Disclaimer: I do not own Sailor Moon. The Gaki is kind of my creation. Thus why me and Artemis argue a lot.
Moon Cats, Fearful Symmetry.
The beginning of the End.
Aretmis prowled through the bowls of the rust ridden ship slowly, watching for traps or ambush at every corner and every new deck plate. He was not just a cat tonight, but a tiger and he hunted.
"Come now Artemis my good friend. You don't want to keep me and the lovely Luna waiting!" The Gaki's arrogant voice poured through the speakers that he passed several times on his way to the cargo hold. The voice caused the Neko-jin to seethe, but also served as a reminder.
He might be a tiger, but he was hunting a monster.
"You know, she thought you'd have to good sense not to come, or at least bring friends. I hadn't the heart to tell her that I'd arranged for those friends to have entertainments so that you'd have to come alone. And I KNEW you wouldn't wait."
Artemis came to one of the heavy doors that lead to the cargo hold of the Venturer and with no hesitation delivered a powerful kick to the rusted steel portal. His powerful legs, infused with both the magic and the power of his rage and shape easily sent the door spinning into the room, bouncing it off the opposite wall a hundred feet away.
"My, my Artemis. Aren't we just a bit temperamental?" The Gaki's voice drew a growl from the moon cat as he stepped through the door. He froze almost immediately.
"Oh, of course, you haven't met my assistant." The Gaki, now sitting in a powered wheelchair, gestured to the young man holding a shotgun to a bound, human form Luna's head. The black haired woman was obviously incapable of any movement, even her tail was tied to the leg of the chair she sat on, but her eyes locked with Artemis's and were filled with fear in spite of her self. "Artemis, you should have waited. Brought help."
"Now Luna, he's the hero. Hero's don't wait for back up." Gaki wheeled slowly into the middle of the cargo hold, his eyes never leaving Artemis. "What do you think; I spared no effort to completely return the feel of our last battle. Please, look around, I must admit to taking some pride in it all."
Artemis did look around, mostly to try to find some way out of the situation he found himself in. He quickly lost track of those thoughts when he recognized the several dozen barrels stacked up in one corner, each and every one marked "Ether".
"I even provided the materials for an explosive conclusion!" The Gaki almost crowed. "What do you think?"
"You're a psycho."
The crippled assassin raised an eyebrow. "You think so? You know, you might be right." He shrugged. "No matter. I just wanted a rematch as close to the first fight as possible. I just figured I'd add rescuing the girl to the mix."
Artemis scoffed. "Like I could really fight you with that guy standing there. I start getting the upper hand and you what? Tell him to shoot her? Coward."
"No reason to call names Artemis." The Gaki growled, pushing a button on his chair. Artemis and Luna both gasped as the metal of the chair shifted and moved, sealing the Gaki in a suit of armor. The wheels all expelled as the assassin stood. "I wanted a real fight between equals, my old friend." The last word came out as an insult, or a curse. "And that's what we'll have. I just wanted to grantee you'd take it seriously. So first!"
He pushed another button, now on his arm, and a previously unnoticed plasma screen started displaying time, three minutes ticking down by the second. "When that hits zero, the c-4 I sealed inside those ether containers will detonate, taking us with them. As for my compatriot…"
The Gaki pointed, and an explosive sound proceeded the blossoming of blood across the startled mans chest. Gaki dropped the pistol he'd been holding. "That was easily taken care of. Now, shall we?"
Artemis easily shook of his horror at the psycho's action. "Let's!"
They moved together in a snarl of steel and rage.
Luna could only look on in horror. The mecha-suit the Gaki wore had claws snap out of the forearms, giving him a massive reach, and weapon, advantage on the now shorter neko-jin. She watched the initial swipes with a scream only to gasp in relief as Artemis managed to hop over the blades, and indeed the assassins head, at the last second. He landed deftly, half way across the cargo bay, but no closer to Luna.
"Got yourself a new toy, did you Gaki? I can't say I'm impressed, since CAPPA and the Senshi is taking out the rest of them with ease."
"Well of course they are Artemis." Unlike the snarls from the white Mao's mouth, the Gaki's tone was almost conversational. "Their piloted by the greediest and most incompetent idiots I could find. I wanted a distraction, not total destruction. That I'll reserve for myself, when you are dead!" The Gaki jerked his left arm forward and across suddenly, and a spinning blade, attacked by a thin wire, flew off the suits wrist, and flew towards the surprised cat twenty feet away. Artemis dodged, but the blade still nicked him in the shoulder.
The cat refused to surrender the offensive completely however. He grabbed a heavy pipe, probably left from the work to raise the ship, and brought it down on the cable leading to the Gaki's suit. The blade and its tether wrapped around the steel pipe allowing Artemis to pull savagely on Gaki's arm.
