A Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon story
Disclaimer: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon belongs to Takeuchi Naoko, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC.
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Chapter 8: Believe in the Future! Usagi's Promise!
"So what are we going to do now?" Haruka asked impatiently.
"The same thing we've been doing already. We search for the talismans," Michiru replied, all too patiently.
"Dammit, it's not that simple anymore! We now have two rival groups trying to get the talismans ahead of us, and the soldier of destruction is close to awakening — and probably in the hands of the enemy, based on what we saw last night!" Haruka raged as she paced the room.
"That still doesn't change the fact that we have to get the talismans. Anything else — even Sailor Saturn — is secondary to that," Michiru said hotly. Her temper was beginning to fray at her partner's attitude.
"I know, I know…" Haruka said in what she hoped was a placating tone. "But everything's gotten so complicated now… and things weren't exactly clear-cut to begin with."
"Look, all I know is that we have to get the talismans or the Silence will appear. That's pretty clear-cut from where I'm standing." Michiru stood up. "I think we could both do with a chance to cool off. Why don't you go to the race track? Set a new speed record or something…" She headed towards the door.
"Where are you going?" Haruka asked suspiciously.
"There's an exhibition of my work at the art museum. I believe I've mentioned it twice this week. I'm expected to put in an appearance." Michiru was already out the door when she turned one last time. "Just do something to cool yourself down. Please." And then she was gone.
Haruka glared at the doorway. "You're just as upset as I am, Michiru. I'm just not as good an actor as you are." She let out a long stress-filled sigh. 'I guess things haven't reached a crisis point yet…' she thought to herself. 'Michiru said that another Sailor Senshi would appear to join us when things start to reach a climax…'
Sailor Pluto stepped out of a portal in a small alleyway in 20th Century Tokyo and abruptly sneezed! "Oh… who could be talking about me?" She rubbed her nose absently as she dropped her Senshi guise and became Meiou Setsuna, wearing a lavender business-type dress.
"What was that, Sailor Pluto?" her companion asked as she stepped out of the portal.
"Nothing, your majesty. And please, call me Setsuna while we're here." She smiled at her Queen.
"Oh, of course! But you better watch that 'majesty' stuff as well. I'm just Tsukino Usagi for now." Neo Queen Serenity let a wistful smile cross her features. "It's just like old times, isn't it?" The Queen of Crystal Tokyo wore a simple white sweater and knee-length pink skirt, a far cry from the elegant dress she wore in the future.
"It's certainly bringing back a few memories," Setsuna agreed as the pair stepped out onto the streets of a Tokyo they had left behind centuries ago.
Minako deactivated her communicator and turned to Luna and Artemis, who were sitting on the edge of her bed. "Well, what did I tell you? I knew Usagi wouldn't stick around to see Mamoru. She needs some time to herself to sort things out in her head." She had just finished talking to Rei, who had filled her in on the events of the morning.
"But what if something happens to her? She shouldn't be out on her own." Luna whined, rather uncharacteristically of her, but she was feeling stressed and really wanted to see her young charge.
"Now, Luna, Usagi is capable of looking after herself. She's a lot stronger than people give her credit for. And she's not alone. She's with Chibi-Usa," Minako argued.
"That just makes her twice as likely to get attacked by some monster! Next you'll be telling me that she's visiting some shop which is offering free samples," Luna said, as an obtuse reference to the typical plan their enemies used.
"I agree with Minako. Usagi's just come out of a terrible ordeal, which we can't begin to understand. While it's good that her friends want to support her, she needs to come to terms with it on her own first," Artemis said reasonably.
Luna didn't look entirely convinced, but she couldn't come up with any better arguments, so she settled for pouting in the best manner a cat is physically able to.
"Look, Luna, why don't you just go to Usagi's house and wait? She's bound to show up there sooner or later. And whatever you do, don't nag her! Dark Serenity was smart and took things seriously — I prefer our imperfect Usagi any day," Minako said firmly as she got up off the bed.
"Just because I want Usagi to improve herself, doesn't mean I'm trying to turn her into a cold-hearted monster!" Luna was genuinely horrified at what Minako was insinuating.
"I know that," Minako said, more gently now. "But I just want you to bear it in mind the next time you feel like telling her to stop goofing off or study more." She started for the door. "I'm going out for a bit. I'll tell you what I told the others; don't contact Usagi on the communicator, even if it is an emergency. We can handle things without her for a little while longer." She left the two cats on their own.
