#include <disclaimer.h>

Quinn, Sandi, Stacy, Tiffany, Daria, and Lawndale are copyright MTV, Viacaom or whomever it is that actually does own them right now.  That isn't me.  They are used here without express permission.

Special thanks to Lawndale Stalker, Roger Moore, Robert Nowall, THM, and The Daria Hunter.



Fashionably Clubby

Part 2 - FaSta


The next morning, Mizue was even more hyper than usual, excited about the upcoming quest.

“Breakfast is on me!”  She announced.  “I'll take you to my favorite place.  I can't afford to go often, but this is a special occasion.”

The restaurant in question didn't look like the other girl's idea of a “favorite restaurant”.  Instead it looked like a rather typical diner, nothing at all like Chez Pierre.  The menus were closer to what the girls were used to, but they all ordered the usual grapefruit halves, putting the last bit of effort in to get ready for their rather revealing costumes.

“That's four grapefruit halves,” the waitress said, “And what will you have?”

Mizue smiled, then announced, “The Ohayou Sub!”

The waitress smiled back.  “Going to try to beat your record?”

“We'll see.  Mostly this is a celebration… I've got a lead on a great part.”

“Good luck!”  The waitress said, heading off to get their order.

“What did you get?” Stacy asked.

“You'll see” was all Mizue would say.

“What was that you started to say earlier?  Something about our costumes?”  Sandi asked.

“Oh, right.  Well, after breakfast we can go back to my place and change before we head out.”

“What's wrong with this?”  Tiffany asked, picking at her dress.  “Does it make me look fat?”

“No, you look fine.  It's just that you guys can't transform yet, so we'll need to change before we leave.”


“Who knows what will happen?  If we ran into trouble we'll need to fight.”

“Trouble?”  Tiffany asked.

“We've got our powers, why should we worry?”  Quinn asked.

The confused look was returning to Mizue's face.

“What's the point of being a magical girl if you're not going to wear the cute outfit?”  Mizue asked.

The conversation was interrupted by the waitress returning.  She placed the grapefruit in front of the Fashion Club, but none of the girls were paying attention.  They were all staring at the other order, which she set in front of Mizue.

It was the biggest breakfast sandwich they had ever seen.  A foot long English muffin in the shape of a sub, it was crammed with scrambled eggs, bacon bits, onions, bell peppers, potatoes, and three kinds of cheese.

Mizue giggled at the look on the other girls' faces.  “Amazing, isn't it?”

“You could say that.”  Quinn said.

“It's about the best thing I've ever had.”  Mizue said.  “I thought I should treat myself a little.”

“You're going to eat all that?” Stacy asked.

“Sure!  I usually eat more than one.  See that sign over there?”

The other girls turned to look, seeing a sign with Mizue's picture on it near the kitchen.  “I'm the record holder.  I ate three of these in one sitting.  If you beat the record, they're free.  And if you tie the record, they're half-price.  Isn't it great?”

“Fattening…” Tiffany said.

“Oh, it's all right.  I never seem to gain weight, no matter what I eat.  In fact, if I don't eat enough, I just don't have enough energy.”

Tiffany didn't take that news very well, and angrily stabbed her spoon into her grapefruit.  This caused a jet of grapefruit juice to jet across the table and hit Mizue squarely in the face.

“Sorry.”  Tiffany said as Mizue scrambled to clean up.

“Oh, don't worry about it.  These things happen with grapefruit.”

“Are you okay?”

“I'll be fine.”  Mizue said.  “Anyway.  Ittadakimasu!”

Even the juice incident couldn't dampen her enthusiasm for the meal.  As Tiffany picked at her grapefruit, the other girls simply sat and stared at Mizue tearing into her food.

Mizue finished her first sandwich before Tiffany finished her grapefruit.  “Wow, I'm really hungry,” Mizue said.  “It must be all that practice we did yesterday.”  Mizue signaled the waitress for another sandwich.

“You're going to eat more?”

“Sure!  I might even be able to break my record!”  Mizue said happily.  “But if I do, it'll be harder to get them at half-price…”

The other girls looked at each other, shrugged, and then started eating.

“Going to set a new record today after all?” the waitress asked.

“Yup!”  Mizue said happily before digging in.

A few of the regulars turned to watch when the waitress made a third trip to the table.  They cheered a bit when Mizue ordered her fourth.

The other girls were long finished by then, but the sight of Mizue eating like a woodchopper was entertaining enough to keep Quinn, Sandi and Stacy engaged.  Tiffany, as always, didn't have any problem with boredom since there were reflective surfaces around.

The fourth sandwich was proving to be a challenge. Mizue's progress slowed greatly as she ate.  By now she had attracted a small crowd, including the manager, most of whom were cheering her on.

The last piece finally disappeared.  Mizue sat back with a contented sigh to the applause of the onlookers.

“Congratulations yet again, Ms. Mizue,” the manager said.

“Thanks!  They were even better than the last time!”

“Wow!  I can't believe you ate four!”  Stacy said.

“If we run across an eating competition, we know who to enter.”  Sandi said.  “But she's carrying her own food.”

Mizue was helped out of her chair, and had a new picture taken.  After the commotion died down the girls headed back to Mizue's, although they weren't able to move very quickly.

“I hope you're going to speed up sometime today,” Sandi said.

“Don't worry, I'll be fine.  We have to wait for Cerinthe to finish the paperwork anyway.  I'll rest a bit until then.”

“How long will it take?” Quinn asked.

“Probably all morning.”

“I thought you said he was really good.”  Sandi said.

“Are you kidding?  He's great!  It'd normally take days to do the contract negotiation, even without all the special clauses like you guys want.  If you'd just give in on that bathhouse thing…”

“Not a chance.”

“It'll hurt the ratings,” Mizue sighed.  “Oh well, it's your contract.  Maybe they'll just want to up the number of panty shots.”

“What?”  Sandi said.

“They'll want to replace it with something.  We'll find out when Cerinthe gets back.”

“Good thing we coordinate our underwear, too.”  Quinn muttered.

Back at the apartment, the girls checked over their gear and then got changed.  While Quinn, Sandi and Tiffany started watching daytime TV, Mizue and Stacy talked.  After comparing costuming nuances, the talk turned towards their powers.

“Could I see that magic wand you had earlier?”  Stacy asked.

Mizue blushed.  “Um…”

“It looked really cute.”

“Well… I guess.  But promise you won't tell anyone about it?”


“It's embarrassing,” Mizue whispered.  “If you don't promise, I won't show it to you.”

“Okay, I promise.”

“Even those three?” Mizue asked, pointing at the trio watching TV.

“Um… sure.”

Mizue pulled her wand out and held it out to Stacy.

“Where do you hide it?”

Mizue shrugged.  “It just disappears when I don't need it.  I don't know where it goes.”

“That's a cute shade of pink.”  Stacy said.

“I like it too.”

“But that's a strange shape.  And why does it say Hitachi on it?  Is that its name?”

“Um… not exactly.  It's a company…”

“They make magic wands?”

Mizue's blush intensified.  “Well…”

“What does this button do?”

“Eep!”  Mizue hurriedly snatched back the wand.  “Don't touch that!”  She added, blushing so hard that even her ears turned red.

“Is it dangerous?  I wish I had a magic wand.  It looked like fun,” Stacy said, sending Mizue into a giggle fit.

“What's so funny?” Sandi asked from by the TV.

Mizue calmed down a bit, but couldn't form an answer right away.  After a pause, Stacy spoke up.  “Gee, I don't know.  We were just talking about magic wands.”

At this Mizue's giggling intensified again.  She was finally able to get out “I'll explain it later.”

Sandi arched an eyebrow at her, then returned her attention to the show.  Not coincidentally, this was a magical girl show.

“You didn't recognize it at all, did you?” Mizue whispered to Stacy.

“Recognize what?” Stacy asked, confused.

“I'll tell you later,” Mizue said, giggling again.

Suddenly, Mizue hugged Stacy, saying “I love your innocence!”

Before a thoroughly confused Stacy could pursue this, Cerinthe returned.  This was the first apartment any of the girls had ever seen with a frog-flap.

“I'm back.” He said as he hopped over to Mizue.

“Welcome home!”  Mizue responded.  “How did it go?”

“Quite satisfactorily.  They were rather insistent on the bathhouse episode, but they're willing to replace it with a hot springs episode.  They'd prefer towels to swimsuits, and nothing to either, but they will accept swimsuits.  There's a small cut in pay if you wear them, however.”

“Swimsuits are not a problem.”  Sandi said.  “That would be just like modeling.”

“Modeling.  We should get more film.”  Tiffany said.

“Well, there is a natural hot springs in the direction we're going.  I guess we can stop there.”  Mizue said.

“But that means we need to go buy swimsuits… do we have time for that?  It'll take all week!”  Quinn said.

“All week?” Mizue repeated, surprised.

“Quinn is correct.”  Sandi stated.  “To do swimsuit shopping properly requires a great deal of time.”

