After Tom returned from school, his father had the contract back from JAG and he told him that it was all on the up and up. The company was real, and the contract would not either fleece him, or hold him down. He signed it so he could then return it the next day and begin doing the recordings. However, during that day, other activities were taking place that would cause things to escalate.
While the base denied that anything had happened, (saying that some ordinance had gone off in trying to unload it,) in reality, a terrorist group that was working out of, though not based in, the Philippines were responsible for the act. They would do a thorough investigation, but they figured that the time it took to even pull off what they did, coupled with the fact that they now had the help of the Sailor Scouts, and that they would now know what to look for, the odds of that happening again anytime soon were large. However, they did not know what was going on in the Philippines at that moment.
Rinn was able to tap into the investigation and find out who was behind the attacks. Once he knew, he was in the Philippines in a flash. After some walking around and talking about, he found out that the island he was on, one quarter of it was controlled by the terrorists. Once he learned that, he headed that way. The people all laughed at him heading that way, certain that would be the last time they would see him alive. If the government could not do anything about them, what would this fool be able to do?
Once he arrived, he found the borders well controlled by this group, instantly several AK-47 aimed at him. However, he announced that he wanted to join them, even giving praise to the deity to which they paid homage. They were uncertain still, but men came out and searched him. When they found nothing, they brought him in, but still kept armed guards on him, not sure of his intent. He certainly did not look like them, but they were willing to accept any help they could. Of course, what he had told them was a lie, because he had every intention of taking this group over for Lin-Lin, and turning them against Japan. After they had well taken over, they could start to threaten Australia, which, by that point, Sark should have been a prominent public figure, rallied Australia, along with preaching his rhetoric. He had learned from these people that, to turn a phrase, in order to make them drink your product, you had to make them thirsty. He hoped at that point that alliances would jump in, and start the global conquest. After it was done, they could then reshape the Earth to his ideal.
They took him in front of the leader, and it was then Rinn learned that they were all nationals. For him that was helpful, because he could test things by stirring up some trouble, and it would be easier for them to move through. Indeed, the people of this land did not like these people, nor was he too fond of such riff-raff. He almost wanted to do these people a favor and expunge them from the land, much to the delight of the Philippines. However, they were useful for the time being, so he would tolerate them. However, they would soon have a leadership change. He was brought into a brick building obviously to house their leader, and he sat in there as if it were a throne room, complete with the platform where he sat on his throne, and a red carpet all the way to the curtained entrance. The leader saw him and greeted him, saying, "I am Juan Cerritos, and I lead this noble group. I understand you wish to join. Tell me, what is it that you think you can contribute?"
Rinn smiled and said, "I have access to powers and weapons beyond your wildest dreams! It could take you far beyond this group of islands."
"Interesting," said Juan, "And I would like to see some of this. My guards told me you came in without anything."
"Oh, you shall see them right now!" he said, and raised his hands. The bracers on his wrists glowed, and fired two balls of static. They hit their target, engulfed him, and Juan was no more. Immediately, the guards sprang into action, but they all vanished as well. As others moved in, he thundered, "DO IT, AND YOU JOIN THEM ALL IN DEATH!"
They all stopped in fear, not knowing what to do. They could easily run out and call for help to overrun him, but they also realized they would vanish before they got to the door. "Ah, you do learn!" announced Rinn, as he produced a small pair of clear eggs, filled with a liquid, threw them on the floor before the four men in there, and that area of the room filled with adense blue smoke once the chemicals had the chance to react. Once that cleared, four youma now stood. They were all jet black with yellow spots, and they looked like human sized salamanders. He then began to bend their now small minds to his will. He then said, "Fetch the chain of command and bring them in here. Convince them if they do not want to come, and there will be the business of letting them know that there has been a change of command."
As they left, he let out an evil cackle. It was about to get interesting for the Sailor Scouts-very interesting.
The next day, Minako, Makoto, and Tom did as much of their homework as they could so they could spend some time at the studio that day, and find out what the producers and engineers imagined for them as a group. The three of them were giddy, and they could hardly wait to get in there and work. The next thing was to find a name for the group, and what style of music they should sing. They toyed around with some ideas, but they could not come up with anything. Finally, they came to Baron Records and headed to the office to return the signed contracts. When the names were read on them, the secretary looked down on a memo that told her to buzz the head office once they were there, but without saying to who she buzzed. Lin-Lin was looking at some different travel brochures, trying to figure out where she was going to build her castle when this was all over, and she was crowned empress of the galaxy, when the call came in. She thanked the secretary for the call, and then called the one producer that was in on things. "So, they took the bait?" he asked.
"They took it like a half-starved large mouth bass!" she said.
"Do we start to transform them, mistress?" he then asked.
"No, not yet," she said, "I want to do it at the right time. Let them think all is okay for now. I want to watch them for a bit, and then see what the best way to bend them would be. I have to find out how to corrupt them so completely that nothing in their nature would be able to counter it. Take your time with them, because they are not the brainless drivel that they have brought in to record. They will be easy to convert. Once we have a group, we can start working them in small things, and then going bigger and bigger. Once they are converted, they can join the group that Rinn is gaining in the Philippines."
