"NOOOOO!" Key Key screamed in anguished horror, covering her eyes with her hands, too horrified to move.
Wide-eyed, the senshi of Earth watched in a stunned silence as the dirty blonde girl fell to the floor in slow motion. She lay on the ground, spread-eagle and unmoving. They continued to stare in repulsive fascination as the thick, dark blood slowly seeped from underneath the prone, very-dead girl’s head.
The senshi from outer space chortled with glee. At last! The Princess was dead!
Regret filled Julie’s eyes, mixed with shame and a justified sense of failure. She hadn’t been strong enough, or fast enough, and now an innocent woman was dead.
"Shouldn’t we do something?” Mallory said softly to the immobile senshi leader. “I mean, we’re kind of in the middle of a battle here . . . I’m thinking now would be a good time for a senshi power up.”
"We failed them,” Julie whispered, choking back a sob. “I failed them.”
“We have to do something!” I cried, echoing Sailor Unico, as he struggled to break free of the dead snake that still held him and the other band members captive on the stage.
Me stared back at him with hollow eyes. “There’s nothing that we can do. She’s dead! All hope is lost.”
Key Key bit her lip until the blood flowed free, mixing with the tears that she had already shed for the girl that lay dead at her feet. Her gaze shifted to the door at the back of the stage, and for a brief moment, a calculating look crossed her face before it was quickly replaced by the same empty-eyed shock.
Standing apart from the outer space senshi who were busy congratulating themselves with many a hi-five and “woo hoo”, Sailor Cranberry watched the expression on Key Key’s face with interest. Something wasn’t quite right about this whole scenario . . . Killing that girl was all too easy. Could she really have been all that stood between the Emperor’s plans for universal domination?
Cranberry glared with annoyance at her compatriots. Rather than destroying the would-be-band and Earth senshi, they were having a little post-murder party. Turning her back on the stage, she worked her way through the (still) frozen crowd to the other evil senshi in order to give them a good talking-to.
Brushing away involuntary tears, Valerie glanced over to Bob who was weeping loudly into her bleached blonde braid which did little to muffle her cries. Sympathetically, Valerie handed the blonde a handkerchief which Bob accepted in gratitude, blowing her nose into it as a show of thanks.
Despite the direly depressing circumstances (and the fact that they were all within minutes of being destroyed by people from outer space), the other senshi couldn’t help but notice the exchange between the two sworn enemies. “Aw!” they cooed in unison. “How sweet! Val and Bob are acting civilized!”
Realizing the ramifications of what they had just done, Bob and Valerie’s eyes filled with disgust. Immediately, the blonde threw the handkerchief to the ground, crushing it under the heel of her sailor boot before spitting on it for extra measure. Valerie reached over and viciously yanked out a handful of Bob’s hair. Everything was back to normal.
“Whew!” Niki sighed with relief. “I’m glad that whole ‘let’s be friends’ phase is over. I don’t know what I would have done if Val and Bob were suddenly buddy-buddy again. Cry, probably.”
“Me too,” Lisa nodded.
Suddenly, Niki’s ears perked up. “Timm? Is that you?” she called out to the empty space in front of her face. “It’s been so long!” The other Earth senshi watched as Niki leaned forward, whispering conspiratorially in her half of the conversation. Odds are that Timm was doing the same thing, but it’s kind of hard to tell sometimes.
“Well yes,” Niki said to Timm (?), “we know that the Princess is here. That’s her bloodstained corpse on the floor near the people wrapped up in a giant snake.” There was a pause. “What do you mean the Princess isn’t blonde?” Niki hissed.
The eavesdropping senshi nearest to Niki frowned in confusion. They looked down at the very dead, very blonde girl lying on the ground, before turning back to Niki.
“Well, then what does she look like?” Niki listened in silence for a moment, nodding along to whatever Timm was saying. “Uh huh, so she’s unusually short . . . Long brown hair in pigtail-ish things, okay. Is rather annoying to listen to . . .” Niki trailed off. She turned to Julie, enlightenment dawning on her face. “Then it’s YOU??!!” she cried.
“Huh?” was Julie’s absentminded reply.
“Something’s not right,” Sailor Cranberry muttered out loud as she joined her fellow senshi who were celebrating in style (they had materialized a jukebox and a twenty-four-pack of BudLight out of thin air and were all merrily dancing an Irish jig). Cranberry continued to stare suspiciously at the band members who were simultaneously undergoing all of the classic symptoms of grief.
