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Chapter 6

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DISCLAIMER: Come on everybody - say it with me now! I don't own Sailor Moon.

EVERYBODY: We don't own Sailor Moon. *snide whisper from the background* We just stole her for recreational purposes!

STORMY: *aghast* HENTAI!!! *mallets the whisperer*

WHISPERER: "....j-just..*gasp*...k-kid...k-idding....*wheeze*...."

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Serena blinked as the sunlight poured into her bedroom, bathing it in a soft golden glow. Pushing the blanket back, she stretched and sat up, yawning hugely, listening as her jaw clicked. Saturday mornings - was there any better time?

" Nope," she murmered, rising gracefully. After Darien had dropped her off the night previous, she had fallen into a deep but not dreamless sleep. She had relived the nightmare over and over, though admittedly, not as clearly as it had when she collapsed in the street. But the basis of it remained the same, and a dim cloud began to gather over her good mood at the memory. Grabbing a towel from the back of her door, she made her way to the bathroom and turned on the shower. Under the carressing spray of the warm water, she allowed her mind to drift over the past few days, mulling over the events in an attempt to make some sense of it. For example, those wierd dreams.

" Where did they come from?" She lathered her hair absently as she recalled the burning pain in her head and shivered. Whatever secrets her past held for her, someone or something didn't want her to know about them. And what connection did Star have to her anyway? " She must be the purple shadow," she decided, remembering those dark violet eyes penetrating through her. " But why did she chase me?" Serena tried to connect the visual dots and failed to come up with an answer. She recalled the last fragment of the dream, those cold eyes and the voice saying goodbye. Somehow, Serena had the feeling that had been more then a dream, that someone or something had kicked her out. _But that's crazy!_ she argued with herself. _Telepathic powers don't really exist, do they?_

_Look at Star_ the voice in her head whispered snidely. _And think about your own powers. Why should this be any less acceptable?_

_Because it just is!_ she protested weakly.

_Scared?_

" No!"

_Liar_

" I'm not lying to myself," she said, trying to convince herself. " I don't know these people, and I'm not scared."

_You're afraid of the past_

" I'm..."

_You're afraid to find out who Star really is_

" But I'm-"

_Afraid_

" SHUT UP!!!" she screamed at the voice. " SHUT UP!!!"

"Serena?" her mother knocked on the door, a note of concern lacing her words. " Are you all right?"

" I-I'm fine, mom" Serena called out shakily. She listened as her mother moved away from the door, and then turned the hot water on as high as it would go, trying to chase out the chill that seemed to wrap itself around her, the previously good mood of the morning fading away. Crouched in the corner of the stall, she wrapped her arms around her legs, oblivious to the near-scalding water striking her body. " I'm just fine."

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Star opened her eyes blearily. _It's too damn early_, was her first coherent thought.Then her eyes narrowed as her memories from the night before came back, and she threw the thin blanket covering her to one side, and sitting up.

" Oowwwww!" she moaned theatrically as a slight pain reminded her of her little psychic jaunt the night before. _At least my barriers are still up_. She frowned, remembering her conversation with Warp. _In more ways then one_.

" Yo, sleeping beauty! Ready to face the world?"

" Only if you're not in it!" she threw back through the closed door.

" Funny," another voice drawled sarcastically. " I thought you were going to say 'which one'?"

" Ha ha," mumbled Star. Dressing quickly, she opened the door and greeted the group of people gathered around the television that was sitting on the dusty floor of the warehouse. " You know that thing rots your brain?"

" Gotta die of something," said Barricade, eyes glued to the flickering screen.

" Never thought it would be of stupidity," Star tossed back. Warp raised her eyebrows.

" You seem to be in a much better mood."

" I am," she said, smiling. " I kicked Serena out of my head, and fortified the walls. She's not gonna be doing any brain-hopping anytime soon."

" I notice you didn't say ever again." Ace glanced at her. Star shrugged and Warp sighed.

" You should consider training her..."

" And I told you that was out of the question!" Star finished for her. She looked with annoyance at the TV set, noticing the rapt attention with which Barricade and Glide were holding the screen.. " And just what are you watching that is so interesting?"

" See for yourself, boss-lady," said Barricade, motioning for her to watch. Star watched poker-faced, as a news team played fragmented clips of their battle from yesterday. The tension began to seek into her stomach muscles. Again.

" Man! They didn't even capture my good side!" complained Barricade. Glide hit him with her breakfast bagle.

" Like you have one, hon?"

Breakfast? Star's nose picked up the scent. Smiling knowingly, Warp held out a takeout bag for her.

" Tim Horton's!" Star closed her eyes in rapture, inhaling the scent of french-vanilla cappuchinno, and a blueberry muffin.

" Fastest tour of Canada I've ever done," grinned Ace, while Warp polished her nails, looking mighty pleased with herself.

" Wasting energy on that kind of a trip, Warp?"

" Hey, if you don't want it..." Warp shrugged.

" I didn't say that!" Star clutched the bag to herself protectively. Ace chuckled and then reached out. Turning off the TV set, he drew everyone's attention. Star sighed, knowing what was about to happen.

" 'Kay guys - we meet the Sailor Scouts in less then an hour. What's the game plan?"

Star sipped her drink. " I think we take down the N'ga down hard and then skip town for a few generations."

