Rhapsody by ruminant

Prologue

Even the best fall down sometime
Even the stars refuse to shine
Out of the back you fall in time
I somehow find You and I collide - "Collide" Howie Day

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Sailor Jupiter cursed as the leaves from her attack sped past the phage. From her left, she heard her fellow senshi call out her Love and Beauty Shock attack. The phage once again dodged the attack, just as it had dodged every attack for the past twenty minutes. "It figures they'd steal the Star Seed of the school's best runner," Jupiter snarled.

Sailor Mercury stood guard in front of her princess as she worked on her computer. She ignored the sweat that ran into her eyes as she continued to concentrate on scanning the abomination before her. Sailor Venus leapt into the air as a hurdle was thrown at her and landed near Sailor Mercury and Sailor Moon. "Have you found a weakness yet?" she urged the other soldier.

"I'm trying," Sailor Mercury replied, "I just need a little more..."

"Mars Flame Sniper!"

"...time."

"Damn! Why won't this thing stay still?" Sailor Mars vented as her attack missed its mark.

Sailor Venus glanced about her. There were hurdles laying about the darkened street. The senshi were exhausted. They had attacked with too much vigor early on and expended too much energy. The battle had lasted nearly half an hour now and people were beginning to peak around buildings in order to see the famous senshi in action. The shock of seeing a monster had worn off after the first few hurdles had been thrown. "Get out of here!" Sailor Jupiter tried to shoo the spectators. They didn't budge. In fact, one grabbed a disposable camera.

If they didn't heal this phage soon, innocent people would be in the line of fire. "We don't have more time, Mercury," Sailor Venus stated, "We need to slow this phage down just a little. If he can't SEE our attacks, then he can't dodge them."

Sailor Mercury clicked her computer shut and nodded at Venus' suggestion. She shut her eyes briefly and called on her powers in a way she hadn't done for years. She felt the dampness run through her veins as she held her hands in front of her and called out her most basic attack, "Shabon Spray!"

Just as the fog closed in, Sailor Venus cried out, "Venus Love and Beauty Shock!"

The shadowy form of the phage crumpled in pain as the attack made contact. Sailor Mercury heard the voice of Sailor Moon call out, "Starlight Honeymoon Therapy Kiss!" as a beam of light shot through the fog and healed the phage. The track star fell to his knees as his star seed was returned.

Sailor Mars turned in a circle as she searched through the fog for her friends. She saw only indefinite shadows. "Where is everyone?" she called out.

"Over here!"

"I'm here!"

"Where?"

Sailor Mercury pressed her earring to activate her visor. The visor easily cut through the fog. She took Sailor Moon and Sailor Venus by the arms and walked towards Jupiter and Mars.

Sailor Venus swatted at the fog as they walked along. "Should it still be hanging around like this?" she asked.

Sailor Mercury frowned as she pondered the question. "It never did before," she replied thoughtfully, "but it's been a long time since I last used this power."

"Ouch!" a disembodied voice cried out.

"Sorry, Mako-chan!" Sailor Moon replied as she lifted her heel from the top of Sailor Jupiter's boot.

A moment later, Sailor Mars was among their group. "Let's get out of here while the fog is still giving us some cover," she suggested.

The girls blindly followed Sailor Mercury as she twisted and turned to avoid debris from the battle. Sailor Moon shivered and walked closer to Sailor Mercury. Nearby, she could hear the sounds of sirens. "Imagine the police being able to take care of a phage," Sailor Jupiter chuckled at the sirens, "I don't know why anyone even bothered to call them when we were there."

As the girls continued to walk, the fog began to thin. Sailor Mercury put away her visor and the senshi transformed back into their civilian identities. "Good night, everyone," Usagi bade while stifling a yawn.

"Don't forget about our English test tomorrow, Usagi-chan," Ami reminded.

Usagi scowled at her friend. "Now I'll have nightmares all night," she sniffled.

The senshi said their good-byes and headed to their homes. The hour was late and the battle had exhausted them all. Four senshi snuggled under their covers and fell asleep once they were home.

Rei tossed. Rei turned. She couldn't quite fall asleep. She had been in bed for nearly three hours but every time she started to doze off, she would open her eyes. She felt that she had forgotten something. With a sigh of resignation, she kicked the blankets off of her and onto the floor as she sat up. She reached for the remote control and turned on the small television beside her bed.

