{Fade in on generic warehouse, the walls lined with large crates marked
 "Finger's Oversized Appliances".  In the center of the room a trussed
  up and very worried Sylvite (wearing her original Arcturus costume) is 
  dangling from a winch over a pair of trapdoors.  Standing in front of  
  her with his hand on a lever set into the floor is Alan.  He's wearing 
  his TM costume and seems to be doing that maniacal laughter thing though 
  we can't say for sure as the scene is silent.  Lounging around the 
  warehouse are half a dozen figures in ill fitting tuxedos.  They're either 
  really ugly thugs or roughly shaved gorillas.} 
Narrator: "In our last exciting episode Sailor Arcturus had been captured by 
           the insidious Tuxedo Gang.  What dire fate is in store for her and 
           where is Sailor V when she really needs her?  Keep watching and 
           you'll find out."
{Cue music}
Dadadadadadadadadada {Sailor V cutout zaps droid} dadadada {Sailor Arcturus 
cutout biffs genie then Sailor V cutout appears and the two shake hands 
in a very poorly animated sequence} dadadada {Both figures fade out replaced
by a large logo reading "V2.0"} dadadada Version 2.0, Version 2.0, Version 2.0
{Headshot of Sailor V with title, "Starring Kodachi Aino"} Version 2.0,    
Version 2.0 {Headshot of Sailor Arcturus with title, "Also starring Sylvite".
Music continues as side by side pictures of V and Arcturus zap the surrounding
bad guys} dadadadadada Version 2.0
{Music stops and picture jumpcuts back to the warehouse scene.  Titles overlay
 picture.  Ominous music begins}
Part 7. A Date That Will Live in Infamy
written by Mark Latus
with special guest villain, Alan Aino as Tuxedo Bastard
{picture zooms in on Alan and Sylvite and the sound comes up as the former 
 finishes laughing}

Alan: "... HAHAHAhahaha ... ahem, yes well ... have you never felt the sheer
       maleficent joy of evil and had the urge to laugh with a ferocity that
       could shake the foundations of heaven itself."
Sylvite: {rolls eyes}  "No, can't say I've ever felt like sounding like a 
         hyena on laughing gas."
Alan: {feeling a little foolish & trying to regain initiative}  "I imagine
      you are wondering at the master plan I intend to unleash upon this
      slumbering city."
Sylvite: "Not really, I've already had an earful of your ranting.  Why would
          I want to listen to you any more than I have to?"
Alan: {apologetic} "I did not realize you found my company so tedious.  If
      that is the way of it then I suppose we should proceed directly to the
Sylvite: "Urk!" {sweatdrops}  "You've got a plan you say ... uhm ... you 
          fiend!  What vile vileness are you viling ... I mean planning?"
Alan: "Your courtesy is appreciated but you need not trouble yourself when 
       you so clearly lack any interest ..."
Sylvite: {mutters} "Great, I get the polite homicidal villains ..." 
Alan: "... and while I hesitate to rob the world of beauty such as yours I 
       am a villain and thus cursed by my archetype to do regrettable things 
       with great frequency." {His foot taps a pedal by the lever's base and
       the trapdoors recede exposing a black pit.  From inside come sounds of  
       splashing water, reptilian hissing and blood chilling moos.}  "So I
       have no choice but to lower you into this pit of man eating alligators
       and cows!"
Sylvite: "..."
Alan: "Alas that fate condemns us to part in sure rude fashion.  Such is the  
       weird the fates lay upon us ..."
Sylvite: {Having remembered that silly doesn't mean not dangerous} "Cows and 
         alligators!  That's a weird combination."
Alan: "Indeed, I strive for originality in such matters ... in confidence I
       can tell you it was difficult to train one not to eat the other."
Sylvite: "I can imagine."
Alan: {nods} "Twas expensive to have to keep replacing the alligators. 
Sylvite: "..." {shakes head} "Coming from you I can actually believe that."
Alan: {confused} "I fear I do not grasp the import of your statement."
Sylvite: "Never mind ... Man eating you said?"
Alan: "Alas yes."
Sylvite: "Glad I'm a girl."
Alan: {coughs} "I use man in the larger sense to indicate the human race in
Sylvite: "Actually ..."
Alan: {Puzzled, then the penny drops} "Oh, yes.  I had forgotten."  {downcast} 
      "The best laid plans of mice and megalomaniacs aft go awry ...{brightens 
      up}  "Still they shall surely take bites before they realize their
      error.  So we may proceed as intended."
Sylvite: "Err, wait a minute ..."  
{Dramatic music begins.  Jumpcut to senshi silhouette in open window.  
 Spotlight clicks on illuminating Sailor V looking cool and collected.}
Kodachi: "Silent as a snowflake, swift as a laser, whenever evil strikes 
          she appears to shine the light of retribution on it.  Beautiful
          justice warrior Sailor V is here!  To those who threaten my 
          beloved Syl ... my partner Sailor Arcturus there can be no 
          forgiveness.  Tuxedo Bastard how dare you ..."
Sylvite: "HEY!"
Kodachi: "Nani?"
