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The End of the Circus: Remember My Truth

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DISCLAIMER: Concurrent with fair dealing clauses of the Copyright Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-42) of Canada and fair use clauses in copyright legislation in other nations, this is a work that was created solely for entertainment purposes. Furthermore, it is posted freely on the Internet without expectation or requirement of remuneration.

****

Tomobiki, the Moroboshi home, the last Friday in June of 2012, after supper...

"How in the world could this happen?!"

He was going to murder someone.

"I don't recall raising you to be a hippo!"

Oh, yes! He was going to unleash the death scene to beat all death scenes!

"Ataru! Don't you understand the grave implications of turning into a hippo?!"

It was going to be so nasty, even Margo Black herself would be impressed!

"Now that you're a hippo, we'll have to fix all your clothes! That'll be expensive...!"

Oh, he KNEW who was the idiot responsible for his current predicament.

"Besides, if you think about it, there's the problem of feeding you!"

Once he got his hands on that pathetic magician...!

"Say, Ataru, what do hippos eat mainly?"

Oh, was that bastard going to SCREAM!

"Ataru...?"

And he was going to enjoy every last FRAME of it!

"Ataru?!"

Hearing the bastard begging for his death scene finally...!

"ATARU! ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?!"

KK-KRANG!

"I...wish...I never had you...!"

Shuddering, the pink-skinned hippopotamid therianthrope that was, not an hour before, a young man named Moroboshi Ataru turned back to his book — in actuality, such was a specially-modified device that could allow him to link into the mass communications network of his adopted people; it had been given to him as a seventeenth birthday present by the wisest of his peers from a former fish canning town in southern California — after winging the yapping fool across the table from him with a handy ki mallet. As both his "wife" and her cousin stared warily at him — even now, well over two months since the "wedding" attempt that would have bound him in matrimony to Redet Lum, they were STILL not used to his being so physically violent to either of his parents — Ataru reached over for some cookies one of his "fleet" of cruiser shipgirls had made for him to nibble on one, not bothering to comment at Moroboshi Kinshō's annoying statement about things that were too often beyond his control.

Like his own magical transformation.

As to HOW that bastard Rū had done that to him, he didn't know.

Still, once he got his hands on the creep...!

"Dear, it's not ALL bad," the other parental moron then spoke up, lowering his copy of the evening Yomiuri Shimbun as he gave his wife a reassuring smile. "Imagine for example that hippos become as popular as pandas and koala bears. There would be TV appearances...!"

KK-KRANG!

"IMAGINE BOTH OF YOU GROWING OLD AND DYING ALONE!"

Both Lum and Ten winced on seeing the aftereffects of Ataru winging his father Muchi with another ki mallet, sending him head-first into a nearby wall! Turning back to his book, he muttered under his breath, "Hope the girls come back soon so I can get back to normal...!"

"YOU NEVER GET TIRED OF THAT, DO YOU?!"

KK-KRACK!

"Ittacha...!"

As Ataru's parents and Ten gaped in disbelief and horror on seeing LUM of all people having been smashed head-first into a wall, a cool and nearly toneless voice called out from the entranceway, "Ya, Ani-kun! It seems I came just in time. You don't look so good."

A sigh of relief escaped him as he looked over. "Oi, Chikage-chan," he called out to the beautiful woman his age standing there with an amused look on her face, she dressed in her normal dark business suit with long skirt and white hooded floor-length cape. "Just got back from Hogwarts?" he wondered as he picked up the plate of cookies for the second-oldest of his half-sisters.

"Hai," Hirosaki Chikage said as she walked over to kneel beside him, taking one of the cookies and nibbling on it. "So what happened?" she inquired.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?!"

The young arch-mage snapped her fingers...

KK-KKRACK!

Ten and the slowly-recovering Lum spun around to see Kinshō now buried head-first into the floor thanks to a dropped cinder block. "Do shut up, Kinshō. Learned people are speaking here. Fools like you are to stay silent," the Matriarch-in-Waiting of the Moroboshi Clan calmly declared as her royal blue eyes narrowed dangerously. "If you do not, you WILL be SILENCED!"

"Oh, please do that, Chikage-chan!" Ataru begged before he looked over and gave his mother an icy sneer that Severus Snape of all people would find impressive, especially given the changed muscle dynamics of his mouth. "I'm sure the good people here in town would appreciate the drop of NOISE POLLUTION coming out of Baka Aho Ofukuro's mouth all the time!"

"Well, once you move in with all of us, you won't have to put up to it anymore," Chikage added as she gave Kinshō a mirthless smile before she turned to glare intently at Lum. "And no, Lum, you're NOT coming with Ani-kun to where we live. We can do without all the LIES that follow in your wake!"

As the warlord's daughter winced, Chikage raised her hand to craft a scrying pentagram...

...while perched atop a telephone pole a couple blocks away, a raven-haired and masked man in a black tuxedo was gaping in shocked confusion at the sight of the woman with the lavender hair now moving to scan his victim. "Who the heck is THAT?!" Rū demanded...

****

The End of the Circus: A Tale of the Yizibajohei
Side Story: Remember My Truth
by Fred Herriot

Based on The End of the Circus: A Tale of the Yizibajohei, created by Fred Herriot

Edited by Rose Ash

Based on characters and situations from Bible Black, created by ActiveSoft; The Seventh Carrier, written by Peter Albano; Katekyō Hitman Reborn, created by Amano Akira; Azumanga Daiō, created by Azuma Kiyohiko; Men In Black, created by Lowell Cunningham; Colourful Kiss, created by Giga; My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, created by Hasbro and DHX Media; Kantai Collection, created by Kadokawa Games; Star Wars, created by George Lucas; characters created by World Wrestling Entertainment and its predecessor organizations, founded by Jess McMahon and Toots Mondt; Ryū ga Gotoku, created by Nagoshi Toshihiro and published by Sega; RWBY, created by Monty Oum; Sweet Valley High, created by Francine Pascal; NOëL, created by Pioneer LDC; Harry Potter, created by Joanna K. Rowling; Urusei Yatsura and Ranma 1/2, created by Takahashi Rumiko; Suzumiya Haruhi no Yūutsu and its sequels, written by Tanigawa Nagaru; Sister Princess, created by Tenhiro Naoto and Kimino Sakurako; normalman, created by Jim Valentino; Buffy the Vampire Slayer, created by Joss Whedon; and Stargate SG-1, created by Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner.

Also including characters and situations from Urusei Yatsura: The Senior Year, created by Mike Smith and Fred Herriot.

****

Note: This is a reflection of the events of the third Urusei Yatsura movie Remember My Love as it would have occurred in the universe of The End of the Circus. The story occurs almost five months before the start of the main story, about one week after the events of the side story The Deadliest Woman Alive. As always, writer's notes will be at the end of the story text.

****

Tomobiki, the Moroboshi home, the last Friday in June of 2012, after supper...

"Okay! Who the fuck decided they wanted to stop BREATHING?"

Moroboshi Ataru's transformed ears perked on hearing that welcome voice with its mixture of Nagano and West Kantō dialects used by the reborn first light cruiser of Imperial Japan. "Osu, Tamiyo-san. Someone decided to be stupid around me again because of this one here," he stated, indicating his "wife" with one hoofed fore paw as a tomboyish woman with golden-brown eyes (the left one under an eye patch) and shaggy purple-shaded raven hair came into the room. As Redet Lum squawked in hurt outrage at being accused of being the cause of her "darling's" transformation, he took a deep breath as his half-sister continued her mystical examination. "We're just trying to get it reversed now."

