Quick Copyright notes: This is a fanfic based on Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon,
an anime/manga created by Takeuchi Naoko. Characters belong to her and
all others associated with rights [Toei, Bandai, Kodansha, etc], but the story line,
ideas, and any other characters are created by me. 1997 - Jackie Chiang.
Revised May 1998.
Part 3: Hot Potato
Quick Copyright notes: This is a fanfic based on Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon, an anime/manga created by Takeuchi Naoko. Characters belong to her and all others associated with rights [Toei, Bandai, Kodansha, etc], but the story line, ideas, and any other characters are created by me. 1997 - Jackie Chiang. Revised May 1998.
"Orion-san," someone said slyly from behind him. He jumped, startled, dropping the test tube in his hand. It shattered onto the ground, but he barely noticed the mess.
"Quasar-san!" Orion snapped angrily, whirling around. "Don't sneak up on me like that!"
The woman smirked, affecting disbelief. Placing her hand on her chest, she said: "Me? Lil' old me, sneaking? Why, Orion-san, you'd think I was... dangerous."
Orion's gold eyes flared, Quasar's red eyes sparking back. After a moment, Quasar sneered, flipping her green hair, which was simply worn long, over her shoulder. Glaring, she turned on her heel and walked away.
"Having problems, Orion-san?" Andromeda drawled from behind Orion. She was leaning against a counter, her wavy red hair floating down her back.
"An-Andromeda-san," Orion said quickly, trying to avoid blushing at having been first embarrassed and second caught off guard. "Uh, no. Nothing I can't handle, of course."
"That's good," Andromeda said, her voice softly melodic, as her fingers caressed a piece of glass. "Is your new Demon ready yet?"
"Yes," he answered. "I'm ready to find a new target."
"Good... And you had better not fail. You know the rules that these little humans have... Three strikes and you're out." Andromeda's voice was quietly deadly.
"I won't fail you, Andromeda-san." He nodded, then vanished, his lab coat falling to the floor.
"Hmm..." a voice commented. "It seems the Death Busters did have some influence over your behavioral patterns after all... Such untidy creatures."
Andromeda laughed. "The Death Busters taught us well, my dear. After all, we are their... prodigy. And like all prodigy, we learnt from their mistakes, and most assuredly we will not make the same ones."
"We will see, Andromeda."
"Of course," Usagi answered, her voice excited. "She's so nice, you just have to meet her."
The nine girls- Usagi, Rei, Ami, Makoto, Minako, Hotaru, Michiru, Haruka, and Setsuna- and two cats- Luna and Artemis- were standing in an elevator, going up to the thirtieth floor of an expensive apartment complex.
"How did you know she lives here?" Minako asked, curious.
"I bet she followed her," Rei muttered, sulking. She didn't want to tag along on another of Usagi's infatuation trips.
"I did not, Rei-chan!" Usagi snapped.
"Yes, Usagi's right," Luna agreed from her place on Usagi's shoulder. "She just forced me to track her whereabouts down by entering Gogyu Gakuen's computer records-"
Usagi quickly covered the cat's mouth, laughing pathetically at the others' accusing stares.
The elevator bell binged.
"We're here," Haruka said, in a rather noncommittal tone. She was busy thinking about the Elemental Senshi from a few days back and wondering who they could be.
Usagi bounced out of the doors, the other girls following uncertainly at a slower pace. Finding the room number, Usagi proceeded to knock on the door loudly, to the embarrassment of her friends.
"There is a bell," Rei muttered beneath her breath, and Usagi was cut off from arguing with her with the sound of the door unlocking.
"Konnichi wa, Tanrei-san!" Usagi said cheerfully after the older girl had opened the door. Tanrei wore a dark blue dress, which had a rather elegant style to it and matched her black hair.
"Usagi-chan!" Tanrei said, surprised. She paused. "How did you know I lived here?"
Usagi shrugged, grinning rather foolishly. "Everyone knows where you live, Tanrei-san," she said flimsily. Rei rolled her eyes again.
