The Fragility of Time BOOK Three:
Prologue and Author's Note
Email: etj4Eagle at fanfiction (net)
Email2: etj4Eagle at yahoo (com)
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.
This is the third book in the Fragility of Time series, though in most places you will find that both the first and second book are posted together. If you are just coming across this story and haven't read the first two books, I hope that you do decide to read the full story and I highly recommend that you start with book I, War Without End. While, the story does follow the Sailor Moon storyline, a little time travel incident back during the Dark Kingdom attack has thrown a monkey wrench into the normal timeline, though at the same time Usagi and ChibiUsa have a much stronger mother-daughter relationship as a result.
And now for a quick recap of what has happened so far: ChibiUsa during her second trip through time (S arc) ended up along with Rubeus (R arc) during the Dark Kingdom arc (first season) with a pretty nasty resulting disruption to the time line. As of the end of Book II, the Dark Kingdom, both R arcs, and the S arc have been completed and Hotaru has been adopted by Usagi following the death of her father. However, victory against the Death Phantom was not without consequences. Usagi awoke too early to her true power as Sailor Cosmos and as a result burnt out her soul and now lays sealed away in stasis crystal while the one person who knows how to save her, Pluto, sacrificed her life to keep ChibiUsa from being erased by time.
As most readers by now are probably well aware of, there are frequent cameo appearances by various other shows / stories. In some cases the cameo is just a name for a one off character. In other cases, they are in there for a bit and instead of just making up duplicate items I pay homage to the other shows / stories. However, the cameos are never major and this is not a crossover story. The Harry Potter novels will have cameos in one of the threads of this story, helping me to expand out the magical aspects of the Sailor Moon Universe. However, this will not be a Harry Potter crossover (I couldn't write a good enough one if I wanted). If some one wants to expand at the Harry Potter themes that are being hinted at, feel free. All I ask is that you send me a link and give me credit for providing some of the story basis.
One final item, I was not too precise in the first two with the passage of time and the ages of Hotaru and ChibiUsa. After doing a little research, I discovered to my dismay that there is no real consensus on the age of Hotaru or ChibiUsa's apparent age. Consequently, I have decided that Hotaru is 10 years old and that ChibiUsa is 9 years old. Additionally as far as time of year, this story starts off in early spring, just weeks before the end of the school year. Consequently, the Guardian Senshi will be soon starting their last year of Junior High and along with that will have to start studying for their high school entrance exams.
Curled up in a fetal position with Luna clenched in her arms, Hotaru suffered through yet another one of her nightly nightmares. Every night since the Mugan Academy incident, when she had faced off against Usagi and killed her own father, at least one and more often than not many nightmares had besieged her dreams. During the first few weeks following the incident, the nightmares were relatively minor and short lived, allowing Hotaru to quickly drift off into a dreamless slumber. However, as of late the nightmares had been getting continually worse and tended to focus around her loosing control over the power of Saturn and becoming that soldier of death.
Taking after her mother, ChibiUsa had been the moderating force for Hotaru's dreams during the initial first few weeks. With the support of Mamoru for her own loss, ChibiUsa had been able to be there for her best friend, now sister. And helping even more during the first couple of nights the two of them had slept in the same bed. But, now they slept on different futons and ChibiUsa had begun to become indrawn as well. With finals quickly approaching for the older girls and Mamoru, ChibiUsa and Hotaru found their support network weakening and so ChibiUsa became less extroverted and Hotaru's nightmares began to increase in darkness.
Following her own, daughter's advice, Luna had taken Hotaru as her new charge while the princess slept in her crystal coffin. And her presence was helping Hotaru; however, she was unable to help Hotaru face the darkness that lay in her soul. Only ChibiUsa could have helped Hotaru with that, but she was too young to realize what her sister needed. Trying to do her best for Hotaru, Luna had taken to accompanying the young girl to school – a note from Mizuno-san giving Hotaru the medical excuse to bring a pet to school. Initially Luna, Mizuno-san, and Tsukino-san had discussed keeping Hotaru home, but they had quickly realized that getting Hotaru to interact with children her own age would help her to heal.
This night, however, was destined to be different than the previous nights of nightmares, for not long after the first nightmare of the evening began, Hotaru's body suddenly stilled with the vanishing of the nightmare. Initially her dream had her using her glaive to kill one civilian bystander after another on the street in front her school, but now she found herself standing in the middle of a grassy hill, dressed in a sundress and feeling the warmth of the sun on her back. Looking up into the sky, she watched as a flock of geese crossed overhead and then looking down into the valley that lay before her she saw butterflies lift off of the wildflowers and dart about. Smiling to herself, she turned to her left and decided to follow a stream that ran along a nearby ridge line, completely forgetting the horror of the nightmare she had been in moments before. Walking along it was not long before she came upon a lush forest and then following the stream through the forest and out to the other side she had a sudden sense of deja-vu as she looked down into yet another valley, for down in the valley something metallic was reflecting the afternoon sun. Now why does that device look familiar? Hotaru thought to herself.
"This dream of yours was quite a unique one. And I must say, I like it much better than what you have been dreaming lately." came a young man's voice from behind Hotaru.
Quickly spinning and instinctively dropping into a defensive posture as she summoned her Grail, Hotaru, now wearing her Sailor Saturn Fuku demanded of the new comer, "Who are you?"
"I am Helios the high priest of Elusion." The stranger, who curiously had a golden horn, replied.