Seeing that, the adopted native of Okaya and Yokosuka blinked before she moaned. "Oh, that's just fucking great!" Shimosuwa Tamiyo muttered as she scratched the back of her head with her free hand; she held her specially-forged katana, Amamurotō, in her other. "Where exactly did this happen?"

"The Tomobiki Marchenland, that new amusement park that just opened up near the Mizunokōji place," he answered, part of him wondering if the matriarch of that family had something to do with this. As he darkly imagined his visiting friend turning that annoying feminazi Mizunokōji Saeko into a nice pretzel-shaped heap of bruised humanity, he then wondered, "How many of the girls are back now?"

"Just me and Tadako."

A sigh escaped him. Much that he certainly didn't feel himself anywhere NEAR qualified to command the huge fleet of reborn cruisers that had made their way to Tomobiki over the last two months after being literally salvaged and Gifted, Ataru would take any help he could get, especially with the rather dicey situation inside Tomobiki itself concerning his "wife's" so-called "most faithful". Still, given Tamiyo's fierceness and her sister Tadako's well-honed ability to troll anyone into making all sorts of goof-ups, it wasn't all that bad. He'd get Kasuga Ayumu to use her Infinite Wave to get rid of the Niphentaxians in town ASAP, though. "I suppose we'll go with that," he declared. "I'm sure Chikage-chan can deal with the goon squad here if they decide to be their normal idiot selves."

"Naturally," the young arch-mage coolly declared.

Ataru's mother shivered as her son gave her a look that clearly stated that he considered HER part of the "goon squad", then she winced as he switched that glare to his "wife" to make her behave. As Lum cringed, he took a deep breath to relax himself and allow Chikage to finish her examination...

"It's a curse!"

KK-KRACK!

"It's...Fate..."

That was Sakurambō Hayao, who just had his face smashed firmly into the floorboards by Tamiyo's well-aimed foot to the back of his head. "I don't recall you being invited into this place, old timer!" the reborn first of the Tenryū-class cruisers snarled before she snap-drew her katana.

"The door was...UURRRRKK!"

Ataru smirked as he noted that Hayao's niece Sakura was now under threat of being made a head shorter thanks to Amamurotō's mesonium-hardened razor-sharp blade. "Fu-fu-fu-fu...!" Tamiyo icily cackled as the others in the room save Chikage hissed in shocked disbelief on noting the Shintō shrine maiden being threatened like that. "Ya scared?" she then challenged.

Chikage took a deep breath before snapping her fingers!

KK-KKUNCH! KK-KKLANG!

As the noise of two bodies hitting the roof of the nearby Senshōbu-jinja echoed in the living room through the open windows, the young arch-mage gazed intently at her would-be sister-in-law, then her own father and his wife. "Are there going to be any further interruptions?" she asked in a chi-charged voice as her royal blue eyes glowed an ominous reddish-gold indicative of her tapping into the dark side of the Force as she learned to do the previous summer in a galaxy far, far away.

Rapid shakes of heads responded...

****

Nearby...

To say that Rū was totally confused was putting it lightly.

Much that he was more than pleased to have put the metaphysical hurt on the bastard that made poor Redet Lum sad all the time since she came to Earth nearly a year before, the fact that said bastard had a SISTER of all things — and one versed in magic if what she had just done to poor Sakurambō Sakura and her uncle Cherry indicated anything! — was something he HADN'T known about Moroboshi Ataru. Never mind that strange girl with the ominous echo of some type of ancient surface warship all over her was a FRIEND of that bastard...and was more than willing to hurt LUM of all people because SHE had supposedly offended ATARU! While he was confident he could hurt this Tamiyo woman...

"Oh-ho-ho-ho-ho...are you SPYING on Teitoku, perchance?"

Hearing that cold voice, the time-displaced "magician" shrieked in fright, spinning around...

...before his eyes went as wide as saucers on seeing what was clearly a sister of that Tamiyo woman calmly FLOATING not a metre away from him, her hand grasping a long naginata-like weapon behind her back as she gave him a look that was both quite friendly yet also VERY cruel. Of course, the martial arts gi-like uniform covering the body of this more womanly person, black overall with white belt and boots and white trimming, a golden halo-like insignia over her heart topped with the white-trimmed black kanji 龍田 nearly made the poor lad soil himself as instant recognition crossed his face.

"SCARY PEOPLE!"

In a pop! of displaced air, he vanished. Noting that, the reborn THG Tatsuta hummed as she raised a gloved hand to her lips. "I wonder what got him so frightened," she absently lamented...

****

An hour later...

To say that Saeru Hinako was NOT happy about this was putting it lightly.

Oh, yes, all her other half-sisters were upset as well...

...but to make the Living Spirit of Innocence UPSET was taking things to a dangerously high level.

As Ataru gazed expectantly at the youngest of his half-sisters — all of them save Osamu Shirayuki were standing in the living room, gazing with outrage at how much their brother had been hurt; the Great Chef of the West herself was in the kitchen preparing some food to help with the sudden change of fluid balance in Ataru's body thanks to the transformation — Hinako took a deep breath.

"Now, Onii-tama, Hina wants to make sure she understands all this!" the native of Niigata then calmly — TOO calmly, her siblings all realized — said. "When that baka-baka there..." — here, she pointed at Redet Lum, who winced at being called that — "...found out about this Marchenland place, she convinced you to go on a date there since you wanted to see if it was a nice place for us to visit on an Onii-tama no Hi." As Ataru reluctantly nodded — the sisters didn't need any sort of information as to the "how" Lum would have "persuaded" him to go; the looks they were now sending her way had already caked the warlord's daughter in enough mud to fill a grave — Hinako then said, "So you went there, then this strange lady came up and told you about this Rū meanie and his magic show."

"Hai," he affirmed. "Now that I think about it, she must have been a kitsune or tanuki of some sort."

"Any alien races we know that are like kitsune or tanuki?" Sukeyama Sakuya asked.

"The At'ise from Noukiios," Hirosaki Chikage stated, that statement causing both Lum and her cousin Redet Ten to gape in surprise. "After the Imperial Dominion expanded into space, they relocated themselves to the planet P'ech'syek in the Coremarches close to the outer extent of Apophis' territory."

"I didn't hear an echo in her voice, so no lar'beke was in her," Ataru calmly declared. "Now that I think about it, I didn't smell any naquadah the lar'beke use to keep cheating death like they do all the time."

As the jaws of the warlord's daughter from Onishuto and her cousin dropped even further, Tanenobu Karen took a deep breath. "Well, we can eliminate the Goa'uld in this case. Rumiko-san's sensor network would scream the alarm if it detected any of them — or Jaffa for that matter — in Tomobiki."

Ignoring the ever-increasing confusion on the faces of Ataru's "wife", her cousin, his parents and both Sakurambō Hayao and his niece Sakura — the two clerics had, after they extracted themselves from the roof of Senshōbu-jinja after being magically pitched into its roof by Chikage, politely ASKED to come into the house this time — Tenhiro Haruka sighed. "So we have another annoying fool to deal with," she said, waving a gunsen in front of her face. "Are you sure that this kitsune or tanuki or at'ise or whatever deliberately picked YOU to be the subject of this Rū fellow's magic trick, Anigimi-sama?"

"Hai, hai," he affirmed. "I should have SMELT something of a setup here..."

