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 3:  Raising Trouble

Chapter 6:  Enveloping Armor

Formerly:  Replacements and Remembrance Part 2i

 

 


            Walking towards one of the Quonset huts, the lavender-haired succubus split her attention between it and the tree-line, where those nice soldiers and some of her girls were running down a makeshift trail.


            "Why didn't you run?" Ranma asked her when they were just outside the building.


             Blushing by an almost imperceptible tinge Cecilia looked up at the clouds. "I didn't run?"


            Ranma flicked some dirt off her leather pants. "Yes," she stated handing her canteen over to Cecilia.


            Blinking in surprise, Cecilia took a drink. "The Black Devils would have killed us."


            "Black Devils?" Ranma asked taking her canteen back.


            "That's the unit-name the JTF2 boys got stuck with." Nabiki said, not looking up from her knives.


            "Ah, neat."


            Cecilia looked at the door.


            "Still, why didn't you run?" Ranma repeated. "I don't mean when we came, before that. You had enough money to keep your girls comfortable. A bunch of bus tickets or even hitchhiking couldn't have been out of your price range."


            Leaning on the wall, Cecilia looked down at her shoes. "What would running accomplish? If you wanted me dead... what could I do?"


            Nariko raised an eyebrow. "You still left the city."


            "They only went just far enough to be out of Mom's territory." Nabiki closed her blade and holstered it.


            "Okay, you left my... territory and what... tried to make your girls as comfortable as possible? That's it?"


            Confused, Cecilia looked up. "What else is there?"


            Ranma smiled. "Good answer."


            Swallowing, Cecilia felt her tension ease. "All we have is each other."


            The redhead nodded. "Why Black Devils?" she asked, looking at her daughters and her first cousin once removed.


            A slight smile crossed Cecilia's lips. "I'll show you," she said before leading them to an adjacent Quonset hut. As she opened the door a trio of paint splattered succubae turned and charged towards them.


            The most youthful looking, a tiny girl with a head full of tight white ringlets pounced onto Cecilia. "Momma!"


            Ranma smirked slightly.


            Cecilia hugged her and the two other girls. "Hi Hazel! How's it going, girls?"


            "Good, I've got the logo drawn out, and Hazel and Priscilla are helping me color." Desiree fingered her brush.


            "Can we see it?" Cecilia asked, releasing the embrace. However, Hazel hung close to her.


            Desiree blushed. "Uh... yeah." She then led them to a cleared wall on the barracks.


            A large upward-pointed arrowhead was painted on the wall while a pair of incomplete black succubus outlines lounged on either side of the arrow's tip. Inside the partially filled red arrowhead were letters that ran from pencil sketches on guidelines, to outlined, to fully painted in. The letters were shaped in a T, with JTF2 capping the top and CANADA running vertically. Straddling "Canada" was "Black Devils" in a looping script.


             "Very nice," Ranma nodded.


            Desiree and her sisters beamed.


            "Black Devils, that have something to do with us?"


            Nabiki chuckled. "It's a name a similar unit earned in the last big war the humans had; First Special Service Force I think. They specialized in stealth and tactics, so much so that often their fights ended with out a shot being fired. Some few who got away started calling them Black Devils. I heard Kasumi thought it was a fitting name for this new group here."


            "The last big war? World War Two you mean?" Cecilia raised an eyebrow.


            Nabiki nodded. "Yup."


            Nariko bowed her head slightly before turning to the mural.


            Cecilia blinked. She knew Yuki was born on earth and DarkStar's history was obvious too. She shook her head at the strange perspective. "Anyway... that's not right. My window got shot out by that nice Sergeant Brummet." Cecilia pouted slightly.


            "Really?" Nabiki's tone was bone-dry.


            "Oh yes, he apologized very gentlemanly ."


            "Cecilia, what was the rule about Fraternization?" Ranma asked.


            Nabiki chuckled. "Mom... you really don't have a place to argue about that."

            "Be discrete and don't force the officers to do something about it?" Cecilia offered.


            Ranma nodded. "That's right."


            "I do have experience with discretion," Cecilia said, a touch offended.


            "But what about your girls? You making sure they won't get in trouble?"


            "They've paired up, mostly." Cecilia added.


            "Mostly?" Nabiki looked at the three Cecilia broodlings.


            "Yes, Priscilla and Isabel are still single. Are you curious?" Cecilia asked, concealing her hopeful eagerness. Strengthening ties would be very useful, and Yuki's youthfulness was akin to that of her own broodlings.


            A girl with a light green ponytail tied behind one ear blushed. "Mom...."


            "It's okay, Priss." Cecilia assured.


            Ranma turned to Nabiki. "You wanna stay here?"


            The pastel-blue-haired girl looked Priscilla over. "Sure."


            Looking across at the pink pastel Cheongsam-glad demoness Priscilla smiled nervously. "Your hair's nice. Those tiny ponytails are so cute. They really go great with that pageboy of yours."


            Nabiki smiled and fingered the bows that held her mini-ponytails. "Thanks. I love how the ribbon holding your ponytail matches your shoes, and that's an adorable little jumper you have on."


            "Well what about your stockings? The embroidery on them goes perfectly with your heels." Priscilla gushed.


            "Don't forget your knee-socks." Nabiki countered coyly.


            "Have fun girls. I have to talk with DarkStar." Cecilia looked down at Hazel who pouted and let go of the lavender haired demon. The slight girl then darted over to Desiree who had abandoned working on the mural and instead was watching Yuki and Priscilla's feedback loop.


             After a couple steps, Cecilia turned to Ranma. "Mother-Alexia was fond of that style."


            "It shows," Ranma dryly noted as they exited the building


            . "Do you disapprove? Why didn't you change her?"


            "That's not Mommy's way," Nariko crisply stated from behind the brood mothers.


            "You didn't need a strong hand to help your girls." Ranma smiled. "You've dealt with Alexia's legacy too."


            Cecilia sighed. "They're good girls. That made it easier."


            Ranma put her arm around the lavender-haired demoness. "They all are."


            For a moment Cecilia's tail stiffened and pointed downward, but after sensing the warmth radiating from the redhead she eased up and leaned into the hug.


            "You've done good."    


            Cecilia raised an eyebrow. "But you can still help me?"


            Ranma rubbed Cecilia's arm. "Sure."


            The lavender-haired girl looked over. "With... security?"


            "It's dangerous out there. You're lucky JTF2 found you first."


            "Well, I was afraid you'd find us," Cecilia sheepishly admitted.


            "Awww, you were scared of me." Ranma hugged her tighter.


            "It wasn't cute! You're very scary."


            "I am?" Ranma frowned.


            "My nightmares, my spawn's nightmares were all about you!" Cecilia wailed. "Do you know how many nights I had to soothe my girls because they were afraid you'd be coming for them?" Her knees weakened and she felt her weight being held by the redhead. "The most I ever hoped for, the most I ever dreamed... was to be left alone."


            Adding her other arm, Ranma lifted the demon up. Holding the her close, the redhead stared into the other demon's eyes. "Your brood won't fear me."


            Cecilia blinked but those violet eyes stayed locked on her. "But what do you want? My girls can make yours very happy... I'm sure-"


            Ranma loosened and arm and tapped Cecilia's lips. "There's no need to force that. We're family, and Alexia is gone. I promise your girls will be protected."


            Cecilia looked down. DarkStar's hold was comforting, but... "Is that it then? Spoils of war? Alexia lost; you won."


            "Sure, why not?" Ranma grinned. "Better than the alternative."


            Cecilia's stomach tightened. "Alternative?"


            Ranma grinned and lifted the girl back to her feet. "Well, there's your nightmares."


            "That's not funny." Cecilia pouted.


