Monday, March 1, 2010

LKSH1/W00 Episode 4

The worst foe lies within the self...not that we'll really explore that concept for another few chapters, but it's good to know.

[In the back of a limo cruising the streets of Trodel Stadt…]

              “Kaguya, I still don’t entirely get it…why the opera?”
              “Because it’s unhealthy for you to be a girl just when you’re fighting monsters or getting your jollies.” Kaguya put her arm around Girl!Haken’s back. “You’ve got to experience a woman’s sorrow, the feelings and circumstances behind her longing for companionship…and regular theatre just won’t cut it.”
              “Couldn’t we have just stayed in and watched a Lifetime movie or something?”
              “Pfft, please.” Suzuka scoffed from the opposite side of the cabin. “Every one of those tacky films starts with a man screwing up the woman’s life, keeps going with more men not caring how screwed up the woman’s become, and ends with still ANOTHER man swooping in and magically fixing the woman.”
              “…That and we couldn’t risk your male side rooting for the bad guys.”
              “That was uncalled for, Aschen…though you’re probably right.” Haken smirked for a split-second. “Hey, you mind if I flip through that playbill real quick? My High Amaharan’s still kinda rusty and I think I’m going to have to read along.”
              “Sure, but don’t go past the first act just yet – can’t have you spoiling yourself now.”
              “Duly noted.” Haken plucked the pamphlet from the android’s hand and flipped to the inside front cover. “OK…Endless Frontier TM and © Monolith Soft, in care of Banpresto and Namco Bandai as part of Super Robot Wars…Metal Gear TM and © Konami and Kojima Productions…Kamen Rider and Sailor Moon TM/© Toei, including Toei Animation for the latter…Ranma ½ TM and © Shogakukan and VIZ Media…Oh, this is a new one – Parasite Eve TM and © Square Enix, based on the Kadokawa Horror Bunko of the same name by Hideaki Sena!”
              Suzuka laughed as she fanned herself. In all my years, I’ve met only two or three people who could get this excited about a disclaimer.”
              “It just feels nice to give credit where credit is due. Speaking of which…” Haken turned the page. “…No profit is intended to be made by the unauthorized use of these or other trademarks in this production, and no permission or endorsement of their use has been granted.
              “All right, enough with the legalese.” Releasing her embrace of Haken, Kaguya unlatched the limousine door, stepping out onto the curb before offering her hand for ‘her’ to take. “You’ll never enjoy the show if you think too much about what’s going on behind the scenes.”

Lewd Kamen Senshi Haken 1/W00
An Endless Frontier-flavored multi-fandom blender by /m/’s Haken Browning

Episode 4: Resonance of a Woman’s Sorrow! Il Tragedia di Eva!
(Translator’s Note: ITA to ENG – The Tragedy of Eva)

[Cargo Hall entrance…]

              “Now remember, for tonight your name is ‘Haruka Brodel’ – you’re Aschen’s adopted daughter and the new liaison between the Kagura Amahara royal court and that of the Shiki-Oni.”
              “All right, as long as nobody second-guesses a robot adopting a human who looks about three-fourths her own age.”
              “You don’t need to worry about that, Hak-er, Haruka.” Aschen peeled one of the elbow-length gloves off her forearm. “Even without these, only the people who care will notice that I’m just wearing my formal arms and legs tonight.”
              “My concern was more about the age gap.”
              “Oh.” Aschen replaced the glove. “We’ll just say you filled out early. You kinda did, after all.”
              ‘Haruka’ giggled. “True, true. Now then, who has the time? Curtain’s supposed to rise at 8:00.”
              Kaguya patted herself down. “Dang, forgot my watch. Suzuka?”
              “Don’t carry one. Time doesn’t mean much to me.”
              “Wait…could we check the time using one of THOSE?”
              “Haruka, you couldn’t honestly be thinking of-“
              “It’s 8:03.” Aschen closed her Mugen Amulet and reattached it to the waist clip under her dress. “…What? Everyone else checks the time on their cell phones these days, only difference with us is that ours do, well…more.”
              “…Eh, that makes sense. But more importantly, we’re late!”
              Fashionably late.”
              “Just because we’re late and we’re fashionable doesn’t imply the combination, Suzuka. C’mon!” Beckoning the other three ladies forward, Kaguya thrust her handful of tickets into the hands of the waiting usher. “Nanbu, party of four. Sorry, we’re in kind of a rush.”
              “…Ma’am, I’m the doorman. Ticket usher’s in the lobby.”
              The princess blushed. “nyoro~n…”