{During the speech Alan has thrown the lever and Sylvite is descending into 
 the pit}
Sylvite: "If you don't mind I'm under a certain amount of deadline pressure!"   
Kodachi: "Oops!  Hold on Syl, the cavalry just arrived!"
Alan: "I think not.  Minions, dispatch this infernal nuisance!"  
{thugs look puzzled and shrug}
Alan: {longsuffering} "Kill her you idiots!"
{That they understand, they produce a wide variety of lethal weapons}
Kodachi: "Yeah, right.  Let's do it!"      
{Theme music resumes.  Sailor V vaults down from the window ledge blasting a 
 thug en route}  ZAP! {Nails a second ...} ZOWIE! {... dives across the room 
 and blasts a third} BIFF!
Thug : "How does a laser go 'biff'?"
Thug 2 : "Tell me about the rabbits, George."
{Kodachi kicks the first thug below the belt ...} BOBBIT! {... then punches 
 the rabbit lover}  OOOF!  {He flies across the room towards Alan.  Alan 
 dodges him easily but he slams into the lever and knocks it into reverse
 before snapping it off.  Sylvite reemerges looking a little shaky.  Kodachi
 KABLOWIE!'s the last thug and spins to confront Alan her hands at her side.
 Alan's hands are also hovering at waist level.  Apart from the total absence 
 of guns there's a sudden western feel and the music changes appropriately.
 The scene shifts between the two siblings very abruptly in a series of 
 closeups that draw closer and closer.  Suddenly it's switching between shots
 of their eyes moving faster and faster.  Then Kodachi blinks.  Alan's hand 
 snaps up a rose forming as everything goes into slow motion.  He launches it
 in an overhand throw on a course that will punch it through Kodachi's heart.
 Kodachi's hand comes up pointing in a kid's version of a gun.  An energy 
 pulse tears from her index finger and impacts the rose.  It explodes and the 
 blastwave ripples across the warehouse shaking everything.  The scene 
 abruptly returns to real time speed as Alan topples into the pit trying 
 vainly to grab onto something, his flailing hands barely missing Sylvite.
 There's a splash followed by reptilian hissing and grunting and a lot of
 eerie moos.  Looking directly down Sylvite starts looking a little green.}
Kodachi: "Yeech!" {Philosophical} "Well, he had it coming.  Hang on Syl!"
{Kodachi looks around the pit until she spots the pedal switch and steps on
 it.  The trapdoors slide closed cutting off the noise.  Cautiously Kodachi 
 steps onto the trapdoors and lifts the bound Sylvite off the winch hook that
 the ropes are looped onto.  She steps off the trapdoors and lowers Sylvite
 so her feet are on the ground.}
Kodachi: "It's alright, you're safe now."
{closeup on Sylvite's flushed face, closeup on adrenaline wired Kodachi.  
 Kodachi purses her lips and leans forward.  There's a sudden ripping noise 
 and Sylvite is suddenly free, furious and holding a megamallet.} 
Kodachi: {sweatdropping like crazy} "Uh no, wait ...!"  {Too late, the hammer
          comes down} "AIEEE!" {Screen goes white}

     Kodachi Aino woke up to discover she'd fallen out of bed and struck her
head on the floor.  Wincing, she moaned, "Ah come on!  Can't I even dream  
about it?", to the universe at large before hauling herself off the floor and
flopping onto her bed.  Nursing her headache she felt rather put upon.  She
suddenly remembered that according to one of her mother's stories there was
both a real dream world and a monarch who watched over it and oversaw human
dreams.  If so she was betting he was a homophobic bastard!
     Elsewhere, in a place that did not exist in any physical sense a lonely
Pegasus, standing forlornly on the boundaries of a dream of his beloved one
whom he had worked for centuries to please only to loose her because of those
selfsame manipulations, suddenly sneezed explosively.  
     Meanwhile back in the waking world (where sentences were usually shorter)
Kodachi was looking at her clock.  Too close to the time she was supposed to 
wake up to go back to sleep even if she felt like it.  She might as well get 
up and get ready for school.  
     A little later she entered the kitchen, surprised to find it empty.  Her
normal routine was to wake up after resisting all earlier efforts to rouse her
(not that her parents bothered too frequently having learned to live with it)
with barely enough time to frantically wash and dress.  In the same blur of 
motion she'd grab her schoolbag and snatch whatever breakfast she could off 
the table on her way out the door and bolt it down en route.  Today not only 
did she still have plenty of time before school started but she was the first 
one up.  For a change she could cook for herself ... or just wait until   
somebody got up.  She decided not to wait, showing some initiative was a good
first step to greater independence.  Of making mom understand that she wasn't
a little girl anymore and she knew her own mind.
     The strong resolution lasted until Kodachi remembered her limited 
cookery repertoire at which point her confidence wavered.  Fighting off the
urge to heat up an instant dinner or call the palace kitchens she was 
considering her options when the preprogrammed breadmaker pinged to announce
baking cycle was complete and it was switching to warming mode.  That settled
it, she couldn't go wrong with toast.
