Hey, Isn't That...?
The aqua-haired woman looked around the bar. 'Hey, interesting place...'
'Hmm?' The aqua-haired woman glanced at the bartender.
'Oh no. Oh no. Please don't tell me you, Lucas and Wes're up to something again. I haven't recovered from the last time...' The bartender shuddered.
'_Now_ I'm in a support group, I've got two - count them, *two* - women who've got some kind of twisted love/hate relationship with me...'
'...Tegan's gone and formed a *terrorist group*...'
Privately, she was _astounded_. She'd never seen anyone rant on like this since the last time her ship got drunk...
'...and as for what Brad and Doug have planned...'
The bartender's rant trailed off. 'Oh. Sorry. What was it you wanted again?'
The woman sighed. 'First, I'd like a bottle of sake, please. Second... I'm _not_ Ryoko.'
The bartender paused as he reached under the bar. 'H- _what_?!'
She reached out a hand. 'Hi. My name's Minagi. I think you know my sister.'
'My sister.' Minagi smiled shyly. 'I share half her chromosomes, anyway, so I _think_ that makes us sisters...'
'Oh. Um... Pleased to meet you. I'm Adric...' He stared more closely at Minagi's face. 'Are you _sure_...?'
Minagi reached up her hand to the two slashmarks on her face. 'Definitely. _These_ don't come off...'
Now Adric thought about it... If this had been Ryoko, she'd have whacked him over the head and nicked the sake herself. Which _did_ suggest...
He poured out a glass. 'So what're you doing here?'
Minagi looked embarrassed. 'Well, I, um... answered an ad.'
'Answered. An. Ad.' Adric repeated stonily.
'Author looking for good space pirate to help victims of major injustice, direct all communication to...' She rattled off an email address. 'And I was between jobs at the time, so...'
'Oh dear God. You took the job.'
Minagi blushed. 'Yup. So, any idea what this major injustice is?'
Adric thought about this. 'Well, apart from my life turning into a pile of horse manure...'
'Minagi?' a voice said.
Minagi turned around. 'Yeah?'
A young woman in a truly bizarre green and yellow ensemble shook her hand. 'Hi. I'm Allie. You must be Minagi, right?'
Minagi nodded dumbly. The young woman was pumping her arm as if it were about to fall off. 'Umm...'
'Great! Sorry the author couldn't make it...' Allie scowled momentarily. '...but he said something about, and I quote, "mumblemumblefamilyuniversitystudyingmumblemumble".'
Minagi blinked. '*Huh?*'
'He had a reality check.'
'_Anyway_...' Allie emphasised, '_you_ made it, and that's what counts. Full expenses, lives insurance, compensation as standard contract, yadda yadda, and no being bothered about being a crossover character. Oh, and regular maintenance for your ship. That okay?'
Minagi's brow furrowed. 'What about...?'
'Full health package. It's all in the contract... and you _are_ free to terminate it as and when you please...' Minagi thought she heard Allie say, under her breath, 'Of course, *I'm* on work experience. Lucky me...'
'I'll take it.'
Allie double-took. 'You _will?_ I mean... that's great! You don't want any bonuses, gift packages, special dietary requirements... anything like that? You're _sure?_'
Minagi nodded. 'Yep. Absolutely.' She paused for a moment. 'Umm.. there is _one_ thing...' She looked around, slightly embarrassed, and whispered in Allie's ear.
Allie giggled. 'Oh, that's no problem. I got all the original Japanese Sailor Moon videos, myself... Of course, _he_ wasn't too pleased, but...'
Minagi raised an eyebrow and nodded in Adric's direction.
Allie looked around and whispered in Minagi's ear.
The two girls started giggling again. In the midst of the giggles the words '*Pyjama Mask?!*' could be heard.
They looked at Adric again. He scowled.
Which set them giggling even louder than before.
When they finally calmed down...
'So.... where's the story set?'
'Oh... I nearly _forgot_...' Allie pulled a piece of paper out of a hidden pocket. 'The directions're on this map.'
'What about the victims?'
'You can't miss 'em. Trust me on this. You'll know them when you see them.' Allie grinned. 'Anyway, gotta get back to work. No rest for the wicked, and all that...'
Minagi nodded, still reading the directions.
Allie paused in the pub's doorway. 'Oh... Good luck!' She murmured something else, but Adric didn't catch it. Sounded like 'You'll need it...'
His eyebrows raised.
