A small gathering of Senshi were there standing vigil over Minako's body as it was carried off by some of the attending palace monks. Sworn to secrecy and a vow of silence, the monks could be trusted to not be tell anyone about this horrific development.
Rei was in tears, unable to actually look at the white shroud with the seal of Serenity at the head, which was now draped over Minako's body. "I can't believe this. Not her," she whispered hoarsely as she sought comfort in the arms of Seiya. "Nemesis hasn't even come yet, and she was supposed to live. How could this have happened...."
Taiki consolingly held her in his arms. "Daijobu, Rei-chan. We'll find the bastard who did this and make them pay."
"To attack a Senshi is to attack all of us," Michiru agreed.
"This really puts a damper on our visit," Aluminum Siren lamented.
Makoto grimly watched the procession of monks make their way down the hall. This was no mere accident; she had been one of the last survivors before. "It's happening all over again," she muttered to herself, a chill running down her spine. This part of the palace was restricted to Senshi and visiting dignitaries--who in this case also happened to be Senshi. "We're being hunted by one of our own."
Suddenly one of the monks tripped on their loose robes and toppled forward onto the hall carpet. The once quiet, dignified procession quickly dissolved as the mannequin that had been posing for Minako slid out from beneath the veil.
The stunned looks on everyone's faces were priceless.
"Cut! Brilliant! Okay, that one's going into the fic," Chaos announced, strolling onto the set as the cameras stopped rolling. He smiled and patted the Senshi on the back. He turned to PallaPalla, who was busy rubbing her stubbed toe. "Great work, Yarf-chan. Way to ad-lib that scene."
"PallaPalla didn't ad-lib that," PallaPalla said tearfully. "PallaPalla tripped on her stupid monk robes. And PallaPalla's name is NOT Yarf-chan!!"
Rei leaned against the wall, smoothing out some of the wrinkles in her Pero Pero pyjamas. "Couldn't you find any extras other than Senshi to play the monks, Chaos?"
"Little problem with that," Chaos admitted as he stepped into the Crystal Palace hallway. "The only ones numerous enough to qualify for a group of monks are either the Ayanami Rei clones, or the Nyan Nyans. The Rei clones are currently working on an EVA fic for Eyrie Productions...and I'm a little leery of using the Nyan Nyans after
they learned all that kung-fu to play those sinister agents from a Fushigi/Matrix crossover."
Pesti-chan massaged his temples as he followed Chaos onto the scene. "As I recall, they flew across the set and drop-kicked you into the ceiling when their paychecks came in late, and...and this is a Saint Seiya blow-up doll."
He gave Chaos a questioning look.
Chaos just made a helpless shrug. "I ran out of mannequins when we did that Death Reborn Revolution flashback at the start of the filming, so I had to borrow something from another fic."
"He looks kinda cute," Taiki remarked.
Everyone froze and stared at him.
"Er...not that I was looking very hard at it," he hastily added.
Chaos shook his head and returned his attention to the scene. "Okay, the set up for this scene is that Minako's dead and has been taken down to the palace crypt," he explained to his soldier actresses. "Now I want a long shot of the hallway as Taiki, Rei and the others slowly turn and return to their rooms. Cameraman Dan?"
"Hai!" the director of photography called out as he was busy co-ordinating some work on an amplifier. "What do you want?"
Chaos pointed to one of the cameras mounted on a special crane. "I want camera two to slowly zoom in on Makoto's face as she soberly reflects on how the events of Sailor Scream are repeating themselves. Keep it a little to the left side of her face, since that's where Pluto is going to walk out of the darkness."
"Um, Chaos?" Ami interjected. "I just got off the phone with the guys working the fog machine. It's broken."
Chaos tore himself away from giving Makoto her focus point for the scene. "Well that should be no problem. Give her a bucket of dry ice and call it a day."
That said, he reverted into an excited li'l SD fanboy and skittered off the set before hopping into his director's chair. However, given his now super-deformed stature, Pesti-chan had to help him into the chair.
