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SAILOR MOON ETERNAL

"The 6th Season of the Sailor Moon Saga"

By Haruka Kou

Chapter 31: Team Spirit

A little while later, as the sun slowly rises, the aftermath of the cleanup is almost as tomenting as the night's battle. Everyone was exhausted in mind and spirit alike, as Rei wrings her hands, and threatens to wring annoying necks, too, at the near destruction of her grandfather's temple.

"How am I going to explain this to Gramps?!" Rei, with her hair pulled back in a cleaning scarf bun, puts her hands on her hips as her sooty ashen face looks as if she could spit fire as well.

"Just tell him there was a terrible storm and the temple was struck by lightning." Lita offers helpfully, though she didn't like to lie, but in this case, who would ever believe that evil bad guys would've come and blown up a temple?

"No, no! Aliens from outer space landed their USO on the roof and it collapsed under the intense heat of their back thrusters and-" Mina's imaginative eyes were wild as she tries to push away all their fears with a little uplifting sci-fi.

"That's 'UFO,' Mina." Artemis sighs. Nothing seemed to be able to uplift the serious situation befalling them as everyone else sighs along with him.

"Just keep sweeping, Mina." Rei answers, though grateful for at least the little help the gang could offer.

Those who stuck around that is! Terry taking right off like that! It left Alex in a really, REALLY rotten mood! She'd been bossing everyone around, until she dragged Sayer and Michelle off, too! Then, Darien decided to take Tara off to school!

"Hurry up on fixing that roof, Chad!" Rei directs her attention upwards at the banging, skyward boy. "Gramps will be back tomorrow and he'll be really steamed this time if he comes back to find a big hole in his roof!" Rei grunts in frustration.

"Double time, Rei! You got it!" Always eager to please Rei, Chad continues his banging with a hammer on the roof with clumsy slaps and moves.

If you don't fall and kill yourself first!

Rei twists her lip, mopping up yet more black debris snowing down from the banging hammer overhead. She looks up from picking up pieces of beat up furniture to find the four sisters conversing with Luna, with serious looks in all their eyes.

"We think we know who they are." Prizma was explaining to Serena and Amy.

"If we're from a thousand years in the future and they're from the present time Black Moon-then maybe, just maybe...they're our ancestors!" Birdie says, that lookalike double from before was obviously part of her bloodline.

"Well, how can that be? I thought your ancestors were from the Black Moon, Nemesis?" Lita, mop in hand, joins in the discussion.

"Yeah, but they weren't always. A long time ago, the story goes, the reason that we had all despised the people of this planet, was because someone-here in the past-had banished us to Nemesis to live in the darkness, where there was never light, nor anything beautiful or green. Maybe these are the ancestors that will be banished! And maybe..." Prizma trails off her tale, looking down.

"Maybe...?" Amy prompts her friend quizzically.

"Maybe you're the ones who banished us." Avery finishes her sister's sentence, looking at the Sailor Soldiers around with the accusation, eyes slitting at them.

At those harsh words, Serena looks up from her sorrowful reverie, meeting Avery's suspicious eyes.

"Are we? I don't know what to do, Avery! I don't know what else I can do! Luna! I'm frightened!" Serena scoops up her guardian cat, squeezing her tightly in her confusion as to what to do or say to her friends.

"Hey, guys! Serena is our friend! Our true friend!" Catzie suddenly defends, coming out of her quiet thoughts.

"Yeah, she showed us how to live right and good!" Birdie chimes in.

"You're right. I'm sorry, Serena. It's just hard to let go of the hatred you've been taught all your life." Avery says, patting Serena's head.

"And Serena," Prizma's lost in thought face turns to the rising sun, as she says with conviction, "you do what you have to do for this bright world to continue. You do what it takes. We're with you. Right, sisters?" The natural leader, she exchanges nods with them.

"Right!" Serena is strengthened by their words, by their deep friendship. "Thanks, guys..." she whispers as she steels herself for the fight up ahead.

With a hug and a reassuring kiss goodbye to each of the sisters a short time later, the girls finish up what they could do for the clean up effort when suddenly there comes a loud explosion deafening their ears.

"What was that?!" Rei tensely looks out from the windowsill.

"There's some trouble going on in the city, girls!" Chad's voice is heard from his bird's eye view perched on the high temple roof overlooking Tokyo.

"Trouble? What kind of-?" Lita begins to ask, standing up when suddenly shrieks and screams of crowds of people in the distance is carried on the cool winds.

"Come on, girls! Transform!" Artemis hops out of the open broken windowpane.

"Not again!" Mina complains, jumping to her feet.

"Didn't we just do this?!" Serena whines, blueberry muffin, warm and delicious, just unwrapped in her hungry hands, as she gazes down at it forlornly.

"Come on, Serena!" Luna growls, nipping at Serena's wrists and tugging hard, sending the poor untouched muffin to the floor as the tired Sailor Scouts rush right into yet another one of Metallia's attacks. Her wickedness was now threatening to spread towards the innocents of the city...

KABOOM!

The total destruction of a cheap jewelry store seems to invigorate the aqua haired woman floating over its remains. The lucky shopkeeper was the only one present at the early morning lull and she escapes into the street, screaming as she flees for her life.

"We're not here to destroy the city, my love. Not just yet." King Pearlrellion blinks into existence beside his lovely wife. "We are here to secure much required energy for Her Majesty." He states their purpose to her again.

"Yes, I know, my King. But such low-class, false excuses for jewelry! Hmph!" The vain woman huffs, turning her nose up in indignation. "Utterly disgusting!" She comments with a sour expression.

"Yes, indeed." Rare stones expert as he was, Pearlrellion too, appreciated how unworthy the baubles that these lesser-world people indulged in.

He spots a woman, too wrapped up with her mountainous shopping bags, with gaudy jewelry adorning her everywhere, and Pearlrellion decides her to be the perfect candidate as she continues to waddle down the street. She didn't hear the crowds of fleeing people running in the opposite direction.

With a flash of the dark crystal in his hand, the woman falls into a heap with her packages, as her 'shopping' energy is sapped from her.

"How simple they make it." Pearlrellion states with evil in his heart, as he aims at yet another innocent. This time it was a jogging man, too busy listening to his headphones, to hear the screams.

"Yes, indeed." Aquamarianna agrees as her energy gathering also goes unchallenged when she sends a wide energy-draining beam over a busy bus whose unknowing occupants, fall to the energy drain.

"STOP RIGHT THERE!"

Sailor Moon enters the scene in her Eternal form, with her four Inner Scouts at her side. "How dare you attack innocent people who are trying to shop till they drop! We won't forgive you for stealing peoples' energy! I am Sailor Moon! I stand for Love and Justi-"

Facing Aquamarianna with her usual entrance speech fare, Sailor Moon stops midsentence, dumbfounded by the appearance of a white-haired man, at the Queen's side, turn to face her.

"...Diamond...!" She gasps, as a face from her past that she had come to know so very well from her nightmares, whose violet eyes had been embedded in her memory.

The intense feeling of deja vu sets her aback as she clutches her chest in shock.

