A Note to the Readers: All contents in this story is under an
artistic license. Fact and fiction will be clomped together into
one huge blob. In other words, don't bother me about debating
whether some conversations in this fanfic is truly based on
fact... as Naoko Takeuchi has done many times. Truth, after all,
is an elusive thing! ^-~. Enjoy!

When All the Good Angels Sleep

"No te engano la primavera "Did spring never deceive you
con besos que no florecieron?" with kisses that didn't blossom?"

--Pablo Neruda
("The Book Of Questions")

"And I looked, and behold a pale horse:
and his name that sat on him was Death."

--Bible: New Testament
(Revelation 6:8)

The First Sheep Named Infection

"Sometimes an omen can be good, other times
it could be bad. Yet, either way, it will
always bring another path to destiny. Your
mother once accused me of not caring enough
to help with building the future, that I
never followed through with my duties even
though I am the one to start the process, and
I told her that it would be impossible for me
to interfere. I knew too much after all. It
was my duty to say so, because I could not help.
My duties at the gates would not allow me to
and my excuses kept me safe. It made many
resent me and many more distrust me. Yet, I
admit to you now, my Queen, the Queen that I
had always dreamed of and followed to make you
real, that I had been lying. I know nothing
except the goal. One day you may forgive me for
not telling you this, but I did not know then
that there could be a hundred paths taken to the
same lighted way. Can you blame me? I am only a
guardian, a watcher of time. I am not the begin-
all, end-all of all things. I only tell you what
can be, it is your choice of what paths may lead
you there. But it is partially my fault that you
are here, that you have changed 'this' way. You
may blame me and tell me that this is not the
utopia that you dreamt of, but we both know 'that'
is a lie. You just did not anticipate the price
you had to pay for it."

--Sailor Senshi Pluto
("Letters To The Queen")

They came softly like the snowflakes falling upon the Earth,
drifting as much as descending. Their cocoons were undisturbed by
the locals because even the locals knew not of their existence.
Black as the night they were born from they descended from the
outer reaches of the galaxy, seemingly undetected by all that lay
sleeping upon the blue-green planet. In many ways they resembled
shapeless shadows, having no form and no shape, but their touch
was solid.

They had many names, yet only one name will always be
remembered. That was the name chosen for them by those who had
encountered others like them - youma - demons of the night. They
had many purposes, but only one would prevail. Their hollowed
sockets looked out into the darkness. They made no cries to prove
to the world their existence nor did they see the stars sparkling
above. All they saw was soft colors of auras; anything alive they
could see.

The movement of the small tangible thing quivered at their
approach, one youma took notice of it. The small creature bolted
but before it could get far razor sharp claws slashed through its
flesh, pinning it to the ground in a bloody mess. The creature
twitched and made a noise to moan in pain, yet that was the last
sound it made before its body became still on the ground. The
youma seemed intrigued, but something called to it soundlessly.
Retracting the sharp, steely claws it turned, forgetting the dead
creature in the sand as they trudged on toward the lights in the

Civilization was the only word that echoed in their minds.

It was their only destination.

* * *

The fluorescent lights flickered in a rhythmic motion
between dim and dimmer, casting the room in eerie light blue and
black. Soft breathing could be heard, the only other sound that
broke the silence. A dark head tucked beneath folds of arms and a
white lab coat moved slightly before settling, the white back
heaving with every breath. An empty coffee mug lay on its side on
the messy desk filled with papers and scattered pens. Multiple
screens were on, some with strange images going over them well
others scrolled down information automatically, picking ones that
were already specified. Three old black telephones hung on their
silver-metallic hooks as the clear, plastic circular dial lay
peacefully on top.

The figure shifted, mumbled something in sleep before
abruptly waking at the ringing from one of the phones. Jumping up
in surprise, the man accidentally knocked over the mug that
smashed into pieces on the ground. "Damn!" He swore as the
persistent ringing of the phone called him away. Grumbling after
a few seconds of disorientation, dark eyes flashed as an awkward
hand picked up the phone. "What?" Irritation could be heard from
the half-wakeful voice, husky from fatigue and groggy from the
momentary nap.

"Morning Core, nap time's over." A no-nonsense voice
answered calmly over the line.

"Apparently so." Core grumbled as he straightened in his
seat. "What do you want?" He asked gruffly.

"How's your research going Core?" The other deftly avoided
the question.

"Fine." He answered, already sleep was seeping from his
eyes and his voice became sharper and more alert.

"Good, good--"

Before the other could go on, he cut in. "We know this is
no social call so get to the point, Kalic. Why are you calling?"
While he waited for the other to collect himself, Core shifted his
eyes at the smashed pieces of the mug and swore silently again at
the mess on the floor.

"There have been several deaths in Southern Italy. We're
not sure what..." the voice trailed off.

Core's eyes shifted from the floor, becoming more interested
at where this conversation was going. "Go on." He encouraged,
his voice softened to a smooth lull.

"We think it might have become an epidemic. I had thought
it was some really sick homicides at first but now, there's too
many deaths for it to be humans doing the killings." Kalic
finally said in a deadly soft tone. There was no telling how the
other felt about this, but it was evident that this was something
big and something bad.

"What would make you suspect that?" Core asked. Picking
his words carefully. Kalic was a hard man to impress and even a
harder one to convince, Core had learned of this from experience,
but Kalic had learned too to trust Core's instincts and
suggestions as well. Most importantly, Kalic had been able to see
the genius in Core's research. It had surprised Kalic, at first,
when the other requested that his name should not be published
with his paper. Instead, Core wanted to send most of his work to
petty professors, all of whom, Core knew, would plagiarize his
work and put their name on research not their own. Still, he
cared about his identity more than his popularity. He had no care
for fame, only knowledge and the spread of information from the
things that he had gathered.

"In the last two days, a hundred people have been reported
to have become affected with this disease. At least ten have
already died from this, twenty others are dying and the rest are
showing signs of the beginning stages of this illness. God knows
how many more are infected but aren't showing signs!" Kalic was
clearly disturbed. Even for a hard man like him the rate that
this was going was horrid. What's worse is that they had no idea
what had caused it, nor did they know who was the primary host or
hosts for this new disease.

"That's only 10% mortality, Kalic, don't kill yourself over
it. It's too early to even be sure it's the same agent that
caused the cases." Core said casually, though dark eyes narrowed
at the words spoken, waiting for the response it was meant to

"Core, I'm not joking here. I've already sent you photos
that came in today. Check your email and think it over. I'll
call you in forty-eight hours. Keep at least one line open for
me." Kalic didn't need to remind him to keep a line open for him.
One of the phones not apparent on the desk was the private line
that only a select few had and Kalic was one of them. It would
stay open at all times.

"Yes." But the line was already dead when he opened his
mouth to say that single word of understanding. That word fell
only to the ringing of the phone. He grimaced. It must have been
even more serious then he had thought, for Kalic never hung up on
him before. It seemed that the other had been concerned enough to
forget his manners and for Kalic it would take a catastrophe to do
that. Hell, from the first time he met Kalic, he had thought a
catastrophe wouldn't even be able to do that! It was definitely
something big.

