Warrior of Hope

Chapter 6: The Dawn of Darkness

"Wake up, Hikari," Queen Serenity whispered, gently shaking her

daughter. "You've got a big day ahead of you."

Hikari sat up, arching her back as she let out a huge yawn.

"Cover your mouth when you yawn, young lady," Queen Serenity

reproved her.

"Sorry, mom. I thought it'd be okay this early," Hikari said, giving

her mother puppy dog eyes. "It feels really good when you first

wake up."

"I'll let it slide, since it's your birthday, but you have to remember

that you never know who's watching. Never forget, now that you're

thirteen-years-old, you're an official representative of the moon. It

may not be fair, but we're held to a higher standard than others."

"Yes, mother. I'll try to do my best." Hikari told her, making sure

she made eye contact.

"Yes, my little princess," Queen Serenity said, ruffling Hikari's hair,

"I know you will."

Hikari blew some hair away from her eyes. "So where's Luna?

She's usually the one waking me up."

"I decided to give her a break. 354 days a year is more than

enough to have earned it," Serenity chided. "Besides, it gave me a

chance to get out of early morning court for a little while."

"Well, it's nice to see you alone for once," Hikari said, hugging her

mother.

"You too," Queen Serenity said, holding Hikari and gently rubbing

her back. "Unfortunately, though, I have to get back pretty soon.

I'm not sure if even Artemis will be able to stave off the other royalty

for too long."

Hikari looked out her room, noticing the position of the earth. "It's

already 8 o'clock?!"

At a nod of assent, Hikari jumped out of bed, her nightgown

fluttering behind her as she rushed around the room. "There's

plenty of time before the ceremony starts," Serenity told Hikari, a

twinkle in her eye.

"Mom, I only have a couple of hours before it actually starts!! The

most important moment in my life and I'm going to be late," she

growled, clutching at various accessories and articles of clothing.



"I see that I can leave you to your own devices for now," Serenity

said, brushing off her dress.

"Bye, mom. Love you," Hikari said as she ran out the door.

She started to run down the hall, but noticed several servants and

minor politicians running around, reminding her why she normally

woke up so early in the morning. After returning several curtsies

with her own, she finally made it to the royal baths. *It's a good

thing this side of the palace is segregated from any males,* she

thought, blushing. *I don't know whether I could live this down,

otherwise.*

Upon entry to the bathing room, Hikari paused to appreciate its

beauty, having rarely been able to use it before her entry into

adulthood.

Like most of the palace, the predominant color was white. The

floors and walls were made of white marble, while the ceiling was

made out a pure crystal, giving way to the stars and distant sun.

In the center of the room was the main bath, a warm pool that was

as big as most pools she'd seen. The water itself was constantly

being filtered, then recycled back through the mouths of four golden

unicorns, each one rearing up in a pose that befitted their royal

nature.

Hikari went to the racks of oils and soaps that lined the pool, trying

to find one that would be soft, yet smell good. Finding several lilac

smelling oils, she stripped down and entered the bath.

Her skin tingled as she entered the cool water. The further she got,

the deeper and warmer the bath got. Her worries seemed to

dissipate from her as she crouched down, her hair floating around

her.

Sighing, she stood up and proceeded to wash herself, taking extra

care with her long, golden hair, which was now long enough to

reach the ground if it wasn't put up.

Eventually, her mind started to drift to the day ahead of her and she

felt a shiver of excitement run down her spine. She'd waited so

long for this moment!!!

With her coming of age she'd finally be able to wear her hair in a

semblance of the royal tresses courted by her mother. She would

finally be able to look and act somewhat like a princess, but that

was the least of wheat was to happen.

Today she would meet the girls who were to be her honor guard. A

group of young women, destined to become her advisors and

closest friends, just as the current leaders of the planets were for

her mother.

She'd heard various things about each princess, but people

generally kept their mouths closed in her presence. Today would

be the first time she'd even get a glimpse of any of them. *That will

change soon enough,* she thought, a smile upon her face.

Not only that, but she was now old enough to start learning magic

formally. She'd picked up some minor spells from books in the

library, but also knew that she wouldn't get much further without

help from others.

Sighing with contentment, Hikari got out of the bath, a small gust of

wind chilling her body. *I'll have to remind mother to put another

warming enchantment on this room,* she thought, moving towards

a crystal spire a that was a few feet off to the side. Reaching up,

she ran her hand across one of its slanted sides, activating its

resident spell.

Her hair fluttered around her as she was surrounded by a warm

wind. Despite the gentle caress which the wind gave, the tension

she was starting to feel continued to escalate. There were so many

things that could go wrong with this morning. What if one of the

other girls didn't like her? What if she stumbled during the

ceremony? What if she didn't have a strong propensity towards

magic?

Mind aflutter with doubts, she lost track of how much time passed,

until she felt...something. Her eyes narrowed as she scanned the

room. Someone was here. Someone was in the royal bath

chamber.

Hikari drew herself up, presenting as much dignity as she could

while she was still naked. "Whoever you are, show yourself," she

demanded, her gaze continuing to wander the room.

Feeling something behind her, she whirled around and a figure

emerged from the corner of the room.

Hikari's mind started to nag her, as the figure's she took form.

Shadows didn't so much disappear, as draw inward, leaving a girl

with red hair, who was slightly shorter than herself. She was

dressed in a black form fitting outfit that covered everything but her

eyes and hair, which fell down her back in a ponytail.

"Mokusei?" Hikari asked, putting a name to some of the things

she'd heard about the princess of Jupiter.

As Mokusei continued her walk, she removed her mask, revealing a

smirk. "So, I see the moon princess has some ability in her after

all," Mokusei said, placing a fist against her chest and bowing

slightly.

"And I see that the fables about you aren't completely false," Hikari

said, drawing to more formal tones. "Especially those which

recount acts of impropriety."

"Oooo, touché, Princess," Mokusei responded, drawing up from her

bow. Hikari was surprised to note a genuine smile on Mokusei's

face. "I think I'll enjoy working with you," she said, a twinkle in her

eye.

"See you in a while," Mokusei's voice said, coming from behind

Hikari. Turning around, she couldn't find anything but an empty

bath. An echo of light laughter seemed to come from all around,

causing her to twirl back towards Mokusei, but found the area

where she stood empty.

Hikari shook her head slightly. Was she being mocked? If it wasn't

for Mokusei's smile she would have sworn so. As was...

Walking towards her clothes, Hikari tried to push all other thoughts

aside, only partially succeeding. Her mind still wandered, but was

focused enough to allow for her to dress herself. Throwing her old

clothes on the floor next to the door, muttered "randorii" as she

walked out, causing them to sink into the floor.