"Oh well… I suppose I may as well go home now…" Luna said sullenly as she leapt out the window. Artemis just decided to take advantage of this opportunity and settled down for a nice long nap.
"Hey, what are you two looking at?" Chibi-Usa popped up between Hotaru and Usagi who were staring intently at a painting. After neither responded, owing to being too engrossed in it, she became impatient. "What's so special about this one?" she demanded, slightly louder.
Usagi snapped out of her daze and looked down at the child. "Oh, sorry, Chibi-Usa!" She giggled nervously. "It's just that this painting really seemed to draw me in…" She started looking again, becoming captivated once more.
Chibi-Usa examined the painting herself. It showed a massive dark cyclone tearing apart a nameless city under a blood red sky. A large white crystal floated above, seemingly removed from the disaster affecting the city. It certainly wasn't the type of painting she would have pegged Usagi or Hotaru as being interested in.
"This painting… it reminds me of my dreams…" Hotaru said distantly. She seemed almost hypnotised by it.
Chibi-Usa, for her part, was getting more than a little disturbed by the fascination two such gentle and friendly people could have for such a terrible image of destruction. She looked around and saw that the wall was dominated by paintings of a similar theme, all by the same artist.
Said artist was also looking around the museum when she noticed the trio. She was a little surprised to see people studying her work so intently. While she garnered much critical acclaim, the general public response to her paintings wasn't exactly overwhelming — most people were too disturbed by her work.
Michiru walked over towards the three when she suddenly stopped short. She recognised the younger two from the previous night. The oldest girl was strangely familiar, but couldn't be placed, but she definitely remembered the others. 'Sailor Saturn and the girl who was attacked… what are they doing here?' She thought to herself, 'I should definitely talk to them.'
She came over and stood beside them, looking at the painting. "Do you like this one?" she asked as a conversation-starter. "I call it 'Advent of the Silence'." All three heads turned to regard her, so she introduced herself. "I'm Kaiou Michiru." She gave a short bow.
"Kaiou Michiru…?" Usagi did a double take of the girl before her and the signature on the painting. "You painted this?"
Michiru chuckled. "Are you surprised?"
"Well, I didn't expect to meet the artist, if that's what you mean…" Usagi suddenly remembered she should introduce herself. "Oh, I'm Tsukino Usagi. This is my sister, Chibi-Usa, and our friend, Tomoe Hotaru," she introduced the other two.
Hotaru felt herself blush at what Usagi said. 'She said I was her friend!' she thought happily.
Michiru almost frowned, but refrained. Usagi hadn't got what she meant; normally people would say something about how it was strange for a 'pretty girl' to paint something so 'depressing'. After thinking about it however, Michiru was actually pleased that Usagi hadn't said something to that effect. "Pleased to meet you," she said politely to them.
"You're paintings are all very well done… but I prefer something more cheerful," Chibi-Usa told her, doing her best to put emphasis on the fact that the paintings were good rather than her personal reaction, which was unfavourable.
Michiru smiled. "A lot of people think that. What do you think, Hotaru? I noticed you were looking very intently at this one."
Hotaru struggled to put her feelings into words. "I… when I look at it… Well, it's almost as if I can feel something inside of me responding… It's hard to explain, but I feel like this painting has some sort of mystery that I can only partly understand…"
Usagi nodded vigorously. "Yes, that's like how I feel… It's like it's almost familiar, but not."
Michiru felt a little queasy as she realised that if Hotaru ever did come to fully understand that mystery, then it would probably herald the end of the world. She was also a little surprised at Usagi claiming to feel exactly the same as the soldier of destruction felt. She shoved those feelings aside for later consideration as she spoke. "I'm glad my paintings are able to stir a reaction in you. Not many people can understand my art."
Usagi couldn't help but blush at that comment. She didn't say she understood, and was pretty certain if any of her friends were around they would make some disparaging comment about her inability to understand anything more complicated than manga. She was glad Chibi-Usa had become a lot nicer.
Michiru was thinking that she needed to keep in contact with these girls. Hotaru was the soldier of destruction, after all, and even leaving that aside, they seemed like nice people that she would like to get to know. "I also play the violin. I'm having a performance on Tuesday if you would like to come…" She reached in her handbag and withdrew a book of tickets, after tearing three out she handed one to each of the girls. "I'd really like if you all came."
