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A Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon story
by Benjamin A. Oliver

Disclaimer: Sailor Moon is owned by Takeuchi Naoko, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC.

Chapter 9-C

"Yeah, go, get 'em. Killlll!" Terra whispered as she mentally watched the proceedings, working to satiate her extremely destructive, bloodthirsty nature. A hockey game would work in a pinch, but they weren't very popular in most Lunar cities.

There WAS figure skating, and she had gotten rather good at that… much better than her sister or even the Princess of Jupiter, as a matter of fact, but that sport held no joy whatsoever for her. No conflict worth speaking of.

Also, assassins only attacked about once a month, so she didn't get to vent her contained rage very often.

These small things Starlight did were exceptionally useful to her, however.

"That was terrific," the redheaded princess whispered contentedly, relaxing into a nice, comfy chair.

It was the little joys like that kept her from snapping and blowing her cover… Not to mention the planet… She was just glad that she had enough stored energy to allow her other self to take care of that Xenomorph. It could have been… messy otherwise. It still was, but in a good way. Good for a horrible, barbaric monster, that is… but then, that was exactly what she was at the moment, to put it mildly.

"Darn proud of it, too."

Princess Serenity looked at Terra. "What are you so proud of?"

The fact that I could sever your head from your puny body in point-oh-three seconds if I really wanted to. "Oh, nothing, Serena."

Serena smiled knowingly, leaning close to her. "Why are you smiling like that? Did you find someone…?"

I'd like to destroy? "Hmm… You might say that."

"Who is it?"

Starting at the top of the list… "Endymion."

The other princess frowned. "He's taken," she said, leaving no room for argument.

Terra frowned. "But… I really want to—"


Terra sighed and shrugged. "Okay, whatever."

*BZZZZTZZZTZZZT!* Sparks flew as A.S.K. disabled the holding cell force fields via advanced application of the time-honored technique euphemistically referred to as 'BLOW UP THE CONTROLS!!!'

"Admiral!" the two prisoners acknowledged as they quickly escaped their prison.

"Communications, Tactical! Report!"

"We're fine," Tactical reported, ducking under a low-hanging beam.

"It's wonderful to see you, sir… but could you please stop calling us by our stations? In case you haven't noticed, we're not on a starship anymore," the officer that was previously stationed at communications said, brushing a stray lock of hair out of her face.

"Oh, keep your uniform on. If the ship's a problem, I can get another one," the admiral said, motioning for them to follow him. "This way."

Zorak and his mantis minions had the entire area blocked off. Even if the admiral could take out a Xenomorph like that, he wouldn't be able to get past THIS blockade.

"They approach," a minion noted, watching its radar.

"Prepare to fire," Zorak said.

The platoon of green bugs aimed their laser rifles at the doorway, blocking the escapees' only exit.

*Whoosh*Ching!* There was a green flash and a grenade imbedded itself in the metal floor, in the middle of the assembled troops. They looked down at it, then scattered in panic, leaving only one confused-looking mantis leader.

*BLAM!* Zorak was blasted. *HACK*HACK*COUGH!* He choked on the soot that remained from the explosion.

A guy in green camouflage armor appeared. "I'm the Atomic Starlight Knight, and you," he said, raising his hand and clenching it into a fist, "are now officially charcoal."

*BLAM!!!* A beam shot out from A.S.K.'s fist and blasted the unfortunate mantis.

"Okay, it's safe!" the admiral called. Tactical and Communications exited the corridor.

"Admiral! Behind you!" Tactical shouted.

"What?" A.S.K. asked, then turned around to see the giant preying mantis, fully regenerated, come up—

*WHAM!* —and smash his face in.

"Ow!" A.S.K. said as he -*KERRUNCH!*- re-adjusted his jaw. He looked at the mantis. "Hey! I blasted you!"

"I regenerated!" Zorak said proudly.

*BLAM!!!!* A.S.K. blasted him again.

"He's regenerated again!" Communications shouted.


"Ha! I regenerated… No, wait! Gimme just a sec— NOOO!"


"Sir, I… think you got him," Communications said, taking note of the sizzling crater where the mantis had been.

"One more for good measure."


"Satisfied?" Communications queried.

A.S.K. nodded.

"Where'd you learn to do that, anyway?" Tactical asked.

The admiral shrugged. "Read a book."

"A book, sir?"

"It was a good book… I think Queen Saturn the fifth wrote it…"

An orange and grey armored figure stepped out from behind a crate. "Oh, great! Ya killed Zorak."

"I know," A.S.K. said, walking past him, not considering him any sort of threat.

"I don't think you understand. Zorak is DEAD! Ya blasted 'em too many times!"

"That WAS the point of that little exercise."

The trio left the area, one whistling a cheery tune.

Zorak came out from behind a crate.

Moltar looked at him, surprised. "Hey, I thought you were dead…"

The mantis shook his head. "Nah. I snuck away and regenerated while he wasn't looking!"

Prince Endymion was feeling extremely… down.

On any other day, one might walk up to him, say hello, and ask what was troubling him.

Not at this particular time, though. The dazed, frowning expression on his face notified his shuttle's crew of one thing: Now was not the time to talk to him.

"Greetings, your highness," a lowly ensign said cheerfully. Endymion looked at him, a pained expression on his face. "Ummm… Might I inquire who poured hot plasma in your breakfast flakes this morning…?"

"Leave 'im alone, Jack!" a higher-ranking officer said. The ensign backed off, laughing uncomfortably.

The Prince sighed and slowly edged toward the docking bay that his crew was waiting outside of. Typically, there would be a guardian or four with him, but they now had other responsibilities. Nephrite had his duties taking care of domestic policy… Zoicite had to deal with her damaged mental state… Jadeite had gone into hiding for some reason, and Kunzite was in charge of overseeing the fleet; Admiral 'Tim was quite a handful… Not that it mattered now.

The admiral was probably dead, his ship destroyed while defending Neptune from an unknown enemy. His crew reported that he was still aboard when they abandoned ship.

A few recovered data recorders had shown the sheer power of the enemy ships. 'Tim should not have been able to stop them… yet he did. Completely.

Neptune was safe.

But where did that leave Earth? Almost completely defenseless. There had been significant political pressure for having the fleet reduced in size; its forty warships overpowered all of the other stellar navies combined, and that frightened many of the other worlds.