"Elusion?" Saturn asked.
"Hai, the world of dreams. My world is the fifth element of the Earth – imagination and the will to create. I have brought you here from your nightmares to a happier dream so that we can talk."
"I have dreamed this before?"
"That you have, I believe you had this dream not long after you first met the young maiden, Tsukino Usagi Serenity."
Now taking a second good look at the valley in front of her, Hotaru finally began to remember the dream. Giggling, she said, "Hai, I do remember now. That strange machine down there created a slew of…" But singing of "The wonderful thing about Tiggers is…" cut off Hotaru's reply as the valley was suddenly filled with singing and bouncing Tiggers. This time not afraid of getting in trouble for playing with the cloning machine Hotaru smile grew even larger and she said "Sugoi." Then remembering that there were two other people down there in that mayhem, a stricken look crossed Hotaru's face and she dashed off the ridge and down into the valley. Weaving and dodging her way through the Tiggers and bouncing with the occasional Tigger that caught hold of her, she finally made it to where the two victims of ChibiUsa's button pushing were huddled on the ground with their arms over their heads.
"Come; let me help you get you to safety." Saturn said to the two.
Looking up at the kind voice that had called out to them, LH and Patch's expression uplifted at the sight of Hotaru. Quickly grabbing a hold of her hands, the two were helped to their feet. And then once they had securely grabbed a hold of their savoir, Hotaru with powerful leaps leapt clear of the mayhem and brought them up to the edge of the forest.
"Arigato" both LH and Patch said to Hotaru as they stepped away and then with a change of scene they were gone along with the valley filled with Tigger clones. Instead the valley was now filled with wild flowers as a spring breeze wafted through the air.
"Child I know that your heart grieves from the loss of your father." Helios said to Hotaru "And that you fear your own power. I cannot quell you demons; it is something that you must face on your own. But I can tell you this: that in time you will learn to look on your power as a gift instead of a curse.
"But that is not why I brought you here to your dreams. I am need of your help. I know of the prophecy that tells of how to awaken her Highness. To awaken her, the power of the Earth needs to awaken. Because of my connection to the Earth, I can feel the presence of the other four elements, and of late I have felt tepid pulses of power from the element of Wind. However, I cannot leave Elusion undefended. Instead, I need you to find and awaken the element of Wind." Helios explained while placing a hand on Hotaru's head. And with his touch, Hotaru felt a warmth rush into her body as he transferred to her the ability to sense the element of Wind.
With his task complete, Helios slowly lowered Hotaru to the ground. Smiling as he watched the young girl peacefully dream, he stepped out of her dream and returned to Elusion proper to a less pleasant task of fortifying that world's defenses against the attacks by the other moon queen.
The following day found Luna sitting up in a tree and bathing in the sunlight as she kept a lazy eye on her charge, watching her through a window. Normally she would be inside curled up under Hotaru's chair, but this was art class and she had quickly made the decision that Hotaru should be able to face one class by herself. This of course had nothing to do with getting streaks of paint into her fur for the third day in a row, nothing at all. But if she didn't have to deal with multi-colored fur and multi-hour long baths to remove the paint, all the better. Hearing the gentle sway of a branch as it took some additional weight; Luna looked away form the building and was not surprised to see Diana there as well. Then slightly frowning, Luna realized that something was bothering the kitten.
"Muzume what appears to be troubling you?"
Brought out of her contemplations, Diana looked up at the concerned look of her mother. "I want to do something to help ChibiUsa and Hotaru, but I am not supposed to do it. But I know that they would be much better off if I did." Diana said.
Suppressing a chuckle Luna had at least an idea of the source of Diana's troubles. "I am guessing that your problem is associated with the future and not revealing what shouldn't be. I can only offer you this advice, which is what Usagi always does and serves her very well: follow your heart. As long as you listen to it, then it won't lead you astray."
Nodding her understanding, Diana replied, "I think I know what you mean momma." Then getting up from the tree, Diana jumped down to the ground before turning and looking back at her mother with a smirk on her face. But only pausing for a moment, Diana let her kitten form grow into that of a human child. Now seeing the dumb founded look on her mother, Diana's smile grew even bigger. But not saying a word, Diana turned on her heals and began walking towards the school, intent on enrolling herself into ChibiUsa's class.
As for Luna, she remained stunned on the tree limb as she watched her daughter's metamorphosis into a human child. How, can that be? she asked herself. But even as she vocalized that question the answers began coming to her in a torment. Now with the mental link made, she could clearly remember being in both her cat and human forms, for that was one of the traits of her people. And as those memories came she realized that quite a few of the memories she already had were incorrect, for whereas she had originally seen herself and Artemis as cats in those memories, she was actually in her human form in those. Well then this will make looking after Hotaru much easier. thought Luna with a smile, a statement that was far more true than she realized.
Having collected the day's mail, Ikuko walked back to the house. As she did so, she mentally ran through her checklist of things she needed to take care of before the children got home from school. She had everything that she needed for dinner and all of the errands that she had slated for today were already taken care of. That then just left the daily cleaning of the house and as she looked around the downstairs while leafing through the mail she was satisfied that things appeared to be sufficiently clean. And so with everything taken care of, she could indulge in a cup of tea and relax for the last remaining hours of peace before the end of school. Still leafing through the mail, she headed into the kitchen. Then reaching the bottom of the pile she came across a letter whose return address indicated that it was from the Agency of Children Services, ACS.
