It was over. That much she knew.
The surprise attack had come suddenly and without warning, catching her by surprise. Once the demonic crustaceans had ambushed her as she attempted to dispatch a warning to the Republic of her suspicion of the possibility of an ambush, (and they had only laughed at her paranoia - serves them right), she had a feeling things wouldn't go quite as smoothly as she'd hoped.
When those very same crustaceans had then proceeded to cleverly trap her at the end of a narrow passageway where her allergies had caused her to temporarily pass out at the most inopportune of moments, she knew that she was doomed.
Death was inevitable. If only it would have come sooner.
Unfortunately, crustaceans, not known for their humanity, are downright beastly when not being boiled and/or eaten alive. The little bastards wouldn't put her out of her misery, even when she threatened to eat one of them to finish the job herself.
So much for the easy way out. Alas.
She wasn't sure how long it had been since her capture. (It's hard to keep track of time while hurtling through a black hole, somewhere deep in the vast, empty universe in a peanut-shaped spaceship, passed out in a tiny, dark cubicle guarded by two rather vicious-looking lobsters.)
Years, months, days, hours, minutes, or perhaps only mere seconds after her arrest, she was awoken from her allergy-stricken, semi-comatose state of unconsciousness. Escorted on either side by a dozen, oversized shrimp, each armed with a tranquilizer gun (they were taking no chances), she was led into the spaceship's spacious, (though dark and foreboding), captain's deck. Across the shadowy deck, there was a single large throne, shrouded in darkness.
"SO, AT LAST WE HAVE YOU, PRINCESS," a malevolent voice declared menacingly from the dark throne. "IT SEEMS THAT YOU HAVE RUN OUT OF PLACES TO RUN. THERE'S NO WHERE TO HIDE."
The princess tossed her long blonde hair over her shoulder, stuck out her chin (in a regal-like manner), and glared at the shadowy figure. "You have no power over me!" she shot back haughtily (and not without a little bravado).
"YOU DON'T THINK SO?" A long, boney hand reached out from the shadows and signaled the crustacean guards. Obediently, they formed a circle around the princess and began closing in on her.
The princess gasped in fear as she struggled to breathe. She collapsed to the ground, her hands clutching her swollen throat. "Cheap . . .shot!" she managed to choke out between gasps.
The shadowy figured chuckled maliciously and called off her evil shrimpy cronies. "IT SEEMS THAT I HAVE MORE POWER THAN YOU THINK. BUT I THOUGHT THAT THE CAPITAL LETTERS, THE BLATANT SIGN THAT I AM THE BIG BAD OF THIS SEASON, WOULD HAVE GIVEN IT AWAY."
Finally able to breathe, the princess stood up and glared again. This time when she spoke, her voice trembled with apprehension. "Who are you?"
The shadowy figure, not even bothering to stand from the throne, leaned forward into the light. The princess's eyes widened in horror and recognition.
"YOU!" The princess cried out.
"TAKE HER AWAY!" The figure demanded. Two lobsters grabbed the princess by her arms and began dragging her from the throne room.
"You won't win this time!" The princess gasped painfully at the figure as she was pulled away. "Vive la Republique! Vive la Republique!" she screamed.
The doors slammed shut behind the (unwillingly) departed princess, casting the deck once again in shadow.
"You guys are unbelievable!" Key Key yelled in annoyance. It was Thursday night and Me and Timm had just informed her that they were canceling their concert Saturday night in order to go on dates with (and I quote) "normal American girls". Poor fools.
Me looked at the floor shamefully, not daring to meet Key Key's furious stare. "Sorry?"
"Sorry? Sorry! Do you have any idea what this could mean?" Key Key cried. "If these girls find out anything about you - anything at all, our very lives could be in danger! Not to mention our princess! Have you already forgotten the importance of our mission?"
"Of course we haven't forgotten about the Republic!" Me said emphatically. "Have we, Timm?" There was a silent pause. "What do you mean you thought we were fighting for a democracy?" Me asked the empty space to his left. "Democracy can't come without a civil war, you know that! And right now there aren't enough members of the royal family to behead. Ask again in fifty years."
