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A Ranma ½ / Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon crossover story
by Josh Temple

Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon belongs to Takeuchi Naoko, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC.

Chapter 4: Reactions and Results

The ranking youma looked at the monitors. He appeared to be an average, if rather tanned, twenty-something male human. Dressed in a plain beige jumpsuit, he was sitting at the observation chair for Furinkan High School's security system. Also in the basement room were several similarly dressed entities. All were carrying weapons of one sort or another.

The situation was bad. The authorities had been alerted and sealed off the building. This left them with only a couple dozen humans to work with. It was much less than the several hundred they were expecting. The number was considerably fewer people than youma. It was all that stupid teacher's fault. Dave shook his head. Some of the blame could be placed on those two dead idiots who let their guard down.

The situation was not hopeless. They still had plenty of energy. He had many troops, and powerful weapons for them to use. He also had some humans. These would buy him some time with the police. Already, the news reporters had arrived on the scene. No doubt, the Senshi would find out about this and rush in "to save the day".

Their ideal plan required plenty of humans, but they could make do without them. Dave smiled. Even if things went horribly wrong, they still had an active gate. Thanks to the gate, retreat was still an option.

The situation with those armed teachers was resolved as well. They had to kill the one with the handgun that was wandering the halls. Somehow the fool had managed to kill two more of his men before finally being put down. For the rest of the teachers, all they had to do was gas the room, incapacitating them all. Dave would have preferred to kill all of them for their insolence, but with a limited supply of humans that was not an option.

Dave looked at his watch. His second in command, who used the alias Frank, should be arriving from his inspection of the troops in the upper floors. Once here Frank could take over here. Dave really wished that he could have taken that substitute teacher alive. It would have been nice to… talk with the man responsible for this mess.

"So that's your plan," Ranma stated. He then stood up and looked around the room. They were in the briefing section of a Company mobile command center. A large tractor-trailer converted to the purpose, it was parked in a lot across the street from the target building.

From his seat, Jacob nodded. The boy seemed to be capable enough. Ranma seemed more interested in learning what the Company was doing than telling Jacob what he planned to do. The agent was pleased that the boy was showing that much caution. He'd almost expected Ranma to blindly run into the building the second he arrived. Instead he asked about what the Company was doing and where the insertion points were.

The situation was amusing in a twisted way. Jacob had just explained an entire operation to known Pattern D. "Good luck," the old agent finally said to the young man.

Ranma gave a curt nod and stretched a bit. He hated what he had to do, but there was no choice. His character told him that he had to fight, and it would be complete idiocy to not use a very powerful advantage. Ranma's form wavered and shifted into his female form. Bands of crimson, violet, and black energy then wrapped around her body. Pattern scanners in the room recorded the transformation.

The lights quickly died down and revealed the changes. The woman was an exceedingly beautiful, alabaster-skinned demoness complete with fangs, little black horns, large wings that were dark purple on the outside and blood red on the inside, and a long red tail with purple spade-shaped fins at the end. She was dressed in a parody of a Senshi uniform, itself a parody of a schoolgirl's uniform.

She wore black leather knee-high boots with a five inch-heel and a red-trimmed black leather pleated skirt. Her top was composed of purple and red ribbons with bikini-like panels over her generous chest. Like her dangling earrings, her gold tiara was set with a single stone of pure obsidian darkness.

Her hair now reached mid-back and was the deep red color of arterial blood. It was feathered and had purple highlights. Her fingernails had lengthened until they resembled crimson talons. Her makeup was slightly more elaborate than the normal for a Senshi, and meshed very well with her eyes, which were now a very deep, almost luminescent amethyst.

Sailor DarkStar folded her wings tight against her back. She then shook her head. Her hair swished back and forth. Jacob's face was carefully neutral as watched the display. He had seen the footage from the assassination attempt, but to see the transformation in person was something else entirely.

Jacob then turned to one of the computer operators. "Agent Iverson, show the communications equipment to— what name do you want to use for this?" Jacob asked the demonic magical girl.

"DarkStar's fine, I guess," the redhead said, her violet eyes starting to glow slightly.

Maya Iverson stood up. Dressed in combat gear similar to the other agents, she had dark brown hair that was cut to just above her neck. She had picked up a small object. She walked over to DarkStar. She stood before a girl that even without her heels was a couple inches taller than her. Iverson handed the device to the pseudo-Senshi.

"This is a Mark 302 communications system," the brunette said in a surprisingly cheerful voice that was oddly familiar to DarkStar. "It clips onto your ear like so. Just make sure that it clasps properly or it will cause some discomfort," the young woman said as she demonstrated the mechanism on her own headset.

DarkStar looked at the device in her hands. There was no real reason not to wear the damn thing. It was easy enough to take off. She had pulled back some of her crimson tresses and was prepared to clip the headset into place. She looked at Jacob's carefully neutral face and paused. This was too much. This was exactly what they wanted. She was being far too accommodating to these fools. "I can't take this," she stated as she handed the headset back to the young woman.

"That's fine," Jacob said dismissively.

DarkStar went to the back door of the room. The armored door opened and she walked through.

Stillwater sat in the central chair of WIC Toronto-A's Command and Control Center. His elbows were placed on the table in front of him. Save for his index fingers, the Commander's digits were linked past each other. Those two other fingers were extended and rested on the bridge of his nose.

"Are all the pieces in place?" he asked.

"Yes, sir, everyone is ready. The cryptographic team has recovered from their delay," one of the C3 officers responded. "They are ready—" he paused for a few seconds then spoke again as a few symbols changed on his display, "—now."

"Excellent," Stillwater said, putting his hands down. It had taken some doing for the software experts in Communications and Cryptography Section to get in. Having access to Keystone Security's files did help speed things. He then picked up a black phone that sat on the table. "All teams are 'Go'. I repeat, 'Go'," he said in a clear, cold voice.

The power lines that serviced Furinkan were disconnected by Company personnel that had accessed a telephone pole outside of the quarantine zone. Most of the phone lines were disabled as well. Those that the cryptography team required were left intact. At the same time, cellular phone service for the area was disabled by a few timely commands to local transmitter towers.

The youma monitoring the school's security system watched the power fail. He waited for the backup system to kick in. The emergency lights had kicked on, but the security monitors remained blank. The monster quizzically looked at the black screens, unaware that the computers controlling the system had been compromised.

Inside several of the larger Company vehicles were some large, complicated machines. They were being activated by the agents that operated them. A few gritted their teeth as machines powered up. The fields they generated were supposedly imperceptible. However, some of the more experienced operators could feel a strange resonance that was reminiscent of how air feels right before a lightning strike.

Dave rubbed his forehead. He should have known that the police would try to cut the building's phone and power. He reminded himself to punish the head of Cell 4. That idiot had assured him that the security system had been repaired and would still function in the event of blackout.

The youma leader was in the storage room that their gate was stored in. He was watching as two members of Cell 1 carried a large crate across the threshold of the portal. Dave watched as the swirling, almost invisible curtain that marked the gateway between the two locations intensified in brightness before extinguishing completely.

The gateway failed. The crate fell to the ground. The youma carrying it from behind was unable to hold it up as he was missing everything from the left side of his neck to his left foot, except for part of his left arm that had fallen off the crate.

Dave watched as the body slowly dissolved. All their time living as humans had given their bodies a bit more substance. This made their corpses much messier. "I want the gate back up and running," he told the youma in charge of the gateway in a very quiet, dangerous voice.

The youma quickly agreed and stated that the gate failure was probably due to interference from the energy cells or something.

Dave then turned to his second. "Alert everyone," he ordered Frank. "Ask our rooftop observers if those police have done anything."

Frank had sent three members of Cell 2 up onto the roof. One was in the center on the fifth floor roof, and the other two were on the third floor roof and opposite ends of the H-shaped building.

