Celestial Warrior Moon:
Crybaby Usagi Makes The Scene
"Alright, Yamagata, the truck's coming in. Over," A voice cracked over the radio.
"I hear you, Nagano, and I hear the truck. Opening the door now. Keep an eye out. Over," Yamataga spoke into the receiver.
He turned to his men and nodded his head. One of them went over to raise the overhead door. When he had, a delivery truck backed into the storage facility. It came to a stop. They heard the motor turn off and the driver hopped out. He came around to the back and opened it up. Inside were piles and piles of wooden or cardboard boxes.
He turned around and faced the thirty-something men in the warehouse, and stepped out of their way. Two of Yamagata's climbed into the back. They knew exactly what to look for amongst the packed materials. They reemerged a moment later, each carrying three black metal boxes about the size of a briefcase. They each bore a different Kanji on the lock.
They were set down in a row across a long table.
"Nagano, is everything still clear out there. Over," Yamagata asked.
"Yes. All the monitors are showing nothing, nothing, and nothing. Over"
"Good. Have your men report in, anyway. Over."
He put away the two-way radio and turned to his men.
"Alright, let's open them up," Yamagata ordered.
One of his other men stepped forward and unlocked each case, and then stepped back again as Yamagata looked in each and every case. Precious gems, diamonds, and other jewelry all lied on padded and soft lining in each of the six cases. Eighteen each per case.
"So far it seems like you have done well. Bring in Dr. Okinawa."
On cue, the doctor was escorted in. He laid his briefcase down next to the boxes containing the precious stones. He took out his Jeweler's Glass, along with some other instruments and examined the stones one by one. It took a long time, but it was worth it. When he was done, he nodded to Yamagata.
"The rocks are all genuine," the doctor replied.
Yamagata nodded to a woman in a business suit. She took out a check and handed to the driver. He accepted and bowed to Yamagata. He drove off into the night. The overhead door was pulled tightly shut once he was gone.
"Am I going to be dragged out my bed again next week as well," Dr. Okinawa asked Yamagata, somewhat wearily. "I have to tell you, Sato, these late nights here at the warehouses are starting to take their toll on me. I'm not as young as I used to be. Neither of us are."
The short, skinny gemologist pushed his thick framed glasses up to the top of his nose. The taller, broader built Yamagata just chuckled.
"You will have to forgive me, Uryu," Yamagata replied. "I don't have an answer for that right now. So far our client has told us to keep them coming in until they've found what they're looking for."
"Oh yes, this one diamond to end all diamonds they seem to think exists," Dr. Okinawa said dryly.
"Ugh. Well, the sooner they find it or accept that this chase is just wishful thinking, the better."
Yamagata laughed again.
"As long as they keep the yen coming for these weekly drop offs, I could care less what they have us smuggle in," Yamagata replied. "Oita, take Dr. Okinawa home, make sure to use the "taxi". Uryu, your fee will be waiting there for you when you arrive, as usual."
"Thank you, Sato," Okinawa bowed.
He turned and left, followed by his escort. They left out one of the side exits.
"You all know the drill," Yamagata spoke. "A different driver takes one box and tbrings it to a different drop off point. You will be leave them there and not look back. Kagoshima, Miyazaki, Kumamoto, Kochi, Shimane, and Shiga are tonight's drivers. Now before you go…"
Yamagata reached into his long coat pocket again, pulling out the two-way radio.
"Nagano, report in. Over."
Silence on the other end. Yamagata tried again. By this time, his men were already taking out their handguns. Each one moved for a different exit.
"Negano. This is Yamagata. Report in," he spoke more loudly into the receiver this time.
Still nothing. He turned to his men.
"Clear a path out the back," Yamagata ordered. "You drivers, I still want you to take your respective packages. As the earliest opportunity, you want you all on your way. As for the rest of you, if it's V, shoot to kill. If it's someone else, shoot to kill. We can figure out what to do with the body later."
They headed for the back of the facility, which was just across from them. While they did, Yamagata quickly switched the radio over to another frequency and spoke into it.
"Miyagi, come in."
Nothing. Then they started hearing gunshots and yelling.
"Shit. We're getting out here, now," Yamagata barked.
In a flash, they were out the back and into a yard of large metal crates stacked all around. Before them, at the other end of gauntlet, was their escape waiting for them in the form of their parked cars. Around them, they could hear the guards that were posted struggling with someone in the dark. Yamagata drew his own gun as the group began their mad dash.
"Want us to fan out to get this intruder," one of his men asked.
"What? No. You are all staying by my side."
"Yamagata-san," one of the guards called, running into view.
"What is happening here," Yamagata demanding.
He slowed to a stop along with the rest.
"We don't know, sir. Someone just came in and started picking us off until the rest caught on."
"Is it V," Yamagata asked.
"No, it's some other whack job in a mask," the man replied. "With a stick and a hawk."
"Well, you know the answer to that," Yamagata rasped angrily.
He held his gun so the man could see it.
"We're trying, sir," the man begged.
"Try again! Now go!"
Just as the guard turned to leave, something flew through the air above them. It let out a scream Yamagata knew to be a hawk's. It began knocking out streets lights, making the entire place go dark as the night. The nocturne sky was overcast, so they didn't even have the benefit of the moon shimmering overhead.
