[Opening shot: Rei is waiting at the airport with her friends, saying goodbye to Minako, who is about to leave on vacation.]

Usagi: Oh, I'm so jealous you're going skiing! All we're doing for vacation is going to a museum. Yuck.

Ami: Enjoy your vacation, Minako.

Minako: Thanks for coming to the airport with us! I'll send you a card from Hokkaido!

Makoto: Hokkaido is very nice.

Minako's father: Come on, Minako-chan. They're boarding our flight.

Usagi: Bring me back some candy!

Minako: [being hustled off] I will!

[Usagi and her friends wave as Minako and her family board the plane.]

Makoto: I've got some ice cream waiting to be eaten. Everyone ready to head to my place?

Usagi: I...have to go home.

Rei: What? You...You're passing up free food?

Makoto: Are you sick?

Ami: Is something wrong?

Rei: Maybe she's been possessed.

Usagi: Mom's getting really jumpy about me being late all the time and stuff...she thinks Ami is corrupting me or...

Ami: [blinks] What?

Rei: [thinks] No...must be...dreaming...can't be...real...can't believe it...passing...out.

[Rei faints. Makoto just stares.]

Usagi: Rei! [runs over to her]

Rei: [babbling] I've gone mad...I'm hallucinating...I'm...

Makoto: Your mother said that...

Usagi: [shakes Rei] Snap out of it! [to Makoto and Ami] My mom is really worried my grades are gonna get worse and I'm dragging down Ami's grades and I missed dinner and...

Rei: Stop shaking me!

Makoto: I see you've recovered.

Rei: I had a horrible nightmare where Usagi said her mother thought Ami was a bad influence and...

Usagi: That was real, Rei.

[Rei faints again.]

Usagi: Stop doing that!

Ami: I...your mother really...

Usagi: I don't know. I don't understand Mom half the time.

Makoto: I'm sure she's just stressed out over something. She couldn't have really meant that...

Usagi: On the other hand, I have a date this weekend!

Rei: [who has apparently recovered] Mamoru took pity on you?

Usagi: REI! [Usagi chases after Rei, who runs for her life. Soon, the entire group is going round and round the terminal.]

Ami: Stop before you run into someone!

Usagi: Rei's in the lead! She's gonna do all the running into someone!

Rei: [turns and makes a face at Usagi as she runs] I will not! I'm not a klutz like you! [She slams into Kumada Yuuichirou and falls down.]

Kumada: [helps Rei up] Hi, Rei. Your grandfather needs you back at the temple right now.

Rei: But I was going to go over to Makoto's and ...

Kumada: Someone needs a special prayer or something... Come on, we ought to hurry.

Makoto: Isn't anyone going to help me eat all that ice cream?

[Usagi struggles between duty and ice cream.]

Ami: I will, Makoto. I'm free.

Usagi: WAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!! No ice cream for me.

Rei: [leaving with Kumada] I guess I'll see you all later!

Makoto: I'll save some of it for you, Usagi.

Usagi: WAHOO!!!!

* * * * *

SYMPHONY OF THE PLANETS:

MARS

by John Biles

* * * * *

[We see Grandfather Hino at the temple, busily praying as Rei and Kumada arrive.]

Rei: What is it that you need me for, Grandfather?

Grandfather Hino: A really cute girl came by and expressed interest in becoming an acolyte. I need both of you to join me in praying that she choses to do so.

[Rei picks up a table and hits Grandpa with it.]

Rei: Grandfather no baka!

* * * * *

[Several days later, Rei is meditating at the temple.]

Grandfather Hino: [coming in] Ahh, praying that the kamis will send us more cute acolytes?

Rei: Grandfather!!!!

Grandfather Hino: One can never pray for that too much.

Rei: We'd do nothing but pray for more cute acolytes if you had your way...

Grandfather Hino: Alas, I have had no such luck. I have not heard from that girl yet. Unless some of your friends have changed their minds...

Rei: I...

[A woman in her early thirties enters hesitantly.]

Grandfather Hino: Can we help you?

Woman: [nervously] I hope so...I think we have a ghost problem....

