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The End of the Circus: Giftings, Dreams and Nightmares

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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 High School, the first Tuesday in May in 2012, after midnight...

Her name was 'Amina bint-Jasim ad-Dawḥaḧ.

Of course, that was the name all her friends knew her by.

Thought such wouldn't be seen as proper on her TRUE home planet of Shōzoran.

On that tropic world hundreds of light-years away from the third world of Sol, her proper designation would be a long string of characters in the native language that couldn't possibly be translated in any Terran language, much less the language of her soon-to-be adopted people.

For she was soon — perhaps this very night — about to become one of the Children of the Forge.

To become a child of Yiziba...

Shuddering as the ghostly echoes of various internal readouts flashed in her dark brown eyes, the raven-haired gynoid reached down to pull up her seifuku top as she willed open her abdominal maintenance hatch. A simple portal only ten centimetres square, it would normally show a recessed touch-screen connected to dozens of leads and power conduits that relayed readings from all her internal systems for any technician to analyze before detailed repairs or modifications would begin.

Gazing now at the slowly morphing silicon and other metals that had gone into her internal construction, the beautiful replica of an Iraqi Kurd freshman high school student with Qatari ancestry from Karkūk in the northern part of that long-blighted nation shuddered as her housekeeping computer tried to block her mind from being overwhelmed by the tsunami-like waves of information assaulting her from other parts of her body as forces unleashed on her by her master/lover not a week before moved to make her as human as her long-dead template back home...and much more than mere human as well.

A metahuman...

To become something that could defend ALL of Earth from all possible threats.

Especially threats from Shōzoran and its horrible central controlling nexus, Mother...

A grin crossed her well-formed face as she felt yet another torrent of information download into her central processors from that vast and ancient forge which formed the core of the third world of Kaeyu nearly three hundred light-years away from Sol. Thinking about how her life had turned around when she had been accepted as an exchange student to the world's most famous high school — a school that was currently the literal epicentre of public interactions between Terrans and ALIENS of all things — she then shuddered as she recalled how she immediately came to realize that while being in Tomobiki seemed safe to her at first, it was perhaps even more dangerous than living back home in Karkūk with the dumb mechanical shells created when she was first activated to resemble her template's parents. Despite there being HUNDREDS of free Shōzoki gynoids and androids living within the Kantō basin of Japan at the time, there were still those poor unfortunates who were slaved to the master controlling program that had seized control of their true homeworld centuries before in the Great Conversion; several of them were 'Amina's fellow students, though she hadn't directly encountered any of them.

Never mind the presence of one Redet Lum AKA Lum Invader of the planet Uru...

Shaking her head, she willed her circuit hatch closed as she allowed her seifuku top to drape down over her well-formed abdomen. Shuddering again as she waited several microseconds for her mind to re-link with her motor systems, the adopted native of Karkūk moved to walk out of the second-floor bathroom in the central hub of the school, she turning west towards the clock tower.

And her true master.

It was time...

****

The End of the Circus: A Tale of the Yizibajohei
Side Story: Giftings, Dreams and Nightmares
by Fred Herriot

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

C&C by Rose Ash.

Based on characters and situations from The Seventh Carrier, written by Peter Albano; Azumanga Daiō, created by Azuma Kiyohiko; Kantai Collection, created by Kadokawa Games; characters created by World Wrestling Entertainment and its predecessor organizations, founded by Jess McMahon and Toots Mondt; Sweet Valley High, created by Francine Pascal; NOëL, created by Pioneer LDC; Urusei Yatsura, created by Takahashi Rumiko; 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.

****

Notes: This side story is a reflection of the events depicted in the second Urusei Yatsura film Beautiful Dreamer as it would occur in the universe of The End of the Circus. This story occurs over six months before the start of the main story, about three weeks after Regina Magia's omake Seeker.

****

Somewhere...

For Mujaki, this was the culmination of a considerable amount of work.

Watching the hapless fools muttering concerning the situation he pulled them into so that the one he wanted to give a wonderful dream to wouldn't have said dream come to a crashing end, he found it hard to not laugh at their sheer stupidity. While part of him did admire Redet Lum's friends for their desire to protect her, their desire to be out of this dreamworld wasn't going to help the warlord's daughter from a distant star one damned bit. And while it had been easy for him to imitate Lum's "husband" Moroboshi Ataru — it was just acting in accordance to what he learned from these people's memories of the lad — the fact that he hadn't been able to actually draw Ataru's very soul into this place was annoying.

While part of him wondered how was it possible for Ataru to resist him when he had been quite easy to coerce the LAST time the dream demon had to feed that damned nightmare-sucking tapir...!

"Oh, Sayyid...! Your manliness is truly a gift from Allāh Himself...!"

Everyone jolted on hearing that moaning girl's voice echo from somewhere, that accompanied by the faint sounds of two bodies copulating. "Huh?!" Aisuru Satoshi — known more commonly among his peers as "Megane", the leader of Lum's Stormtroopers — demanded as people looked around from the veranda of the Tomobiki High School clock tower belfry. "Who the hell's that?" he wondered.

"Wait! That sounds like one of those frosh girls Ataru took a liking to!" Shitto Kōsuke AKA "Perm" exclaimed before his head furrowed in deep thought. "That Arab girl...!"

"'Amina ad-Dawḥaḧ," Sakurambō Sakura instantly stated as she slipped off her blanket to reveal her Shintō shrine maiden's white-and-red kosode-and-hakama uniform, snap-drawing her ōnusa to do a scan, the vanes instantly flapping in immediate reflection of the massive levels of spiritual energies currently entrapping her and her companions in this strange dreamworld. "But what is...?"

"Ugh...jeez, 'Amina! Slow down, for Buddha's sake...!"

The people on the veranda jolted. "MOROBOSHI?!" Mendō Shūtarō snapped.

Suddenly, the very heavens opened...

Tene lomher'buo, 'Amina bint-Jasim ad-Dawḥaḧ...

"HEY! WAIT A MINUTE!" Mujaki shrieked as he morphed into his normal form, he gazing somewhere towards the heart of the wrecked school while ignoring the shocked cries from Ataru's classmates on noting that their despised peer wasn't even with them. "WHO'S BUTTING IN...?!"

As Sakura yanked hard to pull up an encompassing frame bearing dozens of blessed shide to block off the veranda and prevent the demon who had disguised himself as one of her students from escaping, overwhelming light seemed to explode from somewhere in the very heart of the school's second floor...

Nesu...U'UTE'ETINUMU!

Two orgasmic cries of ecstasy echoed in everyone's ears as a geyser of pure, raw POWER seemed to rip apart the centre wing of the school, sending people on the veranda flying off to splash into the lake that formed around most of the building in the last few "months" they spent in this place. As heads popped out of the pond, said geyser then lit up the night sky, making it seem brightest noon, making the people in the water spin gape as a lithe form elevated into the air, draped in something that seemed a mixture of a martial artist's gi and a shrine maiden's uniform...though such had dragon-like scales on many places covering the white top and pants. The silver belt was metallic in shade while the boots covering the just-transformed gynoid's feet were covered in silver scales. Framing the noticeable cleavage were crimson-trimmed silver flames forming multiple dragons' heads of a type Sakura didn't recognize.

"A kami...?!" the shrine miko/nurse gasped, her mage sight nearly overwhelmed by the supernova-like aura of energy exploding from every point in 'Amina ad-Dawḥaḧ's body. "She became a kami...?!"

"Looks more like a mystery woman to me, Sensei!" Urayamu Akira AKA "Chibi" noted.

"DARLING! ARE YOU OKAY?!"

Heads snapped in the direction of the Moroboshi home. "Lum-san!" Shūtarō called out, waving.

Mujaki looked himself, then morphed back into "Ataru". "OI! LUM!" he called out, waving himself.

That made the warlord's daughter immediately arc towards him as the others in the water spun around to glare at the transformed dream demon. "BASTARD! YOU LEAVE LUM-SAN ALONE...!" Megane screamed as he lunged over to snare "Ataru" by the neck and strangle him, the other core members of Lum's passionate fan club and the scion of Japan's richest family moving to assist.

The transformed dream demon chuckled as he effortlessly back-flipped out of the pond while outrage crossed his "wife's" face. "YOU LEAVE DARLING ALONE, MEGANE-SAN!" she screamed, summoning her own bio-electricity before lashing out with a concentrated bolt of lightning.

The results were...predictable.

As the pained cries of the people still in the pond tickled his ears while Lum unleashed her divine punishment, the transformed Mujaki didn't sense someone teleporting to stand right behind him...

...before a voice as haunting as any god's echoed in his ear:

"WHY DO YOU BEAR MY SAYYID 'ATĀRU'S FACE, DREAM SPRITE?!"

Mujaki spun around...

KK-KRACK!

...before he was back-slapped with the force of an avalanche into the pool!

Lum cried out in horror on seeing her "husband" get electrocuted, then she called back her powers before spinning around to glare at the newcomer. "Hey! Who gives you the right to hit my husband...?!"

She then focused directly at the newcomer's rather FAMILIAR uniform style.

Silence.

More silence.

Still more silence.

Then...

The bone-chilling frightened scream that then escaped Lum was enough to wake the dead!

As the people in the pond watched in disbelief, the warlord's daughter from Uru — who seemed to be as invincible as her race's namesake legends within Japan at times — collapsed onto the ground, jets of terrified tears escaping her eyes as she curled into herself, waving with both hands while she tried to scramble as far away from the living nightmare now before her as best she could. As 'Amina could only shake her head at the stupid umale's reaction to her being Gifted as the Sea Dragon of the Cosmos, U'ute'etinumu ("Bahamūt"), footfalls echoed from what little remained of the clock tower.

"Um...could someone tell me what the HELL is going on here?"

Heads snapped towards the school...

"M-m-Moroboshi...?" a pained Sakura croaked.

"GOT YOU!"

The "Ataru" in the pool immediately lunged into the air, then soared at his duplicate, making Lum gasp, her highly-embedded reaction on encountering one of They Who Must Never Be Named instantly vanishing as she took note of TWO versions of her "husband", one flying at the other one. Before she could demand what was going on, the Ataru on the floor of the belfry then dropped...

"YOU — DARE — HARM — MY — MASTER — DREAM — SPRITE?!"

Mujaki screamed as a funnel of raw cosmic flame nearly turned him into ashes thanks to the reborn northern polar continent "nature god" who was actually one of the second generation of the Gifted to rise on Yiziba five millennia before to fight alongside the Healer of Destruction against the Goa'uld. It was only by the fact that the dream demon was an ancient being who had first rose before the End War twenty-five millennia before that he survived such a horrible onslaught by the weird creature that had moved to defend the person who had someone managed to be inserted into this dreamworld. As the diminutive being — reverted back to his true form — splashed once more into the pool, the people he trapped in this place moved to get out of it. "Oi! 'Amina! What the hell...?!" Megane began.

SNAP!

KK-KRUNCH!

The leader of the Stormtroopers was now face-first in the ground, buried by a cinder block that dropped out of nowhere! As the others scrambled back, Ataru hummed. "Damn! I can do that here?!"

People blinked, then they looked at the "cancer of Tomobiki" in confusion; he had snapped his fingers before the large block of shaped concrete had popped out of nowhere to bash down his chief "rival" for Lum. As Lum stated wide-eyed at her "husband" before she dropped once more to the ground babbling incoherently, an amused laugh — echoing with the sheer backlash of power from her Gifting that was often called "post-Gifting shock" — escaped the reborn nature "god" with whom he enjoyed a wonderful pillow scene before they got yanked into this place. "No doubt, it is the blood link between yourself and your wonderful sister Sayyidah Ṭarīkā that gave you this power, my beloved Sayyid...!"

Instantly, Shūtarō was in her face. "Miss! You must REJECT Moroboshi...!"

PUNT!

"INFIDEL! YOU ARE A MERE SPECK OF DUST IN COMPARISON TO MY MASTER!"

The scion of Japan's richest family howled in agony as he was sent high into the sky by 'Amina's kick down THERE, he then falling down to crash through the rotted roof over Class 2-4 before smashing through the floor to wind up in the Principal's office underwater! As the other Stormtroopers instantly backed away from the VERY pissed off once-gynoid, Sakura immediately dropped to her knees, bowing her head. "Forgive me, Oh Mighty Jinn! We do not know what brought you here...!"

"Be silent, you useless excuse of a priestess!"

The Stormtroopers awked in fright as Sakura clammed up. Once silence had been achieved — even Lum wasn't moving, not daring to do anything to attract this horrible creature's wrath — 'Amina paused to look around while Ataru leapt off the floor of the belfry to land on solid ground before he walked over to join them. "So what's going on?" he wondered as he moved to stand beside the beautiful woman who was now quite organic thanks to the DNA copied from the real 'Amina ad-Dawḥaḧ that had once been contained in the synthetic woman's skin; such had been used by the Great Crystal of Power just now to serve as a template to transform her gynoid body in the Gifting. "This is Tomobiki..."

"It is a dreamworld, beloved Sayyid," the reborn nature "god" advised, the level of echo in her voice fading as her subconscious mind — which absorbed her housekeeping computer on her transformation — processed the memories of her many past-selves from the time of the Second Great Banishment to become one with her own soul. "One created by that dark jinn that dared tried to take your face, no doubt to deceive these infidels, much less the umale who DARES call you her 'husband'!"

Lum awked as those glowing eyes focused on her, the automatic reaction she would show on being told that Ataru was NOT her husband instantly overwhelmed by her fear of Those People to keep her tongue still. As the Stormtroopers — now joined by a slowly-recovering Megane — gargled on seeing that their favourite classmate was now just too terrified of the transformed freshman to assert her normal rights concerning her "husband" as she did many times before, the faint whistling sound of a young Oni flying towards them echoed through the air. "Lum-chan! Oi! Hey, aho! What's going on here?! Who's...?"

Redet Ten's voice caught in his throat as a pair of glowing eyes focused on him, he nearly soiling himself on seeing one of the Scary People standing there. "A YIZIBAJOHEI?!" he screamed.

As the others paled on hearing the demonym for the natives of the ONE planet Urusians feared...

"Huh?! Hey! I just said 'Yizibajohei'!"

Eyes locked on Ten before 'Amina reached out with her hand. Lum — who nearly died of an apoplectic fit on hearing THAT WORD escape her own cousin's lips — then wailed as the helpless pre-schooler was easily yanked over into the transformed Iraqi Kurd's arms. Ten himself froze as stiff as concrete as the Scary Person grabbed him...then he blinked as he was gently cradled in 'Amina's arms while she reached over to cover his forehead with one hand, it glowing softly. "Ah!" the reborn nature "god" then declared as she pulled her hand away, allowing Ten to float clear from her embrace. "You are freed of that madness forced on you before you came to this world, young Ten. Sayyidah 'Ayūmu bint-Tāru al-Kāsuga al-Īzībahi removed that accursed brainwashing from your soul."

"Ayumu-chan got rid of that brainwashing?" Ataru wondered.

"The touch of the Infinite One is recognizable to ALL like me, beloved Sayyid."

That made Ten awk as Lum choked before she collapsed into a dead faint. That was not noticed by the Stormtroopers nor Sakura...though what happened to the warlord's daughter was seen by the moaning Mujaki, who had NOT been prepared to be nearly broiled out of EXISTENCE by that weird interloper. "Lum...!" he croaked out loud enough to get the attention of the others.

"LUM-SAN!"

The dream demon's head was nearly crushed when a recovered Shūtarō jumped down, landing on his head before he moved to draw the warlord's daughter into his arms. Of course, the current situation wasn't enough for the Stormtroopers to ignore what their rival was doing with the woman whose hand they also sought. "MENDŌ, YOU BASTARD! UNHAND LUM-SAN!" Megane screamed as the four boys lunged over to dog-pile Shūtarō while also moving to seize Lum for themselves.