A savage grin appeared on his lips as he flicked his eyes to
one screen. In the blink of an eye he was viewing the photos the
other sent him. It was not pretty. Now, he understood why Kalic
had told him specifically, probably only him so far, to find the
cause. But something like this, you couldn't keep down forever,
and by the rate it was spreading it would be out in less than two
weeks. His dark eyes turned solemn at the thought. Now he had
less than two weeks to find the cure. "Hell, that's not enough
time to get me a new coffee mug!" He cursed before giving a soft
sigh of fatigue as he leaned against the chair to look at the
ceiling above him. His eyes blinked to the beat of the lights as
he silently called to the computers before him. Black wires
suddenly sprung up around him but he seemed oblivious to their
dark and menacing gleam.

They coiled around his body as the room slowly began to be
cluttered in the cables that sprung up, crawling like snakes
toward Core. Their bodies twisted hypnotically before puncturing
his skin, yet no blood came. The screens shone and in a moment,
images began to pop up at speeds faster than the blink of a human
eye. The desk began to descend into the floor until nothing
remained in the room, not even the pieces of the coffee cup that
was once on the floor beside the desk. The room slowly began to
fill up with liquid as the lights continued to flash in an
unbidden rhythm that beat against the ceiling.

The hunter was out to find its prey.

* * *

"Ami-chan!" A whining voice broke through her concentration
to the point at which she could no longer ignore it. "What are
you doing?" Curious blue eyes looked over her shoulder to the
textbook in her lap, but she was not reading it. Between the
pages of the textbook lay a small compact computer; seemingly no
different from the new trend of palm held calculators that had
suddenly become so popular in Japan, especially in Tokyo.

The blue-haired girl blushed at the discovery but smiled
gently at the curious odango-blonde who peered over her shoulder;
a dark cat with a crescent moon upon its forehead looked equally
interested from the shoulder of the odango-blonde. At the
reminder of what she was reading, her blush faded and her face
became serious once more. "I've been tracking some of the
activities in the other countries over the last few years. Since
your knowledge of politics needs to be extended, I need to keep
you up-to-date, Usagi-chan." She said but before she could
continue, she caught sight of a shadow at the corner of her eye.
"Na ni?" She whispered softly to herself, so soft the odango-
blonde did not hear her but the dark cat looked quizzically at the
blue-haired girl.

"Oh, Ami-chan! So, that's why you've been forcing me to
read those boring newspapers everyday, ne?" Usagi cut in, not
allowing the cat to do more than gape. Irked at being cut off
before she could start, the black cat gave her owner a sweep of
her claws as Usagi squealed in surprise and pain. "Na ni, Luna!
Why did you have to do that?" The odango-blonde exclaimed before
she started to weep loudly. Luna deftly pounced from Usagi's
shoulder to Ami's when this began to happen, wanting to be able to
hear for the next few hours, as well as to stay dry.

"Deserved it for having such a big mouth." Luna sniffed as
she contentedly rested on the blue-haired girl's shoulder. The
odango-blonde still continued to cry. Ami instinctively tried to
calm the girl, yet blue eyes never ceased to search her
surroundings suspiciously. Seeing Ami's searching gaze, Luna
began to investigate the general area as well but could find
nothing that would have otherwise alerted her sense of the evil
that Ami seemed to suspect with each wary glance.

"Daijoubu Usagi-chan?" Ami finally asked when she too came
to that same conclusion moments later. The blonde had calmed
somewhat, but had noticed the delayed reaction in her friend.

"Hai, Ami-chan." Usagi sniffed, but the blue eyes looked
more concerned at the blue-haired girl. Suddenly forgetting all
that had been bothering herself, she smiled at her friend warmly,
"What's wrong Ami-chan? You seem not yourself today." Usagi
asked gently. Startled, Ami looked to her blond-haired friend and
for a moment she caught a glimpse of what Usagi might be like in a
distant future.

"I'm fine." She replied quickly, giving a reassuring smile
in reply.

Somewhat soothed for the moment, Usagi nodded as her eyes
suddenly returned to their normal girlishness. "Ne, Ami-chan? Is
it a new boy that's been occupying all your time online? You know
you promised that you'd look into the boyfriend department once we
were in high school, and now it's our last year! This is so
exciting! Of course, these online boyfriends are becoming such a
trend in Tokyo! Don't tell me you have been keeping a beau behind
that screen of yours without telling me!" Usagi wiggled her
finger at her blushing friend, who blinked at her several times.

"Usagi-chan--" the blue-haired girl stuttered.

"Oh, personally, I do prefer flesh and blood. I mean, I
would never be able to just 'chat' with my Mamo-chan online
without wanting to be next to him." The blonde continued with a
dreamy smile, seemingly to have forgotten her. She sighed in
relief though discovered too late that it was too soon to hope,
"But if that's your preference Ami-chan, I understand. Ne, it
wouldn't be that Urawa-san back in junior high would it? Or some
guy you met at one of those classes you take after school all the
time, or did you find someone to--"

"U-S-A-G-I-chan!" The odango-blonde stopped in the middle
of her interrogation of Ami to look up and see another sunny
blonde racing towards them.

"Minako-chan!" Usagi jumped up excitedly towards the other.

Groaning, Ami quickly packed her bags. "Best get out of the
line of fire before it gets any worse!" she thought as the two
blondes squealed at each other in delight as if they hadn't seen
each other in years when it was merely an hour or two. Strange
what a few classes of math and science would do to those two,
though she could never understand the reasons for it, especially
since she found them to be the most stimulating. "Where do you
think your going Ami-chan?"

Snapping out of her revery she found herself backed by two
grinning blondes. Apparently Usagi had already filled Minako in
with the details of her latest discussion. Sighing in
resignation, Ami set down her bag as Luna gave her a pitying look.
Wearily Ami turned back to face the firing squad. "Good luck!"
the dark cat whispered before jumping from her shoulder. Giving
Luna a hard glare for abandoning her, she turned to see two girls
ready to burst with questions.

At that moment she wondered if this torture was worth it, or
if they felt tortured just keeping it all corked up inside waiting
to explode. In less than a moment the two were barraging her with
questions that she never even had time to answer. Too bad Makoto
wasn't here, at least then she could read her book. But then, it
was just her luck that the tall brunette was staying a little late
during classes to finish her cooking, Usagi and Minako would be
too interested in the food that the brunette would bring soon
enough, and then Ami could get back to her books.

Silently Ami waited for her time to escape into the quiet of
the library, where she could finish her research.

Luna ran down the sidewalk, giving a backward glance at the
blue-haired girl being bombarded with squeals and questions from
the two blondes before her. With a pitying look at Ami and an
exasperated glare at the other two, Luna turned towards the street.
Her blue eyes narrowed dangerously as she crossed the
road, glad that the traffic was lazy and almost non-existent,
before slowly picking up her pace to a new destination. Though
Ami was occupied, and Usagi had not been much help, Luna was able
to catch a glimpse of the result on Ami's computer. And not just
that, she could see the small window with the neat kanji message
signed Setsuna at the corner of one screen. From years of
experience and the memories of the distant past, Luna knew well
that this was not a good sign, especially when the apprehension
within Ami's eyes shone brighter than she had ever seen it. Yet,
it was not just Setsuna's message that had disturbed her, but one
that was not signed by anything but the name "CORE" in English
letters who had written to the blue-haired girl about a strange
epidemic that was spreading suddenly in Southern Italy, as well as
accounting other strange events.