The yakuza barely heard the dashing footsteps approaching, let alone turn and defend themselves before the first man was knocked selfless. They could barely make out their attacker's form in the darkness, but they tried to either strike out with their arms and legs or aim their guns. None the less. Whoever it was, they were quick. Disappearing into the darkness after strike, only to appear again to. With one good, well-placed hit, another man fell each time.
Then the figure was suddenly in the midst of them, lashing out with his cane. In their confusion, the yakuza managed to bash out the teeth of the wrong mouth more than once before getting struck in the back of the head. Between being barely able to see each other, let alone the black mass that was the cause of this ruckus, they went down quickly. That is, all except for one that had made a break for it.
The figure dropkicked one of them into the metal wall of a crate, earning another instant knock out. He turned just to time to avoid receiving the worst of a knife strike. The yakuza grinned upon hearing a satisfying pained grunt when his slash connected. He stabbed at the figure, but the weapon his enemy bore smashed down on his wrist with as much force as possible, breaking it. The yakuza tried out but still lunged at the masked assailant, nevertheless.
The black form dodged by the side, and kneed the yakuza in the stomach before disappearing into darkness.
Yamagata ran through the rows of crates carrying the lone box he had snagged in the chaos. Damn it! How could this happen? Always having to contend with V was bad enough. These were professional hired guns at his disposal, and that. Now there was this clown. He had to find somewhere to hide, fast. The hawk swooped in and began pecking and scratching at him. Yamagata protected himself with his hands and waved the metal case around in the air to bat it off. The avian was persistent and kept up the attack.
Finally, Yamagata just shot at it with really stopping to properly aim. The hawk hastily retreated, and Yamagata rounded a corner and then flattened himself against the outer wall of a crate. He looked from side to side, waiting for his attacker to make an appearance. Damn it! If that psycho didn't already know where he was, he did now.
Yamagata slowed his breathing and calmed down. He could feel control returning to his arm muscles and he steadied his gun. Alright, he was ready. He peaked around the corner, but saw nothing. So he moved back to his original position flat against the crate. Suddenly standing right next to him on the other was the masked man.
Yamagata jumped back and tried to shoot at him. The masked man was quicker and knocked the gun out of Yamagata's hand before he could get it aimed properly. So Yamagata got into a fighting stance and let loose a forward kick at the man, which he blocked with his stick. Sidekicks, roundhouses, jumping kicks, jabs, and more flew at the masked person, all of which were in turn parried. Yamagata now had a good look at his attacker.
The person wore a plain, round, white mask that covered his entire face. The only features to speak of were the eye holes which were basically two horizontal ovals that curved downwards like angry eyes. Over the area of the mouth were a row of simple vertical slits, allowing the host to breath. The man was bare-headed, so Yamagata could make out his short, black hair.
He could also tell his attacker was a man by the body type. He wore a simple form hitting black shirt made of a material that allowed for easy movement, paired with black pants, and lastly, a long black cape.
"Oh Kami, do I have some kind of Batman knock-off on my hands here," Yamagata thought.
He noticed one final thing about his attack. He was holding his side, obviously covering a wound. So one of his men had managed to land a hit on him.
Yamagata punched out again, and as expected, the mask blocked it with his stick. Only he was ready for it this time. Yamagata grabbed the stick with one hand and punched with the other. The mask caught the punch and the two grappled with each other. He was convinced that he had his attacker right where he wanted as he forced the masked person's torso to twist painfully back and forth through the up-close struggle. Yamagata grabbed the cane away from him. He raised it aiming for his head. He was brought it down at the man's head, but ducked to the side just in time.
The mask cried out as Yamagata struck him in the left shoulder. The masked man let out a halted cry of his own. Yamagata raised it again, but hawk intervened, diving at his face and clawing him with its talons.
Yamagata shrieked out in pain and batted the bird away. Once it had broken off the attack, its human companion head-butted the yakuza with his forehead, breaking his nose. Yamagata still brought the cane down wildly, but the mask easily evaded the swings. Yamagata swung it so hard, he actually went off balance. The masked man used the opportunity to grab the cane and shove Yamagata away with a push kick.
The yakuza stumbled back, losing grip of the weapon. He tried to attack again, but this time the man threw off his cape at him, disorienting him for just a second. It was more than enough. Just as Yamagata yanked it off and tossed it away, the masked man's cane came down on his knees. Yamagata cried out as he felt his legs give out under him. The yakuza collapsed onto the ground onto his busted knees, which made pain and agony shoot through him like electricity.
"Now then," the masked man said with a surprisingly casual tone.
He raised his right arm so it was level, allowing the hawk to land on it. Yamagata regarded him coldly.
"Do you think he has any information," a second voice asked.
Yamagata's eyes glanced back and forth, but saw no one.
"We won't know until we ask," the masked man replied.
Was…was he talking to the bird?
"Who are you working for," Mask asked.
Yamagata just laughed. He then rebuked the masked man with a stream of obscenities and told him what he could do with his mother. The masked man didn't reply at first, content to let the yakuza get it out of his system.
"A bit mouthy, isn't he," that second spoke again.
