasping, she mentally turns her head to gaze intently at the blonde. <<Haruka-chan...is that Michiru?>>
<<Yeah,>> a twinge of regret fills Haruka's voice.
Atako sighs. No wonder Haruka felt so hurt and confused; how could she have walked away from someone like Michiru? Still, Haruka was lucky. Atako could not imagine any of the girls he knew, even Lum, allowing herself to be frozen like this...
* * *
The first week blitzed past. Kaori had been correct; time moved much faster when they were mannequins. Atako was glad, she did not wish to dwell too much on what could be happening outside Prince & Co's walls, especially in Ataru Moroboshi's home district.
During their first week together, Atako and Haruka exchanged their life stories. Atako was surprised to learn her companion's other secret; that she was once a superheroine calling herself Sailor Uranus, a member of a local band called the Sailor Senshi. Michiru was another Senshi, Sailor Neptune. <<But doesn't that mean the team's got a hole in it with you gone?>> Atako wonders.
<<Not really,>> Haruka sighs. <<The threat of daemons and other monsters seems to have died down over the last while. I'm glad of it; I got so tired of constantly fighting the critters day-in and day-out. Besides, if there really was a threat, Sailor Pluto...>> Atako sees an image of a very tall suntanned beauty with long green-tinted black hair, <<...could just time-warp me from a time when I'm unfrozen to get into the fight.>>
Conversely, Haruka learned of the total chaos Atako's life had been when she was Ataru. How he tried to regain control over his life, live it out the way he wanted to. Haruka was appalled at the sheer callousness Lum demonstrated at times, especially when it came to idiots like those who had ended Ataru's life. <<Didn't she once tried to discipline those jerks?!>>
<<At times she did,>> Atako scowls to herself. When she was unfrozen, she would first call her grandmother and find out what had happened. <<But there were times she used them to crack down on me. There were times, I admit, when Lum did seem to care...but it was caring on her terms, not mine. You're lucky, Haruka-chan; you and Michiru had a stable, understanding relationship. I never had that with anyone, not Lum, not even Shinobu.>>
Haruka sees a petite, demure girl with chestnut hair to her shoulders; Ataru's first girlfriend. <<Yeah, you really were caught in a seige of bad luck, huh...?>>
* * *
Sometime late during that week, Atako found herself waking up...most of her time frozen was spent asleep, her mind reflexively shutting out the confused input her dulled senses tried to relay to her...to see three sophomore high school girls gazing intently at her. One had a notebook marked with the caption PRINCE & CO PRETTYGIRLS. "So this is the new one, eh?" the one on her right muses.
"She's cute," the one on the left hums. "Nice tits, too!"
Atako felt herself heat up; who knew how long it would take for her to get used to that complement. "That's Haruka Ten'ou holding her hand!" the one with the notebook gazes at her notes.
"Haruka?!" the others exclaim. "No way!!"
The one on the right then began to sing. "Haruka-chan's got a girlfriend, Haruka-chan's got a girlfriend..."
Atako tenses as Haruka's embarrassment flowed up her arms. "What are you girls doing here?" Celeste wonders as she walks into her field of vision.
"Who's she?" the one with the notebook points at Atako.
"Ah!" Celeste beams. "Our newest member. This is Atako Hana, from Wakkanai in Hokkaido," she waves at Atako.
The one with the notebook draws a pen and begins to take notes. Celeste produces a picture of Atako for the girls to keep. "Her's is a very sad story," she gazes at the frozen Prettygirl. "Atako was cut off from her grandparents one day when her parents found this hideous person to be her lover. That creep abused and tortured her, had all her friends abuse and torture her until Atako couldn't take it anymore, then she came here. Now, no one will ever bother her again."
"How awful!!" the one on the right sobs, dabbing her moist eyes with a handkerchief.
"At least she's with Haruka-chan," the one on the left sighs, then leans forward. "Haruka-chan, you take care of her, okay?"
Atako half-expects Haruka to answer. The three girls depart, giddily chatting among themselves. <<What was that all about?>> she wonders.
<<They're part of a growing fan club in Tokyo, the Prettygirl Wanna-bes,>> Celeste laughs. <<You see, they treat you as real women...I guess they somehow sense you are real...and decide among themselves who's their favourite, who looks best in what dresses, who would be the best date. You should've seen the flock which came around me, girl! Whoo, that was something else!!>>
<<So, I got fans now...>> Atako moans, then jerks. <<Hey, do any of them come from Tomobiki?!>>
<<If they do, I doubt that'll make them believe you were once Ataru,>> Celeste crosses her arms. <<"You" were just buried today on Nagaiwakai-sama's farm in Hokkaido.>>
Atako shudders, a clawing urgency crawling up her spine to learn what else had happened...
