[FFML] [fanfic][Sailormoon] Moonshadow, chapter 15

The Eternal Lost Lurker lurkerdrome at sbcglobal.net
Sat Aug 1 23:08:09 PDT 2009



Here is the draft of Moonshadow 15. C&C is welcome.

Posting of chapters 14 and 15 to my website will be some time in coming, as 
I am in the middle of preparing to reinstall Windows in the wake of a 
malware attack which crippled my PC. I'll still be able to read and reply to 
C&C, but right now I'm a little preoccupied. Don't let that stop you from 
replying, though! :)

================================
The Eternal Lost Lurker
www.lurkerdrome.com
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

As Makoto was marked absent for the third day straight, Usagi found herself 
mulling over the things Naru had learned from Umino.

"Kino Makoto appears to have no family. She has moved twice in the last two 
years, and has attended several different private schools, including T*A, 
St. Hebereke, and Mugen Gakuen. Each school has invited her to withdraw 
enrollment, with no official reasons given. She has a history of minor 
delinquency, and a lot of strange rumours are floating around about what she 
does when she isn't in school..."

Usagi sighed. *I don't want to think Kino-san is a bad girl. She doesn't 
seem bad. But...I'm worried...*

Toying with her pencil, she made up her mind to pay Makoto a visit at home 
after school...

=-------------=

Studio ELL Presents

MOONSHADOW

Adapted from "Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon" by Takeuchi Naoko.

15: Shinjitsu wa itsumo hitotsu

=-------------=

Mina entered the classroom just moments before the teacher Wednesday 
morning. She was relieved to see Rei at her desk; the miko had been absent 
the day before. When Mina had left the temple Tuesday morning, Rei had 
informed her that she would be remaining at home to attend to the damage 
wrought by the battle, and to explain things to her grandfather. Mina had 
considered offering to help, but wasn't sure she wanted to be around the 
xenophobic old priest when he was in a foul mood, which was almost 
guaranteed by the mess they'd made in his absence.

"Rough day yesterday?" she asked as she approached the raven-haired girl's 
desk.

Rei looked up, and sighed. "Hai. Jijiue was...less than pleased at the state 
of the grounds. I explained the situation...well, I explained it with rather 
less truthfulness than I would have liked." Glancing warily around, she 
whispered, "I'm not certain his reaction to my becoming a Senshi would be 
favourable."

"No, I guess not. I'm pretty sure we're supposed to keep that to ourselves, 
anyway."

"Hai." Rei paused. "I spent most of the evening cloistered in the shrine of 
the sacred fire, inscribing new wards." An uncharacteristic snort escaped 
the raven-haired girl. "Which, ironically, is what I was in the middle of 
doing when the shrine was attacked the other night."

"Do you think your wards can keep those youma from coming back?" Mina asked.

Rei shrugged. "The one that attacked me seemed amused by my wards and 
rituals." She frowned. "That...offends me. But the new wards I created have 
stronger properties." She paused, then leaned close and whispered, "I 
inscribed them using ink I made with the power of Mars."

The blond blinked. "Ink you made with--um, isn't your power basically just 
fire, though?"

"Which I used to make charcoal, which I ground into the ink."

"Ah. That's pretty clever. Think it'll help?"

"It certainly can't hurt."

=-------------=

Luna prowled the perimeter of Mars' shrine home, sniffing curiously at the 
fresh wards which were now plastered liberally all over the outer walls. She 
nodded to herself in satisfaction. "Now THAT'S a barrier."

=-------------=

At lunchtime, Mina and Rei sat together as usual. As they opened their 
lunches, Mina noticed the bandages on Rei's hand. "Whoa, when did THAT 
happen?"

The miko glanced down at her hand, two fingers of which were tightly wrapped 
in gauze. "Oh...yesterday evening," she said dismissively.

"Did you hurt yourself cleaning up the shrine or something?"

Rei paused, cheeks tinged faintly. "Something like that." She shrugged. 
"It's not bad, really, just a little tender."

"Okay, if you're sure..." The blond frowned. "Speaking of cleaning up, I'm 
really sorry I didn't stick around to help."


"No apology is necessary, Mina-san."

"Yeah, but I made most of that mess you had to clean up with that dumb 
attack."

Rei laughed softly. "I would not say the attack *itself* is dumb. Just the 
name."