Tanrei looked over Usagi into the hall at the other girls. "Who are your friends, Usagi-chan?"
"These are Mizuno Ami-chan, Hino Rei-chan, Kino Makoto-chan, Aino Minako-chan, Tomoe Hotaru-chan, Meioh Setsuna-san, and Haruka-san and Michiru-san."
"Nice to meet you," Tanrei said, smiling.
"Nice to meet you!" the younger girls said, immediately infatuated with her, like Usagi, by her beauty, obvious grace, and her charm.
Haruka smiled patronizingly, while the other three girls laughed.
Tanrei noticed Luna on Usagi's shoulder, then scratched her on the head. "What a pretty cat!" Luna meowed, pleased.
"That's Luna," Minako volunteered. She patted Artemis on the head, who was on her shoulder. "And this is Artemis."
"Tanrei," someone from inside called, "aren't you forgetting something?"
"Oh!" she exclaimed. "Pardon my manners. Would you like to come in?"
"Yes!" They filed into the room hallway, where they removed their shoes. Moving further in, they came into a large open area, much like an entrance room for decoration. Looking around, the younger girls were very astounded by the largeness and richness of it all, the older ones less so, but still a bit impressed.
"You're almost as rich as Terra-chan!" Minako gasped.
Tanrei smiled at her outburst, while Rei and Ami sighed, murmuring, "Minako- chan." Her eyes were warm with polite interest. "Terra-chan?"
"Our friend," Ami explained. "She's in America in an exchange program."
"Really," Araki said, entering the room. "What a fascinating experience. We were just in America, ne, Tanrei?"
Tanrei shot Araki a look, which the Outer Senshi caught, but not the Inners.
"Araki-san!" Usagi greeted her.
"Good afternoon, Haruka, Michiru, Usagi-chan, minna."
Makoto, Minako, and Rei were staring at her with starry eyes. Haruka leaned towards them, loudly whispering, "Araki's a very talented girl, you know."
"Oh... really?" Mako said, blushing with embarrassment. Rei and Minako started turning red, while Ami coughed discreetly.
"Yes, they're in the concert next week too," Michiru added, amused.
"Do you both live here?" Setsuna asked Araki and Tanrei, studying them, then glancing back at Haruka and Michiru, who read her thoughts and blushed.
"No," Araki said quickly, her face suddenly red, "I, um, live in the next apartment."
"It's very convenient, since Araki and I can walk to school together," Tanrei said simply, smiling at her friend.
"It's very nice," Hotaru said, noting the large picture windows, the size of the room, the number of doors leading to other large rooms. "It must be a lot for rent."
"Oh," Tanrei shrugged, "it's only about 1.5 million yen a month."
This time everyone sweat dropped, including Haruka and Michiru, who remembered that their last apartments only cost 1 million yen.
"Only," Makoto murmured, slapping herself in the face, then Minako, who was in shock.
"We're both financed from our work," Araki said vaguely, not delving in to how they were so wealthy.
Of course, Minako asked, "What do you do?"
Even Usagi groaned. Araki's smile grew somewhat strained.
"Ah, we're both paid by some organizations in America for our abilities and our work... We give concerts, participate in fundraising events, all those type of things..." Tanrei's voice trailed off as she silently thought.
Haruka's eyes narrowed, Michiru smiled politely, Setsuna arched an eyebrow, Hotaru frowned, and Rei and Ami's smiles wavered a bit. Tanrei's explanation was far from convincing... Rather, she sounded uncertain and almost as if she was lying... But not quite. Something about her said that she was partially telling the truth. But which part?
"That's nice," Usagi said, obliviously trusting.
"Would you like to go shopping with us?" Araki said suddenly, her voice now charismatic and charming. "We were just going to go when you arrived, and it'd be a nice way to get to know each other. We just moved here, so we don't have very many friends yet..."
"Yeah!" Minako exclaimed, bouncing up and down so much that Artemis grew motion sick.
