The Return

A Ranma Sailor Moon fic thingy.

By Sunshine Temple

 

Naturally, I own neither Sailor Moon nor Ranma. So here's the disclaimer

 

Ranma 1/2 and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon belongs to Naoko Takeuchi, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC.

 

Previous chapters and other works can be found at my fanfiction website.

http://jtemple.florestica.com/

 

Temporary Backup Site.

http://www.fukufics.com/fic/

 

 

Other website Temple of Ranma's Senshi Seifuku

http://fukufics.com

 

C&C is appreciated.

 

Book 2:  Betrayed Consequences

Chapter 11:  Investments and Wagers

Formerly:  Retain and Retrain ii

 


            Corvine looked around the circular table. The other council members were present and the doors to the chamber had just been locked. He cleared his throat. "It appears that Fortson's entire force was wiped out." His grey eyes watched the assembled men and women shift nervously.


            "There were over three hundred men there, the bulk of the Assembly's forces," Catharine Longmans, the youngest looking person at the table, stated. "Well, how many casualties did they get?"


            "Yes, that mountain was a death trap. For all his flaws, Fortson knew how to dig in." a stout bald man named Futhark admitted.


            "I would guess his little ambush had to have failed, given that the mountain was attacked," Catharine stated sourly.


            "That 'little ambush' fared better than the mountain defense." Corvine shook his head. "We killed some of their men, then they responded by blowing up the entire base. Surface defenses were obliterated. Still the mountain would have held but..."


            "DarkStar survived the initial attack?" Futhark asked.


            "Sources confirm that she is still alive. We can only conclude that something went... wrong in the ambush. WIC and the demons learned of the base and counterattacked."


            "Knocking them out before they could attack." Catharine picked up a glass of water and stared at it. "But Fortson had planned for that. Those mercenaries should have died by the score trying to storm that fortress."


            Corvine kept his eyes from rolling. "That's why they didn't. As I said, they obliterated the surface defenses.  The cover story is of missile testing in the area. Stories of war games being conducted with the military."


            Catharine leaned forward. "They had the army attack it? Artillery? Planes?" She paused and whispered briefly to the man on her right. "But you said the mountain would have held even if the top had been blown apart. What happened?"


            "We are still researching the means that they got in. I'm certain DarkStar was a significant factor."


            "If she survived, she would fight there," Futhark stated. "History is our guide here. DarkStar never looked down her nose on support. She's not too prideful to accept help."


            "Especially when it comes to killing her enemies," Corvine agreed. "Yes, WIC uses its technology to rain fire down and then sends in the demons to mop up."


            "There were two Inquisitors there," Catharine stated.


            Corvine did little to hold his disdain. "Obviously, they were insufficient."


            "Same as the Assembly itself," Futhark sighed. "What of other assets? Fortson wasn't handed everyone was he?"


            "There's our remaining Inquisitors, the other Bishops, a smattering of fathers, and some green acolytes left. Everyone else was pushed over to Fortson," Corvine said after consulting his notes.


            "Everything was wagered on this operation? That does not speak well." Jameson, who until now had been silent, finally stated.


            Corvine turned to the robed man. "Risks have to be taken, and that is what the Assembly of Man is for. We had tried eliminating DarkStar and her spawn, but that required progressively larger operations. We still had to weaken the WIC presence there. Fortunately, Fortson came up with a plan that minimized the risks."


            "He still failed." Jameson stated.


            "And that's because this council underestimated our enemy. Fortson did his best, he planned well, and even kept it secret. Of course those converted acolytes were convenient motivation. Always good to get some revenge for inspiration."


            "And it happens so frequently with demons," Catharine noted.


            "The situation is even worse," Futhark added, glancing at Jameson. "Several monasteries and other facilities have recently been targeted."


            "WIC," Corvine ventured. "Fortunately, most of those places have been emptied."


            "Yes, the Assemblymen there were already killed. In one day we have lost an army."


            Jameson raised his head. "Perhaps that is inevitable. It has become clear that our catspaws have become inadequate. Both Corvine's toy soldiers and Catharine's spies have proved insufficient to achieve our goals."


            Corvine stared at his notes.


            "What? My group has been bringing in fresh information and is the only one still on target!" Catharine calmed herself, and rubbed her eyes. "We had people in place, our end was going fine," she said in a calmer voice. "I have only had one operation exposed and burned."


            "Yes, it was your asset that started it all," Futhark dryly remarked.


            "It is time to suggest... alternative means," Jameson smoothly stated. "While there is still a part for our conventional means," he gave curt nods to Corvine and Catharine, "it is also obvious that our current roster is insufficient for our future plans. Do we agree on this?"


            Corvine reluctantly nodded.


            "I still think there is hope in the intelligence angle," Futhark said, to Catharine's surprise.


            "Things are positive, but this is a long term plan... and the Company and DarkStar would still be a problem."


            "Yes, our lack of decisive action has allowed DarkStar to become a problem," Jameson said looking to Corvine. "Did she not start out as a lone demon easy to eliminate by a team of Fathers?"


            "That is a supreme underestimation of her ability," Catharine stated. "But yes, we should have destroyed her from the start." She turned to Jameson "So what is your plan?"


            "Recently my assistant has been courting a group that can provide us with the manpower and expertise that we so painfully require."


            "Expense?" Futhark asked.


            "Is that really relevant?" Jameson asked. "If we fail at this the world will be destroyed."


            "At best, at worst it'll fall under the complete domination of monsters," Corvine added.


            "Yes, it is our responsibility, but if we spend all of our resources now we will not have them for later," Futhark cautioned.


            "I'll show you what these clients have to offer; I'm certain you'll agree they are well worth the money," Jameson assured with a little smile.

 

***************

 


            "And so missing out on his mom's strawberry shortcake the Poky Little Puppy went to bed feeling quite sorry for himself," Eve said as she finished reading the slim book. She smiled warmly at the two young women nestled up to her. "Thoughts?"


            Morgan frowned at the final picture and gave a little yawn. "I liked the Silva Succubus story better, Mommy."


            "The story's sweet, but it's sad too." Morrison pulled her head up off of her mother's lap and twisted her body for more comfort. It had been a busy day.


            "Thanks, for humoring me," Eve patted Morrison on the head.


            "No, I liked it," Morison said with a slight whine in her voice.


            Morgan nodded in agreement. "Yeah, it's nice." She then gave a reassuring hug.