"Diamond?" King Pearlrellion cocks his head as he lowers himself to the ground to get a better visage of this intriguing young woman. "No, my dear lady. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Pearlrellion." With a sweeping bow he motions to himself and then turns his hand to his wife as she descends at his side. "And this is Aquamarianna, my beautiful wife. Soon, we will rule this Earth. It is very nice to finally meet you face-to-face." He nods almost amicably, as if everything he had said was just idle conversation.

But neither Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, nor Venus were taking his pompous assurances of power so lightly.

"Who do you think you are?!" Lita demands indignantly.

"We won't allow you to hurt all of these innocent people!" Mercury shouts in agreement.

"Rule the world?! That's laughable!" came Venus' assessment of situation.

"In the name of Mars, I'll chastise you!" Sailor Mars puts her attack where her mouth was. She had already had more than enough of these power hungry fiends for today.

"MARS CELESTIAL FIRE...SURROUND!"

She calls out, encircling the enemy couple with flames, in an attempt to stop their energy drain from the occupants of the bus. But the evil King and Queen easily flicker away and the energy transfer continues, unfettered.

Looking inside the bus, the Scouts rush to it, seeing that even the strongest inhabitant inside had already fallen to energy depletion.

"We have to help them!" Sailor Moon cries out in horror as she watches a small child finally sink from his pounding on the bus window.

"We can't shoot our way in! It's way too dangerous with the engine running! The slightest spark could-" Intellectual Sailor Mercury agonizes over the bleak openings available to them.

"Where are those two?! How can we stop this if they won't even show their cowardly-" Angrily, Sailor Jupiter pounds a fist, glowing with energy, and the door, inexplicably, pops open.

"Jupiter! How did you do that?!" Mercury begins to question.

"Come on, Scouts! Don't ask questions! Just get in there and get those people out!" Without a second thought, Jupiter jumps right in, with Venus and Mars right on her heels.

Sailor Moon rushes in as well, to get the people out, when-

"Serena! Don't!" Mercury's high pitched voice suddenly cries out. Her suspicions of a trap were reinforced as her mini computer shows the building energy blips on the bus, but...it was too late.

The bus' exit door suddenly slams, locking within Sailor Moon, Jupiter, Venus and Mars, before any of them could carry any victims out of the bus. Suddenly, they were aware that they, too, were about to become victims as well as the bus begins to head dangerously towards a sharp cliff...

"MERCURY ICE STORM BLAST!"

Sailor Mercury watches in horror as the bus quickly pulls out. Her freezing attack on the door was not enough to break whatever evil force was holding it in as she sees her friends banging on the windows, trying to escape, as they too begin to falter under the energy drain.

"Too smart for your own good, Mercury, dear. Now you're left all by yourself."

Alone, Mercury turns on her heel to find Aquamarianna smiling down at her.

"Here's a little tip from a seasoned professional. Men aren't attracted to women more intelligent than they are. Not that you'll be needing this advice for much longer anyway..." Vainly, Aquamarianna giggles with her hand grazed on her chuckling cheek, as she suddenly blows Sailor Mercury a kiss...

"Oh, oh, Oh, oh, Oh!" Aquamarianna squeals suddenly as a volley of rubber balls smack against her head in perfect 4/4 time...

"Wanna play with us, now, lady?!" A youthful voice comes from the other side of the street.

"Why, you horrid little-" Queen Aquamarianna holds her smarting head and fixes her hair at the same time, looks up in astonishment to see four young children as the source of her pain.

"Hey! Somebody stop this thing! I want out-tie!" Sailor Moon's whiny voice could still be heard over the cacophony of Jupiter's kicking and smashing at the windows and metal inside the bus.

"Horrid is such a strong word." CereCere smiles a cultured smile as she easily, and with much style, tosses a powder puff in Aquamarianna's face. The aquahaired woman coughs as it explodes in talcum dust.

"Are these children bothering you, my Queen?" Pearlrellion suddenly appears at his wife's side, turning to reprimand the unruly little girls when...

He stumbles, rolling on balls at his feet, teetering unceremoniously for a king, and crashing into his wife, with a helpful kick in the right direction by a maroon haired VesVes.

"Awww...the big man tripped on my marbles!" JunJun smirks sarcastically, pulling a face at his sneering one. "Here's some advice for you! Don't mess with us!"

Sailor Mercury turns in astonishment as little PallaPalla grasps hold of her hand.

"Come, come, Sailor Mercury lady! PallaPalla wants to save your friends from the nasties!" She childishly says as Mercury follows the Amazoness Quartet take off towards the bus headed for the cliff's edge.

"Here!" JunJun suddenly veers off, jumping into a sports car on the side of the road. Her hand disappears under the dashboard and the vehicle suddenly roars to life. "Come on!" She cries, her eyes full of wild adventure, as her feet, just able to reach the gas pedal, steps on it. Their rescue chase car speeds after the out of control bus.

"I want out-tie!" Sailor Moon's whiny voice could still be heard over the cacophony of Jupiter's kicking and smashing at the windows and metal insides of the bus.

"No way out! Doors are all locked shut tight!" Sailor Venus squeals, only her leadership role was keeping her from joining in on Sailor Moon's wailing.

"Definitely an evil presence guiding this bus! But I can't find its weak point in the structure!" Sailor Mars' psychic abilities are taxed to their limits as she examines each square inch of any exit imaginable on the speeding bus.

"Then we blast our way out!" Jupiter steps back from her useless physical smashing, crossing her arms to the sky...

"JUPITER THUNDER CRASH!"

A thousand force bolt of lightning crashes into the bus' back door, they were so uselessly trapped in.

Fizzle...

Her lightning power is absorbed into the energy shield holding them in and even continued to fuel it.

"Damn! Nothing!" Jupiter swears under her breath when suddenly, the force of her attack rebounds, electrifying every occupant in the bus, just as Mercury said it might.

"We can't shoot anymore, Jupiter! These people can't take another hit!" Mars holds a small girl in her arms, feeling her weakening heart.

"I wanna go home...!"

All the Sailor Scouts were more than used to hearing their wimpy Princess, but this situation was on the verge of hopelessness and they couldn't blame her there.

"Serena, just wait a little bit more. I'm sure help is on its wa-a-aaaaayyy!" Sailor Venus' 'put on' calm, logical demeanor as her glance just happens to go out the front windshield. She had tried to console Serena, but needed consolation herself as she sees the edge of the cliff drawing nearing and the deep blue looming ahead.

"WAHHHHH! I don't wanna die! I wanna see Darien again!" Serena's deep welled tearspring rushes up, as the three Soldiers behind her look to each other in desperation.

"It looks like there's nothing we can do, without endangering these people any more. I just hope help is on the way." Swallowing hard, Sailor Mars looks to Jupiter, then Venus as they all put a hand on Serena's shoulder, whose sobs were unceasing. The four of them gazed at the front windshield and the dwindling highway ahead...

Indeed help was on their trail in the form of a stolen-ahem, borrowed-sportscar and its unlikely driver and occupants.