As Ten quickly moved closer to them so he could flame the idiots for trying to hurt his cousin, Sakura looked over to see Ataru standing calmly there, clearly not the bit bothered by what was happening to his "wife". "Moroboshi! Why aren't you stopping them?!" the school nurse demanded.

A placid look responded. "Because it's as obvious as coal in a ballroom that Redet-san loves THEM way more than she supposedly loves ME, Sakurambō-san," the Terran tag champion calmly answered.

Silence.

More silence.

Still more silence.

Then...

"EVIL SPIRIT! BEGONE!"

SNAP!

KK-KRACK!

The boys and Ten gargled in horror on seeing Sakura now on the deck thanks to a well-aimed cinder block, with Shūtarō dropping Lum to the ground as his eyes bugged out of his head in disbelief on seeing that Moroboshi Ataru of all people had just WILLINGLY brought harm to a woman! Shuddering as he sensed his mind crash from the information OVERLOAD dropped on his head, Megane glared at Mujaki. "Oi! Old man! Knock it off with the nightmares! Can't you see you're hurting Lum-san?!"

"'Mujaki'...?"

That was Ataru, who had an honestly confused look on his face. "Yeah!" Perm snapped as he pointed at the still-shivering dream demon. "Don't you remember back in February just after Ryūnosuke came to our class, Ataru?! This stupid dream demon showed up out of nowhere while we were having homeroom after he tried to force-feed nightmares into you to feed Baku-sama!"

Ataru blinked again before he hummed. "Oh, HIM..." he trilled out, walking around the others to get a closer look at Mujaki, with 'Amina remaining at his side just in case any of the fools wanted to hurt her beloved master; even if she was Gifted, the emotional bond the former gynoid had with the man who had helped stabilized her core programming via a wonderful pillow scene days before was as strong as depleted neutronium. Stopping to look intently at the groaning demon, Ataru then picked him up by the back of his singed jacket to gaze into the smaller being's now-spiralling eyes before he shrugged, dropping Mujaki into the ground. "Feh! Idiot couldn't be any decent sort of heel these days...!"

'Amina turned to stare at Ataru's peers, crossing her arms. "So what in the Ninety-Nine Sacred Names of Allāh Himself is going on here?!" the adopted native of Karkūk demanded, the glow in her eyes fading, which made Ten breathe out as he sensed she was now in much better control of herself. "Why did this useless excuse of a dream sprite create this world for you to be pulled into anyway?!"

"He is a demon," a strange voice stated, making the boys turn as Sakura rose, hefting the cinder block that had been dropped on her head. "But before I explain...!" she snarled before flinging it at Ataru.

SNAP!

KK-KKRUNCH!

The boys screamed after the block of moulded concrete was telekinetically flung right back into her face after Ataru snapped his fingers, sending poor Sakura flipping head over heels before falling flat on her face. "Nice try, you pathetic excuse of a priestess!" he calmly declared. "Go bug someone else for a meal before we get your USELESS reveal scene!" As the boys all boggled at at the sheer LACK of any emotion in their peer's voice, Ataru then crossed his arms. "I am so going to hate doing this," he then said as he gave 'Amina a knowing look. "You want to help me with this, 'Amina-chan?"

"Your wishes, beloved Sayyid, are ALWAYS my commands!" the Sea Dragon said with fluttering eyes.

He nodded before taking a deep breath...

"ONĒ-SAN!"

****

Somewhere else...

A moan escaped the woman in the fluffy covers as a light rumble quaked her cabin.

Muttering as she sat up, rubbing her eyes, the woman who had been born a man named Moroboshi Ataru seventeen years before yawned to refresh her body with new oxygen before she shifted the quilts away from her well-shaped body, that covered only in an off-grey ribbed sleep tanktop that went just below her crotch. Rubbing the side of her face to help her wake up more, the current incarnation of one of the most feared sentient beings to live on the World of the Forge covered her feet in warm furry slippers before getting up. After another stretch and yawn, she walked out of the bathroom, heading straight for the stairs to the main floor, arriving at the large combination living room/kitchen where she often received guests. Heading to her front door, she muttered, "What the hell's going on...?"

She then opened it...

...and found herself gazing right into the head of a VERY big stone tortoise.

Now, most normal people would react to such a sight by either being frozen in shock or jolted into fright given said stone tortoise appeared to be the same general size as Gojira was depicted in recent films.

As it is often said on Yiziba, "normal is overrated".

To the man-turned-woman calling herself Tariko Katabarbe, confronting this was the herald of what was euphemistically called among her adopted race a "sleepy episode".

Translation: It was going to be a slow Tuesday.

"Alright..." the slender reality warper with the deep chocolate brown eyes and the shaggy hair the same shake done in the same general style as her other-self wore his mop hummed as she put her fists to her hips, an annoyed snort escaping her. "Who the hell put THIS on my front lawn...?"

She then blinked as her eyes focused now on something above the tortoise's head, making her look up to see a very ACCURATE and quite TALL stone statue of someone she had very good cause to wish to FORGET at times standing atop the edge of said stone reptile's shell, that supporting what looked like a large and thick circular cut of ground. "Shinobu...?!" she wondered before another annoyed mutter escaped her, she rubbing her forehead. "Okay, who's the idiot playing THIS stupid prank...?"

Blinking again, Tariko then focused on the statues standing to either side of her would-be "girlfriend". "Ryū-chan...Momoe...Kumiko over there...Yuka that way...Kaho and Emi beside her..." she noted as her head swivelled to and fro before her eyes narrowed as she reached out with her telepathic powers to pick up the trapped souls within. "Oh, this definitely will not do!" she declared, raising her hand.

SNAP!

The whole structure that had landed in the glen where her cabin was located on Yiziba's northern polar continent violently quaked as invisible beams of energy slashed hard into both the stone tortoise and the statues holding what most likely was Tomobiki itself well above said tortoise's shell. In a minute, they all disintegrated into dust-like fragments, bolts of light teleporting the trapped souls within to the surface above as the cityscape came down with a jarring crash even if Tariko's own powers easily cushioned the landing; much that she didn't want to have to deal with the reveal scenes this situation was going to unleash right now, she didn't want her would-be peers from her old hometown DEAD.

No, there were other groups on Earth who wanted that wonderful situation to happen.

Tariko considered herself too civilized in her own way to interfere in that.

After all, it was a common maxim on Yiziba:

"It's not MY fight scene!"

Once the shaking stopped and Tomobiki went quiet once more — the town appeared to Tariko to have been subjected to the same type of carpet bombing the United States Army Air Force unleashed on Japan in the Second World War; only Tomobiki High School and some residences in the direction of her old family home seemed intact — did she mentally compel her sleepshirt to transform into her normal day clothes of a white petite chemise over designer jeans a friend from France got her, a pair of Converse runners she got from another friend in Britain covering her feet. Reaching over to slip on a jacket — her cabin was under a thousand kilometres from Yiziba's north pole and it was chilly today — she then levitated herself up towards her old hometown, the door to her cabin closing behind her...

****

At the edge of Tomobiki...

Miyake Shinobu was shuddering as if she was caught at the South Pole during the middle of winter.

And no, it wasn't because of the chilly breeze that was flowing over the edge of the cut-out section of Tomobiki from this strange mountainous area covered in forests with nearby peaks caked in glacial ice.

Never mind the sight of a BLUE sun rising off to her left and TWO moons way high to her right...

Even if her brain was still wracked with the echos of nightmares she had endured since that night in the Moroboshi home after she cooked supper for everyone, the conclusion was obvious.

"I'm on another planet..."

And while it did make sense in one way — after all, Tomobiki had somehow been ripped out of the very ground itself and sent flying into deepest space on the back of a stone turtle in an odd reflection of the old legends of Urashima Tarō and his trip to Ryūgū-jō to visit the sea kami Ryūjin — the fact that they had landed now in what seemed to be a virgin forest was something of a curiosity.

Given that her recent nightmares seemed to see her submerged underwater until she woke...

Eh?

The devout Catholic descent of the Kakure from Kyūshū who had held onto their faith despite the vicious persecutions of the Tokugawa Bafuku before the Meiji Restoration blinked on seeing someone literally FLY up to street level, said person rising from what looked like a simple country cabin beside a pretty stream of water filling a rather nice pond nearby. As details became more familiar, she felt a surge of even greater confusion flood her. For that shaggy brown hair and track runner's build — despite his past actions since before the Tag Race months before — was as near and dear to her heart as her faith in the Lord. As a flash of relief overcame her, she waved. "Ataru-kun...!"

Said newcomer came up to street level, then dropped down in a perfect two-point landing about a couple metres away from Shinobu. Immediately, the latter surged over to warmly embrace the newcomer, her eyes tearing in delight. "Oh! Ataru-kun, it was so horrible...!"

KK-KRACK!

"Itte...!"

The newcomer gazed down at her would-be girlfriend with a face that was just too female to be that of Moroboshi Ataru; a rather large pile of wrecked concrete had struck down Shinobu before she was able to embrace the other person. "You're talking to the wrong person, Miyake," she declared in a clear woman's voice with the strange mixture of eastern Kantō and northern Hokkaidō accents that marked Moroboshi Ataru's speech. "I've got no time to deal with your bipolar issues right now!"

With that, she calmly headed towards the pile of wreckage that was still clearly identifiable as Tomobiki High School, leaving a bruised and stunned woman behind, her eyes spiralling as the sheer unreality of the moment hit her like a tonne of bricks. "Ataru-...kun...HIT...me...?" she moaned.

Tariko Katabarbe ignored that moaned statement as she marched on...

****

Near Tomobiki High School, minutes later...

"Ah! There she is! Onē-san!"

As moaning piles of humanity — including one abused dream demon — picked themselves off the ground, Redet Ten flew over to float beside Moroboshi Ataru's head. "You have an older sister, Ataru?!"

"Yes, I do. Now, that is," he affirmed as he shared an amused look with 'Amina ad-Dawḥaḧ. Much to the relief of the young firefighter's son from Onishuto, the newest incarnation of the Cosmic Sea Dragon had reverted to the same general mode of dress that her master/lover currently wore; even if this version of one of Yiziba's more powerful reality warpers seemed like a nice lady, seeing that type of battle uniform still scared Ten a lot. "All courtesy of your cousin and that useless monk..."

"You are no longer cursed!"

SNAP!

KK-KRACK!

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

"No, Venerable Sakurambō, it's your stupidity," Ataru answered after nailing Sakurambō Hayao with a cinder block, his voice dripping with scorn as he spoke the monk's title; that had been in reaction to the normal move the man called "Cherry" did whenever he confronted the lad who seemed to be plagued with every ill the world could unleash. "Shut up and pay attention! There's a big reveal scene coming."

"What's going on, Ataru?"

Both adopted Yizibajohei looked over as the woman who had effectively launched Earth's second Age of Metahumans over a decade ago came into normal speaking range. "Oh, don't mind us, Onē-san!" Ataru said as he rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment. "I was having a wonderful pillow scene with 'Amina-chan here, actually getting her Gifted after the third orgasm, then we wound up in this oddball dreamland created by the shrimp over yonder." Here, he pointed to the still-dazed Mujaki.

Tariko Katabarbe looked over, then she blinked as memory came back to her. "Oh, the little creepy heel who gave us nightmares in class one day so that he could feed that pet tapir of his, right?"

"Same idiot."

"Fine..."

SNAP!

KK-KRUNCH!

Mujaki yelped after a much BIGGER cinder block buried him. As the boys nearby gaped in horror on seeing how easily a demon had been smacked down by this strange girl that Ataru claimed was a SISTER of some sorts — and who looked awfully like him were he born a woman, in fact! — a moaning Sakurambō Sakura got back to her feet before she awked on seeing who had come to join the party. "WHO ARE YOU?!" the shrine maiden demanded before her mage sight then clicked in.

Silence.

More silence.

Still more silence.

Then...

"Um...Sakura-sensei, what is it...?" Mendō Shūtarō hesitantly asked.

A bloom of outrage exploded from the older woman...

...before she literally teleported over and bashed her uncle in the back of the head with her ōnusa "YOU STUPID OLD IDIOT! YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO PUT THEM BACK TOGETHER AGAIN! DOES THIS LOOK THE LEAST BIT LIKE MOROBOSHI IS ONE PERSON?!"

Here, she pointed at Ataru and Tariko, making the boys all gasp before Megane snapped his fingers. "That thing in November! When Ataru was into twins! Is that what you're talking about, Sensei?!"

"Hai!" Sakura breathed out before she gazed in pity at the Katabarbe twins. "How did you become a girl?" she demanded as she focused on Tariko before she waved at her. "And how did you gain the same type of power this child now has?" she wondered as she indicated 'Amina.

As an awake Redet Lum awked on realizing that female version of her "husband" was Gifted, Tariko waved the older woman down. "Oi! Oi! Oi! Take a chill pill! It was the luck of the fight scene for me!"

People blinked. "What does that mean?" Perm wondered.

"You win some fight scenes, you lose some fight scenes, you draw even in other fight scenes," Tariko said as she slipped her hands into her pockets. "If you don't face your death scene, just brush off the battlesuit and carry on with the Great Show of Life. It's the way it's been on Yiziba since the Dawn of Power." She ignored Lum's squawk on hearing THAT WORD again escape Ataru's twin. "Besides, we grew up as a girl for over ELEVEN years on Yiziba once we were pre-Gifted by Mama after we were rescued from the abusive genetic progenitors yonder." Here, she thumbed towards her old family home as disbelieving looks crossed the boys' faces, though Sakura and Cherry appeared to be remembering something. "And before you all ask, a month before Sparky and her fat oaf of a father came into our lives, we got trapped on Earth, brainwashed into forgetting Yiziba..." — again, she ignored her "wife's" frightened squawk — "...and turned back into a boy." She waved to Ataru. "So when our TRUE oldest friend bailed us out of being forced to marry Sparky here on our birthday — and apologies for seeing you all put into the healer's cockpit about that — we got separated, I became what I am today..."

"And I was forced into a synthezoid battle doll body to await my chance to get my own Gift after spending more than a DECADE being part of Onē-san and preparing for our REAL destiny!" Ataru added before he redefined "sneer" at his would-be "wife". "Which means, Redet-san, we can NEVER be married! After all, a Yizibajohei cannot MATE with another Yizibajohei!"

As Lum shrieked in horror on hearing THOSE WORDS again, 'Amina smirked as she added, "And the only way you could ever begin to HOPE to become intimate with MY Sayyid 'Atāru is to be GIFTED yourself and become ONE with Yiziba, Redet!" she leered as she moved to drape herself against his side. As Lum howled yet again at being told that, the Iraqi Kurd gynoid-turned-metahuman reached over to playfully stroke Ataru's chin with a finger. "Are you willing, you selfish umale...?"

The boys looked over to their favourite classmate to see her shivering, a storm of emotions — denial, terror, outrage, total helplessness — crossing her face. By then, a considerable amount of people — all the other girls of Class 2-4 save three, Ataru immediately noted, plus their homeroom teacher Onsen Mark — were approaching the scene; much to his inner delight, Miyake Shinobu seemed skittish as she came up, shielded in a way by Fujinami Ryūnosuke On seeing their favourite classmate alive and well, people like Marubeya Momoe and Gekasawa Kumiko raced over to crowd around Shūtarō.

Of course, not all the girls of the class were mindlessly obsessed with their cohort's richest member; five girls were moving to stand closer to Ataru, Tariko and 'Amina. "Oi, Ataru-kun! What's going on here?" Okano Yuka then asked. "Last thing I remember was heading to the apartment to sleep off the work for the café, then I had one doozy of a nightmare before finding myself here!"

