The Fragility of Time
BOOK TWO: "Falling Towards Apotheosis"
The Fragility of Time BOOK TWO: "Falling Towards Apotheosis"
Disclaimer: A reminder I own none of the characters of this story, all rights are owned by others. However, the unique circumstances of the story are mine. If you distribute the story, do only so freely and inform me of where you post it.
With the afternoon beginning to wear late, Ikuko was busying herself in the kitchen preparing dinner for her family. She was a bit concerned that Usagi hadn't returned yet, given what had happened last night. But, she figured that Usagi was probably just with Hotaru and ChibiUsa. After all, Hotaru's excitement over being cured of her illness would have to be contagious and she knew her daughter too well. Usagi would forget about any of her own ills so as to make sure that Hotaru and ChibiUsa had the time of their lives.
Opening the fridge, Ikuko removed the tuna she had bought at the market. She and Usagi had gone there after dropping Hotaru off to see her father. They had only been there about fifteen minutes when Usagi told her that something was up and that she was needed. Ikuko hadn't wanted Usagi to run off to fight, but she managed to squash her own motherly fears so that Usagi could be a "mother" to the other girls. There of course being no way that Usagi would ever let those girls go off to fight without her being there. Now realizing that she hadn't heard from Usagi after that battle, Ikuko let the thought cross her mind for a few moments that maybe Usagi's tardiness had to do with the battle. But she dismissed that as her just being paranoid.
Now opening one of the cupboards, Ikuko had to duck out of the way as a pair of mugs came flying out. Not having the presence of mind to try to catch them, she instead watched as the two of them fell and hit the floor shattering. Bending down to pick up the broken pieces, she realized that the two cups that had fallen to the ground were the mugs that Usagi and ChibiUsa always used when the girls were over. Now why did I open that cupboard, there is nothing in there that I needed for preparing dinner. Ikuko thought to herself as a cold shiver ran through her body.
With the large pieces now all collected, she stood up and walked over to the trash can to throw them out. ChibiUsa is not going to be happy that her favorite mug was destroyed. I think Usagi had bought that for her the second day she was here with us. Ikuko thought to herself, remembering that last memory with a warm feeling as she got a broom and dust pan and began cleaning up the mess. She remembered how surprised she was to learn that Usagi had used her own money to buy ChibiUsa that mug, especially since she knew that Usagi had been saving that money up to buy something that she and Molly had been gushing about for the past few weeks. Usagi had probably pestered her at least three times a day during that time for advances on her allowance and it was only that morning that Usagi had received the final bit of allowance that she needed. And it was not just the mug that Usagi had bought for ChibiUsa, but a school uniform as well and not once did Usagi ask her for help in outfitting ChibiUsa.
When she had seen ChibiUsa the following morning decked out in the uniform for the elementary school, she had felt negligent for not having thought about that before and a bit surprised that Usagi hadn't ask her for a reimbursement the previous night. Over the following weeks she found that Usagi would accept help in buying stuff for ChibiUsa, but never would she accept after the fact reimbursement. It made Ikuko proud when she realized that Usagi was actually wanting to spend her own money on ChibiUsa. Of course she would occasionally hear Usagi whine to herself when she thought no one else (other than maybe Luna) was listening about having to spend her arcade money on ChibiUsa, but Ikuko had also realized then that those whines were only halfhearted. Not wanting Usagi to sacrifice everything for ChibiUsa, Ikuko and Kenji had raised her allowance with the stipulation that she use the extra money for mother-daughter activities with ChibiUsa, knowing that that would be the only way to get Usagi to actually use the money on herself. And that only worked because Usagi still had the innocence of a small child in her heart and would whole heartedly enjoy herself in the same activities that ChibiUsa did.
Pausing in making the sashimi, Ikuko allowed her body to feel warm over those memories. Usagi had really matured during those first few days, going from a slacker with no motivation to a devoted parent. Maybe we should have let Usagi get that puppy she had wanted a few years ago. Her lack of responsibility was just due to her not having anything that required her to be really responsible. Ikuko now realized. Putting the knife down, Ikuko looked up at the clock and was surprised with how late it had gotten. During her trip down memory lane, a few hours had passed. With her body working basically on autopilot dinner was just about ready; all she had left was to finish the rolls she was currently working on.
Hearing the door open, Ikuko thought to herself, That must be Usagi and ChibiUsa now. Wonder if Hotaru is with them? Now picking up the knife to slice the cucumber she was a bit puzzled by why the two girls were being so quiet. Figuring that ChibiUsa probably had just worn herself out running around with Hotaru, Ikuko went back to her preparations.
"Tsukino-san?" came the slightly timid voice of Minako.
"What is it Minako?" Ikuko asked as she paused and looked over at the girl. Then noticing traces of what looked like guilt and sorrow on the other girl's face, Ikuko continued, "Something has happened."
"Hai, The enemy is defeated, but… Something happened to Usagi. She's safe for the moment but…" Minako fumbled.