"Good," Tanrei nodded, her bright eyes pleased, "we'll get ready. Feel free to look around."
The two left, and the Inner Senshi helped themselves to examining every aspect of Tanrei's luxurious apartment.
"So what do you think?" Michiru said finally, leaning against the wall, her head resting on one of her hands. "There's something about them, isn't there?"
Hotaru said cautiously, her dark purple eyes thoughtful, "There's definitely an aura from them... Strong power..."
"But that doesn't necessarily mean that they could be them," Setsuna pointed out, pushing her bangs away from her eyes.
"For now, I suppose we should trust them," Haruka said, staring out the large window which overlooked the rest of the city. "They seem like nice girls, and until we know anything else, we can't do anything else."
The others nodded in agreement.
"Hey, Ami-chan," Rei said once they were out of the Outer Senshi's hearing range.
"Rei-chan?" Ami said, tearing her eyes from a painting which she was pretty sure was an original by Micheangelo.
"Do you think that there's something kind of strange about Tanrei-san and Araki-san?" the raven haired girl asked.
Ami frowned, mulling over whoever knew what. "They seemed to not want to talk about their past... Nothing else, really, I like them. Why do you ask?"
"No reason," Rei said, inwardly sighing. It must have been just her... She could have sworn that they had met before, even though only Usagi, Haruka, and Michiru had met the two girls a few days back.
"Ready to go?" Araki said cheerfully. Minako and Usagi, clones in ditziness, readily said yes.
"She really is cute," Makoto leaned towards Rei's ear, whispering softly. "Too bad she's a girl."
Rei grinned. "That never stopped you before," she answered wickedly, referring to Makoto's following of Haruka.
Makoto blushed, standing up straight, before laughing.
Out of the corner of her eye, Rei noticed the Outer Senshi staring with some intensity at Tanrei and Araki before shrugging it off and becoming loose. Maybe I'm not the only one...
Usagi walked along on the sidewalk, chattering with Tanrei and Araki and her other friends. They were having a good time, having spent an entire afternoon going from store to store.
Just then, Araki, Haruka, Setsuna, Michiru, and Ami had entered a store, while the others remained outside.
"Tanrei-san," Usagi said, "what song are you playing for the concert next week?"
Tanrei smiled in a way that resembled Michiru. They were uncannily alike, so much so that Tanrei could have been Michiru and Airashii's twin. Araki, on the same hand, could have been mistaken for a sister [or brother] of Haruka and Seikyu. Usagi almost tripped at that sudden realization, but she controlled herself.
The black haired girl shrugged. "I've been working on a duet with Araki. We make a great team, since she can play the piano too."
"You're really close, aren't you?" Hotaru asked, studying the other's face carefully.
"We're the best of friends," Tanrei smiled. "We've known each other for years."
"You were in America together, weren't you?" Rei asked, thinking about their funding from the supposed American companies.
"Yes, we were there just last year," the older girl answered, her voice taking on a vague note. "Actually, we were there for quite a long while... But then we moved back here."
"You don't have any parents?" Minako remarked, not thinking before she said anything.
Tanrei shook her head. "My parents died when I was young. Same with Araki. That's how we met... In an orphanage here in Tokyo."
"That's so sad!" Usagi cried out, tears forming in her eyes. Makoto automatically handed her a handkerchief.
"Don't worry about it, Usagi-chan," Tanrei said, smiling a little. "I don't regret it. Like I said, we became best friends, and we've always been together since."
The girls in the store came out right about then. All of them looked rather pleased with themselves.
Tanrei eyed the jacket Araki had bought, judging its appearance. "Is that what you're going to wear for the concert?" she said distastefully.
"What's wrong with it?" her friend replied in defense. "I like it."
Tanrei shook her head, smiling. "It's fine... If you go for that type of style, Araki."
The green haired girl raised an eyebrow, a smirk on her face. "I do."
Then they noticed the others staring at them, and they both laughed.
"Sorry," Tanrei said, "we do this all the time... I always tease Araki about her tastes in clothing, which tend to run along the masculine side."