Key Key shook her head in displeasure. "At least I don't have to worry about this kind of behavior from I or You. And thank goodness Elfyn had more sense than to go and get himself involved with the . . . females of this planet."
"Actually . . ."
"Not him too!" Key Key cried. She glared at the cracker lying on a nearby table. "I'll deal with you later!" she threatened.
"So, what do you want us to do?" Me asked, glad that Key Key's anger finally had a new focus (other than him). "The press already heard news of our cancellation. It'll be announced in tomorrow's papers. It's too late to change that."
"Fine," Key Key said. "However, you're not getting off so easily. I forbid you - ALL of you - to see these girls ever again! Break off your dates for Saturday night. I'll inform the press that the three of you have come down with something."
"The common cold?" Me suggested.
"Oh, I was thinking of something much worse," Key Key said sugary-sweetly, her eyes narrowed. "Something along the lines of Keykeyitis. And if you don't take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the disease . . . well, it could just prove to be permanent. And fatal."
Friday morning, the Sailor Senshi (minus Julie and Valerie) were showing their newest member, Sailor Meow, the location of their super secret headquarters in the library under the guise as SPAAK: The Society of People Who Can't Spell.
"It's not much," Mallory said humbly, gesturing to the small round table SPAAK was allowed to use in the corner of the library. The other tables were all taken over by clubs with more members (that actually did something). "But it's home."
"I think that it is positively wonderful," Lisa said sincerely. "I am so very pleased that you have allowed me to join your fight against evil under . . . how do you say it? "No questions asked" terms? I am most excited to be one of the infamous Sailor Senshi!" She smiled at each of the senshi in turn, blushing shyly when her eyes fell on Bob.
"She speaks funny," Niki muttered under her breath to Eva who nodded in agreement. "And she's far too nice to Bob. Do you think she's evil? Can we kill her?"
"And, if you don't mind my adding," Lisa continued enthusiastically. "I believe that together, we can strike fear into the very hearts of those who would try to bring the world into darkness and that - pardon my language - when we do so, we will really kick butt!"
"She's worse than Mallory was before we corrupted her," Niki muttered. Eva nodded again (even though she didn't know Mallory in the "old days"). "Looks like we have a new assignment. Hooray for demoralizing others!" Niki said happily, her eyes shining.
"Well, I'm glad that you finally decided to show up!" A feline voice huffed from underneath the Amnesty table. A moment later, Krystina leapt into view and settled down on the table. "I had begun to fear that you had forgotten about your duty and were once again slacking off outside at the picnic tables like you did last year."
"We weren't slacking off!" Bob protested. "We were . . ."
"Studying the behavioral patterns of "normal" teenagers while attempting to imitate them so as to better secretly infiltrate the next location of those who would try to destroy us without unintentionally arousing their suspicions," Mallory filled in quickly.
"Tee hee hee," Niki giggled. "She said 'arousing'!"
"Well put, Sailor Unico," Krystina said proudly. To Niki, "grow up, Sailor 24601."
"I wonder where Krystina's been this whole time," Special K mused quietly, commenting on the fact that the cat hadn't bothered to make an appearance in several of the last episodes. "Maybe she's having an affair with Malcolm."
Vanessa overheard this assumption and glared at the older senshi, her head twitching violently with anger. "B*tch."
"Hello," Krystina greeted Special K with a nod of her furry head. "I do not believe we've ever officially met. At least, not on non-adversary terms. I'm sorry that I've been away from my duties for so long as the Sailor Senshi's mentor. I've been with Julie in Nakodish. She's been having . . . issues."
"Doesn't she always?" Special K grinned. Nobody could say otherwise.
"And you," Krystina gazed up at Lisa. "You must be Sailor Meow. Welcome to headquarters."
Lisa, ever since Krystina had first appeared, had been containing her overwhelming urge to grab the poor cat and squeeze it mercilessly. She could contain it no longer. "Kitty!" She squealed, grabbing Krystina around the neck and clutching her tightly against her chest.
The others could do nothing but watch on in horror.
"NO!" Mallory screamed in fury, once her brain had registered the fact that the new senshi was blatantly trying to murder Krystina by means of strangulation. She ran at Lisa, her head aimed for her stomach, and she tackled the unnaturally blue-haired girl to the ground. Lisa fell under Mallory. The cat went flying across the room.