Well, they got their wish. The Terran fleet was now nothing more than scrap metal, just as it had been seven years ago…

Endymion shuddered. Seven years ago, the entire system was under the reign of terror of a horrible, demonic creature. It had incapacitated most of the Senshi, killed Sailor Saturn, and utterly destroyed Earth's navy…

If history repeated itself, then it would mean that the entire solar system would soon be under attack… And this time, there might be no stopping them.

This small excursion to the Moon had been nothing out of the ordinary; his presence had merely been requested by Queen Serenity, and Endymion would always jump at the chance to visit the Lunar capital and see Princess Serenity… But now, this trip had changed from a casual visit into a very somber occasion… There would be memorials to prepare for the brave souls who hadn't survived the attack…

"Um, excuse me," a quiet voice called from behind him.

Earth's Prince turned around to see Princess Terra, who was slowly walking toward him, carrying a small, yellow object. "Oh… hello, Terra."

The redheaded girl smiled slightly, a concerned expression on her face. "I understand that you've suffered some… losses recently."

Endymion nodded. "The fleet… By the way, you said you had a telepathic link to the admiral. Is it possible that he may still be alive…?"

Terra looked away, a concentrated look on her face. "It's possible," she finally said.

"But… you're not sure…?"

The Princess thought about it for a moment longer. She looked up at the Prince, opened her mouth to speak, then stopped. She looked down, adjusting her grip on the object she held. "Difficult to say."

Endymion sighed. "I'd best not get my hopes up, then… What's that you have there?"

Terra looked up at him and smiled hopefully. "Well, it's something I thought to give you…" She handed the object to him, opening it. Music began to play from it.

The Prince examined the object. A music box, of some sort. It was star-shaped and had designs on the outside, the Moon being the predominant decoration. On the inside, a crescent moon rotated in sync with the tune it played. The entire object, when closed, was rounded, semi-flat, and opened rather like a compact.

"What do you think of it?" Terra asked.

Endymion listened to the music for a moment longer. It did indeed seem to help his mood. He looked down at Terra and smiled. "I think it's wonderful… Thank you."

The Princess smiled deeply and nodded, turning away and leaving.

Endymion took a moment to contemplate Princess Terra. She had grown to become such a lovely young woman, and could be so kind sometimes… She seemed rather distracted earlier, but had apparently recovered from whatever was bothering her. Such a nice girl, really. At times, during his visits, she felt nearly as dear to him as Princess Serenity was.

Suddenly, the future didn't seem to be so horrible to him. Yes, there would be challenges ahead, but he and his people would face and overcome them, as they always had… and always would. He strode into his shuttle, standing high.

The ensign from earlier was cowering slightly.

"At ease, Ensign," Endymion said cheerfully. "No hard feelings. Why don't you pilot this shuttle back home?"

"Y-yes, sir! Thank you, sir!"

Terra walked away from the landing bay, almost skipping.

She had found a way to eliminate her extreme hatred for Prince Endymion.

The object she had given him, while making very nice music, also contained a virtually undetectable twenty-isoton destructive charge. Now, she didn't have to think about new ways of killing him, because she now had one ready, and in place. Overkill at its finest.

She didn't have to use it, but she could if she ever felt a pressing need to. That was the important thing.

Besides, she was relatively sure that her sister wouldn't miss that old locket…

"I love my life," Princess Terrifying whispered joyously.

"Come on, Admiral, wake up," Communications whispered desperately.

"It's no use. He's out cold," Tactical said, picking up his commanding officer. "Whoa… He's light for someone his size."

In their rush to find an exit, they had stumbled upon an extremely well-stocked agricultural center. The admiral had taken a quick look around, and spontaneously leapt into the shrubbery, shouting something about a 'Flower of Life' or something.

Unfortunately, that shrubbery contained several varieties of carnivorous flora. He had been stung repeatedly by the hostile plants and only barely managed to get out before he lost consciousness.

"Hmm… What's that?" Communications asked as they hurried toward their next destination, noting the extremely animated flower the admiral was cradling protectively in his left hand. "All that for a flower…"

*Thunk!* She tripped over a small box. "Aaaow… Wait, what's this?" Upon closer examination, the box was labeled 'Plant Antitoxins'. "How fortuitous…"

Tactical placed the heavily armored man on the floor and looked through the box. It had one device… with instructions, written in large, friendly letters. "Don't Panic! This is an all-purpose antitoxin for plants in this sector. Inject this into your bloodstream if you got stung by any of the carniv… carnive… meat-eating plants… Hey, ya think we should…?"

*BLAM!* A shot barely missed them. Groups of mantis warriors were advancing, firing wildly.

"It isn't like we have much choice here," Communications noted.

*Snick*Hiss* The antitoxin was administered.

The admiral instantly snapped awake. "Huh? Wha? Wha?" he asked quickly as he reoriented himself to the situation around him.

*ZZZT!* A shot ricocheted off his armor. He stood, unaffected, and stared down the incoming troops. "I think we should leave," he told his crewmembers.

They agreed wholeheartedly.

*BLAM*BLAM*BLAM* Blasts from the mantis' weapons flashed by them as the trio of escapees hastily exited, proving once and for all that some giant insects just can't aim…

"We must not let them escape," one nameless trooper noted.

"Zorak," another completely and utterly nameless soldier began, using a Portable Communications System™ to transmit its message, "they are moving towards the scrap yard."

[Ah, excellent,] Zorak replied through the Portable Communications System™. [That is located near the very core of this base… They will be unable to escape.]

The three ran through the corridor, dodging the numerous shots—

*BLAM*BLAM*BLAM*BLAM*BLAM*BLAM*BLAM*ZZZZT!* —which kept right on missing.

A.S.K. stopped and turned around, laughing at the oncoming horde. "HA! You people can't hit ANYTHING!"

*BLAAAAAM!!!* Oh, yes they can.

A.S.K. went limp, stunned. Again. Tactical caught him and continued running. "You REALLY have to stop doing that, sir!"

"IgereREsdzvuh," the admiral mumbled incoherently as he recovered from the stun ray. He landed on his feet and continued running under his own power. "Whoa, stun rays can really scramble your cognitive functions, can't they?"

"I wouldn't know, sir," Communications replied, getting rather winded from the long race to escape their captors. "Where are we going?!"

"Don't worry! I'll think of something," A.S.K. replied nonchalantly, then mumbled, "Let's all hope…"

They came upon the entrance to the next large, open area.