     As Kodachi lacked her mother's "knack" for household appliances she was
quite correct and munching on toast when her mother stalked into the kitchen.
Kodi was surprised, her father was the early riser of the family.  What 
surprised her even more was that her mother was wearing her Venus costume and
looked angry.  Growling a cryptic message about Aunt Ti she had stormed off
leaving Kodachi a little perplexed.  That confusion had been boosted by her
father's abrupt departure as soon as she had relayed the message then his  
reappearance to push her out the door.  Unaware that the floor had been
sealed off from the rest of the palace almost as soon as she got on the 
elevator Kodachi headed for ground level her mind awhirl.   Normally she'd be 
bouncing off the walls and begging the elevator to hurry.
     The elevator let her out at the southwestern exit then zoomed off to 
somewhere else in the building.  Visitors unaware of the subspace track system
often wondered at how convoluted the elevator system must for every car to be
able to reach so much of the palace.  Along with speculating how often cars  
heading down the same path collided unaware the answer was zero.  Born and 
raised in the palace Kodachi had always just accepted it and been surprised 
to learn most elevators only moved vertically.  
     Waving at the gatekeeper (who looked very surprised and kept glancing at
both her watch and the time codes on her monitors) Kodachi began ambling 
towards the school.  She felt a growing nervousness as something she'd
managed to avoid thinking about earlier began preying on her mind.  Sylvite  
would be there today and she'd have to face her.  What if Sylvite hadn't 
calmed down?  What was she supposed to do?  Lie and say she'd been kidding?
Why should she, she hadn't done anything wrong?  Why should she have to 
apologise for her feelings?  Maybe ... just maybe Sylvite wouldn't want her 
to apologise.  Sylvite had been taken aback by her sudden declaration but
now she'd had some time to think about it maybe, just maybe she'd realise she
felt the same way.  After all she hated boys ... except for that miserable
Luke!  He could be a real obstacle to her.
     Her mind filled with positive and negative speculation Kodachi didn't 
even notice when she walked through the school gate nor how startled Mara and
the crowd around her looked.
     Mara pulled herself together before anyone else in the betting pool 
noticed her confusion.  This was actually a plus as nobody had bet on the  
unlikely event of Kodachi arriving so early.  All the bets placed were on how
close to the bell she'd arrive.  Still she felt a chill as she remembered the 
fifty to one odds she'd given the longshot.  If anyone had taken it ... she
shook off the worry and made a note to adjust the odds for tomorrow.  That 
done she speculated on what could have brought Kodachi to arrive in such a
meandering introspective funk instead of her usually shoemelting frenzy.  She
would have investigated except that she had a business to run.
     "Okay, the first event has concluded early but there's still time to 
place your bets on the second.  I'd say all this morning's contenders have
arrived so look them over then make your choice."  There were only three boys
lying in wait for Sylvite this morning but mondays tended to be a little slow.
It was rare for anyone to bet on the boys, normally the betting concerned how
quickly Sylvite would hammer them, if she'd give them a chance to withdraw,
and what she'd use in the ways of weapons.  Only the foolhardy bet on the
boys winning, not that Mara ever hesitated about taking money from fools.
At least usually, today several of her regulars placed bets on the boys.
Gambling that one stunning reversal could herald a second.  Mara kept the
dismay off her face as she realized they could be right.
     Sylvite appeared and Mara closed the betting.  The youma girl looked 
over the competition and shook her head.  Her voice and face harsher than 
usual she snarled, "I'm really not in the mood for this.  GET OUT OF MY WAY!"
     Nobody budged and Sylvite sighed.  In a softer voice she muttered, "Mom
was right, I can't be scary.  Okay, let's do this the hard way."  She 
concentrated and a pink sphere materialized in her hand.  Mara quickly put on
her sunglasses as Sylvite lobbed it at the boys, who'd been expecting an 
amazon swinging a powerbat instead of a badly aimed ball that wouldn't hit 
anyone.  There was a flare of light which vanished to reveal the blackened
and smouldering boys standing transfixed and dazed before they all collapsed.
Sylvite walked over them without a backward glance and Mara clocked her 
arrival time as the official end of the fight.  Mara paid off a lucky winner 
without a fuss having made sufficient profit on the other bets.  A few of the 
bettors went to check on the boys but Mara didn't bother knowing they'd be fine 
in a little while.  Sylvite had two varieties of fireballs, the regular which 
could have lethal consequences if used carelessly and the "cartoon" version.  
The latter had mana interwoven with the plasma so instead of melting people 
the effect resembled the ancient American cartoon explosions.  The victim 
suffered singed clothes, blackened skin and brief unconsciousness.  In a few 
minutes they'd be awake and wiping off the carbon.  Possibly complaining that 
unlike in the cartoons their clothing didn't regenerate itself.  Sylvite 
usually stuck to her powerbat or a well swung schoolbag so, Mara mused, she 
wasn't in a good mood today.  Even more interesting was that she wasn't 
heading over to talk to Kodachi.  Another unusual event.  Whatever was up 
aroused Mara's curiosity.  This could be interesting and hopefully profitable.