Minagi's brow furrowed as she read the instructions. Then she read them again.
'Problem?' Adric asked.
'No, no, Pyjama-kun, I think I've got it...' Minagi frowned and turned the paper upside down. 'He calls this _handwriting?_'
Adric plonked another glass of sake on the table. 'There you go.'
'Thanks,' Minagi said absently.
'Need any help?'
'Not really...' She finished her drink and got up to leave.
This time, Adric *heard* her mutter 'What kind of name is "Fantasy Island", anyway?'...
...but before he opened his mouth to speak, Minagi had left.
Not before he _could_ speak. Before he _actually_ spoke.
He mentally shrugged. Well, she'd been warned... even if he hadn't done it.
'*Pyjama-kun?!*' he muttered. 'What kinda name is *Pyjama-kun?!*'
In a corner of his mind Conscience whispered that they _really_ should have warned her, and was he going to let an off-handed comment get the better of him?
Pride turned on Conscience, and snapped YES!
Conscience overruled it, Adric's Pride currently resembling a wet tissue.
He shook his head again in disbelief, then reached for his mobile.
The only thing he could hope for was that she wouldn't make things _worse_...
Then again, knowing Minagi's family, and who she was going to save...
The blonde woman in T-shirt and jeans looked up at the palatial building suspiciously. 'Something's gonna go wrong. I just _know_ something's gonna go wrong...'
The dark-haired man behind her nodded. 'Got _that_ right...'
'Wonder what it's going to be...' a teenage girl wearing a multi-coloured jacket and trousers said. 'Island of cannibals? Evil mastermind's secret lair to plan world domination?'
'Been there, done that...' the dark-haired, slightly androgynous woman standing next to her said.
The professionally-dressed Indian woman in her late twenties rolled her eyes. 'Somehow, Fey, that doesn't surprise me... Ever meet Ian Fleming?'
Fey frowned. 'Not that I recall...'
The man clicked his fingers. 'Hey! Maybe Fey inspired James Bond! You could claim royalties...'
'Fitz... It's the 21st century. _I_ am in my thirties. The case would be hard to prove, to say the least...' Fey replied, an ironic look on her face.
Fitz winced. 'You're telling _me_. Try getting a passport when your birth certificate says you were born in 1936...'
The Indian woman raised her eyebrows. 'I'd wondered about that...'
Another teenage girl, this one with short blonde hair and wearing what looked like a bellboy's outfit, was staring at the building, eyes wide, as if it were the Holy Grail.
A hand rested on her shoulder.
The teenager in the jacket backed off. 'Oops. Sorry, Charley.'
Charley shook her head. 'It's all right, Isabelle. Just thinking....'
'About the Singapore Hilton?' Isabelle said, a wry smile crossing her face. 'Know _that_ feeling... I wanted to see Metropolis...'
'You wanted to see _Superman?!_' The Indian woman looked surprised.
Isabelle shook her head. 'Not _that_ Metropolis, Anj. Fritz Lang's _Metropolis_...'
'Ah...' Anj still looked baffled.
The large reptilian humanoid behind them coughed politely. 'So... shall we go in?'
The blonde in the T-shirt grinned. 'Sorry 'bout that, Ssard. Just chalk it up to general human wibbling...'
'I already _had_...' Ssard rumbled under his breath. He looked around. 'Sam... have you seen Compassion? I was under the impression she would meet us...'
Sam scanned her surroundings. 'Oh... _smeg_.'
'She wouldn't have tried... Oh no.' A slightly older blonde woman, this one wearing a pink jumpsuit, started looking worried. 'She _would_...'
'C'mon, Stace. Not even _Compassion_ would do something like...' Fitz paused momentarily. Then he put his hand over his eyes. 'Gordon _Christ_...'
'Ah. There you are.' The woman who'd just walked up behind them had chubby cheeks and long red hair pulled back in a ponytail.
'Compassion.... *don't do that!*' Fitz nearly yelled.
Compassion looked baffled. 'Don't do what? I was just taking a scan of the island. Nothing to get concerned about...'
'We're doomed...' Stace murmured.
'_Right._' Anj said. 'Now we're all here... can we _please_ get on with our holiday?'
The others looked at each other.
Sam sighed, and shook her head in despair. This had all the makings of a _very_ long holiday...
On the beach...
'Are you sure this is going to work, Urd?'
The tall, platinum-blonde woman looked amused. 'Of _course_ it's going to work, Keiichi. _This_ way, the brat gets a bit of breathing space...'