"How could you do that?! An idiot like you...UURRRK!"

Kinshō was now about to become a head shorter thanks to the Quarterstaff Mistress, who had levelled her own naginata's blade at the older woman's throat. "And you have the temerity to believe you have the right to declare yourself Anigimi-sama's mother, Yamaguchi-san?" the native of Düsseldorf icily sneered as her blood father's wife stared warily at her. "Do be quiet and let CIVILIZED people speak. Mere normal TRASH like yourself can't BEGIN to imagine how much we all know."

"Oh, please, Haruka-chan, make her mute!" Ataru jeered, making his mother awk at that statement. "All of Tomobiki will THANK you for SHUTTING HER UP once and for all time!"

As Muchi shuddered while hiding behind his newspaper — the shock on realizing that his late mother Nagaiwakai had manipulated him TWELVE times over to be the father of TWELVE daughters to become matriarch candidates to lead the Moroboshi Clan was more than enough to still his tongue, especially with the fact that his son was gladly siding with his sisters over his parents — Kinshō collapsed into a dazed heap thanks to the overload of information shutting her brain down. As Sakura and Cherry exchanged looks — try as they wished to believe some malevolent force had taken over Ataru to make him so DIFFERENT than the way he was before the encounter with Queen Elle in April, there was no sign of any dark power on him save for what transformed him a couple hours before — he reached up to rub his cheek. "Okay, I've had enough of this stupid scene. I KNEW we should have cleaned out those Niphentaxian morons from town as soon as we found about what they did here!" Ignoring the horrified awk from Lum, he gazed on Hinako. "You think you can give me a good zap there, Hinako-chan!"

"Hai! Hai!" the native of Niigata said as she reached over to his snout.

Sakura jolted. "Wait! What could...?!"

"CURSE! CURSE! GO AWAY!"

An Akira-like wave of raw POWER surged out to mask Ataru in blinding light...!

****

Nearby...

Rū screamed in surprised pain as the glowing crystal ball in his hand sparkled with the sheer cosmic backlash from the cleansing power just unleashed by the Living Spirit of Innocence on her wonderful bro-bro! Trying to keep hold of the object that had allowed him to come to this place and time to give Redet Lum her happiness back — while not burning his hands to the bone from the sun-like heat emanating from said crystal ball — he then tensed on hearing a godlike voice echo over the area...

Tene lomher'buo, Ataru Katabarbe...!

"No...!"

****

The Moroboshi home...

Nesu...GAMR'BUO!

Screams of pain echoed from the others in the room as the transformation energy of the Gifting overcame Moroboshi Ataru, ripping away his normal clothing and yukata top and replacing same with a dark burgundy martial arts gi-like uniform with semi-detached sleeves, black belt and armbands securing said sleeves and black boots on his feet, a black theatre mask-like symbol over his heart. As his body was restored to normal human form, his face became rugged, a moustache and goatee framing his mouth. A delighted breath of relief escaped him while the memories of the many past incarnations of the Healer of Women's Hearts, Gamr'buo ("Rake"), were effortlessly and seamlessly downloaded into his mind. Fortunately, his sisters had turned their eyes away on hearing the living spirit of the Great Crystal of Power call out the warning that their brother's Gifting was happening at last, effectively healing his torn soul after five months of co-existing with the other half of his being within one body, then over ten weeks existing separately in a battle doll body cloned from his other-self.

Once the energy faded and the cries of agony from Ataru's "wife" and the others in the living room at that time filled everyone's ears, the sisters all turned around to look again before the older ones felt their cheeks heat at the sight of their brother now with the power of one of the most famous of Destructo's Chosen, the leaders of the Freedom Parade that launched the Dawn of Power on Yiziba over two millennia before. Instantly, Sukeyama Sakuya — who, as the Healer of Men's Hearts, R'buoho ("Courtesan"), was effectively her dear brother's opposite number — began to slap her cheeks, squeezing her eyes closed as she tried to use her own empathy to ward off what was now radiating from Ataru. "No! No! No! No!" the native of Ōsaka moaned. "Bad Sakuya! Bad Sakuya! Mustn't think about pillow scenes with Onii-sama! Mustn't think about pillow scenes with Onii-sama...!"

"Oh, my, Anigimi-sama! Such a...um, unique Gifting...p-p-pō...!" Tenhiro Haruka sputtered in embarrassment as she waved her gunsen before her face, twisting it to hide her reddening cheeks.

Seeing those reactions, Ataru winced. "S-s-s-sorry, girls...!"

"Hey! How come you became a Yizibajohei of all things?!"

An ear-piercing scream of mortal terror escaped Redet Lum on hearing THAT WORD escape her cousin's lips, which made Hirosaki Chikage snap her fingers.

KK-KLONK!

A cinder block on the head to knock the warlord's daughter down later, a pained moan then escaped her when the sheer information overload just shut down her mind. "Do be quiet, Lum," the arch-mage from Tōkyō coolly declared. "If you haven't figured out by now that Ani-kun has been affiliated with Yiziba since long before YOU ever came into his life, that's YOUR issue and not his!" As an awk escaped Ataru's mother on hearing the name of the ONE planet whose inhabitants had been the bogeymen to the Urusians as a whole for three centuries, Chikage gazed in amusement at her. "What, Kinshō? Did you honestly believe that those government officials who helped TRAP Ani-kun here SUCCEEDED in eliminating his memories of Yiziba? Did you honestly believe Ani-kun's many FRIENDS wouldn't start sniffing around when they found him MISSING from Yiziba? Or did you believe in all your ARROGANCE Ani-kun was too STUPID to make friends? Given that he — pardon me, SHE! — helped a THOUSAND people be Gifted, the chances of you getting away with trapping him here were next to NIL!"

"Oh, yes!" Ataru said as he sneered in disgust at his mother; seeing that, Chikage immediately mused that such would definitely earn an "exceeds expectations" mark from one Severus Snape. "'I don't recall raising you to be a hippo', you said to me when I came back from the Marchenland, Baka Aho Ofukuro. It's hard to claim something like that when I NEVER LIVED IN THIS HOUSE FOR OVER TEN YEARS, YOU PATHETIC YŪJO!" As Kinshō shrieked in outrage on being called that, he then gazed upon Sakura and Cherry. "Madame Sakura, Venerable Sakurambō, my deepest apologizes to you both for being dragged into my family drama like this. You won't remember this since everyone in this town was brainwashed en masse last September when we came here to help two nice ladies be Gifted..."

"Well, if there's a lineup for pillow scenes, I'm in first place then!"

Everyone perked, then they turned...

"Yon-san!" Sakura exclaimed.

KK-KLONK!

"Who are you talking about, you pathetic excuse for a shrine maiden!" Inu Chigaiko declared as she walked in; she had used her special telekinesis to send Sakura head-first into a nearby wall. The tomboyish, brown-haired star basketball forward of the girl's team at Tomobiki High was now in the rose-red fighting uniform as the Silent Hunter of the Fabulous Quartet, Nodyuo Bolem (the "Unseen Lady"). As Ten gasped — he knew thanks to what had been done to him a year before he came to live on Earth that the famous fighting foursome from Yiziba's western equatorial continent were normally heels or anti-faces — Chigaiko sashayed over to nearly drape herself over her classmate's shoulder. "Oooh, me LIKE!" she meowed before tilting her head over to kiss him on the lips.

"DARLING! HOW DARE YOU CHEAT...?!"