There was Denial as Elfyn shook his head slowly in disbelief, crying over and over again “I’m in denial, I’m in denial!”
In a display of Anger, Me and You were viciously struggling against the dead snake that still held them in their grip as I pounded his free fist over and over against the hard stage floor.
And finally, Acceptance as Key Key stared quietly at the exit at the back of the stage, as though expecting someone to burst through those doors at any second. Half in a daze, she was whispering, “I have accepted that she is dead, and that the universe is doomed. I have accepted the fact that life still goes on and that I must keep living.”
Honestly, if Cranberry didn’t know any better, she would say that the whole performance had been staged and that the Princess was still alive, somewhere . . . but that was impossible, wasn’t it?
“Hey guys, I have a funny feeling about all of this,” Cranberry said, turning off the jukebox so that the others would be forced to listen to her. “Maybe we should go ahead and clean up, if you know what I mean . . .”
“Yeah, let’s kill them all now while we still have the chance,” Sailor ChibiS agreed, pulling out her large butcher knife. PerkyFluffyBunny and Tange both took steps back, worried that ChibiS’s bloodlust might extend beyond the annoying senshi from Earth to the annoying senshi from outer space.
Pink shook her head. “We can’t,” she said simply.
“What do you mean we can’t?” ChibiS glared.
“It’s the rule of senshi warfare,” Pink explained, chugging down the last of the BudLight. “There has to be a halt in the fighting if a significant member of either side is killed in battle. Royals are designated fifteen minutes of mourning. We can’t touch them for another” – glance at the watch – “four minutes and twenty-seven seconds.”
Cranberry looked dumbfounded. “Since when do you play by the rules?”
“Since when do you ignore the fine etiquette of senshi warfare?” Pink shot back. “I didn’t make the rules, you know. They’re all in the handbook.” She held up a small volume entitled “How to Be a Villain: Evil Laughs, Secret Lairs, Master Plans and More! Senshi Edition, Vol. 12.”
“Fine,” ChibiS hissed, slipping her knife back into her pocket, somehow avoiding severing her leg from the thigh down. “But in four minutes and three seconds . . . they’re mine!”
The senshi from Earth stared at Julie in repulsive fascination (wouldn’t you). In fact, they had been staring silently at her for the last several minutes. It was obnoxious. “What?” Julie finally snapped. “Is there something in my teeth or am I having a bad hair day?”
“The resemblance is uncanny,” Niki breathed.
“Oh come on, Julie! Even I get it!” Mallory exclaimed. “Unusually short . . .”
“Long brown hair in pigtail-ish things,” Eva elaborated.
“Annoying to listen to,” Valerie finished. “I mean, it’s got your name written all over it!” Julie glared. Valerie shrugged.
“Shouldn’t I know if I were their princess? You know, like a crown or a birth certificate or something . . .”
“You didn’t know you were OUR princess,” Special K pointed out. “Why should this be any different?”
“But it just doesn’t make any sen–” Julie began before a loud bellowing from across the room cut her off.
“”We’ve been tricked!” Cranberry bellowed, her eyes blazing. “The Princess is still alive! We have failed in our mission!”
“What on Earth are you talking about?” Sailor Light said.
Cranberry pointed an accusing finger at the wanna-be band members whom nobody had bothered to free yet. “It’s all an act! The stages of grief are too precise. Their reactions are too perfect, what with all of the screaming and crying and pounding of fists.” As if to accentuate her point, I started pounding his fist against the stage floor again.
Sailor Boris looked extremely confused. Maybe the alcohol had already gone to her head. “I’m really not following your logic here.”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Cranberry cried. “They want us to think that they are upset that the Princess is dead because they want us to think that the Princess is actually dead – but she’s not, because that’s not her!” Significant point in the direction of alleged dead Princess.
“Too much thinking for me,” Sailor Tange said before curling up on the ground to take a nap. She was followed by PerkyFluffyBunny, burned out from a crazed sugar rush.
Sailor Pink looked from Cranberry to the alleged Princess to the band members (who were trying very hard to look innocent as they whistled a merry tune) and back to Cranberry. “You know what, I think you’re right! We HAVE been tricked! And I’m not waiting another minute and thirty nine seconds!” She whirled around to face the senshi of Earth. “Senshi, A-TA-KU!”
