A Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon story
by Benjamin A. Oliver
Disclaimer: Sailor Moon is owned by Takeuchi Naoko, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC.
All was darkness, but it was not by any means quiet. Amidst the air of anticipation, a great murmur of children went up from the bleachers. Circus music, played with clarinets, trombones, and xylophones, echoed around the pavilion.
Whatever complaints there were could barely be heard.
"Awwww," Serenity grumbled, "there's only one ring!"
"It's a lot smaller than I expected," Iolanthe said.
Hermione nodded in a lopsided manner. "Perhaps."
Althea sipped on her carbonated, candy-flavored beverage. "We're getting gypped, aren't we?" She looked very disappointed.
"Naaaaw," Terra laughed, a broad smile gracing her face. "This is great! They're funny! I mean, just look at the c-c-clowns! Hee-hee-hee-hee." She twitched noticeably.
"The clowns are nice," Serenity said, trying to find some redeeming quality to the experience.
"Yeah, the c-c-clowns. I like them. They're," Terra spasmed, "cute and fluffy and fuzzy and all that."
Bzzzttt… Brain functioning at thirty-three percent.
Safety protocols disengaged.
Warning: Behavioral restraints at one hundred-fifty percent beyond recommended operational limits.
Overload will occur in ten minutes.
"Do you have a nervous tic?" Hermione asked Terra, having just made an important observation.
"What (twitch) ever do (twitch) you mean, (twitch) Hermie?"
"Hermione," the Mercurian Princess corrected.
"That's (twitch) what I said."
Pyra glanced at them, then took another lick from her very tall soft ice-cream cone and watched the circus ring intently.
Finally, there came a drum roll, signifying that it was time for the show to begin. Someone with a very loud, very high voice began to speak.
"BOYS AND GIRLS! PEASANTS AND ROYALTY, WELCOME TO THE BEST SHOW IN THE SOLAR SYSTEM!"
*Poof!* In a puff of yellow smoke, a curtain magically appeared in the center of the ring. It started small, but it grew to a width of about four meters before parting. Three people now stood in the center of the ring. In the middle was Catseye, looking just as happy and smug as ever. To his sides stood a pair of very short women.
"HELLO, EVERYONE!" the girl to his right greeted. She was barefoot, wore a leopard-skin leotard and twirled around a very long baton.
Pyra lowered her ice cream for a moment. "That's JareJare!" she whispered, recognizing the women. "And AkiAki!"
Iolanthe tilted her head and squinted at the circus performers. "I've never seen them before."
"Well, I've never heard of them either," Althea commented.
"There's a big surprise," Pyra muttered under her breath. "You don't seem to know much about anything."
Princess Venus looked at the black-haired girl. "Hey, what's that supposed to mean?"
AkiAki had on a jeweled turban and a long, loose-fitting, glittering robe. "WE'VE PRACTICED A WHOLE BUNCH FOR YOU!" she called out. "WE HOPE YOU ALL LIKE IT VERY MUCH! Kah-kak-kah-kah-kaaaah!" Her laugh was very odd.
They started with a small clown chariot, drawn by a pair of pygmy marmosets. Out of it came a horde of oversized people that were dressed funny. They ran around, honking their noses and squirting each other with fake flowers.
Terra started to hyperventilate uncontrollably.
Warning: Behavioral restraints exceeding recommended operational levels by four-hundred percent.
Shutting down cognitive functions…
"Tee-hee!" Terra giggled, bouncing up and down a little.
A few garish stagehands rolled in a huge cage with wild animals in them, and Catseye performed a quick lion-taming act. However, the lion and the three tigers were very old, and had very little fight left in them. They all stood— or slumped, rather— on the red pedestals without question. Catseye seemed to be snapping his whip for little more than effect.
To her credit, JareJare was an excellent acrobat, but no extraordinary feats of agility could be performed on the exceptionally small flying trapeze.
After that, a pair of young elephants came in. AkiAki and JareJare hopped up on top of them and ran around in circles, juggling some flaming Molotov Cocktails.
The acts, basically, went downhill from there.
"This stinks," Hermione said succinctly, watching a giant, long-legged mime come riding out on a unicycle, putting his hands out and pushing off an imaginary wall.
"You said it, girlfriend," Princess Venus added with a nod.
The mime fell off his unicycle without a sound, then got back up and leaned against an imaginary wall before getting back on his unicycle.
"I like this!" Terra announced, her eyes glazing over as she continued to force her smile.
"You do?" Iolanthe asked, scooting away a few inches.
"Yeah!" the redhead twitched. "It's great stuff! I love it!"
Cognitive functions deactivated.
Sheep mode engaged.
The redhead gazed ahead blankly, her face twisted into a warped, permanent smile. "Hee-hee-hee!"
The action in the single ring slowed back down. The mime exited, stage right, and the three primary performers once again took their positions at the center. They took a bow.
The echo of a single girl cheering and applauding echoed throughout the large tent.
*Clap*Clap*Clap* "Yaaaaay! Way to go! Good job! Four Stars! Woo-hooo!!!"
Princess Serenity raised a nervous eyebrow at her sister. The other four princesses hunched down, sweating very big.
The rest of the audience started staring at the redhead.
Terra's applause slowed down and stopped. She looked at her peers. "What? It's good, isn't it?!" For a split second, all of her muscles tensed up, and then relaxed.
DANGER: Behavioral protocols degraded, functioning at nine-hundred-percent of safe levels!
Frontal lobe shutting down.
Hermione looked at the girl, felt Terra's forehead as if to gauge the temperature, then pulled out her computer and started typing, periodically lifting her gaze to glance at the subject of her study.
Terra frowned at this. "What?" she asked, twitching a bit more.