Now remembering the fallen mugs, Ikuko suddenly realized that something had to have gone wrong, that this battle hadn't been one of their normal ones. Memories of letters stashed away upstairs in Usagi's bedroom, suddenly came back to her, as Ikuko brushed past Minako.
Walking into the living room, Ikuko came to a sudden stop as she caught her first glimpse of the figure in the crystalline coffin. While she didn't have a good view of who it was, her heart already knew the truth – Usagi had done what Ikuko knew was going to happen one of these days, she had given her life for her friends. Falling to her knees, she looked up at Ami and asked the blue haired girl, "Tell me what happened."
And with that request, Ami with the occasional help of Mamoru and Sailor Erion began to recount the events of the day, beginning with Erion explaining exactly what had initially happened the previous night when she had attacked Usagi. As the explanation moved onto the battle at Mugen, Ikuko caught Mamoru's eye and with a silent request had him bring ChibiUsa over to her. Wrapping ChibiUsa up in her arms, she began to give the child some comfort, knowing that ChibiUsa's pain would have to be even more than her own and knowing that she needed to reassure ChibiUsa that she did not blame her for what had happened to Usagi and that ChibiUsa was still her granddaughter. And as she gave ChibiUsa comfort, she was able to gain comfort herself from those actions.
For his part, Mamoru tried to comfort Hotaru the best he could, now that he didn't have to split his attention. Unfortunately he didn't really know this newest member of the team that well. Most of the time when ChibiUsa played with Hotaru Usagi was the only one around. Well I'll just have to use the reasons why I love Usako as a guide on how to comfort her. After all, it wouldn't matter if Usako did or did not know Hotaru, she would still be able to comfort her just as well. Mamoru thought to himself as he gently rocked the shell shocked girl while Ami continued her story. A little while later, he felt a weight on his left arm, looking over to the side he caught sight of Luna giving him a slight tug. Knowing exactly what she wanted, he adjusted the way he was holding Hotaru so that Luna could leap up and curl up in front of Hotaru. And Hotaru immediately latched onto the kitten, pulling her up to rest just below her chin. Looking down now with a slight smile on his face; Mamoru could clearly see that the healing was finally beginning for Hotaru.
"…. And that was how Pluto kept ChibiUsa from vanishing now that the future has changed so much." Ami said ending her explanation.
Looking over at his wife, Kenji, who had arrived home during the middle of the explanation, received a nod from her for his unspoken question. Then turning back to look at the assembled group of girls and two guys, he said, "Minna-san, you don't have to worry about either of us blaming you for what has happened. We both know that all of you would have gladly given your life to keep Usagi alive, just as she would do the same for you. As much as I hate to say it, both Ikuko and I knew that this day would eventually come. We have already been forced once to face the harsh truth of what it means for you girls…" and then looking at the two guys "and guys to be out fighting this evil that has of late come. When you went off to face Beryl in the artic, Usagi left behind with us letters that we were to give to each of your families if you didn't make it back. Since then, she has periodically updated the letters. Each of those letters is written on the assumption that she would be dead as well. As much as a parent protects their children, Usagi wanted to shield each of you."
"But she was our princess that is our duty." Rei interrupted.
"Hai, I know. But her heart did not see it that way. Instead it saw that as even more of a reason why she had to protect each and everyone of you. That if someone was not going to come back alive it was going to be her and not any of you."
With that explanation, each of the girls, guys, and cats lowered their heads to say a prayer to their departed princess. Then one by one they stood and walked over by the crystal coffin to say a goodbye for now to their princess. The longest of goodbye's came from Rei, whose words of parting turned to tears and accusations of leaving her alone. Knowing how the hotheaded priestess felt, Makoto and Ami led her away from Usagi's body and then out the door, deciding that it would be best to walk her all the way home. Of all of them, her love for Usagi probably came third, following just after Mamoru and ChibiUsa.
Before long it was just Mamoru and Hotaru who were left in the Tsukino household. Walking over to where Mamoru was now standing, holding Hotaru in his arms, Kenji opened his arms to take the other girl up. "I know that I wasn't always the warmest to you Mamoru-san." Kenji said as Hotaru was transferred to his arms. "But know that our doors are always open for you. I just didn't want my little girl to grow up, but she has and into such a wonderful woman and I know that it is because of you that she has been able to weather all of the hardships that life has thrown her way. Arigatoo." Kenji said as he gave the other guy a slight bow, as much as he was willing to try with Hotaru in his arms.
"Thanks Kenji-san. You and Ikuko's acceptance means a lot to me. Usagi gave me the one thing I have not had this lifetime, a family. If you don't mind I would like to be a father to ChibiUsa and Hotaru. I know my involvement with ChibiUsa isn't what it should have been, but I owe it to Usako to raise our daughters properly."
"Hai, we would love to have you as part of our family."