KK-KRACK!

That was the living room table being telekinetically propelled right into Lum's face before she could use her lighting on her "husband". "THAT, you selfish umale bitch, was for LYING to all of us when it came to your 'marriage'..." Chigaiko snarled as she glared at the other girl while Lum collapsed onto the floor. As the other normal people in the room scrambled clear, the table floated up...

KK-KRUNCH!

"THAT was for taking the planet HOSTAGE when that stupid space taxi hack stole Earth's oil...!"

KK-KRANG!

"THAT was for kidnapping everyone in class when that Elle tried to put her moves on Ataru-kun...!"

KK-KANG!

"THAT was for subjecting us to your REAL fiancé...!"

KA-POW!

"...and that psychotic airhead that was your oldest friend...!"

KK-KRACK!

"...and the stupid biker slut who couldn't shoot straight...!"

KK-KLONG!

"...and that ice bitch who dumps snow all over the place when it's not wanted!"

By now, Lum was a bleeding and bruised heap of shivering flesh on the floor. As Ten began to sob in fright at the sight of his cousin being ruthlessly smashed down so low, the other normal people were trying to cower in the corner to not attract the wrath of the Silent Hunter. "Now that you had coming to you, Redet-san," Ataru noted. "And since you still believe the LIE about our being married..."

Here, he held out his hand...

...making Lum scream as her horn buds were telekinetically YANKED out of their sockets to land in the palm of his hand before the other one came around...

KK-KKRACK!

KK-KKRACK!

A wailing shriek of heart-shattering pain escaped her before she gaped in stunned, horrified disbelief at him. With several firm claps of the hands, he brushed away the fragments of cartilage that had given his "wife" her powers before he offered his arm to Chigaiko, which she immediately took.

"Consider that a divorce."

In a flash of blinding light, he, his sisters and his classmate all vanished. Silence then fell before Lum screamed out again, she then collapsing into a sobbing mass onto the floor. As Ten and Sakura moved to comfort and Cherry shook his head at such sheer emotional savagery, Muchi sighed as he moved to get back to his paper, leaving a stunned Kinshō still in the corner, staring helplessly at the spot where her only son had been before he disappeared like he did, without a single good-bye.

"Who's going to take care of me when I'm old and grey...?" she then moaned...

****

The Moroboshi home, nightfall...

"WHAT?!"

It was definitely not a good night for one Aisuru Satoshi.

"Hai, it's true. He divorced Lum-chan."

Silence.

More silence.

Still more silence.

Then...

"HOW DARE HE DO THAT TO LUM-SAN?!"

"He's a Yizibajohei."

Surprised gasps escaped the considerable crowd of people now in the living room of the Moroboshi home, having been attracted to the place like metal filings latching onto a lodestone thanks to the shout that echoed over town nearly an hour before. As a moaned scream echoed from the direction of Moroboshi Ataru's former bedroom thanks to his "wife" having heard THAT WORD again — such being echoed by soothing sounds from her would-be mother-in-law — people in the living room exchanged looks as they wondered what to do now. "How did THAT happen?!" Mendō Shūtarō finally demanded. "We haven't been in contact with people from that planet since Lum-san came to Earth last fall!"

"What about the time we were all in the hospital after that thing with Elle?" Fujinami Ryūnosuke then wondered, making people look her way. "After all, Moroboshi kept telling us that a 'kind angel' rescued him from being married to Lum and we got sent to intensive care. What if it was one of his buddies from Yiziba..." — she winced as another cry of fright escaped the wounded alien teenager upstairs — "...that came by and rescued him, knocking us out of the way at the same time?"

"Why would they do that?!" Marubeya Momoe demanded, crossing her arms.

"Duh! You heard how much into anarchy those folk are into, Momoe-san! Given Moroboshi was made to forget everything about that planet if what Sakura-sensei said is true, his friends must have panicked and came in ready for a fight! You KNOW how much those guys hate Lum's people, remember?!"

Many took a moment to consider that. "Well, I suppose it IS understandable," Gekasawa Kumiko mused before she gazed at her best friend. "Still, there's a lot of good coming out of this! Eh, Momoe-chan?!"

The more tomboyish girl blinked before she laughed. "Yeah! That's true!"

The other girls blinked before they started to laugh and whoop. Megane then shuddered as he bolted to his feet. "YOU STUPID BITCHES! HOW DARE YOU LAUGH AT LUM-SAN'S...?!"

KK-KLONK!

The leader of Lum's Stormtroopers found himself buried face-first into the floor thanks to a cinder block that dropped out of nowhere. As people yelped at that sudden occurrence, a voice that was both hauntingly familiar to the people of Class 2-4 in the house — yet that of a complete stranger — called out from the entranceway, "Oi, 'Toshi! Knock it off with the verbal diarrhea! INTELLIGENT people want to have a CIVILIZED conversation here! No one asked for you to toss in your three sem!"

Heads turned over...

"MOROBOSHI! YOU BASTARD! HOW DARE YOU DO THAT TO LUM-SAN?!"

Shūtarō lunged over, snap-drawing his shin-guntō to behead the beast...

...before his eyes locked on very FEMALE breasts barely masked by the form-fitting white uniform topped with a black coyote's head in that impressive cleavage!

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH...!"

Tariko Katabarbe snapped her fingers.

KK-KLONK!

Everyone gasped as yet another cinder block smashed the scion of Japan's richest family into the floor. From behind his newspaper, Moroboshi Muchi sighed. "Ataru, would you PLEASE not drop...!"

KK-KRUNCH!

"Talking to the wrong person, Baka Aho Ofukun!" Tariko stated before she gestured, making a beautiful quarter-section of what looked like normal black forest cake appear in her hand. "Hey, Ryū-chan!"

As people stared wide-eyed at the sight of Muchi being smashed into the far wall thanks to the living room table being telekinetically flung right into his face, Redet Ten focused on the uniform of the strange woman who looked like she could be Ataru's own TWIN SISTER before he turned as grey as stone on recognizing what it meant. "M-m-m-Miss T-t-t-Tuyuki...!" he sputtered as he tried to back away as fast as he could fly from this living nightmare standing now in their midst.

Shocked gasps escaped all the others as the native battle name of the Trickster of the Show clicked into their minds, they instantly remembering what they had been told when they had been forced into intensive care on planet Uru ten weekes before. "Oh, shit...!" Shitto Kōsuke eeped as the other members of the Stormtroopers moved to scramble as far away from the creature whose past-self had been such an unholy TERROR to the Urusian people as a whole nearly three centuries before.

Tariko's eyes — so like Ataru's yet so unlike them, especially given the ominous glow deep within those orbs — focused on the man known more commonly as "Perm" before a mirthless smile crossed her face. "'Oh, shit' is right, Kōsuke!" she said before the smile faded. "Now go cool off!"

SNAP!

All the boys disappeared in flashes of light! As the girls screamed out in shock, distant splashing sounds echoed from the direction of Tomobiki High School. "Now that the peanut gallery is out of the way, let's get on to the climax of the scene, shall we?" the current incarnation of Tuyuki ("Coyote") mused as she sat close to Ryūnosuke, holding out the plate with the cake. "Here you go, Ryū-chan! One perfect black forest cake, full of chocolate that will definitely NOT turn you into a boy or make you as weak as a kitten like that fool old man of yours loves to claim all the time!" she declared with a wink. "Matter of fact, this will DEFINITELY make sure you become a GIRL like you always have been!"

