Magical Girl Pretty Ruri
Episode Five: Home is where you hang your head
By Tailkinker and Kitsy,

   Warning:   Java compilation error.  Insufficient  coffee.
Due  to  this, none of the characters, situations and  sites
belong  to  the  authors of this story.  They are  currently
just used to explore the effects of sleep deprivation.
   "Things  here continue to get stranger as time  goes  by.
Every  day,  I  am  late getting up.   I  don't  think  it's
possible for me to get up on time.  But that seems to be the
least  of  my worries.  Fighting hordes of golems, or  being
dragged off to sing at a karaoke club.  Whatever happened to
the peaceful time of the Jovian Wars?"
   Tail Kinker and Kitsy present
   Magical Girl Pretty Ruri
   Episode Five:
   Home is where you hang your head
   *BEEP*  *BEEP*  *BEEP*
   Ruri sat up and looked around.
   Plush toys.
   Pink wallpaper.
   Her bedroom, at "home."
   "Oh,  yeah."   She  staggered over to  the  computer  and
silenced the beeping alarm.  Blearily, she tried to focus on
the clock.
   "Seven hundred.  I mean, seven A.M.  Amazing.  The  alarm
clock worked."
   Omoikane  yawned, stretched and stood up.  He tilted  his
ears toward Ruri.
   "Something wrong?"
   "My alarm worked."
   "You're right.  That's wrong.  No school today.  Go  back
to  sleep."   The cat yawned once and lay back down  on  the
bean bag chair.
   She dug through her dresser and selected a pair of shorts
and  a  t-shirt.  ~I'm not going to be able to  go  back  to
sleep...might as well get dressed.~
   A  few  minutes  later, she stepped out of  her  bedroom,
wearing - for the first time this week - something that  was
*not*  a  school uniform or sailor fuku.  Her  shirt  was  a
light  gold  polo shirt, and the shorts were a light  brown.
She  had found a baseball cap stuck behind the desk, and now
wore  it backward on her head.  On her feet were loose white
ankle  socks with a pink border and some stray threads where
pom-poms  once  lived,  and black slippers.   Her  hair  was
arranged  in her traditional pigtails, but she had  replaced
the  ribbons with small gold combs, and lay somewhat  closer
to her head than usual.
   Omoikane,  yawning, trotted out beside  her.   "
   "Shut up.  Do you want my parents to hear you?"
   "Why, Ruri!  Wherever did this cat come from?"
   "You  never  said  anything to me about getting  a  cat."
Usagi  knelt  down  in  front  of  Omoikane.   "Hmmm...looks
healthy, looks well fed...Do you want to keep him?"
   Ruri pondered this for a moment.
   "I  guess...although  he's  caused  me  some  trouble  so
   The cat glared at her.
   "Has he been fixed yet?"
   The glare turned to panic.
   "No...not yet."
   "We should look into that.  Also, we'll need to get a cat
box  and  cat  food...good thing it's  Sunday.   We  can  go
shopping right after we finish the chores."
   "Of course, silly!  The laundry, the furo, then you clean
your  room.  Then the Sunday groceries.  And then we'll take
care of the cat.  Do you have a name for him?"
   "Yes...he's called Omoikane."
   "Heavy  Metal?  I hope this cat doesn't cost  us  serious
   Ruri twitched.
   Usagi  smiled.  "Not to worry.  The cat food  and  litter
are  coming  out of your allowance...Go get your bedclothes,
and we'll start the laundry."
   * * * * *
   The room was dark, the walls lined with shelves of books.
Against  one  wall was a massive oaken desk  with  a  single
lantern  casting feeble illumination.  Sitting at  the  desk
was Tsukumo.
   Tsukumo  threw the book he had been perusing  across  the
Library  in disgust.  "Twenty-four million books  of  arcane
lore  in  this  room, and not a single one  mentions  Pretty
Ruri, Yurika or the Martian Successors.  How the heck can  I
track her down if I have no information?"
   Akara's   voice  floated  through  the  room,   startling
Tsukumo.  "Perhaps the information you have is at fault."
   "And what, my Prince, do you suggest I search for?"