            "Now, now, you're doing great," Ranma patted Cecilia's shoulder. "Don't worry, I'm not the beast Alexia made me out to be."


            Relishing the contact, Cecilia expanded her senses, making sure she could still feel the broodlings that were out running with the Black Devils. "Thanks, I just... it's been so hard."


            Ranma's eyes flicked to Nariko who gave a slight nod. "Oh?"


            Cecilia automatically started walking towards her brood's building. "You know what it's like, being a... brood mother."


            "You had a tougher time of it than me."


            Stopping, Cecilia turned and broke out of Ranma's one-armed hug. "Huh?"


            "I had my family and friends supporting me. You, you were completely alone." Ranma's eyes again went to Nariko.


            Frowning, Cecilia turned to look at the black-haired guileless demon "What's this about?"


            Ranma chuckled. "Nariko likes you."


            "Really?" Cecilia arched an eyebrow at the quiet demoness. "What do you think of me?"


            "You remind me of mother." Nariko's red eyes softened before she lovingly looked towards Ranma, who stepped over to the teen.


            Sensing the powerful affection, Cecilia blinked. "Huh..."


            "Something wrong?" Ranma asked, embracing her daughter.


            Looking over her shorter mother's head, Nariko almost passively watched Cecilia.

            "Familiar, that's all," Cecilia muttered. Those red eyes were colored by experience, but beneath that, at its core... was an eager little broodling, hungry for love. Cecilia opened her mouth, but closed it after a moment's thought. Unlike the majority of DarkStar's spawn, Nariko was never Mother Alexia's.


            But she was DarkStar's eldest. She was the first demon that DarkStar turned, which meant that any... damage... Despite herself, Cecilia's eyes widened in shock, and she wondered just how DarkStar could have failed. What had gone wrong with Nariko?


            Ranma glanced at Cecilia's tail. "You seem distracted."


            Cecilia paused. "Well, my family did get relocated by military force," she eventually said.


            Ranma shrugged. "Yeah, that'll happen."


            "You're taking this well." Cecilia stopped at the door to her brood's barracks.


            "I've had time to get used to this, and besides this gig isn't without benefits." Ranma smirked showing her fangs.


            Cecilia laughed. "So, what are you two doing today?"


            "We've got some training, but that's not for a bit." Ranma looked to Nariko. "Why?"


            "Really?" Cecilia opened the door. "How long is a bit?"

 

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

 


            The pair of demons swept to the table Serenity and her Senshi sat at in the Mess Hall. "There you two are," she noted.


            Rei looked up at the clock on the wall. "You're late, too."


            Her mirth receding, Ranma idly adjusted her vest. "Really?" She then made a production of looking at her wrist. "Not by my watch."


            "That clock is running fast," Nariko's mirth deflated slightly as she looked at the wall-clock.


            "Still, you two are obviously disheveled." Kiri noted.


            "Yeah, and you smell like sex," the blonde who looked like Usagi blurted.


            The redhead raised an eyebrow.


            Kiri sighed. "Yes, that was what I was alluding to."


            "I do?" Ranma asked, amused.

 

            "Not you, her," the blonde corrected pointing to Nariko.

 

            Ranma blinked. "Right, we're on time and we're ready for training."


            Rei narrowed her eyes.


            "There's no need for hostility," Serenity said before turning to Rei.


            "Maybe it's jealousy." Nariko buoyantly said. "Even before the Russians attacked, only two of them were in a relationship. And given what happened to Ami and Janet..."


            Rei bristled.


            Serenity held up her hand. "Yes, anyway. Back to today's training."


            "Good." Ranma smiled and fell into a comfortable stance. "Today we'll be getting a baseline. Looking at the ready positions, grips for those of you with weapons, 'trigger' management, various draws, and clearing any malfunctions."


            "Malfunctions? It's magic." Makoto asked.


            "Just because it's more reliable than mechanical means doesn't make it foolproof," Kiri stated.


            Ranma nodded. "Right. There will also be dedicated range time as we'll go over what your attacks do at full blast."

 

            "I think we know what our attacks can do," Rei dryly noted.

 

            The redhead spread her hands. "Certainly. But we don't, and that'll help us understand what you can do and how we can help you train better."

 

            "And if you just happen to learn more about our weaknesses..." Kiri speculated.

           

            Ranma ignored the comment. "Then we'll start with shooting on the move. You're a bit static. Following that is offhand casting, and the situations where you'll need to do it. Then after lunch we have tactical skills with cover, concealment and the difference between the two."


            Serenity nodded. "What about working as a team?."


            Ranma blinked. "Excellent!  That's a big part. Maybe the biggest. We've got structure clearing and shoot – no shoot decisions. We'll also see what kind of rapid fire and precision limits your attacks have. From various angles and positions."


            Rei raised an eyebrow at the list. "What happens when we finish with that?"


            "You repeat it." Ranma said,. "Again and again.  But as Serenity pointed out we'll start having you working in groups first with a partner then with more."

 

            "We've worked together for years," Makoto reminded.

 

            The redhead pointed merrily. "Exactly. And that's a real strength you have.  You girls know how each other move and how to communicate with subtle movements and work as a team.  Once we tighten up your basics you guys should really be humming...  maybe after a few tries."


            "Most of training is practice, repetition." Nariko added.


            "Practice doesn't make perfect. Practice makes permanent," Ranma explained.

"You won't have time to try to remember, try to recall this stuff. That's why we keep it simple."


            "I'd hardly call your combat style simple," Kiri noted.


            "Nah." Ranma snickered. "It's all very simple. It's just fast and done properly."


            "Not terribly reassuring. How come 'simple' is better than what we've been doing?"

 

            Ranma tapped the table and thought. "Honestly? I'm not exactly sure where you specifically need help. You have experience and power, but... you didn't have training so you could have gotten a lot of bad habits at the start, and you had enough power, enough natural skill to conceal the problems."


            "That sounds like something you're familiar with," Serenity noted."


            The redhead bowed her head a tiny bit. "If I'm right it's your ad-hoc 'sink or swim' nature that has you girls with a bunch of mixed habits. We can try to streamline ans amplify things. Simple doesn't mean easy. Simple just means minimizing the chances to screw things up."

 

            Serenity looked between the demons and her Senshi. She nodded to herself. "Okay,  let's see where we screwed up."

 

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


            "Who do you think is worse?" Shest leaned back onto a tree trunk and looked at the valley that spilled below them.


            Desyat raised an eyebrow.


            "It's a quick either or question."


            "Who are you talking about?" Desyat sighed before switching to an inaudible transmission . "Magical girls versus mercenaries? A hoard of shifty South Slavs versus a cocky thug in an ugly suit? Or maybe this is your circular way of asking me about a certain de facto-realist versus her true-believer subordinate."


            "Perhaps I'm inviting a comparison between nightmares, yours versus mine." Shest rose to her feet, and kept rising. Levitation was a vital compliment to her other powers.


            Desyat's hand snaked down to one of her blades, concealed by her light jacket. "I didn't think yours could be described as a who," she eventually said taking care to scan their surroundings.


            After planting a surveillance pod against a thick branch, Shest lowered herself and then her gaze.


            "You did push very hard for Galina to accept the agreement Ryzhaya bestiya offered Arisha," Shest transmitted back.


            "I know what Ryzhaya bestiya and her ilk can do to us, you know what they can do to us, what they did to Vosem. Zaika and her cadre are dangerous enough."


            "And what you saw was worse?"


            Shest chuckled, and adjusted the plain backpack over her shoulders. "You don't get it. You weren't in the hotel room with us, and even if you were you couldn't... see."


            "Pardon?" Desyat asked out loud.


            This time Shest's laughter had a more prolonged and pained termination. "Wrong question, wrong question."