The blond grimaced. "I blame Usagi for that. I don't know what she did when 
she Awakened me, but..." She shook her head. "Anyway, if you still need help 
cleaning up, I can come over this afternoon."

"It isn't necessary, but if you insist, I'd be grateful for the assistance." 
She paused, then wrinkled her nose as she surveyed the contents of her 
friend's bento. "Mina-san...exactly what..."

Mina blinked, looking from Rei to the bento in front of her and back. "Oh! 
Fish and chips. Not QUITE London-style, but it's the best I could manage 
with what we had at home. I've been missing it for a while." She picked up a 
thick wedge of fried potato, and offered it to the miko. "Want to try?"

Rei shook her head, looking faintly queasy. "I...believe now is not the time 
for experimentation with unfamiliar cuisine, but I thank you for the offer."

Mina shrugged. "Suit yourself."

=-------------=

"Kino-san?" Usagi asked, knocking on the door. There was a note taped over 
the intercom indicating it was out of service. When there was no response, 
she called out more loudly, knocking forcefully enough that her knuckles 
ached.

A head poked out of a door further down the hall. "QUIET DOWN OUT THERE!" a 
middle-aged woman snarled.

Usagi yelped, and bowed. "Gomen nasai! I'm just worried about my fr--" She 
squeaked in alarm as a half-empty beer can bounced off the wall beside her 
head. "HEY!"

"Fuckin' go away or I'm callin' the fuckin' cops!" the woman slurred 
drunkenly, before slamming her door.

Usagi simply stared at the offensive woman's door for a long moment, then 
turned on her heel and stalked away, casting one worried glance back at 
Makoto's apartment before stepping onto the waiting lift.

=-------------=

"--pick up some snacks before we head over? I admit I'm getting hooked on 
those seaweed rice crackers."

"We may make a Japanese girl of you yet, Mina-san."

"HEY!"

"I am only teasing you."

"Wow, you actually have a sense of humour! That's good to know. Eep! Sorry, 
I didn't see--"

"In Japan, we look in front of us when we walk," Ami replied coolly, 
adjusting the plastic sack she had nearly dropped.

"Hey, I said I was sorry! Sheesh."

"Mina-san intended no harm, and your harsh response was uncalled for," her 
Japanese friend said, rebuke in her violet eyes.

"Perhaps you are correct. Let us dismiss this; all of us have more pressing 
concerns." Without a second glance at the pair, the bespectacled girl left 
the store.

Mina stared after her. "Wow, what a total bitch!"

Rei frowned. "That girl..."

"Eh? What about her?" the blond asked as she grabbed a shopping basket and 
headed for the snack aisle.

The miko followed a moment later. "Her school uniform was the same as 
Tsukino-hime," she said quietly. "And I believe I saw a bracelet on her 
wrist..." She looked down at her own gleaming red bangle.

"You think THAT was one of the other Senshi?" Mina asked. "Nah, couldn't 
be..."

=-------------=

"Something troubling you, Your Highness?"

Usagi yelped, nearly dropping the can of warm tea she'd bought at the train 
station, and glanced around to find Artemis leaning against a utility pole. 
"Don't DO that!" she squeaked.

The mage chuckled. "Sorry. You do seem troubled, however."

The ponytailed girl sighed. "Kino-san's been absent from class every day 
this week. I went by her apartment, and she wasn't home. I don't think she 
was, anyway."

Artemis rubbed his chin. "Hmm. That does seem suspicious."

"You wouldn't happen to have any idea where--"

"Sorry, I don't," the mage cut across her. "I can't magically find one 
regular Japanese girl among tens of thousands. I can only find *you* 
whenever I like because you're Princess Serenity. The Senshi..." He 
shrugged. "They have to be transformed for me to know where they are at any 
given time. I'm really sorry I can't help."

Usagi looked down at the sidewalk. "I see. I guess it can't be helped."

Artemis clasped his hands behind his back. "I do hope she's in no danger, 
and I hope you find her soon. But my reason for being here is another matter 
entirely. I hear you're checking into the activities of that strange thief."

Usagi nodded. "Ami-san seems to think he may be looking for the Maboroshi no 
Ginzuishou."

The mage raised an eyebrow. "An interesting conclusion," he said softly.