Something was definitely up. Whether this was Sailor Senshi
business or just a very bad omen she was not sure of, in fact, it
could even be a trap! But there was not much else she could do
but investigate it by going to someone with some insight into what
the future held without going to see Pluto herself. Anyway, if
Rei wasn't able to decipher what this new mystery was, Luna would
eventually have to go to central control room to check out what
had been going on anyway (dragging that lazy Artemis with her if
she had to) to get the job done!

"Luna, I finally caught up with you!" panted a white blob
as she paused in her swift jog to glance over her shoulder at the
familiar voice.

Giving the newcomer a lazy gaze she turned once more to the
walkway in front of her. "Oh, Artemisu, you're way too out of
shape." Luna sighed as she continued on, only a little slower
this time, out of pity for her new companion of course.

"Wait! Wait Luna!" The white cat panted as he finally
caught up. Looking at his inability to keep up somehow made her
heart soften slightly, but not enough to slow down too much, just
a little so he could catch his breath.

"You really should work out more Artemisu," she scolded the
other with a twinkle of amusement in her eyes.

"Yeah, tell that to my lungs." The other retorted

"Hm, I'm surprised that Minako-chan doesn't keep you in
shape or at least on your toes. Even Usagi-chan can do that to
me." Luna said with a wider grin.

"Yeah, as if she's ever done anything to keep herself in
shape." Artemis grumbled. "Anyway, how do you do it Luna?" He
asked, wanting her to falter.

"All those morning jogs with Usagi-chan, especially carrying
her forgotten lunch, can keep anyone healthy." Luna winked
playfully. Artemis gaped at this as the dark cat giggled at his
expression. "Anyway, I thought you were used to chasing Minako-
chan by now." Luna said off-handedly with a flick of her tail,
turning to the street in front of them once more and easily
picking her way through the shuffling of human feet that strolled
by them without so much as a glance.

Artemis twitched visibly at the pun. "I do not chase after
Minako for your information." Artemis exclaimed as he picked up
his own pace, one that Luna followed easily - an action that irked
him more.

"Oh, right!" Luna chuckled. "As if having you cling to her
shoulder and flying down the street like a kite-cat is any
better." Luna deliberately added a little of her Japanese accent
to make him sound like a chocolate bar.

Artemis grumbled something under his breath about "revenge"
and "soon". Not really minding this in the least, Luna let him
stew a little longer, if more tolerant than usual of his grumbles.
After all, he deserved it, especially since he should've been
using his paws instead of trying to catch a free ride all the

It took a while but they finally reached the wrought iron
gates against polished marble walls that were decorated with deep-
green ivy. "So this is Rei's school." Artemis commented with a
low whistle. "Man, no wonder Minako was so envious when she found
out that Rei went here!"

"Among other things," Luna said rolling her deep-blue eyes.

They stealthily crept through the gates and quickly climbed
up the tall oak trees, trying to see where Rei was taking her
classes. A caw from above surprised both of them, and Artemis
nearly lost his balance when he jumped a little from the branch he
was on. Waving his paws frantically to try to regain his lost
sense of direction, he yelped as his body swayed. This was
especially unpleasant a surprise for Artemis since he knew that
though other cats may land on their feet, he probably won't. He
knew this was true from morning experiences with Minako, and it
took him a while before he could finally regain some balance in
his small body. "Shimatta!" he cursed as he clung to the branch
to keep from falling to the hard ground below.

The cawing started anew, only this time more mirthful,
joined by a feminine laughter that could only be Luna. "Oh
Artemisu!" Luna grinned softly as she saw him climb clumsily back
onto the dark branch already in another sulk. "You're very
comical today," she finally said with an added giggle that she
couldn't seem to keep down.

Glaring at her he licked the back of his paw trying to
smooth his ruffled fur. "Well, isn't it great that I prove to be
so entertaining for your--"

She strode before him and placed her nose to his in a silent
show of fondness that immediately shut him up, another surprise
for him since he caught up with her today. Her blue eyes sparkled
into his green ones as she smiled, "You're wonderful Artemisu."
She softly said before turning to the ones who had disturbed him
in the first place.

"Luna..." he began, but was unable to finish as she only
looked back at him with a wink.

"I don't think we need to search any longer Artemisu,
apparently Rei-chan has found us, well, at least her guardians
have." The crows above them cawed again, one of them smoothing a
feather before both took off, leading them to their master. They
were able to locate the dark-haired woman soon after. She was
sitting by the building with a smile on her lips as she chatted
with some other girls. Dark-hair spilled over one shoulder as she
laughed at a joke that both the cats had missed, but her eyes
found them before they had need to make their presence known.
With an animated smile she excused herself and headed in a
different direction.

"Where's she going?" Artemis asked surprised. "I was so
sure she saw us."

"Baka!" Luna sighed, "She wants us to follow!"

The two crows above them cawed in agreement as Artemis shot
them a glare. "Oh, what I'd do to--!"

"Careful now Artemisu, they are also guardians." Grumbling
the white cat nodded before glaring at the crows one last time as
he turned up his tail to follow. The crows seemed amused at this
but said no more, her look of gratitude though was enough.

"Thank you," she mouthed. And for a moment she saw the
illusionary faces of the silent guardians of Mars looking back at
her with gentle smiles. 'You are very welcome Luna, we are glad
we can help those of the Moon, just like our Rei-chan is glad to
serve your Moon Princess. We won't forget you, Luna. Just
remember, fate sends strange messengers!' With that they spread
their wings and fluttered from the trees without a sound. 'Keep
your hopes alive!' were the last traces of communication between
them before that too had faded to nothing but memories.

Nodding at the enigma they left to her she turned to the
direction where the dark-haired woman and her white companion had
already headed to. Perhaps, Rei-chan would be able to tell her
more about what was to come, or perhaps not, but either way what
must be will come. With that in mind she looked around to make
sure that no one was watching before quickly slipping along the
tracks of her more brazen partner.

Still, the shadows were silent. Still they watched.

How much they understood was not known.

But they watched and they knew more than they would show.

* * *

Sweat trickled down her brow as she shifted the pan from the
oven carefully. Wiping it away with her free hand, she then
dusted away some of the flour that clung to her apron. Sighing
happily with a smile, she set down the tray on the rack to let it
cool. "Usagi-chan and Minako-chan will be pleased with this."
She said to herself with a small grin. Just imagining the looks
on those two's faces made her grin widen.

