A/N: Just a brief note before you can read this oneshot and a much longer one at the bottom. Compared to my others, this oneshot features other couples besides just Haruka/Michiru. I only hope you can enjoy. It's a yuri explosion, but possibly an implosion.
Neo-Queen Serenity learned long ago that though Uranus and Neptune were plenty strong individually, together they became even more formidable. If you wanted to prove that one plus one does not always equal two, they were the best example to turn to. Serenity would be hard-pressed to say exactly what one plus one equaled in their case, though it was definitely more than two.
Based on fighting strength, it was pragmatic to keep them together. Based on emotional needs and perhaps social stability and infrastructure inside of Crystal Tokyo in lieu of a complete apocalyptic breakdown of a near-utopian society as we know it, it was also sensible to keep them together. However, diplomacy and politics call, and considering that their individual strengths more often than not fell into separate spheres, one was sometimes without the other.
Luckily, Crystal Tokyo had yet to witness the apocalypse and, well, would never at least as far as Serenity was concerned. And you shouldn't have any reason to doubt her. After all, she had love, power, and all things good on her side; not to mention, one, Sailor Pluto, the Guardian of Time.
That is not to say that everything was exactly perfect in Crystal Tokyo. In fact, currently it was much less near-utopian than normal. And she would much prefer to have Neptune back in Crystal Tokyo and not in South America trying to convince the Royal Brazilian Empire it was not in their best interest to be doing…well, a number of things. Neptune had been there a while now, and between the rainforest, fossil fuels, import taxes, poverty, guerilla warfare, and what was apparently a very large snake in the Amazon, it sounded like she would be there for awhile. As the only Senshi not tied up in any other projects at the moment, Jupiter had joined her just a week ago to provide some diplomatic backup and perhaps flex a little muscle to help move things along. But that was before their current problem made itself known.
Staring out into Crystal Tokyo from her private balcony, Neo-Queen Serenity gave an uncharacteristic weary sigh. Her expression softened as she felt a hand on her shoulder, but she was long past the days where she could lie in his arms and pretend all her troubles disappear. Not that she ever could really do that much in the first place. Nor did she particularly miss those days now.
"Serenity, come inside, you need to eat something. We can't do anything in this moment anyway." Endymion replied with concern.
"I never expected everything to fall into place all nice and easy, but I thought it would be easier than this…easier with everyone here." He would always be her confidant, and her first love, so it was easy for her to lean back against him and enjoy the brief moment of security his arms offered.
"Hey now…it hasn't quite gotten that bad yet." Endymion replied.
Serenity made a vague noise of agreement before switching topics, "Where's Chibiusa?"
"Hotaru's watching her in the nursery."
Serenity allowed herself a faint smile. "She couldn't be in better hands then." She leveled one last look at her city before turning around. "Alright then." She stood on her toes and allowed her lips to graze his cheek. "Could you get me something light from the kitchen?" She smiled and slipped out of his embrace.
He turned, watching her wryly. "Something light? Still trying to lose that baby fat from Chibiusa? And where exactly are you going?"
Serenity pouted, "Mamo-chan!"
He smiled fondly, "I know, I know. Chibiusa was just a very, very healthy baby. Don't worry, Usa-ko, you'll always be beautiful." It was so easy to fall back to those names.
"Hmph. I'm almost back to my pre-pregnant weight. Ami says just another week on the diet. Can you get my food delivered to our room? I'm going to go find the others. They're…" Her brow furrowed, "planning something."
"So I'll see you later tonight then?" Endymion asked.
"You should. Unless…" Serenity trailed off.
He understood and nodded his head. He had always known and it wasn't hard to resign himself to his fate. He would love her no matter what she did and always offer a safe place to come to. And hey, being the neo-king was a pretty good deal. Most of the hard-work fell onto his wife and the Senshi and if she wanted to run off with…well, let's just say he was fine with it. He was always a chill guy anyway.
Serenity let her smile slip away as she left Endymion, pressure immediately returning to her slim shoulders. She slipped through their spacious, private apartments and into the busy hallways and corridors. With her thoughts on the drama that always seemed to clip her heels since listening to a talking cat (whose idea was that anyway?), she followed her instincts to where her remaining Senshi would be. And that was up.
Thank god for the smooth and quick lifts that covered nearly all floors of Crystal Palace. She did have to take a couple of flights of stairs to reach her final destination and they nearly did her in. A single door opened to the highest terrace, offering a view that surpassed all the other views of the city the palace offered, including the one she shared with Endymion. Height did have its advantages besides making her winded.
It was almost completely dark now, but the palace itself glowed ethereally, casting light onto the terrace. The city twinkled around her, extending for kilometers in all directions. It was a nice evening with just a hint of natural breeze, and her remaining Senshi were gathered here, Pluto, Mars, Venus, Mercury, and Uranus, assumingly taking in the pleasant nightfall. They all looked up as she burst onto the scene, long hair flying, face red from running up the couple of flights of stairs, and determination etched onto her face. Serenity opened her mouth, ready to proclaim a whole speech on the spot, but promptly closed it as she took in the sight before her.
Mars, Venus, Mercury, and Pluto were seated at the table, playing cards in hand (Serenity could see that Venus had a great trick) and drinks spread around. Uranus was leaning casually against the low parapet that was the only thing that separated her from a very, very long fall.
The three Inner Senshi exchanged startled glances, while Pluto gazed coolly at the queen, the corners of her turning ever so slightly upward. Mercury was the first to speak, cocking her head to the side. "Usagi-chan, is everything alright? You didn't run up those last steps, did you? It's still best to avoid any strenuous activity so soon after Chibiusa's birth."
"I didn't run! And that's beside the point!" Serenity exclaimed, flustered. She took a deep breath and settled down. "Don't think this little card game fools me. I'm not that ignorant!"
Uranus looked over her shoulder and smirked as Neo-Queen Serenity pouted defiantly at her closest friends. Pluto leaned back in her chair, taking a sip of her drink, leaving the floor open for whoever decided to make a stand. She watched with amused crimson eyes as Mercury, Mars, and Venus fumbled along.
"Of course not Usagi-chan." Venus answered after a moment, putting on a blinding smile. "We all know you like to play card games, isn't that right everyone?"
Mars and Mercury nodded their heads, going along with their companion. Pluto took another sip of her drink.
"Isn't that right, Setsuna, dear?" Venus turned toward Pluto, smiling forcefully.
"Why, I believe so." Pluto answered, the corners of her mouth twitching upward slightly more.
"What are you planning?" Serenity asked slowly, this time displaying some of that maturity that came with being queen.
"Nothing." Mars answered, nonchalantly playing a couple of cards in hand to take the trick.
Serenity glided forwards slowly, her blue eyes on Mars. With the queen's attention upon her, the Senshi of Fire was helpless to the vision of Serenity. Mars visibly gulped as Serenity placed both her hands on either side of her face, and stared deeply into her dark eyes.
"Rei-chan…" Serenity murmured. This time displaying some of that other kind of maturity.
Venus groaned throwing her cards down on the table, knowing that Serenity had won. "Dirty tricks." She grumbled as Pluto placed a consoling hand on her back. Mercury remained silent, worry flitting across her face.