The hallway was bustling with people who were making

preparations for the ceremony and the feast, which was to follow.

Curtsies and calls of "Good morning, your highness" seemed to

permeate from all around. Reluctantly, she set about nodding in

acknowledgement, instead of her regular curtsy. She hated to set

herself so high above others, but there wasn't much choice. Time

was passing much too quickly.

Returning to her room, she centered herself on a large, flat crystal

that was hanging on an otherwise empty wall. Tapping it twice in

rapid succession turned it into a reflective surface. She carefully

divided her hair in two, gathering one side until it reached slightly

above her temple. Grabbing a golden rubber band, she formed

part of it into a round ball and let the rest fall to the floor. Doing the

same with her other side, she ended up with a slightly lopsided

hairdo. *Is all this really worth it?* she asked herself as she

endeavored to fix her hair. Ten minutes later she was rewarded

well for her efforts.

Looking in the mirror she saw a young woman who seemed to

exude warmth and confidence. Her dress flared around her,

dropping from a fringe around the top of her arms. Its whiteness

was so bright it fairly glowed, offsetting the golden tresses of her

hair nicely. *I actually look like a princess for once,* she thought, a

small smile curling the corners of her lips.

The door to her room slid open, letting Luna in. "You look lovely,

Princess, but we have to get going. WE need to make sure you're

in place with plenty of time left."

"Yes, Luna. I think I'm as ready as I'll ever be, anyway," she said,

smiling down at Luna.

Luna headed out of the room, curbing towards the throne room,

closely followed by Hikari.

Noticing how empty the hallways were, Hikari's heart started to

beat faster. Could it be that everyone was waiting for the

ceremonies to begin? Everyone?!

They stopped in front of the doors to the throne room. "Are you

ready?" Luna asked her. Hikari turned her gaze to the massive

doors, which legend said were impervious to everything but the

most powerful of magics.

Hikari nodded her head, taking a step towards the doors. "Not so

fast, Hikari," she heard from her side. "This calls for a bit more than

just strutting in unannounced."

Hikari looked down, rather confused. She'd never heard of such a

requirement. Besides, Luna's voice was too tiny to carry so far.

"Just remember, Princess. You are who you are. Always be proud

of yourself and your accomplishments," Luna admonished. "I pray

that they may guide you towards a wise and loving leadership."

With this said, Luna did a back flip, leaving a golden after image

behind her. The image grew, surrounding Luna and somehow

melding in with her. Expanding her. The glow continued to expand

and grow brighter until all traces of Luna vanished.

A couple of seconds later, the glare began to dim, revealing a

young woman in her 20's standing before Hikari. She stood there

smiling at the princess, long, black curls falling down her back. She

wore a beautiful golden dress that would be the envy of many a girl,

but, despite all this, her eyes were what attracted Hikari's attention,

being the same gorgeous blue she'd stared down to all her life.

"Luna?" Hikari asked.

"Yes, Princess, it's me. I don't shape shift very often, since it's so

uncomfortable, but I figured today was a worthy cause," she said,

giving a slight shrug of her shoulders.

Hikari gave Luna a gentle embrace, which Luna awkwardly

returned. "Well, that's enough of this, Princess. We don't want to

keep your audience waiting, do we?" That said, Luna released

Hikari and walked towards the doors. Placing a hand gently upon

the doors, they slid open, seemingly without effort, revealing a

crowd that completely filled the stadium like throne room. Her heart

almost stopped as she looked around. This was her mom's idea of

a small crowd of friends and family? There had to be thousands, if

not more, in here.

"I present unto you her highness, Princess Hikari, heir to the throne

of the Moon and candidate supreme for the leadership of the

Senshi, protectors of the galaxy," Luna called from behind her.

Hikari took an involuntary step backward, as sword met sword

above her head. The Royal Guard had formed a rather imposing

walkway, leading up to the dais. Looking to the side she saw her

personal guard, Thomas, give her a wink.

*I can do this,* she repeated to herself, forming a mantra. Her body

seemed to straighten of its own accord, long hours of practice

kicking in. Noticing her mother standing on the dais, she made her

way up to the throne with unfaltering steps, her eyes never leaving

those of her mother's.

Hikari stopped before her mother, making a graceful curtsy, which

was returned by a slight curtsy from the Queen. Thunderous

applause broke out throughout the room. Hikari blushed as she

looked at her mother, who motioned for her to turn around. The

crowd quieted down, waiting for the Queen to speak.

Serenity placed her hands gently upon the shoulders of her

daughter. "Friends and family. People of the moon," she said

addressing the crowd, then turning to a large, flat crystal that was

floating in the air, raising her voice louder yet, "and people of the

galaxy, I present to you Hikari Haeru Serenity, future queen of the

galaxy and candidate for the leadership of the Sailor Senshi."

Thunder filled the room as applause once again broke out. Hikari

lifted her head to view the crystal, which was flashing pictures of

large crowds found throughout the galaxy. Her stomach lurched,

threatening to lose its contents.

After what seemed like an eternity, the applause finally died down

to a more manageable level. "At this time, the moment of her

thirteenth birthday, I place her before you for approval in both roles

already mentioned: prime candidate as future queen of the galaxy

and leadership of the Sailor Senshi, protectors of the galaxy."

"If approved, Princess Hikari will immediately undergo training, both

in leadership for the galaxy in times of peace, and in tactics of war

should such dire circumstances come about."

Murmurs rose around the room. They'd never heard the speech

live before, thanks to the long life of the royal line, but they knew

this broke the standard practices of tradition.

"Peace, my children," Queen Serenity said, holding up a hand. "I

say this as a reminder as to what role the Senshi play for us all.

We have been fairly peaceful for the past millennium, but was it

always so? Our history tells us that was not the case. We must

have protection from outside forces in case we should be attacked

once again," she stated, her voice starting to crescendo. "If such

ever happens again we must stand together! We must be strong,

and for that we need strong leadership!!"

The auditorium was filled with shouts of support. Throughout the

crowd in the auditorium, as well as those on other planets, swords

and weapons were raised with voices turned upwards in praise.

Another aspect hit home with Hikari. Could she really do what her

mother was asking of her? Was she capable of protecting anyone,

let alone a city, a world, a galaxy?!?!

Queen Serenity once again raised her right hand, leaving her left

arm wrapped around her daughter's shoulder, knowing the support

she'd need. "This much responsibility cannot be taken lightly by my

daughter, or yourselves," Queen Serenity started once things had

died down. "You must trust Princess Hikari as much as you have

myself in the past. Decisions have been made to the benefit of all,

even though such is not always seen at the time of making such

decisions. She must have your support, just as much as she

supports you. You must have faith in her as much as I know she

has faith in this galaxy."

