She was amused by the Entity floating in the mists. He was a fool, of course. She was always amused by the fools. Not for their ineptitude, not for their chaos, but for their arrogance. The fools were always so confidant in their ability, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
The Entity before her was a unique fool, one who's faults had led to the downfall of his compatriots across not one, but two lifetimes, and ultimately had been banished to a world with no time, no progress, nothing for him to fowl up again. All the fun had be stripped out of him.
This would have to change.
She 'stepped' up to him -- of course, there was no ground here, nor any gravity to adhere her to it and for that matter no air or ground or life, aside from the Entity, but she never really had much use for those anyway. Also, she hadn't 'stepped up to him' in the traditional sense of closing a space between two objects, for they did not even exist on the same plane or dimension of existence. She hated misleading statements, and thus insisted that the truth of her movement was that she 'made herself enter the Entity's realm and personal space.'
In any case, her newly appeared human body reached out and stroked the large crystal the Entity had been trapped in. It was smooth and cold to the touch. The sloping sides contorted the image of the Entity inside, creating a fine imperfection along a line through the center of his head. The different angles made his shocked and angered face appear twice, showing the duality of his personality.
Yes, he would be perfect.
Her hand plummeted into the crystal, sliding numbly as if into freezing water, reaching, searching for the Entity. When her fingers brushed across the rough fabric of his uniform, she retreated for an instant. She had not been corporeal for quite some time. The abrasive feel surprised her, even though she expected it to happen. Composing herself, she reached out again and clutched onto the Entity's arm, and yanked with a force her slight frame did not appear to support. With a crack, the giant crystal shattered and the Entity's youthful body collapsed to the floor with heaving breaths. His eyes searched frantically and he clutched at his throat when the air didn't come.
Unwilling to let her entertainment die before her, she moved again, away from the misty world and to a periphery dimension, pulling the suffocating Entity along with her. In the new world, he finally gasped and breathed, filling his lungs with the cool air. She looked upon him impartially.
When the panic had passed and the Entity felt safe he would continue to breath without concentrating, he looked around. They were upon a beach of red sands before a mountainous volcano spewing a gentle black cloud into a yellowish/brown sky. Higher into the sky he could see the moon, but it was wrong, closer. Not the moon he knew, and yet again, a moon that was not unfamiliar. Then he noticed the other one.
When she felt his exploration had gone on long enough she coughed gently, although needlessly as implied before. The Entity turned and looked at her, noticing his company for the first time. She was a small woman, almost a child, with long, wild black hair and skin whiter than the bone it was so gently stretched upon. Her simple dress was black covered with diamonds that shined like stars in the constellations they were laid out in across her body. The Entity wryly wished his antagonistic ally were around when he could identify nothing but Taurus. As he drew his stare upwards he was caught by her magically green eyes.
"Where am I?" he asked, almost in trance.
"Mars," came the curt reply.
A deep breath. "Should I ask how I can breathe?"
She smiled and a chill ran down the Entity's spine as if he would have felt safer if she was angry than if she was glad. "You were taught, long ago, how to breathe on the nine worlds and their moons, which works even now in this mana-deficient universe." Her smile faded. "What do you remember?"
The Entity closed its eyes and the life of Jadeite, General of the Dark Kingdom, replayed in his mind. He scowled. "I'll kill her."
She raised her eyebrows. Jadeite continued, "Sailor Moon."
He felt cold as the edges of her mouth raised slightly. "Yes," she reveled in more than said. "Yes, you will."
And then the universe rewound.
Twist of Fate
By Adam Leigh
Based on the works of Naoko Takeuchi
Prologue: Return To Now
Usagi could only watch as the beam struck her dead in the chest. It came from nowhere and bore a whole through her body leaving nothing but a charred, smoking hole where once she had held her heart. Her expression froze in a blank stare as her body fell back onto the neon colored floor beneath her. It wasn't her time, she was sure, but she couldn't change fate.
Besides, it was almost time for school.