"Very good, mistress," said the producer, "I'll give them over to Jin Suzuki. He's not only a great producer and engineer; he has a great ear for music."
"I don't understand, mistress," asked the producer, "You actually are going to put out..."
"OF COURSE YOU IDIOT!" she thundered, "WE STILL HAVE TO PUT UP A FRONT! This is another reason why I'm leaving them alone. Ironically, those three are very good, and we need a name to push the label. They can be the ones to do it. Now make them a success!"
"Yes, mistress," he said, and hung up. She blew some strands of hair out of her face and said, "It's so hard to find good help these days!"
While all that was going on, Bunny (Chibiusa) and Usagi were working on homework. Ever since she had learned the habit, it was almost impossible to stop her from working on her homework right away. Her parents were so happy to see her doing well at school for once, and Shogi was shocked. He thought it was like some kind of eerie science fiction movie where the aliens created doppelgangers of people, and had the body double kill off the original to be replaced with the alien. He was sure that was not his sister, and when he tried to complain about this to his parents, they both laughed hysterically, and Shogi then thought that they too had been caught. However, this conversation had been overheard by Bunny, and she told Usagi. They then decided on a prank that day. Her mother had made snacks for all the kids while they did their homework, and Shogi was asked to stop by the girl's room and drop theirs off before he took his to his room. He took the tray, turned around, and turned pale. He was afraid to go in. Bunny looked at the clock, and giggled, knowing what was about to happen. Luna became curious when she heard the chuckling, and when she asked what was going on, they explained, and now she was excited to see what would happen next. Shogi knocked on the door, and the girls said in sing-song way, "Come in, Shogi!"
That made him nervous. Now he did not want to go in. He came in quickly and set the snacks on the desk, but the girls said, in unison, "Hello, Shogi, we've been waiting for you!" in the same sing-song way. He then turned a lighter shade of pale and maybe even minty green! "Um, here you go!" he said, and turned to beat a hasty retreat. However, Bunny caught him by the belt, and said, "Where are you going, Shogi? We would love you to stay; we would love you to join us!"
"I'm sure you would!" he said, trying to get away, but Usagi got in front of him. She then said, "What's wrong, Shogi? Don't you want to be around your dear, loving sister?"
"You're not my sister, not acting that way!" he protested, and really wanted to leave.
"What's wrong?" said Bunny, "We want you to join us-we want ALL to join us."
"Stay away from me!" he said, now fighting with all his might. Now he was speechless, and Usagi said, "What's the matter, Shogi; cat got your tongue?"
That was when Luna hopped up and said, "Nah, I would have known if I had gotten that much of him!"
"AH! THEY GOT THE CAT TOO! OH NO!" and he ran out of the room, charged into his room, and locked the door. They all stared at each other, and then they all busted out into hysterics. That had to have been the best joke they had pulled yet, and it was not on each other!
After a time, all their work was done, and they had an hour before dinner. Usagi got out that book she had gotten from Ami and continued to read it. Usagi was propped up on her bed, back to the wall as she read, while Luna napped at her feet. Bunny put down the manga she was reading and went over to her. She kneeled with her arms flat on the bed, fingers locked together, and her chin on her hands. She watched her and said, "Mother, what is so neat about that book? You've read it twice now."
"You have no idea what is in here!" Usagi answered, "It is so challenging and life changing. I have been so foolish trying to fit everyone else's visions of me, and not trying to find my own."
Usagi stopped, and then realized, "Hey, that's the first time I ever heard you call me that!"
Bunny realized that, and she also had not planned to, but it had slipped out. "You know, I wasn't even thinking about it."
Luna was becoming conscious about this time and overheard the talking. She then said, "I must admit, Usagi-chan, you have been acting more mature lately. I'm actually proud of that."
"You know, you have been different," said Bunny, "You actually must have reminded me of Mother so much that I did it out of habit."
"But I am your mother, silly!" said Usagi, and leaned over and kissed her forehead.
"You don't understand," said Bunny, "When I have seen you in the past, you, and what is at home, are two different people-at least it seems that way. Now, Isee you acting like what I left back there."
"That makes me wonder," said Usagi, "Now that we are having this conversation, do I bring this up then?"
"Not really," answered Bunny, "I think she knows that she was going to send me back at certain times, so I don't think she wanted to ruin anything."
"I tell you the truth," said Usagi, "I am going to admit something to you: Ihave been a crybaby spoiled brat, and I have always been upset when I have not gotten my way. I have been wrong. It's going to be different now."
She set the book on her chest as she stared at the wall, lost in though, with acontented grin on her face. Bunny saw that, and she could not help but jump on the bed and give her a big hug.
In the studio, the producer/engineer, Jin, was putting them through their paces. He explained to them, "You three are teenagers, and that will help you reach your demographic that much easier. However, I do not want to go for that light, fuzzy, preteen kind of thing."
"In America, we call that Bubble Gum Rock," said Tom.
