Continuing Tales

Dark Kingdom Renegades 2: Bad Moon Rising

A Sailor Moon Story
by Mark Latus

Part 2 of 8

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Bad Moon Rising

MegaTokyo - October 2033

The concealed Boomers switched out of standby mode when the three figures appeared. These biomechanicals were neither sentient nor especially enhanced, they were simply there because the gate's creator had worried about a certain person arriving. As a result the Boomers had a very specific attack profile programmed. Two of the three were male, therefore not viable targets. While the third was female she did not seem to match the profile. The lead Boomer remained hidden but commenced a more detailed scan. Conclusion, subject was nonhuman. Not a potential target. The Boomers reverted to standbye mode.

Calcite and Azurite looked for movement as Pyrite scanned the area. As the Boomers stayed still and lacked auras they remained undetected. The DKR members were thinking in terms of potential ambushers being either human or youma. Not surprising as they'd only met their first Boomers yesterday. Pyrite closed the gateway again. The space/time corridor back to their adopted homeworld remained but it was currently inaccessible from either side. There were no signs of alarms triggered by the opening. Whoever had created the gate evidently assumed no one else could unseal it. He planted a few alarms of his own around the gate. Best to have a few sensors on this side of the gate as well. Time to go have a look around the city and see how the future turned out.

Marking the spot mentally (in case teleporting here became necessary) the three moved off singlefile. Calcite took the point with Azurite bringing up the rear. Leaving keeping watch to the other two Pyrite returned to his scans. So far there was no evidence of youma energies. However if the builder was shielding you wouldn't detect him her or it unless they were using large amounts of power.

As they moved through the slum they drew attention. All three were dressed far too well for this part of town. A few people considered asking them to contribute something to the community but stopped short. While the one in the middle seemed oblivious to his surroundings the other two seemed aware of everyone watching. Both moved with the unhurried predatory grace of those who know there's no need to strut because they can handle everything thrown at them. Still when your gang is large and well armed enough you might ignore these warning signs.

Pyrite suddenly walked in Calcite's back. His cousin had stopped very abruptly. Behind him Azurite had also paused. Both studied the darkness around them. Pyrite's own Dark Kingdom honed senses belatedly kicked in. He'd been too busy studying his scanner to pay attention to their surroundings. Getting distracted like that was one of his major failings and the main reason he'd never made a good warrior. Of course just surviving in the Kingdom had been a challenge. Pacifists wouldn't last long. He activated his forceshield and traced the energy patterns in the darkness. "12 humans, close by and excited." The others nodded silently, continuing to shift their gaze from one watcher to the next. Calcite considered the best way to handle this from what he'd learned on his last trip. There should be little threat. While energy weapons existed by this time they were bulky devices and not in common usage. Projectile based guns remained the weapon of choice and their shields should handle the kinetic impacts. On a purely physical level the humans couldn't match them. Hell even Pyrite, their weakest member, was three times stronger than a champion weightlifter. The problem wasn't getting past this gang, the problem was getting past without hurting anyone too much. Mangling these jackals could bring attention. Maybe the glowing eyes and sepulchre voice routine would work? Maybe not. This was the future, that sort of thing could be a trick anyone could do.

Then the thugs decided to take matters into their own hands. Twelve against three unarmed people is pretty good odds. The DKR found themselves surrounded by large muscular thugs, all sporting multicolored mohawks and spiked noserings. The leader (purple mohawk, three rings, multiple steroid injection arm scars) seemed to think drooling was intimidating. "Leave your money and the girl and you walk away alive!" Calcite winced slightly, Azurite was going to be a little hard to control after that.

"Jesus, what a cliche!" Azurite stalked up to the hulking figure. "My turn. Get the hell out of our way or I kick your balls into orbit."

"Uh let's try and avoid violence."

The leader leered at Pyrite, "Scared of fighting little man?"

Calcite chuckled slightly, "He wasn't talking to you. She's not kidding. This is your last chance to walk away without becoming a eunuch."

The gorilla glanced around at his gang. Several were looking very apprehensive. Maybe these three had reason to think they could walk through this place unprotected. Maybe they were just bluffing. He caught Vincent's eye. Vinnie had a detector wand. "They packing?"

"They are not!"

"Nice try bitch." His hand descended on Azurite. "Take's a lot to hurt me, more than you ..." The crunch was audiable to everyone. He didn't scream, it hurt far too much to draw breath, just folded up and collapsed.

"Next?" For a moment the thugs were frozen. Then the knives and clubs came out and the eleven left swarmed at them. Most went for Azurite which was a big mistake. Calcite disabled his opponents with speed and minimum force. Pyrite swung wildly, breaking noses and whatever else got in the way. There were six down around Azurite clutching various parts of their anatomy. Four were down around Calcite, unconscious or semiconscious. Calcite was a little puzzled. He hadn't been using that much force so why did so many of them have broken limbs. The remaining two were scattered by Pyrite's feet. One was out of it, the other sat dabbing at the blood running from his nose. Pyrite turned to Azutite and that was when it happened.

Bloody nose reached inside his jacket and pulled out a gun. He started to aim it at Pyrite's back. It was unlikely the bullet could have penetrated his cousin's shield, even at that range. But you don't live long in the Dark Kingdom by making assumptions about invulnerability. Calcite's reaction was instinctive. The shock blast slammed into the gunman. It should have knocked him over and torn the gun from his hand. Instead he catapulted backwards into a wall. There was a cracking noise as he hit. Then he slid down leaving a stain along the bricks. Calcite looked at his hand in shock! What the hell had just happened?

The conscious thugs began dragging themselves away as fast as possible. One was hysterically muttering, "... pack of fucking boomers ... I said there something wrong but nobody listened ..." All that were left were the unconscious and the Renegades.

"That should have just stunned him." Calcite had knelt by the body but was keeping a watch on those fleeing. Just in case they tried for vengeance.

"Is he dead?" Even as he said it Pyrite knew it was a stupid question. The back of the head was caved in. Calcite didn't bother answering it.

"I lost control. How the hell could I do that for a threat this minor?" Azurite laid a hand on his shoulder. To be unable to depend on your powers was a terrible thing. Also a potentially fatal one. In a thoughtful tone Calcite continued, "First time I've killed a human."

Azurite surveyed the bloodied and broken corpse. "One thing you have to say for youma. We die a lot neater."

"Good point. This guy is not going to spontaneously combust." This was unknown territory. "Should we do something about the body?"

This wasn't something either of them had had to deal with before. All their other kills had been members of their own kind. Half an hour later all you needed was a dustpan and the problem was solved. "Can we destroy the remains?"

"I'm not sure. I can make it explode or burn up a lot of it but total destruction is a bit tricky." He considered. "Probably best to leave it. We don't exist in this city and if our description gets circulated we'll just change glamours. Now let's get out of here before they come back with friends and we have to hurt a few more." A thought struck him. "Pyr, your scanner was on during the fight?"

"Yes. I didn't bother switching it off."

"Good. Review and see what powerlevel I used. I have to compensate for this fast." The Renegades moved off towards the city core. No one saw them depart.

Elsewhere in the city a man calling himself Jason Deite looked up in puzzlement. Strange, for a moment there he'd thought he felt something familiar. Ridiculous. He was jumping at shadows. According to Margrave's story (which she'd verified under mind control) they'd been the only ones to escape the Kingdom. At least the only ones who'd arrived here. He shook off the feeling and returned to his calculations. Everything seemed perfect. While the test hadn't gone exactly as planned he now had access to all the Boomers he needed. A momentary irritation flit across his mind. It had been unfortunate that the Boomer failed to kill the Knight Sabers. There was something about females fighting to defend people that really irked him. Which reminded him, he wondered how Sailor Moon had liked his little present. The six combat boomers must have chewed up a good chunk of the city before they were destroyed. And they had been destroyed as none returned. At least it was back to having just one Senshi to worry about. Margrave had told how Mars, Mercury and the two he'd never met fell before the final battle. Which Beryl had lost decisively.

Sort of a pity, he'd have liked to pay her back for sealing him in that crystal. As he remembered it he shivered involuntarily. Trapped like a fly in amber but aware. He'd be having nightmare's about that for the rest of his life. Which would be a very long time indeed.

Still there was one positive thing about the otherwise horrific experience. He felt a sharpness he hadn't felt in centuries. Looking back he'd become incredibly complacent after remaining unchallenged for so long. Secure in his power he'd gone against the Senshi without considering the possibility they could be a threat. If he'd just taken the trouble to eliminate them before he started draining humans. He shook his head again. Just thinking back on his blunders made him wince.

Well now he had a whole new world to conquer. After arrival he'd taken Margrave and stayed inconspicuous as he studied it. Once he had confirmed the Senshi didn't exist here he'd begun making plans. This had lead him to GENOM. A little study of the company had convinced him he'd fit right in. A lot of study had convinced him the company's elite would have thrived in the Dark Kingdom. During this time he'd come up with the idea that perhaps he'd lost because part of him didn't want to hurt young girls. A holdover from his human days. Shortly afterwards over a two week period seven girls between 13 and 16 fell victim to a serial killer. No one saw them abducted or saw anyone dump the remains. The mutilation of the bodies shocked even the hardened detectives of MegaTokyo's N Police Homicide Unit.