Mallory stood as the other senshi circled the fallen girl. Eva grabbed her staff from where it leaned against one of the book shelves and used it to pin Lisa to the ground. "Who sent you?" Eva demanded, pressing the staff painfully into Lisa's chest.
"I'm sorry, but I have no idea as to what you are referring," Lisa protested once the wind that had been knocked out of her returned.
"Don't play dumb, freshman," Special K said, glaring down. "If you tell us what big, bad evil you work for, we might consider letting you off easy."
Lisa's eyes were wide with confusion. "What? Why do you think that I am evil?"
"Because good guys don't usually try to strangle the mentor of their fellow comrades," Bob said. "Duh."
Lisa burst into tears. "I wa-wasn't try-trying to . . . kill her!" she sobbed. "I - I was just trying to pet the kitty!"
"Oh, right," Niki said. "I've done that before."
Slightly embarrassed, the senshi helped their newest member off the ground and, making sure they hadn't drawn any suspicious attention from anyone else in the library (which, of course, the attempted killing hadn't), once again resumed a normal meeting.
"I am very worried," Krystina admitted, after everyone had taken seats and began pretending to pay attention. "There is a great evil coming, one that may, in fact, already be here, and one that - as usual - is surely greater than any you have ever faced. The only problem is that this evil has not yet shown itself, and because of this, the evil continues to gain in power and you have not been able to fight it."
"All of this is true," Mallory agreed, once again acting the part of temporary leader in Julie's absence. Which she seemed to be doing a lot lately.
"However," Krystina continued, "I assume the Fairy has told you all you need to know about what this great evil is and how to defeat it. So the only problem laying before us is how to find it."
"Well . . . actually . . ."
Krystina frowned. "I was told that you were each given a question with which to ask all that is needed to know about the new evil from the Fairy Who Likes Coke and Peanuts and Alexia. Surely with all of their combined knowledge, you learned something!"
"We would have . . . I suppose," Mallory said slowly. "Had we asked the right questions."
Krystina's eyes widened briefly before once again narrowing. "Don't tell me you wasted ten questions, questions that could have led to answers that could have aided you in saving the world yet again, on frivolous personal matters!"
The senshi were silent for a very long time.
"WELL?!" Krystina screeched, practically turning red in the face (which, by the way, is very difficult for a purple cat to do).
"Um . . . you said not to tell you," Special K said quietly. "We're remaining silent so as to not have to tell you that we did indeed waste ten valuable questions on many a worthless answer."
"In my defense, I was completely jipped," Eva said quickly. "If I had been given a chance, I'm sure I would have asked a legitimate question. Probably . . ."
Before any of the others could give their lame attempts at excuses, Krystina raised a paw, complete with three-inch long, dagger-like claws threateningly in the air. The senshi gulped nervously and all took a step back (as though the extra distance would save them). "Know this," Krystina hissed menacingly. "If we were not currently in a public school building where several vicious murders might attract some attention, but instead in a dark, secluded alleyway, far from anyone who could possibly hear the terrified, pain-filled screams, you would ALL BE--"
"Hey guys," Valerie said cheerfully, hurrying over to the table and cutting Krystina off, mid-threat. "Sorry I'm late."
"Quick, Valerie! Krystina's gone mad!" Niki yelled, pointing frantically at the exit. "Run! Save yourself!"
But it was too late. Krystina glared at the newly-arrived senshi. "Let me guess," she hissed angrily. "You're late because your mother flooded the hallway with sprinklers again, is that it?" she asked sarcastically.
"Not that I recall . . . But I wouldn't be surprised." Valerie said slowly, stroking her chin thoughtfully. "My worthless brother and his equally-worthless friend did try to burn down the house using a rather large, star-shaped candle. As the house filled with smoke, they vehemently denied that the smoke was their fault, even as the candle wax melted on to the floor and set the carpet on fire. But that's not why I'm late."
"Then why ARE you late?"
"There's something in my backyard."
"WHAT?" Everyone yelled in bewilderment. In fact, they were so thrown off by what Valerie had said, that everyone (including Krystina) completely forgot about their earlier discussion, death-threats and all, and instead gave their full (though rather vagrant) attention to Valerie.
