"Doctor Who and the Monster-Maker"

Doctor Mihama Chiyo sat at a table in the rooftop cafe of the Hokuto Department Store, sipping tea and surveying the Tokyo spring as she waited for her friends. This was her first spring since she had returned home for good after her studies in America. It had been a spring like this fifteen years before when she had first met the five women who would be joining her today. Then she had been "Chiyo-chan", the ten year old prodigy who'd been bumped from fifth grade up to the first year of high school. Now, she had a doctorate in super-human physiology and was, if not exactly "world-renowned", certainly widely-known in scientific circles in Japan and the U.S. Her current job wouldn't bring her much fame, but it would bring her a wealth of experience that it would difficult to obtain anywhere else.

Yomi arrived first. Mizuhara Koyomi had always been studious and thoughtful. Now she was a well-known author of several books, both fiction and non-fiction.

"Yomi!" Chiyo waved her friend over to her table. "Tomo's not with you?"

"She's just coming off-duty. She'll be along presently."

The two friends sat and chatted. Shortly they were joined by their friend Doctor Sakaki. Chiyo thought that while Yomi had not changed too drastically since high school, the same could not be said for their friend Sakaki. She had been quiet and shy in their school days, better able to relate to animals than people. Now she was a good deal more outgoing. She still loved animals, however - she was now a veterinarian. The most noteworthy physical change was her hair - once luxurious and waist-length, it was now cut quite short for convenience's sake.

Officer Takino Tomo arrived next, resplendent in her policewoman's uniform.

"Sorry, I'm late, ladies, it's amazing how much paperwork police work involves."

Chiyo reflected that Tomo, too, had changed. Once known as their school's impulsive "wildcat idiot", Tomo had matured quite a bit during her years on the force, although the old brash Tomo was not quite gone.

Kagura joined them next. She had, perhaps, changed the least out of all of them. She'd been the jock of the group back in school. An excellent swimmer, she'd gone on to win a bronze in Beijing. Having turned down several better-paying jobs, she was now teaching P.E. at their old high school.

"Hey, Kagura!" Tomo called out. Kagura came and sat with them. "So, what's Osaka been up to?"

"Osaka" was the nickname Tomo had given to Kamiyama (née Kasuga) Ayumu, after her home town. Osaka had been something of a "space cadet" back in the day. She was by no means stupid, but had found it difficult to focus on her studies. Chiyo had spent a lot of time patiently tutoring the older girl, but, in the end, it had all paid off. Osaka had gotten into college, and was now teaching history at their old high school. Kagura saw her just about every day, but the others hadn't seen her in a couple of months. She still had kept in touch with them all by e-mail and telephone, but each of the other four women had lately had the impression that Osaka was holding some secret. She had, however, insisted on waiting until she could tell them all in person as a group.

"Sorry, girls, but she made me promise not to tell", said Kagura with a sly smile. Kagura remained reticent despite her friends' persistent questions. They were finally interrupted by the arrival of the woman in question herself.

"Hello, all!”, came Osaka's voice.

The five women turned and looked at their friend. She looked much as she had the last time they had seen her, with the notable exception that she was obviously about three months pregnant.

"Well", said Kagura, "Now you know what Osaka's been up to!"

Very quickly, Osaka was being peppered with the usual questions and comments. Chiyo was happy for her friend. Osaka was the only one of the "usual six" to have married so far, and Chiyo had assisted in her introduction to her husband Takashi. She was glad that the relationship seemed to be going well. As the conversation continued, Chiyo found herself momentarily distracted by an odd sound - a mechanical, wheezing, groaning sound. It seemed vaguely familiar, but she couldn't quite place it. Shrugging it off, she returned her attention to her friends. A few minutes later, she noticed a tall, gangly gaijin sit down alone at a nearby table. The waitress brought him a cup of tea, and he began sipping it. He had a shock of brown hair, and wore black-rimmed eyeglasses, a blue pinstripe suit and a long, brown coat. Chiyo started. She recognized him, and she realized where she'd recognized the sound she'd heard earlier from - a special film she'd been shown as part of her training for her current job.

Tomo noticed her observing the stranger. "Someone you know, Chiyo?"

"Maybe. Excuse me a minute, ladies."

Chiyo walked over to where the stranger sat, and addressed him in her American-accented English.

"Excuse me, sir, may I see your UNIT(1) ID card?"

The man replied in perfect Japanese. "What? I suppose so."

Cocking his head at Chiyo, he reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a card and showed it to her. It was easily thirty years out of date, and the photo - that of an older, grey-haired man - looked nothing like the man in front of her.

"So, it is you, Doctor?"

"Yes. How do you know me? Have we met?"

"Not to my knowledge - and it's not so much that I know you as that I know of you."

"How so?"

Chiyo returned the Doctor's ID and took out her own and showed it to him. The Doctor adjusted his glasses, and looked at it.

"'Doctor Mihama Chiyo', so you're...?"

"Yes, I'm UNIT Japan's scientific advisor."

"I hope they pay you better than they paid me."

Chiyo named a figure.

"That much? I worked for the wrong branch of UNIT!"

He returned Chiyo's ID.

"So, Doctor Mihama, what can I do for you today?"

"If you'll pardon me, Doctor, perhaps you could tell me why you're here? I don't like to pry, but everything that they told me about you in my training said that you seldom show up anywhere by accident, and that when you do show up, trouble - big trouble - usually follows."

The Doctor smiled ruefully.

"I can assure you, Doctor Mihama, that I'm only here to relax, and - hang on, 'Mihama Chiyo'? I know I've heard that name before. Are you sure we haven't met?"

"As sure as I can be", she replied, "unless I've met a version of you that UNIT doesn't have a file on."

"I know!", said the Doctor. "Mihama Chiyo - you're Chiyo-chan!"

"What?"

"That's where I've heard of you - I read your friend Yomi's book, the one about your high school days. She's quite good, your Yomi."

"But Yomi hasn't written a book about those days. I would know, I've read all of her books. She hasn't even mentioned any thought of writing one!"

"Oh. Never mind. I just realized - she hasn't written it yet. Forget I said anything. At any rate, I promise you, I'm just here to relax between adventures - a quick cup of tea, stock up on Men's Pocky and Shonen Knife albums, then off I go. I assure you - no monsters, no invasions - just a nice, quiet afternoon."

At that very moment, loud warning sirens began to echo across the city. The waitress rushed over to them.

"An unknown kaiju has appeared in the Bay. It's coming ashore and heading this way!"

Chiyo looked at the Doctor. He looked vexed.

"I promise you I had no idea..."

