Distorted by the droplets of foamy sea water that the wind had splattered across her visor, Ami could see the seven glowing spots in the sky grow larger as they approached. They had just corrected for a course adjustment of her ice ship, so the blue-haired girl was now completely sure that they were coming for her. What should she do? Maybe I could ask Jadeite for another glamour and play the half-starved, shipwrecked survivor?Feeling her cheeks warm at the thought of the curly haired blonde, Ami immediately chided herself for the reaction and rejected the idea. She shouldn't bother him for every little thing, and besides, that strategy would buy her very little time at best. She would be taken to their ship, where her story would fall apart near-instantaneously under questioning. On her visor's display, she could now see the leader of the cone-shaped formation stretch out her hand and point at the slender figure on the iceberg. The time for deception had passed.
Ami disappeared below deck. Maybe they'd just go away if they couldn't find an entrance? No, that was wishful thinking. The dimensionally displaced schoolgirl looked up at the ceiling, as if she could track the seven white-dressed figures through the thick layer of ice. If they were really determined, they could probably melt their way through the frozen layer with little difficulty. The continuous thundering of the waves against the hull of Ami's vessel reminded her that the incoming fairies had to be very determined to be flying through this storm. With a sigh, the senshi resigned herself to the fact that she would probably have to fight them, and put her hands together in front of her chest defensively. A moment later, she became a column of swirling black energy that shot toward the closest sailor-suited statue. A glow like red-hot embers flared up behind the frozen eyes, and the golem's facial features now mirrored Ami's previous expression. Now moving the body of the possessed simulacrum, she transported herself back to the icy plain forming the top of her ship. Maybe, just maybe, she could talk her way out of this.
Amidst the howling of the storm, the seven glowing forms streaked down from the tumultuous sky towards the transparent figure waiting below. As they approached, sheathed in a layer of magic that incessantly shed golden sparkles, Ami could make out more details. All seven incoming fairies were female, and they certainly liked to leave no doubt about that. Since coming to this world, only some of the underworlders whom Ami had met had been wearing less. Possibly due to the difference in climate, she thought. She hadn't exactly been in these warm, tropical regions during her brief stint on the surface. In any case, the white swimsuit-like outfits that the women were wearing seemed practical, in that they wouldn't get in the way while flying, and that occasional splashes from the waves below wouldn't weigh the fabric down much. The large cut-out circle on the back made sense too, as the dragonfly-like wings protruding just below the women's shoulder blades needed to be able to move freely. The smaller gap in the front, strategically positioned to reveal a good amount of cleavage, had to be for vanity purposes, though.
Ami took a wider-legged, more stable stance as she looked up at the flying intruders, who broke formation as they spread out around her. Dripping golden powder as if it was snow, the fairies slowly flew around the young Keeper, their twin pairs of insectile wings beating with an odd tingling noise. As the girls circled her like vultures, Ami noted that each one had a different hair colour, which, when taken all together, formed the whole spectrum of a rainbow. Large, triangular silver tiaras prevented strands of hair from sliding down into the women's faces.
"Evil creature! You are in violation of the Mukrezarian Blockade! Surrender and come quietly, or we will be forced to destroy you!" the indigo-haired flier demanded, hovering in the air before Ami.
"I have no interest in fighting you. Can't you just let me pass peacefully?" the girl made of ice and water replied, trying hard to keep her exasperation out of her voice.
"No! We know that you are transporting something terrible, and we won't let you get away with it!" another fairy, the blonde one, interrupted, puffing out her chest. She had roundish, child-like facial features and was the shortest of the bunch, and so the intimidating gesture fell flat.
"I'm serious. I don't want to hurt you. Please leave!" Ami pleaded, putting her hands on her hips.
"You? Hurt us? Ohohoho!" the green-haired one laughed, and on an unseen signal, all the fairies shot up into the air.
Like three glitter-trailing comets, the blond-, red-, and orange-haired fairies came back down first. "You are facing..." they began, stopping their forward movement to hover in a formation that formed an upward-pointing equilateral triangle.