Pulling that final letter out of the stack, Ikuko placed the rest of the mail down on the counter and released a sigh. She already knew the gist of what the letter was going to say and was not looking forward to breaking the news to Hotaru and ChibiUsa. And even though she was having a hard time trying to help the two cope with their trauma, she did not want to give up Hotaru. Hotaru's adoption after all was Usagi's last wish. Then there was also the issue of what would be best of Hotaru's recovery. Ikuko had no illusions that due to Hotaru's gift she would have a hard time fitting in at a different school. And that without ChibiUsa there as her friend, Hotaru could very well end up regressing even if she did get out of this depression sooner.
Knowing that Usagi deserved to hear the news, Ikuko headed upstairs to her daughter's room. Then sitting down on the bed beside her daughter, Ikuko placed a hand on the crystal that encased the girl, Ikuko did not say anything for the first few moments, instead just letting her love for her daughter flow between them. "Usagi, I wish I could give you good news and tell you that Hotaru and ChibiUsa are doing better. Unfortunately, they are still taking you loss hard and now with Mamoru and the other girls all busy with exams it seems to be hitting them even harder. I have tried to be there for them, but I have to admit that you are a much better mother than me with matters of the heart. Even with both you and Shingo, I am just not as good as you instinctively are. Unfortunately, I think that is another reason why they are taking it so hard, as for at least ChibiUsa you have been a pillar of support that has kept her from cracking all of these months that she has been herewith us. Without your unconditional love, I don't think she would have been able to handle the strain. And now she is being forced to face that loss without you at the same time she is facing her loss of you.
"I know your heart is so large that you can work miracles with it, so I have no doubt that you'll find a way to return, just so that you can be there for ChibiUsa and Hotaru. I just hope that you find that way before long." Ikuko said to her daughter, a speech that was similar in theme to her various monologues with her daughter these past weeks. While the specifics differed each time she gave it, the substance of ChibiUsa and Hotaru needing Usagi was always the same and Ikuko always ended her talks with an assurance for herself that Usagi would find a way to cheat death one more time. After all she had worked a miracle in the artic in order to protect her daughter and Ikuko had no doubt that Usagi could do it again.
Ikuko continued to sit beside Usagi's still body for another ten minutes before she remembered the letter that she had in her hand. "Oh, Usagi a letter came in the mail that concerns you. I know you had promised Hotaru that you would be her new mother, but you have to remember that the state has the ultimate say in the matter. And they aren't going to look very favorable on your ability to care for Hotaru given your state and that even my ability to care for Hotaru would be quite limited. However, we have at least been able to take care of her for a bit and I am sure that once you are better that her foster parents would have no problem with you being a "big sister" to her." Ikuko said, consoling her daughter for what she knew would be a big let down.
Then opening the letter she pulled out the contents and begin to quickly scan over the cover letter before she began to read it to her daughter, knowing that Usagi would get lost in the legalese that might be up front in the document. However, as she read the letter, her mind froze as her eyes went wide, though she did not stop reading. How? I was sure that there was no way. And while I did tell the police about Usagi's pledge, I only told them as being what Hotaru had said with regard to the matter. They… Ikuko thought to herself, not quite being able to make sense of the letter. Not because she didn't understand its contents, but because she didn't understand how it could be. They didn't have any friends in high places who could have arranged for this outcome, so how was it that the state agreed to recognize the adoption? An adoption by a mother who was in all practical matters dead and she hadn't misread that section. She had reread it five times, before she was sure that they had said Usagi and not herself. Then noticing the other documents that she had allowed to fall to the floor with the envelope as she had read the cover letter, she picked them up. Leafing through these she was equally startled to find a birth certificate for ChibiUsa. Though the date of birth field did not include a birth year and two additional fields were added to the form: an age as of field giving her age as 909 years as of the current year and an apparent age field giving here apparent age in the current year as nine.
"…Okay…" Ikuko slowly said to herself as she picked the envelope up to recheck everything to make sure that it was not a hoax or a forgery by one of the other girls. But everything looked in order and the letter had been mailed only the previous day. Picking up the birth certificate and certificate of adoption, Ikuko examined the seals and decided that they looked authentic.
Now turning with a big smile on her face, Ikuko dropped all of the documents as she wrapped her arms around the crystal which held Usagi. Weeping tears of joy, she spoke, "Usagi you were right after all. I should have known that you would find a way to make the impossible possible. ACS has approved of your adoption of Hotaru, I don't know how it happened, but you are now the proud mother of two. And the state even recognizes that you are the birth mother of ChibiUsa, how they found out about her real age I have no idea and how it got through the system is an even a bigger mystery. But you have someone out there looking for you.
"And of course we will throw Hotaru a nice large party tonight. After all we have to welcome her officially into the family. But don't worry about missing it; we will just have to do it all over again once you get better." Ikuko said.
"Hmm… I wonder what kind of ice-cream she likes." Ikuko asked herself. Then realizing that she didn't have the necessary items on hand for a party, she sat back up. "Honey, I'm sorry but I am going to have to run. I just realized that I need to do some more shopping if I want to be able to have that party tonight. But don't worry; I will be sure to let you know how it all goes tomorrow." Ikuko said as she gathered up the documents and left the room.
