"Um, hello…? Ami replied a little puzzled by this turn of events.
"You've been in there who knows how long and your first words are ‘hello there’…?” Jerren scratched his head.
"I’ve been locked up in that prison for quite a while. You could be nicer to me, you know? Manners cost nothing.” The girl pouted.
“Look, little girl…” Jerren said walking over to her and patting her head, “We have bigger concerns than worrying about social niceties right now.”
Washus’ eyebrows twitched with each pat, and her smile locked tight.
"Why…I am little,” she said grinning, “Call me little Washu. What’s your name?”
She stretched her hand to Jerren in a friendly gesture. Ami raised her hand to warn Jerren something wasn’t right, and Washu spun around him in a playful twirl drawing his eye line and effectively cutting Ami from sight.
“My name is Jerren Ryo Gregory,” he said taking Washu’s hand. “But you can just call me…”
Washu then gripped his hand so hard that she almost crushed it.
“Ow...Uh, W…Wa...Washu…!” Jerren said as he tried to free his hand from her grip, “Yo...you’re...c....crushing...m...my...hand! You c...can let go NOW!”
Washu let go of his hand, still grinning.
“That was for calling me ‘little girl’ and patting me on the head like I was some kind of pet! A little respect, huh?” She said giving him a cold stare, the smile never leaving her face.
“I am Professor Washu of the Royal Space Academy…the greatest scientific mind in the ENTIRE universe!”
Miniature Puppets of Washu that looked exactly like her popped into existence and stood on her shoulders.
"Yes! Washu is the best of the best, the greatest genius the universe has ever known!” The puppets said in unison before all three Washu’s laughed a little manically, unnerving Jerren and Ami.
"Hello Miss Washu…” Ami began.
“Please…call me ‘little Washuuu’!” Washu put a finger to each cheek in a cute pose.
“Er…little Washu, my name is Ami Anderson and I have to say it is a pleasure to meet a superior intellect such as yourself!”
"It’s a pleasure to meet you too Ami.” Washu offered Ami her hand, making Ami back away defensively. Washu grinned at the young woman’s caution. “I have to say I love the way you articulate. You have a flair for wordplay young lady…"
"Why thank you little Washu,” replied Ami, “I always try to brush up on my vocabulary and sentence structure so that…wait a second; a minute ago you mentioned the Royal Space Academy…is that the one on Todain?”
“What other Royal Space Academy is there?” Washu walked around the chamber looking at her surroundings in better detail.
“I researched Kagato before we came here, and the only person taken from Todain was a female student, about five thousand years ago.”
"I see!” Washu looked amused. “The researchers probably got their information from my…colleagues. They never were willing to admit to my brilliance. Saying a student was taken sounds like something they’d say. I have a question for you two now; what are you doing on this ship?”
"Well you see,” said Ami, “We’re on a mission, or quest if you like, to save the princess of Jurai from Kagato, who plans to kill her and destroy Jurai unless they hand over something called Tsunami.”
"I see,” replied Washu, “So my old student is up to no good again. Some people never learn…and you say he's attacking Jurai?”
"Yeah…!” Jerren said still holding his hand.
"I understand!” Washu looked more amused than concerned at the news. “But you look so ordinary, what can the two of you hope to do?" Washu fixed her attention on Jerren’s hand.
“You ARE strong, I’ll admit…every bone in your hand SHOULD have been crushed into powder…but your strength is nothing against Kagato…”
"Well, we do have this to help us…!” Jerren reached into his pocket and brought out the light hawk sword.
"Amazing…!” Washu who was kneeling in the rubble jumped to her feet in surprise, “The light hawk sword! The most powerful weapon in the Jurain Empire! But…you are not Jurain…are you?”
"I have no idea why it works…I'm just glad it does.” Jerren sighed.
"Very interesting…” Washu turned to Ami. “What about you, Ami? You are quite intelligent but otherwise, not particularly remarkable.”
"I have water based abilities that developed not too long ago. It's funny…I played a character called Sailor Mercury on Earth for a television show. I never knew why I was drawn to the role, but strangely I’m gaining my characters powers, here and now.”
"Mercury…Earth…Sailors? Ha, of course it’s obvious; you are an Earth born descendant of the Mercurian kingdom…a part of the Silver Crystal Imperium that faded into obscurity millennia ago. This ‘television show’ must be based on legends of the kingdom that must have somehow survived…and if you are developing water powers, then you are descended from a noble Mercurian line indeed. But…what could have activated your birthright? Such abilities in so diluted a line should have remained dormant...” Washu looked thoughtfully at Ami.