"... the most elite full-fairy..." three more voices joined in, and the girls whom Ami had come to think of as Violet, Blue, and Green, took position between their predecessors, forming a downward-pointed inner triangle.
"...aerial recon force..." Indigo completed the pattern, zooming into the dead centre.
"...of the Shining Concord Empire!" the fairies fluttered closer together, narrowing the gaps between each other enough that their wing tips nearly touched. In unison, they shouted "Justice will triumph!", and each one struck a pose, angling knees or extending arms and legs so that the entire group of fairies resembled an opening, glittering flower.
Ami blinked, somewhat baffled by the spectacle. Is this how our enemies feel when Sailor Moon gives her speech? Out loud, she latched on to a specific part of their introduction "Excuse me? Most elite out of how many?" she asked curiously.
Blushing, the red-haired fairy snapped "That's not important! And who are you, villain, just so we know who we defeated?"
Ami's senshi nature screamed at her to go through a similarly intricate series of poses while she introduced herself. While floating in the air and ocean waves loomed behind her. Displaying great restraint, she resisted the urge. She would probably end up thoroughly drenching herself if she tried to control the waves like that, and flying in a borrowed body was right out. The skills she was learning from Jadeite relied on conditioning the body to channel magic properly at least as much as they did on knowing what she was doing. That had its own, worrisome implications, but at least it couldn't be as bad for her health as being cut up with a scythe. In any case, telling who she was to the 'heroes' would be stupid. Nobody needed to know that Keeper Mercury was interested in the Avatar Islands for some reason. "Sorry for my rudeness, but I do not intend to tell you my name," she excused herself.
"No matter. Camilla, Melissa, Anise, find a way inside the iceberg! We'll deal with the enemy!" the central indigo-haired fae ordered, prompting Blond, Blue, and Red to break formation. "Have at you!"
The rise of the indigo-haired fairy's right hand was all the warning Ami got before a stream of lightning shot from her opponent's fingers. With a short backward hop, she dodged the pinkish blast that carved sizzling grooves into the ice.
"She's fast!" came a voice from her left.
"Not fast enough. NOW!" the four fairies focusing their efforts on the young senshi all attacked at once. Dancing reflections flashed on the ice as four bands of lightning hurled themselves toward Ami, but only one was on target. The others were aimed such that, no matter which way she dodged, she would intersect the path of one. Crackling electricity crawled over her shoulder, making the attached limb twitch. With a hiss, steam escaped from cracks in the shell.
"Had enough yet?" the lead fairy asked, flashing a confident grin at her opponent, taking in the way her left arm hung down uselessly. "Last chance to surrender!"
Ami grimaced. The lightning as such wasn't particularly dangerous to her golem body, as its ice hull was already regenerating. It was certainly nothing on the level Keepers like Arachne or even herself could throw around. Her main problem was figuring out a way to scare off her opponents without having to seriously hurt them. They were all slightly taller than her, but they also looked delicate and fragile. The thought that she might lose didn't even cross her mind. This was a fight on her own territory. "I am less than impressed," she drawled, trying to go for outright intimidation this time. "Observe!" the red light in her eyes intensified, and she raised the damaged arm, which knit itself together even as her opponents looked on, eliciting startled gasps.
"Just because she can regenerate from one shot doesn't mean she can do it for more!" Violet fairy shouted, "Keep it up!"More bolts of lightning caressed Ami's surface, scorching the golem's sailor uniform until it smoked and blackened from the abuse. The possessed statue could feel parts of her surface boil away and more steam release from the water kept within, but simple grabbed up some seawater with her Keeper powers to replace what was being lost. Maybe weathering the best her attackers could throw at her would make them go away when they realised the futility of it? However, she really should do something about the digger trio that had landed a short distance away and was now searching for the spot where the ice was thinnest.
"Shabon Spray Freezing!" The blast of supercooled bubbles raced forward to the three scantily-clad girls, lighting the area with its bluish glow.