            Desyat studied her companion's face. Shest always was a bit... different. Alone, she was the only one who could manage the Deep Diver system. "What's the right question?"


            Shest chuckled as they walked down the forest path.


            Desyat stopped. "Well?"


            "Do I have to tell you everything? Shest closed her eyes. "We've been led to believe that the Zaika and her ilk have a weapon, but... You read Liza's dossier?"
           

            Desyat gave a resigned sigh. "The one she wrote before or after her sockets rejected the first set of oculars?" She clarified.


            "Yes, Ryzhaya bestiya really damaged the poor girl. It was generous of Galina to assign her research duty," Shest's voice was carefully even.


            "At least we had enough spares to put in yet another set."


            "Might have been best if we didn't," Shest muttered.


            Desyat coughed. "Hopefully she'll be a hundred percent... soon enough."


            "It's those books... we don't know who we're dealing with."


            "You're not talking about Ryzhaya bestiya." Desyat said while Shest planted another device.


            Giving a short bitter laugh, Shest shook her head. "That much should be obvious."


            "Aren't you putting those a bit close?" Desyat asked, referring to the surveillance pods.


            "No, this is how Galina wanted them," Shest sighed. "I don't get this whole idea, we know where they're training. Why are we bothering way out here?"


            "Because any closer and they'd know we were watching." Desyat shook her head. "Think about it. Relocating to a more secluded area works to their advantage. They're the ones that have to work with one hand behind their backs in an urban area."


            Shest let herself fall to the ground. "At least it's a nice hike."


            "Yes," Desyat adjusted her scanners. "Galina thinks that they'll use a national park for training."


            "Or maybe we're the ones being trained,"
Shest's transmission had a sardonic undercurrent. "You have to admit, the risk of discovery is good motivation."


            "And yet here we are chattering."
Desyat pulled out a paper map and checked their orientation, just like a normal girl on a hike.


           
Shest laughed. "They can't track our transmissions, not at this range. If they were close enough to pick up signals this weak, they'd be close enough for us to detect them."


            "There's other means than technology." Desyat looked to the west, the direction of the mercenary base.


            Now, Shest stopped. "Yes, your... guest is a problem."


            "I'm not the only one he's bothered; remember the business card Galina found?"
Despite herself, Desyat smirked. Strategically, she knew it would have been better if she had simply gone mad, the idea of yet another faction watching them by ill-understood means was disquieting, to say the least.


            However, confirmation that this Murdock, as he called himself, existed shored up Desyat's sanity, at the expense of increasing their risks and rote paranoia.


            "Arisha and Dve'nadtsat found the tainted tools." Shest gently reminded.


            "I know, I'm the one that suggested they check them!" Desyat venomously transmitted.


            "You think this Murdock infiltrated a precision instrument company to dope a traceable impurity as a... distraction?"


            "Sure, we don't give our tools the same scrutiny as our parts, that's what the tools are for, but our tools always have to be close at hand. Makes for an appetizing explanation for his ability to locate us doesn't it?"


            "And this is a convenient way for us to stop eh? Is there no end to your paranoia?"


            "I'm still alive." Desyat shook her head and the two resumed their silent walk.


            "I agree, we need to be vigilant and expand our knowledge."


            Desyat sniffed. "Murdock's not alone as a problem. Back to Zaika. She has something? Some... pet?"


            "Look at Dve'nadtsat's reports. Does that seem so far fetched? They were more capable than we were led to believe. It we did not leverage the initial surprise to kill two of them the fight would have gone much worse. When organized, those... magical girls could keep us at bay and overwhelm our defenses."


            "Yes, the client is better protected than we were told. So it goes.  I can accept that non-human creatures exist. That's just aliens but... the world is logical, it's scientific. It's all physics. Even Murdock's work ultimately has an explanation."

 

            "Physics." Shest snorted. "Physics explains what I can do, that doesn't make it sane. Face it, the physical world is merely a worm-eaten deck nailed to rotted pilings sunk into quicksand. Just because we can walk on it doesn't mean it's stable."


            She shook her head. "Look at us. Do you know why it never went past us? Why we were the only prototypes that worked? Our cybernetics aren't that special, hell, we can make most of them ourselves."


           
Desyat prepared another device and scanned for a suitable emplacement. "It's our flesh. A unique genetic quirk."


            "Then how come clones didn't work? You remember the twins from
Vladivostok."


            Desyat shivered. The other subjects were... she paused and blocked off her memories. "What's your point?"


            "Comrade Scaglietti's shortcut."


            "Yes, he found a way to get our cybernetics to interface with our bodies, but that's just magic."


            Shest raised an eyebrow. "Just magic? Weren't you just trying to defend the rational nature of the universe?"


            "Magic is any sufficiently advanced technology."


            "No, it's not. Magic is something worse. It's the worms; it's the rot. You can use it to eat away at the rules, the structure of things but.... it comes at the cost of your footing. Don't you see!" Shest slammed her hand down and it slipped through the ground. "Magic is how we cheat. Using bits of it we can cut corners and stay safe but what I did... that pulse. There's a reason that... thing was there."


            "I though you triggered the pulse in response to... what did you see?"


            Shest gave a wan smile. "The truth."


            Desyat kept her expression neutral; those words were never good.


            "The truth." Shest repeated. "The truth is... We thought we could make politics rational; we thought that we could have a scientific technocracy; we believed that in the end we could make humanity better; we believed that we had the knowledge make a better world a world that would be steered by our hands." The cyborg laughed. "Why shouldn't our understanding of the how the universe works be any less flawed than our understanding of humanity?"

            "If Arisha heard you..."


            Shest snorted. "She'd yell at me until Galina shut her up."


            "So... is there a match? Between what you saw and what Dve'nadtsat's research dug up?" Desyat stepped back and circled around slightly. The forest was quite scenic, worthy of being a park or a wilderness training facility.


            "It doesn't make sense." Shest looked down. "If Zaika and her flunkies can control..."


            "They've got something real bad up their sleeves don't they?" Desyat sighed the next fight they fought those.. magical girls they would be prepared, they would be ready. 


            "And that's wrong. People that can enslave a cosmic horror to use as a panopticon shouldn't be so... incompetent. Dve'nadtsat's reports are clear, fools don't deal with these creatures and survive. Do you think your Murdock is a fool?"


           
Desyat's eyebrow raised. "Yes, but where is this going?"


            "Someone that can enslave what I saw, and use it as a reconnaissance and surveillance tool, they can't be dumb, not if they want to stay sane."


            "And yet Zaika is..."


            "A spoiled girl,"
Shest smirked. "Perhaps not."


            "Yes, yes, you've deduced that an empty headed princess is being led around by her nose. Maybe they're just too dumb to succumb." Desyat eyed their path.


            "Ignorance is bliss, but there are limits. There's more at work here than we think."


            Desyat smirked. "Really? Did the demons, magic, or the global conspiracy clue you in?"


            "Being a pawn is delightful," Shest moved a few rocks to place on a device.


            Desyat knelt down and studied a pile of beer cans and other debris. Rising from the potential shrapnel pile she looked around the forest floor. The capitalist's decadence did make for strange behaviors.


            "You'd expect more," Shest noted moving to Desyat's side.


            "I'd blame our friends but..."


            "What do you expect from people that think they can own everything? They don't want to wreck their property," Shest said... mechanically. In the motherland the people owned everything, everything. Thus things were disposed in whichever way served the greatest good, mostly leaving equipment out to slowly rust back into the earth.


            Desyat raised an eyebrow. "You okay?"


            "I don't like it here," Shest nearly snapped. "Sorry, it's just..." she shook her head.


            "We're still well away from the fences and their sensors. This is an area hunters still use, we're... okay." Desyat reassured.


            Shest chuckled. "Yes hunters do use this forest."