“Well, I did live on Mercury for a year…!” Ami thought out loud.
"Well, Well, this IS getting interesting, puzzles, conundrums and enigmas abound with the two of you!” Washu said with an even bigger grin.
"Now we have a question for you,” said Jerren pointing at her with the sword. “Where are we and how do we get out of here?”
"You can’t!” She said smiling at him. “You see, this ship has two dimensional layers and you two are now in the reversed section. A top and a bottom layer, mirror opposites if you will, separated by an intersection which sadly, is only one way; the only way out I know of would be to destroy Kagato.”
"You...you mean were stuck here...FOREVER…” yelled Jerren, “…unless that beast is destroyed? What kind of idiot would build a reverse world you couldn’t get out of? That is so stupid!"
"That…would be me!” replied Washu, grimacing, “It was I who built the magnificent Soja after all.”
"You mean…you built all this?” Ami gasped.
"Of course,” said Washu proudly, “everything you see here I made using my own two hands. I built other ships as well; I’m particularly proud of Ryo-Ohki. My greatest achievement however, is my, er…daughter, Ryoko!”
Jerren grabbed a nonplussed Washu by her jacket lifting her face to his.
"You’re the one who made that demon beast?” Jerren yelled, “What is wrong with you lady? She’s a monster!"
"So Ryoko is causing trouble as well,” Washu sighed, “probably Kagatos doing…that doesn’t surprise me at all. He always wanted to use Ryoko for her destructive power. I warned him that I would intervene if he tried anything, but he somehow managed to lock me up in that crystal.”
Ami yawned, the excitement and adrenalin of the last few hours finally taking their toll on the young woman as her body began to unwind. She stretched out to bring herself back into focus.
"Well according to my research, Kagato did attack Jurai some 700 years ago along with Ryoko. Their reign of terror only stopped when Yosho, a blood Prince of Jurai’s royal family engaged them in battle.”
"So this isn’t the first time he attempted this?” Washu’s voice appeared behind Ami making her jump. Jerren also jumped and looked at what he was holding. A Washu puppet leered at his shocked expression. “Ryoko helping him attack Jurai 700 years ago convinces me that he was spear heading his plans for universal domination…and he almost succeeded."
Just then something started beeping in Jerren’s pocket.
"What’s that sound?” Jerren patted his pockets finally pulling out the cube Mihoshi had given him almost a week ago. Washu grabbed it from his hand before he had a chance to look at it.
“HEY…!” Jerren protested.
"And what can this be?” Washu examined it. "Hmm, if I’m not mistaken, this is a GP storage cube.”
“What are you doing with a storage cube Jerren?" Ami turned to her friend.
"Oh yeah...I remember now,” Jerren said as he scratched his head, “A GP officer called Mihoshi gave it to me when I came here to fight Kagato the first time. She thought it might help rescue the princess. She was nice, and had the same colour skin as me…what are the odds, huh? I guess I forgot I had it…”
"So what you are saying is that a female officer gave it to you?” Ami demanded her face flushing with emotion. “Why, pray tell, would she do that?”
“To help rescue the Princess…!” Jerren reiterated, confused by Ami’s sudden tone.
Ami then turned her back on him, putting her hands on her hips.
"I see now…you love those tough, confident female types. I guess I’m no match for her professional demeanor and exotic beauty.” Ami’s imagination was running wild with imagined trysts between Jerren and the capable police agent.
Jerren burst out laughing, startling Ami.
“Mihoshi…y…you’re talking about Mihoshi?” Jerren said between guffaws. “Oh Ami, she’s a nice lady but you’d have to meet her to understand why that is so funny.”
Caught up in Jerrens mirth, Ami couldn’t help but giggle a little herself as her suspicions melted away. On the other side of them, Washu shivered and her stomach knotted at the mention of Mihoshi for a reason she could not determine.
"I promise you Ami,” Jerren stated, “I would never trade you for anyone else!”
Ami blushed at Jerren’s assertion.
"If you two are done having one of your "episodes' then I can now say that this cube is our ticket out of this place,” Washu held the cube above her head. “This cube can warp dimensions, all I have to do is find the right match and...”
She twisted the cube a final time and they warped out of the room and were back outside next to a huge door.
"We’re free!” Jerren crowed, “Were free from the mirror side, it’s a miracle!”
"Hardly! Here’s the door to Kagato’s control room,” said Washu. “I’m sure we can all hear the organ music. Darn, 5000 years and he hasn’t improved a bit…”
"Yeah that’s him all right.” Jerren confirmed.