Arriving back downstairs, Ikuko began to sort through the papers, determining which ones that she should take to the bank to place in a safe deposit box after she made some copies. The school would probably need one to recognize that change in guardianship of Hotaru. Wait what is this third certificate for? Certificate of birth for ChibiChibi, daughter of Ikuko and Kenji Tsukino? Ikuko thought to herself before exclaiming out loud, "Nani!" Does this mean that we are about to get another guest. And what is this about her being my daughter? The birth certificate for ChibiUsa listed Usagi and Mamoru as her parents, so why would this one list me and Kenji as her parents and what kind of name is ChibiChibi?
However, those were questions for which there were no answers and no way to get any answers at the moment. There was a chance that ChibiUsa might know something about this ChibiChibi, maybe she did come form the future and was just a younger sister of Usagi. After all, she guessed that it might have been reasonably safe to put Usagi down as the mother of ChibiUsa, since biologically there was no way that a 14 year old could have carried a 9 year old child and instead of child abuse people probably would think weird science. But throw a 3 year old into the mix and well that started to become feasible and Usagi did not need people thinking that she had been subjected to statutory rape. So maybe that was why ChibiChibi was going to be her and Kenji's daughter. But there was nothing she could do about it now and if she wanted to make it back in time to get the surprise party ready, she needed to get going. So putting the question of who this ChibiChibi was, Ikuko gathered up the documents and headed out of the house.
Doodling in her notebook, Hotaru impatiently waited for the day to end. Since the start of the day she hadn't been really able to focus on her classes, elements of her dream replaying themselves in her mind. For the first time since the incident she was not torn up with grief, instead she now had a purpose. She didn't know why she knew the dream was true or why she felt fate needed her to go on this quest. But there was no doubt in her mind that she would not be returning to the Tsukinos tonight. No tonight she would begin her quest. Once school let out, she would begin her trek to the west, to where she felt the tug of the wind. What she needed to do when she got there she knew not, but if she could save Usagi, her new momma, she would do whatever she could.
"Hotaru-chan could you solve the problem?" the math teacher asked, ripping Hotaru out of her daydream.
Having been daydreaming the entire class, Hotaru had missed the entire lesson. Thankfully, however with the private tutoring she had been getting at home before she started attending school, she was above her grade level in most of her subjects. But both her father and the school officials had felt it best that she be placed with kids her own age, something that Hotaru was quite grateful for. As it was, it was that extra tutoring that kept Hotaru from getting in trouble, allowing her to give the correct answer of 4.
"Thank you Hotaru." The teacher said before moving on to target the next student who was getting too anxious about the end of class.
When the bell finally rang, Hotaru quickly gathered up her belongings and made a mad dash for the door. Normally she was one of the last students out of the school at the end of the day, preferring to walk at a more reasonable pace. However, today she had one shadow that she needed to get rid of and she hoped that by leaving in the mad rush of kids she would catch Luna unaware.
And as she passed through the gate of the school, Hotaru smiled with relief as she saw that Luna was nowhere in sight. Making a quick right, she continued heading down the sidewalk, or at least tried to. A hand that reached out and grabbed a hold of her though had other plans and Hotaru was quickly waylaid.
"And where do you think you are getting off to so fast young lady?" Luna asked.
"Huh?" came Hotaru's startled reply from one hearing Luna out in public and two from when she got a good look at the woman holding her and noticed a golden crescent moon on her forehead. "Luna?"
"Hai, it's me. Diana just reminded me this afternoon that both Artemis and I can take a human form in addition to that of our house cat form. I had been a bit curious as to how our race had managed to achieve interstellar travel given the inability to grasp objects in our feline form." Luna explained. For her part, Hotaru just stared with her mouth open, not quite knowing what to think. "Come on, let's go to the Crown Fruit Parlor, I suddenly have a craving for some ice-cream. Tuna and milk just don't have the same appeal anymore now that I am back in my human form." And so, with that Luna lead a still stunned Hotaru off to get an after school snack.
While Luna and Hotaru headed off to the Crown Fruit Parlor for ice-cream and talk, Minako headed out of the city limits as soon as she was able to escape from her own day of school. A couple of students who saw her pass by at the end of the day could have sworn they heard a sonic boom following her passage. But they quickly dismissed that thought as that would just be absurd. For Minako the reason for her hurry was that she wanted to make sure she was back in time to watch her favorite anime series when it came on at nine – "The Further Adventures of Sailor V".
Quickly changing into her Sailor Venus form as soon as she found a little seclusion in an alleyway, Venus then continued the trek at an even higher speed. As she dashed down the city streets, she did not pay any heed to the angry yells she received from the drivers passing through the Juuban ward over using their car roofs as spring boards. Finally reaching the edge of the city limits, she found a truck making good time down the highway heading her direction and she hopped a lift. Sitting back and enjoying the view from the roof of the trailer she began to run through exactly what she needed to do when she arrived at her destination. She and Sailor Erion had worked through it all yesterday, but her time in England as Sailor V had taught her that it was always good to review the plan of attack many times whenever circumstances forced her to have to meet with brass. While street cops were easy to get along with, the higher ups tended to dismiss her out of hand if she did not come in ready to fight a verbal tooth and nail battle for what she needed.
"Ami, coming to the shrine to study?" Makoto asked her friend as the two of them left the school grounds.
"Iie, not today." Ami replied, trying to keep her inner emotions in check. "I have to get some books from the library for my advanced physics exam."
"Ok then, you have fun there. I am sure we are going to be having just as much fun." Makoto said with the dry humor of a kid being forced to go study.