"Arigatoo. I know this won't be as easy for me as it was for Usagi, but I will try my best. And I know that in a few years, I will be very much understanding where your initial reaction to me came from when ChibiUsa begins to date." Mamoru said with a slight look of horror crossing his face as he hoped that maybe that would be another 900 years off in the future. "I think for at least the time being that it would be best if the two girls remained here with you and Ikuko. Living a college life, my apartment would not be the best place for these two to be living, especially right now. They need the tighter watch you and Ikuko can give."
"Hai, I understand. I don't think either you are them are ready for that step yet. Not even Usagi would have been ready to take care of ChibiUsa when things were going good if she was living on her own. You need to be able to focus on your studies, as you need to think as much about the future that the three of you will be living as the present. Let Ikuko and I worry about the present."
"Hai that's right Mamoru-san. Let Kenji and I be the pillars for your family. Together we will all get through this and make Usagi proud. Remember someday she will return to us. We just have to be there for her when that day comes. Now why don't you stay for dinner with us."
The next morning, Ikuko was vacuuming the house when she heard a knock at the front door. Turning of the vacuum cleaner, she made her way over to the door and then opening the door she was surprised to see Ami's mother there. But then very quickly her mind reminded her that Rikou knew about Ami being Sailor Mercury.
"Konnichiwa Mizuno-san, what brings you here this morning?" Ikuko asked while greeting her visitor.
"Ami told me about what happened during yesterday's battle and I thought I would come over to see how you were holding up. And truth be told, I am in need of some support myself."
"Hai, I understand. Come on in then. Let me put away the vacuum cleaner and then I'll get us some tea."
"Arigatoo, Ikuko-san." Rikou said as she slipped off her shoes before entering the house proper.
"Rikou-san, if you wouldn't mind could you check on ChibiUsa and Hotaru. The two of them are up in Usagi's room, I am keeping the two of them home from school today, neither of them got much sleep last night."
"No trouble." Rikou said before heading up the stairs. Walking down the hallway, she silently opened the door to what she figured had to be Usagi's room. Then walking into the room she released a gasp as she saw the crystal that now contained Usagi, which had been moved upstairs the previous night by Mamoru and Kenji before Mamoru had headed on home. While she did know that Usagi was here at the Tsukino household, she hadn't been really prepared to see the girl. Drawn by a medical curiosity that she couldn't pull away from, she walked up to the crystal and placed a hand on it while she peered into its depths. The crystal felt different than any other mineral she ever touched, but the sight she saw chilled her blood. For Usagi's expression was not one of peace that she had expected to find, but one of someone in great pain. Releasing another gasp of surprise, she stumbled backwards for a few steps, but managed to catch her balance and avoid falling down.
However, her actions hadn't been sufficiently noiseless to prevent the awakening of ChibiUsa and Hotaru. Opening her eyes, ChibiUsa looked up and was a bit confused to see Ami's mother there in the room. "Mizuno-san?" she asked.
"Hai, ChibiUsa-chan. Gomen-nasai for waking you, your grandmother asked me check on the two of you and seeing Usagi like this was…" Rikou explained, trailing off at the end.
"Hai," ChibiUsa replied, knowing what Rikou was trying to say for she felt it far worse. Then breaking down again, she said "I miss momma and this time I don't have Usagi." as she began to cry again.
Hotaru, who had also been awoken, instantly reacted; sitting up as well, she pulled ChibiUsa into her embrace letting the pink haired girl bury her face in her chest. As Hotaru tried her best to comfort ChibiUsa, Rikou knelt down and after catching Hotaru's eye, let Hotaru transfer ChibiUsa to her arms. Then giving a little grunt from the weight of picking up ChibiUsa, she stood back up with ChibiUsa snuggled in her arms.
"Let's go on downstairs. Tsukino-san is making some tea and it will do the two of you good to get some food into you, even if you don't feel like eating that much." Rikou said to Hotaru, adding the last part as she noticed that Hotaru did not look that much better off than ChibiUsa. And I need to talk to Ikuko about moving these two girls to a different room; they don't need the constant reminder of what has happened to Usagi.
By the time the threesome arrived downstairs, Ikuko had the tea ready and some cakes to go with it. Having heard Mizuno-san's stumbling from downstairs, she had gotten out place setting for both ChibiUsa and Hotaru as well. And meeting Rikou at the base of the stairs, Ikuko took ChibiUsa into her own arms before leading her friend over to the table. As the four of them sat down, Ikuko kept ChibiUsa in her lap while Hotaru took a place to herself. However, she didn't stay there alone for too long, as Rikou knowing that Hotaru was also in need of some comfort moved her place to be next to the black haired girl's, a move that very quickly resulted in Hotaru resting against her.
At first the two adults chit chatted for a while as they tried to coax the two girls into eating something. While they weren't able to get either girl to eat as much as they would have liked, they did at least manage to get each of them to eat something, which was sufficient for them.
"How are you holding up?" Ikuko asked Rikou, finally breaking the ice after returning from putting on some anime for the two girls in the other room.