*How could I ever live up to such expectations?* Hikari asked

herself. *I can't do more than a few simple spells and even those

take most of my concentration. How will I ever be able to handle

the power of the Queen?*

"I pledge to you here and now that Princess Hikari is worthy of such

a load. She is quick of mind, spirit, and body, but her heart

surpasses all. She would lay her life before turning her back on

any of you. This I pledge."

Hikari lifted her head at her mother's statement. She'd never

known her mother to be anything besides straight forward, neither

bending the truth, nor offering a biased opinion, even to her. Was it

possible? Could she be worthy of such a challenge? If her mother

thought so, surely that was the case.

Hikari stared out into the faces of thousands, each looking back to

her. Her back straightened as her shoulders snapped backwards.

She knew what must be done.

"I, Hikari Haeru Serenity, hereby pledge to you, citizens of the

galaxy over that I will give myself wholly to you, my leadership and

protection. I pledge to place your needs above my own, living my

life for you," she raised her hand upward, as if trying to grasp

something. "This I swear," she shouted, light flooding into her

hand, taking definition.

The crowd grew silent at the sight they were seeing. What was

happening?

Within moments the light coalesced into the form of the Ginzuishou,

royal heirloom of power, which flashed a strong white light, filling

the chambers with its soft music.

The last thing Hikari could remember before passing out from

exhaustion was an overwhelming roar, louder than any of the

previous ones.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Hikari woke up rather drowsily, still in her dress from the ceremony.

She pulled it off and got into one of her favorite summer dresses,

making sure she was at least somewhat presentable before she

left.

Leaving her room, she walked down the darkened hallway. It must

have been fairly late in the evening for all of the lights to be out.

How long did she sleep?

She tiptoed to her mother's room as quietly as possible, hoping not

to wake up any of the other court members or servants whose

chambers were along the way. Coming to the door, she was about

to knock when she heard voices within. She didn't know why, but

she felt a desperate need to hear what was going on inside, so she

found herself putting her ear up to the door.

Hikari heard weeping inside, along with her mother's voice, trying to

comfort another.

"I'm so, so sorry," the foreign voice whispered, husky from crying

for so long. "I tried. I really did. You know that don't you?"

"Yes, Beryl-chan, I know," her mothers voice responded, sounding

much the same as when she comforted Hikari in the past. "I know

you tried, but there was nothing you could do. Is it your fault that

you can't control genetics? Is it your fault that nobody, myself

included can control reproduction with magic? It is too...wild. I

know there is a reason, I just don't know what it necessarily is yet."

Hikari's mind reeled at the implications. All the rumors were true?

Beryl wasn't able to bear a daughter to take over her Senshi

lineage?

Beryl sniffed once more, then seemed to growl at her mother. "So

that's it, is it? You think I'm not worthy of having a child to take

over my spot in the line?!"

Hikari heard her mother's light laughter fill the air. "There's the

Beryl-chan I know." There was a pause of what felt like several

minutes to Hikari, which was ended by a sigh.

"What am I going to do, Serenity-san?" Beryll asked.

"Oh, we're back to being formal, are we?" Queen Serenity asked.

"After all we've been through?"

"True enough...Hiki-chan. I just don't know what I should do.

Honor and tradition demand something of me that I can't provide.

What are we...what am I going to do?"

"Well, has there ever been a written ac..."

Hikari jumped when she felt a tap on her shoulder. Turning around,

she saw Mokusei just inches from her, still wrapped in her ninja

garb.

"What was that?" Hikari heard Beryl ask from inside the royal

bedchambers.

Mokusei grabbed her wrist and pulled her into a shadowy corner,

muttering "kageboushi". Hikari felt an almost palpable wave of cold

dampness pass over her as she was surrounded by shadows.

"What are you..." she began, but was stopped when a hand was

placed over her mouth.

"They come," Mokusei whispered into her ear, barely audible to

even herself.

The door opened revealing both Beryl and Serenity. Beryl looked

around for several moments, coming dangerously close to where

they were hiding. "I guess it must have been my imagination."

"I'm sure you're quite tired. The mind can play tricks when you

don't get enough rest, Beryl-chan. Maybe you should go get some

more sleep while you can," Queen Serenity suggested. "I promise

tomorrow will be quite satisfactory."

"I don't see how that's possible, Hiki-chan," Beryl said, yawning

widely. "However, you might be right about the sleep. Good night,

my Queen." Beryl curtsied to Serenity, who returned it the same,

before leaving for her guest chambers.

Queen Serenity remained at the door for several moments longer,

until she started talking to herself. "It might be a good idea for all of

us to get some sleep." She let out a yawn of her own, then turned

to the corner they were hiding in and winked before entering her

room, closing the door behind her.

Hikari felt a warm rush flow back into her limbs and became quite

aware of how close she was being held by this semi-stranger.

She bound out of the corner, turning to face the princess of Jupiter.

"You should be more careful, your Highness," Mokusei said, with

the same smirk she'd worn early that morning. "At least until you

have more practice. Until then..."

Mokusei leaned against the wall, seeming to shrink into the shadow

that it provided. Knowing something of how it worked, Hikari

walked toward the wall and felt around. All she met with was cold

marble.

Hikari sighed. What a day this had turned out to be and tomorrow

promised to be more of the same.

She felt a presence shadowing her as she returned to her room, but

she now had an idea of what, or who, it was.

And she was reassured.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Hikari woke up to a light thud on her face, as Luna head-butted her.

"Wake up, Princess. It's going to be another long day for you."

She groaned a little before rising out bed and got herself ready on

autopilot. Today promised to be quite interesting. She would finally

meet all the other Senshi. Well, maybe not quite all, but at least the

ones that were destined to be her closest friends and advisors.

Were they going to be anything like the current system rulers? She

could only hope for as much.

"Good enough, Hikari-chan. You don't need to be quite as

'presentable' today as yesterday. Your mother decided that today's

session would be private, since it didn't require any of the citizens'

input," Luna admonished. "True, it will be recorded in case any

who want proof of the oaths taken, but I doubt very many..."

Hikari nodded, but continued to mess with her hair, making sure it

was perfect. "You do realize that this will be viewed by billions of

people, bare minimum, don't you Luna?" she asked, turning

towards her advisor.

Luna tried not to let her sadness show. She'd hoped the princess

wouldn't grow up so quickly.

Luna jumped when she felt a light kiss on her forward forehead.

"Thank you, Luna-chan," Usagi told her, lightly rubbing behind her

ear. "I'll be fine, you go on ahead and catch up with Artemis and

my mom."

Luna looked up and gave her pupil a soft smile before exiting the

room.

Hikari spent several more minutes making herself presentable.