"Come on, Usagi!" Naru called from the door of the Crown Arcade. "We're going to be late!"
"Oh, just one more game," whined Usagi. She had another 100 yen coin in her hand and was about to slot it into the Sailor V game before Naru called her. Sailor V was one of the coolest games, in Usagi's opinion, she just had to find time to play it between school, meetings with Ami and Rei about the Dark Kingdom, eating, sleeping, arguing with her parents, getting revenge at Shingo, and fighting against Jadeite. It didn't help her schedule that she couldn't come here anymore with Ami or Rei since they both proved to be better Sailor V players than her.
"Haruna-sensei is going to make us BOTH stand in the hall again!" Naru stormed forward and grabbed her arm.
"Then we should definitely have our fun now!" Usagi struggled to stay in her seat. "Hey, let go!"
"I'm doing this for your own good!"
"Since when is school 'good'?"
Usagi and Naru looked up suddenly. Across the arcade two kids were being attacked by what looked like a six foot tall walking celery stalk with joysticks for fingers. Naru almost laughed but her terror quickly squashed it. Usagi only wished she could laugh. "Maybe we should get going," she said instead.
"But that monster--" started Naru but Usagi had already started dragging her out of the arcade. "Usagi, we have to help them!"
"You're just going to get hurt," said Usagi as she continued pulling her through the door. When they were on the sidewalk Naru turned on her.
"We can't leave those people behind!" yelled Naru. "What if that thing DOES something to them? What if they do what they did to m-my.. my mom?"
Usagi struggled to think quickly. She couldn't go in there and fight the youma with Naru standing right there. "You know what always happens when monsters show up! Uh, Sailor Moon won't let anything happen to them, right?"
"I suppose--" The shattering of the glass doors to the Crown and the youma's charge out into the street kept Naru from saying more. The creature paused on the walk as Naru and Usagi tried to scramble away in different directions. A pair of small eyes peeked from between the leaves of the stalk and glanced around.
"Get away get away get away!" Usagi quietly chanted as she crawled back. When the eyes settled on her she swallowed.
The celery screeched with unseen vocal cords and charged after Usagi, its ball tipped fingers clacking menacingly. It lunged at her but only grazed her shin as she jumped away, landing sloppily on her back.
"USAGI!" She heard Naru's hollering behind the youma.
"Run, Naru!" Usagi called back. The celery swung again and just barely hit Usagi, sending her flying back. She forced herself up again and reached for her broach. Gazing past the celery youma she could see a nervous Naru staring intently. Stopping herself, she stood unsteadily and began running away. Pausing only for a moment, the youma chased after her.
Running around a corner, she straightened herself and held her broach up high and yelled. The rush of change embraced her as her clothes dissolved and were replaced by her uniform, the fuku of a Sailor Senshi. Energy filled her body and her fatigue melted away. She pointed her finger down the alley as the youma ran into view.
"All right you green, mean and leafy vegetable, you won't terrorize any more video game players with your nutritional value! I'm Sailor Moon, warrior for love and justice. On behalf of the moon, I will punish you!"
The youma ignored her and ran at her. She leapt high onto the roof of the restaurant she was beside. "Hey! You're supposed to wait until I'm finished!"
The youma batted at her just as she dodged out of the way. Hitting the ground hard she rolled away from the constantly attacking celery until she reached the edge of the roof. Sailor Moon shivered and glanced down at the people below who were completely oblivious to the battle for life and death going on above. I should have called for Rei, she thought to herself. She would have yelled and made fun of me but she would have helped. Poor Naru, she won't even know what happened to me. She'll be ... all alone.
Sailor Moon frowned then glared at the advancing youma just as a red streak flew through the skies and struck the rooftop between them. Her icy expression turned to adoration as she looked to the rooftop behind her and saw the black tuxedo wearing man.
"Tuxedo Mask!" she cheered.
