By Rob Kelk
Based on the Drunkard's
Walk and Girls Girls Girls fanfic cycles
created by Robert M. Schroeck
and the Fenspace shared-world setting
created by Sean M. Breen
29 May 2013
Stellvia main operations room
"Commander, there's an alert on my screen that I've never seen before."
Noah walked over to the duty officer's desk and looked at his console. "Oh, bloody hell." Then he thumbed the intercom on. "Engineering, there's a DQS in the Main Concourse! Seal it off, stat! Nobody gets in or out until I get there!" He switched off the intercom and turned back to the duty officer. "Full comms blackout – all channels, all frequencies, cellphone, radio and interwave – starting right now. Jam anything you can't turn off. Deny launching or docking permission to all ships, including emergency vehicles. No exceptions to any of this without my express approval. That's my approval, not Ms. Nikaido's or anyone else's. And get all the duty officers up here, no matter what shifts they're on – you're all on duty starting now and until I say otherwise. You'll get double-pay for the overtime."
"Yes, sir. What's a DQS?"
"It's what we're trying to keep a lid on," answered Noah as he ran out the doorway that Yoriko was keeping open for him. What he didn't add was, because if Suzumiya finds out about this, she'll come back here so fast, she'll Break the Limit. And may all the Gods help us if the Boskonians find out about this.
As the duty officer proceeded to seal off the station, he couldn't
help but think that he'd never seen his employer so worried.
Stellvia Main Concourse
The gateway closed behind the last of the travelers, who asked, "Are we there yet?"
"I don't think so, Dee," answered Lisa.
"Are you sure? Maybe we could find someboy who could tell us where we are." Nobody answered, so Delandra looked around ... to see dozens of slack-jawed people staring at the group. "Never mind."
"Oooohhh, computer parts for sale," sighed Skuld happily as she looked past the onlookers. She and Kaolla made a beeline for the stand, forgetting that they didn't have any local currency.
⌈I can't get these doors to open!⌋ complained Sana, in Japanese, from the end of the corridor.
"There are people with fur and cat's ears over there!" exclaimed Nancy with a smile.
"Hey!" shouted the person behind the counter of a snack shop as he grabbed Chalotte's arm, much to her surprise. "Pay for that yakitori before you leave!"
As he and Yoriko reached the sealed-off section of Stellvia, Noah's intercom beeped. "Scott here."
"Sir, it's Jake Hansen in operations. We've got the security camera feed from the Main Concourse connected to the intercom for you."
"Thank you, duty officer. Please relay it to my PDA," asked Noah as he thumbed the unit to video playback mode. He and Yoriko looked at the display. "Oh, dear. There must be a dozen of them, and a horse, and a motorcycle. Are they an invasion force that didn't know what they'd find here?"
Yoriko squinted. "I've never actually seen a horse, but something looks strange about that one to me."
He took another look, then looked again. "That's not a horse."
"Then what is it?"
"Let me think ... Oh, of course! That woman ..." – he pointed at a dark-skinned blonde – "... seems to be Lisa Vanette, and that one ..." – indicating a fair-skinned raven-haired girl with what looked like a polo mallet strapped to her back – "... is almost definitely Skuld. Unless a very lucky batch of 'scure-fen have managed to develop inter-dimensional teleportation, The Girls have finally followed Doug here." The way Noah said it, Yoriko could hear the capital letters.
"Who are they?"
"I'm not sure about some of them, so I'll identify the ones I recognize and see whether I can figure out the others."
Yoriko blushed. "Sorry, I meant 'who is this group of people and why are they here?' But I'd like to know who each of them are, too."
"Oh, sorry. The Girls are chasing after Doug Sangnoir for various reasons. You remember Doug, right?"
"How could I forget him?"
"Indeed. As for specific girls ... Lisa's a reporter, mage, and sometime-Senshi."
"Sort of, but Lisa can fake metahuman powers with her magic. Skuld's a goddess."
"No, she's a nice and good person. I think. The others ... I think the one who looks a lot like Leda is a real Senshi – Sailor Jupiter."
"Which one? Oh, yeah; she does look a lot like Leda; she could be Leda's half-sister. Her hairstyle's different, though. And she's asian. And she's got bigger –"
Noah quickly interrupted Yoriko. "Moving on –"
"Noah, your heartrate's increasing, and you're –"
"Are you jealous?"
