Makoto saw the two heading off to the studio, and she got curious, and a bit anxious. She ran after them wanting to know where they were going. "Hey, wait up!" she shouted, to which Minako turned around to see her approach. "Oh, hi, Mako-chan!" said Venus, "Are you coming too?"
She then said, in an almost angry way, "That depends on where the two of you are going."
Tom caught the flavor of her words, and he said, "Whoa, kiddo-you act like we're plotting the downfall of modern society as we know it or something."
Makoto caught herself, and asked herself why she had just acted like that, but Minako had an idea. If it had anything to do with the way she was getting to be around Tom, then it could only be the green-eyed monster getting a hold of her. She decided to test that, and she said, "Oh, we're going somewhere where the two of us can be in a room together making beautiful music," saying it in such a fashion as to have the feel of innuendo to it. Makoto's eyes went wide, and she said, "Hey, we've only known him for a few weeks! You can't just..." and the other two started to laugh at her reaction. Makoto then snapped, "Hey, what's so funny?"
"Mako-chan," said Minako, "You're jealous!"
"I AM NOT!" she shouted, and then realized she was trying to defend herself against her actions of which she herself had no explanation as to why she was reacting that way. "Well, I mean...we're not...I mean...there's nothing over which to be jealous...we're friends..." mumbled Makoto, to which Minako gave a knowing look. Makoto then just said, "So, where are you going?"
"We're going to try out for that new studio," said Minako, and handed Makoto the brochure. It was from Baron Records, and it was a new company seeking the newest and freshest talent. "We're going as a duet, but if they ask us to solo, then that will be okay as well," said Tom, and then he said, "You know, if they ask for another song, we ought to be ready. What should we do?"
"Let's do another Seeker's tune," said Minako, "How about I Know I'll Never Find Another You?"
"You know that one?" asked Tom.
"Remember, I am well-versed in English," she said to him in decent English, "I spent a year in England fighting crime before I came back here to do the same thing. I've been doing this since I've been 13 years old, you know."
"I didn't know," said Tom.
"Oh, you never heard of Sailor V?" asked Makoto.
"I have heard you toss the name around," said Tom, "but I guess I was not paying attention."
"I was the first of us to awaken, along with Artemis," said Minako, "and Ispent that time fighting crime, shutting down the Dark Agency crime conglomerate."
"Wow!" said Tom, "You're a happening chick!" in his Californian dialect. Makoto said, "Okay, you two, could you speak so us English impaired could keep up?"
The other two laughed, and they then all put arms around each other, and Tom said, "Really, you have to fill me in on what you used to do."
As they walked, they started to put together the second song. Makoto began to blend in as best she could, although her English needed a bit of work, and she was singing it phonetically, not sure of some of the words. "Whoa, it sounds to me like we could be a trio!" said Tom, "Hey, let's try the other song!"
They tried that one, and Makoto also seemed to get that one as well. "Well, Iguess we're a trio now!" responded Minako, as they got on the bus for the studio. Tom then said, "Do you know /Total Eclipse of the Heart/?"
"Oh, that's one of my favorites," said Makoto, "I know that one because Ilearned what the words were in Japanese."
"Can you sing it that way?" asked Tom, and she gave it a try. Tom was filling in the backing, and then the harmony at the right points, and they were doing well with it. It needed a bit of work, but they had the potential to use it if asked.
Finally, they got to the studio, and there was a long line. There was at least an hour and a half wait, so they spent time trying to do what they could for homework while waiting. What they did not know was that they all, including the line, were being watched. Princess Lin-Lin was sitting in an upper office of the building she was renting for this purpose in starting the company that overlooked the queue heading into that same building. Those that she had hired had no idea her real intent. The people in there actually thought they were testing talent. They were actually testing people and setting up call backs. However, Lin-Lin said that she would also be watching from monitors in her office, and told them that everyone gets her cards. Even if they did not like someone, if she did, she would veto their decision, and call them back. However, there was more to it, and she pondered that intent as she watched the teenagers and young adults come through. In some cases, it was like tryouts for /Pop Idol/, (/American Idol /being the American equivalent,) and those people did not last long. However, even for them, the notes being taken by Lin-Lin had some as favorable, but not for their music. The reason for the screening of the youth was to pick the fittest of them for her army of youma to use against others and with which to oppress. If Sark kept his end, she would attack Australia, who, by that time, would have taken Sark as one of their own, and followed him into combat with his own youma army, with the intent of sparking a global conflict. Once things were in ashes, Sark would go, and then Lin-Lin would rebuild the world her way, being the empress of all. However, she was leery of the scouts, especially since she knew that Sailor V was now amongst them. Yet, if it got that far, even they did not have enough power to stop that kind of a conflict once sparked. She smiled a vicious smile, sitting back in her deluxe office chair, patting herself on the back for her ingenuity.