The observers had been using a spell that gave them a fair degree of invisibility, and another for protection. Unfortunately for them, they were not thermally or magically stealthed. Dressed in their own specialized Ghillie suits, the Company sharpshooters found Frank's observers rather easily. Unlike the two Pattern Y's dispatched by Agent Samuel Chase, these creatures had their protective fields up. It would prove to be insufficient protection.

The sharpshooters were using Model S03 ammunition, more commonly known among Company personnel as Lead Flowers. These projectiles consist of two sections. Under a thin coating designed to prevent jamming were six sabot-style metal segments. When the rotating slug hit a barrier, these pieces of metal bent out, revealing a high-density dart at the core of the slug. The six high-strength metal petals then drilled into the obstruction, allowing the core to pass through.

The sharpshooters fired. The bullets hit the youma shields. For only an instant, a section of the youma shields the size of a small nail failed, but it was enough.

The core of the sabot bullet separated from the outer sections and closed the remaining handful of inches. There the core hit the youma and blasted a surprisingly large cone of organic fragments out of the side opposite the sharpshooter. The other two youma met identical fates. The kills were confirmed, and the operation's next sequence activated.

From the shadows in a grove of trees near the athletic fields, DarkStar watched as the armored vehicles and helicopters moved in. She had listened to Jacob because she wanted to know what the Company's plans were: where they would be putting men, where the hostages were, and where they would be setting the explosives.

She now knew all that, and made her own plans. Jacob seemed oddly cooperative. DarkStar cleared those thoughts from her mind and spread her wings. She had WIC's information, and what she had observed in the few minutes she had waited for the Company to make its move.

She had let her demonic senses fold out, causing a strange doubling with her more mundane senses. She could still see the visible light reflecting off of the building, but she could also see the energy signatures of the creatures within. It was like watching candles stacked on the other side of a sheet. She could tell their location and their brightness, but not much else. The demon knew that if she were close, she would be able to sense the energy signatures of the enemy. It would come in complex, almost aromatic bundles of information.

Sailor DarkStar felt the waves of electromagnetic radiation cascading over her. The distortions caused by magnetic and electric fields from surrounding electronics caused considerable white noise, with more intense bursts coming from powerful devices. Of particular note was a large pulse coming from the basement of the school, although it stopped the second the Company powered up some strangely intense machines.

As Company agents stormed the building, DarkStar took to the air. She flew low and fast, right into a third story window. Her wings folded in and she tumbled through the large window. She smoothly landed behind a desk, her knees bent and her tail extended behind her for balance.

She then saw four knotted signatures walking down the hallway, towards the classroom she was in. Soon, she could smell them. They were youma, fairly weak; some shielding, and there was something else, something concentrated that they were carrying. She edged to one side of the room and waited for them to get through the doorway.

A youma entered the room, his Kalashnikov raised to his shoulder. The creature was nervous; there had been a crash in the ground floor, followed by gunfire. There was also something going on with that helicopter that had passed overhead. He noticed the broken window first, his eyes scanning the room. Confusion drew on his face as he saw the girl. She was wearing the uniform of the enemy, but she was obviously something else.

DarkStar saw the man raise his weapon, finger on the trigger, and charged her own attack to counter. A violet orb wreathed in white flames appeared in her hand before being propelled at the youma. After passing though his shield with the all ease of a match through tissue paper, the orb then slammed into the youma hard, covering him in a goop that stuck to his body and ignited instantly. The youma died quickly as the flames consumed his body, and DarkStar slowly walked over the charred smear on the floor, towards the door.

"What the hell happened to Earl?" a frightened voice asked from outside in the hall.

"Cover me, I'm going in," another voice, this one much closer to the door, stated. He slipped into the room, keeping his back to the wall.

He almost ran into the tall redhead, who quickly eviscerated him. Partially-translucent red claws had appeared on her fingers. They extended several inches beyond the tips of her fingers and sliced through the youma's body with little resistance.

DarkStar ran into the doorway and quickly shot two spheres of magical napalm. One hit a youma right in the head, instantly killing him. The other struck the last member of the squad in the left hip, only splashing part of his body in the adhesive incendiary. Before DarkStar could grab the youma and get him with her claws, he managed to squeeze off three low shots that embedded themselves into the floor. They were the only shots fired by this group.

DarkStar dropped the youma. A wave off coldness had covered her. She looked at the corpses. One was nothing more than a smear on the tile floor. Two were cut into rapidly decaying chunks of flesh. The last one was slumped against some lockers, the remains of his head and shoulders still burning like some horrific candle.

She withdrew her power and the flames snuffed out. At least they stopped looking human once they died. DarkStar knew those shots would attract some attention. She sensed another group coming in from somewhere else in the building.

Kasumi crouched on the fifth floor roof her team had just rappelled onto. Their boots had just softly touched the tarred gravel that made up its surface. The access hatch to the roof was open, and a concerned voice was calling up from below. "Irving, what's going on?

She turned to Gabriel. Her left hand made a series of gestures before returning to her weapon. Behind his red goggles, Gabriel's eyes narrowed. He unclipped a grenade and readied it. Sophie and Aram slowly moved towards the hatch. Their footsteps were surprisingly silent considering their boots and the gravel surface.

"That helicopter sounded awfully close," the youma said, oblivious to the situation.

Gabriel released the grenade's spoon, held it for a second and a half, and neatly lobbed it through the hatch.

"Look, I'm coming up there," the youma said as he gripped the ladder that was bolted to the wall. He saw the green canister neatly fall towards him. It detonated roughly even with his head. The youma's body above the hips disappeared in the blast.

Aram waited a second before he jumped through the hatch. Sophie followed a few seconds later. They found themselves in the remains of a janitor's closet, and Aram found himself up to his ankles in the rotting remains of the youma. The soldier grunted at this, glad that his boots were thick and high enough for the job.

The concussion and shrapnel from the blast had destroyed the room. Several containers of cleaning supplies had ruptured. The chemical smell mixed unpleasantly with the stench of burnt meat and hair that emanated from the remains splattered all over the walls of the small room.

Sophie made her way to the door. A series of characters and a small image was being projected onto a corner of her goggles. She motioned for Aram to take position next to the door near the knob.

Sophie listened, waited, and fired. She depressed the trigger to her weapon, releasing two three-round bursts at spots indicated by her pattern scanner. The sound was suppressed quite effectively. The gun only gave off a slight metallic brushing sound.

Aram then tore the door open, ready to fire his gun. Aram had a 20mm grenade round chambered in his weapon. Both agents were carrying the same model gun.

The weapons Kasumi's team carried were rather unique. While having only one trigger guard and trigger, the weapons had two barrels, actions, magazine receivers, and magazines. The gun looked like a futuristic merging of a shotgun and an assault rifle. These weapons are quite similar to the Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW) being developed by the US military. The most notable changes are the use of specialized 7.62mm ammunition in the Company version as opposed to the 5.56mm of the US military version for the lower and forward assembly of barrel, action, and magazine, and an increased length of the barrels on this version. Company scientists found a larger bore diameter more conducive to specialized cartridges. Despite the use of lightweight and high-strength composites in the stock and other applicable locations, excessive weight was still an issue with this weapon.

Aram found the hallway empty save for two more decomposing Pattern Y's. Aram was relived to find that the Model 703, a Company enhanced version of the US Army M993 armor piercing 7.62mm cartridge, was sufficient. He motioned for Sophie to exit the room and sent the signal for Gabriel and Kasumi to come in from the roof. They had to clear the floor before proceeding downward.

The leader of Cell 6 groaned slightly. He had just told Frank the situation. All personnel on the fifth and third floors had failed to report in. An explosion had been heard from above and some gunshots had been heard below. Frank's response was particularly abrasive. His troops had been hit by these humans as well, and they were being held back.

