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.
Chapter 9: The Plot Thickens
The dimension that held the Dark Kingdom shuddered when a seam in space and time split open. Through the portal flew Bruce, advisor to the realm's nefarious acts. His cape was singed at the edges and he trailed smoke. Grimacing in pain, he flopped to the floor and cried out in rage, "Such… power!"
Zoicite stepped into the light near where the White ArbyFish had fallen. The general had a bandage around his arm, but he also wore a smug look on his face. "Oh, not so tough after all, are you? Beaten by a gaggle of girls in miniskirts, were you?"
Bruce started to pull out a switchblade, but then stopped and sneered at him. "You're not even worth my effort."
The general began to laugh derisively. "Heheehehehee!"
"On second thought," Bruce reconsidered, "if you press the issue, I'm sure I can find a spare moment to give you a taste of proper torture. Vivisection's in style this week, I hear. You'd look lovely splayed out and nailed to the wall, barely kept alive by a thread."
"He talks big, but he means it, Zoicite," Kunzite said as he entered the room. "Back off and don't provoke him."
It was Bruce's turn to chuckle as the two generals departed. But then the ArbyFish winced. "And it even hurts to laugh. No power in the universe has ever been able to harm me before! A minor sting, perhaps, but not like this." He got up on his tail and started slowly hopping back and forth in meditation. "How could he…? No, he is the First One. I should have known. This will be more difficult than I suspected."
"Advisor!" Queen Beryl yelled angrily as she threw the door open and strode in. She carried her staff and was red with rage. "You have failed me! Explain yourself!"
"My quarry, the First One, is indeed with them," Bruce snapped back. "He's protecting them. I can't eliminate them directly like I did the others. I'll need time to prepare a new plan."
"Your time is up," Beryl retorted, raising her staff. "I may show mercy and forgive my own generals for failure, but you are an outsider."
"Oh, do shut up, you lousy, furless excuse for a primate!"
"What did you call me?!" Beryl screamed, pointing her staff at the creature. "For your insolence and your failure… I WILL PUT YOU INTO THE ETERNAL SLEEP—"
In the next instant, Bruce leapt upon her and slit her throat from ear to ear. "Now listen to me, you tiny little insect," he whispered quietly on her shoulder as she choked and fell to her knees, clutching her ruined throat, "I work for you because you fascinate me, and have gotten me closer to finding my prey. Now take my humble little advice, or I'll take your humble little head. Don't cross me. Are we quite clear on this matter?"
Beryl's eyes glazed over and she started to go limp.
Bruce shook his head and rolled his eyes. He took out a pointed white crystal and aimed it at the long gash. A beam of energy shot out from the device and sealed the wound. A second later, Beryl took in a gasping breath and looked in horror at the creature.
"Y-you—" the queen stuttered, shuffling backwards.
Bruce put away the crystal and examined his slightly burned cape. "Hmm. Its powers are nearly gone. I shall have to make another." He took it off and looked at Queen Beryl, then sneered at her appearance and tossed the cloth at her. "Oh, clean yourself up. You're a disgrace. I'm going off to meditate. Don't ask me where."
Still in shock, Beryl looked down at herself and back at Bruce, breathing harshly. She took the cape into her hand, but didn't dare move any more than that.
"You," Bruce commanded, waving at her like one might wave off an annoying fly, "go have your minions drain energy, hatch a plot, gain a foothold, or whatever it is you want to do. I will return in ten days. Be ready for me. And please, try not to let any of your generals die this time. While you have untold numbers of youma, you only have so many 'useful' subordinates."
"You don't give me orders," Beryl forced out.
The White ArbyFish smiled a fanged grin as their contest of wills rolled off him like grease off a whale's back. "That's what I like about you, human. I nearly kill you and you're still acting like you're in charge."
"This is my kingdom—"
"Then keep your silly little kingdom. I don't want it. If you had made a deal with demons, they would have expected certain things of you. Instead, you made a deal with me, so now you'll have to live with that. You can either benefit from my advice, or suffer the consequences of going back on our agreement. Have a delightful evening, madam."
