Sailor Moon Fan Fiction ❯ Absence ❯ The Challenge ( Chapter 11 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
Absence - By Kirika


Eleventh chapter.



- Kirika


Chapter 11 - The Challenge

Rei was seated at a table in a Chinese restaurant across from Wong Fei's called 'Yoshuhanten Honten'. She idly popped another crispy fried wonton into her mouth while she waited patiently for nightfall.

Wong Fei's had turned out to be a fireworks and Chinese lantern shop on the east side of Chinatown. Initially, Rei had marched straight into the store ready to rumble, expecting hordes of youma to be surging through some ethereal gateway. But surprisingly, all she had been faced with were piles of ornately designed lanterns and a wide variety of fireworks; Wong Fei's was just an ordinary place of business.

Hoping once more that the youma she had interrogated hadn't lied, Rei had decided to stake out the fireworks shop... with Tsubasa and Sanjuro in tow. Both men had insisted on coming; nothing short of a Fire Soul would have dissuaded the pair.

It was certainly irritating having Tsubasa and Sanjuro with her. Rei assumed that Sanjuro had wanted to stay with her because he now knew that she was the masked woman he had been looking for, or at the very least, some sort of fighter to rid the world of strange and ferocious monsters. Regardless, Rei was the reporter's story... and it was clear that he would be sticking to her like glue for the foreseeable future. But it didn't matter to the Senshi of Fire; if she wanted Sanjuro to leave, he would do so when she ordered him to. He would obey, or suffer the consequences. As for Tsubasa... Rei wasn't entirely sure why he had come along. Perhaps the miko's former neighbour was too scared to go back to work, or to stay alone at Sanjuro's apartment. Either way, he was another annoyance she had to tolerate.

Neither of the men could look her in the eye nor speak more than two words to her after her breakdown last night. They both seemed to tread on eggshells around her and treated her as though she were some delicate, fragile little girl who they expected to burst into tears at any moment without the slightest provocation. Both men sat across from Rei; Sanjuro fiddling with his camera--which he had been doing for the last two hours--and Tsubasa drinking Chinese tea, never taking his eyes off the tablecloth. It was as if he were trying to either make sure he had memorised its simple pattern completely, or bore a hole through the table with his lowered gaze... whichever came first, Rei imagined. Rei was thankful for their silence, however, even if she weren't in solitude; she wasn't really in the talking mood.

Rei shifted her eyes to look out the large-paned glass window set in the front of Yoshuhanten Honten that her table was positioned next to, and emotionlessly surveyed Wong Fei's lantern and fireworks store across the street. In the daylight, everything was quiet and normal at the shop. But the Fire Senshi knew that, when darkness fell, the youma would come. It was highly likely they would use the cover of night to make their approach; at least, that was what Rei would have done. The chance for witnesses of the clash that would inevitably erupt between them would be greatly reduced then.

By now, the youma were aware that Rei knew the location of one of their 'gates', and had become a loose end they needed to tie up pronto... if they had any sense. The creatures also knew exactly where Rei would show up. It was the perfect opportunity for them to be rid of the Rei, and with her, their only opposition in Yokohama... perhaps even in the world. So the youma would come... and they would be ready for the Senshi of Fire.

Rei's cold, dark lavender eyes narrowed slightly, the grim action barely noticeable to the causal observer. It wouldn't matter if the youma were expecting the Fire Senshi. She would kill them all, or be killed herself. That was her life now; to live and die by the sword in a crusade against all forms of evil. Life and death; they were both the same for her. Kill or be killed... it was that simple.


Tsubasa continued to look down at the table in front of him like he had been doing for the past hour or so. The checker pattern of the tablecloth was permanently tattooed in his mind now. But it was as if he were unable to lift his head any higher, unable to look at Megumi's face. Tsubasa sighed almost inaudibly and took another sip of his tea. That was all he had been doing since he had arrived at the restaurant: staring at the tablecloth and sipping Chinese tea. And also thinking.

At first Tsubasa had admired Megumi for the courage she had to face evil--and clearly dangerous--creatures, these… youma. But now he felt pity for the girl. He had never seen anybody so hung up on another person before. It was almost frightening; the depth of Megumi's love for her friend Usagi didn't seem to have any limits. At any rate, Tsubasa knew one thing for sure; he had no chance at all with her. There was no way that she was ever going to even consider another person for her heart in her current state. Hell, Tsubasa wasn't even the right gender.