Mars opened her mouth, and then closed it, before opening it hesitatingly once again. Before she could speak, though, Uranus beat her to it. "We're going to settle this…problem tomorrow."
Serenity released her hold on Mars, straightening up. Mercury and Venus avoided her gaze, while Mars met her eyes briefly (apologetically?) before looking away. Pluto stared back, crimson eyes boring into hers, and Uranus? Uranus had turned back to the view of the city.
"I thought we agreed that you would all stay out of this." Serenity said.
"The city defenses were almost breached today. We don't have the luxury of sitting back because of our own…fears anymore." Uranus stated.
Pluto's steady gaze flickered for a moment and she shuddered lightly, murmuring something under her breath. Her attention quickly swiveled over to Venus who had grabbed her hand and was gripping it hard. Bear with it Pluto, but, damn, did Venus have a strong grip.
Mercury looked highly uncomfortable, but she spoke steadily. "We need to secure the nuclear waste in any case. I'm sorry everyone. I didn't even think of the possibility of someone stealing nuclear waste before it could be broken down. I should have had someone look over the defenses of the facilities a long time ago…"
"No Ami-chan. None of us ever thought about it." Venus said.
Mercury frowned, but nodded her head sheepishly.
Serenity was not convinced, "I'm still not convinced."
Uranus sighed, shoulders slumping. "That guy has been sitting outside the walls for four days now. Our security force is formidable, but they're in over their heads. The only reason the defenses weren't breached was because of some lucky fall-back tactics."
"Do you really feel like this is only option?" Serenity asked.
"Yeah." Uranus answered. The others nodded their heads in agreement.
Serenity stood still for a moment, staring at her Senshi, before pulling another chair up to the table. "Alright." She sighed, "Deal me in."
"Eh? Usagi, this is a four person game." Mars replied, a fleeting grin dancing across her face.
Serenity pouted, "Rei-chan, I want to play."
"Fine." Serenity grumbled.
"Did you seriously just give up that easily?" Mars said wickedly, violet eyes flashing. "We're almost done anyway."
"…I'm more interested in hearing the battle-plan for tomorrow." Serenity replied. "I'll contact Michiru and Makoto a little later tonight. Goodness, if I knew you had this crazy idea, I would have had them here yesterday."
"Don't tell them." Uranus said.
"Haruka?" Serenity raised her eyebrows.
"They don't need to worry. They have a full plate already and not everyone can shovel it down as fast as you. We can handle it."
Serenity studied Uranus, blue eyes catching something…
The card game ended just ten minutes later and Serenity was filled in on all the details. Mercury stood and took a quick exit, more than likely heading off to her lab than to bed, especially without Jupiter here. Venus pulled Pluto to her fleet, forcefully escorting her to the door waving goodnight happily. Mars helped the queen stand, receiving a brief kiss on the cheek in return. "Wait for me at the elevator Rei-chan?"
Mars shifted her gaze to Uranus before nodding her head and taking her leave with a quirk of the lips.
"Just you and me, koneko-chan?" Uranus smirked, facing Serenity.
"Oh, stop it." Serenity said. "You haven't seen Michiru in a while?" The question was evident.
Uranus sighed, "Not since she left, when was it? A month ago? The days blur together. You know we try not to talk to each when one of us is a way for business. Besides the obligatory 'I'm still alive' update. It's better for everyone if we avoid such distractions. Not that we aren't professional enough."
"Just when one of us, usually Michiru, is off politicking something fierce, it's better to avoid any chance for distraction…" Uranus trailed off, mumbling something under her breath.
"Hmm? What was that Haruka?" Serenity grinned as if Mercury told her she should go on a strict diet of chocolate and ice-cream.
"And temptations." Uranus grumbled.
"Ah." Serenity replied, her blue eyes sparkling mischievously.
Uranus eyed her with a curious expression, "I can pretend you're still cute, innocent, and pure koneko-chan…until you react like that. And then I remember you're Serenity and bedding Rei and Mamoru." For Uranus, Endymion would always come second.
This did elicit a blush, but Serenity ignored her, clearing her throat and returning to the previous matter. "We've had this conversation before. I know Michiru is gone a lot because of me."
"Because of the promise of happiness and peace you've created. We have eternity." Uranus replied.
"There's nothing like the present." Serenity retorted quickly.
"Michiru has her duties and I have mine. We will both protect this peace with every fiber of our being. Sacrifices are made."
Something in Uranus's face, cold eyes and stony expression, harkened the queen back to the days when Uranus and Neptune, Haruka and Michiru, were seemingly impossibly perfect, distant strangers. The world was a much different place then. Goes to show you what a few powwow sleepovers filled with junk-food can do. Oh, and maybe fighting off enemies together. Perhaps saving the world together and maybe dying for her helped a little bit too.
"Crystal Tokyo is a world without sacrifices." Neo-Queen Serenity replied calmly, her voice laced with sincerity and compassion.
"It isn't yet." Uranus replied with a hard-edge. But whatever was in her face melted, leaving behind a woman who has seen and believes in the possibilities for the future. And perhaps she has gone a little soft with all that love the queen liked to give out. But hell, even Pluto's gone soft, frolicking around with Venus. "But it will be."
Serenity smiled and took in the moment. Standing side-by-side, they watched Crystal Tokyo's lights flicker and dance below them before Serenity spoke. "It's a shame that teleporting too much is such a strain on the body, both physically and Senshi power-wise. Otherwise, things could be quite easier for everybody."
Uranus smirked, "Overindulgence in anything is not healthy, and unfortunately that includes teleporting." She cleared her throat and continued on dryly, "And you mean things would be much easier for yourself especially, what with having to deal with a moody, lonely Senshi every time a lover is away. You'll probably have to have this same conversation with Ami next week."
"You make me sound so selfish!" Serenity pouted, more Usagi than Neo-Queen.
"Usagi, you are the least selfish person in existence." Uranus said. "Well, shall we head down? I know a certain Lady Mars is waiting for you."
Serenity blushed. "If she hasn't grown impatient and left."
They walked toward the door, leaving the view of Crystal Tokyo and the terrace behind. As Uranus held open the door, Serenity couldn't help but voice her concerns one last time. "Are you sure you don't want me to tell Michiru and Makoto."
"Yes, I don't want Michiru, or Makoto for that matter, to know what we're getting into tomorrow. It's a good thing they can't just pop over here freely as it is."
"It's a good thing Haruka can't just teleport over here freely." Neptune remarked to Jupiter, eyeing the smoking carcass of the very large snake. "But that's one problem solved."
"Agreed." Jupiter replied, brushing aside some hair that was stuck to her face as she waded out of the river. "On the bright side, I have a number of plants I want to add to my collection."
"That is, if Ami doesn't kill them." Neptune added lightly, looking into the Deep Aqua Mirror. She frowned at her grimy reflection.
"That was one time!" Jupiter protested, now wringing water out of her skirt.
"Yes, but I recall that you slept in our house for a week afterwards." Neptune smiled, her eyes dancing in amusement.