Waving bye to her friend, Ami watched her vanish around the corner before turning and walking in a direction opposite of the library. Then after waiting a few minutes for the bus to arrive, she boarded it. Taking the first available seat she sat down and allowed herself to relax slightly as the bus began to pull away. Absently noting someone sitting down beside her, Ami did bother to look up, focused as she was on the reason for why she had just lied to her friend.
"You may have been able to trick Makoto, but I know you too well Mizuno-chan." A familiar voice said from beside Ami, causing her to jump slightly in surprise.
Quickly trying to grab a hold of her wits, a now blushing Ami turned to regard Ryo. "Ryo-kun what are you doing here?"
"That was what I was going to ask you." A grinning Ryo replied. Then turning more seriously he said, "I know that something is bothering you Ami. Let me help you."
"Iie, there is nothing wrong." Ami replied
However, Ryo did not take that explanation and he let Ami know by reaching out his hand to take a hold of one of hers. "Ami you can't hide it from me, I know there is something wrong. After all you just lied to Makoto and the only reason why I was able to follow you onto this bus is because I phased out of the visible." Ryo said before pausing, then seeing Ami's slight nod indicating her capitulation he continued. "Tell me what is wrong; even if I can't help, at least talking about it will help you."
Taking a deep breath, Ami steeled her nerves before responding. "Hai, I will tell you, but not till we get to my destination."
"Ok" Ryo agreed before sitting back in his seat and wrapping an arm around Ami, an arm that was quickly appreciated by Ami as she leaned in against his body and closed her eyes.
At the Crown Fruit Parlor, Hotaru and Luna shared a banana split. For the first half of the treat, Luna just savored the tastes and sensations developing a quick appreciation as to why Usagi liked these treats so much and knowing that it would take all of her will-power to not follow after Usagi with regard to sweets. Back during the Silver Millennium she would have been able to handle the occasional sweet with out issue, but after being trapped in her feline form for so long, the tastes that came with her human form were all the more overwhelming.
Now having satisfied the initial cravings that came when the Sunday had been placed down in front of the two of them, a reaction that had even caused Hotaru to giggle, Luna could once again think straight. Looking across the table at her charge who was more sedately eating her share of the treat, she realized that Hotaru was looking more troubled than normal and then there was that issue of Hotaru trying to dash off without her after school.
"Hotaru-chan is something bother you?" Luna asked
"Iie, everything is fine." Hotaru lied, as she wandered how she was going to get away from Luna now.
"If that is the case, where were you off to in such a hurry after school today?" Luna asked.
"umm… well…" Hotaru stammered not knowing how to explain her actions to Luna and knowing that she was busted.
"Hotaru, before you answer that let me explain something to you. Her highness, ChibiUsa, has now assigned me as your guardian. This means my primary job is to look after you and to keep your confidence. I have a feeling that you were not planning on returning home this afternoon. If that is the case, my job is to go with you, not to stop or tattle on you. I am only supposed to help you learn to make the right decision at any point and then be there for you when things don't work out. I may nag you until you return home, but I won't stop you and if you want me to stay as a cat during the entire time then I will unless you life is in danger." Luna explained
Taking sometime to absorb what Luna said, Hotaru finally nodded her understanding. And as she did so, the pit of concern that the had over what the had been about to do, even though she knew in her heart that it was the right action, began to lift, as she realized that this was a good turn of events. And so with that, Hotaru began describing her dream from the night before and what she felt she needed to do. While obviously not pleased with Hotaru's chosen course of action, Luna held true to her word and agreed to accompany Hotaru on her journey. However, she did convince Hotaru that she should return tonight and instead plan to leave in two days time. The following day was just a half day, so they could use the afternoon to buy supplies that they would need on the trip and then they would leave in the early hours of the following morning – with a note left to alleviate the concerns of the Tsukinos.
Arriving at the outskirts of the Zima military base, Venus leapt off the roof of "ride", and down onto the ground. One nice thing about their enhanced Senshi abilities was that it made jumping onto and off of fast moving vehicles as simple as riding a bike, which was very helpful for traveling long distances in a hurry. While they could run quite fast, especially when they were sprinting, there was no way she would have been able to keep up any kind of fast pace in making it all of the way out here from Tokyo.
Now regarding the exterior fence of the air base, Venus began to consider what her best approach to gain entrance would be. While she had thought out in detail her discussion with the base commander, she hadn't really considered how she was going to get an audience with him. Ever since her "talk" with Erion some weeks ago, she knew that she needed to begin coordinating with the military. The haphazard impromptu coordination of the previous incidents while fine then was not going to be sufficient for this looming new crisis. And especially given that with the loss of Sailor Moon, ChibiMoon and Pluto, their own strength now was far less than what it had been before. And while Hotaru did have tremendous potential, Venus also knew that with as young and inexperienced as she was, her strength probably lay only slightly stronger than ChibiMoon, the Mugen incident being a special care.
The chatter of a group approaching her from behind broke Venus out of her contemplation. Turning her gaze from the fence to look down the street, she saw a group of soldiers returning from what she figured was either an afternoon of leave or an early dinner on the town. Hmm, now why does that one seem familiar to me? Venus thought to herself after getting a good look at one of the soldiers as they approached. She really hadn't had a good look at any of the soldiers who had helped them in the past and the one that had drawn her attention was wearing a pilot's uniform and she knew that she hadn't seen any of the pilots. The only ones the group who had seen one of the pilots had been ChibiUsa, Hotaru and Diana and that had been just that one night when Hotaru and ChibiUsa had faced off against Kaolinite, the last time any of them had seen that witch. Wait that's it. That must be Keffer. Venus thought to herself as she now recalled Diana's description of the off-duty pilot who had come across ChibiUsa and Hotaru.