After that hour and a half, they were at the door, and one of the last people that would be admitted that day. They were fortunate to have most of their homework done, and Tom called back to his house saying that he may be late. When his father asked, he explained, and his father asked him, "What about the Marines, son?"
"Can't I do both?" Tom asked in returned, "If Elvis could do it for the Army, why should this be different?"
"Son," said his father, "I have always trusted you, and you've had a good head on your shoulders. Just keep it that way now. You know why things are the way they are, and I want you to succeed without all the distractions you used to have. You don't need to collect more of them."
"Dad, I have new friends," said Tom, "And they have encouraged me to try new bold things. If you could only understand that it feels so great to do the things that used to get me ridiculed that now get me nothing but praise from my new friends. Please, trust me on this one?"
"Okay, son," said his father, "I've always said that I would support any of your decisions, no matter what they are. If it be that the corps is out, that is fine. I would not want you to join just because I have been a Marine."
"Thank you, dad," responded Tom, "but, why do you still sound hesitant?"
"Well, it's just that you've talked about the corps for a while now," answered his father, "and I figured..."
"It hasn't gone away," Tom assured, "I just want to try, and, at the very least, support a friend who has a real good chance at this."
"Then good luck to you," said his father, "And call me when it's done, and I'll pick you up. I'd like to meet your friends."
"No problem, pop," Tom responded, "See you then."
As he hung up, a man stuck his head out, and asked, "Okay, whose next?"
"That would be us three," said Minako, and they headed in.
They heard the first song, and then indeed did ask for another. He was impressed by the vocals, and then started to try different things. He tried Makoto and Minako together, and then he tried Tom and Makoto together. When they sang their song, for some reason, it was different. It was being sung with a passion and fire that made it very believable. The producer and engineer were both impressed at what the three were doing. He then tried Minako and Tom together, and then took each solo. There were many good candidates that day, but they were impressed at what was going on at that instant. This was the most time they had spent with any group that day, and they knew that, if they were going to stock this new label with young talent, these three could lead the way. Makoto had Minako play as Makoto sang /Biwako/, and then Tom asked for the piano player to help out. He soloed on Bridge Over Troubled Water. As he sang it, Makoto was seated in front of him. He used her as a focus to make sure it was sung with passion, but, somehow, it felt as if he really meant every word for her. Makoto could not make out everything, but she knew enough English to get the gist of the song, and then realized that it was really coming from the heart. Minako could not help but notice this, and then remembered the day they all met him, and what had happened with the ribbon she took out of her hair to adjust it, and where it had landed. Now that she understood, she knew two things: she had to get them to understand that they did have feelings towards each other, and once they understood that, she would do all she could for her friends to help it grow. Now it was time for Minako to sing a solo. She began, and as she did, Tom took a seat by Makoto. Minako deliberately picked a song that built a romantic atmosphere, and as she sang, the two of them began to look at one another. He had always known her to be pretty, and since she read that book, she had become more so. Makoto began to see him differently, and she was pushing back an old adage-gyjin tall, gyjin handsome, and gyjin always goes home. However, this would be different. He was going away, but he would be coming back. Besides, they were going to be teammates, and they could be together. They realized that they were staring at each other, and then turned away slowly, suddenly becoming bashful. However, Makoto took a chance. As they stared at Minako, Makoto slowly brought her hand across, and began to interlock her fingers into Tom's, and Tom did not pull away, beginning to take her hand in return, and there they sat. Minako just smiled, but did not let on she saw, but continued. However, those in the studio were not the only ones watching.
Princess Lin-Lin indeed was impressed by the trio, and if this were not a cover for something greater and more sinister, she would indeed have her stars. However, she still saw them as potential youma and cannon fodder, until she watched the shorter girl do her solo. Lin-Lin was sure that she had seen her before, and she began to stare at the screen, leaning in closer and closer. Acurl of a smile began to curl over her mouth, and it started to turn into asinister grin as she began to realize who it was that she observed. "Ah, Sailor V!" she said with evil satisfaction, "Never in my wildest dreams did Iever think you would walk right into the spider's web for me. Thank you for saving me time in finding you!"