"Well I guess this is it,” Ami nervously twitched her fingers, “the final battle for Jurai and the fate of the universe begins now.”
Jerren reached to push the door, but before his hand could touch it, the doors swung open. Startled, Jerren stepped back, looking around. Shrugging to Ami and Washu, he accepted the unspoken invitation, entering the chamber. His companions followed on his heels.
Kagato sat playing his organ, a dark creepy symphony reverberating around the chambers corners.
Ayeka huddled, still and small in her force field prison with a sad expression, evidence of the harrowing time spent as Kagato’s captive. She had given up all hope until she saw Jerren stride into the chamber.
"Jerren!” Ayeka exclaimed, joy lighting up her face “I cannot believe it, you are alive!”
Her glance flicked over Ami dismissing her as unimportant. Then Washu stepped forward.
"Who is that small lady? Could it be…?”
“KAGATO…!” Jerren boomed over the music, “I’M BACK AND THIS TIME I WILL FINISH WHAT I STARTED!"
Kagato’s hands froze over the keys, and he rose from his chair. Gliding down the small steps he turned his attention on Jerren, Ami and Washu.
"Well, I see that you have been spared destruction, boy.” Kagato smirked. “Ah, I see you brought friends with you this time, and if my eyes do not deceive me; Washu my old teacher, I thought perhaps you had died in your little prison.”
"You should know well enough by now that it is not so easy to get rid of me, Kagato.” Washu spoke easily but an underlying anger tinged her words, “Your plans stop here and now, if you give up I promise you that these two won't hurt you too badly.”
Kagato laughed at Washu.
"I see you have retained your sense of humor at least. But…I have had enough of this foolishness; I have neither the time nor the patience to deal with worthless children. Soon I will be ruling the entire universe...” Kagato made a small signal.
Ryoko materialized in front of Kagato in an aggressive battle stance. She turned to Jerren a toothy smile spread across her face.
"I see that my blast did not kill you,” Ryoko grinned, “No scars, burns…nothing! I will have to rectify that little over sight; you will not escape me again human!" Her yellow eyes found Ami’s.
"Heh, this is hardly the place to bring your little girlfriend for a romantic getaway…but at least you’ll die together…!” Ryoko summoned her energy sword to her hand and prepared to attack.
"Oh my poor, poor Ryoko,” Washu lamented. “I thought you were less pathetic than this…ah, but you were deprived of a mother’s wisdom to guide you, I suppose some of the blame must be mine.” She nodded to herself.
Ryoko pointed the tip of her blade at Washu’s head.
"What was that, you pint sized piece of garbage!” Ryoko snarled.
"What, you didn't hear me?” Washu shrugged her shoulders, “Deaf to boot, boy I really messed up when I made you…PATHETIC!” Ryoko disappeared then reappeared with her blade at Washu’s throat. Jerren moved towards them, hilt in hand, but Washu signaled him to back away.
"Say that one more time,” Ryoko whispered in her ear, “and find out what happens to that little neck of yours!”
"You know when I made you; free will was one of the extras I threw in just for the heck of it. Thinking and making your own decisions. Ah, an ambitious experiment, but I can see that you are just a tool bent to Kagato’s will, obeying his every command without a thought of your own. It saddens me to be honest.”
Washu raised her hand in front of Ryoko’s face. Uncurling her fingers, three small gems glittered in the light. Ryoko could not take her eyes off them.
"Are they…what I think they are?” Her voice was hoarse with emotion.
"That’s right Ryoko; your power gems that you lost so long ago. Fortunately, they very recently came back into my possession.” Washu smiled looking at the light hawk sword in Jerren’s hand, three gems the lesser. “The only reason you haven’t turned on Kagato yet is because you lacked your gems to overpower him. Here…they are yours!”
Ryoko hesitated but only for a second. Snatching the gems from Washu’s outstretched hand; she absorbed them into her skin.
"I am complete again…” Ryoko crowed, “Yes, I can feel the full extent of my power flowing within my body!" Turning her attention to Kagato, Ryoko flung Washu away into Jerren’s waiting embrace as he plucked her from midair, and pointed her sword in her old masters direction.
"I’m no longer your whipping girl, Kagato! Now I’m the one giving the orders around here.”
Kagato laughed; the sound echoing from the walls and making it seem like the sound came from everywhere. Ryoko slashed at the air in annoyance.
“Foolish girl, I will always be your master…!" Suddenly with no transition, he had Ryoko’s head in his grasp. “However…in light of recent transgressions, your services are no longer required!”