The White ArbyFish departed through another dimensional slit.
Queen Beryl made it back to her throne and summoned her three remaining generals. Zoicite, Kunzite, and Nephrite appeared and kneeled before her. Zoicite had the bandage removed, but still had a white mask to cover a third of his face — the portion that still hadn't healed yet. Nephrite's skull could have healed better, but it was more or less intact now. Kunzite, having avoided the majority of combat so far, didn't have a mark on him.
"There has been a change of plans," announced the woman. "Nephrite, I know you've wanted to use the powers of the stars to find sources of power to feed our Great Leader."
Nephrite nodded, snapped his jaw back into place, and said, "Yes, my Queen. I can locate—"
"We won't be doing that."
"I… I see."
Beryl raised her hands. "Instead, we will go straight for the heart of our enemy!"
"We tried killing them outright," Kunzite noted. "It went very badly for us."
"Yes it did," Beryl said. "And I suspect you could have gotten them if it wasn't for that meddling coward, Chibimoon."
"There's something very, very strange and wrong about that girl, my lady!" whined Zoicite. "I've felt it twice. She must be related somehow to the Princesses of the Moon Kingdom!"
"The Crown Princess was not much of a challenge," countered Beryl. "But you're right. The false one — the adopted one — did not go down easily. That's why we are no longer going to try to face her or the other Sailor Soldiers directly."
"What will we do, then?" inquired Kunzite.
"We will take what energy we can from the undefended areas of the Earth we have secured. With that, we will awaken our Great Leader to grant us additional powers. With those powers, we will seek out the fragments of the Ginzuishou."
The generals looked at each other and nodded. It appeared that they finally understood the plan.
"How will we find them?" asked Zoicite.
"Remember what happened to the crystal," continued Beryl. "When our final forces struck, it was shattered into many fragments and became imbedded in our Seven Great Youma, killing them in an instant."
The generals again nodded; they knew this.
"I believe our Great Youma have been reborn as humans, with the fragments still inside them. If we find them and remove the pieces, our soldiers will be restored to us and the Ginzuishou will finally be ours!"
"How do you jump to that conclusion?" asked Nephrite.
"Well you see, a tiny midget with a funny accent in a flaming brown robe came in earlier and explained it to me."
The generals didn't nod this time. Instead, they were sweating nervously.
"I'm not sure," continued Beryl as she did a lot of hand-waving, "but I think he may have been one of the new librarians. They do things like that. In any case, it will take time to track down our Great Youma. We have much to prepare in the days that come."
Terra Incognita glanced down at her scores as she walked outside and waved to her friends. Usagi, Makoto, Rei, and Ami were going off to the shrine to study and plan, but Terra had asked to be excused for now because she was too stressed out to be of much use to anyone.
She'd been through enough traumas over the past week or so to justify the costs of possibly hiring a live-in psychotherapist. First, there was the time-travel incident where everyone had died and the world was destroyed, the Star Light Knight turning out to be some kind of robot, and the subsequent yanking on the strings of reality to slow down and reverse time. That she could probably have dealt with, but then she'd died, only it was just a dream, however it wasn't. Her mom acted strangely about it — perhaps naturally, given the circumstances — and it made Terra uncomfortable.
Next, there was the failed job interview where she'd been attacked by a youma impostor and gotten a nasty snake digging into her brain, which she had to slice and rip out of her neck. Adding insult to injury, when she got to speak with the real interviewer, she got stabbed repeatedly in the head with a pointy umbrella. That, she supposed, was business as usual for her. And then there was Arby and the strange mark with funky powers he put on her neck….
In short, Terra needed a break. On her way home, she ducked into the Crown Arcade and decided to find the most intense, mind-numbing game in the place. Off to the side, there was a huge seated space flight simulator with hydraulics and large speakers on it. "GUNDAM SEED: DUEL TO THE DEATH", the label proclaimed.
The guy working at the shop — probably Motoki, Terra guessed; she'd heard his name in an earlier conversation with Usagi — came up and noticed her interest in the machine. "Hey there. You're Terra, right? Usagi talks about you sometimes."