"That was because I threw her medical textbooks out the window." Jupiter replied meekly. "In retaliation."
Neptune raised an eyebrow.
"At least they didn't hit anybody on the street below. I had never seen Ami so angry before." Jupiter remembered.
"I think she beat me every time we met to swim that week due to that anger, but I…" Neptune paused, glancing curiously into the Mirror.
"What? What is it?" Jupiter asked quickly, looking concerned.
"They never said anything about a very, very large snake. Damn. And I have a meeting in three hours."
"Are you kidding me? I was ready to write this off as a problem solved." Jupiter replied, kicking the carcass of the very large snake for good measure.
Neptune made a vague noise of agreement, followed by one of curiosity before looking out of the face of the Mirror and at Jupiter. "Ah, you might want to move…"
Jupiter didn't even get a chance to ask why as the very, very large snake struck lightning fast out of the river. Luckily, Jupiter was familiar enough with lightning to dodge it. She rolled and came up on her feet. "Might want to reschedule that meeting."
"Hotaru-chan, what's up? You look like you got into a fist-fight and lost pretty bad." Uranus said, noting the deep circles under Saturn's eyes. "I thought I taught you better." She ruffled the other Senshi's hair playfully, much to Saturn's annoyance.
Saturn batted the hand away, and then rubbed at her puffy eyes. Being much taller now, thus older, she did not like it as a general rule when any of the Senshi ruffled her hair. But she especially did not like it now when she was exhausted. "Ask Rei." She replied gruffly, sending the other woman a glare.
Mars, to her credit, flushed a bit. "Endymion apparently fell right to sleep last night and never came to pick up Chibiusa from the nursery. It was late by the time Usagi went to check on her."
"Hmm…I wonder why?" Uranus grinned devilishly. Mars did her best to ignore her.
"If this keeps up, I'm going to start having to charge for babysitting." Saturn grumbled, but this time with a little humor. "She was hungry, and tired, and wanted to see a parent for a good while before Usagi arrived."
"We do have nursemaids on staff at all hours if you ever get tired of watching her again." Mercury remarked, unwittingly embarrassing Saturn.
"I…I know…" Saturn stammered, looking down, cheeks red.
Saturn was saved from possible further embarrassment by Pluto who silently slid into their immediate presence. She shot Saturn a quick, understanding smile, before turning solemn and addressing the group. "Is everyone ready? Minako is on her way back from speaking with the Defense Forces."
"Now or never. I'm not looking forward to this." Uranus replied, gripping the Space Sword tightly.
They were at the outskirts of the Crystal Tokyo, where the land opened up lush and green before them instead of the suburban sprawl that was so familiar before the rise of the Neo-Queen Serenity. Just a half-dozen steps forward and they would pass through the protective shield that separated the capital city from the rest of the world. The shield lived and breathed with the Crystal Palace, existing in tandem, but had to be consciously activated to be used. When raised, it was not even noticeable until it was attempted to be passed through. Then one felt either a warm current pass through their body as it recognized a citizen or physical presence that actively worked as a wall. It was not unbreakable, but it was generally effective at stopping the average threat. Unfortunately what lay before them was not an average threat.
Rather, their current enemy was of the mad scientist variety - not that they haven't had enough of those. The problem lied in the mad scientist getting his hands on nuclear waste and power that had become obsolete since Crystal Tokyo's formation. The majority of nuclear power now sat in facilities waiting to be decomposed by a method Mercury had carefully devised with a little helpful nudging in the right direction by Pluto. Mercury couldn't decide if it was because Pluto was an environmentalist or the fate of the world depended upon it somehow. In any case, the nuclear power was just sitting and waiting in facilities scattered across the island of Japan, and, alas, Mad Scientist had done his homework.
Right now, the green land to the west of Crystal Tokyo was peppered with fighting. Only the first few regiments of the Crystal Tokyo Defense Force were being used to occupy Mad Scientist's forces. The rest were kept aside, waiting for a signal. The Defense Force was composed entirely of humans in comparison to the nuclear and robotic forces of Mad Scientist. Though rather small, the Force's numbers were superior. They were equipped with state of the art technology of both defensive and offensive nature, but they couldn't stand up to the powered army of Mad Scientist. However, as soon as the Sailor Senshi crossed the shield, the battle would begin in full. The Senshi could only assume that Mad Scientist would be waiting for them. They were his entire purpose after all. He would anticipate their presence.
Venus joined their huddle, maintaining composure, "Alright. Haruka? You want to go over your plan one last time?"
Venus was stalling, but Uranus was okay with that for the moment. She shrugged and loosened her grip on the Space Sword. "The Defense Force will be flanking from either side as we hit the middle. They'll keep the majority of their forces in reserve providing back up along the shield. The Special Forces are now behind him, and they'll be moving in as we do. We know the scum doesn't know much about strategy. Hopefully we'll distract him enough so that they'll be able to swoop in and nab him. We all can assume by his actions so far that he's looking for a little glory by taking us out. To bad he's looking in the wrong place." Uranus grinned confidently, but then took a glance out to what awaited them. "I don't think I have to tell you to be on your guard. You all know what each of us might have to face." She grimaced, unable to continue.
A dramatic pause ensued.
Taking a deep breath, and gathering herself, Uranus spoke again with difficulty, "Popular men giving me confessions."
Saturn was next, "Antique lamps…I can't…"
"Cockroaches." Pluto murmured, "Cockroaches."
"Bad fortunes." Mars said with trepidation. "If I hear them…"
Venus closed her eyes, "My mother…"
As for Mercury, no intelligence reports said what fate awaited her. It could only be assumed that Mad Scientist had something waiting in the wings though.
For this was the truth of the matter. Mad Scientist hacked into top secret files and discovered what each of the Sailor Senshi had the most difficulty with, whether it was hate or fear or love that drove it. (Read: Mad Scientist actually merely surfed Sailor Senshi fan websites where he discovered in various interviews what each Senshi hated or feared or treasured.) The next step was to secure a dangerous power supply to make these threats all the more real. This was actually quite easy, considering he had been in the process of unearthing a method of safely decomposing nuclear waste when Sailor Mercury procured a technique, thus he was completely aware of the nuclear power supply.
Mad Scientist, you see, only became a mad scientist because the glory of scientific discovery was always just out of his reach. He would never be remembered because no matter what it was, the infinite nth digit of pi or advanced robotics, one Sailor Mercury, Mizuno Ami was always better. It must be said that this all started in his youth when his 4th grade science fair project lost to Mizuno's molecular atom disrupter at nationals.
An enraged shout echoed across the land to the Senshi, "Damn you, Mizuno Ami! I'll go down in history books one way or another! Glory will yet be mine!"
Mercury winced, "Must he use excessive exclamation points after every proclamation?"
Venus groaned, "You couldn't have just let him beat you in one science fair?"
"I didn't even know!" Mercury replied desperately. "I never meant to…"
"It's okay." Venus sighed, hugging Mercury with one arm. "We know sometimes you're just too smart for your own good."
"Minako." Mars scolded, "Ami-chan, we know you never meant for this to happen. It's hardly your fault."
