MORI TOWER, ROPPINGI HILLS, MAY 9TH, 2009
"There are those who believe... that life here... began out there. Far across the universe. With tribes of humans... who may have been the forefathers of the Egyptians... or the Toltecs... or the Mayans... that they may have been the architects of the Great Pyramids... or the lost civilizations of Lemuria... or Atlantis... Some believe that there may yet be brothers of man... who even now fight to survive... somewhere beyond the heavens."
Leaning back on the sofa, Karasuma Akane watched the TV idly as her roomate, Aya Reiko, settled on the show they were going to watch that evening. A repeat of the 70's Sci-Fi classic, Battlestar Galactica.
It was ironic, Karasuma thought. They had got it right. So right. Humanity had come full circle-- from the stars, down to Earth, then back again. People like her boss Aino Minako might know tangentially about things like the Silver Millennium which existed on the moon ten thousand years ago, but what they didn't know was that that particular empire had been nothing but a speck in a galactic Civilization that had spread far into this spiral arm of the Milky Way. Hyperdrives, Space Colonies, they'd had it all. And where the Moon Kingdom had fallen, the brothers of man on Planets like Mau, Kinmoku, Coronis and Mermaid had survived and prospered. Thousands of forgotten worlds buried in myth and legend now, but which carried on with their everyday lives even now, blissfully unaware of their distant cousins in the Solar System.
I should know, Karasuma mused. I come from one of those worlds. She looked over at the back of Aya's head. We both do.
Aya Reiko. Aluminum Siren. Her best friend, rival, battle partner and confidant for over seventy years. Aya's hair was a pale blue now, nothing like that dark blue it had been when she was younger. Had it changed because of stress? Who knew.
Does she ever think about the past? Karasuma wondered. Reflected on life before the Shadow Galactica? Before the Devil's Choice that we both made to save their home worlds from the wrath of Galaxia? Or has she, like me, buried herself totally in the rebuilt Ginga Enterprises-- Aino Minako's "Happy Dream" as she called it once-- and decided to forget it all ever happened?
Karasuma sighed and sipped her latte. Most of the time she could put it behind her, but sometimes her thoughts ran back. Before the Sailor Wars found her. Before she was "Karasuma Akane", or knew herself to be "Sailor Lead Crow". Back when she was a wild, rebellious, headstrong tomboy with a love for violence on the Colony Planet Workoh named "Kei". Back when Aya was a much more level-headed analyst from planet Shack-G named "Yuri".
Back when the two of them had blazed a path of destruction and carnage as "trouble consultants" across the galaxy in the name of righting wrongs and stopping evil under the codename "Lovely Angels" under the aegis of the Worlds Works and Welfare Agency (W.W.W.A. or 3WA for short).
Back when they had been known, to all those who feared them, simply as... "The Dirty Pair."
FINAL MISSION, GALACTIC YEAR 302257.7 / EARTH YEAR 1921
"Trouble Consultant team 234... Lovely Angels... come in... do you copy?"
"God lemme sleep," Kei muttered, rolling over in bed, unconciously lashing out a leg at the monitor-screen next to her, which promptly exploded in a shower of sparks and plastiglass. She curled up again, mumbling curses under her breath and tried to resume dreaming about that handsome hunk they'd met on the last mission. Too bad she'd had to shoot him in the face after he turned out to be an evil mastermind. Why are the hot ones always EVIL! she mentally complained.
"Kei." Yuri was standing in the door now, sounding serious as all get-out. "Get up, we have a mission."
"We just HAD a mission," Kei replied groggily, sitting up and covering her eyes with her pillow. "Get TroCon team 255 to do it or somethin'. Get your fat butt out of the doorway and let me sleep!"
Kei waited for the stern Yuri to immediately drop into a girlish mode and angrily retort that her butt was not big (it was). But the retort never came.
Kei blinked and let the pillow fall from her face. Yuri was serious a lot of the time, but never that serious.
"There's been a genocide attack on planets101 through 104 in Olive Realm." Yuri's voice trembled with a fear that Kei had never heard before.
"T-that's the Kinmoku Empire, isn't it?" Kei slowly processed, shocking to wakefulness as Yuri slammed her in the face with her thrown uniform, the hard toolbelt on her shorts smacking her in the face.
"OW!" Kei yelled. "What'd ya do THAT for?!" She looked up and saw Yuri was as pale as ghost, arms shaking.
"Everyone's gone..." Yuri managed to get out flatly. "The entire populations of Kinmoku and its three colony worlds in the system... everyone is just... gone. There was no warning, no declaration of war. In less than three standard hours, all major cities were destroyed, and the populations slaughtered."