[Inside the theatre…]

              “Wait, we got the cheap seats?”
              “You don’t get a balcony box until you get tenure, Haruka.”
              “…So when do I get tenure?”
              “Maybe later tonight, if you behave.”
              “Your definition of tenure’s about as shaky as…well, a LOT of things I define with innuendo.”
              “Quiet, you two, the big opening number’s about to start.” Kaguya and ‘Haruka’ shifted their focus towards the stage, where the production’s lead, Prince Edward, was about to proclaim his love.
              “(Father, please give me permission to marry Eva.)” The mauve-clad noble strutted forward, imploring his desire to the king.
              “(I forbid it!)” The wizened elder began gesticulating with his scepter as Edward bowed. “(You know well what will happen if you do! Those who succumb to her beauty ALL die in horrible ways!)”
              “(You don’t understand!)” Edward rose, determined to stand at his love’s side. “(SHE is the one that has suffered after the deaths!)”
              “(SHE is EVIL! Guard, grab her!)” An extra snapped to attention, halberd raised briefly in salute to His Majesty. “(And…BURN her at the stake!)”
              The guard began crossing towards Eva, but Edward closed the distance and stayed his hand. “(Father! If you are sentencing her to death…then I ask you to take my life along with hers…)” This plea came on one knee, Edward’s head bowed in anticipation of the guard’s pike crashing down on his neck following the fate to befall Eva.
              “(Edward…)” Eva leaned toward the prince, lifting him from his prostration in one last tearful embrace before turning towards the audience.
The aria that next escaped her lips was something incomprehensible in any language. ‘Haruka’ made a point to embrace the tone and inflection of the music, the long-faded syllables melting into an elegy for the star-crossed love. Tears started to well up in ‘her’ eyes as the higher notes formed a plea that Edward continue to live, that he would forgive those sending Eva to this fate…
              …And then Edward burst into flames.
              Then the guard.
              Then a member of the orchestra pit.
              “…Fu…no, wait…Suzuka, is there anything stronger than ‘fuck’ yet?”
              “Well, there better be, ‘cause we fuckin’ NEED it.”
              Audience members started combusting, turning the first few rows of the theatre into an inferno. Our heroines decided to take the hint, following the other patrons in the middle rows to the aisles…
              Suddenly, ‘Haruka’s’ Mugen Amulet buzzed. ‘She’ unflipped it to take the call. “O’Malley?”
              “I just picked up a massive dark energy spike near your position, lass. And…*sniff sniff* …Do I smell something burning?”
              “More like someONE; we’re damn near at Ground Zero. The diva’s at the eye of the storm, and pretty much everyone within twenty feet of her burst into flames when she hit the glass-cracker.”
              “The Amulets ought to protect ye, even if you’re not transformed. Get in there and shut her up!”
              “Roger that!” ‘Haruka’ hung up. “Change of plans, ladies.”
              “The diva’s a Youma?”
              “What else COULD she be?”
              “A high-schooler who developed telekinetic powers out of her abject hatred of her mother’s inability to properly explain the menstrual cycle and the student body’s mockery of her for that lack of understanding?”
              “…Suzuka, you gotta start going to bed the same time as the rest of us.”
              “Also, there isn’t NEARLY enough pig’s blood here.”
              “Kaguya, don’t encourage her.” Aschen surveyed the scene of carnage. “Looks like she only managed to get as far back as the fifth row, and everyone else has evacuated…except this one guy wondering why WE haven’t left yet as well.”
              “Then we may as well show him we got this. Frontier Fusion Formation!”
              The last bystander bolted for the exit as a bright flash enveloped the quartet. Assuming their Sailor forms, the girls rushed the stage. “You there, who would pervert the fire in these people’s souls!” ‘Haruka’ jabbed a pointer finger at the diva. “We, the Frontier Senshi, cannot forgive this assault on innocent patrons of the theater, if not theatre itself! Now, return to the shadow world from whence you came, or-“
              “Aaah! Get away!” The actress dashed backstage, down a flight of stairs to the basement of Cargo Hall.
              “…Well, that’s weird. Not even a batch of ninjas to fight or something.”
              “Maybe your speech panicked her?”
              “Or she’s not the actual Youma, but someone being used by the real deal.”
              “I still say she’s the product of peer pressure mixed with a failed sex ed policy.”
              “Does this even LOOK like a prom to you, Suzuka?”
              “…You’re right. It COULD just be a child prodigy angry at her parents not supporting her desire to learn and trying to subscribe her to their diet of tacky game shows and illegal business practices.”
              “As if your diet of TV is any more admirable.”
              “Hey, I read the book, too!”
              “Ladies, please!” Aschen and Suzuka snapped to attention as ‘Haruka’ examined the diva’s footsteps. “Discounting Suzuka’s wild, late night TV-induced guesses, I think I’ve got a good idea why our suspect was spooked.”
              “Something like Aschen’s guess that she was possessed?”
              “Yeah, but we need more clues…Guess we’ll have to follow her downstairs.”