“But we'd never be able to catch up!  Can't you guys just let them use the bathhouse footage?”

“No!”  The other four girls chorused.

“Fine, fine… you're the ones who want to get home quickly.  You'll have to compromise somewhere.”


“What is it, Stacy?” Sandi asked.

“Maybe we could just buy swimsuits that we already have?  That way we'll know they look good.”

“Own two of the same outfit?”

“It's not a bad idea, Sandi,” Quinn said.  “After all, we don't own any swimsuits here, and we are in a bit of a rush.  New Year's dates…”

“I suppose you are correct.  Shall we go shopping?”

“Ahem…” Cerinthe interjected.


“Are you perhaps not interested in the rest of the contract?”

Sandi's “Not really” was drowned out by Mizue's enthusiastic response.

“Well, you do have things to do,” Cerinthe said.  “I suppose I should be brief.”

“I thought it was a frog.”  Tiffany said.


“Your advances are standard guild scale.  If not for your no nudity insistence I am quite sure I could have increased this greatly.  Nevertheless, I was able to get you all a percentage of the net.”

“Wow!”  Mizue said.

“How much?” Sandi asked.

“Net?” Tiffany asked.

“Half a percent each for you four, one percent for Mizue.”

“How come she gets more?” Sandi asked.  “She's not even a member of our group!  This is our quest.”

“She has seniority, not to mention a much simpler contract.  Her only stipulation is that she not be required to color or cut her hair.  It's an obviously required bit of caution on her part, but they'd have to be insane to want her to do something drastic like that in the first place.  They never argue over that one.”

“I though you said he was good…”

“He is!  I've never even heard of newcomers getting a percentage deal before!” Mizue said.

“Is that really good?” Stacy asked.

“Usually.  It means the more popular the show, the more money you get.”

“Popularity is not a problem.”  Sandi said.

“This is going to be sooooo great!”  Mizue said.

“As long as we get to go home soon.”  Quinn said.

Their shopping expedition was amazingly short.  They were able to go in, find their suits, and leave in only four hours.  Their speed was helped by their steadily dwindling funds.  Even with their advances, their costumes and camping gear had nearly cleaned them out.

They stopped by Mizue's place one last time to get their camping gear and get changed.  Even though she could (mostly) do a transformation sequence, Mizue changed too.  She explained it as a solidarity thing.

Five girls in colorful and revealing outfits didn't attract quite the attention they had expected.  Although a few people did stare, and Stacy noticed one guy so distracted he ran his bike into a tree, most just looked around and then ignored them.

They got to the bus stop just before the bus, boarding with a couple other people.  People in the bus did stare, and several of them checked their watches nervously.  Mizue noticed this and stopped at the front of the bus.

“Excuse me… I know some of you are in a hurry, but don't worry about your schedule.  These four are new and can't transform yet.  We're not involved in any magical girl business right now.”

The passengers - and driver - seemed relieved at that.  There was some polite applause combined with calls of “good luck” and “do your best”.

“What was that all about?” Stacy asked as Mizue sat down next to her.

“People here are pretty used to magical girls, but riding a bus with one, let alone five, can really mess up your schedule.”

“Why's that?”

“Not sure.  A lot of magical girls just seem to have really bad luck with busses.  Or maybe a moving bus is like bait to monsters.  Maybe it's the costumes, though.  Monsters don't seem to attack busses without magical girls on them.”

“Monsters?” Stacy asked, panicked.

“Oh, don't worry about them.  We're fighting humans, so we shouldn't see many.”

Before Stacy could ask for clarification on what constituted many they were interrupted.

“Um… excuse me…”

“Yes?”  Mizue asked.

The girl who had interrupted was a young, petite girl sitting behind them.  For some reason, she reminded Stacy of Brooke.

“Are you… Mizuniukabuawa?”

“Yes,” Mizue answered.

The other girl squealed with delight, bouncing up and down on the seat.  “Lucky!  My friends will never believe this!  I got to meet Mizuniukabuawa on the bus!”

“Um… who are you?” Stacy asked.

“I'm Nanaka!  Are you Mizuniukabuawa's friends?”  She didn't even wait for Stacy's response before continuing.  “Lucky!  Are you new?  What's your name?  Are you guys working?”

“Nanaka… Nanaka…” Mizue said.  “That name sounds familiar.”

Nanaka blushed.  “I'm your biggest fan.  I run a webpage about you.  Mizuniukabuawa's Room.”

“That's where I saw it!  You're that Nanaka!”

Nanaka giggled.  “That's me!  Oh!  Can I get your autograph?”

“Sure!”  Mizue answered, although Nanaka was already handing over a pen and notebook.

“I've been keeping track of your work ever since you were on Hime-chan's Ribbon.”

“Eep!”  Mizue squealed.  “That was my first speaking part.  I only had one line!”

“That outfit you had on was sooo cute!  You were just so adorable, I had to find all your other roles.”

“All of them?” Mizue asked nervously.

“All of them!  I especially liked that ecchi schoolgirl you played in…”

“Oh god!”  Mizue interrupted, blushing.  “I didn't think anyone would notice that!  I didn't even use my real name!”

“I realized who it was instantly!  You know, I've started a Mizuniukabuawa fan club, but the MaShoRen won't let me register it as official until you get a lead role.  That's so unfair!”

“Well…” Mizue said, “This should be kept secret for a bit, but… you may not have long to wait.”

“Cool!  Is that why those other girls are with you?”

“Yeah!  They're from another world, and we've got to fight the LSL to get them home.”

“So that's why all those disco dorks have been running around.  Kick some ass for me!”


“Say, could I get some pictures?  My friends will never believe this without them.”

“Well… we've got to take the bus out to the last stop…”

“That's okay.  I'll go with you!  I don't have anything more important to do.” Nanaka said in spite of the school registration forms sticking out of her bag.

Mizue and Stacy spent the rest of the time chatting with Nanaka, while the other three girls took the chance to get in some sightseeing.  Sandi had Tiffany go through a full roll of film, getting pictures of the more unusual buildings and the girls with the cutest outfits.

They finally arrived at the end of the line, the only people besides the driver on the bus.  The stop was basically in the middle of nowhere, but none of the girls had time to notice.  Nanaka had produced her camera and was getting shots taken with everyone, although Mizue appeared in all the shots.

“How are you going to get home?” Stacy asked when Nanaka finally filled the memory on her camera.

“Oh, I'll just call some friends and ask them to pick me up.  They'll be happy to do it In exchange for pictures of a new magical girl group!”

Cerinthe finally poked his head out from Mizue's pack, where he had been riding.

“Kero, kero.”  He said, clearly irritated.

Nanaka was again excited by this.  “Cerinthe!  Lucky!  I should have known you'd be with them!  Pleased to meet you!”

“Kero, kero.”

“Cerinthe, be polite,” Mizue said.  “She already knows.”

Cerinthe glared at her and hopped out of the pack.  “Kero, kero!” he said again angrily, before hopping in the direction of Mount Fuji.

Sandi cleared her throat.  She had been bearing Nanaka's excitement with bad grace, and was clearly fed up with the whole thing.  “Kermit does have a point.  We need to get going.”

“Oh, all right.”  Mizue said.  “I'm glad we met!”

“Not nearly as much as I am!  See you later!  Good luck!”

Nanaka kept this up until they were out of sight.  Mizue was so happy that even Cerinthe's scolding couldn't dampen her mood.

“Are a lot of people here that… obsessed?” Sandi asked.

“I don't know.  I've never met any of my fans before.”

The hike didn't last very long before the complaints started.  The girls discovered that their fashionable heeled boots weren't very comfortable in rough terrain.  They stopped and changed into their sneakers, over Mizue's objections.

“Come on… what's the point of wearing the costume with the wrong shoes?”

“You do have a point, in a way,” Sandi said.  “Maybe we should just wear our normal clothing.”

“But… but… what if we get attacked?”

“We practiced fine without these.”

“That was just practice!  The studio will be really upset if you do that!”

“There's nowhere to change around here anyway,” Quinn noted.

“Danger lies ahead,” Tiffany said, in the strange voice from earlier.

“Well, duh.” Sandi said.  “We're chasing a bunch of ugly guys, remember?”

“I know,” Tiffany said in her normal voice.  “I'm not stupid.”

“Then why did you say that?”

“Say what?”

This was interrupted by Cerinthe's return.  He had been moving ahead of the girls, acting as a scout.

“There you are!”  He said.  “Taking a little break I see.”

“We're changing our shoes.” Sandi said.

“And they don't have Velcro.  I see,” Cerinthe said.  “That would explain your tardiness.”

“Cerinthe!”  Mizue said.

“You're taking this far too lightly, Mizue.”  Cerinthe warned.  “This is a real adventure, not one of your scripted bit parts.  Sitting around here is dangerous and you weren't paying any attention to your surroundings at all.”

“There's nothing to worry about, Cerinthe.  We haven't caught up yet.”