Picking out the right dress was of prime concern. It couldn't be the

same one as the night before, but still needed to be somewhat

formal. Searching through her wardrobe she came across a

beautifully flowing green and black dress, which drew her attention

to it. She wondered why she'd never seen it before, but shrugged it

off. She did have more clothes than she could possibly remember,

after all.

*Not bad. Not bad at all,* she thought, inspecting herself in one of

her mirrors. *The green clashes with my hair a little, but Mom

should be able to modify that before the ceremony starts.*

Smiling, she left for the kitchen, grabbing a pastry there before

moving on to the throne room.

She sighed as she noted how more and more people tended to

curtsy in her presence now. In order to be more prepared, she

gulped her pastry down, barely even registering its sweetness.

Once again she stood before the massive doors, but it was different

this time around. There were no longer any doubts after yesterday.

"Open," she commanded, her palm pointing towards the doors.

They opened soundlessly before her, revealing a very different

scene then yesterday.

There were scattered groups of woman and men near the throne.

As she drew closer she was able to make out the individual

features of the different royal families: Mercury somewhat

withdrawn, yet sought out by others for her intellectual prowess.

Mars laughing heartily at a joke told nearby, never afraid to be

herself. Venus gliding between groups, eager to please all. Then,

Jupiter...who was nowhere to be seen. Then again, she didn't

really expect anything else from Jupiter.

All eyes turned to her and she wished she could talk to them,

getting to know them all. She knew there would be time, but it was

so hard to be patient, especially with the time drawing so near.

However, she needed to get some preparations out of the way first.

"Good-morning, my little Princess," Queen Serenity said, smiling at

her child.

Hikari blushed, embarrassed that her mother had used such a term

of endearment in front of everybody. However, she knew there was

nothing to be done about it, so she forced a smile and returned the

greeting before tugging on Queen Serenity's sleeve, causing her to

lower her head.

After a brief whisper, Queen Serenity nodded and cupped her

hand, closing her eyes. Her hands filled briefly with a very faint

white light before shooting out to strike Hikari, whose clothes

became outlined with a glow, white replacing the former green.

Smiling at the effect, Hikari nodded in approval. "I'm ready anytime

you are, Mother."

Queen Serenity returned her smile. "Then let us begin," she said,

her hands seeming to cup an invisible wand. The space in

between filled with flashing patches of light, eventually forming the

royal scepter, topped with the Ginzuishou. Once formed, she

tapped it once against the ground, causing several tiny crystals to

detach from the ceiling and form a perimeter around the throne.

At this signal of beginning the various Kings stepped back,

deferring to their wives and daughters.

"We gather here, under the light which the Ginzuishou sheds, in

order to establish the birth of a new era. Change is inevitable, but

we can learn from the past and, by so doing, can hope to create a

brighter future. This is the whole purpose behind having the

Senshi. They are the inner guard for goodness. They weed out the

negative while leaving what is best for everyone," Queen Serenity

said, eyes pointing straight forward.

"The next generation shows great promise. I am proud of the

current ruling houses of the galaxy, but I do have high hopes for the

upcoming generation. Although they are still quite young, they

have shown discernment beyond their years."

"Tonight we see the ritual oaths that bond the Senshi together.

They are very similar to wedding vows and come with most of the

same responsibilities involved with such, as you will see by the

oaths taken. Each has been written by the individual members of

the group and has not been previously viewed by any, but I'm

positive the core will be the same. They will show their obligations

to each other and to the galaxy which they serve."

"Without further ado, let me introduce you, once again, to my

daughter, Princess Hikari Haeru Serenity, acting leader of the new

generation," Queen Serenity finished, beckoning her daughter to

step to the front of the throne.

Hikari curtsied gracefully to her mother, then proceeded to her

appointed spot before the throne.

"Citizens, I come before you humbled. I am young and untried, but

have been given great responsibility. Thank you for the chance to

prove myself worthy and I promise to do so," Hikari started, eyes

forward, the only sign of discomfort being a slight reddening of her

face.

"I admit to nervousness during this time. I am about to start on a

journey of magical, physical, and intellectual training very different

from any I've seen before and hope to do my best. In the

meantime, I'm meeting the rest of the Senshi for the first time with

hopes of becoming fast friends."

Drawing the eye of each Senshi in turn, Hikari continued her

speech. "I promise each of you my support and love. I will stand

with you through the good times and will offer a supporting shoulder

during the bad. I will try to protect you to the best of my ability and

hope only that you do so for the various citizens of this galaxy."

Her gaze changed, meeting one of the crystals that slowly spun

overhead. "To the citizens I give a similar promise. I know that

most I will not be able to meet individually, but I promise that I will

offer you everything I have. The years of study I'm about to put

ahead are not for my own benefit, but in the hopes that I may be

able to better help you. I pledge to give my life to this promise, now

and forever."

She gave a brief curtsy, signaling that she was done. A brief bout

of clapping came, causing Hikari to smile. Today was so different

from yesterday that it was unbelievable. The theme had stayed the

same, but the atmosphere was that much more relaxed. Despite

everyone being a stranger, she felt she was among friends."

Each Senshi ended up making very similar vows, promising to

uphold each other, while standing behind their princess and

protecting the galaxy.

Once everyone was done, there was an awkward silence until the

Queen stepped forward. "As I'm sure most of you know, there are

usually six Senshi who would take their oaths today," At this

declaration, all the royal families' eyes automatically sought Beryl's

eyes, only to notice a tear falling while she whispered about how

sorry she was. "However, fate has deemed otherwise this time

around. For the first time in millennia, there is no female child to

take over the calling as Senshi of the Earth."

"Does this mean that there is unworthiness in the current resident

of the position?" she asked. Silence prevailed before she broke it,

"No, it does not!!" Serenity's voice proclaimed, booming throughout

the throne room. "It does, however, leave a vacancy which must be

filled."

"Up until now our society has been strictly matriarchal, at least as

far as the rulers of our system are concerned. As I've noted before,

this ceremony denotes change and it is under such that I call for a

reform. From here on out, if there is no worthy female child to be

presented as heir, a worthy male heir may step forward to proclaim

his right for inheritance."

A stunned silence filled the room. Nobody had ever done anything

like it before, but it was within the Queen's power. In fact, very little

was outside her power.

The silence continued for another few seconds, before Queen

Serenity gave a small cough. "I believe that's your cue to step

forward, Prince Shinu."

A boy of similar age as the Senshi stepped forward, resplendent in

a black uniform and cape. He fidgeted slightly before bowing to

Princess Hikari, then turning to face the crystals overhead.

