Inside an ice cream parlor, two teens sat in a booth. "May I take your order?" Lily Ringoshima smiled and nodded. "Yes, please! I'll take the chocolate." "One scoop or two?" "All of it!" A frown. "Excuse me?" "I said I'll take the chocolate. All of it." The waitress opened her mouth, found words lacking, closed it, and then opened it again. "Uh... sure. Okay. I assume you can pay for it." "My friend is treating me." The waitress looked over to the other teen. "I assume you can, uh, pay for all this?" The boy blinked. To the waitress it seemed a resigned blink, one full of heartache and woe. The boy knew he was to pay a high price for what he wanted and it wasn't to be found in an ice cream parlor. That much she suspected. Then, chiding herself for reading too much into an eye blink, she asked again. "Seriously. You gonna pay for all this ice cream?" He took out a Visa card and placed it on the table. "I'm sorry, we only take Mastercard." The boy narrowed his single unbandaged eye. "But, yeah, you know, Visa; it's everywhere you want to be, even here! I'll be right back!" She hurried off. Lily turned to her companion. "So, Bala, Leilei said you wanted advice on Yuri?" He hesitated, then nodded. "No need to be embarrassed! I fought in the name of love and justice for years; if anyone can help with your girl problems it's me!" The busty girl took in a deep breath. "Sooooooooo... where do you want to start?" Bala blinked. Lily waited. Bala blinked. "Okay...." Bala blinked. "...I have no idea what you're trying to say." Bala sighed. "Maybe we should have asked Leilei to be here." Bala gestured in the negative. "You don't want her to know?" He blinked... then nodded. "Okay. We'll need better communication then. How about one blink for yes and two blinks for no?" Bala blinked... once. "Sweet. Okay." She leaned closer to the mummy, giving him a bird's eye view of her blouse (not that he cared). "You want advice on Yuri?" Blink. "Sure. Right. Well, the one thing you need to remember with girls is to NEVER, EVER, under ANY circumstances-" The waitress returned, hauling a fifty-five gallon drum of chocolate pecan ice cream in tow. "Here's your first - oooof!- barrel. The rest will be out soon." "Oooooo! Pecans, my favorite!" She gobbled up a scoop. "Mmmmmmmmmm, so *good*. Tastes like happy!" Bala blinked. Lily popped the spoon out of her mouth. "Right. Yuri. Advice. Well, the one (cough), thing you need to (coughcough) remember with girls is to never... never... ugh." The chaste succubus tugged at her collar. The parlor felt very hot. "You gotta remember," she paused to clear her throat. When she noticed Bala's wide eye she said, "What?" The waitress, who had returned with the second barrel of ice cream, shrieked at the sight of Lily's face. "Lordy! Girl, why didn't you say you had food allergies?" Lily, her voice heavy, frowned. "Food allergies?" ^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~ SEVERAL WEEKS PREVIOUS: "Food allergies?" Nurse Sybil nodded. "Yes, dear. You have the same body as Yasuko now. You need to know about anything that your enemies could take advantage of. Plus, it's just common sense." She flipped through her chart. "I don't see anything listed here aside from day laborers. Huh. Is there anything Lily should know about, Yasuko?" The succubus in question glared at the happy expression of her double's face. "No." "Seafood? Dairy? Perfumes?" "Nope." "Nuts?" "Y-" "Oh," Lily chirped, "I love pecans!" "You do?" Yasuko smiled. "Well, nuts are fine. Just fine...." ^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~ Lily clamped her hands over her swollen face. "Oh no! I have... to (cough) warn...." And with that she slumped forward. The waitress sprinted to the back of the parlor. "I'll call an ambulance!" "B-b-bala-" The boy leaned closer. "Warn... Yasuko... not... to... eat... pe... cans." ********************************************************* Dark Heart High Netherworld Educational Institution for The Universal Propagation of Evil (Founded by Mads) ********************************************************* Part 67: Resumptions! by Doublemint ********************************************************* "Yuri luuuuuuvs Bala!" "Quit it!" "Nuh-uh," Amy wagged a finger at her friend, "not until you admit it, because we all know... Yuri luuuuuuvs Bala!" Yuri pelted her friend with the nearest pillow. "See? You deny it, but your denials only make the truth come out." She winked at Leilei. "That Yuri lu-" Mrs. Mikagami took this moment to step in with a plate of cookies. The room went quiet. "Something I shouldn't know about?" "Just boy talk," Leilei answered, to the glares of her friends. She smiled. "Ah, yes. I see. Well, Yuri, dinner will be early tonight. You father is at some business meeting. Will you girls be joining us?" Leilei shook her head. "Thank you, but I have my duties." "And I have a haircut," added Amy. "Okay, well, enjoy the cookies!" After she left, Yuri smiled slyly. "A haircut?" "What?" "Oh, I'd understand if my Dad was joining us but why not today? It's perfect. He doesn't usually work this late, you know." "No. I really do have a haircut." She fingered the cumbersome ward pasted to her forehead. "Do you have any idea how little I can see with this thing AND my hair? Horses have smaller blinders than me." Leilei said, "So, you're just going to get it