*BLAM!* As soon as they were in, A.S.K. blasted the door controls, causing a cascade failure through all of the internal security systems. The monstrous, six-foot-thick blast door closed as a side effect, just before any of the enemy forces could make it through.

*SQUISH!* Well, intact, that is. They had to try. There was a nameless minion code to own up to, after all!

"Eew," Communications noted, looking at the thick, green fluid with some disgust.

"Ah, giant preying mantis. I love the sound they make when they're crushed by a monstous, six-foot-thick blast door!"

The admiral's communications officer stared at him incredulously.

"What?" he asked innocently.

Communications stared at A.S.K. for a little longer, then shook her head and sighed. "Nothing, sir."

"What now, Admiral?" Tactical asked, glancing at the dim room. Apparently, while shorting out the door and the security system, the lights had gone as well.

"Follow me," A.S.K. said, holding close the flower he had taken earlier from the garden. It had not wilted even slightly.

"Power," Terra muttered. "Must get more power…"

Her Atomic Starlight Knight was going to need a great deal of energy to do what they had planned. It wouldn't be NEARLY enough to destroy a world, but… that didn't matter at the moment. Destructive energy wouldn't work for this plan, anyway. Just seven years ago, she would have had enough of that to convert into the type she needed, but now she didn't. So, she'd have to go locate a nice energy source and tap into that.

"Hello, Terra," Princess Serenity said pleasantly as she passed her. "Have you seen my Star Locket?"

"Hmm…" Not hearing the question, Terra briefly considered draining the life out of her sister. "Nah." It wouldn't do much for her reputation. Besides, human energy wouldn't work, either… Now, if she had some Juraian energy… "That's it!"

"Where?" Serenity asked, looking around.

Terra grabbed her sister by the shoulders and looked into her eyes, smiling brightly. "Juraian energy isn't that different from Human energy! Well, when you're trying to convert it, that is. The method I know, at least."

The blonde princess sighed. "What are you talking about, Terra?"

Terra's smile turned into a grin. "ENERGY, my dear sister! Energy! Can I drain all of your life energy and convert it into something useful so I can use it in my master plan to… ER… You didn't hear me say that."

Serenity giggled and shook her head, then left Terra's grip and walked off, continuing the search for her locket.

The redhead stood, slightly stunned. She frowned. "Hey… You didn't even take me seriously! Get back here! I'm not through with you yet!" She began to follow, but the panda from earlier decided to walk by at that instant.

"Growlf," it said calmly, then continued walking by.

Terra gazed after it thoughtfully. "Hmmm… There's an idea," she whispered, considering a new possibility. She glanced around and saw no guards… or witnesses of any kind whatsoever… No magical scrying going on, either…

Princess Terrifying grinned evilly and began to nonchalantly follow the large creature. "Oh, Mister Panda…"

"Well, that's better," A.S.K. noted at the sudden increase in his energy reserves. "It should be enough… Right type, too."

[Admiral, they've almost broken through the doors!] Tactical called urgently.

~ Emergency Explanation Power, Make Up!!! ~

What had happened was that the trio of escapees had struggled through the poorly lit junkyard and managed to find something that made the admiral remark, "YES! THAT'S IT!"

To which the other two had replied, "What's what?!"

And the admiral had looked quite happy and had pointed toward something that looked rather like an old, rotten log in the poorly lit area.

"It's… an old, rotten log," Tactical had said.

"No, look closer," Communications had responded. "See the insignia? It's Nemesian."

"It's an old, rotten… Nemesian log?" Tactical had asked, scratching his head.

"No! Look deeper… See the outline? It's a—"

"Starship!" the admiral had shouted triumphantly. "I told you I'd get us another one!"

To this, Communications had raised an eyebrow. "Sir, it's an old, rotten, WOODEN Nemesian GARBAGE SCOW!"

The admiral had merely responded: "Picky, picky, picky… Come on!"

They had then pried open a hatch and entered the ship, whose interior was an exact replica of the exterior: old, wooden, and rotten.

"WHAT KIND OF SHIP IS THIS?!?!" Communications had screamed, completely breaking character. The admiral and Tactical had looked at her, shocked expressions on their faces.

The admiral was the first to recover. "It's an old, rotten, wooden Nemesian garbage scow."

Communications fumed. "What POSSIBLE use could it be to us?!"

"Well," the admiral had begun, "this model, I believe, used the old magical antigrav and airstone stuff. I think it might still work."

Then, they had checked the systems through the bridge's diagnostic network. Yes, most of the key components were in workable condition, but there was no power to them.

Finally, the admiral had spoken the words dreaded by many a military officer… "I'll take care of it." And so, he had gone into the engineering section… what passed for the engineering section, at least, and began to repair some of the systems.

~ End Explanation ~

"Try it now!" A.S.K. called into the partially operational internal comm system.

The ship shuddered for a moment, then became still.

[No good,] Tactical responded.

The green-armored man sighed and looked down at the pink flower in his hand, then toward the smashed power core. "Well, I guess I'll have to use you sooner than I thought…"

A.S.K. placed the flower in the center of the broken, wooden platform and concentrated. The flower writhed slightly.

<Come on… Enhance the energy field… Something similar to Earth's should work for it…>

The flower seemed to calm slightly.

<More power!>

The small blossom grew marginally.


The plant took root, imbedding itself into the power core, glowing a soft, light red.

Lights blinked on, illuminating the area. Ambient humming began throughout the old, creaking vessel.

<YES!> A.S.K. thought triumphantly. "Try it now!"

[Aye, sir!]

The ship shuddered, then slowly accelerated upwards. Soft jingling was heard outside as debris cascaded off the old hull.

[That did it, Admiral!] Communications called down. [But there's still one problem. We're trapped in. This ship has no weapons, so we can't blast our way out… And I don't think the hull could take any ramming!]

Oh yeah… That could be something of a problem, now, couldn't it? "Gimme a sec. I'll think of something!"

[Hurry,] Tactical said urgently, [they've penetrated the blast door!]

"Okay," A.S.K. replied, rubbing his hands together. "What now?"

<Try a Juraian shipyard technique,> one of his inner psyches suggested.

The admiral thought about it. He slowly nodded. Juraians used a sort of tree to generate a living ship. He knew; he was there just seventy years ago, while they desperately tried to create one to fight him off with.

No part of that shipyard, the planet it was on, OR the enormous fleet the Juraian government sent after him would ever be found… Well, scraps larger than a centimeter across, that is.