Frank told the subordinate youma that the forces at his disposal were more than adequate to eliminate the intruders. Cell 6's leader was expected to kill those interfering fools and then move to the ground floor. With that statement, Frank disconnected up. The entire transmission had an annoying distortion to it, a stretchy reverb with maddening static.

The youma split his forces and gave his orders.

DarkStar heard and sensed the larger contingent of youma moving down the stairs towards her floor. She detected eight youma with the empowered ammunition that meant rifles, three with tubes that swirled with dark energy, two that were carrying something large and bulky — most likely a machinegun of some sort — and one that had something strapped to his back that connected to an object in his hands.

She waited for their point to reach the landing.

A particularly tall youma lead his squad down the stairs. He was in front, with two other riflemen on either side and a bazooka-man in the back. He cautiously moved forward. He thought he saw something moving in the shadows of the hallway in front of him. Cursing the blackout, he put a bit more pressure on his trigger and stepped forward.

Suddenly a red, black, and violet blur propelled itself towards him.

DarkStar surged at the forward knot of youma. As she slit the throat of the youma on the left, his finger spasmed on the trigger. The demon was quick to turn the gun towards the one in the center. She smiled as the bullets tore unusually large holes in the monster's body. Blasts of napalm turned the remaining two members of the squad into screaming hunks of burning meat.

She jumped up to the landing that sat in between the floors, and inside the middle group of youma. A series of filaments shot out of the spade-shaped fins on the tip of her long tail. Now comes the fun stuff, DarkStar thought as she tore into the surprised entities.

"Open fire!" the ranking youma in the rear group ordered as he watched the massacre. There were five men in that squad, three with Kalashnikovs, one with a bazooka, and one with a machinegun, but they might as well have had nothing. The girl spun around in an intricate movement, breaking legs and arms with her heavy boots and indiscriminately slicing through limbs, necks, and weapons with her claws. Her tail was like a hybrid of a chainsaw and a mace, whatever it touched with those squirming razor-sharp filaments was reduced to a ground, shredded slurry.

The last group was too late. DarkStar had finished with the middle group and was moving forward. Some of them actually managed to fire. It was panicky, uncontrolled, and hardly aimed. The red-headed demon found the limited fire easy to evade. Those that did shoot earned a drenching in her enhanced napalm for their troubles. DarkStar made quick work of the remains of the team.

The demonic magical girl paused to catch her breath. She had killed fourteen youma in roughly forty seconds.

As Gabriel and Kasumi finished clearing the fifth floor rooms, Aram had heard the enemy coming up the south stairs. Aram had waited for them to round the corner at the half floor landing before firing a 20mm fragmentary cartridge. The three of Pattern Y's quickly disintegrated in the blast. The four behind them were disoriented, wounded, and easily dispatched with another blast.

Sophie was at the north stairwell, where oddly there was not a secondary attack. The youma paused just around the corner of the south stairs, hiding behind the concrete wall that separated the two ends of the stairway. Kasumi came up to support Aram, while Gabriel went to the north stairwell and joined Sophie as they waited for a flanking attack that never came.

Kasumi motioned for Aram to quiet down. The woman listened then smiled. These creatures were pathetically noisy and disorganized. She pulled out a grenade and removed the pin. She gauged the distance and then tossed the explosive. It hit on the wall above the landing and bounced down the stairs. It exploded in the midst of the youma.

The sounds of screams, explosions, falling bodies, and sporadic gunfire echoed up from the stairs that Sophie and Gabriel were positioned at. Sophie's pattern scanner did not have the power of Gabriel's larger and heavier model, and thus only he was able to pick up what had happened. Below them, around a dozen weak signals of high-probability Pattern Y were eliminated by a strong signal of moderate-probability Pattern D and Silver.

"We may have found DarkStar. North stairwell, third or fourth floor," Gabriel said into his headset. It was the first words that any of them had uttered since landing on the roof. "Understood," he and Sophie said as they received their orders. The two agents then made their way down the stairs.

The demon looked up from her position just at the fourth floor landing. Two humans slowly walked down the stairs. They paused just above the middle bend in the stairwell.

"DarkStar!" one of them stated in a clear, yet quiet, voice.

"Yeah?" she replied, walking forward a bit.

"Confirmed," said the other one. Then they both rounded the corner. The maneuver was quick, professional, and allowed both of them to maintain clear lines of fire during the entirety of it.

DarkStar once again found herself facing down Company agents with guns. They still had the blocky assault rifles, although now they appeared to have another much larger barrel assembly attached on the top of their guns. They were in the same dark grey-and-green camouflaged body armor that she had watched Kasumi put on. Their goggles were now pulled down over their eyes. Their helmets extended down to cover their ears and the back of their heads, and the strangely luminescent goggles sat snugly in place. The only exposed skin they had was a bit of mouth that ran from above the chin to below the nose, not including the headset microphone. DarkStar could also see gas masks clipped onto their harnesses that would complete the skin coverage.

The demon watched as they approached. Their guns were no longer aimed at her, instead they were low and to the side. They walked up to her and then passed her. The one that was female motioned for DarkStar to follow. The demon could tell her gender by both her scent and how the armor fit her body.

Gabriel managed to keep his face neutral. He was quite relieved that the demon was on their side, or at least not their enemy. She might be in a miniskirt and heels, wearing makeup and jewelry, and showing a lot of cleavage, but she was also a demon. The horns, fangs, wings, and tail made that rather clear. Gabriel imagined that the girl would be drenched in blood if not for the accelerated decomposition of the enemy.

The solider pushed those thoughts aside. He covered Sophie as she peered into the forth floor hallway. At the other end Sophie could see the group of Pattern Y's that Aram and Kasumi were engaging. She clicked her headset two times. After receiving the one click reply, she and Gabriel moved into the hallway and each fired twice. The explosions of the four grenade rounds in the south stairwell were quickly followed by two more coming from Kasumi and Aram.

Sophie moved her selector switch to 7.62mm three-round burst, and watched for movement. After seeing none, she and Gabriel moved in. They found the jumbled, mushy remains of over a dozen youma pilled in and around the stairwell. Twisted bits of metal that were once weapons were scattered over the goop like nuts over pudding.

The 20mm grenade rounds had also caused some structural damage to the concrete walls and steps. There would have been more, if not for having most of the kinetic energy absorbed by the youma's shields and then their bodies.

Kasumi and Aram made their way down the cracked, stained, and organic-covered steps. Aram shook his head as his boots got covered in gore once again. Kasumi simply walked through the obstacle as if it were a bank of snow or some thick mud.

DarkStar watched as the four Company agents checked the all the rooms in the floor. Her own senses could not detect anything else on the floor, and she imagined that their pattern recognition devices were similarly blank. Despite this, they still swept the entire floor. "Floors five, four clean. Have met with DarkStar. Proceeding with next stage," Kasumi spoke into her headset after they had finished.

Dave looked at his second, Frank. He then gave his order. The situation was grim. They had just lost contact with the personnel guarding the hostages in the cafeteria. It happened shortly after all the teams in the third, fourth, and fifth floors had fallen silent. They were the last group outside of the basement to fall.

Now it was just them. Dave would not have been so worried if they could get the gate working again, but nothing seemed to work. None of them had the power to teleport without one. They were trapped.

Currently, they were able to defend their position, but their lines of defense were rapidly failing. Ten minutes ago, the humans were just charging at the basement stairs. Five minutes ago they broke through the youma line at a hallway juncture. Now they were at the last line of defense.

What should have been impenetrable barriers, bristling with deadly weapons and clear killing zones were only minor obstacles to these mysterious foes. Shields that had been carefully designed to protect against magical attacks and normal police weapons were frustratingly inadequate against whatever these humans were using.