"That's what I was fishing for," said Jin, "You kids are too good for that, and too old for that anyway. I want to do serious music with you, because your demos showed that you can do it. However, I want to see what kind of a sound you can develop. It has to be unique but appealing. Therefore, I'm going to go into the booth over there, and I have all the sheet music on the shelves over there. When I ask for a piece, it should be there and in order. We may do something two or three times in different ways to find that sound. Did you three get your homework done?"
"We have almost all of it done," answered Makoto.
"Get that done, and then let me know," said Jin, "Because we are going to be in here for a few hours.
Once that was done, they messed around with many styles and sounds. Tom added a California sound, while Makoto added a gritty, city feel to things. Minako was a pop stylist, and he fooled around with that combination. As a result, they seemed as adept at folk and American country and western as they were at 12-bar blues progression songs. He thought for a moment, and he saw something. The boy was American, and the one with the red bow spoke English very well. Makoto could not, but she could fake it well when they sang. However, the boy spoke fluent Japanese, and he realized that he had a gold mine in front of him. They could record the songs in English for the majority of the record buying market, and then put out the songs in Japanese for Japan. He then also realized that these recordings were going to slip into modern times, in that, this company would be the first ever company to sell all it's songs strictly on-line. It saved the studio much in costs, and it would give the performers much more. In pondering all this, he began to realize that he could set it up that, when you downloaded the album, it could be set up as to where one could pick and choose which versions of the songs that they liked, and thus, each copy of the album would be unique, because it would be to the listeners' liking. He hit the mike, and he said, "Okay, give me Give aLittle Bit by Supertramp!"
They got the sheet music, and Minako saw that it took a twelve string. She said, "Do we have a twelve string in here?"
"I think we do," he said, "Check the back wall."
She found it, and checked to see if it was in tune. When it was, she said,"I'm a bit rusty on this, but I'll do my best."
Tom spread out the music, saw the pitch, and looked at Minako. She said, "Oh no, this is more your song. We'll put in harmonies."
Once they took off, he though, "Ah, now that's what I've been looking for!"
After that, he began to think of a name for them. Since their sound was their own, their name had to be as unique. Then he remembered how Abba had named themselves, and he decided to go with their last names. Once they finished, about three and a half hours had passed. He then said, "I think I have it now. Come on in here for a minute."
Once they came around, he said to them, "Okay, here's the scoop. Tomorrow, I'm going to have you record your first four songs, and that will be one of them. You're going to do two covers, and two originals. I have also decided on aname. You shall now be Ark. It takes the English letters that start your surnames. It is fitting because it the start of a new "arc" of music in this world. Okay, I know the spelling is different, but enough people will get the idea."
It seemed awkward at first, but they began to catch onto the name, and Tom said, "Okay, 'Ark' it is!"
"Okay kids, see you tomorrow!"
As they started to head home, Minako said her good-byes, and that left Tom and Makoto. They were walking, and Tom said, "It's close to chow. Hey, why not come over to my place. That way, you don't have to change. You can come as my guest."
"That would be great!' she said, and she took his hand as they walked. For the two of them, it felt good, and it seemed natural. On the other hand, it seemed too fast. Makoto then asked, "Do you think we're going about this wrong?"
"Not at all," said Tom, "The contracts are on the up and up, and we stand to..."
"That's not what I meant."
"Okay, I'm lost."
"Well, it seems we're just jumping into this."
"So, what's wrong? Just go with the flow."
"Well, it's not that easy in Japan. There's matter of meeting family, getting an endorsement from them, we have to..."
Tom put is forefinger on her lips and shushed her, saying, "Why are you thinking like this? I thought you said you read the book?"
"Well, yes, but..." she said, but Tom cut her off, saying, "So, why are you trying to fit a mold that, not only you don't fit in, but also that really doesn't exist anymore?"
She looked at him oddly, and he said, "I guess what I am saying is, you have set the rules for yourself for so long, why should this be any different?"
She thought for a moment, and she realized, for the first time, and especially at this point, it was good to follow your heart. She really was free to set the rules in this. She could follow her heart, and not worry about what society said about it. If she loved a gyjin, then so be it. That was no one's business to begin with anyway. This could be something special. She intertwined her arm into his and got close. Yes, this did feel good. At that moment, it all came back to her. For years, she had always wanted someone to take her for a female-for someone feminine. She even had aspirations of becoming a florist, just to feel more of the ladylike kind of person she thought she was supposed to be. However, what had happened was that she had found a person who didn't take her for a tomboy, for a female, but he took her because she was Makoto-no more and no less. For that matter, why should she worry about how anyone took her anyway? She was going to be herself, not flaunt it, and let people deal with it. If she were able to act with that mindset, and people had a problem with that, then that would just be tough. If society turned their nose up at her, she always had Tom. Besides, they were going to be recording stars, and if there was a life that was suited to the individualist, it was that one. As the approached the base, she said, "I really have become a diva!"
"Good," said Tom, "And always remember..."
They said it at the same time, ".../Divas don't fake it!/"