The brown-haired man sighed again and mentally reprimanded himself for being so selfish. Was that why he had accompanied Megumi? Because of his feelings? It was a possibility… but he couldn't deny that he was genuinely worried for the raven-haired girl. The things she had said last night at Sanjuro's... Tsubasa wasn't sure that Megumi meant to survive the coming fights ahead. And he knew there would be fights. He had heard what the youma had said in his apartment after all; there was some 'gate' at the store across the street that had to be destroyed, lest further monsters should come through it to harass more people in their homes.

Tsubasa drank more of his tea and moved his eyes slightly to the right of the table, watching Sanjuro's hands as they tinkered with his camera. Tsubasa didn't know what the reporter was doing, but it sure seemed to take a long time; he had been at it for ages. He frowned as Sanjuro removed the telescopic lens from his camera for the tenth time. No doubt he would affix it once again in a few minutes... just as he had done all of the previous times.

Tsubasa didn't like Sanjuro very much. Sanjuro had been totally useless with assisting him in consoling Megumi the prior night. Even in the morning Sanjuro hadn't mentioned anything... although the spiky-haired man had been a little less cheerful. He also seemed like the kind of person who would step over his own fallen mother or sell out his best friend if it was in his own self interest. How Megumi knew such a callous, shallow person was beyond Tsubasa. But he had to admit the reporter had come through for them with a place to hide out when they needed it.

Tsubasa drained his tea, then picked up the teapot to pour yet another cup with his head still lowered. He had an uncaring, superficial man who was obsessed with a camera to his right and a cold, somewhat disquieting girl obsessed with her friend directly in front of him. This was going to be a long day.


Rodoth paced angrily back and forth on the black-painted main dance floor of the Ragnarok nightclub. His attack on the human female had not gone well at all. It was a good thing Rodoth had gone alone; he had been able to report his own tale of what had happened at the apartment building to Khairephon. His death would have been assured had the truth been leaked to Khairephon; he was not the most forgiving of masters. The vicious barbarian could never know that Rodoth had nearly been killed, and if there weren't enough, that he had also broken under the female's questioning and told her the location of the only other gate they had found besides the one the brutal warrior and his siblings had travelled through.

Once Rodoth had made it back to the nightclub that housed the youma headquarters, he had ordered several of his agents to go back to the apartment where he had battled the human in an attempt to capture or kill her. But as he had suspected, her male ally and she were long gone by then. It was of no consequence, however; the stars would be aligned correctly tonight for both interdimensional passageways in Yokohama to be opened which would provide more troops. Rodoth would bring a host of youma with him to the gate site in Chinatown. *She* would be there... the spindly youma just knew she would be. Why else grill him for information on his and his comrades' method to enter this world if she intended to do nothing about it?

Rodoth stopped his pacing and looked over to the cleaned kitchen knife lying on the edge of the stage at the end of the dance floor, the blade shining silver under the lights from above. He had a score to settle with the human before any other youma laid a hand on her. The gangly youma rarely took things personally, but what she had done to him was unforgivable. Rodoth was going to kill her himself; but first, he would make the female suffer.


The sun had been down for a few hours before the youma made their predicted move. Rei saw--and detected--several of the creatures disguised as humans go down an alleyway beside the fireworks and lantern store, no doubt to break in from a side entrance. More of the enemy were probably breaking in where Rei couldn't see them, also. It was time.

Rei stood up abruptly and departed the restaurant, leaving Tsubasa to pay the bill for their food and drinks without a second thought. An extremely reluctant Sanjuro had left earlier after being called by his editor demanding that he return to the offices of the Yokohama Daily. Rei had been glad to see him go; she didn't need him getting in the way trying to take pictures.

The Fire Senshi stopped walking and looked back towards Tsubasa as he stepped out of the Yoshuhanten Honten, the man seeming pleased that she had waited for him. "You stay here," Rei ordered without emotion, wiping the mildly grateful look off her former neighbour's features.

Tsubasa eyed her warily and looked like he was going to say something, but the taciturn girl was already crossing the street towards Wong Fei's fireworks and lantern shop, giving him no opportunity to speak.

Rei marched up to the front of the building and tested the door. It wasn't locked. Rei took a deep breath, more to prepare herself mentally for combat than to steel any jittery nerves and then entered the store, closing the door firmly behind her with a resounding bang.