Yoriko thought for a moment. "No ..."
"Then drop it, please. Moving on, the other dark-skinned blonde, the younger one, looks like a teen-age Kaolla Suu; she's a technologist of some sort. I don't remember Doug stopping at Hinata-sou, though."
"He said he wasn't telling us about every place he visited, Noah."
"Point. The albino with the feathered hairdo might be Rei Ayanami; if she is, then she's loosened up a lot since Doug met her."
"I've loosened up a lot since Doug met me."
"That's true, Yoriko. Okay, she's probably Rei. Which means she's an anthromorphic-mecha pilot, and a few other things besides. And the cute asian brunette fashion-plate looks like Mirai Ozora. If she is Mirai, then she's a real-live superhero."
"No, she's more flamboyant than he is, and she maintains a secret identity. Now I start guessing about the others. The one that just came through the portal and went straight to the side of the not-horse is probably a Herald – a particular sort of mage. And the not-horse is her Companion. What were their names ...? Oh, well. I have no idea who the one that looks like Sara Michelle Gellar or the teenager wearing the yellow tights could be. The short girl, wearing the woolen watch cap, is probably a Borrible ... and she's just been grabbed by Yamada-san. Damn. Damage control time; we'll get them to identify themselves later."
Noah thumbed his PDA off and opened the door.
The doors that Sana complained about opened to reveal an overweight white man and a short asian woman. He was wearing what looked like "business casual" clothes while she was dressed almost like a police officer, but the cut of their outfits was so similar that it was obvious they were in uniform. "Well, isn't this just wonderful," cursed the man. After he took a breath, he continued more calmly. "She's my guest, Yamada-san; please send me the bill."
"We don't have a hope of keeping this secret, Noah," whispered the woman.
"Of course not, Yoriko. There's too many of them, and they showed up in the middle of the Main Concourse. But maybe we can keep the news contained for a while. And they seem friendly, thank Ghu." Noah looked straight at most of the travelers and raised his voice. "Well, do you plan to disrupt everyone's life even more, or are you willing to come with us?"
Nobody moved for a moment. Finally, Lisa asked, "Who are you?"
"The name's Noah Scott. I own this space station."
Noah rubbed his temples. "I already have a headache just from you showing up, and the carbon monoxide from that engine ..." – he gestured towards Peggy's bike – "... isn't helping any. Please don't all shout at once. Are you coming or not?"
They looked at each other as Peggy shut down her motorcycle. "We're coming," answered Dee. "Are you going to have any trouble with that door, Sylvath?"
Stellvia conference room
"Yes, Mr. Scott, we already know about transfictionality and how it means we're fictional in other universes." Lisa glanced at Makoto to underline her point. "I don't see why that means we should hide who and what we are."
"Well, Ms. Vanette," Noah replied after taking a bite of his sandwich, "in this universe, the people who've left Earth tend to be the type who enjoy the types of stories you're in. A lot of people are going to recognize your real names. Even I recognized half of you."
"Then we won't have to explain who we are," Rei replied. "How is that bad?"
Noah sighed. "You tell me which is worse – the people who decided to live just like they think you do down to taking your names as their own, or the people who worship you as demigods."
Most of the women's reactions ranged from distaste to disgust. "I'm not a demigod," muttered Skuld.
"I still fail to see the problem," commented Rei.
"There's something worse. Remember the 'handwavium' that I described to you earlier?" After Rei nodded, Noah continued, "One of the things that it can do is physically change people – we call that process 'biomodification'. But it can only grant trivial metahuman abilities, like Leda's 'electric eel hands' that can't be turned off. Now, if word was to get out that there's somebody who looks, acts, and has the powers of any one of you, then people are going to start experimenting with biomodification in order to get superpowers. And since biomods can't be undone, some of those ... people ... would likely experiment on other people – most probably on unwilling people."
Everyone went silent as they realized the implications of Noah's statement.
Except for Sana and Rin-Rin, who didn't speak English. Sana took another gulp from her second can of Jolt cola and asked, ⌈What'sEverybodyTalkingAbout?⌋
As Mirai started explaining to them what was going on, the door slid open to admit Yoriko. "I'm sorry to interrupt, but I brought you your bank IDs. We've put some money on each one. Chalotte's has the smallest balance that the system would let me put on it – I know what Borribles think of money, and you don't have to use it if you don't want to. I hope you don't mind we put your real names on the cards."
