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No Need for a Crossover

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2 years 5 months ago - 2 years 5 months ago #53318 by cherokee43v6
cherokee43v6 created the topic: No Need for a Crossover
The following was written in 2009

Welcome dear readers to the Whateley/Tenchi crossover fanfic. At the time of this concept's creation and initial writing, events involving Team Kimba during the Winter Term at Whateley have barely progressed to their first sim run. When projecting into the future, as this fanfic does, certain assumptions must be made. The key projection, around which this story revolves, is that Jade's attempts to hide her true abilities from the sim operators and observers have caused her problems. Whether this continues to be true in the canon or not, it is the key element you must accept for this story to work. So sit back, suspend your disbelief and enjoy:

No Need for a Crossover:
Episode 1 -
Here We Go
Again

By: Starbuck (Cherokee43v6)
With assistance from MitchellTF and Anvildude

“You know the carnival comes and goes. If you wait for a while it always comes back for you.”
-Ryoko (Tenchi Universe Ep. 26)



The vile stench froze Akemi in her tracks. Gagging, she stepped back and let the door swing shut, cutting off the acidic reek of the devisor lab coffeepot. Born and raised with the Japanese preference for tea, the oriental girl could not understand what drove the Whateley technophiles to consume such a noxious smelling beverage.

She really hated coming down here, but Thomas had disappeared into this mechanical Never-Never-Land earlier in the week and it was her turn. Each of the Power Rangers had taken rotating responsibility for fetching meals and feeding their team devisor since he had slipped into his mecho-catatonia.

Pulling a box from her pocket, she shook two mints into her hand. Popping them in her mouth, she immediately felt the peppermint burn on her tongue and in her nose. They were the strongest mints the school store stocked and she really hoped they would mask the reek. Steeling herself, she tugged open the door once again.

Eyes watering from the combined assault of extra strong peppermint; day-old, overcooked coffee and the various odors associated the sundry glues, plastics, metals and electronics scattered about the work-bays. Akemi squared her shoulders and strode purposefully across the open lab to her teammate's private bay. As she passed, she noted the zombie-like crowd around the coffeepot, several of them stirring large portions of cream or sugar into their cups. The gentle clink of metal on ceramic surprised her. She didn't want to know how the spoons had failed to dissolve in the liquid.

“Hiroshi?”

Not that Thomas looked like anyone she knew with that name, with his curly blond hair, pale pink skin, and round spring green eyes. He was also the only 'Hiroshi' she knew who would wear a pseudo-battlesuit all day, every day. At least he had doffed the helmet, which sat on the workbench behind him, blankly staring at what he was doing.

The devisor's hands were a blur of motion as they skated over the table, attaching the various parts and sub-assemblies to each other. She stared blankly at the incomprehensible pieces scattered across the surface. Gently pushing her aside, Thomas picked up the glowing iron and began melting solder on several newly-made connections. To date, her teammate had told no-one on the Power Rangers what it was that he was building. Looking at the mess before her, Akemi had doubts that her friend would be able to form a coherent devise.

“Dinner Hiroshi.” Shaking her head, she dug out a sandwich and held it in front of him.

Barely interrupting what he was doing, he leaned forward, took a bite of the sandwich and continued working.

With a long suffering sigh, Akemi popped another mint into her mouth. It was going to be a long evening.
*-*-*

Lounging indolently, Billie drifted lightly on the air currents circulating through the room; her face buried in one of her favorite Tenchi mangas. Jinn was puttering around the room, tracking down nonexistent dust particles and making everything ruler straight. Jamie, Jasmine, Josephine (she had long since lost track of Jade's naming system) anyway, another member of the J-Team was busy studying a double-pile of textbooks on Jade's desk. At least that what she thought the highlighter, pen, notebook and books with self-turning pages were doing.

Idly, she wondered what it would be like to actually have some time away from her roommate. Sure, Jade was currently out of the room, meeting with Gunny Bardue for her winter term individual sim review. However, the younger girl's ability to spawn off astral copies of herself sometimes left Billie with the feeling she was never alone.

“Jinn?”

“Hai Onee-san?”

Billie paused, momentarily uncertain of what she was going to ask. “Can you keep secrets from Jade?”

No sooner were the words past her lips than she regretted releasing them. Jinn stopped her industrious sweeping and slowly turned. Billie was only mildly surprised to see the faux-girl's forehead wrinkle. When she answered, her voice began as if she were carefully savoring each word before releasing it. It was clear she was wrapping her mind around the concept.

“I don't know, we've never tried.” The incarnation sometimes mis-known as Jade's older sister twisted her hollow face into a wry smile. “Then again, we both know me. She'd think it was funny to pretend that I really was keeping secrets from ourself.”

The older girl's eyes crossed as she ruthlessly repressed the headache that formed from untangling the apparition's answer.

Jinn drifted up so she was on Billie's level. “Why?”

The headache overcame her resistance and she could now feel the tugging of the roots of each and every follicle of blue hair that bobbed freely about her head. Some questions are better never broached and she knew that eventually, some version of Jade would lean on her for an answer. Luckily for Billie, the flesh and blood Jade chose that moment to mope slowly through the door.

All else immediately forgotten, Jinn and Billie jointly scooped up the younger girl as she began to sniffle. Jade's anguished expression caused the pit of Billie's stomach to dive toward the floor.

“What's wrong Jade?” Billie crooned gently.

“The sims,” she sobbed. “Bardue is going to fail me because I can't make my powers work the same.”

Billie felt her spine stiffen and her mind began swirling, demanding some way to fix this problem for her roommate. Her shoulder twitched as Jade ground the tears from her eyes, soaking the sleeve of the older girl's shirt. “What exactly did Gunny say?” Smiling gently, she patted the back of Jade' head as the younger girl gave a mighty sniffle.

“Miss Sinclair,” Jade deepened her voice and gave it a gravelly rasp. “'It has been observed that there is a disconnect between the abilities you show in the simulator and those you have demonstrated during live exercises.' He gave it to me in writing too.”

Jinn gently pried a wadded up sheet from Jade's clenched fist and read it aloud.

“Such obvious discrepancies are unacceptable if you should expect to pass my course. This is not our first discussion on this matter and I have been lenient, but your team is obviously adjusting their performance to cover your deficiencies. This is unacceptable. There is no technical reason your observed abilities and your simulator abilities should not align. If you expect to pass my class, you must provide me with an accurate placement of your abilities within your team structure for final assessment.”

“Whoa.” Billie hugged the sobbing girl even tighter. “I knew that you and Ayla have recoded your sim-chart several times, but why didn't you tell me Gunny Bardue was on your case?”

“I...” Jade sniffled and hiccuped. “With everything else, I didn't want to worry you or Nikki or Toni.”

Jinn looked up from the letter. “Why does this not sound final? Winter term classes are over.”

“Gunny said that if I can prove to him that my sim abilities match reality before the end of break he would pass me.” Biting her lip she looked up to meet Billie's eyes. With a final sniffle, Jade bounced a bit on her best friend's lap. “You're staying too. Will you help me?”
*-*-*

“You can't mean to tell me that you prefer Starblazers over Space Cruiser Yamato!”

Linda cringed as Zaiyan's incredulous shout momentarily drowned out the soundtrack she was listening to – through the expensive, noise canceling headphones. “Sophomores.” The junior girl muttered, “All the freshman idiocy, none of the insecure self-restraint.”

Seeing her look up, Mike slid closer on the beat-up and threadbare sofa, his eyes glued to the t-shirt stretched across her chest. Before he could speak, she grabbed the Whateley senior's wrist in a vice-like grip and sub-vocalized a quick spell. His forearm and hand briefly went pink, then a pale, near pure white before settling on a washed out blue.

“For the last time Michael, NO. You tricked me into wearing that black bikini once. NEVER again!” Linda cranked the cold in his arm down another notch and smiled at him sweetly. “Or would you rather I freeze off a different appendage?”

Releasing Akira's arm, she spun on the couch, the headphones sliding down around her neck. Snarling, Linda pinned Maximilian with an icy glare. “Ash! Not. In. The. Clubhouse.”

The freshman slowly lowered the pokeball he was poised to throw at Zaiyan's feet. “Yes Nagha.”

Linda chose to ignore the mildly sarcastic drag the young African-american put in the reply, so long as he obeyed her.

Akemi's giggle drew her attention to the petite asian browsing through the team's extensive collection of anime DVDs. The Japanese girl rolled her eyes before glancing quickly at the boys scattered about the room. In spite of herself, Linda smiled at the younger girl's acknowledgment. Reaching for her headphones she was about to reset the track on her MP3 player when the door burst open and Thomas came in lugging a large, wiggling backpack.

"Hiroshi!” Mike's cry was colored with both relief at the distraction from Linda's temper and excitement that the team devisor might now reveal what he'd been holed up creating.

With a weary slouch to his shoulders, he pealed off his helmet and tossed it at Zaiyan. As usual, the sophomore tried to catch it, only to have it slip through his fingers, this time hitting him in the chest. Fumbling, he managed not to drop the headgear as he tumbled out of his chair behind the worktable.

A whump punctuated by a clearly irate mechanical squeal refocused everyone's attention on the devisor. The backpack lying on the floor by his feet twitched violently; frying sounds of electronic static exploding from the canvas at irregular intervals.

Cradling a pokeball in his hand, Max warily leaned around the table to look at the bag. “Is it safe?”

Linda prepared herself to ice the bag should it start smoking or give any other indication of impending doom.

Thomas sniffed, kicked the bag under the table and dragged himself across the room to a ratty recliner. Dark circles weighed heavily under his eyes and his curly blond hair was sodden and matted. Akemi fetched a Dr. Pepper from the small fridge and carried it to her exhausted teammate.

“Hiroshi-san.”

He cradled the cold bottle against his forehead. “Arigato, Akemi.”

Zaiyan was on his knees, poking at Thomas' pack. “So Roash, what's in the bag?”

As Hiroshi's eyes narrowed at the diminutive, Linda leaned backward over the sofa and whacked the sophomore across the top of his head.

“Ow!”

As she had done so, Thomas' eyes had focused on the strained threads and faded graphic of her black t-shirt. Linda might dislike her well developed chest and try to compress it to a smaller size under too tight clothing, but it was surely appreciated by the male members of the club. Relaxing, he tipped the recliner back, smiled and sipped from his drink. “I finally figured it out,” he said, lounging deeply into the chair.

“It?” Linda asked.

“It,” the devisor answered, his eyes becoming animated. “What we've been looking for. What we asked Ryoko for. That it.”

“Now Hiroshi, I'm still not convinced that Ten...” Linda's comment was cut off by Mike exploding off the couch.

“That's what's in the bag!?!” Mike's solid brown eyes lit up like Christmas and the senior was bouncing like a whole team of gymnasts: Ten year old gymnasts – on a sugar fix. “Show us Hiroshi!”

Thomas clawed his way up from the recliner, hoping to divert his team leader from the bag. “Akira... somethings not quite right with it yet,” he tried to protest, too late. The senior already had the bag scooped off the floor and was unzipping it. With a violent wriggle, what looked like a cross between a rabbit and an Easter egg flopped out onto the sofa.

It's electronic shriek of protest was drowned out by Akemi's high pitched squeal. Dropping to her knees, she held her arms open wide as the long-eared white ball of fluff made a bee-line straight for her. The pink ear crystals bouncing up and down with each hop.

“Mokona!”

“You made a DOLL?” Mike's face had turned purple.

Thomas leaped to his feet. “I did not make a doll,” he shouted back.

“Then what is that!” Mike stabbed a finger towards the white bundle that was making electronic cooing noises in Akemi's lap.

“That, Akira.” Thomas paused and took a deep breath. “That is not supposed to look like... like”

“A doll?