            "Poor choice of words." Desyat cracked a smile, and led her partner back down the path. "Come on. The sooner we get done here the sooner we can get..."


            "Yes, back to our plotting and squabbling
South Slavs."


            "Would you rather deal with Murdock? Or maybe help Dve'nadtsat."


            Shest sighed, the Deep Diver system was hers and hers alone. "I don't have a choice now do I?"


            "So it goes."
Desyat shrugged.

 

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


            As the wind blew through heavy pine trees, the new queen sighed, lifted herself up, and hit her head on the bunk above her. She grumbled, rubbed her head, and slipped off of the bed.


            "Too tall," she muttered. Stretching her spine she shifted over to the beds and smiled at her sleeping Senshi. After a few seconds she turned to her staff, running her hand down the polished wood.


            Her armored gown hung on a peg from the bunk's vertical support, shorts and a Lycra top were on top of her case, but... she was already wearing a silver bodice under a gauzy white chemise. She stretched her shoulders, wincing slightly at the light, and not so light, bruises from the previous days training. Shrugging, she slipped a leather belt over her shoulder, holstered her wand, and slipped on her armored boots. She walked to the heavy door and disengaged the lock. The door swung open and the agents on the other side snickered.


            The queen looked down and chuckled at the incongruity herself.


            "There a problem?" Andrea politely asked. She had her reservations  about this operation but at least out here things were more... controlled.   And it allowed the Pattern Silvers to actually cut loose.


            "No just stretching my legs and using the restroom."


            Andrea nodded. "Steve, Jared."


            Agents Deschain and Dirac separated at the door and let the silver-haired young woman pass


            The queen turned to the more lanky of the two agents guarding the hallway. "You're the one that adapted our jamming crystals."


            Jared shifted his rifle. "I'm on the team yes."


            "Who did you piss off to get stuck babysitting?" Her levity grew when she noticed the rueful exasperation on the men's faces. "Sorry, it's still a bit funny."


            Jared sighed. "No, it's not that. This is just part of the job."


            "Miss your operations rotation?" Deschain chuckled.


            "Kinda." Jared shrugged.


            Stopping in front of the bathroom, the queen raised a silver eyebrow. "Pardon?"


            "Jared's got an inter-dim rating, which means he's often brought in when things start getting... screwy," Deschain held back that Driac was likely a Prime.  For one he was not certain the lanky agent had any magical ability, but such affinities were common with inter-dim rated  agents.  Secondly, it might be for the best to not know more about the Company's internal magical capabilities, as meager as they were.


            "Yeah. Anytime there's weird stuff with teleporting or phasing, they call in inter-dimensional specialists." Jared nodded to Deschain who then stepped into the bathroom.


            The queen perked up. "So, with all the stuff going on here..."


            "We thought we had more time, then those Russians started their games."


            "Hopefully they won't do that again," she said stepping towards the bathroom door.


            The door opened and Steven stepped out. "It's clear."


            "Uh... thanks." The queen stepped into the large bathroom. Bearing marks of recent repair, it was a plain affair; with bare concrete flooring, a few stalls, several urinals, and row of sinks on a countertop. She eyed a stall, but instead turned to the mirror.


            Gasping, she looked at her body. Despite not being tied very tight, her bodice was rather... supportive and her camisole only provided minimal concealment of her wiry, but endowed form.


            Rotating her forearms, she arched her head and back, causing her spine and slender neck to crack. Man... no wonder Mom liked those tight gowns. Anything to help with support, she thought to herself.


            She looked down and truly understood the agents' mirth. Her camisole barely reached her thighs and below her waist all she had on was a pair of gray panties and her boots. "Great... way to look regal," she sighed and pulled at her hair, causing her bun to disintegrate, spilling her hair down her back.

 

            Sighing, she picked up a few silver strands of her newly shortened hair. and ran them between her fingers. She shrugged and went to one of the stalls. Recalling Eve's advice, she adjusted her belt to keep her wand holster stable.

 

            After finishing, she got up and readjusted her clothes. Exiting the stall, the queen halted. By the sink a blonde with twin pigtails stood stone still, her eyes casually resting on the queen.


            "Uh... can you at least blink?" Serenity hesitantly suggested as she began to wash her hands.


            The princess closed her eyes and then slowly opened them; part of her wondered if her plan was worth it, and if this were the best time to tell the queen.


            "I didn't think... I mean..." The queen turned to her "daughter". "Do you need to be here?"


            The blonde frowned. "You were gone."


            "Awww... Mina.... you don't have to do that."


            Smiling the younger teen's features animated, she wondered if her queen really knew what she would have to do to protect her. "Mother, don't be silly. I'm the one they're after."

 

            Serenity narrowed her pale-blue eyes. "Mina don't be this way."


            "What do you expect me to say?"


            The queen looked down. "I don't know. I don't know how I feel, this body..." she looked at the mirror.


            The blonde shrugged. "It's just a body." If her queen had body issues now...


            "Yeah... I guess you've been through worse."


            The faux-princess stared, wondering if her plan was the right thing to do. It seemed basic enough but...


            "This is a new hairdo and face. Not like what..."


            "You mean Ami?" The blonde smirked. "Yes, this is nothing. This isn't the first time I've done this." She turned to look at her reflection. "But how are you handling things?"


            "I feel like an imposter."


            The blonde "princess" chuckled. "Though that's not true, is it."


            Petulant eye rolling was jarringly inconsistent with the silver-haired woman's lean regal frame. "Yes, again with the succession. It's just such a mess. First Luna doesn't tell us who the princess is, then she forgets that the princess is actually the queen."


            The blonde's eyes flashed red. "At least you have the option to ignore your stupid feline advisor."


            Serenity watched the crimson quickly retreat from the other girl's irises. "I'm sorry."


            The blonde turned away; perhaps tomorrow would be a better time to propose her plan. "You should be trying to get sleep."


            "I'll be ready."


            Minako-as-Usagi looked her queen over. "Yes, unless DarkStar decides to wake you up early."


            Serenity sighed. "She would surprise me like that."


            "Could be worse. The Russians could be the ones that wake you up early."


            "We're on a Company base." Serenity's eyes darted to the door.


            "Yes, they've shown a great reluctance on attacking WIC," the blonde dryly remarked.


            "Are you okay?"


            At the end of her rope, the blonde looked up. "One of my oldest friends was was killed by the Russians, I might as well have been,  I've been mutilated and transformed by an insane, wannabe dominatrix, and now I'm pretending to be the Moon Princess. Again. All this while you've having a crisis of confidence about your identity and fitness to be our ruler.  Again."


            Serenity lowered her head. "Uh..."


            Minako's eyes flashed red for a bare moment. "You're supposed to rule the world one day."


            "I'm sorry."


            "Don't apologize." She had made her decision. Her queen needed her help; Serenity needed the most protection she could give her.


            Looking up, Serenity saw a facsimile of herself spread her arms. She stepped forward and let the shorter girl embrace her. She then gasped when the blonde tightened her arms.

 

            "I can do more." Resting her head on Serenity's chest, Minako increased the pressure, crushing herself into the taller, more developed women.


            "Breathing..." Serenity tried to expand her diaphragm. After managing to inhale, she felt the pressure lessen, but that was only because the force had spread over a larger area. Even the blonde's legs were pressed against the queen and felt... embracing. Looking down she saw Minako's form turn golden and begin to... run.


            The warm pressure spread and soon Serenity found her vision cutoff, her mouth and nose were also covered though she still found air being eased in though some type of valve system. Completely enveloped, she was momentarily pressed down by Minako's full mass. Soon however her encasement went rigid and she found her weight supported. Not just her limbs or her curves, but her entire body was being lifted and held.