Now sporting a nice large smile, Venus broke away from the building side she had been leaning against so as to not draw too much attention and began strolling over to the group. And then as she began to get close, she called out, "Konichiwa Keffer-san." drawing their attention.
Looking towards the source of the girl's voice, Keffer along with the rest of his flight group found the voice's owner to be a teenage girl dressed as one of the Sailor Senshi.
"Keffer-san, I didn't know you knew the Sailor Senshi?" Ivanova asked / stated with an edge to her voice which the rest of the group instantly recognized as meaning you better start explaining or its going to get quite painful for you quite fast.
"I don't or at least I don't think I do. Though, I did help one of their allies a while back. Remember that girl I saw the last time we were out on liberty?"
"Oh your underaged lover who you risked getting run over by a half dozen cars to spend the evening with instead of us." One of the others replied, eliciting a grown from Keffer, a smirk from Ivanonva and a raised eyebrow from Venus.
"Yes, that one. Well turns out she is a friend of the Sailor Senshi. Actually she isn't even human. You remember that kitten I had for a while."
"Hai" the others replied not seeing where this was going, nor did Venus though she did figure that the kitten must have been Diana, but that still left the question of the girl's identity.
"Well turns out the kitten and the girl are one in the same." Keffer replied
"Nani!" exclaimed the others including Venus.
"Hai, apparently she is some kind of magical creature that is able to take both a human and kitten form. Though, she was not really supposed to use her human form for some reason." Keffer explained, not really convincing the others, but giving them a sufficient explanation for how Sailor Venus might know him.
Then turning to regard the Sailor Senshi in question, they found her to be muttering under her breath about a fleabag that was making her do all the work when he could open all those tuna cans perfectly fine on his own. Noticing that she appeared to be getting herself worked up over something, none of the group really wanted to disturb her. After all she looked like a time-bomb about ready to go off; however, at the same time Keffer knew that he had no choice. She obviously was here for a reason and she had identified him so she was his responsibility.
With much trepidation, Keffer gingerly walked up to Venus and gently tapped her arm while in a quite voice said, "Venus-sama."
Thrown for a loop for a moment, Venus quickly came back to why she was here as she took stock of where she was while letting her grumblings over Artemis be forgotten. "Keffer-san if it wouldn't trouble you too much, could you escort me to the commanding officer of this base. I have some important matters that I need to discuss with him."
"Hai, of course. This way please." Kefffer said as he began escorting the teenaged warrior into the military base.
Of course getting into the base took a little longer than normal, since it took a little bit of time to get the stunned MP functioning again after meeting a Sailor Senshi for real. The pilots and gunners of course had no problem with meeting one of the legendary Sailor Senshi, after all their awe over these mythical beings was taken care of the first time they had to fight the equally mythical monsters. And then of course once he was functioning again properly there was the issue of signing autographs and Venus posing for photographs, something that she seemed all too eager to do and which had Keffer mumbling about how she already was thinking like a politician. But eventually ten minutes later than it should have taken they were in the base proper and heading for general's house, since it was after all after then end of his day. Though, thankfully at least the young MP had the task of calling the general and interrupting his dinner and not him, a task that Keffer did not envy the MP for, even though the MP was delivering good news.
A little more than an hour after they got on the bus, Ryo and Ami arrived at a woodland park on the outskirts of Tokyo. Not saying anything, the two of them slowly walked into the park and away from the other hikers. As they walked, Ryo held Ami's hand and he could feel the tension and unease that was quickly building up in her body and he wondered yet again what could be bothering her so much. He knew that Usagi's loss had hurt her very deeply, but he had thought that she had gotten over the worst of it with the help of her new dog. Speaking of which, as he looked down, he noticed that said dog was now walking on the other side of Ami.
Now wait a second, that dog was nowhere on the bus and I am sure that even a moment ago he wasn't here. Ryo thought to himself upon seeing Youko on the other side of Ami. Looking a little more closely at Youko, Ryo noticed that he had a very unique coat with a shine that at times made it look as if it were silver and now looking even more closely he was able to make out a faint hint of blue to the coat as well. Chuckling a little over that discovery, Ryo thought Well that fits. Being Mercury and all Ami does seem to have a predisposition to fresh water and the color light blue.
Finally reaching what Ami apparently thought was a secluded enough area, she stopped for a moment in silence. Letting go of Ami's hand, Ryo followed by Youko stepped back to the edge of the little alcove that they now found themselves in while Ami proceeded to walk forward into the center of the opening. Once she arrived there, she pulled out her computer and did a quick scan of the area before putting it back away. And then with a flick of the wrist she had her transformation wand in her hand. Catching her eyes, Ryo gave her an encouraging wink, now beginning to realize that Ami had some kind of concern over her Sailor power.
Gathering all of her courage, Ami held her transformation wand in front of her chest and then with all of her heart she called out her transformation phrase as she cut down through the air with the wand. However, to the surprise of Ryo and to her sorrow, the wand refused to activate. Bringing her hand back up she tried again and again, each time her voice loosing its strength before after the sixth time she finally collapsed to the ground, her body racked by sobs.