Kagato drained the power kept in her body as she screamed and writhed in pain. The energy discharge forced the three helpless witnesses to keep their distance. The three gems, so recently returned to Washu’s daughter, were unceremoniously ripped from her body, embedding themselves into Kagato’s wrists, and after she was completely drained he tossed her body to the ground as if he were discarding rubbish.
"MARVELOUS!” He shouted in ecstasy. “WHAT EXTRAORDINARY POWER! NOW I AM THE STRONGEST BEING IN THE GALAXY…NOTHING CAN STOP ME NOW!”
Jerren and Ami prepared themselves to fight Kagato as the battle for Jurai and the entire universe now rested in their hands.
"Are you ready for this Ami?" Jerren activated the light hawk sword.
"I am…!” Ami took her vest off, folded it and gave it to Washu who sat cradling her unconscious daughter in her arms.
"I don't know what good it will do keeping your vest safe...” Jerren looked on mildly perplexed.
“Hey, it’s my favourite vest! Now then, let’s put this freak in his proper place once and for all!"
“Kick his butt!” Washu cheered.
"Right…!" Ami took a balanced stance beside her friend, winking at the diminutive scientist.
Without exchanging any words, the duo charged at their enemy.
With a wave of his hand Kagato generated a giant, green energy wave that crackled though the air, hurtling in their direction.
"Watch out!” Jerren blocked the wave with a shield of energy from his sword. Ami stumbled to halt her charge, just barely throwing a bubble field in the path of the energy wave. Waves of pressure beat at their combined fields. Laughing in gleeful malice, Kagato sent a powerful wave of energy like a blast against his enemies’ shields.
"I…its getting stronger…!” Jerrens’ leg buckled and he fell to his knee. "At this rate our barriers won’t hold, we have to….”
Their force fields collapsed and they were sent flying, bouncing painfully along the ground before hitting the wall with a terrific thud.
"Man, this guy is even tougher than before!” said Jerren shaking his head to clear the ringing in his ears.
"All that power he drained from Ryoko along with those gems has made him virtually unstoppable,” replied Ami, “but we can't give up now!”
"Lie still children and I promise to make your end a swift one!” Kagato pointed at them and crystalline missiles shot from the walls burning a clear trail straight towards the fallen comrades. Jerren and Ami groggily stumbled to their feet and held their ground.
Jerren slashed several of the missiles, their pieces falling to either side of him as harmless rubble while Ami gathered her energy, releasing a wave of shining spheres towards the leftover projectiles.
“MERCURY AQUA MIST!" Ami shouted as the bubbles slammed into the missiles, exploding on impact. Everyone present shielded their face as a barrage of debris flew in all directions. Kagato raised an eyebrow at the human girl.
"Why did you shout out the name of your attack?” Jerren readied himself for Kagatos next move.
"Um, I guess old habits are hard to break…” Ami gathered her energy.
"Oh right, you did that on the show…makes sense,” nodded Jerren, “let’s put those attacks to good use and throw everything we’ve got at him.”
Jerren leapt forward leveling a mighty slash at Kagato’s head. Kagato countered with a hastily formed energy sword, barely deflecting Jerren’s attack. As they engaged in a vicious saber duel, Ami looked on and held back waiting for an opening to unleash her own attack. However as the battle progressed it quickly became clear that the human had the upper hand and Kagato was surprised to find himself on the defensive.
"How are you doing this human?” Kagato flew through the air as he tried to keep pace with his opponents’ wild attack, “You never displayed such ability in our last battle.”
“That was five day ago and things change fast,” replied Jerren grinning, “What’s the matter old man, can’t keep up anymore?”
Kagato frowned at Jerren’s glib jibes. “Perhaps I should even things out then..."
Kagato flicked his wrist towards Ryoko who was still lying unconscious in Washus’ arms. She jerked free from her mother’s grasp, pulled into the air like a marionette that had just had its strings plucked; her eyes shining a bright blood red, she screamed a guttural primal sound, more bestial than sentient, her mind submerged beneath Kagato’s will.
Kagato placed his fingers on his wrist, piercing into his flesh and removed a dripping blood spattered gem. With a flick the gem disappeared. Ryoko screamed again, this time in exultation, a bright red glow pulsing from her left wrist.
“Now let us see how you handle this, you pitiable fools…”
With his new found super strength, Jerren flipped around and sprang directly at the floating Kagato punching him hard in the stomach and sending him flying into his organ, demolishing it and burying him beneath the rubble. Ryoko shot multiple energy blasts at Jerren but the light hawk wings formed around him, blocking them all. Ami then ran in front of Jerren, spinning gracefully, bubbles shot from her hands cascading at Ryoko. Snarling she dodged them and teleported from sight.