"Thank you! We'll be sure to come, right?" Usagi looked at Hotaru and Chibi-Usa and received eager nods in return. 'Wow! I'm really getting into high culture today,' she thought cheerfully.
"I'm glad." Michiru gave them a sincere smile while thinking, 'I'll just have to make sure Usagi stays away from Haruka…'
Luna was walking slowly along the street where the Tsukino's lived when she was startled to see Usagi standing on the pavement opposite her house with a tall green-haired woman. 'Who's Usagi with? Where's Chibi-Usa?' she thought suspiciously, her natural curiosity getting the better of her as she stealthily approached the pair.
As she got closer, she began to notice some odd things about Usagi. She was carrying herself in a much more graceful and assured manner than she usually did, and seemed a bit taller. Her hair also seemed more silver than blonde. She was conversing in quiet tones with the other woman, which Luna couldn't quite hear.
Once she got close enough to get a really good look at her, Luna was struck by recognition. That wasn't her young Princess, it was her mother! "Queen Serenity!" she gasped, completely forgetting that said monarch had been dead for the past thousand years.
Both figures heard her and whirled round. "Luna!" Neo Queen Serenity exclaimed in surprise.
"I knew this would happen…" Setsuna groaned.
Luna was starting to turn white… Not the easiest of tasks for a black cat. "M-my Queen! Wha— How? Uh…" Then she picked up on the subtle differences that separated the woman before her from the Queen she knew. "Wait a minute! You're not Queen Serenity!" Then she realised that she had just displayed her ability to speak in front of two random women "Meow?" she tried hopefully.
"Nice try, Luna." Neo Queen Serenity said as she stepped over and picked up the shocked feline. "It's me; Usagi!" She smiled brightly at the cat.
Luna took a moment to really study her captor's features, and came to the inescapable conclusion that this was not Usagi. But she looked a hell of a lot like her… only older. "Neo Queen Serenity?" she squeaked.
"Well, yes…" The future monarch said in a slightly miffed tone. "But people are supposed to call me Usagi when I'm in this time period." She shot Setsuna a meaningful look as she set Luna down on the ground.
"What are you doing here?" Luna asked, starting to calm down. This was her chance to find out what Usagi was like when after she became Queen, after all.
"Well, I can't really tell you why we're in the past. As to why I'm 'here' specifically…" At this she pointed at the ground. "…I just wanted to have a look at my old home. So many memories…" She sniffled melodramatically.
"Your majesty…" Setsuna said in a low, nagging tone.
Neo Queen Serenity whirled on Setsuna. "You're doing it again! I'm supposed to be Usagi here, remember. We'd look like right pair of loonies if people heard you talking to me like that!"
"You're talking to a cat," Setsuna said in a pained voice.
"Good point," she conceded before turning to Luna. "Look, we have to go now. Please don't tell anyone you saw us, ne?"
"Yes, your majesty," Luna replied automatically.
Neo Queen Serenity made a pained noise. "Why can't anyone get it right?" she complained as she turned and walked off, Setsuna following close behind.
Minako hated the Sailor V video game. It was just far too disturbing to see all her amazing exploits reduced to a tiny two-dimensional SD Sailor V being killed by an even smaller floating two-dimensional Godzilla clone.
Yet for some bizarre reason, she could never keep herself away from the damn thing. She was terrible at it; it was depressing to see the little boy on the next machine was proving to be a better Sailor V than she was. She derived no enjoyment from it, and always felt worse after playing than she had beforehand, but she just couldn't keep herself away.
She had just lost her last life and was making strangled noises of pain at the injustice of it all when a hand appeared on her shoulder. "You should stick to the driving games, koneko-chan."
"Haruka-san!" She turned around to stare unashamedly at the handsome 'boy' who had come over to talk to her.
"Do you feel up to a rematch?" Haruka offered, thumbing towards the F1 racing arcade cabinet.
"Sure, why not?" Minako grinned challengingly at Haruka. 'This time I'll beat him!' she thought confidently.
The pair sat down in the cabinet and inserted their money. "Don't even think of giving me a handicap," Minako warned him.