“Looks like they’re on to us,” Bob said, gesturing to the senshi from outer space who were moving in on them, their eyes filled with anger and bloodlust.
“So what am I supposed to do about it?” Julie cried, exasperated over all of the hidden royal identity nonsense that always seemed to plague her.
“Do what you do best,” Vanessa suggested. “Guzzle down a caffeinated beverage from the future and spin around in the air naked!”
“If only it were that simple,” Julie sighed.
The senshi from outer space gathered once more around the stage, facing off with the Earth senshi.
“We’re sick of your games!” Sailor Pink declared as ChibiS once again withdrew her unnecessarily large knife. “Now hand over the Princess, or else!”
Julie stepped forward bravely, ever the martyr (or maybe it was Val’s shove from behind that made her do it). “Here I am, the one you have been looking for! Do with me what you will, but I beg you, spare the lives of my friends!” she exclaimed dramatically. “They are morons and ex-ex freshmen (for the most part), I know, but they are MY moronic ex-ex freshmen, and I love them like I would love a sister. Well, not MY sister, but you understand what I mean.”
“Not YOU!” Sailor Light huffed. “We want the REAL Princess, the leader of the Rebellion, the one real threat against the almost-completed Death Star project. The one pebble in the great Emperor’s alligator-skinned Prada boots, size nine-and-a-half.”
“Well fine then,” Julie said, somewhat offended. “If I’M not the Princess you are looking for, then clearly, she’s NOT here!”
At that moment, the door that Key Key had been eyeing since she first sensed the Princess’s presence flew open as the crazy girl with mysteriously changing eyes bounded into the room.
“Sister!” Key Key screamed in horror. “Don’t come in here. It’s too dangerous! Run away, run away!”
“Sister?” Cranberry exclaimed, staring with wide eyes at the crazy girl who was running around in circles. The truth hit her like a sack of potatoes . . . and it hurt. “THAT’S the Princess! Hurry, get her! A-TA-KU! A-TA-KU!”
Immediately, Sailor Tange and PerkyFluffyBunny leapt up and began pursuing the Princess. But even with the aid of a sugar rush (seriously, it’s like steroids), the two senshi couldn’t keep up with the crazy girl who zoomed around the room so quickly that she was nothing more than a blur. The Princess laughed as she eluded them, yelling out random and confusing words the whole way around the room.
“Use tactics, you morons!” ChibiS yelled at the idiot sugar-rushed senshi. “There’s four of you and only two of her (obviously the alcohol was at work here)! Trap her somewhere!”
Nodding giddily, the two senshi continued their pursuit, only this time they attacked from either side, simultaneously grabbing both of Crazy Girl’s arms.
In that instance, there was a bright flash of light that began where the two hyper senshi stood frozen with Crazy Girl. As the crazy girl’s eyes mysteriously changed color, the bright light pulsated and expanded, surrounding the two sets of opposing senshi and the band members in a bright blaze. The cafetorium vanished.
When the blaze of light subsided, the senshi of Earth found themselves floating in hazy mist, suspended in the air by some unknown force. They were alone. Eva looked around at the vast, white emptiness and suddenly felt right at home. Except there was no door. Which was fine because Eva didn’t really like doors all that much.
A moment later, the band members magically appeared floating right next to the Earth senshi, the dead snake and evil senshi from outer space no where to be seen.
“What’s going on?” Key cried, panic rising in her voice. “Where is my sister? What happened to her? Where are we?” She clung to You who happily clung back while I looked somewhat disappointed.
“Well, I can’t say for sure since I’m not an ageless guardian who can control time,” Lisa spoke up, “but it looks to me like we’re lost somewhere in the web of time.”
Eva was impressed. “I think you’re right. We could be anywhere in time – it all looks about the same. A little haze here, a little mist there . . .”
“I’m pretty sure that we were sucked into a vortex of some sort when that bright light exploded right as those annoying senshi grabbed Key’s sister,” Meow continued. “So this place, wherever we are, must somehow be connect to the Princess. What I don’t understand is who brought us here and why.”
“You know what’s funny?” Vanessa said absentmindedly. “My fortune cookie this morning said that I would be sucked into a mysterious vortex by an unknown force today, but I didn’t think much of it. Those things are never that accurate. My fire reading this morning also predicted that there would be a massive earthquake and Loserville would be sucked into a fiery hell-hole.”