"When did you learn to drive a car, JunJun?!" VesVes asks her friend out of pure curiosity. She wasn't able to imagine when her rambunctious buddy could've had time to sneak away without her knowing.

"I didn't!" Comes the wicked, shocking green haired girl's reply, as JunJun's adventure seeking eyes flash mischievous and wild at her companions.

"I want out of this automobile right now!" Snooty CereCere seated beside the reckless driver in the front seat, begins to demand when the car jerks forward, sending the borrowed rescue vehicle ahead at alarming speed. "Slow down, JunJun! I think I'm going to be sick..." CereCere complains as the dizzying ride slows, and their chase target was spotted up ahead.

"Not on me!" JunJun gives the pallid girl a shove away as an anxious Sailor Mercury reaches forward over the backseat.

"There! That bus! Oh, my friends!" Mercury feels her heart freezing as the evilly controlled bus heads dangerously forward at full steam, straight towards the cliff's edge...

"How do we stop it?!" VesVes tries to find the answer.

"Just get me closer to it! Maybe I can..." VR Vision visor snapping on, and Sailor Mercury's mind races to configure just the exact right amount of speed, trajectory and energy-faster than the speed of thought in the moment she needs to know. It's clear what she must do. Each second passing lays the odds of this far out plan working against the sailor scout from the planet Mercury.

The lives of all those innocent people, of her friend, hung in the balance if she were wrong...even one decimal...

Suddenly, she feels a little pawed hand in hers. Amy glances down at the sweet, cherub face of little PallaPalla. Her big blue eyes were as blue as the sky overhead.

'PallaPalla believes in you!'

That's what the child's eyes seemed to say. Mercury felt an immediate bond with the young girl. VR Visor still in place, Sailor Mercury summons all of the precision within her to accomplish this feat she was about to attempt.

"MERCURY ICE-" She starts to call out with perfect aim at her target.

"Stop right there, Children!" King Pearlrellion booms through the cool morning air.

"Punish them for me, my darling! Punish those ill-mannered children!" Queen Aquamarianna's voice sounds wheedling as she appears. Her face was still powdered with traces of white around her angry teal eyes.

"I will, my dear. Anything for you." He caresses her cheek gently, then very ungentlemanly, thrusts his hand down from his floating over the car, shooting a deadly laser beam directly at the engine.

Sensing this attack, JunJun swerves the car, pulling hard against the wheel. The blast just misses, but succeeds in creating a huge pothole in the road before them.

SCREECH!

JunJun stops the car in a last ditch effort to stop from crashing them all into the five foot deep crater Pearlrellion had just created.

"You keep on going, JunJun!" Assured leader VesVes agilely leaps from the backseat of the car, with circus trained PallaPalla and CereCere quick on her heels.

"You got it!" JunJun's deft reverse in cranking straight into racing gear, would never show the inexperience of her years in driving as she takes off, leaving her three compatriots to battle in their own curious way.

The powerful King and his Queen, along with Sailor Mercury, catch a glimpse of whips and balls swinging and flying. Amy prays for the brave teens' safety, that they could hold the evil couple at bay, long enough for her to do what she only had mere seconds left to do, and still have that slim chance left to succeed.

Taking crack shot aim, Sailor Mercury hopes her calculations were yet on the mark.

"MERCURY ICE BUBBLES FREEZE!" Precise below-zero bubbles zing across the mile or so between the speeding rescue vehicle and the bus drawing dangerously close to the cliff's edge. The end of the road was way too near as the targeted tires freeze, sending the bus careening sideways, out of control, utterly losing its traction on the roadway...

SCREECH!

The tires were frozen in mid motion-the pounding speed, the curve of the highway, even the directional flow of the wind-were taken into account.

And it's enough.

Our girl genius' hard choice had paid off as the bus comes to a halt mere inches away from the edge of the crumbling cliff. Racing from their rescue convertible, Mercury and JunJun go to the bus' doors, only to find them still tightly locked. Looking in the windows, JunJun could almost giggle at the splattered carsick look of dizziness on Sailor Moon's face against the windowpane.

"How the hell are we gonna get them out of there?!" She tugs in frustration on the door handle, to no avail.

SHIK!

A red rose flutters past, striking the handle, causing it to click down and the door to pop magically open.

"That's a good way! Thanks, CapeBoy!" It was obvious JunJun had little, or more likely, no respect for her elders, and her one time enemy Tuxedo Mask, was no exception.

One by one, the dizzy scouts, no longer trapped inside, file out. Jupiter gives Mercury a grateful shoulder pat and Venus the sign of 'v' for victory, for her great work, though their legs were stumbling.

"Those people in there need some immediate medical attention. But they're all still alive." Mars says in concern, not at all phased, as she is the last to appear-well, almost last.

"...Da-da-Darien!" Wobbly legged Sailor Moon leans trembling in the doorway, swaying forward from the rough ride. Her head was still spinning as she stumbles down the steps dizzily. Tuxedo Mask, as always, was there to catch her.

"Are you all right, Serena?" Tux looks earnestly into his wife's swimming eyes. She looks up, blinking three times before she answers.

"WHERE WERE YOU?!" And what an answer! She almost ferociously bites her husband's head off, as his head backs away from her scream.

"Hey, hey, Serena...what can I say? Traffic was bad." Darien chuckles in guilt, as Sailor Mercury figures out the now-defunct bus' comm system, calling in for an ambulance and help for the victims immediately.

"They're on their way!" She announces, just an explosion is heard from behind them.


"Don't be so serious, lady! Life is a circus, doncha know?!" VesVes' cocky voice baits the aqua woman, as she expertly whips Aquamarianna's long fingernailed hands until every last nail is broken and chipped.

"You horrid child!" Aquamarianna wonders for a moment why she had ever longed for children, if they would grow up to be as vicious and disrepectful as these ones. The queen was on the verge of not holding back from hurting even the little faces that held such mystique for her. Shot after shot, Pearlrellion wonders if he too, was hesitating. He sensed his powerful wife's leniency on these children, though he blindly could not imagine why. Her bitter longing for a child was something kept hidden from him all these years.

But he would take no more. His eyes slit as he watches these dastardly youths take advantage of his wife's goodness towards them.

"That hair in a scarf do is just too last season, Madam. May I offer a new solution?" Chuckling in her haughty way, acrobatic CereCere lands expertly on the queen's shoulders, loosening her hair from its aqua scarf, and then pulls hard.

"PallaPalla wants to play, too!" Palla suddenly hops up from her juggling bomb balls at Pearlrellion (where'd she get those anyway!?), taking a break and swinging on the ends of Aquamarianna's long hair like a trapeze artist.

"OWWW!" Aquamarianna's shrieks were enough to embitter her husband, angering him to extreme violence.

"This will be the end of you, you little pests! We will go easy on you no longer!" His hands charge up with what looks like a deadly surge of dark power.

"You don't haveta go easy on us, old man! We're the ones who've been goin' easy on you!" Taunting disrespectfully with wild mischief that merely touched the surface of the neon green haired imp named JunJun.