The devisor's shoulders suddenly dropped and he collapsed back into the recliner. “That is supposed to be a Multiversic Unlimited Portal and Planck Energy Tap,” he muttered.

Max lay a hand on the devisor's shoulder. “Face it 'Roshi. You're safer with Mokona. If Mouseworld and the Hensons gets word you're calling that a MUPPET, you're gonna be in a world of hurt.”


*-*-*

Thursday Evening – Last Week of Winter Term:

As they left Poe Cottage, Jade made note of the green light glowing over the door. Reaching in her pocket, she pulled out her universal remote and for show, quickly punched in a sequence. Jann-sensei, sensing her thoughts, lifted her lightly off the ground then dove down the front steps swooping through two barrel-rolls and a quick loop followed by a half-turn. This left her facing Jinn and Billie who were still on the porch.

“Follow the leader!” She cried, executing a series of back-flips.

When she stopped, she saw Jinn tugging at Billie's arm with a mischievous look. Jade drifted ten feet above the path, crossed her arms and started tapping her foot. “Well? It's a green day! What are you waiting for?”

Billie looked over at Jinn, a small smile forming on her face as she nodded. Before Jinn could blink, an affectation she'd been practicing religiously, Billie had executed the entire routine and was drifting beside Jade with her arms crossed and toe tapping.

“Hey slowpoke,” Billie cried. “We're waiting.”

Jinn shook her head and dove into the game. The lightness all three felt at the culmination of their term exams fueling their exuberance. All that was scheduled for Friday was the unveiling of the 2007 senior legacy project and the various parties that different groups were holding to celebrate its completion.

Spying Zenith and Aquerna doing a parkour run across the quad, Jade lead her roommates into a mirror of their movements.

“You realize that it is not fair,” Aquerna shouted at Billie who was faux-running, inverted and twenty feet over her head. “You don't have to touch anything to make the turns!”

Billie shot the squirrel avatar a raspberry as Zenith launched off a wall hi-fiveing Jade as she passed. The four burst out laughing as Jinn faked a hi-five at thin air, having no-one with which to slap hands. The ghost-girl pouted briefly.

“Point for me!” Jade cried.

“WHAT?!?”

“I didn't shoot Zenith a raspberry.” Jade answered.

“Then I get a point too,” Billie replied.

Jade looked puzzled. “Why?”

“Because,” Billie stared hard at her roommate. “I was leading Jinn and she didn't shoot a raspberry.”

Zenith couldn't resist. “Point!”

“Oh great, leave the squirrel avatar with Narf, Z,” Aquerna complained.

“NARF!” They all shouted in unison, to the consternation of the other students on the quad.

Jinn made a production of looking up at the clock atop Schuster Hall.“Jade, we're scheduled in the simulator in twenty minutes.”

The young girl's shoulders drooped slightly before she pasted a happy smile on her face.

Zenith frowned in puzzlement. “Sims? I thought all the classes were done.”

“Oh, it's not for class,” Jade answered breezily. “I've got a new gadget that I didn't want to use during the course because it wasn't working right. Gunny Bardue said I could work in the simulator during break so it would be ready for next term.”

“Ooo! What's it do?” Aquerna bounced.

“Sorry, that'd be telling.”

Billie grabbed Jade's arm and started dragging her off toward the arenas. “C'mon Jade, the sim team are doing you a favor. We don't want to be late.”

Drifting backwards, Jade saw Aquerna's pout turn mischievous. Reaching out, the squirrel avatar tapped Zenith's shoulder before leaping off a bench, bouncing a turn off the neighboring lamp-post and sprinting across the grass toward Kane Hall.

“Tag!”

*-*-*

Mike Parsons, better known around Whateley's campus as Akira, rapped lightly on the door to the simulation control room. Twitching lightly on the balls of his feet he waited for the technician to open the door. With a click, it unlatched and his contact slid out. Letting the door shut behind him, the sim-tech gestured down the hall to an empty team briefing room. Linda and Thomas trooped along behind as they made their way through the door.

With a light click, the door to the briefing room closed. Scratching his unkempt beard the wiry, bespectacled gadgeteer turned to the Power Rangers. “Okay, you're set up for simulator three. We have a sim running on one tonight, so I need your assurances one more time that what you're testing will not damage the equipment.”

The blank, smoke colored mask of Thomas' helmet simply cocked to one side. “I will monitor things carefully, Mr. Franz.” His voice echoing hollowly from a speaker below the visor. “ All we are doing tonight is a test to see if we can look across the divide between universes. At the slightest problem all we have to do is cut the power.”

Slipping out of his backpack Michael extracted a long, shrink-wrapped box, set it on the table then reached out and shook Franz's hand. “We appreciate you being able to schedule us for this test, Mark. As a token of our appreciation we have a first edition Space Cruiser Yamato: Andromeda you might enjoy.”

As the tech lead them out of the room, Linda elbowed her team leader in the ribs. “Back it off a notch Akira,” she hissed.

“He who dares, Nahga.” Michael replied smugly.

His face inscrutable behind the faceplate, Thomas merely clumped along behind.

*-*-*

With the forlorn appearance of a discarded cicada husk, Billie's empty sim suit lay lazily draped across the honey colored bench. In the center of the double row of lockers, floating above the bench, Billie tucked both knees to her chest as she skinned out of her jeans and socks. Wadding them up in a ball she stuffed them in her locker before peeling the sweatshirt over her bobbing blue hair and rifling it into the back of the locker. The agonized metallic complaint of the locker door slamming soon followed.

Jade's head shook sadly as one of her familiars carefully folded the younger girl's skirt and hoodie before placing them in the locker. “Onee-san, you should take better care of your clothes.”

Billie applied talcum powder to her legs and slid carefully into the bottom half of her sim suit, rolling her eyes at the continuation of one of her roommate's ongoing discussions. Jade might be able to just jump into hers while Jinn held it open, but she needed the lubrication from the powder. Adjusting her white cotton panties, she slipped the suit over her hips.

Never again was any member of Team Kimba going to wear these suits in the buff. Well, maybe Ayla and Hank but the girls were not going skinny-simming ever again. They could feel things just fine through their underwear, thank you very much.

“We have got to get you some better underwear.” Billie sniped playfully.

“What?” Jade stuck her camisole covered chest out. “I like Hello Kitty!”
*-*-*

Jinn felt the lock-box in her chest shift as she lay back in the sim-chair. Every since the incident with Stygian, she had kept the full kit with her instead of leaving it in the assigned locker. While she had not yet been given reason to find out if she could use the contents to escape from the chair, after being trapped in the Galleria simulation she felt safer having all of her options on-hand. Crackling to life, the spots pulled her mind back to the present. With a final glance around the room, she lowered herself onto the sim-chair.

<Tennyo> We all settled in?

<Generator> All set Onee-san.

<Tennyo> Shroud?

Having developed a serious dislike for the idea that she might be physically helpless in the chair while her mind was playing in the sim; Jinn sighed theatrically before nervously repositioned herself on the chair. She and Jade had not bothered her teammates with the problem, but after finding Stygian in Billie's sim cube, she had worried that some unscrupulous avatar might sneak in and absorb her while she was in the simulation and outwardly defenseless.

<Tennyo> Jinn, you set?

<Shroud> Hai

“Basic simulation,” the wall speaker blared. “Going live in three... two... one.”

Jinn blinked and found herself standing on the quad facing Billie and Jade. Brushing off her concerns, she focused on her roommates and concentrated on their job tonight.

“Okay Jade,” Jinn stated. “We and Ayla were up until the wee hours last night resetting your powers, let's see how it works.”

“I really hate to steal Fey's line, but pronouns, please,” Billie snarked, her eyes crossing.

“You do realize that inside this sim, we are far more alike than outside, right Onee-san?” Snickering, Jinn watched as Jade pulled on a pair of silvery, mesh gloves then picked up a small rock from beside the path.

Billie paused, cocking her head as she puzzled out the implications of what Jinn had said.

Nodding her head, the youngest girl piped in. “She's right Billie. In here we're all projections of our physical selves.”

“Except for you.” Billie said, looking straight at Jinn.

“Well, there I guess you are right,” Jinn answered. “I'm a double projection.”

“Yep! A reflection of ME!” Jade jabbed a thumb into the khaki, multi-pocketed shirt covering her chest while holding up the small stone on her other palm. “Remember why we're here?”

“Sorry,” the two older girls muttered.

Jade held up the rock and began concentrating. Her small features crinkling with the effort. “Ayla said I'd have to relearn how to do this first. It's so effortless when I cast outside.”

Billie crossed her legs, hovering four feet above the grassy quad. “So, what are you trying different?”

Jade settled to the ground with the stone cradled in her hands in front of her, letting Jinn handle the question. “Ayla pulled in the astral projection and telekinesis PDP traits. Nothing special there, we knew those would work all along but I didn't want to use them because we want everyone to believe I'm a gadgeteer. What's new is that we hid them within a shell program linked to the gloves and some chips that she keeps in my pocket.

“Hiding the linkage is what took so long. The system is specifically designed to prevent that from happening. At 4 this morning, we actually gave up and went looking for help. Sara woke Paige up for us and she set up the hidden links. From the outside, it looks like Jade has created a bio-neural interface with circuits in the gloves that allow us to project a limited force-manipulation field. In action it should be a good disguise for how we really do things.”

The older girls turned and watched Jade focus her attention on the stone. Jinn spotted a brief flash between Jade's gloved hand and the pebble. Pulling a tiny green dot from her pocket, the young girl stuck it on the top of the rock. As the stone began to rise, a wave of distortion washed across the quad. Looking at how the virtual world shimmered made Jinn feel a queasiness very similar to what she'd felt when helping Stan and Morrie with the seals.

<Tennyo> What the...

Opening her left hand, Jinn pictured dropping the red ball.

Nothing happened.

A second wave of distortion rippled toward them. As the virtual reality tore itself apart, Jade screamed.
*-*-*

“What the HELL is going on over there Franz?!” The simulation team shift leader's voice bounced off of Mark as the petrified technician sat watching the readouts on the simulation computers going suddenly and completely apeshit.

Jacob's chair rocketed across the room, slamming into the far wall as the technician leaped from his station. Shoving his co-worker aside, he swiftly interpreted the random readouts. “Power surge originating on chair three dash three.”

Moments later, as Jacob's hands danced across the keyboard in a vain attempt to restore order to the burgeoning chaos, atonal klaxons began blaring from their wall mountings.

The shift leader stood straddling the still motionless Franz where he'd landed on the floor. “Isolate sim three from the grid.”

“Overrides are not responding.”

“We've got kids in sim one.” One of the other technicians piped up.

“Abort!” The supervisor snapped, reaching for the phone beside Franz's station. “Get them out now.”

“Oh SHIT! Sim one just destabilized.”

His voice like ice water, the simulation supervisor spoke tersely into the handset. “Gunny? Simulation control, we have a situation.”

A loud pop was followed by a rolling wave blue smoke boiling out of one of the terminals. Moments later, the fluorescent lights flickered, crackled and then, accompanied by the sound of a thousand angry hornets, started cycling on and off randomly.

“All sim power is fluctuating. Initiating hard kill on the system.”

Merciful blackness enveloped the simulation control room as the main breaker for the simulation arenas was thrown. The amber glow of battery powered emergency lights arced outward illuminating the exits.

“Franz, if you want to keep your job, peel yourself off the floor and get your ass over to sim three. Jacobs, get the kids out of sim one.”

A buzz from one of the workstations drew everyone's attention. The internal drives whined discordantly as power once again surged through the equipment. One by one, their colors skewed into sickly spectra, the monitors and terminals crept back to life, each one reading even further off norm than before the shut-down.