Dave could hear the sounds of battle grow closer. That last line was being pounded by what sounded like a constant buzz of small arms fire, punctuated by several small and large explosions. Dave could hear the muted sounds of his troops being killed, and cringed. Not in sympathy for those he was responsible for, but out of fear of his life and fear of failure.

Dave made sure that the door to the gate room was locked and shielded with their remaining energy. He knew that the humans would eventually get in, and that this would only delay the inevitable.

Frank nodded in agreement. There was nothing else they could do. Might as well take out as many of those humans as possible. It was the most they could do. The hated Senshi had not even bothered to show up.

Usagi looked at the school from behind the police tape. She and her friends had walked to the school and had found the building quarantined. The blonde had also noticed the military vehicles and people dressed in combat gear. While there were no logos or identifying marks on them, it was obvious who these people were. They were agents of Willard International Consulting, the organization that Setsuna had warned them about.

Rei could sense the dark energy inside the building. Ami's computer could also pick up the disturbance and could narrow down what kind of enemy was in the school —youma. No one in the group needed to be told what they were doing in the school. It was obviously a trap.

"They had to have been watching the school to have known they were here," Minako observed.

"They might be watching us too," Makoto said as she looked at the WIC soldiers that manned the Humvees that were intermingled with the police cruisers. The eyes of the personnel constantly scanned the crowd but kept returning to those five girls. Makoto did not think she was being overly paranoid.

"What I want to know is, why youma? We killed them all," Usagi said as she looked at the building. Occasionally one of the windows would light up in a brief flash or extended collection of flashes.

"Maybe they were trapped somewhere or waiting for some reason," Rei shrugged.

"Should we go—?"

"No," Usagi said.


"It's almost over. By the time we got in, they'd be done. Besides, something's not right here, and I don't mean the youma. There's something more going on here."

"DarkStar?" Makoto asked.

"Murdock?" Ami inquired.

"Yes," Usagi replied to both questions.

"They're both here?" Ami asked as she looked around. Her eyes found Janet Fraiser, the other new girl in her and Minako's class. The auburn-haired girl looked at the school, shrugged, and turned away, pausing only to give a small wave to Ami.

Janet then walked away from the school. She disliked crowds. The girl found being lost in a sea of humanity to be quite claustrophobic. She stopped herself from bumping into Rod Ferris, another new transfer student. What was a rather handsome face was soured by an expression that, while subtle, was rather disturbing.

Ami watched Janet nearly bump into that other new kid Ferris. There was something about him that upset Ami. And Janet too, it seemed. The girl glared at Rod before walking away.

"Oh God, it's that creep Ferris," Rei said as the turned to what Ami was watching.

"For such a handsome guy, he's got something wrong with him," Minako said, relieved that they had something other than the school to look at.

"That's the problem. He knows he's good looking, and he uses that as a weapon," Usagi said in an eerily cold voice.

By now, Rod had noticed the girls staring at him. His eyes twinkled, and he gave a knowing smile. The teen then gave a strange little gesture that was part the forked fingers of the evil eye and part military salute. Ferris then chuckled and disappeared back into the crowd.

Setsuna watched Rod walk away. She was looking out the window of an empty fourth story office in a commercial building to the south of Furinkan. Her red eyes were looking into a powerful set of binoculars. The green-haired woman's face darkened as she watched the dusky teen and the auburn-haired girl.

Questions came at the Time Guardian. Why now? Why youma? Was this all a plot to get DarkStar to work with WIC? She had only vague notions of what Murdock was doing, let alone what he was planning.

He's playing with them, She thought as she replayed the meeting of Janet and Rod. Setsuna had seen something, something familiar. Then it hit her. Would he do something like that? Yes. If it suited his plans, he would. She thought carefully. After all, the Senshi now knew what Murdock looked like and what he had done. A new face would make him more palatable.

Hikaru Gosunkugi watched the school with a worried expression on his face. He sighed and turned away, ready to return home. He would watch the news and try to decipher what was active media bias, passive media ignorance, and organized disinformation.

He left the crowd behind and started walking down the street. Before he could get very far, he nearly ran into one of his fellow students. It was that other new guy, Rod Ferris. The teen had an amused and somewhat smug expression on his face. Hikaru supposed that Rod found his little trick quite entertaining. He mumbled some vague pleasantry and tried to walk away.

"You bring that book?" Rod asked, ignoring what Hikaru said.

"What book?"

"Oh, you know, that ancient tome you've been translating."

"Ah," Gosunkugi said. He had made no attempt at hiding the book. He had to get the job done a certain way. Disobedience was not something he was willing to entertain the thought of. It carried far too high a price.

"It's funny. There are very few who can even read, let alone translate, such a text. One wonders what someone with your linguistic skills is doing here." Rod's smile grew. Several of his gleaming white teeth were now exposed.

"Where are you getting at?" Hikaru asked. His face was carefully neutral.

"Let's just say there are certain associates of mine that wish to talk with the people that you work for," Rod stated, his tone rolling on the word "people".

"Oh? Is that all? I'd be more than happy to relay that to that particular group," Hikaru said with some amusement. He thought he saw surprise on Rod's face, but it was only there for an instant.

"Excellent," Ferris said as he left.

Kasumi loaded a fresh 20mm magazine. She was currently firing high explosive incendiary (HEI). The rest of her team was using armor piercing incendiary. Traveling with DarkStar, they made their way to the ground floor to reinforce the assault on the basement stronghold.

The M60 gunners were watching the head of the basement stairs from an oblique position. The air was heavy with burnt powder and the smell of something chemical and metallic. The alert had gone out, and all Company agents donned their gas masks.

Grenades were then lobbed down the stairs. Only some of them were fragmentary or concussive. Most of them were tear gas and smoke. Company agents then charged at the head of the stairs. Their sensor systems allowed them to see through the gas, and they fired several volleys of 20mm HEI at the youma defensive barrier before pulling back.

By now, the two M60's had been moved. It was a straight shot to the youma position at the base of the stairs. The youma's shield generators had been overloaded by the initial round of 20mm shells. This enabled the next waves of HEI to hit their targets unobstructed.

It was into this confused, wounded, and dying mass that the two machine gunners immediately opened fire. They had Model 723 7.62mm ammunition in their guns. It was halfway between the immense Lead Flower used by sharpshooters and the almost mundane Model 703 armor piercing.

The two gunners moved their sights over the enemy, looking for targets that were still viable. Finding none, they stopped firing. Eight Company agents then went down the stairs to secure the area. The two M60's were then moved to this new position. Kasumi's squad and another then went out to find the next youma formation.

As usual, Tatewaki Kuno had gone to school with his father. This allowed him to get in before his beloved Sunshine Saotome and Akane Tendo. Things had been proceeding normally, until they came.

Kuno was rounded up and placed in the cafeteria with the others. He noticed that the vile beasts had not frisked him, nor were they even watching him closely. It was then that Kuno came knew what he had to do.

The hostage operation was proceeding within acceptable limits. The cafeteria had been sealed off, and the agents were just about to strike when it happened. One of the hostages — a young man, he appeared to be the only student — shouted something and attacked one of the youma.

He had pulled a large boot knife out from a leg sheath and had jumped one of the Pattern Y's. The shield resisted the blade, but the teen eventually forced it through and stabbed between the ribs, piercing the youma's heart. Unfortunately, the delay gave the youma enough time to shoot the boy.

The Company agent-in-charge used this opportunity and gave the "go" code. The remaining guards were killed in a firefight that while brief, was not as clean as hoped. One of the agents that charged through the west door took a round in the chest and a grazing one in the arm. He also felt the wind from several rounds pass by him.