Usagi fished around in her bag, and withdrew the printout Ami had given her. 
"Ami-san printed this out and gave it to me," she explained. "Every gemstone 
on this list--"


"--looks like it could be the Ginzuishou, yes, I see," Artemis mused. 
"Mercury is very sharp. And that would explain his attempt to steal the 
Platina Selen." He ran a finger down the list, and tapped an item. "Yes, and 
it's on the list." He nodded. "Very interesting..."

"The Platina Selen?" Usagi asked. "Is that what he was trying to steal the 
night Mina ran into him?"

The mage nodded, handing back the printout. "And he didn't try to steal it a 
second time, so either it wasn't worth the risk, or..."

"It wasn't what he's looking for."

"Precisely."

"So the Oasis Lament, the gem he was targeting at the gala..."

"The director's wife had replaced it with a fake, correct?" At Usagi's nod, 
Artemis laced his hands behind his back. "Then he will undoubtedly try to 
steal the real Oasis Lament at some point."

Usagi gasped. "Then I should warn Kamekona-san..."

"More to the point, you need to inspect the Oasis Lament yourself, and 
verify whether it is or is not the Ginzuishou."

"Veri--how the heck would I know if it is or not?"

"You'll know," the mage insisted. "You are the rightful heir to the 
Maboroshi no Ginzuishou. If you come into direct contact with it, it will 
*immediately* respond to your aura."

"Sou ka..." Usagi took a sip of her cooled tea, then nodded. "Alright. I'll 
take care of it tonight..."

"That would be for the best." Artemis bowed. "Good luck, and I hope nothing 
amiss has happened to Jupiter." With no fanfare, he vanished.

Usagi glanced around to make sure nobody had witnessed the abrupt magical 
departure, then finished her tea, tossed the empty can in a nearby recycling 
bin, and resumed her walk home.

She'd need to get a nap in after dinner. Tonight looked to be a long 
night...

=-------------=

Kamekona Sato and his wife were sitting quietly in their living room, having 
a drink before bed, when there was a gentle rapping sound from the glass 
balcony door.

Kamekona's wife screamed. The executive scowled, standing, and turned, 
already reaching for his phone...

He stared at the silhouette framed by the silk draperies, shadowed against 
the dim starlight. "Dear," he said breathlessly, "look..."

His wife looked up, face pale, and her screams abated. "...it's...*her*..." 
she breathed.

Kamekona frowned, then walked over and slid open the balcony door.

"I apologise for visiting at this hour, and without prior warning," the 
golden-haired Senshi on the veranda said gently, bowing. "But I must speak 
with you."

=-------------=

The director and his wife stared, bemused, at their unexpected guest. 
"S--Sailor Moon?" Mrs. Kamekona breathed shakily.

The Senshi grimaced. "I've *got* to get a press agent," she muttered.

"Sorry, what...do you prefer to be called?" the elder woman asked, unable to 
help herself.

The Senshi frowned, then sighed and waved a hand dismissively. "It's 
irrelevant. I'm here for something more important, and I don't wish to take 
up too much of your time."

"What brings you here?" Kamekona asked, arms folded.

"I wish to examine the Oasis Lament," the golden-haired Senshi said with no 
preamble.

"Examine--"

"Out of the question!" Kamekona snapped. "Have we not been terrorised 
enough?"

"That's the thing," the young girl said, raising her hands placatingly. 
"Don't worry, I'm not here to steal anything from you, and I won't damage 
the jewel. I just need to have a look at it, to see whether or not it's the 
one Tuxedo Kamen is probably trying to find."

"The thief from the gala?" Kamekona asked. With a sharp glance, he added, 
"Are you in league with that...cad?"

"Of course not," the Senshi replied. "But we--me and the other Senshi--think 
he's looking for something he shouldn't even know *exists*, and if he IS, 
it's in everyone's best interests that we find it first. I don't know what 
he plans to do with it, but there are some *really* dangerous people who are 
after the same thing--and any gem Tuxedo Kamen tries to steal is going to 
interest those people."

The elderly couple stared at her for a long moment. "What the devil are you 
on about, child?" Kamekona asked. "And what does this have to do with my 
wife's treasure?"

"Hopefully nothing," the Senshi answered. "That's why I'd like to see it--to 
determine whether or not it's the crystal we're all searching for."

"And if it is?"

