A Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon story
by Elsa Bibat
Disclaimer: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon belongs to Takeuchi Naoko, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC. This is used without permission.
This disclaimer also applies to several intellectual properties referred to in the text. Please be guided accordingly.
Note: This is in the same timeline as "Catnap", an earlier fic. This fic, "Catnap" and "Pets" are side stories to my "Dances Set To The Music Of Time" sequence.
Also original Japanese name order is used: surname first.
Tomoe Hotaru looked up at the ceiling.
To be more exact, she looked at the strange symbol hidden in the strange pattern of her ceiling. It seemed to be in the shape of a five-pointed star, hidden among the geometric patterns that could be found in all the ceilings of the apartment. The electric light in the middle of the star design was in the shape of tongue of flame.
Hotaru smiled. Strange was the word that usually came to into her head when describing her recent experiences. With all the weird things going on for the past three years, she'd been surprised when it all seemed to slow down.
After fighting to save the world several times, it seemed that the universe decided that the Senshi deserved a break. There was the occasional bizarre occurrence of course, like that ridiculous instance when something calling itself an Arbyfish claiming to come from another timeline clambered out of the batch of mushroom soup Setsuna-mama was cooking or that incident with Hino-ojiisan and the Ghost Jar. They weren't exactly world shattering events, at worst they would have caused minor injuries, a big step down from what the Senshi usually dealt with.
She sighed and mentally traced the five-pointed star again. She had noticed it only a few minutes ago, while lying on her bed. She had come home from school feeling down, so after changing out of her school uniform, she plopped down on her bed and tried to relax.
It wasn't because of any teasing or anything like that. Her new school, that Setsuna-mama had enrolled her in, was actually a great place. Rather unconventional by Japanese standards, it was also quite effective in teaching its students. Hotaru could already speak English like it was her birth language after only two years of study, her French was close behind and after completing those two languages, and she intended to study Russian and Mandarin. Haruka-papa was already giving her pointers for her Russian classes.
Her other subjects were also faring well: science, history, mathematics, along with some of the stranger subjects like Ethics and Philosophy. She was even doing well in Physical Education and was learning Aikido under the school's martial arts sensei, Kamiya Asuka. The other students were nice to her and she managed to make a few friends. They were all nice, even after when she used her power to heal a member of the girl's softball league when one got hit real hard by a fastball. Most of the members of the team only responded to that particular happening with just a light nod and an understanding smile. The most extreme response was a whispered "So that's why she's here". Trying to find out what that phrase meant was like pulling one of her teeth out: an exercise in futility. She did get a little something about her having "Gate abilities" but other than that nothing turned up from her little investigation.
She had a heavy heart because she had a part in the school play. The school had only three hundred or so students, even if it was a pretty large place, and because of this she got drafted for the school play. To add insult to injury, she didn't just get any part either. She got the leading role. She had tried to explain to Kasuga-sensei that she really wasn't cut out for acting but all her pleas wouldn't change her mind. Kasuga-sensei explained that this was for her own good. It was supposed to get her to become a more well-rounded individual.
"Well-rounded, right." Hotaru muttered darkly as she thought about the school play. "Like humiliating myself in front of a lot of people is going to make me well-rounded."
The bad news about the play didn't stop there. Since the student population was too little for a decent audience they decided to open it to the public. Thus the school play became more than a school play. Kasuga-sensei, "The Madwoman" as Hotaru started to call her in her mind, got a flash of inspiration. Hotaru preferred to call it a burst of insanity.
They were now going to perform a musical. No, not just any musical. A classic full-costume musical, one of the most well-loved musicals in Japan, even if it was usually performed in full English. In Hotaru's opinion, it would have been a fine idea if it hadn't been her in the lead role. She also had the sneaking suspicion that this was all part of Kasuga-sensei's insane plan for world domination or something. It all seemed to fall so neatly in succession. First, she was literally perfect for the part, since she was one of the smaller girls in school, the part she was going to play calling for someone short, and according to her music teacher she had an excellent voice, like an idol singer's was what the music teacher said, within earshot of Kasuga-sensei's office. Days after, she got "accidentally" drawn in a supposedly "random" selection for the lead actress in a play that suddenly became a musical.
It would have been fine if it was just a play, it would have still been okay if was a musical. But they were going to perform THE MUSICAL. The thought of the costume she would have to wear made her a bit nauseous.