A tidal wave then echoed in the distance. "Whoa! You can set an atomic clock to that umale, can't you?" Tariko absently mused, she looking over her shoulder.

"STUPID BOY! DON'T YOU DARE TOUCH THAT MONSTER'S CAKE...!"

SNAP!

KK-KRACK! KK-KRUNCH! KA-POW! KK-KLONK!

As the sounds of multiple cinder blocks dropping on the head of Fujinami Fujimi long before he could smash his way into the Moroboshi home echoed from outside, Ryūnosuke blinked before dim memory finally came back to her. "Tariko-san...!" she gasped as her eyes went wide. "Tariko-san, is that really you?!" she demanded as she pointed at the woman who was clearly a close relation of Moroboshi Ataru's, right down to the same general facial shape, eye shade, hair colour and hair style.

The other girls' jaws dropped. "Ryūnosuke-kun, you KNOW her?!" Momoe demanded.

"Sure I do, Momoe-san! Tariko-san and I met ten years ago when I was living by Beppu! She saved me from Oyaji..." Here, the "heir" of the Hamachaya gaped as she looked at Tariko. "With that same cinder block-dropping trick you used on Oyaji now!" she then asserted, pointing outside.

"Pin-pon!" Tariko chimed in affirmation.

Ryūnosuke blinked before she gazed at the cake, then she looked back at the woman who was her first true lady friend. "You mean you remember promising me to make a cake for me even NOW?!"

"Ryū-chan, I made a promise, remember?"

That made the other woman blush, sputtering in embarrassment. "So what's the catch here?" Momoe then asked, putting her fists to her hips. "Everyone on Uru told us about you, Tariko-san! You're the one who always loves to trip people up all the time! Much that I'm glad that you're willing to help Ryūnosuke-kun deal with that idiot father of hers, there has to be a catch here!"

"Oh, that's easy, Momoe-chan! I want Ryū-chan to be Gifted!"

Silence.

More silence.

Still more silence.

Then...

"You want me to become a METAHUMAN?!" Ryūnosuke shrilled.

"Sure I do!" Tariko affirmed.

The other woman's face smacked into the floor. "WHY?!"

"Because you deserve it, that's why!"

Jaws dropped in shocked disbelief. "I...!" Ryūnosuke gaped before she looked down at the cake. "I...! What the hell makes you think that I'd be the right sort of person to become like you, Tariko-san?!"

"Oh? As I recall, when we met, you were out there in FEBRUARY of all months, in the midst of a BLIZZARD of all things running through Kyūshū, while the idiot parental unit was trying to run a BEACH TEASHOP where any sensible person would NEVER be!" Ignoring the horrified gasps from the other girls, Tariko smirked. "Believe me, if you could survive something like THAT as a normal person, Ryū-chan, you can definitely survive something like this!" she affirmed, holding up the cake in emphasis.

Blushing again, the "heir" of Hamachaya sensed a lot of supportive gazes come her way from her peers. Noting that even Sakura and Cherry were nodding in grim understanding — given what she had seen of Ataru's parents during the odd times she had stayed in the Moroboshi home to get clear of her father, whatever their opinions concerning what they saw as "right" and "wrong" concerning Yiziba and its remarkable residents didn't matter, never mind what the fool aliens might think — she slowly nodded, holding out her hand. After Tariko handed the plate over, she called out, "Itadakimasu!"

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO...!"

SNAP!

KK-KRACK! KK-KRUNCH! KA-POW! KK-KLONK!

"Why the hell is that old fool even fighting this?!" Kumiko asked as a forkful of rich chocolate and very sweet alien cherries were consumed by her classmate before a squeal of delight escaped the tomboy. "Ryūnosuke-kun is a girl! It's pretty damned obvious with the way Ataru-kun chases girls all the time!" She then stopped herself. "Er...that is, how he chased girls until he got rescued from being forced to marry Lum, that is! Was that you, Tariko-chan? What are you to Ataru-kun anyway?"

Tariko's eyes sparkled. "I was the one being rescued, Kumiko-chan." As the girls all gaped at her — even Ryūnosuke had stopped eating though her hands were starting to glow a very familiar shade of bright silver in Ten's eyes — she then hummed. "To paraphrase that old rhyme...

"'Remember, remember,
Eleventh November,
When Lum was stupid a lot,
She fed me bad candy,
Burned my mouth too hot,
Then a cursed cake I ate;
Wow! Gifted twins we were not!'"

"But I put you back together again, child...!"

That was a wide-eyed Cherry, who had a putting-it-together look on his face. "You gave it the old try, but you didn't understand what you were really dealing with," Tariko declared, reaching over to pat the elderly monk's shoulder. "It's the luck of the fight scene at times. Win some, lose some, draw even in others. If you don't go through your death scene, clean up, then go at it again. Life's like that."

The girls blinked as they took a moment to absorb that. "Wait! When did you go to this Yiziba place?!" Miyake Shinobu then demanded. As another scream echoed from upstairs, Ataru's — and obviously Tariko's — former girlfriend then screamed, "SHUT UP, YOU SELFISH MONSTER!"

Footfalls echoed from the upper floor. "Shinobu-chan, stop saying that...YOU!"

SNAP!

KK-KRUNCH!

"Do be quiet, Baka Aho Ofukuro!" Tariko said after dropping another cinder block on her mother's head. "This is MY reveal scene! You don't have your greedy brother to come save you this time! Once I got a friend to reverse the brainwashing put on everyone at Toranoseishin, getting the fool ARRESTED on charges of accessory to EMBEZZLEMENT was as easy as pie!" Smirking as the girls gasped in horror on hearing that, Tariko trilled, "Lucky thing Obā-chan made DAMN sure Baka Aho Ofukun here was made to father twelve nice SISTERS to take over the clan while I was on Yiziba!" Here, she thumbed her dazed father in emphasis. "There's no way that anyone would let you steal from THEM, you know!"

"Oh, wow...!"

That was Ryūnosuke, whose whole body was brightly glowing.

You can guess what happens next, of course...!

****

The Moroboshi home, after midnight on Saturday...

"...care of me when I'm old and grey...who will take care of me...?"

Shuddering in terror as she found herself in a totally empty bedroom save for a small futon where Redet Ten was sleeping away innocently, the woman who would have been Uru's next empress had the Empire survived the Union Revolution which had been the ultimate result of the Mother of All Fight Scenes unleashed by the metahuman warriors of Yiziba decades before tried not to give into her fright and flee for home right now. And while it was very tempting thanks to what her "husband" had done to her hours before — especially since the new incarnation of the Trickster of the Show had used her powers to regrow her horns — giving up was not in Redet Lum's nature, especially after doing a HALF-YEAR of work to make Moroboshi Ataru her husband in the wake of so many things against her.

But to believe she had been fighting THAT all along...

A hiss escaped her as she recalled what her would-be mother-in-law told her after her classmates left in the wake of Fujinami Ryūnosuke being Gifted of all things into the new incarnation of the Huntress of the Wild, Tolose ("Carcajou"). "It was the only way to prevent an intergalactic war, Lum-chan. I didn't know the truth about those monsters until your parents and friends told us about them after we had to deal with that Elle woman, but there was no way I wanted you to be hurt because my idiot son preferred to live as some metahuman freak and not a normal boy like he should have been all along!"