"...spectators say the monster had large fangs and ten tentacles..."

Rei laughed outright at the description. Apparently, the newscaster was on scene at the sight of the senshi's earlier battle. The description of the youma, or daimon, or phage always seemed to be enhanced by the citizens of Tokyo.

"...Luckily, the monster was disposed of by the Sailor Senshi. The citizens of Tokyo can sleep soundly tonight thanks to our heroines."

'Too bad the heroine can't sleep soundly tonight,' Rei thought with a roll of her eyes.

The news coverage of the battle ended and another newscaster appeared on the screen. "Yet another unexplainable phenomena has hit Tokyo tonight," the newscaster began.

Rei reached for the remote control. Maybe she could find an interesting program. "A thick fog permeated this entire area only three hours ago," the newscaster continued.

Rei's finger hesitated on the channel button. "According to witnesses, the fog appeared suddenly and soon dissipated. Officials have confirmed that the mystery fog was confined to an area of about one city block."

Rei turned the volume up. She sat straight up as the camera panned to the left to reveal a pile of twisted metal and broken bricks. "At 10:23 p.m., Sanya Keito was driving this vehicle," the newscaster pointed at a spot on the road a few yards from the wreckage, "Police speculate that when the fog rolled in, her vehicle was here. With her visibility diminished, she did not see the sharp turn in the road directly ahead of her."

Rei watched without blinking as the newscaster continued, "She hit this office building head on. She died on impact."

A picture of a young woman with short black hair appeared on Rei's television screen. "Sanya Keito was twenty six years old. She was a homemaker, wife of Sanya Katashi and mother of Sanya Daichi. We convey our condolences to her family."

Rei stared at the image on the screen until it was burned into her mind. Sanya Keito's eyes squinted slightly as if the sun had been in her eyes the day the picture was taken. Sanya Keito's hair stirred softly in the breeze. Sanya Keito's mouth turned up in a wide smile. Sanya Keito was laughing. Sanya Keito was dead.

"In other news..." Rei quickly hit the power button on her remote control. She reached into her nightstand and pulled out her communicator. She waited a moment after hitting the button until she heard a very groggy Minako answer. "Don't tell me there's another attack," Minako whined as she rubbed her eyes, "Some of us need our beauty sleep."

"No, it's not that," Rei replied slowly.

Minako opened her eyes and stared at Rei's image on her communicator. She knew Rei would never use the communicators unless it had something to do with the Sailor Senshi. "Rei-chan? What is it?" she asked in concern.

"Something..." Rei began, unsure of how to explain, "Something happened tonight. Someone died."

Minako stared at Rei's face through their connection. "Who died?" she asked warily.

"A woman. A woman died in a car crash," Rei paused, unable to finish.

Sanya Keito's eyes. Sanya Keito's hair. Sanya Keito's smile.

Minako waited for her friend to continue. When she didn't offer any more information, Minako prodded, "...and why are you so...?"

"It was because of the fog," Rei whispered, interrupting Minako's question.

The eternally upbeat blonde was absolutely silent. "Minako?" Rei finally asked after a beat.

"Yes?" the other girl whispered absently.

"What are we going to tell Ami?"

"What do you mean?" Minako questioned as her attention returned to the conversation.

Rei frowned at the other girl. This was no time to be dense. "It was her attack that caused the fog, Minako."

Minako nodded, "Oh," she replied, "Right. Her Shabon Spray caused the fog. I know that."

'I know,' thought Minako, 'I know because I told her to use it.'

"Poor Ami-chan," Minako began to ramble, "You're right. She'll blame herself. She shouldn't though. It's not her fault. There was no way to know this would happen. We saved a lot of lives tonight. A LOT of lives..."

"Minako!" Rei snapped, "You don't have to defend Ami to me. I'm not blaming her."

Minako stopped her tirade and gripped the bridge of her nose between her thumb and index finger. "Senshi meeting. Tomorrow after school," she stated, "at least the others can get one good night's sleep."

Rei nodded and went to shut off the connection. "Wait," Minako called out just before she could press the button, "Rei-chan?"

"Yes?"

"What was her name?"

"Sanya Keito."