"About the terrorist attack last summer at Eisa Girl's High, Okano-san?" he wondered.

The intelligent girl with the shaggy short-cut chestnut hair and the wise grey eyes behind round-lens reading glasses nodded. A native of Taitō Ward in Tōkyō proper, she was part of a group of thirty-five who had transferred to Tomobiki High at the start of the fall term in 2011. Despite their being normal girls, they had an exciting freshman year, especially at the start of summer vacation when a group of terrorists attacked their school located in nearby Kanagawa to seize samples of the very advanced communications technology that saw Eisa Girl's High declared the "school of the future". Yuka had been the primary reason that attack failed even if the school was so badly damaged as a result that everyone had to be scattered to other institutions. All of Yuka's old student group, Class 1-B, had come to Tomobiki High, being dispersed among all the freshman classes for the 2011-12 school year.

They would regret that even if attempts to extract themselves from such a place after the aliens came — and when "sanity left" as many in Tomobiki came to muse — seemed to fail for some reason.

Tariko and Ataru strongly suspected why that was so.

Which made the former Eisa alumni of considerable interest to them.

After all, given the great quest they — when they were one person — had engaged in, any "pretty girl" who deserved a chance to defend herself from all known threats would be helped to be Gifted.

After all...

The Show must go on...!

"Same here," Nishimura Tina muttered, looking around the devastated landscape. "Didn't care to constantly see those jerks coming at me again. It was a miracle that none of us were raped that day."

Ataru winced before he blinked. "You all had nightmares?"

Nods from Yuka's friends and several other girls. That made Tariko and Ataru exchange looks before the former gazed at Sakura. "What can you tell us about Shorty?" she asked, thumbing Mujaki.

The shrine maiden jerked before she snickered. Much that she was cringing inside at the idea of Moroboshi Ataru's SOUL being ripped in half — to say anything of being forced to live as TWO SEPARATE PEOPLE — the dry wit this empowered female version of him was showing was welcome. "He is a demon as you learned last fall when your class encountered him and Baku-sama..."

"H-hai, I am Mujaki..."

People looked as the dream demon in question wobbled through the air over to float close to the two clerics and the strange being who was just as empowered as the young Arab girl literally draping herself on Lum's "husband". Sensing that the woman he had worked hard to give a good dream to was just too terrified now to dare try to seize any control over this situation — and noting the memories that had been burned right into the poor girl's head when she was a child that depicted a HOLOCAUST unlike ANYTHING Mujaki himself ever unleashed, either by accident or purpose — he slipped off his top hat to politely bow in mid air. "Much that I'm surprised that your soul got split in half, lad, I have to confess your new 'sister' here is quite the surprise. May I have the honour of her name at least?"

"On Earth, Moroboshi Tariko. On Yiziba, Tariko Katabarbe," Tariko supplied.

He blinked. "'Yiziba'?"

A cruel smile crossed her face.

"The home of Batae Erba."

Silence.

More silence.

Still more silence.

Then...

Mujaki turned as grey as stone as THAT phrase sank deeply into his mind, then he howled in horror as his beady eyes darted to and fro behind his shaded glasses, a level of terror that he hadn't felt for many THOUSANDS of years literally freezing him in place. As the people gazing at this all blinked in surprise, Ten gazed on Ataru. "Hey, Ataru! Isn't Batae Erba the battle name of the first metahuman on Yiziba?" he wondered before he awked as the dream demon again howled in mortal fright.

"Yeah, he is, Ten," Ataru answered. "Call him 'Doctor Destructo' if you want so we don't have to get our ears blown off by Shorty's yelling like that." He thumbed the still-screaming Mujaki in emphasis.

"I've heard many rumours of this being in my studies," Cherry then noted. "The very utterance of that name — as this fellow with us is now demonstrating — is said to drive absolute terror into the hearts of the eldest of the Old Ones who survived the End War twenty-five millennia ago."

"He's our version of a Praetorian Guardian like Lord Rjazán', Cherry," Tariko explained before she looked over. "OI! CUT IT OUT, SHORTY!" she barked, making Mujaki yelp in shock. "What the hell are you trying to do, man?! Make yourself mute from all that yelling?!"

The dream demon quickly got control over himself. "Um, dōmo, Onē-san!" he said as he bowed in thanks before he looked at the two clerics. "Er, how did you know of me?"

Sakura snorted. "You're the dream demon Mujaki, also known by other terms across the planet. As your name in Japanese implies, you are an evil demon who delights in manipulating dreams, planting seeds of evil in people!" As those listening to this blinked while the demon in question moaned as he slipped off his hat to wipe his brow in embarrassment, the shrine maiden added, "It is there in the darkness of the underbelly of bloody history that you constantly lurk! Who was it, after all, that turned a shy art student from Vienna into a crazed dictator who launched a war that slaughtered MILLIONS?!" As the others hearing this gasped on realizing who she was speaking of, Sakura added as she glared at their captor, "Why did an emperor of Rome known for his love of poetry and good government become a tyrant, setting his capital afire one day? Even more so, on the day a wise preacher born in a manger in Judea was sacrificed to the authorities, you were the one reported to have used dreams to persuade the one man who betrayed him in the end!" As Shinobu screeched in horror on hearing THAT — which earned her a comforting hug from Ryūnosuke — the older woman crossed her arms. "What of the man who's death saw the Roman Empire founded? Who made his best and most honourable friend KILL that man, thus allowing the old Republic to fall?" She leaned up to glare directly into Mujaki's eyes. "It is even believed that YOU were the one who tricked Eve-sama to eat from the apple of knowledge within the Garden of Eden, seeing her and her beloved banished from there ages ago!"

An embarrassed chuckle escaped him. "Oi! Oi! Onē-san! What authority are you citing?!"

A large book appeared in Sakura's hand, drawn out from within her robes. "The Encyclopedia of Evil Spirits," she declared as she held it up for him, making the dream demon fall flat on his face.

"A very indispensable source for all those who practice magic in the land," Cherry sagely added.

As hisses and whispers escaped some of the younger people there while Onsen moaned about how this was going to affect classes in the future, Mujaki quickly recovered himself before he gazed at Tariko, an ironic smile crossing his face. "Listening to Onē-san here makes me seem like Lucifer-sama himself, ne?" he wondered, earning himself a sympathetic nod from Ataru's twin sister.

"It's what you ARE!" Sakura snapped.

Another face-fault responded! "OI! DON'T BE RIDICULOUS!" Mujaki railed as he glared intently at the impudent mortal woman who dared presume she could stop the likes of him. "Of course I know all forms of dream magic that couldn't be imagined by mere humans like you! Of course I've lived for a lot longer than almost everyone alive on Earth today..." — a harrumph then escaped him as he crossed his arms while a sulking look crossed his face — "...save for that interfering fool idiot Résav'l and that stupid fisherman's kid Tash Ri that pounded apart the Old Ones, of course...!"

Ataru and Tariko exchanged looks. "TÚNDRA!" they then both barked out.

Mujaki wailed again. "DON'T SAY HIS NAME!" he roared before he raced over to glare into their faces. "WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO?! START ANOTHER ICE AGE?!"

"How do you know of the Great Old Ones, young Tariko?" Cherry demanded.

"Oh, please!" Tariko declared. "Everyone on Yiziba knows about the oldest living sentient beings on Earth!" As another moaning whimper escaped her would-be "wife" — she was being comforted by the Stormtroopers, all of whom were just riveted to this story even if they were firing resentful looks her way for causing Lum to suffer like that — she pointed to the sky. "After all, a hundred sagas ago when the third Sagussan civilization was having their planet-wide death scene and Keseiri went to Earth to transplant our ancestors to the planet to start the fourth civilization, those old-time party animals joined forces to make the stupid heels who wanted to stop that from happening face THEIR death scenes! Hell, before he moved on to the next life, Keseiri shifted a tonne of our ancestors to Yiziba as well since it hadn't developed primates like Earth had." As people gasped, she added with a casual shrug, "Helped our planet big-time when about thirty sagas ago, the descendants of Keseiri's migrants to Sagussa helped move more people from Earth to Yiziba just as the End War on Earth was getting good."

"Which is where You Know Who came into the fight scene when your pals decided to seize the Great Crystal of Power for your own purposes," Ataru added. "But found mesonium too hard to swallow!"

Mujaki winced. "Um...dōmo," he said with a nod before taking a breath. "I see my long lifespan DOES make me seem evil to you, eh?" he lamented as he moved to "pace" in the air near Sakura and Cherry. "Oh, yes, I have helped people throughout the ages have special dreams. Hai, I even gave dreams to the people you mentioned, Onē-san" As Shinobu squawked once more, he added, "Don't get me wrong, though. The dreams I gave them are the ones their inner hearts always desired! Which means that people like Adolf and Nero and Marcus and Judas deep down WANTED to do what destiny would eventually MAKE them do! Much that people like yourself wish otherwise, it's the way humans are!"

"Do all your dreams come out as nightmares?" Sanokura Emi, another Eisa alumnus hailing from Beppu in Kyūshū who was one of Yuka's oldest and dearest friends, asked as she crossed her arms.

"No! No! No! No!" he assured as he floated closer to her, wagging his finger in assurance. "Not all my dreams turn out that way, Onē-san! People with good hearts and spirits always come out of the experience quite renewed! Even if it seemed like a nightmare to you and your friends here, what you did at that school sometime ago bonded you and your friends together in a way that makes you a strong family in the face of all that craziness living in Tomobiki forces you to face." He then slumps. "Still, too many attempts that I've made over the years in Japan just sour on me, making that good for nothing so-and-so come along to consume them all the time and I have to START ALL OVER AGAIN!"

"Wow! What a bunch of repeating scenes! Your life must be BORING, Mujaki!"

Everyone gazed on Tariko. "'Repeating scenes'?" Onsen asked as he crossed his arms, sensing one of his charges was trying to keep things calm. "What does that mean, Katabarbe-kun?"

A shrug answered the gruff vice-principal. "Common plot theme on Yiziba, Sensei," she declared. "A heel gets burned out from doing heel things! He wants to change the way his general plot script in the Show plays out. Say because he found a nice face or neutral to do pillow scenes with so they could have babies like we're all supposed to do to make sure You Know Who doesn't come out of the Great Crystal of Power and really upset things." As people slowly nodded, with Ten's eyes widening as he quickly started to draw conclusions concerning what actually drove the Children of the Forge to be the way they were, she added, "So our heel tries to steer the straight-edged lifestyle of the best face possible. But we have to factor in all the memories and knowledge of his past selves which get downloaded into his head when the casting change occurs and he's Gifted. This influences every decision he makes from that point on until his death scene, no matter what people might wish otherwise. If he's dedicated, he becomes an anti-heel; my good friend Margo Black is one.."

"Ne! Ne! Tariko-onēchan, who's Margo-san?!" Ten then asked.

"She's Doctor Death, Ten," Ataru answered.

Lum yelped before passing out again in Megane's arms. "Who is that?" Shūtarō demanded.

"Well, her tag like on Yiziba is 'Archangel of Mortality', Shūtarō," Tariko asserted, which caused some people to gulp. "Her very touch is DEATH itself!" As people cringed as they immediately imagined confronting someone like that, she then waved them down. "Oh, relax! Relax! I told you guys she's an anti-heel these days! She's the one who killed 'Usāmah bin Lādin last spring in Pakistan!"

"That was one of YOUR friends?!" Mujaki demanded before a laugh escaped him, then he tipped his top hat to her once more. "Oh, Onē-san! Do pass my compliments on to your friend! The way she just MELTED that man down to nothing but mere goo was just incredible to watch!"

As most of Shūtarō's fans turned very grey on hearing that statement, Tariko nodded. "I'll pass it on to her," she declared before humming. "Matter of fact, I might have to call her about you, Mujaki."

He yelped. "WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?!"

"Have you been able to go anywhere other than Tomobiki since you came to class that day?"

Silence.

More silence.

Still more silence.

Then...

A surprised look crossed the dream demon's face. "Uh...no."

People gaped. "What does THAT mean, Tariko?!" Sakura demanded.

Tariko and Ataru exchanged looks, then they sighed. "It's part and parcel of the reason that all of you don't remember the fact that we were GONE from Earth for eleven years while living on Yiziba doing our casting drive to protect the planet from all major threats," the latter then declared before he gazed on Lum, that look caking her in a lot of mud. "Such as the woman who says she's my 'wife'!"

Instantly, terror turned to indignation. "DARLING NO BAKA! I AM YOUR WIFE!"

"NO MARRIAGE TAGS IN A TAG RACE!"

Before she could punish her "husband", Tariko's shout blasted her into the ground some distance beyond the Stormtroopers. "Did you honestly believe that we would NOT know about Oni mating traditions, Lum?" Ataru's twin then demanded as she gave the warlord's daughter a knowing look.

People gazed at their class' most powerful member before Megane bolted to his feet, pointing to the sky as a look of absolute determination crossed his face. "TAG LUM-SAN'S HORNS!"

The Stormtroopers and Shūtarō howled as one as they moved to dog-pile her, making Lum screech in terror as she leapt into the air, then flew as fast as she could move away from the school. The boys went after her, with many of Shūtarō's fans in class racing after them to stop their favourite classmate from actually making some sort of score with the alien woman whose presence in Tomobiki disrupted too much over the last six months and more. Seeing them disappear, Shinobu turned to gaze wide-eyed at Ataru, noting he hadn't done anything to stop such a mad chase. "Ataru-kun, why...?"

"Miyake-san...!" he snarled as he glared at her, making Shinobu cringe as his voice turned to solid ice, she also reacting to such an impersonal form of address from what he had used with her before...well, before the whole thing with Ataru's other "fiancée" Queen Elle de Rosenbach. "You are not my MOTHER! You are not my WIFE! You are not my GIRLFRIEND! AND YOU ARE NOT MY FRIEND!" He looked away as sheer heartbreak crossed her face. "All you are to me right now is a MONSTER!"

As his former girlfriend dropped to her knees while a pained, sobbing moan escaped her, he spat on the ground by her feet. "Just as Redet-san there is neither my mother, nor my wife, nor my girlfriend nor my FRIEND! SHE'S AS MUCH A MONSTER AS YOU ARE!" he then shrieked.

Before any sort of feeble protest could escape Shinobu, 'Amina tensed, then she tugged his arm. "Um, Sayyid 'Atāru, much that I hate to interrupt you as you move to finally put this arrogant infidel in her proper place, I'm afraid one of your other wonderful ḥaram of loving companions feels it is his time to embrace his true destiny. He's in the storeroom where we were when you helped me embrace mine."

As jaws dropped around them, he looked over. "Who is it?"

"Mawlā Kitāḥakhi bin-Shāzaran al-Masāmūmi."

Ataru blinked before he smirked. "Oh, Kita-chan, you mean! Hai, hai!"

Tariko gazed on him before she leaned over to whisper in his ear. "«Get everyone in the school save the dolts we know out of the building,»" she then advised in Yizibajohei, which made the people around them blink in confusion even if they shuddered on seeing the icy look cross his face.

His eyebrow arched. "«I smell a prank coming.»"

She winked. "«Only the best.»"

"«I'll match you on that, Sister.»"

With a calm wave of her hand, he vanished from view. "OI!" Mujaki barked, surprised that the soul of the lad whose presence would have made things MUCH easier in this dreamworld for Redet Lum had been reunited with his body so easily. "Where did you send him?!" he then demanded.