The redhead stared at him. "How did you know she was talking about me?"
"You're the only teenage Irish redhead going to Juuban Junior High. Besides, you're wearing a nametag."
Terra picked at the sticky nametag she had on. In the stress from a get-to-know-everyone-better activity in class, she'd forgotten to take it off, and she did so now. "Right. So, do you think this game could take my mind off things like, say, school and trans-dimensional aliens coming after me?"
Motoki shrugged. "I guess so, if you like this kind of thing. Most girls I know like the puzzle games a lot better than things like this. But, I mean, all the guys that tried this out ran away screaming and demanding their money back. It really is a tough game."
"I'll try it out," insisted Terra. "I need something action-packed, I think."
Motoki winked and gave her a thumbs-up. "Go for it, then! Let's see how you do."
Terra climbed in, plunked in half a dozen coins, and pushed the start button when it said she had a full credit. The hydraulics shifted into an upright position, giving the impression of a preparation for launch. Then the screens in front of her lit up and gave her a number of options to select. It was a lot like what she'd expect from the cockpit of a newer sci-fi mecha. Keyboards, status screens, a viewport, and a couple of levers were some of the main features.
With no idea what she was doing, she let her mind wander and push whatever buttons it wanted. The fictional spacecraft launched to a woman's cries of "Lieutenant la Fraga, return the Strike immediately!" followed by a man's voice replying, "No! ZAFT has to be stopped, and I have to stop them!"
"Mission One," declared the heads-up display. "Super Difficulty! Defend the Archangel!"
Whatever happened, it was a blur. There were a lot of explosions, Terra noted over the one and a half minutes of the first mission. Stuff in flashing words like "Strike GUNDAM Operating System Rewritten" and "100% Accuracy" appeared on the screen as well.
"Mission Two: Engage the Aegis!"
This one took ten seconds.
"Aegis GUNDAM Destroyed! Time Bonus: 10,000,000 points! Mission Three: Engage ZAFT fleet and stolen GUNDAM units. Launch!"
Mission three was a bit tougher, or so it seemed to Terra's arm and hand muscles. For some reason, the spaceship had arms and wielded a huge sword, ripping through a bunch of stuff. The game's hydraulics strained to keep up.
"Blitz GUNDAM destroyed! 5,000,000 points!"
"Buster GUNDAM destroyed! 2,500,000 points!"
"YOU MANIAC! AAAAAAHHH!!!" a white-haired boy screamed on one of the smaller screens before going to static.
"Duel GUNDAM destroyed! 7,000,000 points!"
A man wearing a metal mask appeared on screen. "I SURRENDER ALREADY! STO-O-O-O-OP—"
Huge explosions filled the screen.
"Nazca class vessel destroyed! 10,000,000 points!"
A woman's voice chimed in, "Incredible! You blew up le Klueze's ship! We're safe now. Return to the Archangel immediately."
"No," the man replied through the booming amplifiers around the cockpit. "There's still one thing left to stop this war."
"Mission Four: Destroy ZAFT Council and all remaining Coordinators!"
This mission involved targeting a lot of very tiny objects, which Terra dispatched in an instant. Her hands seemed to know where each one needed to be.
"Accuracy 100%! TOTAL GENOCIDE BONUS! 100,000,000 POINTS!!!"
"Heh. That'll teach those genetically-modified freaks to mess with my planet," a man's voice boomed from the speakers. He sounded bitter.
In the end, Terra's score was slightly under five hundred million, whatever that meant. In any case, it was about sixty times what any of the other scores were. She tried to enter her initials, but messed up on the second one. "My middle initial is not F!" She pounded on the controls. "Let me back!" Finally, she gave up. "Oh, forget it."
The girl climbed out of the wobbling machinery. Steam rose off the gleaming steel hydraulic rods and Motoki had to stamp out a fire on one of the game's edges.
"HOLY COW, TERRA!" exclaimed the blond man. "You're good!"
"That game was too easy," commented Terra at how quickly she'd gone through it.