"Who the hell is that," Yamagata demanded. "Who's with you?"
"I will be asking the question," the masked man replied. "Who are you working for?"
Yamagata spit at him. The saliva hit the man's chest. He looked down at where it hit him. He then ushered the hawk back into the air. He raised the cane and struck Yamagata in the ribs with it.
"Aaaah! Son of a…" Yamagata growled through clenched teeth.
"Ready to cooperate?"
The downed man just laughed
"Not on your life you smug little bastard."
The cane came down again. Yamagata cried out. Then Yamagata was hit again, this time on his shoulder. He scream came out through clenched teeth as he felt it dislocate from the socket. And then the masked man struck him again, and again, and again, each time in a different place on the yakuza's torso. This kept up until Yamagata fell over onto his side and was crawling to get away from his assailant. Most of the strikes weren't enough to break anything, but they sure did hurt like the Dickens and would nasty leave bruises.
The cane came down and smacked him in the arm, but not hard enough to break it.
"F&$% you," Yamagata roared through the pain.
A jab to the stomach made him curl up into a ball painfully.
"Let's try this again. Who are you working for," the masked man practically growled this time.
Yamagata remained defiantly quiet. So the masked man grabbed him his collar and hoisted him up. Yamagata moaned painfully from the sudden movement, which made gave both his cracked ribs and dislocated shoulder a sharp sting. Mask raised the cane, ready to deal out more punishment. Finally, the mob boss spoke again. His voice was but a croaky whisper.
"You think you can just threaten or beat the answers out of me, little man? Go ahead. Do your worst. Whatever you can dish out, they can do worse. You can drudge the entire city for every member of every gang of the yakuza who might have an answer to your question, but it'll be the same every time. No one is going to sell these people out to you."
"Then they must have friends somewhere. I can go give them a call," the masked man replied.
Yamagata began laughing painfully.
He laughed even harder now, holding his already aching sides.
"I don't know who you are, but you are funny, kid! Friends? You clearly have no idea what kind of people these are!"
Yamagata turned serious again, glaring up at the unknown attacker.
"I would rather do this all night with you. So bring it."
"What do they want the rocks for, then?"
"I have no idea, kid! They just said they were looking for something special and knew when they found it. I'm just supposed to keep bringing them in, no questions asked."
The masked man dropped him and turned to leave.
"Hey. Hey," Yamagata shouted.
The yakuza blinked, his vision going blurry on him.
"Who the hell are you?"
"…Call me Phantom Mask."
In the distance, police sirens could be heard, fast approaching. The hawk circled overhead.
"We better be going," Yamagata heard that other voice again.
"Yes, our cue to leave," Phantom Mask replied.
He gave a bow to Yamagata.
"We really should do this again sometime, but until then, farewell," Phantom Mask said.
Yamagata scowled as Phantom Mask disappeared in an instant. He began shouting after him.
"Don't think you hide from me, boy! This is my turf! No matter where you run, no matter where you hide! I'll come find you!"
"Is this everyone," Superintendant Sakurada asked.
She watched as the officers shoved the bruised and limping yakuza into the backs of their police cars.
"Everyone," Wakagi replied.
He shook his head.
"What do you think, Superintendant?"
"This definitely wasn't V's work," she said thoughtfully. "V just leaves them tied up and unconscious. These men have been beaten and even had a few bones broken by what had to have been inflicted by a blunt weapon."
"Just what we need, another vigilante crime fighter," Wakagi grumbled.
"Well, at least whoever this was brought us Yamagata, Sato," Sakurada replied. "Even V has been having trouble getting at him. Did you recover the missing jewelry?"
"Here our answer comes," Wakagi replied.
An officer approached, carrying one of the metal cases that was supposed to contain the diamonds. He had a glum look about him. He opened it up. It was empty. Sakurada began massaging her temples, groaning deeply.
"Are they all empty," she asked in a low, angry tone.
"Every last one," the officer replied.
"Were any of them able to identify whoever did this," she asked.
"Their testimonies have all been very vague. Just that a masked man took a stick to them all. Yamagata actually managed to get a name, of sorts, out of him," the officer explained.
"Oh," Sakurada asked.
"Phantom Mask," The officer stated.
"Another weirdo," Wakagi muttered unhappily.
"Just get these thugs out of here. Pull the footage from that one guy's security van, and try to figure out how this all happened. I'm going to talk with V about this," Sakurada said. "Wakagi, you're in charge."
Wakagi saluted as she climbed into the driver's seat of her car and drove off.
"You have your orders. Dismissed," Wakagi said to the officer.
Wakagi stepped away from the crime scene, and took out a cigarette. He hated nights like this. Recently, crime rates had really been up, and is wasn't only that. All manner of oddities had began happening on the streets, and only V and a select few others seemed to have any idea what was going on. Idol singers turning their fans into mindless zombies, cupcakes that made their eaters gain about thirty pounds after having just one of them, and even stranger had been going down without any rhyme or reason the police could make out.
Oh, hell with it. He dropped his cigarette and wiped it out with his foot. Japan was becoming a more dangerous and strange place, and he's just have to accept it. Nothing to do but see what tomorrow brought.
A scream broke out through the house.