"Yoriko ..." Noah sighed. "Oh, well, what's done is done. We'll just say you're very good cosplayers."
"Noah, the factions are starting to notice that we've gone silent." She noticed the puzzled looks on the visitors' faces, and turned to them. "We didn't know whether you were an advance squad for an invasion force, so we sealed off the station when you arrived. And 'factions' are our equivalent of countries, member states, or political parties, depending on how you look at the political situation here." She turned back to Noah. "Sir, we've received a request to dock and an offer for disaster assistance from the World Watch One."
"From the what?"
Noah turned to the dirty-blonde teenager who had interrupted Yoriko. "I assume you're from a world where Buckaroo Banzai exists."
"He's my father."
"Ah. Remember what I said about people who decided to live just like they think you do, Ms. Banzai?"
"Call me Peggy. And yes."
"Well, Peggy, the Blue Blazer Irregulars are some of the nicer ones. There are not-nice ones, like the Boskonians ... But that doesn't matter right now. Whoever's aboard the World Watch One today is likely to try a spacewalk and forced boarding if we don't answer them, because they'll assume we can't answer them." Noah thumbed his PDA to intercom mode and switched it on. "Main operations, please open a tight-beam low-power transmission and connect me to the World Watch One."
"Yes, sir," came the duty officer's voice over the speaker, followed shortly by one of the most recognized voices in Fenspace. "... is Blackstone of the Blue Blazer Irregulars, requesting that anyone aboard Stellvia respond."
"Blackstone, this is Noah Scott."
There was a chorus of relieved sighs from the other end of the connection. "We're glad to hear you're alive, Noah. How can we be of assistance?"
"I'm not sure you can. We're not in immediate danger. Please stand by." Noah tapped a few keys, and his PDA started playing a pop-instrumental version of The Girl from Ipanema over the commlink.
"We can't stall them forever, Noah."
"I know, Yoriko. But I want our guests to tell me truthfully whether they can keep their origins and abilities secret before we start letting everybody in space meet them, and we have to agree on their cover story ..."
Stellvia Docking Tube #2
"... they're fresh up from 'Daneside, they don't really understand how we live, and they set off more than a few alarms when they somehow managed to run a power surge through the Main Concourse. That's all."
"Are you sure you don't need our help getting your systems back online, Noah?"
"Thanks, but my engineering department has everything well in hand. It's just going to take a while. But as long as you're here, one of the newcomers would really like to speak with Buckaroo. She's a big fan of his; the name she's using up here is 'Peggy Banzai'."
Blackstone thought for a quick moment. "Sure, why not? Just give us a couple of minutes to tidy up before she comes aboard."
"Thanks. I'll go find her; she said she was going to buy a thank-you gift for letting her visit." Noah turned and walked back to Stellvia, while Blackstone headed back to the World Watch One.
"What's the scoop?" asked J. once Blackstone was back aboard.
"Noah says that it was a power surge in the Main Concourse, set off by some new Fen."
Nezumi thought about that for a moment. "But?"
"But I think he was lying through his teeth."
"What do you think really happened, then?" asked Buckaroo.
"We'll find out in a few minutes. One of the newcomers wants to talk with you, and I said it was okay. If anyone can get to the bottom of this, Buckaroo, you can."
"Is it really a good idea to let an outsider – maybe a boskonian spy – aboard?"
"What do we have to lose, Chaos? It's not like we haven't let others on board before."
"Those others were Blue Blazer Irregulars, Blackstone. Who's this person?"
"Noah said she calls herself 'Peggy Banzai'; either she's one of us in spirit, or she's so determined to get aboard that she'll try to break in if we don't hold the door open for her. I can't see any point to running up a needless repair bill."
Chaos nodded. "And if we control her access to the bus, we can keep an eye on her. Good thinking."
Just then, there was a knock at the door. Chaos was closest; he opened it to reveal a dirty-blonde teenager with her hands full. "Hi! I'm Peggy – Mr. Scott said you were expecting me. Anybody want some watermelon?"
The Blue Blazers rolled their eyes and sighed.
The Jet Car
"... and that's why Dad gave Doug the katana that matches this wakizashi. You know why he'd want to make sure Mr. Sangnoir has the matched pair, right, Buckaroo?"