Sanjuro sighed despondently as he made his way to his desk at the Yokohama Daily, dropping himself heavily into his chair. His editor had just given him the chewing out of a lifetime. Sanjuro never realised that he had ignored *that* many report requests. He guessed that he had become just used to automatically scrunching them up and chucking them in the trash everyday.

Only by mentioning his story about the masked hero did the editor let him keep his job. Now Sanjuro definitely had to get good photos of Megumi and an interview with her. He was sure that she was the woman, no, the *girl* he had met in the Hikodo gangland. Her conversation with Tsubasa last night had all but confirmed it.

Megumi didn't seem much like a superhero though, with her crying and all that. Superheroes were supposed to be tough and cool, not weeping young girls snivelling about lost loves. But she certainly had the scars of a person who actively engaged in fighting... if the many bandages adorning her body that Sanjuro had seen were any indication.

"Hey, Sanjuro! In trouble with the editor, huh? You know he likes stories that actually have some basis to reality," smirked Ryoji, meeting the glum Sanjuro at his desk.

"Oh, shut up," Sanjuro grumbled, glaring hard at the surface of his desk. He then looked up at his colleague, surprised to see him in the newsroom at this time. "Wait, what are you doing here this late?" he asked.

"Had to meet a deadline," Ryoji shrugged. He then smirked again at the spiky-haired man. "Some of us actually work around here," he added.

Sanjuro scowled at him and went back to glowering at his desk. He really should get back to Chinatown; he didn't want to miss any great fights that Megumi might get herself tangled in. He just bet that right at this very minute, she was kicking evil monster ass while Tsubasa got to watch on. Lucky bastard. It was so unfair. It should be him, Sanjuro Watanabe, reporter extraordinaire, that got to watch! A show like that would be completely wasted on someone as boring as Tsubasa. That settled it; he was going to return to Chinatown immediately.

Sanjuro stood up from his desk, determined to head back to the Yoshuhanten Honten, but was interrupted by Tetsuya's approach which caused both the spiky-haired reporter and Ryoji to turn towards him curiously.

"Watanabe? May I speak with you for a moment?" Tetsuya asked politely, gesturing discreetly with his head away from Sanjuro's desk.

Sanjuro blinked at him. Uptight Tetsuya wanted to talk to him? He couldn't imagine what about. Perhaps he wanted some tips on how to be a great investigative reporter! It could happen. Sanjuro shrugged indifferently and moved over to where Tetsuya had indicated, leaving Ryoji still standing by the desk.

"What's up?" Sanjuro asked.

"I wanted to ask you about a story you have been working on. It is about a girl who wears a mask, yes?" Tetsuya ventured.

Sanjuro became instantly on his guard. How did Tetsuya know about his story? Sanjuro thought he had kept it fairly under wraps, his banter with Ryoji notwithstanding. Did Tetsuya want to steal it? Why? He dealt with sports... but maybe he wanted to expand his horizons or something.

"Uhh... what about it?" answered Sanjuro carefully.

"I was wondering how it was going. It's rare when a story like that comes along. I'm quite amazed that you came by it; you must be a very skilled journalist…." Tetsuya said.

Sanjuro smiled smugly at him, his initial caution gone. Well, he *was* good at what he did. He puffed out his chest haughtily. "It's coming along terrifically, man! I've got this great lead and my initial two-page spread is done." Sanjuro sighed contentedly, his smile becoming one of satisfaction as he stared off into space. "All I need are some pictures and I'm all set," he further revealed, refocusing his gaze on his colleague.

Tetsuya's lips curled into a brief slight smile, almost resembling a conceited smirk. "And this great lead... what would that be?"

Sanjuro wagged a finger under Tetsuya's nose, grinning rakishly. "Uh, uh, uh, do you think that I'm just going to *tell* you that? Hah! You must be joking," he laughed.

Tetsuya smiled tightly. "I assure you, I am not joking. What is this lead?" he persisted.

Sanjuro's grin turned cheesy and he looked back over his shoulder to Ryoji who had been observing the exchange. "Get a load of this guy... he wants my masked hero lead!" the spiky-haired man crowed, expecting a smile and a chuckle from his friend.

Ryoji didn't chuckle, however. Nor did he smile. Instead he looked pale. His eyes were also bugging out of his head and his mouth hung open. Sanjuro frowned at him in confusion, then turned back around to face Tetsuya... then screamed.