"I'm on it!" a bell-like voice shouted out from above, and the green-haired fae swept down in a crescent-shaped arc, interposing herself between the projectile and the team of diggers. "Reflect!" Green shouted triumphantly, and the spell struck a glass-like hexagonal barrier that sprang into existence in front of her. "Aargh!"
Instead of reversing direction like the girl had expected, the spell merely bounced off skyward, and the impact sent the light-weight woman careening toward the teammates she had been trying to protect, bowling them over as she skidded over the slippery wet ice before dropping over the edge and splashing into the sea. Ami hoped she could swim.
"Tilia!" the other fairies shouted in fright.
"I'll get her," the blue-haired ex-digger exclaimed while she stood up.
"Damn, she's strong!" Orange complained, anger swinging in her voice, mixed with some worry at her lightning doing nothing more than making her opponent sparkle brightly and surrounding her with steam.
"She's made of ice," another voice interrupted, "use fire, you dolts!"
"Sooo inelegant!" the violet-haired fairy whined, already forming a red glow in her cupped hands.
Out of the corner of her eye, Ami saw the blue-haired fae climb back onto the ice plateau with the one who had gone over board slung over her shoulder, and breathed out in relief. Both looked like half-drowned dogs, and their wings were hanging limp and useless from their backs. An approaching orange glow alerted her to the danger she was currently in. An entire barrage of fireballs was converging on her position. All of the iceberg reflected the fiery glow of the explosion, lighting the twilight bright as day for an instant.
"Yay! Direct hit! We did it!" the blond fairy cheered, dancing a little jig with her arms held high in a victory pose.
"Sorry to disappoint, but that did nothing. Leave!" Ami commanded sternly as the storm blew away the cloud of steam veiling her. Perfect. That should get them moving, she hoped. The fireproof spell she had researched for the Reaper duel was proving to be more useful than she had expected. She took a step forward in the melt-water filled crater that the bombardment had opened under her feet, frowning when her enemies looked smug rather than intimidated.
"Gotcha!" The cry came from directly behind the possessed statue, and she could see a flash of movement reflected in the pool of water swirling around her legs. Acting on reflexes drilled into her during the painful close-combat training with Cathy, she ducked. A half-moon shaped sabre whistled through the space her neck had occupied an instant before, and the senshi's left hand already scythed backward in an arc enhanced by the pirouetting motion she was using to whirl around and face her attacker. With a hard thump, the appendage struck into flesh like a hammer, and Ami could see the redhead tumble back, holding her throat and making a strangled noise as her weapon dropped out of her nerveless fingers. The Fae's ruby eyes met the Keeper's blazing ones and teared up before she dropped to her knees.
"NO! Anise!" the chorus of bell-like voices sounded more frightened and angry this time.
Ami gaped. She hadn't aimed for the neck, that hit had been an unfortunate accident. That looked dangerous and needed immediate help, or the woman might asphyxiate. The senshi took a step toward the woman writhing on the ground to help her, but her feet wouldn't cooperate. Looking down, she saw that the pool had turned into ice, a thin layer of which was even now creeping up her legs.
"You aren't the only one who can control frost, monster!" the indigo-haired fairy sneered with hate in her voice, moving her hands continuously in a circle while more ice proceeded to encase Ami.
The young Keeper managed to turn her head back to the redhead before it too was immobilised. Immediately, the blonde landed next to her fallen comrade and dragged her away, then knelt down and uncorked several flasks hanging from her belt as she started to treat the choking fairy. Feeling guilty, Ami opted to refrain from simply transporting herself out from underneath the ice. Maybe if she remained still for now, the idea that the team of rainbow-coloured attackers should retreat would have enough time to sink in?
"Quickly, sisters, while she is trapped! The sealing formation!"
All of the remaining fairies landed around the Sailor Mercury statue that was nearly indistinguishable from the ice covering her. Ami's heart sank. What would it take for them to give up? At least the blonde was still tending to the redhead and not joining into the battle.