* * *
Atako snorts as her eyes flutter open, her vision clearing to see Haruka concernedly staring at her. "Hey, you're awake?"
Atako coughs, then finds herself in full control over her body again. "Whoa, what happened...?"
"You were fast asleep when they were undressing and unfreezing you," Haruka chuckles, helping her sit up.
Atako looks around, finding herself and Haruka in one of the small private bedrooms on Floor Seven, the door marked with a red heart emblazoned with ATAKO & HARUKA in flowing script. Looking down, she finds herself draped in a robe, her protector extracted from her vagina. "So, we're free for two days," Atako stretches herself. "Hope you don't mind, but I'm gonna call Grandma."
"Help yourself," Haruka slips onto the bed as Atako sits up, reaching for their private phone.
Atako dials a number, then looks back to see Haruka draw open her robe, her protector still in place. The inviting look on the blonde's face causes Atako to smile as she reaches down to gently draw the protector from Haruka's nether regions. Haruka gasps as Atako's finger brushes her clitoris, but by then, the other end has answered. "Grandma?!" Atako calls out. "It's me!"
Haruka sits up, drawing her robe off, then pulls open a small drawer full of her few personal effects. She slips on panties, a T-shirt and jeans as Atako chats away. She then gazes at the picture of Michiru sitting in the drawer. Drawing it out, she smiles, then places a kiss on her lover's lips. By then, the phone clicks silent, echoed by Atako's sobs. Turning, Haruka rushes over to gazes at her companion. "Are you okay?! What's wrong, Atako-chan?!"
Atako sniffs as she notices Michiru's picture in Haruka's hand, then smiling, takes it and places it beside the phone. Wiping her eyes, she gazes at the blonde Prettygirl. "Grandma just told me about what happened when they found my body."
"When Lum saw what was left of me, she just went ballistic!" Atako sniffs. "What a hypocrite!! Grandma's spies in Tomobiki told her that she did nothing to look for me after Rei pounded the shit out of me! She then tries to make a clone of me, but by then, Grandma and a team from the United Nations' Special Committee on Alien Activities are on the scene! My body gets flown to Hokkaido, Grandma accuses Lum of my 'murder' and the SCAA had her thrown off the planet before the day was done!"
"Wow!!" Haruka whistles. "With the way everyone in Tomobiki acts around Lum, that must've caused waves!"
"It did," Atako nods. "Mendou and Megane's boob patrol tried to convince the SCAA to let Lum come back, but they threatened to have the five jerks charged as accomplices to my murder. Grandma then tells Mendou's parents he's to marry Asuka Mizunokoji...that's his intended fiancee, a girl who is scared of men...within the year or else Grandma will engineer the bankruptcy of the Mendou Conglomerate. He gets dragged off. Megane and the guards try, but they're just four jerks who can't do a thing without Lum; with her gone, they're less than useless."
"What about Rei?"
"That's the surprising part," Atako shudders. "Shinobu, my old girlfriend, finds out I'm 'dead,' then she just goes nuts. She pounds Rei, as tiger bull, into the dirt, then breaks his spine to cripple him. Lan, Rei's whacko girlfriend, attacks Shinobu, but Shinobu turns around and drives her fingers right into Lan's skull, killing her on the spot!"
"Whoa is right! Shinobu then threatens to kill the guards if they ever mention Lum again, then storms away!" Atako sighs, wiping her eyes. "Well, later, Lum's dad tried to plead clemency, but Grandma convinced the SCAA to get the U.N. to sign an alliance with the Zephyrites. That'll guarantee the Urusians will never come back again...never again..."
Sobs shake her as Atako leans into Haruka's embrace. "I'm free, Haruka-chan..." the former sniffs. "After so long...I'm finally free..."
Haruka smiles as Atako vents out her frustration and rage at a two year hell finally coming to an end. Atako then looks up, gazing at this woman who had filled the gaping void in her own heart. Leaning up, Atako delivers a tender kiss of thanks, then shifts Haruka onto the bed. "So, what are we going to do for the next while?" the blonde wonders.
"We've got two days and a bit," the brunette meows as she shoves Haruka's T-shirt off her head. "We'll think of something?"
"Aren't we going out?"
"We'll go...eventually," Atako straddles herself over her...
* * *
To be continued...