Unfortunately, Moroboshi Kinshō was shot down by HER in front of Miyake Shinobu and all the other girls of Class 2-4 that had been there. "Keep believing that, Baka Aho Ofukuro! You just can't stand the fact that Obā-chan knew how much of a greedy BITCH you are! A pity you're still useful to me! The fools that tried to force me back into this sewer pit you call a 'home' will find out they screwed up sooner or later, then come out into the open so I can KILL the damned lot of them! Once that's done, you and Ofukun are on your own to the day you DIE all ALONE, not to mention POOR as PAUPERS!"

The transformed Ryūnosuke then rubbed salt into the wound by adding, "I can SMELL the freaking LIES you've heaped on all of us since I came to this place back in February! If you really had a hand in screwing around with the memories of all MY friends, I'm gonna save Tariko and Ataru the trouble of killing you and GUT you myself!" This, of course, had been emphasized with the Wild Hunter's deploying of her foot-long fingertip ki claws to threaten to impale the older woman's head on them. "Now crawl back into your little world and leave the REAL world be! Don't interfere when we send the umale back to their shithole home planets, either! No one's going to miss a greedy bitch like you!"

And just before they left...

"Oh, dear! The Infinite Wave sent your 'most faithful' into a BLACK HOLE, Lum-chan! How SAD...!"

THAT had scared Lum most of all.

Tariko Katabarbe knew of the Niphentaxians. Had even planned with none other than Yiziba's most powerful reality warper to remove the ONE sure ally Lum could turn to in hopes of trying to wrest control of this mad situation back into her hands again. And if Tariko was to be believed, the Niphentaxians had been dealt with militarily in a Mother of All Fight Scenes of all things nearly a MONTH ago, in the last week of a month-long absence from Tomobiki High by Lum's "husband"...!

Face it! He was NEVER your husband...!

"Lies!" she hissed at that nagging voice deep inside her. "Darling loves me...!"

Then why was he attacked like that...?

"I don't know! It was probably one of Those People who did that to him!"

Didn't you hear Tariko-chan? that hissing traitorous voice echoed in her mind. You remember her, don't you? The nice girl from Yiziba who helped you live a NORMAL LIFE?

"That can't be Darling!"

Suddenly, the hairs stood up on her neck, making her spin around. "WHO'S THERE?!" she screamed...

...before her jaw dropped on seeing of all things a CLOWN in a baggy full-body golden jumpsuit decked with stars, white gloves and boots covering his extremities and a white jester's hat-like mask covering his head, said person floating over the fence line dividing the Moroboshi property from the neighbouring plot where the Shimosuwa sisters normally lived. Eerie, near maniacal laughter escaped this being as he seemed to stare intently at Lum, making her blink in confusion; if this fellow was supposedly from THERE, he was in a mode of dress that wasn't known to be common on That Planet.

"What do you want?!" she demanded...

...before his laughter turned into a considerable chorus of painful coughs, causing Lum to blink in surprise before she moaned, crossing her arms. After a moment, the newcomer then cleared his throat. "Good evening, Lum," he then greeted her with a formal bow in mid-air.

That made her tense. "Huh?! You know my name?! Who are you?!" she demanded, pointing at him.

He jolted. "Huh?! You don't know?!" As Lum stared askance at him, the newcomer rubbed the back of his head. "That's strange..." He then jolted as it came to him. "Ah!"

And with that, he snapped his fingers, transforming into someone that Lum had cause to remember. "Voilà!" the raven-haired man — wearing a black domino mask and the tuxedo-and-cape combination that would make any fan of Sailor Moon instantly think of Tuxedo Kamen — declared with a wave of his hands before bowing to the warlord's daughter from Onishuto.

Lum's eyes went wide. "YOU!"

He shook his head. "No, no, no, no! I'm Rū, not 'you'...!"

Unfortunately, she wasn't listening. "Why, you...you...!"

"Well, ain't this my lucky day?!"

Both Lum and the just-introduced Rū yelped on hearing that growling voice, then spun around...

...just as a certain reborn light cruiser built in Yokosuka near the end of the Great War and sunk off the coast of Papua New Guinea near the end of 1942 floated up to hover not two metres from Rū. As the magician screamed like a frightened child confronting an angry tiger on seeing the same type of uniform covering Shimosuwa Tamiyo's body that covered her sister's body — save for the difference of chest insignia, that bearing the kanji 天龍 over two intertwined white dragons — the adopted native of Yokosuka and Okaya tightly gripped her sheathed katana. "I knew that all we had to do is wait for a sleazebag like you to come back here after we spotted you spying on the Oni brat here!" Here, Tamiyo's good eye narrowed as she gently drifted towards him, making him scramble to float clear. "Or were you actually watching over Lum on behalf of those Niphentaxian assholes I've heard so much about lately?! You sure as hell don't look like one of those copycat freaks we smashed down a month ago!"

"Hah! I was protecting Lum from that monster Moroboshi!"

"YOU WHAT?!"

That was BOTH Lum and Tamiyo! "Well, why not?!" Rū snapped as he drifted closer to Lum, pointing in accusation at the transformed light cruiser. "Moroboshi wasn't satisfied with making you cry and be sad all the time, Lum! He had to turn around and SCARE YOU TO DEATH by siccing the SCARY PEOPLE on you!" As the warlord's daughter spun around to stare wide-eyed at him, he added, "Now he turned around and SPLIT HIMSELF IN TWO, then got GIFTED of all things!"

"And who's fucking fault was that, jerk?!" Tamiyo snarled, drawing Amamurotō as she secured the scabbard to her belt. "Dumb bitch LIES through her goddamned teeth last October when Teitoku said 'Now I can be married' — when he was talking about Miyake Shinobu of all people! — and says she's Teitoku's WIFE of all things! She fucking then takes the whole PLANET hostage almost right after that because Teitoku sure as FUCK didn't want anything to do with a lying MONSTER like that...!"

"HOW DARE YOU?!"

A blaze of lighting erupted from Lum to slam into Tamiyo's abdomen...which does nothing save make the transformed cruiser laugh! "Oi! Couldn't you guess it out by now, idiot?!" the first of her class then sneered while Lum recoiled in terror. "I'm a FIRST GENERATION BATTLE DOLL! In one way, I'm one of the ones who turned the lar'beke fleet into SCRAP METAL five thousand years ago!" As Lum and Rū both gargled in horror on realizing what they were now up against, Tamiyo went for the kill.

"Sent here by Doctor Destructo himself!"

A wailing scream escaped Lum as she instantly raced into the sky to get as far away from such a monster. "Lum, wait!" Rū yelled out as he raced off after her.

"Oi! Tenryū! What's going on?!"

Glad to hear a familiar voice, Tamiyo looked down towards the street where a former fleet mate now stood. "Get after those two, Sendai!" she snapped, pointing up into the sky. "The creep in the cape's the one who hurt Teitoku tonight! That Oni bitch must have made him do that!"

Hearing that, Hashimoto Sei — the transformed light cruiser THG Sendai — perked before she leapt into the air, her civilian clothes immediately morphing into her black and dark safety orange battlesuit while she poured on the speed to pursue her targets. A hundred metres ahead of her, Rū pushed himself hard to get even with Lum, then he snared her under the armpits to carry her along at a faster velocity. "Hey!" the warlord's daughter from Onishuto yelped. "Let me go, you monster...!"

"We have to run, Lum! One of those things is right...!"

"SEISHUSHI!"