Moving the instant she collapsed, Ryo was able to pull his sobbing girlfriend into his arms while Youko came up and began running his muzzle against her back. Lowering himself into a comfortable sitting position, Ryo adjusted Ami's position so that she now rested sideways against him. Then placing some light kisses into her hair, he slowly began to rub circles in her back with his right hand while Youko placed his head down in her lap and gave a quiet whine.
The minutes ticked by with the three of them like that till fifteen minutes after she had collapsed, Ami had regained sufficient control over her sorrow that she was able to look up into Ryo's face. Seeing an expression of thanks on her tear drenched face, Ryo replied with a kiss showing that he did not mind before he pulled her back against his chest.
Another two minutes passed in silence before Ami finally spoke. "Since the night of the incident, I have felt as if my Mercury power is no longer there. Only tonight I was able to work up the courage to …"
Placing another kiss on his girlfriend's hair, Ryo shushed her before she began to fall apart again. "Don't worry about it, I am sure the others would be feeling the same way if they had lost their powers as well. And you are Usagi's friend not because you are Sailor Mercury but because you are Ami."
"No buts Ami. I know Usagi isn't here with us now, but ChibiUsa and Hotaru are and they have just as an open heart as their mother. Anyways I am sure that your loss of power is only temporary, you have been through a lot in these past few months. I don't care if you were a soldier in your past life we are still children in this one and you can't expect to be as strong as you once were."
Hearing the logic in what Ryo was saying Ami let herself be comforted more while the scientific part of her brain began to return to the forefront and rebuilt her confidence as it began laying out how to think otherwise given the current facts would just not be logical. "Hai, you're right Ryo-kun." Ami replied before giving Ryo a kiss before saying "Arigatoo."
Giving her a squeeze, Ryo grinned. "It is nothing, and I just want you to be happy. Now I think there is someone you are neglecting." Ryo said while indicating Youko who had a large set of puppy dog eyes at the moment.
Laughing to herself, Ami reached out and began to scratch behind Youko's ears. Watching Ami interact with her dog, Ryo couldn't help but to grin, knowing that for at least the moment Ami's fears had been fully squashed. There is something special about Youko there; I can feel it in the ancient part of my soul. He just seems to appear and disappear as Ami needs him to, I don't think I have ever seen Youko come or go he is always just suddenly there or not there. I wouldn't be surprised if Youko and Ami's loss of power are related. It would be just like Usagi to find a way to craft the power of Mercury into a pet that could be there for Ami. What better way to help Ami, as she will always feel at ease with Youko since he is her. Ryo thought to himself with a smile. And while his realization was quite correct it was also very wrong.
Arriving home after having finished their ice cream treat as well as some window shopping, which Luna had insisted on to allow her to began to figure out what she and Hotaru would need for their trek, Hotaru who was now carrying Luna in her cat form opened the door to the house and stepped inside. Immediately she was greeted by a worried Ikuko, who quickly wrapped her up into a hug.
"Hotaru-chan you had me worried. You are never out this late after school; you should have called me first." Ikuko gently scolded.
Feeling guilty now over her original plan of disappearing without leaving any note for her adopted family, Hotaru hung her head low. "Gomen-nasi Ikuko-mama."
"Actually, Ikuko-san it is my fault that Hotaru was not home at her normal time today." Luna said as she leapt out of Hotaru's arms.
"Hai, thanks to Diana, I remembered something significant that I had forgotten." Luna said as she transformed back into her human form. "And as you might be able to imagine, I was a bit anxious to get reacquainted with this body."
"Ah… yes I can see." Ikuko managed to say as her mind went for a loop over seeing Luna turn into a very attractive looking young woman who appeared to be in her young twenties. Now Ikuko, Luna turning into a human is no more strange than her being able to talk and actually makes a bit more sense. Ikuko told herself as she began to accept what she had just seen. "This will take a little getting used to, but now I have another set of hands around here." Ikuko replied with a smile that made Luna shiver a bit as she realized that her free ride at the Tsukinos was now over. "Though I am a bit surprised by how young you look, I guess I was expecting you to be a bit older."
Smiling, Luna replied, "Iie, I am around the same effective age as Serenity was before the fall. And the same is true of Artemis, which is why we were to be her advisors and were not her mother's advisors."
"Well then, I guess it is a good thing I am still fixing meals as if Usagi was here in terms of the amount of food I prepare. I am assuming that Diana can also take a human form; you did mention her being the reason why you remembered that you could take this form. Now come on you two, the others are starting to become impatient for dinner." Ikuko said as she escorted them over to the table.
Sitting down, Luna took notice of the more intricate layout of food than normal while Ikuko explained her situation to Shingo and Kenji and Diana took her human form as well. Then accepting the offered additional plate from Ikuko, Luna joined the others in loading up her plate.
Sometime later, once they had finished eating, Ikuko cleared the plates from the table with Luna's help. Then once Luna had reseated, Ikuko went into the kitchen and brought out a cake getting everyone's attention.
"Minna-san, today we received great news. Today is the day when Hotaru officially became part of our family. Usagi received in the mail today a letter from ACS containing the approved adoption papers for Hotaru." Ikuko said
"Hotaru-chan!" ChibiUsa exclaimed at an ear blasting decibel level as she cleared the table and latched onto Hotaru pulling her down to the ground in a tackle hug.
Luna chuckled to herself for a moment before catching Diana's eye and then the two of them launched them selves at the pair of kids further adding to the rolling ball of hugs.