The interminable silence was followed by the simulation supervisor's voice, speaking slowly, barely above a whisper. “I thought you initiated a hard kill on the power?”

“Hard kill confirmed,” the third technician replied. “Power is coming from within the simulators.”

“That's it people, get the kids out and evacuate NOW!”

Sparks began arcing from machines to monitors to the metal framework of the building. One of the monitors briefly resolved to the image of a laughing, wild haired, redhead before static overtook the screen and it exploded.

“SHIT!”
*-*-*

The blackness of the inside of the simulator helmet engulfed Billie as she felt herself crash back into the sim chair. Waves of distortion induced nausea trapping her in the seat.

<Lancer> Tennyo, Generator, Shroud. Check in.

The spots crackled to life. Billie should have known that the rest of the team would be listening in while they were in the simulator.

<Jade> W...we're here.

Even through the sub-vocal microphone, Jade sounded unwell. Billie swallowed hard, forcing the acidic gorge back down her throat.

<Tennyo> There appears to have been a glitch in the simulator.

<Jinn> I feel woozy.

<Chaka> Hang in there guys, we're on our way to the arena.

As Billie reached up to disconnect her suit from the network a flicker of un-reality washed across her vision. Disturbing swirls of puce and ash eroded into jaggedly rounded edges and sharp cornered circles. Vibrant, mottled, dirt brown sky warred with a dull and lifeless electric blue landscape.

This time it was her own throat from which the scream escaped.
*-*-*

Klaxons screeched in time with the strobing of the red emergency lights as Franz wove his way down the corridor. Blue-gray smoke clung to the ceiling from where it had boiled out of the hallway leading to the simulator two rooms.

“Sim two wasn't even activated,” he coughed into the thick haze.

A jagged blue tracery of electricity arced across the ceiling causing him to dive for the floor as it grounded into a metal pipe fitting beside where he had just been standing. Coughing in the clearer air near the floor, he decided to combat-crawl the rest of the way to sim three. He really hoped the Power Rangers were okay, because once he got them out of the building, he was going to kill them.
*-*-*

Billie felt as if she were being stretched on a taffy puller.

<Jade> Oooohhhnneeesssssaaannnnnnnnnn.

It was taking everything she had to hold herself together against the strange forces that were trying to tear her apart. She could feel the other straining to anchor her against the ethereal pull.

<Tennyo> Hhhoold ooon Jaaade.

A piercing scream came over the spots and was immediately cut off.

<Jade> Jiiiiiinnnnnnn!

Like she had once before, Billie reached into the ether, trying to find Jinn. There was a thin tendril stretching off toward a blinding point of blackness . Grabbing onto it, she pulled, but it would not budge. She felt Jade slip and the thread that attached the two of them suddenly stretched out taut alongside the thread from Jinn that she was tugging on.

Tears tore loose from Billie's eyes and flung themselves down the well that now gaped before her. She could feel it tugging at the very roots of the other's grip. The line connecting her to Jade hummed with the incipient energies of the starving maw that sought to swallow her. She could feel it beginning to unravel, little side threads popping as the stresses increased. Neither Billie nor the other would allow that thread to break, they'd both die before sundering that connection. With a primordial screech of defiance, the other let go of reality and together they embraced the ravening darkness.

“JAAADE!”
*-*-*

<Lancer> Tennyo, Generator, Shroud! Check in!

Hank had his arms wrapped tightly around Nikki's waist and Ayla was clinging to his boots as they zoomed above the cloud of dust that Toni stirred up with her Ki-enhanced speed. Chou, with a hand on Toni's shoulder, was light-footing alongside of her. Up ahead, he could see bluish smoke boiling from the vents over the simulation arena and several security and emergency services vehicles were careening across the grounds in the same general direction.

<Phase> Jade, respond! Shit! I've heard nothing since the scream.

<Lancer> Kimbas listen up. We do not go charging into the Simulation Tunnels. We don't know what's going down yet. Intelligence, evaluation, planning, then action. Just like Gunny and the Admiral taught us.

<Chaka> But Jade...

<Lancer> No buts Chaka! This is by the numbers or we might make things worse.

<Fey> I just down-tuned to the security frequency. They have no idea what's going on, just that there are two groups in the sim. Some of the Power Rangers were in Simulator Three and our guys were in Simulator One. Delarose wants us to hold at the Command Post he's setting up. He also said that Tennyo is the only person he'd dare send in there right now.

<Phase> And you told him she was already in there?

<Fey> Yes and he said if we go in without authorization he would not only see us expelled, but we'd be turned over to the MCO for giggles.

Hank pulled up over the top of a medium blue panel van with Whateley Security - MCP markings. Several Humvees and ATVs were already parked haphazardly around the area. A pair of ambulances rounded the bend from the perimeter road as the flying members of Team Kimba settled to the ground beside the Command Post. Delarose jumped from the back door of the van as Toni and Chou weaved their way amongst the emergency personnel preparing to enter the tunnels.

“I don't have enough personnel for this crap. I am officially activating all of you as security auxiliaries for the duration,” the Chief of Security announced. “Yes Phase, that includes you as well. You will follow my orders and the orders of my duly appointed deputies. Phase, you're communications and my shadow, get with the Wild Bunch and STAR League Junior for their commo sets. The rest of you are with Everhart. I recommend that if you have any more of those comm-spots of yours you issue her one ASAP. Lancer, Fey, I want a full report on communications with your teammates inside the facility.”

Fey slipped a spare Spot out of her carryall, handed it to Chaka then followed Ayla, Hank and Delarose over to the van. Chaka and Chou walked over to the Humvee where Samantha Everhart, Admiral, U.S. Navy - Retired, in the body of a 16 year old male's dream, was climbing into MOPP gear.

“Ah, the Kimba martial artists,” she groaned.

Toni held the Spot over Sam's hand. “Delarose assigned Team Kimba to follow your lead.”

Taking the near invisible disk from the lithe black girl's hand, Everhart studied it carefully then grinned. “So this is the top secret KimbaCom system.”

Chou pointed to the spot just behind her own jaw. “It's a sub-vocal transceiver on a subspace frequency. Tap once to activate tap twice to turn off.”

Everhart slipped the spot behind her jaw and tapped it.
*-*-*

“We had communication with our three teammates inside until a couple minutes ago,” Lancer briefed the Security Chief. “Now we can't even get a system ping off their Spots. Being a subspace based system, range should be virtually unlimited. This indicates that their Spots are either being jammed or they have been destroyed.”

“The last communication we received from inside the simulation building sounded like Tennyo screaming Generator's name,” Fey concluded.
*-*-*

<Hive> This is Hive, communications check.

<Phase> This is Phase, read you loud and clear.

<Chaka> Chaka, check.

<Lancer> Lancer, five by five.

<Fey> Affirmative Hive.

<Bladedancer> Dancer, check.

<Hive> Comm-check complete. Phase, Hive and Team Kimba are ready for entry.

Ayla glanced over at his teammates, simultaneously glad he wasn't going into the sim tunnels and horrified with himself for feeling that way. Toni and Chou had suited up in MOPP gear like Everhart while Hank was relying on his PK shield and Fey was magicking up her personal equivalent of the protective gear.

He nodded to Chief Delarose. “Hive and Team Kimba report ready.”

The Chief paused a moment to listen to reports from other teams preparing to enter the sim tunnels.

“Phase, Hive's targets are simulator one and the missing members of Team Kimba. Take no unnecessary chances. If things are hairy they're to back out and call for support.”

“Yes Chief.” Phase passed the message on to the team verbatim.

<Hive> You heard the orders folks. Lancer, you have point. Fey, you're trail. Chaka and Dancer with me. Use your all your senses people, this is a rescue mission. Nobody here is wearing red, so we all come out alive. Got it?

<Lancer> Affirmative

<Chaka> * snicker * Aye Admiral.

<Bladedancer> I have a bad feeling already.

<Fey> As do I, Handmaiden.

<Hive> Aunghadhail?

<Fey> I sense a tear that should not be. We should be extremely careful.

The team paused at the bunker-like door to the complex. Nikki summoned up a light force field and projected it down the ladder to the first corridor. Two other security teams moved into position to trail them into the tunnels before making for their own objectives. Mindbird gave the Kimbas a quick thumbs up before returning to the preparations of her own team to make for Simulator Three.

<Hive> Okay Kimbas, let's move out.

Lancer drifted slowly down the shaft, staying horizontal and close to the wall just behind Fey's slowly advancing force field. Sam, Toni and Chou all switched on helmet and wrist lights as they moved into the darkness and began their descent. Drifting in behind them, Nikki kept a wary eye out for the source of the wrongness that Aunghadhail felt.

At the bottom of the escape shaft they paused briefly before moving into the smoke-filled corridor. Nikki's force fields pressed the smoke back and into the adjoining rooms.

Sam checked their position. “Let's hold here a moment while the other teams get down that ladder.”

<Hive> Phase, team one. Initial entry accomplished. We are encountering heavy smoke but temperatures are nominal and there are no other signs of fire. Power is out and emergency lighting is near useless. We are holding for teams two and three to make entry.

<Phase> Delarose acknowledges. Once all teams are in, proceed to your assigned target.
*-*-*

Once inside the tunnel complex, Mindbird stretched her senses outward until she could feel the other teams moving through the halls. Blanking them out, she reached further and detected the men in the control room, their surface mental state indicating they were unconscious.

“Phase, Mindbird,” she toggled her radio. “Pass on to team three. Four individuals in the control room, all unconscious. Continuing scan.”

{i]“Affirmative.”[/i] Phase's voice crackled back over her headset.

Moving on, her senses detected four individuals moving around in Simulator Three. Their emotions were spiking hard enough to stagger her momentarily.

“Good news and bad news team,” she announced. “Our targets are alive and conscious, but they seem to be having one hell of a row in there.”

Smiles greeted her announcement.

“Nice work Mindbird,” Ironstar replied.

Feeling lighter, she returned to her scan. As her senses reached Simulator One, her heart dove. All she could sense was a single person, possibly in the corridor outside the rooms. Within the simulator rooms was nothing.

“Oh hell.”
*-*-*

Outside simulator one, Samantha knelt beside Jacobs unconscious form. Nikki's shield kept the smoke at bay, but she could still feel her nanites twitch every time a blue arc of electricity rippled amongst the cable-runs on the ceiling.

“Unconscious,” she reported. “Smoke inhalation and minor electrical burns. I'm amazed he made it this far from the control room.”

Nikki summoned up a healing spell to relieve the worst of the technician's injuries. “Probably best if he remains unconscious for now.” She cast a levitation spell on his body, which rose and drifted along with them as they continued to the rooms occupied by their teammates.
*-*-*

Toni was on her knees. Motionless. In her hand was the empty glove of a tiny simulation suit.

All of the members of Team Kimba stared at the small, flat and empty sim-suit. Three rooms, and three empty suits, still hooked up to the simulator, still with live power running through them. But it was this small one that broke them.

“Jade.” An unidentifiable, husky voice sobbed.

Samantha stood aloof. She'd lost teammates and friends before. In the Navy, she'd push the team on with their mission, but these were fourteen year old kids. They needed this moment.

<Hive> Phase, please give Delarose your spot.

<Phase> Sorry?

<Hive> There is something I must tell the Chief in private. Please.

After a moment, there was a brief scratch over the contact.

<Delarose> Sam?

<Hive> Chief, I have three empty suits, still hooked up to the sim. No sign of the occupants. Tennyo, Generator and Shroud appear to have evaporated.

<Delarose> U..understood.

*-*-*

The Wild Bunch came through the door of Simulation Room 3-3 just as Akira landed a solid punch on Technician Franz's chin, dropping him like a sack of potatoes.

“Security,” Ironstar yelled. “Stand down!”