They were waiting for Rei when she entered Wong Fei's store. The youma she saw were in an assortment of shapes and sizes, and were packed everywhere in the small building. They immediately surrounded the Fire Senshi in a loose circular formation when she walked in. All of them were glowering at her threateningly... and hungrily.

The tall, spindly bald youma from the previous night was standing in the middle of the circle with Rei. This time, it was perfectly visible and had both hands behind its back. Its permanent toothy grin appeared especially sinister in the muted, red tinged light from paper lanterns that hung from the wooden rafters above. The glow from the lanterns filled the entire shop with their reddish twilight, painting the walls and floor in an otherworldly crimson. It was as though the youma and Rei were in another place... another world. A darker, more malevolent, world.

"I knew you would come. I have been waiting for you...." the gangly youma sneered through its sharp teeth, its smile seeming to somehow grow a little larger.

Rei said nothing and merely continued to observe the wicked creature with dark amethyst eyes, the majority of her face hidden in shadow.

"We have... unfinished business," the youma continued, drawing out the last two words.

The creature took its hands from behind its back and threw something at the Fire Senshi's feet. The object stuck into the wooden floorboards and wobbled in front of her, the red light reflecting off of its mirrored surface. It was the knife Rei had stabbed the monster with in Tsubasa's apartment.

Rei looked up at the paper lanterns, her features becoming bathed in the crimson light. "I would have thought this place would be pitch black," she commented rather conversationally. "Your kind always tend to skulk in shadows like cowards," she baited in a hardening voice as she returned her now narrowing eyes to her adversary.

The youma tilted its head at Rei's remark, the black holes that were its own eyes boring into her with baleful intensity. "I have no need of that trick now to deal with you," it replied confidently.

Rei scanned her eyes slowly around the interior of the fireworks and lantern store. There were a lot of fireworks that could double as explosives around the place. Her powers of fire would be hazardous here. Moving on to the abundant youma who were standing around, Rei did a quick count of their number. There had to be about ten of the creatures immediately surrounding her. It seemed her gangly foe had brought quite an entourage.

"I guess I should get ready then," Rei announced levelly, looking back to the perpetually grinning youma before her. "MARS CRYSTAL POWER, MAKE UP!"

Rei transformed into the outfit she had worn before, her predominately black garb blending well with the dark red light filling the shop. Her youma adversary's fingers twitched threateningly, its sharp nails clicking together, ready to taste her blood. Sailor Mars pulled down the crimson veil that had materialised over her face, letting it hang around her neck. She had no need of it.

"Let's see who stays standing!" Mars snarled. She abruptly dove for the knife, tearing it out of the floor with a spray of wooden splinters as she rolled forward and came out of the tuck on her feet.

The spindly youma let out a shriek and imploded into its shadow form before rushing at Sailor Mars, its dagger-like fingernails leading the charge.

Mars strafed quickly to the left, avoiding the creature's opening strike, then countered by swiping horizontally with the kitchen knife at where its stomach would be.

But the youma's reflexes were fast and it intercepted Mars' attack with an invisible, iron grip on her wrist. The monster swung the raven-haired girl around by her arm, jerking her clean off of her feet and sending her sailing into the air.

Sailor Mars' back slammed into an unyielding wooden support pillar, causing the lanterns hanging from the rafters to tremble. Mars gritted her teeth at the hard impact before being deposited onto the floor. She kicked the unseen hand off of her wrist, and then flipped forward, rolling and turning so she could face her foe again.

Sailor Mars was conscious of her wounds, both new and old, crying out with painful messages sent to her brain; but she ignored them. All the pain did was make her aware that she was still alive.

Mars performed a roundhouse kick at the youma's head as it charged forward yet again, but it had evidently anticipated the manoeuvre; the youma deftly changed its charge into a diving roll, its fingernails ready to stab her middle as it rose.

However, Sailor Mars was faster and kicked the crouched youma square in the face. The Fire Senshi watched as the creature's shadow was knocked flat on its back. Mars then leapt into the air, her knife coming down to impale her prone enemy... but the youma rolled hastily to its right so the miko's blade stabbed into the wooden floorboards instead.

The shadow of the creature then jumped to its feet, slicing at Mars as it did so. It caught and tore her coat across her upper left arm, forcing her to dart defensively backwards away from the youma.

Mars heard a low chuckling from the youma as they both circled each other warily, searching for an opening to attack. Tired of waiting, Sailor Mars decided to take the initiative and ran at the youma bouncing from foot to foot. The movement caused her to strafe from side to side and approach her enemy in a staggered path to make it difficult to predict her next move.