“Irrelevant.  I could have snatched the polka-dotted panties off of that one,” Cerinthe motioned towards Tiffany, “if I had wanted to.  And you have almost caught up…”

“Already?  That's great!”  Quinn said.

“Less walking.”  Tiffany said.

“If I may finish?” Cerinthe said, waiting for silence before continuing.  “More precisely, you've almost been caught.  There's an ambush up ahead.”

“That's silly.”  Mizue said.  “They don't even know we're after them.”

“They're waiting for someone, and it appears that you are the only candidates.  Besides, they don't have to know that someone is following them.  They may have set the ambush out of general principles, just in case.”

“Where are they?” Sandi asked.

“Up the path about half a mile.  There are a dozen of them lounging around.”

“A dozen?” Stacy asked.

“It means twelve,” Cerinthe said sarcastically.  “Don't worry, I have a plan.  They picked a good position for an ambush, with a minor problem for them.  It's also well suited to a counter ambush.  If you follow my instructions, this should be quite simple.  As soon as you've all managed to tie your shoes we can get moving.  I'll explain on the way.”


Stacy peeked through some bushes, looking at the six men hiding only a few meters from her.  They were well concealed from the path, but Stacy wasn't on the path and had a clear view of them.

She had been nervous about having to sneak so close to them, but her worrying had been for nothing.  To her surprise, all six men were wearing headphones.  Stacy guessed, quite accurately, that they were listening to disco.

She had been crouching there for several minutes already, and her leg was falling asleep.  She hoped that Quinn would hurry up and give the signal.

Stacy cast a worried glance at Sandi, who was concealed only a few feet away.  Sandi was muttering to herself and tapping her foot, making Stacy glad the guys were so devoted to music, even horrible music.  Clothes too, really, since the leisure suits made them quite visible.

An explosion on the other side of the path signaled the start of the attack.  Sandi wasted no time in stepping out of hiding and sending her blades flying towards the group.  From the other side of the trail came a shouted “Mizuniukabuawa missile!”

Stacy tried to jump up, but her leg was still asleep and she ended up facedown on the ground.  By the time she stood back up and started brushing dirt and leaves off her outfit the fight was over.  The clearing dust cloud revealed the legionnaires sprawled unconscious around the edge of a crater.

Quinn and Mizue stepped out of the woods and stood in the path.

“Well, that was easy.”  Quinn said.

“It's all thanks to Cerinthe!” Mizue said happily.  “If he hadn't scouted ahead, we would have walked straight into their ambush.”

“I don't see what the big deal is.  We would have won anyway,” Sandi said, joining them.  “Even without Stacy.”

Stacy limped on to the path.  “Sorry, Sandi.  My leg fell asleep.”

“It's just a good thing I got them all with the first shot.”

“Cerinthe!”  Mizue shouted.  “We're done!”

A moment later Cerinthe hopped up the path, followed by Tiffany, who was hauling their backpacks with great difficulty.

“Did we win?” Tiffany asked.

“Naturally.  Although I'm not sure how your power is going to be helpful.  You can't really help us fight.”

“Ew.  Sweat.  Bruises.”

“You're lucky you don't have to.  I don't want to.”  Stacy said, very quietly to herself.

“Shall we press on?” Cerinthe asked.

“What about these guys?” Stacy asked.

“Cute forest animals, remember?” Sandi said.

“Oh.  Right.”


They set up camp not too much later.  Although the sun was up when they had started, it was setting before they got the tents figured out.  Mizue cooked them all a simple dinner on a camp stove she had brought along.

“We should set up a sentry system for tonight.”  Cerinthe said after everyone was finished eating.

“Sentry?” Tiffany asked.

“I would have thought that today would have taught you something.  This expedition is dangerous.  We shouldn't all be asleep at the same time.”

“You're probably right,” Mizue said.  “I'll take the first watch.”

“First watch?”  Stacy asked.

“We'll take turns staying awake. A I'll wake up whoever's next in a couple hours.”

“If we must do this, then I, President of the Fashion Club, should be going first.”

Mizue shrugged.  “Whatever.  Just as long as you don't fall asleep.”

“Are you saying I can't be trusted?”

“No, that's not what I meant.  It's just we've been walking all afternoon, plus there was a fight.  I thought you might be tired.”

“You never participated in one of our Blush-a-thons, so I suppose I shall forgive you for underestimating our endurance.”


“Makeup testing.” Tiffany explained.

“Oh.  Wait… what does that have to do with this?”

“If you want it done properly, it takes a lot of time.”

“Days even,” Stacy said.



Stacy was about twenty minutes into her watch when she realized there was a problem.  She was really bored.  Stacy hadn't thought to ask Quinn what she had done to stay awake.

Luckily the moon was full, so there was enough light to see by.  Stacy pulled some change out of her pocket and looked over the unfamiliar coins.  She didn't know much about money, but she did know her cousin collected it.  Well, most people she knew collected money, but to spend, not to display.  Not exactly, anyway.

“I hope I get to take some of this stuff back,” she said.

Getting bored with the coins, she returned her attention to the forest.  She sat there for a few minutes idly, rolling a coin across her fingers.  She had learned some sleight of hand tricks from Charles, and although she never showed them to the club she thought she was getting pretty good at them.  The coin thing was a dexterity exercise she did from time to time.

Stacy was wondering how Mizue made her wand appear and disappear when something caught her attention.  There were some white flowers glowing in the moonlight.

When Stacy woke Tiffany, there were six garlands, one of which was frog sized, sitting outside the tent.


The next morning revealed a new problem.  Mirrors.  More specifically, the lack of them.  Tiffany had her compact, of course, and Cerinthe had reminded Mizue to bring a hand mirror, but that was it.

Even though Tiffany had been on the last watch and had spent most of her time with the mirror, she was reluctant to let anyone else use it.  She kept asking them to let her have it back “just for a second” so she could check her makeup.

Mizue got herself in trouble by not mentioning her mirror until after she had taken care of her own makeup.  She made it worse, at least as far as Sandi was concerned, by giving the mirror to Stacy first.  By the time they left camp Mizue and Sandi were staying as far from each other as possible.

Mizue insisted on keeping up a one-sided litany of complaints about Sandi's pushiness to a very nervous Stacy.  Mizue made sure her voice was just loud enough for Sandi to hear.

Sandi showed no hesitation in voicing her opinion of Mizue to Tiffany, who was paying more attention to her hair than to Sandi.

Cerinthe hopped into the path in front of the girls.  “Would you mind keeping your voices down?  Not that anything in this forest doesn't know where we are by now.”

There was a sudden, sullen silence, much to Stacy's relief.

“Wind…” Tiffany said in complaint.

Cerinthe glared at her.  “Was that meant for me?  Or are you describing the noise in your head?”

“What?”  Tiffany asked.  “I need stronger hairspray.”

Cerinthe rolled his eyes.  Coming from a toad, this was a truly impressive gesture of exasperation.  “Shall we all try to be a little quieter as we go?”

“It's a bit too late for that,”  said a man's voice.

The girls started as a group of men in leisure suits appeared before them.

“Damn… this is what your noisy bickering gets you.” Cerinthe muttered as Mizue took a defensive stance.

“What do you want?”

“Us?  Oh, nothing much.  We was just wondering why Lenny and the boys was so late.  You girls wouldn't happen to know about that, would you?”

“Who's Lenny?” Stacy asked.

“He's the guy what we had to haul out of a tree last night.  He had a real good view from up there.  Told us that maybe asking five gals about it would be a good idea.”

“Uh oh…” Mizue said.

The group of men grinned menacingly.  “Get 'em, boys.”

Sandi and Quinn fired at almost the same moment.  Neither of them found their targets.  The group had - there was no other word for it - danced out of the way.  Their various leaps, twirls and lunges discoed them out of range of the fireball's explosion.

Even more of a surprise came from Sandi's target.  He simply stood in the blades' path.  As it was about to hit him he rippled his pecs, deflecting the blade with his gold chains.

Mizue had to briefly throw up her shield to get rid of the deflected blades.  “Shit!  They're ready for us!”

The girls backed into a circle and dropped their packs as the men spread out.  The legionnaires literally danced a circle around them.  Their dance was punctuated by the occasional group cry of “Oowa!  Oowa!”

“Stacy, I think you should try something.”  Sandi said.

“Um… me?”

Mizue said “Good idea.  You didn't use your powers last time.  They probably won't have a counter for them.”

“Um… okay.” Stacy said, taking a tentative step towards the ring of men.

“Want to dance, sweetie?” he asked.

To everyone's surprise, Stacy cheerfully answered “Sure!”

In the brief stunned pause that followed, Stacy launched herself at the man, kicking him into the underbrush.

Sandi and Quinn tried to take advantage of the distraction, but with only partial success.  None of the legionnaires were hit, but they were scattered.

“Hah!”  Mizue shouted.  “It's our turn now!  Mizuniukabuawa bat!”