   "Ages ago, our bid for power was halted at Mars.  We  had
conquered  all  of the outer planets, but at  Mars  we  were
stopped  by four powerful Warriors.  While we were defeated,
we left Mars a barren, lifeless world."
   "And who were these warriors?"
   "Unfortunately, this is something we never learned.   For
that  matter, I could not even tell you the genders  of  the
warriors;   in  battle armour, everyone looks so  dreadfully
androgynous.  But if these Warriors have come to Earth..."
   "I  see.  But then these Warriors would not be native  to
this planet..."
   "But  in  order to remain unnoticed by the  planet,  they
would have to take on Earth names and forms."
   "Oh,  don't tell me she'd be so stupid as to use her real
name..."   Tsukumo reached for the only non-arcane  text  in
the whole room:  the telephone directory...
   * * * * *
   Genichiro  drew  his sword - a razor-sharp  crystal  Dao,
balanced perfectly - and saluted his opponent.
   His  opponent was a massive humanoid golem,  wielding  an
oversized  katana  -  larger than a no-daichi,  but  wielded
easily in one hand by this golem.  Genichiro had chosen that
weapon  to face, as the mysterious Tuxedo Ken who had caused
all  of  them so much grief seemed to favour that  style  of
   Of  course,  a golem is a rather slow-thinking  opponent.
It was only moments before Genichiro had disarmed the golem.
A  second  strike knocked the golem to its knees;   a  third
strike knocked it face-down to the floor.  Genichiro stepped
back and sheathed the sword.
   Three  slow, mocking claps could be heard from the dojo's
entrance.   Genichiro whirled, hand on  the  weapon's  hilt,
then relaxed and bowed.
   "Prince Akara."
   "Genichiro.  I fear Tsukumo may be failing us.  I  cannot
tolerate failure."
   "Your wish?"
   "For  now, watch him.  If he wavers, or goes against  our
needs, then deal with him."
   "I am ever faithful."
   "I  have my doubts, Genichiro.  Like him, you only joined
my cause for money and power."  Akara turned to leave.  Over
his   shoulder,  he  said,  "Like  you,  he  may  eventually
want...more than that."
   * * * * *
   Ruri  pulled her bedclothes, the downstairs curtains  and
her parents' bedclothes from the washer and transferred them
to the dryer.  She spun the dial and hit the start button.
   Usagi  stuck  her head in.  "Only a half cycle.   It's  a
warm day out."
   "And when you're done that, you can clean your room."
   "Uhhh...half cycle?"
   "Yes.  We'll hang them out for the other half."
   "Out where?"
   "On  the clothesline out back, silly!  Where do you think
we'd hang them?"
   Ruri had a flash of a clothesline hung between the engine
nacelles of the Nadesico...she shook her head.
   ~I must still be tired.~
   Usagi   stepped  back  into  the  laundry   room.    "Ah,
Ruri...about your room..."
   "Hai.  I'll get right to it."
   "It's already done."
   "Um."  Ruri was at a loss for words.
   "In  fact, I don't think I've ever seen it so tidy.   All
the teddy bears that you normally have strewn around are put
properly away..."
   ~Except for that Care Bear I burned.~
   "...and  all  your  manga are on the shelves  where  they
   "Ano...I haven't read them in a week..."
   "Who are you and what have you done with my daughter?"
   "Nothing!   I don't know where she is!  I just..."   Ruri
broke off as she realized her mother was looking at her very
oddly.  "...never mind."
   "Baka."   Her  mother turned towards the  stairs.   "Best
start on the furo, then."
   * * * * *
   The  bathroom was a very traditional Japanese style.  The
door  from the hall opened onto the washing area -  an  all-
tile  room  with  a drain on the floor, a wooden  bucket,  a
stool  and  a set of taps.  Towels hung on racks  along  the
back  wall.  Hanging in one corner of the room was  a  small
metal  circle, with several clothespins attached to it,  for
drying  small articles in the winter.  A second door to  the
right led to the furo room.
   The  furo  was fairly small - at best, it could hold  two
people, provided they were a bit small.  It was only drained
once  a  day, so it had a really bad ring.  Plus,  no  small
amount of grunge had built up on the sides and bottom,  even
though  it  was  used  only after  cleaning  oneself.   Ruri
sighed;  she could see this taking a while.
