|The fires of Mars...|
Ami is on her way home from a rare day at work. For several months, she'd been working 5-6 days a week, but slowly, surely, she'd managed to automate most of her tasks with some remote operation software she wrote into her mini-supercomputer, using advanced security algorithms that she wrote herself to make sure noone else could get in. As time has gone on, she's had to work less and less. There was an instance where she had some breakins systemwide, but only in those places with old-fashioned electromagnetic hard drives. All the solid state systems were fine, which led her to believe it was related to a special power someone on Twisted possesses. Today marks the last day she should have to go into work, having finally convinced the last client she has to upgrade to solid state drives. Since many people are using crystal and holographic media now, solid state seems like the way to go. Now that the blue-haired girl is finally on her way home, she walks through the city, and into the lobby of the Integra Arms building. She doesn't have anything let to go into work for anymore. All day every day with her friends, now. At least until she can find a new avenue of study to pursue her research on getting home.
Makoto is home today. Earlier she had spent some time at the gym, but since she technically 'works' for Ami she's now at home vacuuming the livingroom as dinner cookes in the oven. It's pretty musch a pretense but it makes her feel like less of a deadbeat. She humms softly to herself. She had noticed the dark birds, but it's not an uncommon sight. She hasn't yet noticed that they seem to be sticking around.
The caws suddenly get louder as Makoto goes about her business, until a slight crack suddenly appears in the glass of the door leading to the balcony. The crack continues to spiderweb outwards, the birds suddenly going silent as the glass suddenly starts to strain and groan loudly. There's a sudden flutter of feathers, and the birds are now sitting on a roof across from the apartments, continuing to watch the apartment intently.
Ami finds herself getting impatient waiting for the elevator, down below, and decides to start up the stairs. Work is over for a good long while, it's time to celebrate. Again. She celebrates every time there's less work, but now that there's solid state drives installed in all her clients' machines, she won't likely even have to go in for maintenance anymore. It's a good day, in a brief but very pleasant history of recent good days.
Makoto does a little spin as she vacuums, adding a little 'style' to her work, but the sight of the glass cracking catches her attention.Nope.. that's definately not right. She bites her lip, wary of getting too close.. if that glass pops..... "Not good..."
"So.. This is where you and Makoto-san ran off to." The moment Ami steps into the stairwell, she's greeted by the familiar voice. "While Usagi and I were left, wondering why our friends were vanishing one by one.. I decided to look into it myself." Standing atop the stairs, Rei stares down at Ami, a slight scowl on her face. "You're smiling away, while we were worried that someone hurt you..." She turns and opens the door to the third floor exit of the stairwell, letting it close loudly behind her. The crows however, are now missing from their new perch, only to caw loudly from behind Makoto, perched atop the fridge, staring directly at the back of her head.
There's a good moment's pause, as Ami blinks, just catching a glimpse of another of her friends, before the dark-haired girl vanishes onto the third floor. Ami remains in the stairwell for a moment, almost as if stunned, before she hurries her pace up the stairs. Is that really... "Rei-chan?" Ami calls out as she peeks her head out of the stairwell door, looking about for her friend that she knows she saw just a moment ago. "Where did you go?"
Makoto jumps at the cawing behind her. This is getting wird. "How did you two get inside?" she wonders if one of the bedroom windows had been left open. "Let me get this door open and you can get back to the air where you belong." she smiles, but that slips a little as she looks back to the breaking glass..... she scoops up a cusion off the couch and holds it up like a protective shield while she moves to open the balcony door.
The door to the apartment opens up quietly, as Rei steps into the room, an ofuda falling limply from the door she just came in through. "Phobos, Deimos. Behave yourselves." She's taking some very brave liberties as to just waltzing into the apartment, but three of her closest friends have vanished, and she's determined to get to the bottom of this. "Makoto, would you please make some tea? Ami's about to burst through that door any second, and I would like to know the reasons that you, her, Minako, and possibly even Hotaru-san have vanished into thin air, leaving no traces whatsoever of where you ran off to." The birds grow quiet, their attention now turned to Rei. There's a slight chill to Rei's voice however. She couldn't possibly be upset, could she?