"She's delirious," Princess Mercury concluded, "with fever, nausea, hallucinations, and she’s going through epileptic shock." She paused. "Are you tasting metal? Do you see spots before your eyes?"
"Just a little bit," Terra admitted, continuing to force herself to smile. "Oooh, lookit the pretty ponies!" She twitched a couple more times.
"Err, Terra, I believe you are having a stroke as well!"
"I am not!" the twitching girl snapped back. "Besides, girls my age don't have strokes."
It was Serenity's turn to frown. Looking her sister straight in the eyes, she asked, "Are you feeling bad?"
Terra whipped out a pair of darkened spectacles and placed them over her eyes. She cocked a smile at Serenity, made a clicking noise, and waved a finger at her. "Yo!"
"Noooo!" Serenity shook her head. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," the adopted princess replied quickly. She removed her spectacles and her head suddenly jerked to the side and returned, but she kept smiling. "Really." She twitched.
Interrupting their conversation was the ringleader trio. "BOYS AND GIRLS, WE HAVE ONE FINAL ACT TO SHARE WITH YOU!" Catseye announced dramatically, his voice echoing throughout the tent.
*Th-rapp!* The ringleader snapped his whip, causing a black curtain at the back of the sawdust-encrusted stage to part, revealing a large, gothic statue of an elephant. Fire burned out its upturned trunk.
"AND FOR THIS ACT, WE NEED A VOLUNTEER!" Catseye continued to shout. He held out a hand.
"Oooh," Terra awed, her expression devoid of thought. "Are they going to rip someone's heart out and drop it into lava?"
Pyra frowned at the girl. "What did you just say?"
AkiAki stepped forward, and with her magically amplified voice, called, "PRINCESS TERRA OF THE MOON KINGDOM, PLEASE STAND UP."
A hush went over the crowd.
Terra looked to the left, looked to the right, then cupped her hands and called, "Uhhhh, sorry, I've changed my mind!"
Attempting sanity re-initialization…
JareJare shot a narrow-eyed grin at the girl, then made a huge, twenty-meter flying leap across over to where Terra was seated, grabbed her by the back of her dress, and with a great ripping noise, the circus performer made a spiraling backflip, returning to present the green dress to Catseye.
Several childish giggles erupted from the audience.
"Kah-kah-kah-kah!" AkiAki laughed, pointing a mocking finger at her co-worker. "You forgot something."
JareJare looked puzzled for a moment, then winced when she saw what she was holding. "D'oh!"
"This is like one of those dreams I've been having," Terra noted to her sister as she sat calmly in her underwear. "Oh, I get it. I'm going to be waking up a-a-any second now." She folded her arms. "Laaa, la la la laaa. This is a dream. I'll wake up now— thank you, g'night!"
Sanity re-initialization failed.
Brain overload confirmed.
Explosion will occur in five minutes, thirty seconds.
And it's gonna be messy.
Princess Serenity and the Younger Inner Senshi could only watch in confusion, being too shocked to say anything coherent. "Uhhhhh!!!"
Catseye glared at JareJare and thwapped her on the head with the handle of his whip, undoing her ponytail. "Go back and get the GIRL this time."
JareJare laughed nervously and put a hand behind her head. "Sorry, sorry!" She straightened her posture and retied her ponytail. "Now, for real!"
Terra seemed to have calmed down a little since the show had taken a pause. Her twitching and gagging motions had almost stopped. After a moment's thought, she decided, "Okay, so maybe this isn't a dream."
This time, JareJare made the same flying leap, but she also slapped Terra's dress back on the girl, then took her under the arms.
*UUMPH!* The acrobat struggled, but was unable to lift Terra. JareJare looked down at her. "Man, you're heavy, girl!"
"Nnnnno," Terra replied. "My mass is actually quite average, I'll have you know. You're just a weakling that can't even pick up a ten-year-old girl."
"It's so true!" JareJare wept, burying her face in her hands. She looked at the redhead, her eyes full of hope. "Would you mind walking with me to the center ring?"
"Pues, ¿ya qué, carnal?" Terra replied in an asteroid dialect, signifying that, yes, she knew that it was kind of too late to back out of the volunteer job right now.
"Thank you, thank you!" the acrobat squealed thankfully. She put a hand at Terra's back and escorted her to the center of the stage.
The crowd was just plain confused. They were completely missing the irony of the situation.
The five seated princesses continued to stare with their mouths hanging open.
"This isn't anything like what they had last time," Serenity whimpered.
"All right, Mister Nyastimaan," Terra spoke to Catseye, casually examining a tear on her dress from the collar to halfway down her shoulder, "what do I do?"
"Just stand there," Catseye replied, his overly cheerful voice sounding more and more like a mouse being squished by a mallet as the minutes dragged on.
"Fine," Terra agreed she stood up straight and proud. She casually waved to the crowd. "Hello out there!"
The children cheered, swaying back and forth. "Terr-ah! Terr-ah! Terr-ah!"
AkiAki laughed her weird laugh. "Kah-kah-kaaah! We said 'stand still', not 'greet the crowd'!"
JareJare smiled. "Not that it matters."
"Get on with it," Terra prodded.
"Humph." Catseye's smile deepened. "Very well." He snapped his fingers.
A pair of cloth-lined rods flickered into being above AkiAki and JareJare. The cloth descended, forming curtains in front of the two small women. A second later, the curtains parted to reveal AkiAki and JareJare dressed as Sailor Senshi. Their outfits were mostly unaltered, aside from the addition of a short skirt, knee-length boots, and a tiara.
Terra shrugged, not looking particularly impressed. However, just to keep up the act, she hopped up and down, clapping her hands together and giggling maniacally.
"One," Catseye whispered.