[Cargo Hall basement…]

              “Locked…Locked…” ‘Haruka’ continued testing the various doors in the basement hallway. “Locked…Hey, this one’s handle works all the way! …But it’s still locked. Dang.”
              “Wait, it’s locked with the handle swinging down? Let me see.” Kaguya reached to test the handle herself, only to earn a shock on her hand for the trouble. “Eep!”
              “Static electricity? Try it again.”
              Kaguya grasped the handle again, only to take another zap. “Huh. You didn’t feel anything, right?”
              “Nope. Wonder why, though – maybe it’s a leader thing. Aschen, you try it.”
              “Roger.” She grabbed and turned the door handle, neither forcing it open nor feeling the same shock Kaguya did. “Huh. Maybe Kaguya can feel something about this door that the rest of us can’t?”
              “Like how it’s locked, but behaves like it shouldn’t be?”
              “Exactly.” Once more Kaguya reached for the handle, this time ignoring the electric jolt and clamping her hand down hard. Then a series of further spasms, as more electricity inexplicably coursed through her arm. After five seconds, ‘Haruka’ pulled her away.
              “What the hell? You trying to get yourself killed? …Or maybe turned on?”
              “Sorry, Hak-er, Haruka, but you’re wrong on both counts. That’s not proper electricity flowing through that door – it’s a sealing spell. I think I’m the only one who can feel it because of my regular training, rather than the Sailor powers.”
              “Oh, yeah, the whole full moon/cherry blossom magic prayer thing.”
              “Regardless, someone REALLY doesn’t want us seeing what’s behind this door. Anyone got an idea where or what the key is?”
              “…I got a lockpick.”
              “A lockpick?”
              ‘Haruka’ grinned. “Sort of. PHANTOM PLASMA STAKE!” The arm gauntlet clashed against the warding fields around the door handle, eventually piercing through. “OK, NOW try it.”
              Aschen obliged, opening the door. “I wouldn’t call that a lockpick as much as I’d call it a glass cutter.”
              “Or a fireman’s axe.”
              “Or some sort of chisel.”
              “Whatever.” The four entered what appeared to be a dressing room. “Women’s clothing strewn about – this must be the diva’s dressing room. Now, what would be in here that the Youma puppeteering the diva wouldn’t want us to see?”
              “Besides eyelid blush you’d have to be either a Shiki-Oni or an alternative metal artist to pull off?” Suzuka was already at work inspecting the makeup table.
              Aschen shut the door on one of the wardrobes. “…Nothing out of the ordinary in this wardrobe.”
              Kaguya peered into the bottom of another wardrobe’s drawer. “Funny, there’s a box of bullets and a couple cold pills in this one.”
              “Haken, y-I mean, Haruka, you can’t call dibs on someone’s medication!”
              “Who said anything about the medication?”
              Aschen stepped in to inspect the ammunition. “I doubt you’d be able to do anything with the bullets, either – they’re 9mm Parabellum, hardly a suitable revolver or rifle caliber.”
              “Maybe Suzuka could-naah, Jyaki-GUN-Oh already has twin infinity symbol feed mechanisms. Speaking of which, you having better luck than us over there?”
              “Only thing I haven’t checked is her diary, because – well, it’s a woman’s diary.”
              “We’re desperate here. Just read a couple entries from this month.”
              “…Fine. But if anyone starts ragging on us for violating the sanctity of the private journal, I’m blaming you.” Suzuka started thumbing through the diary, trying to find the February entries. “If only we had a better idea what I ought to be looking for…wait, what’s this?”
              “Any record of contact with the Youma?”
              “Nope, but there’s a strange thread across the February section all the prep for tonight’s performance is concurrent with entries regarding lucid dreams.”
              “…What kind of dreams?”
              “Were they in color?”
              “I’m pretty sure that isn’t relevant, Kaguya.”
              “Doesn’t say either way. But it seems like these dreams she’s having were of the ‘vague call to destiny’ variety – flipping back to January, it looks like they may have even inspired her trying out for this role.”
              “So the Youma was pulling the long con, trying to get her to roast a large crowd?”
              “Likely story. And, one more thing…”
              “…Eh, might be nothing, but across the month, there’s a sharp increase in entries that concern taking medication of some sort.”
              “Those pills I found?”
              Suzuka closed the diary. “Not likely. Said they were for keeping the dreams from going out of control. Must be a prescription either at home or on her person.”
              “Well, we could always ask her.”
              “There’s only one other door we haven’t tried, and the others were locked normally. Thus, she’s got to be barricaded behind the last one.”
              Aschen pondered this for a moment. “…Your reasoning is rather sound, Haruka, but you do realize we’d be asking questions inspired by an invasion of her privacy?”
              “…Eh, I’ll let Kaguya handle that.
              “Wha? Why me?”
              “Well, you’re better at this gal-pal stuff than the rest of us, right?”
              The princess blushed. “Well, I HAVE been taking it upon myself to train Haken to be convincing as Haruka…I’ll do it.”