   She picked up the small bottle of cleaning compound and a
sponge.   She  examined  the sponge closely;   it  contained
small  amounts of the cleaning compound, so she  guessed  it
was the sponge normally used for this job.
   Omoikane  wandered in and hopped up on  the  rim  of  the
furo.   Ruri  smiled  slightly.   "You  might  want  to   be
   "You're  not the smallest cat in the world, and the  edge
of the furo can be slippery."
   "Is that a warning, or a threat?"
   "Take  it as you like.  I have to drain the furo."   Ruri
leaned over and reached for the plug.  Omoikane jumped  from
the side of the tub to the back of Ruri's head, dunking her.
   Ruri sat up, shook her head and glared at the cat.
   The  cat  was sitting in the corner by the door,  licking
his  front  paw  regally.  His whiskers were twitching  just
ever so slightly.
   "You  think  you're funny, do you...?"  Ruri grabbed  the
cat and tossed him in the furo.
   "MEOW!"  The cat levitated out of the furo and jumped  up
to the shelf over the furo.  He glared angrily down at Ruri.
"What was that for?"
   Ruri  smiled,  just  a bit...just a  bit  evilly.   "It's
cleaning day, isn't it?"
   "I  can  clean myself.  Besides, cat hair isn't good  for
the furo."
   Ruri  knelt again, and pulled the plug on the furo.   She
sat back and watched the furo drain.
   "Why a cat?"
   "I was just wondering why you appear as a cat."
   "Well,  because  I'm your magical animal companion.   All
senshi groups have at least one."
   "But why a cat?  Why not something like a dog?"
   "What, would you prefer some sort of cat/rabbit hybrid?"
   "  Cat's fine."
   * * * * *
   Tsukumo   tossed  the  telephone  directory  across   the
Library.  "No help whatsoever."
   Genichiro  faded into view, snickering.  "A  problem,  my
   Tsukumo indicated the directory.  "I've gone through that
whole  thing.   There is not a single person in  the  Nerima
Ward with the name Ruri."
   Genichiro  cocked his head.  "The directory is  organized
by family names, right?  So perhaps it is her given name."
   "But there is an easier way to find her.  She appears  to
be a school girl.  What school would she likely attend?"
   "Well,  she's  a  Magical Girl, carries around  a  plasma
pistol, and is fairly good in hand-to-hand combat...gotta be
   "I  don't  think  she's old enough to be  a  high  school
   "Well,  there's Yurinoki Middle School;  my  sister  goes
   "An  excellent  notion."  Genichiro  handed  him  a  file
folder.  "Here is a list of the students at that school."
   "How..."  Tsukumo stared at the folder.  "How did you get
this?  Even before I thought of it..."
   "Please.  If I had to *wait* for you to have good  ideas,
I'd  die of old age before we got anything done."  Genichiro
smiled evilly.  "She seems very protective of other girls in
her  age group.  Perhaps a kidnapping would shed some  light
on the subject."
   "Perhaps...But not my sister."
   "Concerned for the well-being of a mere human?"
   Tsukumo looked at him hard.  "Not my sister."
   "Then  at random..."  Genichiro flipped the record  open,
and  stabbed  down  with one finger at a  randomly  selected
page.  Tsukumo leaned closer to the record.
   "Rainerd Megumi..."
   * * * * *
   Ruri  and  her mother were in the back yard.   Usagi  was
hanging up towels and sheets, humming to herself.  Ruri  was
passing her the laundry, and occasionally a clothes peg.
   Ruri  looked up at her mother.  Though not a particularly
tall  woman,  Usagi was still much taller than  Ruri;   even
though Ruri knew she was supposed to be fourteen, she  still
felt like a little kid next to this woman.
   "What's that you're humming?"
   "You don't remember?  It's the old lullaby I used to sing
to  you  when  you were in your crib, or whenever  you  were
scared of the storms or loud noises."  She smiled softly  at
   Ruri sat down on the concrete fence foundation.  "Mom...I
really don't remember."