"Looks like Usagi just woke up," Ikuko said to her husband.
"Mm-hmm," Kenji replied, not taking his eyes off the paper.
He casually reached for his morning coffee, completely ignoring the chaos he had grown so accustomed to. Shingo munched on the last of his breakfast sandwich before putting into the sink and leaving for school.
"Have a nice day, son," Kenji called after him.
"Yeah, right," Shingo muttered.
"Eh-hem," Ikuko said forcefully.
"I mean, I know mom and dad," Shingo backtracked, forcing a big, happy smile before disappearing out the front door.
Kenji turned the page of his newspaper, and immediately spotted something of interest.
"Hmm. Sailor V does it again," he said. "Gang of thieves busted. Diamond worth 16 million yen safely returned."
"Wouldn't it be nice if our girl was anything like her," Ikuko said dismally.
She turned away from the dishes she was washing and gave her daughter a weary sideways stare as the blonde crashed to the floor onto her bum, naturally having fallen down the steps.
"Owie," Usagi whined.
She met her mother's gaze with her own, frantic and tearing up as it was.
"Mom, you dummy, why didn't someone wake me sooner? I'm gonna be late!"
With a heave, she leapt to her feet without the assistance of her hands and started to dash out the door.
"Did you remember your book bag," Kenji called, turned the page again. "Mm. A wholesale on hats."
"Oh, crap," Usagi yelped as she ran back upstairs.
A second later she came back down.
"Did you remember to put you books in the book bag," Kenji called between sips of coffee.
"Oh man," Usagi ran back by again.
"You brew the best coffee, hun," he said to Ikuko.
"Thanks, dear," she blushed.
Ikuko stepped up just beside where Usagi would be passing any second now, holding a piece of toast and a bento box. On cue, the oversleeping one flew through the house and out the front door, taking both with her.
"Have a good day at school," Ikuko called after her.
Usagi's incoherent wail of an answer faded into the distance.
Ikuko sighed, and shrugged hopelessly.
"Do you think she just needs a better alarm clock?"
"Better alarm clock? I'd have a band to give her a full blast with their instruments if I thought it'd do any good," Kenji replied.
Meanwhile outside, the girl in question sprinted for all her worth through the streets of Tokyo, not stopping for anything. She weaved back and forth around anyone who happened to be in the way without losing a second.
"Why does the morning always have to come so soon. I'm still sleepy," Usagi whined "Oh, this sucks this sucksthissucksthissucksthissucksthissucksthissucks."
She accidentally bumped elbows with a woman with long black hair.
"Sorry," Usagi called over her shoulder.
The woman stopped and stared after her for a moment before continuing on her way.
"Short cut, coming right up," Usagi rasped breathlessly.
She made a sharp turn into a yard. She passed by a man sunbathing by his pool.
"In a rush to get to school again, eh," he said as she passed.
Through his peripheral vision, he saw she managed to clear the fence in a single hop. Cutting through a series of yards took her trek to school down to one half its usual length. The fence of the last yard was just in front of her, and as per usual, the owner's dog was on her heels. Usagi licked her lips, preparing the time the jump. With a mighty push off the ground, she just avoided getting chomped and hoisted herself up and over in a single movement.
Ha ha! Home free…uh, oh. Today, there was a young man with short dark hair, a nice dress suit, and mirror shades walking right where she'd usually land on the pavement of the little road.
"Look out," she started to cry.
Alas, she didn't get the first syllable out before she crashed into him and the two tumbled onto the paved ground.
"Ooowww," she howled.
She spun around crossly about to yell at him for getting in the way. She stopped once she saw him lying on his side, clutching his shoulder. His face had gone pale, and she could tell he was breathing through a considerable amount of time.
"Oh, no, I must've really hurt him," she thought immediately feeling remorseful.
"Hey, are you alright," she asked concerned.
She crawled over to him.
"What the hell is wrong with you, dumpling head," he yelled suddenly.
"I'm sorry, I just…"
"You just blindly leapt over a fence! What'd you think was going to happen?"
"Hey, now you just…" Usagi started to shout back.
He rolled over onto his back and tried to get up, but breathed out a pained hiss before easing himself back onto the ground. Usagi clamped up, feeling bad.
"Hold on! Here, let me help," she said.
She supported his back with one hand and held his good arm with her other. She eased him up into a sitting position.
"Thanks…" he said, sounding drained.
He slowly climbed to his feet, still holding his shoulder all the way.
"I'm sorry, did I do that," she asked guiltily.
"No, but you sure aggravated it," he replied, sounding less than happy.
He let out a sharp groan when he tried rotating it around in a circle.
Usagi clicked her tongue, unsure of what to say.
"Shouldn't you be getting to school by now, dumpling head," he regarded her with a raised brow.
Then she remembered why she was in such a rush.
"Crap! ," she cried.
She grabbed her bag off the ground and zipped off, quickly disappearing.
"I'll give her one thing. She's fast," he observed with mild amusement.
He walked away, back to whatever objective had brought him there in the first place.
"What a smug jerk, but I guess I shouldn't take it too hard on him," she thought. "Now what time is it…"
She checked her wristwatch.
"Crap. Better hustle," she cried.