“I didn't want to do that,” Akira immediately replied. “But he was trying to disconnect Hiroshi's devise and that would be very bad.”

Mindbird took a moment to look about the room. On one of the walls a large, full color, electric ink display had been unrolled and tacked up. Wires trailed from it to pink crystals on the ears of a fat, glowing white rabbit. The rabbit in turn was plugged into the simulation pick-ups of the room's sim-chair via a large pink crystal on its forehead. On the screen was the image of two anime girls in their underwear lying asleep on a forest floor beside a small trunk. On the camisole of the smaller one was some kind of unintelligible design.

“Mokona like Tenchi. Ryo Oh Ki! Ryo Oh Ki, Mokona looooove!” The wired in devise chirped.

Ironstar's disbelieving growl hummed across the room. “You hijacked and burned out the entire simulation system so you could watch Tenchi!?!”

“Here we go again,” Linda muttered.

Hiroshi whipped around and stared at her, for once the mask of his helmet clear and not smoke. Mindbird could feel the combined waves of anguish and awe rolling off of him.

“Look closer,” he growled, pointing at the screen. “While that might be Ryoko, the other one is clearly not Sasami.”

Linda stepped forward. “Hiroshi's devise was supposed to enable us to peer into alternate universes, but he needed the processing power of the simulator system to interpret what we were receiving.” She pointed at the screen. “We do not know if anime is the natural state of that universe or if it is an artifact of the devise's interpretation process. What we do know is that when we first looked in, there was nothing there. The two of them and the trunk appeared shortly after the alarm klaxons went off.”

Mindbird looked over at her team leader. “I can't sense the Team Kimba members who were in sim one, do you think...”
*-*-*

Nobody hurts Jade. Tears streamed down Ayla's cheeks. They'd all failed. He'd failed. Team Kimba existed because of Jade and part of that existence was to protect her. From the moment the Chief had sat him down and told him the news, his emotions had gone haywire. For the first time since his mutation, he was quietly glad he looked like a girl, because on this occasion, he was crying like one.

“This is Ironstar,” a shout came over the radio. “Pass on to all teams do not attempt to disconnect or shut down the simulation system. Repeat, imperative, do not shut down the system.”

Sniffling, Ayla reached up and tapped the radio. “Say again Ironstar?”

“Under no circumstances should anyone attempt to disconnect the simulation. Tennyo and Generator's lives are at stake. Also, Chief Delarose and Team Kimba should report to sim-room 3-3, yesterday.”

Ayla latched onto Ironstar's voice like a life-ring in stormy seas. Plowing his way through the emotional mire, he forced himself to not scream the instructions over the three communications systems he was wearing.
*-*-*

Jinn lay on the ground, fully contained within her box and feeling very sick. Opening the lid of her trunk, she vomited the entire contents onto the ground in front of her. Strangely, the action of having done so made her feel better. Taking in her surroundings she could see that Billie and Jade, while unconscious, appeared to be unharmed and were sleeping lightly. Carefully packing the rest of herself away, she set up her skins and clothes.

Reaching over she shook Jade's shoulder. With a grump, Jade rolled over and buried her face against Billie's chest. “Gowaynoschoolday.”

Billie groaned at the sudden pressure on her chest then resettled with her arms wrapped around the younger girl.

Placing her hands on her hips, Jinn stared at the two girls sleeping on the leafy ground. Carefully packing herself away, she let go of all the metallic components within her box. Hovering above their heads, she shook the box back and forth violently. Chains, arms and bear-trap all clattered together with the noise of a train wreck. Billie merely rolled over, snuggling Jade to her like an over-sized cabbit doll.

Giving up, Jinn settled herself into a seated position, legs crossed, floating four feet off the ground. Arms resting on her knees she settled in to watch the scenery until either her time ran out or Jade woke up.
*-*-*

Birds chirping and warm sunlight on her bare skin awoke Billie. She could feel a rock pressing into her back and just knew, from camping, that she was going to have a knot there for the next several hours. Vague uneasiness spasmed the muscles along her spine as she recalled a vague nightmare in which she'd been torn in two. A nightmare that somehow had changed into a dream of being grown up and having a daughter Jade's age and they were cuddling. As her brain engaged, she came to the realization that the cuddling might not have been a dream. Something solid lay within her arms.

Cracking her eyes open, she spied a dark mop of long, straight, black hair. She could feel the young girls light breathing as a warmth against the bottom of her breast and on her stomach.

“Why am I sleeping in the woods in my underwear?” She muttered.

“Good morning to you too.” Jinn answered. “Near as I can tell, we all arrived wearing whatever we had on in the sim-suits.”

“Sim? Ohhhh.” Billie disentangled herself from Jade and sat up. Repositioning the girl so Jade's head was now in her lap.

“I've tried to drop the ball and nothing happens. There's something weird about this sim, for example.” Jinn reached a hand out and waved it close in front of Billie's eyes.

Billie flinched backward. “Hey, careful. Wait. I felt that?!”

Jinn nodded. “You two have been out for over an hour. I don't know how long I was unconscious, but I could fade at any time. Now that you're up, I'm going to try to wake Jade from within.

“Before you do, you wouldn't have any clothes in there we could wear?” Billie asked.

Jinn looked up puzzled. “Oh, yeah, you two are only in your underwear. Another weird thing about this sim.” Jinn passed over the leather skirt and cotton blouse she'd been wearing and passed out a wrap skirt for Jade. “Sorry, that's all that will fit her. Should be okay with the cami-top she's wearing.” Packing the rest of herself away in the trunk, she settled to the ground and let go.

Billie watched as Jade's body jumped lightly. After a few moments, she groggily opened her eyes. “Those look good on me, well Jinn. Not sure about you though. Maybe if you didn't look so embarrassed to be wearing the mini-skirt?”

“Hey, just because Jinn can't blush doesn't mean I'm not allowed.” Billie retorted.

Jade picked up the skirt Jinn had left out, wrapped it around herself and tied it off. Reaching out to the chest, she recast Jinn into the box. Seconds later, Jinn was redeployed in her skins, hair and Shroud cloak.

“What?” Jinn threw back the cloak's hood, letting her hair fall free. “The two of you have all my clothes.”

It felt really good to laugh at that moment. Jade charged Jann into her skin and drifted up so her bare feet were floating just above the ground. Reaching down, she brushed the clinging dirt and leaves off of her heels. “Well Billie, what are you waiting for?”

Looking down at her own bare feet, Billie realized that for the first time since her brother fed her that brownie, she could feel weight. She briefly reveled in the sensation of her feet pressing into the leaves and dirt. Taking Jade's hand she walked toward the area of brighter sunlight that indicated a small clearing or path amidst the trees.

“Onee-san?” Jade asked.

“I have weight.” Billie answered happily.

Jade let herself settle to the forest floor and pulled back against Billie. “Something is definitely not right,” she said, biting her lower lip. “I can feel the breezes on my eyes and mouth, places the suits do not make contact. None of us can drop from the simulation and you suddenly have weight.”

Jinn drifted back. “Scout?”

Jade was already picking up a bit of dirt and charging Jamie into it. The speck rocketed off toward the clearing.

Jinn turned. “Billie, can you fly?”

“Of course I... You know I can fly.”

Crossing her arms, Jinn deployed her glowing red eyes. “Have you tried since you woke up?”

“Oh.” Closing her eyes, she tried to shrug off the sense of weight she'd had since awakening.

“Oh, no.” Jade's voice sliced into her concentration.

The sensation of gravity returned and Billie immediately braced for a fall that never happened. “What. Why can't I fly?”

“Perhaps it has something to do with your new sense of weight,” Jinn answered. “What about your energy blasts and sword?”

Again, Billie tried to use her powers and again, she failed, barely being able to form a spark in her hands. After an hour of trying, Billie was able to float a little above the ground and form small energy balls, but the effort left her extremely hungry, muscles spasming uncontrollably and her sinuses feeling as if she'd been trying to slurp an overly thick milkshake. Collapsing to the forest floor, she gratefully accepted the hugs Jade and Jinn supplied to her.

Jamie reported back that there was a path through the clearing. Up the path to the left was a Japanese style shrine, while the path to the right lead down a stair cut into the hillside toward a small lake.

As her muscles slowly recovered, the growling of Billie's stomach decided the issue. She needed food so they made for the path, intending to follow it down to the lake. Jade chirping that if she could cast Jinn into the lake, then she would be able to grab any fish that were in range. As they stepped out of the woods, a Japanese teenager with spiky black hair almost ran them over in his rush to climb the path.

Catching himself from stumbling, he began to apologize. “I'm sorry...” Looking at Billie, his eyes widened and his expression hardened as his somewhat nasal voice lashed out. “Look, I said I wanted to be left alone.” With a huff, he turned and continued his headlong dash up the trail.

“Well, that was rude.” Jade glanced over to Billie who looked as if she had seen a ghost. “Billie?”

“Nothing,” Billie growled. “Downhill. Lake. Food.”

“Onee-san?” Jade's concern laced through the simple query.

Billie looked up the trail after the boy. “You didn't...ah, nevermind. Either I'm hallucinating or you'll know soon enough. But I'm now certain there is food at the bottom of that trail.”

Stumbling occasionally, Billie leaned on Jinn as they made their way down the steps. Near the bottom, where a side trail merged with the main trail, a young girl with long blue hair jogged up behind them with a basket of carrots.

“Ryoko, wait up,” the girl's high pitched voice cried out. “Who are your friends?”

As Jade spun around and saw the girl running up, her jaw fell slack and her eyes widened. Meanwhile, Billie was trying to hide behind Jinn.

“Tennyo?” Jade's voice wavered. “Is that...”

Reaching out, Billie grabbed Jade's shoulder in a vice-like grip. “I'm sorry Miss, but I believe you've mistaken us for someone else.” Sensing Jade about to speak again, she quickly slipped a hand over her roommate's mouth. Leaning over she hissed in Jinn's ear. “Admit nothing.”

Straightening, Billie looked at the young girl. Her large expressive eyes and slightly upturned nose gave her a cuteness that rivaled Jade's.

“I'm Billie, this is Jinn,” she nodded toward the drifting figure in the dark cloak, “and this is Jade. I'm afraid we're a bit lost.”

A low gurgling growl slowly built into a lionesq roar originating in Billie's belly. The grumbling of her stomach caused her to bend over and clutch at the offending organ.

Jade's hair stood out as she slowly turned to face her roommate. “Onee-san?”

“Oh, you sound hungry,” The girl piped. Reaching out she grabbed Billie's arm. “Come on, I'll fix you something to eat.”

Winking at Jade, the girl continued to prattle. “I can't wait to introduce you to Ryoko. You look just like her! I'm Sasami.” She let go of Billie's wrist and grabbed Jade's hand.

Jinn drifted over. “Can I carry that basket for you?”

“Oh, I couldn't let a guest do that,” Sasami chirped.

“Believe me, if you feed Tennyo,” Jinn chuckled as she hefted the basket off the smaller girl's shoulder. “Carrying this basket is the least we can do.”

Coming out of the woods alongside the lake, they came into sight of a steep roofed, beige, three story house. Lounging indolently on the porch, wearing what looked like a cross between a martial arts gi and a red dress was a dead ringer for Billie. Sasami latched onto Jade's hand dragging her along as the two of them ran ahead.

“Ryoko! Ryoko we have visitors.” Sasami cried.

Jade broke out into giggles, no longer caring how she got here. Billie could tell what her roommate was thinking. If this was a sim, it was perfect. If it were something else, then they'd leap that hurdle when it arrived.

The lithe figure drifting on the breeze that blew through the open porch suddenly rocketed upright, her eyes locked on Billie.

“IMPOSTER!”