"NOT!" From out of nowhere, her two booted feet come smashing in Pearlrellion's face, knocking him backwards and off guard enough for Jupiter and Mars, who just arrived, to get in some quick licks on him as well.

"MARS FIRE IGNITE!"

"JUPITER OAK EVOLUTION!"

"Get out of there, Palla!" Venus calls, wanting to do some shocking of her own on that aqua-haired woman who, in a hot temper, swiped Cere away.

"Palla! Drop ranks!" VesVes commands as Palla continues to swing happily, even singing and giggling, mid air, on the evil queen's hair. She was lucky and foolish enough, to miss every swatting.

"We can't shoot unless she's out!" Venus shouts as the three other Amazonesses gather around. None of them were really able to control childish PallaPalla when she got going in her frivolity.

They all collectively hold their breath as shrieking Aquamarianna is about to get her hands around Palla's little neck...

WHOOOSHHH!

A rush of air, a flash of black leather, and unaware of her impending danger, little Palla is swept away in gentle arms, escaping wild-with-anger Aquamarianna's stranglehold.

"Way to go, Maker!" A delighted Venus smiles as she whips out her chain.

"VENUS LOVE CHAIN ENCIRCLE!" She calls, wrapping up an awkward, hair strewn everywhere, Queen in a quite undignified manner.

"Are you hurt, child?" PallaPalla gazes up with big, baby blue eyes at her savior's tender voice.

"Mmm-mmmh." She just shakes her head, never before feeling so completely safe before. It was a strange sensation for a child born to battle.

"I am glad." Sailor Star Maker had a soft spot for children, and this precocious one seemed a prime candidate for his doting.

"Pearlrellion! Help me!" Queen Aquamarianna's desperate voice calls as not only Venus' chain encircles her, but Martian Celestial Fire threatens to seriously scorch her as well.

"My love!" Pearlrellion lets his guard down for a moment in battling hard swinging staff combat with Tuxedo Mask and karate chopping Jupiter.

CereCere and VesVes swing in some interference at Pearlrellion, just trying to keep him from the increasing energy orb he was gathering for Queen Metallia and...

WHACK!

His inattentive concern for his wife gets rewarded by a crushing blow to his chin, sending the dazed king flying backwards. In that split second, he uses all his power to transport himself and the nearly filled energy orb away to Metallia's underground lair.

"Damn!" Sailor Jupiter shouts, knowing exactly to whom that energy increase was intended for, and now had acquired.

Meanwhile, Aquamarianna watches, at first pleased, then in horror at the realization that her husband's escape meant her being left alone and vulnerable to the enemy. She tries as hard as she could to escape the power increased chain, now freezing against her skin.

Thanks to that mousy little Mercury!

"Let me go! Don't hurt me! Please! I didn't mean those things I did!" Ever the actress, the wicked queen decides to try this tact on the sappy Sailor Soldiers, knowing that just the right amount of play acting would certainly draw sympathy from them.

Blinking for a moment at the quick change of her demeanor, Sailor Moon takes a step forward, Eternal Tial in hand, but a soft understanding in her eye.

"Don't be frightened! We won't hurt you. We only want to help you understand how to be good again and not controlled by evil Metallia. Please let me help you." In true shining Moon Princess compassion, despite the trouble and hurt this nasty woman had caused her and her beloved friends, Sailor Moon still genuinely wanted to help anyone in need, anyone with a problem she could help heal...

"STARLIGHT HONEY THERAPY-"

Aquamarianna blinks, feeling the healing waves begin to sweep over her. Frozen in place by her own emotion at the strange girl's caring words, as Venus' chain dissolves around her, feathers fly, filled with light. Her entire sheltered life of being a poor girl trying to rise up in an unforgiving world, tricking and faking and lying all the way, just to survive, somehow was touched by the sincerity in Sailor Moon's crystal blue eyes.

"-KISS!" Sailor Moon's finishing healing energies swirl around...nothingness.

"She's gone!" Serena says in disappointment, knowing that she indeed saw no mere acting or falseness in the want for help in that woman's eyes for a brief moment.


"Aquamarianna, my love! Have those wretched Scouts harmed you?!" King Pearlrellion asks in concern, as he strokes his wife's long tangled (from that brat's playing in it!) hair tenderly, as he carries his weakened wife in his arms during their split second journey of retreat back into Metallia's catacombs.

"Pearlrellion? For a moment, I almost felt..." She felt dazed and weak, and so she leans into her husband's chest, wanting to be a part of him, to tell him how she had felt, but...

"PEARLRELLION! DO NOT PAMPER YOUR WEAKLING WIFE! GIVE TO ME THE ENERGY YOU HAVE ACQUIRED IMMEDIATELY! I NEED ENERGY! I REQUIRE IT NOW...!" Queen Metallia's voice booms through the dark caverns with venom.

"Yes, my queen." Pearlrellion quickly puts his wife down to the cold, rocky ground. She felt lost and alone again in her moment of need. She knew her husband no longer belonged truly to her. Metallia's evil grip was now upon both of their hardened hearts.

Did he ever? She thinks sadly to herself. Has our love all been a lie? My whole life has been a lie...

The light of realization opened to her, and she sinks away, forgotten in the shadows as Pearlrellion bows down to Metallia, offering up the energy stolen from the innocents of this puny planet for Metallia's demonic uses. Her dark energy absorption explodes to a yet even higher level.

"JUST A BIT MORE, PEARLRELLION! MORE! SOON, WE WILL BE ABLE TO RIGHTFULLY TAKE OVER THIS BRIGHT WORLD AND MAKE IT THE DARK WORLD IT HAS ALWAYS LONGED TO BE! AT MY SIDE, PEARLRELLION! PREPARE TO RULE THIS PLANET!"

Metallia's evil cackling could be heard throughout the underground caverns. Her promise of power for all those who followed her, both overwhelmed and consumed.

"Oh, Pearlrellion..." Aquamarianna whispers, as she runs through the corridors to her own chambers, falling to the bed with cold tears of regret. "What have I done?" Her opening mind flies back to the very moment when Metallia's darkness had overtaken them-from the moment she herself had pushed her husband into this path. That moment when her lies and deceit had awakened the promise of power and evil, and corrupted their souls as Eve did to Adam.

"What have I done...?" She cries to the empty coldness surrounding her.


As her energies swirl to a fade, Eternal Sailor Moon's shoulders slump in the realization of what had occurred.

"It seems we lost this one, team." Her husband echoes her sentiment in a few defeated words as Tuxedo Mask faces the team of Sailor Soldiers and friends at her side.

"Whaddya mean 'we lost,' cape boy?" Little Jun Jun takes a step forward, with a crooked look in her frown. She, for one, would never agree to being called a loser or defeated. "I'd say we really whupped a-" She starts to use her loose tongue with coarse words-the scene played before seemed to her only victorious.

"Jun Jun!" Proper Cere Cere berates her partner's penchant for those rude curse words she tended to sport.

"-Butt." Jun Jun decides to change her sentence with a wry smile and a wicked gleam at her stuckup friend.