A surprised look answered him. "Didn't you hear what 'Amina-chan just said?" she asked. "Ataru's got quite the harem of beautiful titemam and titemyu to play around with. He's spent the last three weeks since our wonderful friend rescued us from being..." — here, she made a disgusted face — "...married to Lum getting to know them better in a very PERSONAL way if you catch the theme of the script." As people winced on hearing the loathing in her voice on saying that one word, she added, "Since it was either have pillow scenes with them or let this stupid camera in the sky that orbits Shōzoran take over them and turn them into rejects for The Terminator, Ataru was so sweet to see to ALL their intimate functions." Here, she waved to 'Amina. "And yes, 'Amina-chan here was one of them."

"EH?!" Ten croaked. "THERE ARE SHŌZOKI ON EARTH, TARIKO-ONĒCHAN?!"

"Ten, there have been Shōzoki on Earth since after the Second World War."

"Who are the Shōzoki?!" Onsen demanded.

"They're a race of fully sentient androids and gynoids, Sensei!" the firefighter's son from Onishuto answered. As everyone not in the know gaped wide-eyed at him while a ramping chase scene whipped past them — with Lum in the lead, the Stormtroopers and Shūtarō right on her tail and those fans of the scion of Japan's richest family right behind them — towards where downtown had stood, Ten added, "They all turned themselves into living machines a few centuries ago, but a lot of folk on Shōzoran — that's their home planet, by the way — didn't like that, so they fled the planet to relocate elsewhere. Well, Mother — she's like Skynet in The Terminator — didn't like that, so she sent more androids and gynoids to find the 'rogues' and enslave them!" He then blushed madly before he stared at Tariko. "Um, Tariko-onēchan, when you said Ataru had to have 'pillow scenes', does that mean...?"

"Mushy stuff," Tariko said with a teasing smile.

He flustered. "Um, why that?"

"Because all titemam and titemyu that came from Shōzoran, whether they're controlled by Mother or are independent like 'Amina-chan here was made to be, were built to a specific personal companion model that forces them to seek out an organic 'master' or 'mistress' to do mushy stuff with."

Ten paled. "Oh...!"

Silence.

More silence.

Still more silence.

Then...

"'Ḥaram'...?" Yuka repeated before eyes went wide. "Oh! Harem, you mean!"

A wink answered her. "Pin-pon!"

Save for 'Amina and the other Eisa alumni present, everyone fainted! "A HAREM?!" Shinobu screamed.

"But of course, infidel!" the adopted native of Karkūk said with a grin looking like a cat that caught the canary. "A ḥaram full of PASSION and DESIRE and true LOVE that poor Sayyid 'Atāru NEVER got from YOU, much less the umale who DARES think herself more than mere DIRT beneath my master's boots...but most of all, to the pathetic MONSTERS he unfortunately had to view as his PARENTS..." Her eyes then shifted to look to Shinobu's right rear. "Until a far BETTER one came along!"

People perked, then they turned...

"YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE MY IDIOT SON!"

...before a full sake bottle that had been flung right at Tariko's face literally HALTED in mid-air...

...before it soared right back at Moroboshi Kinshō...

KK-KRACK!

Everyone winced as Ataru's mother was knocked literally head-over-heels by the force of the bottle smashing into her face, she falling flat on her face! As people winced on seeing the older woman treated so harshly, Tariko gazed at Ten. "Hey, Ten, remind me of something," she bade, making the young boy gaze her way. "Don't they punish child abusers on Noukiios by KILLING THEM?"

As Kinshō turned as grey as stone on hearing that, Ten nodded. "Yep!"

Ignoring the gargling noises from the older woman as she heard such dire things, Tariko then hummed for a moment before she asked, "And on Yehisril, if a parent acts that way towards their children, any form of patricide or matricide is seen as a proper HONOUR KILL, which allows the child to literally inherit EVERYTHING the parent had, including titles, the family wealth and all that?"

"Of course they can!"

As Tariko's mother look ready to die of pure fright at being PUBLICLY accused of something like THAT in front of her foolish child's peers, the younger woman then asked, "And didn't Nassur once tell you that Ipraedies children who are abused that move to punish their parents because of said abuse are automatically seen as MASTERS in the art of VENGEANCE if they make the parental unit KILL himself or herself after writing a confession to his or her actions, thus ensuring the kids get all the loot?"

"Hai!" Ten then perked. "Hey! You know Nassur-chan?!"

"He and I are old friends!" she calmly answered.

Right now, Kinshō was swaying like she was very drunk while the chase procession following a screaming Lum raced past them in the background. "And don't Zephyrites and Kurakoans automatically KILL child abusers because it's said to be written right into their DNA?" Tariko then wondered.

Ten nodded. "Sure they will!"

KK-KLONK!

And over she went! "Now THAT, she had coming to her!" 'Amina declared.

Ten then perked. "Ne, Tariko-onēchan, what do Yizibajohei do to child abusers?"

"They make sure the abusers GROW OLD and DIE ALONE!"

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO...!"

Everyone watched as Kinshō seemed to rocket into the air, grabbing her hair as her voice warbled in an incomprehensible cacophony of sounds that wouldn't make any sense to anyone listening to this. Landing, she danced around on the spot for a moment, then raced off towards her family home, screaming again as if all the hounds of hell were after her. Seeing her take off like that, Tariko then cupped her mouth with her hands. "YOU'RE GONNA BE POOR TOO, BAKA AHO OFUKURO!"

Another scream escaped Kinshō as a small explosion seemed to rocket the roof of the Moroboshi home into the sky. "WHO'S GOING TO TAKE CARE OF ME WHEN I'M OLD AND GREY...?!"

"WELL IT SURE AIN'T TARIKO-ONĒCHAN, YOU NASTY CREEP!" Ten screamed back.

Silence fell as the moans from Tariko's mother faded, then she gazed on Mujaki. "Your turn!"

Save for 'Amina, the people around me turned to stare warily at the dream demon...

To Be Concluded...

****

WRITER'S NOTES

This story is a reflection of the events of the latter part of the second Urusei Yatsura movie Beautiful Dreamer as they would have occurred in the universe of The End of the Circus. The first scene after the title card occurs around the time Mujaki is forced to reveal himself to the people trapped in Lum's dream (at about time index 1:09:00 in the film), then diverges from that point...save for the fact that, as noted in the narrative, Moroboshi Ataru himself was not drawn into the dreamworld initially. Chronologically in this series, this story occurs well over a month after the time Of Gifts and Semblances begins and around three weeks after the omake Seeker (written by Regina Magia).

As I've said before, various given/family names I introduced into The Senior Year for characters of Urusei Yatsura are used here, as is the general galactic situation around Earth as mostly depicted in that series; from that series come alien races such as the Noukiites, the Yehisrites, the Ipraedies, the Zephyrites and the Kurakoans, not to mention people like Nassur. Of course, Mujaki and Baku both first appeared in the Yatsura manga story "Waking to a Nightmare" (manga chapter #31). As for Ataru being split into twins, that occurs in the manga story "Just The Two of Us" (manga chapter #20).

Now, specific notes...

'Amina ad-Dawḥaḧ is based on a character created by the dōjinshi artist Momonosuke. Her effective countryman Masamune Kitahachi is based on a character created by the dōjinshi artist Makuro. The Shōzoki first appeared in my lemon fanfic story The Galatea Syndrome.

Explaining Arabic-style names, using 'Amina as an example:

'Amina — The given name (ism)
bint-Jasim — The patronymic (nasab); here, it means "daughter of Jasim"
ad-Dawḥaḧ — The surname (nisbah); here, the name implies the city of Doha, capital of Qatar

Being a Shōzoki gynoid programmed to replace an Iraqi Kurd with Qatari ancestry, 'Amina developed the habit of using her template's native terms to address outsiders, especially those she sees as being blessed by God. Thus, we have her name for Moroboshi Ataru, 'Atāru bin-Āyani al-Īzībahi:

'Atāru — Given name
bin-Āyani — This is a matronymic in this case; it means "son of Ayone"
al-Īzībahi — The proper surname (in 'Amina's eyes) for Ataru; here, this means "of Yiziba" or more correctly "the Yizibajohei"

Respecting Ataru's decision to NOT recognize his birth parents' relations to him as shown here, 'Amina uses of a variation of the Arabic kunyah concept, which is a teknonym often applied to people from that region. If Ataru DID recognize himself as "Moroboshi Ataru", 'Amina would address him as 'Atāru bin-Mukhi am-Mārabūshī al-Īzībahi; this also reflects in her version of the name of Kasuga Ayumu (from Azumanga Daiō): Ayūmu bint-Tāru al-Kāsuga al-Īzībahi. Of course, since Shōzoki androids/gynoids technically do NOT have birth parents, 'Amina will sometimes slip in the patronymic "bin-Shāzaran" or "bint-Shāzaran" (son/daughter of Shōzoran) when referring to her spiritual countrymen.

Finally, 'Amina gladly uses the honorifics Sayyid (for boys) or Sayyidah (for girls) when addressing organic-born Yizibajohei such as Ataru. Such terms are properly used for those who claim to be a direct descendant of the Prophet Muḥammad himself. For her countrymen yet to be Gifted, 'Amina uses the term Mawlā, which is normally used for new converts to Islam; in this case, 'Amina is likening the Gifting process to become a Yizibajohei to the process of becoming a Muslim.

Translation list (with source language): Karkūk — Proper Romanization for the name of the city of Kirkuk (Arabic); Tene lomher'buo — You are ready/It is time (Yizibajohei); Nesu — Behold (Yizibajohei); Jinn — A type of spirit/demon in early Islamic myth that is neither good nor evil, known often as "genie" in English (Arabic); Kakure — Hidden, short for Kakure Kirishitan ("hidden Christian") (Japanese); Bafuku — Tent government, the traditional name for a government administered by a shōgun (Japanese); Batae Erba — Healer of Destruction (Yizibajohei); Ḥaram — Sanctuary (Arabic); Titemam — Machine man (Yizibajohei); Titemyu — Machine woman (Yizibajohei); Ofukuro — Literally "honourable sack", this is a very traditional term to use for one's mother (Japanese).

The concept of Umale (literally meaning "same" or "sameness") is a constant theme among Yizibajohei. Often seen as implying a shared paranormal ability (for example, the Oni-Urusian ability to fly), it has a much deeper connotation. What it implies is that such a person elects to NOT evolve his/her life in any aspect beside the set norms imposed on that person by parents, peers, society as a whole, etc. Given the Yizibajohei propensity to accept a form of near-total anarchy as the right environment to live one's life, the idea of becoming an umale is automatically seen as repugnant.

Yes, the Goa'uld are the same Big Bads that appeared in the early seasons of Stargate SG-1. Their first encounter with Yiziba occurred five millennia (saga in Yizibajohei lexicon) before this story. And yes, the Old Ones are the elder demons who once tried to turn Earth into their private hell as noted on in Buffy the Vampire Slayer; the "End War" that saw them banished occurred twenty-five millennia before this story. Please refer to Magic and Canada to find out who Résav'l (AKA Lord Rjazán') and Tash Ri are and how their presence heavily impacts the spiritual worlds. Túndra (inspired on the same character that appeared in John Byrne's run on Alpha Flight in the 1980s) is first noted on in Of Gifts and Semblances. The whole story concerning Earth's interactions with Sagussa are a reflection of what was first introduced in The Senior Year. And mesonium (shortened often to "meson") is a trans-uranic element capable of massive amounts of energy storage as well as directly interacting with the thoughts of sentient beings I've often used in my stories; to paraphrase what I first noted on elsewhere concerning this material, it is the "atom of the mind and the soul, thus also of magic".

Okano Yuka, Shimizu Kaho, Sanokura Emi and Nishimura Tina are characters from the NOëL series of dating simulation games produced by Pioneer LDC in the late 1990s. While not as famous as games such as Tokimeki Memorial, the characters of NOëL did inspire me in past fanfiction stories. Of course, Tina's coming from Sweet Valley in California (setting of the Sweet Valley High young adult novel series by Francine Pascal and her army of ghost writers) is my creation. Note also that Margo Black is a character from SVH; she first appeared in the novel The Morning After (novel #95).

Yizibajohei social terms: Faces and heels are the "good" and "bad" guys respectively on the planet; it's no different than how professional wrestlers portray themselves as. Naturally, neutrals don't engage in such interactions. An anti-heel is (as noted above) a heel who chooses to do good things akin to what a face does. A reveal scene is when people get explanations about a specific situation. Pillow scene is the common term for sexual intercourse. Fight scene is normally used for battles between anyone, but can also be used to describe the daily struggles of life. One's death scene is self-explanatory; a planet-wide death scene indicates the mass extinction of any particular species. The Dawn of Power is the worldwide revolution that transformed the natives of that world into metahumans, starting around 47 BCE on Earth and concluding at the turn of the Common Era; the latter stages of same are known as the Starvation Times due to the massive famines that broke out across the planet thanks to the total breakdown of national governments and most food distribution networks. Repeating scene is when the same thing is done again and again. A plot theme is the general story of how one's life would play out; one's plot script gives exact details. And the casting change is when the Gift seed that is returned to the Great Crystal of Power after one's death is then presented to the next person in the Gifting process. Saying "one catch(es) the theme of the script" is similar to using the Earth phrase "you/one know(s) what I/one mean(s)". Calling something a "camera in the sky" is implying an omniversal intelligence force akin to Skynet from The Terminator or the Overmind System from Bubblegum Crisis.

As Yatsura fans will know, Beautiful Dreamer is an effective retelling on the story of Urashima Tarō as spoken of in Japanese fairy tales. According to legends, Tarō rescued a turtle from abusive children. In thanks, said turtle took Tarō underwater to Ryūgū-jō ("palace of the dragon castle") to meet the god Ryūjin (the Shintō kami of the seas). Eventually, Tarō would return to civilization...only to discover that nearly a hundred years had passed while he had literally been frozen in time. Effectively grief-struck, Tarō used a special box given to him by Ryūjin's daughter Toyotama-hime (known as Otohime in the tales)...which upon opening it, advances Tarō's age to that of a very old man. The director of the movie, the famous Oshii Mamoru (co-creator of Mobile Police Patlabor), used the themes of Tarō's story to reflect on both dreams and reality and how they always intertwine in a place like Tomobiki-chō with its plethora of odd and strange characters with their various powers, strengths and weaknesses. Of course, having that smash headlong into the desires of a woman like Tariko Katabarbe...!

Chapter Text

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.

****

Somewhere...

Tene lomher'buo, Masamune Kitahachi...!

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

"Oi! Who was THAT?!"

"I don't know! It sounded like some sort of kami...!"

"Wait! That was the same voice that called out before 'Amina-chan was turned into a metahuman!"

"EH?!"

"NO! NOT ANOTHER ONE...!"

Nesu...R'BEYO'OMEM!

Everyone who had been involved in a chase that had zipped from one end of this wrecked version of Tomobiki to another over the last while gasped as an explosion of pure power rocketed into the sky, emitting from the central wing of their nearly-destroyed school. As the people — most of the girls from Class 2-4 plus the class' most popular male and female students and the four boys who were that very popular girl's most passionate fans — watched, a young person seemed to float into the air for a moment before he front-flipped himself over to drop to a graceful three-point landing on the ground nearby, then he stood, making a presenting wave with his hands. A pair of chestnut eyes blinked on noting who was now in front of him in this odd dreamscape — he had been warned about this by his sister Terran-form Shōzoki 'Amina ad-Dawḥaḧ concerning what was really going on with the members of the "class of failure" — before he gave them a graceful bow. "Ohayō gozaimasu, Sempai-tachi."