"Right! Everyone, join your magic and keep her trapped until our ship can get here!" Glowing lines crept along the uneven ice of the floor, connecting the five standing fairies with each other and forming a pentagram enclosed by a pentagon. The magical beings glowed like golden candles in the on setting darkness, still shedding golden glitter that was carried away by the winds. Each fae was extending her palms toward Ami, pouring power into a barrier that had appeared around her location.
A ship was coming? That changed the situation. Ami didn't want to have to fight even more innocents, and destroying the ship's rudder sounded like the best way to stop it before it could get here. Unfortunately, that would leave these glittery annoyances on her vessel, and they were certainly magically powerful enough to find and destroy her dungeon heart while she was away on an errand. This was a problem. She would have to knock them out as gently as possible. However, when she tried to move herself out of her frozen coffin, she encountered an unexpected resistance. Outside, the five fairies buckled as if struck. Ami would have frowned if she could have, and tried again.
"Ugh! Steady now, sisters!" the indigo fairy, who seemed to be the leader of the group, encouraged the others. Despite the encouraging words, she was swaying as much as her younger-looking siblings. "She can't possibly keep this up! No! STEADY!"
Ami winced in sympathy when the green-haired fairy faltered, causing the seal to waver and violently disintegrate under the opposing forces. The thunderstorm of multi-coloured lightning springing from the released magics shattered her prison and blew her captors off their feet. They were lying on the ice, groaning and gasping in pain. Shallow red cuts from flying shards marred the white of their outfits in several places. At least their confidence seemed as shattered as their ward now.
"No, impossible! What is she? Not even Keepers should have reserves like that!" Violet mumbled in disbelief, holding her head.
"She's too powerful! Please, sisters, return to the ship! Save yourselves!" the green-haired fairy implored the others.
Inwardly, Ami was smiling and agreeing whole-heartedly with her. Yes! Go away! You don't have to suffer for no reason!
Blue agreed. "Yes, you need to warn the captain of the danger! Please go, we don't all need to die here!"
"Camilla, Melissa, we won't abandon you! Don't dare ask that again!" the redhead, who had her arm slung around the blonde's shoulders and was leaning on her, croaked out.
"Yeah, we aren't leaving anyone behind! We are going to kick this monster's arse!" Orange declared, shooting a glare at Ami.
What? Why were they - Oh. Ami understood what was going on now. The two fairies who had taken a bath in the ocean couldn't fly with those sodden wings, and their friends wouldn't abandon them. Just how she wouldn't dream of abandoning Usagi or Rei to save herself.
The five dry faeries exchanged looks, and then all nodded in determination. Bleeding and bruised, they turned as one to face their opponent once more, and dropped into battle stances.
Ami tried to dissuade them again. "Wait! I really don't want to hurt you! Just give up already. Please!"
"She must be weakening too! We have a chance," Orange misinterpreted the attempt at diplomacy completely. "Let's all attack togeth- eek!" "What the!?" "Cold! cold!" "Where do- aiiie!"
Enough was enough. Before the seven could injure themselves more trying to fight her, Ami tapped her store of stashed-away Shabon Spray Freezings. Appearing only a hand's width in front of their targets and striking with no warning, the spells froze the fairies' legs and lower bodies, rendering them immobile. Ami quickly walked to the closest one, Indigo, who kept throwing lightning bolts at her in growing desperation and shivered in dread. The simulacrum put her frozen palm on the woman's collarbone, despite the fae's efforts to lean away. Both the golem and her victim were surrounded by a black aura for a few seconds, and then the latter slumped and went still.
"Nooo! Dandel! Leave her alone! Leave her the hell alone you abomination!" Green - Tilia - screamed helplessly.
"She- she just sucked the life out of her!" another voice stated in shock, its owner trying hard to not burst into tears. Violet had already lost that fight, and was sobbing uncontrollably.
Ami felt incredibly depressed listening to them. She wasn't trying to frighten or hurt them, she just needed them out of action while she went to sabotage their ship. And a quick energy drain was the most gentle method she had. They would be fine once she returned the energy, she had seen that often enough. She quickened her pace as she walked toward Orange, heedless of the lightning that was still being sporadically thrown in her direction.