"Watch out Jerren, she’s being controlled by Kagato,” said Ami watching every corner of the room, ribbons of water vapor twirling her body, “She has been reduced to a beast like state, I don’t think she is even conscious.”
"Ah, I see…” replied Jerren constantly shifting his battle stance to keep an eye on every moving shadow, “With the glowing red eyes and screeching like a bat, I thought maybe she was finally warming up to us, but ‘controlled’ sounds...AMI!”
Ryoko reappeared above Ami and fell towards her with an over head strike aimed at splitting the girl in two. Jerren sprang between them engaging her blade with his own.
"Don't tell me you forgot about me already?” Jerren blocked Ryoko’s multiple blows, “We’re not done yet…!”
Ryoko’s blows went wider with each strike and her next attack missed completely. Seeing an opening Ami shot thin strands of vapor that entwined Ryokos’ limbs, immobilizing her.
"Jerren, aim for her left arm…” shouted Ami pointing at the glow beneath her skin, “That’s where the gem is. Take it out and the shock might free her from Kagatos influence!”
"Got it…” Jerren flipped his wrist and took a more controlled slashing posture, “Get the gem!"
He then sliced her left wrist above the glow, the blade passing through her flesh as though it were made of no substance at all. The hand and gem expanded and then contracted into nothingness. Ryoko screamed shrilly at the loss of her power and slumped unconscious in the embrace of Ami’s tendrils. Ami lowered her unresponsive body softly back into Washu’s waiting arms.
"Well that takes care of one problem,” said Jerren panting, “now for the other one.”
From under the rubble of his once grand musical organ, Kagato reemerged and flew into midair, sending debris flying in all directions. His temper roused, he turned his attention on Jerren.
In icy fury, Kagato raised his hand; green energy coalesced forming a blast of powerful force. Jerren did not wait for the attack, running inhumanly fast, he jumped into the air ready to attack his enemy once again. Kagato fired his blast but Jerren deflected it with a simple flick with the light hawk sword. Distracted, Kagato did not see Ami shoot glowing spheres from her hands, hitting him directly, but throwing him out of Jerrens’ reach.
"A direct hit…!" Ami smiled.
Kagato teleported behind her and grabbed her neck, choking the human woman.
"AMI…!” Jerren cried out, scrambling towards them.
"I wonder what you would look like as a statue girl. Let’s find out?””
Spreading from her neck, her body began to turn to stone.
"J…Je…Jerr…en!” she croaked in desperation, her body becoming less responsive with each passing second. Jerren charged into Kagato stabbing him in the neck. Kagato staggered away, dropping Ami. Jerren dropped his sword clasping Ami close to him.
"Are you ok, Ami?” Jerren asked softly. Ami’s body began return to its original state.
"Yes...Yes I am!” replied Ami rubbing her sore throat, “My goodness, that was a close call…”
Just then Kagato strode behind Jerren, casting his shadow over them.
"Jerren, WATCH OUT!” Ami shouted as Kagato grabbed him by the head.
"I have had enough of you boy,” Kagato squeezed Jerren’s head, “This time you will die by my hands!” Kagato sent volts of electricity coruscating though his body and Jerren screamed in agony. His body flailed uselessly in his enemies iron grip.
Ami scooped the light hawk sword into her hand, fumbling with the hilt as her body still wasn’t fully recovered from the petrifaction it went through a moment ago. Activating it, a powerful shock doubled the young woman over. Reaching out she grabbed Kagato’s robes and the painful shock passed into his body, surprising him, and Jerren fell free from his hold. Furious, Kagato recovered himself and grabbed them both by their necks, holding their bodies free from the ground their struggles to no avail as his grip was too tight.
"This time I will…” He growled, but before he could say another word, the light hawk sword spun off the ground through the air, activating and stabbing him through the chest.
“W…what…?” Kagato stumbled back, a burning feeling spreading through his body.
His body gave an inadvertent spasm releasing Jerren and Ami as his body began to fall apart, like sand blown by the wind.
"Well…done, humans,” a grimace of pain replaced his smile if only for a second. “You've won…!”
Calm settled his features as he completely disappeared into dust.
"You did it, you defeated Kagato!” Washu exclaimed punching the air in triumph.
"We did…?” replied Jerren, stunned.
“We defeated the most wanted criminal in the entire galaxy and saved the whole universe!” Ami hugged Jerren laughing softly.
To be continued.....