Mars stabbed at where the monster's face would be as she got within striking distance. To her surprise, the knife was met with only air; the shadowy creature had somehow managed to evade her attack.

The youma again grabbed the Senshi of Fire's outstretched arm, and this time, threw her along the floor in retaliation. As the girl slid uncontrollably along the wooden floorboards, the knife clattered from her grip, before she came to a halt.

Sailor Mars quickly flipped back onto her feet, just in time to uppercut the youma in the face as it tried to take advantage of her vulnerable position on the floor with a swift finishing slice of its stiletto fingernails. She swivelled on one foot, and then went for its face again with a powerful kick, this time connecting, which caused the youma's shadow to stagger as if dazed.

Mars didn't let up; she followed her kick with a smash into the creature's face yet again with her fist and then, with her other fist. She mercilessly repeated the process, her rage and strength increasing with every solid hit. Droplets of blood began to coat her bludgeoning fists and trail behind them in the air before dropping onto the floor to leave dark splatters of pink. Sailor Mars then let out a furious scream and delivered a devastating kick in the youma's stomach as a final blow, causing it to drop to its knees, clutching its midsection.

The Senshi of Fire stood over her fallen enemy, panting through clenched teeth, her blood stained hands still in tight fists by her sides. Mars' anger ebbed somewhat at the sight of the youma's shadow kneeling before her and cooled to a low burning simmer. She wasn't entirely sure why she was so angry. Was it because of the youma injuring her? For setting up the ambush? Or was it for another reason, one the miko didn't care, or rather want, to even entertain? But really, what did it matter? Nothing much mattered anymore.

"Is that... all you can... do?" the youma forced out, its shadow still doubled over in pain and holding its stomach. Then, without warning, it roared and stabbed upwards in an arcing streak of motion at Sailor Mars, no doubt hoping to catch the girl off guard.

The Fire Senshi leapt back on pure reflex, turning the disembowelling stabs into vertical lacerations instead. She didn't cry out; she merely ground her teeth together and pressed one hand to the quadruple gashes up her stomach, allowing the intensifying cold fury within her numb the pain of her wounds.

The monster's shadow shook its head as if to clear it, then re-entered its combat stance. "You're going to die here," it spat derisively. "Did you really think you could make a difference in this battle? Did you think you could stop us? You are alone and we are many; you are doomed. This world and all its inhabitants are doomed. Your resistance is a *wasted* effort... why do you even bother?"

Sailor Mars let go of her slashed stomach and smiled without humour, her face enveloped in the crimson twilight from the lanterns. "It's all I have left," she answered emotionlessly.

The youma's shadow was stationary for a second, as if staring at her in thought. But of course, such a creature could not comprehend the meaning behind Mars' words. Sailor Mars wondered if anyone could.

Most likely realising it could not understand the Senshi of Fire, the youma bellowed out a battle cry and rather recklessly lunged at Sailor Mars with its long fingernails extended.

The miko fluidly moved to one side and grabbed its arm with her left hand as it passed, and then turning into its body, she viciously brought her right elbow down and snapped the creature's arm with a sickening crack. The youma howled in torment at the fracture, its shadow's mouth opened widely as it screamed.

Sailor Mars followed her crippling strike by ramming her elbow into the youma's face, making it stumble backwards a few steps. Mars cart-wheeled away from her adversary, her long black coat trailing after her, and then snatched the kitchen knife up from the floor with her left hand and slung it underhanded as she straightened. There was a loud thud as the knife's blade lodged itself firmly into the youma's forehead.

The invisible creature's head snapped backwards with the impact, the shadow of the knife making a strange addition to its silhouette on the floor, while its body stood stock still for a second. The other youma who surrounded the combatants and had been watching the fight, gasped in disbelief as the fatally wounded creature toppled backwards to the floor. The gangly body of the youma reappeared with its death, the knife buried deeply in its skull.

Sailor Mars turned her attention to the other youma present in the room. They all looked ready to rip her to pieces. Fine. Let them try.

"You killed Rodoth! You will die, human!!" one screamed from the group, scandalised.

Mars glanced back at Rodoth's decaying corpse. She must have killed someone important. Though in truth, she didn't really care.

Sailor Mars put her hands together, interlocking all of her fingers except the two pointers, making her seem like a child holding a gun made out of her hands. She moved her hands slowly, and meaningfully, to the left. The youma all looked on in fear and incredulity, undoubtedly knowing that she could call fire from her fingertips.

