[FFML] [Nadesico] Magical Girl Pretty Ruri Chapter 23: Change of Fortune

Tail Kinker the.tail.kinker at gmail.com
Sat Jun 6 06:58:02 PDT 2009


     Warning:  Java compilation error.  Insufficient coffee.
Due to this, none of the characters, situations and sites
belong to the authors of this story.  They are currently
just used to explore the effects of sleep deprivation.


     "Our vacation was cut rather short, due to the destruc-
tion of the minivan.  Father was most unhappy, but at least
he took it out on the rental agency - he believed it was a
maintenance failure.  However, after our encounter with
Akito by the lake, I don't think any of us were in the mood
for vacation.

     "Trouble continues to find me, no matter where I go.
Is this some sort of conspiracy against me?"



Magical Girl Pretty Ruri


Episode Twenty-Three: Change Of Fortunes



     "Ruri!  Wake up!"

     "Mfh?"  Ruri sat up slowly, and shook her head.
"Wha--"

     "Get up!  Sleepyhead."

     "Mom, it's still break.  I don't have school."  She
blinked at her clock.  "Oh, it's nine thirty.  Okay, I'm
getting up."

     "I know that yesterday was really trying for you--"

     You have no idea.

     "--so I talked to Ai and Yurika, and they're coming
over to pick you up."

     "What for?"  Ruri scratched between Omoikane's ears -
more to stay in character than because she felt any real
affection for the fat lazy slob - and picked up a skirt.
"I'd think that they'd want to rest."

     "Well, Yurika is a bundle of energy at any time, and
that Ai girl..."

     Ruri turned to face her mother.  It was time to get
this out in the open.  "Mom.  You seem to have a problem
with Ai."

     Usagi raised her hands.  "I just think that some-
one...well...more..."  She dropped her hands.  "Okay.  I'm
trying very hard not to disapprove, but that girl--"

     "Is white?"  Ruri allowed a touch of frost to enter her
voice.

     "No!  That's not my problem at all!"  Usagi shook her
head, her ponytail flying wildly.  "It's not that she's
white, or that she's Spanish, or any of that!  I think it's
great that you have no problems with non-Japanese friends.
But she's...well, kind of cold and mechanical.  And I'm
afraid it's rubbing off on you."

     Ruri blinked.  "You mean I haven't been...reserved...in
the past?"

     "After your fever, you seemed kind of distant.  But you
were starting to come out of it.  Then that Ai girl showed
up, and she's practically a robot!  And you used to be such
an affectionate child!"

     "I did?"

     "Oh, a quiet child, to be certain, but you were always
ready with a hug, you had no problems making friends...But
the only friends you've had over for the last three weeks
have been Megumi, Ai and Yurika.  And Megumi hasn't been
around in almost a week.  It's like you're abandoning all
your friends for these two new ones."

     "Then why don't you mind Yurika?"

     "Because she's a lot like you."

     Ruri tried not to gag at the thought of being compared
to Yurika, even in the most positive light.

     "I've also made friends with Akito.  You don't seem to
mind him."

     "He was a very nice boy."  Usagi shrugged.  "A bit old
for you, but a few years down the road..."

     "And earlier this week, I was out with Yukina."

     "Are you trying to tell me not to worry?"

     "No, Mom."  She smiled faintly.  "I'm trying to
say...thank you for worrying."

     "Oh.  Ummm..."

     Ruri launched herself across the room and tackled her
mother in a bone-crushing hug.


                         - - - - -


     "So what exactly did you tell my mother that we were
going to do today?"  Ruri glanced around the park, but luck-
ily, it was deserted.  Soldier business could stay private
here, for the moment.

     Ai smirked.  "I told her we were going to karaoke."

     "Awright!  Karaoke!"

     "We're not going to karaoke, Yurika."

     "Oh."  The hyperactive teen drooped, collapsing into a
swing.  "Why not?"

     "We have rather more serious things to discuss."  Ai
sighed.  "Such as the fact that Akito appears to be working
for our opponents."

     "I cannot believe that," said Ruri.  "Everything that I
know about Akito seems to hold that he is unwilling to cause
harm to anyone without sufficient provocation."

     "I gotta agree with her, Ai," said Yurika.  She sud-
denly seemed much calmer, much more mature.  It was a trans-
formation that Ruri had seen often enough on the bridge of
the Nadesico.  "Akito is remarkably brave, and has always
tried to do the right thing.  I cannot believe that he would
harm me, or either of you.  He's always tried to protect
us."

     "The Dark World has been attacking people, causing
great harm, and at least one known death," said Ruri.  "That
Akito would be working for them, given their past, seems
unlikely."

     Ai paused, then sighed.  "Allow me to examine your
arguments."  She pointed a finger at Ruri.  "You say that he
is unwilling to cause harm without sufficient provocation.
Perhaps the Dark World has offered him such provocation."