She frowned a little as she tore her eyes away from the symbol on the ceiling. She sat up and decided to make a sandwich and drown her sorrows with Coke.
She set her bag underneath her bed and got up. She smiled at the image she presented in the full-length mirror set near her closet. She was dressed in the lavender outfit that Michiru-mama had picked out for her. She said that it set off Hotaru's eyes and emphasized her face. A bit lacking in the height department, but Setsuna-mama said she'd have her growth spurt in a few years.
After posing a bit her mood got better. She proceeded to the kitchen to make her sandwich. Opening the fridge, she brought out Setsuna-mama's batch of mushrooms, cheese, mayonnaise and a slice of chicken. She snagged the whole-wheat bread and ketchup from the cupboard and started to make her snack. After stacking several layers of chicken, mayonnaise, ketchup, cheese, mushrooms and bread, she stuck it all in the microwave and nuked it for five minutes. It smelled like heaven as Hotaru brought it out and took a big bite.
"Mmmmm. And once again, Tomoe Hotaru proves to the world that she is a culinary genius!" Hotaru announced to the kitchen with a giggle. The taste of cheese, ketchup and mayonnaise as they melted in her mouth was delicious. She opened the fridge and got a can of Coke to wash it all down.
She then sat down on the counter and finished off her sandwich. Licking her fingers to clean them of the ketchup and the mayonnaise that had dripped out of her snack, she looked around. She was the only one in the apartment, since Haruka-papa and Michiru-mama were off rehearsing for a concert and Setsuna-mama was doing whatever she did. She was alone for the moment.
After cleaning up the mess she made, she decided to go back to her room and brood some more. As she walked back to her room she passed by Setsuna's room, she suddenly backed up.
She stood in front of the Guardian of Time's room, biting her lower lip. Hotaru just had a brilliant idea, but she wasn't so sure about it. She'd been in Setsuna-mama's room before and she'd seen quite a few books in there. "A few books" was actually an understatement. The room had a veritable library in it. She had read a few of them and a few of them were quite cool. Maybe Setsuna-mama had a play in there, something better than that stupid musical.
Hotaru put on a brave face and she reached out to open the door. For a moment, something seemed to be stopping her but as she grabbed the doorknob, the feeling disappeared.
She opened the door, surprised that it wasn't locked. It creaked eerily, the whine of metal against metal sounding something from a horror movie. Hotaru hesitated once again. Maybe she shouldn't do this. But the thought of playing her part in the musical, singing, dancing, in front of what must be hundreds of people, came blasting out of the back of her mind. She shuddered.
Steeling herself, she took a step forward and entered the dark room.
The woman known to the Japanese Government and several other dozen Japanese citizens by the name of Mei'ou Setsuna put a hand to her neck and started to make slight rotations to get the ache out of her neck. The sound of cracking bone was audible as she made a particularly wide rotation, looking up, then bending her head sideway and ending with a harsh snap forward. She kept on repeating the motion, the cracking sounds getting louder. No normal human could survive, or even do, what she was currently doing. But as one of her daughters once put it, she wasn't exactly what you would call human. She stopped her rotations and massaged her neck lightly.
"Mmmmmm" The Guardian of Time said weakly, eyes closed. It had been a long, hard day. She stepped forward the very moment the elevator stopped, a split-second before the door opened, milliseconds before the ding sounded signaling her arrival at her destination.
She kept her eyes closed as she continued walking down the hall, still massaging her neck. Sight was not necessary for her to navigate her way. She could probably walk the hallway in total darkness if she wanted to. Old habits die hard, and she had familiarized herself with every nuance of her current residence, building plans, electrical layouts, everything necessary for a speedy escape if the need ever arose. She stepped to the side before a door to her right opened, muttering a "Good Evening, Kobayashi-san" to her surprised neighbor. The fact that she had extra senses was a great help, too.
She stopped in front of the apartment she shared with the other Outer Senshi and put a hand on the rune that she had traced on it when she had first chosen it as a new place of residence. Visible only to her, it was more like a magical version of a lock. Primitive but effective in a world deprived of magic.