Chiyo's friends came over to where the Doctor, Chiyo and the waitress were standing.

"Chiyo-chan", said Tomo, "we've got to get out of here." Like all edokko, she knew the drill for a kaiju attack - get to the shelters ASAP. Already, everyone else on the rooftop had fled, except for the waitress, who stood by nervously, almost jumping in place.

"Sir, ladies", she said, "please, you've got to get to the shelters..."


"Actually", said the Doctor, "I've got someplace safer than the shelters..."

"Of course", said Chiyo, "your TARDIS(2). I heard it 'land'."

Tomo grabbed her arm. "Chiyo-chan..."

"Trust me on this, Tomo", replied Chiyo. "Trust me on this, all of you."

The Doctor led them over to where a large blue box stood. There was a door in one side, and English writing on the door. The Doctor held the door open, and flourished his arm welcomingly.

"Ladies first."

"Chiyo-chan, are you sure?" said Tomo.

"Trust me."

"We're never gonna all fit in there", said Osaka.

"Again, trust me."

Because they did trust her, Chiyo's friends filed into the TARDIS, Chiyo following last. The Doctor turned to the waitress.

"Plenty of room", he said.

"N-no, thank you", she replied, backing away.

"Suit yourself", he said, closing the door. The waitress watched in amazement as, with a horrible noise, the blue box faded away. Then, she ran for the shelters.

Inside the TARDIS, Chiyo's friends were still having the traditional "it's bigger on the inside” moment. For Chiyo, it was a moment to confirm what she'd been told in her training. Having set the time vehicle in motion, the Doctor moved over to the view screen, and began tapping into the satellite feed on the news service of the NHK(3). Chiyo and her friends came over to watch.

"I hope that waitress is all right", said Osaka.

"I think she'll have plenty of time to get down to the shelters", said the Doctor. "This monster's something of a slow coach."

"It's like a giant frill-necked lizard", said Sakaki.

"Yes", said the Doctor. "Although that spine sticking out of the end of its tail almost looks like a hypodermic needle, doesn't it?"

They watched as the creature moved forward slowly, deliberately, smashing buildings as it went in an almost desultory fashion.

"It looks as though it's heart isn't in the job", said Osaka. "It's like someone killing time waiting for something."

"I think you're right", said the Doctor. "But what's it waiting for?"




Elsewhere

Inside a vast room, a dozen uniformed men and women sat watching at computer consoles. Behind them paced a woman wearing a purple bodysuit, a blue cape and a skull mask with horns. One of the watchers addressed her.

"Contact, Doctor!"

"Is it the primary target?"

"I don't think so, ma'am. It's coming down from the north, by air. Identifying now...it's the tertiary target, ma'am."

"I see, it'll do for now. Have Agaminus carry out the plan."

"Ma'am."


Inside the TARDIS

As the Doctor and the 'usual six' watched, the NHK camera suddenly swung to the north. A fiery object was spinning through the sky. Tomo recognized it first.

"It's Gamera!"

"The friend to all children", said the Doctor.

"The guardian of the universe", said Chiyo.

"'Guardian of the universe'?" said the Doctor. "Is that what they're calling him now? Oh, well, better him than those self-important little Space Smurfs..."

The Doctor trailed off as he noticed the others staring at him.

"Oh. Don't mind me. Anyway, the fight's starting." He gestured at the viewscreen. Gamera had landed about a mile away from the other monster, and was roaring a challenge. The giant lizard roared back, and, belying its earlier sloth, began racing towards the giant turtle. Gamera, in turn, lunged at the other monster. Just as the two were about to collide, Agaminus stopped short, and Gamera was thrown off balance. Agaminus jumped in, pinned Gamera's forelimbs, and jabbed the spike on its tail into one of Gamera's hind legs. Gamera shrieked in pain, and its opponent turned and began to run away. Gamera spat a stream of fire at the creature's head. Agaminus was merely staggered, but it was enough for Gamera to spring forward and grab the tip of the lizard's tail in its forepaws. Agaminus strained away so hard that the tip of its tail tore loose. It lurched away, and Gamera spat another fireball at it. This time, Agaminus burst into flame, and within minutes, fire had consumed it utterly. Gamera dropped the piece of the creature's tail that it was holding, roared its triumph, and then flew away to the south.

"Now, what do you make of that?" said the Doctor.

"I've never seen anything like it", said Chiyo. "It attacked Gamera so eagerly, jabbed him once, and then ran."

"Did it poison Gamera?" asked Yomi.

"Or maybe plant an egg in him, the way Jiger did?" asked Osaka.

"Gamera seemed chipper enough, afterwards," said the Doctor. "And the way that creature burned...Gamera's first fireball only staggered it, the second time it burst into flame - like it was burning from within..."

Sakaki spoke up. "It was almost like it was taking a blood sample," she said.

"What an interesting idea", said the Doctor. "It came to Tokyo, waited for Gamera to show up, took a sample, and tried to leave. But, then it self-destructed, when it might still have gotten away."

"The tail!" said Osaka.

"What?" said the Doctor.

"The tail!" she said. "If it was takin' a sample, the sample was in the tail. But the tail tore loose - "

Chiyo picked up the thought. "So the other monster self-destructed because it knew its mission had failed?"

"Or", said the Doctor, "Its masters knew..."

"Masters?" asked Kagura.

"Monsters don't typically go around taking blood samples, do they? Someone sent that thing - it was expendable - to get a sample from Gamera and return to base. Once the mission had failed, no point in chancing that Gamera would kill it and leave its remains around for the local scientists to look over and find out who knows what."

"How could they have known it would be Gamera that showed up? It might've been some other monster, or an Ultraman, or something", said Yomi.

"Who knows?" said the Doctor. "Taking their chances, perhaps - or maybe they're not too picky. Waiting for something - or someone - to show up. Not necessarily Gamera. Chiyo-chan! Who'll end up with 'custody' of the monster's tail?"

"UNIT, most likely."

"Really? I thought UNIT was on the outs with the JXSDF(4)?"

"No, that was more the UNGCC(5) - and that's been pretty much smoothed over. Most of the military component of UNIT Japan is drawn from the JXSDF, anyway. These days our main rival is the Kotatsu-zoku."

"'Heated table tribe'? Who the hell are they?"

"Japan's answer to Torchwood or the Franklin Portfolio."

"Oh, great, more of them. Where do you suppose they'll take the tail?"

"Not far. We've got a warehouse HQ in Tokyo."

"I see. Well, with your indulgence, I'd very much like to have a look at that, I would. Do you think UNIT Japan would object to a little input from a 'visiting fireman'?"