"I don't know, but shouldn't I be asking you that question?" Rikou replied
"You probably should, but this is still all fairly new to you, it was not all that long ago when you learned about Ami being Sailor Mercury. For me I have already had to face the real possibility that I was saying goodbye to my daughter for good once before. I want to show you something." Ikuko said as she picked up an envelope that had been lying next to her place on the table and handed it over to Rikou.
"What is this?" Rikou asked as she saw that the envelope was addressed to her.
"It is something that Usagi wrote some months back before a battle which she and the others stood a good chance of not coming back from alive. Before she left she handed me these letters, there is one for each of the families of the girls. While she tried to put on a brave face that night, I could tell that she did not believe that she was going to return alive from that battle. Her goal was to stop Beryl, whatever the cost.
"And from what I understand, she, ChibiUsa and Chiba were the only ones to have survived that battle. The other girls were all killed, but somehow Usagi was able to work a miracle and brought them all back to life."
"Ami died?" Rikou asked, disbelief in her voice as it began to crack.
"Hai. Both Usagi and ChibiUsa have been very tight lipped about what happened that evening, not wanting to relive the nightmare, but for several weeks after that event Usagi would be periodically wracked my nightmares over what she had witnessed. While I don't know if her nightmares were what really happened or hideous perversions of it, what I heard those nights gave me my own nightmares, for each of the girls apparently died a very violent death." At this point Ikuko trailed off in her explanation so as to give Rikou a chance to process what she had just said. Then continuing, "I take it that Ami has kept things like that from you."
"Hai she has."
"Usagi did the same. But over the months I have learned a fair bit of what she wanted to shield me from knowing, the horrors of being a soldier. Each time one of the girl's gets badly hurt, Usagi has nightmares for the next night or two. But even during those nightmares her subconscious still looks out for ChibiUsa for she never tosses and turns. Instead the only way you could tell she was in a nightmare is by watching her face."
"I believe that. From the times I have watched Usagi interact with my daughter and even more so from the few times when the two of us have talked, I know that Usagi would put everyone else before her. I am sorry to say that when I first met Usagi, I was not very impressed and on many occasions I was about to tell Ami to have nothing more to do with your daughter. But each time when I was about ready to do so, I would see Ami come home from having spent an afternoon with Usagi and see her in such happy sorts that I couldn't bare to carry through with my decision."
"You have nothing to apologize for. I myself was worried that Usagi was heading down the wrong path, but then ChibiUsa arrived and I learned about her other side. During those first few weeks I would grill Luna on how Usagi was as Sailor Moon and while in many ways her performance there wasn't that much better, when things mattered Usagi would always pull through. But then with the arrival of ChibiUsa, Usagi appeared to almost overnight decide to grow up. Every now and then I still see the old Usagi and it warms my heart, but she appears to have decided that nothing is more important to her than her daughter's happiness – even her own childhood.
"Kenji and I were actually starting to worry a bit that she was sacrificing too much and were going to start taking a bit more responsibility for ChibiUsa so that she could spend some more time with her friends. And when she finished up with this school year we were going to surprise her by telling her that we would watch ChibiUsa for her summer vacation so that she and the rest of the girls could go spend a couple weeks off just by themselves…." At this point Ikuko finally broke down in tears. Rikou let Ikuko have her time to let the pain out and once the tears began to dry, Ikuko continued. "Sorry about that."
"Iie, you don't need to apologize. You deserve to be allowed to grieve. And remember Usagi is still alive even if she is trapped in that crystal for now. And knowing my own daughter, she won't stop until she finds a way to save Usagi and I am sure the others are the same way. As much as Usagi would give anything for her friends, that love goes two ways and each of the girls would do the same for Usagi. But until that day comes, there are two girls here who need your love and guidance. You can do your daughter proud by raising ChibiUsa and Hotaru for her."
"Hai, I know. And Kenji, I and Mamoru will do our best to raise the two of them. I just hope that I can convince the social workers that Hotaru would be best off here, but I am afraid that is not a realistic outcome." Ikuko replied as she looked down at her tea. Rikou had nothing to reply for she too saw it as a long shot that the Tsukinos would be awarded custody of Hotaru. And especially when the social workers learned that the eldest child was in some kind of coma due to mysterious circumstances.
At the Gate of Spacetime an extremely cute little child with heart shaped odangos sat at a child's desk playing with finger paints. She had already made liberal use of the blue, red and green paints making a nice array of hand prints, lines and just blotches. Backing away from her piece of art, she looked at the paper for a few minutes while her face crumbled in deep thought. Finding it to be lacking a little green in the upper left corner; she plunged two of her fingers into the paint and then placed a pair of green lines on the paper. Now happy with how it looked, she bent down to her right where she had placed her stamps. Picking up the first stamp, she made sure to get plenty of ink on it and her clothes before place a nice prominent rabbit stamp on the paper. Then getting a second stamp she repeated the process, this time leaving a series of fireflies.