     Across the schoolyard Kodachi saw Sylvite notice her then continue on 
into school without pausing.  She considered running after her but decided 
that could be misconstrued.  It would probably be a bad idea to make Sylvite  
feel pressured.  At least that was what she thought but what she felt was
she had to talk to her.  A solution came to mind as a classmate she knew was
scared of her walked by.  Not without cause but she had warned him.  Besides
his hair had grown back, hadn't it.
     Beckoning him over she swiftly wrote a brief note and asked him to take
it to Sylvite.  She was polite enough but dropped enough vague hints to make
sure he didn't tarry.  Still he was a little later than expected getting Syl's
reply to her just before the bell for homeroom.  She thanked him and sent him 
on his way with a warning to keep quiet.  Which made him doubly grateful he
hadn't mentioned being waylaid by Mara en route and letting her see the notes
in exchange for forgetting a debt he owed her.  Mara had been disappointed
the notes were so mundane.  Kodachi's just said they needed to talk while 
Sylvite's answer was just, "Later!  Not here!"
     Kodachi crumpled the note and tossed it in the recycler.  Her brief anger
vanished as she decided Syl was right, school was far too public.  They'd be
better off discussing things somewhere with a lot more privacy.  She made up
her mind, she'd keep her distance for the schoolday then meet up with Syl on
her way to the gate.  Catching up to Syl outside could be tricky but Syl was 
very law-abiding.  She was very unlikely to teleport until she was off the
school grounds.  Kodachi nodded to herself, she'd just have to time it right.
     En route to her own class Mara saw Kodi looking cheerier than she had on    
arrival.  It looked like the two inseparables were having some kind of spat.
Inevitable really, even the best of friends fall out occasionally.  It all  
seemed reasonable enough ... yet she still felt there was something more to 
it.  Maybe it was the way Sylvite had latched onto Luke this morning as though 
scared of being alone.  Or of being found alone by Kodi.  Definitely odd 
though Luke wasn't complaining.  It might pay to keep a discreet eye on both
girls.  Even if there wasn't any blackmail material there might be something
going on Luke would be interested in.  It would be very amusing to dangle it
under his nose and see how high he'd jump.
     Elsewhere in Crystal Tokyo there was other fallout from the previous 
night's revelations.  After lunch Azurite managed to get in touch with Calcite 
and they arranged to meet in the simulation room.  There was something Azurite 
wanted to discuss with him without the risk on Minako listening in.  She 
arrived first, activated the system and input a code Titanite had given her.  
Then watched events unfold her with a certain dismay.
     So as not to make her students self conscious Titanite hadn't told them
that their sessions were being recorded for subsequent analysis and critique
once they began improving.  Azurite watched disaster after disaster unfold
and shook her head.  "I've really neglected that girl's education."
     "A bit of overcompensation on your part but I haven't exactly been 
breaking my back to train Kodachi."
     Azurite turned to greet Calcite but instead asked, "What happened to 
     "Many things, not all of them unpleasant.  Let's just say Minako and I
had an earnest discussion and we've agreed she can find out if Ko's just ... 
     "Ah.  So does earnest mean you're looking for temporary quarters while
they rebuild your floor?"
     "No, that would be a frank discussion.  Earnest keeps the damage more
     "Sorry I asked.  Why don't we drop this as it's not what I wanted to
talk to you about?"
     "Fine by me."
     It was equally fine by her as she didn't want things swinging back to
the girls' training.  Cal was right, she had deliberately taught Syl little
more than how to control and contain her powers.  She had been more thorough 
with her firstborn and regreted that ever since.
     "So, what's up?  I imagine it's connected to Kodachi's little 
     "In a sense.  It's Alan."
     "Yes.  This whole thing's blown up because of him."
     "It would have come out eventually ..."
     "Granted but it might have happened a bit less traumatically.  Maybe not
but what concerns me is Alan's motives."  Azurite chose her next words 
carefully.  "He did it to take one of his rivals out of running.  I can 
understand that and I'd rather everything was out in the open but all this has
left Sylvite feeling a little vulnerable.  I'm concerned he might try to take 
advantage of that."
     Calcite nodded.  "I understand. You're afraid she might try to show Ko 
she's not interested by picking a boyfriend without any forethought."
     "Don't misunderstand, I've got nothing against Alan and the age 
difference will get less significant as she matures.  But right now she's 
just a bit too naive to be his girlfriend.  So I'm going to have a little 
chat with Alan.  He's a sensible boy, I'm sure he'll see reason."
     Calcite thought about that for a moment be replyiny, "A frank 
     "No, I'll keep it earnest."
     "Small comfort.  Well try not to break him, he's not a bad kid and he
means well."
     "I'll do my best."