The Doctor materialized the TARDIS in an alley a block or two away from UNIT HQ. He and the six friends exited the time vehicle. They walked out to the street, and found themselves in front of a small exhibition hall. A poster advertising an exhibit caught the Doctor's eye.

"Oh, look!" said the Doctor. "It's him! I've got to see him! And that car!"

Chiyo interrupted him. "Maybe later, Doctor. He'll be there again tomorrow - and the tail?"

"Oh, yeah."

"I'd better check in at work", said Tomo. "S.O.P. after a kaiju attack. I'll see you all, later. Yomi, I'll call you when I know how late I'll be. Nice to've met you, Doctor!" With that, she left.

"I'd best get home", said Osaka, "Takashi'll be wondering where I am."

"I'll go with you," said Yomi. "We can talk more on the way."

"I'll come, too", said Sakaki.

"Alright, then", said Yomi. "You coming, Kagura?"

"Nah, I think I'll check out this race car exhibit the Doctor noticed. My dad's big into this stuff, I might be able to score an autograph or two for him."

"Do me a favor", said the Doctor, pointing to the poster, "If you get a chance, try and get one from him for me, would you? Just get it to Chiyo-chan, she'll be able to get it to me, thanks."

"Sure."

Soon, Chiyo and the Doctor were alone on the street.

"Shall we go, Doctor?" she said.

"At once, Doctor", came the reply.

Chiyo led the Doctor to the side entrance of a nondescript warehouse.

"When we go in", she said, "I'd better talk to the Colonel first, if you don't mind." The Doctor nodded his assent, and they entered. Chiyo led him to what was obviously an outer office. She addressed a uniformed women sitting behind a desk.

"Corporal Yobirin", she said, "is the Colonel in? There's someone I'd like him to meet."

"Yes. I'll let him know you're here." She pressed an intercom buzzer. "Colonel Mori? Doctor Mihama is here to see you."

"Send her in", came the reply.

The Doctor sat and thought while Chiyo spoke to her superior. He'd been away from Earth for a while now, ever since that business with the space-going Titanic, running 'errands' for the Time Lords, going places and doing things that, for one reason or another ,it had been better for him to go and do alone. He was done with his 'chores', and had come back to Earth to get on with his current life. He found it funny that on his first day back on Earth he had fallen into an adventure with UNIT, albeit on the other side of the world than usual. The intercom buzzed, and he heard Colonel Mori order Corporal Yobirin to send him in. The Colonel's office was spartan but well-presented - not so different from the way the Brigadier's had been in the old days, really. Colonel Mori was a fit man of early middle age. Of course, his uniform was flawlessly clean and correct. The Colonel's face was expressionless and immobile, in a way that would've made the Doctor's old friend Joe Friday look like Charlie Callas.

The Colonel held out his hand, and the Doctor shook it.

"It is a great pleasure to meet you, Doctor", he said, in a way that suggested that maybe it wasn't, really. "Doctor Mihama has been telling me of your theory that this creature that attacked was sent by a person or persons unknown. Do you have any idea why?"

"I'm not sure - but I've got some nasty suspicions..."

 

Elsewhere

"The strike team is in position?" asked the masked woman.

"Yes, Doctor. We had anticipated the possible need for a recovery operation."

"Good, make it a quick strike, right when they're unloading. Use the gas, get in and out fast. Don't give them a chance to recover, the last thing we want is to get into a fire-fight with UNIT. Once they're away, have them switch the signs on the truck, and return to base in a leisurely fashion - no need to attract attention."

"Yes, ma'am."


UNIT Japan HQ

The Doctor, Chiyo and the Colonel were still in the latter's office discussing the situation, when Corporal Yobirin buzzed in.

"Colonel, the truck with the monster's tail will be back at base in five minutes."

"Thank you, Corporal. Well then, Doctors, shall we go down to meet them?"

The three were walking along the corridor outside his office when they heard a muffled boom.

"Quickly!" said the Colonel, and the three raced towards the sound, being joined by a pair of guards along the way. The Colonel opened the door to the loading bay, only for them to catch a faceful of white gas. The humans slumped to the ground unconscious. The Time Lord, though coughing, kept his feet, and ran into the bay. He could see uniformed men loading the tail onto a white truck. The Doctor ran over in time to see the truck heading away at a leisurely pace. As the Doctor watched from a doorway, the truck suddenly turned blue and the word "Librey" appeared on the sides. They must not have seen him, he thought, or they wouldn't've pulled that switch while he was watching. He returned to where the Colonel and Chiyo lay, and revived them with some Argolin smelling salts.

"Come on", the Doctor said. "We've got to get after them!"

"They've left our truck blocking the exit", said Chiyo, "and the tires are all flat! By the time, we get it moved, they'll be miles away!"

"Unless...", said the Doctor. "Come on, Chiyo-chan!"

With that, he practically dragged her out of the building, and back up the street towards the exhibition hall. He raced into the building, leaving Chiyo to deal with the flustered guards. By the time she caught up with him, he was in animated conversation with a man in his mid-60's who was standing next to the most famous race car ever built. As she watched the Doctor wave his UNIT ID at the man, Chiyo suddenly realized why the Time Lord thought that this man could catch up with the hijackers.

The man was Mifune Goh, and the car was the Mark Five.

Chiyo walked up and introduced herself.

"I'd be glad to help you", said Goh, "but how will we find these hijackers of yours?"

"UNIT will have planted a tracer on the tail when they collected it", said Chiyo. "If we move now, we should be able to find them while they're still in range!"

"Then, let's go!" said Goh.

The three crowded into the Mark Five. It was a bit cramped with three, but Chiyo couldn't help but admire the way the vehicle rode. She wondered at the genius of Mifune Daisuke, who forty-five years before had designed a car that was still considered ahead of its time even today. The Doctor, too, was enjoying the ride. He owned the TARDIS - in his humble opinion the most magnificent vehicle ever devised - but he still marveled at the design of the Mark Five. He was glad for the chance to meet Goh as well. So many lifetimes and he still couldn't say that he'd met everyone worth meeting. He hoped he never would.

Chiyo pulled out a tracker and began instructing Goh on where to go. They came within sight of the truck on the open road south of the city. This would be the tricky part. With less traffic, the hijackers would be more likely to notice that they were being followed. The Mark Five wasn't exactly inconspicuous.


Elsewhere

The masked woman was addressing the fleeing truck by radio.

"Report!"

"Ma'am, we're being pursued - it looks like by some kind of a race car."

"A race car? Let me see."

The minion activated a camera mounted on the rear of the truck and sent the feed through.

"That car looks familiar. Zoom in on the driver."

Her minion complied.