Happy with her work, ChibiChibi carefully picked up her art supplies, dumping half of the paint on the ground and crated them over to a toy box that was now sitting beside the gate. Then after dumping the items into the box and closing the lid she returned to her desk and picked up the painting she had been working on. Carefully rolling up the sheet of paper, with only a few creases, she also gathered up the other two rolls that were on the ground beside the desk. Both of these were also results of her finger painting, though on one she had used the bunny stamp twice and on the other she had used the bunny stamp and the heart stamp once. Now with the three rolls gathered up, she walked over to the gate, which had opened and tossed the three items out into the timestream with a happy exclamation of, "Chibi-Chibi."
With that taken care of she looked over to the left of the gate where a nice bubble bath was setup and paused to consider if she wanted go get cleaned up and play with her bath toys. She thought about this for a quite a few minutes before she finally decided that she wanted to play one more game before bath and bed time. Now returning to her toy box, she pulled out a fishing rod and a set of plastic fish. Then after walking so that she stood in front of the gate, she tossed the plastic fish on in.
With a bright smile on her face, ChibiChibi gave a cast of the plastic fishing rod into the swirling energy of the timestream and then with a yank pulled one of the plastic fish back on out. Releasing the fish from the rod she tossed it on the ground and with her head cocked slightly to the side she watched it for a few moments. Seeing that it wasn't going to do anything, she just shrugged her shoulders and returned to casting into the timestream to catch the remaining fish.
The sixth fish she pulled out from the gate, however, behaved differently than the others when she tossed it on the ground. This one shortly after being dropped began to glow while its surface became translucent. With a questioning "Chibi-Chibi?" ChibiChibi watched the plastic fish closely as a black insect like leg reached up and out of the toy to be followed soon by a second leg.
Now yelling "Chibi-Chibi!" at the creature that was trying to escape from the fish, ChibiChibi quickly picked up the fish and tossed it back. Then turning back from the gate, she made a second check and a fifth check to make sure that the creature had indeed been tossed back from whence it came. Finally satisfied, ChibiChibi once again picked up her rod and continued her fishing.
The remaining days of the week slowly passed by for each of the Sailor Senshi and those who knew the truth. Lost as they were in their own pain, their ability to comfort each other was limited and as the second week began, they each began to slip into their own little shells. Rei began to become consumed by her meditations, while Makoto began to become mixed up with gangs and fights again. For the tall girl, the insults and jokes that she had once been able to ignore, she could no longer do so so easily. But it was a crude comment about Usagi that had finally set her off. Going up against two high school boys, she had come within an inch of beating them out of their lives and receiving for her troubles a pair of cracked ribs and a broken arm. And then the next day at school she had been called into the principal's office. Already knowing she would once again be hopping from school to school as she was expelled from one after the other, she was a bit confused as to why Haruna-sensei was in the meeting. Going out on a limb for the troubled teen, Haruna had somehow convinced them that Makoto needed some leniency that it was the coma that her friend Usagi was in that had set her off. As a result, she instead of being expelled received a two week suspension followed by a medical excused absence until the school counselor had determined that she was mentally fit to return to class.
"Why did you do this for me?" Makoto asked Haruna as the two of them left the office.
"Because I know it is what Usagi would have wanted. She might have been one of my worst students academically, but she had the biggest heart and I do not want to see her friends destroy themselves. I have also taken the liberty of submitting your name to a group that maintains various community gardens around the city. Think of it as some community service as part of your punishment." Haruna said, knowing that she needed to convince Makoto that she had to take this treatment, which she had devised based on knowledge from Usagi about Makoto's love for plants and hoping that that would help her heal. "And I will also be stopping by your place after school a couple of times a week to see how you are doing and to drop off your work. Finals are only a month off and you will do Usagi proud by passing them all."
"Hai I will." Makoto said, knowing that especially now that using the phrase "make Usagi proud" would get her hook, line, and sinker every time. "And Arigatoo Haruna-sensei. Besides, Usagi no one has ever done this much for me."
"You are welcome and as long as you are ready to return to school and pass those exams when your suspension is finished that is all the thanks I will need."
"That I will." Makoto said as she gave her teacher a low bow before heading out of the school with a slight whistle and for the first time since the incident an upbeat outlook.
As for Haruka and Michiru, they found comfort in each other as they drew away from the rest of the girls. Being separated by age, they found it hard to interact with the other girls during this time of morning. Instead each of them focused as much as they could in their own art, painting and music for Michiru and racing for Haruka. In some ways they had it easier than the other four girls for in neither lifetime did they really know their princess that well. But, Usagi's personality was one that had very much integrated in their beings during the short period of time that they had known her this life and as a result both of them still felt her loss quite strongly.
Watching a Sailor Suited warrior outfitted in a suit with red and blue trim, Sailor Erion stood hidden in the shadows as she had each night since the incident. For the past ten nights she had watched as Minako snuck out of her room late at night to patrol the streets until the wee hours of the morning. The first night, Erion had come across her quite by accident. She hadn't approached Minako that night, instead just watching her. And each night since, she had followed Minako from her room and into the city. As a trained soldier and even more so as an officer, Erion knew exactly what was going through Minako's mind, it was something she had seen happen to quite a many other soldiers during her long career. Each night that Minako came out, she came out not to fight crime as Sailor V, but to find a reason to die. The only reason why Minako was still alive was because she hadn't yet found a battle that was worth dieing in, but Erion knew that wouldn't last and that was why she shadowed the girl each night.