Oh, well. Never mess with a pro, as they say…

Anyway, the process shouldn't be TOO difficult to reproduce in an Invid Flower of Life. It should, actually, power itself through most of the process. This old, rotten, wooden ship SHOULD be easy to incorporate it into, being mostly biological plant matter anyway…

"Cross your fingers, people!"

"Zorak," one of the lead nameless minions began, "they have managed to salvage a starship."

[What the… I thought those were all scrapped!] Zorak replied, somewhat shocked.

The ship that had pulled itself out of the scrap pile… looked like it belonged in the scrap pile, actually. Approximately twenty-five meters long, it was slightly reminiscent of a water-bound sailboat. It would have resembled one more if the sail was deployed, or if the mast had still been intact. In addition to that, the hull was badly pitted and cracks were showing nearly everywhere from stem to stern. Barnacles and a coral reef would not have been at all out of place.

"They were, but it appears to be repairing itself," that same nameless minion noted in its usual monotone voice.

[Excuse me?!]

Sure enough, the old, battered hull seemed to be smoothing itself out, re-knitting the cracks and ridding itself of the ugly blemishes covering it. It now had a well-polished exterior with a brownish, glossy sheen.

"Ooooh," the nameless minions said in awe, staring at the majestic-looking garbage scow.

[What are you waiting for?! Destroy it!]

The large group of completely and utterly nameless minions shrugged, lifted their laser rifles, and began to fire.

*BLAM* BLAM* BLAM* BLAM* BLAAAAM!* BLAAAAAAAAAAAAM!!!* And kept right on missing. Union rules.

[WHOA! What'd you just do?!] Tactical asked in wonder.

The flower now filled the entire power core, and it appeared quite content. It had absorbed the dead wood, expanding its being and its power, becoming one with the ship.

A.S.K. smiled. Now came the fun part: telling the plant in question what kind of vessel to become. He placed his hands near the main stalk of the plant, preparing the proper energy pattern.

"Tactical, arm weapon systems."

[What weapon systems…? Hey, where'd this panel just come from?]

On deck, the communications officer was at her station, marveling at the change the ship was going through. The open-air bridge, after having regenerated itself, had grown a roof and sealed itself tightly. Stations and displays were molding themselves into place throughout the entire section.

The broken mast and other components, such as the perimeter railing, had been absorbed into the rest of the structure, shaping itself into a much more aesthetically pleasing design.

The partition separating the upper and lower sections of the deck had smoothed out, becoming almost level with each other, and the formerly rectangular multi-section railing had curved into a single, round bar, tapering off toward the edges.

The bridge had also taken on an almost… living quality.

"Admiral, what's happening?!" Communications called down to her commanding officer.

{Don't worry about it,} the admiral's voice replied, sounding much more full with the improved internal sound system. {Are weapons armed?}

Tactical checked his readouts. "I… think so."

{Good, target the outside dome, and fire when ready.}

The tactical officer smiled. They were finally getting out of here. "Aye, sir!"

The nameless minions watched as the ship molded itself into a seed-like object. Its surface was perfectly smooth, a green energy occasionally illuminating random areas.

*BLAM* BLAM* BLAM* BLAM* BLAAAAM!* They were still trying, and failing, to hit the vessel. At this point, they were doing it as a matter of principle.

The energy that had been flickering on the surface of the small vessel began to concentrate itself at the tip, humming ominously. The energy condensed down to one point, then shot out in a thick beam…

*KABLAM!!!* That thick beam blew a huge, gaping hole in the side of the cavernous room, allowing a faint light to pour in from outside.

The small ship quickly flew out through the hole.

"They have escaped," an almost, but not quite, entirely nameless mantis said through the Portable Communications System™.

[Oh, great. Now I'll have to send out a ship to get them.]

Tactical glanced around at the many panels he was currently in charge of, amazed at the power levels he was seeing, and at the fact that they were all labeled in a his native language. "We're in business, sir!"

{Excellent! I've finished programming everything down here. I'll be up in a minute.}

"Programming?" Communications asked quizzically. Tactical shrugged.

A.S.K. walked in and took the newly formed command seat, situated in the center of the nice, roomy bridge. "Report!"

"We've just left the atmosphere of what appears to be Nemesis," Communications noted, having configured her station to also display the sensor readings.

"Nemesis, eh? Figures. They don't have much of an official government down there, and that sort of setup usually attracts bad-guy types like—" the admiral said before being cut off when the ship jarred violently.

*Snick!* Safety restraints latched on to the crew, preventing them from being thrown from their stations.

Tactical looked up from his station. "Admiral! We're under attack by three enemy vessels! They're behind us, sir!"

"Evasive maneuvers! Identify!"

"They appear to be of the same configuration that attacked the fleet."

Communications paled. "Uh oh…"

"Tactical, bring us about. Ready weapons. Communications, open hailing frequencies," A.S.K. said calmly.

"Aye, sir!" the two crewmembers replied in unison.

The small, seed-like vessel swung around quickly, concentrating energy at its tip as it weaved out of the way of the purple energy weapons being fired by the enemy forces.

The three spider-like ships each launched a black shape, which split into several groups of fighters.

The fighters fired, but their shots were intercepted by an energy field projected by their target.

The seed-like vessel fired the energy it had at its tip in a tight, focused beam that impacted the center of the lead ship, slicing it neatly in two. The halves shriveled, signaling the destruction of that ship.

The other two enemy ships backed off, their fighters withdrawing with them.

"The enemy forces are hailing us," Communications said.

"On screen," A.S.K. replied.

The front part of the room rippled, the image of Zorak fading into view.

<Hmm… I thought I blasted that guy,> A.S.K. thought. He shrugged. <Oh well.>

"Greetings," the admiral said in a friendly manner, "you are in violation of sections seventeen through thirty-seven of the Silver Millennium Agreement. Surrender and prepare to be destroyed."

"Admiral?!" Communications blurted out in shock.

On screen, Zorak laughed as if he had just heard the Funniest Joke in the Universe™. [HA HAA HA HAAAAA! In case you haven't noticed, you are not in any position to make demands!]

A.S.K. still looked calm. He smiled. "I've just destroyed one of your vessels in a single hit. Doesn't that frighten you?"

The green mantis leader smirked. [I have nearly a hundred more where that came from!]