A tall, elongated purple stone pentagon sprang up from the sawdust-encrusted floor in a ninety-degree arc to rest right behind Terra's back.
"Two," Catseye added.
Iron manacles appeared on the coffin-shaped monolith, locking down Terra's ankles and wrists.
Terra said nothing, but her frowning expression and wide eyes indicated that this was not what she had anticipated to happen.
Catseye pulled out a fist-full of knives, and with an evil gleam in his eye, he said, "Three."
A gasp went up from the audience.
"Is anybody else feeling something weird?" Pyra asked.
Hermione started scanning with her computer while the others watched the events intently.
Princess Terrifying was keeping a very close watch on Catseye. After the acts that had been presented, being locked to a stone tablet and getting knives thrown at her was not in the pattern. And if there was anything she knew about, it was patterns.
"ONE!" Catseye shouted, and chucked the first volley of knives.
Terra watched the throw pattern and saw that they were designed to just barely miss her.
Lookit 'em fly!
*Th-th-th-thump!* The knives imbedded themselves in the stone at her sides just below her ribs, at either side of her neck, and just above her head.
The crowd gasped.
Catseye pulled out another set of knives. "TWO!" He threw them.
Terra examined the trajectory and calculated them to just barely miss her again.
*Th-th-th-thump!* As expected, the knives hit millimeters away from their counterparts.
"This is actually a lot better that everything else," Terra noted to herself. "Yeah," she replied.
Catseye pulled out a third set of knives. This time, there was a much stronger gleam in his eye than during the other throws.
Hermione stood up from the front row of the bleachers and declared, "Stop! There is a deadly toxin on those blades!"
The ringleader laughed and threw his daggers. "THREE!"
That was when the ex-galactic destroyer knew something was up. She saw that the knives were aimed for critical areas of her body: her heart, her neck, and both eyes. She also could sense the poison coating the blades. It was a rare neurotoxin that could easily render a girl, or a pack of elephants for that matter, twenty kinds of dead before she or they even felt the prick of the knife. Nasty stuff. Catseye was a lot more intelligent than for what she had given him credit.
Another assassination attempt! Red alert! Shields up!
The adopted princess's heart beat faster as she prepared herself for battle.
Woop! Woop! Woop! Arm all weapons! Power the phaser banks! Charge the nuke-cannons!
Heh heh heh. This is gonna be FUN!
Starlight, get over here and fight, or shut up!
Nnnnno, I'll stay here, thanks. My wife and I are catching up on old times.
Stupid, insolent construct…
Don't talk about yourself that way.
*Bling!*Ch-ch-ch-ching!* A thin translucent barrier winked up in front of the girl, deflecting the daggers off into random directions to land somewhere in the sawdust.
Catseye frowned and took a step back. "W-what?! That was a perfect shot! I couldn't have missed!"
*Ting* The manacled girl smiled very broadly, showing off her nice, beautiful pearly whites.
"Terra!" Princess Serenity called out in shock at the attack.
The Younger Inner Senshi were already standing and had their chibi-henshin sticks out.
By the time the Sailor Chibiscouts finished transforming, Terra had already gone through hundreds of battle scenarios and had tackled the problem of how to defend herself.
She couldn't use her real power, due to the risk of exposing herself, and her Knight in Shining Armor was being unresponsive. She couldn't teleport him in. It'd look weird and wasn't worth the waste in energy. Plus, the guards' response time would be something on the order of three minutes, provided they knew something was wrong. The Chibiscouts were not powerful enough to truly defend her, and the rest of the children in the audience were not even worth mentioning.
So, having gone through every other available option, her mind stumbled upon the broken Moon Prism. She still carried it with her. The design was simple— oh, so simple— and it could be repaired and recrystalized with only a minimum of energy loss.
If we inject the high-energy photons INTO the prism matrix, it should regenerate itself.
And while we're at it, we can upgrade it to something a little less embarrassingly primitive.
Besides, I wanna go kick some righteous—
The girl bowed her head and focused her energies toward the broken prism she still had clipped to the front of her dress. Inside the closed pendant, the little bits of pink crystal reformed around the core.
The Younger Inner Senshi ran to stand between Catseye and Terra. The ringleader's two sailor-suited companions stood behind him, immobile.
As their training had brainwashed them into doing, the Sailor Chibiscouts started making poses and speeches.
"I am Sailor Chibimercury!"
"And Sailor Chibivenus," Althea called out, pointing a finger at Catseye. "I, as the ringleader of the pretty Sailor Chibiscouts—"
"Younger Inner Senshi," Chibijupiter corrected.
"—challenge you, the ringleader of this no-good, low-down circus," Chibivenus turned her head and spat, "to come up with better acts!" She impatiently tapped her thumb against the palm of her other hand. "Practice, rinse, repeat! Break an arm! Stage on! In the words of the Great Venusian Philosopher, Al, cry DISCO, and release the clowns of yore!"
"Clowns, eh?" Catseye looked amused. "Well, we're not after you, but since you asked so nicely…"
The ringleader's shadow extended in two separate directions. A funky multicolored eye-shaped design appeared at the head of each shadow.
A pair of very large clowns sprang up from the shadows. They were gaunt, thin and female. They wore white-balled red-and-white-striped caps and their belled full-body stockings jingled as they hopped up and down.
"Play with the nice girls, my lemures," Catseye giggled.
The clowns honked their noses and reached out toward the Chibiscouts. Their arms extended and grew to grasp a girl around the waist in each hand.
"WAAAAH!" all four princesses cried at once.
The audience shrieked. All the boys and girls shuffled toward the exits, disappearing through the curtains and black haze as they went.
"Soap Bubbles," Sailor Chibimercury began, building up a blue glow around her, "Spray!"
A splattering of slippery foam splattered across all of the Chibisenshi.