Without paying attention, she dashed into the crosswalk. She didn't realize until it was too late that she had jumped right out into the path of a moving vehicle. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw it and tried to dodge out of the way, but she knew there was no time to avoid impact. Something suddenly yanked her back out of the way from behind. The honking car passed by harmlessly, though its driver did yell out the window for Usagi to watch where she was stepping from now on.
"Whoa. You almost got flattened," said the low feminine voice of her rescuer.
Oddly, the voice seemed to be coming from a far distance above the blonde's head. Usagi looked up and saw that, in fact, the girl that had pulled her off the road stood a head higher than herself. It was a brunette with her long hair tied back in a ponytail. She had beautiful rose earrings. Usagi blushed at the sight of the girl.
The girl looked down at her with pretty green eyes.
"It's dangerous out here, you know. Be careful," she said, smiling.
"Y-yeah," Usagi stammered.
"Hey, isn't that a Juuban Junior High uniform," the girl asked. "I'm going there, too. Wanna run together?"
"Uh, sure thing. You visiting a friend there or something," Usagi replied cheerfully.
"Oh, no, I just transferred in," the tall girl replied.
She looked at herself.
"…They didn't have any uniforms in my size. This is more style, anyway," she said miserably.
"I'm Kino, Makoto, by the way. What's your name," Makoto said, bucking right up.
"Tsukino, Usagi. Pleased to meet you, Mako. Oh, sorry, are you okay with Mako?"
"Sure! Pleased to meet you, too, Usagi."
Usagi led the way to Juuban Junior High.
"Hey, Mako, if we go through this next alley, the school will be straight ahead," Usagi called back to her new companion.
"I'm not so sure we should…"
"Here we go," Usagi said.
She ducked into an alley that the school before Makoto could finish. She almost cheered, she was so happy to almost be at the end of her run. WHAM! She fell back, having run into something now.
"Ah, man, this is not my day," she wailed. "Owowowowowowowowowow. Sorry."
She looked up to see who or what she collided with. When she had, she wished she didn't. Staring down at her was a trio of huge, muscle-bound thugs leering down at her. One of them mockingly held his leg and had an exaggerated look of pain on his face.
"Hey, you broke out my leg. Ouch, babe," he said.
She began to recoil from the leader. He pushed his shades back up the top of his nose while he strutted up to the girl. His hands remained firmly in his pockets the rest of the time.
"Yo! What're you going to do about what you just did to my buddy, Missy?"
"Stop it right there," Makoto yelled.
She stepped in between Usagi and the ruffian. The guy cocked as brow looking up at her stern expression. She stood with her arms crossed giving him a disapproving glare.
"Hey, butt out," he barked.
"I saw everything," she responded firmly. "She just bumped into him, and you're giving her a hard time? Talk about cheap."
"What did say you," the punk yelled menacingly.
By the point, all three were ready for a fight, but Makoto didn't even flinch.
"Yo! You might be cute, but we'll be f%*$ before we let you get away with anything! Get her!"
The three pulled out knives and charged her, acting as one. Makoto used the first man's own momentum against him and threw him over her shoulders, slamming him into the ground. The second man slashed at her, but she simply side-stepped out of the way. She kneed him in the stomach. He doubled over in pain immediately. The third man stopped dead in his tracks. He looked at his unconscious friends on the ground, and then at Makoto, who was giving him a beckoning gesture with her index finger.
"Ah, f&$# this," he swore.
He turned tail and ran for it.
"Amazing," Usagi uttered.
"You alright," Makoto asked her.
The brawny girl faced Usagi.
"Oh, uh, um, yes," Usagi stuttered.
She scratched the back of her awkwardly.
"I guess you did try to warn me. Sorry," Usagi said.
"Don't worry about it, but you really need to be more careful," Makoto said friendly.
She then regarded Usagi with a faintly concerned look.
"Is every morning like this," she asked.
"No. Today just sucks."
Makoto let out a surprisingly girlish giggle.
"Come on then. Let's get to school," the brunette said.
The short remainder of the trip to school was without incident, much to Usagi's surprise and relief. They had arrived right out front of the school building. They were just in time not to be late.
"Hey, Mako, what are you doing this afternoon after school," Usagi asked.
"Oh, nothing. I was just going to do home," Makoto asked. "Or go to the dojo and train some."
"Hey, you wanna hang out tonight. I'm going to a friend's house to study. I can introduce you to Naru," Usagi offered.
"Really," Makoto asked, almost disbelieving.
"Sure. The more the merrier. It'll be great. Let's be friends," Usagi smiled sweetly.
Makoto at first was taken aback, but then she smiled warmly right back.
"I'd like that," she said.
The pair entered through the double glass doors of the building, heading straight for class.
"Oh man. Just barely dodged that bullet," Usagi said, happily sinking into his chair. "At least I wasn't late…"
Before she could finish that sentence, she leaned over and drifted off, fast asleep where she sat.
"Oh, brother," her friend, Naru rolled her eyes. "Looks like I'll just have to remind her about tonight after Ms. Haruna's done with her."
She glanced over at Makoto, who busied herself trying to look inconspicuous to all the eyes on her. Then she looked over at Mizuno, Ami a quiet and petite girl that greatly contrasted the other newcomer in just about every way. Presently, the girl had her face buried in one of their textbooks, and was already taking notes.