"And I always end up defending myself against her fashion sense," Araki added.
The Sailor Senshi all laughed. Even Luna and Artemis smiled.
"That's odd," Tanrei started. "It's almost as if the cats understood what we were saying."
The cats and the Sailor Senshi all paused, sweat dropping.
Then Usagi and Minako laughed at the same time. "That's silly, they're just cats," they both said simultaneously, patting the cats on the head, who both glared at their owners.
"Anyway, there are lots more shops to go to," Setsuna said cheerfully. That was her main hobby- shopping, and she was always enthusiastic about it.
"Yeah," the others said. "Let's go."
"Are you ready, Orion-san?" Andromeda's voice was commanding, and Orion winced as he toned down the receiver in his ear. "Your Demon is ready, I trust."
"Yes, Andromeda-san," Orion answered dutifully. Tapping some keys into his miniature computer, he waited while it quickly processed the people on the street. Several held heart crystals, but only one had a Wakusei Crystal.
Looking down from the roof of the building, he saw that it was a teenage girl with blond hair in a ponytail. She was walking to who knew where, humming and skipping along. He closed his mini computer shut, following her movement with his eyes. She stopped for a moment to talk to a group of girls, but she went on her way again after a minute.
"I'm ready," Orion said, smiling coldly. "The Celestial Crystal is mine... Demon, ATTACK!"
"Hey, Ita-san," Rei called out, waving at the familiar blond girl on the street across from them. "Where are you going?"
"Hino-san!" the girl yelled back. "I'm going for some ice cream... You're shopping, right? The Spring Festival is coming up... Get something nice so you can perform at TA again, ok? See you in school!"
"Bye," Rei said as the other continued walking away.
"Who was that, Rei-chan?" Usagi asked.
"That was Ita Jagaimo-san," the black haired girl said. "She's in my class. She's a very nice girl."
"A jagaimo*?" Minako giggled, but Rei glared at her.
"She's really sweet... Lay off." Rei was getting edgy.
"Sweet potato? Lays?" Ami said automatically, then quickly hid herself from Rei behind a confused Hotaru. Tanrei explained to Hotaru that Lays was a potato chip company in America.
"Knock it off, Ami-chan," Haruka said irritably. She glanced down at Rei, who was silent.
"She's really too sweet," Rei said after a moment. "People are always taking advantage of her, and I hope that she doesn't think that I ever do that to her."
Araki put her hand on Rei's shoulder, winking. "Rei-chan, from what I've seen so far, you don't use people. I'm sure she likes you a lot."
Just then people started screaming, running by them, knocking a few of the girls down.
"Hey! Watch where you're going!" Minako complained, rubbing her bottom.
"Minako-chan!" Makoto whispered, pulling her friend up. "Look!"
Looking down the street, all the girls saw an odd creature with green skin attacking a girl. And watching was a man with black hair... Orion!
"Ita-san!" Rei cried out.
"Tanrei-san! Araki-san!" Usagi said. "Go find help!"
Tanrei and Araki nodded, running down the street and turning a corner.
"Minna!" Luna and Artemis said. "Henshin yo!"
"Moon Wakusei Crystal Power, Make-Up!"
"Mercury Wakusei Power, Make-Up!"
"Mars Wakusei Power, Make-Up!"
"Venus Wakusei Power, Make-Up!"
"Jupiter Wakusei Power, Make-Up!"
"Saturn Wakusei Power, Make-Up!"
"Uranus Wakusei Power, Make-Up!"
"Neptune Wakusei Power, Make-Up!"
"Pluto Wakusei Power, Make-Up!"
Orion smiled with approval as the girl fainted, drained of energy, and the Demon reached into her chest and pulled out the Wakusei Crystal. "At last!" he said, grabbing it from the Demon's hand.
"Stop!" voices from behind him ordered.
Orion turned around, finding himself staring at the Sailor Senshi. "Not you again..."
"I won't let you harm an innocent girl, even if she is named after a food item!" Wakusei Moon said.