It had been an uneventful year, just like the last one.
Nothing had happened since the defeat of the Dark Moon Circus and
now they were working hard to catch up on all the years they had
missed on being normal people. It had almost surprised her when
she woke in her bed sleeping, panicking at first at what happened
to Usagi before relaxing at the memories of the defeat of
Nephrenia. It was a relief that Tokyo was free again from the
nightmarish dreams that had haunted her for sometime, and when
they had first settled into high school too! She was glad of
this; glad of the peace, but something didn't seem right now that
things had settled. True, Nephrenia had lost and no longer was
she a threat to their future, but something was coming, something
troublesome and dangerous. She knew, after all, she was the
wielder of storm and in her heart she felt that silent storm
gathering at the horizon, a hidden intensity that scared her with
its unknown powers.

Come to think of it, they never found out exactly how
Crystal Tokyo came into being. Never did they even question the
trials that would follow, in fact all they could gather was that
there would be an ice-age much like the ones long ago, only this
time they would sleep frozen for sometime before they would awaken
and rebuild Crystal Tokyo. Hell, they didn't even know how long
it would be before they would sleep as a bunch of frozen icicles!

A rumble disturbed her thoughts as she realized it had come
from her own stomach. Laughing softly at this, a blush spreading
across her features, she quickly gathered the stray cookies from
the rack and packed them in a nicely tied package. It's about
time to visit her friends, especially since lunch was waiting to
be eaten!

Stepping down the corridor she saw a shadow pass her,
startled as she felt a darkness descent. She quickly turned to
find that the corridors were empty. "Na ni?" She whispered in
suspicion, emerald eyes narrowing into dangerous slits of fiery

She ran down the corridor to the nearest hall and saw
nothing but a passing shadow that swiftly disappeared.
Determined, she raced down towards it and turned to see that it
led to a darker corridor, a figure that nearly merged into the
shadows was the only silhouette she could detect. "Na ni?" She
whispered to herself, getting ready to do battle. Of all of her
years as a Sailor Senshi, she had never had to change in her
school. Disturbed at this, with a hint of discomfort she looked
around to make sure no one was near. Not only that, she knew that
even though she might be more powerful than she had ever been
since the boost in her powers two years ago, it had also been two
years since she used them. I've been slacking, we all have.
Knowing this unsettled her somehow and distracted her as well.

It couldn't be an enemy, she thought. How could it be? An
enemy had never attacked them this time of day unless it was the
weekend or during vacation, and what was more, it had never
attacked them on such familiar ground! It couldn't be! Maybe she
was going out of her mind, but she was sure she felt a dark
presence, strong enough for her to detect and she had no special
abilities to sense this like Rei or the cats.

Her senses told her that her target was near, too near for
comfort. She stepped back into her own shadows as she pressed the
emergency button on her communicator. It took longer than usual
for them to answer, probably because they hadn't done this for
such a long time. The timing was bad, but still she could do
nothing about it now, "Min'na, I sense a youma in corridor 5."
She said softly when four faces finally popped up.

"Mako-chan, you can't mean in our own school!" Usagi
exclaimed in surprise.

"Hai." She said uneasily, searching her immediate

"We'll be there in a jiffy!" Minako said as she turned from
the screen and was gone with Ami and Usagi.

"You sensed it Mako-chan?" Rei asked, though somewhat
surprised, the look on the dark-haired girl's face was more
disturbed than surprised.

"Hai, I fear that it has a very strong presence." The dark-
haired girl frowned at this, as she looked away from the screen,
soon two more faces popped up.

"Mako-chan, I want you to wait until Usagi-chan and the
others are there. Don't attempt to fight this thing on your
own." The dark cat on Rei's shoulder ordered, Makoto gave a
prudent nod.

"Understood," she answered.

"Mako-chan, be careful." Rei said softly with genuine
concern. Purple eyes looked to her for reassurance but then the
other's expression changed, and she felt the shadows shift behind
her. "Mako-chan, jump!"

No time to think, she dived, feeling something cold and
sharp cut through her uniform, skiming her flesh as it ripped
through her cloth. Crying out in surprise, she dropped her
communicator as she slammed into the opposite wall. Long fingers
suddenly wrapped around her throat. Damn! She thought
desperately as she grabbed onto the scaly arm with her free hand
and realized that she was in no position to transform.

"Stop right there!" A feminine voice cut through. She
immediately felt relieved that the others had gotten there on
time. Thanking whatever gods there were that it had been indeed
in the school the four of them attended.

'Sailor Senshi.' The youma muttered, but it had no mouth to
mutter from! It sounded like a whisper, as its face turned to the
new comers. She could hear Super Sailor Moon gasping in horror
and could almost imagine the disgust on Sailor Venus's face.
Taking the advantage of the momentary distraction she slammed her
leg into the youma's own and knocked the thing off balance,
freeing herself when its dark body fell onto the cold floor.
Mercury immediately brought her hands to her chest and unleashed a
volley of fog giving Makoto enough time to escape. Somewhere in
the denseness she cried out her own transformation and no longer
was she helpless to the being that had threatened her life but
moments ago. "This one's mine!" She called to Super Sailor Moon
who was already clutching to her wand in the mists.

Just when it cleared, the youma stood. Its skin was all
black and it had no features, only shapes and wisps of would-be
hair. Its hollowed sockets looked to them with their own menace
as it stood and stalked towards Super Sailor Moon, the closest
target and the most unwilling one. "Jupiter Oak Evolution!"
Sailor Jupiter screamed as she sent the golden-green energy
slamming into the darkness of the youma. It screamed at the pain,
only it was not like any sound she ever heard, and before Super
Sailor Moon could do more the creature disintegrated into
nothingness. Super Sailor Moon stood staring in shock at exactly
how easy it was, seeing that even the weaker youma they had faced
had needed her to at least finish the job!

Grinning Jupiter gave a thumbs up to her fellow senshi,
"That was easy!" she said with a smile. Sailor Mercury was
looking at her carefully, walking to her side before forcefully
turning her one way. "Na ni?" She exclaimed in surprise. The
blue-haired senshi ignored her complaint and continued to examine
the wound that was on her right arm.

"Daijoubu Mercury?" Super Sailor Moon asked worriedly once
she got over her shock. Looking between her two friends with
equal concern, but Mercury was ignoring her too, or too busy to
reply to her questions.

"I'll need a sample of your blood today after school and I
want you to go home and get that wound bandaged up." The
commanding tone Mercury used told her that it would be useless to
try to argue.

"Min'na! Min'na, answer me damn it!" All attention turned
to see the communicator a few feet away.

"Gomen ne Rei-chan!" Laughed the nervous Sailor Venus who
bent and picked up the communicator. "We forgot that you're not
offline yet."

"For God's sake de-transform before anyone can see you in
that!" Rei snapped on the other line, giving the sheepish blonde
leader a glare.

"Yatta! Yatta!" Venus said. Playfully sticking her tongue
out at her friend. Super Sailor Moon twitched slightly with worry
for Jupiter and their sudden appearance in their school. Not
being able to help Jupiter the way she wanted to and having
Mercury already scuff her away, she hurriedly looked around to
make sure that the coast was clear. They stepped into the
abandoned hallway and reverted back to their normal selves as soon
as Mercury finished checking on Jupiter. Minako handed the
communicator back to Makoto who received it graciously.