With the youma killed and the room secure, the call for medics went out. Two Company medics came into the room. One went to the agent, and was relieved that his armor had protected him. Even with the advanced materials in their protective armor, stopping a rifle bullet was tricky business, especially at this range. The agent had considerable bruising, several broken ribs, a sprained knee, and a fracture in his arm, but he would live. The same could not be said for the teen. He had been gut-shot. If it was a normal bullet, they might have had a chance. After all, they did have the helicopters to medivac him out.

But the youma were not using normal rounds. They had been enhanced with certain energies. The medic's eyes could see the boy slipping away, and his pattern scanner could detect the bullet. The medic then talked into her headset. The doctor might be able to help.

Section Chief Doctor Tofu Ono was surprised by the call in his headset. As he led his team into the building, he chastised himself for being caught off guard. It was rather likely that he would be called in before the shooting was over. There was always a chance of getting wounded.

The demonic Senshi allowed a small smile to form on her face. She had originally planned on watching the Company eliminate this defensive position just like the other two, but she had changed her mind. She had softened the target a bit using her own ranged attack.

In high numbers and in a closed space, the splash damage was quite impressive. The orbs were flung high and low, and were large and small. Soon the youma were trapped by a crawling barrier of white and violet flames.

Returning fire was not an option for the youma in the front. Their weapons had melted onto their arms and hands. Their ammunition started to ignite, turning their weapons into crude grenades that did further damage.

The shrieking monsters were then pushed back. Their combusting bodies fell on the line behind them. Once again the youma lines had broken. The cowering monsters found themselves being covered in the flaming liquid.

DarkStar's eyes flared as she felt the last of the defenders die. Her flames, having nothing interesting left to consume, stopped. The magical girl looked down the corridor. Two burning orbs were being held in her hands. The hallway ended with a metal door. Its edges glowed slightly. She made the two balls of napalm vanish. As she walked forward, her eyes scanned the burned bodies piled in the end surprisingly wide hallway.

Kasumi walked up behind her. DarkStar could hear that someone was talking to her through the girl's headset. "Understood," Lieutenant Tendo stated into her microphone. "DarkStar."

The redhead turned to face the Company agent.

"Nice going there." Kasumi said with genuine admiration. The girl had the power, and the self-control to use it well. "Inside is the last of them. You want 'em?"

DarkStar shrugged. Then she nodded.

"Okay, we'll open the door for you," Kasumi said as she waved some agents over to her. One was Steven Deschain, a demolitions specialist. Deschain inspected the door and took some readings. Like most doors, this one opened into the room. From behind his matte-black gasmask, Deschain smiled. The door could be bypassed easily enough. "Breaching rounds," he said, pointing to the door's hinges and deadbolt lock.

Gabriel pulled a single 20mm cartridge out of a pocket that until now still had its original four and loaded it in his weapon. The round had a relatively thin copper jacket that upon impact would peel back revealing a heavy zinc core. He then moved off to the side, while pointing the upper muzzle of his gun at the lower hinge. Three other agents put in identical loads and took similar positions.

Deschain then secured a small black device on the middle of the door. Stenciled on the flat side that was stuck to the door were the words "Front Toward Enemy". Similar in concept to the jammers used by the Company, this object was a Model E53 Burst Disruptor. The device charged a very powerful capacitor that released a specifically patterned burst of energy designed to weaken and destroy energy shields.

Deschain then wired a detonator to the device and backed away and to the side. He gave a nod to Kasumi. "Go?"

DarkStar looked at the door. She could see the shield and had a fair idea as to what Deschain's device would do to it. The Agents would blow out the hinges and locks and that machine would disable the shield. DarkStar supposed that if she hit the door in the right place… Yes, that would work. There was only one thing missing. "Take out the lights," the redhead said as she pointed to the battery-powered emergency lights, some of which were still functioning.

Kasumi nodded and positioned agents to take out the remaining lights. "What about the lights inside the room?" Kasumi asked.

"I'll handle it," DarkStar said as she walked down the hall. She turned and looked at the door. The wires on the device were tucked out of the way. The guns were in position and not a problem.

DarkStar inhaled and sprinted towards the door. As she leapt up, Deschain detonated the device and the Company agents fired their weapons. The redhead's high-heeled boots slammed into the metal door. Without anything to keep it in the jamb and the majority of the redhead's force above its center of gravity, the door tipped over and skidded back.

Sailor DarkStar found herself standing on the door in the middle of a storage room. The youma in the room found themselves plunged into darkness. The emergency lights in the hallway were shot out, and DarkStar had released a number of small spheres, destroying the room's emergency light and a few monitors and stationary lamps that had been hooked up to a generator.

"Fire!" Frank shouted and shot his gun at where he thought the intruder was. After firing a burst, he reached for the remote control in his pocket. Now was the time. It looked like he would be able to kill one Senshi at the very least.

DarkStar had turned to the youma that had given the order. She saw him pull out something and reacted instantly. Two orbs of napalm rather messily amputated his arms at the elbows. The demon then closed in and turned around, grazing the youma's chest with her tail. The filaments sliced several of Frank's organs into irregularly shaped chunks. Mortally wounded, the creature slumped to the floor.

The demon was working on her next targets. The youma were firing blindly and were easily destroyed. Quickly it was down to two left. One was disemboweled just above the hips to the spine with DarkStar's claws, while simultaneously the other found her head diced by the redhead's tail.

DarkStar stopped and looked around the room. Everyone was dead. Several Company agents then entered the room. The night vision systems being projected by their goggles allowed them to see the interior of the room. Sophie found the control in the remains of Frank's hands and showed it to Deschain.

Kasumi finished the inspection and called the C3. "All targets have been dispatched. I repeat, all targets have been dispatched. Securing the area. Request Forensic Pathology section. Really? He's already here? Understood," Kasumi said into her headset, while talking with Stillwater.

"Interesting," Deschain said looking at the inactive gateway leaning on one wall. "We'll need some people from S and T here too," the demolitions expert said, referring to Science and Technology section.

DarkStar shook her head as she looked around the room. Scattered on the floor were half a dozen piles of rapidly decaying organic matter. She took a few breaths. The redhead could sense that the building had been cleared of nonhuman entities, excluding herself.

Despite the exertion of the last fifteen minutes, Sailor DarkStar felt fine. Actually, better than fine. She felt wonderful. Feeding will do that to a demon. Youma might be weak soulless constructs, but they had a bit of energy in them, especially if one managed to get a fair number of them.

Recalling her performance, the demonic magical girl came up with thirty-two. There were four when she entered the building, fourteen in the stairs, eight in the hallway, and six in the storage room. It was quite the rush. DarkStar then looked at Kasumi and shuddered. The agent seemed pleased with herself. It would seem that DarkStar was not the only one invigorated by combat.

She did that not because the girl disturbed her, but because of how similar that would make the Company agent to her. DarkStar put her hand to her forehead and massaged her horns. It felt quite good and helped her clear her mind.

Gabriel raised an eyebrow as he watched the demon. Her tail had retracted its filaments and was swishing back and forth in a way that was reminiscent of when his sister rubbed her cat's belly after dinner. The then young man turned to Kasumi. "Orders?"

DarkStar walked down the hallway. She was looking for an exit. She then passed the cafeteria. A pair of Company agents flanked the open doors. From behind their red-tinted goggles, they watched the demon. Most of the hostages had been moved to the gymnasium for processing. The Company agents wanted to be sure that they were clean.

The redhead looked inside the room. In the center of the room was a cluster of people. Jacob was standing near the Drake, talking softly. Below them, a team of medics was working on two people. One was a Company agent sitting on the floor and leaning on an overturned table. The armor over his chest and arms had been taken off and a medic was tending his wounds. The man seemed in reasonable sprits and was calmly chatting with the female medic.

The other casualty seemed to be in worse shape. DarkStar could make out the medical team franticly working on a person. She could also sense an infection within him. Curious, she entered the room. Kasumi, who was following DarkStar, motioned for the agents at the door to stand down.