Tactical and Communications gasped. They glanced at each other nervously. Nearly a hundred?! It had taken FORTY of Earth's finest warships on suicide runs to take out fifteen!

"Hmm," the black-haired admiral replied, unimpressed, "they wouldn't happen to all be in the hangar, would they?"

*Bloonk!* Zorak blinked. [Most of them… why?]

A.S.K. stood and grinned, holding up a small device with a very large, obvious red button in his right hand. He pushed that button.

*Beep!* The small device made a quiet noise.

*KABOOOOOOOM!!!!* On screen, there was a rather loud noise in the background, signaling the sudden demise of nearly a hundred Shadow vessels. A moment of Silence, please.

Zorak stared for a moment, wide-eyed. *Bloonk!* He blinked.

"Hah, hah!" A.S.K. laughed at the mantis snidely, pointing at him.

[Th-tha-that's… That's impossible!] Zorak replied in disbelief.

"Impossible, eh? Ya ain't seen nothin' yet!" A.S.K. said. He turned toward Tactical. "What is the status on the ship's infrastructure?"

Tactical shrugged. "It's stable, all systems—" He cut off as his information changed. "The ship… it's expanding!"

A.S.K. turned back toward Zorak. "You're gonna LOVE this!"

The small, brownish, seed-like vessel began to elongate and widen, grooves starting to appear at irregular lengths in its otherwise smooth exterior.

Sections of the hull began to bulge. Dark spines of varying lengths erupted from the bulges, curving forward and ending in sharp, black points.

At the front, two large spines with an inner serrated edge protruded from the main structure, one on the top, one on the bottom. The bottom one was slightly longer than the other. They curved gently toward each other, not touching. As the forward spines grew, the front of the ship slowly turned a dark, metallic purple, the color spreading across much of the surface, fading to the original beige wood-color as the change reached the stern.

Hundreds of small nodules appeared, evenly spaced across the outer hull.

During this, the ship grew… I mean REALLY grew. I mean a thirty-two-times-the-original-size sort of grew. It started at twenty-five meters long… It ended at nearly eight hundred.

The ship widened imperceptibly as four unobtrusive forward-facing energy cannons formed, each approximately seven meters wide.

Then, finally, the ship stopped its dramatic transformation.

"Now— Zorak, is it?— I'm trying to send a message out here: this is MY territory. Anyone who wants this system will have to get through ME first, understood?" the overconfident former galactic destroyer said, sitting back down.

Zorak didn't hear that last statement; he was too busy looking at his sensor readings. The expression on his face informed the admiral that his ship was just as powerful as he had hoped.

"And I suppose that I'll have to thank you… A certain flower in your little garden has proven… most beneficial in this matter," A.S.K. continued.

Zorak looked up and *Bloonk!* blinked. "Flower?!"

A.S.K. nodded. "Yes… a mantis like yourself wouldn't exactly know the true force of flower power, would you? Let me guess… you just had it in there with those other plants because it looked like it might jump out and bite someone, right?"

*Bloonk!* Zorak blinked. "What are you talking about?!"

A.S.K. shrugged. "It doesn't matter… At least, it won't in a minute or two. Tactical, arm the main weapon. Target the base and prepare to fire. Close hailing frequencies."

The screen switched to a view of the planet Nemesis.

Tactical looked around for the controls to the main gun, found them, looked at the energy readings, then stopped. "Uh, sir… about the main gun…"

The admiral looked up at Tactical. "What is it, Lieutenant?"

"I… don't think we should have a planet in front of us when we fire."

"Well, you've seen what they've got. This is no time for half measures. If we're going to take this guy down, I want it done right!"

Communications coughed nervously. "Sir?"

A.S.K. turned toward her. "What? Oh… this is that thing you've got against planetary destruction…? FINE! Be that way. Tactical, activate secondary weaponry. Lowest power setting."

"Aye, sir!"

A.S.K. rolled his eyes. "Bunch of pacifists here…"

The large, spined vessel rotated into place, its four secondary energy cannons glowing with a red energy.

The cannons fired all at once, sending their dark red beams lancing toward the base, stabbing into various sections of it, which promptly exploded in a brilliant flash of light.

The light engulfed Zorak, burning through his hard exoskeleton in mere microseconds, vaporizing him instantly…

All that remained of him, his base, and his minions was a smoking, radioactive crater…

He was never heard from again… Ever.

Then he woke up.

"Whoa," Zorak said, sitting up, his eyes still closed, "what a nightmare…"

"Zorak?" a voice called.

"Mommy? Mommy, is that you?" the mantis asked. "I had this horrible dream… I dreamed that I… got back into the evil mantis business… Then Space Ghost… he blasted me, momma, he blasted me and kept on blasting me… And then… and then… He forced me to work on his talk show! And he started blasting me more, and kept blasting me, and blasting me, and…" Zorak sniffled.

"There, there," the voice said, "you're back on the talk show, and you're never going to leave again!"

Zorak's eyes shot open. He beheld a man in front of him… a man in white tights, an orange cape, and a black cowl. There were red Power Bands on his wrists and he wore a belt of the same color. Oddly enough, he wasn't wearing any shoes or boots… "SPACE GHOST?!?!!"

"Easy, Zorak," Space Ghost said, holding out his hand and clenching it into a fist. "Daddy's got a Destructo-Ray to make it all better!" He pushed a button on his Power Band.



"Direct hit! Target destroyed!" Tactical said triumphantly.

"Well, that was over a bit too quickly for my tastes," A.S.K. commented, then shrugged. "Oh well. Our work's done here… Lay in a course for Pluto."

"Pluto, sir?" Communications asked. "That area of space is off-limits without proper clearance… and I don't think you have that."

The admiral paused and glanced at her. "Do you have the Plutonian capital's current date and time, right off hand?"

The communications officer thought about it and glanced at her watch. "Two, thirty-seven, nine hundred ninety-one. It would be just about eleven-hundred hours now. Why?"

"Good," A.S.K. said, "then I haven't missed it!"

"Missed what, sir?" Tactical asked.

"Sailor Pluto's birthday! Her official birthday, anyway… Quick! Open a channel to Uranus."

Tactical smirked.

Communications groaned at this and manipulated a few controls. "Channel open."

The viewscreen shifted to the picture of a nondescript, middle-aged, brown-haired man. He looked surprised. "Admiral! I was informed that you had been killed defending Neptune!"