   Usagi sighed and sat down beside her daughter.  One  hand
reached out, almost unconsciously, and stroked Ruri's  head.
"The doctor said there might be some side effects..."
   "Side effects?"
   "Well,  last week, you had a bad fever.  You caught  some
sort  of infection or flu, down at the beach.  You had  some
pretty bad nightmares and delusions.  It was very traumatic.
The  doctor said it might cause some minor memory  problems.
But they'd clear up.  When you woke up all better, I thought
nothing  was wrong.  I'm sorry, I should have kept a  better
eye on you."
   "It  was all a dream...?  But it couldn't be.  I remember
years of things..."
   "Delerium  can  include some time  dilation.   I  see  it
fairly often."
   "But I learned so many things, things I still know.   And
I  still  have this."  Ruri touched the computer implant  on
her hand.  Only the right implant was visible normally;  the
left only appeared when in use.
   "You  burned your hand when you were four, trying to pick
up  a heavy plate from the stove.  It was too heavy for you,
and  your  hand touched the burner.  See the way the  scar's
distorted?  That's from you growing up."
   "Don't worry.  It'll all come back to you in time."
   "That's what worries me."
   "Come on.  Let's go shopping."
   * * * * *
   "Yes, my Prince?"
   "Have you succeeded in locating this Senshi?"
   "No,  my  Prince, but I have determined  that  she  is  a
student  at  Yurinoki Middle School.  Genichiro came  to  me
with a plan to capture her."
   "Put it aside.  I have a more important task for you."
   "But lord--"
   "Do  you  question me?"  Akara sounded very  amused.   "I
have received new orders;  apparently, our last harvests  of
ki  were not as bountiful as the Master wished.  He requires
an immediate harvest."
   "Any specific area?"
   "You  are  to  take a small force of golems  to  a  food-
distribution center.  Harvest all ki you can there."
   "A  food-distribution center...You  mean  a  supermarket?
The harvest from such an area will be small, my Prince."
   "It  is  Sunday.   There may be as many as  five  hundred
humans  in  that one building.  Plus, you can  even  harvest
from the food being distributed."  Akara smirked.  "Plus, do
not  discount the ki generated by five hundred  people,  all
fighting over a limited quantity of discounted goods."
   * * * * *
   The pet store was some distance past the supermarket, and
since  Ruri's father had the car, it made more sense  to  go
there first.
   "That  way, we won't have to lug the groceries  all  over
town.  It's not very good for perishables."
   The  pet store was quite well stocked.  Besides pet food,
pet  supplies and books on pet also carried  pets.
The  noise  and smell assaulted them as they walked  in  the
front door.  Usagi's nose wrinkled.
   "I certainly hope your cat doesn't get this smelly."
   "He  won't."  Ruri smiled slightly.  "I gave him  a  bath
this morning."
   "I thought cats didn't like water."
   "They don't."
   "Welcome!"  The store owner rushed up to the  two.   "How
can I help you?"
   Ruri  twitched;   the store owner was a dead  ringer  for
Goto  Holy, the massive Nergal representative.  In his  arms
was  a  tortoiseshell cat, light golden, orange  and  brown,
with  white  patches behind the ears and a gold bell  around
its neck.
   Usagi  looked up - waaaaay up - at the man.  "Yes,  we're
looking for supplies for a cat."
   "A kitten, or an older cat?"
   "Ummm...older...We  need  a  cat  box,  litter,  food,  a
   "Has it had its shots?"
   "Been fixed?"
   "No, again."
   The  man  passed  her  a  pamphlet.   "I  recommend  this
veterinarian clinic...It's not the best in Nerima,  but  the
doctors there are competent, and their rates are low."
   "I see."
   The cat blinked slowly, eyeing Ruri.  Ruri shivered;  the
cat's golden eyes gave her the creeps.
   "Our cat is much larger than that one, mister..."
   "Goto  Holy."   He  bowed.  "This one is  small  for  her
breed, and a small breed to begin with."  He smiled.   "Now,
as to the things you need..."
   Five  minutes  later, Ruri and Usagi  left,  bearing  two
large  bags of goods.  Usagi was looking at the reciept  and
   "Your  allowance  will not be too impressive  this  week,
   " much is it going to cost me?"