Having determined he had no qualms about hurting the young and innocent Jadeite had returned to making plans. Curiously it was about this time that Margrave ceased her constant seduction attempts. But he was enjoying the novelty of sex with human females for the first time his transformation from human to youma centuries ago.

Then the plan had come to him. After tests to ensure it was workable he created identities for himself and the cat woman and moved in to take his place in GENOM's hierarchy. Nothing too major. He wasn't about to take over everything at once. He'd bided his time and waited. As he waited he gathered the energy he would need to make the plan workable. Killing time and as many people as possible.

The test two nights earlier had been the turning point. The first combat demonstration of his Hyperboomer. There had been quite a crowd there, including Chairman Quincy. Actually it hadn't been Quincy, it was a boomer double. Probably none of the humans had picked realized that. He wondered if Kate Madigan, his number one hatchetwoman, had known it was a fake Quincy. His mind drifted back to Friday ...

David Webster watched J. Deite intently but was careful to show no signs of his hatred. He'd been on the verge of unveiling his new upgraded BU-12C heavy combat units when Deite stole his thunder. Hopefully the boy wonder was about to fall flat on his face. On the various monitors a BU-12B model was rampaging. Typical 12B, Rocket Launcher on the left arm, 50 mm chaingun on the right. The heavy duty monster had already accounted for fifteen civilians and six ADP police officers. To say nothing of inflict dozens of casualties, serious and trivial. Mainly serious. The concealed cameras continued sweeping as they waited for the stars of the show to arrive. The ADP had pulled back as they waited for their heavy armour to be airdropped in. Then the 12B's bullet shaped head spun to three o clock. An aircraft was approaching swiftly and silently. It wasn't ADP. Looked like the Knight Sabers had arrived.

The Boomer launched three rockets at the VTOL. It dodged with ease and its counterfire destroyed all three missiles. The Boomer's tactical programming made it conserve the remaining rockets. Four armoured figures dropped from the hovering plane. They slowed their falls but still hit with impacts that should have overbalanced them. Three of the four landed smoothly. The pink suit seemed on the verge of toppling before regaining its' balance. Or rather her balance. Unlike the massive exosuits used by the police and the military these didn't conceal the sex of the operator through shear bulk. The suits were formhugging and made it abundatly clear that the wearers were female. Despite the relative thinness of the suits they could outperform state of the art military equipment. GENOM would have given a fortune to acquire the secrets of those suits. Considering the costs of the hardware the Knight Sabers had wrecked they already had. The ton & a half Boomer loomed over the foursome. The fight seemed totally one sided.

It was. The Boomer didn't have a chance and they all knew it.

Each of the suits was a different color and each operator displayed different characteristics. The Blue suit fought like a maniac frequently cutting herself off from support in her zeal for killing Boomers. The White suit fought calmly and methodically yet no less lethally. The green suit seemed to support the white suit and aid the Blue suit when possible. The Pink suit avoided combat as much as possible but had been known to destroy Boomers. Her function seemed to be mainly tactical and technological support.

All four were in motion from the moment of touchdown. The Boomer launched a rocket at the Green Saber who was instantly arcing over the Boomer. As the missle chewed up the side of a building the Saber touched down behind the Boomer. The "ribbons" trailing behind her wrapped around the Boomer's upper left arm. Suddenly they were charged and pulled through the arm like monofilament cord. The Boomer lost its' primary weapon. As this was going on the White Saber was dodging the Boomer's efforts to bring the chaingun to bear. As it seemed to get a lock the Saber fired a Beam Cannon from her right palm. The chaingun exploded and the Boomer was literally disarmed. A plate in its chest opened as it prepared to deploy the supernapalm spray available in this model. The Blue Saber slammed her railgun into the halfopen hatch and fired at pointblank range. Then kicked off from the boomer, riding the jump and the shockwave from the blast as the Boomer immolated itself.

All over in seconds. Not the sort of tape to show potential clients for GENOM's military hardware. Deite smiled slightly and nodded to his executive assistant Catherine Margrave. She sent a remote signal and the Boomer stepped from concealment. Time for the real test to begin.

The Pink Saber must have picked it up first because she began waving excitedly to the others. What appeared to be a standard C-55 Boomer stepped into view of the monitors. Blue, about two meters tall, main weapon a mouth mounted particle cannon. A far weaker machine that the BU-12B being designed primarily for urban combat. Also in pre-activation form they could pass for human, at least visually, which made them excellent spies and assassins.

The Blue Saber took aim and Deite nodded to his assistant. She triggered their secret activation protocol. Only Margrave and Jadeite knew it was a fake signal. Jadeite reached out with his mind and awakened the seed he'd planted in the C-55. It suddenly swelled increasing in size about 50%. What looked like blue hair sprouted from the chest and shoulders. The face twisted to become lionlike with a fringe of blue hair it. The hands and feet reshaped themselves. The feet were now had three clawed toes with a spur on the back. The hands became clawed as spikes grew from the knuckles. The Knight Sabers seemed momentarily off balanced by this transformation. Jadeite began the play by play.

"As you can see ladies and gentlemen the Hyper Boomer has shed its' camoflague and is now fully operational. This particular design is designed to impose a psychological response in the enemy. Namely fear."

The Blue Saber moved in fast ignoring the raised hand of the White Saber. The White and Green Sabers moved in to support their collegue. The Blue Saber ducked under the line of fire of the Boomer's particle beamer and surged towards it. Her armmounted railgun's mouth blurred towards the Boomer's face. Then stopped abruptly as the Boomer's hand caught her wrist.

The startled Saber ripped off a burst of fire. Which tore into the sky hitting nothing except a luckless pigeon. The Saber tried to break free but the Boomer's grip remained unbreakable. It began to squeeze and the Blue Saber's struggles became more frantic.

The Green and White Sabers moved in simultaneously. The White Saber's blade slid out of the armsheath as she landed in a crouch at the Boomer's feet. She surged upright blade out intending to disembowel this one as she had so many before. The blade scittered across the Boomer's armour without cutting in. The Green Sabre came in from above wrapping her combat ribbons around the arm holding the Blue Saber. They activated but didn't cut.

Jadeite continued, "As you can see as a result of the metamorphosis the unit's armour has retained the same mass while more than doubling in tensile strength." A lie but easer than explaining the forceshield.

The Boomer's free hand struck the White Saber knocking her down. Then the Boomer flung the Blue Saber into the Pink Saber who hadn't moved since contact. Both went down. Grabbing the Green Saber by the combat ribbons the Boomer began to swing her like a flail. Using its new weapon the Boomer began to pummel the White Saber.

Both Green and White Armour were now covered in dents. The Blue Saber broke free of her tangle with the Pink Saber and aimed her railgun at the Boomer. Nothing happened. It must have been damaged by the impact. Then something red, large and humanoid touched down by her. It must have been launched from the VTOL. The red mecha opened to reveal a human shaped space in the middle. The Blue Saber slid into place then charged the Boomer. With the mecha framework she was now about the same size as the Boomer. While it sported a large cannon she didn't dare use it with her battered collegues so close to the target.

The Boomer released its grip on the Green Saber's ribbons and moved to meet its attacker. The Green Saber lay unmoving at its feet. Both giants locked into hand to hand combat. For a few seconds they seemed equally matched. Then the red mech's limbs were forced backwards. Its' joints began to whine and smoke. The Boomer tired of playing games and focused its' particle cannon on the Blue Saber's head. Her armour wouldn't hold at point blank range.

A laser bolt glanced off its' skull. The Pink Saber was partially upright and firing from a kneeling position. With terrible timing (from Jadeite's viewpoint) the battered White Saber tried her armblade again. This time punching into the Boomer's armour. Jadeite cursed silently, he hadn't been able to get his enhanced Boomers to shield against both energy weaponary and physical assault simultaneously. It had to switch regarding the type of attack. It had reactivated the physical shield to stop the Saber cutting any further but this left it open to laser attack. The ablative covering wouldn't protect it for long. It turned its head to track and fire on the Pink Saber before the laserfire caused damage.

It was temporarily ignoring the White Saber. The shield would prevent her blade from inflicting further damage. Her beam cannon was obviously nonfunctional from damage inflicted with the Green Saber. So it concluded she was not an active threat. A mistake.

The Saber didn't try to cut further. She left the blade in place and channeled all her remaining power through it. Energy poured into the Boomer and it began to cook from the inside. Jadeite suppressed a curse. He'd underestimated them, probably because they were just humans inside those suits. An error he would not make again.

He felt the seed dying and deactivated it. The Boomer suddenly morphed back into a standard C-55 then exploded from overload. The White Saber was blown over and lay still. "I appear to have underestimated the Knight Sabers and should have deployed two units. However I believe the potential of this variety of Boomer has been adequetely demonstrated."