Both aliens screamed as a virtual HURRICANE of energy bolts shaped like the throwing stars used by stealth warriors of old nearby ripped into both of them, Rū shifting himself and Lum clear of that deadly fusillade just in time. As she gargled on seeing yet ANOTHER woman that Ataru had befriended over the last couple of months FLYING at them, Rū angled himself towards the subdivisions close to the traditional home of Japan's second-richest family. "Hang on, Lum! I'll keep you safe!"

Here, he dived right for a small park close to Tomobiki High School, with Sei banking over to her left to draw open the range, ki again billowing in the hands of the woman with her shaggy hair done in a two-side up manner, brown eyes tracking her targets like the rangefinders used to help target in her seven 14 centimetre/50 calibre 3rd Year Type naval rifles. Seeing the magician carry his charge right towards the park gate, Sei chuckled before she flung out both hands. "SEISHUSHI!"

The storm of bolts instantly churned up the ground leading right to their targets, concussive waves knocking Rū and Lum around like rag dolls. As people in nearby homes turned on lights and looked out windows to see what the hell was going on, Lum spun around. "Sei-san! Stop that!" she screamed, lashing out with her lightning to drive the adopted native of Asagiri and Nagasaki back.

The warlord's daughter yelped in horror as Sei instantly drew out an ENERGY SWORD of all things from her body to swat away that bolt of bio-electricity. "Oh, man! First the spirit shuriken attack, now a soulsword?!" a wide-eyed Rū exclaimed as he whipped off his cloak and wrapped it around Lum. "C'mon! If she's some master of Saikō Jinseijutsu-ryū, you're DEAD if she catches you!"

"What's that?!" Lum demanded even if she didn't resist him pulling her along.

A groan answered her. "Figures that idiot wouldn't tell you about his family's own MARTIAL ARTS SCHOOL!" the magician snapped, that making Lum squawk in surprise as he angled himself north towards the Mizunokōji estate. "It's a form of ninjutsu, as deadly as anything this planet's Jewel Warrior practises! That energy sword that thing behind us has KILLS on contact with the edge of the blade! If those things all answer to that idiot, you're going to be very DEAD if you don't come with me!"

"Darling wouldn't DO that...!"

"He just got turned into one of the SCARY PEOPLE, Lum! You KNOW they don't care for you!"

The Oni teenager paled as she recalled what she saw not hours before inside the Moroboshi home. Realizing that somehow, someway, her would-be husband had been manoeuvring the forces of the Unspeakable Place — including the greatest warriors ever to rise from that planet's early history if all the dark tales from that time period, passed on by Vosian cultural observers from the natives all these years, were true! — to effectively seal off Earth from ALL alien contact made her shudder in terror. Much that she couldn't believe Moroboshi Ataru hated her so much that he was prepared to do this sort of thing to her — and even more so, go after her "most faithful" from Phentax Two to ensure no interference! — the sheer threat of people like the Hashimoto and Shimosuwa sisters...!

Were ALL of Ataru's new lady friends he met over the last two months like them...?

"Oi! Yasen-baka! What's going on?!"

Lum gargled. "Oh, no...!"

"Who's that?!" Rū demanded.

"Kumamoto Kiko-san! She's another of Darling's new friends!"

"You mean HER?!"

Noting where the magician was looking, Lum spun around...

...then she gargled as a woman with long raven hair done in a thick French braid to mid-back soared down out of the night sky and fell in close to Sei. The newcomer was in a two-tone green jumpsuit of the more traditional cut worn by Those People, the symbol over her heart being the kanji 北上 over the images of two jumping fish, marking the fishing port city of Ishinomaki where her namesake river flowed into the Pacific at two places. Seeing that, Rū blinked as he recounted what he had seen this evening. "'Kitakami'. 'Sendai'. 'Tenryū'. 'Tatsuta'," he said as he paled, then he poured on the speed, turning towards the Marchenland grounds. "Oh, man! I can't believe Moroboshi found some way to do THAT!"

"DO WHAT?!"

"Don't you understand?!" the magician warned as he pointed pack towards their pursuers. "Those aren't just first-gen battle dolls from the Scary Place, Lum! They're the ch'uongtechhu of old Japanese warships from the Terrans' Second World War made HUMAN!"

Lum croaked out in disbelief as Rū then dived to ground level, racing right for the main gate to the Marchenland grounds. Overhead and well to their rear, both Sei and Kiko braced themselves as they slowed down, ready to unleash a huge spread of energy bolts in an attack that would force them into a specific building before they'd drop it on the two aliens' heads and bring this merry chase to an end. "Ready?!" the reborn name ship of her class called out as the ki billowed in her hands.

"One Super-Kitakami Smackdown, coming up!" the reborn third of the Kuma-class cruisers announced.

Seeing the magician and his companion duck into the House of Mirrors in the middle of the fairgrounds, Sei whooped. "Perfect! SEISHUSHI!" she bellowed as a stream of energy shuriken stormed down.

"YONJŪ-KUJŪSAN!" Kiko screamed out.

The twin storms of energy bolts — forty large beams from Kiko alone in a spiritual replica of the forty 610 millimetre Type 93 oxygen torpedoes she had carried as a torpedo cruiser after the summer of 1941 — ripped up the ground around the House of Mirrors before the building was crushed as if the hand of Fūjin Himself had come down from the heavens to ruthlessly crush the impudent aliens who sought safety within. As shouts from nearby homes heralded the awakening of hundreds of people from neighbouring homes — that echoed with shrill sirens echoing from both the Mendō and Mizunokōji estates indicating both clans' paramilitary forces were mobilizing — Sei and Kiko dropped down to ground level, ignoring the billowing dust and smoke their attacks produced from wrecked and burning buildings. "I think we overdid it, Sei!" the reborn third of the Kuma-class cruisers wryly warned.

"They're idiots, Kiko! Don't worry," the reborn name-ship of her class muttered. "SENNEDDA!"

A virtual TORNADO of heated air formed in front of Sei, sucking in all the fire and smoke before she flicked it all high in the sky towards a nearby pond, allowing the building fragments to be doused and prevent any future flare-ups. Noting that there weren't any human bodies caught up when she unleashed that particular strike, the adopted native of Asagiri and Nagasaki on Kyūshū growled as she advanced on the House of Mirrors, which was now nothing more than a pile of shredded tent canvas, splintered wood and shattered glass. Summoning another heated tornado attack to clear the debris away, the reborn light cruiser then blinked on seeing nothing there save bare floor.

"What the heck...?" Sei demanded as Kiko came up to join her.

"HOLD IT RIGHT THERE, LADIES!"

Both reborn warships perked, then they spun around...

"Oh, hell! The Kempeitai major's grand-kid!" Sei muttered under her breath.

Sure enough, Mendō Shūtarō stood ready in front of a reinforced company's worth of his clan's paramilitary forces, all with weapons at the ready even if none of them were aiming their carbines at either Sei or Kiko. On recognizing the reborn light cruisers, the scion of Japan's richest family shuddered. "Um, Sei-san! Kiko-san! Please don't tell me that you're like Moro-...!"

Both women blinked as a panicking look suddenly crossed his face, his voice melting into a warble while his hands dropping his handy officer's sword, they reaching up to pull at his hair as he danced around like some lunatic. As the troopers panicked on seeing their employer act like he had lost his mind, a woman's voice possessing the strength of purest neutronium called out one word:

"Cease."

Everyone froze before Sei looked around Shūtarō, then she smiled. "Ah! Shihan-sama!" she called out with a friendly wave of her hand. "Sorry for making such a mess!"