"Roselle! Catch! Save yourself!" the blonde in the back cried, having just untangled something from her belt. Its shape, that of a miniature amphora, raised warning signs in the back of Ami's mind. What came in- oh yes, that magic-dispelling water. If it hit the ice trapping Orange, who was apparently called Roselle, then- the golem was suddenly in front of the trapped Fae without crossing the intervening space. The woman's eyes widened in shock when a cold and hard palm slammed down on her collarbone. With no time to spare, Ami tried to drain her as quickly as possible before she could get loose. The amphora impacted and burst, scattering a rain of fine droplets onto both the fairy and her captor. The energy drain abruptly ceased as both the entrapping ice and the golem turned into slush, much to Roselle's and Ami's surprise.
"It - it was conjured? Roselle, you must get that information back to the ship! That's the way to beat her!"
Anger-filled orange eyes came to rest on the black column of energy that was rapidly coalescing into human shape, sprouting protrusions that narrowed into the shape of a head, arms, and legs. Before Mercury had completed her forced manifestation, Roselle was already attacking. In human form, the lightning hurt a lot, and Ami heard herself scream before she managed to move herself below deck. Lying on her belly and feeling the cold of the ice floor even through her uniform, with muscle spasms crippling her attempts to get up, the senshi used her Keeper sight to see what her opponent was up to. Oh, the fairy was shaking her indigo-haired friend, trying to wake her up, instead of making a run for the ship. Ami felt horrible for taking advantage of the woman's compassion like that, but released another stored freezing spell at her legs remotely. If the vulnerability of her minions became widely known, they would become worthless for combat, and then she would be forced to use real living beings as soldiers. Possessing another simulacrum, the teenager moved herself back uponto the battlefield, behind the fairies, and rapidly finished the distasteful task of sending them all into unconsciousness.
That left the question what to do with her captives, both in the short and the long term. She didn't have enough gold on the ship to create a proper prison, but a room with no exits should be safe enough for the moment, now that she had them drained of energy. Shudder. I really am becoming a monster. What would Usagi, Rei and Luna say? In any case, she couldn't leave her beaten opponents outside in the wind and trapped up to their waists in ice. They would freeze to death. Reaching a decision, Ami moved the helpless fairies into one of the vessel's chambers, wrapped them into several layers of conjured blankets, and positioned some guards. That should hold them for the moment. She would deal with them properly once she had neutralised the approaching ship.
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|Chapter 47: Time Flies||Chapter 49: Dealing with the Blockade Ship|
- Alterverse rule is in effect. History has changed widely from canon, and thus future events from canon are not set in stone to happen at all, much less in a specific way.
I have already planned some rather significant divergences that will happen due to Ami's absence.
Frankly the idea of a bunch of barbie-sized Sailor-Senshi knockoffs fighting against the genuine article who is only really trying not to hurt them cracks me up!
I had considered this, but tiny fairies just strike me as a bit too fragile to be of much use in battle, especially given the existence of homing projectiles, so I went with the human-sized ones from the games. Magic could help, of course, but still. Or maybe they are just using a spell to increase their size? Hmmm.
Question: Since they are now qualifies as prisoners, can she not transport them back to her main dungeon? Or would she be hitting that problem of max movement range between territories not overlapping? Or failing that, can she use Jadite's teleport magic (or him personally, if she is still getting the hang of it) to move them?
She can't transport them directly with her Keeper powers due to the max range limitation, but she could get Jadeite to do it.
- If I'm remembering right, the fact she has an active Dungeon Heart lets her get around the distance limit with Dungeon teleports. Else her travel to the ship would require a lot of little hops across the open ocean and I remember her just making a straight jump from one to the other.
This is partially correct. She, and only she herself, can enter one of her dungeon hearts and exit at another. The maximum range limitation on transporting others or objects remain.