* * * * *

[We see Grandpa, Rei, and the woman sitting in a small room with a table in the middle. They are all drinking tea and the woman is talking.]

Rei: So this ghost has been bothering you, Zaihara-san, for about six months now?

Zaihara-san: Hai. It's been getting worse and worse ever since my husband's father died. I think it is probably him.

Grandpa: Why would your husband's father want to haunt his family?

Zaihara-san: My husband and his father didn't get along at all. Now my husband has forbidden us to continue to revere his ancestors or follow any of the traditional rites.

Rei: So you want us to try and exorcise him?

Zaihara-san: Whatever you can do. My husband doesn't believe in ghosts and won't take this whole situation seriously.

Grandpa: Well, you've come to the right place. How soon may we visit your home?

Zaihara-san: Well, my husband will leave on a business trip tomorrow, so two days from now would be good. I'd rather not have to let him know I came to you for help...he wouldn't be very appreciative.

Grandpa: We'll be discreet.

[Yuuichiro comes in.]

Yuuichiro: Sorry I'm late.

Grandpa: I don't remember calling you.

Yuuichiro: Oh, that explains it. I thought I forgot. Did I hear something about ghosts?

Grandpa: Yes, this lady has a ghost problem.

Yuuichiro: Let me help her! I've been practicing the seven sacred exorcisms.

Rei: Eight sacred exorcisms.

Yuuichiro: Right. Eight sacred exorcisms.

Grandpa: Are you sure you can handle this?

Yuuichiro: I'm ready to face spiritual evil! With the training you've given me, I know I will prevail.

* * * * *

[The next day we see Yuuichiro, bruised and battered, coming into the temple.]

Rei: What happened!

Yuuichiro: I came, I saw, it conquered.

[He faints.]

Rei: GRANDPA!!!!!

* * * * *

[The next day at the Zaihara household]

Grandpa: [in full shinto regalia, robes, headpiece with candles, rods with prayer papers] Evil Spirits, I call on you to come forth! [waves the rods around]

Rei: [also in regalia, but a little more subdued] I don't think they're listening, Grandpa.

Little boy: Are you looking for the ghost?

Grandpa: Do you know where he is?

Little boy: I think he's wrecking Daddy's office right now. Daddy's awfully mean to him, so he tends to break Daddy's stuff.

[Grandpa charges off down the hallway, then pauses and comes back.]

Grandpa: Where is Daddy..I mean your father's office? And what's your name?

Little boy: I'm Shun-chan! And Daddy's office is the second door on the left.

Rei: Have you seen the ghost anywhere else?

Shun-chan: It likes to steal food from the refrigerator and hide buckets on top of doors to fall on Daddy. And it pulls my sister's pig-tail too.

Sister: [walks in] Liar! You're the one who pulls my pig-tail!

[She starts chasing Shun-chan around the room.]

Rei: Well, let's go check the office.

[They head down the hallway, ignoring the squeals behind them. Grandpa stands on one side of the door, gesturing silently for Rei to get on the other side, which she does.]

Grandpa: Cover me.

Rei: What?

[Grandpa kicks the door open and charges in, waving his rods.]

Grandpa: All right, come out with your hands up! And no psychokinesis either!

Rei: [thinking] Please, kami-sama, let this all just be a bad dream.

[A shadowy figure with glowing red eyes, dressed in a business suit, and with a small blue flame floating over each shoulder looks up from the computer he is typing away at.]

Ghost: Do I know you?

Grandpa: [strikes silly poses] I am High Priest Hino of the Hikawa Shrine! You cannot be allowed to harrass your descendants any longer! I will punish you in the name of the Kamis!

Ghost: What?

Rei: [thinking] I'm going to be ill. [out loud] I think you've been reading too many Sailor V mangas, Grandpa.

Ghost: Go away. I'm typing.

Grandpa: You can't just ignore me like this!

Ghost: [back to typing] Hmm, the space bar is stuck.

[Rei circles around to see what the ghost is typing.]

Ghost: [types] Youarea wretchedvile beast who continues to neglect his father, just as you did when I was alive. For thisIwill destroyyou inch by inch by inch. [speaking] Stupid space bar.