"Ready? Action! And cue Setsuna!" Chaos called out from behind the rows of cameras.
Everyone milled around, waiting for Setsuna to enter the scene. After ten seconds of nothing, Chaos encouraged them to ad-lib their dialogue. Of course, it might have helped had he asked them to ad-lib something that matched the script.
Rei: [a little help here?] "So...Minako's dead...what sort of stock portfolios do you think I should take up now, Taiki-san?"
Taiki: "Er, I'm not sure. Is Gundanium big this time of year?"
Red Queen Chibi: [tipping sideways down the hallway] "Chibichibichibichibichibichibichibi!!"
Yarf-chan: [sniffling] "PallaPalla can't think of a good line here! Help!"
Pesti: [sweatdrop!] "PallaPalla, I though you were supposed to be one of the monks in this scene."
"Setsuna? Ano...Setsuna, where are you?" Chaos asked, picking up his megaphone. "Cut!! Okay, where is she? You'd think the Senshi of time would actually show up on time."
The tech crew looked around the set, but couldn't see any sign of Setsuna. "Maybe she got trapped in the bathroom like you did yesterday, Chaos," Cameraman Dan offered.
Chaos sweatdropped, somewhat unamused. "I wasn't trapped. I just had a little food poisoning from those Noonsa tuna sandwiches the caterers brought by."
"Chaos, you twit, that was Anarchy who brought those sandwiches by yesterday," Pesti-chan stated, heading for the offstage wings. "I'll see if I can find her. Dan, can you spare a few techies to help me out?"
Pesti-chan led two members of the tech crew around backstage, working their way through the maze of backdrops, props and camera equipment. They finally managed to locate the missing sailor soldier between the water cooler and a large potted plant Chaos planned on having somewhere in the Crystal Palace lobby scene.
"Setsuna, there you are," he sighed in relief as he sat down next to her. "They need you for the next scene. The vein in Chaos' forehead is already starting to throb."
But Setsuna just stared dreamily off into space. "I'm so much happier here...carrots as far as the eye can see." She then smiled, vaguely aware that she was slowly tipping over sideways. "Niyao...."
Pesti-chan blinked a few times in surprise. "Chaos, you had better get over here!" he called out.
Not much later, Chaos appeared with a number of the other Senshi in tow. The sight before them cause many a concerned sweatdrop to appear in the air. "A-Ano...Setsuna?" Rei asked quietly.
"Niyao!" Setsuna mewed cheerfully.
Ami tried snapping her fingers in front of Setsuna's face, but the soldier of time didn't react. "She's not responding to any stimulus," Ami said to the others. "She's completely catatonic--and I think she believes she's a cabbit too."
"This doesn't make any sense," Michelle stated. "I haven't seen a case like this anywhere before."
Pesti-chan slowly rose to his feet, turning his head towards Chaos. "I have. Chaos, do you recognize this?"
Chaos grinned and nodded. "This is what happened to Ryoko in my Tenchi Miyu fic. She was bitten by Miyu, but a glitch occurred and for her eternal dream of bliss, Ryoko believed she was a cabbit who'd just found the world's biggest carrot field."
Everyone gawked at Chaos.
"Well it seemed like a good idea at the time!" he defended himself. He glanced back at the mewing Setsuna. She was now busying herself with hopping around and trying to gnaw on the shaft of her time staff.
"Okay, here's what we need to do," he stated, rallying everyone together. He looked at Makoto. "Makoto, call a twenty minute break and get everyone who's not a Senshi off the set."
"Hai!" Makoto replied with a nod. She parted from the group of Senshi and started barking orders for the tech crew to go raid the nearest donut stand.
Chaos: [looking around] "Okay, we're clear. Now comes the tricky part. Michelle, I need you to stay close to Setsuna and keep her calm as we find help. Try scratching her belly or playing some kind of patty-cake game."