A.S.K. smiled. "News travels fast, doesn't it? Well, Lord High Chamberlain, or whatever the heck it is they call you nowadays, as you can see, I'm not dead… I don't think, at least. So… spread the word. I found the group that instigated the attack against Neptune… and obliterated them. They were on Nemesis—"

The Chamberlain cut the admiral off there, an angry expression building up on his face. "Nemesis! I should have known. Those insolent pirates have absolutely no respect for our peace! Why can't they just go back to their planet and stay there?! I'll see to it that a full siege group is sent to put that forsaken world out of its misery! They—"

"AHEM!" The admiral cleared his throat. The man on screen stopped his rant. "Who asked you to go and jump to conclusions? I think it's only fair to say that I don't believe that a SINGLE Nemesian was involved in the attack in any way whatsoever. And as much as I'd like to see some systematic planetary destruction, my communications officer already talked me out of it! Can you believe that?!"

The Chamberlain blinked.

"So," A.S.K. continued, "how's Uranus doing?"

Tactical chuckled.

The man on screen cleared his throat. "Ah, the Senshi, or the Planet?"

"First, let's go with the planet. Politically speaking, has… Neptune been having problems with Uranus?"

Tactical laughed a little more. Communications stared at him.

"Actually, we've been getting along rather well with Neptune."

"I'll bet. How's the Princess of Uranus doing?"

"Which one?"

"Oh, I don't know… the eldest. How's Sailor Uranus doing?"

"Fine, as far as I know."

"How's her brother doing?"

"I… don't know."

"Hmm… Why don't you know?"

"He's not here. He was invited to a party…"



"Pluto, right?"

"Why… yes, how did you know? I mean, that's highly classified information… We are on a closed channel, aren't we?"

"Yeah, probably. Thank you for your time, Chamberlain. It is Chamberlain, right? Close channel."

The screen went blank.

"What was that all about?" Communications asked.

"Absolutely nothing whatever," the admiral replied. "Open a channel to Neptune."

"Channel open."

The screen faded into the image of an aqua-haired young woman dressed as a Sailor Senshi.

"Ah, Sailor Neptune," A.S.K. greeted. "A rare pleasure indeed. So, what brings you to speak on this lowly channel?"

Neptune smiled. "I heard about the battle and am glad to see that you've survived. I answered the call because I wanted to thank you personally. My people have recovered the data recorders and reviewed the situation. What you and your crews did out there was phenomenal. On behalf of my people, I thank you."

"And," the admiral replied, "on behalf of the many Terran crews that were crazy enough to stick around and obey my orders, you're welcome."

"By the way, I don't recognize the configuration of your ship's bridge."

A.S.K. looked around. Yup, his bridge didn't look anything like the usual Earthling style. The configuration was, actually, quite similar, but the organic qualities made it look totally alien. It was, of course, but aren't we all? "Good. Neither do I. I just built the thing with an old scrap heap, a flower, and a small amount of pseudo-Juraian energy."

Neptune laughed. "It sounds like you may yet outdo the ArbyFish when it comes to constructing something out of nothing."

A.S.K. raised an eyebrow. "The ArbyFish?"

"Sailor Pluto's advisor. He took over after Charon retired."

"Retired? Charon was her cat, right? I didn't think those things ever retired."

"There is a first time for everything. I understand that the workload was rather… daunting. Pluto needed a replacement, and Arby was the only thing available."

"'Thing?' You mean cat, or advisor, right?"

Neptune shook her head. "No, I mean 'thing'. He was a Mercurian lab accident, I believe."

"A lab accident?"

Neptune nodded.

"Working for Sailor Pluto?"

Neptune nodded once more.

"THIS I gotta see… Oh, by the way, have you been having problems with Uranus?"

Tactical began rolling on the floor, laughing hysterically.

Sailor Neptune raised an eyebrow. "No… Why do you ask?"

A.S.K. had not lost his straight face. "No reason. Bye. Close channel."

The screen went blank.

Communications glanced down at the laughing tactical officer and looked at the admiral. "That was uncalled for."

"That was GREAT, sir!" Tactical said, regaining his footing.

Communications sighed and shook her head. "Admiral, I'm almost certain that making crank calls to high-ranking foreign officials on designated military channels is a court-martial offense."

A.S.K. thought about it. "No… Actually, I think it just gets you a reprimand on your permanent record… Attacking a restricted area, however… Hmm… Lay in a course for Pluto. Arm all weapons."

"Um, you're absolutely sure, Admiral?"

"Of course I am!" the admiral replied. He had a party to crash and planetary defenses to overcome. "Pluto's going to LOVE what I've got for her this year."

Queen Serenity sighed, looking over the passed-out form of the large panda. It had been advising her on a large multitude of marital aspects for such a long time today. He hadn't even complained of becoming tired throughout the entire discussion.

She didn't know how long it had been since the creature had rested. It had shown up earlier, attempting to find food any way it could. Poor thing… It looked positively starving when it came.

"Take him to the guest quarters," Queen Serenity told her awaiting servants, then left.

The small group of servants looked at each other, then down at the panda, wondering about the best way to pick up such a heavy creature.

"'Spose we could chop 'em up…"

"AAAaao… I guess we could."

"But that'd leave a mess all ova' the noice, claine car'pet!"

"Oh, well, the carpet… Can't mess that up."

"We could use a system of levers and pulleys…"

"Naah… Wouldn't be propa' ta set up machinery 'ere… Though the ropes'd be a good idea…"

"Roight! We could tie 'em ta a stone bridge—"

"What'd that do, Bevis?"

"Nothing, Vera… But we could collapse the bridge and have that haul it off…"

"Noooo… We get a bunch a' apples n' pears n' roll 'em away!"

"Couldn't we use swallows fo' that?"

"Hmm…. I s'pose so. But the swallows'd be crushed! I mean, a five ounce swallow couldn't bear the weight of a five-hundred pound panda!"

"But if we yoked up a whole LOT a' swallows…"

"They wouldn't 'ave enough strength!"

"No, wait, if we could use Jovian Swallows…"

"Do we have any Jovian Swallows?"

"No… So, I guess that wouldn't work if we don't 'ave any… Ya know…"

"I still think we should chop 'em up…"

"…'Think so?"


"Roight," the servants all concluded with a nod, taking out various Sharp Things™… right before the panda began to rouse.

"Urrllgh… Grolf…" it said, sitting up.

The servants looked at each other.