Jadeite frowned noticeably. Looking into the crystal in his hand he could see the battle going poorly for his youma, not that it wasn't expected. The green stalky demon was chosen for his expendability, but he was disappointed that his research hadn't revealed what he wanted to know. Releasing the crystal back to its subspace pocket, he turned and teleported back to the Dark Kingdom.
Surprisingly, a tall, uniformed man with long wavy brown hair was waiting there in the shadows (which, of course, is easily done since most of the kingdom was covered in darkness). Jadeite put on his game face and waited for Nephrite to explain himself. For some obviously non-quantitative reason, Nephrite was his superior in Beryl's army, so he was expected to show some respect when within earshot and not conducting a plan to murder him.
"Jadeite," he started. "How did your attack on Sailor Moon go?"
"Poorly, I expect," Jadeite said rather plainly. "I didn't really stay to find out. Once Tuxedo Mask shows up it usually goes downhill for us."
Nephrite smiled evilly. "Then I expect our Queen will finally punish you and let me take over. Your techniques are truly amateur."
"I'm sure the stars have told you that."
"Watch your mouth, Jadeite!" Nephrite quickly angered. "Beryl would not mind at all were I to kill you right here. The stars control all!"
Nephrite's rage faltered when he saw Jadeite's unfazed stare. "Then I'm sure they have told you I have at least one mission left."
Unnerved, Nephrite quickly cooled. "Your confidence is your fatal flaw," he commented. "I will get my chance soon enough." He turned to walk away, but Jadeite mustered his most smug attitude possible and called back to him.
"Not unless my next plan is foolproof!"
Nephrite stopped and turned, just as Jadeite hoped. "The key is Tuxedo Mask," he continued. "He is the reason they succeed and he always comes when they are in danger. This time, however, he'll be my target, and the senshi will be in no danger. Then with him gone, they'll be easy prey."
Nephrite smiled. "The stars will tell whether your plan will succeed or not."
"Oh, I will succeed, and then you'll be bowing to me." Jadeite smirked, but cautiously. He hoped he hadn't gone too far. Nephrite said nothing and teleported away.
Alone to his thoughts, Jadeite sighed. His plans were not going as well as he hoped when he returned. He'd still not been able to find Tuxedo Mask's identity nor where he comes from and trailing the Tsukino girl only gave him several candidates but no definite leads and no time to kill each one. His last chance was that his new plan would work and without cape-boy the Senshi would be helpless. If not, he wondered if he'd be granted a third chance.
For a moment he considered his mixed luck. He had been a distinguished, if perhaps not highly regarded, warrior for Queen Beryl only to come up against an enemy so often underestimated that their victories were more often the work oversight than any skill of their own. He failed repeatedly and was eventually given the eternal waking sleep by Beryl's hand, despite his breakthroughs in his last effort. There he stood, frozen still for who knows how long, only to be miraculously saved by a self proclaimed 'trans-dimensional vixen of destiny' and given a second chance to get revenge on the ones who put him there. Which would have been a great boon to him had he not been unable to find out the information he needed to prevent his own demise again.
Despite all his misgivings about the strange girl who rescued him, he believed that she had given him a genuine chance to change his destiny. There had to be a way to succeed in his last effort. He remembered how desperate he was when he first devised the airport showdown plan and yet it ended up giving him a number of opportunities. He'd decided when he first returned that he would repeat his actions with only subtle changes so he would know what would occur and have time to plan. If he'd known how little he would turn up, he wouldn't have bothered.
Everything rested on this last plan. Again. There was a sort of cyclical irony to it.
"Jadeite..." a slightly effeminate voice purred in the darkness. "Her highness wants to see you." For a moment, he felt a presence but it was gone with the last word. It was time for his last act. He tried his best to look panicked when what he was really feeling was rankle at the inevitable. A wreath of fire surrounded him and he was gone.
There were not many leaves left on the ground of the Hikawa temple when Usagi and Ami arrived there after school but that didn't keep Rei from sweeping them back and forth with vigor. They had been debating Jadeite's most recent threat for the last half-hour now and had basically reached the conclusion that it was most definitely a trap and that if they were going to go anyway, Usagi was going to complain the entire way.