Taking up a batter's stance, she held her hands just far enough apart for her bubble to be seen forming between them.  She grabbed it with both hands and the bubble quickly stretched out into the shape of a baseball bat.

The others weren't idle during this time.  Tiffany stayed close to Sandi and started trying to give the legionnaires some fashion advice.  Sandi tried to ignore Tiffany while launching her own attacks.  They were mostly ineffectual, other than forcing someone to move out of the way, but she was able to hit two of the men while they were trying to dodge Quinn's fireballs.

Stacy was leaping around the clearing, chasing various men.  She was already giggling wildly, and her trajectories were becoming increasingly erratic.  Her latest jump took her off the trail of her target and into striking range of Mizue's opponent.  Her boot sent him flying and she landed in a jumbled mess.

“Stacy!  Are you okay?” Mizue asked, helping Stacy stand up.

“I landed on my butt…” Stacy informed her.

“I saw.” Mizue said.

“You know… I've always wanted to try this,” Stacy giggled, then leaped up and back, disappearing into the branches of a tree.

“Well, looks like she's fine.” Mizue said, giving her bat a few playful swings.

This was rather a shock to one of the legionnaires, who had been moving in to attack the two, but had tripped over Tiffany's backpack.  He was just standing up, his face at the perfect level to take a catch a bat, when Mizue accidentally walloped him on the backswing.

“Oops!  Sorry!”  Mizue said, before running after Quinn.

“Boss!  They're better than we thought!”  One of the guys called out.

“Yeah.  We need reinforcements.  Guess it's time to run, we'll get 'em later.”

“Right!” The rest of the guys responded.

“He's their leader?”  Quinn asked.

“Probably.”  Mizue said.

“Good.”  Quinn raised her voice.  “Oh no you don't!”

“Quinn!”  Mizue said, running towards the men, “Attack name!”

“Fine… Fireball!”  Quinn launched another bolt right at the leader.  To her surprise, he whipped off a necklace, swinging the huge medallion at the end into her fireball, which was sent right back at her.

“Quinn!” The other girls shouted.

Quinn only had time to raise her crossed arms in front of her face before it struck.  She braced herself for the pain as she was engulfed in flames.

The entire fight went silent.  Quinn stood there for a moment, finally opening her eyes.  She saw that everyone was staring at her.

“What?”  She asked.  “Did it miss?”

“Um…” Mizue said.  “Not exactly.”

Quinn suddenly realized she felt a draft.  It wasn't just the sudden end of the recent fire bath, either.  She looked down at herself to see what was going on.  The direct strike had proven that she was immune to fire.  Unfortunately, her clothes weren't.

“Run for it!”  The boss shouted, leading his men in retreat.

The girls ignored them, Stacy jumping from her tree to an unstable landing.  They clustered around Quinn, who was still looking herself over.

“Didn't that hurt?” Stacy asked.

“Not at all.”

“I said that girls with fire power could resist it too.”

“Put some clothes on already, Quinn.”  Sandi said.

“Yeah.  Clothes.”  Tiffany echoed.

Quinn wasn't paying much attention.  She stuck her arm in Sandi's face and said excitedly, “Look at this!  My skin looks great!  That fire really cleaned out my pores!  Even a full day at the spa never did this good!”

Before a startled Sandi could reply, Stacy cheerfully chimed in.  “You won't need a bikini wax for a while, either!”

Quinn looked startled at this news.  She looked down and said, “Hey, you're right!”  Suddenly she got a horrified look on her face and quickly patted her head.  She sighed in relief when she still felt hair.

Stacy found this incredibly funny and laughed so hard she fell over.

Mizue joined in the laughter for a moment before she realized something.  “Hey!  Your costume!  What are we going to do now?  We really need that.”

“Don't worry.  I'll just wear my regular clothes.” Quinn said, going for her backpack.


“If Quinn is going to wear her regular clothes, so will the rest of us.”  Sandi said.

“No!  That's no good!”  Mizue paused for a moment, then shouted “Cerinthe!”

“Yes, ma'am?” He said sarcastically from his position by her feet.

“Oh, there you are!  Listen, would you mind running back into town?  You know where the store is, right?”

“The store?”

“Where we got the costumes.”

Cerinthe nodded and Mizue continued. “Good.  Run back and ask for another one.  I'm sure there was more than one.”

“Are you certain about this?”  Cerinthe asked.

“We've got your map, and we really do need her costume.  Please?”

“Oh, very well.”

“Yay!”  Mizue shouted.  She turned to Quinn, who had started dressing.  “Quinn, give Cerinthe your Mahou Card.  He'll get you a new outfit.”

“Why don't we just go ourselves?”

“Who passes up a chance to go shopping?” Tiffany asked.

“I know, but we don't have time.”  Mizue said.

“It's okay, guys.  It's not like we're staying here very long.”

“All the more reason to shop while we can.”  Sandi said.

“You know…” Stacy said rather distantly from her position on the ground, “I wouldn't mind shopping here more.  They've got some really cute stuff.”

“Too bad our cards only work in one store.”  Quinn said.

“Yeah.”  Was the consensus response.

“But that's why it doesn't matter,” Quinn said.  “It's not like we can really go shopping properly anyway.”

“I guess you have a point.”

“Don't worry.”  Mizue said.  “If this works out, I'm sure you'll be upgraded to Tokyo Tower Mahou Cards.”

“Will we get to go shopping before we leave, then?” Stacy asked, propping herself up on one elbow.

“Well, gee… I don't know.”  Mizue said.  “I hope so.”

“Unless this Versache guy is a wizard or something, won't we need to take him home first?”  Sandi asked.

Mizue shrugged.  “This is my first real quest, too.  I don't know how it will end.”

“Where does he live, anyway?”

“Now that you're properly dressed, aren't you forgetting something?”  Sandi asked.


“Makeup.”  Tiffany said.

“Oh, right.  Can I borrow your mirror?”  Quinn asked Mizue.


Two minutes later the other girls started to worry.

“Quinn, you didn't catch Tiffanitis, did you?” Mizue asked, not that Quinn noticed.

“Quinn.  Quinn.  Quinn!”  Sandi said.

Finally jolted out of her narcissism, Quinn looked up.  “Huh?  Oh, right.  I was just thinking.  That fireball did wonders for my skin.  I'm going to have to totally redesign my makeup regime.”

This got the others interested.  They kept the discussion and trial period up all morning.


By the middle of the afternoon they were hopelessly lost.

“How hard can it be to find a mountain?” Sandi asked.

“It's not my fault!”  Mizue insisted.  “This map is all weird.  Look!  Cerinthe's handwriting is worse than normal, too.”

“I can't read any of that.”  Quinn said, looking over her shoulder.

“Look, if we can just see the mountain we'll be fine.”

Sandi looked at the surprisingly dense forest surrounding them.  She arched an eyebrow but didn't say a word.

“I know!”  Mizue said suddenly.  “Stacy, why don't you climb up a big tree and take a look?”


“You were doing fine earlier.”

“Oh, right.  Okay!”

“That looks like a tall one.”  Quinn said, pointing.

The girls gathered around the tree, and Stacy jumped up into the lower branches.  Stacy looked down at the others with a cheerful grin.  “I feel like a ninja.”

There was a sound like a soft snort, followed by some “shush”ing noises.

“What was that?” Sandi asked.

“The cameraman must be new.” Mizue said.


Stacy leapt from branch to branch, disappearing from the other's view.

“Stacy, be careful!  If you get too drunk you'll fall out!” Quinn called.

“I'm fine!” Stacy called back.

After a moment, Mizue called out “Can you see anything?”

“It's so pretty!”

“Stacy…” Sandi said.

“Right, right.  I see a mountain.  I guess it's the right one.”

“Which way is it?” Mizue asked.

“That way!”

“Stacy, we can't see you pointing!”  Quinn said.

“Oh, sorry.  Um… let's see… oh!”

There was a ringing noise as a few coins fell from the tree.

“Stacy, what are you doing?” Sandi asked.

“Making a line!” Stacy answered, as a few more coins landed.  “I'll just keep going out on this branch and drop coins.”

“Good idea, Stacy!” Mizue said.


Stacy soon jumped from the tree.  The other girls were considering the scattering of coins on the ground.

“I don't think it worked.” Sandi said.

“I'm not quite done, Sandi.” Stacy used her heel to scuff a mark on the ground near the tree.  Then she dragged a mark out through the coins, looking up frequently.

“Are you sure that's the right way?” Quinn asked.

“Mm-hmm.  I even tied a handkerchief on the branch I was on.”

They all looked up.

“I don't see anything.” Sandi said.


“Me, either.” Quinn said.

“You must have really good eyesight, Stacy.” Mizue said.


“If you can see the branch, why bother with the coins?” Sandi asked.

“It was fun!”

“We'll have to visit a pachinko parlor when we get back to the city.” Mizue said.

“A what?”

“It's a game.  I think you'll like it.”

“Um… it's getting kind of dark.  Should we camp here?” Quinn asked.

“My feet hurt.”  Tiffany said.