" Not like you to run away from a fight, Star."

" Who's running?" Star put the paper cup down. " I just don't want them to get any more mixed up in this then they already are."

" They deserve to be a part of this. They defend this city - and we unleashed a definite evil for them to face," said Ace gently.

Star's fingers clenched. Warp gace Ace a distressed look. He sighed.

" Look Star - I'm not blaming what happened to Warp on you - you know me better then that. NO ONE blames you for what happened."

" I let them get Warp. I let them get the technology." Star's voice was tight and very controlled. " I let them come to this dimension where they have no right to be." She looked up at him, her poker-mask like leader expression fixed firmly in place. " And I will be the one to clean up my mess."

" And we'll be right behind ya with the pooper-scooper!" said Barricade cheerfully. Glide smiled.

" You truly do not believe we would let you do this alone?"

" Gal's gotta try. But seriously? No. That's why we're a team." Star stood up. " And this team has a date with some nasty, interdimensional scumsuckers."

" Shall we?" Ace gestured elegantly towards the black hole Warp had generously whipped up.

" Let's." Star dove through the blackness, feeling it swallow her up. She knew the issue had been dropped rather easily - they would want better reasons from her as to why she would not train Serena in the use of her awakening powers. _If I have my way, they'll stay dormant_. But the effort of maintaining that strong a barrier was a daunting task, even to one as suited to it as she. _I'll have to think of something else_. Then light appeared and Star leaped for it.

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" This is BORING!" complained Serena, rubbing her arms. " And it's cold out here too."

" It's a dirty job," drawled Lita.

" -And someone has to get stuck with it!" finished Rei with a smirk. " So quit your whining, meatball head!"

" Butt out Mars," muttered Serena. The morning was cool, but it was more of an internal chill that caused Serena to shudder. _It's just easier to blame the weather_. She sighed and then returned to scanning the street, Mercury doing the same thing, only more in depth with her visor.

" There's nothing here," reported Amy finally. Lita squinted down the street.

" Well, this is where those guys were supposed to meet us," she said with a hint of annoyance. " You'd think being professional time travellors, they'd be able to show up on time."

" Gee, did someone wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?"

Lita whipped her head around to see Star standing behind her, arms crossed casually. She blushed.

" Um, sorry 'bout that..."

" Forgotten." Star waved a hand a Lita, dismissing the issue. She knew Lita was still untrusting of them - they were unused to dealing with mercenaries after all. Star just hoped that Lita would be able to focus past her moral righteousness she felt she had to uphold, and be a useful ally. " Wouldn't be the first time I've had to work with someone who couldn't stand me."

" What was that?" asked Lita, not hearing. Star gave her a cool smile.

" Nothing Jupiter." She then turned her attention Serena, who looked like she'd rather be anywhere else, then here. " Are you ready?"

" For what?" asked Mina warily. Star sighed, and briefly wondered why she didn't send Ace or Glide to do this.

" To hunt down the N'ga," she said slowly, enunciating carefully. Mina had the decency to blush at so obvious a hint.

" Oh yeah."

" Shouldn't we wait for your team?" asked Rei curiously. Star shook her head.

" They're all ready scouting for the N'ga. I will join them in a moment, near the docks where we fought the last ones. You will search the outer perimiter."

" Why do we stay in the background?" asked Lita challengingly. " You afraid we can't handle it?"

Star reached the end of her limited patience.

" Because, despite the fight you had with these creatures yesterday, you are still nowhere NEAR our level of experience! Because WE know how to track these creatures; we know how to find them, preferably without them knowing about it! Because despite all your training against the Nega-verse, you are still a group of CHILDREN playing games!" Star practically spat out at them, her nerves still on edge. She saw her words hit home.

" We're not childr-" began Jupiter hotly.

" Yes you ARE! You think those creatures are just gonna stand still while you spout poetry before attacking? And your fighting tactics - I saw you. You are still squeamish about gutting these creatures, even though their very presence is evil incarnate." Star stopped ranting and took a deep breath. " Look. It's been a rough couple of days, and if we don't stop these creatures, it's just going to get worse. You will check the perimiter of the wharf. If you see any sign of the creatures, you contact us, and wait for us. DO NOT engage it in battle. We will help you launch an attack, one that will actually do some damage. Is that understood?"

The scouts had taken all this in. Now Jupiter's eyes were flashing at the insinuation that she couldn't handle a foe.

" You wait just a minute-"

" Understood." Jupiter was cut off in mid-retaliation by Serena, who looked up at Star with a guarded expression. Rei and Mina exchanged doubtful glances.

" Sailor Moon?"

" No." Serena stared them down. " These aren't the normal mosters we face. We know very little about them, and we have been hesitant to battle them the way we're supposed to. This will only hurt our efforts." She then turned to face Star who was watching with the faintest hint of approval on her face. " Star - you have our word that we will wait for backup from you if we encounter any of these creatures."

Star nodded slowly, her initail view of Serena undergoing a rapid reassessment. " Good idea, Sailor Moon. It seems you do have some smarts."

Serena blinked, recognizing the veiled compliment. " T-thank you."

" Now let's get to work, people!" Star vaulted into the air and vanished. The Sailor Scouts looked at Serena questioningly.

" You heard her scouts," Serena said, deliberately avoiding a discussion. " Let's go."

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