"Moroboshi is still alive."
Megane looks up, surprised by Mendou's hissed statement. "What the hell makes you say that?"
The two high school students nervously glance around the Tomobiki High cafeteria. Ever since Lum was thrown off the planet, the teachers had become bolder in disciplining those attending this place. Any inference to the times when chaos ruled Tomobiki was quickly squelched, the offending students harshly punished. That had begun to reflect on everyone's home life. Parents who once wondered what was happening to their children now hounded them every day, forced them to forget those two carefree years and prepare for the harsh world beyond the district's boundaries.
Detecting that no one had heard them, Mendou and Megane lean close. "It's very simple," the former smiles. "It's taken me a while to understand exactly what was going on. Moroboshi is a lot stronger than many people give him credit for. I believe he faked his death so that his grandmother would have the emotional strength necessary to shatter Lum-san's dreams and see her expelled."
"You forget there was a body," Megane hisses. "We all saw it, even Lum-san. She couldn't deny that."
"True, but Nagaiwakai-sama and those idiots from the SCAA were on the scene before Lum-san could make a detailed examination of the 'corpse,'" Mendou muses. "Given that woman's infernal power, it would be simplicity itself to fake a body to trick Lum-san into believing Moroboshi dead, then whisk it away before someone would question the evidence."
"Alright, there's that possibility," Megane growls. "So, if he's alive, where is he?"
"Over the previous year, I've had the Kuromegane perform a detailed investigation of Nagaiwakai-sama's holdings. They've had to do it in total secrecy so as to not alert her own spies, but I believe they've performed the task well."
The bespectacled student quickly suppresses a groan; Mendou's paramilitary intelligentsia were well known for their incompetence. "Strange as it may be, they discovered that Nagaiwakai-sama only has one company operating in the Tokyo area."
Mendou chuckles, the grimace on his face reminding Megane of a stage magician about to unleash two rabbits from a hat. "Well, the company in question is Prince & Co, the ladies boutique in the Ginza. The one with those remarkably lifelike mannequins, the Prettygirls."
"Again, so what?"
Mendou looks around, then reaches into his pocket and draws a photo, sliding it over for Megane's inspection. "Look familiar?"
Megane looks. The picture depicts a moderately tall, slim but quite beautiful mannequin with shaggy short-cut brown hair, dressed in a beautiful spring kimono worn on Girl's Day. Gaping at the haunting features, understandably altered thanks to the change of gender, Megane stares wide-eyed at Mendou. "Gods!"
"Agreed," Mendou smiles. "The Prettygirls, according to rumour, are individually moulded from models representing a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Quiet practical in the fashion world today; not everyone is built like Elle MacPherson. Further, this particular Prettygirl was moulded from a girl named...Atako Hana."
"Ata-...?!" Megane exclaims, then blinks. "It's not enough."
"Perhaps," Mendou's voice turns velvet-smooth, "...IF you didn't know that Nagaiwakai Moroboshi's maiden name is Hana."
The former leader of Lum's Bodyguards stares at his classmate in shock, the information sifting through his mind until he too realizes the enormity of what just happened. Staring again at the frozen beauty before him, he scowls. "A sex change, no doubt. Perfect way to keep Lum-san away from him. Gods, hiding in plain sight, laughing while we were ripped to pieces! Bastard!"
"Agreed," Mendou nods. "So...do you think the other boys could be persuaded to help us investigate Prince and Company...?"
Megane icily smiles...
* * *
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 this part.
* * *
PART THREE - SHINOBU AND MICHIRU
Atako sneezes. "Whoo, someone's thinking about me!" she rubs her nose, then returns to guiding the brush through Hikaru's mass of red hair, her breath dancing over the frozen Prettygirl's cheek. "Sorry about that, Cupcake."
<<It's okay, Muffin,>> the mannequin psi-flashes. <<Just make sure you clean up. I don't mind you having a lovely orgasm over me but I don't wanna catch a cold!>>
Atako giggles as she combs out the knots in Hikaru's hair, then proceeds to re-lace her long braid. The brunette, reflecting Hikaru's preferred style, had allowed her brown locks to grow out until they too could be tied in a flowing braid.
It was unusual for Atako to be unfrozen during the week while Hikaru was frozen. However, since the former became a Prettygirl two months before her lover, atop Atako and Hikaru wanting to take their yearly vacation at the same time, Atako volunteered to work on an reduced freezing schedule until Hikaru's vacation time came. To prevent the muscular and skeletal atrophy which prolonged regular body freezing unleashed, Atako was a mannequin from Monday to Wednesday, then worked as mobile staff on Thursdays and Fridays. The only complaint display supervisors had was that Atako always took the frozen Hikaru to their bedroom every night so they could sleep together, which meant extra work in the morning to fix up the display.
Finishing with Hikaru, Atako turns to Haruka, gently sliding the comb through the blonde's short locks. "And how are we doing today, handsome?"
<<I'm fine,>> Haruka's heart-melting baritone echoes deep in Atako's mind. <<Just can't wait for the weekend to start so I can go see Michiru.>>
Atako bites her lip. "Haruka-chan, why've you never asked Michiru to become a Prettygirl? You'd be together full-time with her for the next five years, even more if you wanted."
Since very few people were wandering about this late Friday, just an hour before closing, no one saw the brunette having an avid conversation with four mannequins in the nightgown display on the sixth floor. <<I...>> Haruka's voice balks, then she sighs. <<I don't want her to become a Prettygirl.>>
"Why not?! She's gorgeous; she'd make a perfect Prettygirl!"
<<True, but remember, I became this after she and I had that big fight,>> Haruka reminds her.
Atako hesitated to remind her that after that fight, it looked as if Haruka's and Michiru's relationship was over. <<I made a decision without consulting her which would adversely affect our relationship for the next five years. I don't want to do anything more without her. Besides, if she became a Prettygirl now, I'd be living on the outside alone for over a year waiting for her to finish up her contract.>>
"Yeah, you got a point there," Atako nods, smiling as she blows on Haruka's ear. "I miss you, love," she whispers.