"Didn't your mom ever tell you that stealing is wrong? I am Sailor Venus, code name Sailor V and in the name of the Moon I will punish you." V suddenly declared as she landed down in front of a group of men who were in the process of robbing a jewelry store.
"Hey its one of those sailor suited bimbos." One of the men said.
"Hai and Rubeus showed us what to do with them." The other replied with a smirk in a lower voice. And while V didn't hear that response, Erion did.
Still not taking action, Erion instead watched as the four men began to attack V using energy attacks, attacks which caught V by surprise. Thankfully the attacks were only moderately strong and therefore didn't hurt V too badly. But as Erion watched, she noticed that V was fighting with much less gusto than even the previous few nights, which could only mean one thing – that Minako had finally found a battle worth throwing her life away in.
Now moving to act, Erion jumped into the fray taking a blast that would have been fatal to V with her injuries, well not immediately fatal, but one that Minako would not have recovered from. While V was fighting to die, Erion was fighting to live and so she was able to properly block the attack before going on the offensive and a few minutes later a bound group of robbers were awaiting collection by the police.
"Arigatoo for your help." V said to Erion.
"Sailor Venus, I know what you were doing out there. I know that the loss of Usagi hurts, but that is no reason to go throw away your life."
"And what would you know about loss?" Venus asked, this time with animosity creeping into her voice.
"Much more than you realize. I watched as my entire world was destroyed by a great evil, an evil that I was helpless to stop. I still have scattered memories of my time under Galaxia. When I fall asleep at night I can still see my son, my own son, begging for his life before I butchered him while I was under Galaxia's control.
"I know you want to prove your worth to Usagi by finding a way to sacrifice your life to her ideals. But you know that is not what she would want. You need to find something to live for. Make her proud and live."
"Demo…" Venus started.
"Iie, you are the leader of the Sailor Senshi of this system now. They all will be looking to you for strength and you need to be strong to lead them. I didn't want to tell you this till after you had all recovered since it should still be a over a year off, but there is another evil coming this way, one that is far stronger than what you just fought. This evil is a consequence of the Sailor Wars."
"The Sailor Wars?"
"Hai, long before modern civilization arose on this planet two separate Sailor Wars swept the Galaxy. The first war is when the Sailor Senshi first appeared and in its aftermath colonies such as your Silver Millennium were founded around the Galaxy. And each of those colonies was protected by their own Sailor Senshi. Then over an eon ago, a great darkness began to sweep the Galaxy, a darkness now only known as the Darkness of the Failed Stars. All of the Sailor Senshi in the galaxy joined together to fight back this darkness, but only the greatest Senshi of them all, Galaxia was able to finally stop and seal away this darkness. However, it appears that even she was not strong enough, for the evil has corrupted her and now the evil has returned. But this time instead of just trying to overwhelm the Sailor Senshi and take their worlds, Galaxia is specifically hunting down the Sailor Senshi, stealing their souls.
"That was how Galaxia gained control of me and was what I was attempting to do to Sailor Moon. Galaxia will be coming here to Earth to hunt all you down. As you all are now, you won't be able to put up a fight; you all need to become stronger. And as their leader you will need to prepare them for the coming war using every means at you disposal." Erion said ending her explanation. Then seeing the light of understanding cross Minako's face, she knew that she wouldn't have to watch her so closely any more. It was a shame that fate had not given these children time to grow into adults before sending them such hardships, but it could not be helped. Then continuing, Erion added one last item, "If you need my help, Mizuno-san is graciously putting me up."
Walking out of the house and into the backyard, ChibiUsa headed over to a tree so that she could sit against it and think. She knew Hotaru was hurting badly, but she did not know how to help her friend, now her sister. Whenever she tried, all she could think about was her own pain. Hearing the padding of feet on the cobble stones of the back patio, ChibiUsa looked up and saw that both Luna and Diana were coming her way. Frowning, she knew why Diana was always around her nowadays, after all Diana was her guardian. But, Luna was not her guardian, she was her mother's. Of course given Usagi's current state it wasn't unreasonable that Luna would be watching over the current Moon princess. But ChibiUsa had Diana and she did not feel like having a second cat watching her 24-7.
Wait that's it! ChibiUsa thought to herself as she suddenly realized a solution that had been there since the beginning. After all why should she have both cats when Hotaru had none. Now getting up from where she had been sitting on the ground, she walked over to meet Luna and Diana. Then kneeling down, she reached out to pick up Diana, but left Luna on the ground.
"Luna-san, I know you feel the need to watch over me right now, but I have Diana." ChibiUsa said. Then with a wave, she silenced Luna's protest and instead continued. "But, Hotaru doesn't. And while I might see momma again one day, the same cannot be said for Hotaru. And Hotaru was forced to kill her father. Luna I want you to go be her guardian. And remember she is now also a princess."