"Come again?" Vanessa said. "WHAT'S in your backyard?"
"Rapists," Valerie replied casually, as though it were something that happened on a regular basis to most people.
"Friends of your mother's Columbian drug lords?" Mallory asked.
Valerie shrugged. "To be honest, I don't really know. My brother mentioned it to me last night when I suggested we go outside at four o'clock in the morning because I was bored and felt like taking a can of Raid and viciously murdering hoards of mosquitos. He seemed rather terrified of them. The rapists, not the mosquitos."
"But isn't your brother a boy?" Eva questioned.
"That's what I've been told," Valerie replied.
"Oh," Niki nodded with understanding. "So the rapists were Catholic Priests?"
Valerie shrugged again. "It's a possibility. At any rate, I think that we should have a big sleep over at my house Saturday night. Perhaps with all of us together, we might be able to frighten them off, as we do most other people. Especially if we have Julie with us. She's REALLY scary."
"What about our dates?" Mallory asked.
"We can move all of our dates to my house, instead of our individual houses," Valerie suggested. "Having several guys around can serve as extra protection if the alarm system, bolts, chains, bars, and locks on every door and window fail. And if the rapists do turn out to be Catholic Priests, then they can be extra targets too, drawing all of the unwanted attention, while giving us a chance to escape."
Mallory nodded approvingly. "It seems to be a foul-proof plan."
"So are you with me?" Valerie asked. The others, all having nothing better to do Saturday night (ah, the curse of being anti-social super heroes), nodded in synchronization.
"Great!" Valerie said. She turned to Krystina. "So, oh-great-and-wise mentor, what did I miss?"
"Well," Krystina said, pleased to once again have all of their attention, and now sufficiently calmed down enough so as to feel that death-threats were at least, momentarily, not necessary. "We must discuss the new evil . . ." she looked around the library which was crowded with the members of several other clubs who were holding their own meetings. "But I fear that the matters we must deal with are far too serious to speak of in the open and amongst so many possible spies."
Bob rolled her eyes. "Oh yeah, because look at how much they all really seem to care what we do," she said sarcastically, pointing out the fact that absolutely everyone else was doing their best to ignore the table of weirdos, despite the senshi's disruptive and obnoxiously chaotic behavior.
"Why don't we go to the AV room," Krystina suggested. "Back when the large majority of you were lowly and pathetic freshmen, the Sailor Senshi used to meet in secret there, as it provides quite a bit more privacy and secrecy than the library does."
"No can do," Special K said. "The computer club meets in the AV room during all three lunches."
"Figures. Damn geeks," Krystina hissed. "You have all formed a "club" so as to meet regularly without drawing any unwanted attention, so why do all of the other clubs get preferential treatment, like more tables and entire rooms to themselves, while you're stuck with a measly table?"
"Um, because they actually do stuff?" Valerie guessed.
"Not necessarily," Mallory said. "I think it's mostly because they have more members. We're just a handful of people. Technically, we don't need an entire room to hold a meeting."
"So, what do you propose we do about that?" Krystina asked.
"I know!" Niki cried excitedly, jumping out of her seat. "I'm going to start another club, one that will have lots of members that never do anything and who don't bother showing up for meetings, thereby allowing us to continue to meet without more people joining us. Then we can claim to be a big club with lots of members, and they'll have to give us our own space!"
"Okay . . ." Eva said. "I follow your logic. Sort of."
"What club are you starting?" Vanessa asked.
"The Fellowship of Jewish Athletes!" Niki said proudly. "Only, you won't have to be Jewish to join, since none of you are Jewish, and I myself, can be described as a lousy Jew at best. You won't have to be athletic either, since none of us are at all in any way."
"Well, actually," Meow began, "I am rather fond of rigorous outdoor exercise, and I consider myself to be quite a gifted athlete."
Niki frowned at her. "But, you're a freshman, so you don't count."
"So, basically, you're just forming another Fellowship of Christian Athletes," Mallory summed up from Niki's description of her club.