A fact that was the reason for her particularly hard day. Magic was starting to come back, slowly, and though it was going to be another fifty years before the effects were truly felt, the foundations for humanity's survival had to be planted now. She sent a bit of her power into the rune and heard a click as the mechanical equivalent of her rune unlocked itself. All she wanted now was a good bubble bath, a batch of her homemade aspirin and a long rest.
As she stepped into the room, all thoughts of warm water, bubbles and silk sheets caressing her oh-so-tired body were dispelled, to be replaced by shock. Her eyes snapped open to survey the apartment's living room, ruby eyes flashing a dangerous red.
One of her runes was shattered. She could feel the residue of the magic that was part of it as she entered the apartment. From the feeling she got, this particular rune happened to be the one to her room. An intruder, especially someone or something who can shatter a protective ward like the rune on her private sanctum, was not something you ignore.
The only thing that she saw in the living room was Hotaru doing her homework.
"Hi, Setsuna-mama!" said the young girl, a smile on her face.
"Umm… Hotaru-chan, have you noticed anything strange?"
"Other than the normal strangeness, I mean." Setsuna amended as she walked over to the couch and sat down beside the younger girl.
"Well, not a thing."
Hotaru was lying through her teeth. Setsuna looked at her with an arched eyebrow. She knew Hotaru was lying. Body language, the young girl's voice harmonics and the way she was avoiding her gaze was telling the older woman everything she needed to know. Besides, Hotaru was hiding something underneath the couch. Piecing everything together, she decided to be direct about it.
"Hotaru, you went into my room and got one of my books, right?" she said in a gentle voice.
The younger girl hung her head and sighed. Setsuna took that as an affirmative.
"Why?" Setsuna also wanted to voice "how" but she had a pretty good guess on the "how" part. Unconscious manipulation of the Saturn power usually manifested in most of the Senshi of Saturn. A rune like the one on her door would have shattered easily against the very force of universal entropy. You can't fight a force of nature after all.
"We're going to have this musical at school…"
"That's great! What seems to be the problem?" A musical? A rather original excuse if it weren't for the fact that Hotaru wasn't lying this time around.
"We're going to be performing … that weird one. Plus I'm the lead actress."
Weird one? What musical would…? Oh. She'd heard about it from her agent at Hotaru's school. The school was going to stage a production of Clark Ashton Smith's "The Perils of Cthulhu".
"You mean that musical." Setsuna said with a silly smile on her face.
Hotaru pouted. "No need to rub it in."
Setsuna just shook her head and she looked at her charge. "Well, that pretty much explains it. But, I still wonder what you were doing in my room?"
"You've got tons of books in there. I was hoping you had a cool play or something and maybe I could weasel out of playing Cthulhu."
Setsuna flinched a little at the rather flippant way the young girl mentioned "Cthulhu" but she couldn't repress a light laugh. "You as Cthulhu? Now that would be a sight!"
Hotaru pouted a little which only made Setsuna laugh again. "I'm sorry, Hotaru-chan. The mental image is rather hilarious. But I doubt you found anything sufficiently 'cool' to replace your play in my room."
Hotaru smiled as she pulled out a yellow hardbound book from underneath the couch pillow. "Well, I did find this cool book in French."
Setsuna blanched. The title of the book of the book was clearly etched in the cover.
"'Le Roi En Jaune', pretty cool actually. Plus it's got a better plot than that Perils of Cthulhu thing. At the very least I won't be wearing that stupid costume. I could probably make a pretty good Cassilda!" Hotaru said, waving the book around excitedly.
"Ummm… Hotaru, you read 'Le Roi En Jaune'?"
Hotaru blinked and she nodded.
"Totally? All the way through?"
"Did you feel anything …strange… while you were reading, like a headache or a bit of disorientation?"
"Well, a bit. But it just went away after I actually thought of it. Now that you mention it, that was pretty strange."
Setsuna sighed, the tone of relief in it evident. The King had tried, but it seemed that the power of the Saturn force was more powerful than He thought and decided a tactical withdrawal for the best. The fact that Hotaru found the book was inevitable, considering that the Yellow King was the Saturn force's rival in a way. The King was probably trying to destroy his competitor by giving the girl access to the book and shattering her mind but it seemed Hotaru had things well in hand. The King, it seems, was no match against one who had the spawn of the Demon-sultan bound to her soul.