"Hai, your Highness." Luna said with what goes for a bow amongst cats. She had recognized the air of command in ChibiUsa's request and knew that she couldn't refuse her princess. And ChibiUsa was right; Hotaru was now royalty of the Moon as well. She might not be by birth, but Usagi would never have made that distinction and she would soil Usagi's memory if she did. And so there was only one thing that Luna could do, agree and then turn and head into the house to the attic room where Hotaru and ChibiUsa were now living.
I wish momma would remember about her ability to take a human form. If she is going to watch over Hotaru, she would do much better like that. And then I could also be with ChibiUsa at school as well. Diana thought to herself as she once again tried to figure a way to break her charge and Hotaru out of their respective funks. She had hoped that by now the two girls might have at least begun to regain some of their happiness, but except for an occasional reaction the two were essentially zombies most of the day.
Looking up from her textbook, Ami noticed that the clock now read 3 A.M, an hour had past since she had last looked at it and she was still working on the same math equation. It was not that the equation was particularly hard, in fact the equation she was doing was just part of a warm up exercise for the night's real studying; studying which she was making no headway into. Well I guess I should just head off to sleep, I am not doing myself any good just staring at the text book. At least this way I will be slightly more rested for tomorrow's practice exam. Ami thought to herself as she closed her book.
Then getting up from her desk, she changed out of her clothes and into her pajamas before walking over to her bead and crawling into to it. With the covers pulled up to her chin she drifted off for the time into a dreamless slumber. However, the slumber was not dreamless for the other half of her soul.
"Spirit why are you not helping Little One?" the silver fox asked.
"Unlike you demon, I can not appear as a separate entity to Ami. It is your disturbance that has caused me to split away from her in your presence." The power of Mercury replied.
Mulling over the power's explanation, Youko remained silent for a few moments. "You do realize that if something is not done Little One will die, she is already loosing her will to live."
"Hai I know. Even I'm in mourning, but as I am just a star I don't have the emotions to feel what she is feeling. Why do you even care?" Mercury asked with a sudden severe voice.
"I have my reasons. You do not need to know them, only know that if we don't act Little One dies. It takes a fair bit of my and her energy to bring her to this dreamscape and she needs your help when she is awake as well." Youko replied. For Youko it was very hard to admit why he wanted to help Ami, his time merged with Suiichi had affected his demonic soul, such that it now held human emotions. Other demons would see him as easy prey because of this and so he kept quite, even though it might have made the spirit more trusting of him.
Not sure what to say to the demon or even more how she could help the other half of her soul, Mercury looked up at the sky searching for answers. The stars here in Youko's created dreamscape were quite beautiful and Mercury was able to quickly find her guardian star on the horizon. Then seeing a full moon hanging in the sky, Mercury looked up at it and said a silent prayer for the star she served. Five minutes later she finally broke her gaze away for her prayer had been answered and she knew what she had to do. Now looking at Youko, she addressed him while she still had the courage to do what she knew she had to do "Demon, Ami does need help during the day hours, but I cannot provide her the help she needs during any part of the day. Instead, I am going to place my trust in you. Know this; I won't be able to protect her anymore."
"Huh?" Youko asked in confusion as to what the spirit meant. But before he could formalize his thoughts into a formal question, the spirit of Mercury began to shine so brightly, that the rest of the dreamscape was lost in her glow. As this was happening Youko first began to feel strength returning to his body, but then before long he found himself growing more and more tired until sleep took him.
Beside the sleeping teenager a light began to glow by her chest. With time the glow elongated into a form that Ami instinctively grabbed a hold of. Finally after reaching its final size, the light faded away to reveal a silver-blue fox that was clutched tightly in the arms of the sleeping girl. As Ami's subconscious became aware of the soft fur that she was holding onto her sleep transitioned from a fitful nightmare that had recently started and into a truly peaceful slumber.
With eyes wide in fear, Sailor Q quickly leapt up from the ground where she had been laying. Unfortunately for him/her, she had leapt right up into the arms of a fairly burly inmate, who had been sentenced as a sexual predator.
"Must be my lucky day that this sweet young thing like me best of all," the inmate said as he roughly squeezed Q's chest.
Reacting on instinct, Q brought his arm around and decked the inmate knocking him into a nearby wall. Panting a bit, he fearfully eyed the rest of the inmates who had paused momentarily in their advance. Now standing up tall he hollered into the sky, "Curse you Cosmos, because of you I have seen Hell."
While the inmates didn't really understand why she had just stopped to holler out a curse at this Cosmos person, they didn't really care either. She was here and that was all they cared about. However, his sudden reversion from a very cute and what looked to be an underage girl to a man nearing middle age did cause them all to come to sudden halt and gasp. A few of the newer inmates turned a bit green at what they had just seen, though some of the others just shrugged their shoulders and wondered what else this man/girl had up his sleeve.