“Ryoko, her name is Billie and she's terribly hungry.”

Fire in her eyes and energy crackling the air around her, Ryoko hovered toward the near helpless Tennyo. Desperately, Billie tried to summon the ability to fly or form her energy sword. Instead, she merely drifted a few inches above the ground and made some small sparks. Thanking Ito for those classes where he made her fight without her powers, she dropped back into a ready stance as the space pirate began to charge.

“What is the meaning of this?” A barely raised, cultured voice cut across the burgeoning conflict. “Ah, cloning yourself to spend more time with Tenchi? I doubt it would help an old hag like you.”

“You listen to me, little Princess.” Ryoko turned on the new arrival, pointing at Billie. “Just because you've roped Washu into your pathetic manipulations doesn't mean I'm going to let this stand. I'll rip your construct here to shreds!”

“Well then, you decrepit monster.” Ayeka's eyes sparked with barely suppressed glee. “Why don't I help you with that.”

Pushing their sleeves up, the two women advanced on each other and Billie.

“Oh no.” Sasami cried as Jade stood disbelieving by her shoulder.

Billie cowered behind her cloaked friend. “Jinn, help.”

The feuding women advanced on Billie, Jinn's eyes began to glow red, and then...

All hell broke loose.



Thank you for reading.

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2 years 5 months ago - 2 years 5 months ago #53320 by cherokee43v6
cherokee43v6 replied the topic: No Need for a Crossover
This episode is dedicated to the incomparable Maggie Finson. Thank you for Fey. We hope her small part in this story brings you much enjoyment. Our thanks also to the rest of the canon writers for this great place to play.

No Need for a Crossover
Episode 2:

Here We Go
with Feelings

By Starbuck (Cherokee43v6) and MitchellTF


The last days
Outer rings of Ealahndise:


With her typical complete lack of decorum, the redhead djinn slammed through the doorways separating Traruilaral's chambers from the gathering chaos beyond. Had she not been recognized by the wards, the interloper would have been crushed to paste for her headstrong plunge into the room.

Waving a small amulet her sharp voice crowed over the room. “Milady! Milady I've got it!”

Tempering her own excitement, the dryad queen rose from her workbench, swept the long, green-black hair from her eyes and approached her capering acolyte. “Tell me Za Caeluanna, is it what we seek?”

Halting her wild gyrations, the djinn bowed deeply to the queen, holding the talisman out before her. A golden glow emanated from the mystical traceries that laced their way through and around the amulet. “Physical samples and a personality matrix for the Scourge. With these elements included, our search for the penultimate being is but one step closer to fruition.”

A swirling breeze swept through the room, preceding the regal march of the third member of their triumvirate. “So ZaLu, in your excitement over this trinket, have you remembered the assignment you were given?”

Bowing to the Air Maiden, the djinn blushed deeply, her skin matching the hue of her vibrant hair. “Lady Nimsolimil knows that I have forgotten an assignment but once and shall never do so again.”

The dryad leaned in. “Then the work is complete?”

“But for our incantation, My Lady. As we discussed, all is in preparedness,” Caeluanna sniffed. “Should the attempt using the Scourge's matrix fail, then our final scenario shall create a new universe which shall be more amenable to bringing the one into the open.”

“And our alliance with the penultimate shall spell the final doom of the Great Old Ones.” Nimsolimil stated.

A deep gong reverberated across the city, through the floors and the air, causing their organs within to quiver in time with the great brass vibrations. Dust cascaded from cracks forming in the ceiling as the very foundations of the last great city wavered.

Amidst the confusion, the seerwall flickered to life. Upon its shimmering surface was the face of Aunghadhail, Queen of the West. “Betrayal! My brothers and sisters,” pain racked the Queen's face. “The long twilight has come to its end, the final sundering has been turned against us. The outways are open. Run, my siblings, for soon they shall be shut and this place shall belong to the dead.” The wall flickered out with a finality that spoke their doom more eloquently than the Queen's words.

Bowing her head, Nimsolimil shed a single tear. “The five-fold court has fallen, our efforts come too late.”

Reaching out, Traruilaral took her arm, sharing in the grief. “We must flee to the waypoints. From off-world, we might yet turn this tide.”

“The waypoints are on the inner ring. Surely they shall no longer be open when we reach them, assuming we reach them before the city falls upon us.” Nimsolimil sat heavily upon the workbench. “I shall stay here and die, as my Queens and Kings are doing.”

Leaning on the workbench, Caeluanna scribbled hurriedly on a scrap of parchment she'd pulled from her pocket. “My Ladies, all is not yet lost. We may still escape the doom of our world.”

The Dryad Queen and the Air Maiden watched as the djinn ran to the secure storeroom, returning with their final and most powerful experiment. Rearranging the crystals on the outside of the device caused it to begin to whine softly and emit a bluish glow. “Let us enter the universe we planned to create and then seal the way behind us.”

“But,” Traruilaral protested. “To truly seal the way, we must give up our identities and become one with its creation. If our names follow us, then the power of names could lead our enemies there.”

“Then I choose a new name Milady,” Caeluanna snapped. “A universe free of the threat of the Great Old Ones and their minions. Surely, to give up your current identity is but a small price to pay for the peace to pursue our mission?”

The djinn looked away from the Dryad Queen, leaving her the privacy to make her choice. “Lady Nimsolimil? Whether you choose to go or stay, the creation requires three.”

Rising regally, the Air Maiden bowed her head. “I shall not run, but if there is a chance this might accomplish our goals, then I shall be a part of it.”

Traruilaral turned slowly. “I too would rather live for the mission than die a useless death. Sisters, we do not run from our enemies, but to our salvation.”

Gathering around the device, Caeluanna handed each of her companions the revised incantation to memorize. Mithril circuitry glowed silver as the whine of the device built in intensity. At a nod from the djinn, each of the three placed their fingertips on a sequence of crystals, Caeluanna's red, Traruilaral's green and Nimsolimil's blue.

As one, they spoke.
“Forsaking our names we call you into being.
Forsaking our identities we merge with thee.”

The light grew brighter, encompassing the three women.
“Midwives at creation, we call you into being.
Nameless we seek your embrace.”

Walls around the room began to crumble as the sphere of light rose from the floor. The sundering reached Queen Traruilaral's chambers, overwhelming the wards and pulverizing the building. Massive stones exploded into powder as the blue sphere rose through the dust. Bobbing on the waves of destruction, the birth of a new universe came as quiet whispers.

“Spirit of memory, I release Nimsolimil. I live!”

“Wave of life, I release Traruilaral. I live!”

“Binding need of creation, I release Caeluanna. I live!”

Three whispered voices.

Three whispered names.

From the forgotten amulet, hastily stuffed in the former Djinn's pocket, a personality matrix screamed silently. “I am the Scourge and I too shall live!”

And the light imploded into the darkness, leaving behind only memes, myths and legends.
---***---

Lilly flinched involuntarily as an electrical bolt shot from the ceiling and splashed across her shield like a plasma wheel.

“You okay, Wallflower?” The security chief lay a reassuring hand on the energizer's shoulder.

Swallowing hard, she blinked behind her domino mask and nodded.

“Simulator three is the next right.” Phase's voice had climbed an octave and his heavy clumping footsteps had him pushed solidly against the inside leading edge of the forcefield. The Team Kimba warper was so close to the barrier, in fact, that every time he took a step, Lilly could feel the pressure in the small of her back.

“Phase.” Chief Delarose's voice sounded more fatherly than commanding.

“Sir?”

“Slow down. Wallflower will get us there soon enough.”

“Yes sir.”

Lilly watched Phase's shoulders slump and she reached out her own hand to rest it on his shoulder. “Jade, Billie and Jinn are my friends too. We'll get there Ayla.”
---***---

'Child, the tear is in this room. Use your sight.'

Centering herself, the redheaded elf eased her mental shields and focused on seeing the room with her subconscious. In her vision, the lines of the room all curved inward to a blinding black spot at the base of the sim chair. A shiver raced down her spine as a ley line came rocketing from behind her, brushing her shoulder and attaching itself to the singularity. Unconsciously, Nikki reached up to tap the line and separate it from the tangle forming by the chair.

"NO! Do not attempt to tap any of the lines that are bound to the tear!"

"T-Toni? What are the ki lines in here doing?" Sounds of a scuffle behind her broke the mage's concentration. Nikki blinked, rubbed her eyes then blinked again at the white ball of fluff that was wired into the simulator system. Don't stare. It's just Whateley, repeated over and over as a mantra in her mind. On the wall she could see a paper-thin video monitor displaying some kind of anime show in a fast-play mode.

“I DON'T CARE WHERE YOU SENT THEM OR HOW YOU DO IT! BRING! THEM! BACK!” Hive and Stormwolf were clinging to Chaka's arms as she screamed at the Power Rangers. At least Akemi, Nahga and Hiroshi had the good sense to look embarrassed and worried.

"TONI!" Nikki snapped.

"BUT..."

Pointing imperiously toward the base of the sim chair, Fey channeled the full command presence of the Sidhe. "The ki lines Chaka! What are they doing?"

"Woah!" Chaka slumped in Sam and Adam's grip as the wonder of what she saw erased her anger, her eyes weaving around the room before focusing on the fluff-ball by the chair. "I've never seen them do that before."

"That's what I was afraid of." Nikki cringed. "Whatever you do, don't try to tap them. Aunghadhail says it could be very bad."

“Would someone explain to me what, exactly, is going on here?” Chief Delarose's firm, quiet voice sliced across all in the room.

Nikki glanced over her shoulder at the Whateley Chief of Security. "Whatever that thing is by the sim chair it's absorbing all the ki and ley lines in the immediate area."

Out of the corner of her eye, Nikki noticed Wallflower sliding an arm around Hank and grabbing one of his hands. Looking at the tear-tracks on his cheeks suddenly made her notice the dampness on her own. It wasn't from the smoke in the corridors.

“Mokona Loves Ryo-Oki! Tenchi! Tenchi!”

As the members of Team Kimba prepared to do mayhem on the devise, Akemi dove for it and soothed the white fuzzball quiet.

Hiroshi cleared his throat and leaned heavily on the modified sim-chair. “The devise,” he waved a hand at the stylized stuffed rabbit, “is a Multiphasic Universal Portal and Planck Energy Tap. It is intended to allow us to peer across the dimensional boundary into alternate and parallel universes. We couldn't get sufficient resolution with the resources we had available in our clubhouse so we arranged to use the simulator's processors to boost the gain.”

Nagha took over as the devisor wound down. “We had no idea that Mokona...er, the devise would heterodyne with the simulator system and actually create a portal. It was only supposed to draw enough power be a sensor.”

“I think,” Hiroshi looked up, “that someone on the other side was running a similar experiment. The two beams synchronized and the power feedback blew out through the simulator.”

Nikki cleared her throat, amazed at how calm she was being. “And our friends?” All of the power of an outraged Sidhe Queen underscored the unspoken threat behind that question.

Akira's face lit in a beautific smile as he waved at the image on the screen of four young anime girls chatting by a lake. Nikki's eyes followed the movement and stared at the screen. She didn't recall ever seeing Ryoko wear a mini-skirt and tube top. She recognized Sasami, but who were the other two. She noticed how both of them seemed to drift along the ground without actually walking and the taller one was wearing a black cloak.

“Oh my Gods!” Nikki's hands shot up in front of her mouth as Akira spoke.

“They got pulled through into an alternate universe,” Akira crowed in avaricious glee. “One based on what we know as Tenchi!”

Taking two steps forward, Nikki hauled off and slapped the smug, triumphant grin off the senior's face.
---***---

Delarose and the Wild Bunch had escorted Akira, Nagha and Technician Franz out to waiting holding cells in the Security office. The Power Rangers would be held pending their ultimate meeting with the Headmistress. Franz, well his fate would depend upon the outcome of both the investigation and the rescue efforts. The Kimba's were huddled around the screen watching their friends chat with the anime character.