"At least the police have closed down the airport," said Ami. "There will probably be quite a few guards there but the number of uninvolved people should be minimal."
"That doesn't change the fact that it will be a trap," added Luna.
"But he's threatening to destroy the entire city!" said Rei, waving her broom around for emphasis. "Is he even capable of doing that, Luna?"
The pair stared at Luna expectantly. "I don't know," she reluctantly admitted. "The Dark Kingdom seems very strong but I don't know it is that powerful." She paused then looked up to the sky eying the full moon only slightly obscured by clouds. "It's certainly possible."
"We should go," announced Rei, for about the fourteenth time.
"No, we shouldn't," Usagi said quietly. The girls looked to her as if they'd forgotten she was there. "He's trying to hurt us, even ... even kill us. If we go, who will tell our parents when we're gone? Who will tell our friends?" Usagi hiccupped. "Will Naru think--will she think I've ... abandoned her?" Her tears welled up and cascaded down her cheeks. Rei quickly moved to her side as she continued. "He's been playing with me... stalking me. When I go to school in the morning, when I'm on my way home, at night after we meet, he sends monsters after me."
"Usagi," said Ami. "Why didn't you tell us? Do you think he... knows who we are?"
"You dumpling head!" said Rei, sharply. "If you were having trouble we could have helped."
"Not all the time!" yelled Usagi between sobs. "And they were easy, Tuxedo Mask and I easily beat them. But Naru... even the weakest youma could hurt her and they always go after her!" Usagi hung her head. "She probably thinks she's done something wrong when it's all ME. It's MY fault!"
"No it isn't," said Luna. "Jadeite is evil and he often attacks just random people. It could be coincidence that you were nearby."
"Yes, Usagi," Ami joined. "Statistically speaking, many of Jadeite's attacks have been nearby to us in some way, either directly within our sight or through our friends."
"You've been tracking the attacks?" asked Luna.
Ami nodded. "I've been using the information to try to correlate the location of their base but I haven't had much luck. The most I can say is that it seems to be somewhere in our area, based on the attacks and excluding the cruise ship which deviates significantly from the rest of the data."
Usagi calmed a bit when she remembered the cruise ship. She smiled a bit when she thought of how hard they tried to get on that cruise just for it to turn out to be a youma trap. Her grin straightened when she remembered that Jadeite was the captain that she was hanging off of.
"We'll be okay, Usagi," said Rei. "You've fought Jadeite before, when you were all alone, and now you have Ami and I. I promise we won't let anything happen to you."
Usagi sniffled. "Or you either, right?" Rei nodded slowly. Ami came over to sit beside them and Luna jumped onto her shoulder.
"Lurking more than usual, Nephrite?" the voice from the darkness slithered its way into the dark general's ear. Nephrite scowled again at the unseen figure. "Aww, are you making that face just for me? My heart doth quiver."
Banishing the stellar maps and causing the interior of his giant manor to reassert itself, Nephrite turned in time to see the gale of cherry blossoms that marked Zoicite's arrival. He looked down at the ring of petals on his marble floor. "Clean that up," he demanded ineffectually. Zoicite stepped out of the small clearing and smiled, his long frock of tied back blonde hair trailing behind.
"You need a fresher look here, anyway," he said. Walking past Nephrite he stood where the large three-dimensional map of the cosmos was centered just moments before. "So what sort of star gazing were we doing today? Perhaps you're looking for the day you'll get to demonstrate your glory before Queen Beryl. I'll save you the trouble: it won't happen."
"I prefer to consult the higher authority in this case," said Nephrite. "What are you doing here, Zoicite, don't you have other people to be annoying? Won't Kunzite be jealous that I seem to be getting all your attention recently?"
"I like to play the field. But you're not my type. You're too much of a loser, and you're getting my way." Zoicite turned and stared at Nephrite. "But, Queen Beryl has you in line after Jadeite so I'm patient to wait my turn." He strode forward. "But make no mistake, I will take every opportunity that presents itself to replace you. Gathering energy for Metallia is far too important a task for a star gazing romantic like you."