            "Andrea's right we're all huggy and sappy now." Morrison muttered, turning her head to look up at her family.


           Eve coldly looked down at the young demon. A small smile formed that quickly bloomed and spread across her face. "We've changed. We're succubae. It's our nature now."


            Morrison blinked. Mother was right. That Captain Jarvis was her mother was evidence enough. The... power was frightening and comforting.


            "I have to go to the bathroom, be right back," Eve said as she lifted Morrison up and put her down on the couch they were sharing. She got up and walked out of the living room and passed through the kitchen.


            Soun and Genma stopped their low chatting and looked up at the blonde. Soun looked over to his friend and gave a little nod. He knew what Genma wanted. "Sorry, but I've got to call the Drake," he said obviously excusing himself. He hesitated by the door and turned to the tall woman. "Thank you for helping my daughters. It's nice to know that they're being led by someone that cares." He gave a little bow that the officer reflexively returned.


            Eve's face contorted into confusion briefly before returning to her customary expression. "Huh."


            Genma chuckled. "It's hard for him. He still sees them as his little girls." He motioned to the seat across from him at the kitchen table.


            "And you?" Eve asked sitting down.


            The older man laughed. "Oh, that's a good one."


            Eve frowned. "Yeah, you never saw your child like that."


            "I raised him to be a man among men." Genma smiled wistfully. "I suppose it worked out pretty well." He sipped some sake from his glass.


            "She's a happy mother of five and you see how she dresses."


            "It's not very girly is it?" Genma countered. "There's also the Art. Very dedicated there. Even the Master's impressed."


            "She still training with him?" Eve asked.


            "In the dojo. Let them have their fun. He's an old letch and she..." Genma shook his head, and sighed. "Well, she won't take his crap."


            "She doesn't take anyone's."


            "How was that last battle? She seemed to have more of a spring in her step when she came back," Genma delicately stated. He looked at the bottle and offered a glass to Eve.


            "Yes please." Eve downed a couple fingers of the liquor. "I wasn't there, but yes, it was big."


            Genma looked into his glass. "They were those cult weirdoes, right? The pretend priests?"


            Eve nodded.


            Leaning back he shrugged his shoulders. "At least she's got a good friend in you. Sister, I guess. I'm not the most.. moral person; so I really appreciate that she's got someone to count on. She needs that. needs someone she can look to."


            Eve's eyebrow raised. "Oh?"


           "I know, I know, Ranma dotes after her Mother." Regret entered Genma's voice. "And I know Nodoka's not really... well she'll tell me in time. But you're her age, or close enough, and you're like her."


            Eve stared.


            "I know what you do. You interviewed me once, remember?" Genma asked dryly.


            The blonde shrugged.


            "You're too hard on yourself."


            "I know what I am," Eve stated.


            Genma smirked. "Even with Ranma's help?"


            Smirking, Eve reached out and refilled her glass. "She does have that effect on people."


            "That she does."

 

***************

 


            Part of the University of Toronto library system, the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library was the largest collection of publicly accessible rare books in the country. Hikaru browsed his list with a slight smile. Most hobbyists looked down on such places: they were too public, too open, and too little "good" information.


            He agreed with their statements. This was entirely the wrong place to get juicy books. That was why he liked it. He could research the details, the minutia, the stuff most of the hobbyists overlooked as "too boring". Its mundanity made it safer. From one of the upper levels of the mezzanine containing part of the stacks he noticed someone walk into the door.


            Not breaking stride, the person had waved his hand and collided with the unresponsive opening. The young man paused and with a rueful shake of his head grabbed the door handle and pulled it open. He walked through the next set of doors and stepped into the lobby and looked up onto the many levels of books.


            Hikaru sighed and looked down at Rod Ferris. He was a competent researcher and had access to some interesting tomes, but Rod seemed too... exuberant. This was not the field for impulsiveness.


            Briefly watching Rod confound a librarian and deal with the elevator, Hikaru shook his head and returned to his list. He was not surprised Rod knew he was here. If one could not figure out where a... colleague was researching, then that person was hardly cut out for the job of learning eldritch information that man was not meant to know.


            "How's the bindings going?" Rod asked with his customary slanted smile, but Hikaru could swear that he detected a hint of unease behind that lopsided grin.


            "Just fine," Hikaru muttered putting down his clipboard. "What was so urgent that you drop in unannounced?"


            "Well there's been an incident." Rod's eyes darted to the shelves full of books. "I'm not sure if you'll be safe, you've done some business with..."


            "The bookstore? That's old news," Gos raised an incredulous eyebrow. Places that sold eldritch tomes did not stay secret at least not to those already in the know. "And I only went to Incognito for a few mundane books."


            "You don't like him?"


            "He's a businessman. He doesn't care who he sells to, that's dangerous." Hikaru pulled out a pen and absently wrote a note on his pad.


            "Dangerous enough to get some magical girls after him," Rod said, his not exactly amused smile returning.


            "Yes, he has attracted some... official attention," Hikaru shrugged. He knew about the rumors: men in black, magical girls, grey commandos, and white devils.


            "Well, that's not what I'm talking about." Rod's expression turned to a full smirk. "There was that explosion. Same night as Incognito's... closing." Despite himself, Rod was fairly impressed that Hikaru knew about the bookstore "robbery". Rod only knew because his superiors informed him, at least before he had to go to ground.


            "Police reports indicated it as a training exercise. There's some conflict with the forestry people about proper permissions." Hikaru shrugged.


            "There's more to it than that."


            "Of course," Hikaru nearly suppressed his urge to roll his eyes. "There's obviously more... federal troops in the city, and they're not just after Azifist cultists."


            "Oh, a conspiracy!" Rod's face brightened. "You mean there's more to this than some terrorist lunatics? You know there's no confirmed connection between the Azifists and Al Qaeda." He chuckled darkly.


            "Both have death-cults full of useful idiots." Hikaru rubbed his forehead. "People do believe what they want to. Accepting terrorists trained by the Soviet bloc and then later down in the Middle East..." He shrugged. From a... historical perspective, most current events were like wasp hives: complex, impressive, dangerous but ultimately transient and easily circumvented.


            The emphasis in Hikaru's mind lay in the "most". He knew it could be still be wishful thinking and confirmation bias on his part but the evidence was starting to mount. Today's research was starting to add to the picture.