Sam extended her nanite cloud in an attempt to make sense out of the devise, but localized energy distortions prevented the cloud from divining the purpose or operational capacity of the machine.

“Why are they walking so funny?” Chaka's voice interrupted Sam's brief communion with her nanite swarm.

Sam focused on the screen, recognizing the missing Kimba's and noting how they seemed to be moving in very fast motion. She took a moment to, analyze the screen image.

After a moment, the buzz of the nanite swarm returned to the Security Officer's head. “Four to one time compression,” she said aloud.

“It is not a video compression.” Hiroshi spoke from where he was monitoring the devise. “We are seeing a live feed from that universe. If there is a time compression, then time in that universe is moving faster than time in this universe.”

Phase stepped away from the monitor to join the conversation. “What does that mean for our friends?”

Sam sighed. “It means that however long it takes to get them back from here, it will take four times as long from Tennyo, Generator and Shroud's perspective.”

“Do they even know they're not in a simulation?”

“Good question Phase.” Sam replied. “I really don't know. We aren't getting any sound and the anime aspects are making it difficult to do any lip reading.”

“I wish we could send them some kind of message.” Phase groused. “At least let them know we're working on the problem.”

“Mokona send! Portal open! Mokona send!”

"What?!"

Akemi looked up from where she sat trying to keep the devise from dancing out of its contacts. “I think it is saying that if we were to put something in a sim-suit and plug it in that it would be transmitted to the other universe.”

Chou looked away from the monitor. “But how do we know where it will appear. It won't do any good if the message ended up in deep space or something.”

“Mokona send! Mokona send gooood!”
---***---

Phase's eyes flashed as they briefly met with the other members of the team He'd cried and moped enough dammit. Goodkinds don't complain, they fix things! “Fey and Chou get over to the lockers. Grab a sim-suit and something to contain a message."

His lithe frame spun to face Hank and his girlfriend. "Jade is unarmed and they're in a very dangerous universe, get back to Poe and grab whatever she has stockpiled or Bunny has ready for her. And grab some clothes for them as well. Take Wallflower with you. Sam, could you pass the word so Mrs. Horton is expecting them.”

“What do we do?” Chaka asked.

“We watch.”
---***---

Nikki dropped her shield as Chou sheathed Destiny's Wave and squeezed around the scorched and warped door to the girls locker rooms. They'd wasted several minutes forcing it open against the damage it had taken from a stray electrical discharge.

"Thank goodness for devisor batteries." Chou said, stepping though a splash of amber illumination from the emergency lights. "Jade never goes anywhere without that purse of hers, pop her locker while I grab my sim-suit."

The young sidhe reached her senses around the locks of the two bins, carefully disassembling the wards she'd earlier built to protect her teammate's gear from magical meddling. With a pop and a rattle, the two lockers sprang open. With an impatient sweep, she snatched the purse out of the locker and scooped the carefully folded clothes through it's open mouth.

<Lancer> I briefed Bugs and she's preparing a message. She says Jade keeps most of her gear in her purse.

<Fey> Way ahead of you, soldierboy.

"I've got my suit." Chou waved it across Nikki's vision.

<Lancer> Lilly's got the clothes, soon as Bugs is done we're heading back.

<Phase> Hurry up, something definitely 'not good' is happening.

Nikki snagged Billie's jeans and t-shirt out of the locker and stuffed them in the purse.

<Bladedancer> Define 'not good'.

<Chaka> Tennyo's nerfed. Ayeka and Ryoko are about to tear her apart...

<Fey> Nerfed?

<Chaka> No powers, nada, zip. All the girl can do is look constipated.

<Phase> Holy Crow!

<Chaka> Shroud just went full defensive!

<Lancer> Fey, meet in Sim 1-5. ETA one minute.

<Phase> Make it faster!
---***---

<Shroud> Tennyo, don't move.

The basket of carrots dropped to the ground as the black cloak hovering between Billie and the two irate girls stalking toward her spun in place momentarily then sprouted a half-dozen chains that moved to tightly orbit Jinn and Billie. Skeletal, black metal hands slipped out the sleeves of the cloak and the fingers clacked together menacingly.

"You will NOT touch my onesama!"

"Nice touch Ayeka!" Ryoko snarked. "Your magic tricks aren't going to save your little project this time though."

Sparks crackled from the space pirate's hands as she turned to face the Juraian Princess.

"Get over yourself Ryoko! Clearly this is another one of your summonings." Ayeka's eyes glowed as a contained wind began to swirl about her. "One would think you would have learned that lesson already considering how many of these things Tenchi and I have had to defeat for you."

Jade was torn between her deep abiding urge to be diving to Billie's aid and her equally powerful urge to grab popcorn and enjoy watching Ayeka and Ryoko go after each other. She'd pulled Jann back inside in preparation of casting as many selves as possible into surrounding objects to defend her roommate.

"Ayeka! Ryoko! Don't fight!" Sasami's quiet voice drifted back to young Whateley student's ears. Pushing herself into a defensive position in front of Jade, the petite Juraian Princess did not notice the human girl stumble backwards, landing lightly on her butt.

Jade blinked. How did my purse get there? Is the sim finally starting to work? Tentatively she tapped it with the toe of her foot and cast Jann into the bag. Immediately, the bag jumped to her shoulder and she felt the contact as Jann re-integrated with her psyche.

She recast Jann into her skin and the bag and cast Jaime into the dirt around her. Within the cloud of dust, Jade's devisor uniform sprang out and swiftly traded out for the wrap skirt. As her vest fell into place she could feel the lump of her Cobra 240 settle in the small of her back. Jann locking the wristbands with their rocket loads in place signaled to her and Jamie that the job was finished. As the holographic reticule flickered to life in front of Jade's right eye, Jaime dropped the dust and popped back into her mind while Jann launched them 20 feet straight up.

"SPINNER, KITTY COMPACT, DEPLOY!"

The two devises of mayhem shot away from her vest pockets closely orbiting each other as they raced to place themselves between Billie and the two irate girls.

Moments later, a trio of rockets separated from Jade's right bracer, twining about as they raced to a point on the ground five feet in front of Jinn and exploded in blue smoke and dust. From her high vantage point, Jade watched as Shroud snapped in her chains. Grabbing Billie tightly, Jinn threw herself backward and zoomed toward the nearest stand of trees.

Unlimbering her Cobra pistol, Jade took deliberate aim at the space pirate who looked so much like her Onesan. A careful squeeze and the first tangleweb shot zipped down the barrel of the linear accelerator gun. With a slight twist she targeted the Juraian Princess, cast Jaime into the shot and squeezed the trigger again.

If she'd had a voice disk, Jaime would have screamed as the e-fields slammed the webshot down the barrel. Spying Ayeka's swirling shields, Jaime juked and dodged her way through them before releasing the tangle-web shot to deploy. With a pop, she was back in Jade's mind.

Jade drifted to a landing beside the two enmeshed girls as Jinn brought Billie out of the foliage. Sasami ran up, her unnaturally large, rose colored eyes even rounder as Jade kicked Ryoko and Ayeka's feet.

"Nobody messes with my Onesan!"

Fuming, Sasami turned her nose up at her sister and the space pirate. "I am ashamed of you two! That is no way to treat our guests. No desert for either of you!"

Turning her back on the two webbed girls, Sasami gestured toward the house. "Come on, I promised you dinner."

Drifting down, Jinn scooped up the basket of carrots, hoisting it to her shoulder while she stayed between the two webbed girls and Billie.

Jade nodded over her shoulder. "Should I release them?"

Sasami gave the two an incredibly stern, dismissive look. "Nope!"
---***---

Billie and Jade sat in the living room while Sasami rattled around in the kitchen fixing them a meal. Outside the window, they could see across the porch and yard to where Ryoko and Ayeka were both flopping about like a pair of beached fish. Occasionally one of them could be heard to shout, "This is all your fault!" Billie would have felt guilty about leaving them out there, except for the fact that the two of them had both been set on tearing her into little tiny pieces.

"Are you sure we can't help?" Billie asked for third time.

"No. I've got it!" Sasami piped through the door, over the sound of clanking pots and pans.

Billie glanced out the window and grinned at a rather loud shriek then looked over to Jade. "So, where'd your purse come from?"

"I don't know," Jade blushed and grinned at her roommate. "In all the excitement I kinda forgot about it."

Jinn leaned forward from where she was sitting cross legged in mid air. Billie had already snarked at her about looking like the Teen Titan's Raven. "So, what's in the bag."

Jade reached out and brushed the purse which began speaking. "Oh, this place is a mess! Who loaded this thing and where did these backpacks come from." Two backpacks rocketed out of the bag, one arching toward Billie and the other toward Jade. "Ah, spring cleaning!" This was swiftly followed by a lit floor lamp which Jade deftly caught and set on the carpet, two wadded bundles that separated into the clothes they'd been wearing before the sim and Billie's cabbit doll, which the young girl bounced across to her roommate.

"Ooo. What's this?" A bejeweled, rhinestone covered, six inch tall, lavender and lime easter egg floated out of the purse and drifted to land in Jade's lap. A note was taped to the egg.

"Watch me?" Billie asked as Jade handed her the note.

"It's one of Bunny's holeggraphic recorders." Jade reached underneath it and pressed a silvery rhinestone then two blue gems. The egg levitated out of her hand and drifted several feet away.

A pinpoint of light flashed from the side of the egg; a fuzzy and distorted, half-size image of Bunny Cormick appeared bending over the egg and quickly glancing off to one side, her blond ponytails bouncing around her head with a life of their own.

"Help me Obi-wan, you're my only hope." Jinn whacked Billie's arm before Jade could say shush.

"Tennyo, Shroud, Generator, we don't have much time to say this so here goes. You're not in a simulation. The Power Rangers created a dimensional portal that drew the three of you across. You're in what appears to be a real Tenchiverse. We are working to get you back, but it may take some time. From your perspective a lot of time. Hive says four hours pass there for every one hour here."

Lancer's voice cut into the audio. "Bugs! We've got to get back. Phase says Tennyo's about to get blasted."

"Okay, okay," the hologram nodded, her twin ponytails bobbing wildly. "We're packing some clothes and all of Jade's gear we can find into her purse. We can watch what is happening but cannot hear. Remember four to one on the time. We can occasionally send you messages like we sent the purse but there are only so many suits and chairs in the simulator. Hang on and stay safe."

From behind them, a somewhat grating voice floated across them. "Well, that's not good. Though I do love her hair. Maybe I should try that look, hmmm?"
---***---

The acerbic redhead placed herself firmly in Billie's personal space, studying her like a bacterial culture under a microscope. "So, you're not the wayward fruit of my loins."

Billie swallowed the softball that had risen from her stomach to her throat. Unfortunately, it did nothing to assuage her hunger as the loud grumble that immediately followed proved.

"I'm Washu," the redhead preened. "Galaxy famous sci..."

"It is too your fault!"

"It is NOT, you cave dwelling crone!"

"Ah, the dulcet tones of my daughter and her playmate."

"Dinner!" Sasami bustled through the door with a heavily laden tray. "I guess I should get Ryoko and Ayeka now."

"I'll fetch them," Washu replied.

"Really?" Sasami bit her lower lip for a moment. "Great! There's so much food to bring out."

Jinn drifted toward the kitchen door. "We'd be more than happy to help."

"Nope! You're guests!" The blue haired princess pointed firmly at the sofa, her eyes narrowing slightly. "Sit!"

"Ms. Washu?" Jade's voice quavered.

"Yes, little one?"

