SimRico: Your special effects were greatly appreciated! And yeah, Coyote Versus is certainly a bit of a gray-area character...
Schulmanator: No, I think the travel advisories just went up. And it's such a lovely season, too.
PREVIOUSLY on The Best Defense: Morning Angel made her escape as the Defenders were tied up trying to catch lightning in a bottle in the city. They suspect a set up, and a mole on the inside. Who could the traitor be? Have I foreshadowed that enough for an educated guess to be made?
Hoshi-Hime: Ugh, what happened...
Hoshi-Hime stirred and rolled over onto her back and tried to open her eyes. It was very bright, and she winced a bit-
-and discovered that she was hurt as well. She succeeded in slowly opening her eyes and her surroundings came into view. She was still in Naruki's apartment.
Hoshi-Hime: Where is he?
It was destroyed. Bits of shredded furniture were everywhere. Blackened patches on the walls where lightning must have struck-
Hoshi-Hime: Oh my god, Kylie?!
-and the shattered glass that was once the sliding doors to the balcony, and Serena began to put the scene back together in her memory.
Hoshi-Hime: So... hard to remember... oh, painful... ugh...
She rose ever-so-slowly to her feet and staggered for the broken doors. The safety glass was broken into round pieces and lay on the concrete balcony like so many oddly-shaped marbles. It barely registered that her un-shoed feet were safe as she walked over them to peer over the railing some 20 stories up. There were no emergencies crews, no traces of Kylie's body splattering on the pavement, but there was plenty of lightning-sourced damage, leading away from the apartment for the heart of Fuji-Cho.
Serena turned and ran right into the room and plowed right into-
Hoshi-Hime: Naruki! Oof!
She bounced off his chest but before she could fall to the floor his arms were around her, pulling her back to him.
Naruki: Now where is it you think you're going?
Hoshi-Hime: I'm gonna find my friends, they were supposed to meet us here. I have to find them and we have to help Kylie. It's our job.
Naruki: Your friends never made it, and that girl's beyond our help now, I think. I'm not sure there's anything we'd be able to do for her. Instead, let's take a few moments to rest and catch our breath before doing something rash.
Hoshi-Hime: But Naruki, it's our responsibility. Our job. You're not one of us, you don't understand. If she's out there and she still has that power, then we need to find my friends and get to her and help her understand how to use them. It's too dangerous to let her go!
Naruki: I'm telling you, it's in the hands of others right now. Besides, you're hurt, let me take care of your injuries. I can help you feel better now.
As he said this, she looked up in his eyes, and let herself fall in. There was something about him that she found irresistable. There was little she could do but let him lead her away from the balcony for the bedroom. The ruined apartment and all her worries vanished from her vision around her, her world naught but him...
Lt. Walker: Mizu-no-Hime, we're having Hi-no-Hime transported here.
Lt. Walker was thankful that the teen's eyes were finally dry and they were in a makeshift medical unit where she could watch a doctor care for the girl who could pull lightning from the sky.
Lt. Walker: She's fine, no bruising, no broken bones, it looks like a very mild concussion. She'll need to be checked out more thoroughly in a real medical facility, but-
Mizu-no-Hime: Thank you, Lieutenant Walker... Do you know anything about Hoshi-Hime?
Lt. Walker checked her mobile device and shook her head.
Lt. Walker: No, no word on her. Where did you say she was?
Mizu-no-Hime: I'm not really sure. Sere- I mean, Hoshi-Hime, we haven't seen her all week, I think she was with a boy named Naruki. I'm not sure it was a good idea for her to be with him, but I think she knows what she's doing...
Lt. Walker: That's reassuring. I'll leave you here. We'll see to it that Hi-no-Hime is brought here. You'd probably better go with the Defenders back to their HQ to get her properly checked out after that.
Mizu-no-Hime nodded and watched the doctor check Kylie again. She was still out, Mizu-no-Hime had been informed that she would be kept sedated until they could figure out the lightning thing. She imagined that Austin and Laurinette would be able to help with that. But it was so strange, she thought. Why did this need to happen now? Why these two things at once? Captain Willis had to be right, it had to have been planned this way. But by Morning Angel? She had escaped, obviously, but to orchestrate it from inside? How? There was no way for her to contact the outside world except through a handful of guards, the Defenders, and a handful of Power Unit officers. The thought of any of them helping Morning Angel, especially after their big fight two years ago, was inconceivable. What could it have been?