Chaos: "Aluminum Siding--"
Aluminum Siren: "Siren."
Chaos: "Whatever. I need you to go to the studio two doors down from us where they're filming a Nadia fic; you should be able to find a flea collar and a leash. Borrow one from that lion named King."
Aluminum Siren: [sweatdrop!] "You're not planning on doing what I think you're doing, are you?"
PallaPalla: [dropping an oversized marble on Chaos] "Stop calling PallaPalla that!!"
Chaos: x.x "Haiiii...."
Pesti-chan sighed as he helped roll the marble off Chaos. "Maybe I should help," he suggested. "PallaPalla, try to find the nearest doctor or healer. Get Tofu, Nurse Nanako, Flute; anyone. And find a member of the Tenchi Muyo cast who can help us figure out the cabbit part."
"A psychiatrist might help," Makoto offered as she rejoined the huddle of sailor soldiers.
"Mako-chan, darling, we're talking about someone who's been overexposed to a Chaosfic," Pesti-chan countered gently. "A psychosis is more than implied."
Rei put up her hand. "I could try performing an exorcism."
"Good idea," Pesti-chan agreed. "Contact Subaru Sumeragi while you're at it; he might be able to offer us some advice on that. In the meantime, let's get Setsuna to someplace more comfortable. Taiki, can you get me the stretcher that the Saint Seiya blow-up doll was on?"
Taiki nodded. "Did you want the blow-up doll too?"
Back at Club Anipike, the Battle of the Karaoke Bands continued throughout the evening.
"This should prove interesting," Ruth Loose remarked to Soi as they lounged out by the pool tables. "Next up on the list is a battle of the BGC OVA's Priss and the Replicants versus BGC 2040's Priss and the Replicants."
"Maybe they should hold a three-way tournament against Vision too," Soi replied.
Ruth immediately threw a stack of bills down on the table.
"Fifty thousand yen says a run-amok Boomer shows up and crashes at least one performance."
Suddenly the front doors of the club were thrown open, and in stormed a very pissed off Kaneda. "Okay, who screwed around with my bike?!" he snapped, glaring at everyone in the club.
Tetsuo guiltily sank even further into his chair in the hopes of remaining hidden. Bad enough he still had a killer hangover from ordering that tequila-enhanced drink aptly called 'Akira', and now this. He abruptly became aware of Kaneda's shadow looming over him. Tetsuo looked up and found a very unpleasant Kaneda standing next to his table.
"Well?" Kaneda demanded.
Tetsuo immediately pointed over to Nightbreak, who was busy enjoying a Captain Morrigan's Spiked Lime. "Um...he scuffed up your prized motorcycle!"
Nightbreak: o.O; "What?!"
Kaneda: [dragging the hapless author out] "You're so gonna pay for this, buddy."
Nightbreak: "But I didn't do anything!!"
"Don't worry!" Dark Mayhem called out after the hapless author, raising his bottle of Hard Lemonade. "We'll have a toast in your memory!"
He abruptly got smacked in the face with a piece of toast.
"Wrong kind of 'toast', NukuNuku," he stated.
NukuNuku sweatdropped and gave a nervous, fanged laugh. "NukuNuku's really sorry about that!"
Rolling his eyes, Dark Mayhem glanced over to Demolition and Carnage, who were both engaged in an arm-wrestling contest with Shampoo. The Chinese Amazon yawned, rather blase as she held Carnage at bay with her left hand and Demolition at bay with her right.
"Shampoo want drink from bar," she announced. "You two finish?"
"Never...." Demolition growled. "I'll win this fight for certain and then by Chinese Amazon law, you'll have to start noticing me!"
Carnage abruptly paused. "Isn't the law that if a guy defeats her, Shampoo has to marry him?"
Carnage immediately let her pin his hand to the table. "My Tenchi Masaki syndrome's bad enough as it is without having a cast of Ranma suitors chasing after me," he stated, signaling a waitress to fetch him another drink.