"Easy?! Nobody's beaten that game before. Nobody's even lasted half a minute on it. It's like you had a grudge against those other pilots in the game. You always went straight for the cockpits and you were all shouting, 'Die!' 'Come get some!' and 'Take that, you white-haired freak!'"
Terra remembered blowing a lot of stuff up, but she didn't recall shouting. "I was?"
"Yeah! Usagi said you were a sweet girl; I had no idea you were such a wild, crack-shot berserker."
"Oh. Well, um, yeah." Terra shrugged, decided not to think about it, and headed to a cutesy puzzle game with bunnies on it. She inserted a coin and grabbed the joystick, only to be informed fifteen seconds later that it was Game Over and she'd only gotten two points. She stared at the screen and declared a moment later, "Hey!"
As it turned out, the joystick wasn't broken. A lot of experimentation proved that she had a certain knack for failing trivial puzzle games and platformers, whereas she was great with shooters and simulators, except for the ones where she actually had to hold a gun in her hands. Half an hour later, Terra got to the point where she could relax enough to think straight and started heading home. Part of her mind seemed very refreshed from the experience.
"Well," she commented to herself, "I wonder what kind of bearing this has on my abilities as a Sailor Soldier."
"Oh, well, it means you's baked if you is, and you's froied if you's not, in which case ya moight be sautéed."
Terra stopped and didn't dare turn around. She preemptively shut down most of her thoughts. "Arby!"
The ArbyFish hopped up onto her shoulder. "'Ello, madam!"
"How are things?"
"Oh, y'know, cleaned out me mushrooms, field-dressed a cat. Roight tasty, they is!"
"You ate a cat?!"
"No, no, no." Arby paused. "Well, maybe a li'l one. It was real scrawny. Oye'll have to bag a bigger one next time. Can't let all those nutrients go to waste. Why, there's starving 'Fish in New Brunswick that'd be roight glad ta have such a noice meal."
"Cats… nutrients… fish?" Terra was glad she decided not to think about what the creature was saying. However, there was one thing on her mind that only Arby could provide the answer for. "Arby, I need to talk to you about something. Are there other ArbyFish besides you?"
"O' course! Billions and gazillions of 'em. There'd have been more, except for the Great Civil War that fell upon us all."
"You had a civil war? What about?"
"Oh, well, you doesn't want to hear about that."
"Indulge me for a second."
Arby smiled. "Gladly. Well ya see—"
Terra's mind gave her a kick. "That's long enough. Thanks. What I really wanted to ask about this one ArbyFish with… really mean eyes, all white, had a knitted white cape, and likes to swing knives around."
"Met a White ArbyFish, didja?"
"Do you know one like that?"
"Oh, they's all loike that."
"All White ArbyFish are pure evil?"
"No, no, they's noice. But they's real crafty, too, so ya gots ta stay ahead of 'em. Keep 'em guessin'." Arby took something out. "Here, look at this."
Terra looked at it. "That's a picture of mushrooms."
The girl squinted at the photograph. "And they're playing poker!"
Arby shook his head and said, "No, no, no, look. They's playin' Parcheesi."
Smiling and nodding, Terra carefully nudged her subconscious away from following Arby's line of thinking and into giving her another question to ask. She pulled down her collar and pointed at the mark on her neck. It wasn't glowing, but it still itched something fierce. "The white thing called this the Mark of the First One. When we were basically beaten, he got totally blown away by this."
"All part of the plan, y'see."
Arby moved as though he was going to head off, but Terra continued by asking, "Please don't leave before you answer this. He totally whooped us, and he was screaming about how weak he was compared to you. How powerful are you really, and what does this mark do?"
Arby smacked his gums and said, "Oh, well, to answer that, look at that behind ya." He pointed over Terra's shoulder.
Terra turned around. "I don't see anythi— HEY!"
As it turned out, there were disadvantages in deactivating most of her mind, because in the next instant, Arby had fluttered off, rounding a corner and disappearing out of sight.