Uranus cleared her throat, regaining attention. "Mad Scientist's primary force is composed of genetically-altered and nuclear-powered creatures; with a specific legion of cockroaches. He has about 200 humans on his side composed mostly of misled lab assistants, some nutcases, and nuclear-powered clones. Included among the clones is Minako's mother and popular males of the past twenty years. A number of the clones have had ancient fortune telling methods implanted. He also has about two dozen advanced robots in the guise of antique lamps, along with another dozen just of the large, destructive kind. Also of note is a clone of Makoto's 'sempai' – how Mad Scientist figured out his identity we'll never know – and overgrown, animated sea cucumbers."
"Sea cucumbers?" Venus mused. "I still don't get it."
Pluto and Saturn both shook their heads, while Uranus winced at a distant memory, "It's best not to question it too closely. Michiru is rather…sensitive to them."
"That's an understatement." Saturn added knowingly as Pluto shushed her gently.
Venus resigned herself to asking about it later before taking charge. "We all know what's waiting for us out there. I don't think I have to tell you to avoid your weakness at all cost and to only engage what you can handle."
She received tense nods except from Pluto who hovered stoically at her shoulder. If it was not for that fact that Mad Scientist exploited their fears and weaknesses, they would be much more relaxed. Venus had to give him credit; he was not a shabby villain. He did his research on his opponents, to say the least, and he had motivations, however twisted, to pose as a sure threat.
"Alright, no more wasting time. Let's just do this." Uranus said, clenching the Space Sword tightly once more. "I'll show them confession."
"Mars, the signal please?" Venus said, staring out at the spread of green land that was soon to become a battlefield. Somewhere out there, the powered-up clone of her mother awaited her.
Uranus stepped through the shield first; Mars followed sending a blast of fire high into the air. The others were not far behind. The Defense Force charged in from either side, rushing to meet the eclectic forces of Mad Scientist who waited about 500 meters away from the shield. A chaotic battle unfolded before them and then the Sailor Senshi charged in with deceptive speed.
Despite their plans, the battle quickly disintegrated into two parts. The Defense and the tiny Special Forces unit were caught up along the edges, battling the grunts. But they're not the focus here…
The courageous Sailor Senshi, victors of countless battles against impossible odds, dead at least twice and risen again, reincarnations of princesses from a bygone kingdom, the backbone of Crystal Tokyo, famous beautiful warriors, blessed with power, voted most popular heroes for five consecutive years, proven to have the stamina to go all night, given a record number of endorsements, the fantasy of young males (and quite a number of females) everywhere, strict dieters, multitaskers of dynamic proportions, not embarrassed to run around in an outdated sailor fuku, and yes, that is their natural hair color, meanwhile…
"Keep it away! Get it away!" The normally stoic Sailor Pluto screeched as two oversized cockroaches chased her menacingly. She halfway turned and sent a blind Dead Scream back at them, which the monsters skirted around. Stumbling in panic, Pluto shrieked as another cockroach appeared in her path. The nasty creature regarded her, and together the three monsters closed in on a trembling Sailor Pluto.
"Venus Love and Beauty Shock! Venus Love-Me Chain!"
The bright blast of energy reeled the mutant cockroaches back and the Sailor Venus came swinging in on her Love-Me Chain. Blonde hair and red ribbon flying, she grabbed Pluto tightly with one arm, pulling her close as she let the momentum carry them past the cockroaches.
Pluto was just as grateful as she was bewildered. And much more composed now that she wasn't being chased by cockroaches. "Where are you swinging from?"
"Oh, just that giant sea cucumber back there." Venus replied as they landed gracefully.
"Thank you." Pluto said sincerely, her eyes warm. They narrowed just as quickly as she fired a Dead Scream, landing a critical blow and destroying an approaching antique lamp robot, before returning to Venus.
"Of course, Setsuna." Venus answered with equal warmth. A lecherous grin appeared on her face, "You can repay me later."
Pluto didn't get a chance to respond as Venus's face paled.
"Minako! So this is where you've been hiding you ungrateful brat!"
The clone of Venus's mother appeared before them, an unpleasant, hateful snarl decorating her face. Venus involuntarily clung to Pluto, who held her protectively with one arm and leveled a cold stare at the clone. It was large and powered up with some sort of nuclear-plasma that it was quick to demonstrate. Pluto jumped aside to dodge the blast, pulling Venus with her.
"Take your punishment, you selfish unpleasant child. You always were more of a pain than a blessing. Always needing this or that. Always demanding. Well, you forgot just exactly who your mother is. It's time for a spanking." The clone launched a series of plasma blast to punctuate her words.
Pluto coughed, a faint blush on her cheeks from the clone's final words.
Venus regained some of her composure as Pluto pulled her away from another blast. The creature was more nasty than selfishly cruel and too large to actually be her mother, but it still looked a lot like her. Venus briefly wondered where Mad Scientist found her mother's DNA.
"Minako…" Pluto's voice was urgent, entering panic mode again. The cockroaches had found her.
"Right…I'll take the cockroaches, you take my mother!" Venus commanded. "Venus Love and Beauty Shock!"
Her shot was dead-on and one of the cockroaches convulsed, all the more grotesquely because of its size. It didn't stop it for long however. Ignoring the ensuing stare-down between her clone mother and Pluto, Venus gritted out, "They just don't die do they? Exactly like the real things."
Pluto felt a hand briefly on her arm, and then it was gone with the words "Good luck!" echoing in her ears. Crimson eyes refused to the leave the clone before her, even as the battle continued around them both. This was a personal matter. "You might not be the real thing, but I still I have a bone to pick with you."
"Oh really?" The clone smiled wildly, plasma gathering in her hands threateningly. Pluto readied herself, the Garnet Rod secure in her hands, brimming with power. Only for the situation to go up in flames.
The clone screeched as fire engulfed her, running in a blind panic. Pluto's eyes widened in surprise for the quickest of seconds, but a moment later, she nonchalantly stuck out the Garnet Rod. The clone tripped over its edge, and fell on her face. Pluto didn't even bother to poke the smoking, still body; instead she found the steady and calm Sailor Mars.
Mars waved and gracefully turned, dealing a shot of fire at an approaching cockroach. Really, those nasty things just never seemed to die or go away. She could understand Pluto's aversion to them. Aware of the vulnerability of being caught on any blindsides in a melee battle such as this, Mars kept moving, away from Pluto who was now engaging a set of robots.
"Mars Flame Sniper!" Shot and down. It was really second-nature at this point and calling out the attack was merely just from force of habit when it used to help focus. Mars danced through battle like only a warrior of fire could, until…
A crackling voice interrupted her smooth sailing, "The cards read that your doom is nigh!"
"No…" Mars gasped softly, the fluidity of her movements stopping up like a kitchen drain that has seen way too much action.
"The stars and planets align to show that you will be trapped in a spiral of despair!" Another voice, this one husky and, dare we say…mystic.
Rei turned around slowly, knowing, yet fearing, what waited just behind her. The bad fortune-telling clones had found her.
"The fire tells me you will be caught in a watery hell." A voice said that was monotone and deep.