"Does this mean we don't get ta kill 'em?"

"…I don't know."

"Well… 'e's up, so we kin go 'ave tea…"

"But I want to cut 'is 'ead off!"

"Oh, cut yer own head off!"

"I want ta 'ave tea!"

The panda listened to the conversation, and wisely decided that a rapid exit would be the most prudent course of action, even though he was not exactly renowned for his wisdom…

"Alroight… We'll kill 'em first, then 'ave tea n' biscuits."

"Oh, not biscuits…"

"'Aven't we done this joke before…?"

"No… We couldn't 'ave… 'Ave we?"

"…We could 'ave… But what about Tea?"

"No biscuits, please!"

"Alroight… Not biscuits, but let's kill 'em anyway!"

"Roight!" the servants concluded in unison.

They looked around.

"'E buggered off!"

"So 'e 'as!"

"'E's scarpered…"

o/ Brave Sir Panda ran away!
Bravely ran away, away!

When danger reared its ugly head,
He bravely turned his tail and fled!

Yes, Brave Sir Panda turned about,
And gallantly, he chickened out.

Bravely taking to his feet,
He beat a very brave retreat,
Bravest of the brave, Sir Panda! \o

Amidst his strategic retreat through the Romanesque architecture, the panda looked around in confusion as he heard the singing.

Trying not to listen to it, he found a secluded spot and took out a mirror: one that had apparently been shattered and pieced back together with masking tape.

Quickly pulling out and peeling an onion, he shed a tear on the mirror, which crackled for a moment.


The panda and the mirror vanished in a flash of light.

And, on the planet known as Pluto… in the bedroom of Sailor Pluto, as a matter of fact…

"Thanks for the lift," Sailor Pluto called back as she exited the small, blue structure with the words ‘Police Box’ inscribed above the doorway.

A small, green creature also fluttered out of the Police Box. It wore a very long scarf. "Thank'yew, sir!"

"Arby, give that back," Pluto ordered.

"Oh, but I loikes it!"


"Oh, foine," Arby said, fluttering back inside. He came back out without the scarf and carrying a green Jellybaby, which he swallowed. "Quoite tasty… loike mushrooms."

*Vrrr!*Vrr!* The Police Box disappeared, making odd noises as it did.

Sailor Pluto turned toward Arby. "This will be the last time that you will ever accompany me through the time gate."

"Oh, but I loike to!" Arby said pleadingly. "Gives me a chance ta look up the real big mushrooms. They 'ad GIGANTIC mushrooms back then. Nowadays we got these li’l' mushrooms, ya know… get up ta Portobello mushrooms… but they still aren't very big… But when we go back in toime, they've got HUGE mushrooms. I mean, they've found skelet'ns a' ancient mushrooms that ‘uld've dwarfed office buildings! If I got a 'old a one a those, it could be worth millions!"

Sailor Pluto blinked. "I see…"

"Yeah. The skelet'ns weren't quoite as big as the real thing."

"Mushrooms do not have skeletons."

"Oh, that's just wot they want'cha ta believe, innit? It's a conspiracy, I tell ya. Tryin' ta cova' up th' fact that mushrooms ar' a 'igher life form than cucumbers. Well, they're not quite as advanced as beans, but… Ya know… Mushrooms, beans, cucumbers… sorta a package deal when ya come ta think 'bout it. But… when ya turn the cucumbers inta pickles, they've got a technol'gy that far exceeds the mushrooms in most respects… But until that 'appens, mushrooms 'ave, by far, made the most progress."

Pluto sighed, shaking her head at the odd little creature's rant. Arby was one of the very few special beings that threatened to drive her completely insane. Glancing at the smashed tip of her time staff, the guardian of the Gate of Time continued her explanation. "Your actions nearly put the timeline in jeopardy."

Arby fluttered up and landed on her head. "Well, if th' mushroom was too big for th' staff… moight 'xplain why it broke, ya know… Gimme eight seconds n' a can a' bean sprouts, n' I'll 'ave it fixed up roight noice for ya."

The green-haired Senshi sighed and held out her staff. Arby flew off the top of her head, clamped onto the staff with his front flippers, and dragged it off, humming an odd tune.

"He's going to be the end of me," Pluto whispered to herself, absolutely sure of it. Well, she didn't exactly KNOW it was going to happen… it wasn't DESTINED, per se, but sometimes, it sure felt like it.

The ArbyFish flew back in without the time staff. "Oh, by the way, 'Appy Birthday." He fluttered off.

Pluto closed her eyes and concentrated.

Calm in…

Frustration out…

Lather, rinse, repeat…

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…

The universe is chock full of unsolvable mysteries. Pluto knew most of the solutions… but there were a few that escaped even her.

The one that weighed most heavily on her mind at this moment was the question of why she had allowed old Charon to retire. He was highly reliable, rarely made any small mistakes… and NEVER made a major blunder. He also was very good at keeping temporal secrets. He didn't do half bad on the reports that had to be made, either, being a grammatical master as well. She could never have hoped for a more perfect advisor.

The replacement, on the other hand, was the most… the most… Well, he was something…

Scary, that is.

But, she didn't want to think about that right now. She had a party to attend. Each year, it was always fascinating to see what the ones she invited got for her. After all, what do you get for the person who's supposed to know everything?

She made a point of never doing a temporal scan of her birthday… A girl's gotta have SOME pleasant surprises in her life, after all. If she didn't have this day for good surprises, all she'd ever get were the surprises that threatened to destroy everything. And those weren't nearly as fun as they were cracked up to be.

Normally, Sailor Pluto would ask Charon to keep an eye on this day's temporal events, and warn her if there was something dire, which there invariably was, but not usually until her party was over. It seemed that the universe had at least SOME sense of decency when it came to things like this.

But since Charon had retired… Arby would have to look after the timeline for today.

Pluto shuddered. She wouldn't trust that thing to sort her socks.

Arby fluttered in. "Finished sortin' ya socks." He flew off.

Well, okay… maybe if there weren't any mushrooms or other added surprises, she would trust him to sort her socks. But she wouldn't trust him with anything more important than that… like having her clothes dry-cleaned.

Arby fluttered in once more, carrying in an ornate dress on a hanger. "Got ya dress noice n' dry-cleaned. 'Ere ya go." He gave Sailor Pluto her dress and left again.