“We could only be so lucky,” Niki replied wistfully.
“Well, what I don’t understand is who the Princess is,” Bob said in an attempt to get the other senshi to focus on the plot and not random side-comments. “I thought that she was the girl who croaked at the beginning of the episode, although apparently, I was wrong.”
“That was the decoy Princess,” Special K explained. “When we revealed our secret identities to one another, the ex-band members explained that they were worried that the Emperor might come after their Princess, Key’s older sister and a key figure in the Rebellion against the mysterious but VERY evil Emperor.”
“Because no one had ever seen my sister when we first started fighting the Emperor, we decided to send a decoy Princess to represent the Republic as a safety precaution,” Key said. “Gina, the blonde girl, did such a great job pretending to be the Princess that everyone was fooled to the point that assassination attempts were made on her life on a daily basis. The enemy finally succeeded when they kidnaped Gina a couple of months ago – or so they thought.”
“Okay, well that makes sense I guess,” Julie said slowly. “But I just don’t see how that crazy girl could be the leader of a rebellion and could be considered enough of a threat that she needed to be eliminated. I mean, she’s crazy.”
“She didn’t used to be that way,” Key said sadly. “The craziness is just a side effect of a very powerful assassination attempt. Whoever attacked my sister knew enough to go after the essence of the Princess, rather than the physical presence of Gina at the Republic. Whoever attacked her was exceedingly powerful. She was lucky that she wasn’t killed.” Key wiped a tear from her eyes. “My sister would have been destroyed completely were it not for the brave efforts of one of her guardians.”
“Timm Bucktu,” Key said, accepting a handkerchief from I who stuck out his tongue at You. “He took the full brunt of the attack which almost wiped him entirely from existence. The only reason that a part of his essence remained is because the attack was not meant for him. Unfortunately, he still couldn’t save my sister from the madness.”
“My hero!” Niki sighed dreamily.
Valerie looked jealous. “Well, who did Elfyn save from an attack that left him with those pointy ears and that cracker-by-night problem?”
“Actually, I was just born that way,” Elfyn said. Valerie looked disappointed.
“Well, enough random attempts at explaining the randomness of SMoo,” Mallory said, trying to make the senshi focus on the problems at hand. But that was like trying to make a four-year-old eat broccoli. “Let’s get back to the basics, like why we are suspended in mid-air, surrounded by mist when minutes ago we were in the cafetorium at Country Club High. And where did the evil senshi go?”
I believe I can answer your question, a mysteriously disembodied voice replied from somewhere within the mist.
“Agh!” Eva yelled in the direction of the mist where she thought the mysterious voice had come from. “All of you people keep stealing my mysteriously disembodied routine! It’s not fair! I feel so un-original.”
Actually, I am the original, the voice said, somewhat pompously. I am the Architect. I created the Matrix of Time. I’ve been waiting for you.
Julie looked annoyed. “Well, if you’ve been waiting for us, why don’t you show yourself? It’s not very polite to leave your guests suspended in the air. You should offer us chairs and have us join you for tea.”
Indeed, the voice said, and with a small pop, more than a dozen chintzy armchairs magically appeared floating in the misty air several feet below the senshi and ex-band members.
Vanessa peered down at the chairs. “And how are we supposed to sit?” But just as she said the words, she felt herself slipping down through the air until she landed with a thud on one of the armchairs. Seconds later, the others collapsed beside her, each person magically falling into the chairs with ease – except for Bob who missed hers on the way down before she grabbed the back of the chair and managed to pull herself back up without incident. If she had missed entirely, Valerie suspected that Bob might have fallen forever through the seemingly endless mist. Too bad.
With another small pop, several cups of steamy tea appeared floating in front of each chair. It was quite an impressive display of hospitality. It’s a shame that most of the senshi didn’t actually like tea.
“Wow,” Lisa whispered to Eva who was sitting to her right. “That’s some parlor trick, eh? You’re sometimes a mysteriously disembodied voice . . . how come you can’t make stuff appear in thin air? I mean, you can’t even tell time!” Eva glowered.
“Okay, so we have the chairs . . . and tea,” Key said, somewhat reluctant to drink the floating beverage for fear that it might be poisoned. Or you know, just gross. At either rate, she preferred to err on the side of caution and drink only out of her hip flask. “But are you going to show yourself?”
I will indeed.