"It is him...of all the luck. Take to the air, immediately."

"But, Doctor, you said to remain inconspicuous."

"I know what I said, but if that's who I think it is, you'll never outrace him on land in a million years. That's Mifune Goh - otherwise known as 'Speed Racer' - the greatest race car driver that ever lived. And check the tail, there's bound to be some sort of a tracer on it. Base out."

She turned to a minion next to her.

"Double the guard, we may be getting visitors."

She then went into a small office, and activated a smaller viewscreen. On it appeared the face of a man with black hair and a neatly-trimmed beard. He was dressed all in black.

"Good afternoon, Doctor", he said. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"I wanted you to know - the operation is proceeding. I expect to be able to field test the product this very day. But there were - complications. The strike force was followed, and we may yet be found. I'm sending you a picture of the pursuers. The older man is Mifune Goh, the race car driver. The woman's a UNIT agent, I believe. I'm not sure who the younger man is."

The bearded man paused as if thinking for a moment, then replied.

"That, my dear, is the Doctor. The most dangerous man on the planet. After me, of course."



Along the coastal road south of Tokyo


The Doctor, Goh and Chiyo had watched in amazement as the vehicle they were pursuing took to the air and flew out over the sea.

"I've lost the signal", said Chiyo, "they must've found the tracer."

"Any idea where they might be headed?" asked the Doctor. "What's out there in that direction?"

"A number of offshore islands" said Chiyo, who had accessed the internet through her cellphone, "including one leased to an American chemical company called the Librey Corporation."

"Sounds likely", said the Doctor, "How's the Mark Five for underwater travel?"

Without a word, Goh pressed a button on the steering wheel. A canopy shot up over the cockpit of the Mark Five. Goh hit the accelerator, and the Mark Five leapt into the sea.

"Should I signal UNIT as to where we're going?" asked Chiyo.

"I wouldn't want our friends out there picking up the signal", said the Doctor. "We can always signal the Colonel when we get back."

The vehicle sped along the sea floor.

"Hmmph", grunted Goh.

"Something wrong?" asked the Doctor.

"She feels a little heavy, even with three of us aboard."

"She'll make it alright, though?"

"If I didn't know Kurio was in Hokkaido...no, she'll be fine. I'm probably just starting to feel my age."

"I see", said the Doctor.

"Doctor, any thoughts as to what we should do once we get there?" asked Chiyo.

"Well, playing 'lost travelers' probably won't work. We can try it, I suppose, but in any case, we need to find out what's going on there, preferably without attracting too much attention."

"So, you don't think we should call in UNIT?"

"No, the last thing we need is the Brigadier - the Colonel - going in with guns blazing. We'll try a little subtlety first."

The rest of the trip was uneventful, and they soon found themselves driving up on the shore of an island dominated by a large factory. Three armed guards spotted them at once.

"So much for subtlety", said the Doctor. "Run!" As he leapt out of the Mark Five, he jostled Goh's arm, causing him to drop the Mark Five's ignition key onto to the vehicle's floor. He had no time to retrieve it as the guards were soon upon them. Goh sent one flying, while the Doctor disabled another with a bit of Venusian Aikido. They turned to see Chiyo stunning the third with a small taser.

"Useful", she said, "for a single girl living alone."

"Come on", said the Doctor, "We've got to get inside before more of them arrive." The three companions ran over to the factory door and went inside. They were instantly spotted by more armed guards.

"Oh, dear", said the Doctor, pulling an object out of his coat. "Time to use my little gift from Charles McNider." He threw the object at the guards, who were instantly enveloped in black smoke.

"We'll split up and reconnoiter. Try not to get caught, but don't get yourself killed. If all goes well, meet back here in half an hour. Run!"

Even as the three ran off in separate directions, an alarm sounded.

Goh headed down a hallway, dodging out of sight of the various guards he encountered. He ducked into an unlocked room and found himself at the back of a cavernous laboratory. It was filled with busy workers. He ducked behind a filing cabinet before he was spotted, and looked around. The equipment looked familiar - like something he had seen a long time ago. Yes! That was it, that business in Africa. This equipment looked like -

"Don't move, 'Speed'", came a male voice from behind him. "I'd hate to have to shoot someone whose cartoon I enjoyed so much."

Goh turned and saw that several guards had gotten the drop on him. He might be able to take them, but they were armed, and he wasn't 18 anymore. He raised his hands and let them lead him away.

Chiyo, having run the opposite way from Goh, found herself closely pursued by a team of guards. She ducked into an empty room. She noticed the room contained a large air vent - ventilation must be a big concern here. She heard the guards outside. As quietly as she could, she pulled the cover off the vent and climbed inside. The shaft was big enough for her to crawl along in, so she did. After a time, she came to another vent. Moving quietly, she peered through the slits of the vent cover. The room it ventilated was a well-appointed office. A masked woman was addressing a bearded man on a viewscreen.

"There are intruders in the base, but we expect to capture them soon", she said. "The product will be ready on time."

"Good", the man replied. "Do have a care with those three - especially the Doctor. Don't let him near any of your equipment, if you can help it."

"Understood", the woman said. Chiyo backed away and headed down a shaft that led in a different direction. When she came to a vent that opened onto another room, she carefully worked the cover loose, then let herself down into the room. After replacing the cover, she looked around. She was in a ladies room. Hearing someone coming, she ducked into a stall and pulled her legs up to hide.. While she was there, two other women came into the lavatory. Chiyo thought quickly - she couldn't let them see her, she'd just have to wait them out. Thank goodness she hadn't ended up in a men's room.

The women didn't seem to be going anywhere. Finally, one of them spoke.

"It's alright, my dear, we know you’re in there. Please come out."

Sighing, Chiyo did as instructed. The two women were armed. Frisking her, they found and confiscated her taser and other equipment. They politely but firmly led her away.

After his two new friends had run in different directions, the Doctor ran into the black smoke, inching his way past the stumbling guards, and out the other side of the slowly dissipating smoke. Like the others before him, he ducked and dodged his way around, eventually finding his way to a large laboratory. It was humming with activity. Like Goh before him, the Doctor tried to remain out of sight while observing the room. Much of the machinery looked like cloning equipment - were they planning to clone Gamera? A computer terminal caught his eye. He put on his glasses and strained to look at it. The screen displayed a mock-up of a familiar-looking molecular matrix. It took him a minute to place it. It couldn't be! Proto-matter! But it was two centuries early for that! They - The Doctor heard a noise behind him. He'd been discovered. As he turned to face the guards, he felt a sudden, sharp pain in his head - a flash of white, then darkness.