Much to Mendō Shūtarō's personal outrage, all the beautiful girls who had been chasing him over the last while now had hearts in their eyes as they focused all their attention on the younger man. "Oh, he is so CUTE!" Marubeya Momoe squealed, clapping her cheeks. "Who is he?!"

"I recognize him!" her best friend Gekasawa Kumiko declared. "He's Masamune Kitahachi-kun from Class 1-5! He's one of the freshman boys that Ataru-kun hangs around with all the time!" As people gazed in surprise at her, the woman who had been voted the most beautiful in the previous year's Class 1-4 blushed. "I mean, that's what all the people who remained behind on Earth told me after we got back." She then started to drool with clear desire. "Oh, what a cute costume...!"

"Yeah! It shows off Kitahachi-kun's muscles perfectly!" Sugihara Nara moaned as she tried not to let her teeth destroy her nails. "The colours! They're so cool! They totally match his hair and eyes!"

"Nara-chan, look down..." her best friend Nishihara Ikue then warned.

Nara's eyes focused on the rather pronounced bulge in the just-Gifted android-turned-metahuman's crotch, then she seemed to sway. "I've died and gone to Heaven, Ikue-chan...!" she declared as she clapped her cheeks, her eyes watering as she finally slumped against Ikue.

Of course, the man who won the girls' attention many times in the past wasn't going to take such a challenge to his place of prominence within the Tomobiki High social pecking order like THIS down!

"BASTARD! HOW DARE YOU MAKE THESE GIRLS ACT IN SUCH A WAY!"

A white gloved hand came up...

...and Shūtarō found himself deluged by a virtual waterfall of liquid metal that had poured towards him from where he had parked his surplus Leopard 2 main battle tank by the school's front gate. As the girls all gasped with a mixture of wide-eyed awe and understandable trepidation from such a show of power, the newest incarnation of the Master of the Mansion, R'beyo'omem ("Therápaina"), then relaxed himself. "Shūtarō-sempai, you should stop behaving like a barbarian, especially in front of the beautiful ladies here!" Kitahachi admonished as he wagged his finger at the now-trapped sophomore.

"RELEASE ME, YOU...mmpth!"

The scion of Japan's richest family was silenced when a band of liquid metal sealed his mouth, though he was still allowed to see and breathe. Not taking notice of such, the girls squealed as their minds registered such an admonishment from the very effeminate freshman with the shaggy lavender-shaded hair. Masamune Kitahachi was currently in a light pink sleeveless uniform with white ruffles framing the top, a white collar around the throat with a red rose-like flower under the chin, white belt with multiple pockets and white buccaneer boots, white gauntlets finishing the ensemble, he then bowed to them. "Please forgive me, Sempai-tachi, but I have nothing to give you to relax your nerves after your most harrowing experiences at the hand of our current 'host'. Were I able to do so, I would gladly prepare some soothing drinks to calm your nerves so you may better interpret the reveal scenes you now must confront. Please accept my deepest apologies." He gave them another graceful bow.

The girls all squealed again as many of them shuddered on hearing such a polite statement...

...then they tensed on hearing the running feet of the four boys they all despised, screaming their own desire for the one woman they despised with their hearts and souls. "Oh, stop this...!" Momoe groaned.

Kitahachi smiled as he gestured with his hand...

...then half the mass of the effectively wrecked Leopard 2 shifted again into liquid metal, lashing out to ensnare not only the four core members of Lum's Stormtroopers in virtual mid-leap but the woman they desired more than anything else in the world in mid-flight! As Redet Lum cried out in outrage on being so easily trapped, the current incarnation of a gentleman's gentleman from one of the more civilized nations of the western equatorial continent headed over, drawing one of his gloves off.

KK-KRACK!

"ITTACHA!"

"THAT IS ENOUGH OUT OF YOU, YOU DISGUSTING LITTLE CREATURE!" Kitahachi snapped after back-slapping Lum across the face. As the warlord's daughter spun around to glare at him — said glare then melting into a visage of bone-chilling horror as she realized what this particular freshman student had become — he leaned over to gaze right into her eyes, making her wilt. "Indeed, I find 'Amina-san to be quite correct when it comes to you, you pitiful umale! You are lower than DUST under Goshujin-sama's SHOES given your LIES! Even Mother back on Shōzoran has a sense of propriety when she deals with organics! You Urusians certainly do NOT live up to the hype you always force on others in your pitiful Galactic Federation!" He then stepped back as he slipped his glove back on. "Indeed, I can't wait for Goshujin-sama to become properly GIFTED so that he can lead the charge on your worthless homeworld and FINISH OFF WHAT WE STARTED OVER TWO SERIES AGO!"

As Lum gargled on hearing that, someone asked, "Ano...um, Kitahachi-kun, who's your master?"

Gazing at a curious Kumiko, he shrugged. "Moroboshi Ataru-sama, of course."

Mass face-fault! "ATARU?!"

"Sadly, that's true, ladies."

Heads turned towards the school...

...then Kitahachi walked over gracefully bow to the man Lum saw as her "husband". "Goshujin-sama, I've secured the umale who made the false claim to be your pillow scene partner, plus the five homr'bu umale who presume they have the right to force their sameness on your life," he gracefully declared. "Should I find the other umale who once thought herself another candidate to be your pillow scene partner and see her properly thrashed for her hideous conduct towards you?"

"Oi! Oi! Cut it out, Kita-chan! You had a housekeeping computer in your head when you were a titemam!" Moroboshi Ataru declared as he reached over to squeeze the reborn butler's shoulders, giving him a supportive look. "Hai, hai, I appreciate you putting down the stupid umale and her friends, but you can't go too far! Especially with this idiot dream demon that dragged us here!"

The younger man perked before impishly blushing. "Sorry...!"

"Ah, forget it! Post-Gifting shock is always like that! Hug!"

With a cat-like meow, Kitahachi leapt into his arms and drowned him with a kiss to the lips...

KK-KLONK!

That was all of Ataru's classmates fainting from the sheer information overload.

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

Ignoring his moaning mother nearby, Ataru offered his arm, which his lover took as they walked off in the direction of the edge of town so they could drop down to the ground by Tariko Katabarbe's cabin.

"It's the end of the world...!" a wide-eyed Momoe croaked...

****

Beyond the edge of Tomobiki...

"OI! WAIT A MINUTE! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TRYING TO PULL HERE?!"

Tariko Katabarbe blinked before she gazed in confusion at the shuddering dream demon who was now floating over her living room table within her very cozy cabin on Yiziba's northern polar continent. As the others with her gazed in confusion at Mujaki, Moroboshi Ataru's twin sister/other-self sat back in her couch. "What makes you think I'm pulling something here, Mujaki?" she casually asked.

"WHAT YOUR...er! Well...!" he flustered before snapping, "WHAT ATARU'S DOING TO LUM?!"

"Oh? What did he do?"

"YOU KNOW WHAT HE DID! MAKE HIM STOP! THIS IS LUM'S GOOD DREAM!"

"So you admit it?!"

Mujaki awked before he turned to stare at Sakurambō Sakura, who had bolted up from her couch to glare at the being who trapped her and her students in this place. "Oh! Relax, Sakura! Take a chill pill!" Tariko admonished the shrine maiden with a wave. "You didn't need to be a hyper-genius like Rumiko-chan to figure out what made Shorty here pull a stunt like this in the first place."

People blinked. "Tsuruya-kun is like you?!" Onsen Mark demanded.

"Hai, she was one of the last two we helped Gift before we got trapped in town last September, Sensei," the other-self of Earth's most famous teenager — thanks to the relaxing of news reports concerning Tomobiki and what had happened within since the Tag Race in October to the outside world — declared. "She's actually the Sage, one of the Circle of Thought who's first-self helped fix Yiziba up after the Dawn of Power and the Starvation Times two sagas ago." She then gave Mujaki a knowing smile. "Right now, she's preparing all sorts of neat things that will cause a lot of pain and misery to the alien umale who came to make our lives hell over the last few months. Especially..."

Dramatic pause.

"Lum."

"Thank the Kami for that!" Shimizu Kaho breathed out as the dream demon began to shudder as an aura of volcanic outrage bloomed around him, her words being echoed by her friends' nods. "It's about time that stuck-up idiot is kicked hard in the ass for all the crap she's unleashed!"

"DON'T BET ON IT!"

And in a flash of energy, Mujaki disappeared, making everyone save Tariko gasp. "Child! Aren't you going to stop him?!" Sakura's uncle Cherry demanded. "I can sense you're the one protecting us now..."

A hand waved him down. "Relax, Cherry! It'll be cool."

"What about Ataru-kun?" Okano Yuka demanded.

A wink answered the heroine of the Eisa Girl's High incident the previous summer. "Shorty's going to find out Ataru — as he is NOW — is a much different sort of person that what we were in the fall."

"How?!" all five of the Eisa alumni asked.

A grin crossed Tariko's face as she winked at them. "Spoilers!"

The others all gazed warily at her...

****

Somewhere...

"Ooh...my head..."

Moroboshi Ataru's eyes fluttered open.

"What the hell...?"

He was now in what appeared to be some sort of high tech laboratory.

Getting up — realizing he was on the bed of a preservation capsule of some sort — he wiped his forehead before moving to get on his feet. "Damn...who's trying to screw with my head now...?"

"Are you awake, Ataru?"

Perking on hearing the voice of his father Moroboshi Muchi, the young man scanned around to see various systems activating. "Baka Aho Ofukun..." he sneered out as he moved to wipe down his bare arms before walking over to one computer bank. "Why would HE be involved in this...?"

"It may surprise you, but listen to what I have to say."

A snort escaped him. "And take it with a mountain of salt..."

"Your mother and I probably won't be alive when you hear this tape."

Ataru sighed. "I hope it was a nice terrorist that killed them..."

"We made every effort to find some way to awaken you and Lum-chan from your mysterious sleep."

He perked. "Lum...?"

"But present-day science — not just of Earth but of Lum's home planet as well — couldn't revive the two of you. Forgive us..." the recorded voice then apologized.

A roaring laugh then escaped the young man. "Hah! So you tried to CRYOFREEZE me with Lum just to steal the inheritance Obā-chan left for me, Baka Aho Ofukun?! Nice try! All you ended up doing is making sure you GREW OLD AND DIE ALONE AND POOR!" He looked away. "All courtesy of your DAUGHTER Sukeyama Sakuya-chan, who succeeded Obā-chan as MATRIARCH!" Another thunderous roar of mirth escaped him. "HOW'S THAT FOR BEING BLINDSIDED, YOU WORTHLESS YŪJO?!"

"We staked our last hopes and your future."

"A future you wouldn't LIVE to see thanks to al-Qā'idah, I'll bet!"

"We thought that science a few centuries from now might have a chance of awakening you."

Ataru moaned. "Oh, great! Margo-chan's gonna go ballistic if she thinks I'm a death cheater!"

"Ataru. You're strong enough to live anywhere, anytime."

"Of course! I was raised on Yiziba for ELEVEN YEARS, remember?!"

"Lum-chan's parents said to tell you to take good care of her. That's all there is to say," Muchi's recorded voice wrapped up before he then added in an apologetic voice, "Oh, yes...we had to take a five hundred year loan in your name to pay the cold sleep fees. Sayonara, Ataru."

Blinking, he snorted before noting the other cryostorage tube within this particular laboratory. Immediately seeing the flash of orange with tiger-striping contained within, he walked over before stopping on seeing what was contained within before a yawn escaped him.

"Seen better corpses..."

****

Somewhere else...

"I'VE DONE IT! SUCCESS AT LAST!"

"Congratulations, Sensei!"

Oh, Crystal! Can't this idiot heel think of a BETTER plot script than this?!

Moroboshi Ataru now found himself looking like either of the notorious "Franken twins", Nyōke Hitori and his brother Futari. Even stranger, he was in some sort of weird replay of mid-Meiji era Japan if the clothing trends all the people around him — the other members of his class caught up by Mujaki's move to give his "wife" a good dream save Okano Yuka and her peers, not to mention his own former android/gynoid lovers — indicated. And given their looks of revulsion...

'My name is Franken-Ataru. After a period of unconsciousness — cause unknown — I returned to life as a man-made golem. It was fortunate that I was now resistant to high-voltage electricity...'

A cold snicker then echoed deep in the transformed man's heart as he walked around, completely ignoring the looks coming his way from people around him as he found himself walking close to Tomobiki High School as it appeared when it was first built during the early years of the so-called "Taishō Democracy" as Japan struggled to institute representative people's government with the fading of the genrō that had guided the nation through the turmoil of the Meiji Reformation.

Feh! I can do WAY better! Stupid little umale atona needs to get a damned better scriptwriter! 'Hi! My name is Ataru Katabarbe! I'm a soul fragment of Tariko Katabarbe, the woman who is now the person always warned about in the Second Rule of the Great Show of Life. Thanks to an umale running away from a pathetic shapeshifter with a pea for a brain and a black hole for a stomach, she declared me her husband in a clearly FALSE use of her planet's mating rituals when her stupid race of homr'bu umale came along last fall in a perfect attempt to commit their own RACE-WIDE DEATH SCENE!'

A cruel cackle escaped the monstrous corpse-forged bioroid as he made his way down the street in the direction of his house, that causing passers-by to cringe even further before they ran away from him.

'And right now, a stupid little atona who loves to HIDE how much he's a heel to everyone who crosses his path is trying desperately to hurt me because I won't go along with the overall story bible of Tomobiki and bow to my so-called "wife", just like ANOTHER pathetic race of umale who've been addicted to Terran culture would want me to do since I'm now supposedly their "great evil"...'

Finding himself in a parkland close to the Tarōzakura hill, Ataru then perked on seeing a cute girl standing by a meadow under the shade of the ancient cherry tree nearby, a newly-flowered dandelion in hand and held out to him. As his eyes turned to and fro, he moved to kneel before her.

'And here, dear viewers, we have the classic set-up for a fight scene,' he mentally added. 'Act of simple, pure innocence put before the victim to make him relax his guard, then the heel comes out of nowhere to deliver further pain to the victim, probably pretending he's the FACE in this plot script.'

"HEY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO THAT GIRL?! KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF!"

Suddenly, the girl tossed the wide-brimmed hat she was wearing away...

"Honestly, Onii-tama! Who did this to you?!"

Both Ataru and the charging Mujaki — dressed as an Imperial Army soldier from the time period — fell onto their faces as the girl of about seven with the sandy hair in twintails and the prettiest amethyst eyes ever seen on any person concentrated, allowing her clothes to switch to a modern Yizibajohei battlesuit, a whole white affair with pink belt and boots and a red heart over her upper chest. Relaxing herself, the newcomer then reached over to shift Ataru's head over so they could gaze upon each other. "Hinako-chan...?" he sputtered before shaking his head, then he hopped back to his feet, reaching up to rip off the mask that had been put over his real head. "Oi! Hinako-chan! What are you...?!"

His brain then caught up to his ears.

"'ONII-TAMA?!'"

"Hai, Onii-tama! Yoiko-san confirmed it with a ki reading! Onii-tama is Hina's Onii-tama!"

Silence.

More silence.

Still more silence.

Then...

" THIS LITTLE KID IS YOUR SISTER?!"

That was Mujaki, now in his showman's clothes with top hat as he flew over to float next to Ataru, he pointing at Saeru Hinako. Much to the demon's surprise, the older boy looked quite nonchalant about it. "Well, technically, she's my half-sister. Same dad, different mothers." Here, Ataru dropped into a sitting position as he tossed his mask away. "Which means that Baka Obā-chan screwed around with ANOTHER innocent family when she wanted granddaughters to be the new matriarch!"

"Oh, Onii-tama, stop that!" Hinako scolded in annoyance as she waved him down. "You know how sick Obā-tama was before she died! Besides, wouldn't you and Onē-tama and Hiromi-onētama like to have even more sisters..." Here, a very mature sly look then crossed her face. "...who are Gifted?"