            The covers over her eyes snapped off and Serenity let out a shocked gasp. Reflected in the mirror was what would happen if a battleship and a Victorian queen mated. Tons of metallic armor had been shaped into a widely female form.


            Looking down she saw that she was much higher off the ground than before, at least eight feet. Emerging from a solid annular anchor around her waist, rings of interlocking heavy golden plates descended until they hovered just above the ground. Internal buttresses supported each baroquely engraved plate while still leaving room for her legs to move.


            Stepping forward, Serenity could tell that her feet had a slight heel and were thickly encased in some type of boot-like footwear. She looked around, concerned at how much... smaller the room was. She expected the ceiling to be a bit lower, but not become oppressively claustrophobic, and as for the walls, she had crossed the room in less than a single stride and risked hitting the walls, let alone fitting through that tiny doorway.


            She looked back down at her dress. Unseen by her, structural armor needed to support the weight was so massive that it added a several inches in diameter to her legs, bulking her thighs out to where they distorted and spread out her armored skirt, exaggerating her legs and buttocks.


            Atop the skirting anchor ring, the armor continued. Gold over an inch thick ran from her waist to her chest, which had grown in apparent size to a disbelieving degree. This armored bodice was polished to a mirror shine and flexed with high liquidity. The only adornment was an upper "hem" engraved in a scalloped pattern that consisted of dozens of crescent moons.


            Above this hem which came down in a gentle "U", her armor thinned to a mere quarter an inch. The "skin tight" silver ran up and around her neck and over a face that was recognizable as Serenity's, if severely rounded by a thick silver coating. Over her eyelids and lips the armor thinned, though was still about an eight of an inch. Between engraved eyebrows a crescent moon nearly glowed with golden light. Her gray-silver Serenity eyes were right at home behind the armored mask.


            Her ears, the back of her neck, and the rest of her head were all protected by several inches of armor that was sculpted into a tightly bound golden bun, reminiscent of a redoubled French braid. A silver crown with elegant arches nestled into her helmet hair; its ruby crescent moon centerpiece a pale sister of the one on the queen's forehead.


            Stoutly armored, but long, arms descended from layered shoulder plates; the uppermost of which came even with the queen's eyebrows. A five inch mirror-silver crescent moon adorned each hulking shoulder mount. Coming out of a series of articulated elbow pieces were massively engraved and simply massive forearm guards that added at least two inches of material on each side.


            Her gauntleted left hand held Minako's silvery sword, while interlocking golden armored fingers clutched a bulked version of her wand. Runes sullenly glowed along the shaft of the wand.


            "What do you think of my gift?" Minako's voice whispered into Serenity's ear, and it was Minako's voice not the Usagi voice she had been using.


            Serenity lifted her left arm; that is to say she twitched the muscles and the Venus armor responded by moving the armor around her right arm. "What?" she asked, more surprised that her mouth actually opened than that it had deepened to countertenor, a bit too deep for a normal female voice


            "Putting me inside golden exo-armor was the first thing Ami did to me." Minako's whisper chuckled. "Then she turned me into the armor."


            "Is... is this what Ami planned?"


            The whispering laugh repeated. "My, no. Ami simply thought the armor was a neat way to transform me, but I was thinking of a way to protect you and... the armor does that."


            "Why is it so... heavy? I look like a fertility statue."


            Within the armor, warm pressure pulsed up and down Serenity's form. The pressure was even to the point of cutting down gravity, and she felt like she was floating in warm steadily pulsing water. It took her a moment to realize that she was feeling Minako's heartbeat.


             "That's not me, I simply accentuate your curves. As for the thickness, those Russians have some heavy firepower. This is the best I can do to protect you."


            Serenity continued to stare at her armor... her Senshi. "Wow... that's really some protection."


            "Thanks," Minako said shyly.

 

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

 


            Agent Dirac blinked at the feed on the portable display to his pattern scanner. "That's... a lot of magical power for a heavy suit of armor,"

 

            "Explains the scanner jump," Deschain muttered going through his gear.  "Do they do everything that way?"

 

            The gangly agent frowned, checking his rifle. "I've examined some of their  magical gear so... yes."


            Deschain grunted. "Well, I've got a couple charges, we could rig the door up, pull back" he suggested glancing forward and to the left.


            "No. They'll take the door." Kasumi pointed to the two demons. "Steve keep on the feed and the scanners, if they go funny we’ll act. Tell me if the jamming system goes funny."

            "Running green," Misako and Nariko echoed confirming their personal jammers were on.


             "Until then, we wait for Ranma or Captain Jarvis to takeover."


            "Some extra oomph would be good," Misako suggested, shouldering Sasha. She looked over and saw her sister's hands playing over the hilt of ScarletBane.


            "No. Mining the door will force us to withdraw a bit, and I want you two to be close if things go bad, and if things go real bad we've got a 'chopper on route and  orange has a couple AT4's."


            Deschain nodded. "Good missiles, and if this thing has main-battle tank grade armor?"


            "A javelin team is on it's way too, and if that's not enough, there's our the MRLS system, or the Canadians can use one of their Copperheads." Kasumi said, referring to the 155mm laser guided artillery shell.


            "The Black Devils have an M77 now?" Deschain chuckled.  "Good for them."


            "It looks big, maybe slow, clumsy." Nariko said, fingering her sword's hilt.

 
            "Right," Kasumi exhaled. She could see why Ranma found this girl so... frustrating.

 

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


            Staring at the armor's... at her reflection, Serenity frowned... causing metallic lips to shift. "How are you talking, anyway?"


            "Same way I talked in my metal form. I've got speaking crystals near your ears. This can patch in other commutations and audio input. I can even give a visual overlay."


            Serenity blinked and found translucent blue lenses slide over her eyes. Displays formed and a few icons and text appeared before the lenses vanished. "But how..."


            Minako laughed again. "I told you, Ami already built the suit. I just adapted her systems. I don't recommend talking in battle; an open mouth isn't armored. Don't worry, we can still talk in a fight. but I can filter in air for us if needed. It's totally self contained, and powered by my Senshi magic. Your magic can power it too, right now it's hooked up to your wand, but there's other systems that can use that extra power."


            Serenity lifted up her hands, one with a broadsword the other an artillery-class wand. "How can I eat? And can I put these down? Like a scabbard or something."  She was concerned, but Minako wanted to help.

 


            Minako chuckled. It was good that Serenity did not ask about external speakers, even through there were obviously internal ones by her ears. She wished that she could have started with full containment, but knew her queen could not take being mute... yet.


            "I'll teach you how to use my blade," Minako assured as she guided the sword to a gleaming scabbard that formed on her hip. Minako's vocal assurance was followed by another warm massage.  Another holster-scabbard held her wand.


            "Battle, how can I even move?"  Serenity asked flexing her gauntleted fingers.


            "You've been moving just fine. We're enormously strong and can move rather quick."


            "We..." Serenity rolled the word around in her mouth. "Still... we are a giant armored... queen... thing."


            "This is where your power helps. DarkStar's suggestion that we look into Wraith Raider cloaks got me thinking and..." Minako chuckled as all of their armor became more and more polished. After becoming mirror-like shine, it shifted.


            Once again Serenity gasped. It was not total invisibility, but it was like being covered in a roughly translucent paint. Within the room, her shape was obvious, but at a distance she would blend into the background.


            "Of course I've also got a jammer and teleportation spells," Minako assured, returning them to visibility.


            "It's a start," Serenity allowed moving her encased left fingers.  "But maybe the stealth stuff with less... heavy armor."


            "Maybe, or we can start training you on your new weapons?" Venus offered as the lenses reappeared and went from blue to clear. Several simple displays popped up, virtually hovering a foot or so in front of Serenity's eyes. "First, I'm sorry, but it will help you learn."