"The crystal ball says that you will have canned asparagus for your final meal!" This voice was wavering and high-pitched, but its words still packed the necessary punch.
"NO!" Mars shouted. "I can't…!" She gasped, somehow unable to catch a breath with the bad fortunes being placed upon her. Any of the others could have brushed this aside and taken out these clones easy as pie. Yet, she was a fire-reader and a practitioner of the mystic, mysterious, and foreseeing. It would be against everything she stood for to ignore fortunes bad or good.
The clones gathered around her, half-a-dozen in all, looking like stereotypical fortune-tellers in wispy robes. One wielded tarot cards, another had their neck cricked back continuously looking up into the clear, blue morning sky, a third held a small crystal ball, one more had a small flame issuing from a lighter, another wielded a tea cup and tea leafs, and a final one held a collection of fortune cookies from a great little Chinese take-out place.
With Mars reeling from the fortunes, the last fortune-teller quickly unwrapped a cookie and cracked it open, procuring the slip of paper inside. It grinned, munching on the cookie as it read the fortune, "He who expects no gratitude shall never be disappointed."
Mars blinked. Wait, where there ever actually any bad fortunes in fortune-cookies? Where there ever actually any fortunes in fortune cookies for that matter?
The other clones seemed to be aware of this for all of them stopped what they were doing to glare at the fortune-telling fortune-cookie clone. Mars picked herself up and made a break for it, desperate to get away from the fortunes. She didn't get far as the clones quickly noticed their prey was missing. The one with the tea leaves quickly read from the cup, calling after the scampering Mars, "True love will forever elude you."
Mars froze at those words, an icy-cold hand gripping her heart. The fortune-tellers came closer, equipped with enough power to take her out.
Luckily, fortune was on her side after all.
"Mercury Aqua Rhapsody!"
Mars grunted as the attack blew by her, catching her ever so slightly and knocking her off her feet. The fortune-telling clones stood no chance despite their genetics and engineering when taking a direct hit from a Sailor Senshi. They each fell, one scattering fortune-cookies in the air, another cradling her tea leafs and cup, and so forth.
Mercury bounded up to her, helping Mars to her feet. "Ah, sorry Rei! Things just looked kind of desperate for you there and I just attacked!"
Ah, so that was her watery hell. But Mars had other things to worry about, "Ami-chan, can you cover me for a second?"
"Um, I'm really trying to find Mad Scientist right now…" Mercury said, but she caught the desperate look in Mars' eye. "But yes, of course!"
That was all Mars needed and she scurried over to the fallen-body of the tea leaf fortune-teller. She pried the cup out of the clone's grasp, fretfully peering at its contents…
And then sighed with great relief.
"True loathing will forever elude me. Whew." Mars sneered down at the clone, "I don't know about that, idiot."
"What was that Rei?" Mercury said between Aqua Rhapsodies.
"Nothing, nothing. Just some bad fortune-telling…" Mars replied trailing off. She turned to Mercury, face pale and all relief gone from her voice and stance. "Ami..." She swallowed.
"Rei, I hate to say this, but I could really use some help." Mercury interrupted politely.
"Ami, they said my last meal was going to be canned asparagus." Mars muttered with a hint of both disgust and despair in her voice.
"Rei, you hate canned asparagus. You never even eat canned asparagus." Mercury reminded gently. She followed up her words with a killer attack that stunned an incoming mutant cockroach.
Mars pondered this for only the briefest of seconds, before smiling slightly, her attention returning to the chaotic battlefield. "True. Mars Flame Sniper!"
Mercury was pleased to see her friend back to normal, but she sighed as Mars jumped back into the fray. Time to find Mad Scientist. This had gone on long enough.
She took off sprinting, determined to find where Mad Scientist was hiding amidst the frenzied, furious battle. Dodging through random attacks and landing her own where she could, Mercury found her path blocked by a near army of radioactive antique lamp robots whose attention was focus on something amidst them. She short-circuited a number of the animated lamps with a simple attack. Really, for being a supposed genius, Mad Scientist didn't plan things through very well; of course something with a power cord would be sensitive to her water-based attacks.
In any case, her attack took down enough of the lamps so that she could peer through them to find what they were focused upon. Saturn sat in the middle of them, biting her lip with trepidation, but thoroughly protected by her Silent Wall.
Mercury instantly knew that Saturn wasn't worried about her situation, but about the lamps themselves. See? This is why it's not good to have odd hobbies.
Though Mercury's odd hobbies had landed them in this mess…but that was beside the point. Just as she was about to initiate a jailbreak for Saturn, a number of the antique lamps shot into the air, broken and defeated.
"Haruka-papa! No! Don't destroy them!" Saturn shouted emotionally.
Mercury decided to remove herself from the situation and get back to finding Mad Scientist. This sounded like a family-affair. Plus it looked like Uranus had everything under control. Judging by Saturn's yells, she didn't want to be on the wrong side of the Senshi of Destruction's mood when everything was said and done. Best to leave that to Uranus.
"Stop Haruka-papa! They're antiques!" Saturn cried.
"It's for your own good Hotaru!" Uranus replied as she ripped off another attack.
"They would have gone away eventually!"
"Yeah, I'm sure!" Uranus's voice was soaked with sarcasm.
"I hate you!"
"You'll thank me one day!"
"You don't understand!"
"You'd be surprised!" Uranus answered as she took out the last of the lamps, landing next to Saturn who dropped her shield. Really, Mad Scientist didn't invest much time or energy into his antique lamps besides making them animated.
Saturn glared at her, and then gasped, pupil's dilating in surprise. Years of battling had taught Uranus all the signs and she was already moving as Saturn shouted her name in warning.
The oversized sea cucumber struck where she had just been standing. It was surprisingly fast for such a large creature, and for being, well, a sea cucumber. It was already rearing its head for another strike. Saturn held no qualms about taking this creature out. The monster bounced off her Silent Wall and then she leapt in. With an upward twirl of her Silence Glaive, she landed a precise blow. She jumped away as the sea cucumber thrashed in agony.
Uranus saw her chance and aimed, "World Shaking!" The attack impacted where Saturn's blow had landed. The creature shuddered once, and then collapsed.
"Don't think I've forgotten!" Saturn said as Uranus appeared beside her, an emotional timbre to her voice. "Those priceless antique lamps…They were works of art!"
"Not right now." Saturn replied, looking away. "We're in the middle of a battle." She bounded away with those last words, every inch the Senshi of Ruin as she channeled her emotions elsewhere.
Uranus sighed. It was going to be a long night tonight having to repair that damage.
She was immediately on the offensive again, a blur of death onto Mad Scientist's creations. There was a reason she was the Senshi's best melee fighter. Unfortunately for Uranus, she was slowly being driven into a corner where her worst nightmare waited.
Bounding over a cockroach with a twirl that added a finishing blow, she landed with a smirk, feeling pretty good in her element. As she should have known, and as was apt to happen in a chaotic battle, things can change in a heartbeat. And now Uranus found herself standing amidst powered-up clones of popular male entertainment figures of Crystal Tokyo.