     Back at school Kodachi found the day really seemed to be dragging itself
out.  Of course most of her classmates felt the same way but it was a lot 
worse for her.  Sylvite's problem was the exact opposite, the day was speeding 
by which meant she'd have to face Kodachi soon.  She kept thinking it over and 
always came up with the same conclusion.  She wasn't ready to face Kodi just 
     The simple answer was to dash for the gateway and teleport as soon as 
she was on the other side.  Except that wasn't a solution, it just delayed
things.  One thing her mother's story had taught her was that wasn't a good 
idea.  Except that brought her back to being not ready to talk to Kodi just
yet.  What she needed was some way to demonstrate to Kodi she had never 
thought of her as anything other than a friend and felt no other attraction to 
her.  She'd been thinking about this a lot and realized a certain attraction  
to boys as an abstract concept.  It was just boys as individuals that got on 
her nerves.  Testosterone wired pack of morons ...  She cut off this line of 
thought before it sidetracked her from her main concern.  What was she going
to do about Kodi?
     Unfortunately inspiration didn't strike and when the dismissal bell went  
she still didn't have a clue what to do.  There weren't any clubs or sports 
today so there was no reason to hang around.  She beat Kodachi to the lockers  
and headed out into the schoolyard.  She was still trying to decide between 
bolting for the gate or gathering friends and leaving with a group when she 
saw a familiar figure lounging by the gate.  She heard Kodachi growl behind 
her but ignored it as the brainstorm hit and she ran to his side.    
     Alan had just dropped by to see how things stood between his sister and
his true love.  He hadn't expected Sylvite to race over and grab his arm. 
"Alan-chan!  You remembered our date!"    
     Turning up the cute while mentally gritting her teeth Sylvite pouted,
"You promised to take me out for ice cream!"
     "I did?"  Alan's wits came back online, "Of course I did, that's why I'm 
here.  Shall we go, my lady."  Very quietly he added, "Could you loosen your 
grip, I fear you inhibit the circulation of my blood and strain the bones."
     The pair walked off arm in arm ignoring the furious buzz of rumour that
had started behind them.  Several members of the Sylvite fanclub saw their
goddess on a stranger's arm and contemplated suicide.  Their more martially
inclined brethren glared at Alan and contemplated homicide.  Mara saw all the 
blood drain from Kodachi's face and heard her moan.  She was very surprised 
herself but thought that was overdramatising.  A little distance away Leia  
commented, "That was very unexpected.  Don't you think so, Luke? ... Luke?"
She waved a hand in front of her glassy eyed brother's face without any 
reaction.  He just stood there paralysed with shock as he tried to deny what  
he'd just seen.  "Oh dear."
     Mara strolled over.  "What's up with loverboy as if I didn't know?"
     "Mara, that's not nice.  He's just had a terrible shock."  Her sister
shrugged and jerked a thumb over her shoulder.
     "Yeah, well there's a lot of that going around.  Kodachi looks just 
about as bad."  Mara shook her head.  "Sylvite willingly going out with a guy!
What do you think, she's lost her mind or Alan's using mind control?"
     "Don't be ridiculous, he wouldn't do that and Syl seemed fine when I 
talked to her earlier.  Just a little upset."
     "Yeah ..."  Mara tapped on her brother's forehead without provoking a 
response and sighed.  "Well, here's my good deed for the year."  She bellowed
     "REALLY?!"  Mara was startled by how swiftly Luke came out of his coma
grabbed her by the shoulders.  "Is that really it?"
     The pleading note made her consider what to charge for the info but as 
her sister was glaring at her and she didn't have any hard evidence she just
shrugged.  "Maybe, it's a working hypothesis."  Luke wilted and she took  
enough pity on him to add, "They're definitely on the outs today, didn't you
     "Uhm, no."
     "Lemme guess, too happy she was spending so much time with you to wonder
why?"  His flush said it all and she muttered, "Boys!"
     Meanwhile Kodachi was in a similar state of denial when a familiar voice 
penetrated her misery.  "Ko-chan!"  She blinked and saw her mother getting   
out of a crystacar.  "We need to go shopping so let's getting going!"  
Mystified but needing to do something Kodachi mechanically got in the car.
There was a brief delay while her mother signed autographs then Minako joined
her in the car and headed towards the nearest commercial district.
     Regaining her self possession Kodachi asked, "Umm ... what are we 
shopping for?"  She had a sudden terrible feeling the answer was going to be
a boyfriend.
     "We're going out for dinner so you need something to wear."
     There were times, Kodachi reflected, that she just couldn't comprehend
the way her mother's mind worked. 
     "Why do we need to wear swimsuits for dinner?"
     "Because we'll be wearing them anyway and won't want to lose any beach 
time getting changed so we'll just eat at one of those outdoor restaurants 
on the beach.  They're not too formal in Jamaica."
     "Mom, what the heck are you talking about?"
     "Your father and I have had a little chat and we've decided a change of
scene might help.  Somewhere with lots of underdressed young men.  So he's
agreed to teleport the three of us to Jamaica.  We'll eat while we're there
... of course time differences mean it'll be an early lunch by the local
clocks but who cares?  Now you need to look properly stunning so a little
shopping trip is in order.  And don't worry about the price."  That was about
the last thing on Kodachi's mind.
     "Umm ... but my homework ..."
     "Don't worry about it.  I didn't get the best grades in school ... 
actually except for Ami we all scraped by but we good careers anyway."  