"Egghead, definitely," Naru's mind registered.
"Good morning, class," Haruna greeting as she entered.
Immediately, she spotted Makoto.
"You're wearing the wrong uniform, Ms. Kino," she said sternly.
"They didn't have one in my size," Makoto replied.
"Not surprising. Today, class, we have two new transfer students. Please come to the front, Ms. Kino and Ms. Mizuno. Say hello, class. They're going to be with us from now on… Tsukino. Tsukino! Grr. That girl!"
Haruna grabbed a piece of chalk and flung across the room with precision aim. One of the ends bounced off Usagi's head, startling the girl back into consciousness.
"No, give me back my satay chicken," she cried, shooting up in her seat.
It was then that Usagi remembered where she was. She slowly scanned all the eyes on her, and turned beet red. Then she looked at the teacher, who currently who had fixed a hard gaze on her. Her arms were folded in front with one heeled foot tapping the floor, making for the perfect disapproving authority figure stance. Usagi laughed nervously and gulped hard.
"Go stand in the hallway, Ms. Tsukino," Usagi asked meekly.
"Mm-hm," Haruna nodded.
A moment later…
"This sucks," Usagi thought dejectedly. "How could she make a sweet, darling, and fragile girl like me stand out in the hallway like this? Oh, well, at least it can't get any worse."
Usagi stared the '30%' in red ink that adorned her test score, with tiny tears forming in the corner of her eyes.
"Wah! It's not fair. Not only was I sleeping in class, but I totally botched the test, too! Mom is going to kill me! At this rate, I'm going to fail this class for sure!"
"Oh, stop your sulking," Naru scolded. "You know what you have to do if you don't want to fail this class. Looks like you can really use this study date tonight. Now, come on, lunch is starting. You didn't eat your lunch out in the hall again, did you?"
"No. I still have my lunch today," Usagi held up the unopened bento.
"Great! Now I can eat without you salivating over my food for once," Naru chirped.
"Ah, Naru! That's mean," Usagi whined to her laughing friend.
"Hey, Usagi, how'd you on the test," Umino asked, appearing out of freaking nowhere.
"Gah," both girls jumped at his sudden appearance. Ignoring that, Umino held up his test, which was marked with a '95%'.
"I actually didn't study at all. I was too busy with DnD this weekend. But tests are just like games, too, ya know?"
"School's a game to you," Naru asked in amazement. "Whatever. You're too danged smart."
"That's not what anyone would call a real zinger of an insult, Naru," Usagi said.
"Hey, did you girls hear about those new transfer students," Umino asked.
He took out his book of rumors. He flipped through it looking for the appropriate page.
"Hey, Usagi," Makoto greeted. "Want to join me for lunch?"
"Sure thing," Usagi replied. "Oh. Hey, Mako, this is my friend, Naru that I was telling you about earlier."
"Figures," Naru considered with humor. "Usagi's got a real talent for making new friends."
"Naru Osaka," Naru said.
Makoto and Naru shook hands.
"Who's he," Makoto gestured to Umino.
"Guh. Just ignore him," Usagi said. "Come on. Let's go."
"Here we are, according to the word of the street…ladies?"
The girls were just closing the door when he looked up.
"Hey, that's not very nice," he complained, rushing after them. "I already have really good scoops on them both!"
"What is he talking about," Makoto asked, confused and a little annoyed.
Naru shrugged hopeless and sighed.
"Mako, meet our resident Walking Rumor Mill, Umino. Yeah, what do you want, Umino?"
Umino currently read out of his book, keeping track of them via his peripherils. Naru noted that if they stopped suddenly he'd probably bump right into them.
"Hey, that big girl, Kino, has enormous physical strength, not to mention enormous 'talent'! Rumor is she's been going from school to school because she keeps getting into fights with everyone. You'd better stay away from that delinquent, girls. If you're not careful, she might…"
"Mm," Umino looked up.
He let out a wheeze that was probably meant to be a scream while he stumbled over his own feet before coming to a complete stop. Here he was, face-to-face with the 'delinquent', herself.
"Oh my…um…" he sputtered.
"I might what," Makoto asked angrily.
"Uh, did you know Mizuno was not only at the top of her class, but also the best in the country with her I.Q. supposed being 300," Umino quickly changed topics.
Makoto jaw dropped, aghast at what she beholding.
"She is," Usagi asked, very much surprised.
Now Umino had her attention. She looked past Umino and spotted the blue haired student in question staring out one of the many windows as if watching something.
"And there she is," Usagi pointed. "Wow. She really is a genius."
"That's right. I heard she attends Crystal Cram School, that computer wiz place they just built."
"Whoa! My mom told that it's real expensive to get into there," Usagi said.
"Not surprising, her mom is supposed to be a doctor, after all," Naru added. "It was probably easy to get in there with all the money they must have."
"Guys, I don't think this is such a great idea," Makoto said uncomfortably.
"Ah, it's just a little harmless fun," Umino replied. "Actually, she's there on scholarship, totally for free! Too bad she never talks to anyone. Some say it's because she thinks she's better than anyone else."