To her left was Toshihiro, a pop idol (Neptune secretly owned a number of his records). To her right was Akira, an actor from a popular teen soap series. There was Kota, an heir who the tabloids rumored was dating Venus until she sat them straight (mostly due to Pluto who would quietly smolder every time his name was mentioned). And damn it; was that a clone of Motoki? Lucky guy struck it big after the founding of Crystal Tokyo when people found out that he was connected with the Neo-Queen and King and, as Uranus would grudgingly admit, wasn't half-bad looking.
And that was just to name a few. There was a virtual army of them and they had her surrounded in a blink of the eye. Uranus gripped the Space Sword tightly, feeling her palms sweat. She had to move, she couldn't wait and sit here and be open and risk a possible confession and then get nailed with a real attack because then she would really be in deep shit.
…Whew, talk about running thoughts.
The clone of Akira stepped forward, the others following suit. "Lady Uranus…
"Move, move, move, move, move." Uranus murmured to herself, her eyes wide in panic.
"I love yo-"
A bright blast of blue exploded into the popular male clones' midst. Uranus raised an arm, protectively shielding her face as another attack followed. And then the scent of the sea and the very presence of Neptune.
"No one confesses to Haruka but me." Neptune said, her melodic voice underlined, italicized, and bolded with steel. With the Aqua Mirror clenched in her fist, the remainder of the popular male clones stood no chance. Any attempts at retaliation were reflected right back at them.
When the last one fell, Neptune turned and gave a simple, beautiful smile. Uranus's heart jumpstarted, her grip on the Space Sword relaxed, and she couldn't help but give a goofy smile in return. Neptune reached out to her with her free hand and pulled Uranus into an embrace. The Senshi of the Winds, still hardly believing her senses, buried her face into that familiar aqua hair, and clung back all the tighter.
Lucky for them, they have good karma. No enemies paid any attention to their reunion even though they were in the middle of the battlefield.
"How?" Was about all Uranus could manage.
"The Mirror was vague, but something was obviously wrong. Makoto and I teleported back to the palace all of fifteen minutes ago." Neptune responded, pulling back from the embrace to look into Uranus's eyes. "We came straight here and I immediately honed in on you, while Makoto went to chase down Ami. Why weren't we informed?"
"We…I wanted to keep you two out of this. The Brazilian Empire was important and things here…" Uranus trailed off, now keeping a wary eye on the chaos around them.
"Haruka, what exactly is going on? I show up and you're being cornered by popular males ready to confess to you. I don't think it needs to be said that those are two of your greatest difficulties." Neptune pressed still trying to make sense of the tumultuous battle. She paused as they were finally taken notice of by a wicked-looking robot. They both leapt away as the robot let an energy blast loose. It ate the earth where they had been standing, kicking up dirt. But the robot stood no chance as Uranus and Neptune went on the offensive, unleashing a series of deadly attacks.
The robot went up in flames rather quickly, and Neptune, brushing off her hands, immediately returned to their previous conversation. "And trust me, I definitely know all about the latter one. Not to mention, I'm pretty sure I saw a giant cockroach as I played hero to your damsel in distress."
Uranus let the last remark slide. "We have a mad scientist character who wants some glory. Apparently Ami's unknowingly beaten him in just about everything over the years and he went a little crazy. Stole a bunch of nuclear waste from some of the deactivating plants and has been working on his little unnatural creations ever since."
"Haruka, don't you think this is a little more pressing than the negotiations in the Brazilian Empire? I still don't understand why you or Serenity couldn't have at least sent us a memo. This mad scientist character does-" Neptune immediately fell strangely silent, her lips parted slightly with her next words. Uranus watched pure loathing and fear wash over Neptune's face and her breath hitch.
Uranus didn't have to turn around to know what was wrong. She reacted instantly, pulling Neptune against her and dashing out of the way as one of the monstrous sea cucumbers crashed into their previous location. Neptune was motionless in her arms except for her eyes, which stayed on the bulbous form of the sea cucumber.
"It's giant…" Neptune murmured in shock. "The sea cucumber."
"Don't look Michiru. Don't look." Uranus responded, guiding Neptune's head to rest against the crook of her neck as she dodged another earth-shaking blow by the monster. She felt Neptune's hand tighten onto the fabric of her sailor fuku, pulling the already tight material taunt
Uranus's mind raced. She couldn't fight like this, and the creature was much faster than expected. She wouldn't leave Neptune either. Not when faced with this.
Salvation came in a blur of green and pink and the cackle of electricity. The sea cucumber was highly susceptible to electrical attacks and it was soon fried to order.
"Don't worry, its dead! Have either of you seen Ami?" Jupiter said as she approached the couple.
Neptune's body was trembling, her breath shallow and face pale. Uranus hated it and hated scarring childhood memories with sea cucumbers (for what other explanation was there?). Neptune was typically unflappable when others would be panicking. Composed and calm in the face of death, pain, and taxes. Except when sea cucumbers were involved (and when a loved one is being threatened, but everybody with even the tiniest bit of love in their heart loses it at that point).
Neptune's eyes jumped to Jupiter and then back on to the blackened body of the sea cucumber. She then slowly pulled back from the Uranus's secure arms and looked into Uranus's eyes.
Uranus smiled, "Hey."
"Hey." Neptune whispered with regained composure.
Uranus kissed her, fingers sliding through wavy hair. She pressed their lips together harder, and felt Neptune react just as strongly, her teeth catching on lips. And then a tongue and a wanton moan that surely would have been the signal for clothes to start coming off if Jupiter hadn't cleared her throat.
They separated and Jupiter rolled her eyes as she let loose an attack on an incoming opponent. Uranus's eyes were hazy and Neptune's heart was hammering again, but this time for all the right reasons. The Senshi of Sea reached up and kissed her once again, briefly, smiling against her lips.
"Thanks for rescuing me." Uranus smirked.
"Dare I even mention the sea cucumber?"
"I'll protect you. I'll always protect you." Uranus responded, a gloved hand caressing Neptune's cheek.
"I trust you."
"And thanks for watching our backs as we make out in the middle of a battle Makoto." Jupiter called out, a slightly bitter edge to her voice, now fighting hand to hand with a powered clone.
"I knew you had us covered." Uranus replied.
Jupiter grunted and landed a point-blank Supreme Thunder into the clone's ribs. Needless to say, that was the end of that one. "So what exactly is going on Haruka? And have either of you seen Ami?"
"We got a mad scientist type Makoto." Neptune said, "But that doesn't explain the popular men with confessions, the giant cockroaches, and," She shuddered, "the sea cucumbers."
"He's got all of our weaknesses and fears pinned down and used some advanced genetics and robotics to build an army. Really, I thought the evil robots were overdone, but he was pretty creative with the clones." Uranus answered.
"How did he figure out our specific…um…difficulties?" Jupiter asked.
"The internet." Uranus said simply.
"Well, that explains it." Neptune replied.
"Ami was going after Mad Scientist. I suggest we find them both and stop this nonsense." Uranus added seriously. Jupiter licked her lips nervously, feeling antsy.