<<I miss you, too, sweetie,>> Haruka lowers her voice so that Hikaru, who could be as fiery as her hair when it came to someone eyeing her Muffin, would not overhear. <<Maybe we could persuade Michiru and Hikaru to make it a foursome.>>
Atako laughs as she turns her attention to Fuu. One of the reasons she loved working at Prince & Co was the total honesty the Prettygirls exhibited. Haruka and Atako did not keep their old relationship in the closet, especially when it came to Michiru and Hikaru. Both had been angered by their lovers' revelation, but a weekend of intense sex mollified them. Besides, threesomes and foursomes existed among some of the Prettygirls, so what Haruka proposed did not seem odd.
Finishing with Fuu and Umi, Atako kisses Hikaru, then heads off to work on another group. Glancing around the store which had been the centre of her life for fourteen months, she was taken aback by how much the world changed. The famous and the infamous alike had passed away over the last year. Princess Diana and her new boyfriend (Atako hadn't even known she had finally divorced Prince Charles!). Mother Teresa. Gianni Versace, whose designs Atako had modelled when he had come to Tokyo. The mass suicide of that cult in southern California. The trial of the Oklahoma City bomber. Being a Prettygirl sure wrecked one's sense of time.
Before she could get to work on the first Prettygirl, a voice calls out from behind her. "Excuse me, but can you help me?"
Atako turns to see a very beautiful girl the height of her eyes calling from a carousel of bras. Staring at this chestnut-haired beauty with the gorgeous eyes, she feels a twinge of familiarity, but for the life of her, Atako could not place face to a name. Smiling, she walks over. "Sure, what's wrong?!"
"Could you tell me which looks better?" she holds up two lace strapless bras, one a soft pink, the other a light tan.
Atako leans back as she compares the material to the woman's beautiful skin. "They both would look nice. We have a change room if you want," she indicates enclosed spaces to one side of the showroom. "Why don't you try them on?"
"Thank you," the woman smiles, then heads off.
Driven by that touch of familiarity, Atako follows her to the change room. By that time, the girl has slipped off her shirt and her plain white bra to try on the tan. Staring at her lithe figure, Atako could not help but wonder what she would look like as a Prettygirl. Allowing her imagination to run wild for a moment, she concluded that the woman before her would be exquisite.
Feeling her soft gaze, the woman stares at her. "Forgive me for asking, but why aren't you frozen like the others?"
Atako jolts. At first, she believed that this was one of the Prettygirl Wanna-bes, but the word "frozen" hinted that she was aware of the full secret behind Prince & Co's mannequins. Scanning her memory, she does not detect the woman's face from the pictures of past Prettygirls. "How do you know...?"
"I've been here several times since you became a Prettygirl," the woman smiles. "It was very easy to recognize you...Ataru-kun."
Atako blinks, then looks down. "That's a name I haven't heard in a very long time."
"'Very long time?!' It's only been a little over a year since you...changed!"
An impatient flash appears in Atako's eyes. "How do you know what we are?! I don't recognize you!"
The woman looks as if Atako had just stabbed her. "What?!" she spins around. "What did they do?! Did they brainwash you when they made you into a Prettygirl?!!"
"No, of course not! Now, who are you?!"
"It's me, Ataru-kun! It's Shinobu! Shinobu Miyaki!!"
Atako blinks as she tries to remember a woman by that name, then shakes her head. "I've never heard of you."
Shinobu stops, her face paling. Had the trauma Ataru endured before becoming a Prettygirl wiped out all his memories of life in Tomobiki? "You...you must remember me!"
"I don't," Atako evenly responds. "Now, answer my question. How do you know about the Prettygirls?"
Shinobu looks down. "My mother was one. Kimiki Yazunari. She told me about her life here six months ago."
Atako blinks as her mind visualizes the stunning raven-haired woman whose picture she had seen on several occasions. "She's was one of the first," a respectful smile crosses her lips. "Can't tell you how many bathing suits she modelled."
"She lost count," Shinobu smiles.
As the tension fades, both women laugh. "Look...Shinobu," Atako looks down. "I don't remember much of my life before I became a Prettygirl. When I'm told about it, others warn me that I really don't want to remember that life. It's over; it was buried with my old body. I'd like to keep it that way."
Shinobu feels tears sting her eyes as Atako's declaration washes over her. "When Mom...told me the truth about myself, about her..." she looks away. "When she told me that your grandmother owns this store and that men could become Prettygirls if they were willing to take a chance and sacrifice their manhood...it was then I realized you were still alive. I know how much your grandmother loves you, would tear the planet apart to save you. If you really had died, Lum would've returned to Uru a corpse."
Atako shudders, then looks away. "Please, Shinobu...don't ever mention that creature's name in front of me again!"
Shinobu stares at her. Lum was now a real demon in Atako's eyes. A vengeful smile twitches her lips. "I'm sorry. I didn't realize how much...you'd still hurt because of her. I'm glad of it; what she did to you was hideous."
Shinobu walks up, touching Atako's lips with her finger, then sliding herself against the taller bioroid...and jolts when a beige egg with ears, feet and angry eyes appears before her. "Puu!!!"
Shinobu scrambles back as the creature lands in Atako's hands. "What is that?!!"
"This is Mokona," Atako smiles. "He...doesn't like it when other girls try to make moves on me."
"Puu, puu, puu, puu!!" Mokona spits out a litany of barks, his eyes fixed on Shinobu.
The other woman shudders. The creature was kawaii, but its angry glare and barks quickly warns Shinobu of something else which has happened in Atako's life. "So," she looks down, tears flowing down her cheeks, "...you found someone else, haven't you?"
"I don't recall being your property," Atako icily replies.
"Puu!!" Mokona intones agreement.