            "Humanity knows it's not alone. There's clay tablets in the Smithsonian and the British Museum that had to be dated using Potassium-argon. It clearly predates humanity, but people don't care.  The canals on Mars got some interest, until better telescopes proved that they were just worn down embankments."


            "Artifacts of Pre-human civilizations fall into two categories: the fraudulent and the boring." Hikaru shrugged. In his experience, media producers, and for that mater media consumers, were exceptionally gullible and ignorant, and why not? They only cared about the "narrative". Ancient, incomprehensible, tablets did not fit the stories that people wanted to tell, and wanted to hear.


            "I dunno, Shinichi Fujimura was a bit of an artist, though he didn't have the scale and initiative of Dan Idaho."


            Hiraku nodded. He knew all about that archeologist. He claimed to have evidence that a "precursor civilization" had destroyed itself though uncontrolled genetic and industrial manipulations.


            It made a good splash with newscasters interested in framing environmental issues, until it was revealed that the archeologist was actually a confidence man that had been in and out of prison for setting up doomsday cults and then skipping town once he got all their money. The conned journalists had quickly tried to forget about the incident, which, Hiraku reflected, was helped by a news cycle measured in seconds and a market inundated with incompetence and forgeries.


            "I hear he's writing a book about it. Sure to sell well."


            "More with the healing crystals people than the black helicopter ones." Hiraku muttered, strongly suspecting that that was Dan's plan from the start. Scandals did make great publicity, something that no self-respecting... hobbyist wanted.


            "So, the stars are almost right, eh?"


            Blinking, Hikaru snapped out of his rumination and stared at Rod. "You've seen it too?"


            "Astronomy is rather specific on the subject. Are you familiar with the work of Oswald Bridge?"


            "Astrophysicist, excellent amateur billiard player, brilliant mind, standard cycle of discovery, theory, disillusionment, discreditation, and finally madness."


            "You left out the part where he subdued his fiancee and conducted a... detailed search."


            "Is this relevant?"


            "His work was on the gravitational resonance of various stellar objects," Rod smirked. "Of course at the end his work was considered just another cautionary tale like Blondlot and his N Rays."


            "Where is this going?"


            "You know as well as I do. Civilizations rise and fall, not all of them the same species. The archeological record is clear on this. We are at a crossroads."


            "We're always at one. The tomes and books have been pointing to that for decades."


            Rod smiled, his face contorting into an unpleasant, predatory glee. "Decades? Consider the timescale. For a book carved in basalt and found in a bog in the Welsh countryside, that's a rounding error."


            "That would explain the heightened presence."


            "You can feel them too? Impressive."


            Hikaru raised an eyebrow. That was a basic survival tenet. "Things are... coming together?"


            "If you want to call it that. Things are going to get interesting." Rod smiled broadly. "But what if..."


            "What?" Hikaru leaned forward slightly.


            "What if, I am not... right?"


            Hikaru sighed. Dealing with Rod was like this: two steps forward, three back. A phone rang down at the librarian's desk on the ground floor of the lobby. Hikaru raised his eyebrows to see the librarian look up from her desk and stare right at him and Rod. "Maybe whoever's on that phone is," Hikaru sarcastically remarked, his voice a bit hollow.


            Rod leered conspiratorially. "It certainly has a certain element of... possibility."


            Hikaru looked down to his notes, and turned to see the still staring librarian out of the corner of his eye. "Uh, yes. Well maybe. Things are risky."


            "It could just be your parents calling," Rod offhandedly said.


            "That would be better," Hikaru allowed.


            "Than being picked up by anonymous gruff men in a black van?"


            "These things happen," Gos gave an apathetic hand motion.


            "I suppose you wouldn't mind being put into intellectual bondage." Rod's voice became serious. "It's not like you care what's done with the information you gather."


            Hikaru stared. He felt as if he had been slapped. Rod was least responsible person he had known, who was he to judge him?


            "Oh, don't worry. If those weird Goth girls haven't gotten their attention, I'm sure you're safe," Rod said his voice once again jovial, but now there was a distinct undercurrent of malice.


            "They have gotten a lot of attention," Hikaru admitted.


            "I wouldn't expect anything less." Rod's voice was now its irreverent self. "You have to admire their ability to not care, and not worry about people judging them."


            Gos raised an eyebrow. "They're not open. Ranma and her friends are very private."


            "There's a difference between showing discretion and living in shame." Rod waggled his eyebrows suggestively.


            "Oh?" Hikaru was not sure if this comment was directed at him. He preferred to be left alone and knew that the right outward appearance would help facilitate that goal.


            "Sometimes I wonder about my sanity." Rod said, perhaps to himself.


            Hikaru held his tongue.


            "What if I am too sane? Like in the way a baker, a single mother, a barber, a radiologist, a barker, or a metallurgist is too sane."


            "I don't think you need to worry about that." Hikaru was not one for dry and sarcastic commentary, but it was too obvious.


            Rod made a point of looking at his watch, even though it was upside-down, and was flashing all zeros. "Well, I've got to go to the auto-parts store and get some new Sierpinski gaskets for my Dodge."


            Not knowing much about cars, Hikaru simply nodded. After Rod left, he paused to wonder exactly why his... friend had come. Things had been getting stranger and stranger.

 

***************

 


            Walking into the small shoe store, Svetlana adjusted her coat with a slight sigh. The capitalists were certainly out in force. Pulling off her sunglasses she glared at the collection of high heels. She had been raised a rather practical girl and had been taught such things were Bourgeoisie frivolities. Besides, the stores in Paris had much nicer quality. Rome too, for that matter, but she had other issues with that city. They all did. Despite her distaste for consumer excess she still wore nice coats and kept her blonde hair shampooed and held back with fairly expensive hair clips.


            "Your head's in the clouds," Galina coldly stated.


            "I've been thinking," Svetlana said, putting the ill-made leather pump down.


            "It's that bad?"


            Svetlana slowly turned and looked up her commander. "This could be a problem. A real... opportunity."


            Galina nodded. "Can we do it?" The two women stepped out of the store and she caught a glimpse of Vosem and Shest across the street. Vosem in her long hair and generous figure and lanky Shest in her pixie cut could almost pass as a couple.


            Svetlana looked straight ahead, her eyes recalling the rooftop view from earlier in the week. "We need to make sure we're not fighting them." Her hand went out and stroked her arm.


            Galina nodded. Finding the right city had been one thing, setting up a viable operation was a whole other issue, but her girls had made her proud. "Our client seems to be under their protection." In this case the person paying them was most definitely not their client.