A moment later, through the parting mist, a young man, seemingly in his early twenties, glided towards the waiting senshi and ex-band members. The man was wearing a fast-food service uniform, complete with a dorky hat. There were four name tags pinned across his shirt reading “Marian” “Joseph” “Lateff” “Partnell”.
“Hello,” the stranger greeted his waiting guests, dropping the mysteriously disembodied voice act. “Welcome to the Matrix, home of the Webs of Time, may I take your order?” Everyone stared in silence. “Sorry, I didn’t properly introduce myself. My name is Marian Joseph Latiff Partnell, but you can call me Matthew for short.”
“Er, nice to meet you, Matt,” Me said cordially, holding out his hand in greeting.
Matthew narrowed his eyes. “I said my name is Matthew.”
“Right, Matt, nice to meet you,” Me said again, slightly less cordially. “My name is Me, and my friends and fellow aliens slash ex-band members are I, You, Key Key, and Timm. Those other people are the Sailor Senshi of Earth, but there’s far too many to name, so I won’t bother.”
Matthew pushed past Me, ignoring his outstretched hand. The mysterious Architect turned instead to Sailor Moo, staring intensely into her eyes. He said nothing. Julie shifted around uncomfortably.
“Er . . .” Julie began.
“You have many questions,” the Architect all-knowingly cut in, “and although the process has altered your consciousness, you remain irrevocably human. Ergo, some of my answers you will understand, and some of them you will not.”
“Process?” Mallory asked, looking thoroughly confused (and who could blame her?).
“Human?” Bob sniggered cruelly. “I fear you have Julie confused with some OTHER superhero.”
“Irrevo-whaty?” Valerie stuttered, doing her very best Zoolander impersonation. After years of practice, she had the pursed lips down pat.
“Big words bad,” Niki yawned. “I think I’ll just take a nap.”
“Concordantly, while your first question may be the most pertinent,” the Architect continued, apparently unfazed by the interruptions, “you may or may not realize it is also the most irrelevant.”
“WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?” Julie blurted out, screaming loudly enough to cause some of the other senshi to leap back in fear (although they were fairly used to Julie’s fits of angry screaming and had brought with them cotton balls for just such an occasion).
“You are here because Earth is about to be destroyed. Its every living inhabitant terminated. Its entire existence eradicated.”
A long, disbelieving silence followed the Architect’s prophecy of doom.
“Earth isn’t about to be bulldozed to make way for an intergalactic highway, is it?” Mallory asked.
“Well, that’s a relief,” Mallory sighed. “Because I can’t remember where I put my copy of the Hitchhiker’s Guide, and I don’t fancy having to shove a fish in my ear.”
“No, it’s really not pleasant,” Valerie agreed.
Eva stared cooly at the Architect, crossing her arms over her chest. “Exactly which part of the Web of Time Continuum Vortex are you from, anyway? I’ve never heard of a so-called “Architect” before.”
“No, you wouldn’t have,” the Architect replied smugly. “I fear that I am too far above the conscientious mediocrity of Guardians for you to have been informed of my presence.”
“Wait, Sailor Chocolate has a point,” I said, glaring at the Architect’s stupid purple hat that clashed horribly with the rest of his ensemble. I didn’t trust anyone who so flagrantly disregarded the rules of color compatibility. “We’ve never heard of you either, and Key is a member of the Galactic Republic. There’s no Architect there, and every known Galactic species of higher intelligence is a member.”
“Which would explain why there’s no Earth representative,” Bob laughed. Upon realizing that she had just insulted herself along with the rest of her species, she fell silent.
“Aha!” Julie cried, accepting I’s statement as proof. “He’s right, you know. This “Architect” is obviously nothing more than a self-important fast-food worker who just happened to be in the right place (and time) for taking advantage of our situation as we were momentarily hurtled through some sort of dimension time warp. The Earth is not in any danger at all, unless you could the obnoxious alien senshi, but they’re far too stupid to destroy our entire planet.”
“Denial is the most predictable of all human responses,” the Architect continued, smiling. “But rest assured, this will be the sixth time we have destroyed it, and we have become exceedingly efficient at it.”
“This is starting to sound vaguely familiar,” Mallory mused. “Was it something I read?”
“He’s just quoting The Matrix,” Special K said. “Which means he’s obviously lying. Movies are just like video games. They’re not REAL.”