Sailor Chibivenus wiggled around and with the aid of the soap managed to free one hand from the grip. She held up her index finger and a glow built up at the tip. "Beamwhip Snap!" She aimed right for Catseye's face.
*Bling* Catseye effortlessly flicked away the bolt of light in a bored fashion with two fingers.
Chibijupiter struggled around in the giant clown's hand and crossed her arms and fingers. A lightning rod shot up from her tiara. "Lightspark Shock!"
The clown Iolanthe had targeted didn't even flinch when the electrical attack hit it.
"Firestorm!" Pyra shouted, sending a flurry of burning particles to streak across from left to right across all three foes.
Catseye let out a high-pitched giggle. "That tickles! Clowns, finish them off now!"
The lemures raised the four Chibiscouts high and flipped them over, preparing to dash their heads against the floor.
"WAAAAH!" the Younger Inner Senshi cried.
"STOP," Terra commanded. Her voice was penetrating and ever-so-richly full of power.
The action slowed and everyone looked at her. Terra lifted her head, allowing all to see that the brooch on her chest was gleaming. The gold rim shifted upward to form a pair of wings with a star at the center and a crown at the top. The entire device was now heart-shaped and rimmed with pink.
"This looks like a job for…" Terra spoke in a deep echo.
The brooch flipped open to reveal that the prism had reformed, albeit in a more compact setup. The gem gleamed with lunar energy, which shot out in a great beam and flashed around the girl.
Her restraints fell away, while the stone table that held her cracked and scattered. She levitated nearly a foot off the ground.
The glow covered her body. She held her arms out straight to her sides. A great wind whipped around her, pushing her arms back slightly. Pink ribbons wrapped around her, blowing in the breeze. The ribbons formed the core white part of her sailor outfit. A red bow was at her chest and tri-level translucent guards formed at her shoulders.
Her skirt appeared, being mostly white, but rimmed with one-inch borders of yellow, then pink. Her pink boots and pink-rimmed white gloves flashed into place, and her tiara's gem was now covered with a crescent moon. White barrettes appeared in her straight hair. A little gold belt with a pink heart-buckle blinked into place at her waist. The white ribbon on the small of her back became very large, having ends that went down to the backs of her knees.
"Super-DUPER Sailor Chibimoon," the pretty dang upgraded sailor-suited soldier for cruel and unusual punishment intoned, her hands on her hips and looking condescendingly at her foes. The pink backing of her sailor-collar with a white trim flowed behind her like a short cape and the letters SDSCM burned themselves into the lower part of her prism casing.
Not wasting any time, Terra dove forward, taking the barrettes out of her hair, charging them with energy, and jamming them into the lemures' midsections as she went by. She twisted and ground in the tri-pronged blades, taking great satisfaction at the fleshy tearing noises they made.
Super-Duper Sailor Chibimoon crouched down and followed up with a spinning, flaming uppercut that fried its way from Catseye's sternum up to his chin. "Shroy-you-ken!"
Catseye's head snapped upwards and he clutched at his chest. The circus performer went flying backwards and slammed into one of the pavilion's support beams. "AAAAAAAAAH!"
An electrical current surged through the clowns' perforated bodies, tensing their muscles and forcing them to let go of the Younger Inner Senshi. The four girls fell to the ground.
"ACK! Stage out-ooooh!" the lemures cried, quickly being ripped apart by the energy shockwaves. Their images seemed to wad up like discarded brown paper bags before they disappeared.
On the ground, the glowing designs on the shadows evaporated. Chibimoon's barrettes twirled around in the air for a second, then flashed forward to replace themselves her hair.
"I hate clowns," Terra muttered. She tapped at her prism and ran her fingers through her hair. "Yes, much better. Much less primitive, and less rabbity."
"Whoa," Althea awed at what had just happened.
Super-Duper Sailor Chibimoon stood up as tall as a ten-year-old girl could, cracked her knuckles, then placed her left thumb and index finger at the crescent moon on her tiara. In a smooth, upward motion, she slipped it off and held it out in her hand where it became a bright disc of light. With a satisfied grin, she questioned Catseye, "Hey, clown! Ever dance with a Sailor in the pale Earthlight?"
Catseye slid back down to the floor. Hyperventilating and with a fearful look in his eyes that just made him seem to be repeating over and over again 'Oh crap, oh crap!!!' he looked toward his sailor-suited accomplices. "EEEEEEEEERRRR!!!! Sailor Akis! Sailor Jares! Plan B! NOW!"
"Kak-kah-kah-kah!" the turbaned Asteroid Senshi, Sailor Akis, laughed. "Be right there, Catseye!"
"Of course!" agreed Sailor Jares.
Terra held out her hand and fired the disc toward Catseye, aiming low to ensure that he would have a most excruciatingly slow and painful death.
At that moment, Sailor Jares just HAD to rush in and ruin the moment. Moving at phenomenal velocity, she intercepted the glowing tiara, snatching it from its path midair. The acrobat paused to smile back at Terra. "Hah! Caught it!"
Super-Duper Sailor Chibimoon tilted her gaze to look at the trapped tiara and back up at the Asteroid Senshi. She snapped her fingers.
*BLAAAAAAAAAAM!!!* The tiara flared up, exploding in a sphere of ultra-concentrated white light. The energy engulfed Sailor Jares and Catseye and burned in the air for several seconds.
A thick cloud of acrid smoke rose off the blast crater.
Terra's smile deepened. "Burn!!!"
"Kah-kah-kah-kaaah!" Sailor Akis laughed, her hands on her hips.
When the smoke cleared, it slowly became apparent that neither JareJare, nor Catseye had been killed. The woman was pretty badly singed and had her blonde hair blasted to the side in a spiked formation. Catseye, however, barely even looked barely touched by the blast.