“I warned you about those heels.” Mizue said.

“But they look so good…”

“Then you'll just have to deal with it.  I just hope you don't get any blisters.  That would really slow us down.”

“Blisters… ew…”

“Anyway, we may as well stop early.  We need to let Cerinthe catch up.”


The next morning was an improvement over the previous one.  None of the girls were fond of work, but they had started to figure out how to set up and strike camp.  This, of course, did nothing to stop the complaints or the attempts to weasel out of doing anything.  Mizue spent nearly as much time trying to talk others into helping as she did working herself.  Stacy didn't have a problem with working, but she was easily distracted.

Quinn finished her tasks, then told Sandi and Tiffany “Guys, I've got to try something.”


“I thought about it last night.” Quinn responded as she started undressing.

Mizue emerged from the tent with the last sleeping bag.  She gave Quinn a look and asked, “What's going on?”

“Stripping.” Tiffany replied.

“She isn't going to dance, is she?” Mizue asked.

“I don't know what she's doing.” Sandi said.

Quinn handed her clothes to a startled Stacy and said, “Wait here.”

“W…wait for what?” Stacy asked.

Quinn moved to a relatively bare patch of ground nearby and stopped.  She grinned at the other girls, and then raised her arms.  She was immediately covered in flames, drawing a gasp from the other girls.

“Quinn, what the hell are you doing?” Sandi asked when it was clear Quinn wasn't getting hurt.

Quinn ignored the question and kept the flames up for a few minutes before letting them die out.  She stretched luxuriantly, commenting “Oh, that felt great!”

Quinn went to get her clothes back, nearly skipping over to Stacy.  “This is so awesome!  It cleans, exfoliates, and removes unwanted hair.  It even conditions!  Why don't superheroes use their powers for beauty more often?”

“I think we've all seen enough exhibitionism for one day,” Sandi said sourly.  “If you're finished, we need to take down the tent and go.”

“Beauty can't be rushed, Sandi.”

They finally left, following Stacy's mark.  Not without a few questions, of course.

“Are you sure this is the way?” Sandi asked.

“It's the closest mountain.”

“Can you really see the branch all the way up there?” Quinn asked.

“Well… yeah.”


“Honest, Sandi!”

“I just wish I could read this map.  I keep telling Cerinthe he needs to work on his handwriting.  I even got him a special pen to practice with.  It tastes like flies.”

“Did you test this yourself?” Sandi asked.

“As long as we can see where we're going, what's the problem?” Quinn asked.

“Well… I'm not sure this is where we should be going.  There's more than one mountain this way.”

“This one was the biggest.” Stacy said.

“Anyway, Cerinthe should be able to catch up today.  He can really move when he wants to.”

“I hope there aren't more of those disgusting men around.  Those outfits make me feel ill.” Sandi said.

“We'll probably fight some more today.” Mizue said.

“Are they nearby?”  Stacy asked.  “How can you tell?”

“I don't know where they are, but it'd be pretty boring if we never had any fights, right?”

“Ew.  Sweat.”

“Will you stop with that?  It's not like you ever do anything.”

“I accessorize.”

“I meant in the fights.”


“I don't suppose there's a bathroom around here…” Sandi said.


“Of course not.”  Mizue answered Sandi's question.  “You'll have to use the bushes, just like the last time.”

“It is so uncivilized, but I guess there's no other choice.”

“You said that last time,” Mizue said.  “And the time before that, and the time before that, and…”

“Alright, alright.  I get the point.”  Sandi said.  She turned and disappeared into the underbrush.

Quinn said, “That's Sandi.  Always looking for a bathroom.”

“I'm amazed.”  Stacy said.

“Why?” Mizue asked.

“Sandi's barely complaining about it.”

This conversation was broken up by Sandi's return.  “Um… guys?”

“What?” Quinn asked.

“Could you come here for a second?”

“I'm really not in to that sort of thing…” Mizue said.

“Run out of TP?” Quinn asked.

“Not exactly…”

“What, then?” Stacy asked.

“Maybe I should just go over there.” Sandi said.

The girls looked at each other and shrugged.  They didn't have long to wait before Sandi appeared, backing slowly through the woods.

“What's wrong, Sandi?” Stacy asked.

“Ugh… what is that smell?” Mizue asked.

“Ew…” Tiffany added.

“Smells like the time my mom and her weird friend tried to make a compost heap.”  Quinn said.

“Are you feeling alright, Sandi?” Stacy asked.

“I was until that showed up.”

“That” was the thing she had been backing away from.  It looked vaguely like a mobile hillock, a pile of plants with legs.  It was also the source of the smell.

“What is that?” Stacy asked.

“How am I supposed to know?” Sandi asked.

“Not you.  Her.” Stacy pointed at Mizue.

“A demon.”


“A demon… a monster of some kind.”

“That is so very informative.  Thank you.”  Sandi said.  Mizue responded by sticking her tongue out at Sandi.

“Is it dangerous?” Quinn asked.


“Oh.  Well, this shouldn't be hard.”  Quinn slipped out of her backpack.  She formed a fireball in her hand, and then stood in a pitcher's pose.  She went through the whole routine, pitching the fireball before the monster got too close to them.

“It won't work.” Sandi said right before the fireball exploded on impact.  There was a satisfying amount of smoke.

“Ugh!  It smells even worse now,” Quinn said.  “What do you mean it won't work?”

“Look.” Sandi said, pointing.

The monster appeared from the smoke.  It was smoldering in a few areas, but looked almost unharmed.

“Wow.” Stacy said.

“Don't admire it,” Sandi said, “Hit it!”

The other girls chorused “Ew!”

Stacy added, “I'm not touching that!  It stinks!”

Sandi said, “My blades and Quinn's fire don't work.  If you don't hit it we're in trouble.”

“It's so slow!  Why don't we just leave?”

“It moved faster than this.” Sandi said.

“Well, that wouldn't be hard,” Mizue said.  “But it's better to take care of it now.  What if it caught up to us while we were sleeping?

“The smell would wake us up.” Quinn said.

Mizue ignored this.  “Come on, Stacy, you can do it!”

“Well… I don't know…”

“There's a hot spring nearby.  I mentioned it earlier.  We can take a bath there soon.”

“Oh, all right.”  Stacy said, putting down her pack.  She paused and turned to Mizue.  “What it's weak spot?”

“How should I know?  I'm not a monster expert!”

Stacy shrugged, and then took a few running steps towards the monster.  She then launched herself into the air with a shout.  “Stacy kick!”

Her foot hit the mound with a sound like slamming a sack of pudding against concrete.  The mound barely moved, but Stacy's leg went into it up to the knee.

“Well, that didn't work.  Eep!” The last bit was caused by the mound.  It had extended a pair of tentacles, which quickly moved towards Stacy.

A pair of metal blades almost immediately cut the tentacles.

“I was ready for those.  It tried them on me, too.”

“Tentacles!”  Mizue squeaked.  “Those weren't in my contract!  I'm not going near that thing!”

Stacy was trying to pull her foot free.  Even without the tentacles it was difficult.

“Let's spread out.  Try to confuse it!”  Quinn told Sandi.

“I think that I…” Sandi started to say.

“There's no time for that!”  Quinn ran to the right, trying to find an angle to attack that wouldn't hit Stacy.  Sandi moved the other way around the monster, throwing a steady stream of blades into it.  The monster wasn't very bothered by this, the blades sinking into it without much visible damage.

Stacy finally managed to pull free.  Her leg came out with a wet slurping sound, leaving her leg coated in slime to mid-thigh and smelling even worse than it looked.

“What should I do?” Tiffany asked.

“Run.” Mizue suggested.

“Mizue… Sweat…”

“Stacy, are you okay?” Mizue called.

“I'm okay, but this feels sooo gross!”

Stacy leaned forward and shouted “Stacy Slam!”

She slammed her clenched fists into the monster with a hammer blow.  This attack connected with a wet smack even louder than before.  Bits of goo splashed outward from the impact, as did Stacy when the creature shuddered.

“You did it!” Mizue cheered.

“Ew!” Stacy replied, having landed on her feet only to discover the bits of goo sticking to her.  “Hey!  I really like this outfit!”

The creature let out a gurgling noise, and then shot dozens of small spikes of wood out of itself.  Quinn put up a wall of flame, burning the ones headed for her into dust.  Sandi was able to knock the ones heading her way out of the air with a couple of her blades.  Mizue simply put up her shield, covering Tiffany as well.  Stacy was forced to start an acrobatics routine from a standing start; jumping, twirling and spinning her way through the attack.

“Cool!”  Mizue shouted.

“That was close!” Stacy said, not quite recovered from her last maneuver and still slowly spinning in place.

“This thing is dangerous.” Quinn said.

“And disgusting.”  Sandi added.

“I hope it can't shoot that goo at us.” Mizue said.

“Eeeew!” the girls chorused.

“Don't give it ideas!” Quinn said.

“We better run!” Mizue suggested.