"Then measures must be taken to protect it." She knelt before the elder 
woman and took her hands gently, clasping them in her soft-gloved ones. 
"Okusama," she said softly, "I know how trying all this has been for you, 
and I'm sorry you've gotten mixed up in it. The sooner we know for sure 
whether your Oasis Lament is the stone Tuxedo Kamen is after, or if it's an 
ordinary gem, the better--and I guarantee you'll sleep a lot more soundly if 
you know you're safe from that thief."

"How can you guarantee he won't try to steal it anyway, if it isn't whatever 
you claim he's after?" Kamekona asked.

"Oh, he'll probably show up looking for it again. But if it's not the right 
one, he won't take it. He didn't keep the Platina Selen when he stole THAT, 
and he didn't go after it again--he hasn't been seen anywhere near it 
since."


"The Platina Selen?" Mrs. Kamekona gasped, eyes wide. "He actually *stole* 
the Platina Selen?"

"And was stopped by one of my Senshi," the golden-haired girl affirmed, 
nodding. "But she got sidetracked by some...nasty business, and Tuxedo Kamen 
got away--but he didn't take the stone with him. So that one wasn't it, and 
if the Oasis Lament isn't either, then you don't really have anything to 
worry about." She smiled. "So please, if I may--to put all our minds at 
ease."

Kamekona and his wife exchanged a glance. Sniffling, Mrs. Kamekona nodded. 
With a grunt, the director strode stiffly to a wall of the living room and 
pulled one of the wood panels aside, revealing a safe. He pressed a thumb to 
a scanner and leaned close to a red light. The safe beeped, then swung open.

Gingerly, he withdrew a silk bundle from within, and walked over to the 
Senshi. Hesitantly, he offered it to her. "No tricks," he warned.

"I have no intention of deceiving you," she replied, accepting the bundle 
and opening it. She touched the gem briefly, brow furrowed in concentration. 
Then, she sighed and re-wrapped it, handing it back to the director. "You 
may be at ease," she said. "The Oasis Lament, while certainly rare and 
valuable, is not the Maboroshi no Ginzuishou." She paused, and fixed the 
director with a serious gaze. "It is likely that one or more persons WILL 
attempt to steal it again. It is best you offer no resistance. Once they 
have determined it is not the Ginzuishou, they will lose interest." She 
bowed once again. "Pardon my intrusion, and have a pleasant evening." With 
that, she was back out on the veranda, and had disappeared before the couple 
could react.

=-------------=

Mamoru's cape billowed in the night breeze as he observed the penthouse 
balcony through brass opera glasses. He frowned at the disappearing golden 
blur that was Sailor Moon. "Chikushou."

With a flourish of his cape, the thief faded into the still, silent shadows.

Yet another unnoticed observer, grey uniform blending into the dingy 
concrete of the roof he stood upon, nodded thoughtfully before disappearing 
without fanfare.

=-------------=

Thursday, Makoto was once again absent. Five minutes before the end of the 
school day, Usagi approached the bench where her fellow Senshi spent each 
day studying. "Ami-san?"

"Hai, Tsukino-san?" Ami asked without looking up from her book.

"Ano...Kino-san's been absent all week, and...I'm worried about her."

"Then you should call her. Surely you have her--"

"She's *missing*, Ami-san," Usagi interrupted forcefully. "She doesn't 
answer her phone, she isn't at home, and nobody's seen her for days."

Ami paused to adjust her glasses. "That is unfortunate."

"Ami-san, I'm REALLY worried about her. And..." Usagi paused, digging her 
toe into the ground. "And I was kind of hoping you might could help me try 
to find out what happened to her."

A pause. "Excuse me, I'm not certain I understand what you just said."

"I'm going to look for Kino-san after school, and I'd really appreciate your 
help," Usagi repeated.

Ami blew on her bangs in irritation. "Tsukino-san," she said, "perhaps I was 
not clear when I informed you that our alliance only extends as far as 
immediate, life-threatening situations."

"I know, Ami-san, but..."

"The prolonged absence of Kino-san could be due to a number of factors, 
including mere delinquency."

Usagi shook her head. "I don't believe that, no matter what Umino and 
Naru-chan think about her!"

"Kino-san is a Senshi," Ami pointed out. "She can protect herself."

"We're not invulnerable," the long-haired girl pointed out.

"True." Ami frowned. "However, if she *is* in danger in some way, and has 
not been seen for some time, certainly her family has--"

"She doesn't have any family, Ami-san," Usagi interrupted gently. "She's all 
alone."