"I'll never give up until I get a date with Shampoo," Demolition managed to gasp between his clenched teeth. "Then she'll have to notice my sexy calf muscles."
But Shampoo didn't seem to be taking him seriously, suddenly slamming his palm down onto the table. "Oooh!" she exclaimed, happily jumping up from her chair. "Shampoo's boyfriend arrive. Shampoo over here, Mikki-chan!"
"Better luck next time," Dark Mayhem said consolingly as he patted a distraught Demolition on the back. "After all, the night is young. You've still got plenty of chances to get rejected and make an ass of yourself before we leave."
Demolition retorted with a Sea Blast spell that left a rather unimpressed & soaked Newt Schneider sitting in the chair.
Suddenly a chillingly cute voice resounded across the club. "Konban wa, minna-chans! Hysteria's back from making her kawaii little fanfic-chan: DigiCharactmon!"
[Cue the facevaults!]
Carnage: [argh!] "That's even worse than the Pon Pokomon fic she did last month. I mean, come on; Tanukichu's?!"
Ruckus: [aside to Tim Nolan] "My 'Video Boy Aya' yaoific was so much better."
Tim Nolan: >.< "too much information!"
Sarcasm: [musing to herself]: "Video Boy Aya….oooh, I like the possibilities."
"Can Hysteria join your kawaii little table-chan?" Hysteria asked as she walked up to the fanboys' booth.
"NO," the three otaku stated in no uncertain terms.
"Too bad, Hysteria's joining anyways," she said, hopping into a vacant seat in the booth. "Ohayo Dark-poppa, Carnage-poppa, Demo-chan--"
Dark Mayhem and Carnage glared at Demolition. "I hate you," they chorused.
Demolition grinned and gave them the V-sign. "Hey, not being her father almost makes up for the Invisible Boyfriend syn--!" He stopped short and then yanked his Sword of Light away from Hysteria. "Hey, stop trying to tie your kawaii ribbons on it, you freak!"
"Waaaah! Everyone's so mean to poor kawaii little Hysteria," Hysteria sniffled. "And here Hysteria wanted you fanboy-chans to be the first to see the newest kawaii little autobiography-chan she helped write."
That said, she proudly showed the guys the title.
Dark Mayhem: [reading] "'Tale of Gendo: the story of an asshole.'"
Demolition & Carnage: "At least it's accurate."
Their unwanted attention on Hysteria's book was most thankfully directed elsewhere as Pesti-chan and an entourage of Senshi carted in Setsuna...who was busy scratching behind her ears with one of her legs. Priss and the Replicants (well, at least one version of them, anyways) were still busy singing away, but now a number of the patrons
had gathered around the mewing Senshi.
"What is this?" Sasami mused. "Setsuna's acting like a...a cabbit."
Hysteria started to excitedly clap her hands. "Oh, that's so kawaii, ne? Ne? Ne?"
Demolition slapped a demon ward on her forehead, ducking at the ensuing Sploot-chan! as Hysteria's head detonated in Cream Lemon.
"Thank you," Dark Mayhem said, nodding to Demolition. He looked back at Setsuna. "What could have made Setsuna think she was a cabbit?"
After a moment's pause they all said, "Chaos."
Sure enough, Chaos came in at the tail end of the group, consulting his schedule. He pulled out a mechanical pencil and started to reshuffle the order of scenes to be filmed.
Dark Mayhem strolled up to the group and took at look at Setsuna. Seated on top of a table, she just stared out at everyone before playfully licking Dark Mayhem's nose.
"Niyao!" she mewed cheerfully.
"I trust you're not considering getting her spayed, Chaos," he remarked as he wiped his nose off. "If you do that, I'm not going to bail you out when Setsuna returns to her senses."
"Minor setback, minor setback," Chaos tried to reassure the others present. "Sailor Scream 2 will be back on track in no time."
Carnage: [aside to Demolition] "And here I thought it had already gone off the tracks and over a cliff before leaving the station."