The other girls didn't need much prompting.  Stacy and Quinn stopped long enough to grab their packs, but even Tiffany was moving quickly.

Everyone took off in the same direction.  This everyone included the monster, which was not only following the girls but gaining on them.


“No fair!”

“This'll slow it down…”

Sandi stopped long enough to turn around.  Mizue shouted “Attack name!”

“Fine.  Soul-slicing Steel!”  Sandi launched a pair of blades.  She didn't aim at the monster, instead slicing through a pair of trees.  The trees started to fall as Sandi turned to run.  They landed on the monster.  There was another, louder smack and an even worse smell.

“You got it!” Stacy said.

“I saw that in a movie.”

After a moment Mizue asked, “So… why are we still running?”

“The smell!” Quinn said.

The fallen trees behind them shuddered, then got pushed aside as the mound shook them off.

“I guess it's a good thing we didn't stop running.” Mizue said.

The mound chased after them, again slowly gaining.

“Uh-oh…” Quinn said.



The area ahead of them was rapidly running out.  There were approaching the edge of the hill they were on, a sharp drop several stories to the ground.

The girls slowed and turned around.

“I guess we have to fight.” Quinn said.

The mound launched another volley of spikes at the girls.  Mizue put up her shield, large enough to cover the whole group.  The mound kept running and slammed into the barrier.

“Can I shoot out through the shield?” Quinn asked.

“Um… I don't know.”  Mizue said.

“Well, it's worth a try.”  Quinn said, producing a flame.

“If it doesn't work we'll all get roasted.” Sandi snapped.

“I can't hold this up much longer.” Mizue said, sinking to her knees.

“That didn't last long.” Sandi said.

“Hold what up?” Tiffany asked.

“The shield,” Stacy said.  “Once it goes down that gross thing will get us.”

“Ew…” Tiffany said.

Just then there was a deep rumbling sound.  As the ground started to shake, Mizue shouted “Earthquake!”

The girls were thrown to the ground by the shaking, causing Mizue to lose her concentration.  They weren't attacked when the shield disappeared, however.  They didn't have time to worry about it until the ground stopped shaking.

“What the hell happened?” Sandi asked.

“Earthquake.” Mizue repeated.

“Where's the monster?” Quinn asked.

“Um…” Stacy said, standing up.

“Wow.  Look at that.”  Mizue pointed.

The other girls stood up.


Where the monster had been was a gaping hole in the ground.  The fault stretched in both directions beyond sight.

“That sure was lucky,” Stacy said.  “We couldn't beat that thing, and we almost fell in too.”

“Lucky?” Mizue asked.

“If we'd been a few feet over…” Quinn said.

“Luck?” Mizue asked again.

“What does that mean, anyway?”  Quinn asked.

“Luck…” Mizue said.

“Yeah.  I want a pony!”  Stacy said.

“What?  Where did that come from?”

“I've got it!” Mizue shouted. The other girls looked at her.

Mizue turned to Tiffany.  “Your power is luck!  That sleep thing is just your personality!”


“What do you mean, Mizue?” Stacy asked.

“She found the costume store, remember?  And now this.  Earthquakes aren't unusual, but this is,” Mizue said, waving at the new chasm.

“If she's so lucky, why did it attack us in the first place?” Sandi asked.

“Maybe her power is intermittent.  It is new.  Besides, it attacked you, not Tiffany.  She didn't even get splashed.”

“Luck can be a power?” Stacy asked.

“Sure, if it's strong enough.  You'd be amazed at some of the people who have it.  Tiffany may be luckier than normal, but her power is pretty weak compared to some.”

“Does that mean we've been having good luck on this trip?” Quinn asked.

“I guess.”

“I'm glad we didn't have bad luck, then.”

“Me too.” Tiffany said.

“Can we test for luck?  Find out how strong it is?” Sandi asked.

“Hmm.  Maybe.  We could toss a coin and let her call it.”

A hundred coin tosses later, Tiffany was right eighty-nine times.

“Not bad.” Mizue said.

“Seems pretty good to me.”

“If I could flip the coin, and she said something like “edge” or “won't come down” and be right, that would be strong.”

“On edge?” Stacy asked.  “That's impossible!”

“No, just really unlikely.”

“But she just said heads and tails.  What if her luck is stronger?”

“Then she should have got them all right.  Let's try, though.”  Mizue flipped the coin again.

“Heads.” Tiffany said.

As the coin landed Mizue said, “You're supposed to say edge, not heads.”


“It is heads.” Stacy said.

“See?” Tiffany asked.

Mizue picked the coin back up.  “Look, just say edge this time.  Okay?”


“Tiffany, just say edge.” Sandi said.

Tiffany shrugged.  “Okay.”

Mizue flipped the coin again.


The girls watched the coin land.  It bounced a couple times, then came to a rest.

“See?  I wanted to say heads.”

“Her luck's pretty good, but not really good.” Mizue said.

Stacy was fidgeting, not really paying attention to the discussion.

“Stacy, could you stay downwind of us?”

“I'm sorry!  This stuff is sooo gross.  I just can't get it off.  I really need a bath.”

“We can tell.”

“Don't worry, we'll be at the onsen tomorrow.”

“You mean I have to wait until tomorrow?”

“Maybe we'll find a stream or something.”

“She is not sleeping in the tent like that.” Sandi said.

“Sandi!”  Stacy said.

“That stuff is pretty… strong.”  Mizue added.

“You were the one who said to hit it!”  

“I didn't know it would smell this bad.  Besides, Sandi said it first.”

“Are you saying this is my fault?”


“Guys!” Quinn shouted.  When everyone looked at her she added, “We'll never make it to the hot springs if we just stand here arguing.”

Mizue looked at her feet.  “You're right.  I'm sorry.”

“Me, too.” Stacy said.

The girls made sure their stuff was together, then started walking.  As they left, Quinn said, “Um… Stacy?”


“Could you walk on the other side?  The wind…”



The rest of the day was an uneventful hike.  They stopped to make camp a little earlier than usual to let Cerinthe catch up.

“Who's cooking tonight?” Sandi asked.

“Mizue again, unless you're volunteering.”  Quinn said.

“Quinn, are you suggesting…”

“I'm not 'suggesting' anything,” Quinn interrupted.  “I'm just saying that Mizue is the only one who knows how to cook.”

“Um…” Stacy said.

“Right, right, except for Stacy's baking.  But we don't have an oven.”

“I suppose we're having curry again.”  Sandi said.

“Sure!”  Mizue said.  “I don't get to eat curry while camping out often.  Might as well take advantage of the quest.”

“Didn't you pack anything else?”

“There's sweet potatoes, too.  We'll roast them in the ashes again.”

“I brought smores!” Stacy said.

“Fattening…” Tiffany said.

“That's great, Stacy, but you might want to let someone else get them out of your pack.”  Quinn suggested.

“When are you going to change clothes, anyway?” Sandi asked.

“After I can take a bath.  I don't want to get my only other set of clothes all icky.” Stacy said.  “And besides, this gunk is getting all dried up.  It doesn't really stink any more…”

“Or maybe you're just getting used to it.”

“What do you mean, Sandi?”

“The wind just changed directions.”  Mizue said.


“Fire…”  Tiffany said.

“The campfire's over there, Tiffany,” Mizue said, pointing.

“No… fire.”  Tiffany said.  She turned to Quinn.  “Hers.  The bath thing.”

“Tiffany, you should have said something about that earlier.” Sandi said.

“Hey, that's a good idea!”  Stacy said.  “Quinn, will you do that fire bath thing on me?”

Quinn shrugged.  “Sure, if you want.”

“Um…” Mizue said.


“That might be a really bad idea.  Stacy, there's no reason for you to be fireproof.  You might get burned, and those really hurt.”

“Oh.” Stacy said, downcast.  After a moment of silence she added, “There's some big leaves and stuff out there, maybe I can kind of wipe some of this gook off.”

“Why don't you do that?” Sandi asked, disappearing inside the tent.

As Stacy wandered off, Mizue called out “Watch out for poison ivy!”


After dinner the girls sat around the fire talking.  They started with the usual fashion, makeup and dating, and Mizue with a notebook.

“Hey, guys.”  Mizue said when things started to wind down.  “Why don't we tell ghost stories?”

“I know this really good one…” Quinn said.

“We've heard your Cinderella story before, Quinn.”  Sandi said.

“Rattling girl…” Tiffany said.

“We've heard that one too.”

“I haven't.” Mizue said.

“Everyone else has.”

“Um… I heard one in a movie lately.”  Stacy said.

“Tell it, tell it!” Mizue said.

"... the ghost returned to the haunted cabin and he said 'None of you really believed me, so now I'll have to prove my power'. And the next morning, when the campers woke up, all of their old noses had grown back ...”

Sandi and Tiffany put their hands over their noses.

“Stacy…” Tiffany said.

“Stacy, how could you?  You went to Dr. Shar too!” Sandi said.

“But it's a good story.”

“Well, I liked it.”  Quinn said with a smirk.