Shinobu tearily gazes at her. "No, Ataru-kun. Lum treated you like property. I never would."
Atako blinks, then turns away to allow Shinobu the chance to complete her shopping. "I said Ataru was dead. My name is Atako. I would prefer that you address me as that."
Shinobu watches her go...
* * *
"The nerve of that hussy!!!" Hikaru growls as she paces around the room, throwing her hands up in exasperation. "How dare she walk into here, presume she has the right to tear your life apart without once considering your feelings, then walk away as if she did nothing wrong?!! If I ever see her here again, I'll fry her into ashes, even if she IS an Avalonian!!!"
Atako sits on their bed, her legs tucked in, her eyes gazing nowhere in particular. Mokona stares at her. "Puu...?"
"Hey, you okay?!" Hikaru sits beside her.
"I'm fine," Atako sighs. "It's just that...when I was with Shinobu, I felt as if she was...different from the others. She missed me. When she realized I was alive, it gave her such joy."
"Of course!" Hikaru sneers. "You're still around so they can abuse you!!"
"Not that!" Atako cuts in. "There were...times when I wasn't at my best behaviour. The others had every right to be angry at me. But...Shinobu wasn't the type who equated her happiness to having Lum in Tomobiki. In fact, she couldn't care less if Lum left. In her eyes, Lum was just a person...not some icon to be worshipped like the guys treated her."
"Well, I don't care what she thinks," Hikaru gently grasps Atako's hands. "She has no place in your life anymore, not if she still thinks of you as Ataru. And if she thinks she can force you back into that mould, she's got another think coming!"
Atako smiles, then draws Hikaru in for a slow kiss. "I'm glad our vacation's come. I can't stand spending just two days with you in the real world!"
"We better get started," Hikaru growls.
Mokona smiles, then discreetly hops out of the room...
* * *
"Hey, Shinobu," a voice calls out.
Shinobu looks up from her textbook to see several women walk up. "What is it, Momoe?"
All were her classmates at Tomobiki High School. "Can we talk?" Momoe wonders. "There's something weird going on."
"What?!" Shinobu places her book down.
The others sit on her giant beach towel, placing themselves under the shade of her umbrella. "So what's going on?" Shinobu crosses her arms.
"It's the boys," Momoe growls. "They've somehow got it into their heads that Ataru's alive."
Shinobu feels a cold chill run down her spine. "What made them think something like that?" she muses, trying to keep a straight face.
"They believe Ataru got a sex change and wound up modelling as a Prettygirl for Prince & Co in the Ginza," Kumiko explains, then bursts out laughing. "Can you believe something stupid like that?! I mean, Ataru a girl?! Ridiculous!!"
"It is pretty moronic, isn't it?!" another girl laughs.
"Those morons'll do anything to get Lum back," Shinobu sighs, stunned that her male classmates, who as a whole were not smart enough to figure our a VCR, could strike so close to the truth.
"Unfortunately," Momoe rolls her eyes.
"So, we better think of something quick to scuttle this before it gets way out of hand," Shinobu bites her lip. "I for one do NOT want Lum to come back!"
Agreeing grunts echo from the other women. "It has been quite peaceful here over the last while," Kumiko sighs, then gazes at Shinobu. "Some are still angry at you for what you did to Rei-san, but considering you were once close to Ataru, you had every right to fly off the handle like you did."
Shinobu smiles. "Thanks, Kumiko. All that time, I hoped that somehow, someway, I'd be able to form something with him. I guess after I started chasing Mendou-san, Ataru-kun felt that I stabbed him in the back, abandoned him to Lum's control. Now...I'll never get the chance to make my peace with him."
The others fall silent. Shinobu then jolts as Megane's mocking voice echoes over them. "Oh, there you are, Ataru!!! What brings you out of the dollhouse?!"
The women whip around to see Atako walking down the beach, her arm wrapped around Hikaru's, both in very revealing bikinis. The bodyguards were angrily leering at them. "Gods!!" Momoe exclaims. "It's true!! He is alive!!!"
"Momoe, will you look at her?!" Kumiko snaps. "That's a girl! There's no way Ataru would've allowed himself to get a sex change!"
The others look. Sure enough, Atako showed no sign of being nothing other than a born-and-bred woman. She gazes disdainfully at the guards. "Do I know you?" she icily breathes.
The four boys shudder as icicles form on their skin. "Ignore them, Atako-chan!" Hikaru sneers. "What did you expect from any boy from Tomobiki?! Intelligence?!!"
Atako laughs as they head away. Shuddering, the four lunge at her. "You come back here, you bastard!!" Megane howls. "You're not getting away with what you did to Lum-san!!!"
Atako sidesteps, allowing the guards to crash into each other and collapse into a pile of idiocy! "Who's Lum? And who's Ataru? My name's Atako! Now get lost or I'll get the cops to run you in!"
"Atako-san!!!" Shinobu calls out, waving.
Atako looks over, then wanly smiles. "Hi, Shinobu!"
Hikaru's eyes boil with jealous rage as Ataru's ex-girlfriend walks down to join them. "So, you're both on vacation, huh?!" Shinobu tries to ignore the Magic Knight's warning glare. "Why don't you come join us? Ignore them," she dismisses the guards with a wave. "They've never been able to get a life!!"
"So I've heard about almost everyone in Tomobiki," Atako rubs the bridge of her nose.
Megane appears in front of Shinobu. "Shinobu, don't you get it?!! This is Ataru!!! He's changed himself into a girl so he can ensure Lum-san stays away!!!"
"Since when did I EVER care about that Oni whore?!" Shinobu glares at Megane, then gazes at Atako's chest. "Besides, that doesn't look like a BOY to me!!"
"He got a sex change!!!" Megane grabs Atako's bikini top and squeezes her right breast. "These are fakes...!!"