"Min'na, I better go! Class will be commencing soon." Rei
explained, after they agreed on a meeting later on in the day at
Makoto's apartment as Mercury had suggested. "Call me if anything
else comes up!" And without waiting for an answer Rei logged off.

Makoto staggered a little when she tried to straighten from
leaning against the wall after she had pocketed her communicator,
feeling slightly light headed all of a sudden without the tiled
support of the wall. It startled her, and not only her, but the
others as well. Mercury did not de-transform, her face was grim
as ever. "Usagi-chan, I want you to change back to Super Sailor

"Na ni Ami-chan? I just--" Mercury gave the odango-blonde a
hard glare that immediately shut the other up. Obediently she
turned back to Super Sailor Moon in a flash. Though, not long
before, Usagi would've wailed with hurt at the commanding tone her
blue-haired friend used, this time she said nothing. Whether it
was because of Makoto's lack of balance or because of the sudden
appearances of a youma in their school -- hitting home a little
more closely than usual -- was hard to tell.

"I want you to take Mako-chan home, and you should revert
back to your Senshi form." Mercury told the startled brunette.
"I don't want you to change back to your normal self unless you
absolutely have to," she said softly. Her eyes were worried but
she betrayed none of those feelings in her voice.

"How can I just leave school?" Makoto asked in surprise.

Mercury smiled at this and turned to the startled Minako.
"Minako-chan, I hope you are still carrying your compact with
you," the blue-haired senshi said with an amused smile at the
blonde beside her.

Minako grinned. "Of course!"

"All she needs to do is act sick, as you of course Mako-
chan." Mercury told the tall brunette.

"You're a genius Ami-chan!" Exclaimed Super Sailor Moon.

"Shhhh!" They shushed their excited princess.

"Gomen." Sailor Moon said with a blush and a sheepish grin.

"Now get moving, when the bell rings, go to the roof and try
to get as far away from here as soon as you can. Mako-chan,
transform, we can't have others see you like that. It is best
that if anyone catches you, they see you in senshi form. You two
should leave now. Minako-chan and I will be going to the nurse,
she can change into you too Usagi-chan." Grateful, the odango-
blonde senshi smiled at this change of events, especially now that
she got to miss class.

"We'll meet at Mako-chan's apartment after school as
planned, stay there and make sure to report any change in Mako-
chan's health, especially if Jupiter is affected." Nodding in
understanding Sailor Moon waited for Makoto to transform back into
Jupiter and the two left. Minako watched as Mercury quickly
reverted back to civilian form as soon as she made sure that
Sailor Moon was off of the school grounds.

"Okay, let's get this plan rolling." Minako said
enthusiastically as she produced her compact from her dimensional

"Yare yare," Ami muttered but complied as the two headed
toward the nurse's office.

Of course, Ami, already engrossed in her research on the
health of their auburn-haired friend, did not see the pensiveness
that seeped into the blue eyes of her blonde companion. For after
all, though Minako was the leader, most of the time she didn't act
it. Even though she had power enough, she was lenient and many
times allowed Sailor Moon or the other senshi to do all the
deciding with her, if not sometimes for her. How Rei and she
stayed best friends was still beyond Ami, though none of the
senshi would ever admit to not understanding what Rei and Minako
found in common. But of course, they had missed the time that Rei
and Minako would quietly sit and discuss the events that had been
happening, or when Minako would go respectfully up the hundred
steps of the Hikawa-Jinja each time they had an enemy to ask for
Rei's advice. They would not know that it had become a secret
tradition for Minako to continue the pilgrimage to visit her dark-
haired friend even after the dangers had dissipated.

None of the other Sailor Senshi could understand the silent
respect Rei had for the carefree blonde, for it was hard to win
much ground with the dark-haired girl, especially with how the two
girls started off. Rei would never talk about it, but she knew
that it would only take time for them to see that Minako was the
chosen leader of the Sailor Senshi once Neo-Serenity was on her
throne. After all, wasn't Minako the one who beat the
undefeatable Kunzite when not even Sailor Moon could? Wasn't it
Minako who killed Queen Beryl while Usagi faced off with Endymion?
Wasn't it Minako who had to fight evil since the age of thirteen?

To Rei, the quiet moments spent with her blonde friend had
made it clear to her that though Minako was sometimes gossipy and
noisy, she was not stupid. In Minako, Rei had seen the qualities
of the ancient leader of the Sailor Senshi shining through those
sky-blue eyes, past the millennia of forgotten lore and hidden
pasts. So Rei waited and did not speak of the courage that she
saw in the ditz blonde friend she spent more time with than any
other Sailor Senshi, she did not tell the others that the one
person who knew them best was Minako, and that when the final
battle came, it would be Minako who would finally have her chance
to shine. Instead, Rei waited as Minako continued to act like she
always acted. But the time of upheaval had arrived, and though
Ami might not have seen the determined glint in Minako's eyes nor
would she have noticed the increasing confidence in the strides of
the blond-haired girl beside her, the time of rebirth had arrived
and none of them would walk out of this battle the same as they
were now.

"So the invasion has begun?" The sandy-blonde replaced the
cup back onto the delicate cream saucer.

"The mirror confirmed our earlier suspicions, but it is
clear that the attacks should be appearing any time now." The
aqua-haired woman sitting beside the sandy-blonde nodded in

"It is not so surprising that it is now that they attack."
Another woman with long elegantly dressed dark hair, tinted green,
addressed the two women before her.

A teenage girl around fifteen sat beside her. She had
remained silent through out the conversation, but now decided to
speak up. "Setsuna-mama, is this the reason why I've suddenly
begun to grow again?" The raven-haired girl asked. Her large
purple eyes filled with curiosity and mysterious shadows.

All three women looked discomforted by the statement, "I
hope not." The sandy-blonde muttered. It had been hard now that
Hotaru had started her growth spurt once again. They were forced
to pull her out of the junior high as it would be more difficult
to keep her away from prying eyes now that she was no longer a
little girl.

"Daijoubu-yo Haruka-papa, I'm sure I'll survive." The
raven-haired girl smiled as she set down the cup of tea she had
been cradling between her slim hands. "Usagi-chan won't let
anything happen to any of us. I know she won't!" The innocent
smile radiated a trust and warmth that reminded them of their
blonde princess, their savior.

"Hai Hotaru-chan, but we will make sure nothing will
endanger you if we can help it." The aqua woman told her with a
motherly smile.

"Arigato Michiru-mama!" Hotaru bounded from her seat and
gave the older woman a warm hug.

"Ne, why don't we go for ice cream hime-chan?" Haruka asked
the young girl fondly.

"Great Haruka-papa!" The sandy-blonde gave the two women a
wink and led Hotaru to the counter on the other side of the small

"Haruka seems happy since things have settled." Setsuna
commented, leaning back on the cushioned seat.