The teenage boy with spiky dark hair looked suspicious. '...And _you_ get a free holiday.'
Urd looked offended. 'Me? Set all this up simply for a free holiday? I'm not _that_ ruthless...'
/Besides,/ she thought. /this gives me the chance to get you and Bell actually _moving_ for once.../
'Come on, both of you...' the girl with long grey-brown hair said. 'This is a beautiful place for a holiday... and that's why we're here, remember.'
Keiichi half-smiled. 'Yeah, you're right, Bell...' He picked up his suitcase. 'Well, better get moving...'
Urd smirked. 'We're on holiday, right? Let _me_ take care of that...' She muttered a string of syllables.
Keiich blinked. Oh no... 'Urd, N-'
And he was gone. Along with his suitcase.
Bell turned to face Urd, hands on her hips and a stern expression on her face.
Urd had the decency to look embarrassed. 'Whoops... Must've set the Interspacial Slide a bit too wide...'
'Where. Is. He?' Bell demanded.
'Oh, don't worry, Bell. K-Boy's at the hotel, safe and sound...' Urd frowned. 'Well, he _should_ be...'
Before Bell could say anything, an adolescent girl with her long black hair tied behind her in twin ponytails came running up. 'Just had to make sure Banpei got here saf...' She halted mid-word and looked at Urd sternly. 'Urd, what did you do with Keiichi?'
'Hey, get off my case, brat! It was an _accident_, okay?'
'An _accident?_ Like the time you slipped that truth pill in my supper?'
'Well, if you hadn't had your big mouth open at the time...'
Then both of them noticed Bell. And the expression on her face. And wisely shut up.
Bell sighed. She knew her sisters all too well...
A pigeon hopped onto her finger.
'Please, could you make sure Keiichi is safe and at the hotel?' she asked the bird.
The bird cooed in response, and flew off.
Bell sighed again.
'Um... shall we get moving, sis?' Urd suggested. 'Hey, Skuld! Load up that bucket of bolts!'
'Banpei is _not_ a bucket of bolts!' Skuld huffed. 'He's one of the best robots there is!'
'If only 'cause no-one else on Earth has a clue how to make one that advanced...' Urd muttered.
'I _heard_ that...'
Meanwhile, back at the hotel...
'Aloha, Fantasy! The big Kahuna, he's returned!' the middle-aged man who looked like a refugee from Hawaii 5-0 proclaimed. 'An' this time, he's brought his chil' alon' for the luau!'
'I am no child of _yours_, foul madman...' the tall young man stepping out of the rental car denounced. 'But honour demands that someone must call your depravities to account... and I, Tatewaki Kuno, the Blue Thunder of Furinkan High, am the only man who can bring you to justice!'
Thunder rumbled in the distance.
'Hey, bro'! Lighten up! We's here on vacation!' The big man frowned. 'It's a shame yo' sistah chil' couldn't come alon'...'
'The most noble policing body decided that my _dearest_ sister was not fit to be released on bail... despite my best efforts on her behalf.' Kuno declaimed. /As ever, justice is served!/ he thought to himself.
The big man shrugged. 'Ah well... that the way the macademia nut crumble...' He rubbed his hands together. 'Now... le's par-_tee!_'
'I shall attend to ...our... bags...' Kuno informed him.
'Ahh... stil' lookin' after yo' father, an' yo' Principal!' The Principal wiped a tear from his eye. 'Yo' a good chil', chil'...'
'Do not hug me, monstrous blight upon existence! Go thence, and confirm the Kunos' attendance at this ...establishment!'
The Principal harrumphed. 'See if the Kahuna gi' _you_any coconut...' He practically limboed into the hotel.
Kuno turned back to the taxi, where a black-clad ninja had slipped out of the back seat. 'Sasuke... bring the Kunos' most great and noble luggage. I shall await you within.'
'Yes, Kuno-san.' The ninja bowed.
Kuno marched up the entrance stairs in a manner which befitted one of his station and stature, his mind raised to a higher plane, one devoted to a certain pig-tailed girl of his knowledge.
Unfortunately, so infatuated was he with the image in his mind that he walked into one of the hotel's front pillars, knocking himself unconscious.
Sasuke stepped over his master's unconscious body, heaving the luggage inside.
Then he came back and heaved his master's unconscious body in, too.