"EEEEEEK!!!!!!" Atako screams at the top of her lungs. "HELP, POLICE!!!!!! CHIKAN!!!! HENTAI!!!! HELP!!!!!!"
Large shadows fall over the guards. "Excuse me, miss, but are these creeps bothering you?" a deep voice grumbles.
The guards turn around and look up...and up...and up! Looming over them are several VERY muscular United States Marines, their shaved heads, granite-like features and disapproving stares warning the guards that there are still those in the West who believe in chivalry. Instantly, Atako's eyes glisten with super-kawaii effect as she gushes innocently at her rescuers. "Oh, golly gee, Mister Marine, sir, I was so scared that these four perverts would try to rape me!!"
"Izzat a fact?!" the leader crunches down on what appears to be railroad spikes. "Well, we better teach these four little dweebs what Americans think of people molesting innocent women!"
"Right!!" the other Marines snarl.
The girls look away as the pained screams and shattering bones of four idiots being pounded into silly-putty echo over the beach. The other bathers hoot their approval as the guards, each now rolled up into a ball, are punted into orbit!! "Oh, thank you!!!" Atako gushes as she swamps the Marines with wet kisses.
"That's not Ataru," Momoe hums. "He could NEVER do kawaii!"
"Much less kiss men," Kumiko adds.
The other girls nod. As the Marines, now quite dazed thanks to Atako's expression of gratitude, saunter away, Atako turns to Shinobu. "Weren't they something?!" she gushes.
"Y-yeah!" Shinobu stammers, chuckling.
"C'mon, Atako-chan," Hikaru slips her arm around Atako's. "This beach isn't safe for nice people like us! Let's go!"
"Sure," Atako nods. "'Bye, Shinobu."
"W-wait!!" Shinobu stammers, surprised as Hikaru tries to drag Atako away. "Aren't you going to stay with us?!"
Her eyes flashing murderously, Hikaru marches up to her, then stabs a finger into Shinobu's chest. "Don't you EVER presume you have the right to dictate ANYTHING to Atako-chan!" she hisses low enough so the others would not overhear. "Do you understand?! Atako-chan is MY lover! You have no place in her life anymore, Miyaki! Never, ever make that mistake again!!"
Shinobu shudders, then feels her own jealousy flare. But before she could muster a reply, a flash finds Hikaru knocked away from Shinobu, trapped in Mendou's embrace. "Miss, you must not marry him!!!" the scion of Japan's richest family snarls. "He's an idiot!!! If you marry him, you'll have idiot children!!!"
Atako shudders as Ataru's many encounters with Mendou surge from the cloudy recesses of her mind. Marching up, she single-handed yanks Mendou off Hikaru, then sucker-punches him in the nose! "Leave MY lover alone, asshole!!"
"Whoa!!!" Momoe exclaims. "She's as strong as Shinobu!!"
Roaring, Mendou snap-draws his katana. "Now, you will die for what you did to Lum-san, Moroboshi!!!" he charges.
Seeing Atako brace herself with long practice to catch the sharp blade, Shinobu concentrates. <<No, Atako-chan!! Don't catch it! If you do, they'll know you're Ataru!!>>
Without any visible achnowledgement, Atako side-steps Mendou, her hand coming up to scoop his blade out of his hands. Twirling the katana around, she brings it down to slash across his back, not deep enough to cut through the spinal column, but deep enough to take him down!! "Ataru could never do that!!" Momoe gapes.
Atako then kicks Mendou onto his back, the blade rising for the kill. The other girls scream out in horror as the katana sails for his face. However, two quick slashes later, all Atako leaves are two shallow cuts marking an "X" over his handsome features! "Some man," she sneers, raising the flat of the blade over her knee. "Attacking innocent women!"
Without exerting herself, Atako breaks the katana over her knee, then drops the pieces beside the bleeding Mendou. "Let's go, Hikaru-chan," she walks away.
"Hold on," Hikaru holds up her left hand.
Everyone gasps as a white gauntlet with a red ruby appears around her hand. A second later, Mendou is inundated with a burst of magical flame!! "That's for feeling me up, asshole!!!" the Magic Knight snarls as Mendou screams. "Don't ever cross my path again or you'll be ashes!!!"
Hikaru then calmly walks away to join Atako, the gauntlet disappearing from her hand. Mendou moans as the stench of burnt flesh drifts over the beach. Shinobu breathes out, then glares at her classmate. She then blinks as volumes of heat pour over her. "What the...?!" she looks behind her.
Her female classmates are aglow with rage. "How DARE they try to hurt our Mendou-san?!!" Momoe growls. "They'll pay for that!!!"
The other girls chant their agreement. Shinobu looks away, shaking her head. "Atako-chan's right!" she mutters. "No one in Tomobiki HAS a life!!"
* * *
The next Monday evening at closing time finds Atako and Hikaru walking through the front doors of Prince & Co arm-in-arm, both with overnight bags slung over their shoulders. "I can't wait to meet your grandma," the latter gushes. "I hope she likes me!"
"Hey, she likes anyone BUT Lum!" Atako smiles, then blinks as the soft tones of a violin tickle her ears. "Hey, isn't that...?"
The two turn the corner, stopping surprisedly to see a green-haired girl standing in front of one window, her bow gliding gracefully over her violin. "Michiru-chan!!" Atako exclaims as they walk up. "What are you doing here?!"
"Oh, hello, Atako-chan, Hikaru-chan," Michiru Kaiou stops, then gazes longingly at the blonde Prettygirl adorned in a lovely black evening gown behind her. "I'm just serenading Haruka-chan. I just finished at the concern hall, so I decided to stop by to keep her company for a while."
"Well, if you want to do that, go on inside and ask one of the staff to let you in the display," Hikaru smiles. "All they have to do is just pull down the curtains and you've got total privacy."
"I...I don't want to be..." Michiru flushes.
Suddenly, Mokona appears in Hikaru's arms. "Puu?!"