"Y-You... you wouldn't," stuttered one youma, as it realised what Mars intended to do.

Sailor Mars stopped moving her hands, her two fingers pointing directly at the largest stack of crated fireworks in the whole store. She looked up at the youma with cold, dead eyes as one side of her mouth twitched slightly.

"You know what they say," Mars quipped levelly, a merciless half-smile taking hold on her features, "'it's better to burn out than to fade away'. FIRE SOUL!"

The group of youma watched in total shock and disbelief as a fireball erupted from Sailor Mars' fingertips and careered towards the explosives. All eyes followed the blazing sphere's flight path as it sailed towards its target, burning several hanging Chinese lanterns to ash within a split second along its way. None of the astounded creatures were able to quite comprehend that the Senshi of Fire had actually done it.

The fiery globe hit the fireworks hard and detonated. A huge ball of flame exploded outwards with a loud BOOM, taking chunks of scorched, splintered wood out of the floor and ceiling before setting off the other fireworks in the shop. The room was suddenly filled with colourful, ear-popping explosions as all of Wong Fei's wares blew up, slaughtering the youma in a gory spectacle of ripped off limbs and melted flesh.


Tsubasa instinctively ducked as the building that housed Wong Fei's fireworks and lantern shop blew up. The explosion shattered the Yoshuhanten Honten's front windows and sent shards of flying glass spinning into the restaurant's interior, showering its stunned patrons.

Tsubasa, his ears ringing, stumbled to his feet as quickly as he could. The staff of the Yoshuhanten Honten and several other customers were on the floor, some cut by bits of the flying glass but otherwise okay, if rather shaken.

The brown-haired man dashed out of the restaurant and towards the flaming building that had once been Wong Fei's store, panic rapidly rising inside of him. "Megumi!" he shouted desperately, his eyes frantically scouring the blazing debris. "MEGUMI!"

Tsubasa fell to his knees as he looked at the destroyed building; he had never expected that something like this would have happened. God... he should have stopped Megumi when he had had the chance; he should have done *something!* Tsubasa had known that she was unstable; he was to blame for this!

Brown eyes stared up into the night sky as tears began to roll down Tsubasa's cheeks in despair. Nobody could have lived through that explosion. He would have to tell Sanjuro what had happened and Megumi's family as well, if she had any. And.… and Usagi. He would track the girl down, no matter how long it took, and tell her how Megumi had sacrificed herself to save the city. No, the world.

Tsubasa looked back at the remains of Wong Fei's, his vision still blurry with tears. He thought he saw something moving among the ruins in one of the side alleys. Tsubasa rubbed his eyes and blinked to help clear them. There was a dark figure crawling out from under a pile of burning wood, partially concealed by a thick smoke that billowed up into the air. The person stood up, casually patting out the small fires on their long coat and hair, then pulled a red veil over the lower part of their face before walking quite calmly towards Tsubasa.

"Get up. We should get out of here," the black clad woman ordered simply.

Tsubasa remained planted to the pavement on his knees, blinking stupidly up at her.

The masked female's brows furrowed into a frown as she impatiently reached down and pulled Tsubasa onto his feet, and then began dragging him away from the still dangerous area.

Tsubasa shook his head and finally came to his senses. "Wait! I can't... Megumi... Megumi is missing!" he exclaimed anxiously, looking over his shoulder towards the destroyed building as he was led away.

The woman stopped pulling Tsubasa and turned her soot-covered face to him. "She's fine. She dove out of a window before anyone knew what was going on," she declared impassively.

Tsubasa stared at the raven-haired *girl* for a few seconds before it dawned on him who he was really talking to. "Megumi!" he cried, throwing his arms around her, "I thought... I thought that you…."

Megumi pried Tsubasa's arms off of her and pushed him away with one hand in irritation. "Not this time."

Tsubasa gave her a quick look over and saw that she had not escaped the explosion of Wong Fei's store unscathed; parts of her clothing had been scorched away, which meant that she had to be sporting several burns. She was also bleeding from numerous cuts. "You're hurt! We've got to get back to Sanjuro's place!" he cried with concern.

Megumi merely nodded and began moving out of Chinatown with Tsubasa, leaving behind a scene of havoc for the authorities to deal with.


To be continued....

Author's ramblings:

I'll give a cookie to anyone who can tell me where the line Sailor Mars says when nuking the fireworks comes from.