Shortly afterwards, a young man with a massive backpack on his back, (with, oddly enough, an umbrella on top), and sporting a yellow and black bandana on his head, staggered up the hotel's steps.
He paused to catch his breath. 'Wh... Where am I?'
He took in his surroundings: the palm trees, the beach in the distance, the seagulls cawing overhead...
'No. No, it couldn't be...'
His hands clenched. His face darkened. A black glow began to flicker around him.
'RANMA, THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!!'
Then he collapsed on the stairs, out cold.
Shortly after _that_, a young woman pushing an okonomiyaki cart, with a giant spatula strapped to her back, passed by.
And blinked in astonishment.
'Ryo? Ryouga? What are...' She shook her head. 'You got lost again, didn't you? You poor bastard...'
She parked her cart in a quiet corner, and pulled her spatula out, manoevring him onto it. 'Come on then, lost boy. Looks like you could do with a rest...'
/And you're not the only one.../ she thought. /Let's get you inside.../
On a slightly _different_ beach...
A blonde woman with dark brown skin was bouncing around happily. 'YAY! We made it!'
'No thanks to _you_, Mihoshi...' muttered the aqua-haired woman who was floating up the beach. 'How anyone can trip over a _carrot_ is beyond me...'
'If it _can_ be tripped over - and even if it can't - she'll trip over it...' the short redhead walking up the beach mused. 'Possibly some kind of psi-talent... if it weren't for the fact that she _has_ no psi-talent...'
'And some of us have no talent whatsoever.... Isn't that right, Ayeka?' the floating woman smirked.
The girl she shot this at - a girl with a noble bearing, long black hair, and red eyes - brushed it off. 'Well, you _would_ know more about that than I would, Ryoko...'
'Oh yeah?!' Ryoko shot back. 'Tell me, how long did it take the _last_ victim of your cooking to recover?'
'Oh? This from a pirate whose idea of cookery is to stun her food first?' Ayeka smirked.
'Are you _questioning_ my culinary skills?' Ryoko said dangerously.
'What culinary skills?'
A shorter girl, also with red eyes, with her blue hair in two ponytails, and who was carrying something that _looked_ like a cross between a rabbit and a cat, shook her head as the pair's fight continued. 'There they go again...'
The young man walking beside her nodded in resignation. 'Mm.'
The blue-haired girl turned to him. 'Tenchi-kun... are you _sure_ about this? Onee-sama and Ryo-san... they _are_ good people, but...' She nodded in the direction of the duo's fight, which by now had escalated to lightning bolts.
Tenchi patted her on the shoulder. 'Don't worry, Sasami. We're on holiday. How much collateral damage could they cause?'
Sasami simply _looked_ at him.
Tenchi started sweatdropping.
The redhead leaned on a mallet. 'Well, it's not a problem at the moment,' she said, walking towards Tenchi (and walking away from Ryoko and Ayeka's prone bodies, both with big headlumps).
'At the moment...?' Tenchi repeated.
'Even the greatest genius mind in this universe can only deal with it temporarily...' the redhead said. 'Hmm... I wonder...'
Tenchi was shaking his head desperately. '_No, Washu._ Please. Whatever you're thinking of..._don't do it!_'
'Ahem.' Washu said.
'Washu-_chan_...' Tenchi corrected himself.
Washu looked at the unconscious duo and sighed. 'I suppose you're right. Some techniques _weren't_ meant to be used on one's own family...'
/I don't wanna know. I don't wanna know.../ Tenchi repeated to himself.
'Come on!' Sasami yelled from further up the beach. 'Mihoshi-chan's almost there!'
'Come on, Tenchi...' Washu said with a wry smile, dragging an unconscious (and floating) Ryoko behind her. 'After all, if we're still outside when they wake up...'
Tenchi paused as he lifted Ayeka up.
Thought about what Washu had said.
‘Right,’ Sam said, ‘time to put Plan MRS into action!’
Charley blinked. ‘MRS?’
‘ “Man in a Rubber Suit”,’ Sam explained. ‘We’re going to explain that Ssard’s starring in some two-bit monster flick, they’ve only got one costume, and it takes _hours_ to put on…’
Ssard looked distinctly uncomfortable.
Isabelle was grinning. Widely.
Sam raised an eyebrow. ‘Yeah, yeah, I *know* it’s post-modern, self-referential, and all that fan-type stuff, _okay?_ But this was the best we could come up with…’
‘There _is_ another way…’ Fey commented.