As she noticed the extreme lack of mushrooms on her dress, Pluto began to consider the possibility that Arby was not a total loss as an assistant. But, he simply wouldn't do as an advisor. She would have to assign someone else to check up on things like the planetary defense grid.

Arby entered again. He flew up in front of Sailor Pluto and saluted, hovering within inches of her face. "I check'd out th' status of th' Plane'ary Defense Grid, n' found the auta'mated syst'ms ta be a li’l' unstable. I assoigned a few repair crews ta go n' fix it." He left again.

Sailor Pluto stared after the odd, greenish creature. Okay, so he does well with those things… but could she really trust him to monitor today's time stream? He seemed to have something of a short attention span… Would he merely stand by, watching for any dangers?

Sure enough, Arby entered again. This time, he was dragging in the time staff. "Found sum sprouts, weren't bean koind, but they works just as well. Fixed it up roight noicely, it did. 'Ere ya go," He leaned the staff against a wall, "I'll be off now ta watch th' toimeloine. 'Ave fun at ya party." He began to flutter off.

"Wait," Pluto said. Arby stopped and turned around, fluttering midair. "Are you certain that you will not be… bored while doing this?"

Arby shook his head. "Nope. Brought a book," he said, indicating the strap over his shoulder, which connected to a sack slightly larger than he was. Poking out was a rather thick book, the title of which was, ‘The Sailor Senshi: Phenomenal Cosmic Powers… Itty Bitty Miniskirts’.

Pluto twitched. It was THAT book again. "So, you are reading Admiral 'Tim's work, then?"

Arby nodded. "Indeed."

Pluto sighed. Well… MAYBE he'd be able to do the job… The danger seemed low enough to risk it. "Very well. Continue."

"Thank you," Arby said before leaving… again.

"What next?" Pluto asked rhetorically, knowing exactly the sort of response that would be elicited from that statement.

"NOW!!!" a voice rang out. Within one half second, Pluto was surrounded by a large group of armed, black-uniformed soldiers. "HANDS UP! HANDS UP! MAKE ANY FALSE MOVES AND WE'LL FIRE!!!"

Pluto put her hands up and sighed. "Access Alpha one, five six, theta jay, beta charlie."

The soldiers lowered their weapons. One stepped forward with a scanning device. After taking a few readings, he stepped back and nodded at another soldier. "Confirmed. It's her."

The group of soldiers collectively breathed a sigh of relief. The leader stepped forward. "Apologies, Lady Pluto. The internal sensors picked up an unauthorized entry. The sensors said it was you… but we did not detect the time staff. We do now, but—"

"And to answer your question," Pluto cut in, "the reason for me not notifying you of the unusual circumstances concerning my arrival was in order to test security."

The soldier looked puzzled. "Test us, my lady?"

"Our security is far too slow. Had I been an actual intruder, there would have been untold damage done before you arrived… and your current weaponry is far too underpowered for any intruders that would have been able to breach our defenses. Upgrade to the nine thousand-delta series. The larger ones."

The leader of the group looked down at his rifle, then back up at Pluto, and smiled. "Yes, my lady. And, Happy Birthday," he said before vanishing, along with the rest of the security team.

Sailor Pluto slowly shook her head. The security force had completely forgotten to ask her for the secondary code. There was none, of course, but that question was mandatory in intruder cases.

Somebody was going to get a reprimand in his or her permanent record… This was Pluto, after all! It had the tightest security in the solar system. There was a time travel device to be guarded!

In orbit of that same planet, a few repair crews were being moved into place in order to fix an instability in the orbital defense system's artificial intelligence matrix.

A majority of Pluto's defense systems were automated, containing the most advanced technology the human race had ever known. Having access to a time machine does tend to help one's research capabilities, and they needed all the power they could get to defend that time machine.

Sailor Pluto was the very last line of defense. The planet had its own security force, stellar navy, and research facilities to improve the other two.

Research had not been emphasized in any significant way until seven years ago, when the defenses had been proven completely ineffective against an extremely powerful foe. That foe had gone on to greatly undermine the destinies of the other worlds.

It had been decided that such a thing could not be allowed to happen again, under any circumstances. It had been suggested that an ultra-high technological level would be the most effective way to strengthen the planet's defenses.

[SCV three reporting: Defense platform sixty-three checks out. Moving on to sixty-four.]

[Starbase four reporting: Level two diagnostic complete. All systems nominal.]

[Battlecruiser twenty-nine reporting: All systems are go.]

And, while we're at it, why not be safe in numbers?

[SCV one reporting: Control nodule twelve is stable.]

An interesting thing to note is that while nearly all of the orbital equipment is automated, almost none of the planetary security is controlled by an AI.

[SCV nine reporting: Defense platform diagnostics complete: all units are functioning within specified parameters.]

[Starbase five reporting: Level one diagnostic complete. All systems nominal.]

[Battlecruiser thirty reporting: All systems are go.]

That comes to a total of sixty-five defense platforms, thirty battlecruisers, and five major starbases. And that's only the lower-tech stuff that required periodic maintenance. Pluto had technologies at its disposal that were completely indistinguishable from pure magic.

[Special class multi-purpose 'Specter' fighters one through fifty are all working within specified parameters.]

All of this was controlled by an artificial intelligence that was equally distributed throughout the defense system via the control nodules. Pluto, unlike Earth or Jupiter, simply didn't have enough people to throw around as cannon fodder.

[SCV one reporting: Beginning scan of control nodule thirteen…]

Wouldn't it be just terrible if the entire system were to suddenly… malfunction?

[…Danger! Control nodule thirteen is highly unstable. Attempting to sever its connection to the network.]

The maintenance workers held their respective breaths. This could be bad.

[Nodule thirteen disconnected. Checking network for possible spreading of instability.]

If it spread… this could be VERY bad.

[Entire AI control mechanism has been corrupted… attempting to shut down.]

The defense platforms rotated to face the planet. The battlecruisers did the same. Fighters began to pour from the starbases.

[Shut down procedure has failed. No more failsafes are in place. Situation analysis: We're doomed.]

[Aw, shoot,] an SCV pilot said sadly. [And I was just two weeks from retirement, too.]

[Um, guys? These things' weapons are targeting us…]

[Perhaps we should notify home base…?]


[Right. Base: This is orbital SCV one, we have a proble—]

The transmission broke off as the entire maintenance crew was blasted to pieces by the berserk fighters.


Continued in Part 9-D

Chapter 9-D
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