all cut off?" "No! I like my hair but I gotta change it. I just don't know what I want to do with it." "Ooooooooo," bubbled Yuri. "Can we help?" "Yeah!" Amy smiled. "Really?" "Yeah!" Yuri walked over to her friend and sat down. "Well, the first thing you could do is just part your hair down the middle. But that's kinda-" "-kiddy," Amy offered. "I used to ware it like that when I was a kid." "You know," Leilei said, "I can't imagine you without those bangs covering your face. It seems like you've had them for as long as I've known you." "Really?" "I think she'd look good without them." Yuri brushed her fingers through Amy's locks, ignoring the slight blush that rose to her friend's cheeks. "See? If she cut them it'd look like-" "Hmm." "You think?" Yuri removed her hands from Amy's head, her fingers brushing against Amy's seal; unnoticed, a shiver of light shot through the paper ward. "Well," Amy said, scratching an itch on her forehead, "I was actually thinking of going for something kinda like what my Mom-" Amy Angeleye ground to a halt as her supposedly unbreakable ward fluttered through the air and landed on her lap. The three girls regarded the ward with wide eyes. Downstairs, Mrs. Mikagami screamed. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Across Tokyo, on a secluded compound officially listed as farm land on government documents, a meeting was taking place that would determine the fate of worlds. In one corner was the Matriarch, capital "M", leader of the Steel Thorn Clan. In the other, Troi "Hellstorm" Mikagami, who needs no introduction. Across from one another they sat. "More tea?" "No thank you," insisted the Hellstorm, "I've had more than enough for tonight. May I just say that the roast ham was truly delicious." The Matriarch shrugged. "We don't get many occasions to serve long pork. It was our honor." "Shall we get down to business?" "Of course." The Hellstorm set his tea cup down. "Let me be blunt: it doesn't look promising. Your tactics are antiquated, and your weaponry, while of fine manufacture, isn't up to the task at hand." "Nonsense!" "Kill the fool!" "Cad!" "Ni!" The matriarch made a cutting motion with her hand and the clan members fell silent. She nodded to the Hellstorm. "Please, go on." "The Doombringers have a long tradition of succeeding in the face of overwhelming odds. Six pantheons have fallen before their might in the last thousand years. Gods fight them and lose. You are not gods." A White Sun Whispers piped up, "You tell us nothing new, Hellstorm!" The matriarch's hands trembled, aching to grasp her sheathed blade. The room quieted as everyone watched her fight back the desire. "Yesterday I would have," she snapped, leaving the threat open. Yesterday there had been more Steel Thorns than Doombringers. No more. Mikagami set down his report. "I'll cut to the heart of the matter. You need to fight smarter, as my wife might say, not harder. Kill the leader. Kill the Doombringer Supreme. The resulting power struggle will thin out their rank and the confusion alone will buy you time to regroup." "We have considered that tactic and disregarded it. The Doombringer's lair is heavily guarded. The whole of our clan could assault the fortress and not breach its walls." "But one man could." "One man would have no chance against the Doombringer Supreme." "It is risky, yes, and could lead to reprisals against yourself, but keep in mind what will happen in the coming weeks if you don't." "We do not fear death." The formless cloud of Troi Mikagami rippled. The matriarch suspected he was laughing, though couldn't be sure. "I was talking about enslavement." The clansmen of the Steel Thorns glanced at one another. They had not considered this outcome. Their leader replied, "We would never allow it." "I'm sure you wouldn't." "..." Troi waited. "Who do you recommend we send on this hopeless mission?" "Ki." "No." "You hold something against him?" "Ki is an abomination. His existence is an insult." "He also has the highest kill count in your clan. Five in the past day alone. Your records on him were quite enlightening in that regard. He's young, motivated, and, best of all, expendable." The matriarch considered his words. "Hmmm." "You see my point." A sneer. "I see that Ki is more than a friend of your daughter. He attempts to court her affections. Are you recommending him simply to rid her of his attention?" The Hellstorm's eyes flared. "Honored Matriarch," he announced, voice dripping with disdain, "I do not let petty vendettas interfere with my work. I suggest you do the same." "If I point out the Full Moon to a passing stranger is it my finger from which pours the transient light of that orb?" "Save the poetics for the latte drinkers." Usagi of the Blue Winter Roses charged the Hellstorm, her blade raised high. Into the black mass of her enemy she went. The war cry on her lips cut off in an instant, replaced my the gnashing of flesh and bone. "Hmmmm," mused Tori Mikagami, chewing thoughtfully, "very lean. How'd you know I was on a diet?" "You know, I'll have to deduct that from your fee." Tori shrugged. It shouldn't have been physically possible for a vaguely anthropomorphic dark cloud to do so but he somehow managed to pull it off. "I only took your case out of concern for my daughter. She's too involved in your family's affairs for her own safety. Whether you decided to follow my advice or not is entirely up to you." "We'll take it into consideration." The matriarch spat to the side. Her clan followed. "I'll see myself out." ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Across the city, in a den of vice and expensive shag carpeting, one Yasuko Wareme trudged into her home's family room clutching her stomach. "Ugh, Mom," she groaned, "I don't feel well." Mrs. Wareme didn't bother looking up from her 'Lairs Monthly'. "Was it something you ate? You always have problems digesting shrine maidens." Yasuko's stomach warbled. "No. I haven't eaten any shrine maidens. I haven't eaten anything since yesterday when the mail came and... uh." "Dear, did you eat the mailman *again*?" "...Maybe." Mrs. Wareme sigh. "Dear, I thought we raised you better. The _mailman_. What's next, the plumber?" The younger Wareme's stomach lurched. "Egh. Mother, I promise you I will never devour another plumber's soul. Luigi was more than enough to kill my appetite for day laborers." "Maybe you're just hungry. I have some leftover brats from the school bus I hijacked this morning, if you feel up to it." No, I don't, foul beast. "No, I don't, foul... er... Mom." Yasuko's mix-up escaped her mother's notice. "Well, anyway, just take two aspirin and I'll check in on you later." "Okay." ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Mrs. Mikagami had seen many thing in her life as a crime fighter, corporate troubleshooter, and mother. Insane gods. Tupperware parties. Talking jellybeans. But never before had she witnessed two naked teenage girls suddenly appear in her kitchen. Still, she could deal with these things. After dealing with one teenager for the last few years, what were two more? "Hey," Good Amy said. "Where's my costume? I can't fight the forces of darkness naked." Evil Amy glared at counterpart. "Why not? It's not like you don't flash them every time you transform!" "Louse!" "Puritan hypocrite!" "Simmer down!" Mrs. Mikagami shouted. Calmer, she added, "We need to get you two some clothes." Later, the Amys joined Mrs. Mikagami, Yuri, Leilei, and the original Amy in the family room. "Bala's seals malfunctioned sometimes," explained Leilei, "but never like this." Mrs. Mikagami asked, "But how did this happen?" Yuri said nothing. "It doesn't matter," said the original Amy. "What does is we need to get help." Leilei nodded. "I know the number." Mrs. Mikagami stood up. "I'll call your mother, Amy." Yuri smiled. "And I'll call a barber." The three Amys frowned as one. "A barber?" "Sure," said the young Mikagami. "When are we going to get a better opportunity to see which hairstyle is the best solution for your styling problem?" Amy stared at her friend. "Huh?" "Well, aren't three heads better than one?" Everyone groaned. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Dark Heart High possessed a number of high-class facilities for its students. Such things were well known to the students and public alike. However, there were other facilities, kept out of the lime light, which were restricted to even some faculty members. The Special Weapons Chamber. The Heckmouth. And, above all else, the Special Medicine Bay. It was protected by layers of wards and other mystical means to prevent spying on teachers and certain students seeking medical help. The records kept under guard within the Special Medicine Bay could bring down Emperors and Empires alike. No one got through its reinforced adamantium doors without the verbal permission of Principal Amasuka. All of which amounted to nothing against a well placed mummy's kick. "SECURITY!" screamed a nurse. Bala strode over the crumpled stack of nigh-unbreakable metal. In his arms he carried a puffy, red-faced girl. He walked over to the screaming nurse and held out the girl's body. "W-w-w-w-w-what do you want?" Bala blinked. "..." Bala sighed. He motioned with his head towards the girl. "You want me to help her?" Bala nodded. "Okay." She called for a doctor, then picked up Lily's limp wrist. "What did she... oh." The nurse set the wrist down gently. A doctor ran up. "What is it? Allergic reaction?" The nurse shook her head. "She's cold." The doctor pressed his fingers against the girl's neck. After a moment, he withdrew them. He turned to Bala. "I'm sorry, son. You're too late. "She's dead." ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Ryuji fumbling with his notecards. The looks he gives her when she's around. Always trying to impress her, even in the sloppiest body. She walks away, containing her laughter at first, then sprinkling it like sugar to heighten the experience. Ryuji. Yasuko's opened her eyes, awaking to damp sheets and a cold sweat. Grunting, the teen threw off her covers and sat up. Wings unfurled, she flciked off the wet blankets and stumbled to her feet. Shambling to her bathroom, the succubus clutched her stomach as she made for the sink. The pain was extraordinary. "Ugggggggh. Mah tummy." Yasuko gazed into the mirror. Her expression was sour. "Girl, what's the matter with you?" "I'm treating Ryuji badly," she said, "and I'm sick with guilt." Yasuko blinked. Her face scrunched up. "No! Why should I care for Ryuji. He isn't even cute! And he smells like a rotting piece of s...s...shhhhhhhhhhh. Shhhhhh. Shh. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh." The word wouldn't finish, try as she might. Her reflection stared back at her, bewildered. "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh?" "Motherfffffffffffffffffff?" "Badaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?" "Daaaaaaaaaaaa? Daaaaaaa you? Daaaaaaa it?" She slammed her fist on the countertop. "You shouldn't use naughty words! They make puppies sad!" Yasuko snapped upright, pain forgotten. She looked about the bathroom. It was empty. "Who said that?! Who's there?!" The mirror beckoned. "Over here, silly!" The succubus turned. There, smiling brightly, was her reflection. Or was it? No, there was something wrong. The expression wasn't right. It wasn't her, it was more like... "Lily?" The magical girl gave a wave. "Hi, Yasuko!" Yasuko frowned, more annoyed than shocked. "What the huh-huh-huh... fuuuuuuu! What the heck are you doing in my mirror?" "Oh, no one told you? I died." "Again?" "Yeah," Lily admitted sheepishly. "You're dead?" "Well, I *am* dead... sorta." "Sorta?" "And, uh, about that other question...." "Yes?" Lily smiled sheepishly. "Well, I'm not *exactly* in the mirror." And with that the magical girl reached up and grabbed her own nose. Yasuko was less than impressed. "Wowzas. Can youh wahk anhd chew ghum aht tha same... wha's whong wit muh voice? Wha youh do-" It was then that Yasuko realized she was holding her own nose. Her expression of disblief shifted in the mirror to Lily's guilty smile. The succubus could feel her facial muscles shift to accommodate the grin. Lily willed Yasuko to let go of her nose. "Yeah," the magical girl started, "I know this will take some getting used to but you gotta think about the positives! Think about all the shoes we can buy now that we'll save money sharing the same set because it won't be, y'know, gross! You can show me how to go on dates... well, without that sticky stuff. I don't think we can have any of *THAT* now. Ooooooo! And I can teach you how to fight for love and justice! I'll be you guardian angel, little sister, and cute talking animal sidekick all in one! Won't it be great? We'll be such good friends! Right, Yasuko?" "Right, Yasuko?" "..." "Yasuko?" "..." "Uh-oh." ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Craig Maimsworth puzzled over the blueprints scattered over his desk. He had so many options with the plans he and his friends had dreamed up, it was hard to pick a place to start. Rather than rush in, as he once might have, the last surviving scion of the Maimsworth family started by culling the pile. "Mecha-Elvis? Dragonturds, what was I thinking?" He crumpled up the plan and tried a three-pointer from across the room. He missed. "Bah. Good riddance. Almost as bad as talking to myself." He frowned. Klein, his manservant, knocked at the door and Craig bid him to enter. "Yes?" "Master Maimsworth, a Miss Ringoshima is on the telephone. She apologizes for the inconvenience but apparently it is some sort of emergency." "Emergency?" Craig frowned. "I'll take the call in here. Ready my armor in the meanwhile." "Of course, sir." Shifting the papers on the desk, Craig located the telephone and picked up the receiver. "Hello?" "Craig?" "Lily?" "Hi," she bubbled, her voice on edge, "I wouldn't call but I'm in a lot of trouble." She paused. "So is Yasuko." "What sort of trouble?" "It's, uh, complicated and stuff. Could you just come over to Yasuko's place?" "What? Sure. I'll be right over." "And bring over Ryuji. He probably knows more about this kind of thing than anyone." "Okay. I'll be there soon." "'k. Bye." "Bye." ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Transporting six people in one car would normally be fodder for a joke in Japan. Fortunately, Mr. Mikagami had insisted on importing an American SUV. Domestic models were no match against them on the road. Yuri and her entourage crushed all opposition and quickly arrived at the Medical Bay. "Wow," Yuri said, "What happened here?" A sign hung placed near the gaping hole where the door had been read: UNDER RENOVATION. The nurse at the check-in station handed Amy her a stack of forms at least a foot thick. "Fill out this form in triplicate. Sign here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, there, here, here, here, here, here, there, over there, below there, here, there, and... here." She looked over at Mrs. Mikagami. "Are you her mother?" "No. Just a friend. But she's on her way." "Right. Reason for visit?" Mrs. Mikagami pointed back at the duplicate Amys. "Oh dear, that's terrible!" "I know. I only hope the doctors can sort them out." "No. I mean that since they're all patients they'll have to fill out all these papers in triplicate." "..." ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Planted in a cafeteria chair, Bala sat, unsure and a bit bored. The doctors had taken Lily away from him with nary a word on what to do with himself. Dr. Ikari would normally deal with him on complex matters but he was out of the country on business, or so the nurse had said. Someone would deal with him later, she added, but for now he should wait. No one could find Leilei. Yuri wasn't answering the phone. So he waited. Most people disregarded him as just another passing patient. The few that did recognize him, Sealers and the like, kept their distance. Ten minutes passed, then twenty. And he waited. In measured intervals he raised and lowered his left foot on the ground to create a repetitive sound. It was oddly comforting. Leilei had instructed him to do it in times of boredom. What had she called it? Something to do with body language. Bala sighed. He was never very good with language. "Bala? What are you doing here?" Bala looked over his shoulder. There, standing in front of the vending machines, was Yuri. In her arms she held several dozens sodas. "Leilei found you. Wow. You must have really torn it up getting over here." He frowned. "Wait... that's not why you're here? The door! Of course!" Bala stood up and shuffled over to Yuri. He held out a small, gaudy piece of plastic in his free hand. "Why do you have Lily's transformation wand?" ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Craig Maimsworth hurried into Yasuko's bedchamber. Mrs. Wareme kept licking her lips as she had escorted him through their family's den of vice, undressing Craig with her eyes. He had never felt so unclean. "Blubbering blind Elder Gods, Yasuko. What was so important you needed to call me over? And where's Lily?" The succubus rushed forward and engulfed Craig in a great big bear hug. "Oh, Craig! Thank the Lord! I thought I was doomed!" "Muugggghhffff!" cried the dark knight, his face immersed in pillowy mammaries. She removed herself. "Sorry!" He gasped for air. "N-n-no. It's fine." He frowned. "Lily?" "Yes. Kinda. Sorta." "Why are you dressed like Yasuko?" Lily was silent for a long time. "Well-" "Dear," Mrs. Wareme announced, opening the bedroom door, "I see you got over your stomachache." Ryuji walked in. "Interesting combination. It's so nice to see a girl your age experimenting!" "Uh, thanks?" Ryuji was a teenage girl again. His face was chubby and his body lean. His, or rather "her", wrists were bandaged with electric tape to conceal deep slashes. Craig frowned, trying to place where he'd seen this body before. It came to him. "Wait. I thought you dumped that one for a fresher Steel Thorn." "I did. It just happens the twin of that girl couldn't go on without her sister." "Dude! Not cool!" "What? I can't help that I like the familiar." "Ryuji!" Lily rushed forward for another hug. The results were predictable. "Thanks for coming!" "Mmmmgggggghhhf!" "Oops! Sorry." "'s okay." Craig asked, "Where's Yasuko?" Lily pointed at herself. "I'm Yasuko." The two boys glanced at one another. "Well, you see, I died. Or at least my body did. Me, Lily. And then I found myself in Yasuko's head. If I'm right, I think we're living in the same body now. Or at least that's what I was told by G-" "Wait," Craig interrupted. "You and Yasuko are... sharing the same body?" "Yeah." The two boys howled with laughter. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Andrea Angeleye made her way into the Medical Bay with ease. A guard had objected to a magical woman coming into Dark Heart High's hospital but he had been easy to deal with. They could do so many wonderful things with plastic surgery these days. She wandered for a short while, searching, before finding her target. The soul at the end of the hallway could be none other than Yuri Mikagami's. Once again Andrea was reminded of what her daughter saw in the spawn of the Hellstorm. She was... interesting. Standing next to her was a pink-haired girl, looking all of seven. Soul was nothing notable. What had Amy called her? Leilei? "Andrea?" She turned. "Mrs. Mikagami!" "Please, call me-" "Mrs. Angeleye!" Yuri called. She hurried down the hall. Leilei followed. Both looked like they had been crying. "They took Amy down for her examination but they won't tell where she is or anything!" "I'm sure the doctors know what they're doing. But why don't you try to find what room she's in? I'll check out around here." "Sure." And with she walked off. Mrs. Mikagami's beeper went off. "Ah. Troi found my note. I'll be right back." Andrea Angeleye glanced down at Leilei. The little girl was looking at her strangely. Underneath her physical form, a sense of familiarity stirred in Leilei's soul. Memory. Andrea frowned. "I'm sorry, have we met before?" Leilei stewed in silence. "No," she said at last, "but you did know my father." "Oh? What was his name?" "Lacrimamus." ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Yuri wandered the lower levels of the hospital, more than a little lightheaded. It had been a long, strange day. Amy was in trouble again and Lily... Lily was... ...sitting on an examination table. Yuri did a doubletake. "Lily," she whispered, before realizing how foolish she sounded. Lily was dead. This was just Yasuko. She ducked through the tiny room's door. "Yasuko, what are you doing here?" The succubus spotted her. "Yuri!" she chirped. "It's so good to see a friendly face! No one here will talk to me and I'm a little scared. All Craig and Ryuji do is point and laugh!" Yuri blinked. "Yasuko?" The succubus smiled. "Nope. Lily!" "Lily?!" Yuri glanced over her shoulder. "But Bala said... well, he meant that you, uh, kinda-" "Died? Yeah. Pecan allergy. Who knew?" "But then how-" "No idea." "But your body-" "This is Yasuko's." "So you and Yasuko-" "Are sharing the same body." Yuri digested this information. "Whoa." "I know." "So... where's Yasuko?" The expression on the other girl's face twisted into a thing of pure malice. "Busy trying to think of a way to murder Lily without committing suicide," Yasuko hissed between clenched teeth. Her face then wavered and changed back to Lily's bashful expression. "Er, yeah. She's in her happy place now." "...Right." Lily frowned. "Why are you in the hospital?" "Amy's seal malfunctioned." "That's terrible! I hope she's all right." "Me too." Yuri coughed. "You did happen to see a doctor with two head and a lazy eye walk by, did you?" "Dr. K'cin? He just went to get my, uh, *Yasuko's* file." "Thanks! I'll check by later!" "No prob!" ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Yuri found Dr. K'cin laid out on a stretcher, minus one head. A pair of interns carted him off, reassuring her that yes, it would grow back. In a year or two. "Damn Records Room," one of them cursed. "Fifth one this week. We could computerize but 'Nooooooo', we can't discriminate against the Cyborg Luddite minority." The other one grinned. "Tell me about it." Another doctor yelled at the interns to get moving. He turned to Yuri. "You came in with the Angeleye case, right? Care to help me find her file?" "Uh." "Don't worry. Dr. K'cin just forgot to give alms when he walked in." He held up a large, raw steak. "We'll be fine." "Well... okay." The Records Room was bland, just like the rest of the hospital. A number of filing cabinets towered over Yuri and the doctor. He pointed to one section. "We store the duplicate files over there. Try not to touch the cabinets. We don't feed them too often. Keeps 'em mean." "..." The doctor wandered around a corner. "What was the patient's name again?" "Amy Angeleye." Then she added. "There's also a girl named Yasuko Wareme who need her file." "Thanks." Yuri glanced nervously at the duplicate filing cabinet. It didn't *seem* that mean. It didn't seem much of anything except a plain ol' filing cabinet. Hmmm. Soon the doctor came back. "Got 'em. Thanks for the distraction. Odd though, they usually love nibbling on teenage girls." She fixed a glare at him. "What?" ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Ki Tamida just walked into the Special Medical Bay. The door was down and the guards off for treatment. He shook his head at the state of security. The front nurse said Yuri Mikagami hadn't been admitted as a patient and she herself didn't know where the girl might be. Wandering the halls, he kept an eye out for teenage girls. He found one soon enough, just not the one he expected. "Yasuko, I told you one day you'd find a job too big to handle. You should have stuck with bipeds." The girl frowned. "Huh?" "That's not Yasuko. Not exactly." Ki didn't bother turning around. He had heard Craig before he'd even spoken. There was someone else with him, unfamiliar. He guessed it was Ryuji. "What do you mean?" "Yasuko's possessed by a magical girl." The swordsman frowned. "Pardon me?" "Lily's soul is sharing her body," Craig explained. "So, it's like her ultimate fantasy." The girl exploded with rage, "SHUT UP!" Ryuji asked, "Yasuko?" She shook her head. "Went back to sleep. She's there though." Ki leaned forward to stare into the girl's eyes. "Knock. Knock. Who's there?" "I/I am," she replied, her voice oddly echoed. Ki shook his head. "I knew you were kinky, Yasuko, but this is over the top." He asked Ryuji, "So, Mr. Bodyswapper, is this permanent?" The demon shrugged. "No idea. It's not possession or reincarnation or whatever. And I've never heard of two souls inhabiting the same body on an equal basis." "Huh. Well, this is fascinating and all but have any of you seen Yuri? I need to talk with her before my mission." "Mission?" "Yeah. Storming the Doombringer Citadel. Challenging their leader to mortal combat. Yada yada yada." Craig said, "Shouldn't something like this be a secret?" "Why bother? It's not like the Doombringers will be asking your opinion." He sniffed the air. "Ah, there she is. Bye, everybody." ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Bala stumbled across Yuri at the stairwell door. He had been looking for her, still confused by her tears earlier. How was he supposed to deal with something like that? Lily was dead, Leilei was somewhere, and he didn't have anyone to give him advice. He sighed. "Bala," she said. "I thought you went home." The bandaged boy looked eye-to-eye with Yuri. Under his wrappings he frowned, however, since he was bound so tightly the emotion was concealed. How, Bala wondered, frustrated again with his state, could he tell Yuri what he needed to say? Wait. "Are you listening?" Yes. Yes, that could work. "Look, Bala, I'm sorry about-" Summoning a strange emotion from the bottom of his being, what a more worldly person would have called 'courage', he reached forward and cradled her hand in his own. Yuri glanced down. Her face made a strange motion, like a deer would knowing itself in an archer's sight. A red flush spread over her face. "Bala," she whispered, not looking up. Bala tensed. Had he misjudge the situation again? Could Yuri forgive him again or had that stupid proposal incident poisoned the well? More importantly, if she could forgive him, would she? Yuri, trembling just a bit, brought her other hand up to Bala's and rested it on the bandaged hand. The two stood in the doorway, nothing more said. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Down the hallway and around the corner, Ki Tamaida leaned against the wall for support. In place of his heart, that quivering lump of bloody meat he had grown to appreciate, an old familiar void manifested. "Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn it. Damn *me*." He would have cried if his clan had taught him how. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ A few minutes later, Mr. and Mrs. Mikagami met up with their daughter. "Yuri, your mother and I are heading back to the house. Do you want to come with us or stay here?" "I'll be fine here." The Hellstorm retrieved the Shield of Apollyon out of one of his dimensional pockets. Yuri and her friends had asked him to watch over it until it could be presented at the start of the next school year. "I want you to carry this for your own protection." "I don't need it, daddy. Bala and Craig are here." "My point." Tori handed the shield over to his daughter. "Here. Just in case." Yuri accepted the instrument of evil. "Okay. If it makes you happy." "It does." Mrs. Mikagami smiled. "We'll see you later tonight, then?" Yuri nodded. "Good. Stay safe, dear. And I hope your friend gets better." "So do I." ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ During her search for Leilei, Yuri stumbled across Lily who was standing next to a sickly looking girl. Ryuji? "Where'd Craig go?" Ryuji shrugged. "Dunno. He left right after Ki came by." Yuri furrowed her brow. "Ki was here? When?" "Yeah, he passed through about fifteen minutes ago." Ryuji frowned. "Didn't he find you?" "No. Why, was he looking for me?" Ryuji and Lily/Yasuko glanced at one another. "Well," the Merkla demon began, "you see, uh, er, well...." "Fornicating feces," hissed Yasuko, "he was going to ask you for a last kissy-wisse before rushing off to his certain doom." The succubus twitched. "That wasn't a very nice thing to say." She twitched again. "Fornicate you." "WHAT?!" thundered Yuri. "Well Yuri," Lily began, "Yasuko was implying that-" "I know that!" Yuri turned back to Ryuji. "But wouldn't he talk to me if... he...." "Yuri?" "Oh," she whispered. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Ki Tamida gathered himself back together and made for the hospital exit. His steps were slow but steady, his breathing measured. Up the stairs. Down the hall. Around the corner. Time to fight. Time to kill. Stepping around the trash Bala had made of the door, Ki allowed himself a bit of adrenaline to prime the heart. He would use every weapon he had, regardless of what his family thought. "Kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!" He winced. "Kiiiiiiiiii! Ki! Wait! Stop!" Composing himself, he turned around and watched as Yuri zipped down the hallway and slammed to a stop in front of him. She didn't make bad time, he mused, considering the hunk of metal strapped to her arm. She bent over, breathing heavily. Oxygen replenished, she stood up. "Don't go! You'll get yourself killed!" "I don't plan to die." Yuri's eyes flared. "Neither did Midori." "Don't think you can judge me," he snapped. "You have no *idea* what I'm up against." "I know about death. I know about family." "You have no idea." Ki rubbed his right temple; the vein there throbbed whenever he got emotional. He found it distracting. "No idea what disownment means." "You'll die!" "What do you want me to do? Run away? Is that the kind of man you'd want?" He went on, "Look, this war will end; for one side to live the other must be destroyed. And if I die tonight better now than a week from now in some gutter." "But-" "End of discussion. Goodbye." He moved for the exit. Before he had taken two steps, Yuri spoke up again. "Ki Tamaida, if you love me, you won't go." The swordsman stopped. For a long while, neither teen said or did anything. The weight of Yuri's words was too oppressive. At last he said, "I know who you love." "Ki... please." Ki sighed, turned around, and forgot what he was going to say. The young Mikagami's demeanor was quiet. Yuri wouldn't meet his gaze. She stood stiffly, her head set aside. Her fingers cradled the shield's rim, almost careless in their support. Ki felt his heart tighten and hated it. "I'll see you, then... after summer." Yuri was quiet. "Goodbye," he said, and turned once more to leave. "Wait." He looked back to find her holding out the shield. "I want you to have it. That way you won't get... you'll be protected." Ki stared into Yuri's eyes, unsure of what to say. He took the Shield of Apollyon from Yuri. Exposed all his life to weapons, he was unsure at first at how to handle this tool of defense. Experimentally, he slipped it on his arm. The power of shield spilled into his veins and ran like quicksilver. It felt... right. "Huh," he said, swinging it around. "Well, this should help me save Princess Zelda." Yuri's face strained with a broken smile. He bowed. "Thank you for this gift." "You're an idiot," she said quietly. "I know." ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ The gates of Dark Heart High were unlocked, under their banner stood a young man in polished black battle armor. He didn't cut an imposing figure, not to someone like Ki, but given a few years and the right decisions... who knew? Ki frowned. "Gods below, don't tell me you've come to wish me luck." "Whatever. Anyway, I have something." Craig held out a curled fist. "A gift. I designed it myself." The knight opened his fist, revealing a small earpiece. "Take it." "What is it?" "Combination motion detector / anti-personnel sensor. I visited the Doombringer's Citadel with my Uncle on Take Your Child To Work Day. It was a favor to my Mom since my Dad was... uh...." He cleared his throat. "Anyway, they have invisible hell hounds patrolling the place. I kinda got beat up by one when I tried to ride it like a horsy." Ki picked up the sensor. "And this will spot them?" "Well... I haven't field tested it yet but, yeah, that's the idea." "Huh. What do you want for this thing?" "Nothing. I give this gift out of friendship," he said jovially. A glance from Ki cut through his bluster. "Well," he admitted sheepishly, "I could use a favor." "What kind of favor?" Craig smiled. "I don't know. Maybe nothing. Maybe I do want your friendship, or at least your partnership." Ki snorted. "Are you going to use it?" "I'll see." Craig nodded. "Well, take care of my investment." "Are you talking about the earpiece or me?" A smile was the dark knight's answer. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Later that night Leilei walked Yuri back to her home. Nothing much was said between the two. The pink-haired girl understood, or at least thought she did, that Yuri wanted her space. "Leilei," Yuri whispered after a long while. "I did something stupid today." Leilei studied her friend. The girl was pale with worry. "It's all going to be okay. No one knows about the ward. They all think it was just too weak for what Amy needed." The taller girl was quiet. "Yuri? Yuri, what's the matter?" Yuri reached under her blouse with a trembling hand and pulled out a vanilla envelope. It documented a person's seal, the kind Amy and Bala used. The label on this one read AMAKUSA. ========================================= Author's Notes Well, it's been a while. I started this chapter over a month ago, but events forced me to put it off until now. I tried to make this chapter balanced character-wise and, above all, funny. I hope I succeeded. I won't be trying again for a long time, if ever. But I've ranted enough about Impro in past parts and elsewhere. Let's talk about DHH 67, all six of you still reading. Lily and Yasuko are stuck together, sharing the same body on a 50/50 basis. At least until someone decides to undo it. Still, before that happens, there is comedic gold to be mined here. I offed Lily because, frankly, there are WAY too many characters in DHH. Not that the situation has really changed. I've dropped a few hints on why Lily is sharing a body with Yasuko but feel free to ignore them. Leilei's father is mentioned in chapters 15 and 34. The Yuri/Bala/Ki love triangle has been on the wayside for too long. I wanted to put back into play. Plus it gave me a chance to work with Bala, a character I've neglected in my past parts. Most important is Yuri stealing the information on Principal Amakusa's seal. I did this for one reason: the eventual END of Dark Heart High. Mads said it way back in chapter 41 and I'll repeat it 26 chapters later, DHH lacks direction. There needs to be a goal in mind and that goal is to end Principal Amakusa's attentions towards Yuri. Otherwise, this impro will just drift into oblivion like the rest of the site. Thanks to Mads for not only creating this story but also prereading for me. Extra special thanks to Nicolas Juzda for being the grammar god once again. I wonder how people would even be able to read my parts if not for him. Thanks to Lawrence Chu for administrating Dark Heart High. Now... let's get back to the funny. Thanks for all the memories, Doublemint 3/14/2005 ========================================= Sitting inside a non-descript ice cream parlor were two pale teenage girls. One had her wrists extensively bandaged. The other possessed the most marvelous facial tick. None of this dissuaded a waitress from taking their orders. Freaks were sometimes the best tippers. "Hi!" the waitress bubbled. "What would you two lovely girls like to order? Our special today is a banana-cherry shake!" "Hmm." The sickly girl scratched her head. A lock of hair fell out unnoticed, save by the waitress (who forced a smile). "How are your mint shakes?" "Just to die for!" The sickly girl nodded. "I'll take a medium." "Excellent choice!" The waitress jotted down the order. She gestured to the twitchy one. "And for you?" "Cookie dough. Two scoops." "Okay, will that be-" The busty girl cut her off. "No, I'd like a double chocolate sundae with extra hot fudge instead." "Alrighty-" "No, you dumb cow," the girl snapped venomously. "Do you have any idea what that'll do to my figure?" The waitress replied, "I'm s-s-sorry. I'm just writing down what you-" The twitchy girl whipped her head to the right. "I've had a really hard day. I deserve it." Then she whipped around to the left. "*You* had a bad day? You're not the one who had her body stolen!" To the right. "Stolen? I died. Again!" To the left. "You should have stayed dead." Right. "I didn't ask for this job. God wants to save you, Yasuko. God also wants you to BUY ME A CHOCOLATE SUNDAY!" Left. "Oh, now you're just making this up!" "Are not!" "Are too!" "Are not!" "Are too!" "Are not!" "Are too!" "Are not!" "Are too!" "Are too!" "Gotcha! OHOHOHOHOHO!" "Gerrrrrrrrrrr! Meanie!" "I'lljustgetbothandputitonthehouse," whimpered the waitress, fleeing. "Huh," said the busty girl, her voice strangely doubled. "This might just have some advantages after all."