She now knew that she had a key in not only her revenge, but that through this girl, she could find out who the other scouts were, and then destroy them all. After all, she had the means to do so with the baron and his lieutenants, so she should start to use them for that purpose. As far as she was concerned, Sark worked for /her/-not the other way around. If she wanted to use them for this purpose, then so be it. If they started to fall, she could explain that Sark did not really need them to carry out the plan, and that she could make better use of them. To her, they were actually expendable and potential later competition for power. If they died in gaining her goals, then it was so much the better. She picked up the phone and called the booth.
Once Minako finished the music, the booth hit the mike and said, "Kids, if you were not minors, I would have you put your ink on the paper right now!"
He turned off the mic, and then entered the booth with three contracts. He said, "I need you three to go home to your parents and go over these contracts together. If everything is agreeable, then we will have you sign. However, if there are some things they want more detail about, then that is fine. Bring them to the studio, and we can discuss the matter."
They could hardly contain their excitement, and they thanked the man profusely. He then told the kids that they had one week to go over them, and then he wanted them to return to the studio at that time. When they got outside, and when they were alone, they started to jump and cheer. They knew that all would more than likely be well, and they were on their way. Since Makoto lived by herself, she would ask Setsuna to go over the contract with her, but they could not wait. They all hugged each other, jumping up and down, and then Tom turned and kissed Makoto. Her jumping went to shock at the action, as she went stiff and stood wide-eyed at the act. Suddenly, Tom realized what he was doing, and pulled back, saying, "I'msorryI'msorryI'msorry! I was overtaken by the moment, and I..." but Makoto came out of it, and when she realized that he was truly sorry for being so forward, she got a gentle smile on her face that exuded vulnerability. She gently took a hand into hers, and said, "Its okay, silly! I don't mind. I have actually felt something for you for a bit now, and I just have to stop denying it. It is fate that has brought us together, and there is no shame in this. Besides, you are the first boy that has looked at me in that way for some time. I have never felt more like a woman than I have right now, and you make me feel that way."
She came in slowly, and this time, they kissed and kissed tenderly, slowly embracing each other. Minako stood surprised, not realizing the effect of her song, and all she could think was, "Girl, you are better than you think!"
He pulled away long enough to say, "I have to call my dad! I'll have him drop us off."
The three now waited in silence, the new couple now arm and arm, just enjoying the sense of being in one another's company. However, it was about to get bumpy. Ragna had been watching from a window, and it took him a second or two to recognize the three down there. Because their appearance is not too different from what it is as scouts, Ragna began to think he just may have three of the scouts there. He decided to take a chance and went down to confront them. If he could pick them off when they were few, it would be the better way. If they were not scouts, it was no big loss. He came down and said, "Well, look what fate has brought to me!"
They turned around to see Ragna in all of his splendor. "I never thought that I would have three of the scouts on my platter like this!"
He looked like he meant business. They were stuck, in that, they could not run to change, and they were not sure if they could run at all. They had no choice. Minako said, "Then if you see us as your dinner, we may give you indigestion!"
The three of them produced their devices shouting, "VENUS STAR POWER," "JUPITER STAR POWER," "SEMPER FI," respectively, and then all shouting, "MAKE UP!"
They transformed right in front of them, and Tom said, "Okay, pal, you've bit off a hunk too big to chew. Get ready to be pummeled! OORAH!"
Ceres charged in, saber out, and let loose with his Tsunami Attack as he did. Ragna produced a healthy Norse looking blade, and deflected the attack, but was pushed back. Venus, saw the blade, and engaged her "Love Me" chain, trying to use it as a whip to get the sword. She wrapped the hilt, but he flung her aside. Jupiter saw that this would not be easy, and she decided to use her new attack. She let loose with Shockwave, and Ragna put up his blade to block it. However, he had to keep it there, and he had all he could to do deflect the attack. There they stood, like two bucks with their antlers locked. Ceres was helping Venus to her feet, and he told her, "Use your Shocking Chain while he is locked down!"
However, just before he could do this, Tom's dad pulled up.