Sailor Jares blinked a couple of times, her eyes the only white portion of her face.
Terra looked more disappointed than shocked. She shrugged. "Okay."
*Bling* In a yellow glow, Chibimoon's tiara reformed on her forehead. She shifted her stance to a spread-out defensive posture. "Prepare to die, circus-midgets!"
"Oh my," whispered Iolanthe, trying to scoot away from the action, along with the other Younger Inner Senshi.
"I calculate thirty seconds before the guards arrive," Sailor Chibimercury noted.
"They really need to work on their response time," Pyra groaned.
Terra whipped out the Pink Sugar Heart Wand and held it high above her head.
Sailor Jares shook her head. "That's too weak to harm US!"
Terra grinned very broadly at her opponent. Hah! You WISH you could be tough as me, even with THIS thing.
It would be far more efficient to use our true power.
And less embarrassing.
That's not the point. The point is to beat them at their own game and show them how weak they truly are.
Starlight, get over here or shut up!
That's what I thought. Terra looked down at her wand for a second, then shrugged. Oh well, might as well milk it for all it's got.
Okay, adapting from the useful patterns found in previous artifacts utilized by Sailor Senshi…
Which one? Which one???
And the winner is…
*Vrr-click!* A five-foot extension shot out from the handle of Super-Duper Sailor Chibimoon's wand, allowing her to grip it with both hands. The crystal topping the staff flattened, and two sharp, golden wings grew upwards. One wing was longer and curved toward the other, which was short and jagged, like a dagger.
"The Pink Sugar Cardiac Arrest Glaive!" Super-Duper Sailor Chibimoon spun the staff around her a few times for effect before dodging in close to point it at Sailor Jares' neck. "Your treasure or your life."
HEY now, we're not fighting space pirates anymore.
It's not polite to play with your food!
Aww, but that's half the fun!
The acrobatic Asteroid Senshi blinked, then laughed. "Hah!" She dodged the blade-swipe and made a leap backwards, and midair she pulled out a long, blue baton. "Electro-Baton!" she called out. Her baton crackled with green energy, and she flung it toward the young Super-Duper Senshi.
*Jr-wrrrh!* Terra leapt out of the way of the baton.
*BLAAAAAM!!!* The electro-baton exploded in a large flash of lightning where Terra had been standing.
"Oh yeah?!" Chibimoon shouted back. "Try THIS one!" She held up her Glaive. A tremendous glow built up in the gem and the floor beneath her started to compress and crack downward in a semispherical pattern.
Light flashed around the girl, illuminating the whole pavilion.
"Aye yai yai!!!" Sailor Chibivenus looked at her three teammates. "Everyone, on the count of three!"
The three Chibiscouts nodded in agreement.
Terra spun her staff around a few times as the glow continued to build.
Herc and the guards rushed in from the circus tent entrance.
"THREE!" Althea called. "RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!"
The Sailor Chibiscouts blindly bolted for the exit, accidentally snagging and carrying away the guards as they left.
Catseye had made his way over to a wall and locked down the switches that were marked 'Seal Entrance' and 'Blast Off'.
*Vrr!* The entranceway slid closed and the whole tent started to rattle.
Super Sailor Chibimoon halted her energy-charging efforts and held her staff high. "DEATH PINK RIPPING SILENCE SUGAR GLAIVE REINCARNATED DANCE-DANCE BLACK WALTZ REVOLUTION SURPRISE WITH A QUANTUM SINGULARITY ON TOP! FIFTH MIX!!! HA-CHI-CHI-CHAAAAAH!"
Sailor Jares' eyes went wide. "What the—?!"
Sailor Akis shook her head in disbelief. "This can't be!"
Catseye looked on in horror. "NO!" He frantically grabbed for another switch on the wall.
There was a quiet moment while Terra slashed downward, impacting the Glaive's blade into the sawdust-laden floor.
On the Moon's surface, the Elite Lunar Guards watched on in horror as the Asteroid Circus Tent levitated upwards just as they were thrown out with the four Younger Inner Senshi.
A moment later, shafts of light began to shoot out of a few places of the giant tent. At first, there were only a few, but dozens more followed.
*KER-BLAAAM!* Suddenly, a gigantic internal explosion rocked the craft. A spherical shockwave smashed outward, pushing along for a second before vanishing.
Still somewhat intact, the tent flew around haphazardly, like a popped balloon. Somehow, it managed to correct itself before continuing its rapid ascent and vanished in a flash of light.
"Yikes," Herc whispered in shock. He looked down at Princess Serenity, whom had brought him in for the rescue attempt. "Are we missing anyone?"
The Moon Princess looked around frantically. "Where's Terra?!"
"Uh oh," the sports coach muttered, a feeling of dread creeping up his spine. "The Queen's gonna kill me…"
Reverberating echoes of the destructive magic bounced around the circus tent, decreasing in magnitude as the seconds went by. Some sparks waltzed across the metallic planks of the floor. Whatever remained of the sawdust layer slowly burned off in a corner.
A latticework of fractures went up the walls and floors. There was not a surface in the entire pavilion that wasn't cracked, splintered, or otherwise mutilated.
"Ulllllpphhh," Sailor Jares groaned, tossed aside underneath the bleachers like a crumpled-up cardboard cup.
Catseye and Sailor Akis were not faring any better.
"Owww, oww, oww…"
"My pretty face!" Catseye cried, his countenance full of red first-degree burns and his hand still clinging to the last switch he pulled, which was marked ‘Emergency’.
"Are we sure we have the right girl???" Sailor Jares asked, suddenly not wanting to be in this particular circus tent. "I didn't sign on to go up against Sailor Saturn!"