            "There's no pressure," Svetlana reaffirmed "We don't have to beat them... much."


            "You do know why we lost, right?"


            Unlike her comrades Svetlana did not hold the delusion that they had not been beaten. "Superior organization and economic models."


           Galina looked around and her eyes studied the bustle. Even now she could tell which side any given city had been on. "Unpredictability. It doesn't matter how brilliant your intelligence organs are, if your enemy changes on a whims, if even they don't know what they'll do, you can't predict them."


            Svetlana rubbed her left arm again. "We will wait, and we will strike."


            The pair walked a few dozen yards in silence and then by seeming coincidence ran into another young woman. During their warm exchange of greetings and handshakes a document could have passed between them. There certainly were enough people to cover a good pass or they could have done a brush-pass without even breaking stride.


            Instead the trio of girls kept idly chatting as they walked. "You're right. Ryzhaya bestiya is in town," Chetyre said just holding her voice even.


            Galina's lips thinned. "Is she still angry? Did she yell at you?" How dangerous is she? Were you spotted?


            "No, she was very pleasant. She had more important stuff than me. It looks like she's mellowed out, but I guess she's had a bad breakup. Fought with her boyfriend for a week."


            "That's a shame." Galina held her relief. Despite it all, they were the best. Chetyre knew the dangers that came with sloppy work. "See if she's on the rebound?"


            "I heard she's seeing someone new, yes." Ivanova Chetyre allowed. She took a sip from her water bottle.


            Galina stopped and turned to face her subordinate. "You didn't flirt with her boyfriend did you?"


            "No... of course not." Ivanova looked down. Her tradecraft was solid. It could rival anything that came out of Dzerzhinsky Square. It was just... "She's the jealous type. Ryzhaya bestiya could just be paranoid."


            Galina smiled. "I wouldn't blame her, given her looks."


            "There's also her other girlfriends," Svetlana said and was quietly thankful for the distance her role afforded.


            "There's also her birthday party. Huge turnout." Ivanova shook her had. "She's a bit miffed that we didn't come. Not to mention all the people that crashed the party."


            "Oh? How big was it?"

            "About three hundred or so, real nice. At a resort out in the woods. Fireworks too."


            Galina's eyes sparkled in interest. "Wow, she must have been one happy girl."


            "I haven't heard of a party that size in years," Svetlana added.


            "Yes, she seemed pleased with her presents. Her friend Johan helped with the cleanup too. Stayed after the party and rolled out all the drunks passed out on the floor." Ivanova added. It had taken some digging but a lithe girl with the right accent could get in with any forestry official.


            Pausing to decode, Galina chuckled. "Oh yes, that's wonderful news. Truly." She looked over to the other side of the avenue and caught a glimpse of Vosem and Shest boarding a streetcar. Good. they still had to do some surveillance at the school.


            "What of Dwa? When will she and her friends come back?"


            "Arisha and the rest are coming over here shortly. Their ballet competition in
Tokyo is wrapping up. Only a couple other teams even showed up." Galina explained. The problem with codes was that their mere presence was often enough. If anyone were seriously trailing them, it would not matter what they said or how they tried to disguise it. On the other hand, some precautions were only prudent.


            "Good, I think she'll like the climate here, It's a bit like home." Svetlana twisted her neck and looked up at the cloud-laden sky. "Having the whole team over here will be good for them.  Can get a nice break before the next stop on our tour."


            "Oh, it gets better," Ivanova coughed. "Some of Johan's little sisters have joined her cheerleading squad."


            Galina stopped. The amused and slightly weary expression and look that would have been at home on any Comparative Literature Graduate Student, Russian of course, vanished and was replaced by a deep coldness. "Really? Huh. Good for her."


            Svetlana and Ivanova turned to face her and waited.


            "I guess we were wrong on Zaika and her friends." Galina's face broke into an broad and pleased smile. "But no matter. I think we'll be just fine here."


            "Are you sure? Ryzhaya bestiya's got a very impressive team on the floor, and we're gymnasts not cheerleaders. Totally different work."


            "Then it's up to us to show what we can do," Galina stated with pride. "We'll prove ourselves. We are over here representing our motherland."


            Svetlana nodded and allowed a brief smile to pass over her face.


            Ivanova inhaled. She was apprehensive, but there was nothing else for them to do. It had been quite some time before a mission that was truly a challenge. Recently their work had been just enough to keep their skills and bodies maintained. It would be good to test their limits.


            "Is Ryzhaya bestiya really that popular?"


            "Oh yeah, I saw her yearbook, full of signatures," Ivanova said, referring to the dossier she had slowly constructed over the last week. The data on the power scrying results alone were quite disquieting.


            "Excellent," Galina said resuming her stride with renewed confidence.

 
            "We don't need to go head to head with her," Ivanova advised.


            "Fortunately, she's not our client, so we can be more flexible with her," Galina smirked. Work was always a large portion of dull methodical preparations followed by a small period of intensity. The most pertinent question remained... what was the caliber of their opponents?

 

***************

 

 

            Morrison frowned into the mirror.  In the reflection, a young green-haired succubus pouted cutely. She sighed which caused interesting effects on her chest. Flicking her hands dry, she rose up to her full height.


            A blonde stepped out of a bathroom stall and observed. "Are you okay?" she asked as she washed her hands. Morrison could not be sad about today's training, she had flown beautifully, and even nailed her landings.


            "Fine, I'm just struck by how hard it is to not be drop-dead gorgeous," Morrison darkly muttered. "I really shouldn't complain. Mom's been great and the rest of you..." She smiled warmly but it faltered and the woman looked down at her high heeled boots and grey slited silk mini-skirt..


            Ukyou stepped up and patted her hand. "I know. It'd almost be easier if Eve sucked at being a mother, or if you had been altered."


            Morrison chewed her lip. "It's horrible to say that. I mean the others... they were brainwashed."


            "Not exactly. Akane really did become Eclipse... still is, I guess. And our little sister.... well... I don't think even she can think of herself being anything else. And Ryoga... well he and Aurora hated our mother before, but a mother's love just overpowered all that hatred... and changed her. Our bodies... we become what our bodies are." Ukyou's grip rose from Morrison's hand to her shoulder and drew her into a hug.


            "It's just... I'm an agent. I've been trained." She leaned onto her cousin and could almost feel herself start to purr.