Kodachi might have mentioned lacking the advantages reincarnated senshidom 
afforded but realized in this mood her mother couldn't be reasoned with.  Just 
ride it out Dad had said.  Easy for him to say, he had centuries to get used 
to her.  She was beginning to feel very put upon.
     Not long afterwards Kodachi was feeling mortified while her mother beamed 
with parental approval.  Kodachi didn't consider herself excessively modest 
but there were limits.
     "This one really shows off your figure, Ko-chan!"
     Since the bikini in question seemed to consist of scraps of cloth held 
in place by dental floss Kodachi would have had to agree.  At least if she 
hadn't been feeling so embarrassed.  A feeling that deepened when she heard 
her father's voice in the background and peaked when her mother called him 
     Minako sighed.  "Ko-chan, number one; you've got no reason to be ashamed
of your body especially among the people who used to bathe you, number two; 
you'll be wearing this on a public beach so everyone will see how you look
in it.  But most importantly, number three; you're not even wearing it right
     Looking at her bikini clad image in the magic mirror Kodachi thought it 
looked far too lifelike.  If its movements didn't match hers maybe she'd be a
little more objective.  But when she'd stepped into the mirror (which always 
felt weird, it always looked like you were sliding into a thick silver gel
but you never felt the wetness you expected) it had mapped her body and now 
dressed her reflection in whatever clothes were held before it.  It would hold
the current image until presented with a new outfit or until they left after
blanking the mirror (leaving the mirror running could lead to pranksters 
presenting it with clothes you'd rather not wear and taking pictures that 
could cause embarrassment when circulated).  Then it would be back to simply 
reflecting what was before it until someone else stepped it.  There were still 
changing rooms for foreigners and those who insisted on actually trying on 
clothes but most customers enjoyed being able to try on every outfit in a 
store in a few minutes.
     Calcite ambled over and told Minako he'd taken care of temporary visa
arrangements.  Actually there was no way immigration officials could keep out
teleporters but when you held high government posts being courteous prevented
diplomatic incidents.  Besides there weren't usually problems as there was 
still a lot of gratitude towards Crystal Tokyo for its part in the defeat of 
the Nemesians.  Kodachi had grown up with a very cosmopolitan view of what
going out for dinner meant through her mother's new wrinkle was a surprise.
     "So what do you think?"  Minako gestured towards the mirror.  Calcite
studied both the image and his daughter's expression before making a cautious
     "Perhaps a little premature ...?"
     "Nonsense.  Boys won't be able to resist her."
     "I have to disagree."
     Minako's eyes narrowed, "Are you trying to sabotage my efforts?"
     Quickly Calcite interjected, "Not at all, like you said you know more 
about teenage girls than I do.  But Mina, if she's too self-conscious about 
her appearance she'll be too busy worrying about that to pay any attention 
to boys."
     "There's nothing wrong with wearing one of these.  I've worn a lot less
on beaches and picked out a suit that's very similar for tonight."
     "And you'll look stunning in it because you're comfortable dressed like
that.  But Kodachi isn't."
     Minako frowned, "You've got a point.  Okay, maybe a one piece suit.  I 
saw some nice ones over there.  Just a moment."  Minako strode off to check 
the racks and Kodachi breathed a sigh of relief.  So did Calcite, his healing
factor had already had enough of a workout for one day.
     "Thanks, dad."
     "No problem."
     "Uhm ... look you couldn't just call this whole thing off?"
     He shook his head, "Not and keep peace in our household.  Look at it this
way, it'll make a break from routine, give you some space from Sylvite to
think about what you're going to do and make for a pleasant interlude.  
Besides, who knows?  Maybe you will meet a boy you like." 
     Calcite sighed.  "Sorry honey but I can't discount the possibility your
mother's right and this is just a phase you're going through.  But always 
remember in the end it's how you feel that's important not what we want you
to be.  Let your mother have her way, she won't be able to change who you are
so look on the next little while as a chance to think things through.  Just 
take things as they come and do what feels right to you."  
     Kodachi sighed, "Okay Dad, I understand.  I don't want to make you and 
Mom break up again."  He started to protest but she cut him off.  "Like you 
said I could use some time to think things through.  I've got a lot of things
to work out about Sylvite."  She glared at him, "Speaking of whom what are you
going to do about Alan bothering her!"
     "Alan's an adult so all I can do is advise him.  If he doesn't heed it
then as long as he doesn't actually harass her there's nothing I can really
do to stop him."  Seeing Minako coming back he lowered his voice to a whisper 
and added, "However Azurite's planning on having a little talk with him 
but you didn't hear that from me."
     Minako was pleased to see Ko-chan's mood had improved.  The way she was
smiling she was starting to get into the spirit of things.
     Evening was giving way to night as Alan and Sylvite wound their way back
to her home.  It had been, Sylvite had to admit, pleasant enough.  Alan had             
kept his quotations to a level she could stand and been more than generous.