"You weren't taking any chances", one of the guards said.

"You heard the boss", said the other. "They weren't to be allowed near the equipment." The two began dragging the Doctor's limp form away.


The Doctor – in the body he had worn during the Time War - Mister Fantastic and Spider-Man stood in the console room of the TARDIS, staring at the viewscreen. It showed a massive figure descending down to the surface of New Skaro.

"He came," said the Doctor.

"I knew he would", said Reed. "Whatever else he does, he keeps his word."

The Doctor looked at Reed. There were so many ways that this human was unique. Possessed of great intelligence, a legendary adventurer - and, perhaps most astonishing of all, the Devourer of Worlds owed him big time. And here, and now, in what the Doctor hoped was the final act of the Time War, the favor was being collected. Daleks swarmed about Galactus to no avail as he set about devouring their adopted planet. All had seemed near lost, the Doctor thought. The Dalek Emperor had taken possession of the Cruciform. The Master had fled in terror. If only he'd waited another five minutes, he'd've seen the massed forces of the X-Patrol and the Legion of Super-Heroes arrive, and take it back.

The Doctor was roused from his reverie as New Skaro and the Daleks remaining there ceased to exist.

Richards, Time Lord came the mental "voice" of Galactus. It is done, this world has ceased to exist, and my hunger is for the moment abated. But know this: The being you call the Emperor Dalek was not here. He could not have hidden from me. I sense movement in the spaces nearby, much movement. Look to Gallifrey, Time Lord, for the Devourer of Worlds tells you that there is one battle yet left to be fought in your Time War. Richards, my debt is paid. Farewell. 

With that, Galactus left.

"We've got to get back to Gallifrey and warn them!" said the Doctor, rushing about the console.

"Don't worry, Doc" said Spider-Man. "Remember, Gallifrey is defended."

"Yes, but we've got to warn them, got to warn them...."


"Warn who, Doctor?" came the voice of Chiyo.

The Doctor came to, rubbing his head and wincing. He was in a spacious cell with Mifune Goh and Mihama Chiyo.

"Not bad", he said. "I've stayed at Holiday Inns that weren't this well-appointed."

"You were saying something about warning someone, Doctor", said Chiyo.

"It was just a dream - or a flashback, if you prefer. Anyway, what did we find, looking around this place?"

Goh spoke first. "I found a lab with some strange equipment in it."

"What sort of equipment?"

"I'm not sure, but - years ago, I was in Africa, and I encountered a scientist who'd developed a way to make animals grow to many times their normal size very quickly. The equipment looked sort of like his."

The Doctor rubbed his chin. "And I found a cloning lab, and a computer that contained the matrix for proto-matter..."

"What's 'proto-matter'?" asked Chiyo.

"It can be used for a lot of things - but it's highly unstable. Worse yet, you lot aren't supposed to discover it for another two-and-a-half centuries."

"Doctor", said Chiyo, "when I was looking around I happened to overhear a woman talking to a man on a viewscreen. It was at a distance, and a bit of an angle, so I couldn't see him clearly, but..."

"But what?"

"It was a man with black hair and a beard, and he was all dressed in black. I'm not sure, but..."

"But", said the Doctor, "you think it could be the Master. That could explain the proto-matter, I suppose."

"Who is the Master?" asked Goh.

"An old enemy of mine. Dead, last time I saw him, but that's the problem with time travel - just because someone's dead, it doesn't mean they won't show up again."

Chiyo spoke again. "She said something about having a product ready for him, as though he were a client."

"Could be" mused the Doctor, "He does occasionally use 'subcontractors'...Hang on, I think I hear someone coming."

The door to their cell opened. The masked woman they had seen earlier stood in the doorway, flanked by two guards.

"Greetings, Doctor, Doctor Mihama, Mister Mifune, I am Doctor Demonicus."

"Of course", said the Doctor. "Librey, Birely. As aliases go, it's right up there with Dell Rusk and P.N. Gwinn. But not the original Demonicus, surely?"

"I am his daughter. As for you, no need to ask what you're doing here."

"And what are you up to, Demonicus the Younger? Using proto-matter to force grow a Gamera clone for the Master?"

"'The Master'? Do you mean the so-called 'Master of the World'? I suppose there is - or I should say was a resemblance... and what, might I ask, is 'proto-matter' - or perhaps you are referring to neo-matter, the substance whose matrix you saw on that terminal before the guard 'discouraged' your curiosity?"

"Proto-matter, neo-matter, whatever you want to call the substance he gave you."

"'Gave' me? No one 'gave' me neo-matter. It is my own invention."

"What?" said the Doctor. "You invented it? You're either a liar, insane or two hundred fifty years ahead of your time."

"I'll go with the third choice, thank you", said Demonicus.

"Whatever the case, you've got to stop using it. It's dangerously unstable."

"So it was. Until I found a way to stabilize it."

"That's impossible."

"Not for me. At any rate, I haven't got all day, I came down here to tell you what's going to happen next. My work here is almost done. I'd always planned to abandon this base once the product was delivered. When that is done, I'll rig the cell door to open some time after we've left, and leave your friend's remarkable vehicle where you can easily find it, along with the various interesting things my men confiscated from you. I've sent a team to retrieve the Mark Five already."

"That's awfully not-bloodthirsty of you."

"I'm a businesswoman, Doctor - I'm in it to make monsters and money, that's all. I don't want to rule the world, and killing government agents and celebrities isn't in my line."

"But if your clients use your 'products' to kill thousands -"

"That is their own business."

At that moment, a guard rushed into the room.

"Ma'am! The Mark Five is gone!"

"'Gone'? What do you mean, 'gone'?" said Goh and Demonicus simultaneously.

"What have you done with it?" asked Goh.

"What have we done with it?" asked the guard.

Demonicus turned towards Goh. "What kind of trick is this? I - oh, never mind." Turning to the guard, she said. "Alert the base! We'll probably be having company, soon." she stormed out of the cell.

After she had left, Chiyo turned to Goh. "Mister Mifune, do you have some kind of remote control for the Mark Five? Could someone have summoned it home, or something?"

"There's nothing like that on the Mark Five. I have no idea what happened to it."

The Doctor looked thoughtful. "Is it hard to drive the Mark Five under water? I mean, for someone who'd never done it before?"

"It could be", said Goh. "The currents take a little getting used to. But if a person was in good physical condition, it wouldn't be impossible."