"What the hell?" Kei snapped out of her daze and changed into her uniform. "How the hell does an army capable of devastating whole worlds just cross Allied space without anyone noticing!?"
"There was no army," Yuri replied, throat almost hoarse as she held up a printout from some grainy camera footage. "Just... these two."
Kei took a look at the picture. In it were two girls. One in some kind of freakish catgirl outfit, and the other dressed like a butterfly with a BDSM fetish. "They don't look like much," she snorted.
"They took out four entire planets," Yuri replied, taking deep breaths and packing her toolbelt with several card-shaped objects. "They're nothing to laugh at."
"And we're supposed to take them out," Kei muttered, going into her weapons locker and pulling out the biggest gun she had. "The Lovely Angels versus the leather-fetish club."
"Dirty Pair," Yuri said slowly, using the term everyone else used for the team except for the team themselves. It was an insult based on their destructive tendencies while on missions.
"W-what," Kei replied a bit stunned. "What did you say?"
"Dirty Pair." Yuri replied. "We're authorized to do whatever we have to to stop these people. Any and all collateral damage accepted."
Kei blanched. "God, this is serious." Usually the 3WA was all about stopping them from breaking things. This was a desperate situation indeed.
"You have no idea." Yuri opened a window and pointed outside. Looking up, Kei saw a huge starship parked overhead, hanging dangerously low in the sky, blotting out the suns.
"An alliance warship?" Kei gulped. "That thing has enough power to crack this planet in half."
"And we're the ones who get to tell it where to shoot," Yuri said flatly.
Kei paled, which was hard for someone of her deep tan complexion. Normally, she was all for guns and violence, but this thing... this whole operation stank of death from the get-go, and she didn't like it one bit. But she hid her reservations.
"How do we know where to find these girls?" she asked finally.
Before Yuri could answer, she got a message on her communicator. At the same time, the starship overhead started to crawl towards space; its thrusters so powerful they shook the entire durasteel skyscraper the girls were living in.
"Planet 2 of the Corvus Sector is under sttack," Yuri relayed. "Otherwise known as Coronis."
Coronis. For some reason, Kei's heart went cold. She had never heard the name before-- nor had she been to the Corvus sector-- but she felt as if she should know it. It was like something inside her had changed upon hearing those syllables.
A heartbeat, then determination. "We're going," Kei said flatly, snapping out of her reverie to Yuri's surprise. "We'll stop them."
SEVENTEEN HOURS LATER
"How the hell can they move so fast?!" Kei yelled, firing off several blaster shots at what amounted to little more than the blurs in leather outfits. The sapphire-blue sky was filled with thousands of cawing birds, fleeing from some unknown terror. All around the girls, buildings were burning, screams of terror cut short as the population was shredded by unknown weapons that turned them into savage zombie-things which blundered about clawing and killing one another with surprising speed and effectiveness. That, combined with the heat of the desert clime, just made things even harder for the duo.
"I don't know!!" Yuri yelled out, lashing out with a set of "Bloody cards", throwing cards which sliced and diced anything in their path-- except this enemy.
Kei's hands shook as she continued to fire with her rifle-- but it wasnt' a shaking born out of fear. Something in her was swelling up.. supercharging. It was like no adrenalin rush she'd ever felt before. Her senses seemed keener, her limbs bursting with sheer, raw energy. She couldn't understand it, but she worked with it, pushing forward even as the crazy catgirl and her butterfly pal ducked and dodged every attack, toying with the Dirty Pair as they continued their path of carnage.
"Why are you DOING THIS!?" Yuri yelled in frustration as Butterfly girl shot out some buzzing energy bolts at a young man, shooting something out of his chest. The man gasped, falling forward, tentacles exploding from his body, transforming him into a monster.
For their part, the two women did not bother answering. They were too busy systematically attacking everyone they saw.
"They're not even counterattacking us," Yuri scowled. "We're like nothing to them."
Kei nodded. She looked up at the starship that had brought them here. "We might have to blow the planet," she said slowly.
Yuri just looked at her. "Do you realize what you're saying? There are still people here!"
Kei didn't respond.
"We'd be just as bad as those two! It's too much!"
"God dammit I KNOW that!" Kei snapped, balling her fists. "But we've leveled something like THREE CITIES coming after these two and they're just frakkin' carrying on like there's nothing happening!" Tears were welling in her eyes. "I've never felt this helpless before. EVER. If I only had... had more POWER!"