"It's her," Sailor Akis confirmed. She pushed herself up on her hands. "She's just imitating Saturn's powers. We can still get her, though! I can feel it!"
"Heh!" Super-Duper Sailor Chibimoon looked at her handiwork in semi-satisfaction. "That," she said, "was fifth mix." She held her staff up in one hand and looked around at her challengers. In a perfectly serene voice, she asked, "Anybody wanna see eighth mix?"
"NO!" all three circus performers called out at once, frantically scooting backward.
Queen Saturn's data was most useful in generating the attack, Terra thought, nodding to herself.
Kinda weak, though, y'know.
Tell me about it. Couldn't even scratch a comet with that one…
Eh, well. Gotta blow 'em up with whatever we've got, no matter how tiny.
Yeah. If Mom says anything, we'll just plead self-defense.
"Okay." Princess Terrifying shrugged and once again gripped the Pink Sugar Cardiac Arrest Glaive in both hands. "Eighth mix, let's go!" She raised her staff up high, gazing aloft.
"AAAAAH!!!" Catseye and the two Asteroid Senshi screamed, scrambling around like a bunch of maniacs.
As this happened, a flurry of black, crystalline debris fell down around Terra. Having been looking upward at the time, some of it got into her eyes.
"Ouch," Terra whispered, "that hurts." Balancing her staff against one shoulder, she rubbed her eyes.
Catseye and the two Asteroid Senshi crawled around on their hands and knees in an attempt to regroup.
Sailor Chibimoon laughed in a taunting manner at the three. Turning around, she caught sight of a very large, very cracked mirror.
The girl stopped.
Terra felt her heart rate slow. Her staff suddenly started to feel very heavy to her. Resisting the sensation, she tore her gaze away from the mirror and struggled back into her combat stance.
Whatever it is, it's slowing us down.
Gotta check it out.
It feels like…
I'm checking. Check, check, check, check…
While Super-Duper Sailor Chibimoon tried to analyze what was happening, Sailor Akis pulled out what looked like a flare gun. She pointed the wide barrel at the struggling girl and called out, "Kah Kak-kah-kah! Akis Aki-Ray!" She pulled the trigger.
*RRROAAAR!!* A red beam flared up and shot towards Terra.
"Shields," the apparent ten-year-old said without inflection, holding up her staff with one hand and her head with the other.
*BLING!* The blast reflected off an invisible barrier and sped at Sailor Jares.
*Whoosh!*BLAM!* The acrobat deftly leapt away from the low shot, just barely avoiding getting hit. The deck behind where she had been standing now had a one-foot-deep hole blown out of it.
The entire pavilion jarred roughly.
Catseye pulled aside a small curtain and looked outside. His mouth fell open. He turned his head, shouting, "A Moon ship has attached a boarding gantry to the Tent!"
"Oh, no!" Sailor Jares gasped, covering her mouth. "Lunar soldiers!"
"Don't worry about THEM," Terra said through clenched teeth, "worry about ME!"
"Gaaaa-aaaa-aaaah!" JareJare shrieked, her gaze shifting rapidly between Terra and a big red spot forming in the floor. "They're coming through!"
Terra closed her eyes, which stung, as if on fire. Analyzing.
It is deep, like unto a well.
It's magical! An unfamiliar pattern.
Yeesh! What is this junk!?
I'm having difficulty decoding it…
Princess Terrifying drew in a few more breaths. She looked around for her foes. The images she was getting shifted and warped around, making it hard for her to pinpoint them. However, she could still sense the trio. She caught sight of AkiAki, who appeared to be smiling.
"Kah-kah-kah-kaaaah! Nobody panic! Our Queen has arrived!"
The air grew cold.
The ex-galactic destroyer stumbled forward, stooping under an incredibly powerful invisible force. Trying to discover what was the problem, she continued to feel for the energy affecting her.
I haven't felt this sort of thing in over a billion years!
An eight-foot-tall by four-foot-wide black mirror appeared in front of Terra.
Her vision blurring, her senses fading, and her central nervous system shutting down, the girl collapsed into the outstretched arms of a pale young woman in a black dress.
Unnnh… What just hit me?
Still working on that one.
How much time has elapsed?
Unknown. Calculating… Less than fifteen minutes.
Fifteen minutes is an eternity in combat-time.
Well, DUH, genius!
Connection at minimal. No communication.
Trying to find my way around a strong curse which is almost EXACTLY on the/our same wavelength…
Mumble, grumble. Overworked, underpaid, no control over my life, no dictionary…
Reinitializing humanoid sensory…
Sensing… multiple point impacts. The defensive barrier is holding. Four individuals present.
Yeah, Catseye is the closest—
Then Sailor Akis is next—
…Her power level has increased tenfold from the last fight!
—as has Sailor Jares'.
Another, unidentified. Working…
Cavernous compartment. Magical barriers are in place around the facility.
I've narrowed down the energy pattern that disabled—
—multiple crystalline objects imbedded in ocular vitreous humor.
Trying to extract…
More point impacts. Barrier holding. Triangulating…
The ceiling was high, and the chamber was very large. Long, flat walls supported by red pillars encased the setting and a red throne with black cushions stood at the far side of the room. In front of the throne, a young redheaded girl in an advanced Sailor Senshi uniform hung, manacled to a tall, pentagonal piece of metal. The environment echoed with the smashing and crackling of a powerful magic.
*KSSH*KSSH*KSSH!* A knife in each hand, Catseye slashed downward with as much force as he could muster. "GRRRR! DIE!" *KSSH-KSSH*KSSSSSSH!* "Die, die, die, DIE!"
Sailor Akis and Sailor Jares, standing several meters away, shook their heads. "Catseye," AkiAki said, "you're not getting anywhere that way."