"Okay…I think you're starting to push it," Makoto said cautiously.
"Ugh. And you know I can't stand people like that. I hope it's just because she's shy, because they'd at least be hot," Umino said.
Ami slowly turned her head to look at them. She said nothing; it was the look that spoke volumes. It was a very angry, but controlled glare.
Usagi turned away and laughed nervously.
"Such a nice day," she said hastily.
"Yeah, it is," Naru spoke.
They both walked hurriedly away, followed by Makoto, who mouthed an apology to Ami while they went. She then grabbed Umino by the collar and dragged him away before he could blab anymore.
"Way to go," she said to him crossly.
"Hey, wait up," she called to her new friends.
Ami just let out a deep sigh as she watched go.
"That Umino, the one person I don't like being beaten by," Naru muttered.
She took a bite of her food. The three girls had gone up to the roof where they met with two others, a chunky girl with short, curly hair and a girl few with a long, dark hair. She was introduced to the group of four friends. She listened in while the others talked, occasionally putting in her own thoughts. At the moment, Makoto had no problem just observing this new circle she was suddenly a part of. Hell, she was just happy to be included. Usually, everyone was too afraid to talk her. Usagi sure seemed to be breaking the ice for her easily.
"Did you hear about what happened in the warehouse district last night," one asked. "Apparently, some kind of yakuza drop off was interrupted by a masked person."
"Oh, Sailor V," Naru asked.
"Sailor Who," Usagi asked.
"Oh, Sailor V! I'm a really big fan of hers'," Makoto piped in. "She's supposed to be about our age, but she catches criminals and leaves them for the cops to lock away! She's a solder for love and justice! She's always all over the news!"
"You really know your Sailor V stuff, huh," Usagi asked.
"Oh, you bet," Makoto continued excitedly with a gleam in her eye. "I always get up early to watch the news to see if she's had any new battles for justice! The media speculates that she's actually working with the police, but I dunno!"
Makoto leaned in close to the others, and whispered.
"I think she's the results of generic experimentation gone really right, and is working with the government, not the police."
"…Interesting theory," Naru said, a bit stunned.
"So, was it this Sailor V person that busted the yakuza last night," Usagi asked.
"No way," Makoto insisted before anyone else could speak. "The person described by the thugs is a man that called himself Phantom Mask. He's probably that jewel thief everyone's been talking about."
"What makes you say that," Usagi inquired curiously.
"The goods they were dropping were diamonds, all of which were gone by the time the police showed up. The yakuza themselves were really messed up when the police finally showed. This guy gave them everything from dislocated joints, broken bones, cracked ribs, the works! Sailor V never leaves them needing to go to the emergency room before prison," Makoto explained.
"You're really passionate about Sailor V," Usagi said, simultaneously impressed and taken aback.
"Phantom Mask," Naru repeated. "Sounds like a really cheesy superhero show."
"I don't know anything about Phantom Mask, but Sailor V is supposed to be a great savior, like we're at the End Times," one of the others said.
"Hey, Naru," Usagi said, a bit concerned. "Your mom owns a jewelry store, right? Are you afraid of being robbed?"
"Of course," Naru answered. "It'd be really bad if it was, too. That's our family business, so if we lose our stock, we could go under. We're not some big shot company or anything."
"Speaking of which," another of them said. "Didn't your mom's store just start a big sale today?"
"Yeah, new low prices. Even a few within our price range," Naru answered happily.
"You know," one of the other girls said with hearts practically in her eyes. "I totally get wanting to rob a jewelry store. All those beautiful sparking gems surrounding you."
"We've gotta go check it out," another exclaimed.
"Sounds good," Makoto grinned.
Then she put a finger to her chin in thought.
"I wonder if even I could afford something," she wondered. "Probably not, but at least I'll get to hang out with some other kids."
She started to put the lid back on her lunch box, having eaten her fill.
"Are you really done, Mako," Usagi asked. "You still have a rice ball left."
"Oh, I always make too much. Would you like to have the last one?"
"Ooh, thanks for the food," Usagi accepted.
"I should have known lunch wouldn't come and go without you digging into someone else's food," Naru teased.
Usagi just stuck her tongue out at her and bit into the treat.
"Hey, it's good," she complimented.
"I'm glad you like it," Makoto said with a slight blush.
"Your mother must be a genius chef," Usagi said.
"Oh, this? I made it myself," Makoto was really blushing now.
"What? That's amazing! You'll have to teach me sometime," Usagi said excitedly.
"I wouldn't let her near your kitchen if I were you," Naru said.
"Naruuuu. Stop being mean," Usagi whined. "I only accidentally spilled chocolate icing once!"
"And got milk everywhere, and tipped over the pitcher of lemonade, then tripped over your own feet sending the whole table over, and somehow brought a whole closet full of food ingredients to the ground, and…"
"I think I get the picture," Makoto said with a voice filled with dread.
"Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. Hey, Naru, I'd like to invite Mako to our study meet up tonight. Is that alright,' Usagi asked.
"Sure, sure! Oh, wait, we better do it at your house tonight."
"Haha, yeah, about that… I'd rather not face mom tonight."
"Oh, right, the test results. You sure? Oh, alright."