Ami paused, adjusting her glasses, brow furrowed. "That seems improbable."

"It's true though," Usagi asserted. "She doesn't have anyone. Except us."

The short-haired girl was silent for a moment. "Tsukino-san, there are no 
shortage of allies to help search for Kino-san. Artemis-san, Venus, Mars, 
Luna..."

"Ami-san, you're the smartest person I know," Usagi rallied. "I mean, 
Artemis-san is really smart too, but...I trust you more."

Ami stared at her. "You...trust me."

"With my life."

"When have I ever given you cause to hold such faith in me?"

Usagi smiled gently. "You never had to," she said. "I just know, in my 
heart, I can trust you."

The short-haired girl stared at her ally for a long moment, expression 
unreadable. At length, she sighed. "I suppose...it would be prudent to 
determine what has happened to Kino-san. Her prowess as Jupiter may be 
necessary to our survival in future battles." Pushing her glasses up, she 
stood. "But let us make haste. I have little time to spare."

Usagi smiled. "Arigatou, Ami-san."

=-------------=

"Forgive my tardiness, Brother Nephrite," Jadeite said as he walked, dressed 
in casual human clothing, into the small cafe the two Shitennou had chosen 
as a meeting place.

"There is no offense to forgive, Brother Jadeite," the long-haired man 
replied, sipping his coffee. "And your preparations for our next encounter 
with our foes?"

"Proceeding smoothly, although I spent today correcting an irregularity in 
the Mobius Driver. Hence my delay."

"I see." Nephrite paused. "Last eve was most informative, if the information 
was less than appealing."

"The gem you've been staking out?"

"The wealthy humans were visited by none other than Princess Serenity 
herself," Nephrite replied. "The bauble they so cherish is as worthless as 
they themselves." He smirked. "The dapper brigand who sought its possession 
also observed this event, and was...most displeased."

Jadeite snorted. "So you've hit a dead end on the Ginzuishou search."

"On this aspect alone, yes," Nephrite nodded. "However, other avenues lay 
open before me."

The blond Shitennou stood. "Then I wish you good hunting, Brother Nephrite."

"As well I you."

=-------------=

Two schoolgirls stood before a locked apartment door. "A logical starting 
point," Ami said, "but futile if we cannot gain entrance."

Usagi gave a strained giggle, and fished around in her pocket. She produced 
a handful of small metal objects wrapped in a silk napkin. "Eto...I was 
thinking we could, um...break in."

The shorter girl stared at her, and then at the napkin-wrapped bundle she 
held. An eyebrow went up. "Tsukino-san...do you routinely carry burglary 
tools on your person?"

Usagi flushed. "They're not exactly mine, okay? I kinda picked them up when 
I fought that tuxedo-kamen guy. They fell out of his hat; I thought..." She 
trailed off with a pained smile. "Well, they were there and nobody noticed, 
so before I left I kinda..." She rubbed the back of her head, giggling in 
embarassment.

Ami levelled a cool stare at her. "That, Tsukino-san," she said frostily, 
"is called 'removing evidence from a crime scene'."

"Um...oops?"

The short-haired girl sighed, and crouched in front of the lock. She 
extended a hand to Usagi. "We may as well avail ourselves of the 
circumstances. I will attempt to pick the lock. You stand watch."

After several minutes of quiet work and nervous pacing, there was a 
rewarding click. "I have succeeded," Ami announced. "We may now enter 
Kino-san's apartment." She opened the door, and the two girls walked inside.

Usagi found the light switch and turned it on, stepping out of her shoes. 
"This is a pretty nice place," she commented.

"Indeed. For an orphan living alone--again, highly improbable--Kino-san 
seems to have..." She trailed off, frowning. "Something is amiss."

Usagi sniffed the air, and wrinkled her nose. "Yeah, no kidding." She walked 
into the small kitchen, and made a disgusted sound. "Ew, something's rotten 
in here."

Her companion entered behind her, frowning, and espied an open milk carton 
on the counter, along with a sliced cantaloupe which had clearly spoiled. 
"Kino-san has not been here in some time," Ami announced.

"Well, yeah, that's kinda why we broke into her place, remember?"