           There was a slight pain in Serenity's hands and a headache as a modified version of one of Mercury's spells triggered.


            "Now just lean back. Now for a tutorial," Venus said, as a sword shape appeared on the "display".


            Nodding, Serenity found her headache lessening and her hand feeling somewhat but not really numb. A simple broadsword appeared before her. Smirking, she adjusted her fingers to match her blade to the display. Once that happened the image was replaced with a thicker and curved saber. She then fiddled around until she got a match and the display changed once again. It rewarded points for speed and detracted points for errors.


             With practice it took her less time and fewer mistakes to get a match. As puzzles grew in complexity, it took less thought about the fine motions. "Pretty fun game." she said after completing a dozen "levels."


            "You're doing great!" Minako proudly said.


            After a couple dozen more quick levels, Serenity stopped thinking in terms of fingers and started simply thinking in shapes, and letting her hands respond to the controls. As such, her score started spiraling up. "Good idea. It's just like a videogame."


            "I knew you'd like it. Now let's get your other arm into it." Minako smoothly said as the display became a split screen. The left half had the sword game, while the right showed her giant wand cannon. "Your wand has less visible flexibility, but there's still a few spells you can use with it. I'm sure we can think up more too."


            Serenity nodded and started playing the new game. Minako was right, her wand was not that complicated. Especially since she could not fire it, not in the bathroom. However, it did just enough to split her attention to further reduce the amount she thought about it.


            "Hey Mina... this thing's got your attacks too."


            "Why yes," Minako said with what was almost a purr. "It'd be very silly if we went from two to one and lost firepower."


            Serenity paused the game and zoomed in on the wand display. "Okay... but there's this little bar chart that says its like twice the power of before," she said, not wondering how the chart knew what her unsuited power was.


            "Yes, it'd be only slightly silly if we went from two to one and merely maintained firepower." Minako gave Serenity another full massage. "Not only can we tap into both of our powers, but this is a heavy duty wand that can channel a lot more strength and give even more control. Sure it weighs sixty pounds but that's not a problem anymore."


            "Oh.... nice." Serenity leaned back and savored the sensation of having her back unknotted, her curves caressed, and her stress melt away. She then shrugged causing almost seismic scale motion in her shoulder plate. She un-paused and returned to playing her game. After a good ten minutes she laughed and exited the program. "Okay, Mina... you're right. I can see these being useful in battle," she said idly waving her sword arm. It came down on the counter and feeling the edge begin to bite, Serenity shrieked and retracted the blade, preventing further damage.


            Serenity looked at the sword. "I could feel that!"


            "Of course," Minako gently said. "What good is a blade if you can't sense it."


            "How?" Serenity said as she gingerly placed the blade on the sink and could feel the cool metal.


            "Once the game mapped your motions, I was able to tap the blade's a sensor array in. Similarly, if someone touches the armor, you'll be able to feel it." Minako said a bit smugly.


            "Another one of Ami's tricks?" Serenity said as she stepped over to the hand dryer. She made a blunt-tip blade and feeling the activation button, she pressed it.


            "The armor was; the sword was a quick mod on my part," Minako said as Serenity held the blade under the jet of warm air.


            Putting the blade across the blower Serenity laughed. "Ooooh, feels nice," she said, picking up the air's warmth and force.


            "I'm glad you like it. Your arms will be very important in battle."


            "Great game." Serenity nodded. The blower stopped and she drew back her sword and gave a few swings. Knowing what air felt like she could now feel the wind as her blade cut through the air with each stroke.


            "Having fun?" Minako drawled.


            The door clicked open and Serenity automatically spun, heaving her bulk towards it. Se drew her sword and came up in a defensive position while her wand leveled at the intruder.


            The petite form of Kiri Meiou blinked. She leaned back into the hall at the mixture of tense and amused agents, demons, and demonic agents. She pulled herself back into the room, and for a brief moment her eyes flashed with iridescence.

 

            Serenity paused, unsure if the smaller girl was annoyed, amused, or angry. In the brief moment where it looked like Meiou was deciding what to be, Serenity was reminded that "Kiri" was simply a fresh body that Pluto was inhabiting.


            Kiri blinked again and stepped into the room, closing the door behind her. Walking around the titanic armored form, the green-haired girl hummed to herself.


            "Well?" Serenity said after the diminutive girl had completed a couple laps. "Aren’t you going to say something."


            "I could make a pun about not thinking Minako had it in her to be a princess." Kiri then leaned forward and ran her hand over Serenity's right gauntlet.


            Awed as she felt the contact, Serenity then gasped when Kiri ran her hands over her armored finger. It felt almost as good when Kiri switched hands and placed her palm over the immense curve of her chest.


            "I knew Minako was up to something, but this..." Kiri gave a single laugh. "It figures. This was what Mercury did to her after all." Her tone turned flat as she gave a mental note to place a call in the morning.


            "Oh? You know? Of course you'd know. You're all knowing on stuff like this, but not anything important. Like preventing Mamoru from dying, or finding where the Russians are. How come you don't know that?" Serenity demanded, the armor further deepening her voice from countertenor to tenor and gaining a bit more reverb.


            Kiri pursed her lips. "Did you two really think you could spend three quarters of an hour in the bathroom and not be noticed? At first I thought you two were relieving stress. Turns out I was right, and explains why the agents laughed when I suggested you two were simply having sex." Kiri sighed.

 

"Ranma's coming in. It should be... interesting." Pondering delayed plans, Meiou kept her face even. She knew the other demons were waiting for their Mother, which suited Kiri fine, the less she had to repeat meetings like this, the better.


            "Ranma?" Serenity looked down at the vast expanse of amour. "What'll she think?"


            Kiri thought of the situation in the hallway and laughed. "That you and Minako went and turned yourselves into a war behemoth." she patted the back of the anchor ring where it rested above Serenity's back armor and gargantuan thigh supports. She chuckled at the queen's reaction. "You could always take Minako off."


            With shocking speed, Serenity rotated 180 degrees. Her silver visage looked down on the short girl. "No.  Not yet. That demon's been on my case about not taking things seriously, not being a real warrior. Let her see me now. Let her see what Minako's done for me."


            Kiri smiled, partially at the view that loomed above her. "Oh, and what does Minako think of this?"


            Serenity tilted her head. "Minako promised to do her best to protect and serve me. This is what she wants."


            "Well, it's an interesting try," Kiri admitted as she circled back around. She then stretched up and ran a hand over the eight foot tall queen's "hair".


            "I'm not sure what Puu's looking for, Mina," Serenity muttered. Unfortunately even mutter carried when it was rather deep and slightly reverb.


            Kiri smirked and stepped back.


            "You know, you don't have to talk to me," Minako chuckled.


            "Really?"


            Shaking her head, Kiri stepped to the sink and gave her hands a quick wash.


            "Yes you can just think to me, I've been mapping your thoughts every time you speak. I'll show you."


            Serenity felt the armor on her face constrict as her jaw was pulled closed and her armored lips sealed. She tried to talk but with her jaw frozen a more echoed version of her deep voice bounded to her ears. "What the?" Serenity blinked. "How... I can't move my mouth."


            "It's simple." Minako assured. "Every time you talked spells monitored your surface thoughts. After a half hour they've got enough to simulate your speaking."


            "Oh another of Mercury's things But... you can read my mind?"


            "Only what you're 'saying' " Minako chuckled.


            Kiri looked at the still armored queen. "Are you okay?"


            "Just nod," Minako whispered.


            Watching the huge rounded face give a mechanical nod, Kiri sighed.


            "What should I say?" Serenity asked.


            "Do you need to speak?" Minako gently asked.


            Serenity turned and looked at the perplexed young woman. "Well yeah!" She tried to open her mouth but found the armor holding her jaw in place.