"Yes, Jun Jun, we did-with your help which we are very grateful for." Sweet Sailor Mercury gives the quartet a smile of gratitude. Mars, Jupiter and Venus all join in with nods and smiles of their own towards the girls.

"But..." Amy sighs, she too knowing the consequences of what they had just witnessed.

"I knew there was a 'but' coming." Ves Ves observes with her hand on her hips expectantly.

"The energy stolen from all those poor innocent people has now been given to Queen Metallia and her power has been increased majorly." Sailor Mars says with a sour look on her face.

"Queen Metallia?" Ves Ves questions the name.

"Is she a baddie?" Palla Palla asks, looking up into the eyes of the nice Sailor Soldier still holding her, who had saved her life from those 'baddies' as she calls them.

"Yes, child, she is very 'bad.'" Star Maker says earnestly, attempting to put the little girl down again, but finds Palla's clumsy arms unwilling to let go.

"Palla, let her go." Jun Jun orders, shaking her head at her tiny friend's ease at getting along with perfect strangers, though Jun Jun herself was impressed with this particular Soldier's style of dress.

"Palla Palla thanks you, Mister." Palla Palla sings out happily, somehow knowing in her childhood innocence, as Maker puts her down.

"'Mister?' Palla Palla, I'm sure the kind lady wouldn't like you to call her-" Cere Cere begins to say, talking down to her friend when her eyes pop open wide as all the Sailors-the battle over and done with for now-transform back into their normal selves and the 'lady' in question becomes a man-and a good looking, famous one at that.

"I'm terribly sorry...sir...eh...Mr. Starr." Cere's starcrossed eyes look up less apologetically than with enchanted admiration.

"You know this ahem 'guy,' Cere?" Jun Jun gives Terry a smirky glance, wondering how her buddy who was as off the beaten track as she herself, could know this fellow.

"Of course I do, Jun Jun!" Cere says haughtily, giving vogueless Jun Jun a hurried whisper behind her back. "He's Terry Starr of the Three Lights!" She whispers, excited to meet such a famous rock star face to face.

"I am SO pleased to meet you, Mr. Starr. My name is Cere." She introduces herself with a pompous air and a wave of her delicate hand to him.

"As I am charmed by your beauty, miss." Ever the gentleman, Terry takes her hand, kissing it lightly, to CereCere's joyous pleasure.

"It's really great to see all of you again!" Serena finally pipes up, taking one of Ves Ves' hands and one of Palla's little paws in hers, shaking them up and down, happy to see old friends, especially in these trying times.

"Can you stay for long?" Lita asks with a smile at her own personal favorite of the quartet, Jun Jun, though she was giving a nasty glare to Terry.

"As long as you need us. We came to warn you about those nasties. They came after us in the Amazon and we figured where better to turn to than you guys when there's trouble like that?" Ves Ves says, her responsible eyes linking with those of Serena's.

"You've come to the right place!" Mina sings out, wrapping an arm around her burgundy garbed shoulders.

"Yeah, we're just chock full of trouble." Rei grumbles at their ever worsening situation.

"Precisely." Ceres breaks her adoring gaze at Terry, to agree with Rei's foreboding words with a serious nod.

"Well! We're glad you're here! You guys probably don't have anyplace to stay, so Darien and I would be glad to-" Serena, blinded by utter welcoming friendliness, does not see her husband's eyes going into shock at the thought of the four bratty girls coming to stay to at their apartment for an indefinite period of time. His ditzy wife obviously did not envision the certain chaotic ramifications, not even when his hands and motion signal a 'Don't!' behind the Amazoness Quartet's backs.

"Princess, if I may interrupt so rudely?" Terry, being an observant man, much to Darien's relief.

"Terry?" Serena smiles up at him sweetly.

"Not complaining, but I believe our home's solitude out in the country has been lonely for a teenager like Tara. I think she would enjoy the companionship of these fine young ladies and Susan could use all the help now, if they would do us the honor?" Terry states amicably.

"Oh! Can they really, Terry-papa?!" Tara's voice comes from out of nowhere, skipping towards them in her school uniform.

"I thought you were going to school, young lady." He asks with a knowing smile.

"I did, Terry-papa, but school was cancelled today. They wouldn't tell us why-just to go straight home-but I heard some other children whispering about some kind of national emergency, and there's not a storm or anything coming, I don't think..." Tara's mysterious eyes widen even further than usual.

"National emergency..." Lita repeats quizzically.

"What could possibly be going on?" Mina wonders aloud as the group around look to each other with the question.

"'I'm charmed by your beauty, miss.'" Jun Jun whispers, mimicking the tall 'gentleman's' words to Cere before. "Don't get all uppity on us now, Cere, just because this bozo called you a 'lady' and don't even think that he'll be sticking us in some school, either!" Jun Jun gives a suspicious look to the back of Terry's well-groomed head.

"Thank you for offering us a lodging, Mr. Starr. It's extremely kind of you. We didn't mean to put your wife through any inconvenience, though." Cere Cere gives Jun Jun the EYES, but to Terry, the sweetest smile in his rear view mirror.

"No inconvenience at all." Terry smiles back. "My wife will be only too happy to have you with us." Terry was sure even without asking that his wonderful angelic Susan would be pleased to put them up, and he would be glad to have these capable girls at her side, just in case. He hadn't been happy at leaving her alone in the house whenever Tara was elsewhere or he had to go somewhere.

"Susan-mama is very nice. You'll see. Maybe you can help us finish decorating the baby's room." Tara says sprightly, indeed glad to have the company of four such colorful girls, just about her age.

"Oh, a baby's on the way? How nice!" Cere bubbles, her eyes smiling.

"'Oh, how nice.'" Jun Jun mutters under her breath-babies, and coddling over them, were just not her bag.

"Is this your house? It's big." Ves Ves observes as the sedan comes to a stop in front of a scenic country set two story.

"Yes, isn't it nice? I love it out here." Tara pops open the door, not wanting to consider any circumstance that would change her happy life here with Terry and Susan.

"Palla Palla wants to play house, too!" Palla rushes out of the back seat, bouncing up to the front door.

"Yes, girls, make yourselves at home." Terry says as he steps out of the driver's seat, though his eyes slit suspiciously at the red Ferrari pulled in the side driveway.

"Wow, those trees back there look mighty good for climbing." Jun Jun says to Ves Ves and Cere Cere as her green eyes take in the woodland scene beyond the house, her outdoor legs itching to run and climb again after being cooped up for a week on that cruise ship liner.

"Jun Jun, do you always have to point out such mundane-Oh! Hello!" Cere cuts off her own chiding, with a ladylike nod, as the front door opens.

"Sayer Starr?! Oh, how exciting!" Cere then recognizes the second of the Three Lights right away, but not from the serious, saddened look on his face.

"Susie! You've got trick-or-treaters or girl scouts or something here!" Sayer turns and calls back into the house nonchalantly. "Sorry, kids, we don't want any-" He begins to say to the strangly dressed and hairstyled trio at the door, when Tara and Palla, hand in hand, come up the drive, with Terry right behind them.