"Yes, of course. And that was much more explanation than I needed as to why you have three swords, Peggy."
"But you wanted to know the story, didn't you?"
Buckaroo smiled. "I can't deny that."
"Of course. I thought I may as well volunteer the information before you debriefed me. You let me on board your ship because you wanted to know what really happened on the station, right?"
"Right. And you calling it 'the station' shows you really aren't from this universe. Everybody always calls it Stellvia; Mr. Scott does his best to keep the name in the public consciousness everywhere in the Solar System."
"Thanks for the tip. Oh, you won't tell anyone, will you? He said it would be a bad idea if people were to learn about us because they'd try to biomodify themselves to match my friends' powers."
"I can see where that would be a problem," started Buckaroo, before he was interrupted by the radio's alarm.
"This is BBI 313, codename 'Joe Friday', in the Kandor City Police Department, calling the Blue Blazers. Are you reading me?"
"Excuse me, Peggy." The image of Buckaroo turned to his computer-generated radio. "Friday, this is Buckaroo. What's the problem?"
"We've got a hostage situation here and nobody trained in hostage rescue. Is there a specialist somewhere nearby?"
"I'm not sure ..." Buckaroo noticed Peggy trying to get his attention. "... but I think I know of someone. We'll be there shortly. Buckaroo out." He turned back to Peggy. "I assume that you're willing and able to help?"
"But of course."
"All right. Before we can leave, we either have to recall everyone to the World Watch One or release the anti-theft interlocks on this ship ..."
Peggy flipped a switch. "The interlocks that I've been playing with for the last half-hour?"
"Yes, those interlocks," replied Buckaroo as the Jet Car's engines came to life. "Who's driving?"
Stellvia main operations room
"Sir, the Jet Car's launching."
Noah turned to the operations staff in anger. "Who authorized that launch?"
"And who's on board?" added Blackstone.
"Nobody, Commander; it's just leaving. And we don't know, Mr. Blackstone."
Blackstone moaned. "Not again ..."
Kandor City, Luna
"Thank you for coming so quickly, miss, but where's the rest of your team?"
"It's just me," replied Peggy. "One crisis, one Cavalier, right?"
"Sorry, I meant 'Blazer'. I've been watching the old movie and I mixed up the terms. But that's not important right now. You have a hostage situation that you wanted my ... our help with."
"Yes, ma'am. Three people, all biomodded cat-people, have taken control of the Metahuman Power Biomodification Research Institute's main lab and are demanding they turn over all of their materials on reversing biomods. They're all armed, and they have five hostages."
"Let me see the floor plans to the place, and any security camera footage you have of the hostage-takers. We'll see how it goes from there ..."
Stellvia conference room
"I'd rather you three stay here."
"Why?" asked Chalotte.
"We're going into a possibly-dangerous situation, and you don't know the layout or the customs here. We're going to have to baby-sit all of you, and the two of you ..." – Noah looked straight at Chalotte and Nancy – "... would need the most attention, assuming the stories you're in are correct. And you ..." – he looked at Sylvath – "... draw far too much attention. I want you three to stay here with Yoriko."
"Sylvath stays with me," insisted Dee.
"Very well, Ms. vel'deVarn, I'll let you decide whether you both stay or you both go. But I'd prefer that your Companion stays here, and I really want your other travelling companions to remain as well."
Noah shook his head. "No, Ms. Chalotte, just a realist. If it'd make you feel better, I'm leaving you two here to guard my space station for me while I take your friends into a potential war zone after Peggy."
"War zone?" Nancy flinched.
"Potential war zone. I doubt the Boskonians would attack a target this close to Earth, but it's happened before. Please, stay here and keep my station safe."
"And make sure our gate point is kept clear, too," added Lisa. "We have no idea whether there's any other locations in this universe where the interdimensional barriers are thin enough to open a gateway, so we have to keep this one safe. Okay?"
"Since it's you asking, I'll do it," replied Chalotte.
"And I'll keep her company," added Nancy.
"Thank you," said Noah, taking back control of the conversation. "The Blazers have graciously consented to taking some of us to Kandor aboard the World Watch One – that means we won't all have to squeeze into the Epsilon Blade. I'll be aboard my own ship, and I'd like Yayoi and Sora to accompany me. Kohran, please go with our visitors on the WW1."