As Kei said that, her voice caught. Time seemed to slow down as the adrenalin rush she'd been feeling just compounded upon itself a millionfold in less than a second. She could barely comprehend as golden-red light exploded forth from every inch of her body. What had happened? Had she been shot? Vaporized? No... No.. this was something... something else.
The two interlopers ceased their assault, sensing instantly what had happened.
Yuri, for her part, dropped to her knees at the sight. Kei's whole body had changed in an instant. Taller, slimmer, more powerful and deadly looking. Her bunched,permed hair replaced with long, blood-red straightness that seemed to end in jags. Fingernails longer, pointed. Her oufit was even skimpier than what the Lovely Angels usually wore, and she carried a whip that looked as deadly as the look in her eyes.
At the sight of it, Yuri's stomach quaked. She somehow knew what this was. Her own body seemed to surge with energy, light filling it, as she too felt power stir, triggered by the sight of Kei's transformation.
Even as Yuri exploded into a haze of transformative light, Kei stood, eyes narrowed, looking down at her hands, and the whip in one of them.
"This planet... I was born here..."
She took in a deep breath, focused on her hands, not seeing the cat-girl and the butterfly-woman rushing towards her from the side.
"This is where I come from. Not that Orphanage on Workoh...."
The twin spectres rushed ever closer.
"I am... a Sailor Soldier... the chosen protector of Coronis--"
Her right arm lashed out and with the greatest of ease she grasped the throat of the cat-girl, closing her fist and choking her into instant submission.
Looking with narrowed, determined eyes into the golden sclera of the catgirl, Kei intoned slowly, "I am Sailor Coronis." She flung the catgirl back into the Butterfly lady, who was being held by a similarly transformed Yuri.
"And I'm Sailor Mermaid," Yuri added, savagely kicking the Butterfly woman in the back, sending her to her knees. "Guardian Protector of Planet Mermaid."
For a moment, the dual personae of Coronis / Kei fought, tryign to understand each other's place in relation to the other. But, then the realization that they were but facets of the same whole set in, and peace was achieved.
It had been the most amazing change. Where moments ago the Dirty Pair had been completely outclassed, unable to even lay a finger on their foes, now they were in an undoubtedly superior position, beating them down with a practiced ease that seemed almost unfair.
"Who are you, and what are you doing here!?" Coronis demanded of the catgirl.
"Looking for YOU!" the catgirl shot back, causing Coronis to step back in shock.
"I've never met you before in my life," Coronis replied.
"You're a Sailor Soldier. That's all that matters." The catgirl rubbed her neck and growled like a wet cat might. "I am Sailor Tin Nyanko."
"Sailor Heavy Metal Papillion", the Butterfly-woman added in, her voice deep and sonorous.
"You're both Sailor Soldiers?" Sailor Mermaid asked in confusion. "Like us?"
"Not like you," a new voice said, just as Coronis and Mermaid froze in place, bodies rooted to the spot as a wave of intense energy just washed over them, chilling them to the core. "They are my loyal battle thralls, given new life and new purpose, resurrected as servants to my purpose."
Forcing themselves to turn around, Coronis and Mermaid saw a tall, imposing woman clad in all-gold battle armor standing before them. Out of the corners of their eyes they saw Nyanko and Papillion drop to one knee.
"I am Sailor Galaxia," the woman said quietly, dangerously. "And I have come to bring peace to the Universe."
"Peace?" Coronis spat. "Your people committed genocide on four planets. And this place sure as hell ain't peaceful."
"The power of the Sailor Soldiers is a danger to the universe," Galaxia continued. "I have seen it result in battle after battle, war after war. War led by those who would have their powers, and by those who would abuse them." She touched her hand to her chest. "Chaos follows them across the cosmos. A chaos I know all too well." She frowned.
"I don't understand," Mermaid said.
"The very existence of Sailor Soldiers is a call to war," Galaxia continued. "That is unavoidable. The question therefore becomes, 'how will that war be fought?'. I am forming my own legion of warriors to take on this task."
"What does that have to do with all this?" Sailor Coronis asked, pointing to all the carnage surrounding them.
"Sailor Soldiers who are too weak will have their essences taken from them," Galaxia stated flatly. "So that they may never grow to attract the dark heart of Chaos' brethren to their worlds. I will hold onto them-- their sailor crystals-- all in one place, until the day Chaos' relatives comes to feast on their power. And then, I shall destroy them and rid the universe of the evil once and for all."
"We are the heralds of Galaxia," Heavy Metal Papillion interjected. "We collect the Sailor Crystals of the Sailor Soldiers for her."