"Let me see if I can't at least get a general idea as to where she is." Neptune said, already peering into the Aqua Mirror. Uranus and Jupiter waited restlessly, eyeing the chaos that was slowly starting to thin out. They caught a flash of blonde on top of a giant cockroach and shared a look, before just shaking their heads in exasperation.
"I got it." Neptune responded.
"Where to?" Jupiter asked, unable to keep the anxiety out of her voice.
"Actually, she's right there." Neptune pointed.
Out of the crowd, Mercury stumbled into their pocket of calm along with the man that could only be Mad Scientist. He was a slight fellow with wild brown hair and, stereotypically, was wearing a lab coat. They didn't appear to be fighting each other, merely glaring at each other in an intense standoff.
"Ami!" Jupiter called, but not loudly enough to be heard by Mercury. She took a few steps, building up to a sprint, only to stop dead in her tracks as a soothing, masculine voice pierced her ears. "Makoto."
Jupiter's eyes went wide, her body tensing. "S-Sempai!"
"Sempai?" Uranus and Neptune echoed. So this was the elusive sempai. Or his clone in any case.
The clone of Jupiter's sempai approached her with a hand held out. "Makoto, I –"
He didn't even get the chance as Jupiter decked him across the face. The clone howled and fell to the ground, holding his face with both hands. Jupiter huffed, "Don't you know I've been over you for years?" She took off running again, calling out for Mercury.
"Huh, well how about that?" Uranus said, poking the whimpering clone with her foot.
"Don't do that, it's like kicking a puppy." Neptune protested. "Clearly Mad Scientist thought his presence would be enough, otherwise he would be up and waving around some sort of nuclear-powered energy right now. Or he just got lazy with this one."
"You always were the smarter of the two of us." Uranus responded lightly. She looked up sharply, feeling a shift in the battle. She quickly analyzed the situation, her instincts proving correct. The Crystal Tokyo Defense Forces were flanking into the area having taken care of the grunts. "Come on, let's go deal with Mad Scientist."
Uranus and Neptune cautiously approached. Mercury and Mad Scientist were still staring each other down and Jupiter was at the sidelines, her eyes furtively darting back and forth between the two combatants.
"What is the time constant for the action potential in a neuron?"
"Ha, too easy Mizuno! You underestimate me! It's the resistance of the membrane times the capacitance of the membrane. What is the Friedmann-Lemaître-Robertson-Walker Model in the general relativity of the shape of the universe?"
Jupiter turned to Uranus and Neptune, slightly jaded, "Neither of them has paid any attention to me. Yet, for some reason…I can't bring myself to intervene…"
Uranus's eyes widened as Mad Scientist and Sailor Mercury fired off question after question and answering without pause. Neptune tried for the more direct approach, "Ami-chan….Ami-chan." Failing to gain Mercury's attention, Neptune furrowed her brow, "Ami!"
"Shh! Don't disturb her!" Jupiter responded, holding out her arm. Her gaze now settled just on Mercury with something akin to awe. Uranus did a double-take and then smirked. Make that something akin to awe and lust.
Granted watching Mercury in her natural habitat was a bit like being dropped in the middle of sub-Saharan Africa without any human presence for miles. You were either amazed and memorized by the magnificence and abilities of life, or overwhelmed in terror and promptly eaten by a pride of lions in the space of five minutes.
Neptune turned, her eyes lighting up. "Hotaru! You okay?" Saturn threw her arms around Neptune, pulling the other woman into a hug. Neptune still couldn't quite get used to Saturn being at her height. It was as if she blinked one day and Saturn was suddenly tall.
"Yes of course. But what about you? Rei and I just took down the last of the sea cucumbers." Saturn answered, angling her head to Mars who followed behind her.
Neptune's face briefly went pale. "You mean there was more than one?" She shot a look at Uranus, who looked away in faux-ignorance. "Haruka, we're definitely going to have some words later about keeping secrets."
Saturn added her glare to Neptune's, "That's right. I'm still not happy with you either, Haruka."
"That's an upgrade from hate at least." Uranus responded weakly.
"Don't push your luck." Saturn nearly growled.
Mars meanwhile had brushed past all four of them, going straight for Mad Scientist with two fists full of flames. Jupiter just managed to grab her. "Rei, wait!"
"Argh! Come on, let me roast him!" Mars face was dark and fiery and you could almost see the steam coming off of her. "Fortune-tellers. Bad fortune-tellers! I'm going to kill him!"
"Rei, please, let Ami handle him." Jupiter pleaded.
Rei closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Slowly the flames in her hands disappeared, the dark cloud passing over her. "Alright." Yes, time with Serenity had only sort of kind of mellowed her temper. She managed a smile in Jupiter's direction though, "Hey Makoto."
Jupiter relaxed her hold on Mars briefly giving a smile before returning her attention to Mercury, "Hey Rei. Long time no see."
Mars hummed an agreement and offered a warm smile to Neptune. "Hello Michiru. Still showing up at just the right time as always?"
"Of course Rei." Neptune responded fondly, "You and I both."
"Hey now, I want to join this little precog club." Uranus pouted, placing her arm around Neptune.
Neptune gave her a wry glance, and teased, "The only club you're joining right now is the doghouse. Besides, reading the wind just doesn't cut it anymore."
"Speaking of the precog club," Saturn interjected, "there's Minako, so where's Setsuna?"
Venus was sprinting toward them, shouting something that was lost in the cacophony of battle noise.
"What's she saying?" Uranus asked.
"Shush, I can't hear it either." Neptune answered
"Why doesn't she just use the communicator?" Mars sighed.
"Too easy." Saturn replied.
By that point, Venus had arrived, slightly breathless. "She's going to kill him!"
"Who?" Uranus posed.
"Mad Scientist of course!" Venus said, grabbing a startled Uranus by the shoulders.
"No, who's going to be killing him?" Uranus responded, slightly taken back by the intensity.
"Setsuna!" Venus said, shaking Uranus.
"Setsuna?" Neptune replied with a blink, "Minako, I hardly doubt Setsuna aims to kill him."
Venus's eyes landed on Neptune, "Oh hey there Michiru-chan! When did you show up?"
"Just a little while ago and Makoto too." Neptune responded, gesturing toward the preoccupied Jupiter.
Venus glanced at Jupiter and Uranus took the moment to get away from her steely grip. "Hi Mako-chan!"
Jupiter waved in her direction, her attention remaining on Mercury and the battle of knowledge laying carnage before her.
Venus shook her head, snapping out of the friendly greetings, "But Setsuna's going to kill him! Where is she?"
Uranus frowned, pondering this, "Hmm…well, there were awful lot of giant cockroaches."
"Ah, I had forgotten about them." Neptune replied.
"How could you forget about them?" Uranus asked skeptically.
"I don't know. Maybe it had a little something to do with the deadly, monstrous sea cucumbers." Neptune said icily.
"Did you think maybe that's why I didn't tell you about the battle? Or the multiple sea cucumbers?" Uranus shot back, crossing her arms. "We all know that you and Setsuna are the worst off when it comes to our irrational habits and fears."
"Is that right? Irrational?" Neptune said coolly. "Thought I couldn't handle it?"