While Shingo looked on at the group of girls unsure if he wanted to join in or not, Kenji looked up at his wife and asked, "How?"
"I have no idea. I can only assume that Usagi somehow managed to work another miracle." A statement that was for more true than she realized, though it was no miracle, just the arrival of the right documents in the right places all arranged by one pint sized absolute innocence version of Cosmos.
"So let me get this straight you want to propose a military alliance between the Sailor Senshi and the JDF?" General Yamato stated.
"Hai, with the loss of Sailor Moon and Pluto our strength is severely diminished and I have been told there is another more dangerous threat heading our way. It may be here in a few years or it could get here sooner."
"Your suggestion does have merit; I will need to talk it over with the ministry of course. But I have seen the results of when our forces and your team coordinate their efforts and I am not above admitting that you girls do a far better job at fighting these things than our best trained soldiers." Yamato said before pausing briefly.
"While I have to wait for the ministry's approval before we can make this official. I look forward to this partnership. Can you be here at the same time tomorrow evening; I would like to introduce you to the senior field officers." Yamato said continuing, knowing that it would be beneficial to get at least an initial meeting done soon so that his soldiers could fight along side the Sailor Senshi without being star-struck.
"Hai, no problem. Oh, one more thing. I would like you to consider having Sailor Mercury work with your defense suppliers to develop weaponry that will be more effective against demons than what you currently have." Seeing the general's questioning look, Venus elaborated. "The Moon Kingdom, even though it has been gone for a thousand years was far more advanced than any of the nations on earth. And we had a regular military in addition to the Sailor Senshi. While we don't remember that much personally, Mercury has a large database of information stored on her computer and I am sure if you throw her into a room with some of your own tech wizards you will be very happy with what they turn out."
"I will definitely pass that recommendation along as well. There is a big ruckus over at the ministry currently over the ineffectiveness of our troops against those creatures. I think that offer alone will be enough to get them to agree to a full military alliance with you girls." Yamato replied. "Now if you don't mind me asking how old are you? You don't look like you are even out of school yet."
"Hai, that is correct. I am still in junior high."
"Nani-ka!" Yamato exclaimed stunned by that admission.
"Well I've got to run. Have to get my beauty sleep and all, you know." Venus announced with a smile as she got up from her chair and let herself out of the general's house. Left behind in his den, Yamato was still trying to digest that little bomb shell. After all he had a grand-daughter entering junior high in a few weeks, and it was apparently junior high students who were fighting this war. And he had no delusions that this was a war that was being fought. It was not till half an hour later that Yamato had collected himself and picked up the phone to call his superior with the good news.
From the top of a tower of a thousand year old castle in Scotland, a teenaged girl looked up the gibbous moon that hung in the sky. Fingering the turnip earring she had just removed, she closely regarded the waxing shape of the moon while tilting her head slightly to the side. Holding a letter from her father in her hand, the girl wondered if she should tell her father of her discovery, after all it was a incredible discovery something that heshould really dedicate a whole issue to. But as important as the event was, she realized that it was not time for the world to know what had happened. With the shadow gaining strength every day it was best if the conception which had occurred a few days ago went unnoticed. After all, the moon's light would be weak for a while; she just hoped that the Lion's heir would not suffer too much before the ray of light recovered.
Turning away from the night sky, she shoved the parchment into her pocket and headed back into the castle, questions and lines of inquiry already forming in her mind. The time available for the two heirs was now short; they would need to learn the power of the angels and of mother earth before that power moved on. Now was the time to review the myths of old and learn of the rite of blood. Stopping to regard one of the stone gargoyles of the castle with a stare for fifteen minutes that finally ended when the stone statue appeared to flinch, she also decided that it was time to begin collecting Jadeite. The angel of Movement would need it when she came to bring ruin and life to the Lion's tower.
-And so begins the third book. While this chapter may have been a bit confusing, it was necessary evil to begin laying out the many story threads that will be woven together in this tapestry.
-I wish I could write good Luna Lovegood, but I imagine that she is probably one of the hardest character to write and I have read only a few stories which have done her well. The problem is that she is very intelligent but that intelligence is hidden behind a veil of what can be considered to be insanity. How much is real and how much is an act, I don't know, but she is a really fun character if written well.
-For those who are wondering how the documents got filed correctly for the adoption of Hotaru, this is what ChibiChibi's finger painting at the end of book II was about. Each finger painting represented one set of documents. Hearts and Rabbits made ChibiChibi Usagi's sister, two rabbits made ChibiUsa Usagi's daughter, and fireflies and a rabbit made Hotaru Usagi's daughter. The magic of the Gate of SpaceTime then took care of the rest in translating and delivering said documents. After all with ChibiChibi being the purity of Cosmos heart and innocence, she just needs to put her heart into what she was doing and then indecipherable child artwork will become something real.
-And now for the bad news. I am afraid that updates on this story may not come as often I am going to want them. I had hoped to be able to pick up the pace of story writing, but it looks like I am not going to be able to do that. Earlier this summer I learned that I have a serious medical condition, which thankfully for now can be treated by medication. Unfortunately, there are many side effects to the medication, one of which currently is that I have less energy than I used to. Having to spend an extra hour a day sleeping may not seem like much, but when you are already quite busy with life and work, well that becomes significant. However, I will still be writing the chapters and posting them as fast as I can. And as always the best way to motivate a writer is to send reviews and then when he starts procrastinating too much the "Hey hurry up" email is always a useful tool:).