Though I was a little confused that those four Mistresses agreed to work for Keeper Mercury considering her no torture policy and thus probably removing Malleus' torture chamber would make them decide to find employment elsewhere. Perhaps they merely heard the rumors about Keeper Mercury's kinks with possession but that doesn't explain why she hired them.
That's mostly a case of inertia on the Mistresses' part. When Ami took over the dungeon, its portal to the Underworld was out of action due to Malleus destroying it to prevent desertion. She had two options: 'inherit' Malleus' minions by hiring them, or attempt to kill them all, either by fighting them or forcing them to leave and walk into the desert. Not really a choice at all for a good girl like her.
And yes, she did dismantle the torture chamber. Now that the portal is functional again, it's quite likely that some creatures will leave once it becomes clear exactly what kind of Keeper she is.
- As for the Mistress, Ami needs to learn that she does need them.
Out of curiosity, what for? They are good for torturing (yeah right, as if Ami would be fine with that), eye candy (not particularly useful either), and fighting (she's got others for that). Besides, they are creepy.
- Unfortunately in the DK universe, short of a temporary Possession spell, the Mistress is the only unit capable of directly converting an opponent to the Keepers side.
Nah, that's a DK2 engine limitation. In DK1, the torture chamber had dedicated torturers who had a lot of fun doing evil stuff to their victims, like repeatedly turning wizards into frogs and bag, taking a saw to dragons' wings, hammering knights, whirling fairies around by their wings, or striking imps with their own picks. Mistresses are talented amateurs, these were professionals. Also, vampires can hypnotise enemies and temporarily convert them to your side, and so can a Keeper spell. Or even Jadeite's mind control headbands. Permanent solution? Certainly not, but it should last long enough to at least get the required information.
As the Keeper, Ami will have to make appropriate punishments when deserved, or if you ask the Bile Demons on whim.
Good point about the punishments, food for thought.
The ruler is not expected to carry out said sentence. It would be like King Henry personally executing a traitor. It's just not done
Unless the Keeper in question is doing it for fun!
The trick/challange for Ami is limiting them to more humane efforts.
Tricky. Pretty much every other intelligent creature aside from reapers would be better suited for that. Mistresses live for one thing and one thing only: inflicting and/or suffering pain. They are kind of specialised that way. Not that it would limit me from writing them differently, but still.
Mind you Ami would prefer the fairies she's captured, but ironically they currently think of her as being EVIL
Yeah, dealing with captured heroes can be a headache as a non-evil Keeper.
- Eh, calling her 'bi-curious' is a bit too strong. She has the memories of a straight male, and her body is reacting to it in a similar way that one's mouth waters when remembering the taste of chocolate and seeing a bar. It's just learned behaviour - the brain remembering a good thing and wanting more - not natural attraction.
- The Bile Demons receive pain from being washed, correct?
Not really, they just don't like it. It's kind of like trying to bathe a cat, just worse.
- [Regarding protecting against lightning with a cage] Well, what's more intimidating? Sitting in a cage that absorbs lightning, or just tanking the hits as if they were no threat at all? While I could have mentioned her thinking about it, I didn't think it was all important, especially as I had also mentioned that it was far weaker than Keeper lightning.
Also, the captured fairies were unconscious from having their energy drained. There was no risk of them getting up before the life energy was restored, so the minimum security prison isn't actually a problem.
- Which brings to mind, could she have conjured a BIG cage(or a fence, but fairies fly so she'd need the roof), like over the whole ship, the size of a circus tent, or at least a room?
No, unfortunately she could not have. Most of her conjurations are from the personal fabrication spell she researched to make the golems, which is strictly small-scale. I probably dropped the ball on making that clear enough, so the confusion is understandable.
Keeper powers are designed for a dungeon, when fighting outside it makes sense to put up walls to control the battlefield. Maybe Ami will realize that and become the only Keeper able to fight both above and below bround at the same time.
Well, the dungeon heart can build a lot of stuff, but needs to know the pattern (kind of like a computer needs programs). Researching something as basic as a simple 'wall' type room hasn't occurred to her yet ;)