He came around the corner, curious from seeing the flashes of blue light, and was stunned over the source of the light. He then saw the two girls, but another figure he could not make out. He had heard about the Sailor Scouts, but he never thought he would see them in action. Obviously, who or whatever they were fighting was bad news, and he knew that, as a Marine, he had an obligation to protect whenever he could, and that included allies. He pulled up to the curb and jumped out, ready for action. That is when Ceres looked over and forgot himself, saying "Dad? What are you doing here?"
That caught his father off guard, and he said, "Son, why are you dressed like aContinental Marine?"
"It's a long story, dad," said Ceres, now realizing that he said more than he ought to have, and then said, "But it's not safe here! You need to keep downrange!"
"Not while my son is here!" his dad exclaimed, "and not when there is a foe to face!"
Jupiter then said, "Venus, go for it! I don't know how long I can hold him!"
Venus got ready, and Ceres pulled out the flintlock, ready to go. However, Ragna saw what they had planned, and managed to pirouette from the shockwave as the other two attacks came in. He started to run, and ran right into Tom's dad. He had trained SEALs, and therefore knew what they knew, and he was going to make this man feel every bit of it! His dad gave Ragna a hip toss, landing him hard. He landed right on his coccyx, and screamed in pain. It had not broken, but it hurt! Somehow, he fought past the pain, only to find a boot to the face. He then charged forward and grabbed Ragna's arm, and flung him to the scouts. This time, Shocking Chain found its mark. Now he REALLY screamed in pain, and staggered back when it let go. He was barely conscious as Venus aimed two forefingers, hoping that a double Crescent Beam shot would be enough to end it. Yet, before she could, he used his last ounce of strength to vanish out of there and into Lin-Lin's office.
Once he was gone, Tom's dad said, "Son, what are you doing?"
"Dad..." he did not know what to say, and then Venus spoke up, saying,"Reichmann-sempei, we were looking for opportunity to inform you of this, but things like this have stood in our way of being able to tell you that your son has always been one of us, it is just that he did not know until recently. Believe me; it is not a bad thing, for, if he wishes to be a Marine, he will be an even better one now!"
Tom's dad did not know what to think, and Ceres said, "You said you wanted to meet my friends, so..."
He transformed back right in front of them, and the other two took the cue. Tom's dad then said, "Would the three of you mind if I bring you back to my place? I think we need to talk, because, if there is going to be this going on in his life, I want to know everything."
"Just let me call my parents," said Minako, and did so. She told her mother that she would be dining with her friends and teacher. When her mother probed why, Minako told her that it was to celebrate how well the tryouts went, and that she would be bringing home the contract for her to look at, because they insisted that this happen before Minako signed it. Once her mother understood, she congratulated her, and told her not to stay out too late. Once "I love you" was exchanged, Minako then called everyone else on her communicator to meet at the base, and for them to be there as the scouts, because there was some explaining to do.
However, up in Lin-Lin's office, a new drama was being played out. Lin-Lin had been watching the whole battle, and she was displeased at how foolish he had been at going after the scouts. He was powerful, but not powerful enough to take on more than one scout. She did not tolerate such incompetence working for her, and she was about to make it known that you did not fail royalty. When he arrived, he was much weakened. He was seeking sympathy, but she had none. "Were you born stupid, or did you work on it as you grew?" she snapped at him. He was surprised at her statement, and he said, "Your highness, please forgive me! I know better how to get them now. I think..."
"NO YOU DON'T THINK!" she thundered, "You are an incompetent boob, and I will not tolerate your failures! You three times failed Sark, and you have failed me. Now I shall do the both of us favors."
It was then that some of her henchmen came in-those remnants of the Dark Agency-and put a plastic bag around his head. They pulled it snug, but not enough to choke him. Instead, they let the bag be quickly expended of its oxygen, and let him suffocate that way. Lin-Lin knew that his death would not be violent, and actually quite peaceful. However, she wanted to see harsher for him, but this way, there would not be a mess in her office, and they could better dispose of the body discreetly. He panicked a bit, but he then began to feel dizzy, and relaxed as he blacked out. They tied the bag shut on him and let him sit until his heart finally stopped beating. She then figured that, since Sark did not know how he died, then she could just say that the fool died trying to take on more than he should have, and that actually would have had some truth to it. "One down, five to go," she said, knowing that she could use these men as long as it suited her, and then dispose of them at her leisure. Sark was going to learn the hard way that he chose the wrong ally.