            "So? It's okay. You should have seen how nervous and apprehensive Eve was at the start." She hugged the new demon tighter. "It'll work out."


            "I know. The shrink was clear on that," Morgan said.

 

            "Doctor Du Maurier seems to know her stuff." Ukyou nodded. Normally, company consolers dealt with issues arising from repeated and grisly carnage and exposure to the macabre and eldritch. Morrison's situation was clearly the later.  Counseling was a part of the D Program.  It was hard to find someone with the right training, clearances, and willingness to learn about succubae and their mental quirks.

 

            For  onesuccubae do not get gender dysphoria or species dysphoria for that matter, or at least not for very long. What they were, we were, Morrison mentally corrected, susceptible to  going feral.


            "Look Richard." Staring into her eyes, Ukyou noted the shock Morrison saw at the use of her first name. "You're going to make it through this."


            "That's what scares me," Morrison admitted in a quiet whisper.


            "What?"


            "I'm not like Mom or Morgan or you, I don't have problems with my family. Aside from not joining the Corps like the rest of them."


            "It's okay, Nariko's still on great terms with her father."


            "Yes, but she can go see him and cry in his lap."


            "They're Marines right? I'm sure they know..."


            "Know what?" Morrison said crossly. "My father knew enough to not be ashamed when I signed on. He was courteous enough to overlook the obvious cover story."


            "What's going to happen now?"


            Morrison smiled ruefully. "Say someone dies on a secret mission? With the military they can't tell the family how the person died or why or where. Just that they're not coming back. In WIC it's even worse. Guess that's an upside to most of us being alone."


            "You didn't die though... you could..."


            "What? Write letters?" Morrison sighed. "It's easier this way."


            "You don't have to give up like that."


            "Really? Are you going to see your family? I know you've got a father back in Japan."


            "True, but I would end up killing him and slowly feeding the remains to Mom." Ukyou growled. "Moron's the reason I spent years painfully binding my breasts."


            "Ouch." Morrison shuddered. She could imagine what that pain would be like. Becoming newly and intimately familiar with breasts would do that. She found that out when she flopped down onto the bed and then ignoring that first-hand warning tried to sleep face-down. Though sleeping in one brood-pile did mitigate things


            "Look, if you're thinking about giving up on your human life," Ukyou sharply inhaled. "Right... what human life? You're a Company girl, always have been, save the girl part."


            "You're right. I didn't have anything, save the occasional phone call with my family." Morrison straightened up.


            "And you're worried a sudden swap to letter writing would be suspicious?"


            "To them? They're not dumb. The black sheep of the family goes off to some obviously black bag outfit and suddenly stops talking. What should they make of that? At least I don't look very much like my sisters, I take more from my new mother like that."


            Ukyou pulled away. "I don't know. It's not an easy question."


            Morrison nodded. At least her new family could be in on the secret.


            "The Sam and Naoko thing is tearing at Mom," Ukyou mentioned as the two walked out of the bathroom. "She wants to tell them, but..."


            "It's supposed to be a secret." Morrison eventually said. She then opened the door to the Major's lab and blinked. Morgan's eyes were happily sparkling. Morrison turned to see what had captivated her sister. Sitting in a complex and padded pair of vises was a Barrett XM109.


            Or it used to be, the already large weapon had seemed to grown by well over a foot. Most obviously, the twenty-five millimeter rifle had a new barrel. Inscribed on it in block text was was: WIC Munitions. Below that in a formal copperplate was "We do what we must because we can."


            Nodoka stepped up. "Our head machinist Gladys came up with that idea. She thought it needed more."


            Morrison nodded grimly.


            "Don't worry, we can put something on your guns if you want. Apparently, she came up with a whole poem." Nodoka said. "I'm sure she's come up with something nice for you girls."


            Morrison nodded and turned back to the large gun. Noticing the stock, she smiled. It had been reduced in size, to better fit Morgan's light frame. So, the new barrel had to be even longer than she first thought.


            "What do you want?" Major Saotome said as she checked the readings from a laser level. She gave a little wink to Ukyou. She also made a note to talk to Morrison later.


            "I didn't think it was coming in this fast." Morrison marveled.


            "The machinists are quite good. Especially if they don't want Gladys mad," Nodoka agreed. Her own caution had remained high until after she had inspected the metalwork herself. "There's still more work to do. The receiver and other parts need to be reinforced."


            "Even more power?" Morrison coughed.


            "Why not? We can use conventional low-velocity 25 by 59 mm grenade and something with more speed," Nodoka explained.


            Morgan's eyes gleamed.


            "How much range do you want to give it? " Ukyou said, wondering if Misako would be jealous. This weapon was much longer than Sasha.


           "This isn't for range but penetrating power. Kinetic energy does go up with the square of velocity." Morgan explained.


            "We've still got to test out the ergonomics." Nodoka said making a note on her clipboard. She made another to talk with Ukyou.


            "Practicing sounds good," Morgan said eyeing her new gun. Her arm was gently pulled by her sister.


            "Can we talk?"


            Morgan raised an eyebrow. "Sure." She followed her sister to the far end of the laboratory. "What's wrong?"


            Morrison looked into her calm blue eyes. "How are you doing?"


            Her eyes briefly flicked to the side and Morgan hesitated. "Well, my shooting's better than it's ever been."


            "There's more to life than that."


            Morgan leaned onto a counter. "Why complicate things? It's rather nice being a species that has no pretenses. Where being a killer's normal; it's expected."


            "We already had that," Morrison remarked.


            The corners of Morgan's lips pulled up into a cold grin. "Yes, handy that."


            "Things are going to be different," Morrison suddenly smirked. "Aren't you worried about what will happen when you make your next kill?"


            Morgan tilted her head her tail flicking its tip.


            "We eat our kills. Mom did it too."


            The russet-haired girl rubbed her forehead. "Well, I've hunted. I ate afterwards."


            "We'll just go to the morgue and cut up some steaks? Maybe make jerky?"


            "Nah, the meat wouldn't be as fresh then. Oh well."


            Morrison smirked "Aside from that... how are you doing?"


            "Just going with it, I mean... we've kinda got a second chance here." Morgan frowned. "Well, we're still agents."


            "Like death would get us away from the Company," Morrison smirked.


            "At least the uniforms are better now," Morgan idly said.


            Morrison raised an eyebrow. "You spend most of your time in Ghillie suits."


            "Still can look good the rest of the time."


            "You're starting to become one of them," Morrison teased flicking Morgan's bangs.