DarkStar was able to identify the wounded person rather quickly. "Kuno?" she asked, looking at the gravely-wounded teen.

"Brave, stupid boy," the Drake said as he looked at his son. Jacob put his hand on the Drake's shoulder. When one works for the Company, one sees death in all its gruesome glory.

"What happened?" the magical girl asked.

Jacob gave a brief summary of the incident.

DarkStar shook her head. Kuno was a damn fool. "Can't anything be done?"

"No," Dr. Tofu stated evenly as he worked on the doomed teen. "The bastards tainted their bullets. We're lucky he's the only one. At least I don't think he'll have to be disposed of." The doctor was quite familiar with death. Although, most of those he worked on were not human and were already quite dead. His voice was detached and clinical, save for his last two words. It was then that DarkStar noticed the one of the nearby Company agents had his weapon pointed at the boy's head.

It was then that Tatewaki's eyes cleared slightly and focused on the scantily-dressed girl. "Sunshine," he croaked out.

DarkStar blinked at this. Murdock had told her that this form had some kind of identity cloaking. He had seemed partially amused at how it was able to provide some protection for the Senshi's identities.

"He's in shock and on a lot of painkillers. He might be hallucinating." Tofu said as he checked the teen's pulse.

DarkStar looked at Kuno and shuddered. While she had no healing powers per se, she did have an ability that might spare his life. She did not know much about it. Murdock had seemed oddly reluctant to explain that attribute of her demonic form.

"I think I can save him," DarkStar said as she watched Jacob sigh and turn to the Drake.

"But at a considerable cost," Jacob said as he looked at the Drake. He had a fair idea as to what DarkStar was suggesting.

"If it'll save my boy," the Drake said.

"Ask him, then," Jacob stated to DarkStar.

"Colonel, he's in no condition to make such a decision," Tofu protested.

"If he regrets it later on, I'll shoot him myself," Jacob said coldly.

DarkStar shook her head in revulsion. "Kuno, it's me."


"Um, yeah. Look, I can help you, but you won't be the same," DarkStar said as she knelt down near the teen.

Kuno nodded slowly and then mumbled, "My life for you."

Jacob ordered the medical team to pull back. He then looked at DarkStar and sighed. Tofu checked to make sure his equipment was still recording. This would be the closest he had ever been to an event of this nature.

DarkStar leaned down towards the dying teen. She opened her mouth, her four elongated canines almost seemed to hum in anticipation. Her wings unfolded and covered the teen's body as her teeth made contact with Kuno's neck. While the demon's teeth injected fluid into the teen's bloodstream, the redhead put her hands on his chest and poured specifically patterned energy into his body.

She could feel her blood and her magic working in him. The flesh they came into contact with shifted and changed. The body was being shaped in accordance with some design that DarkStar was only unconsciously aware of. She watched as his wound was healed and the destructive magics were removed, but that was only a side effect of the greater changes going through him.

Jacob turned away and used his headset to order a helicopter to land outside the school. He then had a brief, whispered conversation with the Drake, who despite his long association with the Company could not quite believe the day's events.

DarkStar folded her wings and stood up. A little bit of blood dribbled down her chin. She looked at Kuno and stared, while breathing in short irregular bursts. "Oh god. What have I done?" she asked with mute horror.

Tofu went to the teen and took some readings. "Might live now," he muttered before turning to Jacob. "I recommend immediate transport back to base." The doctor then ordered the medics to unfold two stretchers

"The helicopter is landing now." Jacob replied as the two casualties were moved onto litters. "You coming?" he asked DarkStar.

"Damn straight. I'm not going to let you kill him and dissect him," the demon said as she looked at what she had created.

"Interesting choice of pronouns," Jacob said, looking at the teen on the floor.

"Toronto Trust Tower pad number three is cleared for landing," a communications officer in the C3 said to a Company helicopter. The aircraft was a heavily modified UH-60A BlackHawk that was part of a group purchased from the United States on "military surplus" several years before. It was quite a different machine from the one that had rolled out of the Sikorsky Aircraft plant in Stratford, Connecticut.

Stillwater looked at the large screen in the front of the room and smiled. The operation had been a success. The Pattern Y's had been dispatched, and the next phase was already underway. Teams from Forensic Pathology section were already on scene analyzing the battle and collecting evidence. The nature of a Pattern Y's body made analyzing their corpses nearly impossible, including this batch which seemed more solid than expected.

They had even bagged another interdimensional gate to examine, and this one seemed to be undamaged. Stillwater knew he had DarkStar to thank for that. They had a fair idea of why the Pattern Y's had attacked the school. It had also confirmed their suspicions that the Pattern Silvers were attending Furinkan. The Company also had a fair idea of how these creatures intended to kill the Senshi. Pattern Y's were known for their ability to possess and control people.

There were still several unanswered questions. Where were these creatures hiding, and why did they choose now to attack? Someone had sent them here with orders to create an ambush for the Pattern Silvers, but who?

Stillwater reminded himself to write a letter for Chase's family. If not for him, they would not have known about the situation at the school. It was a shame that his relatives would never know the exact details of his death or what his job really was, but dying protecting the innocent from terrorists was close enough to the truth.

The commander made a mental note to look into the cover story that Public Relations section was cooking up. They were going to go with the old terrorist standby. It was simple, believable, and essentially true. That these terrorists were not human would be left out, as would the organization that had eliminated them. A special group within the Canadian military would take the credit for the operation.

Aside from Agent Samuel Chase, they had only taken one other casualty, but he was expected to recover fully. His armor would be sent to the Company lab that designed it and examined by the scientists that worked there.

There was one other wounded. Stillwater had watched most of what had happened in real-time through the headset cameras and had just reviewed the recordings. It was a troubling situation. They had just let a Pattern D turn a human into a servitor life-form. There was some consolation in that the boy's father was already associated with the Company and would be easy to keep quiet.

Stillwater shook his head. Whenever nonhumans worked with the Company, problems always arose. He had secretly hoped that the Pattern Silvers would be close enough to human, but that was before he learned about Sailor DarkStar.

WIC Toronto-A was a District Support class facility. Included in the underground complex was series of medical rooms. Designed primarily for laboratory work, they could be used for patients as well. One of the rooms was currently in use.

"Moron," the demonic magical girl said. The agent in the room were unsure if she was talking to herself or if she was talking to the person in the bed.

"I really don't need this anymore," she said looking at her miniskirt. Sailor DarkStar closed her eyes and powered down. "Damn it," the girl known as Sunshine Saotome said. She was wearing her Furinkan uniform. "Stupid fucking fuku," she muttered as she walked to the room's attached bathroom. That the fuku she was wearing now was much less revealing and embellished than the previous one she was in was small consolation.

The demoness looked at her reflection and blinked. The pale girl with her crimson hair looked somehow different. It was her eyes. The violet flecks in her blue eyes seemed to be more numerous than they were yesterday. As she stared at her face, her corneas seemed to flare. She shook her head and splashed herself with water from the faucet.

Ranma looked at his reflection and sighed in relief. He was back to normal. It was good to be human and male. On that note Ranma turned back to the entity on the bed.

"Oh shit. What have I done? How did I do this? Why?" Ranma muttered as he walked over to the bed, and for the first time noticed the changes.

The Company agent in the room was a medic from Operations section. He was dressed in a grey jumpsuit and had a sidearm, but his job was simply to watch the patient, who was just starting to move. "Doctor, she's getting up," he said into his headset.

The person in the bed was not human, and not male. What had been Tatewaki was now a girl with a lithe, attractive form. Her hair was the same length, only now it was black with violet highlights. She also sported two small red horns on her forehead. Her eyes suddenly flipped open. Ranma saw that they were now a deep blood-colored red.