"Exactly!" Niki grinned. "And therein lies the brilliance of my scheme. The Christian Athletes never do anything, so we won't have to either. But the school administrators will HAVE to let us form the club because we're - or at least, I'm - a religious minority, and they have all of those Equal Rights laws that say minorities can form clubs too, and if you try to stop them, they'll sue your a$$." Niki's grin broadened. "Brilliant, eh?"
The others were stunned, completely in awe of Niki's surprisingly good - though strange - idea, since she always seemed to have so few ideas, none of them in the past ever being good.
"We are in awe," Mallory finally voiced. The others nodded in an awe-like manner.
"Well, I suppose we've solved that problem," Krystina said. "Let's move on to bigger, and more serious issues, but let's be as discreet as possible. I can't help but feel that at this very moment, the enemy is within view, right under our very noses, but we can't do anything about them because we don't know who they are."
Krystina was right. The enemy was indeed within view. And they were not to be taken lightly, for despite what their various hair colors would suggest, they were both immensely clever and highly dangerous.
A few yards from where the senshi sat at their circular table, attempting to hold a secret meeting, another group of girls was doing the exact same thing.
"GOOD MORNING, SENSHI," a cheerful British voice issued from a communicator box at the center of the circular table.
"Good morning, Charlie," the girls whispered softly back.
A girl with lime green hair leaned close to the communicator and cupped her hands around it to block what she was saying. The other girls could vaguely make out her warning Charlie that they were in public and that he should either speak softly or in code, though preferably softly since they didn't actually know any codes.
"I HAVE GOOD NEWS," the voice said quietly. "THIS MORNING, I RECEIVED A LATE DISPATCH THAT RELAYED THE PRINCESS'S CAPTURE EARLY LAST WEEK. PACK UP YOUR BAGS, SENSHI, THE MISSION IS OVER. NOW THAT THE REPUBLIC'S FALL HAS BEEN ASSURED AND THE PRINCESS IS WITHIN CUSTODY, THE MISSION TO CONQUER EARTH'S PEOPLE HAS BEEN PUSHED BACK TO A LATER DATE."
"Really?" One of the pink haired girls said with surprise. "Well, this news comes as a bit of a disappointment. We've spent our last week on Earth gaining insight into the identities of the Princess's guardians and the location of the princess, and had she not already been in custody, millions of miles away, we would surely have captured her ourselves within the week, at least."
"AH YES, WELL, THOSE THINGS HAPPEN, YOU KNOW. IT'S BEST TO LOOK ON THE BRIGHT -- HANG ON," the voice said suddenly. For a short while, all the senshi could make out was brief, indistinct, though obviously anxious clips of conversation, before Charlie came back on. "GREAT NEWS, SENSHI! APPARENTLY, THE PRINCESS HAS JUST RECENTLY ESCAPED, AND WAS LAST SEEN IN A STOLEN SPACE CRAFT HEADED THIS WAY. MISSION IS BACK ON. TALK TO YOU AGAIN WHEN I FIND ANYTHING ELSE OUT. GOODBYE, SENSHI."
"Goodbye, Charlie," the senshi chorused.
"Well, that was a lot to take in all at once," the green haired girl said once the communicator box had grown silent.
"Yes," the pink haired girl who had spoken earlier agreed. "Now that the mission is back on, I wish I hadn't made it sound like we were close to finding out anything, since the reality is that we have no idea what we're doing whatsoever."
"Good point," the green haired girl agreed. "We're definitely no closer to finding the princess than when we first arrived on Earth. Do we have any leads at all?"
"I do," the scary one known as Valerie spoke up. She pointed to the other table of senshi. "I recognize them. They were the girls who were in the woods the night we landed. They seem pretty suspicious to me. I think there's a chance we'd find out a lot if we follow their every move from the shadows."
"Um, okay," the green haired girl said doubtfully. "Since we don't have any leads at the moment, I suppose following these girls won't waste any more time than would already have been wasted. How about we meet up again after school? Let the stalking begin."
"Willkommen! Bienvenue! Welcome!" Valerie cheerfully greeted her friends as she opened the front door and beckoned them into her house. "Feel free to make yourself at home. I've got macaroni and cheese if you're hungry."
"What is all this stuff?" Eva asked, referring to the large assortment of blunt and/or sharp objects lying on the kitchen table.