Makoto blinks and looks back "Sure, Rei-chan I..... REI!!" she smiles brightly and drops the pillow, running over to grab her friend in a bearhug. The icyness in her voice ignored as she's too happy to see another lost friend. "How did you find us, Rei-chan? Are you stuck here too or can we get home now??" she looks over to the suddenly familiar crows. "Now i recognise you two." she smiles warmly "I'll have tea ready in a moment, Rei-chan. It's good to see you."
Not seeing anyone in the hallway, Ami walks down the hall towards the apartment, looking a bit confused. "That's strange, I know I saw her... did she go into the apartment?" It sounds like a silly question to Ami's ears, but when she gets to the door, she sees that it's open, and she darts inside quickly. "Mako-chan, this is going to sound strange, but have you seen--..." She blinks as she sees Makoto trap Rei in a big bearhug, and then laughs a little, nervously. "... Silly question, nevermind." She seems to deflate a little, since the scene looks so normal. "... Ah... Uhm... I'm home..." She manages her customary greeting, before taking her purse off her shoulder and setting it down by the door. She closes the door behind her, picking up the little talisman Rei used, since someone has to clean up after her, and smiling. She really doesn't know what else to say, though, just standing there for a moment or three.
The hug isn't returned, but Rei doesn't go out of her way to avoid it, shooting a quick glance at Ami once she steps through the door. "You two seem to have a nice place setup here..." She gives a quick glance into Makoto's room, then to Ami's, taking in the layout for future reference. She moves towards the sliding glass door, and blinks at the cracks. "..Is this some new kind of interior decorating?"
Makoto offers Ami a welcome home hug before slipping off to the kitchen to make some tea. The scent of pasta is in the air as makoto was making lasagna for dinner. She finally seems to notice Rei's demeanor and glances at Ami, curious if she knows what's going on. "No... It just happened a few minutes ago... i don't know what caused it"
Ami returns the hug, but isn't sure what Rei's talking about either, until she glances at the glass and tilts her head to one side. "That's certainly odd. Did something hit the door?" Without thinking, she raises a hand towards the glass door, and it takes on a slight sheen as a thin layer of ice surrounds it on both sides, flattening the door back into place, before Ami tilts her head in the opposite direction. "Well, that should hold it for now, there are more important things to worry about!" They've had their couch torn asunder as its reality was shattered, their roof blown in by a flying pirate, and their entire entry way cracked in half by some kind of winged elf thing since they moved in, cracked glass isn't really a big deal to them at this point. Although not to get off subject, but when did Ami become able to manipulate ice without transforming?
"It's great to see you, Rei-chan! We'd begun to wonder if maybe whatever brought us here would bring everyone else, too. How are you? Can we offer you some tea? How did you get here? Please, sit down!" She gestures towards the couch, which looks rather comfortable. She asks a lot of questions, doesn't she?
"It's exactly as I foresaw." A slight smug tone is heard with Rei's voice as she moves to sit down on the couch. "Before I answer any of your questions, I'd like mine to be answered first. For quite some time, we've been looking for you. Usagi and Mamoru are going at it left and right, because slowly but surely, each one of her friends is vanishing. You, Makoto, Minako, possibly Hotaru. Now. Tell me. How did you get here, and how come you've yet to return to our world?"
Makoto looks over to Rei and sighs sadly."Rei-chan... We didn't have a say in the matter... We both just... found ourselves here and we haven't found a way home... We know you'd all be worried about us but..." she bites her lip and looks to Ami. "As far as we've been able to tellso far... Noone sucked into Twisted has been able to get home.... If we could we would have let you know... You know we would..."
Ami nods her head in response to what Makoto says but adds in a bit. "I was just on the bus heading to college entrance exams, and then I was here. We've been actively trying to find a way home, but we haven't had any luck. But how did you get here, Rei-chan? If you think you can travel back and forth... then we can get home!" She sounds a bit excited, so she's ignoring the fact that Rei doesn't seem perturbed at all to be in a new world.