Rubbing her neck at the evasion, Terra commented to herself, "Curiouser and," she began, but stopped. Somehow, she felt she was slowly getting a hang of Arby's odd moods and actions. "No, actually… obviouser and obviouser."
At least, she considered, she wasn't naked this time he ran off. She started to straighten her blouse, but discovered it was missing. She looked down and confirmed it.
"GAH!" She jumped in shock, then raised her fist into the air and shouted, "AAARRRBYYY!!!"
When the seriously-messed-up-in-the-head Irish lass had exited the arcade, she didn't notice the sort of tallish young man that left right behind her. He wore a blue baseball cap turned backwards, an orange jacket, and carried a bag full of UFO-catcher toys.
His name was Crane Jou, and he was to be the first victim in the new plot of Beings From Another Dimension.
Zoicite appeared above him in a shower of flower pedals, laughing softly. The half-masked general took out a black crystal, which hovered in the air an inch away from his hand, and shouted, "Geeseen! You're one of us, remember?"
Jou looked up at him, dropped his plushies, shook his head to make sure he wasn't seeing things, and said, "Whoa, a floating chick?! Bad trip, man! Bad trip!"
"I'm no 'chick'," replied the man calmly. "Now return to us. ZOI!"
"WHOOOAH!" Dark power encircled Jou, and engulfed him before he could react. A multifaceted red gem tore out of his chest and flew into Zoicite's grasp.
When the power departed, a white-masked and red-suited robot had replaced Crane Jou. "I AM… GEESEEN!" he declared.
Zoicite nodded, quite pleased with his handiwork. "Now come with me to the Dark Kingdom. Our queen is most anxious to see you again."
Around a short square table in a room at the Hikawa Shrine, Rei and Ami struggled to explain a particularly difficult math problem to Usagi while Luna dozed in the corner.
"Look," Rei said, using her fingers as numeric visual aids, "if you add these, the eight and the three in this column, what do you get?"
"Um… eleven?" replied Usagi uncertainly.
The priestess nodded. "Right. Now, show me how to carry the one to the next column."
The blonde frowned. "But I'm asking you for help."
"I know," said Rei levelly. "I'm seeing how much you learned." Beginning to get red in the face, she seemed to be having some trouble restraining herself.
"We've been helping you on the same problem for a very long time," added Ami. "Surely you must have learned something from this."
"Oh yeah, hah-hah," replied Usagi with a big smile hand behind her head. "I learned lots. Thanks, everyone."
"What did you learn?" pressed Rei.
The ditzy girl fidgeted, tapping her index fingers together while looking away from the others. "Um, er, that is… I don't know."
Rei looked like she wanted to take a gun and blow Usagi's brains out. Instead, since there was a distinct possibility that there were no brains to blow out in the first place, she just grabbed her by the collar and started shaking her violently. "WE'VE BEEN AT IT FOR HALF AN HOUR AND YOU STILL HAVEN'T FIGURED OUT HOW TO ADD RIGHT?! WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!"
"Reeeeeeeeei-chaaaaan," Usagi whined in her ultra-high-pitched voice.
Rei put the girl down. "I really think you must have some kind of learning disability."
Ami nodded in agreement. "It is beginning to seem like that."
"Nah," Makoto said. The others looked toward her. She'd been leaning against the wall with her arms crossed behind her head, and had been there quietly for so long that the rest of the group had almost forgotten she was there. "I've been watching her. She just hasn't been paying attention."
"Not paying attention?" asked Rei. "Why not?"
Ami leafed through Usagi's textbook and pulled out a comic book. Even her cool exterior seemed to crack. "You've been reading manga for the whole time?!"
"Ah, sort of?" Usagi said sheepishly. "But it's a good manga!"
"It's my manga," Rei said, taking it. "And when did I say you could borrow my stuff?"
"Uh, you didn't?"
"That's right, I didn't. And you've been sitting there, reading it and wasting our time… So, in the name of Mars, I am going to strangle you!"
Ami blocked the raven-haired girl with her hand. "No, Rei," she said in a firm voice. "Let me."
Usagi's eyes welled up with tears. "Aw, you don't really mean that, do you, Ami-chan?"