Huh? I am back to normal? Yes! Q thought to himself when he realized that he was no longer a girl. Unfortunately his happiness was very short lived as looking at the still advancing group of inmates who had predatory gleams in their eyes caused him to gulp and move slightly backwards. But now with the shock of having been turned into a girl gone, he was able to more rationally think about his situation. As this is Cosmos's universe I still won't be able to use my powers, and I really don't know how to fight. Q thought, not really liking the situation. And of course there is never a prison guard around when you need one. However, as much as I might dislike it, if I am now a Sailor Senshi I have to have some kind of powers do work in this universe, otherwise I wouldn't be able to protect the gate of Spacetime. Q thought to himself, now finally beginning to feel a bit better about the situation. Then swallowing his pride he let his body flow naturally with the transformation magic, hoping that it would instinctively know what to do. And that it did, for with a call of "Pink, frilly magical girl, unicorn and bunny, guardian of time, Make-Up!" he was turned back into his female Sailor form.
Now this time with an evil smile on his face he regarded the approaching hoard as he began to wonder what powers Cosmos had given him. He just hoped that using them wouldn't be as bad as his transformation sequence. However, he didn't hold much hope for that.
At the gate of Spacetime, ChibiChibi was still playing with her fishing set. Unhooking the current plastic fish that she had caught, it began to glow, just as some of the others had. And as she watched what appeared to be a squid made of energy come out of the fish, ChibiChibi began clapping her hands together and smiled while exclaiming "Chibi-Chibi!" Once fully out of the toy, the being began to morph into a humanoid shape. During the change, the brilliant white light being emitted by the energy being was too bright to look at, but when the change was completed, the light died down to reveal a glowing Cosmos to be standing there before ChibiChibi. Cocking her head, ChibiChibi asked the creature, "Chibi-Chibi?"
Looking around, the energy creature that was known as Kosh Naranek regarded the child before it with its own questioning gaze as it as well cocked its head. And deciding to go with the tried and true Vorlon question, the Vorlon ambassador who had been on his way to Babylon 5 asked, "Who are you."
To which ChibiChibi replied, "Who are you? What do you want? Chibi-Chibi. Where are you going? Chibi-Chibi." Then dropping her fishing rod, ChibiChibi turned and made a dash for the bathtub; dropping her clothing as she ran, leaving behind one very confused Vorlon. Diving into the bathtub with a big splash, she appeared to have completely forgotten about her guest.
Left by the gate, Kosh turned to regard the strange structure and found that its door was now closed and locked. Then turning away from the gate, he noticed that his encounter suit had somehow arrived in this strange realm. Not knowing what else to do, Kosh returned to the suit to await what might happen next.
End Book II
And with that Book II of this story is finally finished. However, the muse will not let me rest, so once I get back from all of my business travel it will be time to get started on Book III. Though unlike Book I and Book II, Book III will be posted as a separate entity.
The bit with Makoto and Haruna is a nod towards Comet Moon who had Haruna adopt Makoto in one of his stories. And of course, I then after writing that section had to go spend an hour reading my favorite parts of that story :).
Brownie points to anyone who figured out what why ChibiChibi was playing with finger paints and then fishing in the gate of Spacetime. And no this is not the start of a Babylon 5 crossover.
And no Kosh is not Cosmos. Those who have seen "The Fall of Night," the final Season 2 episode of Babylon 5 will know why he appeared before ChibiChibi like that.
And for those B5 fans, the first creature that tried to come out of one of ChibiChibi's fish toys was a shadow.
For some good stories to read while you wait for the next chapter, I would suggest Youma 1/2 by heed452 It is Sailor Moon crossover that has an interesting take on splitting Ranma's boy and girl side. Which happens as a result of a youma battle. The only thing that would hare been nicer was it the story was longer (wanted more of its goodness).
Another good story is "Usagi a Saiyon Child." by Kichigai Joshi. This a quite good AU crossover of Sailor Moon into DBZ. And even though I am not a large DBZ fan I quite liked it. It is long so a lot plenty of time to read it, I am still in the process of working my way through it. Though I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I had actually read some of the chapters in the later books of it before, for Comet Moon had shown them to me for comment way back when (Comet Moon has guest written a few of the chapters and they are just as good as the ones by the author). Too bad I wasn't into DBZ at all then, for I really missed out on reading a really good story, though even as a standalone chapter the Disney World chapter is a quite good one. :).
Things to look forward to in Book III: The Dead Moon Circus, Galaxia, and the Starlights making trouble in Tokyo. (Do you honestly think I would let the Sailors fight off one threat at a time?). At least one more escapade of Sailor Q (too bad for him that ChibiChibi is in such a playful mood). Cameos by your favorite wizarding students of Hogwarts. Dreams exploring the consequence of Ranma being allowed to be a Sailor Senshi. And the awakening of a new Sailor Senshi for which I have laid all the threads for.
Now to decide if I should have a certain mage learn the Dragon Slave. After all, glamour magic and flying really isn't that useful in hunting demons. Though two others might be in a similar position.