Ice cream, a trip to that new interactive suspense movie and a takeout dinner 
they'd had in a park.  She was feeling a bit guilty at having already maxed 
out this week's allowance.  On top of that throughout it all Alan had remained
a perfect gentleman.  He had been the one to suggest that she get home before
her parents started jumping to conclusions when she was sure he'd try anything
to prolong this ... sort-of-date-thing they were on.  But now that it was 
winding down she was getting a bit apprehensive if it was supposed to 
conclude with a good night kiss.  All the mangas and anime she'd seen 
suggested it should but she wasn't sure she was ready for that.  She was 
unaware her dilemma would be considered laughable throughout much of the 
world.  She had been born and raised in Crystal Tokyo and when it came to
young love there were some very old fashioned ideas in circulation.  While it
would be quaint in many places it was a major worry to Sylvite.  A girl's 
first kiss was a pretty major thing.  What was she going to do?
     All too soon they reached her home.  It was time for a parting of the
ways and she didn't know what to do.  To buy time she said, "Uhm ... well
thanks for a great evening ... it was a ... uh ... a fun date and  I ... umm
     Alan smiled, "You need not worry.  My sister is nowhere nearby and seemed
completely taken by your ruse."
     "My ruse?"
     "Yes.  That you dislike the idea of becoming her girlfriend so much you
would throw yourself into my arms instead."
     Sylvite flushed.  "I ... I didn't realize I was so transparent.  I ...
I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings ..."
     Alan cut her off.  "Please, do not apologise.  It was an enjoyable 
illusion and I am flattered you chose me for your demonstration.   But I have
imposed on your time long enough so I will bid you goodnight."  With that he 
bowed and took his leave.
     "Wait."  Alan turned back and Sylvite managed, "Uhm ... maybe we can do
this again sometime."
     "I'd like that.  Let me know should you feel like being with me by your 
own choice."
     "I'll do that.  Goodnight."
     "Goodnight to you to, Syl-chan."  She didn't protest the nickname and
Alan departed.  Sylvite stood there a moment then headed inside to find only
her father present, her mother being off on some errand.  After a reasonably
accurate summary of the evening she headed for her room and pondered her
journal entry for the day.  She felt relieved Alan had let her off the hook  
yet strangely miffed he hadn't pushed a bit harder for a goodnight kiss.  Not
that she'd have given in (almost certainly) but shouldn't he have been a 
little more insistent.  She also wondered how good a kisser Alan was ...
purely in a spirit of scientific inquiry, of course.
     For his part Alan was replaying the events of the evening as he wandered
back towards his CTU apartment in no particular hurry.  He was in a very good 
mood.  Reining in his romantic impulses had been difficult but worth it.  
Moving too swiftly would be a mistake, the last thing he wanted was to scare
Sylvite off through over exuberance.  Patience ... one step at a time, that was
the key.  Good things come to he who waits.  In time Sylvite would understand
his feelings for her.  As long as he didn't spoil things by rushing her.
     Alan was feeling very good indeed but even in his cheery mood was 
confident his trained senses guarded him from (theoretical in Crystal Tokyo)
being surprised.  So when Azurite suddenly loomed in front of him his heart 
nearly leapt from his chest.
     Recovering from his surprise as best he could he stuttered, "A fair 
evening to you, Guardian Azurite."
     "And a fair evening to you Alan but you might notice I'm not wearing my 
uniform.  This isn't an official encounter.  I'd like a few words with you as 
Sylvite's mother not as a member of the court."
     "Ah ... I see.  You object to my revealing the truth?"
     She shook her head.  "Not in the slightest though I do wonder about your
motives.  At any rate do you have any objections to a friendly chat?"
     Alan considered this briefly.  "Not in the slightest." 
     "Good."  Azurite glanced around.  "This is a bit too public.  Any 
objections to a change in scenery."
     Alan looked blank for a moment then caught on.  "You wish to teleport us
somewhere more secure.  Please feel free."  For some reason Azurite's 
answering smile worried him.  Then the world seemed to blink and they were
     Despite the spread of humanity to every corner of the globe some of 
nature's marvels remained shaped by its hand alone.  Among the wonders 
untouched by the hand of man stands the Grand Canyon.  If it was truly the
age once thought before the Crystal Millennium turned geological science on
its head or a product of the elemental chaos that followed the fall of the
Silver Millennium is still unresolved by scholars,  One undisputed fact 
remains, it is a spectacular sight.  Under normal circumstances Alan Aino
would have agreed with it.  However when hanging over it supported only by 
the hand gripping one ankle one's perceptions were decidedly different. 
     Rather than contemplating the view or seeking Zen enlightenment Alan's
current thoughts were more concerned with gravity and point of impact.  Also
the phrase "terminal velocity" had taken on a sinister new meaning.  He fought
the urge to thrash around not wanting to do anything to loosen the grip.  For     
some reason nothing Shakespearian was coming to mind.
     A firm voice asked, "Have I got your undivided attention?"
     Alan managed a nod and his beloved's mother smiled at him, apparently 
unconcerned that she stood on the very lip of the abyss.  "Good, I've been  
meaning to have a few words with you for a while now but there didn't seem to
be any hurry.  Until now."
     Wrenching his mind from the drop Alan managed, "I have done nothing to
sully ..."