The armored man cried out as he flew forward and right into the waiting white fist of the angry moon cat. Steel crumpled and the Gaki flew back the way he came.
Artemis wasn't left unscathed, and clutched his now broken hand to his chest. The assassin laughed as he pulled off the helmet of his armor, unharmed other then a slight cut from rended metal. "I'm wearing armor, cat. Hitting with bear knuckles is not the best idea."
"So I noticed."
Luna turned her attention away from the fight and to her bonds. She couldn't shift, the most obvious answer, thanks to the collar the Gaki had "Gifted" her with. Its elastic band was connected to two sensors and if the size of her neck changed more then what simple movement would explain those three minutes would turn to three seconds. "Just enough time," The Gaki said "to realize our fate, pretty Luna."
Fortunately for her she had chosen to listen to Usagi, a practice she generally didn't follow. The girl had taken her, in human form, to her friend Naru's family business, a small jewelry store, and convinced her to buy a small charm bracelet. The bracelet, which Luna had sworn was silly and unsubtle, had the symbols for all nine principle planets of the solar system hanging from it, along with the crescent moon, and had been called the "Senshi Special" by the cheerful redhead across the counter. It was the moon that she was once again most interested in.
The light metal link holding it to the bracelet was easy to break, and the tips of the charm were very sharp. Luna knew from experience, she'd managed to break one the first day she'd owned it, and the moon had been a pain in her wrist on several occasions. A comment she enjoyed making to Usagi every time the bubbly teen insisted she wear it. That was it's very saving grace.
Breaking it free, she dug the point of the moon into the bonds holding her wrists. The rope was strong, but of a type that Luna knew would fray easily from its own ends and she used it to her advantage, quickly freeing her wrists. She almost moved them in front of herself without thinking when the scream of tortured steel drew her eyes back to the fight.
Aretmis had somehow managed to break off one of the Gaki's set of claws with a heavy chain, but had paid for it by receiving his own punch to the face. The blood flowed freely from his nose, staining his white fur, but the neko-jin warrior either didn't notice or didn't care, he jumped at his opponent with a snarl like a tiger.
"Note to self, never mention to Artemis that that sounded sexy." Luna muttered softly to herself, as she moved her hands down to her ankles, having confirmed that both men were far to busy to notice her.
She tried to ignore the clock which was already down to one and a half minutes to detonation.
Artemis whipped the blood from his eyes, glaring down at the snarling Gaki from his perch on several hundred gallons of Ether. "What, afraid to get close?"
The Gaki, standing well back from the explosive pile, just saluted. "A crippled body doesn't equate to a crippled mind, cat-boy."
"Of course not." Artemis dove off the pile, grabbing one barrel in the jump and throwing it at the Gaki ahead of him. The assassin dove forward, just as Artemis had guessed from the suits movements up to then, right in a prime position for the white tiger-man to pounce onto his back, driving a fist into the Gaki's face. They both toppled to the floor as Artemis delivered a second, then a third blow to his enemy. "That's for Luna, that's for Usagi, that's for Shimka…." He reared back and unsheathed his own claws. "And this you worthless bastard is VERY MUCH FOR ME!"
"Thanks, you can keep it." Gaki snarled, and triggered the surprise he'd saved just for this occurrence. Thousands of volts poured through the suit and into Artemis, causing him to shudder, and then drop to the ground next to the Gaki.
The Assassin laughed, and stood... lifting a foot above the barely conscious cat mans neck. "It was fun Artemis, but I have a date with your girlfriend." He laughed and started to bring his foot down.
An ear shattering explosion followed by excruciating pain caused him to stumble forward at the last moment and miss.
He turned at the sound of a shot gun being ratcheted, gasping for breath. He found Luna returning the shotgun to her shoulder. "I really have to thank Captain Hibuki for insisting I take those lessons at the range." Was all the black haired woman said, before pulling the trigger again.
Artemis slowly rose back to his knees, staring down at the bleeding body of the Gaki. He turned and looked at Luna, smiling in spite of the pain. "Thanks, I owe you one."
"No, I think that's about a thousand and one. We have a minute, so FINISH RESCUING THE MAIDEN ALREADY!"
"No problem." He chuckled, rising and grabbing her waist. Then the Gaki laughed again.
"Sorry hero…" He spit out, along with blood. "No one gets out of here alive. Not even you." He laughed his last breath, as his hand closed in a very distinctive way.
Artemis saw the screen switch from forty eight seconds to three in horror. Then he pulled Luna tight. Luna screamed.
Then the world filled with flame.