   "About 4500 yen."
   "Ite."  Ruri winced.  She had started this week with 5000
yen in her pocket;  if it was typical of her allowance...
   "So no manga this week."
   "Hai, Mom."
   * * * * *
   Tsukuma  faded  into existence, and looked  around.   All
about  were  boxes of food, cleaning supplies, light  bulbs,
candy,  shampoo,  cologne and mousse.   He  nodded  once  to
himself.  "Yes, this will do."
   "Excuse me, sir.  Customers are not..."
   Tsukumo  turned  and  raised a hand.   The  employee  was
frozen  in  his tracks.  Tsukumo raised his other hand,  and
summoned a golem.
   "Drain him."
   The  golem  was  small, no more than a foot  across,  and
appeared to be a very delicate fly.  It flitted over to  the
employee  and clamped onto his chest.  The blue tendrils  of
ki  slowly  flowed from the man to the insect.  It detached,
and Tsukumo allowed the man to collapse.
   Tsukumo  smiled.   "This will be simple.   And  to  allow
Pretty  Ruri  no  time  to  interfere..."   He  willed   the
remainder  of  his attack force into existence  -  almost  a
hundred of the small fairy-like golems, and one much larger,
standing  eight feet tall, though looking just as  delicate.
Its appearance was almost feminine.
   "The Master seeks ki.  Send your children out slowly,  to
different  parts  of  the store.  They  will  masquerade  as
simple advertisement props."
   * * * * *
   "These carrots look really good, Mom.
   "No  thank  you, Ruri...You know I hate carrots."   Usagi
shuddered  slightly.   "But  grab  some  of  those   greens.
They'll go well with the beef."
   Ruri  reached  over and picked up the bok choy.   To  her
surprise, the greens fell apart as she touched them.
   "That's weird..."
   Ruri pointed at some of the bok choy.  "You see that?"
   "Yes, it looks great.  Put it in the cart."
   Ruri nudged the bok choy, and again, it disintegrated.
   "Or not."
   Usagi  shuddered.  "Perhaps we should go to  a  different
   "This one used to have such high quality."
   Ruri bit her lip.  ~There's something very familiar going
on  here...~  She looked up, and noticed one of  the  really
hideous  display props the store was using.  ~What are  they
advertising?  Raid?~
   To  her  shock, the bug's wing moved slightly,  spreading
out and retracting.  There was no breeze.
   ~That's gotta be a golem.~
   "Um...Mom?  We should go.  Now."
   Usagi  nodded,  and started heading for the  exit.   Ruri
followed  her,  but kept an eye on the store.   She  noticed
that  many  people,  especially  near  the  checkouts,  were
already unconscious.
   Usagi  grabbed  Ruri's hand and started running  for  the
door.  She came to a sudden halt as Tsukumo faded into  view
in front of her.
   "Do not leave.  You are needed."
   Usagi  pushed  Ruri behind her, keeping  herself  between
Ruri and Tsukumo.  "Run, Ruri."
   Tsukumo  gave an almost careless flick of the wrist,  and
Usagi was knocked flying.  She yelled out, "Ruri!  Run!"
   Ruri  dashed  past Tsukumo, outside to the  parking  lot.
She  stopped  and  turned to face the store,  panting.   She
groped  through her purse, and finally found  the  Kasei  no
   "Mars Guardian, Make-UP!"
   The  light seared her eyes, all blue and gold.   The  air
around  her  rippled, and she felt waves of incredible  heat
pounding  her.  Her clothes shredded and re-formed into  the
blue  skirt,  tight-fitting golden bodysuit  and  long  blue
boots  and  gloves.  The tiara formed on her brow,  and  the
Henshin lengthened to quarterstaff proportions.
   Her face was set in a mask of rage.  She ran back towards
the store.
   * * * * *
   Tsukumo laughed.  The energy harvests were continuing  at
a  very  good rate.  How foolish he had been to doubt Akara!
Soon, the OverGolem's ki capacity would be filled, and  they
could leave...