The door opened. "I'm coming, too."
"Leda? I don't mind, but don't you have work to do here?"
"I heard the news. Three actual, honest-to-Takeuchi Sailor Senshi, and you expect me to stay here while they leave?"
Noah sighed. "Wonderful; you're already on the rumour mill. No, Leda, just two. Yoriko ...?"
"I'll see what I can do about stopping the news before it leaves the station."
"Thanks. Okay, Leda, you go with the women on the WW1 ..."
She looked straight at Noah. "Would you mind if I was to ride with you?"
Noah stopped, flabbergasted. "You ... want to ride with me?"
"I'll ride in your ship as well, if you don't mind," added Makoto. "She does want to meet me and Lisa, after all."
"And you just met me, don't completely trust me, and want to make sure I don't shoot you out of the sky, right?" Before the girls could protest, Noah continued. "That's how I'd react if the situations were reversed. Sure, you and Ms. Vanette can ride with us. Skuld, too – I suspect Sora would love to ask you about your world."
"I'll stay with the rest of my group, Mr. Scott," replied Lisa.
"I may as well ride with you," added Skuld. "I assume 'Sora' is an AI, like Yoriko, and was patterned after someone from my homeworld?"
"That's right. Say, how did you know that Yoriko's an android?"
Skuld stared at him for a moment. "I thought you already knew who I am."
Metahuman Power Biomodification Research Institute main laboratory
Kandor City, Luna
"This is your big plan?"
"It'll work." Peggy drew both of her swords. "And they won't be expecting it."
Then she went straight through the front door.
Too bad it wasn't open before she did.
Before the last of the glass shards hit the floor, Peggy was two yards inside and heading for cover behind a display. She spun on one foot, pushed off, and zig-zagged past the next display before the cat-boy in the foyer could react.
"What the hell ..." was all he could get out before Peggy plowed into him, knocking them both down and making him drop his knife.
"We can do this the easy way, or the hard way," she said as she brought her wakizashi up to his neck. "What's it going to be?"
"Pussy." Peggy quickly grabbed one of the sets of handcuffs she had borrowed from the police and made sure the cat-boy couldn't go anywhere. Now for the other two, she thought.
The door behind her opened, and she barely had time to hug the floor before a hail of lead tore through the air.
Whoops, I didn't spot that SMG on the closed-circuit cameras. Sloppy. Holding her swords above her head, she rolled to the nearest display case, then pulled herself up to a crouch.
"You can't hide behind that thing for long, little girl! Come out now and I'll give you a quick death!"
"Sorry!" she yelled back. "I've got a job to do later somewhere else, so I can't die here! But you can fight me hand-to-hand if you want!"
"Why should I do that? I've got a gun!"
Damn, she thought as another volley of bullets tore the display she was hiding behind to pieces. She leapt from her crouch and dove behind the front desk. She's a smart one.
As she caught her breath, she heard a click from the direction of her opponent. She jumped out and ran straight for the cat-girl, who was loading a new clip into her weapon.
Peggy plowed into her, knocking both women's weapons to the floor.
"Looks like you get that hand-to-hand fight after all," snarled the cat-girl.
Peggy didn't reply; she just punched her opponent in the solar plexus. The cat-girl doubled over; Peggy pushed her to the floor and fell on her.
But the cat-girl didn't try to escape. Peggy cuffed her as she checked for vital signs – her opponent was alive, but unconscious.
Then she recovered her swords. No damage; good. Two down, one to go. But this one's going to be the hardest. She pushed the door to the inner office open ...
... to see the final terrorist holding a knife to the throat of one of her prisoners. "Drop your weapons."
"please ..." begged the hostage.
"Damn." Peggy put her swords on the closest desk.
"What did you do with Ginger and Fritz?"
"Your cohorts? They're out cold and cuffed."
"You're lucky you didn't kill them. That means I don't kill you."
"Big talk from someone hiding behind a helpless man."
"I'm not hiding, just using the available cover to my advantage."
"Same thing. Where are the other hostages?"
"None of your business," sneered the cat-woman. "Now put your hands on your head. Slowly."
Peggy did so, stepping a half-pace forward in the process.
"Good. And that's close enough."
Damn. "Why are you doing this?"