"Oh, Ter-these kids are with you?" He says simply, holding the door open for them to enter.

"Genius, isn't he?" Jun Jun remarks snidely, as Cere elbows her, thankful for Sayer's obliviousness.

"Sayer." Terry nods, seeing something foreboding in his brother's eyes as he enters the living room.

"Ladies, come in please." Terry gestures for the girls to follow, where they find a long, dark-haired woman on the sofa, obviously listening meekly to a tall blonde woman, who was angrily pacing up and down the room. But it was the lady with the aqua curls who sat on the edge of the windowseat, with a pensive faraway look in her eyes that catches Cere's attention.

"MICHELLE MOREAU!" She exclaims in hushed awe, for to her, it was almost unbelievable that her idolized idol was just mere feet away from her.

"Who are these brats?" Alex is annoyed by the rude interruption to her ranting.

"Watch who you're calling 'brats,' giraffe lady." Jun Jun stands defiantly, with both hands on her hips, looking up sourly at this tall, tall woman.

"Oooh, giraffe lady. Good one. I like this kid." Sayer says, trying to pick up her mood with a wry smile at his love. Alex gives his teasing a warning glance along with a raised brow.

"Susan, darling," Terry ignores Alex's angry looks and demands, kneeling to his chided-looking wife's side. "Would it be all right for these children to stay with us for awhile? They are the Princess' very dear friends." He explains softly after a sweet greeting kiss.

"Of course they may, if you wish it, my love." Susan tries to hold back the tears biting behind her eyes. "What are your names, dears?" Susan gives them a pleasant smile.

"Vesta, Pallas, Juno, Ceres." Michelle's voice comes as in a trance, before the Quartet can reply, after a long gaze at her Mirror talisman.

Everyone in the room looks to her faroff gaze, blinking.

"Call me Ves Ves." Ves Ves finally breaks the silence.

"Palla Palla here!" Palla tweeters sweetly.

"I'm Jun Jun." Jun Jun looks apprehensively at the odd woman.

"Cere Cere, if you please." Cere feels drawn to Michelle beyond just her fame.

"Lovely names." Susan smiles at their bubbliness. She hoped that having them around might uplift her sorrowful spirits after sitting through a morning of Alex's complaints against her wonderful Terry.

"He only did what he did to protect me." Susan had said earlier when Alex agonized against Terry locking her away.

"No, Alex, he's not controlling me. I'll do as he asks for our baby." Susan had firmly stated, much to Alex's frustration.

Alex, for her part, after Michelle's experience, did not want any more of her beloveds relying so much upon another being. If it was Susan's decision to stay out of battle, it would have been different. But it seemed to be her husband's command to keep out.

And it was his fault she was in this condition in the first place, just when the Princess needed them the most.

"Miss Moreau, I have all of your CDs. I think you're too-too wonderful! Is it true what the tabloids have been reporting lately? Are you really going to marry that teen idol, Robin Starr, of the Three Lights?" Cere, unknowingly, spills out like an addlepated schoolgirl, dishing out the latest rumor as her best friend rolls her eyes and she giggles in her own foolishness.

"Of course, it must be! How silly of me!" Cere muffles her snooty giggles, answering herself as she glances around. "His brothers are right here. So of course it's true!" She looks around, wondering why she was receiving such solemn looks from everyone around her.

"Yes, it's true." Michelle finally answers, touching Cere's cheek softly. "I am going to marry him." Michelle vows to the cool November breeze that was streaming through the open window-vowing that Robin once again would be by her side.

"Come, Michelle." Alex touches her friend's shoulder, signalling for them to leave. She decided that Michelle was not to be questioned any further on this painful subject as she leads Michelle from the room on her arm wordlessly.

"Well, ummm...I guess we'll see you guys...later?" Sayer apologizes as he departs, chasing after his ill-mannered wife in a scurry to everyone's blinking stares.

"Excuse me. I'll be back momentarily." Terry says, with a serious look in his eye as he tersely follows them out.

"Ms. Sokova."

Alex hears Terry's low voice filled to the brim with anger, and she stops in her track though she does not even bother to turn to face his formal address.

"Yes, Mr. Starr?" Answering in likewise propriety, Alex succinctly gives her brother-in-law the cold shoulder. Their disagreement over Susan's treatment had become heated.

"I will speak with you of my wife." Terry says, striding past a warningly wide-eyed Sayer to look straight into Alex's flaring green eyes.

"It seems you have a lot to say on her behalf." Alex could stand toe to toe with any man, and usually frightened them in the process. But Terry Starr could equally stand his ground to her, especially when it concerned someone as important as Susan.

"I'll do what I have to to protect my wife, and I don't want you seeing her any longer. All you do is hurt her in her delicate state with your...harshness." Terry feels his anger surging at the thought of his precious Susan driven to tears by this difficult creature's criticisms and hardcore ideals.

His violet eyes glare into hers with all seriousness, as neither stubborn soul backs down until Terry is shocked by Alex's mouth twisting ever so slightly into a wry sarcastic smile.

"Hmph. You were going to say 'coldness,' weren't you?" Alex lifts her head high, looking him straight in the eye with her emerald ones ablaze. "Then, you're right about that, at least. Yes, I'm cold. This blasted world has made me cold. And I too, do know what I have to do." Alex's arm around a dazed, tearful Michelle tightens. Her responsibility, her duty, to what she loves most had long ago strangled her compassion.

She turns on her heel, walking away from Terry purposely, then pauses to turn with Michelle grasped tightly to her chest.

"And I will address my fellow Soldier whenever I find it necessary." She rumbles angrily-for no man, no force on earth, could stand in Alex Sokova's way, when she was determined.

A rough, cool wind hits him in the face as Sayer watches his fierce partner take Michelle to the car, and he is left holding the bag, unknowing what to say to his own brother. He felt quite caught in the middle of the maelstrom somehow.

"Ter, I..." He wants to explain that Alex was doing what she thinks is right. He wants to tell his brother that she wasn't really cold, even when she was acting like this.

It's because Ally is just...

But no words come out. Sayer is still confused as he looks into Terry's eyes.

"Go on, Sayer. Don't have her angry with you, too." With understanding, and a little pity too for his little brother, Terry gives Sayer a grateful nod.

Sayer pauses, seeing the hard line in the sand that the two people that he loved the most had drawn between one another.

"See ya, Ter." Sayer shakes his head, instantly taking off and leaping into the running Ferrari as Alex shifts the red streak into high gear, flying out of the drive, just missing Terry and leaving him standing there in the swirling wind of her wake, sincerely wishing life didn't have to be this way.


But for you, Susan, my darling, I will face anything-do anything, all for you.

He swears as he returns into the house, and there he is greeted by Susan, rushing to the hall at the sound of his entrance. Her fuschia eyes wide in questioning what had just transpired.

"It's all right, my darling. Everything is fine." Terry smiles reassuringly, doing his best to cover up the tension between himself and Alex over her that he knew Susan was anxious about.

Worry not, my love, I will take care of you. Terry promises in her hair as they share a long kiss and sweet embrace. Susan feels that everything in the world could indeed be made right, as long as she was in her darling's warm arms.