"I wouldn't dream of it." Haruka grinned back as the countdown appeared on screen. As soon as the race started, both players hit the accelerator as hard as they could and started driving, but it became clear who the winner would be. Minako was doing far better than last time. "You've gotten a lot better," Haruka said admiringly as Minako's car overtook her on a tight corner.
"I've learned a few tricks," Minako replied as she weaved through a chicane several seconds ahead of Haruka.
The race ended with Minako winning, not as emphatically as Haruka had last time, but still by a significant margin. "Yatta! I won!" Minako exclaimed triumphantly.
"You did well; your technique has improved a lot," Haruka admitted.
"Yes…" Minako got an evil gleam in her eye. "And I think as winner I deserve a prize, don't I?"
"Uh… Sure…" Haruka agreed. 'She probably wants me to buy her a milkshake or something…' she rationalised, even though she was getting a little scared by the predatory look Minako had.
"So you'll take me on a date?" Minako asked hopefully, putting on her most sickeningly kawaii expression.
'Date!? Where did that come from?!' Haruka thought, slightly panic-stricken. "Um… date?" She sounded very nervous.
"Well, you don't have a girlfriend, do you." Minako did not make it a question; she remembered what Michiru had said when she asked her.
"Er…" Haruka tugged at her collar. 'Damn! How can this girl make me so nervous?' she thought. "Okay, How would you like to go to a classical music performance on Tuesday?" she offered.
"That sounds great!" Minako said eagerly. 'Yes! My single days are over!' she thought happily.
'I hope Michiru can scare her off…' Haruka thought about who would be performing on Tuesday, then another scarier thought entered her head. 'I hope Michiru WANTS to scare her off!'
"Bye, Hotaru!" Usagi and Chibi-Usa both waved at Hotaru as she entered her house, waving back at the pair.
"Well, I guess we should head home ourselves now," Usagi said, taking Chibi-Usa's hand in her own.
Chibi-Usa nodded. "I'm glad you and Hotaru liked each other. This has been a great day!" she gushed. In fact, this was probably the most fun she had had since coming to the 20th century.
"I'm really glad you met her. She's a wonderful person," Usagi said sincerely as they walked down the empty streets, the sun just beginning to touch the horizon.
A figure appeared behind them and coughed discretely. "Small Lady…" she said softly.
Both Usagi and Chibi-Usa spun round to be confronted with none other than Meiou Setsuna. "Puu!" Chibi-Usa exclaimed, leaping forward to hug the older woman.
Usagi studied Setsuna intently, before making the mental connection. "Sailor Pluto!"
"I'm glad you remember me, Princess," Setsuna said, causing Usagi to squirm at the use of her title.
"What are you doing here, Puu?" Chibi-Usa asked, looking up at Setsuna with big eyes. 'I hope she doesn't want me to go home… I miss mama and papa, but I want to stay with Usagi…'
"I need you to come with me for a few minutes." She turned her attention to Usagi. "Princess, you will have to remain here until we return."
Usagi and Chibi-Usa both looked uncomfortable with this. Usagi tried to give Chibi-Usa a reassuring look, but failed to pull it off. Chibi-Usa just looked uncertainly between the two.
"Small Lady…" Setsuna said more insistently as Chibi-Usa wavered.
"Oh, just leave her, Setsuna. She obviously doesn't want to leave Usagi alone." A familiar sounding voice could be heard, sounding faintly annoyed. Everyone turned to its source, to see Neo Queen Serenity step out of an alley and onto the street.
"Mama!!" Chibi-Usa exclaimed, rushing over to hug her mother.
"I've missed you, Small Lady." Neo Queen Serenity knelt down to receive her daughter while Usagi was treated to hearing Setsuna swearing up a storm — under her breath, of course — at this development.
"N-Neo Queen Serenity…" Usagi stammered, totally shocked at seeing her future self in the 20th century.
"I would have thought that you, of all people, would just call me Usagi…" Neo Queen Serenity shook her head as she stood up and walked over to Usagi and Setsuna, Chibi-Usa holding onto her hand.
Usagi just stared. She couldn't help but feel a little jealous at the way Chibi-Usa clung onto the Queen. 'Baka! That's her real mother!' she angrily reprimanded herself. She took the opportunity to really take a look at her future self, since last time she saw her, the Queen was encased in crystal.
Usagi wasn't sure how she was supposed to feel. On the one hand, she felt vastly inferior to the beautiful, graceful woman before her. But on the other, she felt rather satisfied with the knowledge that she would one day become that woman.