            "I'm not the one wearing eyeshadow."


            "Misako said it looked good." Morrison quietly said. It had been easier to just let Misako put the makeup on her. It was not like anyone would really care. Succubae were supposed to look good.

            "Look, don't worry about it." Morgan hesitantly reached out and squeezed her sister's hand. "So you let yourself get a little makeover. Who cares? We're Company. We're past caring what other people think."


            "Mom, Ranma, the Colonel, Stillwater?"


            Morgan blinked. "Fine, but you think they care about that? No matter what happens, one thing won't change. It can't change."


            "The oath."


            "Sure, there's some new... fringe benefits, but the job is the same."


            "Okay, but if you start to feel..."


            "I'll talk to you and mom," Morgan said as she put her hand to Morrison's shoulder. The two walked back to the front of the lab where Nodoka was inspecting the sniper rifle while Ukyou had two Standard Succubus Pistols stripped and disassembled in front of her.


            "So you finally got a second gun?" Morrison asked as she slid up to the table. It was odd. The gun was not heavy, and the recoil seemed normal. It was only when she tried to use a forty five caliber that the scale became obvious.


            "Yes," Ukyou said giving an exaggerated pout to her grandmother, winking was too obvious. "Hmm.... not too much wear." She inspected the components and mulled over them. "Oh these are for you." She handed a new slide to her cousin.


            Morrison picked up the part and looked at it. This time, written under the WIC Munitions logo was: For the good of all of us. For the ones who are dead. She smiled and turned to Nodoka and gave her a hug.


            The scientist's smile grew when a slight purr came from the young woman. "I wanted to surprise you." The "blank" slides would be returned and could easily have new inscriptions placed.


            In addition to the new weapon, Ukyou had a slide replacement as well. Despite starting with a conjunction, the first message was simple enough. The sentence on the other gun was more baffling. "But there’s no sense crying over every mistake. You just keep on trying till you run out of cake."


            "What kind of sense of humor does Gladys have?" Ukyou asked


            "Gladys Coulton's first job was for Republic Aviation making parts for fighters. She and some of the other girls would put together... care packages to be delivered with the planes."


            "They thought the boys could use some encouraging photos?" Morrison ventured.


            "Nothing too... improper. It's how she met her husband John. She sent a photo and he wrote her a song."


            "Sounds like a nice couple," Ukyou sighed.


            "He was shot down over Korea."


            Morrison imagined the old widow scowling over the metal, searching for any flaws, and then finally chuckling as she wrote a message into the steel.


            "But why cake?" Ukyou asked staring at one of her guns.


            "She was a fan of cheesecake, apparently," Morrison deadpanned.


            Ukyou shook her head. Sometimes the Company could be a bit... eccentric. The constant pressures from the work had to be it.


            "Gladys is looking forward to more work. She enjoys a challenge too." Nodoka chuckled. Engineering was more than science; it was applied science.


            "I wonder if Jacob will give me any pointers." Ukyou mused as she reassembled her guns.


            "You know about that?" Morrison asked as she stripped her weapon and replaced the slide.


            "One of his nicknames is Gunslinger and he wears two guns slung low on his hips. I suppose it could all be rumor and him 'looking cool', but that's not something WIC troopers do is it?"


            Morrison smirked. "You've never seen him fight then?"


            "The chance hasn't presented itself."


            "He likes to use the ranges real early in the morning," Morrison hinted.


            "That's just him shooting targets. I guess I'd see if he's fully ambidextrous."


            Morrison chuckled. "He has his ways."


            "I can ask him then, I guess. You think he'd train?"


            Morrison nodded. "Yeah, it's not a common skill, even among us. Normally, a rifle's more practical."


            "Well, we're not normal are we?" Ukyou asked holstering her weapons. "So how's Grandma's work with you? Going ahead with that 17mm monster?"


            "It's smaller than Morgan's."


            "Yes, that's kind of the point," Nodoka said as she approached. "Hers is a long range anti-material and special­-anti-personnel weapon. The WM 17S HSMG is a much lighter and compact weapon. It is roughly in the shape of a FN P90."


            "Heavy Succubus Machine Gun?" Ukyou ventured.


            "Willard Munitions Seventeen millimeter Shoulder-mount, Heavy Submachine Gun," Morrison clarified. "It got approved? We were just doing the single-shot testing."


            Nodoka nodded. "Yes, the case was made for a weapon between the SSP and Misako's IGMG. A... conventional rifle," Nodoka shook her head.  "The name's a misnomer, honestly while it's the size of a sub-gun, the caliber certainly doesn't count, and to be honest I'm not sure automatic fire is the best mode for the weapon."


            "Has prototyping started?" Morrison asked, breezily ignoring the scientist's concerns.


            "Yes, we know how the bullets perform, so fabrication is the next stage," Nodoka said as she went to a cabinet and pulled out a box of 17 by 65 mm WIC custom.


            "Wow," Morrison picked one of the shells up. "I'm still amazed at these. They're shotgun sized." That was fine when she was using them one at a time, but she could see Dr. Saotome's concerns about recoil management on prolonged fire.


            "Well, the twelve gauge is 18.5 mm by 70 or 76 mm," Nodoka said as she picked up one of the relatively blunt bullets.


            "Still, they're big," Morrison said as she hefted the bullet, and wondered when she could fire the test gun again. The whole casing was reminiscent of a fifty caliber Browning Machine Gun but shorter and with a larger slug in the head.


            "Why don't you just make an autofire shotgun system?" Ukyou asked.


            Nodoka nodded. "I thought of that, but that would have less accuracy and capacity. With the HSMG you'll have a forty round magazine."


            "What about temperature?" Morrison asked. "Pressure's one thing, but the heat expansion and wear..."


            "Thermal management did require some creative solutions," Nodoka allowed. It was wonderful to deal with such... robust users. Though that was a mixed blessing. She had to make the weapons rugged enough so they could be used as a blunt weapon and be able to block blunt and bladed weapons. "But I've got some good natural convection cells and good radiating sections. It'll hold."


            "Really?"


            "Oh yes, it's going to be a very solid weapon," Nodoka stated. The weight limits for succubus weapons were quite the blessing. Which was to say: what weight limits? Ergonomics was the main concern; the weapons had to be easy to hold and have good balance. 


            "What about barrel wear? I mean if this thing can hold a forty round magazine..." Morrison asked as she rolled one of the bullets in her hand.