"There you are, Mokona!" Hikaru smiles, then turns him to face Michiru. "Here, you get Michiru-chan inside so she can be with Haruka-chan, okay?!"
"Puu-uu!!!" Mokona gushes as his forehead crystal glows.
He and Michiru disappear from the street...to find themselves inside Haruka's window display. A second later, the curtains are drawn, masking the Prettygirl and her lover from peeping Toms. "Have a nice time!!" Hikaru waves as she and Atako race off.
Inside the display, Michiru groans as she realizes what Mokona has done. "Oh, they really are impossible!" she shakes her head.
<<I'm not complaining,>> Haruka chuckles.
Michiru hums, looking around to see that no one can stare at them from either inside the store, neighbouring displays and the outside. "Well, Haruka-chan!" she slyly shashays up to the frozen Prettygirl. "You appear so uncomfortable in that dress! Let me get you out of it!!"
Haruka shudders in anticipation as Michiru's hand slinks behind her...
* * *
"There it is!!" a heavily bandaged Mendou snarls, pointing with his katana at the looming edifice of Prince & Co. "The den of evil which has protected Moroboshi from divine justice this past year! It will protect him no more!! Find that creature and bring him out of there...and I don't care what condition he's in!!"
Around him, a pack of high school boys howl as they advance on the building...
* * *
"That's the place!!" Momoe snaps as she points at Prince & Co. "That's where those hussies who'd hurt our poor Mendou-san live!!! Let's get in there and teach them never to hurt our precious love ever again!!!"
Around her, a pack of high school girls scream their vengeance as they charge the structure...
* * *
<<Oh, Michi-chan, you're so good...!>> Haruka deliriously gushes as she finally recovers from the orgasm.
The nude Prettygirl is laid out on the floor, her dress neatly folded in a corner, a nude Michiru straddling her. "Good!" the violinist's eyes flash conspiratorially. "Well, we have the rest of the night before us!! Now, what shall I do next?" she emits an exaggerated hum.
Haruka moans, wondering if she can take anymore. Suddenly, a flash of energy appears at Michiru's eye level, revealing a panicked Mokona. "Puu, puu, puu, puu, puu, puu, puu!!!" the being jabbers a mile a minute, fluttering his stubby arms.
"Mokona!! What is it?!!" Michiru jolts.
His forehead crystal glows, projecting an image of a mob of angry boys trying to bash through the outer steel doors protecting Prince & Co from break-ins. "Gods!!!" Michiru exclaims. "The place is under attack!!!"
<<WHAT?!?!?!>> Haruka exclaims. <<Who...?!!>>
The door to the display opens, revealing Fuu and Umi, looking as if they've been interrupted from their vacation time. "Michiru-san!!" the former gasps. "The store's under attack!!!"
"I know; Mokona showed me!!" Michiru stands. "Who are they?!"
"They're Tomobiki High students; guys at the front, girls at the back, over three hundred altogether!!" Umi snarls. "You can guess why they're here!"
"Atako-chan and Hikaru-chan...!" Michiru looks down, then blinks surprisedly. "Wait!! Atako-chan and Hikaru-chan just left to see Nagaiwakai-sama!!"
"Right now, those dorks outside are so angry, they wouldn't care if we told them otherwise," Umi shudders. "Shit, over a hundred girls frozen in this place! If they go berserk, we're all in trouble!!"
"We can't get everyone downstairs fast enough to be unfrozen before they break the doors down!" Fuu adds.
The ringing of blunt objects slamming into the steel sheets protecting the doors from robbers echoes through the ground floor. "Call the police!" Michiru orders. "Let's at least get the authorities alerted as to what's happening!"
"We tried; the phone lines are down," Fuu grimaces...
* * *
A block away, someone steps into a phone booth and dials 1-1-9 to get Tokyo's emergency services. "Hello?! I'd like to report a riot in the Ginza! Yes, at Prince and Company! There's a whole flock of students from Tomobiki High School trying to break into the store! Can you please hurry; I think they're breaking the doors down now!! Who am I? Just a passer-by..."
* * *
The bashing noises become louder, mixed with the squeal of bending metal. "Oh, shit!!" Umi gasps. "What do we do?!"
Michiru draws out her private communicator. "Michiru to all Senshi," she presses the emergency transmit button. "Come at once to Prince & Co in the Ginza! Haruka-chan and all her friends are in terrible danger!! Please hurry!"
Suddenly, Mokona hops up and down. "Puu, puu, puu, puu, puu, puu, puu, puu!!!" he chatters excitedly.
"What is it, Mokona?" Fuu wonders.
The imp turns, his crystal glowing as it projects a beam of energy at the frozen Haruka. The plastic disintegrates as the blonde bioroid blinks. "I'm free!!" she gasps, sitting up.
"Can you do everyone?!" Umi wonders.
"Puu-uu!!!" Mokona happily chirrups.
"Good!!" Michiru draws her henshin stick. "Unfreeze everyone, but tell them to remain still when those idiots break in here! I've got an idea!!"
The others turn to her as Mokona races off to free the others...
* * *
The front doors explode!! A mob of enraged boys in dark blue uniforms surges into the store, eyes scanning the Prettygirls for their target. "Moroboshi is here somewhere!!!" Mendou bellows. "Search them all!! I'll pay a million yen to the first one who finds him!!!"
The other boys bellow as they race through the aisles and up the stilled escalators to the upper floors. Flashlights shine on the mannequins' faces as people compare their looks to pictures of Atako photocopied before the raid. "Man, this place is huge!!" Megane screams. "I've never seen so many mannequins in one store in my life!!!"
"Don't leave any stone unturned!!" Mendou barks. "Find the doors to the window displays!! He could be hiding there!!!"
"What makes you think he's hiding as one of the mannequins?!" Paama wonders. "No one can freeze a person into a statue!!"
"After what we've lived through, you believe that?!" Mendou wonders.