"Umm… Setsuna-mama, did I do something wrong? I mean, I'm sorry for going into your -"
Setsuna smiled at her young charge as she plucked the yellow book from Hotaru's hand. "Don't worry about it. I understand. But still I don't think a performance of the King in Yellow would be an appropriate replacement for 'The Perils of Cthulhu'."
Hotaru rolled her eyes skyward. "You're not the one who has to wear the costume!"
"Actually, I was there for the original production. I played Nyarlathotep and the costumes for that part were a pain the ass."
Hotaru looked at the elder woman, eyes wide. "You mean you were there?"
"Yes, me and a friend of mine were on…" Setsuna thought for a while for an appropriate word "…vacation, when we decided to visit our old friend Lovecraft and Smith. I was the one who actually wrote the opening song."
"You mean the 'Ia Cthulhu' thing?"
Setsuna nodded. "Yes, that was me. My friend composed the Elder Thing song. He was the one who played Azathoth for the original production."
Hotaru frowned at what Setsuna had just said. "Setsuna mama, please don't be mad, but I think the entire Cthulhu play just sucks."
Setsuna smiled a mysterious smile. "And why is that?"
"I mean, it all sounds so stupid. Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, Cthugha, Shubb-Niggurath and all of the other unpronounceables. Did you really need people wear those stupid costumes?"
"And this opinion of yours doesn't have anything to do with the fact that you'll be wearing one of these 'stupid' costumes?"
Hotaru hung her head in defeat. "Okay, okay. It's not stupid. I mean, I like Cthulhu like every kid does. But it doesn't mean that I want to play him!" After a few moments of silence, she sighed and added, "The costume makes me look fat, too."
Setsuna shook her head and laughed a little. "Let me tell you a secret, Hotaru. But promise not to tell anyone first."
Hotaru looked at the older woman beside her and blinked. "Okay. But I don't know how it could -"
Setsuna interrupted her. "I hate our Senshi uniforms."
An embarrassed silence followed. Hotaru broke it a few moments later.
"Um…why? I know it's a bit skimpy and all, but you never see anyone complain."
"That's because they've gotten used to it. Personally, I hate it for four reasons. One, it's drafty. You haven't been to some of the places I've been Hotaru, and trust me on the fact that a fuku is not something you want to wear on long journeys. Two, it makes me look dumber than I am. As an old friend of mine so delightfully put it, who in there right mind would wear a skirted leotard into battle anyway? Three, I think it makes my thighs look bigger than they are. The final reason is, all in all, I think it makes me look fat."
Hotaru blinked. Then blinked again. Then she laughed.
Setsuna favored the girl with a little smile while the young girl was laughing. "Now, if I decided not to become a Senshi because the uniform, in my opinion, looks stupid, what would that make me?"
A few moments of silence reigned in the living room as Hotaru digested the statement. Then she hung head in defeat and sighed.
"I think I know what you're getting at, Setsuna-mama." Hotaru said.
"Well, I think you're telling me that I'm being stupid for not liking something because of something trivial."
"That's one way of looking at things. But I do know you would really like to play Cthulhu and I don't think you're giving me the real reason."
Setsuna smiled faintly as she drew the young girl nearer. She whispered theatrically, "So, Hotaru-chan, what seems to be the big secret?"
Hotaru couldn't help herself. She giggled at the older woman's joking manner and she relaxed a bit. "Okay, Setsuna-mama, I… well… I'm afraid I'd mess up."
Setsuna ruffled the young girl's hair. "Everyone always feels like that when they have a big responsibility, Hotaru-chan. It's nothing to be worried about."
"But, I have to sing! I have to dance! I have to remember lines, act properly and in a costume to boot! I don't know how I can do it!"
"Well, Judy Garland managed to do it."
"I'm not Judy Garland, Setsuna-mama! And it was a film; they had cuts and retakes! I'll be performing live! What if I mess up? Then everyone would blame me and I'd feel so terrible and … and…" Hotaru trailed off into a sigh. Tears were starting to form at the corner of her eyes.
"There, there, Hotaru-chan." Setsuna gave the girl a hug, in an attempt to soothe her nerves. The Senshi of Time felt her young charge relax under her ministrations. She slowly pulled back and looked Hotaru in the eyes.