Jade bit her lip a moment and dug her toe in the tatami mat. "I should come with you. At least to apologize."
---***---

"I am going to go out on a limb here and assume that the four of you know exactly what a Section 33 entails." Standing with her arms crossed, Elizabeth Carson stared across her desk at the four students who were the source of her latest headache.

Of the four, only the eldest boy's eyes met hers, flaring with defiance almost as bright as the glowing red hand-print on his cheek.

"No comment? No protest? Surely one of you wants to explain exactly what you were thinking, plugging your devise into one of the most protected computer systems on this campus?"

The oriental freshman bit her lower lip and stared studiously at the surface of the massive oak desk that stood between them.

"Miss Hori?"

"It's not her fault." The boy wearing armor interjected.

The headmistress turned her focus. "Very well Mr. Harris, then perhaps you will explain why I should not expel the lot of you."

"Ah...well."

"No Hiroshi." The oldest girl interrupted. "We are part of this, you're not taking it all yourself."

"WHAT!"

Elizabeth had to stifle her initial smile as the defiant boy came out of his chair.

"Mr. Parsons!" The headmistress let just the tiniest glimmer of Lady Astarte peek through. "Sit. Down."

As the students dropped back into their seats, Ms. Carson turned back to the devisor. "You were saying something, Mr. Harris?"

"W...we didn't know our...the experiment w.would impact the other s.simulators ma'am." Thomas stuttered.

"Mr. Harris, I have three students, who if they are not dead, then they are trapped on the far side of a dimensional singularity with no way back. 'We didn't mean it' is not going to cut it this time."

All four students cringed in their seats as power radiated off the headmistress in waves.

"Mr. Parsons, Miss Kirkpatrick and Miss Hori, you're on detention in Hawthorn until further notice. I'd assign you to shoveling walks with the grounds crew, but I don't want you anywhere near the simulation center. Mr. Harris, you will spend your every waking moment working on how to get my students back...alive! You are dismissed." She turned her back, listening to the scrape of the chairs and waiting for the sound of the door.

"M...Ms. Carson?"

"Yes Mr. Harris?"

"I'm really sorry. I promise I will fix this..."

The headmistress looked over her shoulder at the devisor. "Why do I hear a 'but' at the end of that statement Mr. Harris?"

"W.well, the devise s.seems to have an a.afinity for Akemi and I think she can help me."

"Very well, until the Sinclair sisters and Miss Wilson are returned, Miss Hori's detention will be spent working with you on their retrieval."

"Thank you, Ma'am. We won't let you down." The boy turned for the open door.

"Mr. Harris?" He turned back at the sound of her voice. "I'm not the one you need to be worried about letting down."

Blushing, Thomas ducked his head as he stepped through the door. "Yes Ma'am."
---***---

With clothes of their own, Billie and Jade had changed for dinner and given Jinn back her skirts and top. After carrying in the pair of recalcitrant cocoons for Washu, they'd cleaned up and settled around the dinning room table. Loaded with fragrantly steaming dishes, it groaned under the weight of Sasami's feast. The bright blue hair of the young girl bobbed as she smiled and counted off the nearly full table admiring her labors. Frowning, she looked at the empty seat at the head of the table.

"Where's Tenchi?"

"Well he seemmmffff." Billie's hand clamped down on her roommate's mouth.

"We don't know him yet!" She hissed in Jade's ear.

As she released the younger girl, her stomach rattled the dishes on the table with its complaint. "S.sorry." Billie's skin turned crimson at the room's stares.

"Well now Ryoko," Washu slapped the sky-haired cocoon beside her. "I'd say you have competition in the appetite department."

Jade's grin turned evil. "Oh, I don't know, Ms. Washu. I'm not sure anybody is competition for my onesan around food."

"JADE!"

Charging Jamie into a hard-roll, she giggled and launched it into Billie's mouth. Reaching out, she cast again, this time into the place-setting in front of her roommate. The older girl glared as Jade took charge of keeping food moving to her mouth as fast as she could swallow.

Jade grinned. "Ah, much better. Sometimes Billie just doesn't know when to shut up and eat."

"MMmmmmmph! !!!"

"Oh, enjoy it. And stop worrying so much."

Sasami frowned. "Miss Jinn, you're not eating anything."

"Well..." Jinn nervously turned her eyes toward her other self.

"Jinn's a ghost." Jade managed to mumble around a bite of carrot casserole.

Washu looked up from feeding the still cocooned Ryoko and Ayeka while Sasami's eyes got even larger.

"Oh, she's not scary unless she needs to be." Jade waved a fork in the general direction of the two who'd attacked Billie. "She's bound to me, but I can charge her into devises I build, like the form she's wearing right now. Go ahead Sis. Show them."

Jinn quickly packed away her skins, eyes, dentures, skirt and top into the trunk and shut the lid. "See," her voice spoke from the speaker-disk affixed to the outside of the chest. She drifted down to sit on the chair beside Jade. "One boxed sister to go."

With a thud, the box settled to the chair.

"And now, Jinn's back in my head." Jade continued, taking another bite of the casserole.

Reaching out, Jade re-charged Jinn into the chest, who swiftly unpacked and reassembled herself. "By the way, Sasami. Jade's too busy eating to say so, but the carrot casserole is delicious!"

Washu leaned forward, pulling a fork-full of food away from Ryoko, who desperately tried to chase it with her mouth. "And how does it work, your connection?"

"Oh, when we merge," the two of them spoke together. "We're one being."

"But once I cast Jinn..." Jade started.

"...I am two separate entities until we re-merge." Jinn finished.
---***---

"So then, Chaka does this little hip twist," Billie stood in the center of the room and attempted to emulate her friend's move. "And the tornado uncoiled, dropping all the debris, right on top of both her opponents."

"Oh..." Ayeka began giggling in her webbing. "Oh my!"

Jade slipped off her perch on the stairs overlooking the living room. Drifting down, she hovered in front of the two still webbed girls and gave them a very hard stare.

"Do the two of you promise not to hurt my Onesan, ever?"

Still laughing, as much at Billie's acting as at the story, Ayeka nodded vigorously. Jade smiled and reached into her bag for the gadget that would untangle the webloads.

Ryoko glared at Jade, red-faced as she continued to strain against the tangleweb bindings. "If I were at full strength, nothing could hold me," she growled. "What is this stuff!"

Jade looked more closely at the webbing around Ryoko and her eyes widened. "Oh no. Do you have any idea how expensive that cobra load was?" Her voice began to quaver a bit causing Billie to pause her gyrations and look over.

"What is it Jade?"

"My were-web, the one with the mithril weave!" Jade hissed.

"The load you commissioned from Babs in case that oaf Bloodwolf tried anything again?"

"Hey," Jade pouted. "I can't keep staking him to trees, Delarose kinda frowns on that."

Jinn swooped down from the rafters getting right in Ryoko's face. "That load costs us a month's pay!"

"With overtime!" Jade piped.

Washu's face had screwed up into a puzzled look. "Mithril?" Her eyes flew open and she too crowded close, avariciously fingering the webbing. Ryoko began cringing back from the close scrutiny.

Jade ran the release over Ayeka from head to foot, as she did the tangleweb unzipped and fell away to either side of her.

Turning to Ryoko, she asked again. "Do you promise to leave my onesan alone?"

With a grimace, Ryoko nodded, muttering.

"What?"

"I promise." The space pirate continued to mutter.

"Well, if we take it back to Babs," Tennyo shrugged. "She ought to be able to incorporate the mithril into a new load."

Running the zipper over Ryoko, Jade bit her lower lip. "Maybe."

As she wadded up the two spent webshots and stuffed them into her purse a growl behind her made her jump.

Turning, she saw Ryoko making a bee-line toward her roommate. Lunging, she grabbed the space pirate's wrist in her right hand, feeling the metallic click as her gun-ring landed against the space pirate's power-gem. With Jann enhanced strength she yanked on the arm, spinning Ryoko around. Jade felt a warm surge of power wash through her as, with a metallic squeal, the pseudo-blaster deployed from her left gauntlet and she pushed it into Ryoko's face.

"You made a promise."

"Yeah, I promised to shred that impostor."

"Don't be a poopyhead and make me hurt you Ryoko." Jade growled in return.

"You and what army, pipsqueak?" Came the space pirate's unthinking response.

Jinn launched herself to Jade's side, transforming into Shroud along the way. Unbidden, the Kitty Compact and Spinner both leaped from her vest pockets. Jann linked in her vision allowing Jade to see Ayeka, Sasami and Washu all forming ranks alongside her.

An electric crackling sound and the scent of ionized air drifted from the back of the group as Tennyo, her feet thudding on the wood floor, stepped forward, glowing energy sword in hand. "Wrong question, Ryoko Hakubi."

The space pirate raised her left hand to summon an energy ball to shove down Jade's throat, but instead of forming the sphere, her fingers instead sparked and fizzled.

Staring disbelieving at her free hand she cried out, "What!?!"

As the strangled protest escaped Ryoko's throat, a puzzled, agitated, and somewhat nasal male voice sounded from the entrance.

"Will someone tell me what the HECK is going on here?"

Followed closely by, "Miya?"
---***---

Billie's eyes immediately flicked to the stuffed cabbit-doll she'd left laying on the sofa. Seeing it immobile, she turned to face the entrance and was gobsmacked. Earlier in the day, she'd been distracted by worry and hunger; at the same time, Tenchi had been concentrating on getting away from the feuding Ryoko and Ayeka.

Now, the boy's full attention was focused on the group of girls and his presence expanded to fill the room. Her eyes turned to meet his and, caught completely unawares, Tenchi's glamour immediately overwhelmed her unprepared defenses. Her jaw fell open and a thin line of drool began to trace its way from the right corner of her lips down to the end of her chin, curled under and dangled there as she slowly closed her jaw and swallowed hard.

She looked down at the energy sword she was holding. Seeing as it was unimportant and would impede her getting closer to the amazingly handsome boy, she pressed it into her palm, reabsorbing the energy. The low grumble her stomach had been making since forming the blade ceased.

Leaping towards the door, she drifted lightly over the stalled conflict. Flipping gracefully, her bare feet padded gently to the floor in front of the boy. Sashaying the two remaining steps, she reached out and took his hand in hers, staring into the deep brown pools that were his perfect eyes.

"My name's Billie," she gushed in a near breathless husk that morphed into a low purr. "Or, if you want to, you can call me Tennyo."

"Onesan?!?"
---***---

From Jinn's perspective the whole world seemed to come to a screeching halt. Her changeover into Shroud had gone smoothly and she'd opted to minimize the chain action since it appeared she would be operating in close proximity to reinforcements. The tiny spark of purple that seemed to jump from Ryoko to Jade had her curious but at that moment Tenchi had come through the door.

The glowing, lavender nimbus that pushed outward before him washed across the room like a wave, stalling all the other girls in their tracks, except for Jade and herself. Jade pausing a split second after Ryoko, though she did keep her grip on the space pirate's wrist. The surprise was Billie. Her emotions lit up with shades of gold and lavender. The glowing purple sword disappeared into her palm and a coruscating aura of purple energy surrounded her as she leaped over the girls and landed in front of the newly arrived boy. Golden waves seemed to explode outward from her chest in time with a human heartbeat as she took the boy's hand. Neither Jinn nor Jade had ever seen their roommate act in such a manner around any boy.

Drifting free of the group, Jinn glided up behind her in time to hear her sultry introduction.

"Onesan?!?"

A violent, fiery flare of deep purple sprang to life behind her, causing her to spin once more to face the interrupted conflict. She could see Ryoko's jealousy and rage driving her power outward and as quickly as it could form around her, it would suddenly be drawn down into Jade's hand as if sucked through a drain. The silver of Jade's ring seemed to pulse with an intense vibrancy and the swirling purple clouds of energy began to zip upward along the young girl's arm.