"Weapons," Valerie said, casually picking up a baseball bat and hefting it over her shoulder. "Be sure to mind the booby traps I've strategically located under every window, and whatever you do, don't go in the backyard!"
"Don't you think you're overdoing it?" Vanessa asked.
"Overdoing it? Not possible! This is war, Stegeman!" Valerie cried, brandishing the bat like a rapier. "One can't ever be too prepared."
"Are they here yet?" Mallory squeaked, barely able to contain her excitement.
"Who? The Catholic Priests?" Niki asked, puzzled.
"We're going out with Catholic Priests?" Niki said, significantly more puzzled. "Since when?"
Mallory, choosing to ignore Niki's blatant stupidity, continued. "It's five after seven, so they should be here. I gave Megami directions to your house, and he said he knew the other guys and would pass on the information. I don't think they're lost . . ."
"We could send out a search party," Valerie mused. "But we should wait at least twenty-four hours for that. More than likely, their lateness is due to the fact that my house is impossibly far down a ridiculously long street. They were probably merely disheartened by the inhumanely lengthy, dark, winding, treacherous stretch of pot-holey concrete that is my street. I'm sure they turned back around 160, assuming that they already passed my house. It happens a lot."
Just then, the doorbell rang.
"That's them! That's them!" Mallory cried leaping up and down ecstatically. The doorbell rang again. Mallory continued jumping in place. With each jump, she was no nearer to the door than the jump before. The doorbell rang again.
"Well, aren't you going to answer it?" Eva asked.
Mallory froze, her eyes wide. "But, I wouldn't know what to say!"
"You could try, 'Hello. Welcome to my insane friend's house. Don't be alarmed by the strange girls carrying staple guns and broken lamps (among other things), and do try to ignore the booby traps strategically placed under every window. They are here solely for your protection from the rapists that frequent the backyard.' Or something," Special K suggested.
"I could try to say all that, but I know I'd get confused somewhere between "strange girls" and "booby traps," and then I'd start rambling and/or mixing up the words and somehow end up saying something perverted and/or morally wrong, and then he might think I'm weird, and then he wouldn't want to go out with me anymore!"
"Chill out. I'm glad you've never had a boyfriend before. You're obsessing more than Julie! (If that's possible). I'm sure by now he's figured out that you're weird, if not because of your personality, then at least because of your associations," Special K said, looking pointedly at Niki and Valerie who, instead of answering the door, were patrolling for rapists. Niki was marching back and forth in front of the window that looked over the backyard, a bat in one hand and a kitchen knife in the other. Valerie, believing herself to have superior hearing capabilities because of her obsession with ears, had her head pressed against the hallway floor so that she could sound the alarm when she heard the rapists approach, giving her friends more time to reach their "battle stations" before the enemy could breach the walls.
"My point is," Special K continued, "by now he's got to be aware of your lack of normalcy, and if that's the case, then he's one of those few guys who can look beyond an eccentric and somewhat peculiar personality to the intelligent, sensitive, and thoughtful woman underneath. Either that, or he just wants to get in your pants."
The doorbell rang again.
Mallory, if calmed at all by Special K's reassurances, broke down once again as she heard the doorbell ring into a mad fit of hysterics. "I just can't do it!" she cried.
"Will SOMEONE answer the damn door!" Bob yelled in annoyance, far too lazy and preoccupied with flipping channels to get up and do it herself.
"Fine then!" Special K yelled back, all sympathy cast aside. She grabbed Lisa who happened to be walking by at that moment and shoved her towards the door. "You do it!"
"Okay," Lisa replied cheerfully, a pleasant smile on her face. Humming, she skipped the five steps to the door, took the key from where it was skillfully hidden in plastic dog droppings (inside the house), and unlocked the door. Bowing, she stepped back to allow a solitary figure into the house. "Welcome, friend!"
"Are you insane!" Valerie cried angrily, shoving the stranger aside, running up to Lisa, and smacking her over the head. "What were you thinking, letting him in without the proper identification and secret password?! You could have gotten us all killed!"
"Or worse!" Niki cried, following Valerie's lead and hitting the foolish freshman over the head. Fortunately for Lisa, it was with the bat-free hand. "Converted!"