On screen the VTOL landed. The Pink Saber helped the Green Saber to stand upright and half walked, half dragged her into the VTOL. The smoking red mecha scooped up the still White saber and carried her into the waiting aircraft. The Pink Saber jumped back out just long enough to locate and grab the Boomer's head. She ducked back into VTOL which roared upwards and noved swiftly out of camera shot.

"Deite?" The Quincy replica's voice echoed across the table

"Yes sir?"

"What will they learn from that salvage."

"Not a thing sir. All they'll find is a standard C-55 Boomer." Why should they find anything else? After all there were no mechanical changes to the design.

Webster saw the chance to score a few points. "And we have to take your word for that don't we? After all you've been keeping the whole enhancement procedure top secret."

Deite smiled. "You haven't been able to learn anything from the materials you had stolen from B lab have you?" Webster began a furious denial and Quincy raised a hand.

"Enough bickering gentlemen. Deite, I like what I've seen. Madigan?"

"Yes sir?"

"See that Deite has access to all the material he needs and go ahead with the Brazil tests on sunday."

"Yes Sir."

The meeting broke up leaving Webster and his number two along with Deite and Margrave. She gathered up their equipment and followed Deite out. Webster snarled at Hashimoto, "I am going to find that sonofabitch's secrets. When I can replicate his results we won't need him anymore. No one will object if anything happens to him."

"Some of our female employees might." Deite was cutting quite a swath through them. The odd thing was just how successful he was. No woman seemed able to say no to him. Including the ones who loathed him. Yet all said it had been of their own free will, no coercern.

"Scumbag. Lucky scumbag."

"Were you able to get anything out of Margrave?"

Webster glared at his subordinate. It was common knowledge that though fiercely loyal to Deite his Executive Assistant was willing to sleep with anyone. At least the first time was easy. Few got to try a repeat performance. Anyone who though it would give them any kind of hold over her was mistaken. Deite didn't care who she screwed and she didn't seem to feel sentimentally inclined to any of her lovers. Bothering her would lead to a very loud, very public appraisal of your performance and its shortcomings. Webster had decided to try his luck. After she'd agreed (without noticeable enthusiasm) he'd set things up. She seemed to be always want to be in control so he'd take that away. She seemed like the type who needed mastering and he liked being a master. Once he dominated her she'd do anything for him. Including getting him the information she wanted. At least that was the plan.

During the evening she had evidently gotten bored, snapped the bonds (and how the hell did she do that?) and grabbed him by the throat. "Listen up little man because you aren't worth telling this twice. You have no idea what real power or real mastery is. It isn't these silly toys, it is part of who and what you always are. Lord J. Deite (strange way to say it) is one. There was another but he's gone. You aren't even close to them." While he was massaging his throat and gasping she'd got dressed and left. All things considered not a very successful evening.

To hell with it. He'd show that bitch and her gloryhound boss. "We're going ahead with the fieldtest. Make the arrangements!"

"Sir the Sabers might not be in condition to engage our upgrades ..."

"We'll give them two days to recover. Then we'll demonstrate that Deite isn't the only one who can build improved Boomers!"

Jadeite's thoughts returned to the present. All things considered the test was a success. Now he had access to all the materials he needed. You have no idea just what you've unleased Quincy, he thought. By the time I'm through you'll wish that Largo clown was all you had to deal with.

In her apartment Margrave poured a drink and toasted a black framed picture. Then flushed in embarrassement, which wasn't easy for her. Why did she do that? Why even keep a picture? She was alone and had dropped her glamour. A fur covered hand with retracted claws picked up the picture. Green eyes with catlike pupils gazed into the smiling features of Janet Ombari. Very white teeth contrasting sharply with the dark features. The way Margrave would always remember her. Much better than how she'd looked at the morgue.

Janet had been born in Kenya. She'd come over with her parents during the rebuilding after the quake. Finishing growing up in MegaTokyo she'd decided to stay and joined the horde of gaijin who crowded the city. She'd joined GENOM as a Motivational Counsellor and been a success. Her sunny personality seemed to be infectuous and she'd been credited with boosting productivity 10% in Boomer Bioconstruction Facility Epsilon. Reassigned to Boomer Development had brought her into contact with Catherine Margrave, the Executive Assistant to J. Deite. There were two sections working on the next phase of Boomer design. The two directors, Deite and Webster were constantly feuding and a lot of bad feeling was spilling out to their employees. So Janet had her work cut out for her. She'd been remarkably successful. Perhaps because unlike so many Counsellors her smile was real, she genuinely was a cheerful and good natured person. All counsellors smiled but with most it was just painted on. Scratch the surface and you found a bitter and cynical person.

It had just been a few weeks ago that Janet had dropped by her office. She was always dropping by on one pretext or another.

"Good morning Catherine." Margrave had suppressed a hiss. How anyone could be so cheerful so early was beyond her.

"I'll take your word for it. I keep telling you I go by either Cat or Margrave. Preferrably Margrave." Ombari loomed over her, at 6'3" she tended to tower. Margrave waved her to a chair.

"If you like. How about 'Grave to shorten it up a bit?"

"NO!" Why she reacted so strongly to her old nickname she wasn't sure. Perhaps because of who'd used it the most. Ombari was watching her carefully but didn't comment.

"OK, well then ..." The talk turned to various staff members who were having problems. Nothing really significant and nothing really to do with her. Margrave sighed.

"Janet, why are you really here?"

"Just trying to cheer you up. You seem to be down lately."

"Why? Everyone else has around given up trying to be friends with me. After they found out I wouldn't be buttering up the boss for them."

"Way I look at it is this ... it's as easy to be nice as nasty so why not be nice."

"Interesting logic. However I think this is the wrong company for that attitude."

Janet had shrugged. "In this town no matter where you work if you look under the surface it'll trace back to GENOM."

"I suppose. However it's easier for bastards and bitches to advance."

"So let them go. I don't want to climb the ladder. I'm happy down here. If the nastier people head up up and away that gets them away from me."

"Maybe. But I'm one of the bitches. Why bother with me?"

Janet had grinned. "To tell the truth you fascinate me. You've been here six months and I think every night you've gone home with a different man."

"A slight exaggeration. Anyway so what? I'm a little more extreme than most but it's not unique behaviour." It's also a lot safer for me than human females, she'd added silently. I can't catch human diseases and even if my breeding cycle activated there's no risk of pregnancy because of the genetic differences.

"Folks say you have the morals of an alley cat."

"They have no idea how right they are."

"What I say is you haven't found who you're looking for yet."

"WHAT!" In a cold tone Margrave had continued, "What makes you think I'm looking for someone!"

Ombari hadn't been daunted. "The fact you've gone through so many once only. If it was just sex you should have found a good lover by now. You're looking to forget someone and you need a substitute." Margrave hadn't said anything, she just stared. "Want to talk about it?"

"No ...", a brief pause, "Yes ... I mean maybe ... look why the hell should I tell you?"

Janet had looked genuinely concerned, "Because I think you need a friend. And I'm about the only shot you've got."

"That doesn't answer why you'd want to be my friend."

She'd shaken her head. "I honestly don't know. All I can say is you fascinate me for some reason. I think you have hidden depths."

"True there's none I wouldn't sink to."

Janet smiled. "Well sink down a few fathoms and betray a few confidences to me." To her surprise Margrave smiled back and nodded. Ombari had paused for a moment then asked, "Is it Mr. Deite?"

"No. Not that we weren't lovers for a time but that was more a matter of ... allegiances. When he decided to expand his horizons it was over. No big deal." I sort of regretted not captivating a Youma lord, she thought. Except after what he did to those children my skin crawled when he touched me. I wonder why? They were only humans, after all. Aloud she continued, "No need to be so formal about him. After all you've slept with him too."

Janet had nodded and looked a little puzzled. "I've wondered about that. I wouldn't have said he was my type but when he asked it seemed like a great idea. He's got remarkable stamina." Margrave had nodded, reflecting that a man with mind control powers could get any woman he wanted. If he chose to do so. Which brought her to thinking about someone else.

"So do you want to tell me about him. No need for names."

Margrave had sighed and sorted through her feelings. After a moment she said. "This was some time back. The guy was one of several I was seeing regularly. He worked for one of Deite's rivals. The brains behind his boss."

"Did he know about the others?"

"Yes. Seemed to accept it was part of who I am. He wasn't jealous."

"Said he wasn't or ..."

"Really wasn't. Guess he felt it was better to share me than lose me. Smart guy but had some blindspots about women. Never caught on that while he was around Azure's tongue was dragging on the ground." Unprompted she said, "Azure was this friend of his, personally I couldn't stand her. Drove her wild I got him before she could. Also she thought I was a bad infuence on his sister."

"Maybe this guy was just operating on your terms? Sex without any attachment, just for pleasure."

"It wasn't without attachment! Look if you use it right sex is a tool. What else did I have? I wanted to advance but I didn't have the power to force my way up the ladder. So you find someone who's got power and attach yourselves to them. And you use what you learn to move upwards."