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!" a shrill scream echoed throughout the shrine. Everyone looked up as a boy burst into the room. He had black hair, black pants, and a white button-down shirt. "TIME IS RUNNING OUT! THE SQUIRRELS ARE COMING! THE SQUIRRELS ARE COMING!!!"
The unfamiliar yelling awoke Luna. She didn't speak, but kept a pair of watchful eyes on the situation.
Ami stood up. "U-Urawa-san?!"
Usagi looked at her. "You know him?"
"He's in one of my classes," Ami explained with wide eyes. "He's very intelligent — the only one with higher test scores than mine."
The blonde nodded. In Ami's arcane academic language, that meant she thought he was a big-time hottie. "What's wrong, Urawa-kun?"
"Nothing's wrong yet," Urawa continued, then paused. "No, wait. Everything's all wrong! Can't you see?!"
"A fine line between genius and insanity," whispered Rei.
"He's freaking out!" cried Makoto. She grabbed Urawa's arms when he lunged at Ami.
"There's no time to explain," the boy said quickly. "We have to act now or all is lost!"
"Get back here, young man!" Rei's grandfather shouted, running into the room with a broom.
Urawa slipped out of Makoto's grasp as easily as if slicked down with bacon grease, grabbed Grandpa Hino by the shoulders and said, "You! You're one of them!" The boy's eyes went even wilder. "And… and so am I! AAUUGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!"
Grandpa didn't know what to say. "Ah… That is— AAARGGGH!"
"Oh no," whispered Luna, her body tense and ready to spring away should the worst happen. "They're… they're…!"
Usagi looked at her cat. "They're what?"
A black aura surrounded both the boy and the old man. Two crystals, one yellow and the other dark violet, emerged from their chests and shot into the hallway.
"Two of the seven great youma," Luna hissed. "Reborn as humans, but… not human anymore."
"That's bad, right?" Usagi asked.
The feline nodded vigorously. "Very, very bad."
Rei gasped and scrambled for her transformation pen. "GRANDPA!"
"URAWA-SAN!" cried Ami, doing likewise.
Urawa became a hulking metallic youma with big scissors for hands, and Grandpa turned into a hunched-over blue-clad demon with a red face.
Two Dark Kingdom generals — Kunzite and Nephrite — appeared, each holding one of the extracted crystals.
"Bunpo," commanded Nephrite, "come with me to the Dark Kingdom. Your queen awaits." He placed his hand on the ex-boy's shoulder and disappeared in a swirl of dark energies.
"Heh," Kunzite chuckled, "Jiji. You've been reborn to serve us. Come along now." He took the remaining youma by the arm and disappeared as well.
"Kii-yaaah!" Makoto leapt at Kunzite in a powerful kick, but the generals dematerialized before her strike could connect. She slipped through the residual vapor and crashed down the hallway.
"Too fast!" Rei practically sobbed, sliding to the floor. "We weren't ready for them and they just came in and turned grandpa into a youma and took him away!"
Ami's shoulders slumped. "There is no way we could defend against them attacking that quickly!"
Luna leapt in front of them, her fur standing on end. "Listen up, everyone! We've got a very bad situation on our hands. Somehow the Dark Kingdom has discovered how to find their former greatest warriors. Once sealed away by the power of the Moon Kingdom Queen, they have been revived to fight again for their former masters! To make matters worse, the Dark Kingdom now has two of the fragments of the Ginzuishou!"
Usagi blinked a couple times, and then stared at her. "Huh?"
"Couldn't have said it better myself," added Makoto as she limped back in, nursing a bruised knee from the bad landing. "What's going on?! Why did they take Urawa and Rei's grandpa?"
Luna told them. It didn't make them feel any better about what happened.
Running nearly naked through a crowd of middle-aged businessmen and chased by a tsunami of starving, crazed squirrels, Terra's cell phone beeped. The girl got the phone from Radio Shack soon after she accidentally lost or broke four of the specialized Sailor Communicators she'd sequentially received from her group's kitty advisor. She considered switching off the device, but for all she knew the call could have been something more urgent than her current situation.