"Let's forget everything of today, except that it's your birthday." Terry pulls back, looking his lady straight in the eye.

"Mmmh-hmm..." Susan nods, trying to dispel the afternoon spent defending herself from Alex and the worry of danger that seemed overwhelmingly plaguing them today especially.

"I'm going to take you to the finest restaurant in all of Tokyo. Put that dress back on and brighten that smile, my love. We're going out to celebrate the most wonderful lady in the world's very special day." Terry smiles, purposely wanting to make his melancholy wife happy and gay again.

"Really, darling?" Susan feels her spirits rising again at the thought of proudly displaying herself in that enchanting gown on her gorgeous husband's arm, but responsibility soon hits her. "But what of these children? I think we should stay and celebrate my birthday with them. Maybe get to know them a little bit-I would like that very much, too. They seem quite...vibrant." Susan smiles reassuringly as some kind of eruption comes from the living room, lively childlike voices passing to and fro.

"Truly, my love?" Terry asks, looking her in the face as Susan nods sweetly. "You are so unselfish." He whispers gently in her ear, with a quick nibble. Susan revels in both that and his choice of words, for her soul believed he knew her far better than she could ever know herself.

"Mister! Mister!" Palla Palla, with Jun Jun, Cere Cere and Ves Ves close on her trail, comes rushing out into the hall, where Terry was just parting from his nibbling on Susan.

Whew! Whew! Ves Ves whistles with a smile. "You guys are hot and heavy around here, huh?" She gains a warning of impoliteness from Cere Cere, whose heart was already aflutter with the thought of such romance before her.

"Oh, yuck!" Jun Jun twists her lip, crosses her arms as she leans in the doorway.

"Hush, you two! I think it's just 'too-too'!" Cere Cere sighs up at the hunky prince before her.

"Yes, child?" Terry was not one bit embarrassed by the little audience, though Susan and Tara both blush a bit at the attention.

"Can Palla Palla, umm, umm..." Stumbling over her question over Terry's warm gaze down at her, Palla just can't seem to find the words.

"Palla Palla wants to know if she can sleep on the big couch instead of on the floor like she's used to." Ves Ves intuitively explains her speechless friend's awe at the luxurious home.

"Don't be silly, Palla! Nobody expects you to sleep on the floor! You can all hang out with me in my room. Terry-papa will bring in the other bed from the guestroom. Won't you, Terry-papa?" Tara offers with a smile, always a generous child.

"Of course." Terry nods. "What an excellent idea." He says as he pats Palla on the head amidst her giggles.

"We want you girls to feel at home with us. My husband tells me you're dear friends of the Princess." Susan smiles warmly, so Palla and Cere find themselves liking her immediately though Jun Jun and Ves Ves eye the overly kind trio suspiciously. No one ever really did anything nice for them with no ulterior motive before...well, almost nobody.

"Are you talking about that stupid Meatballhead?" Jun Jun uncrosses her arms, her smirk turning into a wry smile. "Yeah, I guess we're friends." Yeah, we trusted them...maybe trust is a good thing sometimes... Cynical Jun Jun sees only truth behind the smiles at her.

"Well then, girls, let's get you acquainted with your room. Do you have any extra clothes or sleepwear?" Susan transforms from giggling romantic schoolgirl to Mother Hen before Terry's proud eyes as she begins to lead the quartet up the stairs towards Tara's room.

The girls exchange blank looks and Cere is embarrassed to say to she had no more than one change of clothes for each of them in their miniscule travelling bag.

"But I'm sure you'll fit in some of mine. I've got lots." Tara offers. "And then we can all go shopping together! That'll be fun, don't you think? Is that okay, Susan-mama?" Tara asks her guardian, since thoughts of spending money was never with this child born of wealth.

"Yes, yes, that would be nice." Susan's eyes exchange a quick glance with her husband's, never doubting her Terry's generosity. Susan herself was a careful shopper despite her famous husband's riches and wealth; and despite his persistence of her to spend like water if she liked, because he wanted her to be happy in every way that she never knew before.

Susan often swore she was happy, as she put back the multitudes of presents and treats he lavished upon her in the stores. Just being his wife was enough for her, though. But this was completely different. Susan was easy about spending when it came to anyone else and knowing what Terry's answer would be, even before she had to ask, warmed her insides.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in getting the four extra guests out a place in their home. That meant getting ready extra sheets, pillows, blankets to make the beds set up in Tara's room. The four fashionably eccentric Amazonesses were sorting through Tara's clothes for what they liked to suit them best, as they generally got acquainted with each other.

Susan and Tara were kind hostesses, simply nodding and smiling as they secretly enjoyed the little spats arising from the Quartet's difficulties over who gets what shirt or who goes on the window side of the bed; or other some such trivialities that arose.

With a kiss farewell, that Jun Jun puckers her face at, Terry leaves Susan for a brief jaunt to the grocery store. He returns shortly with the most bountiful feast to be prepared-with all of Susan's favorite foods for her birthday, a large bottle of sparkling grape juice, as he manfully insists on making the seafood platter dinner, since they were not going out that night.

She was not to lift a 'slender finger' as he promises her a feast fit for his queen. Though he was quite a capable cook these days, Tara rushes to his aid in setting out the scrumptious, hard-to-prepare meal, convincing him that she could handle the cooking job for Susan-mama was such a good teacher and she needed the practice herself. Tara always wanted to do a little more for her wonderful guardians as an extra present.

"Besides, Terry-papa, the girls will help me. Won't you, gang?" Tara turns to the four pairs of shocked, wide eyes, but soon Palla Palla's eagerness to try anything new recruits the other three as well, some begrudgingly, helping Tara create sauces and boil big, ugly lobsters, and the quite interesting task of removing what seemed hundreds of shrimp from their shells. Although, that part of the cooking, three of the four Amazonesses seemed to rather enjoy. Palla especially revelled in giggles as she ripped the little, bitty 'shrimpies' apart from their tails. Cere Cere was the only one to hold her nose up at the stench and horror of the honest, seafaring task.

Though the five girls were busy as bees downstairs, Terry and Susan felt rather inhospitable at putting their guests to work, and were glad to hear Palla's joyous laughter. The general bustle of happy, youthful chatterings reassured both Starrs that the new girls were enjoying themselves on their first night here in the kitchen with Tara.

Terry had carried Susan back upstairs for her late afternoon lie down that he had insisted on her taking everyday, after reading several pregnancy manuals thoroughly.

"Darling, I'm not at all tired." Susan fibs a tiny bit. She actually had been having a very hard pregnancy as compared to most. Her body was unaccustomed to the normalcies of this world yet, leaving her ill and in pain for most of the eight months, though she had never complained. But somehow, Terry always knew anyway.

"Susan darling, I want you to have some rest." He laid her down, gently fluffing her pillow, tucking her in for the hour nap before dinner would be ready.

"But-" Susan starts to protest, not wanting to sleep on her special day, when all she wanted to do was spend every moment with him.