Uranus was in dangerous territory now, and everyone (except for Jupiter) knew it. Saturn would have loved to have seen Uranus get belittled all of a few minutes ago, but now that her surrogate parents were on the verge of a nasty sounding fight, she regretted it. Luckily, Uranus was saved from having to answer by Jupiter.
The train wreck between Uranus and Neptune thankfully stopped before it could ever fully happen as everyone turned to the private battle between Mad Scientist and Sailor Mercury that had now added a third player: Sailor Pluto.
Pluto stood grim-faced between the two, crimson eyes dark and dangerous. Mad Scientist and Mercury had both halted their battle of knowledge in surprise and now silence reigned in the immediate area. The rest of the Senshi waited breathlessly, afraid to make sudden movements as if it might set Pluto off.
Settling her gaze on Mad Scientist, Pluto slowly spoke, "Answer this riddle."
Mad Scientist nodded his fervently, his confidence having disappeared.
"Typically only the living can do this, but when it is whispered and demise stares you in face, you should be quite afraid. What is it?" Pluto said softly.
The Senshi behind Pluto all leaned in to catch her words and then quickly huddled together to confer on the answer. For them, it only took a moment, but Mad Scientist could hardly think straight with those ageless crimson eyes boring into him. Too bad he couldn't remember any of his research right at that moment; it would have helped significantly.
"I…I don't know." Mad Scientist said.
Pluto smiled, "Too bad. Would you like to know the answer?"
"Not particularly, no." He squeaked.
Mad Scientist was sent flying into the air and landed hard meters away, completely unconscious. Pluto eyed his body with distaste. "And that's the difference between you and Ami. She can think on her feet even in the direst of circumstances."
A slow smile grace Mercury's face, "Thank you Setsuna."
"Quite welcome Ami." Pluto replied, a friendly smile dancing across her face.
"Setsuna, I thought for sure you were going to kill him!" Venus shouted, dashing up to Pluto's side. "Mumbling stuff about cockroaches and death and then just disappearing like that."
"What was I suppose to think? I thought you had lost it! I was scared you would do something rash!"
"Minako." Pluto smiled softly. "Be quiet." She quickly pressed her lips against Venus's, startling the other Senshi into silence. She pulled back, staring into Venus's eyes. "Thanks for dealing with all the cockroaches today."
"He, you are very much welcomed." Venus responded goofily.
"Setsuna's turned Minako into a blushing virgin." Uranus smirked, "Never thought I would see that happen."
Neptune shook her head, "You, my love, are incorrigible."
"That's pillow-talk." Uranus replied. She caught Neptune's hand, "Tell me you and Makoto are staying the night."
Neptune looked over to Jupiter who was holding Mercury tightly in one arm while supervising the official arrest of Mad Scientist by the Defense Forces. "Considering the parameters we placed on teleporting and the amount of energy I used today, we have to stay."
"Don't make it sound like such a bad thing." Uranus replied, pulling Neptune close.
Neptune giggled at the response before sighing, "Things are going to be a mess by the time we get back to the Royal Brazilian Empire. We'll probably have to start at the beginning."
"What if I come with you?" Uranus asked seriously. "I can clear my schedule for the next month now."
"It depends." Neptune answered slowly. "I thought we had long gotten over these protection issues. It's not just a matter of physical danger, but you having to accept me taking a lot on all at one time and also dealing with significant threats to my personal safety or the safety of my loved ones all together."
"I just think you deserve better." Uranus said sincerely.
"Haruka, whatever we do, we're doing to bring about a time when there are no worries or sacrifices. First we have to work toward that because it can't happen just like magic." Neptune replied, then added an aside, "Granted, a lot of things have happened just like magic."
Uranus stared at Neptune for a good moment, a curious look upon her face.
"What? What is it? Don't tell me I have a hair out of place after such a little battle." Neptune teased.
Uranus laughed suddenly, and pulled Neptune too her, kissing her soundly. Uranus pulled back, and Neptune's gloved hand came to rest against her cheek. "And what was that all about?"
"You just reminded me of something I said to Serenity yesterday."
Neptune smiled, "Is that right?"
"Yes, and I promise to be on my best behavior in the future if you promise me to not try to reach perfection in taking on everything handed to you."
Saturn unexpectedly interjected, "Don't think you've righted every wrong yet Haruka! I'm heading back to the palace where maybe I can find someone who appreciates the things I care about!"
Neptune leveled a stare at Uranus as Saturn stormed off. "I thought she had grown out of that phase. What did you do?"
"Destroyed a bunch of robots masked as antique lamps." Uranus sighed.
"Ah, well that explains that."
"Michiru." Pluto's voice interrupted as her and Venus approached them.
"Hello Setsuna." Michiru replied, giving Pluto's free hand an affectionate squeeze in greeting. "We clear of cockroaches?"
"For the time being. And sea cucumbers?"
"I hope so."
Pluto eyes shone with relaxation and contentment, "Then all is well."
"Back to the palace everyone?" Venus suggested.
Uranus nodded, before shouting toward a snuggling Jupiter and Mercury, "Come along lovebirds! Let's head back to the palace." She quickly found Mars surveying the damaged battlefield, talking with some of the Defense Force officers. "Rei! Let's go! We need to get you back to Serenity!"
Mars swiveled, turning to Uranus with a cross look upon her face. She bade adieu to the officers and marched down to join the rest of the Senshi. "Will you shut up?" She hissed to Uranus, "Nobody outside the palace needs to know that the queen is having an acknowledged affair."
"Keeping a mistress you mean." Urauns prodded
Neptune sighed, reached up, and smacked Uranus across the head.
"Thank you Michiru." Mars said.
"Anytime Rei, anytime." Neptune replied. She regarded Uranus with an exasperated smile that melted into one of pure affection as Uranus rubbed her head with her hand. With the others carrying on ahead, she pulled Uranus down and kissed the spot of the blow. "Behave yourself." Neptune whispered, catching Uranus's gaze.
There was a moment lost in time as they stared into each others' eyes. Then Michiru quickly closed the distance, pulling Haruka into a passionate kiss. Not all that far away, the wind picked up over the ocean, and a seabreeze ran toward them, passing land, buildings, and people and wrapping them in a refreshing embrace. Slowly Haruka and Michiru separated, and lingered just inches apart.
And Haruka grinned, "Never."
A/N: And that's it. The Seabreeze project is officially closed as of this oneshot. I know I don't get brownie points for the originality of this oneshot's title, but that's okay.
So in this oneshot we also had Makoto/Ami, Minako/Setsuna, Usagi/Mamoru, and Usagi/Rei.
The random questions I had Mad Scientist and Ami ask each other I pulled from just briefly surfing Wikipedia. I am in no way a qualified astrophysicist or neurobiologist.
Looking back over Seabreeze, I feel as if I've generally grown as a writer. I'm often embarrassed to get back and look at all the mistakes I've made, but I've been blessed with a lot of great support and reviews. Thank you for reading my work and being patient with updates. I'll be sure to leave a personal response to any reviews or questions you may have following this oneshot.
Thank you everyone and I hope you've enjoyed it.