"The Queen wants her dead," JareJare added, folding her arms. "Shouldn't we all be attacking at once?"
"No!" Catseye shouted back. He lightly touched his badly burned face. "She hurt ME the most! I should be the one to deliver the finishing blow!" He turned back toward the inert, adopted Moon Princess and slashed downward again.
More impacts… No damage.
This sure is some hard binding magic here…
I still can't see or hear!
What's going on?!
The binding magic is blocking everything!
Tough stuff. Status?
Sixty-three percent decoded.
*KSSH!* "Why—" KSSH! "—CAN'T—" *KSSH!* "—I—" *KSSH* "—KILL—" *KSSH* "—YOU?!" Catseye's daggers continued to glance harmlessly off of an invisible barrier around the girl.
Sailor Akis sighed. "You know what she is, don't you?"
*KSSH* "A false princess that we must destroy for the glory of our Queen!"
"No!" JareJare snapped. "She is a great danger to us all! With her powers, she killed Sailor Saturn, defeated every Senshi in the solar system, dashed Earth's interstellar fleet into pieces, and, and, and… A whole bunch of other stuff, okay?! We have to use all our powers NOW to destroy her before she can hurt anyone else!"
"Kah-kah-kah!" AkiAki laughed. "Why, Jares, you're making it sound positively noble."
"Well, it is, isn't it?"
"Harrumph," Catseye huffed, discontinuing his strikes. He paused. "Sailor Jares, what are you doing?"
The acrobatic Asteroid Senshi twirled a sparking stick in one hand. "Electro-baton!"
"GAAH!" Catseye dove out of the way.
*Whht-wrr-wrr!*BLAM!* The baton exploded against the restrained girl, flashing and sparking as it went.
The sparks danced around Terra, stopping exactly two millimeters away from her skin. No damage was done.
"See?" Catseye pointed at their captive. "Not even you can hurt her!"
"We need to do a combined strike," AkiAki insisted.
"Right NOW?" Catseye complained.
"The sooner, the better," JareJare offered.
The pointy-eared man frowned at the other two. "But! But!" he tried to protest.
"But what?" Sailor Jares asked.
"Can't I have a little, tiny peek into her dream mirror first?" Catseye pleaded. "She's under the Queen's spell! She's not going anywhere."
Sailors Jares and Akis looked at each other, shrugged, and looked back at Catseye. "Why?" Jares asked. "What do you need to find in the kinds of dreams she would have?"
Catseye fidgeted as he tried to explain it.
Ninety-one… ninety-two… ninety-three percent decoded.
What kind of person would be able to use such a hideously complex binding pattern?!
Actually, it's not that complex. It's just very hard to see.
The impacts have stopped.
Ninety-five, ninety-six percent…
Sensing another energy pattern. Part psychic connection, part energy drain, it's—
A massive surge rocked the entire collective mind.
@#$%@#^#^#^^@$#@$!! THEY'RE USING A PSYCHIC PROBE!
Princess Terra shifted uncomfortably in her bonds.
Amidst a rippling of electrical effects, a black-lined silver mirror with a skull and crossbones decoration on the top phased its way out of the ten-year-old's chest and floated in the air nearly a foot away from her.
Giggling with glee, Catseye grabbed the mirror on each side, and poked his head into the glass. Light poured out of the mirror as he did so. "Ooooh, this is very nice! This girl has…" Suddenly, he stopped.
The adorable ten-year-old's eyes suddenly shot open.
Target locked: Terminating life form…
Catseye's scream split the air and he jerked his head backward. Covering his eyes, a trail of blood going down his hands, he pulled his face out of the mirror and tried to back off.
At once, Princess Terra's restraints were obliterated. Her dream mirror vanished and she thrust out her right hand to grab hold of the man's neck.
*BREOWWWWWWWWWW!!!*SLUURP!*SLUUURP* A yellow energy swirled around the circus performer, withdrawing itself from his body and flowing into the girl. In a fraction of a second, Catseye's body dried out like a centuries-old prune.
Sailors Akis and Jares gasped in shock, each pulling out her respective weapon.
Surprised, Catseye took a few steps away. He saw a pile of grey ash fall to the ground where he had been standing. His attacker now ignored him, turning toward the Asteroid Senshi, her irises glowing yellow.
"Terribly sorry about that," Terra said, not looking the least bit apologetic. "Reflexes, you know."
"Whew," Catseye breathed a sigh of relief. "That really hurt. I was afraid that she'd have killed me, or something like that. I'm sure glad I was wearing my energy-resistant underwear!"
YOU BOUGHT IT AT MERVYN'S, DIDN'T YOU?
Catseye turned to face the speaker. He frowned.
ACTUALLY, IT LOOKS LIKE YOU BOUGHT IT RIGHT HERE.
"Oh, bugger it."
Download complete, energy removed, and target destroyed, Terra told herself.
Personal data secured.
Decoding Catseye's memory…
Terrifying winced noticeably as she turned to face the two remaining visible foes.
I've seen some LOUSY childhoods, but HIS takes the cake…
The girl gagged.
Yuck, his energy tastes rotten, too.
But we can still use it to attack.
Look, I'm still not feeling so hot. We haven't been able to get rid of the curse yet.
Try stalling tactics, using Catseye's memory.
Decoding…. fifty percent complete. Huge gaps, but…
"Sailor Jares," Super-Duper Sailor Chibimoon breathed, struggling to maintain her footing. "It's me."
"You," JareJare began, her voice trembling and her eyes full of tears, "may have gotten Catseye, but you'll never defeat all of us!"
"I am Catseye," the girl said in desperation, her voice taking on characteristics like unto the deceased man's. "I don't know how, but I've taken control."