The tallest of the guards considers the point, then nods. An explosion from the rear of the store makes everyone turn, then surprised shouts echo as a mob of girls race in. "What are you doing here?!!" Megane wonders.
"We're looking for that bitch Atako and her friend Hikaru!!" Momoe snarls. "Did you see what they did to Mendou-san?!!"
Megane blinks surprisedly, then smiles. "Well, isn't that a coincidence?! We're looking for this Atako, too...only except that 'she's' really Ataru and that he's been hiding here all this time to escape our righteous wrath!!"
The girls spit out in disgust on hearing the guards' leader launch into his typically boring tirade. "Stuff it, four-eyes!!" Kumiko snarls. "We don't care about that bitch Lum! If Atako is really Ataru, that's even better!! With her gone, we'll make sure Lum NEVER comes back!!"
The boys howl indignantly on hearing that. "WHAT?!?!?!" Megane screams. "How dare you plot against Lum-san?!!"
The now unfrozen Prettygirls watch morbidly as the two groups of invading students lash out at each other. <<You know, we could just sit back here and watch them tear each other apart!>> Atsumi muses. <<It'd save us all the trouble!>>
<<And let them tear the store apart along the way?!>> Kaori wonders. <<Don't forget, we earn a commission on every dress we display!>>
<<Ooops!! Forgot about that!>> Atsumi chuckles.
<<Never mind!>> Michiru's voice cuts in, evidence that she too is the daughter of a retired Prettygirl. <<On three, jump them! One...two...three!!>>
The angry shouts between the Tomobiki High students turns into cries of shock and surprise as a hundred "frozen" mannequins come alive. "They're alive!!!" Momoe screams.
"It's a trap!!!" Kumiko yells. "Get out of here!!!"
Using their sudden appearance, their knowledge of the store's layout and their Avalonian powers to make up the three-to-one odds against them, the Prettygirls quickly disable most of the force within a minute of Michiru's call. Teams leap to the entrances to cut off escape routes. <<The jerks who caused this are five guys named Mendou, Megane, Paama, Chibi and Kakugari!!>> Umi flashes after disabling one group.
Haruka jerks. <<Those're the same five guys who're involved when Atako's old self was killed!! Find them!!!>>
Suddenly, the screech of many police cars and vans outside the doors echoes in the store. A megaphoned voice barks out, "THIS IS THE TOKYO POLICE!!!!!! ALL OF YOU IN THE STORE, LAY DOWN YOUR ARMS AND SURRENDER!!!!!! YOU'RE TOTALLY SURROUNDED!!!!!!"
<<Cavalry just arrived!!>> Haruka laughs as riot police form ranks outside the doors, then realizes something. <<Oh, shit, if outsiders see all of us unfrozen, everyone'll know what's going on here! Mokona, freeze us up and put us back where we belong!!>>
"Puu!!!" Mokona's crystal flashes.
Outside, the massed riot squads blink as a strange light flashes through the broken doors. "What the hell's going on in there anyway?!" the inspector in charge demands, then barks through the bull-horn, "GET IN THERE AND KICK ASS, MEN!!!!!!"
Loud bellows respond as the riot police charge into the store. "Someone get the lights on!!!" a sergeant barks.
The main lights come on, revealing the Prettygirls frozen and back in place...and a sea of beaten, bruised and unconscious high school students scattered all over the floor and the escalators leading to Floor Two. "What the hell...?!" a trooper pulls up his face-mask. "What hit these people?!"
The inspector marches in, staring at the strangely tranquil scene, before kneeling beside a young boy with a table broken over his head. Picking out his wallet, he quickly finds the student's ID card. "Tomobiki High School," he mutters, then sighs. "Get the paddywagons in here! Bring some buses from Central, too!! Once Lady Nagaiwakai hears of this, she'll want them all charged!"
"Yes, sir!!" a trooper runs out to the command car.
Suddenly, a door leading to a window display opens, revealing Fuu, Umi and Michiru (Haruka is again frozen and dressed). "Is it safe to come out?!" the violinist wonders.
"You ladies okay?!" a trooper moves up to help them over the unconscious students.
"Yeah, we're fine!" Umi pants. "Fuu and I work here; we were just showing Michiru around when these jerks just poured into here looking for our friend Atako! They thought she was Ataru Moroboshi and they wanted to kill her so they could get Lum back!!"
"They would've failed in their search; Atako and our friend Hikaru were on their way to Hokkaido this evening," Fuu adds.
"That's fortunate," the inspector walks up. "Mind telling us how you were able to disable all these kids before they tore the place apart, Hou'ouji-san?!"
"Ah!" Fuu smiles, clapping her hands. "Mokona!"
A flash of light later, Mokona sits in Fuu's arms. "Puu!!"
The policemen blink. "Meet our new security system," Fuu chuckles. "He's Mokona, a friend of ours from our travels in Cephilio. He animated all the Prettygirls and made them disable the intruders before you arrived."
"Puu, puu, puu!!!" Mokona chatters.
<<We'll NEVER get credit for this!>> Kaori moans.
"I see," the inspector laughs, then sighs. "Well, let's get these kids out of here! You can lay bets Nagaiwakai-sama will be here soon; I'm gonna love to see that!"
"So will we!!" Umi sneers.
Mokona straightens. "Puu!!!" he barks, his crystal flashing.
A hologram then appears of the emergency stairs, revealing five men racing to the sub-basement. "Hey, those're Mendou and Megane's nerds!!" Umi exclaims. "They're getting away!!"
"Where is that?!" the inspector demands.
"The sub-basement!" Fuu reports, then pales as the five race into the first room on their left. "Oh, no, that's the freezing room!!"
"It's where the Prettygirls are finished before they're brought up here!" Umi explains. "There're tanks of a plastic polymer there; it's kept constantly superheated!! If that klutz with the katana does something stupid...!!"