Earlier, in Tokyo

After the Doctor and her friends had left for home or work, Kagura had gone into the hall to take in the car exhibit, eventually working her way over to where the Mark Five was exhibited. At the moment the crowd was pretty thin, and she was able to get a good look at Mifune Daisuke's handiwork. She remembered when the anime Mahha gô gô gô had first become available on VHS, her father had bought it right away, and she had watched the whole thing with him. She stood near the trunk of the car, and wondered if it was true that Goh's brother and their pet chimp had hidden in there. She heard a commotion and watched as Chiyo and the Doctor came running in. They didn't seem to notice her as she listened to them talking to Goh. On an impulse, she reached for the trunk. It was unlocked. Looking to see that no one was watching her, she opened the trunk and climbed in. As the Mark Five sped along, she wondered what she'd gotten herself into. It was one thing to be "Miss Impulsive" in high school, but she was a grown woman, now! A teacher, even. Well, a P.E. teacher, anyway. Eventually, she felt the Mark Five stop. She heard muffled sounds of fighting from outside. When they had stopped, she opened the trunk and peeked out. The Doctor, Goh and Chiyo had gone, and there were three unconscious guards on the ground. She ducked back into the trunk when she heard more guards coming. When it was quiet again, she came out of the trunk again, and looked around. The guards were gone, and there was an alarm sounding in the building. What should she do? Go into the building and try to find her friends, or try to find help? She had her cellphone with her, but if she called for help, the signal might be picked up. Kagura looked at the Mark Five, and noticed something gleaming on the driver's side floor. The keys! She picked them up and slid into the driver's seat. Something on the passenger seat caught her eye. It was a note. She read it, and turned the key in the ignition.

"Here goes nothing" she said.

 

Doctor Demonicus' Base

"Kagura?" said Chiyo.

"I think maybe so", said the Doctor. "she had said she was going to the exhibit, and from what I remember of Yomi's book, she was a little on the impulsive side. And Goh had said the Mark Five felt a little heavy. So, I wrote her a note while we were driving here - "

"I didn't see you writing anything", said Chiyo.

"I used a psychic memo pad - whatever you think appears on the paper. Unlike regular psychic paper, the message is permanent."

Goh spoke, "When we got out of the Mark Five, you knocked the keys out of my hand."

"Yeah, sorry about that, that was no accident. But that's why I asked about driving the Mark Five. Kagura was an Olympic medalist, so she ought to be alright, physically."

"I hope she'll be OK," said Chiyo.

"I think she's got a good shot. I told her to contact the authorities and bring help. Anyway, time for us to do our part." He reached into his coat, and pulled out his sonic screwdriver.

"How did the guards not confiscate that?" said Chiyo.

The Doctor smiled. "No one empties my pockets unless I want them to."

"What are you going to do?"

"Get us out of here, for one. Rig up a surprise for Demonicus, for another."

The Time Lord worked a wall panel loose, and began working on the circuits thus exposed.

"Alright", he said finally. "I'm going to open the door, now. I'm sure there's guards outside, so be ready."

The door slid open. Goh swiftly knocked out one, while the Doctor took the other one down with a Vulcan neck pinch.

"Never got that to work, before", he said. "Here, drag them into the cell".

This done, Goh took one guard's gun and offered the Doctor the other. The Doctor waved it off, but Chiyo accepted it somewhat dubiously. She'd had some weapons training, so she could use it if she had to, but she wasn't a big 'gun' person.

"Chiyo-chan", said the Doctor, "you said you saw Demonicus' office, do you think you could lead us there?"

"I think so, if you don't mind crawling through some vents."

The vents were more cramped for the Doctor and Goh than they were for Chiyo, but they could just about fit. After a false start or two, they found Demonicus' office. Ascertaining that it was empty, they lowered themselves into the room. Goh kept watch at the door, while Chiyo and the Doctor examined the office.

"Do you know", said the Doctor. rifling through some papers, "I'm beginning to think that this woman did discover proto-matter two centuries early. She's really quite clever." The viewscreen buzzed to indicate an incoming call. Impulsively, the Doctor pressed "Accept". The Doctor looked startled at the face that appeared on the screen.

"Who? Ah, Doctor...I told Demonicus to be careful with you, but she obviously didn't listen."

"Well, color me embarrassed", said the Doctor, "You're not who I expected at all. Vandal Savage, is it? Well, not every bearded villain is going to turn out to be him, I suppose. So, you're Demonicus' 'client', I take it? What's she making for you- a clone of Gamera?"

"Something a little more, I think" said the undying caveman, "but I'm afraid you won't have time to chat. I'm sure Doctor Demonicus will have discovered that you answered her 'phone', Doctor. She's not as ruthless as she might be, but I think you'll find she doesn't like people poking around her office. Good day to you, Doctor." Savage signed off.

"He's right", said Goh, "I can hear guards coming."

"Alright" said the Doctor, "put the guns down."

A moment later, the Doctor extended a hand out the door. In it was Chiyo's handkerchief taped to a ruler. When it was not immediately shot up, the three emerged from the office with their hands up.

"Very good, Doctor, you've saved me the trouble of summoning you from your cell. It seems some of Doctor Mihama's friends are on their way, and - much as I find this sort of thing distasteful - it may be necessary to use you three as hostages to hold them off until the product is ready and we can leave."

Chiyo looked at a large viewscreen on the wall. On it was a boat loaded with UNIT troops. Further aft, she could see Tomo and Kagura. Kagura must've contacted Tomo, and Tomo - or her superiors - must've contacted UNIT.

"Report!" said Demonicus.

"They'll land in minutes, ma'am. We've got our men ready for them, but, to be honest, they won't last long against those UNIT people."

"I expected as much, thus the role to be played by our guests. Activate the outside loudspeaker."

The UNIT troops landed on the beach and began to deploy. Colonel Mori had a loudspeaker of his own.

"This is Colonel Mori of UNIT. You will lower your weapons and surrender."

"No, Colonel", came Demonicus' reply. "Your men will stand off, or I -VKVKVKVKVKVKVKVVKVK!"

Inside Demonicus' control room, all power had suddenly gone off.

"What's happening?" she said. Shooting could be heard from outside.

"Some kind of power surge, ma'am. I can't get the link to the backup generator to - wait. Here we go."

The lights came back on. The Doctor, Chiyo and Goh had taken their opportunity to slip away.

Out in the hall, Goh turned to the Doctor. "Your 'surprise'? You timed that well."

"I'm good at this sort of thing", came his reply.

UNIT troops came surging up the hall, with the Colonel at their head.

"Chiyo-chan!" said Tomo.

"Where's Kagura"? asked Chiyo.

"Back on the boat. I'm lucky they let me come in!"

"Doctor Mihama, report," said the Colonel.

"Oh. Yes, sir. This is the base of a criminal calling herself Doctor Demonicus. We believe she's attempting to create a clone of Gamera for sale to an unknown client."