Ami snorted. "It was merely an observation." She walked out of the kitchen, 
calling behind her, "Do not disturb the spoiled food. In the event the 
authorities must be involved, that would be considered as evidence--"

"--and you don't tamper with a crime scene, yeah, yeah, I watch _Detective 
Conan_." At the odd look she received, she replied defensively, "I know, 
it's a kiddie show--"

"It is among the more intelligent fare on Japanese television," Ami replied 
with a wry smirk. "You could waste your time in far worse ways." Adjusting 
her glasses, she approached the small desk in the corner of the living room. 
She frowned. "Someone has destroyed the lock on this desk drawer."

Usagi walked over, following the shorter girl's gaze, and winced. "Yeah, 
that's...pretty sloppy. Wonder what was in there?"

"Evidently something of interest," Ami replied. She espied a notebook lying 
open on the desk, and withdrew her handkerchief before picking it up and 
leafing through it. Her brow furrowed.

"What's in there?" Usagi asked.

"Names," Ami replied. "Nothing else...some of them are highlighted or marked 
through."

The long-haired girl tilted her head, frowning. "That's...strange."

"Somewhat." Replacing the notebook, Ami continued her investigation of the 
room. "Please examine the other rooms, Tsukino-san," she said idly. "Do not 
touch anything with your bare hands."

"Hai!" Usagi walked across the apartment, taking her own handkerchief out of 
her pocket. She poked her nose into one door, and found the bathroom--a 
Western-style bath, with a commode, sink, unit bath, detachable showerhead, 
linen cupboard, and medicine cabinet. She opened the medicine cabinet, 
looking inside; the contents were more or less what she expected. Then, she 
opened the linen cupboard...

"Whoa, what the heck's THIS stuff?"

In the living room, Ami glanced up. "You found something?" she called.

Usagi walked back into the living room, holding a black plastic box. She 
crouched on the floor and set it down, opening the lid. "Take a look at 
this," she said.

The shorter girl knelt across from her, adjusting her glasses and frowning. 
"Prophylactics," she began, eyes roaming over the neatly arranged contents 
of the box. "Water-based lubricating gels." She paused, then withdrew a 
packet of paper tissues and took one out, using it to pick up a jar. 
"Nonoxynol-9," she said clinically, placing the jar back in the box. She 
then picked up a small pill bottle with no label, save for a small strip of 
masking tape upon which "AFTER" had been written by hand. She scowled, 
placing the bottle back in the box and standing. She walked to the 
wastepaper basket next to the desk, disposed of her tissue, then withdrew 
another and began scrubbing furiously at her hands.

"Ami-san? What--"

"ECPs," Ami said, tone cold. "Kino-san keeps a supply of emergency birth 
control pills. And two standard forms of contraception."

Usagi's eyes widened, and she stared down at the black box with horror. 
"Eeeeh?! But--" She stood up quickly, backing away as though the birth 
control kit were a dangerous animal. "But...why would Kino-san..."

"To maintain a supply kit such as this," Ami said coldly, "suggests that 
Kino-san frequently engages in sexual intercourse."

"Freq--Ami-san, are you saying Kino-san is some kind of slut?" Usagi asked, 
somewhat defensively.

Ami turned and levelled a cool, hard stare at the long-haired girl. 
"Tsukino-san, based on what we have discovered here, I believe Kino Makoto 
is a prostitute."

=-------------=

Makoto grimaced as she woke; her head ached horribly, her throat was raw, 
and her eyes felt as though they had been pierced with white-hot needles. A 
variety of pains--some dull, some intense, ranging from bruises to 
abrasions--covered her nude body; her bare skin prickled with the sensation 
of cold, damp air.

She attempted to focus on her surroundings; after a confused, painful 
moment, her gaze fixed blearily on a figure suspended on the wall opposite. 
A young Japanese man, stripped to his boxers, covered with dried blood and 
grime, stringy, greasy shoulder-length hair matted and tangled. He was 
unconscious; this was perhaps a blessing, as from what she could see of his 
injuries, being awake would not be fun for him.

The man hung by his wrists, through which sharp hooks attached to heavy 
chains had been driven. Numerous small, round burns dotted his limbs and 
torso, and a heavy, swollen bruise surrounded his right eye. Deep, puckered 
lacerations crossed his chest and abdomen; at least half of them looked 
badly infected. Part of his right leg was missing, the stump crusted with 
dried blood and ragged, burned flesh.

"Damn, Motoki," Makoto whispered hoarsely. "They really fucked you up, 
didn't they?"

=-------------=

to be continued

=-------------=



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