"Jade, let go!" In the time it took those words to form and escape from Jinn's mouth, the energy shell's color deepened and Ryoko began to slump downward at the power drain.

"Hee heeheeheheehehehehehe." A mad giggle began to escape from Jade's lips. "No one threatens my Onesama. See!"

The giggle turned to violent laughter as she began to spin in a circle flinging the drained and near helpless Ryoko about like a rag doll. By the look of shock and surprise on her face, the first hit on the couch clearly hurt the space pirate and she tried to curl into a ball to minimize further impacts.

"Jade, you have to stop!" Jinn yelled as she tried to no avail to distract her other self.

Backing up she zipped a set of chains around Billie and yanked her away from the boy. Spinning her around she could see the still dreamy expression on the girl's face and could feel her trying to get back to Tenchi. With a resounding smack, she landed a leather work-gloved hand across Billie's cheek.

"Ow! What..." The other Whateley student blinked and shook her head.

"Jade's in trouble," Jinn spun Billie in the chains to face their insanely cackling roommate. "We have to separate her and Ryoko."

The other girls were cringing and staying near the floor to be out of the way. Ayeka did appear to be smiling at each hit Ryoko took while at the same time Sasami was wincing. Ryo Oki had tried to get closer, but was now huddled in the young princess' arms letting out distressed mews. Washu was staring hard at the point of contact between the two combatants.

Billie and Jinn both leaped for the gyrating pair, Jinn grabbing for Ryoko while Billie went for Jade's grip on the space pirate. Watching as her roommate pried her physical self's fingers open, Jinn heard Jade's voice as it broke from the laughter.

"Onesan! Help me!" And a flash of purple fire exploded from the contact between brilliantly glowing silver-white ring and the gem on Ryoko's wrist.

Jade went through the open glass and closed screen doors of the living room, over the porch and into the yard. Jinn and Ryoko landed in a heap on one of the sofa's where the space pirate promptly passed out. Billie's trajectory was the reverse of her flight into the maelstrom, her fall being broken by the boy standing in the entry.

"I'm really, really sorry," burbled out as she launched off of him and through the flapping screen after Jade, Jinn a bare half-length behind her.
---***---

The ship appeared over the planet almost instantly.

Whoever owned it clearly had an up to date warp drive. As for the ship itself, it was obviously not the ship of a legitimate merchant. Despite the lack of visible weapons, it had the sharp, angular shape of a long dagger, cutting through the stars.

The coloring wasn't exactly standard, either. Most ships weren't painted jet black. The purpose wasn't for stealth, since it actually stood out against stars and such, along with having no protection against sensors. It was just very, very intimidating.

This was the ship of someone who lusted for battle, and for blood.

This was the ship of...

Nagi thumbed her communicator, activating the hailing window. As she did so, a series of codes were sent to a hidden facility on the planet below. A figure appeared on the screen, a bulky man, rather on the short side, dressed in the uniform of the Galactic Military. Nagi recognized him as the commander of this base. Considering how secret this base was, Nagi felt lucky she was not shot on sight. However, her employer's codes were once more sufficient to the mission.

The Commander spoke up, his stern visage looking over the bounty hunter. "Well, Nagi, it is good to see you again. Your codes appear to be in order, as usual. So what brings you here?"

Nagi's face was all business. "I'm just doing a routine check on the project.” She left her statement with that. Per security procedures, they could not discuss anything about that particular project lest the signal be intercepted.

The Commander nodded sagely. "Of course. As usual, you will have to park outside the facility proper.” He raised a cautioning hand at the protest that was clearly boiling up inside of her. “I know it's problematic but our docking protocols are a bit strict."

Swallowing her disgust at his tin-god officiousness, Nagi gave him a smile that was meant to appear friendly. Its artificial nature, however, was merely meant to put her contact at ease, and they both knew it. Still, she had an attractive smile and even if it did not put the Commander at ease it was certainly distracting.

Through her false smile Nagi spoke while waving a hand dismissively. "Don't worry, I'm used to the docking procedures. I have done this before, after all.” She modulated her voice to include a slight purr. “Perhaps we can share a drink later?"

The Commander's smile was more genuine. "Ah, yes. I'll prepare the sake. I look forward to seeing you. This is a very helpful business arrangement, for all parties concerned, and I hope it continues."

Nagi nodded, as the communications were cut. She waited a beat to ensure the com-link was broken before letting the false smile drop from her face. This visit would go like all her previous ones had. Flattery, empty promises and platitudes all combined with a thinly veiled extortion of more 'research' funds from the guild.

She slowly brought her ship down to landing, looking over the rocky landscape, covered in red dust. The base hidden beneath a mountain several miles from the landing grid. She spared a brief glance to inspect the false facility bordering the field. At this close of a range, the structures bore obvious signs of wear and abandonment. This was not a nice planet. Storms often filled the area, and sensors worked poorly. Luckily, she had the exact location of the facility, so it was never an issue. It was a pain to walk the distance from the landing facility, but her suit would cover that.

The bounty hunter prepared herself, manipulating the controls of the suit she wore. This suit, and her instinctive skills, were the reasons she was so famous. Her native skills and training were impressive, but with the suit on she was almost unbeatable. While Nagi was not heading into an area with anyone known to be hostile to herself, she made it a habit to always be ready for a fight. Even with the known side effects from constant use of the suit.

Pausing, she looked herself over in the mirror and prepared to walk out. To an earth human, she would appear to be in her early twenties. But, as with many in this galaxy, such evaluations based on looks could be quite deceiving. With a wry smile she turned to the cabinet by the mirror. In spite of her youthful appearance, wearing the suit meant there were some things she had to do to keep herself in top condition.

She pulled out a syringe from a drawer in the cabinet. It was the ship itself that manufactured this drug, unavailable anywhere else. The one who created it was long dead, but as long as she had the machine in the back, she would be safe. She carefully aimed the syringe into her neck, and injected it. She felt the drug wash over her, freezing the damage from the suit and keeping her stable for just a bit longer. She was grateful that this was not a drug people developed a tolerance too, nor was it addictive. No, the addiction for her was the damage use of the suit had already done. Now, if she wanted to live, the drug was just something she had to do, and so she took it.

Stepping out of her ship, Nagi ignored the decimated landscape. She swiftly covered the distance to the facility across terrain that wasn't relevant to her interests. The sharp winds swiftly erasing her footprints. She even ignored the large metal double-doors as she passed by them. They were already open as she entered. Ignored, however, was somewhat different for a bounty hunter such as herself. She took in all the details almost instantly, and maintained a constant update on her tactical situation. Maintaining situational awareness was not something she was even aware of doing any longer, it was merely an ingrained subconscious trait.

A few of the people working, most in uniforms proclaiming their allegiance to the Galaxy Military, waved to her or otherwise acknowledged her. Some even asked her how she was doing. She did not really respond, keeping her stoic expression. She did nod to many of them, showing she had heard or seen them. As a bounty hunter, it didn't pay to alienate potential sources of information, no matter how unlikely they might be. Nagi was not the best in the galaxy at what she did without reason, after all.

Soon she arrived at her destination, knocking firmly on the door. Once inside, she nodded to the Commander, already sitting at the table pouring himself some sake. The bowl was already out, as well, for Nagi as she sat down across from him. There was some gyoza available, though no sushi. Nagi poured herself some sake and prepared for their discussions.

The Commander spoke first. "To tell the truth, I was surprised that you contacted us. After what happened to Daluma, I thought the guild was done for."

Nagi shook her head a little, keeping her annoyance at the errors in such a simple sentence off her face. "I am not permanently affiliated with the guild. After all, like yourself, I am merely a hired hand. And, just because one's leader has found himself arrested does not mean the organization could not select another.” With a smile, she returned his conversational ranging shot with a full broadside. “After all, were not your own leaders recently arrested?"

The Commander winced as the jibe sank home. "Ah, yes. The cleansing going on. Curse Kuramitsu. Fortunately, The very existence of our project is kept rather secret, so we likely have plenty of time before we're discovered. And, considering the way the books were organized, even more time before they realize our research is rather... illegal."

Nagi's face remained stoic as she finished a bite of her gyoza. "That is useful. But, will you be able to do what even Shanks, and all his researchers could not?"

The Commander managed to finish his drink, before he burst out laughing. "What a foolish question, though I do not mean to call you a fool. Will we be able to succeed? It is already done. All that is left, is to arrange for delivery."

Nagi's eyes widened in shock. She had not expected this. At previous times, they had mainly made excuses. To have it finished so easily. Suspicion flared within her. Had the previous problems and delays been a power-play on their part, perhaps to extort some boon from her employers? Were things that bad for the Galactic Military that they were now seeking to curry protective favor with the Guild? What game was the Commander playing? "You are sure the results are satisfactory?"

The Commander smiled. "You can take this data back to whoever is running the Daluma guild." He reached into his pocket, and pulled out a data crystal.

Nagi plugged it into the computer built into her suit, after ensuring the connection was walled off so that she would not be vulnerable to viruses. A datascreen flickered to life, projected from her right shoulder. As she watched the data, she could not hide her deepening shock. This was impossible, they had actually done it.

The Commander practically gulped down his bowl as Nagi's shock became undeniable. "Yes, yes? You enjoy what you see? Now, all that is left is to arrange payment. As we agreed beforehand, it would be better, considering the amount of money that has to be transferred, if we met at a more secure, neutral location with our goods. That way, we can hand the item over to you. Afterward, we can perhaps have a more permanent arrangement. After all, while mass production is likely to be difficult..."

Nagi shook her head, her expression returning to the normal blankness. "Unfortunately, my employers have given rather strict instructions." She took a bite of the last bit of gyoza, and finished off her sake. There was still quite a bit left for them to share, but she was done drinking. "If I received word that the project was complete, I was to take the item with me immediately."

The Commander stood up, shocked. "But, how will we receive our payment?"

Nagi's face became almost sorrowful. "I apologize for this. I dislike 'Black Ops', but my orders were clear, and I received payment in advance. I truly enjoyed our meal, and I regret that it has to be our last."

There was a familiar snap-hiss sound, and a beam of light erupted from a hidden cavity in her armor. The Commander briefly smelled the sweet odor of scorched meat. The light emitted a crackling sound like the very air around it was burning. Delayed pain washed through his nervous system.

Nagi clutched the bright light in one hand. "Goodbye, Commander."

She left the Sake with the former Commander, as she went forwards to do her duty.
---***---

Lady Tokimi stood before the small cage as the being within its restrictive confines raged. Her haughty silence unaffected by the waves of anger that rolled from the creature within. Slowly the external violence of the entrapped being faded to be replaced with a sullen and dangerous silence.

Staring hard at her, the being purposefully gripped the bars of the cage in spite of the waves of pain that rolled through its body. Impassive it stared at its captor, deadly threat and promise written in its scorching vision.

Finally, it could take no more, but summoning the energy for a final violent shake of the cage, the Star Stalker yowled her displeasure to the heavens before sullenly seating itself on the floor.

“Hear me Scourge. I have long expected someone to venture across the divide between our worlds. It is somehow appropriate that that someone is you, however this is not your universe. You are a weapon of war against beings who were never allowed to exist here. I have separated you from your shell and here you shall remain until your shell returns to where whence she came.”

With wild hair and a feral expression, the Star Stalker stared at her captor plotting violent retribution for the insult of her confinement. She could feel the call of her host, the need to rejoin with the girl growing steadily stronger within.

“Do not test me, for I am Tokimi of the three who created this realm and you exist here at my sufferance.”




Thank you for reading.

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Last Edit: 2 years 5 months ago by cherokee43v6.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Oz1eye, Wavehead

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