     "I don't see how."

     "We still do not know what their true intentions are,"
said Ai.  "What we know is that they are draining energy
from people, without actually killing them.  They have on
occasion transformed people into fighting machines, but in
every case, said individuals were rescued by us without
harm.  And while Genichiro did kill Tsukumo, we still do not
know the details of that particular power struggle."

     "I agree with that assessment," said Ruri.

     "And while none of these actions are particularly
moral, there may be some very good reason why they need this
energy."

     Ruri considered that, then asked, "Can you think of any
such reason that would cause Akito to assist them?"

     "This fantasy world must take a remarkable amount of
energy to maintain," said Ai.  "If Akito's memory is suffi-
ciently damaged, he may believe that this world is the real
world."

     "That is logical," admitted Ruri.  "But Akito has never
believed that the ends justify the means."

     Ai turned to Yurika.  "You state that Akito has always
tried to protect us.  Even you and I, who have caused him no
small amount of stress in the past.  I would agree with
this.  However, note well that he has been protecting us
from an alien threat."

     "So?"  Yurika shrugged.  "Not much has changed there."

     "Except that in this world, we are the aliens.  We are
Martians."

     Yurika blinked.  "Oh.  Didn't think of that."

     "Akito is also a Martian," pointed out Ruri.  "In fact,
he is more Martian than I am, as he was born on the planet.
I was born on Earth."

     "But your nanotechnology is based on the same technol-
ogy found on Mars," pointed out Ai.  "The same nanotechnol-
ogy that Yurika, Akito and I were implanted with.  And this
world is a fantasy world, where all four of us are reincar-
nations of Martian military forces."

     "You mean we're space invaders?"

     Ai rolled her eyes.  "In your case, Yurika, it's more
like a spaced invader."

     "Setting aside the banter," said Ruri, "I still find it
difficult to believe that Akito is working for the Dark
World.  Voluntarily or otherwise."

     "He might be doing it to protect you," pointed out Ai.

     "Why would he protect her?" asked Yurika indignantly.
"He's always been my Knight in Shining Armour!"

     "But in this world, he's been protecting her," said Ai.
"More, he seems to have developed romantic feelings for
Ruri."

     Ruri blushed mildly.  "I'm certain that you are reading
too much into his actions.  Or more likely mine."

     "Your own actions have been most transparent," said Ai.
"If he does have any such feelings for you, I doubt that you
complain."

     Her blush deepened.

     "And I refer not only to this world," continued Ai,
"but to our own as well."

     "In our world," mumbled Ruri, "I was the last per-
son...that he might have considered..."  She looked down and
kicked at the soil.  "But here...I was the first.  He didn't
remember Nadesico, didn't remember Megumi, or Yurika...or
even you."

     "Here, you were number one."  Ai nodded.

     "You mean that, back on the Nadesico, you..."  Yurika
blinked.  "I had no idea!"

     "Of course not," said Ruri drily.  "I wanted to keep it
from you.  And everyone else, including him."

     "But...why?"

     "Because I had no chance!"  She felt herself growing
angry;  all of her emotions seemed magnified in this twisted
place.  "Between you, and Megumi, and Ryoko, and Inez, and
whatever other girl wandered onto the ship, why would he
choose me?  I was half his age--"

     "Two-thirds," pointed out Ai.

     "Might as well still have been in diapers!"  She
scowled.  "I could be fifty, and he'll always think of me
just as a little girl.  You saw how he changed when he found
out who you were, Ai!  He met me when I was eleven years
old, and he was eighteen.  He will never see me as anything
but eleven."  She sighed, and looked off, towards the hori-
zon.  "But here...we were closer in age.  At least, as far
as he knew.  From fourteen to sixteen is a much smaller
jump, and it's teen-to-teen, not child-to-adult."

     "I think you do him a disservice," said Ai.  Then
chuckled.  "After all, he referred to my adult form as 'a
sour old hag.'  And I'm only twenty-six."


                         - - - - -


     Akito stepped into the throne room and bowed.

     The walls were hung with red tapestries, each bearing a
silhouette of an insect.  Before him was a massive marble
scarab, carved to accomodate a person, as a throne.  On
either side of the throne was a brazier.

     Akara gazed down from the throne at the small golden
pedestal that supported the Golden Eye of Harmony.

     "Magical Girl Pretty Ruri appeared at the site of the
Gekiganger unit attack, within seconds of it beginning,"
said Akara.  "A quick investigation of all residents near
the attack site turned up six families, all of whom own the
cottages."

     "You think that Ruri may be part of one of these fami-
lies?" asked Mie.  She was seated on a bench on the left-
hand side of the room, but despite her distance from the
throne, her voice carried clearly to Akara.  "Certainly, a
Princess' wealth would make it easy for them to afford such
a cottage."