The woman who appeared to be a slightly older version of Tariko Katabarbe calmly walked through the crowd of troopers, all of whom instantly snapped to attention and saluted the personal assassin to the Heavenly Sovereign. Of course, such was not Moroboshi Negako's "proper" job description; in the official government list, Earth's first true artificial intelligence made human more than a decade before was known as the Lady Chamberlain of the Fukiage Ōmiya Palace which had once served as the residence of the late Heavenly Sovereign of Shōwa. Moving with the terrible grace inherited by the amassed centuries of martial arts knowledge that became fully sentient in 1808, Negako paused to gaze on the wildly screaming Shūtarō for a moment before she reached over to tap a place at the back of the head, making him stop with a jolt, then he blinked in confusion before turning to gaze upon her. Seeing that face and general hair style, he tensed up again, his eyes spiralling once more.

"Young Master!" one of the senior paramilitary officers then hissed. "This is Teikokukan Yonjū-kū!"

A gargled croak of breath escaped the scion of Japan's richest family before he bowed low. "Negako-sama! Please forgive me for not recognizing you right away!" He then blinked before looking up at her in confusion. "Um...what are you doing here anyway?" he then quietly asked.

"Sei is my student, Shūtarō," Negako answered, making him nod in understanding. "Tonight's disturbance was, while ultimately not desired, expected given the revelations concerning Ataru's connection to Yiziba atop Lum's quite annoying lack of self-discipline." Ignoring the shocked awk from the younger man at such a comment directed towards his favourite classmate, Negako turned away from him. "Have your forces deployed around the property to maintain site security while I ascertain what has occurred here. No one is to trespass until I am sure the site is safe."

Before Shūtarō could respond, the leader of the paramilitary company snapped to attention. "Hai, Negako-sama! We'll make this place tighter than Fort Knox! You heard the lady, men! Move out!"

"WAIT!" Shūtarō cried out...

...to no avail as the troops raced off as they had been instructed, leaving their employer's son behind.

"What's going on here?!" he then feebly wondered.

The only thing that answered him was a hollow wind...

****

Nearby...

"That's not possible...!"

Staring at the horrifying sight of Moroboshi Negako walking on the grounds of the Marchenland — and not possessing her known host in this particular time period, none other than Moroboshi Ataru himself! — Lahla could only shake her head as she tried to figure out what was going on here.

If THIS was where her charge had come, it didn't match the history of Rū's ancestors whatsoever!

"Not possible..." the lavender-haired woman moaned. "Not possible at all..."

To Be Continued...!

****

WRITER'S NOTES

As noted after the title blurb, this story is set almost five months before the start of the main story. Since almost the whole of the third Urusei Yatsura movie, Remember My Love, is set in an alternate time loop, this whole story would occur in a single day in proper lineal time. This particular story starts at time frame 26:40 in the film; all that was depicted in the film before hand (save for anything Moroboshi Ataru did concerning flirting with other girls) happens as shown in the movie itself.

As always with my stories, the given names of characters such as the parents of Moroboshi Ataru and others are derived from what were used in The Senior Year.

Translation list and source language: Baka Aho — Literally "idiot fool" (Japanese); Ofukuro — Literally "honourable sack", an archaic way of addressing one's mother (Japanese); Taisa — Navy captain/Army colonel/Air Force group captain (Japanese); DNTK — Short for Dai-Nihon Teikoku Kaigun ("Navy of the Greater Japanese Empire") (Japanese); Tennō Heika Gunkan — Literally "Warship of His Majesty the Heavenly Sovereign" (short form THG), the ship prefix for Imperial Japanese warships in the universe of my stories (Japanese); KJ — Short for Keijun'yōkan, serving as the hull classification code for a light cruiser of Japan in my stories (Japanese); Amamurotō — Literally "sword of the heavenly void" (Japanese); Teitoku — Admiral (Japanese); Lar'beke — Snake leech (Yizibajohei); Tene lomher'buo — You are ready/It is time (Yizibajohei); Nesu — Behold (Yizibajohei); Yūjo — Prostitute (Japanese); Umale — Same/Sameness (Yizibajohei); Ofukun — Literally "most honourable father" (Japanese); Sem — Basic currency on Yiziba, equal to an American penny (Yizibajohei); Seishushi — Short for Seishin Shuriken Arashi ("Psychic Shuriken Storm"), one of the offensive attack manoeuvres in Saikō Jinseijutsu-ryū ("Way of the Supreme Life"), the Moroboshi Clan's in-house school of ninjutsu (Japanese); Yasen-baka — Night battle idiot (Japanese); Ch'uongtechhu — House angel, divine spirits protecting one's home/ship in myths (Noukiite); Yonjū-Kujūsan — Literally "Forty-Ninety-three", this is a reflection of the ability of THG Kitakami (Kumamoto Kiko) as a torpedo cruiser (in Japanese, Suiraijun'yōkan, hull classification code SRJ) to carry forty Type 93 "Long Lance" oxygen torpedoes in ten quadruple launchers (Japanese); Sennedda — Short for Senpū Netsu-hi Daboku ("Air Whirlpool Heat-Fire Strike") (Japanese); Kempeitai — The Imperial Japanese Army's military police/secret security service; Shihan — Marital arts grandmaster (Japanese); Teikokukan Yonjū-kū — Imperial Special Agent #49 (Japanese).

The shipgirls who appear in this chapter:

Shimosuwa Tamiyo-taisa DNTK (Tennō Heika Gunkan Tenryū [KJ-44])
Shimosuwa Tadako-taisa DNTK (Tennō Heika Gunkan Tatsuta [KJ-45])
Hashimoto Sei-taisa DNTK (Tennō Heika Gunkan Sendai [KJ-58])
Kumamoto Kiko-taisa DNTK (Tennō Heika Gunkan Kitakami [SRJ-48])

Of course, all four of the reborn cruisers noted above take after their Kantai Collection selves, of course.

Quick reminder of the way the sisters of Sister Princess address their brother in the original Japanese and in the English translation of the anime series:

Tanenobu Karen — Onii-chan (お兄ちゃん) (Big Brother)
Eigo Kaho — Onii-chama (お兄ちゃま) (Brother)
Itō Mamoru — Anii (あにぃ) (Big Bro)
Sukeyama Sakuya — Onii-sama (お兄様) (Dear Brother)
Saeru Hinako — Onii-tama (おにいたま) (Bro-Bro)
Susumu Marie — Aniue-sama (兄上様) (Brother Mine)
Osamu Shirayuki — Nii-sama (にいさま) (Elder Brother)
Hatoyama Rinrin — Aniki (アニキ) (Bro)
Hirosaki Chikage — Ani-kun (兄くん) (Brother Darling)
Tenhiro Haruka — Anigimi-sama (兄君さま) (Beloved Brother)
Yotsuba Dunn — Ani-chama (兄チャマ) (Brother Dearest)
Aria des Beauchamps — Nii-ya (兄や) (Mon Frère)

Note that as I've always done with these characters, I create separate family names for them since it makes more sense for them to be half-sisters to the game's player character than full sisters. Thus, an Onii-chan no Hi (literally "Day for Big Brother") (or variations of same depending on which sister we're speaking about) indicates the special day that any of the sisters spends with their brother.

Finally, a quick re-read of the writer's notes of the main story will help people get caught up in the basic facts of life in this particular universe.