            "Based on the data from the test rig, I think I can get an acceptable lifespan. A good protective coating will help. The barrel will be easy to replace though," Nodoka assured. "However, it'll take some time to build the 17mm gun. We should talk about something in the meantime. I can adapt one of our larger machine guns, make the belt feed from an under-slung box. It's not exactly the ideal role."


            Morrison nodded. The primary reason for the bull-pup design on the HSMG was to allow its use in buildings and close-quarters.


            "Well, you don't need it to be terribly accurate," Morgan smarmily said as she turned and looked cutely at Nodoka. "So when can we go to the range?"


            Nodoka chuckled. It was easy to keep her girls happy. "After I get the requirements from your sister on her gun. Then we can test the 17mm rig more too."


            Morgan smiled and after loosening the vise, put the end of the gun on the floor and leaned it on her shoulder. The weapon extended past her shoulder and ended several inches above her head.


            "Good, we can meet the others," Nodoka added.


            "Well, Mom and Nariko are still home with Nariko's dad," Ukyou said.


            "He is a good father for her," Nodoka agreed.


            "Our Mom's there too, right?" Morrison asked as she rummaged around for the 17mm test gun. It was a single shot rolling-block weapon, that was reminiscent of a wall gun, a very heavy bore gun too large to be fired from the shoulder. They were leaned on walls and ledges and were a formidable if bulky defensive weapon in the 16th through 18th centuries.


            "Yes, Eve's there too," Nodoka said, wondering if her... other daughter, was trying to get more permanent housing.

 

***************


            "You want a house?" The Drake asked looking at the stern blonde. This was his responsibility. Being a Company associate opened a lot of doors for his real estate and land development business. Most opened on their own and could not be closed until he did what was expected of him.  At least, finding an appropriate house would be easier than a facility that can be used as a paramilitary base.


            "The closer to here the better," Eve nodded.


            The Drake looked to his older daughter. "Well, I can look. I'm certain some of the neighbors are concerned. I'm sure with the right offer..."


            "It would be handy," Ranma smiled. "It would give us more space."


            "Alternatively we could expand this house. I'm sure Soun wouldn't mind," The Drake offered. He had just talked with his old friends yesterday and it was certainly possible.


            "That might allow for more concentrated security." Eve nodded. "Possible."


            "Another house could work too, like if they share a border," Ranma offered as she sipped some tea.


            Drake Kuno looked at Eve. "So you've got some kids. Agents and succubae? They'll be a handful."


            "Tell me about it." Eve warmly smiled. She pulled out her phone. "Yes? Oh really." She turned to her sister.


            "What?" Ranma asked.


            "You've got some visitors. Sam's driving up with Naoko," Eve said.


            Ranma blinked. "School's out already?"


            "Time flies," The Drake said as Ranma got up and went to the front door. He had taken the afternoon off, but still knew when his school let out.


           Watching Sam, somewhat clumsily, park the car and get out, Ranma opened the door and stepped out to meet them.


            Naoko blinked at the redhead's hair. "Sunny? What happened?"


            "Clearly she took a few days off to go to the spa and get her hair done," Sam dryly remarked putting her mother's car keys away.


            Ranma's eyes looked down. "Uh, let's talk inside."


            "Right," Sam nodded.


            "So, what's brings you guys over?"


            "We were worried." Naoko said after entering. She looked out and saw the principal sitting with some striking blonde woman.


            "Yeah." Ranma sighed.


            "Sorry if we... interrupted anything," Sam said looking at Principal Kuno.


            "Maybe we should talk out back," Ranma said leading her two girls out to the side yard.


            "Where's your... cousins?" Naoko asked.


            "Aside from Nariko Kuno of course," Sam stated.


            They crossed to the back yard and Ranma sat down on a bench under a large oak. "I don't know what to say, I mean..."


            "We're not pressuring you," Sam assured, sitting down next to her pale friend.


            "We just want to make sure you're okay."


            Ranma gave a bitter laugh. "I'm feeling great. Course if you knew..." she shook her head, causing her long tresses to spill over Sam.


            "We're not stupid," Naoko said, while Sam tried to get Ranma's hair off of her.


            "I know," Ranma sighed. "It'd be easier... oh well."


            "Okay, what is it? Alien?" Naoko asked the hesitancy gone in her voice.


            "Vampire?" Sam offered.


            "Demon?" Naoko's tone was almost... hopeful.


            "Werewolf?"


            Ranma's blush had grown to almost human levels and she began to sputter. "Uh... what makes you say that?"


            Naoko pointed to Ranma's hair, many of the strands still clinging to Sam.


            "Oh."


            "We know you're doing something," Sam looked down and rubbed her eyebrows. "I mean the flock of lesbians. Akane's new look. Tatewaki and Nabiki leaving and replacements showing up. That and the well... effect you guys have on everyone."


            "We do look like this," Ranma said pointing to her chest.


            "That's not all," Naoko said, noting the use of we.


            "And look at our uniforms," Sam said pulling at the dark violet material of her seifuku.


            "They look nice." Ranma said absently.


            "Yes, very complimentary. They fit great and stay real clean too," Sam said dryly. She decided not to mention the absence of sticking on the seams.


            "Look, don't worry," Naoko said kneeling down in front of Ranma. "You know us, we're not going to reject you. It's not like you're a cannibal."


            Ranma's eyes widened.


            "And even then it depends on who you've eaten," Sam added.


            "Red's always been a good friend, I'm sure they had it coming. Hypothetically, of course."


            Ranma twiddled with her fingers. "Well... there's a reason I look this way."


            "And why the rest of your friends do too?" Naoko asked.


            Ranma slowly nodded. "Oh, yeah. It's even related to my... well you know that secret."


            "That you're a lesbian? That's not much of a secret. Or does it have to do with the scary secret agents you hang out with."


            "Are the sunglasses really that obvious?" Ranma asked.


            "Oh no, not at all," Sam said, remembering the van parked on the street, or the other people hanging around the property.


            "Well, we'll start simple. I work with those 'secret agents', though they're more soldiers."

            "Using your badass martial arts skills?"


            Ranma laughed. "Yes, that's right."


            "Well, unless you're insanely, insanely good no real group would use a high school girl, not without some training. So there's got to be something else," Sam mused.


            "And it's probably related to all the weird fights and missing persons going on," Naoko added.


            Ranma nodded. "Yeah, there's a lot of bad people out there, and we fight them."