"If anyone is a romantic--"
Zoicite put his finger to Nephrite's lips. "Ah-ah... lets not be mean." He laughed as the petals fluttered up around them and then Zoicite was gone.
Alone again, Nephrite turned to the large stained glass windows before him and the universe appeared in the manor. Looking up towards the center of the galaxy a thin ray of light slid down and struck him in the forehead. "Everything is controlled by the stars," he announced. The pinpoints of light swirled and surged then calmed. "Show me how to find Tuxedo Mask."
The stars shimmered and showed a picture of a young boy in a green sports coat and wraparound sunglasses walking down a busy street. Nephrite frowned, he seemed familiar but he couldn't quite place him. If he was just a normal person, though, it wouldn't be difficult to get what he needed to ruin Jadeite's plans. Still, he wanted to be sure before secretly sticking his neck out, so he asked. "Who is this boy?"
The ray of light faltered then turned blue, and then the back of Nephrite's mind unfolded all at once. His eyes rolled back in his head and he collapsed to the floor.
Ami, Rei and Usagi walked cautiously through the empty airport terminal. The silence was eerie and Usagi expressed several reservations about continuing with their plan on the way past the gates only to be silence by Rei each time.
"This is not at all what I expected," said Ami finally. "There should be people here, guards and reporters at least. Even when shut down, the airport should never be this barren."
"Do you think Jadeite is responsible?" asked Luna, following close behind. Usagi glanced between them periodically.
Suddenly the lights shut off at once leaving only the dim green glow of the emergency exit signs in the distance. The girls circled immediately and Luna hid behind their legs. Rei had an ofuda in her hand already and was ready to toss it with the greatest precision. "This isn't good," Rei muttered, trying find definition in the sudden darkness. The large windows around the terminal showed in the smallest amount of moonlight, giving everything a deep blue hue.
A torch of light by a gate blazed through the darkness lighting a path to an exit. Luna only shook her head in response. "You should transform," she finally said. "We knew Jadeite would be expecting us. There's no avoiding it now."
"Right," replied the girls, who reached for their pens and broach and called out their transformation phrases.
Jadeite watched with amusement. He had spend a great deal of time carefully recreating the events of his life so as to minimize their effect on events that he was almost giddy at the changes he was making now. He wanted to keep from being dramatic, but he couldn't help himself. Even after all this time he was who he was and he wanted them all to suffer as much as possible before the end. After many years being paralyzed with nothing to see or do except be alone with his own thoughts, he thought that anxiety was the best punishment for them.
Still he needed to hurry. He knew he had seven minutes before Tuxedo Mask would show up and everything would either go to hell or Jadeite would finally succeed where had previously failed. The stage was set, the only thing left was to see if the right players would be in the right places when the time came and there was still one player that was completely unaccounted for.
He fussed with his collar and then teleported over to a shocked Sailor Moon and her Senshi and raised his arms. The army of youma he had gathered rose from the ground around him and stared menacingly. Jadeite smiled. "I've been expecting you, Sailor Moon."
Mamoru Chiba knew something was wrong from the pit of his stomach. He could recognize it now as the feeling built up from inside and threatened to take over. His curiosity was now much greater than his dread from knowing that soon the feeling would overwhelm him and he would then ... do something and wake up back in his bed at home. As far as he could secretly research, he could find no real explanation for it. It was as if there were times when somebody else entirely took over his body and then was kind enough to deposit him back in a safe place before leaving.
He often imagined what his body might be doing all that time, which was rarely very much at all. He figured that it was probably more than simply taking the train home and then lying down in bed. He once played with the idea that he was some sort of superhero without even knowing it. Certainly the recent reports of Sailor Moon and her growing cabal of followers came to mind and he wondered if there were girls across Tokyo who were suddenly passing out during class and waking up at home some time later.