Grandpa: I see that the powers of the restless dead don't include typing well.

Ghost: Go away! And I can't help it! The stupid space bar isn't working right. Stupid Gaijin machines...

Rei: You also forgot a comma between wretched and vile.

Ghost: I said GO AWAY!

[He gestures at Rei and she flies across the room slamming into a wall.]

Grandpa: I cannot allow you to abuse my granddaughter in that manner.

Ghost: Shut up, you old loser. You've got about as much holy power as a half-eaten cup of ramen.

Grandpa: You leave me no choice but to use my ultimate technique.

Ghost: [ignores him and goes back to typing] You go get drunk and whine?

Rei: [digging herself out of the wall] You can't say that about my grandfather! He's no drunkard!

Ghost: I suppose he just likes to fondle young girls then. You're probably not even really his granddaughter.

Grandpa: [angrily] She is my granddaughter! And I do not fondle young girls.

Ghost: [mutters to self] Stupid keyboard, stupid gaijin letters, stupid son... [out loud] I suppose you're too old to get off on that any more and you just have to settle for fantasizing.

Rei: [angrily] YOU WRETCHED VILE OLD MAN! NOW YOU WILL PAY FOR YOUR LIES!!!! [She strikes a series of hand poses as she chants.] RIN, PYOU, TOU, SHA, KAI, JIN...

[The ghost tosses a box of discs and clocks her in the head. The discs and box shatter into little plastic fragments. She falls down.]

Ghost: Be quiet. I'm typing.

Grandpa: Rei! [rushes over to her. She has the beginnings of a bruise, but is otherwise just stunned.]

Ghost: So if she's your granddaughter, where's your son?

Grandpa: He's...ahh...

Ghost: Too valuable to risk facing a bitter old man? Or has he abandoned you?

Grandpa: ...

Ghost: That's what I thought. Your son is as worthless as mine, leaving us to rot, abandoning the old ways.

Grandpa: [slowly with a tight voice] I'm very proud of what my son has accomplished.

[Rei sits up and rubs her head.]

Ghost: [muttering to self] Oh great, now the delete key is sticking. [out loud] But it's pretty clear that he isn't very proud of you. I bet he never calls or visits either. And when you die, he'll forget you ever existed. [muttering to self] Why am I even using this stupid machine, anyhow? I suppose I ought to leave something nice for Shun-chan. He's a good boy, unlike his wretched father.

Rei: You're going to pay for what you did to me!

Ghost: Oh, I see, you can wander in off the street and attack me, but defending myself is right out.

Rei: I was only going to send you on to the afterworld!

Ghost: I'm not interested. I'll just fade away, forgotten. What kind of afterlife is that? Well, maybe not that different from when I was alive...

Rei: You hurt me!

Ghost: We live in a vale of never-ending pain. To be alive is to know pain in all its infinite varieties. You burden your parents, bother your peers, suffer at the whims of fate, and then your children strike out at you if you try to help. Doesn't stop when you die, either. Get over it. There's a lot worse coming to you, little girl.

Rei: The world isn't just about pain!

Ghost: Look, kid, when you were born, I was already an old man. I've lived. You haven't seen anything in comparison to me. Not that youth ever respect their elders anyway.

Rei: I respect my grandfather!

Ghost: Do you? Maybe in public, but in private's another matter.

[Rei flashes back to yelling at her grandfather in the temple two days ago and falls silent.]

Ghost: In the end, your parents hate you, your children betray you and you die all alone.

Rei: That's not going to happen to me!

Ghost: That's what they all think. I thought that once. Life cured me of that delusion.

Rei: Grandfather, say something!

Grandpa: [staring off into space apparently lost in thought] ...

Ghost: [finishes typing] So are you going to leave or do I have to throw you out?

Woman: [sticks her head in the door] Is he gone yet...I guess not.

Ghost: Hello, daughter.

Woman: Hello...father.

Ghost: Why have you sent this idiots to harrass me?

Woman: We can't take much more of you trashing our home. My husband will never change his mind. You should know that.