Not bloody likely, her fatigued mind commented in a distinctly Irish accent.
However, it was possible that somebody important might call, so she flipped her phone open and placed it to her ear. "Hello, this is Terra." The girl frowned and glanced at her feet. "Six. Why?" She raised an eyebrow. "No, I don't want to save fifty percent on my wireless telephone calls!"
Terra terminated the call, only to receive another one a second later. She answered it as well. "What do you want?!"
"Terra-chan!" Usagi's voice came through. "I'm sorry, is this a bad time?"
The Irish girl glanced back. On top of the squirrels, she'd also acquired a few not-so-pleasant human pursuers, mostly unsavory men whom she most certainly did not want to be around, properly clothed or otherwise. "Um, could you please define 'a bad time' for me really quick?" Terra panted. She probably wasn't going to be able to keep up the sprint for very much longer. Her lungs were already burning from the strain.
"What are you doing right now?"
"Oh, nothing I haven't done before in one form or another."
"Look, Terra," Rei jumped into the conversation. "We need you at the shrine right now! This is urgent! The Dark Kingdom's kidnapped my grandpa, turned him into a youma, and now they're gathering the seven fragments of a crystal that'll give them ultimate power when it's complete!"
"Oh my, that does sound bad," Terra noted. But then again, she thought, being caught by those who currently chased her also ranked very high in the 'bad things' category. "But I am rather busy right now. Can it wait until after I've gone home and had time to think it over?"
"No, it can't," insisted Rei.
"TERRA!" yelled Makoto, who had grabbed the phone on the other end. "GET YOUR LAZY SCRAWNY SCAREDY REAR-END OVER HERE RIGHT NOW OR I'LL HUNT YOU DOWN AND BEAT YOU TO A BLOODY PULP!"
"But I thought we were friends!" complained Terra.
"If you're taking this whole thing too lightly, then you really deserve a good thrashing. And believe me, can I ever make it hurt!"
Terra coughed, mostly from the strain on her respiratory track. "Well, there's no need to get violent, Lita." She turned a corner onto a smaller street in hopes of reversing her course, but unfortunately, it turned out to be a dead-end alleyway. "Oh my. Okay, I'll be right along as soon as I figure out how to get there. Bye!" She closed the phone and put it away into her bag. While she did so, she discovered her transformation brooch. "YES!"
Instantly recognizing the potential for a way out of her predicament, she held the object up and exclaimed, "Moon Prism Power, Make Up!"
The transformation sequence flung her into the air, spinning uncontrollably as the assorted ribbons, lights, and hearts danced around her. Fully attired — or as attired as an abbreviated seifuku allowed — she landed in the middle of the swarm of squirrels and unsavory men. "AAAAAAAAAH!"
The squirrels needed a moment to regroup before they could get to biting her properly. Plus, the bad men finally noticed they were surrounded by rabid forest animals, and they were soon taken out of the picture.
Time froze for Sailor Chibimoon. In an instant of panic, she'd somehow managed to regain a hold on her temporal compression abilities. She brushed off a couple of animals that were prepared to dig their teeth in, but she couldn't sustain the compression any longer than that, and it left her arms and neck feeling very sore. Small tears through the first layer of fabric in her elbow-length gloves showed where her arms had encountered claws. But the animals regrouped again to strike.
An instant later, Terra found herself flying through the air. After the initial feeling of imbalance and vertigo cleared away, she looked to the side, straight into the face of a masked man.
"Tuxedo Kamen!" Chibimoon exclaimed, recognizing him instantly. "You rescued me!" She blushed. "Thank you very much."
"It's no problem," Tuxedo Kamen replied. "You're the key to finding my memories, remember?" He half-smiled. "Where can I drop you off?"
"Actually," Terra said, "there's an emergency at the Hikawa Shrine I need to get to very quickly. It's something about gathering crystal fragments, the enemy trying to gain ultimate power, and probably a bit about the end of the world. Work with me and the other Sailor Soldiers and we're sure to find a way to help you with your memories!"