The pain in his gut sharpened, and Mamoru figured he'd better get out of sight before it got worse. He hoped that whatever happened to him wasn't very violent but he wanted to be away from people just to be sure. He ducked into a dark alley and pressed his back up against the cold wall and breathed. It wouldn't be long now.
"Highness!" he heard a yelp from further in the alley. He narrowed his eyes to peer into the darkness. He heard a shuffling sound and the clap-ka-clap of boots against the pavement. A moment later he could make out the figure, a tall, long haired man wearing a grey uniform with a gold trim. His head was down but every now and then he peered up at Mamoru and he saw his strong, angular face. The man more staggered than walked and eventually fell to one knee before Mamoru, either exhausted or from his barely audible mumblings, delirious.
"Your Highness," he repeated, louder this time. "It's happening, your highness!"
Mamoru frowned and tried to help the man up but he resisted. "The attack," the man said. "She'll destroy it all, the entire kingdom. The others... the others have gone mad and we must escape!"
"Who are you? What others?" asked Mamoru, trying again and this time succeeding in standing the man up. "Can I help you home?" The pain in his gut increased but he tried to ignore it.
"How can you not recognize me, my lord? I am your sworn guardian!" His wild eyes searched franticly around. "Was it that moon princess, has she stolen your memories? We haven't time to waste but Darius is wise in the magicks of the moon people, he may have a remedy." The man began pulling at Mamoru's arm.
Wincing at the now stabbing pain in his gut, Mamoru patted the man on the shoulder. He didn't have time for this now. "Listen, you have me confused for someone else, but I don't have time for fantasies. If you walk down this alley and take a right at the intersection there is a police box right with someone you can talk to." Mamoru gently moved the man forward nodding ahead. "Just go that way and the man in blue can bring you to your King."
"Trust me," the crazed man suddenly said with absolute control. Mamoru looked at him and suddenly saw something brave, true, and strong within. He had the eyes of someone who has seen true horrors and still stood to defend something greater than himself. For just a moment, Mamoru saw within the man not just the heart of a soldier, but a champion.
And just as suddenly, it was gone. "There isn't time," he continued and began walking down the alley. "Her army will destroy them all, the whole kingdom will fall..." Mamoru let go of the man's shoulder and he continued walking on. Relieved that he seemed to have freed himself of the man Mamoru sighed and concentrated on the rising pain again. Then just before he reached his threshold he heard the muttering man suddenly go silent. A quick glance up confirmed it: he was gone.
Sailor Moon gasped for breath as she surfaced from the bay. The flaming wreckage of the airplane lie all across the runway and on the wings of the other two planes positions just at the edge of the tarmac before the water. They had no choice, she thought to herself already coming up with excuses, they would have died if Mars hadn't attacked that plane. Of course, the fully fueled 737 didn't just melt away, it exploded with enough ferocity to send her, Mercury and Mars flying into the Tokyo Bay.
"Sailor Mars!" she cried out, looking around as she treaded water. "Sailor Mercury!" The smoke from the wreckage was like a thick blanket across the airport, keeping her from seeing further than a dozen or so feet clearly. She swam quickly back to the runway, franticly avoiding some of the floating, burning piece of plane. "Sailor Mars! Sailor Mercury!" she called out again.
The voice she heard back wasn't the one she wanted. "Oh Sailor Moon," the words seemed to unfurl through the air. She looked up to see the shadowy form of Jadeite walking towards her through the wreckage. "Don't you know those are expensive?" he laughed.
Sailor Moon, still slightly dazed from the explosion, forced herself back to her feet and began running from Jadeite. He followed her with his eyes as she ran off, his smile still wide. Once he was out of sight in the billowing smoke, she veered off to run close to the water in case Mars or Mercury surfaced. She took a few steps towards the shore when ran right into Jadeite again. "Ah-ah, not so fast," he said. She stared at him in horror and ran off in another direction.
Jadeite continued to smile, he had never imagined a mouse in a maze being so entertaining. But it was time to end the game.