Mars muttered, "Sailormoon..."
"I am the pretty sailor suited soldier, Sailor Moon! In the name of the moon, I will punish you!" She posed.
"I don't think so. Demon Verdura [Spanish for vegetable], attack the Sailor brats!" Orion commanded in a menacing tone.
The Demon dropped the girl, then lept into the air. Her green arms extended, and green bombs dropped from her celery like head. "Vegetable Attack!" she cried.
"Ah!" Moon and the other senshi jumped around to avoid behind hit. They all were sweat dropping, and they all looked quite stupid.
"Shimatta!" Orion cried out, glaring at the crystal in his hand. It glowed dimly. "It's not the one." He clenched his hand, then started to drop it.
"Don't!" Mars screamed. "She'll die if you break it!"
Orion smiled evilly. "Too bad, isn't it..."
"Metal Ore Meltation!" a voice yelled, liquid metal knocking the Wakusei Crystal from his hand.
Someone ran by him, grabbing the crystal before it shattered on the ground.
"What is it now?" Orion shouted.
A wind carrying flower petals floated by [Yeah, just for effect...], passing in front of two standing figures.
"In the name of the gogyu of the trees, I am the Elemental Senshi, Wood!" the senshi in green announced.
"And in the name of the gogyu of the minerals, I am the Elemental Senshi, Metal!" the girl with the gold fuku said.
"Elemental Senshi," Orion gritted out. "Dammit, why do you always have to show up when you're not wanted?"
"It's a gift," Wood smirked. "Wood Leaf Fall!" A whirlwind of leaves spun towards Demon Verdura, who screamed as she was carried a few feet away.
Orion gave a little shriek, then quickly vanished, yelling, "I'll be back."
Metal sighed. Glancing at the fallen girl, she shrugged, nodding towards Wood, who reluctantly sent it back. Then they turned, about to leave.
"Metal! Wood! Wait!" Moon called.
They paused, turning their heads around. "What do you want?"
But instead of smiling for the thanks, they both frowned.
"Just don't expect us to help you again," Wood snapped.
Metal said, "As far as we're concerned, you're better off being killed by the Demon."
They walked away, while the Sailor Senshi stood, stunned at their vemenence.
Then Mars said, "Sailor Moon! The Demon!"
"Hai!" Moon took out her Moon Silver Sword, then yelled out, "Moon Rainbow Wakusei Blade!" Slicing it down on the Demon, Verdura screamed before disintegrating into a pile of dust. A black diamond fell last, shattering.
Running to Ita's side, Mars knelt down. The girl was breathing softly, and Mars smiled, crying with relief.
"Orion-san," Quasar grinned with maliciousness. "I see you failed again... What does that make? Two failures thus far?"
"Oh, shut up," Orion snapped. "I don't need you to count for me."
Quasar made a hmph, removing her glasses to wipe them. "But I'd say you'd need me to do the work for you, ne? Andromeda-san's not going to be happy with this little streak..."
"Go away!" Orion shouted, throwing a test tube at her.
She faded away, and the tube went through her. She giggled. "One more chance, Orion-san... Then it's my turn..."
Tanrei and Araki were waiting for them on the side of the street.
"What happened?" Tanrei said, worried. "We tried to find help, but no one was around..."
"It's ok, Tanrei-san," Makoto told them, "the Sailor Senshi and the Elemental Senshi saved Ita-san."
Araki gave a smile of relief. "That's good. We were afraid something had happened to you."
The black haired girl glanced at her watch. "We must be going. We still have to practice for the concert."
Usagi grinned. "I'm glad we could spend the day together, Tanrei-san, Araki-san."
"Same here," Araki answered. "Thanks for a great day. See you."
As they left, Rei realized with a start that from the backside, they looked just like the Elemental Senshi... Narrowing her eyes, she noticed that the Outer Senshi had somehow came to the same conclusion...
"Tanrei-san? Araki-san?" she whispered.
*: Japanese for a potato, if you didn't pick up the hints