"Hmm," Michiru agreed as she twirled a silver spoon in her
tea. "Ne, Setsuna," Michiru paused. As if searching for words
for what she felt she finally met the curious gaze of her dark-
haired friend, "I feel that an unrest has fallen over Tokyo once
more, but the darkness is fainter yet my dread is greater. I
really do hope that Hotaru will not be dragged into this."
Setsuna sighed as she looked into the liquid in her cup, staring
at the woman who reflected her sadness and her severity. "Peace
was such a nice change from the battles, I had hoped that the
oncoming sleep would be easier." Michiru chuckled softly, "I
guess the Inners have truly made us all soft and hopeful inside."

Setsuna smiled at this and patted the other woman's hand
from across the table, "Daijoubu Michiru, what will be will be."

Nodding, the aqua-haired woman smiled and the two shared a
moment of their own peace. "I'm glad that you've returned to us
Setsuna." Not knowing quite what to say to that, Setsuna found
herself smiling slightly in appreciation.

"Ladies, here are the ice creams," the husky voice of Haruka
interrupted their quiet conversation.

"Arigato," Michiru nodded as she took her cone from the
hands of the grinning blonde.

"Michiru-mama, I got a free cone!" Hotaru announced

"Oh? And how did our little hime-chan do that?" The aqua-
haired woman looked suspiciously at Haruka.

"Ara, the counter-boy thought she was cute, I had nothing to
do with it." Haruka answered coolly.

"Haruka-papa threatened the counter-boy," Hotaru added

"Haruka!" Michiru scolded as Setsuna chuckled at this.

"So I told the boy to buy the ice cream for our hime-chan
like a gentleman should instead of just gawking at her." Grumbled
the blonde. "There was no threat in that!"

"Haruka-papa threatened to beat him to a pulp if he
didn't." Hotaru spoke up once more, this time receiving a glare
from the sandy-blonde.

"Daijoubu, daijoubu Haruka." Setsuna chuckled at the
other's expression. "She has you pegged!"

"I can see that!" The blonde scowled at this and took
another swallow of her cooling tea. "Outdone by my own
daughter," muttered the blonde to herself that only caused Michiru
to laugh softly at the comment. Haruka gave her a lopsided grin
but said nothing more.

"Michiru-mama, do you know who the enemies are?" Hotaru
asked innocently after spooning a piece of the ice cream. A
silence fell across the tables for the three older women were
still unused to her talking so boldly about Senshi business.
Perhaps it was because they had gotten too used to her youth.

"Hime-chan, they are like shadow demons, a breed of youma we
have never met before." Michiru filled in the silence.

"Strange that they have not yet attacked a larger area."
Haruka pondered out loud.

"They seem smarter than the ones Usagi fought with long
ago." Setsuna said thoughtfully. "It seems that they are using
stealth instead of brute force."

"If they are using stealth, I wonder about their strength."
Haruka answered.

"They seem a lot like the daimons my father used to make."
Hotaru added. Startled once more, they looked at her in silent

"Hai hime-chan, like the daimons, but perhaps not
sophisticated enough to use human beings as hosts." Michiru
answered, saving them once more from an awkward silence. They did
not mention to their young daughter that it might be worse than
the daimon in that it did not need a human host to survive and to

"How soon would you estimate them to start their attack?"
Setsuna asked, rouge eyes staring pensively to the city below.

"I think they have already started." Hotaru answered softly
as she looked down at her tea. They understood the implications
of that statement for the raven-haired girl had been sprouting
growth once more, a sign that foreshadowed coming doom and
dangerous battles. A signthey accepted with gravity. However,
they had not yet informed their future Queen of the startling

"Well, at least it'll be getting interesting around town
again!" Haruka said cheerfully, eyes gleaming with silent menace
as she cracked her knuckles in anticipation.

Michiru chuckled at the comment as Hotaru giggled at the
wink the sandy-blonde gave her, but Setsuna stayed eerily silent.
The dark-haired woman stared down at the city as if she were
seeing another in its place, "May our ways be lighted!" She
whispered to herself as the images of the looming future flickered
before her eyes, unsettling her heart.

* * *

Kuragari Fuma stepped in the streets of downtown Juuban.
Dark sunglasses covered his eyes, eyes that narrowed at the lights
as he stepped from the darkness of the club's hallway even though
they were protected by the dark tints. His blond hair stood out
in this part of town, though he was partially glad that he was not
anywhere near the richer areas since tourists were known to mingle
during this time of year and cameras of the locals were also known
to flash when they weren't gawking at the visitors, or the other
way around. As far as he was concerned it was best that no one
took any pictures of him, especially since he didn't want anyone
to suspect about his origins. For Kuragari Fuma had a problem, he
was not photogenic, literally. In fact, his pictures always
showed up blank, as if he wasn't even there. He had made the
mistake once or twice already and had to deal with the
consequences, all of which had been ... unpleasant.

Strolling down this part of the street was interesting in
that he had never had time to observe his surroundings till now,
in fact he had been too busy to notice anything while trying to
detect any signs of evil. He slung his leather bag over his
shoulder before throwing back a strand of hair as he strolled down
the dirty streets. If he had been uptown he'd be in a much
cleaner environment, he knew that, but that wasn't what he was
sent for. A few nights before, the program dubbed "C-O-R-E"
called him for a mission, a special mission that only he and a
select few others could attend to without risk, to be the Hunter.
He had a feeling that the elements that had allowed him to be what
he was now also made it impossible for him to remove the microchip
at the base of his neck. It was the exact same spot that allowed
C-O-R-E to access into his brain and dispatch him for this
mission. And for now, it was probably surveying things to the
extent that even he would fail to do for it saw and heard
everything that he was able to hear and see. In a way, this
program was the God of the computer world, if not of the
technology world. It still bothered him slightly that though he
might feel real and be perceived as real, he was no more than a
holographic image of his old self. Hell, he wasn't even human

Unknown to the citizens of Tokyo, or the world for that
matter, the leaders of underground research labs had been able to
start a top-secret project for the government. The founder of
this project had chosen to remain silent, and even Kuragari, once
known as Fuma by his dead friends, and Kura by his living
colleagues, did not know the origins of his 'birth'. Birth in
that he was not born human. Actually, perhaps, a long time ago,
Fuma was a human being - maybe he still had a body -- but then he
had somehow ended up here, a half-ghost, half-man machine that
could be perceived and touched but never truly known. In truth,
even if Fuma was connected to a machine and did indeed have a real
body he would not know where to look for it, nor did he think he
would want to if he had the chance, for who knows why he was
chosen for this project. It had saddened whatever heart or soul
he had left, but not enough of it remained for him to feel truly
sorrowful, nor did his doubts on how much his feelings were real
or just a program make it easy for him to just contemplate upon
his strange emotions. His mind could not comprehend it to be
real, much less take it seriously with any consideration of its
consequences! Fuma's perceptions of all things were different.
His perception of time was warped. In fact, he wasn't really sure
how old he was. All he knew was one thing, and one thing only: He
was a computer program and his mission now was to find the
virus, which supposedly first appeared in Southern Italy. His job
was to isolate and discover the true origins of the virus itself.
This job, and his program were probably saving a lot of lives, of
researchers and doctors alike. Of course, none of them knew about
Fuma, nor did he think he wanted them to know of his existence and
the existence of those like him. Stupid people tend to want to
misuse machines like him, so it was in the best interest of
everyone else that he was not known.