Tuxedo Mask saw the smoke coming from the runway and the distant sirens blaring. He knew two things immediately. Sailor Moon was in danger, and he didn't have much time left before interference arrived. He normally had a sixth sense when it came to this sort of Dark Kingdom activity, but for some reason he couldn't seem to figure out where his enemy was. He did notice Sailor Mars and Mercury climbing out of Tokyo Bay ... without Sailor Moon and quickly leapt over to them to help.
"Sailor Moon," he said to Mercury after she was on dry land again. "Where is she?" Mars looked around quickly, immediately suppressing any pain or nausea she was probably feeling and searched the waterline and then the smoke.
"It was Jadeite," said Mercury as Mars pulled out an ofuda and closed her eyes. "He set a trap for us and we couldn't get away." Mars suddenly opened her eyes and threw the ofuda flying, cutting through the smoke leaving a clear path behind. Eventually it struck something and flattened against the shadowy form. As the smoke dissipated they could see the figures clearly and Sailor Mars' entire world suddenly dropped out from under her.
Jadeite had the Ofuda in his outstretched hand, a thin silvery energy surrounding it and keeping it from completely touching him. He was standing with his legs apart and in one arm cradling a thin rag doll with long blonde hair done up in two buns and wearing a sailor fuku. His eyes were fierce and appeared to be slightly glowing. Casually, he dropped the body onto the runway and smiled. Without ceremony, and without any flare of magic at all, he then vanished.
Sailor Mercury and Tuxedo Mask immediately sprinted over to the body and tried to comfort it. But it was clear to Mars that there was nothing left to care for. She could see it, her spirit, her essence, had completely gone. There was nothing left of Sailor Moon in that body except her form and even that had become twisted and deformed.
Sailor Mercury yelled to her, but Mars didn't really hear all of it. It was something about her energy being drained completely or some such explanation. There was only one thing that Mars needed to know and she already knew it. Sailor Moon was dead.
And she had promised nothing would happen to her.
Nephrite woke up with the biggest headache he'd had since he tried to divine the true nature of Queen Metallia. Everything in his mind was jumbled and the last thing he could remember was asking about that common looking boy the stars had said could lead him to Tuxedo Mask. That had been... it appeared hours ago by the movement of the stars in his manor. Night had come and he felt stiff and sore all over his body. Then he realized he wasn't alone.
The presence was strong, different than he normally felt in his manor. Not Zoicite or Kunzite, perhaps even stronger than Beryl herself, although he found that hard to believe as Metallia herself could be the only one who fit that category and she would no sooner be walking around than Jadeite become queen of the Dark Kingdom. Nephrite got up and looked around. After a glance or two he spotted the figure standing beneath the stained glass window and apparently with his arms crossed. He wondered if he should be respectful to the stranger who could probably separate his head from his body with a thought and decided to simply wait and let the new comer initiate contact.
"A wise decision," came the voice, and all too familiar to Nephrite. His brain completely rejected the conclusion, however, and decided he just sounded similar to him. "Even I'm not sure how I want others to act towards me now," the figure (who couldn't be HIM) continued. "I suppose going for the top would be a bit brash, but I'm certainly not going to be anyone's lackey anymore."
Nephrite shivered. He suddenly wanted to leave, to be anywhere else but here, but his body refused to listen to him. He wasn't sure why but he couldn't possible be afraid of him. "What happened to you?" he asked, regaining his composure. He was a general of the Dark Kingdom, he was not going to be pushed around.
"Oh, this and that," the shadow said. He sounded amused by each of his own words and it was disgusting. "I wanted to thank you for your involvement in my ... ascension."
"I don't know what you're talking about," said Nephrite. "Have you reported to Beryl about your 'plan' yet? I'm sure she gave you a proper punishment for failure."
"I'm making the rounds," said the figure as he took a step forward and started closing in on Nephrite. "I'll get to her soon enough, but I felt you took a slight precedence. I'm not sure what you did and frankly I don't care, but you did what I wanted you to do, and I just wanted you to know it."