Ataru blinked before he stared at her uniform, then an evil smile crossed his face before he gave Mujaki a look that caused the demon himself to balk. "Give me a good blast there, Hinako-chan!"

"Hai! Hai!" the current incarnation of the Living Spirit of Innocence and one of the more powerful cosmic metas, Lomroer'bem (" Suiki"), declared as she placed her hand on his forehead.

Mujaki jolted as he sensed the kid's intention. "OI! WAIT A...!"

"CURSE! CURSE! GO AWAY!"

A titanic flash of light then blinded everyone...

****

And yet again, somewhere else...

Mujaki collapsed into a heap on a dark floor!

"Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!" the demon wailed as he patted down the considerable fires that had broke out all over his topcoat thanks to the back-blast of that INCREDIBLE show of cosmic empathy from the cute native of Niigata who he had heard rumours about — usually with a stern warning from other demons to AVOID ALL ALL COSTS! — who had first appeared in Japan the previous summer. "Damn! How the hell did that idiot wind up with THAT little monster as a sister of all things...?!"

You DARE hurt Onii-sama...!

He gargled on hearing that haunting voice before spinning around to see a pair of glowing amethyst eyes — whose shape not only perfectly matched that of Mujaki's current target but the little monster that just HURT him — glaring wrathfully at him, a wave of empathic power almost as strong as that as Saeru Hinako's moving to grasp him in a grip the strength of neutronium. "Who...?"

Anyone who even THINKS of harming Ani-kun will know an ETERNITY of suffering...

Mujaki froze as a pair of deeper-shaded amethyst eyes with a sickly golden core to them them appeared from behind, waves of incredible dark magic moving to augment the grasp of whoever else was now coming after him in this place. "Um...oh, my dear...!"

Making Onii-chan SUFFER like that?! Oooh! I smell a FIGHT SCENE coming...!

He gargled as a pair of caramel brown eyes then appeared at equal angles to his first two attackers, a wave of raw telepathic power moving to also case him, forcing him to shield his mind from such an onslaught. "H-h-hey...wh-what business is th-that of yours...?!"

Checky! Yotsuba's got a NEW creepy heel whose secrets she's going to CHECK!

The dream demon moaned as a pair of mauve-brown eyes then appeared opposite the third girl who was now moving in on him, speaking with a London East End accent as yet ANOTHER wave of raw cosmic telepathy moved to swamp him. "Aw, fates...this isn't fair...!"

To even CONTEMPLATE attacking Anigimi-sama only invites DEATH, y ōma!

"Another one...?!" Mujaki groaned as a wave of empathic energy matched to harsh and well-layered fighting skills washed over him as a new set of eyes of the same shade as the first two appeared, the newcomer speaking with a mix of German and Japanese accents.

Ah! Poor little umale...you actually thought Aniue-sama was HELPLESS...?

Mujaki shuddered — though he was relieved on sensing that no telepathic form of psionic attack was coming his way even if the speaker was a telekinetic of sorts — when a pair of slate grey eyes then appeared beside the second girl, she speaking with a calm voice ringed with the tones of Hokkaidō.

Aniki is going to totally DEMOLISH all those creeps in Tomobiki, umale...!

His head drooped on hearing that voice with a mixture of Cantonese and Ōsaka while a new pair of caramel eyes appeared, accompanied by some sort of physical type of psionic wave.

Some sort of telekinesis, maybe...?

Oooh! Hime has to make sure Nii-sama is properly FED when he has his fight scene!

If he could faint from the sheer mental overload of yet ANOTHER sister showing up — also possessing some sort of telekinetic power — it might actually be something of a relief to the dream demon.

Sadly, the late Moroboshi Nagaiwakai had other plans...

Hurting Anii, huh?! I'll help straighten the creep around...!

That was a tomboyish girl with chocolate brown eyes and some odd form of cosmic power...

Kaho's going to do her best to project Onii-chama...!

That was a younger girl with caramel eyes, she holding up a marching baton that produced two metre-long energy swords from either end, forming quite a deadly fighting weapon, that making Mujaki balk...

Oh! Nii-ya is going to beat up that silly Lum! Aria has to make some sweets for him!

And that was a girl with sky-blue eyes, possessing the same power the girl calling herself "princess"!

"THIS IS UNFAIR! HOW MANY SISTERS DOES THAT IDIOT...?!"

Um...

Er...

Eh?

Wait a minute...!

"WHAT?! WHO SAYS THAT IDIOT CAN HURT LUM?!"

In a flash of energy, the dream demon vanished...

...with mocking laughter from eleven young women echoing behind him...

****

On a very familiar street...

"ATARU! ATARU, WAKE UP! ATARU!"

Moroboshi Ataru's eyes fluttered open to see a most UNWELCOME sight before him.

"YOU DON'T HAVE THE TIME TO BE UNCONSCIOUS! ATARU! ATARU...!"

KK-KRACK!

"GROW OLD AND DIE ALONE, YOU WORTHLESS YŪJO!"

As the considerable crowd around the dazed young man who had smashed head-first into a telephone pole all gasped on seeing Moroboshi Kinshō receive a vicious double-kick to the face — such sending the hapless housewife flying head-over-heels to crash onto the tarmac nearby! — Ataru got back to his feet, snapping his fingers twice on noting TWO other morons close to him.

KK-KRUNCH! KK-KRUNCH!

Giggling with understandable delight after his father Muchi and Miyake Shinobu were both buried face-first into the sidewalk thanks to dropped cinder blocks he had summoned using a tiny bit of his sister's power, he looked down before a scowl crossed his face on seeing the number 4 on his red-trimmed white tank top. Looking around, his eyes then locked on the ONE being in the whole universe he now had MANY reasons to hate with all his very being. Noting the scene around him was a perfect replica of the last day of the Tag Race that forever altered Tariko Katabarbe's life, Ataru then held out his hand towards Redet Lum as a broadcaster's voice barked out useless commentary in the background...

The warlord's daughter from Onishuto — depicted topless given the fact that Tariko/Ataru had seized the top half of her "one good clothes" the previous day, just before Shinobu made that fateful promise — then screamed as something yanked HARD to pull off the two unicorn-like golden horn buds at her temples that were the source point of her paranormal abilities, that same force sending them flying right into the palm of her "husband's" hand. As she spun around to stare wide-eyed at him...

KK-KKRACK!

KK-KKRACK!

Lum howled in heart-wrenching pain as a considerable number of the people who just witnessed Ataru crush those bits of bony cartilage all stopped to stare in stunned disbelief at him, realization crossing their faces. After clapping his hands to and fro to get rid of the fragments the shattering of his "wife's" horn buds left on his skin, he then drew out a megaphone from nowhere.

"TAG...AND DIVORCE!"

Mass face-faults responded from those who had been dragged into Mujaki's own dream realm earlier in the evening while the remaining crowd — who had now gone totally faceless, Ataru was quick to note with a churlish smile — seemed to go still, the power that had driven them obviously vanishing.

Silence.

More silence.

Still more silence.

Then...

"OH, I KNEW YOU STILL LOVED ME, ATARU-KUN...!"

The sound of a fist smashing hard into someone's cheek made people scream!

As the onlookers watched, Shinobu was sent flying back into a nearby building with the sheer impact of her former boyfriend's punch after she tried to swamp him with an embrace in the wake of his declaration concerning her "rival". As Mendō Shūtarō — whom Ataru knew was NOT in Tomobiki at the time of the Tag Race — began to snarl as he moved to draw his shin-guntō while prepared to attack the beast that dared HIT the pure Miyake Shinobu, Ataru put the megaphone to his mouth.

"THE DAY I MATE WITH A MONSTER LIKE YOU IS THE DAY HELL FREEZES OVER!"

As a pained moan escaped the dazed Shinobu, Ataru casually tossed his megaphone behind him, smacking Shūtarō in the skull and knocking him over. As several of his fans moved to comfort him, Ataru then yawned before he stared at a wide-eyed dream demon nearby, who had moved to help the now sobbing Lum. "As the great Mister Bunny once put it..." he then began.

A gun then went off!

"OH! TIME HAS RUN OUT! TIME HAS RUN OUT! HOW TERRIBLE!"

As people all screamed and Lum tensed, Ataru moaned. "Oh, hell..."

"A pity this was not real life."

He perked. "Yoiko-san...?"

"Behold, Redet Lum, what happens when you challenge the power of Yiziba."

A titanic bloom of energy appeared from somewhere in the distance, then a bolt of pure white light lashed out into the air, hitting the bow of the Urusian battlewagon Kashin forward of the main bridge structure under the keel. As Lum spun around before screaming in horror on seeing that torrent of sheer cosmic power eat away at the hull of her father's ship, the massive orange-hued wedge-shaped vessel was pushed by the impact force higher and higher from Tomobiki...

The explosion that followed caused everyone to scream!

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO...!"

Then...merciful silence.

"Now do you finally comprehend that you are NOT wanted on Earth, little oni?"

People blinked, then they turned...

"'Yonaga'...?" an ashen-faced Megane then read.

"Ya! Yoiko-san! Don't tell me the Old Man up north got you involved?!"

People's heads snapped to Ataru, then looked back as the sheer colossus of a woman — who could stare her father Redet Invader in the eye, Lum quickly realized — with the very long grey-shot black hair and the stormy grey eyes in a traditional green battlesuit worn by Those People calmly approached them. As both Sakurambō Sakura and her uncle Hayao both gargled in horror on seeing the echo of a VERY large aircraft carrier within the ki aura of this being — whose overall power matched that of Tariko Katabarbe's, both clerics quickly realized — the woman now called Itō Yoiko came to a stop a metre from Lum. "That was your fault," the adopted native of Maizuru then advised, slyly smiling.

Ataru blinked. "MY fault?"

"You did call out my patron's name, remember?"

He balked before laughing in embarrassment. "Ah, sorry! Sorry!"

"DARLING, YOU IDIOT!"

KK-KRACK!

"Ittacha...!"

"Do not presume your LIES will give you leave to harm my junior navigation officer's grandnephew, you worthless creature," the living kami of Imperial Japan's greatest warship snapped after slapping Lum down with the back of her hand to keep her away from Ataru. Noting that the warlord's daughter had her horn-buds regrown back in — no doubt thanks to Mujaki — Ataru then calmly walked over to stand by the side of this wonderfully powerful friend of the combined Moroboshi/Katabarbe clan.

Shuddering as her body started to spark, Lum slowly got back to her feet, a look of mindless outrage burning in her blue-green eyes, her body still swaying from the powerful impact the metaphysical force produced by an 86,010 tonne heavy armoured aircraft carrier shrunk to human size had unleashed. "Darling...!" she hissed. "If you don't turn away from That Place and take me as your wife, I'll..." Her body's powers then flared to a small nova. "I'LL HAVE EVERYONE IN TOMOBIKI KILLED!"

Everyone gargled as they looked wide-eyed at the warlord's daughter...

"Go ahead. Kill them."

Mass face-fault!

"A-a-Ataru...?!" Megane gargled as people gazed in horror at the man who had effectively saved all of them in the Tag Race, noting he had dropped down to sit cross-legged on the ground, with his giant companion relaxing seiza beside him as if they were going to have some evening tea.

"After all, it'll spare the terrorists the effort to kill them."

ANOTHER mass face-fault!

"'TERRORISTS?!'"

"Of course," Ataru stated. "All thanks to YOU, Megane!" he said as he waved to the leader of the Stormtroopers. "After all, it was YOU who found out how to summon that space-taxi after this useless umale came into my life last fall! Once I reported that to the proper authorities at the International Criminal Court in the Hague during that wonderful three-week vacation I got with all of you in the healer's cockpit thanks to my REAL best friend, the news got to people like the leaders of al-Qā'idah and all those other wonderful groups worldwide who didn't care a damn bit about their home nations having a major element of their very ECONOMIES literally STOLEN from them!"

Noting the Stormtroopers paling as their peers spun around to glare murderously at them, Ataru added, "Please don't bother with your usual verbal diarrhea saying it's my fault. WE weren't in our right mind at that time since almost EVERY leader on Earth was aware of OUR quest to see this planet protected from all threats hailing from places other than this planet. Both interdimensional..." — here, he glared at Mujaki, then he turned to spit on the ground at a now-quaking Lum's feet — "...and alien!"

Total silence fell, that broken by Yoiko asking, "Has there been any facts discovered concerning the true traitors to humanity that brainwashed you in September before this petty little creature came?"

Lum gargled on seeing the transformed seventh carrier of Operation Z and the fifth of the Yamato-class warships waving her way. "Sadly no," Ataru answered. "Negako-san..." — here, he ignored the squawks from Sakura and Cherry, not to mention Muchi's panicked whimpering on hearing THAT particular name — "...wasn't able to get to the idiots from the Prime Minister's office before someone had them all killed. All computer and written records of them were erased as well."

"What of this one's so-called 'most faithful'?"

As Lum choked on her breath hearing this strange being speak of THEM, Ataru darkly chuckled. "Oh, you're not going to miss THIS Mother of All Fight Scenes, Yoiko-san!" he promised her, that statement making his "wife" awk in horror while the others who had been kidnapped weeks before to attend the warlord's daughter's forced "wedding" to her "darling" hissed. While they had been in intensive care in Onishuto after Ataru mysteriously disappeared and the cathedral building itself dropped on their heads, they had ALL been told about that horrible month-long time over two-and-a-half centuries before which saw the old Urusian Empire driven to its knees by forces beyond ANY comprehension thanks to the natives of the Free Planetary State of Yiziba. "It's going to be simply AWESOME! We'll liberate all their bioroid slaves, completely demolish that so-called 'army of Lum' wholesale, wreck their ability to build a new fleet from other people's designs, remove ALL the cultural observers they've had on Earth for over a CENTURY and deliver Redet's so-called 'most faithful' himself to the Vosians for that stupid stunt he pulled six years ago with a biological warfare bomb that killed FIVE MILLION INNOCENT PEOPLE!" As everyone from Earth cried out in horror on hearing that, he glared intently at Lum. "While the 'living goddess' just SAT there like the selfish monster she is and SAID NOTHING ABOUT IT!"

Getting up, he then slowly approached Lum. "So no, I'm not surprised you just threatened to kill all my 'friends' here," he declared, making air quotes with one hand. "Just one problem, though, Redet-san: NONE OF THESE MONSTERS ARE MY FRIENDS OR MY FAMILY!" As the locals all screamed in disbelief as that statement sank in, he raised his hands to crack his knuckles. "And if you think of threatening anyone BEYOND Tomobiki...well, in the immortal words of Bill Goldburg-sensei..."

KK-KRACK!

Lum's head snapped around after a well-aimed fist nearly shattered her jaw!

"GUESS WHAT, GIRL?! YOU'RE NEXT!"

As the warlord's daughter crashed onto the tarmac, the others remained still, not wanting to draw the wrath of someone who had clearly reached a moment in his life where he had become FED UP with the insanity around him. And with the power of the ONE planet in the Universe that not even Lum's people would dare challenge now behind him, dark days loomed ahead for Tomobiki and those who had come to like the wonderful, amazing things that rocked the town for many months now since publicly-known first contact occurred between the Union of Uru and the United Nations of Earth. Before Shinobu — who had slowly recovered from the punch Ataru gave her moments before — could get up, she found herself staring right into a pair of stormy grey eyes. "You will stay SILENT, girl!" the seventh carrier of Operation Z snarled, her voice echoing with a touch of the power she had been granted on her transformation into a shipgirl over a month before by Earth's oldest sentient being. "When will you come to realize that you are as much a MONSTER to Ataru-san as the little oni is?!"