Ghost: [angrily] You didn't even ask me!

Woman: I knew you wouldn't leave even if I asked. So I got desperate. You know how angry Tatewaki gets about you and the whole ancestor-worship business. If he knew I called in priests, he'd be so angry...

Ghost: He has no respect for tradition! No respect for his family! And no respect for...me. He took everything I ever told him and did something else! I'm gonna make him pay for what he's done if it kills...uh, takes me forever!

Rei: [thinking] Maybe I can start exorcising him while he's distracted.

Ghost: [turns to Rei] Don't bother us, I'm talking to my daughter.

Rei: [blinks, big sweat] Uh, yes sir.

* * * * *

[Hours have passed. Grandpa is still staring at the wall, Rei looks ready to explode, and the Ghost is still ranting about how awful his son is. The woman looks ready to die of boredom herself.]

Ghost: AND THEN! What did he do? He let all the chickens loose, that's what he did! Oh, he always was a horrible boy. But of course, Father forgave him. His grandfather would let my son do ANYTHING! Spoiled him horribly. Old wretch!

Woman: Your son loved his grandfather very much. I just wish that...

Ghost: Grandchildren are always better than your own children. How my son could have such nice little kids, I'll never understand.

Woman: I really need to go fix dinner now.

Ghost: That's fine. I'll just show these priests the window.

Rei: [half asleep] What?

[Rei and Grandpa get thrown out the window before they can react.]

Woman: Father! That wasn't very polite!

[They crash into the backyard compost heap.]

Rei: HEY!

Woman: [out the window] Maybe you should come back tomorrow?

Grandpa: Let's go home, Rei.

Rei: We can't let him do that to us!

Grandpa: [drags her off] He isn't going anywhere...

* * * * *

[We see Rei on the phone while in the kitchen cooking dinner.]

Rei: Moshi Moshi?

[She yanks some bread out of the oven.]

Rei: Oh, hi, Makoto. No, I can't do anything tonight.

[She adds some spices to one pot.]

Rei: Grandfather says I'm going to need special training to deal with this ghost we're trying to exorcise. [thinking] Assuming he isn't just trying to delay having to face it again.

[She stirs the pot.]

Rei: I'm sorry, this is temple business. I think Grandfather would get mad if I brought other people in on it. Sorry, Makoto.

[Rei starts brewing some tea.]

Rei: I wish I didn't have to do this...[chops some vegetables]

Rei: Are you sure you're gonna be okay? You sound kinda depressed. [listens to Makoto talk] Thanks, Makoto. See ya later.

[She hangs up.]

Rei: If we had taken that ghost out this afternoon, I'd be able to go out with Makoto and celebrate. Instead I've got to play one of Granpa's stupid training games...Maybe I ought to go back as Sailor Mars and just...[sighs] I guess I can't blame the poor old ghost for being angry...He's so bitter. I'm glad Grandpa isn't that bitter.

* * * * *

[We see Grandpa praying in the fire shrine.]

Grandpa: Have I...done the right thing? Sooner or later, my son will find out that I have turned his daughter from his ways to my ways, the ways he rejected when he married his wife...

[Grandpa sighs.]

Grandpa: Guide me, kami of the fire. I don't know what to do. I've lost my son in so many ways...His daughter has the talents, the sight...but it is right for me to turn her from the path he set for her? Has she chosen this life, or did I choose it for her?

[The fire flickers, but makes no reply.]

Grandpa: Is she just a pawn...Is this a war between myself and my son? Will I end up like that old man...bitter and alone?

[Still no answer]

Grandpa: I could have snuffed that ghost like a light...but what he said...oh too true. He deserves better than to be sent howling into the underworld. [pauses] I know I will share some of his fate. There will be no offerings, no sacrifice, no rememberance for me when I am gone. Except from Rei...if she endures. Who will take care of this temple after I am gone?

[The fire does not answer.]

Grandpa: Hardly anyone takes us seriously anymore...Girls come here to pray for boyfriends, students want good grades, we bless a building or two...This city, this nation...this world is slowly strangling itself with its own material success...But I can't help if no one wants help.