Before Valerie and Niki could demonstrate anymore unprovoked acts of violence, Mallory leapt forward, grabbed Megami's hand, and pulled him away from the door and the psychotic girls.
"I'm really sorry about all of this," Mallory apologized to her date once they were safe from miscalculated blows, her face flushed with embarrassment. "They're usually not this bad . . . Sometimes they're even . . . well-behaved."
"I bet," Megami grinned.
Togther, they watched as Valerie and Niki showed Lisa what to do in case of an actual attack. Valerie leapt on Niki, knocking her to the ground and pinning her arm painfully behind her. Of course, Valerie, forgetting that Niki was left-handed, had pinned the wrong arm. With her useful hand free, Niki grabbed the bat, knocked Valerie senseless and then proceeded to continue hitting her on the head until she regained consciousness.
Valerie, once conscious, was furious with Niki for getting the better of her. So, she did what any sensible girl would do. She started fighting dirty. Valerie kicked Niki in the shin. Hopping painfully on one foot, Niki somehow managed to grab hold of Valerie's short hair and pulled. Screaming, Valerie lashed out, scratching Niki's sensitive skin on the other side of her elbow.
"B*tch!" Niki cried in pain, cradling her arm where Valerie's fingernails had drawn a tiny drop of blood. "You made me bleed! Now I'm going to scar, and it's all your fault! I'm telling Julie! She'll avenge me!"
"It was just a scratch!" Valerie yelled back. "But, knowing Julie, she'll probably write a profanity-filled email, b*tching me out for injuring poor, defenseless you." She rolled her eyes. "Been there, done that."
Lisa, meanwhile, watched the whole "demonstration" with wide, attentive eyes, jotting down notes at appropriate intervals.
Mallory shook her head and covered her face in horror. "I am so incredibly mortified," she cried aloud in anguish.
"Don't be," Megami said reassuringly. "I'm used to the violent cat-fights. I and You are always all over each other, biting and scratching."
"You have sisters?"
"Sure . . ." Megami shrugged. "I guess you could call them that."
"Hey guys!" Valerie greeted Mallory and her date cheerfully a moment later. "Where's Elfyn?"
"Err . . . he's not exactly here yet," Megami said, his eyes flickering briefly to his pants pocket. "Is it alright if he makes an appearance sometime around midnight?"
"Fine with me," Valerie said. "It's not like my mom's going to be home or anything. I guess Timm will be coming later too?"
"Oh no, he's right here!" Niki said happily, hopping up to the trio. She stopped a few feet from Megami and her arms circled the empty air. "I'm so glad you could make it! Come on, let's go hang out somewhere private. Val, is it okay if we go to your room?"
Valerie shrugged. "I guess. But no funny business on my bed!"
"Why not? It's not like you sleep in it or anything."
Valerie, Mallory, and Megami watched as Niki reached out her hand and, grabbing a hand no one could see, began leading Timm upstairs. "Be careful on the stairs," she warned. "Particularly near the scotch taped railing. It's likely to collapse any minute now."
After Niki disappeared around the corner, Mallory turned to Megami. "So, is Timm invisible or something?"
"Actually . . . he kind of doesn't exist."
"It's a good thing that he's not invisible," Valerie said. "We tend to enjoy physically and/or verbally abusing invisible people. And freshmen. But not invisible freshmen. We just pity them." She shook her head sadly. Then she got over it. "I better get back to patrolling until Elfyn shows up." She turned to Mallory and gave her a wink and two thumbs up. "Don't do anything I wouldn't do!"
"See?" Mallory said to Megami after Valerie once again resumed listening at the door. "They're not really . . . quite that bad."
"You don't think it's weird?" Megami asked.
"Be more specific, please."
"The fact that Timm is non-existent."
"Oh, no!" Mallory smiled. "Trust me when I say it's a lot less weird then . . . oh, say a girl who's really a boy who's really a fairy. Or for that matter, a girl who's spent millennia upon millennia as doorman to a door no one bothered entering."
"Wait . . ." Megami said slowly. "I'm confused."
"Come on," Mallory said. "I think it's time you met my other friends."
"Oh my God!" Vanessa squealed with delight. "I am never washing this hand again!"