"I merely followed Phobos and Deimos. I asked the fire where you were, and it led me to my bedroom, but once I stepped through my door, I found myself in this apartment building. Phobos and Deimos then set out to find you, and that is how I knew you'd be taking the stairs." Rei remains rather calm about everything, as she looks down at her feet. "This world, our world. It doesn't matter." There's something strange about her words, almost as if she knows something else.
Makoto tilts her head. "So it's like you chose to come here to find us...." she's nervous about the next question but it has to be asked. "Can we get home the same way...? I know you and Usagi are worried... WHat about Ami's mother...?"
Ami nods at Makoto's question, tilting her head at Rei's comment, as well. "Rei-chan? Are you alright?" If something's bothering her friend, she wants to know about it. But Makoto's questions are valid, to be certain. She doesn't have anything else to add or ask for the moment, though, so she lets Rei speak.
"No. We cannot return the way I came. As for Ami's mother... She's been led to believe that Ami is currently in America, taking entry exams for medicine at Harvard University." Rei shakes her head slightly as she looks to Makoto, a soft smile forming on her face. "Makoto, would you mind checking on the tea for me? I'd really like some right now."
Makoto squeaks and turns back to her teapot which is boiling away slowly. In short order she's placed the pot and some cups at the livingroom table and found herself a place to sit. "So..." she breaks the quiet. "You're trapped here now, too.... I'm worried about Usagi-chan..."
Ami smiles as Makoto runs off to get the tea, and offers Rei a warm smile. "Well, at least you're here, now." Before Makoto returns, Ami smiles and leans forward, placing a hand on Rei's shoulder for comfort as she speaks very quietly. "I'm sure that whatever's got you worried will turn out alright with us all together." She moves away from Rei towards the table as Makoto brings the tea out, and takes a seat, grateful for the drinks. "Thank you, Mako-chan."
There's a noticable flinch as Ami touches Rei's shoulder, but the smile remains on her face. "I'm sure it will. However, I'm pretty sure that your apartment, while it is very nice, isn't suited to housing more then just you two. Have you thought about finding a large house here? Considering that I won't be the last one to arrive in this world.. Soon enough Usagi, Michiru, and Haruka will arrive.. Maybe even Setsuna...It'd be most.. unwise to split us up again. Especially in a new world.."
Makoto looks to Ami. "Well... Minako is in the guest room, but she's often out.... We could squeeze you in but..." she nods. "If any more of us show up we'll start running out of room really fast..."
Ami nods her head at that, and looks thoughtful. "Well... I suppose I can make payments on a house just as easily as I do on the apartment." It's a bit unfortunate, since there's such a surplus flowing in, monetarily, but if they need room, they need room. Of course, Minako isn't exactly reliable as far as getting a job and paying rent, though she might waitress if she had to... Ah well. Ami can find a way to make it all work. It just means they won't be able to buy all the games and movies and computer upgrades she wants... .... ... Oh, that alone is saddening. She'll have to work up a way to get her mini-supercomputer to do all the processing and just beam the signal and inputs to her other computers. That would surely work. Maybe if she.... Yup. She's spacing out.
"Then I'll leave it to you. There's something.. else I need to look into." Rei never touches the tea, as she gets to her feet, and starts making her way towards the door. "I had a vision of..." Her voice trails off as she shakes her head slightly. "This world is truly a twisted place. It's affecting my visions more then I thought it would."
Makoto blinkblinks as Rei suddenly makes to leave. "Rei-chan... You're welcome here. You don't have to go if you don't want to."
Ami makes a small sound of protest as Rei stands, nodding her head. "Really, Rei-chan, you can stay in my room tonight if you're worried. You've only just gotten here." Between the way Rei flinched at her touch, and the mysterious way she's acting, Ami wouldn't be surprised if Rei doesn't take their offer, though.