"Not unknown", said the Doctor. "It's Vandal Savage. At any rate, we can lead you to her."

"Please do so."

The Doctor and his friends led the Colonel and his troops back to the control room. Demonicus and her guards were already surrendering. Tomo walked over to Demonicus and slapped handcuffs onto her.

"Criminal! I arrest you!"

The UNIT troops began rounding up Demonicus' guards and technicians. The Doctor was about to speak, when there was a sudden loud rumbling.

"What have you done?" said the Doctor to Demonicus.

"I'm afraid my production line was on another generator than the one you sabotaged, Doctor. It's automatic. The 'product' will activate itself."

"Colonel!" said the Doctor. "get everyone out of here, and onto the ship, fast!"

Quickly, the base was evacuated and both UNIT and Demonicus' personnel were loaded onto the UNIT ship, which began pulling away from shore.

"What's going on, Doctor?" asked the Colonel. An explosion racked the factory. A monstrous shape began to rise up from its ruins.

"Behold my ultimate product!" said Doctor Demonicus. "Behold Neo-Gamera!"

The creature was like a giant Bizarro duplicate of Gamera. Larger, more savage-looking, with gleaming red eyes. Just turning to face them the creature smashed the rest of its creator's factory.

Something out to sea caught Goh's attention. "Huh? Ohhh!" The water was roiling and bubbling. Another monstrous shape arose - the original Gamera!

Neo-Gamera turned to face its predecessor. The two kaiju roared challenges and moved towards one another. Gamera was faster and launched its attack first. Neo-Gamera swatted it aside. It fought off Gamera's repeated attacks and finally picked up the Guardian of the Universe and tossed it out to sea. Gamera sank without a trace. Neo-Gamera turned towards the UNIT ship, but it was out of range. It began slowly walking after them.

"It doesn't fly" said the Doctor.

"No", admitted Demonicus. "It's too heavy. I was never able to solve that problem."

"What's it programmed to do?"

"Nothing, yet. Default is to attack the nearest population center."

"Then we have a little time. That thing's a little slow, so I'd say we have about five hours before it reaches Tokyo. Chiyo-chan, do you have a lab at UNIT HQ?"

"A small one at the warehouse, but there's also a bigger one at a separate facility across town."

"Good, if she was able to stabilize proto-matter, we should be able to destabilize it. It may be Tokyo's only hope."

An hour later, the Doctor and Chiyo were in the lab at the secondary base. Goh, Kagura and Tomo had been taken to be debriefed.

The Doctor was at a computer, typing frantically.

"Have they gotten anything out of Demonicus?" he asked.

"No", said Chiyo. "She's cooperating to a degree, but she won't reveal anything about her method for stabilizing neo-matter - or proto-matter, as you call it. She almost seems to be treating this whole thing as a product demonstration."

"She might be", said the Doctor.

"Doctor, what's so dangerous about this stuff, anyway? You said it was unstable?"

"That's right. But even worse, it can be used to make a terrible weapon - something humanity isn't ready for in the Twenty-Third Century, let alone the Twenty-First. Anyway, did the Colonel line up those sprayer trucks?"

"Yes, they're here already."

"And where's Neo-Gamera?"

"Still about an hour or two away. The JXSDF and a super-hero team called the Zodiac Sorority have been fighting him. They've been able to slow him down a bit, that's all. We've put out word to all the major overseas hero teams, but so far no response. Apparently, something's going on in Norway - they asked us for help."

"Oh, yes, the Vanaheim Excerpt, I'd forgotten that was today. We'll just have to make do - still, I'm almost done."

"Done with what, Doctor?"

"While we were in Demonicus' office, I was able to get a quick look at her notes. Not enough to know exactly how she stabilized proto-matter, but enough to make an educated guess. I think she created a sort of chemical 'bonding agent' - why Doctor Marcus never thought of it is beyond me - and I believe that I can create a sort of counteragent to weaken the bonds. If it works, one good impact will shatter Neo-Gamera to pieces."

"And if it doesn't work?"

"We'll look quite foolish - and probably quite dead."

The Doctor handed her a piece of paper.

"Done. Have the Colonel produce as much of this as possible - enough to fill up the sprayer trucks, if it can be done."

An hour later, it was done. Fortunately, UNIT kept fairly large stocks of unusual chemicals handy.

"That was fast", said the Doctor.

"We've got a lot of experience at this sort of thing", said Chiyo.

"We'd better get a move on - Neo-Gamera's almost ashore."

The sprayer trucks - with the Doctor and Chiyo in the lead vehicle - sped to the shoreline. Neo-Gamera was already visible in the distance. The Doctor contacted the Colonel by radio.

"Your men understand the plan, Colonel?" asked the Doctor.

"Yes. The UNIT and JXSDF forces - and the Zodiac Sorority - are to attack Neo-Gamera at the shoreline, and then withdraw, but stay in its line of sight. Once it gets far enough inland, we'll attack head-on, keeping its attention on us while you in the sprayer trucks douse it from behind. Doctor, the range on those sprayers - you'll have to get in very close."

"Don't I know it."

And so the plan was carried out. After a brief skirmish at the shore, the defenders led Neo-Gamera inland.

"Alright", said the Doctor. "All trucks - move out!"

The sprayer trucks moved swiftly into position, even as their allies renewed their assault. Maser beams and blasts of mystic energy lit up the sky.

"Now", said the Doctor, "start spraying!"

Streams of fluid began to play over the creature's back.

"Spray as much as you can!" said the Doctor. "We want that thing thoroughly soaked!"

"Doctor, it's turning!" said Chiyo. And, indeed, Neo-Gamera began slowly, lumberingly, to turn. "It must sense that this stuff's harmful to it!"

"All trucks, pull back!" said the Doctor. "But keep spraying as long as you're in range.!"

Even as the vehicles withdrew, Neo-Gamera leaned its head back and its throat began to glow.

"It looks as though it's gargling fire", said Chiyo. "If it hits us with a fireball..."

"Then we're all dead", said the Doctor. "But, wait - Look! Up in the sky!"

Chiyo looked. "It's - Gamera!"

Gamera whirled into its clone, knocking it backwards. Neo-Gamera's fireball leveled an office block five miles away, but left the trucks unscathed. When it regained its feet, Gamera pinioned its forelimbs from behind, holding it in place while the humans did their work.

"Doctor, all the fluid is used up!"

"Everyone, out! Full speed!"

"Doctor, could Gamera have known what we were doing?"

"It sensed we were hurting Neo-Gamera - that was all it needed to know."