"I..." he said in a hesitant voice, gulping audibly. "I don't know

exactly what to say. I could not be more surprised by what has

happened here. I never expected to receive such a...blessing. I

promise that I will give it my all, though, protecting the princess and

her friends as best I can," he finished, giving another awkward bow.

Returning to his mother, Hikari noticed that Beryl was crying all the

more fiercely now, as she laid a hand on her son's shoulder.

"The time has come to bestow the new generation with power. Neo

Senshi, form a small circle," Queen Serenity instructed.

The Senshi formed a fairly tight circle, with Hikari in the center, as

the ceremony prescribed.

"Current Senshi, stand behind your respective daughter..." Queen

Serenity said, "...and son." A knowing smile spread across her face

at her addition.



When everyone was in place, Queen Serenity closed her eyes. "To

thee, new generation of rulers and protectors," came her voice,

sweat appearing on her brow, "we invoke the power given us of

old."

Pillars of lights shot up from each of the Senshi's mothers and,

dropping over their respective child, surrounded them in a

multicolored rainbow, with a golden/whitish light coming from the

Queen to fill the center.

"We bestow upon you the power of transformation," the Queen

finished, opening her eyes and swaying on her feet.

Henshin rods appeared high above each of the girls, slowly

descending to each. To Prince Shinu, a sword appeared, shining

within the brown/black light that surrounded him. When each item

was within range, the Senshi instinctively reached up to grab hold,

causing their transformation to take place.

The hall was filled with color even more brilliant then before, as

clothes were exchanged for the classic seifuku of the Senshi, with

two noticeable exceptions.

Prince Shinu was surrounded by a brief flash of silver before he

was revealed to be wearing some very light plate armor over black

padded leather. A black cape, with a layer of red inside, hung over

his shoulders, making his body frame look slightly larger than

before.

This was no surprise to Hikari. What did surprise her was Sailor

Jupiter's transformation and uniform. Gone were the dancing

lights, gone was the traditional white bodysuit and green skirt.

Bubbles of darkness surrounded the diminutive Princess of Jupiter,

forming a black mist around her. A flash of white light dispelled the

fog, revealing her to be wearing a jet-black leather bodysuit

accompanied by a pleated skirt to match. Her heels were replaced

by leather boots that almost rose to her knees, ending with a dark

green trim, with the boot's heel rising about one inch off the ground,

providing a wide pivot point. Her gloves too were black with green

trim, while the bow was a bit more flat and a lot darker of green

than the trimmings. Even the tiara on her forehead turned a shade

of black, its center containing a dark gem with a small lightening

bolt in the middle.

Once finished, Hikari caught her eye and raised an eyebrow.

"What? As your mother said, times change. I decided to make the

most of it," Mokusei stated.

"I see."

A small cough from Queen Serenity ended their conversation.

"Citizens of the galaxy, I give you, the new Sailor Senshi!"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

**Three months into training**

Hikari fell onto her bed without moving for several moments as her

mind continued to wonder at all the changes that had taken place

within what seemed to be only a few moments.

It seemed that nothing remained the same. She didn't even live in

her own room anymore. Now she lived in a dorm like room that she

shared with the princess of Venus, Princess Aisuru, known

affectionately by all the Senshi as Aisa-chan.

All of them had lost any semblance of formality among themselves,

becoming something like a family. Fights had already erupted, but

it was equally as obvious that their friendships ran deep. Hikari

found it easy to love all of them, with the possible exception of

Shinu. She still didn't know what to make of him.

Hikari tried not to play favorites among her friends, but found it

impossible not to.

Princess Insei, the withdrawn princess of Mercury, was looked up

to by all for her intellect and kindness. She was there for any of

them whenever they needed help with a particularly rough batch of

problems. Although incredibly shy, she ended up becoming a

rudder within the group, the voice of reason.

On the opposite side of the spectrum was Princess Seikyuu, the

fiery princess of Mars. A quick study in the physical department,

only Shinu outstripped her in that area. Everything she did was

done with incredible passion, wholeheartedly devoting herself to

whatever it is she was doing. Quick to anger, but quick to forgive

and forget is the quintessential princess of Mars.

Her roommate, on the other hand, was the only she hadn't seen get

in a fight with another Senshi. Hikari didn't know what it was about

her. It was like she had some kind of aura surrounding her that

made you love her. True, she was a little too bubbly at times, but

that just endeared her all the more to everyone. In Hikari's mind, it

was Aisuru that brought the group together, providing it with the

energy to move on.

Shinu was the one that posed a problem to the group for her. He

was rather withdrawn most of the time and she assumed he felt the

same way the rest of them did. Neither side knew how to act

around the other. Everyone tried to downplay it, thrusting it to the

back of their minds, but it remained. It continued to fester and

Hikari knew that if it wasn't taken care of someday soon, it would

explode.

However, despite all of this, the one person to confuse Hikari the

most was Mokusei. Hikari felt completely at ease with her, knowing

she could be herself, but still hadn't figured Mokusei out yet. Every

time she thought she was making progress, Mokusei threw another

curveball. She wondered how she could make the young girl open

up as the rest of them had. *Maybe I should start calling her Moku-

chan.* The thought brought a smile to her as it came to mind.

That'd be the day.

"Well, it's good to see you're a little happier than of late," Mokusei

said, causing Hikari to jump in surprise.

"You know, you really should knock," Hikari admonished.

"And where would be the fun in that? Besides, I just wanted to

introduce you to someone."

"Okay, who's this mystery girl...or maybe mystery boy?" she asked

her friend, relishing in the interaction they shared.

Mokusei blushed, one of the few times Hikari had ever seen her do

such. "An-ei is just a friend, and she's a girl, if you must know."

"Fine, fine, I was just kidding. I'd be honored to meet her."

There was an awkward silence between them for a few moments,

broken by a cough from Mokusei. "That's your cue, An-ei,"

Mokusei said, looking behind her shoulder. "Besides, you're the

one that wanted me to introduce you."

Hikari thought her friend was losing her mind, until something black

seemed to slither around Mokusei's neck. Gaining definition, she

could see it was much different from any reptile she'd ever seen or

read about, except in stories she'd read as a child. It turned out to

be a very, very dark purple creature, its body shimmering slightly

within the light of the room. Its skin seemed to be composed of

small scales, arranged in an overlay pattern, broken only by a

series of sharp ridges that lay along it's back, folded neatly down. It

had four legs, but what drew her attention was the wings folded

along the creature's back. They looked to be made of a leathery

substance and seemed to be rather small. Hikari couldn't imagine

them actually lifting the creature.

"Greetings, Princess," the creature said in a light, girlish voice,

causing Hikari to jump for the second time today. This seemed to

amuse the miniature dragon, her mouth curving slightly as she let

loose small wisps of smoke through her nostrils.