"Mistress?" the person in the bed said, in a clearly feminine voice, as she looked at Ranma. Confusion was on her face.

I turned him into a demon-chick. Not good. Ranma thought as he backed away

The demoness sniffed the air and the confusion on her face increased somewhat. "You are her. At least you smell like her. Tell me, are you Sunshine in male form?"

"My name is not Sunshine! You call me that again, and I'll finish the job those pathetic monsters started!" Ranma shouted. He stared at the shocked girl. "Well yeah," he then admitted.

The girl nodded. "Mistress!" she cried as she leapt out of the bed and clung to Ranma. She also had a pair of wings now. Black with violet tips, they spread out and wrapped around Ranma's shoulders.

Ranma froze and was about to enjoy the position, before he mentally chastised himself. This is not a hot chick! This is Kuno, you fool! "Get off of me!" he ordered the demon girl.

"Why? You saved me," the girl asked, her face only a few inches from Ranma's.

"You were dying, you idiot!" Ranma said. He then noticed that her tail was wrapping itself around his leg, and that the demon was not wearing any clothes.

"What the hell is going on here?" Dr. Tofu asked as he ran into the room.

"She — he — won't get off!" Ranma shouted.

"Maybe if you tell her again?" the medic stated with a small smile. Being in the Company was a lot of work, but at least it was never boring. Although in other circumstances, being this close a demoness would have not been fun.

"Get off now," Ranma said while staring down the nude demon. "And what happened to your clothes?" he demanded.

The girl whimpered as she untangled herself from Ranma. "The hospital gown they gave me was very itchy. I'm sorry, Mistress," she said as she looked down at the floor.

"Don't call me that. I'm a guy." Ranma then turned to Tofu. "Okay, being a demon I get, but why's he a girl? And put something on!" he shouted to the demon.

"There could be several reasons. Your species of demon might be one that has only females. Your curse may have done something to make him a girl. You might have done it subconsciously as a way to punish him for hitting on you," Tofu said as he walked over to one of the scanners in the room.

"Well, that's just great! Now I've got a demonic girl after me," Ranma said as he looked at Kuno.

"You don't like me?" the demon asked as her, black-finned violet tail swished back and forth.

"Well, not really," Ranma admitted. The girl had conjured a black bikini. It was not much, but it was better than being nude.

"But I love you," she said as she chewed on her lower lip.

"Why did I have to do this?" Ranma said very unsettled. He can act like a guy when he's a girl. Why can't Kuno? Was Kuno that deranged?

"Because you didn't want to let him die," Tofu said after looking at a pattern scanner. "Pattern D, Class 2," the forensic pathologist announced. "Not bad for a newly born minion, not bad at all. That she's not trying to kill us is a big plus, too."

"Well, now what?" Ranma asked.

"What do you mean?" Tofu asked.

"Aren't you going to try and blackmail me? I did turn a human into a demon."

Tofu smirked. "If we had a problem with you doing that, we would have tried to stop you. You saved his life."

"Oh, you guys suck as a scary secret organization."

"We try," Tofu said. He then placed a call to the Drake. "Tatewaki's awake. Looks healthy, as far as I can tell. Okay." He then turned to Kuno. "Well, your father is coming to see you."

"My father?" the girl blinked.

"You do remember being human right?"

"Of course," the girl replied. "It's just kinda embarrassing."

"Okay, I'm leaving," Ranma said.

"But Master, you can't!"

"Why not?"

"Um, I love you."

"You told me that before. It's still creepy," Ranma stated before walking out of the room. He had to get away from Kuno. There was something wrong about her. Something that made Ranma want to pour lye in his eyes to burn away the bad thoughts.

Jacob was in Stillwater's office. They were sitting on opposite sides of a brushed steel-framed, glass-topped table. Several files on the day's operations were spread out on the table. Displayed on a nearby wall were several graphs and video images.

"That went well," Jacob said.

"You think so?" Stillwater remarked.

"We only lost one agent. It's a shame about Chase, but if not for his help, things would have been much messier. We also got DarkStar to fight with us. Granted, Ranma still dislikes us, but as long as he'll fight as DarkStar, things should work within acceptable parameters."

"And this incident with the Kuno boy?"

"He was dying. Remember those morals that Ranma's got? DarkStar had to do something. That Kuno changed sex too is strange. Section Chief Tofu has some ideas about that, but until he gets more information he can't really say."

"At least the secrecy from the Drake can be counted on," Stillwater admitted.

"It has been tough for him; both his son and his school."

"It could have been much worse."

"Yes, but we stopped them," Jacob carefully looked at his old friend. "Something's bothering you. Is it the demons?"

"Only a bit. We've had NH's working with us before, and it's always caused some problems. But there's something else that worries me."

"Not many," Jacob commented referring to the nonhumans.

"Our practice is to deter recruiting in that field," Stillwater knew that Jacob was a recruiter a few years ago.

"You're afraid that we're being used as pawns," Jacob said with some amusement.

"Not us. You know me. I'm past caring about such things. The Company is another matter. Our organization will not be used."

"Yet you expect us to use the Pattern Silvers," Jacob stated. While he had no problem with their plans, he would not let Stillwater indulge in hypocrisy.

"Point. Although consider their ultimate plans."

"We do not have full verification of their intention to resurrect their empire," Jacob stated. The Company had done extensive research and funded several expeditions in their quest to learn more about early-human and pre-human civilizations. One of them matched what they knew about the Pattern Silvers.

"Exactly. For the moment we are on the same side."

"If you say so."

The Senshi had returned to their apartment. Usagi had called Setsuna, but the time guardian was not answering her phone. They were calm about that. As a group, the girls were used to attacks on them and having an unreachable time guardian.

The television was turned to the news. Understandably, the story was being covered by the major networks. However given that the situation was resolved quickly and without any hostages dying, it did not warrant excessive coverage.

There was a single loud knock on the door. Makoto got up to answer it.

"Mako-chan—" Rei started, but was interrupted by another knock at the door.

By now, the brunette was at the apartment's entrance. As she put her eye to the peephole, Rei got a vision. She saw someone holding the barrel of a handgun over the fisheye in the middle of the door. She then imagined Makoto putting her eye to the peephole. The brunette's confusion at her inability to see the hallway was then cut short by the gun being fired.

"It's two guys. They're a few years older than us," Makoto said as she looked into the corridor, breaking Rei's fantasy. Makoto could see two men standing in front of the door. Both were dressed in boots, slacks, button-down shirts, and black windbreakers. One was thin with short black hair and the other was average in frame with even shorter brown hair.

"We're from the Company," the one with brown hair said as he pulled a wallet out of his jacket. He flipped it open, and held the plastic sleeve his identification card was in up. The slim card was bordered in black and had "Willard International Consulting" lettered dark-blue on the top with the "Investigative Division" under it. Aside from the letters W, I, and C on the logo, those were the only words on that side of the card. The rest of the ID was filled with several long strings of numbers placed in groups of five. The man's picture was off to the left side of the card, next to a strange gray logo that was a composite of a globe and several other bizzare symbols.

The other agent had pulled his ID and was holding it up. "We'd like to talk to you about what happened today," he stated as he removed his sunglasses.

"Really, now?" Makoto said loud enough that the agents could hear her.

"Let them in," Usagi said.

"What?" Makoto asked. "Um, okay," she said as she opened the door.

"Thanks," the black haired one said as he entered the apartment. "I'm Gabriel, and this is Aram," he said, pointing to his companion while Aram closed the door behind himself.

"So you girls are the Sailor Senshi?" Aram asked in a calm voice.

"Oh yeah, that's them," Gabriel said after seeing the girl's reaction to the question. These were the same five girls that had come from Japan, and their hair colors and styles matched the limited profiles of the Senshi that had been developed from their Tokyo observation team. Before today it was only a high probability that these girls were Pattern Silvers. Now it was almost certain.