* * *
"Moroboshi!!!" Mendou screams as he looks around the strange room with the six cylindrical tanks. "Where are you hiding?!! You'll not escape us this time!!!"
"What is this?!" Megane exclaims, staring at the large vats of liquid polymer, tubes leading from them to each of the freezer units. "I've never seen things like this in a ladies boutique!!"
Kakugari reads the inscription. "Liquid plastic polymer!" he scratches his head, then blinks. "Hey!! That must be the stuff they use to make those mannequins with!"
"Bah!!" Mendou snarls, drawing his katana. "Moroboshi must be in one of the other rooms!!! Let's go!!"
Before they could move out, the double doors to the freezing room slam shut. The lights to the sub-basement's rooms are shut off as the police storm downstairs. "Oh, shit...!" Megane gapes.
Outside, Fuu and Umi move to snap open the doors. "Ready?" the former wonders.
Umi nods. Suddenly, an inhuman shriek echoes from inside the darkened room. "AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!! IT'S DARK!!!! I'M SCARED OF THE DARK!!!! LUM-SAN, HELP ME...!!!!!!"
The police blink surprisedly. "It appears that one of them suffers from claustrophobia..." Fuu muses.
Echoing the screams are the sharp noises of a katana striking metal and other things. Fuu gulps. "If he's not careful, he'll hit the lines to the polymer tanks..."
* * *
"What's going on here?!!" Nagaiwakai Moroboshi indignantly demands as she, Atako and Hikaru march into Prince and Company.
The inspector walks up, saluting her. "Lady Nagaiwakai, I'm Inspector Shigeru Tsuruoka. Students from your late grandson's high school decided to pay a midnight visit to your store."
Gazing at the file of handcuffed students being herded into busses for the trip to the nearest station, Nagaiwakai's brown eyes glitter. "They escaped justice when my grandson was murdered," her voice turns as cold as the North Pole. "Tsuruoka-san, see to it they do not do so THIS time!"
"Yes, ma'am," the inspector salutes.
The students quake as they feel Nagaiwakai's lethal gaze. Suddenly, a surprised shriek echoes from the store's lower levels. "What on Earth's going on?!" the Moroboshi Clan matriarch spins around.
The police tense as an elevator arrives on the main floor, revealing Umi and Fuu. "Umi-chan, Fuu-chan!!" Hikaru races up to them. "What happened?!!"
Fuu coughs as she walks past Hikaru, her face pale from what just happened below. "Inspector, I suggest you summon the coroner as soon as you can," she gazes at Tsuruoka, "...although you'll not be able to extract the bodies until the plastic cools..."
* * *
Hours later, Prince & Co is still surrounded by police as clean up crews arrive to return the store to order. Atako, Hikaru, Fuu, Umi, Michiru and Mokona sit across the street, blankets over the women as they nurse hot chocolate and coffee. Paramedics have already arrived, but none would be able to get into the freezing room until the liquid polymer is cooled down by the fire brigade. "Unless we get Mokona's help, the others'll be stuck as mannequins until we get a new freezer room set up," Atako sighs.
"Puu!!" Mokona's crystal glitters.
"Not in front of witnesses, Mokona," Hikaru warns.
The imp falls silent. "There is an emergency freezer unit in storage up in Sendai, I believe," Fuu muses. "But we'll have to wait until we have no witnesses."
"I just hope Haruka-chan doesn't get too lonely," Michiru clutches her violin.
The others gaze at her. "You can change that, you know," Atako muses. "I asked Grandma about you. Daughters of retired Prettygirls can come to work there; you have the same advantages as we. I could even arrange a shorter contract so you can get out at the same time Haruka does."
Michiru considers the point. "Yes, I think it's time that our relationship returns to a proper footing," she sighs. "I'm tired of not being with the woman I love every day of the week. I want that to change."
The others beam. "We're glad to have you," Atako smiles.
Michiru flushes. Footsteps are then heard. "So ends the chaos of Tomobiki," a voice calls out from behind them.
Everyone turns to see Shinobu emerge from the darkness. "Shinobu!" Atako exclaims. "What are you doing here?!"
Shinobu smiles as she sits beside her. "I came to see the damage," she muses. "And to make sure you're okay."
"Miyaki...!" Hikaru growls, rising to her feet.
"Please!!" Atako barks. "Don't fight, you two!!"
Shinobu and Hikaru tense, then gaze at each other. The redhead then senses something. "You're the one who called the police, right?"
Shinobu nods. "Oh, dear," Fuu shudders. "If word of that gets out, you won't know a moment's peace in Tomobiki. They may have forgiven you for what you did to that fellow Rei, but this won't go over so easily."
"True," Shinobu nods.
Hikaru blinks, then smiles. "Hey! Anyone who helps save my friends is okay in my books!!" she holds out her hand.
Shinobu warmly squeezes it, then laughing, embraces Hikaru. "But what do we do?!" Umi wonders. "Shinobu's still gonna be in shit when word of this gets around!"
Shinobu considers the point, then stares at Michiru. "Well, do you think Prince & Co can use two new Prettygirls?"
* * *
A month later, Prince & Co reopens after intensive repairs and the installation of a high-grade security system provided by the Zephyrite Inquisition. The crowds rush in as they gape at the new displays. Among them are a flock of Prettygirl Wanna-bes, books out and ready to make new amendments to their list of mannequins. In that group are a quartet from Juuban district in Minato, home to Michiru and Haruka. "Can you believe those jerks from Tomobiki?!" Makoto Kino (a.k.a. Sailor Jupiter) snarls. "Breaking in here just to find Nagaiwakai-sama's grandson, who died over a year ago?!"
"Are they idiots or what?!" Minako Aino (Sailor Venus) sneers, then blinks. "Hey, look!!" she points.
The four race up to the centre of the first floor, where several Prettygirls in Prince & Co floor staff uniforms now stand in a circle holding a banner welcoming everyone back. Standing beside Haruka is a beautiful green-haired mannequin. "Oh, we're so glad you guys're back together," Usagi Tsukino (Sailor Moon) beams.