"Forgive me," Hikari said, bowing to An-ei. "My name is Hikari. It's

a pleasure to meet you."

An-ei jumped from Mokusei's shoulder, spreading her wings.

Unfurled, they were about the dragon's height. The leather in-

between them stretched so thin that they turned a transparent

shade of gray.

An-ei flapped over to Hikari, getting within a few feet of her face

before floating in the air. "My name, as mentioned, is An-ei, your

highness. And the pleasure is mine."

A wave of dizziness passed over Hikari. Her knees buckled

beneath her, pitching her forward, where An-ei slowed her progress

enough for Mokusei to catch her.

"Easy there, princess. Can't have our star pupil getting injured, can

we?" Mokusei asked, guiding her back to her bed.

"I'm sorry, Mokusei. Thank you," she said, then turned toward the

dragon that was now floating beside her lifelong friend. "And thank

you as well, An-ei."

"What are friends for?" An-ei asked, her voice pleading to know

whether they were such.

"Indeed, An-ei. What are friends for."

"An-ei, could you please leave me alone with the princess for a little

while? I need to talk to her privately."

An-ei seemed reluctant to leave, looking to Hikari for

acknowledgement on what to do. "I would like to talk to you more

sometime, An-ei, but if Mokusei wants to talk to me privately, we

should probably honor her request."

"Doesn't deserve a request," An-ei mumbled under her breath,

receiving a playful swat from Mokusei.

"I'll catch up to you in a little while, you little drake," Mokusei

promised.

With a flap of her wings, An-ei left the room.

"So, Mokusei, what was it that you wanted to talk to me about?"

Hikari asked. It was quite rare for Mokusei to want to talk with

anyone, let alone privately.

"I was thinking," Mokusei started, taking a deep breath, "I was

thinking that you're pushing yourself way too hard."

Hikari's eyes turned downwards, unable to meet Mokusei's gaze. It

seemed like someone else knew her secret shame. "Yes, and

even so, I'm still not able to master even a small attack spell. I

can't even cause someone to feel a pinprick," she said, her voice

breaking slightly as she spoke. She was so distracted by her own

thoughts that she almost didn't even notice when Mokusei wiped a

tear from her eye.

"Did you honestly expect to," Mokusei asked her, all hints of

sarcasm and condescension gone from her voice and demeanor.

"You know as well as I do that our magic comes from different

sources. All of the Senshi's powers come from their respective

planets and the people within them. Yours comes from the moon

and the Ginzuishou. Ours has an edge to it, coming from the strife

within each, as well as the climate and innumerable circumstances

within. Yours comes from a place in such perfect harmony that

there hardly isn't any edge to it. That's why you're so good at

healing magic, while the rest of us struggle a lot more with it."

Hikari sniffed slightly as she leaned against her...friend. Mokusei's

words rang true within her heart, but surely there wasn't that much

strife within the other worlds. The Great War ended more than a

1,000 years ago. She knew Mokusei was just trying to make her

feel better, so she tried to pull herself together as quickly as

possible.

"I'm sure you'll eventually be able to figure a way around it, but

don't worry about attack spells for now. It'll come in time."

Hikari lifted her eyes high enough to make eye contact, forcing a

small smile out. "Thanks, Mokusei. I'm sure you're right."

Mokusei bit her lip, showing more emotion than Hikari had

seen...well...ever. After a while, she nodded to herself and her

eyes seemed to harden slightly. It seemed like she was preparing

herself for something and Hikari couldn't help but wonder what was

going on.

"I did find a way around your problem, Princess, which is one of the

reasons I came in the first place." Mokusei paused, drawing a deep

breathe, her shoulders shuddering slightly. "It was an ancient spell

within a book written over 500 years ago, by one of your ancestors.

It takes 10% of one persons magical powers and gives it to

someone else in exchange for 10% of theirs."

Hikari's eyes picked up a hopeful sparkle. Was Mokusei proposing

what she thought?

"It doesn't come without its drawbacks though," Mokusei said,

pushing the sentence out in a rushed manner. "First off, it wouldn't

be a completely fair trade. I would be gaining much more than you

would, since you're a lot stronger. Plus, there's also the fact that

once this is done a bond develops between the recipients. They

are forever linked, having given a part of themselves to the others.

I would always know what you're feeling and an approximate

location, while you would feel and know the same." Having gotten

all of that, a weight seemed to lift from Mokusei's shoulders.

Not much of this registered to Hikari. She couldn't get over the fact

that she had a chance to become everything she dreamed of, able

to finally live up to the standards set so high.

"I'll do it."

Mokusei let out a small sigh before smiling to the Princess. "As

your highness wishes." Mokusei held out her hands and muttered

"shoukan", causing a heavy leather-bound tomb to fall in them.

Flipping through the book, she stopped on one of the latter pages,

turning the book around so Hikari could read it.

Hikari skimmed over the page, amazed at the simplicity the spell

implied. It hardly required anything more than concentration. How

could that be, when its effects were so far reaching?

"Are you ready, Princess?" Mokusei asked.

"As ready as I'll ever be," Hikari replied, sitting cross-legged on the

floor, placing herself across from Mokusei. Mokusei, in turn, copied

her posture.

Hikari closed her eyes and tried to envision everything that she

needed. She tried to become aware of her body, aware of the link

to the Moon and the Ginzuishou. As soon as she imagined the

magic within her concentrating in her hands, forming a small ball

she gasped. It felt as if her life was draining from her. It felt cold,

leaving an emptiness within her.

Despite all this, she continued concentrating for what seemed, to

her, an eternity. She stopped only when she could not physically

carry on anymore. The limit had been reached. She could not give

anymore than 10%, or she knew she would cease to exist, the

emptiness swallowing her.

Opening her eyes, she was startled by the scenario in front of her.

Even though the spell had brought about the expected result, it was

still shocking to see the white ball of light in front of her, rippling

with a golden hue. Looking across from her, she saw Mokusei with

a very different ball between her hands. Mokusei's magic was dark

green, with black rippling throughout its shape, threatening to

overwhelm the sphere.

"Let's end this," Mokusei whispered, her voice sounding raspy,

sweat evident on her face.

Hikari nodded, closing her eyes once again. She envisioned a

magical line connecting between herself and Mokusei, linking them

together. Once she had that established, she thrust her hands out,

envisioning her pent up magic traveling along the line until it

connected with Mokusei.

No sooner did she envision the impact against Mokusei's chest

than she felt a definite impact against her own chest. Anger and

despair flashed through her, burning themselves into her soul.

Those emotions having been cordoned off, she felt a new emotion

surge within her: Love. Inexplicable and irrevocable love

overwhelmed her, causing her to seek out Mokusei's eyes.