"As you know, there was an incident at the school today," Aram said after he looked around the apartment living room.

"We believe that you five, and possibly Ranma Saotome, also known as Sunshine Saotome and Sailor DarkStar, were the targets of a group of youma. They took over the school early this morning. We had an undercover agent who managed to alert us early on."

"You had people already in the school. Why?" Ami asked, interrupting him.

"To spy on the Pattern Silvers. That would be you, girls," Aram said in a matter-of-fact tone.

"That's creepy. Why are you spying on us?"

Gabriel looked at Aram and shrugged. "We're not really sure. The Commander and the Colonel seem to think that the Company really needs the Pattern Silvers for these Toronto Operations."

"Oh, so you guys are just henchmen," Rei said.

"Well, we're in Operations Section, so that puts us relatively high up, but yeah, we're basically grunts. Just this morning, Aram was up to his knee in youma guts. Twice," Gabriel said, smiling and exaggerating slightly.

Aram shrugged. He'd had time to shower, and Pattern Y's dissolved quick enough.

"Wait a minute. When you came in here, you asked us if we were the Senshi. But if you didn't know who we are, how did you know to spy on the school?"

"Simple. Ranma was already going to that school."

"Technically as Sunshine," Gabriel interrupted.

"That's irrelevant," Aram said with exasperation. "Curious, we then looked into the transfer records and saw you five. There was a very good chance that you were the Pattern Silvers. It looks like we were not the only ones to make such a connection," Aram continued.

"Why are you telling us all this?"

"The Commander thought you deserved to know what really happened… You were targeted by them, after all."

"Okay. How many of them were there?" Ami asked.

"Roughly a hundred Pattern Y's. Most of them Level 3 or lower. Getting an exact number is hard because they tend to dissolve rather quickly."

"These ones were surprisingly juicy, though. They had blood and organs. Our pathologists believed that these guys had spent a while living as humans," Gabriel said.

"Where'd they all come from? We defeated them a while ago," Minako said, turning to look at the two men.

"We don't know. They did have a pretty clever plan to get in," Aram stated. He then gave a brief summary of how the youma had disabled the security system, gained entrance to the building, activated a gateway, and started shipping their weapons and men over. "Right now we're tracking their weapons. They look like old Soviet surplus. It seems likely that they were going to make their move once school started. They would have turned the students and faculty against you," Aram added.

"Although the fools would have been better off if they had done some combat training too. I guess they didn't consider that people might be shooting back at them," Gabriel observed.

"A hundred youma using empowered weapons, and a couple hundred humans that had been turned into zombies, possibly armed too. That might have been some trouble," Ami said.

"It gets better," Gabriel said, smiling slightly. "They had an impressively powerful bomb in their gate room. It looks like they planned to detonate it if things ever went south."

Makoto nodded. Youma were never ones to value their lives.

"It looks like you guys managed to prevent that bomb from going off," Minako said. There had been nothing in the news about an explosion. That would certainly have upped the coverage.

"Well, we had a lot of help from DarkStar. She got a third of the kills," Aram said.

"Wait, Ranma's working with you? She said you tried to kill her," Ami said, using female pronouns because she had only met Ranma in female form.

"I guess Pluto really pissed him off?" Rei said.

"Tricking a guy into a fuku would do that," Minako stated.

"But that's Murdock's fault," Ami said.

"Ranma thinks that it's Pluto's," Usagi countered.

"I guess we should go," Gabriel said as he put his sunglasses back on.

"You're just leaving?" Usagi said.

"Unless you have any other questions?" Aram stated as he walked to the door.

"I don't suppose you know what's going on here?"

"Probably less than you do," Aram allowed.

"So the enemy, whoever it is, could know where we live?"

"We were able to figure it out," Gabriel said, simply.

"That's not good."

"You want us to have some people watch this place?" Aram asked as he put his hand on the knob.

"You're not already watching us?" Rei skeptically asked.

"We have a strike team in the area that's monitoring the police transmissions, but we can place them closer if you want," Aram stated as he opened the door.

"No thanks," Usagi said.

"Well, here's our card," Gabriel said as he handed one over. In top left corner was that strange logo. The star with the flame wreathed eye in the center was especially creepy, and oddly familiar to Ami. "Willard International Consulting — providing definite solutions for clients with special situations" was written next to the Company logo. Below that was a phone number.

"Um, thanks," Usagi said.

"Right," Gabriel said as he walked into the hallway. Aram followed and closed the door behind him.

"That was strange," Rei observed.

"We need to find Ranma," Usagi stated. "There's more going on here than what they told us."

The research scientist looked out the window. The view was of pleasant rolling hills. Dairy farms could be seen off into the distance. The cows looked like white-and-black mites crawling on lumpy green linoleum. The woman sighed. It was a shame her office was underground. At least the designers of the complex decided to make at least one of their cafeterias above ground.

The woman picked at her lunch. The report was late. In the eight years she had been getting it, the report had never been late. Often it had little or no information, things like a police report or a bank account being accessed. Other times there was more substantial information, and once in a great while a photograph. The most recent was a photograph of her son in a Kobe newspaper that was taken two years ago.

Like many in this organization, there was something that drove her, something intensely personal. Like many it had to do with losing her family, although in her case her family was still alive. The woman felt confident that the Company was the best people to find them, despite what her husband seemed to want. They were also the only private investigative organization with the resources to conduct global searches.

Finding people that had gone missing under strange circumstances was what the Company's mission was back in the beginning, back when the WIC stood for Willard Investigative Company. It was still an important part of the organization. Despite this, people were often never found.

"Afternoon, Doctor," said a younger man wearing a lab coat similar to the woman's. He had hair parted on the left, slim glasses, and a few freckles.

"Don't call me that, Aida. You know I'm not medical," she told the junior researcher.

"Sorry," Aida replied. He was still working on his doctorate. It was a shame it would be automatically classified secret by the Japanese government, but there was no way around it.

"Still going with the nine millimeter?" she observed while looking at the Beretta on his hip.

"I find a heavier weapon a pain to wear."

Kids these days, she thought. "Tell me, when do you go on field rotation?"

"In five weeks."

"Trust me. When you're out there with those Operations grunts, you'll want as much firepower as you can carry."

Aida nodded. He knew this, but he was working in the lab now. The only reason he carried here was because of the eccentric regulations from Command. If fighting broke out in the heart of the Third Operations Centre, then the caliber of his gun would be least of his concerns.

"I thought you were going over that batch of AN-6 body armor we got from Germany?" the woman asked. Her doctorate was in Materials Science. Her specialty was in high-strength composites. She had been an instrumental part of the Company's next generation of armor. She had just gotten a report of one of her vests stopping a point-blank Kalashnikov round. She could not wait to take apart that one and see how it worked. All the range tests indicated that that particular bullet going at that particular speed would tear through the armor.

"The fire-damaged ones from Operations Centre Two? I had just finished the second one when Commander Akagi told me to find you."

"Okay. What does she want?" the woman asked. She was on good terms with the of Science and Technology head.

"She told me to tell you that they have found him. He's alive. Expect a meeting," Aida recalled.

"My god. That's why the report was late," the woman said in awe. After all these years, the Company found him. She idly wondered how her husband had screwed up and what they were doing to make sure he would not escape, or if they even knew where he was.

"Good for you," Aida said. He knew about the woman's loss and it was nice to see things go well for her.


To be continued.

Author's Notes: Thanks to Joe Fenton, Jerry Starfire, Black Dragon, and Larry F for prereading.

And also thanks goes to the Military Analysis Network for their excellent weapons information. (http://www.fas.org/man/index.html)

Chapter 5
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Last revision: May 21, 2007

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