Janet looked disappointed. "So this man was just a means to an end."

"NO! ... well partially. Initially it was just physical attraction and what he could do for me. Later on ... " Margrave trailed off.

"So he meant something to you but you didn't drop the others?"

"HE DIDN'T TELL ME TO! Besides I needed what I could get from them. They got a great time, I got to learn a lot of stuff that helped me."

"Do you think he understood that?'

"I ... I'm not sure. One thing I hope he realized. With them it was just screwing, with him it was making love."

"Did you ever tell him that?"

"No." Margrave's tone was flat.

Ombari tried to sort through what she'd learned about Margrave's moral code. After a few moment's silence she asked, "So what happened?"

Margrave had stared off into space. When Janet though she wasn't going to say anything she suddenly spoke. "Things went very wrong. Everything was going to hell. That's not a figure of speech. I was facing death and went looking for him. He had an escape route planned. He didn't even look back! Just cleared out with the people he'd chosen and left me to die." She was silent for a few moments. "It was only by chance that I stumbled into Deite and we both got away." She fell silent, immersed in her memories.

Janet tried to think what to say. "So he abandoned you and ..."

"You don't understand." Margrave was shaking her head. "I thought I had him but he was able to leave me without a qualm. After all I had no further value and would just have complicated his escape. A perfectly calculated, cold decision. I was the one with the false expectations. I should be proud of him."

Janet had just looked at her for a while. "Cat, you have a lot of problems."

"No shit."

Margrave's memory returned to the here and now. She extended an index claw and tapped the picture. "Why did I tell you all that? Don't tell me it was because I liked you. I'm a youma, humans mean nothing to us!"

"Then why did you avenge me?" the picture seemed to ask. She sipped her drink and remembered.

Four weeks ago she'd finally agreed to a girls' night out with Janet. Nothing sexual, if the other woman was coming onto her she'd have smelled the phermones. Just a night out for two friends. She still wasn't sure why she'd agreed. Probably she'd felt it would help maintain her cover. At any rate Janet arranged to meet her at Margrave's apartment. She never showed up. An hour after she was due to arrive the police called her. Janet had been found on the fringes of a slum zone. She was critically injured and undergoing emergency surgery at MegaTokyo General. Her attackers had left her electronic notebook which had Margrave's address displaying. The police had found it and called her. The constable advised her to upgrade her security system and watch out for strangers. Janet's attackers would also have seen the address.

By the time she got to the hospital Janet's abused body had given up the struggle to live. The police asked her to positively ID the body. She did. It was hard to associate the bloody ruin with the vibrant woman she'd known. The detective explained what had happened. They'd found Janet's car with a "crab" attached. A small robot designed to slid under a car and link to the electrical system. On a given signal it would fry the cars electronics with a localized pulse that would also knock out cel phones. Janet had been cutting through a downscale neighbourhood. Not quite a slum though on its way there. When she was stranded without transport or communication she must have thought it was a good enough neighbourhood to walk until she could flag a taxi.

They'd been waiting for her. The detective was saying they'd have to run tests to determine the number of attackers. Margrave already knew, she could scent five men. She could also tell the detective didn't hold out much hope for finding them.

So that was that. There was a company memorial and the next day it was business as usual. Janet's replacement came round to offer grief counselling but left hurridly at Margrave's request. Just a dead human, not worth getting upset about. Another statistic in a city full of them. Despite knowing all this Margrave couldn't let it go. Why?

Since she didn't have Renegade tendancies there had to be a reason she felt something must be done. Privately Margrave doubted there ever were such things as Renegades. Probably just a myth created to dispose of enemies by accusing them of it. That left her looking for a good youma reason why she wanted to do something about Janet's murder. After much thought she had the reason.

The Boomer development wing was the equivalent of Lord Jadeite's new fief which made the employees his vassals. Everyone knew only the Dark Generals (and her majesty) were allowed to kill their own servants. Someone had stolen that right from Lord Jadeite. Only he had had the right to kill Ombari. So it was up to her to avenge this attack on Lord Jadeite's privileges.

She'd begun stalking the slums. It had been easier than she'd expected. Go in looking helpless and wait for the predators to appear. One by one she'd encountered Janet's killers. After they'd got overenthusiastic and realized Ombari was dying they'd split up and hidden out in different slums until the hunt died down. Some had stayed loners, some had joined gangs. Now all were dead, along with quite a few others who wouldn't be missed. Lord Jadeite had seemed amused by her actions when he'd learned of them but he hadn't told her to desist. Now the hunt was done.

She'd always been a good huntress but no one in the Dark Kingdom had regarded her as more than a sex kitten. Not that she minded being a sex kitten but she sometimes wanted to be known for more than that. Well almost no one. Once again her thoughts turned to Calcite.

She remembered the last day clearly. She'd tracked Calcite and Titanite to the Eternal Sleep Chamber. Ti smelled injured. It was hard to keep her footing with the quakes rocking the Kingdom. She'd made it into the chamber to see Calcite standing with his back to her. Pyrite to his left, Titanite to his right, Azurite in front of him facing in her direction. All four had linked hands, energy danced around them. The crash and roar of the quakes was deafening. Azurite's gaze flicked to her then back to Calcite. Her old rival's expression showed no sign of triumph, just concentration. Margrave had known enough to recognise some sort of space warp. As she was screaming at Calcite to wait there was a flare of light and they were gone. A sparkling curtain of blue energy remained but began to shrink.

Then Lord Jadeite's crystal toppled from its pedestal and slammed into her. Both her and the crystal rolled into the field. Suddenly the Kingdom was gone, her senses were going crazy and everything hurt. She'd instinctively grabbed onto the crystal and locked her grip around it. The only solid object in this insane place. Somehow they'd been thrown into this world. Perhaps an effect of Lord Jadeite's own spacewarping powers as transit began breaking down the crystal. In any event she'd lost consciousness before arrival. The next thing she remembered was being shaken awake by Lord Jadeite. He was surrounded by fragments of the crystal and was demanding information on what had happened during his imprisonment.

That began her career as Jadeite's last real follower. The only person in this world who could truly appreciate him. His adoring audience. She was now the highest ranking follower of Lord Jadeite. Top of the heap at last. It was nowhere near as enjoyable as she'd expected.

Jadeite was also the only person in the world in whose presence she could truly relax. With all other people she had to maintain her glamour at all times. During all activities. Otherwise looking like a cross between a white persian cat and a centerfold would attract comment. Maintaining enough control to keep the glamour going meant exercising a self restraint during sex she wasn't used to. Of course she also had to ensure she kept her claws sheathed and her fangs unused. Humans were a fragile lot, especially after years with a lover with very strong bones and excellent healing abilities. It was rather frustrating. Conversely many of her lovers came away puzzled. The glamour would convince them that what they saw was real as tactile sensation told them they were touching fur, not skin. The glamour always won out but it caused psychic shortcircuits in a few.

When she'd first encountered Calcite they'd both been 13. It was shortly after he'd wiped out the youma boss by the name of Vekris. Vekris had decided to wipe out all the relatives of the leaders of a failed coup against him. One of them was Calcite's aunt. Calcite's mother was killed on Vekris's order and Calcite, his cousin and his sister were targetted for termination. This turned out to be Vekris's biggest and final mistake. After that Calcite acquired a reputation for two things; being a stone killer and protecting what he considered his. And avenging it if his protection failed. Margrave was ambitious but knew she had little real power. Her speed and strength weren't that unusual. Her only real powers were minor precognitive abilities. Not the sort of thing to overawe other youma. She'd realized there would be a lot of advantages if Calcite considered her his. So they had become lovers and she'd made sure it was well known Calcite wanted her healthy. From then on in the circles she moved no one dare touch her unless she wanted them to. It also also increased her appeal to officers of the smaller youma bosses. By having her they put one over on Magnesite's deputy. Margrave had smiled and collected information from them to boost her own standing in Jadeite's legion.

Wherever Calcite had gone it wasn't this world. So she'd never have to answer the question of what she'd do if she met him. To screw his brains out or rip his heart out, that was the question.

She finished her drink and put the picture back on the coffee table. Best to dispose of it before Lord Jadeite saw it. He'd been happy with today's test of the enhanced Boomer he'd sent to Brazil. Tomorrow, he'd promised, he would finally put reveal his plan. Tonight ... a quiet night for a change. Sift through her memories and get a full night's sleep. She had the sense major changes were coming. Perhaps her precognition was trying to tell her something.

Across town Calcite was talking to the desk clerk at the Imperial Hotel. "So I imagine we need a variety of documentation in order to check in?"

"Yes sir." English from his accent. There was something fascinating about his eyes.

"But you could bypass that if you wanted to?"

"Yes. It would be easy. I'd just have use my backdoor commands here and here. I just need pictures of the three of you. Insert verified credit history and airport arrival ... There, everything is clear."

"That's very helpful. Is anyone monitoring us?"

"Everything is recorded on the security monitors. They run a check every morning to see everything's fine. And to keep an eye on the staff."

"No way around that?"