“Well, that’s not entirely true,” Vanessa said, turning to Julie. “Remember that time when the dimensions all got screwy and you guys all ended up getting sucked into Banjo Kazooie? This could be like that. In which case, it’s all very real.”
Julie’s eyes widened with horror. “You mean we’re IN The Matrix?” She looked thoughtful for a moment. “Well, I DO know Kung Fu.”
“No, you are not trapped in The Matrix,” the Architect said, still smiling and with a gleam in his eye. “But you ARE trapped in a reality television show.”
“NOOOOOOO!” Valerie screamed, loud enough to wake the sleeping Niki even though she had stuck cotton balls in her ears. “I HATE reality TV! Tie me to the tracks in front of a speeding train! Make me eat a still-beating human heart! But PLEASE, just don’t make me watch reality television!”
“Ironically, that’s exactly what happened on last night’s episode of “Fear Factor: Extreme”,” Elfyn said. “It came on right after the new hit “Do You Want to Marry a Cracker?” I’m actually considering submitting an application video to be a bachelor for next season’s show.” Valerie glared at her ex-boyfriend, trying to use her telepathic mind powers to bite Elfyn’s head off from a distance.
“That’s not important!” Key cried in frustration. She took a threatening step closer to the Architect, but was held back by a wary Me and You. “I want to know what you’ve done with my sister! Tell me now!”
The Architect continued to smile at Key, seemingly unaware that she was trying to use her telepathic mind powers to strangle him. “Your life is the sum of an unbalanced equation inherent to the programming of the Matrix of Time.”
“Gah, I hate math,” Niki said before putting the cotton back in her ears and collapsing to the ground, once more asleep.
“You are the eventuality of an anomaly, which, despite my sincerest efforts, I have been unable to eliminate from what is otherwise a harmony of mathematical precision.”
Julie glared at the Architect. “You talk too much. And what the hell does any of that nonsense have to do with reality television?”
“You have a choice,” the Architect continued, ready to begin another unnecessarily wordy monologue. Apparently he was not yet exhausted with the sound of his own voice, although the senshi seemed to be following Niki’s example as one by one, they passed out, overcome with boredom with the Architect’s excessive chattering.
“What choice is that?” Mallory said, looking sleepy.
The Architect opened his arms, gesturing to two doors that appeared from thin air, hoovering in the mist. It’s a good thing Eva was already unconscious, otherwise she would probably be very annoyed. “There are two doors. The door to your right leads back to Earth, to the Princess, and to the end of your species. The door to your left leads to the Game Room where the newest reality television series awaits your participation. Win, and all will be set right and you will return home.”
“And if we lose?” Key left the question hanging.
“Lose, and you will be trapped here. Forever,” the Architect replied, all hint of a smile now gone.
Julie glanced from the pretend band members to the senshi of Earth who were still conscious (which was surprisingly only Valerie and Mallory; Bob had been knocked unconscious with a conveniently located baseball bat only moments before). “What do you think? Should we flip a coin? Eenie Meenie Minie Mo? Take a vote?”
“I vote we just stay here and let Earth be destroyed,” Valerie said. “Then there won’t be any more reality TV.”
“Well sorry, but it looks like you’re going to be outnumbered,” Mallory said, proudly stepping into the space between Julie and Key, and smiling at each of the rag-tag leaders. “Earth won’t be bulldozed to make room for an intergalactic highway today. Not on my watch.”
Key looked at Me, You, I, Elfyn, and Timm (?) Who each nodded back in silent agreement. “Right,” Key said, smiling. “We vote to play the game. We will save Earth and our Princess . . . just as we have sworn to do.”
“Same here,” Julie said, smiling back. Smiles are contagious, you know. It’s a good thing Valerie had gotten the shot for it earlier that year. “Let’s do this. Together.”
Side by side, Julie and Key walked towards the wooden door floating in the mist on their left. Mallory, the ex-band members, and groggy, just-awoken senshi followed a step behind. Valerie refused to budge from her spot until Mallory and Me dragged her, kicking and screaming, to where the door awaited them.
Taking a deep breath, Julie pushed the door open slowly. From the other side, the roar from an arena filled their ears as a crowd burst into wild applause.
“Finally, they’re here!” an announcer’s voice called out loudly over the deafening crowd. “Team “Good Guys” has joined us at last for the ultimate reality television game show: Battle of the Senshi!”