[The fire flickers.]

Grandpa: What, you think I should act like one of those evangelists? Go on TV and shout, "Come on down to the Hikawa Temple. Exorcisms 30% off today!" I couldn't do that. That's not what Shinto is about.

[The fire flickers again.]

Grandpa: I suppose I should be grateful you woke up...I just wonder why I'm doing this...

[The fire flickers.]

Grandpa: I know I have done much good...but will it last? I think Rei's destiny may lie elsewhere...whether or not she stays a priestess, I don't think she is bound to this place as I am. She...She's my legacy to the world. I wanted my children to be my legacy...and this temple. But I failed there. If she left...I don't know what I'd do.

[The fire flickers a little faster.]

Grandpa: Her parents...They're going to be very angry when they find out I've trained her as a priestess. It's going to be a mess.

[The fire flickers.]

Grandpa: I don't think they'd care if I threatened them with spiritual retribution. They've decided you don't exist, anyway.

[The fire flickers.]

Grandpa: No, burning down their house would just make their insurance go up. So what are we going to do about this ghost...

[The fire gets brighter.]

Grandpa: Burning his house down wouldn't help either. If we could reconcile him to his son...but how?

Rei: I don't know if they can be reconciled...

[Grandpa starts.]

Grandpa: I...uh, how long have you been there?

Rei: [quietly] A little while. Dinner is ready.

Grandpa: Let's eat.

* * * * *

[We see Rei and Grandpa eating dinner.]

Rei: What special training do you have in mind?

Grandpa: I want you to do a fire reading. Then we'll purify ourselves for our confrontation tomorrow.

Rei: That's not training!

Grandpa: It's spiritual training.

Rei: I could have done something with Makoto if all we're gonna do is sit around and contemplate our navels...

Grandpa: [loudly] What, you want to get humiliated again by the spirit tomorrow?

Rei: [loudly] You ran away without even really trying to fight it!

Grandpa: [yelling] It was a lonely old man! It would have been like beating a child! All he wants is to be loved!

Rei: [about to yell more, then sags] Yeah. Poor old guy.

Grandpa: We must determine if any other spiritual influences are at work.

Rei: Hai. [thinking] I wonder...maybe Usagi could purify the ghost with the Moon Healing Escalation...Then again, that might not do any good...

* * * * *

[We see Rei gazing into the flame in the fire shrine.]

* * * * *

[We see Grandpa praying in front of the family shrine. Rei comes into the room.]

Rei: There is a spirit preying on their family line. It feeds on the hate it encourages them to feel. Perhaps if we can vanquish the spirit we can get them to reconcile...

Grandpa: Sounds promising. Anything else?

Rei: I saw Minako skiing.

[Grandpa facefaults.]

Rei: Well, I did! And I saw a few strange things...

Grandpa: Like what?

Rei: A lot of odd looking symbols, a twelve spoked wheel, you in a clown suit...

Grandpa: A clown suit?

Rei: Well, I made that part up.

[Grandpa facefaults again.]

Rei: And myself getting a phone call.

[The phone rings.]

Rei: I guess that's it.

[She runs off to the phone.]

Rei: Hikawa Shrine! Can I help you?

Artemis: If I come over, will you hide me from Usagi? I think my best chance to get out of this house alive is to leave while Usagi is on her date.

Rei: I'm sorry, Artemis, we're too busy to take care of you.

Artemis: If I stay here any longer, I'll go mad!

Luna: [in the background] As if we'd notice.

Artemis: Ya gotta help me!

Rei: I don't "gotta" do anything. You're on your own, Artemis.

Artemis: BUT...I...

Rei: Bye, Artemis.

[She hangs up.]

* * * * *

[Next day at the Zaihara household]

Zaihara-san: You think there is another evil spirit at work?

[Rei nods.]

Rei: Hai. We just have to find it and deal with it. I believe it has been stirring up discord in this family for generations. The only hard part is going to be drawing it into the open.

Grandpa: Where is your family shrine?

Zaihara-san: It's in the storage room. My husband won't use it, but he didn't want to just throw it away.