"Are you sure their here?" Sailor Moon demanded, just as the police car she and Mercury were riding in pulled up to the dock of the ship Venturer.
"Yes. It's the only place." Hibuki said, slamming the brakes and jerking open his door, the two senshi and Shimika doing the same as they dove out of the car. Their plan was to help Artemis with the Gaki.
They made it three steps before the middle of the ship erupted into flame for the second time in as many years.
"Oh my god! LUNA! ARTEMIS" Usagi Tsukino screamed. Horror filling her face. Those with her watched in equal horror as the ship sunk beneath the waves.
Strangely, she was the only one without tears in her eyes. She thought to herself how odd that maturity, what Luna always harped about, only seemed to get there when her mentor was gone.
That's why she was the only one to see the silver and gold orb bob to the surface of the waves, and the first to see what it contained as it popped, and her advisor and Artemis fell to the waves, Artemis out cold and Luna crying for help.
"LUNA!" She cried again, diving into the water to help her pull the larger cat person to shore.
AN: Now be honest, did any of you think Luna would be satisfied just being rescued? She's the mentor for a bunch of teenaged GIRL super hero's for crying out loud! Oh, but for an added bonus…..
Moon cats, Fearful Symmetry
Artemis looked up as the door to the holding cells opened. Ever since regaining consciousness and Mamoru's statement of "he's okay" he'd been locked in the otherwise unused cells in CAPPA HQ's basement. This to Hibuki's statement of "I'll deal with you later."
The man himself had finally come to visit, glaring through the old fashioned, criss-crossed bars of mild steel at his feline 'friend'.
"Not that I'm sure it matters to you Artemis, but we've managed to decommission all of the Gaki's mecha. A few people were injured, some badly, but no one died. We were lucky, and I could have used you out there, instead of acting like an idiot."
"What did you expect me to do? Luna was in danger, and you weren't going to help her!" Artemis yelled, standing up and stepping to the bars with a growl.
Hibuki struck the bars, right in front of Artemis's face, with the palm of his hand, startling the now white haired man into stepping back. "Did you really think I'd abandon one of my people?" Hibuki snarled. "We all knew the risks coming in to this organization. You, me and Luna. She knew she might have to wait, but you just couldn't."
Hibuki began to pace, or prowl back and forth. Artemis thought idly that he looked more like the caged cat in this situation. "Tell me Artemis, what if I had needed another body out there. What if I, or Shimaka, or god help us Usagi was hurt because there wasn't a heroic 'Neko-jin' out there to save her. We KNEW the Gaki would wait for you, he was obvious in how he had set this up that was what he wanted. We could have gone in as a team. We've run rescue scenarios how many times?"
He didn't give Artemis the time to answer. "You could have gotten people, yourself and Luna killed, with your little stunt. What do you have to say for yourself?"
Artemis sputtered. He tried to think of justifications, of defenses… but he couldn't. He slumped "I'm sorry."
"You're sorry? Tell me kitty cat, you learn ANYTHING from this? You planning to do this again?"
"Yes! I mean No!" Artemis growled and tugged at his long hair. "Yes I learned something. I was an idiot alright! Of course I'm not going to do this again! It's a miracle we survived this time!"
"Good, he can be taught!" Hibuki growled, unlocking the door with a key. "Go home. I don't want to look at you." The man said, and then walked out of view, and out the door.
Artemis sighed and pushed the cell door open. He reached the holding room door before looking up, and took a step back.
His badge was driven into the wood, like he had done in Hibuki's office with a note.
"Be in at Nine AM. You're doing the paperwork for this mess." Signed Captain Ichiro Hibuki.
"Yes sir." Artemis whispered.
The Gaki gasped, and took a moment to marvel that he was able to gasp.
"Welcome back Mr. Gaki." The cold voice of a younger man inspired the assassin to open his eyes and focus them on the speaker. "My name is Akuma Hagisaki. I and my employer are who you have to thank for your survival.
The Gaki tried to speak, but discovered he couldn't. "I'm sorry, but I am forced to inform you that one of the balls from the shot gun blast ripped through your upper spinal column. You have no voluntary control over your body beyond your eyelids and eyes. However, we'd like to fix that." The other speaker came into view, another younger man, who seemed more amused the sympathetic by the assassin's condition. "Is that a yes I see in your eyes?"
"Of course it is Adrian. Stop tormenting the man."
"Of course Akuma. Well then, we shall. I should warn you, this is going to sting." He chuckled, holding up a vial. The Gaki managed to catch the label, Daemonite v55-3 test two, before the syringe left his field of vision. Then he felt a pinch, and it was like someone poured melted copper into his veins.
Two hours later he regained the use of his voice, and began to scream.