"What are you talking about?" demanded Nephrite, his anger starting to rise.
"Calm down, we're all friends here," said the shadow smoothly. "You see, you aren't the only fortuneteller around here. I knew that I would get within inches of killing Sailor Moon today. That had already been seen. But Tuxedo Mask got in the way just in the nick of time, as he always does, and I was defeated and forced to spend an eternity in the Waking Sleep. So I had to find a way to keep Tuxedo Mask from interfering if I wanted to live."
Nephrite stared, almost unsure what to make of his strange tale of mixed tenses. The shadow, drawing closer still, continued, "At first I thought, why not find a way to keep him from showing up by finding where he comes from and simply get in the way. But I sent several attacks on Sailor Moon and each time it seemed as though he just appeared and disappeared like a ghost. Without a path to trace I began to worry. But then I realized that sometimes your best allies are the ones who are out to get you. I knew if I revealed the right parts of my plan to you that you would try to stop me. So I did. I told you about Tuxedo Mask and I did it with such bravado that you bought it easily and the rest is now history."
Nephrite blinked. "So you tricked me into helping you in your plan," he summarized.
The shadow stepped into the light revealing the dark boots, grey uniform, and the short blonde hair above the smiling face. But it was the eyes of the man before him that bothered Nephrite the most. They seemed to glow with power unmatched across the stars. Jadeite nodded. Nephrite frowned, "You succeeded in defeating Sailor Moon?"
"Oh yes," said Jadeite as his eyes flared and a halo of silvery light surged around him. "I took every last bit of energy from her." Nephrite's eyes widened as Jadeite laughed and then vanished completely.
Staggering to a nearby armchair, Nephrite boggled at how the stars could have hid such a change in power from him. Jadeite was a fool, he knew that, a man with more ambition than brains. How had he changed so drastically and yet so suddenly? And what had Nephrite himself done to help him?
The public library in Elyria, Ohio is not very distinguishing from any other collection of books in a tall building in a decently populated city. They keep the books in rows and are stacked several shelves tall along certain lines and grouped by topic and author. There are also a number of computers with which to conduct new-age online research for those who've grown tired of the traditional card-catalogue-and-walking-between-rows process.
What really makes the library different than most others is the presence of the second sub basement on which the elevator doesn't stop, the stairs don't all go to, and the ladies at the front desk couldn't direct you towards. It's in this second sub basement that Aurora Sayre spends most of her time, pouring over reference material that only one in a thousand has probably ever heard of before and even fewer still believes is real. She's a small girl, probably no more than five feet tall, and wears long dresses in all the in-style shades of brown and green and always carries with her a large bag from which no matter how much she takes out of it, it never seems to get less full. She keeps an old, beat up pair of brass rimmed spectacles, which don't seem to be her prescription since she's always squinting when she reads. And read she does, from dawn till dusk, and let's herself out at night after the library closes.
It was during one of these marathon days that she was chewing on a week-old biscuit and thinking that she was going to have to spend Thursday baking some more rolls to eat next week that she heard the squeak of reality shifting. Now for those unfamiliar with the way reality sounds when it's shifting, it's quite a bit like a mouse except if that mouse were the size of our sun and nobody could hear its cries unless they had been trained to listen for it and, of course, you'd have to be capable of surviving the shock of actually hearing the sound. Suffice to say, Aurora did indeed possess all these qualities and when she heard the sound she immediately knew that she would have to put off her baking for another day.
Pushing her worn chair away from the rickety table, she packed away her books, wrapped her handkerchief around her biscuits, and tossed her bag over her shoulder. Picking a book off of a tall shelf of thick tomes, she turned to a page and read aloud a selection of text and then tossed a pinch of thyme over her right shoulder. Closing the book, she returned it to the shelf and waited still for two whole minutes before slapping her forehead and saying "Its tarragon, not thyme!" and then promptly disappearing.
She didn't show up at the library again for quite some time.