<<Thanks, Odango,>> Haruka psi-flashes. <<Come around to visit, eh?!>>
"Sure thing!" the four Sailor Senshi declare as they move around the display.
"Hey, Ami, what happened to those Tomobiki jerks when they found out that those guys were killed?!" Makoto wonders.
"I heard that half the women captured that night wanted to kill themselves because Mendou had perished and they could not conceive of life without him," Ami Mizuno (Sailor Mercury) purses her lips. "As for the boys, many are still convinced that Atako is Ataru Moroboshi alive and well. But without cohesive leadership, not to mention long jail terms facing many of them, I doubt they'll be of much trouble from now on."
"Good riddance to bad rubbish," Minako sneers, then blinks. "Hey, speaking of Atako-chan, check out her friend!" she points.
They walk around to see the beautiful brown-haired mannequin holding one of Atako's hand, the other firmly grasped by Hikaru. Mokona sleeps in the crook of the redhead's other arm. Ami already has a brochure out. "Shinobu Miyaki," she reads the caption. "A former resident of Tomobiki, her mother Kimiki was one of the first Prettygirls. It turns out that Michiru is also the daughter of one of the original Prettygirls."
"No way!!" Usagi gasps, then thinks. "Maybe I should ask my mom if she was a Prettygirl!"
Laughing, the four turn to do some shopping, not noticing that the smiles on Atako's, Hikaru's and Shinobu's faces seem just a bit wider...
Never The End
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Urusei Yatsura (roughly translated "Those Obnoxious Aliens") is a classic Japanese animation comedy, which ran for seven seasons in the early 1980s. Those interested in learning more should turn to the Tomobiki-Cho website at www.tomobiki.com
Nagaiwakai Moroboshi, the Avalonians and the Zephyrites are my own creation, appearing in my UY fanfic series The Senior Year. To learn more about them, turn to www.linkonline.net/rlyudmursky/uy
Sailor Moon (full title Bishoojo Senshi Sailor Moon [Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon]) is a recent girl's animation series which ran for seven seasons. The first three seasons were translated into English by DIC; they could still be seen on many networks. There are too many SM websites to list in these notes. For your convenience, go to the Anime Web Turnpike at www.anipike.com and see the special page listing all the available Sailor Moon websites.
The names of the Sailor Senshi ("Sailor Scouts" in the NA dubs) were changed when they were translated into English. For your information, here they are, marked with (J) for their Japanese names and (NA) for their North American names:
Usagi Tsukino (J)
Ami Mizuno (J)
Rei Hino (J)
Makoto Kino (J)
Minako Aino (J)
Haruka Ten'ou (Sailor Uranus) and Michiru Kaiou (Sailor Neptune) would have appeared in the next segment of SM shows to be translated into English. However, Bandai (the company which makes SM) demanded too much money from DIC so no further shows will be translated until a new company steps in to purchase the English-language rights. In SM, Haruka and Michiru are a couple (I wonder how that would've gone over in North America?).
Magic Knight Rayearth is a short television series based on characters created by the all-women comic team CLAMP. For those who are interested in reading more, turn to the Anime Web Turnpike and check out the special page listing all the Rayearth websites.
Now, some basic notes:
"-san," "-chan," "-sama." These are the honorifics applied to a person's name, like our use of "Mr." or "Mrs." "-san" is the general honorific. "-sama" is the honorific used for very high personages. "-chan" is used as an informal honorific, meant for close friends, lovers, or by parents for their children. The other honorific is "-kun," implying good friends or working companions (or by women for their boyfriends/husbands).
"Greater East Asian War." The Japanese title for World War Two.
Shinjiku is a district in Tokyo, known for its upscale shops. I think the Ginza is located here. Tomobiki does not exist, but it is set in Nerima ward in Tokyo's northwest end. I do believe Minato does exist, but I'm not sure about Juuban.
The SCAA is based on the Men in Black.
"Kawaii" literally means "cute." The Japanese have a great fondness for cute things. That's the reason girl's eyes in anime are so big and expressive.
Fan clubs like the Prettygirl Wanna-bes are possible; the Japanese are attracted to anything which is new or unique. People who become too fanatic over something are usually called "otaku." In North America, "otaku" is mollified somewhat; it is used to identify all Japanime fans, like "Trekkers" for Star Trek fans.
The information released in Atako's biography in Part Two is pretty standard when people want to know something about someone in Japan.
"Hentai" is anything with a sexual nature. It is usually used like we would use "pervert." Another term is "ecchi," from the Japanese pronunciation of "H."
"(name) no baka" has several related meanings. "Baka" means "idiot." The particle "no" usually infers the concept of "is." Therefore, Hikaru's words could literally mean "Hikaru is an idiot!" Speaking in third person about oneself is common in Japan; a more better translation would be "I'm an idiot!" When applied to another person, it could mean "Hikaru, you're an idiot!"
"Sempai" is the term of respect given to someone who has more experience than you but is only a couple of years older. "Sensei" is the term applied to doctors, teachers and all people of vast experience.
If you sneeze suddenly, the Japanese believe someone is speaking about you.
"Chikan" is the act of coping a feel.
119 is the emergency telephone number in Japan, like 911 in Canada and the United States.
Sailor fuku are the uniforms Japanese girls wear to school. It composes a knee-length skirt and a short or long-sleeved blouse with wide, square collars reminiscent of a sailor's square rig dress uniform, complete with bow tie. On average, the boy's uniform is dress pants and a high collared jacket.
"Henshin sticks" in the NA translations of Sailor Moon are called "transformation pens."
"Odango" means "dumpling head." In the NA translations of SM, it is usually said "meatball head" (remember Darien's insults to Serena in the first two seasons?). They infer the balls of hair on Usagi's temples which lead to her long pigtails.
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