     "No," said Akara.  "All of the families that own the
cottages are from either Yokohama or Kyoto.  All of Pretty
Ruri's activities, with but a few exceptions, have been cen-
tered on Tokyo.  Nerima, to be precise.  However, one cot-
tage was leased on the day of the attack.  To a Nerima fam-
ily, named Hoshino."

     "Hoshino Ruri," mused Akito.  "Rings a bell, somehow."

     "They do indeed have a daughter named Ruri," said
Akara.  "She attend Yurinoki Middle School.  And her actions
threaten the very existence of this world."

     "Now that we know who she is," said Mie, "I will be
more than happy to kill her."

     "No," said Akara.  "Forgive me, but your combat abili-
ties are understrength compared to Tuxedo Ken.  He will
destroy her."

     "If I catch her unawares, before she can manifest her
powers, I can kill her easily!"

     "Must I repeat myself?"  Akara scowled, then turned to
Akito.  "Go.  Prepare yourself.  And remember that she is
not a foe to be taken lightly."

     Akito bowed, and left the room.

     Mie stood slowly, and stalked towards the throne.  "I
could handle her easily!" she snapped.  "How dare you belit-
tle me in front of that...that human!"

     "Yes, you could easily destroy her," mused Akara.
"However, there is a slight chance that you could lose.  And
we cannot afford to lose you.  You and I are the key to the
Marshal's plan.  If either of us are destroyed, the plan
fails."  He smiled slightly.  "If Tuxedo Ken falls to Pretty
Ruri...we lose simply another human pawn."


                         - - - - -


     "Maybe it's because of Gekiganger," offered Yurika.

     "What do you mean?"

     "Well, Akito really likes Gekiganger, right?  And those
two Dark Generals we already killed off look a lot like
Tsukumo and Genichiro, the Jovians.  And Jovians like Geki-
ganger.  Maybe they have a common interest."

     Absolute silence reigned for a few seconds.  It was
Ruri, as usual, who broke it.

     "Baka."

     "What?  You have to admit it makes sense!"

     "No, it does not."  Ruri sighed.  "Both of those two
are dead and gone.  And the third Dark General that I saw
looked like a villain from Gekiganger.  I doubt that Akito
would be working willingly for the villains."

     "Then we must assume that something has happened to his
memories," concluded Ai.  "Which is par for the course for
him."

     "Uh, guys..."

     "If that is the case," said Ruri, "we might be able to
persuade him to come back to us, just by reinforcing those
memories."

     "Guys..."

     "His memories can be very stubborn," pointed out Ai.
"You might have to do something drastic."

     "Guys!"

     "What, Yurika?"

     Yurika pointed across the park, at the figure that
stood at the edge.

     "Akito."  Ruri stood, and walked towards him.

     "Wait, Ruri--"

     "You said we have to try something drastic."  She
quickened her stride.

     "Ruri, we don't know if--"

     "Hoshino Ruri."

     Ruri paused.

     Akito smiled.  "I was certain that it was you.  The
trace led me to this park, and you are the person with the
highest Kirlian Aura here."

     "Akito--"

     He drew his sword.  "You're a threat to the entire
world.  As much as I hate to do this, I am afraid that you
must die."

     Her hand fumbled in her pocket, and drew the Henshin.

     "Mars Guardian, Make-Up!"

     The light seared her eyes, all blue and gold.  The air
around her rippled, and she felt waves of incredible heat
pounding her.  Her clothes shredded and re-formed into the
blue skirt, tight-fitting golden bodysuit and long blue
boots and gloves.  The tiara formed on her brow, and the
Henshin lengthened to quarterstaff proportions.

     "You two, get out of the park now.  Call the police, or
somebody.  I'll do my best to hold this guy off."

     "But--"

     "You heard her, motor-mouth."  Ai grabbed Yurika's arm
with one hand and slapped the other over her mouth.  "Let's
go."

     Ruri turned back to face Akito.  "I do not want to
fight you."

     "Nor do I wish to do this," said Akito.  "But the fate
of millions is in my hands, and you are the one who can
destroy them."

     "Millions of phantasms!" yelled Ruri.  "They're all
phantoms, all fakes!  You and I are real, but none of the
others!"

     "My God," mused Akito.  "They were right.  You are psy-
chotic."


                         - - - - -


     "What the hell are you doing, Ai?"  Yurika was gasping
for breath.

     "He knows who she is," said Ai.  "But he didn't seem to
recognize you or I.  Ruri recognized that.  She gave us an
out so we could keep our identities secret."

     "So what are we gonna do?"  Yurika was starting to come
unglued.  "Call the police?"