They looked back. Gamera had released its foe, whose shell had begun to smoke. Gamera reared its head back and let loose a fireball that blew Neo-Gamera into a thousand pieces. The Doctor stopped their truck, and he and Chiyo got out to watch Neo-Gamera burn. Gamera turned, and cocked its head. To Chiyo, it looked almost like a greeting.

"Doctor, Gamera almost looks as though it knows you!"

"We've met a time or two before."

Gamera roared a final triumph, and flew off, out to sea. The Doctor and the UNIT forces returned to UNIT's lab. The Doctor had stopped to talk to Colonel Mori. When he emerged from the Colonel's office, he saw Chiyo talking animatedly to Tomo and Kagura. As he watched them, he could for a moment see them as the high school friends they'd been in Yomi's book. He smiled ruefully. He'd had friends like that once - The Master, the Rani, Drax, her... some were enemies now, some were dead, some were both... He shook it off as Goh approached him.

"UNIT sent a truck to bring the Mark Five and your TARDIS here, Doctor", said Goh. Sure enough, the Doctor could see the familiar shapes of the two vehicles being carefully lowered from a truck's bed. Seeing them together, Chiyo and her friends approached the pair.

"I've got to get home", said Goh. "Michi will be wondering where I am." He extended his hand. "It was a great pleasure meeting you."

"Likewise", said the Doctor. Goh made his farewells, and leapt into the Mark Five. Its engine revved, and then it sped out of sight.

"And what about you, Doctor?" asked Chiyo.

"Time I was moving along, too, I suppose."

"I notice you're traveling alone. That's unusual, isn't it?"

"Well", everyone needs some alone time. occasionally. So, anyway, what's going to happen to Doctor Demonicus?"

"Oh, I expect she'll be locked up for a long time - she's got a record in several countries. She worries you, doesn't she?"

"Humanity worries me, sometimes, always discovering things you aren't ready for. I mean, I can't blame her for discovering something - but the uses she might put it to... Still, it's not temporal contamination, or some alien giving you advanced technology. I'm not a Dalek, so I can't just kill her. And I'm not the Justice League, so I can't just mindwipe her. Just have to hope for the best, and that you lot keep a close eye on her."

"And Vandal Savage?"

"Hmmm....Anyway, time I was off. Nice meeting you, Chiyo, all of you."

The three friends watched as the Doctor entered the TARDIS. The machine dematerialized shortly thereafter.

"What a day", said Kagura. "I got to drive the Mark Five, and help fight a super-villain!"

"And I got to arrest a super-villain!", said Tomo. "I'll get promoted this year, for sure! Come on, ladies, we're all off the clock, right? Let's go find someplace to have a Kirin or two!"

"Yeah!" said Kagura.

"OK", said Chiyo. "Let's go!"


Sometime later, aboard the TARDIS

The Doctor stood in front of the viewscreen in the console room. He pressed a button, and a face soon appeared on the screen.

"Ah, Doctor", said Vandal Savage, "so you were able to trace the signal from Demonicus' office?"

"Yes, although I'm aware that it's being relayed through half a dozen places. Don't worry, I'm not planning to pay you a visit. Not today. No, I just wanted you to know that I was thinking of you, and that we will meet - at a time of my choosing."

"Have a care, young man..." said Savage.

"'Young man'?", said the Doctor.

"Yes", said Savage. "You may be 1,015 years old, but that is nothing compared to the ages that I have lived."

"'1015'?", came the reply. "You've been reading my UNIT file, haven't you? I did have a word with the Colonel about his security procedures. Anyway, my UNIT file - some of my best fiction, I always thought. You want to be careful about believing everything you read, mate. I don't like to put my real age about, you know, not even to my friends. Vanity, I suppose. I've lived several lifetimes - but not human lifetimes. I'm a good deal older than most people know."

"Nevertheless, Doctor, if you play with fire, even you may get burned. And I - "

"Don't try to tell me that you discovered fire, Savage - I was there when it was done, mate, and you were nowhere to be seen. So just you remember - it doesn't matter how long you've lived or will live - time is on my side. Be seeing you." The Doctor switched off the screen.


Tokyo, Japan - October 2015

Mihama Chiyo sat in the living room of the modest home that Osaka shared with her husband and now their daughter. Chiyo held her namesake, newborn Kamiyama Chiyo, in her arms. She was deeply moved that her friend had named her daughter after her. She pledged to herself to do her best to help the child in the years to come.

Osaka had said to her, "I hope she gets her father's brains."

"As long as she gets your heart, Ayumu-chan", Chiyo had replied.

Currently, Yomi, Kagura and Sakaki were sitting around the room with Chiyo. Presently, Osaka entered the room, holding a wireless phone.

"That was Shinichihime", she said. "She sends her best." She took her daughter from Chiyo, and sat down. "So, Yomi, you said you had something you wanted to discuss with us?"

"Well, I've been thinking for some time about writing a book about our high school years - about the six of us, how we met, some of the things we did in school, maybe a little about what happened afterwards. Nothing scandalous, of course, and I won't put in anything that you guys would object to."

"I don't mind the idea" said Osaka, "but do you think anyone would want to read a book about those days? Most of what went on was pretty ordinary."

"I think it was more interesting than you give it credit for" said Yomi. "And anyway, it's the job of a good writer to find the extraordinary in the ordinary."

"What does Tomo think?" asked Kagura.

"She's all for it", said Yomi. "I've spoken to a few others - Kaorin and Chihiro, Nyamo and Yukari, even Kimura's daughter - but I wanted to talk to you all together."

"Well, I don't mind", said Kagura, "being in the Olympics, I had plenty of publicity. A little more won't hurt. What about you, Sakaki?"

Yomi tensed. Sakaki was the most private of the group.

"I don't mind", said Sakaki, "so long as certain things" - Yomi knew she meant what had happened with Kaorin and Kimura - "are handled circumspectly."

"Of course", said Yomi. "My agent's pretty enthusiastic about the idea. She seems to think it would sell. What about you, Chiyo-chan? You've been awful quiet. Do you mind if I write this book?"

Chiyo looked at a basket full of toys on the floor next to her chair. She smiled when she saw that one was a plush toy in the form of a blue British police box.

"Yomi", Chiyo-chan said, almost laughing, "I think you kind of have to."


(1)Stands for "United Nations Intelligence Taskforce"

(2)Stands for "Time And Relative Dimension In Space"

(3)Stands for "Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai", meaning "Japan Broadcasting Corporation"

(4)Stands for "Japan Xenomorph Self Defense Force"

(5)Stands for "United Nations Godzilla Countermeasures Center"

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