"I could introduce a glitch into the security system. That happens sometimes. Luckily maintenance is slow about fixing it."

"Would you be so kind?"

"Of course. Let's see ... there we go, five minutes of static."

"You're very good at this."

"Well I've been using it to cover overcharging guests and skimming off the excess."

"I see. I think you'd better forget telling me that. Along with our having this conversation."

"Certainly sir."

"Thank you. Now I'd like two adjoining rooms. Both doubles."

"Luxury or standard?"

"Standard. Less conspicuous."

"Rooms 16 and 17 on the 20th floor. Here are you key cards. Would you like a porter."

"No, thank you." The threesome headed for the elevators. The desk clerk stared after him for a moment then shook herself and turned her attention back to the screen.

Calcite took 16, Azurite & Pyrite took 17. They unlocked the connecting doors and met in 16. Azurite noticed Calcite was looking more concerned than usual. "Still worried about what you did to that guy." He nodded.

Pyrite thought he knew the problem, "Cal I realize you feel terrible about killing him ..."

Cal looked surprised. "I don't." Pyrite was astonished, Azurite nodded in agreement. Pyrite wasn't a warrior, there were some things he just didn't get.

"But ..."

"Cousin he was trying to put a bullet in your back. He had no way of knowing it wouldn't work. Matter of fact we don't know for sure it wouldn't have penetrated your shield. I didn't intend to kill him but I'm not going to weep over him either. He acted, I reacted. That ends the moral implications from my point of view."

"Still he was a human being ..."

"I've thought about it and there's no intrinsic reason killing a human is worse than killing a youma. In both cases you're ending the life of a sentient being. Destroying all they are and all they could be. Ending a universe from some viewpoints. Sometimes it's necessary. This wasn't necessary but in combat it's easy to make terrible mistakes." Pyrite looked uncomfortable. Azurite could follow Cal's reasoning perfectly. In some ways she was radically different from Pyrite. But perhaps that gentleness was what she cherised about him.

"What really concerns me is that if I can't control my powers ..."

"That may not be the problem." Pyrite was back in his area of expertise. He held a paperback sized block of crystal and ran his fingers over it. The room filled with lights. "If you examine this power index ...", a coiled red spiral, "...and compare it to your measured kinetic wave potential ..." a multicolored soccerball sized sphere, "then we see that you just used a level 3 blast."

"Level 3? But that means ..."

Pyrite nodded. "It means he should have just been knocked over and lost his grip on the weapon."

"So how the hell ...?"

"I don't know. Perhaps his bones were abnormally brittle."

Azurite frowned. "Why would someone so weak try a physical assault."

"Hard to say. He was part of a gang ... maybe he was in the gang because he couldn't take care of himself. He had to run with a pack."

"Maybe. Alternately he was physically normal but our powers are more effective in this dimension."

"We'll have to be careful until we know for sure."

"Better find someplace to test our powers."

Pyrite didn't both agreeing. He didn't have much in the way of offensive powers. However he did have a sensitivity to energy fields and he felt something flare. His fingers danced over the crystal and the holograms vanished. Scanning ... There! "I'm getting a ... what looks like a lifeforce drain two kilometers west. It matches the profile for a youma created drain. Incredibly powerful!"

"That means jumping blind." Calcite dismissed his worries, this was what they came to find out. "Pyrite find us a clear space to land. Azure, you're with me." She nodded and tapped a bracelet. Her clothing morphed into her Sailor Arcturus costume. Calcite activated the transmutor in his watchband and felt his clothing shift to the Gray bodyarmour.

Azurite frowned. "No one's going to have any idea who and what I'm supposed to be."

"New worlds to conquer. I suppose this makes you the first Sailor Senshi of this world. Pyr, found a touchdown place?"

"Here! That'll put you near this tunnel. All the action's taking place underground. Link to these coordinates."

"Got it. Ready?" Azurite nodded and the two linked there teleporting powers. A few seconds to power up and sense their destination. Then there was a flare of light and Pyrite was alone.

Meanwhile the Knight Sabers were meeting at Sylia Stingray's apartment. Nene was the healthiest of the four having suffered only minor bruising. Priss was sporting a cast around her right forearm and multiple bruises. Linna was over her concussion but had three cracked ribs and a lot of aches and pains from being used as a whip. Sylia was limping and like the others had bruises over most of her body. They'd come perilously close to armour breach and that would have meant death.

Sylia decided to get the meeting underway. "As we all know our last outing didn't go very well." That got a snort from Priss and pained smiles from the others. "You must all be wondering what we ran into ..." Sylia actually looked uncertain for once. "Frankly I still don't know. The head Nene recovered tests out as a standard C-55 Boomer."

"That thing was no C-55!"

"I know Priss. While I might not know what it was I believe I know who designed it." The screen behind her lit up displaying the profiles of two men. Biographical data scolled by underneath them. "These are the heads of GENOM's local Boomer Development Division. The one on the left is David Webster. Nene managed to break into his files. He seems to working on a standard Boomer upgrade scheme. Faster CPU, better programming, improved servomechanisms, that sort of thing."

"Now the one on the right is Jason Deite, though he prefers to be known as J. Deite. We couldn't access anything out of the ordinary in his files, or his workers. In fact we couldn't even find a hint of what they're doing. They're maintaining a secrecy which I would have thought impossible in this day and age. The word around GENOM is Deite has a radical method of upgrading Boomers. But no one seems to have any idea how this method works. All we have are rumours that Deite alone supervises the final phase of the process and is keeping it top secret."

"Not much to go on."

"You're right Linna. The odd thing is when we traced Deite's background is doesn't seem to ring true."

"So GENOM created an identity for him. Probably he's wanted for illegal research somewhere."

"Could be, except it's so obviously artificial. They're generally more careful than that."

"So he could be an outsider who's wormed his way into GENOM to execute his own agenda?"

"If so he's somehow conned them into buying this phoney background."

"Maybe they're just letting him think he's got away with it. As long as they get his work in the end who cares?"

"Perhaps. But there are no indications of security checks. GENOM is treating his background as gospel truth."

Nene piped up, "His number two, a Catherine Margrave's got an equally fake background. And a reputation for going through more men than Linna."

Priss shook her head, "That's just not possible."

Linna looked at Nene, "Excuse me ..."

"I've got statistics from emails I intercepted."

"Just what are you two implying?"

"Still to beat Linna she'd have to ..."

"HEY! I don't have to take this. When was the last time either of you had a date."

Sylia sighed, things were about to degenerate. "Children, please!" The three subsided though Linna was still shooting dark looks at the others. "Returning to Deite. Thanks to Nene's hacking we've learned that he's removed 12 BU-12B's from storage along with 3 C-55 Boomers. As far as we can tell they didn't pass through the enhancement procedure." A city map replaced the GENOM executive's faces. "Company transport records indicate he deployed the Boomers here."

Priss frowned. "What the hell! That's a quakezone! Nothing left but rubble."

"Correct. There have been no indications of Boomer firefights there so the Boomers haven't been activated yet. Why he placed them there we don't know but we're going to find out." She paused a moment. "Since Mackie is still getting the old suits functional we'll let it go for tonight and hope them don't activate." A white lie, the old suits were fully functional. However another day to heal would help. Hopefully the Boomers would stay quiet tonight. "Tomorrow we will pay a visit to the Boomers." Priss cracked her knuckles. Then winced and glared at the cast on her arm. Sharply Sylia continued, "This will be a reconnaissance mission initially. If I feel it is necessary to engage the Boomers then and only then will we initiate combat. Is that understood." She said it to everyone but she was looking at Priss. Priss held her gaze for a few seconds then nodded. Another crisis averted. "Good. Now everyone go home and get some rest. I have a feeling tomorrow will be a rough day."

Calcite and Azurite materialized in the spot Pyrite had picked. They were shielded from view by an equipment shed. A few feet to the right was an access panel to the tunnel. It was sealed and marked, "Maintenance staff only". A look past the shed showed a police barricade across the roadway leading down to the traffic tunnel. There was a burst of fire from the tunnel but the police didn't answer. Perhaps afraid of hitting the civilians inside. They seemed to be waiting for something. Probably a SWAT team. Who might well use this entry for access. They had to move quickly.

Calcite created a thin knife and cut through the four clamps locking the hatch in place. His blades could cut just about anything. Being constructs of his mind they were as sharp and strong as he willed them to be. They'd probably just set off alarms. Time to find out what was going on before everything hit the fan. Azurite heaved the hatchway aside and Calcite dropped down into the accessway. Azurite followed, also ignoring the ladder. Squeezing past the cables filling the corridor they proceeded silently. There was a hatch in the floor ahead of them. Opening it they found themselves on a catwalk above the roadway. Cars were scattered all over as were bodies. Nothing moved. Silently both went over the rail and dropped down to the road. Calcite landed by a car with the driver's door open and a body hanging half in, half out. He suppressed a startled cry. The body appeared to be wizened and completely desiccated. Almost as if it had been mummified for centuries. A look of shock flickered across Azurite's face then vanished. Calcite tapped the skull gently and saw a large piece cave in and crumple into dust. Worry about this later, right now was time to seek the source. It wasn't hard to find. Both could feel something resembling a youma aura not far away. They moved quietly toward it.