            "Let her ask a question." Minako assured.


            Serenity frowned, and was surprised that her armor let her lips do that, but not open.


            "Any reason for the silent treatment? Or is this just a nice little gift?" Kiri patted Serenity's skirting.


            "Well?" Serenity impatiently asked.


            "Now you think about your answer."


            "You tell me, you're the one that wanted to show this to me."


            "As you wish my Queen,"
Minako's voice was bemused.


            Kiri tapped her foot as the armored figure not only went silent but still.


            A couple seconds later the Queen's mouth opened. "Apologies Puu, Minako was merely showing how my internal communications eliminate the need for me to vocalize with her," her deep resonant voice recited, as if reading off a display.


            Kiri looked up and saw a blue glow around the queen's eyes, confirming her suspicions.


            Serenity tried to reopen her mouth, but found the armor had once again locked. "Did I do good?" she confusingly asked.


            "Perfect," Minako allowed a massage. "See how much better that was?"


            Giving a silent moan at Minako's "magic fingers" Serenity thanked the discretion the sealed mask afforded her. Not only could Kiri not hear her, but Serenity knew that her flushed cheeks were also concealed.


            "See, privacy can be fun," Minako giggled, increasing the frequency of her kneading.


            "It's training?" Kiri asked.


            Serenity nodded.


            "That's good, no need to risk breaching your armor just to say yes," Minako whispered.


            "Well, good enough." Kiri shrugged. "I'll get the others. May as well have them see you before Ranma arrives."


            Serenity raised an eyebrow.


            "Yeah, Rei's gonna have fun with this," Kiri snickered as she stepped out of the bathroom.


            After the door closed, Serenity turned back to the mirror. "You seem happy." Minako tracked the big, closed lipped of course, grin on her queen's face


            "I don't think anyone can say I'm not being serious about battle, now." Serenity snickered, looking at her arms in the mirror.


            "Well, we've still got a lot of training. You still have to learn how to use the armor."


            Serenity nodded. Hearing the door open she turned and smirked at the three Senshi and one Mau.


            The cobwebs of sleep were immediately banished by the sight before Makoto. She had gotten used to heavily armed demons and soldiers, but this...


             Starting, she looked up, and up. Dominating the room, towering above her and Rei was a riot of polished and engraved metal and silver. Her eyes traced up the ranks of interlocking armored plates that marched up and in. Then they went over the solid girth of some sort of flared heavy ring. Above that convex and hugely concave curves reflected a distorted image of the room and the Senshi.


            On either side of that were reinforced gauntlets terminating in deceptively long-looking fingers.  A large sword was belted on her hip with a big wand holstered on the opposite side.  It was covered in even more intricate runes and tipped with a pair of heavy crescent shaped crystals. The figure's arms went up into set of oversized golden pauldrons. The uppermost section of each was emblazoned with a giant mirrored crescent moon.


            Relatively speaking, the armor thinned for the figure's upper chest and face. It turned silver and consisted of a faithful if rounded rendition of Serenity's face. The back of her head bore a solid mass of silver sculpted into a braided bun. Her ears were covered by the hair sculpture, her nostrils looked sealed, her lips were held together and armored, and her eyes were solid deep blue framed by silver eyelids. A thin silver crown with a single ruby crescent moon as its center piece was built into the armored hairpiece.


            The ruby moon was overshadowed by the golden moon that dominated the giant figure's forehead. Smoothly the golden queen turned her head towards the Senshi and her face shifted into a close-lipped smile. Her arms went down to her sides, or at least rested her weapons on the flared bell of her skirting armor.


            Now completely still, the eight foot tall figure looked even more statuesque.


            Cradled in Kiri's arms, Luna blinked and nodded with recognition.  "Even in the biggest battles old Serenity rarely put on the... heavy armor," she murmured.


            "What the hell's going on?" Arms enflaming, Rei turned from the queen to Puu. "Don't tell me Mercury actually got Usagi? Mina's just been a trap... again?"


            "Do not speak ill of Minako," Serenity intoned her hand hovered over the hilt of her blade.


            Spine tingling, Rei turned towards the sonorous but still female voice. Swallowing, she looked past the blade to Serenity's impassive, silver visage. "What is this all about?" she demanded.


            "What should I say?" Serenity asked Minako.


            "Why do you need to say anything? Delegate." Minako displayed an arrow pointing to Kiri.


            "Right." Serenity transmitted before turning to Meiou and giving a nod.


            "Oh? Okay then." Kiri raised an eyebrow. "Remember how Ami turned Minako into that gold armor? Mina adapted that form into-" she gestured at the queen. "- this."


            "That's some heavy armor." Makoto stared at gold globes, each seemingly bigger than her torso.


            Serenity smirked and shifted her angle to give Makoto a front-on view.


          "This is crazy!" Rei glared. "Without telling anyone, Minako decides to scrap the decoy plan to turn herself into... this? What even is this?"


            "It's imperial armor," Luna said squirming out of Kiri's grip. Leaping onto the armored skirting, she grinned smugly before bounding up over the golden chest. "Not a bad version," she said examining the armored face before lying down on the space between the shoulder guards and neck.


            "You know of this?" Rei eyed the prone cat.


            Luna looked up from her sprawl. "A certain blonde did ask me about the Wraith cloaks and anything else I could remember.  There were situations, rare situations where Serenity I would use such heavy war-gear."


            "Great, is this another upgrade you've pulled out of your butt?" Rei demanded.


            "Not really. The queen rarely bothered with such armor. She had enough control and experience to use mobility over protection. Members of the extended family did use such devices, but their construction was expensive, complicated, and not something that fit the Senshi. So, neither they, nor their designs were put into general use. "


            "Really?" Makoto asked. "And now you remember what wasn't preserved?"


            Luna hesitated. "Fine... I don't quite remember what was stored, but I know that stuff was stored... and there's got to be plenty of military hardware that the Queen didn't preserve. She was a bit pressed for time, what with the major defeat and all."


             Luna looked up at the silver face. "But... that didn't mean one of you couldn't make an approximation."


            "This... this is artillery, while the Sailor Senshi are... a scalpel?" Makoto asked.


            "More of a assault-tank." Kiri shrugged. "And when a pro-Unification, political message needs to be sent."


            "This is still insane. The queen had the right idea." Pausing, Rei floundered, trying to wrap her mind around the glimmering immensity that dominated the room. "We don't need this type of... weapon."


            "They can separate," Kiri mildly reminded.


            "So? Unless you manage to hide every single time they fusion, merge, or whatever, the Numbers will wise up, but that's moot as even if... IF this is kept a secret you've still got a giant lumbering target with crescent moons!"


            "Yes, that much is obvious." Kiri gave a wry smile.

 

            "And it has us effect down a person.  After Ami and Janet left we're already short handed," Makoto added.

 

            Kiri nodded and pointedly looked to the golden and silver armor.


            "The point of this decoy princess plan was to reduce the firepower concentrated on Usagi," Rei continued.


            "That's a real problem. First of all we have to see just how well this suit works, before scrapping the whole decoy idea."


            "Good, at least someone's thinking." After Rei sighed, a shadow fell over her. Mute, Rei was transfixed as the queen closed in. Unfortunately for Rei, Serenity's dress stuck out furthest.


            The armored edge of the skirting pushed Rei and knocked her forward. As Rei tipped over, Serenity bent at the knees, causing the interlocking layers of her skirt to telescope slightly.


            Rei found her head landing in the V where Serenity's chest armor shifted from thick gold to less-thick silver. Shocked at the relative softness of the armor, Rei felt herself being pinned back by the strong heavy hands. Still digesting the embrace, Rei hardly noticed her feet being lifted off the ground as Serenity returned to her full height.