Hi-no-Hime's voice sounded behind Mizu-no-Hime and she turned to face her friend.
Mizu-no-Hime: Tomi! I'm so glad you're alright!
She jumped forward to hug the red-clad girl.
Hi-no-Hime: Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. But Serena's not. She needs help. I'm pretty sure you think the same thing that I do: Naruki is up to no good.
Mizu-no-Hime: Yes, I agree. But I think it's more than that. These must be related, it's too much of a coincidence.
Hi-no-Hime paused and looked at her for a moment, considering her idea.
Hi-no-Hime: No, I don't know, I'm not sure I think so. I mean, Morning Angel is Defenders business, and the lightning thing, it looks like our business. Why would the two be linked? I think you're reading too much into this.
Mizu-no-Hime: Hm, you think so?
Mizu-no-Hime was not a leader, nor was she especially assertive. She decided to forget her idea for the time being and focus on more immediately important things.
Mizu-no-Hime: Anyways, I think we need to go to Defenders' HQ, so they can check you out better. That's what Lieutenant Walker said.
Hi-no-Hime was protesting, even as Mizu-no-Hime began leading her away.
Hi-no-Hime: I'm fine, Airi. I don't need them to poke me any more than I already have been.
Mizu-no-Hime and Hi-no-Hime both knew that she would be examined once again when they arrived at Defenders' HQ. It was necessary for them to have the conversation to feel normal, however, so they went through the motions as they left Kylie to be taken care of by the Fort Mison staff.
They were soon united with the Defenders (such as they were), all eying each other warily. It seemed the tension would continue to rise, even as the good guys were standing together. They were the good guys, right? Watching them, Mizu-no-Hime suspected she was on the right track, and decided to keep her eyes open.
Mizu-no-Hime: It has to be a set-up! This isn't right at all. The last time they were all so angry at each other was when Shar Pen was using her magic to make them like that. Something similar has to be happening again...
Sensational Girl: Hi-no-Hime, Mizu-no-Hime, how is that lightning girl?
Mizu-no-Hime: Hm? Oh, Kylie. She's sleeping.
Hi-no-Hime: You guys okay? You look a little ragged.
Cosmette: We're fine.
Cosmette's reply was curt, and she cast a quick, unhappy glance at Juliet.
Cosmette: Are you coming back with us to HQ?
Mizu-no-Hime: Yes, Hi-no-Hime will need to be checked out by Dr. Brooks. I want to help you guys, too. We still have the communicators Fearless gave us before he left. We can help you.
Gragus: Good. We will need all the help we can get. We must go now. I will fly you both with me.
The magical girls looked at each other and then back at Gragus, anxious at his plan. That would mean that he would carry them? In his arms??
Juliet: I'm going now. You guys figure out your own rides back.
Juliet wasted no time taking to the skies.
Coyote Versus: Wow, what a helpful girl she is. You guys sure do know how to pick your teammates, don't you?
Sensational Girl: We picked you, didn't we?
Coyote Versus: Technically, I picked you, but-
Cosmette: But that's arguing semantics.
Coyote Versus: Exactly.
Gragus: Time is wasting.
Gragus jumped over to land between the two magical girls and put his arms around their waists.
Gragus: Let's go.
He flew off into the air with them.
Coyote Versus: Sensational Girl, I'll give you the ride of your life.
Sensational Girl: Oh, geez, Versus, who do you think you are?
Sensational Girl rolled her eyes but was still smiling despite herself. She walked over towards Cosmette.
Sensational Girl: I'll fly back with Cosmette. Let's go!
Versus chuckled and, before taking off himself, looked back at Captain Willis.
Coyote Versus: Captain, I can tell you don't trust me very much, and in your position I wouldn't either. But things are never what they seem. Let's be careful from now on.
Captain Willis said nothing as the pseudo-Defender took to the skies.
Captain Willis: Lieutenant?
Lt. Walker: Yes, Captain?
Captain Willis: I need everything we have on Coyote Versus. I need to know what he's been doing, and especially what he was doing just before he arrived on the island and joined the Defenders or whatever this nonsense is.
Lt. Walker: Yes, sir.
Captain Willis: I don't want to trust him, but...
Lt. Walker: I understand sir. I'll see to it myself.