The source appeared to be a Boomer. But a Boomer with a bizarre, almost lionlike appearance. There was an energy sphere held between its two clawed hands. A sphere that was steadily diminishing as it transmitted the energy somewhere. Suddenly its head turned towards them. Trouble. It had a forceshield. To make matters worse it was standing in front of a tank labelled "Tritonex - Warning Extremely Volatile!" OK, finesse time. Step one, break the shield. "Mid range!" Azurite nodded and slammed a microhurricane into Boomer. It stood its ground as the shield absorbed the impact. A full power burst might have breached the shield sending it flying backwards. "Again!" Azurite's second vortex hit the shield as Calcite threw the knife he'd created. The Boomer ignored that as it was already shielding against kinetic weapons. As the knife reached the shield it reverted to its charged psychoplasm form and slid through the shield and the Boomers shell. Inside the Boomer it disappated, discharged the energy bound to it. The power surge threw the Boomer's systems into disarray. Including the forceshield.

Azurite saw the shield go down and ceased attacking. Over to Calcite for a neat finish. A forcesphere formed around the Boomer. Like his sister Calcite could create kinetic energy spheres. Unlike her he had a special variation on it that was perfect for this situation. The sphere shrank rapidly. As it reduced it got stronger. The Boomer began imploding from the pressure. Suddenly there was an energy discharge from the mangled biomech. It reverted to a standard C-55 Boomer and was swiftly crushed into a ball about two feet in diameter.

In his office Jadeite felt his link to the Boomer shatter. He'd got most of the lifeforce it drained so it wasn't a total loss. Besides right now he didn't need the energy he was simply storing reserves. But what in the Abyss had it encountered? He'd linked into its' vision and seen a woman dressed something like a Senshi. But he'd sensed what seemed to be a youma aura. What just happened? How had whoever that was known how to disable the Boomer? Well in thirty seconds or so it might be irrelevant.

Calcite disappated the sphere. The Boomer's crushed remains fell to the ground and splattered a variety of fluids. Nice and neat, no risk of explosion. He was taking a step towards the remains when Azurite grabbed his arm. She pointed to the side of the tanker. Calcite saw something moving. A digital display changing rapidly. 25, 24, 23 ... Calcite's shield flared to maximum. Azurite grabbed his hand and they linked their teleporting abilities. A flare of light and they were back on top of the tunnel. The hotel would have been better but they'd automatically warped to the last access point. No more time! They wrapped their arms around each other and combined their forceshields.

The tanker exploded as the Tritonex combusted. Directed by the tunnel a wall of flame roared towards the exits. Every car in its path exploded and all the bodies ignited. A pillar of fire erupted from the hatchway Calcite had cut open and the ground shook. Fortunately it was more of a firestorm than an explosion so the tunnel didn't cave in.

The rumbling underfoot stopped. Calcite and Azurite untangled themselves. There was screaming from the tunnel mouth. A fireball had emerged and engulfed several police vehicles and their occupants. Along with a few news crews who'd been pushing in too close. Paramedics were moving in.

Nothing they could do here. The two renegades fixed the location of the hotel room in their minds and warped back there. Pyrite's greeting froze at their grim expressions.

An hour later they were watching the news and trying to figure it out. The official story was that terrorists had seized the tunnel and taken those inside as hostages. Before they could issue demands a bomb they'd been planting had prematurely exploded. This had killed the terrorists, their hostages and another ten people outside the tunnels. Dozens more had suffered burns ranging from first to third degrees.

"So the Boomer goes in shooting and starts draining energy. The people on the fringes get out and call the cops. The shooting makes them think terrorists. To cover what happened a bomb is planted on something extremely flammable. The fire covers the fact that the victims were already dead and the heat can be blamed for the condition of any bodies recovered intact. The Boomer must have been expendable. There wasn't enough time to get it clear before the blast."

"Feels right Cal but that doesn't explain the bodies." Azurite paused to collect her thoughts. "Look I know theoretically energy drain can kill. But you can't drain energy from the dead. And those people would have dead long before they got that ... that ancient. Hell you saw them. They looked like they'd been dead for centuries."

"Under normal circumstances I agree." Cal's voice was slow as he thought it through. "But what if it happened a lot faster than normal?"

"What do you mean?"

"A normal drain takes a minimum of ten minutes before the victim is in danger, right?"

"Everyone knows that."

"But what if it happened in seconds?"


"What if a total drain took place in seconds? So that they were reduced to those mummies so fast they didn't have time to finish dying until then?"

It was a very unpleasant picture. "Metallia! ... I mean Jesus! If something could do that ..."

"Then it would be someone very powerful. Someone best avoided. Pyrite!"

"Yes?" He'd been listening to the conversation quietly.

"Is there any way to permanently collapse the gate from this side?"

"I'm afraid not. At least no way I know."


They were silent for a few minutes. At length Pyrite asked, "What do we do now?"

"Not a lot we can do right now. We keep our auras stealthed and tomorrow we look around this city for a few answers. And if there's any way to avoid engaging whoever's behind this we take it." A pause. "I also wish I knew why whoever it is wants human energy badly enough to kill for it."

No one had an answer.

The following morning the first thing they did to obtain some local currency. On his initial visit Calcite had discovered gold was still valuable so he'd brought some of his stockpile. Finding a semihonest dealer they changed the bullion for new yen. Although they didn't know it they'd got a very good deal. Seeing the ease Calcite had handled the bars the owner had suspected he was a Boomer and this was part of some GENOM covert operation. No one tries to cheat GENOM.

After some discussion they split up. Azurite and Pyrite headed east, Calcite headed west. The day dragged on as they relentlessly scoured the city. They kept in touch through their communicators but there was nothing to report. Either whoever it was had shielded their aura completely or they just hadn't stumbled across the right place yet. Towards evening Calcite got a call from Azurite.

"Still nothing. We're going to take a break and grab something to eat."

"Understood. Nothing new this end. I'll meet you both at the hotel in a few hours."

She acknowledged and signed off. Calcite put away the communicator (which looked like a cel phone from a distance) and walked on. He was in an industrial district now. Most of the buildings seemed to labelled GENOM. Plants with branch offices attached. He was currently heading toward one marked "GENOM Experimental Boomer Development Lab Beta Complex."

The restaurant wasn't too busy so Azurite and Pyrite were able to get a table in the window without much trouble. It seemed a little incongruous, sitting down for a gourmet meal in a futuristic city while knowing that somewhere out there is a Youma who's killing people with Boomers. Strange days. Azurite sighed.

"Something wrong? ... Besides the stuff that's going on I mean"

Apart from being in love with your cousin and avoiding making a choice?, she thought. "Just life generally. It gets complicated sometimes."

"Current thinking is that order inevitably gives way to chaos. That chaos is the natural state of things."

"Thinking back on our lives I would have to agree."

"In short things will only get worse?"

"I'm afraid so. I'd say expect the unexpected except that just doesn't work."

"Ah well, a toast then. To the hope that everything works out for the best anyway."


Calcite was passing the Beta Complex when he felt the aura surge. There was something very powerful in there. Worse that surge was caused by a sensor wave. It knew he was out here. Fight or flight time. Either would probably be disasterous. He examined the building itself. It seemed to consist of several long, low buildings attached to an office block. So labs and administration? Probably. Perhaps the source of the Boomers who'd invaded 20th century Tokyo.

Running would probably be a big mistake. Fighting without knowing the enemy a worse one. Calcite headed for the doors. Inside a security guard put down the phone and unlocked them. Mr Deite was working late tonight. He'd just called down and said to let someone in. He didn't know who it was but he wanted them in. No security considerations! Crazy! The guard got to give the newcomer the once over. He kept his hand hear the holster. "Raise your arms please sir."

Calcite's eyes glowed briefly. "Everything's fine."

"Oh well that's a relief."

"Who told you to let me in?"

"Mr. Deite, sir."

"Mr. Deite?"

"Mr. Jason Deite, the director of this project."

Jason Deite ... J. Deite ... Jadeite. How incredibly original. Thinking this way kept the fear at bay. Jadeite himself .... was it possible? He had been still alive when the Kingdom fell. And they'd built the warpgate in the Eternal Sleep Chamber. It could actually be him. A man with power and a definite grudge to settle with Sailor Moon and her hometown. Time for some last minute adlibbing ... Ok that might work. "Where would I find Mr. Deite?"

"Top floor, turn right as you exit the elevator. You can't miss it."

Believe me I'd like too. Calcite exit the elevator and headed to the right. He neededn't have bothered with directions, the aura was impossible to miss. The doors swung open as he approached. Calcite deactivated his translator for the first time in months. He bowed deeply to the man behind the desk. "Lord Jadeite, this is an honour."

"Straighten up and name yourself."

"Forgive me my lord. I am Calcite, formerly of Magnesite's legion."