The acrobat took a step back. "No! You're lying! You're trying to trick me!"
"I wouldn't do that, Jarkie," the girl insisted. "You know me."
Jares frowned. "How do you know my nickname?"
"That's because," Terra continued, her expression mimicking that of Catseye, "you told me. Last night. Remember?"
"Catseye?" Jares' expression grew hopeful.
The sailor-suited girl stumbled forward, her hands outstretched in an apparent desire to embrace JareJare. "It's all over," she said in Catseye's voice. "She’s gone. We did it!"
JareJare started to dry her tears. "But how can I be sure it's you?"
Terra continued to advance. "C'mon, Jarkie, can't you trust me just this once?"
Sailor Jares relaxed. "Awww, it is you!" She held out her arms at the approaching girl.
Akis looked urgently at her companion. "Jares, get away from her, RIGHT NOW!"
Jares turned her head toward the gypsy-Senshi. "But why? It's—"
The redhead snagged Jares' left wrist with both hands. "I am not, silly!" She giggled malevolently.
*KSSSSREEEEOW!!!* A very powerful energy surge went through the acrobatic Asteroid Senshi's body.
Sailor Jares said nothing, all of her muscles frozen in place by the shocks.
"Get ready to join your friend," Terra whispered. Grinning, she began to count, "Three, two…"
Sailor Akis frantically aimed her weapon at the girl's head.
Terra pulled her prey in front of her as a sort of human shield.
*KERACK-KCKCKCKCKK* Suddenly, a bolt of black lightning flashed across the chamber and smacked into Terra's side.
"AHH!" Super-Duper Sailor Chibimoon had the wind knocked out of her when she was hit. She lost her grip on Jares and was thrown halfway across the room. She crashed limply into the ground and bounced a few times before she skidded to a halt and hit her head on the edge of a stair. "Ow… Ow!"
Sailor Jares fell to the floor, twitching and smoking slightly. "Daiyh, daiyhaaaaaaaaaa," she droned incoherently.
Out of the shadows stepped a young woman, perhaps sixteen years old. She had very pale skin and long, wavy black hair that spread out and went down to her ankles. The girl wore a long dress with a black inner skirt that was mostly surrounded by a brownish-white outer skirt that parted in front. About her shoulders she wore a lavender cloak with puffy black sleeves down her arms. Her neck was covered by a segmented golden collar, adorned with gold beads on the lower side. On her forehead was a mirrored circular gem and below that were three crescent moons, two gray and one yellow.
Sailor Akis took a relieved breath and knelt down, a hand held to her heart. "Our Beautiful Queen, Neherenia-sama."
"Unnnh," Terra groaned, struggling to pick herself up.
The ex-galactic destroyer's mind went on a lightning-fast analysis of her dilemma.
Barbeque and download of Sailor Jares interrupted at sixty percent.
Whoa, now! Gotta pull ourself together. Status report!
Hurt. VERY hurt.
Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, owwwwwwwwww!
One hit, and that's IT?!
Decoding data on new enemy…
Hoooooooooo-kaaaaaaaaaay. So there ARE human beings that can defeat a second-level Super-Senshi.
Her name is Neherenia, ruler by birthright of a small Lunar province, sixteen and a half years old. Lost her parents when she was a toddler, no real friends whatsoever, has an evil mirror that keeps her company and will maintain her beauty for well past ten thousand years, extremely strong magic…
Uyyyyyyyyyy. Now I remember why we decided to let Starlight handle the battles.
Yeah, let the minion take all the hits!
Too bad he's not here.
More data decoded: Catseye was a fanatical worshipper, as are JareJare and AkiAki, to a lesser degree.
No, they're more loyal than anything else. They like her and all, but they accept that their queen really doesn't like them in return, nor ever will.
Awwww, that's so sad!!!
Oooh, here's something interesting. Queen Neherenia has been forging illegal alliances with other major and minor political groups in the solar system.
Let's see… All six Asteroid Senshi, who have the circuses under their control. There's also support from some rebel Terran faction and there are even some connections with Nemesis.
What? Just them?
And members of the upper class from every major planet in the system except for Pluto.
And three people from Jurai.
Ah, Juraians. Pretty tough, for creampuffs.
Remember that time when—
Heh. Yeah, they don't exactly like me, do they?
Not after what I did to that planet and that Tsunami-thing.
Weakling. Couldn't even fully block a Galaxy-Buster shot.
Heh heh heh, Miss Nigh-Ultimate-Force-in-the-Universe is just an iiiiiiiitty-bitty tree now!
Good grief… Catseye and JareJare knew all that?
No, we had to interpolate. Also, Catseye's and Jares' data strongly indicates that Neherenia herself has immense magical capabilities and more than enough firepower to ensure our destruction.
Better get out of here, then.
What'm I? BRAINDEAD?! We can't! There's no escape route!
Besides, where's the fun in a fight unless it's a challenge?
We might not win.
The chamber we're in is located deep within a comet past Pluto's orbit. It is highly unlikely that anyone that we've 'charmed' into believing us will know where to look to attempt a rescue.
Just what I've always wanted…
And I just HAD to step out of the safety zone by fighting, didn't I?!
It was YOUR idea!
No, it wasn't!
Yes it was!
It wasn't the smartest of decisions, you know.
Yeesh. When this is all over, remind me to ditch the prism. I really don't want to be a target right now.
I sure said it. Having to look like a snack while fighting?! No way!
The buzzing of the busy minds continued onward, off on several tangents and back again, but the subject returned to one key point.
Okay, the only option is to defeat all parties, then we'll call in Starlight so his clunky little ship can pick us up. That sound too hard?
Sorry, still weak here. The curse is still active as well.
Well, fix it! Now!
Continued in Part 10-2H
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