True, the few that did know and had created him weren't
prefect, but at least he had some freedom. Though they tried to
make him as 'human' as possible, his electric mind and heart could
and would never agree. But when your brain's 2/3 metal and
wirings, complete with futuristic technology and computerized
chips that 99.999% of the world never even knew about, it can put
your doubt about "where your heart lay" in a whole new
perspective! At least, when you are human you can trust that your
heart is alive and real, an organism that moves to support the
body, but when its just another piece of machinery, it can make
one wonder just how brilliant the programmers they recruited for
your cybernetic body and brain were. A strange tingling at the
back of his neck interrupted his contemplation on his own
existence, as it had done many times in the past.

As a precaution, he did not stop to search the grounds
frantically for signs of confirmation. Instead, he continued to
walk down the street a little more. To an ordinary observer, he
was a clueless boy strolling down a very bad part of town, but
then they could not see his instant link to the satellites in
orbit above Japan and checking the alleys and stores he had just
passed, searching through data that might give him some clue to
what he was looking for.

His black suit seemed typical of a young man in an elite
university, one that made him stand out more, but that was what he
wanted. Make yourself less noticeable by being noticeable;
anyway, after a second glance most people will get bored of it.
There were so many sake-drinking students and they just might
mistake him for one of those human boys. He retreated his steps
before pausing and listening to the soft beep on the side of his
ear. Apparently he had missed something because of his earlier
broodings, though his bionic brain that continually scanned his
environment did not. What surprised him though was that he
stopped before a quiet little junk shop, a store that most people
would've passed without even noticing it to be there in the first
place! "Hmm," he muttered to himself thoughtfully as he studied
the sign that hung at the top of the store's doorway. He had
actually been studying some of the 'phenomena' circling Tokyo City
when he found out about his assignment, scanning over the stories
even if they seemed bogus. From what he had recalled, most of
these parasites, if not all, seemed to prefer places that were
more public or had a likely chance of becoming so, making it easy
to take whatever it is they need from human beings, be it energy,
memory, or an advanced host. It seemed that this was not a usual
place for creatures of such nature, a nature that seemed imbedded
into the parasites' genes since there seemed to be little evidence
that there were other cases similar to these. What puzzled him
more was that, had this been a busy street he would've understood
why the parasites might cunningly have chosen to hide here, but it
was not. Unlike the rest of downtown Juuban, this part was a dump
and many people avoided it unless they came looking for something,
be it trouble, drugs, or both. The traffic was at its highest at
night but it was no place to seek any lasting hosts, nor was it
any good to take over scarcely populated places. Taking note to
keep the doubts he had inside, he thought best to at least check
out what had been jumping on his sensors. If it wasn't the demons
he was sent to look for he wanted to know what had enough power to
cause this to go off in his head. Maybe it would help him in his
investigation and understanding of the strange events that had
been happening globally. After all, this could prove to be
interesting! He walked to the door and turned the knob after only
a few seconds of hesitation, opening the creaky old brown door.

* * *

Ami examined Makoto's wounds carefully after removing the
bandages as she frowned over the scarring that was rapidly healing
before her eyes. To ordinary humans, this might be a surprise,
but to the Sailor Senshi, it had become somewhat of a habit. The
blood of Sailor Jupiter was already being tested, but it was not
what worried Ami. Though Jupiter was healing quickly she was in a
fever. Ami reviewed the notes she had memorized from her
communication with CORE, trying to see if this might be the deadly
virus that he had spoken off. Her hand did not shake despite her
uncertainty, nor did she allow herself to feel desperate for Usagi
would panic and it was best that no one distracted her from her
work or Makoto from her sleep.

Rei bent down and replaced the damp cloth with another cool
one and Ami was thankful for the dark-haired shrine maiden's
presence. Minako was bringing more water from the bathroom and
Usagi was trying to contact Mamoru. For that, Ami was thankful.
Though the dark-haired prince had already finished his last years
of med-school, he had an even busier schedule now with his new
doctor's job. Ami sighed as she scanned the data her computer was
gathering, checking to make sure the results would be hers in a
few more minutes.

Rei stood up and headed for the door, "Where are you
going?" Ami asked surprised.

"Someone needs to cook dinner and knowing Usagi, she'll
start complaining about her stomach soon. We all know what a
disaster zone Mako-chan's kitchen would be if we let 'her' cook!"
Rei said with a bit of a chuckle. Ami knew immediately that the
dark-haired woman was trying to lighten the mood and she had to
admit, she was a little hungry.

Luna and Artemis were already busying away at Central
Control, looking up clues on their computers. Maybe it had some
kind of history on Earth or on the Moon, and from the little
information they hoped to salvage, it might be able to help them.
All their enemies had a history somewhere, this one couldn't be
this powerful and still be new, could it? Anyway, as worried as
the cats were, they couldn't help take care of Makoto now, and
they needed to do something useful without getting in anyone's
way. Though, somewhat painful to admit, they finally agreed to
research what they could and leave the senshi on their own. It
was hard on them, with worry on top of losing some status as
guardians, their pride was battered at this very moment. Luna was
especially distressed at this new brush with helplessness.

Yet, the dark cat had not protested at all. Thank the gods
for Artemis, who found the perfect time to stick his paw in his
mouth -- so to speak -- and make a fool out of himself just to get
Luna's mind off of the hurt she was feeling. Sometimes, that cat
reminded her so much of Minako, it was amusing.

The activities in Makoto's kitchen returned her attention to
what she had been working on and she turned back to her computer
once more. The faint smile that had lingered on her lips from
Rei's earlier banter, disappeared. Her brow became a frown as she
tapped at the keyboard at an almost frantic speed. Her blue-eyes
widened and then narrowed. "Shimatta, it can't be!" She
whispered to no one in particular except herself. Her eyes
clouded and her senses reeled at her discovery.

The epidemic was now in Japan.

Brought on by a youma and hosted by a senshi!

* * *

Alyssa Smith stepped out of her sleek, black sports car,
setting one black booted foot onto the concrete ground of the
garage. Her blue eyes studied her surroundings from behind her
dark sunglasses. Rouge lips thinned in distaste as she saw the
dim fluorescent lights lining the top of the cement ceilings above
her. She walked briskly to the elevator, impatiently pushing the
'up' button of the elevator.

By the time she got to the tenth floor a look of boredom had
already replaced the earlier impatience. The door slid open to
reveal a bustling office with large windows lining all sides of
the room, people moved quickly in and out of the rooms as they
hurried to their tasks. She walked with a careless saunter as she
approached the gilded doors at the end of one grand hallway.
Opening its massive doors, a waiting room revealed itself, in it a
much older lady with fading gold hair and a fake smile looked up
at her, startled. "Good evening Miss, how may I help you?" She
ignored the superficial woman who quickly tried to intercept her
when she went for the dark oak doors that the woman's desk sat
next to. "You can't go in there, Miss! Not unless you have an
appointment!" The woman said hurriedly, a trace of great
annoyance in her voice. "Miss? Miss!" The old lady made a grab
for Alyssa's arm but never got hold of it as she turned to her.
Dark curls tumbled in agitation, blue eyes sparked and turned to
liquid red as she snapped her hand out and held the older woman in
a strangle hold.