"Why? Why? Look at me! I'm a freak! I want to be human again!"
Peggy didn't smile. So that's the button to push. "Humans don't go around holding knives to each others' throats."
"Are you stupid? People do that to each other all the time! Look at history!"
"Real people – real humans – don't use force when words still work. And we don't drag innocent people into our messes."
"He's not innocent! He won't give me his research! I know he's got the secret here somewhere! But I can't find it!!!"
"I'm sure he'd be happy to give you copies of his notes if you let him go." Peggy looked at the hostage, keeping one eye on the terrorist. "Wouldn't you?"
"but ... there aren't ... oh ... yes ... of course ..."
Peggy turned her full attention back to the cat-woman. "How about it? Let him loose and he'll get those files for you."
"I wasn't born yesterday! If I don't have a hostage in my claws – my hands, damn it! – your friends'll storm this place."
"Then take me hostage instead."
"Why should I?"
"My friends care more about me than about somebody they've never met."
The cat-woman thought about what Peggy said. "All right. Get over here."
"I'm coming." She walked over to the cat-woman, slowly, and turned her back to her captor. Then she felt the blade at her throat and saw the other hostage stagger away from them. That's the important part. Now for the hard part.
"Hurry up and give me those notes!"
"Don't rush him," commented Peggy. "He's not going to remember his password if he's flustered."
"You shut up!" The cat-woman raised her hand to hit Peggy ... and the knife in her other hand moved a hair away from Peggy's throat.
That was all Peggy needed. She pushed herself back into her captor's body and brought a hand down to grab the knife. But she couldn't get it away from the cat-woman.
Keep pushing that hot button. "You want to cat-fight?"
Her opponent hesitated for a moment ... which was long enough for Peggy to spin around and get her into a wrist-lock. The knife fell to the floor.
Peggy just brought her knee up. The cat-woman bent over in pain, and Peggy put the last pair of handcuffs on her.
"Thank you! You saved my life!" The ex-hostage was starting to babble, so Peggy guided him to a chair and got him to sit down.
"Just doing what's right, sir. Where are the other hostages?"
"Oh! They're in the lab, locked in isolation tubes."
"We'd better let them out, then."
Kandor City Spaceport
"All done. Everybody's safe."
Buckaroo nodded. "Good work. Now what did you do wrong?"
Peggy grinned. "You're just like Dad. My biggest error was letting a captor use a hostage as a human shield. The second-biggest was not spotting the sub-machine gun before going in ..."
Stellvia main operations room
"Ma'am, the Sol Bianca is approaching the station, and it's requesting docking clearance. No, I'm sorry – it's demanding docking clearance."
Yoriko shuddered. "The last thing we need is the Professor poking around here. Especially if he finds Chalotte or Nancy." She sighed deeply and composed herself. "Open a tight-beam channel to the Sol Bianca, Mr. Hansen."
The monitor on her desk lit up to show the bridge of the approaching ship. "Ah, my dear Miss Nikaido! Which docking tube will I be using to board your fine station?"
"I'm sorry, Professor, but Stellvia is currently under quarantine."
"Nonsense! We saw the Blue Blazers' command ship and your employer's personal yacht both leave Stellvia less than five minutes ago. Your quarantine is decidedly porous."
"I have my orders, Professor."
"Your orders mean nothing compared to the requirements of Science! You must let us come aboard to investigate the meson burst that occurred in your concourse almost exactly four hours ago!"
Four hours – that was when the interdimensional gateway opened. The only reason Yoriko didn't break into a cold sweat was her security training let her keep calm in a crisis. Which this definitely was.
If her emotions were showing, The Professor didn't notice. "If my theories are correct, the mechanics behind this burst could reveal the key to transluminal travel within the area commonly known as 'the Limit', or possibly even to matter transposition via subdimensional transportation! You must allow me to investigate!"
"Sir, you'll have to get permission from Mr. Scott before I can allow you to dock. And he's currently in Kandor City."
"Then I shall proceed to Kandor City and gain his permission, if you must follow your petty bureaucractic rules. But you had best not destroy the evidence I need to inspect while I am delayed! Your co-operation is vital for the advancement of Science!" The screen went dark.
"Blast. Mr. Hansen, open an Interwave connection with the Epsilon Blade. I have to speak with Noah about this. No, that's not right. I have to warn him about this."