"I remember him. Formerly?"

"He ahh failed to escape the Dark Kingdom."

"I see. How did you escape?"

"I had constructed a warpgate with the aid of my deputies. We located it in the Eternal Sleep Chamber to avoid detection."

"So you considered it likely Queen Beryl would fail and the Kingdom fall?"

"It seemed advisable to consider the possibility."

"You ran when the Kingdom fell. You didn't consider staying to fight until the end?"

"Not for a second."

Jadeite nodded. "Very sensible. Now where have you been, why are you here and why did you wreck my Boomer last night?"

He recognises my aura from the tunnel. "In order my Lord; I have been hiding in Tokyo under the noses of the Senshi ..."

"Plotting revenge?"

"Unfortunately if Sailor Moon could destroy both Queen Beryl and Metallia then she is beyond my power to harm."

"But not beyond mine. Continue."

"I discovered the gateway when six Boomers arrived."

"Did they spread terror and chaos across the city?"



"They were destroyed fairly quickly."

"Unfortunate. Ah well just an initial probe. The main event will be unstoppable."

Main event? "I crossed over and found this city. I explored and learned that this was not the future of the world I had been living in but rather a world without Senshi."

"Ah yes. You keep saying 'I' but you were with someone last night. A women who looked a lot like a Senshi." Despite the relaxed tone of Jadeite's voice Calcite could sense power building.

"Your servant seemed about to attack so we destroyed it. Had we known it was yours ..."

"Yes, yes, go on.

"As for the Sailor Arcturus guise, that is an old jest of Azurite's"

"Azurite?" That name definitely registered. "Yes of course, the blue hair and the aura should have tipped me off. By the way there were four of you?"

Damn, it must have been true that the sleepers could see. Jadeite saw all four of us open the gate. "Unfortunately my Lord the gate was somewhat hurried and improvised. While it required four teleport capable Youma to activate it the gate could only safely deliver two to the destination."

Jadeite smiled. "You told the other's this?"

"Just Azurite."

"So you ensured that you would be the two to make it?"

"She was the most useful of the other three."

Jadeite chuckled. "I'm sure she was. She seems to have grown up nicely." He noticed Calcite tense slightly. "Relax. I have no intention of stealing your bedmate. If I did you might fight me and I would have to kill you. That would be a waste." Jadeite considered mentioning Margrave's survival but dismissed the notion. Why would Calcite care about the existence of a low rank youma? "Where are you staying?"

"I have arranged a room at the Hotel Imperial."

"Return there and wait for word from me. I must consider how to fit you into my plans."

"I live to serve you, my Lord."

"Yes. You do. Now go." Calcite bowed again and vanished. Jadeite made a note to erase the guard's memory of his arrival. He replayed the memory of the "Senshi" he had seen last night. "Daddy's little girl seems to have grown up nicely. Perhaps I should acknowledge her."

In an office within the GENOM tower David Webster gave an order. "All right activate the Boomers. Let 'em run wild and bring us the Knight Sabers." The Knight Sabers were already enroute when they heard about the rampage. As they were planning a reconaissance mission rather than combat they were being transported in an unmarked truck. Mackie was driving, the four Sabers were in the truck. He was watching them through the monitor but he'd missed the real action. Still Nene looked good in the skintight softsuit. Only Sis and Linna were actually in their hardsuits and they'd left the helmets off for now. Nene and Priss had changed to the softsuits and their hardsuits were waiting for them. Priss was massaging her wrist again and looked pissed at life in general. Looked like the cast had come off a little early. Nene was sitting by the truck's terminal monitoring radio traffic. Then she looked up startled.

"Sylia, ADP's getting reports of Boomers running amuck in the sector fifteen restaurant district! Possibly BU-12 types."

"Change of plans. Mackie I know you're watching. Take us there now!" The truck screeched to a stop and did a quick U turn.

"It'll take us at least ten minutes to get there."

"I know Linna. But there's no option." As she said this Priss was already sliding into her hardsuit. Nene stayed by the terminal to keep monitoring. They were five minutes away when she looked up puzzled. "Wait a minute!"

"What's wrong?"

"It's over. They're still calling for emergency vehicles but N police are saying the Boomers are down."

"N Police?"

"Yes. They're telling ADP they don't need SWAT teams anymore the Boomers have been disabled. However they want ADP investigators on the scene."


"Something to do with how they were disabled. They're refusing to give any more details than that."

Mackie's voice came over the intercom. "What now Sis?"

Sylia shrugged. The movement was lost inside the hardsuit. "Turn around and head back to our original destination."

The truck slowed as Mackie plotted a route back and made a turn. Priss snorted, "Must have been really wimpy Boomers if N police could take them down."

Sylia made a note to investigate this matter further. Bu-12's were not pushovers and there wasn't a heavy police presence in the area.

Back at the restaurant a few minutes earlier Azurite and Pyrite were talking over coffee. Azurite's mind was wandering. She couldn't let matters continue she would have to make a decision. And live with the consequences afterwards. This could tear everything apart for the Renegades. So now wasn't the right time to make that decision. She should delay until after they'd sorted things out. When they were safely back in their Tokyo she'd settle matters. Even as she thought this she was pretty sure she was lying. The queen of procrastination.


"Sorry I'm afraid my mind wandered."

"Anything I can help you with?"

She hesitated. It was unfair of him to not know the situation. On the other hand ignorance is bliss. Then again ... She frowned, "Did you hear an explosion."

"I heard something loud. It could have been ..." There was a louder noise and the building shook slightly. "What the hell?"

A car nearby exploded. Suddenly the street outside seemed to be a madhouse as people fled in panic. Something green moved around the corner. It seemed to point towards them. Azurite shouted "Shields!" A moment later the missile roared through the front window and exploded.

Patrolman Akira Ishikawa realized he was on lying on the street. The past few minutes were a blur. Things exploding, screams, the taste of blood in his mouth. His head was ringing. No it wasn't! Those were very heavy footsteps. He looked up to see the advancing green shape of the Boomer loom over him. His hand scrabbled for his gun but he knew it was useless. The Boomer seemed to study him a moment then reached for him clawlike fingers. He wasn't even worth a bullet.

"Hey ugly!" The Boomer turned towards the intrusion. So did Akira, he gaped in amazement. The woman emerged from the shattered front of a restaurant. She didn't seem concerned about the fire burning around her. Her attire was odd. Despite the circumstances Akira couldn't help goggling at her. The leotard-like torso covering was bright red with a large black ribbon across the chest. The calfhugging lace up black boots seemed to be leather. As did the miniskirt, spiked collar around the throat and domino mask. Her arms were enclosed in skintight red gloves with studded bands around the wrists. Despite the fact the street was strewn with rubble she seemed to have no trouble walking on four inch stiletto heels. Sort of like the traditional sailor fuku as redesigned by a fetishist.

Watching by remote David Webster shrugged. Some crazy hooker was trying to get herself torn apart by a Boomer. Might be fun to watch. She was saying, "I am trying to sort a few things out. Last thing I need is some asshole machine blowing the restaurant up in my face."

The Boomer noted her lack of weaponary, prioritized her as secondary target and turned back to the policeman. No significant threats. Activating terror inducing termination methods. Amputation sequence begins.

Akira's gaze turned helplessly to the Boomer. It extended blades from its fingertips. He heard the woman say, "Introductions. I'm Sailor Arcturus. Go to hell!" Something ripped from her hands and struck the boomer's head. It torqued backwards then ripped free. Trailing wires and parts of its nervous system it embedded itself in the opposite wall. Had Webster been a little less anthromorphic and placed the brains in the body it would still have been operational. As it was a ton of dead metal dropped towards Akira. Then stopped. His eyes shifted from onrushing death to see the woman holding the Boomer by the chest. She heaved and the biomech fell backwards. Akira stared up at her. She was already moving as he opened his mouth. That was when he saw the second Boomer. It was chewing up the street behind her as she ran.

Azurite jumped soaring over the Boomer's head. It tried to bring the gun to bear but couldn't traverse fast enough. Time to disarm it. Landing behind it she grabbed it on the upper gun arm with one hand and dug her other into its' back. Bracing herself she heaved! It stayed fixed. Damn! It was tougher than those blue bastards. She was sweating from the effort. Come on! There was a popping noise then the arm tore free. She overbalanced and the Boomer spun striking her with its remaining arm. She flew several meters, rolled and was on her feet again. The damaged machine was pointing a rocket launcher at her. Winds howled around Azurite. Driving debris right into the launcher should do it. There was a flare of light and the Boomer suddenly had a golfball sized hole melted clear through its head. It toppled and crashed to the street.

Akira saw a second figure emerge from the restaurant. Behind him a blue wall blinked out revealing a room in dissarry from fleeing people but untouched by explosion. The man wore a tuxedo and top hat along with mask that concealed his eyes. He carried a cane. The woman looked at him. "I told you to stay down. I was about to take it out."

"I had a clear shot so I took it. I wouldn't have fired if you'd been moving."