     "I know, that's why I'm keeping this friendly.  But you have rather upped
the ante by bringing Kodachi's feelings out into the open."  Alan started a
protest but she cut him off.  "Now I'd rather everything out in the open but
I'm afraid this has rather shocked Sylvite.  She's an absolute novice when it
comes to matters of the heart and while she's learned to fend off the obvious
wolves I'm a little concerned that a smooth operator could take advantage of
her while she's so vulnerable.  That would upset me."
     Alan nodded and she continued, "Maybe I'm being overprotective but I 
sometimes worry that growing up in Crystal Tokyo has made my daughter a 
little too nice for her own good.  I don't have that problem."  
     He was inclined to agree but managed to compose himself to ask, "Are you
telling me not to see Sylvite?"
     "No.  As the city's founders were also mismatched in age I can't fault
you for that.  I'm just telling you to remember that she's not only legally a 
minor she's mentally one.  My daughter is for lack of a better word innocent 
and while that won't ... can't endure I won't stand for anyone rushing her 
into anything she's not yet equipped to handle.  It would be unhealthy."
     "I feel the same way and have no intentions otherwise.  My intentions are  
are honourable and I will not try to escalate our relationship until she is 
ready and aware of the consequences.  I swear this freely and without concern
for the current element of duress."
     Azurite studied him for a time then nodded.  "I believe you and I'd
say I've made my opinion clear."  Alan nodded and she swung him back while 
stepping back from the lip of the precipice.  She put him down gently and 
Alan resisted the urge to kiss the ground.  Instead he tried his best to look
cool and collected while inconspicuously wiping the sweat off his forehead.
     Managing to keep his voice firm he asked, "I thought you said it was 
going to be a friendly chat?"
     Azurite smiled.  "That was friendly.  In the unfriendly version I'd 
have pitched you over the edge, shouted down what I intended to say then tried 
to generate strong enough winds to catch you before you hit bottom."
     "Oh."  She might be bluffing but Alan wasn't about to call her on it.
"I'm glad we're on friendly terms."
     "Better that way.  After all, who knows?  You could wind up my son-in-law 
in a few years."
     "That is my fondest hope."   Alan was beginning to look on the positive
side of this ordeal.  She didn't oppose the union.  Indeed it seemed he had 
Azurite's blessing.  If he could win Sylvite's heart.
     Which he would, he had no doubt of that.  All it would take was time and
patience.  As it should be for nothing worthwhile was ever achieved without
effort.  This had been a truly wonderful day.
     Azurite broke in his joyful introspection.  "Well, shall we get back 
     "At your leisure, my lady ... and thank you for a unique view of this
wonder of the world."
     Azurite shook her head and smiled.  "It'll be interesting to see how
things go between you two."  To herself she wondered if Alan was aware he
had competition, or would have if Luke got over his shyness.  Aloud she added,
"This has to be our longest conversation without any ancient quotes.  Or are 
you about to come up with something appropriate?"
     Alan smiled and declaimed, "'When the Himalayan peasant meets the he-bear 
in his pride, He shouts to scare the monster who will often turn aside. But 
the she-bear thus accosted rends the peasant tooth and nail. For the female of 
the species is more deadly than the male.'  Kipling."
     "Glad to see it's not all Shakespeare and Hemingway in there.  Let's 
go."  Alan nodded and Azurite laid her hands on his shoulders.  An instant
later both were thousands of miles away.
     Meanwhile on a beach in Jamaica Kodachi Aino was cursing her mother's 
inventiveness and her father's lack of foresight.  He'd assured her that having
them hanging around her would discourage anyone approaching the threesome.
He should have known better.  Try as she might she couldn't ignore the voice 
in her ear.  
     "Ah, now he looks promising.  Ko-chan, to your right about 50 metres in
the red thong.  Go over and ask if you can join the frisbee toss."  Kodachi
muttered an acknowledgement and brushed her hair while trying unobtrusively
to dislodge the earpiece.  Naturally it didn't budge.
     Some distance away at one of the bars built on the beach Calcite signalled for
refills while Minako studied the available boys through a small but powerful 
set of binoculars.  The sensor equipped binocs had been designed as military 
hardware and could tell you an amazing number of things about the target.  
Calcite doubted that Rei would approve of the use Mina was putting them to but
it was a done deal.  He wondered if she'd asked Rei or just borrowed them.
     Minako noticed their drinks had just been freshened.  "Aren't you 
overdoing it?"
     Calcite shrugged, "I thought I'd get you drunk then take advantage of 
     "Maybe I'll turn the tables."  Her grin faded as she focused the 
binoculars again.  "No, no, no.  Ko-chan, don't hold it like that.  Throw it 
so  it's weak and way off.  We want him to come over and show you how to hold
it right ... Yes, now we're getting somewhere."
     Calcite sighed and sipped at his drink.  This might be a very long day.

End of part 7

Apologies to Tick creator Ben Edlund for stealing the deathtrap from the
Chairface issue, "The Moon Menace".

Next: We pick up 4 weeks later for the final chapter

Part 8: Sailor Power, Make Up

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