"But you're Sailor Soldiers too!" Sailor Mermaid protested.
"They are the strongest," Galaxia continued. "They retain their bodies to aid me in my quest. In exhange for their fealty they can live in peace, and their worlds are protected."
"What... happens to the worlds where Sailor Soldiers put up a fight?" Coronis asked, a queasy feeling forming in her stomach.
"The Sailor Soldiers have their sailor crystals ripped from them, and their planets are cleansed to prevent their ever being replacements."
"Cleansed..." Sailor Mermaid spat the word out. "Like the Kinmoku system."
"Exactly," Galaxia nodded. "The two of you are the most powerful Sailor Soldiers I have yet to encounter, if a bit untrained. I offer you a place at my side."
"Lady Galaxia!" Nyanko protested. "They're nothing!" Seh rubbed her neck and glared at Sailor Coronis.
"Like I'd ever work for you," Coronis said with icy contempt.
"Then you die," Galaxia stated, matter-of-factly.
"No, that's your role," Coronis replied, pulling out her transmitter, and signaling the orbiting starship to rain down its weapons. "See ya." She looked to Yuri-- no, Sailor Mermaid. "It's been a good run, hasn't it?"
"The best," Mermad said, giving a thumbs up eve as the starship lined up planet Coronis in its sights.
"Such resolve," Galaxia chuckled with approval. The next moment, there was an explosion on the ground-- not from weapons fire, but from the sheer Newtonian reaction to her jumping from a standing position, straight into orbit, screaming through the atmosphere with a sonic boom.
"W-what...?" Sailor Coronis asked in shock, looking up and shielding her eyes. But it was Sailor Mermaid who saw what happened, pulling out a pair of telescopic field bincoculars.
Her sword out, Galaxia slashed at the hull of the starship, cleaving it in two. Even as the world-killer missiles exploded in the ships hull, Galaxia simply blocked the explosions with her palms, flinging the torrent of deadly power into the sun, causing a huge solar flare.
"S-such power..." Mermaid muttered, dropping weakly to her knees.
"That is why we serve her," Heavy Metal Papillion said quietly. "We either serve, or fall to that."
With a thunderous explosion, Galaxia slammed back to Earth, walking through the mushroom cloud caused by her impact and staring down Coronis and Mermaid.
"Decide now, the both of you. Serve me, and you and your planets shall live. Choose to fight, and planet Coronis will be your grave. And the graves of all your kin."
Sailor Coronis felt the blood drain from her head. She only knew of this planet from the memories of her essence as Sailor Coronis. "Kei" had no attachments to it. But... this was a kind of monster unlike anything she had ever fought before-- in either form. to defeat her, Coronis realized, one would have to get close. Really close. One would need to learn everything she could, and rise through the ranks, becoming indispensible. Only then could a strike be made. It wasn't honorable, but it was the only realistic way forward. Looking towards Sailor Mermaid, Coronis knew that they were of the same mind. For their planets-- and for the Galaxy-- they would have to become the best, most powerful heralds of Galaxia ever. For now.
Coronis and Mermaid knelt before Galaxia, and felt the iron clamp of Galaxia's gauntlets close around their arms, then gasped as their Sailor Crystals were pulled from their bodies. Looking up at the red and ice-blue crystals dissapearing into Galaxia's grasp, the duo knew a new journey had begun.
"Rse, Lead Crow and Aluminum Siren," Galaxia said imperially. "From this day forward, your past is dead. Your lives belong to me. You are revived in my service, my comrades in the war that is yet to come. You are my Sailor Animamates."
Karasuma Akane blinked a few times and took a moment to remember where she was. Mori tower, Roppongi. Japan. Earth. She looked at her wrists where the Starseed Extractor gauntlets had once held their deadly sway. They were gone now, but so was a part of her. Kei, Workoh colony, even Sailor Coronis, was nothing but a hazy, dream-like memory.
Karasuma cursed a bit as she answered a late call from her boss. Aino had wanted her to check out potential venues for the next Tenka'ichi Budokai and to score an interview with Mr. Satan. Seriously, that girl just gave orders on a whim. So unlike Galaxia. Aya, for her part, was giddy with excitement over the whole thing, even though she didn't know half the details.
Heh. Thanks to Aino, and the others at Ten'ou house, both she and Aya had something to live for now. Worlds away from where they'd started, they were still a team, and be it trouble consulting, hunting down Sailor Soldiers or getting the scoop, they'd always be the best at what they did.
END BREAKOUT PART THREE