            "And the rest of your... family is in on this too?"


            "Even my mother. She's a Major and builds all of our weapons," Ranma said quietly.


            "Good thing to keep secret," Sam gently stated.


            "There's more isn't there? Some young... counter-terrorism girls, well, that doesn't make any sense, but even if it did. Why dress all sexy?" Naoko paused. "No why... why ooze sensuality?"


            Ranma rubbed her forehead. She had risked worse rejection than this... or had she? She never knew her mother before meeting her, and she knew she would lose Kasumi as a lover. She chewed her lip for a moment. "I think you can guess," she said as her horns slid out into view.


            "Cool!" Naoko gushed.


            Sam reached out and poked one. "Cute little things."


            The redhead purred slightly. "Really?" Ranma asked looking up.


            "Well, I was right," Naoko smirked and held out her hand.


            "I should have known vampire was wrong," Sam grumbled as she opened her purse. "You're nowhere near emo enough, but I thought maybe the media portrayal was wrong. You're pale, seductive... have fangs."


            "That describes most of the mythological beings," Sam reminded as she affected a chipper smile.


            "But you guessed demon?" Ranma asked.


            "Well... not demon generally. With the body and clothes." Naoko left the unsaid question hang in the air.


            Ranma chuckled. "Yes, yes I'm a succubus."

 

            Naoko glanced to Sam and made another grabbing motion with her hand.          "The rest of them are too right? That's what happened to Akane."


            "And Nabiki..." Sam looked up from adding a bit more money to her friend's palm. "And Tatewaki? Oh wow... you mean Nariko's?"


            The redhead raised an eyebrow. "Yes, she's my eldest daughter."


            "Daughter?" Naoko was curious. "So.. what, you turned them all?"


            Sam interjected before Ranma could respond. "Duh. How else would they become demons? I guess some other demon could do it."


            Ranma idly scratched her horns. "Yeah, there was this bad demon, she turned Akane, Nabiki, and Misako. I had to kill her," she said nervousness being replaced by happiness.


            "That's when Akane and Nabiki left school for a while. And then they came back and your 'cousin' had died," Sam remarked.


            "Yup, that's it. Was really sucky time. Before that I was having all these mother issues and then had to fight this evil selfish bitch."


            "I don't know how I'd deal with having kids, especially ones my age."


            Ranma shrugged. "The body takes care of a lot of it. We mature quickly and all that."


            "Wait, so... you're a succubus right?" Naoko asked. Something was off. It explained things, but that did not exactly put her mind at ease.


            The redhead pointed to her horns, and after a moment summoned her tail.


            "Oh wow," Sam said as she grabbed the spade-ended appendage. "Really cool."


            "So, how come you're a lesbian? I mean aren't you supposed to seduce guys? I mean you're all lesbians right? Sam and I are the only ones in the group that like guys."


            Ranma paused and half-heartedly tried to wriggle her tail out of Sam's grip. "I think Misako likes guys. Akane's more into Nariko. Nabiki's still looking for a mate."

            Sam let go of the tail. "Well, if Tatewaki became Nariko. Maybe there's no males."


            "You need males, or maybe Nariko is the male of the species," Naoko countered.


            "They could be hermaphrodites." Sam said. The thought was creepy, but not much more than that demons existed.


            "How do they impregnate then?"


            "They're sex demons, does it matter? I'm sure they find a way."


            Ranma blushed and made a point of hiding her tail.


           "True." Naoko tapped her chin. "So, a secret military organization is using sex demons as some type of elite soldiers? What to fight other sex demons?"


            "Sounds like that show you had me watch last year," Sam muttered.


            "La Blue girl didn't have a military organization in it."


            "Well, we don't just fight demons. Pretty much any supernatural or secret organization, but it makes a lot of sense to use succubae. We're strong, fast, heal really quick, great sense of smell, can see in the dark, and there's the flying."


            "You can fly?" Sam asked her eyes twinkling.


            "What's a demon without wings? Of course she can fly. That makes sense. Good reasons to use demonic super soldiers. So, who's that blonde woman? Your handler? She's gotta be government."


            Ranma nodded. "She's also my sister."


            Naoko raised and eyebrow. "Since she doesn't look Japanese but is pale and well..."


            "A knockout." Sam offered.


            "So who isn't a demon?"


            "Well... anyone that's male, and... well, Mom, Kasumi, you girls. Uh... that's about it."


            "And Kasumi's part of this too? I mean she's gotta be right?" Sam asked. Kasumi's past incidents in High School made it too much of a coincidence.


            Ranma nodded. "Yeah, you two... well you're my only friends... that... I was keeping it a secret from."


            "We know why you weren't telling us."


            "Yeah, normal superhero reasons. Protecting us and all that."


            "Secret agent sounds less lame. Superheroes are down there with magical girls. Silly uniforms and no killing," Sam sighed. "That nonsense is how you get the same damn enemy popping up again and again."


            Ranma raised and eyebrow. "Huh?"


            "You're a cannibal Sunny, and even if that's just eating other demons, that's still something namby-pamby 'good guys' don't do," Sam explained giving Ranma a hug.


            "There's also you being a demon. Heh, a demon named Sunshine. That's too cute."


            "My Dad's idea. Well, Drake helped on that." Ranma wanted to sigh, but she was being hugged.


            "It's okay, Sunny."


            "So, if your mom is human, how'd you become a succubus? Is your dad a demon lord or something?" Sam asked.


            Ranma laughed. "Oh man, that's hilarious. No... no. He's human. I've just..." The redhead shook her head. "Do you two believe in reincarnation?"


            "Does it matter? I mean you're a secret agent demon-girl," Sam smirked poking Ranma's horns.


            "It does make sense." Naoko added. "Well, it explains the scary pale Goth girls."


            Ranma inhaled. It was going to be a long story. "Well, it started with an ancient magical kingdom..."

 

End Chapter 11

 

Once again, I'd like to thank my pre-readers. They read through my most egregious mistakes so you don't have to. DGC, J St C Patrick, Terra, Pale Wolf, Wray, Kevin Hammel, Ikarus, and Jerry Starfire. Other thanks go to Stratagemini, Trimatter, PH Wise, Dorin, and others previously mentioned for some future planning.

 

I'd also like to give J St C Patrick special thanks for giving this chapter his attention and going over with again and again despite being very busy. I'm honored that he used his time to help me. Thanks.

 

 

Revision notes:  Another fun one.