"I'm sorry, I think you're the one who's not where you're
supposed to be." Effortlessly, she threw the woman crashing to
the opposite wall and turned back to the door. Opening it she
stepped through, her eyes immediately falling on the dark chair on
the other side of the room.

"Who--?" The startled figure turned to see her leaning
against the side of the door.

"Hello, are you Christopher J. Michaels?"

"Yes, why do you--" the door crashed open as two security
guards rushed in to see Alyssa leaning against the door. She did
not turn to even look at them.

"Intruders are never welcome, you must understand that."
She said with a frown at the interruption. "Be gone." She waved
the men away and in a flash they too were sent crashing, but this
time by a different force.

Michaels sat there with a frown when he saw the events
occurring before him. His dark eyes narrowing dangerously with
suspicion, "Who are you and what do you want?" He demanded.

"Me? I am somewhat of a collector." She said with an
irritating smile, straightening and walking toward him like a
hunter to a prey. "And you Mister Michaels, have just been
recruited. I'm simply here to collect you."

Dark eyes widened as he rose, "On whose authority?"

"Mine." She said as she grabbed his arm.

The door crashed open as the security group, all armed with
guns and bulletproof vests ran in, only to find themselves
pointing into an empty room.

The two had already disappeared.

"In the last two days, twenty people have disappeared.
Police have no idea how or who had planned this, but with each
case the suspicions mount. It is reported that a young woman,
said to be in her mid-twenties with curly black hair and blue eyes
would walk into homes and offices, each time taking a victim with
her before she disappears. She apparently always appears in a
black suit and black boots, with a height of 5'7". The purpose of
her mission is never known and her targets seem random. None of
the authorities know why she has taken the people that have been
abducted. Those who were taken ranged from some of the richest
people in the world to jailbirds from California! It is only
known that no force has yet been able to stop her, and her victims
never can to be found."

"It's as if they disappeared off of the face of the
planet!" A brown-haired man in a baseball cap said in

"Not just that, video cameras have already caught her, yet
it seems that her image is always blurred. Reports have shown
that no ransom has been requested nor has there been any contact."

"We just want our baby back!" A middle-aged mother said,
crying through her tears.

"So far, no one is safe nor is there any where safe to go."

"She just appears, and then she's gone! Gone, as if she and
the boss were no more than ghosts!" A security guard told the
report with a troubled expression on his face, though he didn't
seem to mind the attention. "You'd think this woman could pass
through walls or something!"

"The reports say that this event is not even concentrated in
one area or location, for police of different states find
themselves with the same problems and in similar situations in
less than a month's time! It is the worst kidnapping series our
country has ever faced, but there doesn't seem to be anything
anyone can do. The best advice the Police Department can give is
to lock your doors, check the backseats of your cars, and make
sure you are never alone. Let us hope that whatever happens
tonight, not another person goes missing into the unknown night
and let us pray for those already gone that they are safe.
Perhaps someone else will be abducted tonight, but it is our
sincerest hope that it will not be you or anyone else you know and
love. Live from us at New York City, back to you Sarah."

"Goddamn it!" He swore as he kicked the desk. "Didn't I
tell you guys to keep this under wraps? Now, we'll have cities
filled with fear and anticipation!" He kicked the desk again in
frustration as the men around him cringed ever so slightly under
his wrath.

"I'm sorry Captain, we'll try to find out who talked to the
reporters," said Luke, a highly influential agent with a dark and
smooth baby face. Intelligent brown eyes looked at him calmly
before he finally sat down in a huff. "Who has time for spy
hunting? Get some of the lower guys to flush them out, but I'll
need every available agent to find whatever lead we have left."
He sighed.

"Hey Captain, you should take a rest. You haven't slept
well since the fifth victim was found missing and you look like
you need it!" Luke told him worriedly.

"Luke's right, Dale. You can't wear yourself down like
this, especially not when you are needed." Said another voice,
this time distinctively female.

The whole room went silent as all heads turned to see a
beautiful woman in a black suit, dark tinted sunglasses held in
one elegant hand as blue eyes looked straight into the Captain's
who sat in shock at her appearance. "Well, well, well! If it
isn't the kidnapper herself." The Captain said, quickly
recovering from his shock.

"John A. Dale, I'm Alyssa Smith; and I have come to collect
my due." Dale laughed in amazement at her boldness.

"And what makes you think that I'll come with you?" He
asked her in amazement, wondering exactly how she got in without
an identification card, and taking note to fire whoever let her
get into their office so easily. All guns turned onto her as he
said this and the men surrounded her with wary and surprised
faces, watching her without knowing what to do now that they had
captured her. In a way, they had expected that the video cameras
lied, for this woman did not seem to fit the profile of an evil
kidnapper driven by madness and greed, nor did she seem the type
who enjoyed delusions.

"Because I can." She whispered into his surprised ears as
her slim arms circled his paralyzed body faster than the blink of
an eye. He never even saw her move!

All eyes turned to him now in surprise, all wariness gone to
shock to see that the woman had just disappeared only to reappear
next to Dale's side. Then the captain was gone, and not even one
man was able to react before they vanished into thin air.

And she would find them and she would not allow them to
escape the destiny she had in store for them.

The ship was silent in its arrival. No one saw it until it
landed. They shouldn't have been surprised to find another
illegal immigrant ship on the side of the New York harbor, that
is, until other states lined against the Eastern Coast reported
similar findings. What greeted them was not a happy sight. For
when the lid was uncovered, they found eighty dead bodies.

Eighty dead bodies lining the Eastern Coast of North
America, plus countless more that did not land in the United
States. The disease had now moved across the great oceans that
had once allowed the Americas to be safe from the epidemics of
their Eastern counterparts. The epidemic Kalic feared had now
spread on a global scale. It would only be a matter of time
before the whole world went mad with fear and suspicion. The
first phase of the unknown disease had spread and now it had sown
its seeds to the world around it.

Still, Core slept in his hidden room, trying to discover the
cure and recruiting as many of the brilliant scientists and students
that he had watched over the last thirty years as he
possibly could find. But some of the people he needed were
disappearing mysteriously and without a trace, and he found
himself against a competitor he had never encountered before. Not
only that, a few of his networks of researchers has reported that
the epidemic had already appeared in Japan and North America. The
two top industrial cities were infected, and it wouldn't surprise
him if Germany had already had it spread amongst their people as
well. His search was more urgent now, especially with the urging
of Kalic at their second conversation a few days back. The
disease was spreading at an enormously fast rate, the news of this
was harder and harder to maintain as a secret

And the world was just beginning to fall to pieces.


A tribute to...
My editor
His Lordship Chaos,
Ken Wolfe, &
Angus MacSpon.

And everyone who had helped & encouraged
me during my trials and my errors ^-^;;

Thank you for every dream and every

Thank you for everything.