Shinobu's face turned white before she collapsed, a sob escaping her. As Fujinami Ryūnosuke moved to comfort, Ataru snorted before he turned to gaze on the idiot who started this mess. "Now for you...!"

"Eh?! Baku-chan actually eats nightmares, Hinako-onētama?!"

"Hai! Hai, Ten-chan! Hina's happy she was able to find Baku-chan when she came into this place to help Onii-tama! Poor little Baku-chan looks like he's starving now!"

Mujaki gargled as heads turned to look behind where Yoiko was now standing...

"Ah, Little One," the seventh carrier of Operation Z declared. "I see you found the one who will cleanse away the nightmares this yōma unleashed on the poor denizens of this sad town this evening."

As Mujaki whimpered, Saeru Hinako — in her uniform as the Living Spirit of Innocence — came up, a smiling Redet Ten hanging onto her shoulders as he rode piggyback. In the arms of the native of Niigata was a certain pale creature that looked like a cross between a pig and a tapir, said being whining piteously as it shuffled slowly within the comforting arms of the young cosmic empath. "Hai, hai, Yoiko-san! It took Hina a while to find both Baku-chan and Ten-chan here, but Hina did it..."

"NO! NO, NO, NO! YOU WON'T DESTROY MY DREAM! YOU WON'T!"

As people turned to gaze at the shuddering Mujaki...

"You know, I'm normally an easy-going person..."

Everyone then perked on hearing Ataru's voice...

...before they all paled on hearing the god-like echo in said voice...

...to say anything of the strong FEMALE tincture in those words!

"If I do something wrong, I own up to it," "Ataru" carried as Mujaki gargled while turning to stare at "him", the dream demon's eyes widening behind his glasses on sensing who this being REALLY was.

"No...that can't be...!" Sakura gasped.

"It is," Cherry calmly stated. "No doubt, given his current state, Ataru decided to fall back on the ONE person he could truly depend on dealing with a situation like what that yōma unleashed."

People gazed his way. "Wh-who, Cherry...?" Marubeya Momoe sputtered.

The aged monk's eyes closed. "Who better...than the one who was once him...?"

"What's the use of provoking fight scenes if someone catches you lying about things?"

"...but is now HER!"

The dream demon gargled as something seized him with the power of depleted neutronium as "Ataru's" eyes glowed while his track uniform began to ominously smoke. While Lum stared horrified as said clothes began to morph into a modern battlesuit worn by Those People — and in a specific pattern of colours that sent a shank of pure space-cold ICE through her heart! — the tag champion's body began to morph into a slender female form of the same age, well-exercised with noticeable muscles born from a DECADE and more of living practically ALONE travelling on two worlds. Seeing "his" face morph into a familiar female form — one that made ALL the onlookers cry out in horror on realizing that it wasn't Moroboshi Ataru but Tariko Katabarbe that now stood in their midst — an icy smile crossed her face.

"The Mistress of Chaos..." Cherry intoned.

"Then some umale lo'obir'ba came along and made me FORGET my past life..."

"The Terror of the Mother of All Fight Scenes..."

"Put me in a house with two selfish, greedy idiots not fit enough to raise a DOG, tricked an innocent girl into becoming my would-be pillow scene partner..."

"The Trickster of the Show..."

"And all THAT this was to placate some UMALE from a planet one of my past-selves came within a hair's breadth of helping nearly turn into an asteroid field over two series ago...!"

Cherry shook his head. "TUYUKI...!"

That pronouncement was instantly echoed by Lum's heart-shattering scream...

"NO!"

Everyone spun around to see Shinobu standing in front of Tariko, her arms spread as she tried to shield Mujaki from the wrath of the being who was the TRUE form of the man she still loved. "Miyake-san..." Yoiko chided, shaking her head even if a touch of admiration shone in her dark grey eyes.

"Please, DON'T...!" Ataru's former girlfriend said as she moved to try to comfort the man-turned-woman in front of her, her hands reaching out to the other woman's shoulders. "This is NOT you, Ataru! You can't just threaten to destroy whole PLANETS because ONE person angers you! Please...!"

Those hands made contact, which caused the others around them to relax.

Silence.

More silence.

Still more silence.

Then...

"Moroboshi Ataru is DEAD!"

Shinobu awked as those glowing brown eyes focused directly on her, her hands letting go.

"He died just like he was born on the thirteenth of September last year..."

An icy smile crossed the face of one of Yiziba's top reality warpers.

"A LIE...!"

As Shinobu whimpered in heartbreaking disbelief while she staggered back from the other woman, the glow faded from Tariko's eyes even if Mujaki was still frozen powerless in her telekinetic grasp. The latter then shook her head. "You fell in love with a LIE, Shinobu," she calmly declared in a normal voice. "Just like Lum behind me fell in love with a LIE...even if she LIED herself about our being 'married' last fall. You both keep hanging on to such idiotic dreams, you're just going to know nothing but PAIN." She then shook her head in clear disgust. "And you can only blame YOURSELVES at the end!"

Her eyes then glowed. "And if you think that either of you can impose yourself on my other-self or I or any of our REAL friends, you can think again. For Ataru Katabarbe, my TWIN BROTHER, has vowed that in VENGEANCE over what was done to him by all of you since we came to Tomobiki that day, all of YOU will suffer TEN TIMES the pain and humiliation that HE DID!"

As the crowd all gargled in horror on realizing that they were now effectively AT WAR with a man whom they gladly blamed and ridiculed for whatever reason over several months now, Ten awked as Hinako's eyes glowed. "And since Hina is Onii-tama's little sister, Hina will make sure that Onii-tama never has to worry about you baka-bakas acting so STUPID around Onii-tama from now on!"

Yoiko chuckled. "Fear naught the possibility of terrorists coming in like crazed rōnin to end your worthless lives anytime in the future," she coldly stated as an icy chill flooded everyone present. "But know also that your karma and the karma of your sad town is forever marked with the accusation of TREASON AGAINST ALL OF MANKIND!" As people screamed denials, the seventh carrier shrugged. "Fools like yourself will be doomed forever to failure. AND THE REST OF EARTH WILL NOT CARE!"

As people collapsed to the ground sobbing, Lum moaned, "Darling...Tariko-chan...please...!"

Tariko blinked, then she gazed upon her would-be "wife" as she relaxed the aura of power her body was now pumping out, making people breathe out in relief. "Lum, don't you know the old Noukiite saying by now?" she asked. "'Treat someone as a pariah, he BECOMES a pariah!'" As the warlord's daughter gargled on sensing what she meant, the Trickster of the Show hummed. "Oi! Onsen-sensei!" she then called out, making Onsen Mark perk. "When was the last time you had a vacation from school?"

The vice principal/English teacher blinked. "Um...quite some time, Katabarbe-kun..."

"Well, you're gonna have a vacation starting once you wake up!" she vowed before a smirk crossed her face as her eyes glowed. "But first, a lesson about harming me or anyone I care for, Mujaki..."

A pair of hands in finger-less black gloves then snared the demon by the head!

A mortal scream of agony then assaulted everyone's ears as the shapely woman in the black jumpsuit with the charcoal grey belt and boots — not to mention an ankle-length black cape lined in runes and a dull white skull-and-crossbones on her upper chest above her cleavage — unleashed her necrosis touch to literally MELT Mujaki into nothingness before the crowd's eyes. As people wailed in horror on seeing the Archangel of Mortality use that sort of power on the millennia-old demon, Tariko threw back her head and laughed. "OH, IT'S SO GOOD TO BE A HEEL AT TIMES!" she declared...

SNAP!

And the whole of Reality literally exploded!

****

Tomobiki High School, the first Tuesday in May 2012, just after dawn...

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO...!"

KA-BOOM!

As windows close to the now-most famous high school in the world imploded from the sonic boom echoing from Class 2-4, a geyser of electricity shot through the roof above the class to reach kilometres into the sky before bursting into nothingness. However, that explosion — added to the presence of a stripped-down yet still massive surplus Leopard 2 main battle tank putting too much pressure on the load-bearing members of the structure — was enough to start a catastrophic collapse of the nearly century-old building. As passers by out for a very early morning jog stopped to gaze in wide-eyed shock at such an event, the whole southwest wing of Tomobiki High seemed to collapse in on itself, the inner floors flattening atop each other. At the same time, the tank's barrel swung around and smashed into one of the main frames holding up the school's clock tower. That was enough to make the whole tower — still undergoing repairs from events three weeks before — literally fall into itself, snapping more load bearing frames in both the northwest and central wing to make the whole building drop like a literal house of cards, massive blooms of smoke escaping the wreckage as fires broke out!

"What the hell happened?!" one man demanded.

"Was that a TANK in there?!" an elderly woman wondered.

"Gods! I saw KIDS in there!" another woman screeched.

"Someone call the fire brigade!" another man bellowed.

People instantly streamed onto the grounds, racing for what was left of the infamous "class of failure" to start digging out whoever was trapped inside while others screamed to get people over to help out...

****

Two hours later...

By the time breakfast was starting to pass by, a chain of ambulances was now on the west lawn as paramedics, firefighters and various rescue personnel employed by the Mendō Conglomerate moved to carry nearly a dozen injured people for eventual transport to Nishitōkyō General Hospital for treatment. Among the casualties who had been recovered by this time were members of the infamous "class of failure" that had been the nexus of all the weirdness that had rocked Tomobiki as a whole for months — including the alien warlord's daughter whose presence seemed to have heralded the start of all that insanity — along with the school's cafeteria supervisor/janitor plus his "son"; they had been sleeping in their apartment in the first floor of the centre wing before everything had dropped on their heads. Even more, another alien-born student from the neighbouring Class 2-7 had been caught in the collapse; Redet Lum's childhood friend Aruka Ran had fallen asleep in class after helping prepare her own group's entry into the post-Golden Week school festival that would have happened today.

Obviously, it wasn't going to happen.

"Where is Moroboshi-kun?"

Now observing this considerable disaster from near the main gate was the Principal himself, who looked as calmly unflappable as ever...even in the face of something that would have given his peers across the nation nightmares. Standing to either side of him were Onsen Mark and Sakurambō Sakura, the former dressed shoddily thanks to his having sprinted from his apartment to the scene while the latter was in her shrine robes, looking quite composed even if there was blood on her white top. "I saw one of the freshman students carry Moroboshi — who was fast asleep — away from the school, Kōchō-sensei," Onsen declared. "It was about one o'clock this morning. I don't recall who that was, though..."

"Not like Moroboshi to leave Lum behind with the others like that," Sakura noted.

"Then why didn't Moroboshi-kun go back to his house?" the Principal snapped.

"Because as far as Ataru-kun is concerned, his parents are effectively dead to him, Kōchō-sensei."

The three teachers awked before they turned...

"Tsuruya-kun!" Onsen called out on recognizing his class' most intelligent student now walking calmly towards them from the front gate. "Did some sort of fight happen between Invader-kun and Moroboshi-kun that made him leave the school last night to stay with a friend?"

The bespectacled teen with the bobcut raven hair shrugged. "Oh, he's still pissed off at the fact that his fool parents literally SOLD the poor man off right into the arms of that alien monster when this other 'fiancée' showed up before his birthday, Sensei," Tsuruya Rumiko declared as she thumbed where the wounded Lum was now being treated, a fretting Redet Ten orbiting close as he babbled in terror while loudly wondering what just happened to his cousin. "Fortunately, the 'kind angel' that rescued him from being forced to marry Redet clued him into a tonne of things necessary to see that monster sent back home with her tail between her legs. No doubt, the cold shoulder he was giving her and Miyake made Mendō and Megane's fools contemplate attacking him in the middle of the night while he was asleep and helpless, so he decided to spend the night away from them at a safer place. Since he was too tired to walk, one of his REAL friends from the freshman classes helped carry him away."

The older people jolted. "Moroboshi-kun ABANDONED his friends...?!"

Rumiko turned away. "Oh, dear! I'm going to transfer to another school..."

The Principal's voice screeched to a halt as a look of total panic crossed his face. "YOU CAN'T!"

"Watch me."

The older man quaked before he relented. "Hai, hai...Lum-kun is to blame..."

"Much better," Rumiko coolly stated, a mirthless smile crossing her face. As both Onsen and Sakura hid their snickers — the school's only openly-declared lesbian had often used the threat of transfer to get her way with the Principal in a manner that would even leave Mendō Shūtarō breathless; given that Rumiko's overall intelligence won many inter-school scholastic awards, it would badly affect morale were she to just vanish to grace another school with her presence — she warned, "Make sure you say that to the reporters. If you don't — much less let Ataru-kun's fool mother run her mouth off in front of the cameras — not only will I transfer out, I'll arrange to have Yon-san transfer out to gut the school's basketball team..." She leaned up to glare into his eyes as she stabbed her finger into his chest, her glasses glowing ominously as the Principal awked. "And I'll get ATARU-KUN to transfer out, then put him in a place where Redet herself wouldn't have a hope in Hell to find him!"

"Oi! Rumiko-chan! What the hell happened here?!"

Rumiko perked, then she looked over. "Ohayō, Ataru...!"

Her jaw then dropped on seeing the VERY beautiful teenage girl Ataru's age now standing beside him, their arms intertwined. "Oh, ye Heavens!" Rumiko squealed before she literally zipped over to stare into the beautiful eyes of the slender woman with her long caramel hair done in low twintails, she dressed quite fashionably even if it wasn't to the sheer level of extravagance either of Tomobiki's richest families often demonstrated. "Ataru-kun! Where did you find this jewel?! Introduce, please!"

Moroboshi Ataru laughed. "This happens to be my half-sister, Sukeyama Sakuya, Rumiko-chan," he declared as he waved to her while she bowed her head politely. "Found out about her..."

"H-how c-could you do it, Dear...?"

Everyone blinked, then they turned around...

...before Ataru and Rumiko inwardly smirked on seeing the former's parents now standing there a metre behind them, looks of total disbelief on their faces after hearing what their son just stated about his current companion. While people around them looked their way, Moroboshi Kinshō shuddered as she looked towards her husband. "Wh-what d-do you m-mean, Honey...?" she sputtered.

"H-h-having a child...with another MAN...?!" Moroboshi Muchi exclaimed.

As his wife awked at that accusation, Ataru cleared his throat. "No, Ofukun, you got that wrong!"

Heads snapped over to gaze at Ataru. "Wh-what...?" Muchi stammered.

"Simply put, Otō-sama, YOU are my father!" Sakuya cut in, her eyes sparkling with non-existent mirth. "That THING Onii-sama has to call his mother is certainly not MY mother, thank all the Kami!"

"Oh, my!" Ataru declared, shaking his head. "You're such a STUD, Ofukun!"

Silence.

More silence.

Still more silence.

Then...

"HOW DARE YOU CHEAT ON ME?!"

Muchi screamed as he raced off, his wife right on his tail with a huge mallet in her hands as she screamed bloody murder. The crowds — who seemed to have picked ALL that up — watched them go before they turned back to gaze upon their town's most despised resident and the VERY pretty girl who said she was his sister. "Well, now that Ofukun and Ofukuro are out to kill each other — which gets them forever out of MY life! — what say we head to a place where we DON'T have to deal with the nimrods here and plot all the wonderful ways we can forever drive my 'wife' out of my life? I don't think your being the MATRIARCH of my clan will cut it with a hard-headed fool like Redet, Sakuya-chan!"

"Oh, I'm sure we can find ways to get rid of the alien STINK in this town, Onii-sama," Sakuya declared. "Even better, I can arrange for an entrance test to get you into the College!"

Surprise crossed his face. "Entrance test? I need an entrance test?"