Demolition: "Looks like it took a few victims down for the ride too."
Akito Tenkawa waved his hand in front of Setsuna's face, but Setsuna just tried pawing at it like it was all a game. "Just what did you do to her, anyways?"
"I didn't do anything!" Chaos protested his innocence. "I was on the set the entire time! Pesti-chan was the one who found her."
The magical girls present all turned to Pesti-chan.
"Setsuna was already like this when I found her," he explained. "She didn't show up on time for a scene, so we tried to locate her. The strange thing is that she's reenacting a scene out of a Chaosfic."
Setsuna: ^-^ "Niyao!"
Pesti: --;; "Can someone get her some catnip, or something?"
Aisha ClanClan: [from across the bar] "Regular, or mint-scented?"
Pesti: "How should I know?"
Nerissa: "Mint-scented. I know Setsuna would want it that way."
Doctor Tofu was called over to do a preliminary examination of Setsuna's condition. After a quick survey (which involved him trying to take her pulse and her trying to nibble on his arm), he shook his head. "Gomen, but it doesn't look like she'll be coming out of this anytime soon. This state of shock she's in has rendered her unable to
act human at all. And it's a deep psychosis to be certain."
Chaos looked crestfallen. "You mean she can't star in my fic?"
"Chaos, I think she'll be lucky if she can work in any fanfiction for the next month at this rate," Tofu replied. "Not unless you want her chasing wild carrots around the kitchen for the rest of your story."
Chaos: "So long as she doesn't shed on the carpets...."
Chaos: [kawaii kitty ears] "They're rentals. I have to keep the rugs clean or I'll lose my damage deposit."
"I'm not letting you do this to Setsuna-momma," Hotaru stated emphatically. "She can stay here under the care of the other magical girls in the club, and we can finish the fic."
Chaos groaned, and began to erase more markings on his clipboard o' papers. "That means I'll have to rewrite and reshoot at least three scenes to ensure she doesn't show up for the entire fic. Hm...well, they're not really serious scenes anyways. I'll leave them in. I'm sure no one will notice." He glanced around the club. "Maybe we could get someone to stand in for Setsuna. You know, only show her from the back. Who here's got tanned skin and long dark hair?"
Two tables down the NA Pluto, Trista, raised her hand. So did FanSenshi Gail, Suzanne and Celia. However, Nabiki Tendo beat them to the audition. "I can stand in for her. But it'll cost you," she said.
Chaos warily regarded Nabiki's proposal. "How much do you want?"
"How much is in your wallet?"
Minako cast a forlorn glance back at Setsuna, who was still trying to give herself a tongue-bath on top of the table. "Are you sure it's okay to just leave her here?"
"Daijobu," Dark Mayhem said, scoffing at her worries. He patted one of Demolition's pauldrons. "Demolition here can take care of her!"
"I what?!" Demolition exclaimed indignantly.
Dark Mayhem gave Demolition a pointed stare. "The way she is, you're going to have all sorts of Anime babes coming up and thinking Setsuna acting like a cabbit is very kawaii. That, or else giving her their deepest sympathy."
A smile started to grow on Demolition's face. "I can leech onto those vibes and try to score a date tonight!" he added.
Dark Mayhem nodded. "Exactly."
"Are you sure that's a good idea?" Carnage muttered quietly to the uber exploder fanboy.
"Better him than me to discover if she hasn't been declawed."
"Alright then, it's settled," Chaos stated, putting the finishing touches on his rescheduled fic. "If we want to make up for the loss of time and Setsuna, we'll have to get right back in there and resume filming." He turned to Doctor Tofu. "If you can, try a shiatsu jab or something that can undo this. The last thing I want is for people to think working on my fics is hazardous to their health."
Dark Mayhem: [shrug] "It's more the readers who have to worry about their health than anyone else."
Chaos: ^-^ "I knew I could count on you, Mayhem! (o.O;) Hey, wait a minute...."