Hikari found herself blushing upon eye contact. Her heart started to

beat faster, as Mokusei seemed to blush in return. Their fingers

seemed to intertwine of their own violation. A part of Hikari's mind

seemed to scream, but it felt distant, while Mokusei seemed so

close...so wonderfully close.

She found herself wrapped in an embrace, not even remembering

leaning in. Arms wrapped around each other and their lips

brushed, causing a shiver to go along Hikari's spine, tingling in

excitement.

Almost before it had begun, Hikari found herself gently pushed

back by Mokusei. "Why?" she asked, almost in tears.

"Because, Hikari-chan, this...this isn't the way..." Mokusei's breath

came in shuddering gasps, causing Hikari to reach across the

present gap, only to have her hand swatted aside by Mokusei, who

jumped up. "No. This isn't you. This just isn't..." Mokusei ran from

the room, leaving Hikari's emotions in even worse condition than

they'd previously been in? It was almost like a part of her left the

room when Mokusei did.

Confusion reigned and her vision seemed to blur, her mind shutting

down as she passed out within moments.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

**Six Months Later**

A sad smile lit upon Hikari's face as she, once again, noticed the

pain within Mokusei's heart. After the initial confusion involved with

the spell, Hikari had grew quite adept at separating Mokusei's

emotions from her own, even being able to feel her approximate

location when she was away.

As things stood, she wasn't sure whether or not she would go

through the same thing all over again. On one hand, she had

grown to love Mokusei, although not in the way that Mokusei loved

her. She didn't want to hurt Mokusei, but she just couldn't find love

for another girl within her heart. This was the main downside to the

transfer, in Hikari's point of view. There was no way to hide her

true emotions, just as there was no way for Mokusei to hide hers.

This left them with an awkward relationship, drawing them close,

yet leaving them nervous within each other's presence.

She idly stretched her hands, letting little flecks of electricity cross

in-between, when she decided to give herself a workout. She felt

like doing anything in order to get her mind off of such depressing

thoughts. If it took such extreme exhaustion...

She hopped out of bed, heading for the gymnasium that all the

Senshi used to train. She preferred training with Aisa-chan, but her

roommate was currently out with some of the other Senshi,

enjoying one of the first free nights any of them had seen in quite a

while.

As she was about to enter the gym, she paused, having heard

someone breathing heavily. Peeking in, she saw Prince Shinu bent

over, rubble from one of his spells spread around the area. His hair

was damp from sweat, providing a stark contrast to his magical

armor, which was lightly glowing.

Shinu spun towards the door while drawing his sword in one fluid

motion, pointing it readily at Hikari.

"It's just me, Shinu-san," Hikari told him, stepping forward.

Shinu slowly lowered his sword. "Sorry, Princess. I just get kind of

jumpy when I'm training," he said, bowing to her.

Hikari blushed, responding with a curtsy. *Why is he always so

formal?* she asked herself. *He's even worse than Moku-chan.*

"I was just going to let off some steam, practicing some of my

spells, but I can wait 'til you're done, Shinu-san."

"That's quite alright, Princess. I was wondering...well, I was

wondering if you might want to practice with me," he suggested, his

eyes downcast. "I know that you don't get as much melee practice

as you'd like, and I kind of wanted to practice anyway...but if you

don't want to..."

"No, I'd love to Shinu-san," Hikari interrupted him. "We haven't

really had much of a chance to practice with each other yet, but I

think it'd be great. You're second only to Aisa-chan with the sword.

It'd be great to learn from you."

Shinu looked up at her, making eye contact. He squared his

shoulders and the point of his sword once again rose as he passed

one hand along its edge, causing it to turn a dull gray as it lost its

magical properties. "Prepare yourself, Princess."

A flick of Hikari's wrist brought her henshin rod into her left hand.

Moments later she squared herself off with Shinu, a metal bo

flashing into her hand where the henshin rod was a while earlier.

Without warning, Shinu fell upon her with a weak thrust, which she

easily dodged, bringing her staff down on his backside, causing him

to stumble forward. "I won't learn anything if you don't take me

seriously," Hikari told him, gritting her teeth.

"But..." Shinu started, before he had to dodge a series of attacks

from Hikari. After getting hit several times, his eyes seemed to

harden and he went on the offensive. Time stood still for Hikari as

the practice gained in intensity. Thrust met parry in an eccentric

kind of dance, causing her heart to race.

Hikari's movements lapsed only momentarily, but it was long

enough for Shinu to take advantage of her weak spot, knocking her

down with a leg sweep. Before she knew what had happened she

found herself staring up at the sword that was pointing lightly

against the side of her neck. Looking up, she saw Shinu's face,

which showed an unusual conflict within. He seemed to go from

cold and impassive, to embarrassed, to sympathetic, never

stopping on one for very long.

On an impulse, Hikari swiped his sword away with her staff and

jumped to her feet. Taking advantage of his confusion, she brought

her staff up behind his knees, accidentally knocking him forward.

Shinu grabbed her shoulders, trying to regain his balance, but

caused Hikari to loose her footing. Both unceremoniously tumbled

to the floor.

Both remained lying against one another, catching their breath from

their most recent workout. As Shinu lay against her, Hikari couldn't

help noticing how warm his body was, how hard his muscles were,

or how handsome his face looked.

Almost involuntarily, she brought a hand up, wiping away some of

the hair that had fallen over his eyes. Shinu reached up, covering

her hand with his own before leaning down and brushing his lips

against hers.

Hikari felt a momentary surge of fear as memories of her first kiss

leaped to her mind. Were these her true feelings, or someone

else's? *Yes, they are mine...but...* Her thoughts trailed off as she

turned her head slightly to the side.

The image that greeted her burned into memory just as deeply as

Shinu's face had. There, in the doorway was Mokusei, looking at

the two of them. Having been so caught up in the moment with

Shinu, she hadn't noticed it before, but now she was all too aware

of the stabbing pain within her heart.

Pushing Shinu off without a second thought, she jumped to her feet

as quickly as possible. However, it was too late. The last thing she

saw was a thin braid of red hair, trailing behind Mokusei as she ran

past the doorway.

As her head lowered, with tears threatening to overtake her, Hikari

felt a hand on her shoulder. Revulsion pulsed through her body.

Her instincts took over as she grabbed Shinu's hand and twisted it

behind his back. Shinu fell forward as she kicked his right knee

from behind, causing a loud crack to fill the air as his shoulder

popped out of its socket.

Confusion overwhelmed Hikari's mind. She no longer knew her

feelings. She could still feel Mokusei's pang within her heart, but

her own feelings were running amok. Could her own pang be

because she truly loved Mokusei? But what about Shinu? Did her

heart lie to her about him, telling her she loved him when her heart

belonged to another?