"It's okay to feel that way. Everyone's afraid of making mistakes, Hotaru-chan. But do you know what? Most people forget is that when you worry too much about making mistakes when you do something, you don't see the instances when you succeed. That is their mistake. Do you know why, Hotaru-chan?"
Teary-eyed, Hotaru shook her head.
"Because the world and everything that happens in it is what we make of it. How we think of it. Our thoughts become reality. Especially mine," Setsuna joked a little, smiling. "When you think something bad will happen and believe in that thought, something bad will happen. That is because your mind influences your body in slight ways so that you will fail. But if you think hard enough that you will succeed, believe in that thought with every bone in your body, your mind and body will do their best to succeed. Do you understand what I mean to say, Hotaru?"
Hotaru blinked back her tears and nodded her head. "You mean I can do it, if I believe in myself?"
"Well, if you had a normal childhood, young lady, you should know that by now." Setsuna joked. "But, I've forgotten to give you a few lessons on being a normal girl."
"But, I'm not a normal girl!" Hotaru brightly said, forgetting her earlier mood.
"Neither was I, Hotaru-chan. But it doesn't mean that I knew how normal girls acted. Besides you're a lot more normal than me when I was your age."
"Setsuna-mama, please stop hinting at things you won't say anything about. You always tease everybody about how you walked the streets of Troy or met Sherlock Holmes." Hotaru pouted at the older woman.
Setsuna chuckled. It seemed that everything was back to somewhat normal.
Setsuna smiled as the lights dimmed. Hotaru had done her best for the last two months and the results showed during rehearsal. At last, it was opening night and she had it on very good authority that this was going to be a great performance.
Haruka and Michiru were seated beside her along with the Inner Senshi. When Usagi had learned of Hotaru's upcoming performance she had insisted on being there for the first performance. Setsuna had managed to get tickets for the show even if it was supposedly sold out. Quite surprising as this was a student performance. It seemed the old "Cthulhu magic", as the various critics called it, was still strong in Japan.
Setsuna straightened in her seat as weak lights played on stage and the strange piping music started. Visible were the Deep One-costumed actors, in a pose of worship as Cthulhu/Hotaru slept on the altar.
Then the chant started.
"I'a! I'a! Cthulhu ftaghn!!"
Setsuna actually grinned, white teeth exposed, a rare sight to see.
The show was about to begin.
*The Perils of Cthulhu*
Written by the world-renowned poet and fantasist Clark Ashton Smith, and scored by several of his friends, the musical is in the vein of Gilbert and Sullivan. He wrote it in the late 1930s, and it is based on the many Cthulhu stories and novels published between the '20s and '30s by one of the world's most beloved children's fantasy authors, Howard Philip Lovecraft. The entire series, collectively known as the Cthulhu Mythos, stars the winged and incredibly cute vaguely-octopoid ancient entity known as Cthulhu, detailing his adventures with his friends ranging from the many-faced joker Nyarlathotep to the sickly Rhan-Tegoth.
The musical in itself is a summary of the entire series with an all-star cast of Mythos characters. It details how Cthulhu wakes up and meets all his friends on his way to King of all the Worlds, Azathoth. Classic songs like "My Favorite Elder Things", "A Very Modern Deep One", and the crowd favorite "Springtime for Cthulhu", have become parts of the modern psyche. Several film versions have been made, but all critics agree the first one with Judy Garland as Cthulhu is the best, with the Michael Jackson version at a distant second.
It is still performed widely all over the world, the only disadvantage
being the need for extensive costumes to have a successful production.
It has found its largest audience in Japan, where the musical has
a devoted following, even if it is always performed in English.
Anyway, I owe the idea for this fic to several people, especially to my Forgotten Futures RPG group. The idea for the children's Cthulhu Mythos came from them, which they kinda ripped off from Marcus Rowland's most recent offering for the FF setting, The Angel of the Revolution. The ideas they used for our recent campaign, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of R'lyeh which was a hoot to play, with the deranged Victorian Senshi and melodramatic villains and Big C. ^_^
Anyway, the fic is actually more like an "day-in-the-life" fic sort of thing I'm attempting for my setting. It's also a bit of a setup for several concepts in the big fic I'm working on, along with "Catnap" and "Pets".
And yes, according to two earlier vignettes, Cthulhu does exist in this timeline. Why there's a musical and he is relegated to the status of a children's fantasy character is another story.^_^ }
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