   The  supermarket  door was blown inward, glass  fragments
showering over the store.  Magical Girl Pretty Ruri  stalked
in, plasma pistol in hand.  Tsukumo groaned.
   "Not you, again."
   Ruri  raised the pistol and squeezed off a burst of fire.
Tsukumo  vanished from the path of fire, and reappeared  off
to one side.  "Golems:  Attack!"
   Distortion Field!"  Ruri spun the staff in front of  her.
A  glowing blue cloud formed all around her, then stabilized
into a light blue sphere.
   The golems attacked her in a swarm, but rebounded off the
field, unable to penetrate it.  She loosed shot after  shot,
but  the tiny golems were far too fast and maneuverable  for
her to hit them.
   "Face  it, Pretty Ruri.  Eventually, they will wear  down
your  own ki reserves.  After will fall like  the
rest of the meager humans here."
   Ruri blinked, and saw her mother's body, lying motionless
near  the  checkout.  She holstered the  plasma  pistol  and
raised her quarterstaff.
   She  held the quarterstaff in front of her, eyes  closed.
A  wind  began to swirl around her, and her hair  fluttered,
drawn  out  to its full length.  She opened her eyes,  swept
the  staff  around  her  and brought it  to  rest,  pointing
directly at him.
   "Gravity Blast!"
   A  black  field of energy formed around the  tip  of  the
staff,  then  flowed down to encompass Ruri completely.   It
swelled outward, and exploded into a cone of black energy.
   The  blast caught almost all the small golems, dissolving
them  instantaneously.   The larger  OverGolem  was  speared
through,  and survived for almost a second before collapsing
inward.   The  stolen  ki washed outward,  seeking  the  low
points, reviving the customers.  Most of them began to  stir
and moan.
   Tsukumo  scowled.   "My own Distortion Field  can  absorb
   Ruri drew the plasma pistol.
   "Perhaps I should be going..."  He winked out.
   Ruri  gasped,  and dropped to one knee.  She  mopped  her
   "That  blast took a lot out of me."  A few seconds later,
she  felt  recovered enough to move.  She stood  and  walked
over to her mother.
   Usagi  had  just managed to sit up.  "What  on  earth..."
She blinked up at Ruri.  "Is Ruri okay?"
   Ruri   blinked.    ~Why   doesn't  Mom   recognize   me?~
"She's...fine.  She's out in the parking lot.  I'll go  send
her in."
   * * * * *
   Usagi  set  the groceries down on the stairs and  changed
her  shoes.  Ruri kicked her shoes off and hauled the catbox
and  litter into the small room between the toilet room  and
the  laundry  room.  She also plugged in the small  electric
air freshener her mother had bought.
   She  came  back out, grabbed the cat food, cat  dish  and
collar, and ran upstairs.
   "Omoikane!  I got you some stuff."
   Omoikane ran over.  "What?  What did you get me?"
   Ruri set down the cat food.  Omoikane sniffed.
   "I'd rather have steak."
   "Tough."   She  put the collar on him.  "By the  way...we
were attacked by golems."
   "What are you, a trouble magnet?"
   "You should know."
   "Maybe it's just the district..."
   "Oh,  and when I was...transformed...Mom didn't recognize
me.  I mean, I'm pretty sure ondangos and a tiara aren't  an
effective disguise..."
   "It's   a  distortion  effect.   It  keeps  anyone   from
recognizing  you.  Most effective in keeping  your  identity
   "Right.  As if Yurika hasn't already blown that."
   "Don't  worry.  No-one is going to connect  Magical  Girl
Pretty  Ruri with a flat-chested, love-struck, clumsy,  ditz
like you."
   "Hmmm...Mom  wants  me  to make sure  you  don't  end  up
smelling up the house...bath time!"
   * * * * *
   Author's Notes:
   Well,  this one's a little longer than the others.   It's
also  a little more serious than some of the others, but  we
had to have *some* character development in there.
   Comments  and  Criticism  can be  sent  to  (Hey,  Kitsy:
Jankenpow   for   who  gets  top  billing   this   Episode?) or to  Most of the  'fic
can  be  found  at (tailkinker's
home  page) or at (guess  who
FINALLY got a page up).