"Some reason you don't want us to come over, Naru," Usagi asked growing bemused.
"Oh, it's nothing. Forget I ever said anything," Naru tried waved it off like it was nothing.
After school let out, the girls congregated all heading to the jewelry store. They chattered about being excited about being able to make a potential purchase. They left the school grounds, stepping out onto the sidewalk. Witchy education mommas could wait until after a little spending time, Usagi concluded. Then someone caught her eye. She spotted that Ami girl heading off alone, and immediately left bad about earlier. Looking at her now, the girl's slow pace seemed more lonely than stuck-up.
She stopped, and thought about what, if anything, she should do. Makoto spotted her falling behind.
"Usagi," Makoto called.
"Huh? Oh, you guys go on ahead. I'll catch up later," Usagi said.
She ran off after Ami.
"Huh. What's her deal," one of the others asked.
"I think I get it," Makoto smiled. "Hey, Naru."
"I think I'm going to go with Usagi and Ami. New kids need to stick up for each other."
"See you all later," Makoto said.
She ran after Usagi, yelling her to wait up.
"I'll see anything I can get you something you might like," Naru called after Makoto.
"That's okay, I wasn't really going to buy anything, anyway," Makoto called back.
"Hey, don't forget the group tonight," Naru called. "Make sure Usagi shows up!"
Usagi walked a fair distance behind, Ami, deciding on how to approach her.
"Well, nothing for it," she thought.
She was about ready to speak when it happened. A black cat jumped down from a nearby tree and landed on the other girl. Usagi let out a surprised yelp. Ami also jerked in surprise and looked at the feline as it positioned itself stably on her right shoulder.
"A cat," Ami asked.
A small smile formed as she reached up and began to pet the black little fluffball. She didn't respond at first, apparently content to bore a hole in the girl with its stare. As Ami began scratching it under the chin, it leaned into the touch and purred loudly. Then it suddenly pulled away.
"Oh, no. Shhh, it's okay," Ami said softly.
She started to pet the cat again, slowly and lightly. She spoke gently to it, trying to keep it calm.
"You're so soft," Ami said. "I wish I could keep you, but I live in an apartment. You must belong to someone, anyway. I'd like a nice cat, too."
Usagi thought the sight was absolutely adorable. She approached the two from behind.
"Hello," she said.
The cat turned around on Ami's shoulder to look at her, and then hopped off onto the ground. Ami glanced Usagi's way as the cat now trotted over to the blonde. Usagi squatted down to pet the kitty. It suddenly hopped into her arms as just suddenly as it with Ami. At first, she just thought the little furball was being friendly, but something about its intense stare made her think she was being studied.
"It looked this kitty gave you start," Usagi said casually.
The other girl looked at her uncertainly at first, and then asked:
"Is that you cat?"
"No, I've never seen…"
One quick look under its tail later…
"Never seen her before, actually," Usagi finished.
"I wonder who she belongs to, then," Ami said.
She stepped up to Usagi and the cat.
"She's obvious tame," Makoto said, suddenly appearing.
"Ah! Mako! Don't do that! You're as bad as Umino," Usagi cried in surprise.
"Hey there, pretty kitty…whoa!"
Makoto stepped back upon being the next person the cat leapt onto without warning. Ami laughed pleasantly. Makoto tried to stay still as it walked from one shoulder to the next.
"When she dropped in from the sky, I at first thought she might have been an angel," she said.
"She is a cute little thing," Makoto concurred.
She rubbed the cat under the chin, too.
"So you're Mizuno, Ami from our class, right," Usagi spoke. "I'm Tsukino, Usagi. Glad to meet you."
"Kino, Makoto. Sorry about what that doofus was saying about you earlier."
"Nice to meet you both, too," Ami replied.
"Hey, Ami, do you play games," Usagi asked.
"No, I've never tried before."
"Wanna try it out," Usagi asked. "I'll teach you how to play."
"Well…I have a lot of studying to do," Ami said uncertainly.
"Well, that works just fine. We're all heading to a friends' house for a study group tonight," Makoto piped in. "It's still schoolwork, but doing with a group has to beat working alone. What do you say?"
Ami practically glowed now.
"I'd love to."
"And better yet, if we're friends, she'll help me get good grades," Usagi added mentally.
As they left, the cat hopped away and out of sight.
"Aw, don't wanna come along, kitty," Usagi asked.
"Her loss," Makoto shrugged.
Usagi led the way to the arcane. Along the way, Ami and Makoto could have sworn they saw that cat watching them one or two more times. But anytime they looked where they spotted it head-on, it was quickly gone.
"Weird animal," Makoto thought.
She realized she fell behind a bit, and sped up to catch up to Usagi and Ami on their trek to…The Game Center Crown.
To be continued…
A/N: I thought for sure that all of Usagi's friends were named, but going through every bit of information I could find with a fine comb: guess not. Either way, though, God bless WikiMoon.
Anyway, yeah, I know I'm lifting dialogue right from both the manga and anime. At this early point, I'm just trying to start you guys off on somewhat familiar ground before diverging from the original story more, later.
Yeah, this entire chapter was originally one part, but when it reached the point of over 10,000 words and 35 pages. I don't like my chapter to exceed 30 pages.