"No, I don't think it works that way. I'll help you when I can, but I can't just sign on with you like that."
Terra's eyes glistened. "Pretty please? Just for a meeting or two?"
"I appreciate the offer, but—"
"Pretty-pretty-pretty please with sugar on top?" Chibimoon urged, hugging the man tightly.
"Well," said Tuxedo Kamen thoughtfully, "we'll see how I feel when we get to the shrine. But we've got a couple of minutes before we get there. Tell me about yourself."
Terra began elaborating on the subject. "Well, you see…."
In a park cemetery on the other side of the world, a teenaged girl dressed in black observed a police funeral at the far back of an assembled company. She wore a hat and carried a wide black umbrella against the rain, finding no comfort in the many eulogies given for those that had fallen in the line of duty. She stiffened at the mention of two names in particular.
"Alan… Katrina…." she whispered as the names were read, a stream of tears falling down her cheek.
She stood still with her fist clenched as the ceremony ended and the various officers and guests filed away. She overheard some who chatted about the events of the past week.
"Terrible, absolutely terrible."
"They were ambushed, you know. Didn't stand a chance."
"They even had the legendary Sailor V along with them, but it wasn't enough."
"Did they ever find out what happened to her and her friend? Sailor S, was it?"
"I think that's right. No, they didn't find them among all the carnage."
"There's a chance they might still be alive, then."
"We can always hope, but neither have been seen since this unfortunate event. I really think they may be gone forever."
And then the area had emptied. The girl in black bowed her head and locks of light-blonde hair splayed downward. It had taken her several days just to come to grips with what had happened. No one should have had to go through what she did, but there was no avoiding it now. Everyone she had worked with for so long, everyone she had cared about, was now gone. There was nothing left for her. Nothing.
She tensed. Nothing, but her duty. Somewhere, there were others who would face the same evils she did. In another part of the world, good people could still be saved from such tragedy. She had to find them and lend them her strength. There were artifacts to be obtained, a sword to reforge… and a princess to find. She would do it not only for duty's sake, but for friendship as well. She would do it in memory of Alan and Katrina, for the sake of the many officers who gave their lives…
And she would also do it in memory of Lynn and Minako.
To be continued.
And now it's time for… MIND YOUR MANNERS!!! with Sailor Nuke.
(Scene of Bruce looking back and forth, rubbing his flippers together in a very malevolent and plotting kind of way.)
Sailor Nuke: Today, we learned that nobody likes a sneaky villain.
(Jadeite gets blown up by four combined Sailor Soldier attacks.)
Sailor Nuke: Oh, they're fun to blow up, but until then, they're not that great.
(Tuxedo Kamen's firm resolve melts under Terra's sweet, cute expression.)
Sailor Kawaii: Actually, we learned that you can get a lot more out of a relationship if you know how to be cute.
(Rei's grandpa and Urawa Ryo turn into youma)
Sailor Nuke: Nah! Not really. Not when your old fling gets turned into a monster. Ya gotta blow 'em up after all that.
(A certain crescent-shaped wand flashes, which is conspicuously missing from the plot so far.)
Sailor Kawaii: No, you use love, naiveté, and your dazzling good looks to bring them back from the dark side.
Sailor Nuke: You do not!
Sailor Kawaii: Sure you do! I mean, nobody ever came back from being evil for an un-cute face.
(Darth Vader chops off Luke Skywalker's hand.)
Sailor Nuke: Then explain Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker.
Sailor Kawaii (furrows her brow angrily): The exception that proves the rule!
Sailor Nuke (shrugs): Eh, whatever. The point is, don't go in for sneaky villains. Just come in and blow 'em up as fast as you can. Sailor Nuke sez. BWAHAHAHAHAHHAAA!
Sailor Kawaii: Be cute and have a fun life. Sailor Kawaii says. Tee-hee!
Author's notes: Got some feedback on the various chapters in the story. Thanks go to Josh Temple and Larry F for the most in-depth, and to DB Sommer for his public comments on the Anime/Manga Fan Fiction Mailing List.
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