“Me, too!”  Mizue said.

Before Sandi could add anything, Stacy spoke up.

“Your turn, Mizue.”

“Um… okay.

“The other day, when I was alone in my room…”


“I smelt a fart that wasn't mine…”

There was a pause.

“You're not trying to hint at something, are you?” Sandi asked.

“Maybe I am…” Mizue said, turning to look darkly at Sandi.

While Sandi was glaring at Mizue, Quinn started to grin evilly.  Reaching behind Tiffany, she held her hand palm up behind Tiffany and Sandi.  She shot a pillar of flame straight into the air, startling everyone.  Tiffany and Sandi were, not surprisingly, the most surprised, and both fell off the log they were sitting on.

“What… Quinn Morgendorffer!”  Sandi said.

“Quinn?” Tiffany asked.

The other girls were laughing.  “Sorry, Sandi.”  Quinn said, “But you should see the look on your face!”

“I wish I had a camera!” Mizue said.

“Camera…” Tiffany said, reaching for her purse.

“Don't even think about it…” Sandi warned, standing up and brushing dirt out of her clothes.  “I'm going to bed.”

Sandi went into the tent and the other girls were able to calm down.

“What about s'mores?” Stacy asked.

“Yay!”  Mizue shouted, before digging through Stacy's pack to find the ingredients.

The girls had a messy but tasty time getting the s'mores toasted.  Tiffany helped make them, but would only watch the others eat.

“You sure you don't want any s'mores, Sandi?” Quinn called.

There was no response.  The girls giggled at each other, then Tiffany stood up.

“You guys are a mess.”  She said.  “I'm going to bed.”

“We sure are.”  Quinn said, licking melted chocolate off of her fingers.

“I think I've got enough chocolate and marshmallow stuck under my fingernails to make another one.” Mizue said.

“Now I really need a bath.  Again.” Stacy said.

“At least this stuff smells better.” Mizue said.

“Tastes better, too.” Stacy said.


“Lucky for me,” Quinn said, standing up, “I don't have to wait.”

“No fair!” Stacy said.

“Lucky…” Mizue added, as they watched Quinn strip.

“You don't have to stare, you know.” Quinn said.

“Sorry, but I can't go in the tent, remember?”

“Besides, if you're the only one bathing, why shouldn't we watch?  You've got to pay a price.”

“Fine, fine.  Just don't get too close, you don't want to get burned.  I want to make this one last a while, too.”

“Okay,” Mizue said with a grin.

Quinn gave her an odd look, then moved a few feet away.  Raising her arms as before, she surrounded herself in flames.

“I wish I could do that.”  Stacy said.

“I wish you could, too.”


“I'm just joking.  A bit.  Really, though, I wish I could do it too.  None of my powers work as beautifiers.  I can make an umbrella, though.”

“That looks pretty.  Almost like fireworks.”

“Speaking of which…” Mizue said, getting up to dig in her pack.


“Look!”  Mizue whispered, holding up a string of fireworks.


“Yup!  Quinn got to play a practical joke a little while ago, now it's our turn.”

“What are…”

“Shh….” Mizue said.  Taking a string of the firecrackers, she moved a little closer to Quinn.  She tossed the fireworks near Quinn's feet, inside her aura of flame.  The fireworks started going off almost immediately.

Quinn jumped into the air with a shriek, her fire aura suddenly much larger and stronger.  She had jumped straight up, so she landed almost on top of the still popping firecrackers.  Mizue and Stacy fell over laughing while Quinn danced away from the small explosions.

The firecrackers soon finished.  Quinn stared at the charred bits of paper on the ground, then at Stacy and Mizue.  Tiffany and Sandi both stuck their heads out of the tent to see what was happening.

“Ha, ha, very funny.”  Quinn said, dampening her aura until the flames extinguished.

Mizue, still laughing, managed to get out “When am I going to learn to get a video camera before I do stuff like that?  I hope I can get a copy of the blooper tape.”

“The what?”  Sandi asked, but Mizue started to laugh harder and couldn't answer.

“Stacy, you've got first watch, right?” Quinn asked.

Stacy was still laughing too hard to form an answer, and simply nodded.

“Then I'll leave you two jokers alone.”  Quinn shook her head and chuckled as she gathered her clothes.

Stacy and Mizue weren't paying any attention to Quinn.  They were trying to regain their breath.  Quinn walked right by the bag of fireworks.

The two girls jumped as a firecracker went off between them.  They looked over at Quinn, still standing by the bag.  Quinn was holding one hand up, a flame dancing on the tips of her fingers.

“I'll have to remember that one.  It's pretty good.”

Mizue and Stacy started laughing again.

There was a polite cough from the bushes.  Everyone looked over to see what it was.

Mizue managed to get her breathing under control enough to get out “Cerinthe!  Welcome back!”

Cerinthe just glared.  The silence was broken by the sound of hoofs, followed by a donkey pushing through the bushes.

“This is it, then?” it asked, speaking with a thick Cockney accent.

Cerinthe nodded as much as that is possible for a toad; it was really more of a bobbing motion.

“Right-o.  Which one is it?”

“The nude red-head.” Cerinthe said, still glaring.

“Who's this?” Mizue asked.

“Delivery man, miss.  Got a costume here for Quinn NLNG.”  The delivery donkey walked towards Quinn.

“NLNG?” Quinn asked.

“No last name given.  We get some funny customers in our line of work, if you know what I mean.”

“Um…” Quinn started.

“All righty, then.  The costume's in the left bag.”

“Okay.”  Quinn opened the bag and pulled out a package.  A duplicate of her earlier costume, wrapped in plastic.

“Got the card, Cerinthe?” Mizue asked.

“Of course.”

Quinn suddenly jumped backwards with a shout, dropping her costume.

The donkey snorted, then said “Blimey, that really is her natural color.”

By this time Quinn was holding a fireball.

“Max, what did you do?” Cerinthe said wearily.

“I've never seen a natural red-head before.  I couldn't resist seeing if she was dying it all.  No harm meant, little lady.”

“That… that thing stuck it's nose…” Quinn said, her fireball slowly shading from orange to blue.

“Sorry, sorry, didn't mean nothing by it.”  Max said, backing away nervously.

“You'd better leave, Max.”  Cerinthe said.  “Miss Quinn looks quite ready to roast you.”

“Right, right. Got another deliver tonight, so I better be off.”

“I'll see you at the club next week.”

“Yeah… I'll be there.”  There was a brief pause.  “I don't suppose a tip is out of the question?”

“Goodbye, Max.”  Cerinthe said.

The fireball in Quinn's hand was starting to turn white around the edges.

“Can't blame a donkey for asking.  Later, then.”

Quinn started to wind up, and Max took off at a gallop.

“Friend of yours?” Mizue asked.

“Acquaintance.”  Cerinthe said.

Quinn, in the absence of any target, threw the fireball straight up into the air.  It detonated in midair, sending a spray of colored sparks in all directions.

“Cool!” Stacy said.

“Weird money, no credit, shared baths, strange food, and now a perverted donkey!” Quinn shouted angrily.  “I want to go home!”

“He's gone Quinn, don't worry about it.  And you'll be able to go home soon.”  Mizue said.

“I don't want to go home soon, I want to go home now!”  Quinn stamped her foot on the last word.  A bolt of fire appeared at her feet, shooting along the ground in the direction Max had gone.  The fire bolt hit a tree, exploding with enough force to knock everyone off their feet.

“I'm blind!  Again…” Sandi said.

“Wow, that was a big one.”  Mizue said.

“What was that?” Quinn asked.

“Looks like you've got a new power, Quinn.”

“This will not do.”  Cerinthe said.  “This simply will not do.”

“Calm down Cerinthe.  You know what brand new powers are like.”

“That is not the problem. Max and I were able to hear you over a mile away.  We saw you much further away than that, between the fire and Quinn's bathing.  Now everything within twenty miles must know where we are!  You are not taking this seriously, which means that someone is going to get hurt!”

Their vision recovering, the girls all stared at him.

“The only good thing about it is that I was able to find you so quickly.  Do you realize just how far off course you are?  This isn't a game!”

“We couldn't read your map.” Mizue protested.

“So it's my fault?  Will you say that after you've been ambushed tomorrow?”

“There's another ambush?” Quinn asked.

“The LSL are neither blind nor deaf.  Even at a disco your display would attract attention.  And put your costume on already.”

Quinn picked up her costume and waved her free hand in the air.  “Why bother?  I'm going to bed now anyway.”

“Some people attempted to do that a while ago.”  Sandi said.  “Beauty sleep is important for girls my… I mean, our age.”

“She's got a point Cerinthe.  Can't you lecture us in the morning instead?” Mizue asked.

Cerinthe sputtered.  “Lecture… the morning?  Idiots!”

As Cerinthe hopped off in indignation, Mizue turned to Stacy and giggled.

“He tries to lecture me like that all the time,” she said.  “But I've got him figure out.  By morning he'll have calmed down.”