"For me, my love? I'll be right here, all the while. I promise." With a soft kiss to her lips, Terry lingers in it as he massages and toys with her ears and slender neck, bringing her to a comfortably languid position-with her husband's hand in hers the entire time. She begins to calm down to rest, until a raucous clattering of pans and a crashing sound of breakage of some her finest porcelain signals that dinner would soon be ready.

Terry gently awakens his lady, helping her brush her long, long hair until it was a lovely sight to his eyes and the couple go down to find a gorgeous table set to a tee. (Though Tara's pinched and worn-out face from her attempts to rescue every piece of china in the house it seemed, had paid the price for this magnificent meal.) Four very proud Amazonesses stand in position, ready to greet them with sweetly bubbling smiles and a couple of jabs back and forth of who did the most work.

After leading grace and filling a plate for complimentary and thankful Susan, Terry looks up to find four youthful faces intent on cracking open a lobster tail. The determined little 'tough guy' she was would not give up until the 'no good, blank blank blank' lobster gives her a rebellious squirt in the eye. She angrily refuses Terry's insistence on helping her as she puts down those blasted shell crackers and instead tears the poor lobster apart with her bare hands and a triumphant smile.

After that interesting display, the rest of the delicious dinner moves along smoothly as Terry gentlemanly serves the rest of the young ladies their lobster to save them the trouble that Jun Jun had gone through. She enjoyed taking care of it herself, though, independent sort that she was.

Susan is surprised at how good a time she was having as she sits back and reflects, despite it all, with these new lively additions to their household, keeping the conversation going with bright bits of this and that. Terry's hand was reassuring in hers, under the table, giving her a wonderful feeling, while the five girls hurriedly clean up with a look of conspiracy on their faces that Susan silently wonders about until the lights in the living room dim suddenly and the singing begins with Tara's sweet, calm voice in the lead, though boisterous Palla's high-pitched one soon takes control.

"Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, Susan-mama. Happy birthday to you!" Ves Ves carries in a large purple rose decorated cheesecake that Terry had picked up for his wife's special occasion.

Susan smiles at the five bright faces smiling at her with the birthday chorus and then at her Terry.

"Happy birthday, Susan-mama!" Tara hands Susan a carefully wrapped parcel with a kiss and a hug.

"Thank you so much. You didn't have to go to all this trouble for me! Everything has been so wonderful today-because you all made it so." Susan unwraps the package carefully, finding a gold trimmed jeweled music box, with a beautiful oak and stained glass frame. Opening it, her own melody that her soul had known forever begins to play, her eternal song of love.

"Tara...It's lovely..." She's stumbles on her words over the beautiful gift, with tears in her eyes. They were happy tears at being loved by this sweet child and Susan wraps Tara tightly in an embrace.

"Terry-papa helped me make it! He wrote the melody and we had it made, just for you!" Tara feels her own tears biting behind her eyes at her adopted 'mother's' emotions as Terry puts a hand on each of their shoulders.

"Okay! Enough of the sappy stuff!" Jun Jun, having had enough, breaks the tender scene. "When do we get some of that cake?" She asks, the knife readied in her hand, looking quite dangerous.

"CAKE!" Palla Palla, Cere Cere, and Ves Ves call out in total agreement to the residents chuckling in compliance.

Scrumptious cheesecake was all but devoured within a ten-minute span, as each youthful partaker had two generous slices and even then the Amazonesses played odds and evens to see who got the last delicious slice, for such a rich, sweet treat as this was an unheard of rarity in the sweltering amazon of South America. But the last piece of cake goes to waste on the floor when a four-way tugging match ensues and Cere suddenly decides it's too unladylike to squabble over a silly piece of cake.

A rowdy cleanup and quick TV program remote control fight later, Tara manages to haul the noisy Quartet up to bed, trying to give Susan-mama and Terry-papa some quality time together alone as Susan's birthday draws to a close.

Terry returns with his wife to the music room and sits her down on the plush white divan he had purchased just to see the inspiration of his lady sitting there whenever he composed. Softly, in pianissimo, as not to awaken the sleeping (uh-huh) children upstairs, Terry plays on the piano's keys a sonata that her beauty had somehow written for him, and her love had instilled so truly within his soul.

Raptly listening to the music, her eyes were closed in bliss as her beloved's deep voice whispers soft words of adoration. All for his timeless lady who has, no matter what peril or hardship he has had to face, he could go on with the knowledge that she was at his side and safe, so blessed his life felt as he sings directly to her heart the words he had composed for her especially this night:

'My eyes search the horizon, grateful for the fortune destiny has brought me

Imaginings of what could have been still haunt me, if there was no you.

Would the sun still rise and set? Could the sea continue its flow and tide?

Winds would cease to scatter the sky without the whispers velvet in strains

Of the purest angel sent from the heavens far beyond the hourglass.

My ears listen to the gentle breeze, curious of the oncoming dawn

Wonderings of what life is able to be lived, if there was no you.

Could the stars yet blaze in the ebony sky? Would night come if there was no day?

Dreamer without a dream, faded visions slip through the soft intangible hands

Of the beautiful maiden risen from the mists of time and space

Tell me if the rivers would run dry, knowing that time had stopped in place?

For there could be no breath left in the beatings of my heart without you

You are the sunrise in my once uncertain tomorrow

My evening star at the lonely nightfall of long agos

For if there were no you - there would be no me.'

Finishing his heartfelt song of love with a flourished melodic crescendo, Terry looks up with adoring eyes to find his darling lady's glorious shining pools filled with tears racing down her soft cheeks.

"Happy Birthday, my Darling Susan. I didn't intend to cause you to weep, but I wanted you to know-" his low voice chokes briefly on the emotion-

"-how much you mean to me in all our days ahead." Terry goes to her, wiping the tears away with many a soft carress.

"Oh my Darling," Susan whispers back, kissing his handsome face in gratitude to have hs caring, his complete love.

"Thank you. Thank you forever!" She melts into his embrace, so very proud to be his wife, the object of his love, and soon to be the mother of his child.

"For the song? Or for the dress? Both are owed to your creation. You, my dearest inspiration, my precious precious lady." Terry pulls her trembling body to his oh so gently, trying to coax a smile from her moist with tears deep fuschia lips.

"For everything you've given me this past year. For finding the compassion in your soul to love a lonely forgotten woman like me." Joy for one year marking her once melancholy birth, Susan kisses those magnificently strong hands stroking her brow that were yet deftly nimble enough to compose such beautiful music equalled only by the sentiment of his lyric.

"My Lady, as I have always said, my soul was void and empty before I met you. You are my unforgettable everything." And with those final perfect words of love professed, Terry tenderly lifts his maiden, kissing her teary cheeks softly as he easily carries her up the stairs. He expresses his love in a thousand different little ways, vowing to always care for her, always keep his Susan safe and adored, as long into the night he holds her gently close, whispering words of love and reassurance of his pledge filling both their souls with the hope blossoming from within.

There was a lingering smile upon Susan Starr's face as she falls asleep in her Terry's arms after the wondrous happy day he and the children had given her in a beautiful life at this present time, whatever future may be drawing closer...