"Your majesty…" Setsuna hissed. "We discussed this, and decided that you were not to meet with your past self!"
"Royal prerogative." Neo Queen Serenity waved her hand dismissively. "You saw how they didn't want to be separated." She turned her attention to Usagi. "I know what you've just been through…" The Queen looked almost ready to cry as she brought up painful memories. "… and I know you think things can't ever be the same again. I can't tell you what the coming days will bring, but I will say this; please don't ever lose faith in yourself and in the ones you love."
Usagi was stunned; she hadn't imagined that her own petty pains could affect the woman before her. She just seemed so… above it all… yet Usagi could see the truth in her eyes. This woman understood better than anyone in the world ever would. Acting on impulse, she stepped forward and embraced her future self. "Thank you…" she whispered.
Neo Queen Serenity smiled at the gesture. "Just don't give up, ne?" She brushed away a tear from Usagi's cheek.
"I won't," Usagi promised.
Neo Queen Serenity then turned her attention to Chibi-Usa. "Small Lady, your papa and I, as well as everyone in the palace, all miss you. Are you ready to come home?"
Chibi-Usa looked uncertainly between the two women who were both her mother. She had missed her mama and papa terribly, but Usagi really seemed to need her now, and she didn't want to give up the relationship they had only just been able to establish. And she had Hotaru to think of, too. The girl really needed a friend. And so did Chibi-Usa, really. She had no friends her own age in the future. "I… I would like to stay in the 20th century for a bit longer… please." She looked at the ground uncertainly. "You're not mad, are you?"
To her surprise, Neo Queen Serenity swept her into a hug. "I knew you'd say that. And I'm proud of you for making this decision." She let her daughter go and leaned down. "But don't you have something for me first?"
"Um…" Chibi-Usa considered this, then remembered that Ikkuko mama used that tone in certain circumstances. She got on her tip toes and kissed her mother's cheek.
Neo Queen Serenity blinked in surprise before breaking into a fit of giggles. "That's not what I meant, but it was very nice of you! I meant the Ginzuishou."
"Oh!" Chibi-Usa flushed in embarrassment, before she concentrated on herself to bring the crystal forth. "Here you go, mama!" she announced brightly, passing the Ginzuishou to Neo Queen Serenity. "I'm sorry for taking it. I never meant to…"
"I know you didn't, darling." Neo Queen Serenity smiled as the familiar warmth of the Ginzuishou washed over her. She had really missed it.
Setsuna coughed subtly, indicating that she would like to hurry things along.
"Well, I'm going to have to leave before I pollute the timeline even more." Neo Queen Serenity shot a look at Setsuna before continuing. "But before I go, I have something for each of you." A small pink compact and an envelope appeared in her hands. She gave the compact to Chibi-Usa. "Small Lady, you've proven yourself to have the courage of a soldier, so now I'm letting you begin your training. Say the words 'Moon Prism Power, Make Up' to transform, and listen to everything Usagi says. After all…" She winked at Usagi. "…she is the legendary Sailor Moon."
Usagi blushed at this while Chibi-Usa held up her transformation brooch reverently.
"Um… This is just a letter I wrote for you, Usagi…" Neo Queen Serenity said hesitantly as she offered the envelope to Usagi. "It pretty much says what I already told you… only more eloquently." She shrugged apologetically. "I was going to have Small Lady give it to you, since we really weren't supposed to meet."
"Thank you," Usagi said, as she gratefully accepted the envelope.
"Well, you two had better get home. I know mama, papa and even Shingo have missed you, Usagi, and I have a sneaky suspicion that mama will be making her special lemon pie." Neo Queen Serenity smiled brightly at her daughter and past self.
"Are you sure this is okay?" Usagi asked uncertainly.
"Usagi, one day you'll learn a wonderful thing about being Queen. Anything you say is okay, just is. Now get going!" She practically shooed them on their way.
Watching their retreating backs, Setsuna sighed. "I can't believe you altered the past by making your mother bake a pie…"
A sad expression covered Neo Queen Serenity's features as she watched Usagi getting further and further away. "Making sure she gets her favourite dessert is the least I could do… I came so close to warning her…"
"If you had, then the consequences would have been dire," Setsuna said in a grave voice.
Neo Queen Serenity sighed. "I know… Let's go home."
To be continued.
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