“Good night…” Sandi said, pointedly.

“Oh!  Let me grab my sleeping bag.”  Mizue said.

By the time she had climbed over the other girls and got back out, Stacy was climbing into her bag.  Mizue laid her bag out right beside Stacy, who was staring up at the sky.

“Wow.  It's really pretty out here.  Maybe I should take up camping.”  Stacy said.

“You've never been camping?” Mizue asked.

“Once, but it didn't go very well.  There was all this snow and no food.”

“That's too bad.”  After a pause, Mizue added, “Why wasn't there any food?”

“Well, Quinn had packed a bunch of stuff, and the guys left the food with the bus to carry it for her.”

“You went with some guys?”

Stacy blushed.  “It was a school trip.”

“Those are so fun.”

“Not that one.  But this one has been fun.  I just wish I could take a bath.”

“It's really not that bad.  I was just teasing earlier.”


“Hey, you know…”


“Are your friends always this picky?”

“You have no idea.  They've been pretty good, actually.  I guess being stuck in another world is what it takes.”


“Oh, to tone them down.  I mean, I love to shop and all, but… Tiffany hasn't even complained about having only one mirror.”

“She's been borrowing mine.  I don't know why.”

“Really?  Well, she's got that thing about being fat.  She likes to check from as many angles as possible.”

“There's something wrong with her.”

“She's actually pretty nice.  Except when she thinks someone has insulted her looks.  Then she likes to talk about breaking things.”

“No, I mean she seems… slow.”

“But she's cute.”

“True.”  There was a brief pause.



“Do you have a boyfriend?  I mean, we keep talking about boys and dating, but you never say anything.  You just ask questions.”

Mizue blushed slightly.  “No, I don't.  I've never even been on a date.  Maybe now I'll be able to ask someone out.”


“Oh… no one in particular.  But all the top magical girls have boyfriends.  Or rivals.  Or both.  A guy, anyway.”



After a brief pause, Stacy asked, “Are they magical boys?”

“You know, I never thought of it like that.  I mean, some of them do have magic powers, but I've never heard them called that.”

“It must be nice having a steady boyfriend.”

“I guess.  But you've been on more dates than me.”

“But they're just dates.  They're not like, date dates.  You've heard some of the club rules, right?  It's just a status thing.”

“You've never been in love?”

“Well, I had this crush once,” Stacy said.  “We even went on a date.  But he never called me after that.”

“That's terrible!”

“I got over it.  I mean, I've been on dates since then.”

“But not in love?”


“I know how you feel.”

“What do you mean?”

“I had this huge crush in Junior High.  He was smart, good at sports, cute, everything.  All the girls had crushes on him.”

“What happened?”

“Nothing.  Turned out he wasn't interested in girls.”

“Wasn't interested?”

“You know… he liked guys.”  Mizue looked at Stacy, who had a confused expression.  “You know…”

“Oh!”  Stacy said, wide-eyed.  “You mean… really?”

“Yeah.  The girls were all in shock when he confessed.”

“He told them he was…”

“No, he told a classmate that he loved him.”

“Eep!  Gee, I'm sorry.  That was worse than Brad.”


“The guy I had a crush on.”

“Mine was named Akira.”

The two girls were quiet for a moment.  Mizue pointed up saying, “Look!  A shooting star!”

“Make a wish!”

“What did you wish for?”

“You can't tell, that ruins the wish.”

Mizue giggled.  “Know something?”


“We just met, but I already feel like you're my best friend.”

“Yeah, this has been fun.  I hope you can come visit Lawndale someday.”

Mizue sighed.  “Me too.”

Mizue reached out and held Stacy's hand.  The two girls lay there, staring at the sky, and eventually fell asleep.


Next time on FBCB:


“Tiffany, what do you think we should do with these men?”

“Hang them by their ankles.”

“Is that all?”

“Hey, we're just doing our jobs!”

Tiffany tilted her head to one side for a moment in contemplation.  “I almost broke a nail.  So we could pull theirs…”

“Now you're talking.”

“Hey, wait a sec…”

“Or… we could break their fingers.  So they can't hold nets,” Tiffany suggested.


“Wait, I'll talk!  Geeze, what's with magical girls these days?  You guys are worse than the boss.”

“Springstein?” Tiffany asked.

Sandi and the legionnaire stared at Tiffany blankly.


“What are we doing for dinner, anyway?” Quinn asked.  “Curry again?”


“Is that really traditional?” Sandi asked.

“It is.  Really.”  Mizue said.  After a blushing pause, she added “It's one of the few things I can cook, but it is traditional.”

“We should have got more canned stuff.” Quinn said.

“These packs are heavy enough already.”

“Yeah, heavy.”

“Really?  Mine seems pretty light.”

“Says ninja girl.”  Sandi said.

“Maybe Stacy should be carrying the tent.” Quinn suggested.


Inside the cell, Stacy stifled a giggle.  Just then Mizue groaned and moved a little.

“Mizue… Mizue…” Stacy called out quietly.

“Who?  Stacy?  Where are we?”

“We got caught.”

“Oh.  Right.”  Mizue looked around.

“Listen, come over here.”

Mizue managed to drag herself to a sitting position.

“Don't think I can walk yet.”

“I can, if we can get these chains off.”

“Wow.  Looks like someone has a pet elephant.” Mizue said, looking over Stacy's bonds.  “You can't break them?”

“No, I can barely move.”

“Then how can we get them off?&rdquo


Omake Theater


Record of Lawndale War


The scene opens on a large curtain, with the words “Welcome to Lawndale Island” written on it.  The curtain draws aside to reveal a very colorful landscape; a mountainside scene in rather garish colors.  The sound of bickering female voices quickly grows louder.  Stacy walks into view, dressed in plate armor that almost looks bronze and wearing a sword.  “I don't mind being the hero at all.”

She is followed by Quinn, who is wearing a short green dress, a blue cloak, and a blue breastplate that barely covers her breasts.  She also has a sword.  “I'm not complaining.  I like this outfit.”

Sandi enters next, wearing a very short white dress, and with her matching white top almost too far open.  It seems Waif has run an article on swords recently, because she has one as well.  “Maybe you should be complaining, Quinn.  I got to be the prettier elf, after all.”

Tiffany is next, wearing dark plate armor.  She's the only one not wearing a sword, but in this case it's because she's holding it in front of her.  “This Demon Sword is soooo shiny.”

Mizue follows the rest, dressed in a red dress with fur edging and a dark brown cloak.  Another sword hangs at her waist.  “But we've got the characters all mixed up!  This will never work!  Sandi and Tiffany's characters shouldn't even be in this group.  Besides, why does Quinn get to be Deedlit?  Come on, Quinn, trade with me!”

“Mizue.  I'm a redhead.  Why should I want to wear a dark red outfit?  This green and blue one looks much better on me.”  Quinn pirouettes in place, sending her cloak and skirt flying.  “Besides, that skirt looks way too tight.  Just like someone else I could mention.”

“If you're trying to say something, Quinn, perhaps you should just say it.” Sandi said.

“Well, gee, Sandi, aren't we supposed to fight a dragon?  It might be kind of hard if you can't run.”

“How come only Tiffany and I are dressed like guys?” Stacy asks.

“Tiffany is because she wanted the black outfit.”  Sandi glances at Tiffany and sighs.

Tiffany, still engrossed in her reflection on the sword, says,  “Black is…”

The other girls join in to chorus the rest of the sentence, “soooo slenderizing.”

Mizue sighs.  “Maybe we should have done a different scene.”

A roar sounds off stage, startling all the girls.  “What was that?” Stacy looks around wide-eyed.

“Cerinthe must be tired of waiting.  I think he started.” Mizue shrugs, then adds “Guess we better get started, no matter how mixed up we are.  Remember your lines?”

“It's the Demon Dragon of Fire Dragon Mountain,” all the other girls chorus.

“Right.  Now…” Mizue starts to say something, but is interrupted.

Cerinthe hops on screen.  He's been dyed red and is wearing big bat-like wings, which seem to be hampering his hopping.  “Growl!”

“Did he just say growl?” Sandi glares down at Cerinthe.

“How dreadfully rude you are.  It's finally time for some payback.”

“I'd like to see you try, Kermit.” Sandi draws her sword, preparing to swing.

“Um, guys, you shouldn't fight,” Stacy says, moving in between them.

Mizue grabs her arm and pulls her out of the way.  “Yes, they should.”

Sandi moves closer to Cernithe, holding her sword over head, but Cerinthe surprises everyone by flying up out of her reach.  “Hey!  I didn't know frogs could fly!”

“I'm a dragon this time, remember?” Cerinthe opens his mouth and breathes out a jet of flame, engulfing Sandi.  When the blaze clears, Sandi is standing surprised and covered in soot.  The only part of her that isn't black are her eyes, which seem a bit larger than usual.

“There.  That makes me feel much better.” Cerinthe flies off-stage.

“What just happened?” Sandi asks.




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