Tears streamed down her cheeks as she ran out of the training hall.

Walls blurred as she ran, instinctively seeking a place of comfort,

bringing her to her old room within the palace. She didn't even

register the servants curtsying to her as she moved along.

The next moment she was aware of was after she had thrown

herself on her old bed. She buried her head into her pillow as

painful sobs racked her body.

*Why is this happening?* she asked herself. She cursed the day

she shared her magic with Mokusei. She cursed her moment of

laxity in Shinu's presence.

Hikari felt someone sit on her bed. Looking up, she saw her mother

with a concerned look upon her face.

Not saying a word, Hikari clutched her mother, crying into her dress

as Serenity gently caressed her daughter's head. "It's all right,

Hikari," Serenity whispered as she pulled her daughter closer to

her. "You're fine now. You're safe."

The last thought to cross Hikari's mind before falling asleep was

whether or not she'd ever be "safe" again.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Usagi moaned as her memories started to become incoherent.

Pang seared through her as they tried to surface, but seemed to be

pushed back by some kind of force.

She caught enough to see brief moments, both happy and sad.

She gasped as her memory seemed to come together as swiftly as

it went away.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

**Six months before Hikari's 18th birthday**

Hikari was standing beside her mother's throne, listening to some

courtier drone on and on about the trade embargo. She kept her

eye's steady and a smile on her face, even though the subject was

so dry and inconsequential to her subjects. Idly, she wondered

when she started thinking of them as "subjects".

Her fists clenched involuntarily as anger shot through her system.

Only through years of practice was she able to distinguish her

feelings from Mokusei's, but these were so strong. To feel

Mokusei's anger so strongly, when she was on her planet meant

that Mokusei's anger was almost unimaginable. Hikari frowned as

she tried to imagine what could possibly cause Mokusei to feel that

way. She'd barely felt any anger before today. The only other time

was when she was discovered alone with Shinu-kun for the first

time. Hikari blushed as the thought of said meeting came to mind.

She pushed the anger away without a second thought, cordoning to

an area where it could be ignored. She then let her mind wander,

as she continued to keep her eyes on the current speaker placed in

front of her.

It'd been six long months since she'd last seen any of her best

friends. The Senshi were disbanded one year before the princess'

birthday, going to their home worlds. The theory was that this

would spread unity throughout the galaxy, while bringing their

friendship closer together. Absence makes the heart grow fonder

and all that. In her opinion, all it did was annoy her. Her best

friends were all gone, including her fiancée, Shinu-kun.

She'd tried to convince her mother to let her visit, but all attempts at

gaining permission were quickly denied. She'd even tried sneaking

out, using some of the techniques she'd picked up from Mokusei,

but all was to no avail. Her mother always seemed to be one step

ahead of her.

Hikari fell forward, barely able to catch herself before she hit the

ground. She felt her chest, drawing back her hand. Where she'd

expected to see blood, she found nothing, but that was impossible.

She'd felt a definite impact and could still feel the pain within her.

She became briefly aware of her surroundings, the court seeming

to be in much the same state as her mind currently was, anarchy.

She felt an arm wrap around her, offering her support. However, all

she could feel anymore was a profound emptiness within her. Her

last thoughts before dropping into unconsciousness were of

Mokusei.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

**Morning of Hikari's 18th Birthday**

Hikari woke up in a cold sweat. This wasn't too unusual for her. At

least, not since the incident six months ago. However, this time the

fear within her heart didn't ease.

She pushed aside her doubts as she got up, in order to get ready

for today's ceremony. Today, she, and the other Senshi, were to

take their place as fully trained Senshi, their parents abdicating

their position. True, they'd need to constantly study and train, in

order to continually improve themselves, but all the work they'd put

in was finally paying off. She was incredibly proud of her team, and

couldn't wait to see all of them again.

Everyone returned from their trips to their homeworlds yesterday.

Everyone, except for the two people that mattered most to her,

Shinu and Mokusei. True, it wasn't unheard of for a Senshi to wait

until the last minute to arrive, but she couldn't help wondering what

was going on. Could it be that the time spent away had diminished

their love for her?

Her hand was wrapped around her henshin rod even before she felt

a chill go down her spine. Within seconds, she'd transformed and

set up a defense spell when she heard someone clapping from her

left side.

Turning she saw Jaedite, one of Shinu's bodyguards. "Sorry, you

kind of snuck up on me," she said, blushing slightly.

"Well, that was the idea," he told her, his eyes hardening as he

drew a sword from his side.

Hikari's bo flashed into her hands, coming up just in time to deflect

a slash to her right side. Stumbling backward, she regarded him

with confusion. "What the hell are you doing, Jaedite?!" she

demanded. "Just wait until Shinu hears about this."

Jaedite's face turned red, his teeth clenching as he regarded Hikari.

"Oh, this is just too rich," he snarled. "Don't tell me the bitch isn't

aware of what happened to her "fiancée?!", he demanded, face

turned up towards the ceiling, his voice picking up a maniacal edge.

Hikari's heart dropped at thought of something happening to her

beloved. "What?!" she demanded, taking a step towards Jaedite.

"What happened to him?!"

"Mokusei, the whore of Jupiter, killed Shinu more than six months

ago." Laughter took him over momentarily, bending him over.

"Now, you die. Everyone dies," he said, making eye contact with

her, "but especially you, bitch. Especially you."

Hikari's world seemed to crash around her. Her staff clanged

against the floor as it fell from her limp hands. *This can't be

happening,* she told herself. *Mokusei would never do something

like...*

Everything snapped into place within her mind. That night of six

months past. The anger she'd felt within her heart, followed swiftly

by the emptiness she'd felt since. It was true. It was all true.

She curled up into a ball on the floor, repeating "It can't be true" in a

mantra, trying to convince herself. She barely felt the sword as it

plunged into her chest, or the scream of her friends as they came

upon her.

Within moments, she graciously accepted deaths sweet embrace.

**End of Chapter 6**

Author's Notes -

Well, as you can see, this was quite an undertaking for me.

Definitely a change of pace. Sorry for the darker attitude

throughout, but it deals with a rather dark subject. Rest assured,

the rest of the series won't be this dark, but it will have it's

moments.

Thanks go out to BurgerBill, who has offered his support throughout

Warrior. Also, a special thanks goes to Yap Chin Weng, my

wonderful editor, who takes my abuse with a smile. Last, but not

least, thanks to Cory D. Rose, who I've also bounced opinions off

of.

As always, emails are welcome, whether good or bad, but please

don't do all out flames. Definitely feel free to critique, though. Have

a good one.

Asgeras

http://asgeras.anifics.com