"I never thought that two minutes could ever make up for a lifetime of loneliness and despair!" Eva cried. "But they SO did!"
"I'm so happy, I could swoon!" Bob sighed her hands clasped to her heart. "But I won't because I'm too cool."
"I think I'm in love!" Lisa joined in, gazing adoringly at Bob.
Vanessa, Eva, Bob, Lisa, and Special K were all huddled in Valerie's ugly kitchen, ecstatically remembering the moment, only minutes before, when they had all met and SHOOK HANDS WITH Mallory's date.
"I'm so jealous!" Special K cried. "How come the good stuff always happens to you lowly juniors? I mean, damn it, I'm a senior! Don't I deserve something?"
"It's just so unbelievable!" Eva gushed. "I mean, finding out that they were going to be at our school was one thing, but I never thought I'd get to meet one of them! Mallory is SO lucky!"
"She REALLY is," Vanessa agreed. "But I don't think she realizes quite how lucky she is. Or how many girls would commit first-degree murder just to be in her shoes."
"What do you mean?" Bob asked.
"She's not acting very star-struck," Vanessa pointed out. "I don't think she has any clue that she's dating a superstar. But then again, knowing Mallory, I'm not surprised."
"Well, maybe she's just better at keeping her cool around teen idols than say, oh, the five of us," Special K said. She grinned smugly. "I can't wait to tell Julie! She is just going to DIE. And then she'll have a legitimate reason to despise Mallory, other than the whole second-in-command thing."
"Wait a minute," Bob said, her eyes wide. "You don't think that Valerie and Niki's dates could by any chance be . . . the other band members?!"
Everyone grew silent.
"Nah," the senshi chorused simultaneously after a brief pause.
"On the one hand, Mallory can pass for normal . . . most of the time," Vanessa commented. "At any rate, guys think her cluelessness is cute, maybe even a turn on. But Valerie and Niki? Passing for normal? Highly doubtful."
"Good point," Bob agreed. "Who on earth would ever want to go out with them?"
Meanwhile, outside Valerie's house, her backyard was teeming with life forms, though not of the animal or rapist variety. A group of seven girls crouched quietly outside the glass windows of The Room, waiting in silence for something to happen.
Not that anything did of course.
"I'm bored," Sailor Tange whined, her voice echoing loudly in the still night air. "Let's do something else. I know! How about we run around like rabid--"
"Shh!" Sailor Pink glared, smacking the annoying pink-haired girl to quiet her down, as she had been doing regularly for the past three hours, but with little result.
"I have to say I agree with Tange," Sailor Cranberry admitted. "We've been here all night, and all we're going to have to show in the morning for all our time spent waiting is several bad cases of poison ivy. I say we declare this a false lead and call it a night."
"Not so fast," Sailor ChibiS said, putting a pair of binoculars to her eyes and peering through them. "Haven't you noticed how strangely they've been acting since they got here? It's like they're just waiting for someone to attack . . . I just know they're hiding something!"
"Whatever their secrets are, they're guarding them well. Perhaps too well," Sailor Pink sighed, willing to admit defeat if only it meant she wouldn't have to hang around the obnoxious pink-haired girls any more. "Let's go."
"Woo hoo! Midnight sugar fest, here I come!" PerkyFluffyBunny cheered leaping up from behind a bush and running out into the open. She didn't get very far. "Ow!"
"What is it?" the others asked, unable to make out anything clearly in the dark.
"I ran into this . . . oddly shaped . . ." Light suddenly filled the backyard. "House lamp!" PerkyFluffyBunny cried in surprise. "Who in their right mind would leave a house lamp plugged in outside? That's weirder than a ladder! And much more of a fire hazard."
"Turn it off!" Sailor Boris warned her. "It'll draw attention!"
But it was too late. Because something else was about to draw a lot more attention.
In her attempt to turn off the lamp, PerkyFluffyBunny somehow managed to get herself entangled in the cord. Unable to remain upright with her legs lashed together, she fell forward . . . into the glass windows.
Glass shattered. An alarm sounded.
"The rapists!" Valerie screamed in horror from her battle-ready position at the front door. "Quick, everyone! Hide and Go Seek!"