"Ataru-kun, all students have to take an entrance test to get into high school," Rumiko warned.

He blinked as that sank in, then he hummed. "There's a problem..."

"What's that, Onii-sama?" Sakuya wondered.

He waved to the wrecked school building. "I never did an entrance test for THIS scrapheap!"

People around them fainted! As the Principal awked in denial, Rumiko crossed her arms. "Well, that legally means you can't be a student at Tomobiki High School, Ataru-kun!" she then advised.

Ataru blinked as he considered that, then joy crossed his face. "Oi, Rumiko-chan! You mean to say that I wouldn't have to put up to THAT lunatic of a principal with all his stupid 'physicals' which nearly KILL all of us every time they happen?!" he demanded, waving to the elderly man in charge of Tomobiki High School. As the people around them gargled before they glared intently at the Principal — who was now starting to sputter in shock at such an accusation...and in public, too! — Ataru then pointed to the people being put into ambulances. "Not to mention that bipolar PSYCHOPATH that thinks she's my girlfriend, the rich idiot who's got more money than COMMON SENSE, much less the four TRAITORS TO HUMANITY that al-Qā'idah or some other group of terrorists will come along to KILL one day?!"

As people around them shrieked, Rumiko nodded. "That's right, Ataru-kun!"

He shuddered before gazing on Sakuya. "Shall we go?"

"We shall, Onii-sama!"

And with that, the two marched clear of the grounds. "I'll wait for Nanase-sensei to pass on the news about temporary places of education while this dump gets rebuilt, Onsen-sensei," Rumiko stated as she gazed in amusement at her homeroom teacher, completely ignoring the sputtering elderly man beside him. "No doubt, I'm sure that there IS no record of Ataru-kun ever doing an entrance exam. Strange that I don't recall him actually being a STUDENT here until September last year!"

As people blinked in surprised confusion at that statement, she walked away. As Onsen and Sakura exchanged looks, the Principal began to sway, nightmarish visions of a massive RIOT wrecking his school because of what WOULD happen if Moroboshi Ataru left once and for all.

"He...can't...LEAVE...!"

****

In a tall office building downtown, an hour later...

"We've confirmed all your personal belongings are in your guest room, Moroboshi-sama," the office lady declared as she politely bowed to her top boss' dear brother. "Katabarbe-sama ensured that all tracing mechanisms that the alien put into those clothes were removed and left behind in your parents'..." — here, her voice dripped a tonne of scorn on saying that word — "...home. Yumoa-san has already sent word to the media to NOT blame this morning's incident on you but on the alien monster."

"Any calls from Major Mendō concerning his grandson's idiocy with that tank?" Itō Yoiko asked.

She bowed to the transformed and reborn seventh carrier of Operation Z; to the members of the Moroboshi Clan of Mutsu, the adopted native of Maizuru was seen as a most honoured ally of the family as a whole. "He did call in concerning the lost tank, Itō-taisa. He vows the clan will absorb the loss and punish Shūtarō-sama most thoroughly for using a surplus main battle tank of all things for a mere school festival display, especially contained within the school building itself."

"What of the reconstruction?" Tsuruya Rumiko asked.

"Mendō-sama has promised that his clan will pay half of the repairs, the other half being covered by the school's insurance policy concerning these incidents, Tsuruya-sama," the secretary reported.

"Which comes from the government itself," Moroboshi Ataru noted before nibbling the fluffy rice that had been prepared for him, his sister and their two guests today while they waited within the Toranoseishin Finances Tower some blocks from Tomobiki High School to see what the alien fallout of Redet Lum's actions — yes, admittedly provoked in a way by Tariko Katabarbe — would be.

"How nice that the baying fools of the Diet actually are useful at times," Yoiko dryly noted. Being someone who's very soul was formed from the dreams of a crew of nearly three thousand who had spent over SEVENTY YEARS learning and relearning the way of Bushidō, her opinion towards the legislative branch of Japan's government formed in the wake of the Second World War was quite low.

"What are you thinking about, Yoiko-chan?" Sukeyama Sakuya asked as she waved the secretary off.

"Your brother's current 'prank' will last about a month or so, I feel, Sakuya-san," Yoiko warned as she focused her gaze somewhere beyond that of normal sight over the surrounding cityscape. "While it may be enough to drag out the fools that attacked your sibling so in the fall, it may also provoke our 'guests' from Phentax Two, especially if they come to believe that this action is meant to directly attack their 'goddess'." A sneer crossed her face on mentioning the hidden aliens now living in Tomobiki.

"So we should hit Phentax Two sooner than later," Rumiko noted.

A sage nod answered her. "Hai, Rumiko-san. I'll spend some time doing my own form of 'recruitment' in the same vein as young Hinako first did by accident with Fubuki-dono at the start of spring vacation. It's wise to have some cruisers — who, I believe, would be automatically compelled to serve as scouts due to their traditional mission as warships — within Tomobiki itself to serve as a special reaction force in case our visitors from that planet of lunacy get, to quote our American friends, 'uppity'."

"That should take some pressure off Naomi-chan's back," Ataru noted.

"Hai. Given who and what Yvonne-san was as USS Enterprise, I strongly doubt even the doho of my crew would welcome her among them in Sano-wan," the transformed THG Yonaga lamented. "Atop that, I suspect Yvonne-san might go forth to do her own 'recruitment' to restore the navy that she served alongside in the late war. The more shipgirls such as we that are present, the better our chances are overall in case Lum-san's people decide to become 'uppity' because of our 'defiance'."

"I'll hack into the school records, Ataru-kun," Rumiko volunteered. As the others nodded, the current incarnation of the Careful Planner of the Circle of Thought, Timlem (the "Sage"), smirked. "If there's no record of an entrance exam, I would be in the perfect place to catch whoever was behind your brainwashing if they move to cover their butts from such an oversight. If there IS one, though, I can make it vanish before Nanase-sensei can check it out, then try to trace its origins."

"Whatever you can do for Onii-sama to keep him clear of that place, Rumiko-chan, do it!" Sakuya urged. Relaxing herself after using her near-cosmic empathy to make people pay attention to what her dear brother had said earlier on the school grounds, the current incarnation of the Healer of Men's Hearts, R'buoho ("Courtesan"), then perked before she looked over her shoulder. "Hey, Mark-kun!" she called out waving as a side door to a private lounge opened. "How's he feeling now?"

A wry chuckle escaped a certain dream demon as he floated out at the same level as one Saeru Hinako; much to Mujaki's personal embarrassment, the native of Niigata who was also the Living Spirit of Innocence was holding his hand as they joined the others. Hinako was carrying a far healthier Baku in her other hand. They were followed by a tall, broad-shouldered man appearing to be in his late forties. "He's cleansed of whatever it was that locked him into town here late last fall, Sakuya," Mark Calaway declared as he moved to sit beside Yoiko while Mujaki and Hinako moved to float and stand close to Ataru, Baku remaining in Hinako's arms. "If what happened to him is any indicator, whatever was done to this town is so thorough that even a straight-up Infinite Wave from Ayumu won't clean it up."

"Or possibly make a worse mess," Ataru noted.

The current incarnation of the Master of the Dark Gaol of the Great Crystal of Life, Ruodeuto (the "Undertaker") — a Gifting that showed everyone that the very sentience of the heart of Yiziba had a WEIRD sense of humour — nodded. "Yeah," the native of Texas breathed out.

"It would require a lot of work from the Archangel of Mortality, you mean?"

That was Mujaki. "Unfortunately," Mark affirmed. "Given that we all have lives beyond the battlesuits and Tariko's still hurting over what happened to her here, it's going to take a while to get it cleared up."

Hinako gazed on the dream demon. "So you have to tell ALL your friends to stay away from Tomobiki-chō, Mujaki-san!" she warned, wagging her finger at him. "Sure, you go try to make a good dream for yourself. You deserve the chance to have one! But don't do it here, okay?!"

Mujaki cringed. "Hai, hai...!" He then sighed. "Still..."

"What is it?" Ataru asked.

The dwarfish being gazed at him, a wry smile crossing his lips. "Seeing the way you and Lum went at it at times, Ataru, all I could say to myself now is this: Keeping up with YOU TWO is going to take WAY more effort than normal for ANYONE trying to play with your lives."

To Mujaki's surprise, a sad look crossed Ataru's face, his eyes brimming with tears as he considered that. "You honestly believe that I want this to happen this way? It's like Onē-san warned. Lum fell in love with a LIE. That drove her dreams to the point where you tried to make her dreams come true."

"But a relationship built on lies doesn't last," Sakuya affirmed, shaking her head.

"Hai, that's more than true," Mujaki said sagely before doffing his hat, giving his hosts a graceful bow in mid-air. "Well, I'll be on my way, ladies and gentlemen. Interesting situations in the Middle East I can look into for the next while." He turned to teleport away. "Sayonara..."

"Mujaki-san!"

He awked, gazing frightfully at Hinako. "Wh-what...?"

"Make sure you feed Baku-chan!" she scolded, wagging her finger at him before she let Baku go to stand beside him. "Hina doesn't like it when animals are hurt, even spirit ones!"

The other stared at the Spirit of Innocence, then they laughed, even Mujaki, while Baku squealed...

The Beginning...!

****

WRITER'S NOTES

Translation list (with source language): Tachi — The equivalent of the English plural "s" ending (Japanese); Therápaina — Maid servant (Greek); Goshujin-sama — Master (Japanese); Homr'bu umale — Literally "scripted same", this is someone who adheres to a set pattern of behaviour so strictly that s/he seems to literally follow a script (Yizibajohei); Ofukun — Literally "most honourable father" (Japanese); Yūjo — Prostitute/Harlot (Japanese); Genrō — Elder statesman (Japanese); Atona — Demon or devil (Yizibajohei); Shin-guntō — New army sword, a cheap and mass-produced version of a katana (Japanese); Kashin — Sacrifice (Japanese); Taisa — Navy captain/Army colonel/Air Force group captain (Japanese); KB — Japanese language hull classification code meaning Kōkū Bokan ("Aircraft Carrier"); Chūsa — Navy commander/Army lieutenant colonel/Air Force wing commander (Japanese); KK — Japanese language hull classification code meaning Kuchikukan ("Destroyer"); Umale lo'obir'ba — One who worships a same (Yizibajohei); Tuyuki — Coyote (Yizibajohei).

Yatsura character and location notes: Marubeya Momoe and Gekasawa Kumiko both appeared in the manga story "Even Though I Wait For You" (manga chapter #26). Sugihara Nara and Nishihara Ikue were two people shown on the relationship chart created by Miyake Shinobu for the anime story "Goodbye Season" (anime episode #64). Family names are my creation, of course. The Franken twins also appeared in "Goodbye Season"; the names given to them here, Nyōke Hitori and Nyōke Futari, are my creation. The Tarōzakura was first noted on in the fourth movie Lum The Forever. And Tsuruya Rumiko is my name for the unnamed girl looking like Takahashi-sensei that appeared in early manga stories such as "Food Fight" (manga chapter #106).

The Senior Year character notes: Moroboshi Nagaiwakai appeared in "Tag Race Mark Three". Moroboshi Negako first appeared in "Spirit-War Tomobiki". The Niphentaxians were first introduced in "What Price For Love?" And Yumoa Reigi first appeared in "Sakura's Class Reunion".

Yizibajohei time measurements, spanning from longest to shortest: Saga — Millennium; Series — Century; Mini-series — Decade; Season — Year; Story(line) — Month; Episode — Day; Act — Hour; Scene — Minute; Frame — Second; Shot — 1/100th of a second. The lengths of time that these terms represent would be roughly the same as on Earth.

Sukeyama Sakuya and Saeru Hinako are two of the sisters in the serialized light novel/dating simulation game/anime series Sister Princess, created by Kimino Sakurako with art by Tenhiro Naoto. They are two of twelve girls (matching the number of months in a year as is normally done in stories like this) who claim the player character as their brother. However, given how close in age many of the characters are, I saw them more as half-sisters, sharing the same father but different mothers; this played well into the toxic dynamics that I created for the overall Moroboshi family in The Senior Year and expanded further in Lonely Souls and other stories. Naturally, because of this, I created family names for the sisters, which I've always used in my works concerning them.

And here is a 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:

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)

The shipgirl introduced here:

Itō Yoiko-taisa DNTK/DNTR (Tennō Heika Gunkan Yonaga [KB-11])

The aircraft carrier THG Yonaga (Itō Yoiko) is based on the effective namesake ship that appeared in the late Peter Albano's science fiction/action adventure novel The Seventh Carrier, first published in 1983. The Seventh Carrier and its series are long-time favourites of mine; while the books had huge plot holes that one could sail Yonaga herself through (not to mention showed very piss-pour editing jobs in many places), it was quite the inspiration for a budding fanfic writer when he discovered the books in the wake of his release from the Canadian military in the early 1990s to attend university and start the road to write The Senior Year with Mike Smith's help. Of course, I've made a lot of changes with how Yoiko and the crew of Yonaga are depicted and how they behave in my stories; in the novels, they tended to act more like soldiers of the Imperial Army than sailors of the Imperial Navy, who were (as far as I know) far more self-disciplined and trained more on British seafaring traditions than the Prussian military traditions the land forces followed.

As for Yoiko's affiliated service as noted above, it was established in The Seventh Carrier that THG Yonaga was "commissioned" as a subordinate entity to the infamous Unit 731, the Imperial Army's top secret biological and chemical warfare research and development unit based in Manchuria. This was done out of fear of Yonaga's sheer size. Unlike her sister Yamato-class vessels, the would-be Warship No. 797 had her overall length extended to 320 metres (1,050 feet) and her displacement increased to around 86,010 tonnes full load thanks to an additional hull section which included more boilers and two more turbines to give her a maximum speed of 33 knots; in comparison, Yonaga's sister carrier THG Shinano had an overall length of 265.8 metres (872 feet) and displaced 69,151 tonnes full load. Because of this, Itō Yoiko could be seen as being BOTH a captain in the Imperial Japanese Navy (Dai-Nihon Teikoku Kaigun, short-formed DNTK) AND a colonel in the Imperial Japanese Army (Dai-Nihon Teikoku Rikugun, short-formed DNTR)...though she would clearly see herself properly as being a commissioned warship in the Imperial Navy; in the universe of my stories, ALL Japanese military vessels were given the ship prefix THG for Tennō Heika Gunkan (Which literally means "Warship of His Imperial Majesty the Heavenly Sovereign").

Physically, Yoiko would resemble the Warship Girls depiction of her sister THG Shinano (whom I give the human name Itō Shizuka), save for having raven hair flecked with grey, grey eyes and standing at least a head taller than any of her sisters.

The other shipgirls who are mentioned here:

Captain Yvonne Swanson USN (United States Ship Enterprise [CV-6])
CAPT Naomi Haight-Ashbury USN (United States Ship Long Beach [CGN-9])
Fukushima Fujiko-chūsa DNTK (Tennō Heika Gunkan Fubuki [KK-156])

THG Fubuki (Fukushima Fujiko) would take after her Kantai Collection interpretation. As she has yet to be implemented in KanColle, USS Enterprise (Yvonne Swanson) would take after fan art done by RealMBW as depicted on Danbooru at entry #1705675. Of course, Yvonne's name is derived from what was created for her by Sasahara17 in the seminal KanColle fanfiction story The Greatest Generation. As for USS Long Beach (Naomi Haight-Ashbury), since she'll most likely NEVER appear in KanColle, she resembles the original art that appears in Danbooru entry #1377452 done by Bokuman. Her personality is modelled on the depiction of a shipgirl version of Long Beach created by IJNFleetadmiral in his KanColle fanfic Gaijin Teitoku.