            "Don't be a bad girl," Serenity's deep voice crooned, cradling Rei.


           Rei flushed both at the mortifying embarrassment of her position and the disturbing warmth emanating from the armor.


            "A bit simplistic, but to the point," Minako noted, her voice almost... distant. Part of her did miss having hands, if only to pet Luna. Though it was nice to have a cat again. "How's it feel?"


           
Serenity looked down at the almost... drowsy Rei. "She's angry, but calming down. This energy transfer works!"


            "We've got power to spare."


            Serenity gave a mental nod before her mouth opened. "Minako put a lot of work into this, and we are going to try it out. Right?"


            Rei gave a dazed nod.


            Makoto tilted her head at the tableau before her. "Are you using the power of love?"


            Serenity turned her head up and gave Makoto a little smile.


            "Only you would find yourself turned into a giant magical war machine and still think to use love." Makoto chuckled while taking a discrete step back.


            "We do have both of 'em working in there," Kiri added.


            "I promise, I will do my best to protect you all. You serve me and you deserve a better Queen." As Serenity spoke her wand rose up and the crystal crescents cupped the back of Rei's head. A silver flash enveloped the girl, then darkened and turned to a red aura. Broadly smiling, Serenity lowered Sailor Mars back to the ground.


            "I look like Venus." Mars stared at her uniform, the seifuku style was the same, but the bodysuit and skirting had changed from silk to polished bronze. Her dark purple bows and ribbons were still fabric, as was her red collar. Instead of white gloves, she had finely articulated metal armor over her finger. However, her shoes had transformed into molded bronze high heeled boots and leg guards emblazoned with her symbol.


            "Our queen is biased to that style," Kiri noted while Luna smirked.


            "Oh, I remember," Mars shrugged her shoulders. The metal bodice was disturbingly form fitting, even taking into account her belly button. At least the magic was adaptive enough to let the material shift with her body's motions.


            "That's really cool!" Makoto appraised, stepping around Mars' new uniform.


            "If you're such a fan, why don't you do it?" Mars groused.


            "Well.."


            "No, I insist." Rei smirked.


            Finding her wrist grabbed by a vise of bronze, Makoto found herself flung in the direction of the queen, who moved shockingly quick to catch her. Makoto sighed happily; the embrace should not have been comfortable, it should not have been warm, but...


            There was a flash from the wand and Sailor Jupiter stood in a twin to Mars' uniform. Save she had pink bows and green collar over sea green patina copper armor. Fingering her skirt, Jupiter looked up to see Serenity's proud smile.


            "Damn, I'm next," Kiri sighed. Running and jumping up to hug her queen, she concentrated and felt both Usagi's rushing love and Minako's smug satisfaction. The queen's power flooded her and as Kiri's clothing transformed something knocked... loose.


            Armor went from metal to shaped sheets of obsidian that wrapped her young frame. Holding the long shaft of the Garnet Rod, Sailor Pluto looked down at her black armor. Fleeting iridescent whirls danced its surface.


            "Why don’t you have metal?" Mars asked.


            "This fits my theme better." Pluto stated, making sure that she was stabilized. It would be embarrassing if she had to get a new body, after less than a week in this one..


            "I dunno, all those rainbows and reflections are rather cute."


            Pluto's pout underscored her apparent age.


            "What is it supposed to show, infinity and time?" Rei asked.


            The green-haired girl gave Rei a long glance. "Whatever, let's go with that," she said, looking at her watch.

 

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


            Waking up, Cecilia untangled herself from her brood. Smiling she stood up and walked over to the bathroom at the end of their barracks. The now familiar sound of an overhead helicopter greeted her. Afterwards she opened a trunk and started getting dressed. She was nearly done when an explosion went off in the distance.


            Her ears perked and as she scrambled over to her radio there was another more distant explosion. The door opened and after recognizing the visitor, relief flooded the young demon.


            "Sorry, there's some heavy... weapons testing going on today," Lieutenant Hanna Hill said, her eyes darting to the stirring brood. Eating habits were one thing, but Hill found something strange about communal sleeping.


            "There wasn't any live-fire training scheduled at this time." Cecilia had checked out the schedule, if there had been she would have woken up earlier.


            "This is... sudden." Hill stepped back into the pre-dawn gloom. "Maybe you see it."


            Cecilia raised an eyebrow, and a second later a wide lance of light shot out in the distance behind the officer. Blinking she walked up to Hill and... stared.


            At the far end of the joint training camp a golden figure steadily lumbered across the clearing. It was only when Cecilia saw DarkStar running several meters behind that she realized just how big and how fast the metallic figure was.


            The thing was three feet taller than DarkStar and over twice as wide, if that giant skirting was counted. However, despite a plodding lope, the thing managed to stay ahead of a running demon. Idly, the demoness wondered how friendly this giant was.


            Cecilia saw DarkStar sprint up and point towards the mountaintop ruins. Raising an arm, the golden thing obliged. There was another burst of light which was followed by an explosion that further pulverized the concrete and stone wreckage. The redhead shouted something and the figure nodded, before running a few paces, lowering itself, and then... leaping.


            Cecilia stared as the figure arced skyward, though nowhere near the altitude of the orbiting helicopter. Her eyes went down to see the crater the giant had pounded into the ground with its oversized legs. As such, Cecilia missed the ignition. Darting her eyes back up, the demoness' jaw went slack at the sight before her. For a couple more seconds a pulsing plume of light blasted from the bell-like nozzle that was the figure's skirting.


            Further boosted the giant reached an apex of at least a hundred feet before falling towards the ground. This time Cecilia saw the... engine ignite and retard the giant's fall. Despite the retrorocket's deceleration the gold figure thudded into the hillock, but not before its other arm lashed out forming a twelve foot long blade that sliced clean through one of the broken-down target cars.


            Almost smugly, the figure retracted its blade and took a step out of the flattened crater. As it turned one foot sunk into a bit of mud and the figure tilted over. The edge of the armored skirting caught on the hillside twisting it and hastening the golden giant's fall. This time the thud was less impressive, though there was more damage as angular baroque armor churned through the turf as it rolled down the hill.


            Cecilia watched DarkStar saunter over to the fallen figure and rap it on the head with the butt of her sidearm. "Huh."


            "Yeah... that was... " Lieutenant Hill sighed; she could deal with the demons. They might be alien but at least they were more grounded, unlike these other girls.


            "Some sort of magical thing the Silvers are testing?"


            "That's what we were told." Hill watched the contraption slowly right itself. "As a heavy weapons platform, it's powerful enough, until the damn thing falls over."


            "It's all shiny."


            "Now it is, but it can get surprisingly stealthy." Hill shrugged. "For something that big."


            "At least they're testing it here first, and not just dropping it into battle."


            "Small favors." Raising an eyebrow, Hill reminded herself that the bowed demoness was older and more experienced than she looked.


            "I should get the girls ready and start warming up the Mess."


            "Any problems with KP?


            "Nah." Cecilia watched as the demons resumed herding the disconcertingly quick behemoth. "Cooking for eight, cooking for fifty, once you get to a certain size it scales pretty easily."


            "And it gives your girls something to do."


            "There's more for them to do here than at the house, Lieutenant." Cecilia chuckled. "They brought their books, toys, movies, and games, but out here they can actually play outside and meet new people."


            "Good. Keep an eye out for these Silvers. They could start trouble."


            "Told to the sex demon." Cecilia smiled.


            Hill watched as the golden figure made another rocket-assisted leap. "I have some idea what you and your girls can do, but I don't know what these... Magical Girls are about, and neither does WIC. That worries me."

 

End Chapter

 

 

Revision Notes :  And here we have Cecilia starting to ease in and Minako doing something rather... .rash.   Though her nature does mean she can do such armor and accenting stuff.