"If you two truly insist." Rei stops before she reaches the door, as the birds suddenly caw loudly. She gives a quick glance to them, and nods. "The only problem is, I don't seem to have a change of clothes." She places a finger to her chin, seemingly letting herself get lost in thought for a few moments.
Makoto chuckles a little. "I'm sure Minako's bought a ton of things by now. I'm sure she'd be willing to share.. When i got here all I had was my gymbag. If I hadn't bumped into Ami-chan I would have run out of money and... well I'm just glad." she nods to herself and sits back in her seat, sipping some tea.
Ami gives a small, pained little smile, and quickly adds in. "And I have some spare clothes that..." She stops herself from saying why they're 'spare' clothes. "...you can use, if you prefer something a bit more conservative." Of course, Ami's tastes are not always just conservative, but sometimes a little eccentric, too, but she figures Rei wouldn't mind that much.
"Thank you. Though, I wouldn't be caught dead in anything Minako wears, so I'll have to take you up on your offer Ami." Rei seems to visibly become a little more cheerful, as she makes her way towards the couch once more. "Phobos and Deimos will behave themselves. I can guarentee that."
Makoto smiles brightly. "Sounds fine to me, Rei-chan. Welcome home..." Her voice is soft. She's happy to see her friend again, but it pains her that Rei's cut off from home now, too.
Ami nods, sharing Makoto's feelings, but she doesn't let it show, only letting her supportive side show for the moment. "It's good to have you here. Missing everyone has been like missing family. ... Well..." Ami clears her throat and looks down, adjusting her glasses. "..." Obviously, for Ami, she missed them a bit more than she misses her family, what with her parents almost never home, or even present much in her life. But she can't /say/ that... it would make her feel worse than she feels for thinking it.
"If its any consolation Ami, your mother is estatic in thinking that you are off to America, to continue on to be a doctor. Mamoru had to work really hard to make it convincing. There's always another path. We'll find it. We always have." Rei smiles at Ami, then finally makes her way back to the couch.
Makoto nods "We'll find a way eventually, Ami-chan..." She looks back over to Rei, relieved to see her friend smiling again. "How have you been? Anything new and exciting in life back home?"
Makoto's question causes Ami to turn her attention back to Rei fully, nodding her head in agreement with the spirit of the question. "Yes, what news of home?" She sounds enthusiastic, as if somehow their home could have developed heat-seeking laser-guided new and improved gundams that make julienne fries in the short time they've been away. Well, she's that way, there's not much to be done about it.
"Only Usagi being more cranky then ever, since Ami isn't there to help her with her homework." Rei finally reaches down, and takes a cup of tea, which she sips at slowly. "Haruka and Michiru are currently on a cruise together, and Mamoru is having to pacify Usagi more and more. Other then that, nothing else has changed."
Makoto bites her lip. She loves Usagi, all the senshi do, but it's going to be hardest on the Princess to be without her friends and guardians like this. "I wish we could call her..." she sighs sadly.
Ami giggles at the mention of Usagi's homework, but quickly becomes solemn at the idea of Usagi all alone. She nods, sympathetic, and then looks at Rei. "... This must be hard on you, Rei. You and Usagi-chan have always been very close." Despite how much they argue, and how critical Rei always is of Usagi... and ... and... despite a lot of things, including Rei probably never admitting it.
"She'll be fine. She has Mamoru with her. This will also give them time to focus on their relationship, since we won't be there to interrupt at a moments notice." Rei casually sips the tea, her face giving no true sign of the hidden emotions. "If anything happens, and it's serious enough, Usagi can find a way to bring us back."
Makoto nods slowly... "oh!" she hops to her feet. "I allmost forgot about dinner. it'll be ready shortly." she runs off to the oven, hoping to find lasagna and not charcoal. But there's no smoke in the air so chances are good that food shall be enjoyed by all tonight.
Ami smiles and leads Rei into her room to help her pick out some clothes for the next day while Makoto gets dinner ready. Things are looking up, now. That's four of them, together. Now if only they could get Usagi-chan here, she knows the others can be pretty self reliant... ... but what was Rei saying about Hotaru-chan?...