     "Don't be stupid."  Ai glanced around, to ensure their
continued privacy, then pulled out her Henshin.


                         - - - - -


     "Distortion Field!"  Ruri spun the staff in front of
her.  A glowing blue cloud formed all around her, then sta-
bilized into a light blue sphere.  Akito's lunge skidded
harmlessly off the field, and she countered by simply step-
ping forward, bouncing him backwards off the globe.

     He stabilized himself, then touched his visor.  "Gravi-
tational distortion..."  He lifted his sword again, and the
blade glowed red.  He lunged again, and her field collapsed
like a soap bubble.  She parried his sword with her quarter-
staff, then swung it around to try to knock him off his
feet.  But he danced back out of her reach, then lunged
again with the sword.

     "Akito, you need to stop!"  She was close to tears now,
and barely managed to dodge the sword thrust.  "They're
using you, forcing you to do these terrible things--"

     "I'm sorry, Ruri.  I really am."  He swung again, and
she was forced back another step.

     "So am I."  She held the quarterstaff in front of her,
eyes closed.  A wind began to swirl around her, and her hair
fluttered, drawn out to its full length.  She opened her
eyes, swept the staff around her and brought it to rest,
pointing directly at him.

     "Gravity Blast!"

     A black field of energy formed around the tip of the
staff, then flowed down to encompass Ruri completely.  It
swelled outward, and exploded into a cone of black energy.
Frost formed along the grass beneath it, and fog sprang up
from its passage.

     The fog cleared, and Tuxedo Ken, shielded by the Armour
of Nergal, strode through the dissipating wisps.

     "No..."

     He leaped forward, an armoured fist catching her across
the face and knocking her down.  She screamed, and tried to
stand, but a metal-shod boot landed on her stomach, causing
her to gasp.

     And the diamond-tipped sword came to rest directly
above her head.

     "For the sake of millions of people, I must do this.  I
hope you can eventually forgive me."

     A brilliant crimson arrow slammed into the side of his
armour, staggering him.  Ruri rolled away and sat up, to see
Yurika and Ai approaching, fully transformed.

     "Flare Arrow!"  Yurika raised the bow, and pulled back
the string.  Another flaming arrow appeared at her finger-
tips.  She aimed at Tuxedo Ken, and let it fly.  He dodged
it, and charged towards them, sword raised high.

     "Particle Blast!"  Ai swung the hammer, as though to
throw it, and it blazed a bright golden.  A crescent-shaped
beam of energy formed, and flew across the room to slam into
the armour.  It faded, and a battered Tuxedo Ken dropped to
one knee.

     "That will teach you to stop and give speeches during
fights," chuckled Ai.  "Make a note of that, Shugotenshi."

     "I'll remember for the future," chuckled Akito.  And
vanished in a spray of golden glitter.

     "We had him beat!"  Yurika stamped a foot.  "We coulda
freed him from the mind control of the Jovian Lizards, or
the Gekigangers, or whatever the heck they are!"

     "Calm down, Yurika."  Ai was working with her palmtop
computer.  "I'm getting some readings from his Boson Jump."
She looked up and grinned.  "With any luck, I should be able
to analyze these readings, and then we can follow him back."


                         - - - - -


     Akito materialized in a spray of golden glitter, and
collapsed to the floor.

     Akara looked down at him.  "I see that you failed."

     Akito managed to sit up weakly.  "The other two
arrived...against all three, I could not win.  I decided it
made more sense to withdraw--"

     "Thus preserving your worthless life?"  Akara sneered.
"Better that you die, if it means taking Ruri with you."

     "I know--she's endangering all those lives--"

     "Idiot!"  Akara stood angrily.  "What do I care of
those lives?  It is my own existence that she threatens!"

     "But--"

     "If this world collapses, I will die!  Yes, those mil-
lions of other humans as well, but if I die, they are of no
use to me anyway!"

     Akito's face twisted.  "I trusted you.  I believed that
what you were doing was right.  And you--"  Words failed
him.  He charged forward, sword drawn.

     Akara waved his hand, and Akito collapsed, screaming,
as pain wracked his body.

     "For once, I should have listened to Mie.  She did not
trust you, did not believe that we could control you with
lies.  Even when the lies were actually truth, though pre-
sented to deceive.  For once, she was right."  He kicked the
boy, relishing in the pain inflicted.  "Well, fortunately,
we still have a chance to correct this...oversight."


Author's Notes:

Sadly, Kitsy is no longer available to assist with this fic. 
So I have gotten her permission to continue it without her. 
Of course, then I had to get in the right mindset to do
so...and sort of failed.

The fic was intended to start getting more serious with
Chapter 20, and it has been progressing down that road. 
So if you find this chapter less humorous than earlier
chapters, it's because it was meant to be.


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