[Cargo Hall rehearsal room…]

              The glasslike shatter of a magic barrier being staked through accompanied the double doors of the rehearsal room gently creaking open. Kaguya poked her head inside. “Umm…ma’am, there’s been an incident. Could we ask you a few questions?”
              “Ma’am? We’re here to help. You might say we’re…specialists in this sort of thing.”
              A soothing melody as the woman in question let her fingers fall onto piano keys.
              “…Can you hear us, ma’am?”
              The playing stopped. “…I don’t want to let go.”
              “She says…with you here, it’s time for me to let go…”
              “Who? Who’s saying this?”
              “…She says she’s the real me…that I have to let go so she can meet you…”
              “…Meet US?”
              “I…I can’t-AAAAAAGH! My body…so hot…”
              “There’s paramedics topside, we can get you hel-“
              “Burning up! I…can’t hold it much longer…” The woman collapsed into the keyboard, dislodging several of the ivories as her head smashed into the boundary between bass and treble.
              “Oh my God…We’ve got to get her out of-“
              “I wouldn’t be so concerned with helping ME if I were you.” Muscles spasmed and shifted as the diva rose from the piano bench. Kaguya and the others rushed into the room as the actress’s movements grew increasingly erratic, arms and legs sprouting crystalline orbs throughout skin that was growing increasingly pale. “Feel free to pronounce Marisa Pierce dead if you wish. Just make sure you say she died knowing the sublime passion of her true self awakening from its slumber.”
              ‘Haruka’ scratched ‘her’ chin. “So wait, she wasn’t possessed by the Youma…”
              “…But was a Youma born into deep cover as a human?”
              “Correct, young ones. I am Lilith Barshem, destined princess of the Neo-Youma Empire…and your executioner.”


[Next Episode Preview]

              Girl!Haken: Whoa whoa whoa, we’re stopping right when it gets good?
              Kaguya: I know, it doesn’t seem right to me either. But being an author for multiple projects is as much a strain on /m/’s Haken as being both a Sailor and a Rider is on you!
              Suzuka: Besides, we had to get this really talky episode out of the way just to make sure the next could be chock-full of action!
              Aschen: …Or the author’s just cutting the line to keep his off-shore lemon business from languishing.
              Kaguya: What difference does it make whether the lemons are offshore?
              Suzuka: I think when it comes to lemons, there’s much more pressing questions to be asked…
              Kaguya: Don’t you mean ‘squeezing?’
              Aschen: I never expected YOU to be quick with that sort of retort. Ah, well, On the next LKSH1/W00, Episode 5: Resonance of a Man’s Anger! TheSnake’s True Enemy!
              Girl!Haken: Lemons…something about that particular fruit…
              Suzuka: Is it because you prefer milk over lemonade?

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