[They head to the storage room, where they find grandpa ghost and Shun busily playing checkers.]

Shun: [thinks a lot] Hmmm. [moves a checker]

Ghost: It's the exorcism twits...twins. Come back for more abuse?

Grandpa: We have come to banish an evil spirit.

Ghost: I am not an evil spirit! Cranky, yes. Annoyed, yes. Evil, no.

Shun: Grandpa's not evil.

Rei: We didn't say it was your grandfather.

Ghost: The only evil spirit here is my son!

Shun: But he's not here, Grandpa.

Ghost: Okay, the only evil spirit who is sometimes here is...

Rei: Everyone, out of the room. We need peace and quiet.

Ghost: Make me leave.

[Grandpa gives the ghost a wedgie.]

Ghost: Hey!

Grandpa: Get out or I'll do that again.

Ghost: Hrmph, elder abuse, no respect...[he grumbles as Rei and Grandpa shoo everyone out of the room.]

[Rei and Grandpa perform an elaborate Shinto ritual beyond my pathetic ability to depict it. But trust me it would look neat if you could see it. Finally, the spirit appears. It looks like a purple skinned monkey with fangs and horns.]

Spirit: Go away! I'm busy!

Grandpa: Look, Moo Goo Gai-pan, we're here to destroy you for how you have tormented this family.

Spirit: My name isn't Moo Goo Gai-pan.

Grandpa: So, do you have any last words, Moo, before we banish you into the netherrealms?

Spirit: My NAME IS NOT MOO GOO GAI-PAN! I am not chinese food!

Grandpa: Then what is your name? Can you say it backwards?

Spirit: It's Ry...hey, I'm not dumb enough to fall for that old trick.

Grandpa: Had to try. [thinks] Why can't any of these spirits ever look like cute girls? Oh well...

Rei: Prepare for destruction.

Grandpa: [whispers to Rei] That might not be such a good idea...

Rei: [whispers back] Why?

Grandpa: [whispers] Until we know for sure what or who it is, getting rid of it could be very hard...

Grandpa: Well, if you can't identify yourself, I'm afraid we'll have to evict you.

[There is the sound of a slamming door somewhere in the house. A voice shouts, "Honey, I'm home!". There is much muted whispering in the hallway.]

Spirit: You don't got nothing on me, coppers!

Rei: Coppers?

Spirit: Uh, pigs? The man? Wait, you're priests, not police.

Rei: [thinking] I wish I could just transform and bake this stupid thing...

Voice: [in the Hallway] Why is everyone standing outside the storage room?

Ghost: [in the Hallway] These two priests are claiming there's an evil spirit in there.

Voice: [in the Hallway] Someone answer me!

Ghost: [in the Hallway] I did, you idiot! You never did listen, even when I was alive!

Spirit: [smiling] Ahh, my handiwork. Such fools these mortals be. So easily stirred to hatred.

[Rei surreptitiously opens the door.]

Grandpa: So you've been playing them off against each other and feeding off their anger for generations?

Spirit: Yes! And two pathetic Shinto fools like you can do nothing to stop me. The cycle of hatred will go on, whatever you do, and while it continues, I cannot be defeated.

Rei: Just been playing them all for fools? Using them to gratify yourself?

Spirit: Yes! HAHAHA! Gullible idiots! They're nothing but puppets in my hand.

Grandpa: [to the people in the hallway] So what do you two think of that?

[View shifts to show Ghost and Mr. Zeihara standing in the hallway doing the glowing blue fighting aura thing, staring at the Spirit.]

Spirit: Uh...hi?

Ghost and Mr. Zeihara: SHINE!!!!!!!!!!

* * * * *

[Later, back at the temple.]

Rei: I'm glad we were able to help those people.

Grandpa: To bring peace between the generations is always a good thing.

Rei: [thinking] Now I have to go try and bring peace between Usagi and Artemis before they kill each other off. [out loud] I have some of that to do myself.

Grandpa: And so do I...[heads off towards the phone, thinking] Now what's my son's number again?

The End.



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Symphony of the Planets: Mars, 5 October 1996