She threw something at Ssard.
Ssard managed - just - to catch it.
He held it up and examined it.
It was small, fist-sized, with buttons protruding from one end.
Ssard looked at Fey, a quizzical expression on his features.
She nodded. ‘Be careful. It breaks easily.’
He pushed one of the buttons.
Anji boggled. ‘Whoah...’
‘Personal Chameleon Circuit,’ Fey explained with a wry smile. ‘Enables the holder to blend in with their surroundings…’
Ssard looked down at himself - or rather, at how he now looked. ‘This _does_ seem to be appropriate…’
And indeed it was.
Ssard’s armour had been reconfigured into a Hawaiian shirt and bermuda shorts.
Ssard himself, however…
…now looked like Samuel L. Jackson.
With a pair of mirrored sunglasses.
Ssard examined them. ‘I see. The PCC blends in with its holder’s disguise…’
‘Right…’ Sam said, stifling a giggle (as were Isabelle and Anji. Stacy just looked boggled). ‘We got everything? Luggage? Reservations?’
‘Yeah. I don’t wanna be here…’ Fitz muttered.
Compassion frowned. ‘Hold on.’ She reached out her hand.
With a wheezing, groaning sound, a small white cube appeared and dropped into Compassion’s hand.
She looked relieved.’Good.’
‘Compassion…’ Sam said in a dangerous tone of voice, ‘let me guess. You didn’t get the reservations when I asked, did you…?’
‘I’m _going_ to get them,’ Compassion pointed out, ‘otherwise I couldn’t have sent them to myself now. Obviously.’
Anji buried her head in her hands and groaned. ‘I _hate_ time loops…’
‘*Right…*’ Tenchi said, rubbing his forehead. ‘Could we at least try to _act_ like normal Earthlings? Please?’
‘No problem,’ Ryoko said, grinning from her position in mid-air.
For some reason, that only made Tenchi even more nervous.
‘Oh,*really*?!’ Ayeka said.’I’d like to see you try…’
‘Are you suggesting I can’t do it…?’ Ryoko said.
A vein started throbbing in Tenchi’s forehead.
‘Umm…’ Mihoshi was looking between the two of them nervously. ‘Umm…’
‘TENCHI!!’ Ryoko, Ayeka and Sasami screamed.
‘Umm… Sorry,’ the spiky-haired boy who’d crashed into Tenchi said, slightly embarrassedly. ‘Would you believe… freak accident?’
Then he got a good look at the women staring at him.
Looked at Sasami again.
Stared at the blue double-triangle on her forehead.
‘Oh no, not another one…’
‘Another one what?’ Sasami asked in confusion.
‘You _are_ a goddess, right…?’ the boy said, a little more uncertainly.
‘Umm…’ Sasami managed to look even _more_ confused (if that were possible).
Tenchi facefaulted. ‘So much for being inconspicuous…’
Belldandy breathed out in relief.’Thank you.’
The pigeon warbled in satisfaction, and flew off.
‘Well?’ Urd asked.
‘He’s safe… and he made it to the hotel.’ Belldandy frowned. ‘Urd… are you sure there are no other goddesses here?’
‘Absolutely. I checked with the office.’
Belldandy’s frown deepened. ‘That’s odd…’
‘Oh no… Not a demon?!’ Skuld eeped.
‘There’s _no-one_ outta the ordinary *here*, brat. I made _sure_of that…’ Urd snapped peevishly.
‘But the office computer _has_ been malfunctioning lately…’ Skuld said nervously.
‘*Listen*’ Urd snapped. ‘If there were anyone out of the ordinary ‘round here, I’d _know._ Believe me, I’d…’
Skuld looked at her sister. ‘You’d…?’
Urd’s mouth opened and closed silently, in a passable goldfish imitation.
Skuld followed her sister’s line of sight.
Standing by the steps to the hotel was…
‘It’s Samuel L. Jackson!’ Urd breathed.
She started singing to herself. ‘#Can you dig it? Shaft!#’
Skuld gave her eldest sister another one of those *looks*.
Compassion peered at the three women who’d just entered the hotel grounds (one of whom was doing a Shaft impression).
Turned to look at the group of seven who’d just walked off the beach (one of whom was floating).
Looked at her fellow travellers.
Ran her bioscans against her records.
And raised her eyebrows.
_This_ was going to be fun…
Slowly, Compassion started to grin.
Copyright 2001 Imran Inayat