"Well thanks but you should leave this to the professionals. Nice outfit by the way."

"Well I couldn't think of anything original so ..." He sounded embarrassed.

She nodded at the cane. "One of your pulse crystals?"

"It seemed more effective than tossing roses."

"More power than I thought. Or did you ...?"

He nodded. "I fired all its energy in one burst."

"Good thing you didn't miss."

"I do have a few more."

Akira managed to sit up and find his voice. "Uh excuse me but who ... what are you?"

She shrugged. "I'm Sailor Arcturus and he's ... oh screw it. Let's get the hell out of here." The unnamed man nodded and the two figures walking back into the burning restaurant. Akira blinked and couldn't see them anymore. Dazed he dug out his radio. The sturdy device was still functional. "Uhh dispatch we need ambulances pronto. There's dead Boomers all over the place and I don't know what's going on maybe I've gone crazy but ... just send help. Medical the Boomers are down, don't ask me how but they are."

Azurite and Pyrite rematerialized in their room. She sensed a presence nearby then recognised it. "Hi Cal."

"Well if it isn't Sailor Arcturus and Tuxedo Pyrite." Pyrite flushed and morphed his clothes back to the suit he'd been wearing earlier.

Azurite took off her mask and peered in a mirror. A lot of soot to clean off. "We've just had a rough few minutes Cal."

"Believe me I can top it. Jadeite's in town. For real this time." Azurite felt her stomach drop into her feet.

"Please tell me you're joking."

"Believe me. I wish I could." He recapped the meeting with the last general of the Dark Kingdom. "... so he only knows that two of us exist. As for your little escapade tonight ..." He took off his transmuter and tossed it to Pyrtie. "Program mine to do 'Tuxedo Mask' as well. I'll tell him it was me with Azure tonight. We'd better be ready in case he asks for a demo."

Azurite had been thinking. "This may not be so bad. Sure he's got power but he's incompetent. Hell he couldn't handle Sailor Moon on her own. Or beat her, Mars and Mercury before their powers got boosted. If we're careful we should be able to take him out."

Calcite shook his head. "That was true but not any longer. He's not the same man he was in the Dark Kingdom. There he was careless and blinded by his own arrogance. Soft after having things the way he wanted them for centuries. The man I met tonight was hard edged, sharp and very very dangerous. Maybe it was losing, maybe his time in the crystal but he's changed dramatically."

"Maybe it's this world that's changed him."

Both of them looked at Pyrite. "What do you mean?"

"I'm not sure but ... look we just saw the casualties reports on that rampage we broke up." Calcite nodded. The report had been barebones, fatalities and injuries only. Nothing about a women dismembering Boomers with her barehands. "Eleven dead, thirty injured, many critically. In a city where this sort of thing is so common they've got a special police unit to handle it."


"Now six of those things arrived in our Tokyo. A city totally unprepared for them. How many fataliites?"


"Right. Just two serious injuries. Next we arrive. You hit that guy with a powerburst that should have just stunned him. That I think would have just stunned him back home."

Both Azurite and Calcite looked puzzled. "Where are you going with this?"

"I'm not exactly sure. All I can say is that it seems like ... like the rules are different here. As if people in our continuum can take damage that would finish them here. As if probability is skewed somehow so that the violence is more likely to be lethal here. I mean how many people did Jadeite kill in Tokyo?"

"Approximately?" Pyrite nodded. "Well approximately ... none."

"Tonight he wiped out a tunnel full of people with a new energy drain technique. Look this is just a theory but maybe ... maybe a world has its own nature. When you enter it you somehow change to fit in. Assimilated by the new reality."

"If there's anything to this then we are going to be changed."

"Perhaps. It is just a theory and the process might be gradual ..." There was an urgent beeping noise. Pyrite fished a gemstone out of his pocket. "The gateway just activated. Tracking ... it's opening from our side!"

"The Senshi?"

"Negative. Pattern matches youma config ... It's Ti."

"I told her to only use the key in case of emergency."

"Maybe it is." Though she said it Azurite doubted it. Probably came for a look around the new world.

Pyrite looked at a clock. "Given the time discrepency evening here corresponds to afternoon in Tokyo. I'd estimate she's finished school for the day in our continuum."

"Great. OK I'll go get her." Calcite visualized the area by the gateway in his mind. "For her sake it had better at least be Armaggeddon on the other side."

Pyrite looked at the watchband he was holding. "He forgot his transmuter!"

"He shouldn't need it. Besides if Jadeite knows we're in town the disguises are sort of useless."

True. What next.

Jadeite's own evening was about to become more eventful. He was unaware that David Webster, nearly psychotic after the impossible failure of the fieldtest of the BU-12C class Boomer, had decided to eliminate the golden boy. Jadeite's car was waiting for him when he finished up. Tonight's conquest was waiting for him patiently. She was a receptionist who'd caught his eye. In more ways than one. He sometimes wondered if it would be worth seeing how many women he could snare without mind control. After all he had always been the most handsome of the generals. Still as he had the power he might as well use it. Besides he had to enjoy the women of the world while he could. Time was definitely running out.

He entered the car and ordered the driver to his apartment. He looked into the woman's placid features and tried to decide if he wanted her passive or passionate.

Not far away the killers waited. They preferred being called freelance combat specialists to mercenaries. Like most GENOM executive cars this one was bulletproof. Joey nodded, infared confirmed the back was occupied. Gavin locked the lasersight on the passanger door and fired. The armour piercing rocket impacted and the car flipped a half dozen times. The burning wreck came to rest on its side. Nothing was coming out of that alive.

Joey grinned. "Real subtle."

"Hell he ain't paying for subtle. Let's book!"

They were turning to go when the figure ripped through the remaing door levitated over the wreck. Both froze as Deite glared at them. He was spattered with blood, none of it his, and looked very angry. "You broke her!", he snarled. "I wasn't finished with her yet!" He dropped to the ground and blurred towards them. Next thing Gavin knew he was on the ground with a broken arm. The twisted remains of the launcher beside him. Deite had Joey by the throat. "I could just rip the answer out of your mind but it wouldn't be as satisfying. Who sent you?"

"Fuck you!" Then light flickered around Joey. In seconds he withered to a man in his nineties. Deite dropped him and old bones broke. The helpless old man lay there gasping. Gavin felt his heart turn to ice.

"Oh God! How ...?"

"Let's just say he aged real fast. Now listen carefully. If don't answer me I will not kill you. I'll just turn you into an ancient like him. You could last a few years like that ... helpless, hooked to machines, looked after by people who can't wait until you die so they'll be free of you. Now who sent you?"

"Webster! David Webster!Youruinedhistestsomehowandhewantedyoudeadshit don'tdoitmanI'mtellingyouthetruthitwasWebster!"

"I believe you." Jadeite picked him up effortlessly and stuffed him headfirst in the burning car. He slapped a forceshield over the hole and thought for a few moments. The screaming was weakening. Jadeite looked at the old man and shrugged. "What the hell." The throw draped the senior over the car. He tossed the rocketlauncher after him and concentrated. Reality warped and the car disappeared. It had been slightly displaced in time. Though not in space. As everyone knows planets aren't stationary they orbit stars. The car was in exactly the same position it had been in a minute ago. However the planet had moved on. Jadeite wondered briefly if they'd finished burning to death before vaccuum boiled their blood. He vanished.

David Webster was enjoying a drink when J. Deite appeared. "Holding my wake? I'm afraid you're a little premature."

The glass shattered on the floor, "What the ..."

"Please David, keep drinking." Involuntarily Webster poured himself another drink and gulped it down. "Again. Good, one more for the road. Now then write this down please, 'I have failed utterly my life is a disaster. I welcome it's end'. Good."

"Why am I doing this?"

"Because I want you to. Normally you'd think this was all your idea but you've annoyed me so I've left you capable of seeing the strings. Now my puppet do you own a gun."


"Get it. Good. It's loaded? Excellent. Now unlock the door. Fine. Is there a neighbour who would come if you called. Great. Call her and tell her you need a favour. Don't mention me or give any indication you are in trouble." He listened to the phonecall absently. Sweat was running down Webster's face as he tried to break free of the compulson. Time to wrap up. "She's on her way?" A nod. "Excellent. Now open your mouth and push the barrel in. Aim upwards. That's fine. Now listen carefully. When your neighbour enters and sees you I want you to pull the trigger. If it misfires keep pulling the trigger. If it still won't work get a knife from the kitchen and slash your throat. Shouldn't have messed with me David. Goodbye."

Jadeite rematerialized outside the window. Now would David have a fear induced fatal heart attack before the neighbour arrived? The door opened and there was a gunshot followed by a scream. Clear case of suicide. Jadeite teleported to his own apartment. Not a total loss of an evening. Anyway he should figure how to fit the new youma into his plans. He chuckled softly, "Look at it this way Dave. By dying early you avoided the mass exodus to the afterlife. No worries about getting lost in the shuffle."

Dark Kingdom Renegades 2: Bad Moon Rising

A Sailor Moon Story
by Mark Latus

Part 2 of 8

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