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Number 48

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Sailor Mars looked on the remains of the monster's bisected, smoking corpse and felt nearly overwhelmed with pride.  There was nothing quite like turning a three-legged lizard/donkey hybrid into a pile of ash to pick up her spirits.  Sailor Mars, soldier of war and passion, had definitely earned herself a luxurious bubble bath after saving the world single-handedly once again.

"Uggh that thing smells like you lit a fart on fire."

Mars sighed.  'Almost single-handedly.'

Sailor Venus covered her nose with both hands and leaped between the monster's torso and lower limbs.  It was anyone's guess which end was which at this point.  Mars preferred not to speculate.

"Okay!" Venus chirped, throwing her hands out and producing a familiar, beaten up notebook from her space pocket.  Mars glared at the familiar green daisy on the cover.  But it kept grinning at her behind a pair of oversized sunglasses, mocking her.  "So that puts Ami at 17, Mako-chan at 34, and you and me still tied, now at 48."

Mars's glare morphed into a scowl.  "What do you mean 'still tied'?  I killed that thing by myself.  I'm at 48; you're at 47.  I'm winning."

Venus paused in adding to her own tally, glancing up at Mars.  "Uh, no, we killed it together, so we both get the point."

Mars could not believe that Venus had the nerve to-- no, wait.  She did believe it.  She absolutely believed that Minako would do this.  That was the problem.  "I'm sorry, do you have fire powers?  No.  You do not.  That thing burned to death, and since I'm the one with fire powers, I killed the monster."

"Mars, darling, you are forgetting that I cut it in half with my Crescent Lovely Beam--"

"Stop calling it that."

"--while you used Fire Soul.  Ergo, we killed it together."

"Except, Venus, cutting these in half doesn't do anything!  If I hadn't used Fire Soul, we would have had two monsters to deal with.  And then I would be at 49 and you would still be at 47."

Venus laughed lightly, but anyone who knew her would have recognized the edge in the sound, like sharpening a knife.  "Just using Fire Soul wouldn't have done anything, Mars.  If I'd just let you use Fire Soul, it would have been weakened, and then I would have finished it off with a Pretty Venus Love and Beauty Sexy Shock--"

"Stop adding words to your attacks!"

"--and then I would be at 48 with you at 47.  I was going to do that, you know.  But I was feeling extra generous so I decided to share it with you."

"You are so full of shit!  You are cheating, and you're full of shit!"

Venus clutched her chest, staggering backwards as if Mars had dealt a physical blow.  "I'm cheating?  I'm cheating?  You're the one who's acting like you could have done this without my help!"

"Because I could have, obviously."

"J'accuse!  J'accuse mon petit cork screw!"

"What the--you just called me a cork screw in a French accent."

"Lies!"  At this point Mars couldn't be 100% positive if Venus was referring to being a cheater or the cork screw thing.  "Vicious lies you are telling viciously like the vicious liar you are!"

"You're the one cooking the books to make yourself look better!"

"That's not even a real saying."

"MINAKO AINO, IF YOU SIT THERE AND TRY TO TELL ME THAT I AM WRONG AND YOU ARE RIGHT ABOUT A SAYING, I SWEAR TO GOD--"

"What?  You'll 'Burning Mandala' me?"

"WATCH ME."

Venus narrowed her eyes, considering.  Then she snapped the book closed.

"You realize there's only one way to settle this."

"...find another monster?"

"Find another monster."

Mars agreed with this plan whole-heartedly.  Imagining monsters had Minako's face and then setting them on fire always made her feel better.  "And whoever kills this one gets credit for BOTH monsters."

Venus nodded sharply.  "And then we will know once and for all who is the best and greatest Sailor Senshi."

"Exactly."

"Good."

"That's settled then."

"Nice to be in the same book."

"That's on the same--you know what, I don't care.  Let's just go."

"Oooooh, coming with me, are you?  Can't take your eyes off me?  I see how it is."

"There is nothing to see, and you damn well know it.  It's just somebody has to keep you honest."

"As if I would lie about Number 49."

Mars was about to ask how exactly it would differ from Number 48, but Venus had already jumped to the nearest rooftop, scouting for the next monster.  Before Mars joined her, she checked her internal clock.  It was only 3 weeks into Usagi's second trimester, leaving a little over 4 months until Chibi-Usa was born.

She had a sinking feeling that bubble bath would have to wait a long time.