Pandora's Senshi

Pandora's Senshi

A Sailor Moon Spin-off Fanfiction

By mew-tsubaki

Note: Ha-HA! This time, I have copyright power over these characters because their MY OWN! (Woo-hoo!) Anyway, I want to give some credit to Naoko Takeuchi-sensei, though, because I used the original names she had planned for the Sailor Moon characters (Sorano Hikaru, Yoruno Miyabi, Chino Mamoru, and Artemis; only Amano is hers- I came up with Kako), and the original scouts (Moon through Saturn) are hers. By the way, I know that the senshi names (Phlegethon, Cocytus, Styx, Acheron, and Lethe) come from rivers in Hades (I read it somewhere) and have nothing to do with Pandora's Box, but read on to discover what they're really about. - Don't forget: READ, REVIEW, AND ENJOY!! P.S.- the Artemis in this fanfic isn't the same as the cat-turned-human Artemis from the original series. She's someone completely different. Also, the other senshi will not be making anymore appearances. It's original from here on out.

-- -3

Chapter Ten: Charon

The male turned his attention away from Miyabi and focused his thoughts. Harume, he called telepathically. Hey, idiot, wake up.

…umn, huh? What?

You can have your body back now, so wake up.

Wait –who are you?

My name is Charon, and my soul has been locked inside of you for a while… But that's not the point. You need to take over and let Miyabi know you're all right.

Harume made a low noise that was something like a growl. What did you do?

I saved their lives, as it is my duty. Charon blocked his thoughts from Harume for a moment. Maybe I should be popping in more often… Still blocking, he recalled the scene of Miyabi's kiss and the feel off her tongue in his mouth. She's as feisty as ever. Finally, Charon went to sleep and the body was enveloped in darkness again, but it was Harume who emerged this time.

The rocker teen fell to his knees, huffing. What was that all about? he thought. Why did he say he saved their lives? How come I don't remember anything?

"H-Haru…?"

Harume turned around and saw Miyabi's stricken face. When he gently caressed her right cheek, she winced and flung her arms around him and squeezed as tight as she could. "Miyabi, you've got to let me go at some point," he said after several minutes.

She shook her head. "No, no, no, no, no!! I'm not gonna let go!"

Carefully, he stroked her dark, maroon hair. Should I…? He gulped and tensed his muscles. "Y-Yabi-chan…what happened?"

Miyabi pushed him back as quickly as she had held onto him. "Y-You became Charon. He saved o-our lives. He appeared out of the blue with a scythe and I thought he was you and he said he didn't know me and I tried to get him to remember me and I-" Miyabi caught herself as she realized with horror what she had done. Charon had sauntered into the shadows, she had chased after him, and…she wouldn't believe he wasn't Harume. She had shoved him against a wall and frenched him. Not only had she kissed another man, but Miyabi felt that deep down, somewhere in her heart, she had enjoyed it. Nervously, she gulped and finished: "I knew it wasn't you when I got a good look at him." That part was true, but she had guiltily edited out the kiss. Sh-should she have really done that?

Harume faintly smiled. "I see…" Relief washed over him as he grasped Miyabi's hand. "Let's go home, Yabi-chan."

"Yes…" Harume didn't realize at all what Miyabi was holding back from him, but, worse yet, he didn't realize how Miyabi had turned as stiff as a statue. It'll be all right, a voice sounded in Miyabi's head. Everything will be all right as long as he never knows.

But what if it happens again? a different voice interjected. What if it escalates to something more? And what if you like it?

-- -3

"Genji! Genji!!"

The twin snapped out of his reverie. "Eh? Huh? What?"

Kako looked concerned. "This is the fourth time you've ignored me today. Is something wrong?"

"N-no, of course not." Genji backed up his fake smile with a quick tussle of Kako's hair, and she seemed a little relieved by that.

The pink-haired shrimp halfheartedly smiled to herself, but she was unnerved. It's like his mind is somewhere else, she thought sullenly. Maybe I've been too clingy?

"You're fine, Kako," Genji mumbled.

Kako looked at him, shocked. Had he heard her thoughts?! No, that couldn't have been it. But…if his sister had powers, wouldn't it make sense for her twin brother to have powers, as well?

No way, Kako thought. I'm just thinking too much about it. It's not good to jump to conclusions.

And yet, I wish I could read his mind right now…

-- -3

Just what is it that's going on here? Artemis thought as she strolled down the street. How do I get my other powers? And who was that man last night? She recalled him helping the senshi. Maybe he knows the answer to some of these questions… Determined to talk to the male now, Artemis sped up, almost running down the street. After a minute, though, she came to a screeching halt. But where is he?

Even more perplexed now than she was before, Artemis sped up again. I don't even know what his name is and-

SMACK!

"Oof!"

Artemis landed on her rear hard. That stings! The silver-haired girl winced as she sat up, wondering what she had run into. Yet, it wasn't a case of what she had run into, but a case of whom she had run into.

She looked up to see a male with short, slightly wavy brown hair and rectangular glasses. He had on a vibrant blue zip-up, short-sleeved shirt and dark-wash denim jeans. A pair of dark brown shoes and a blue messenger bag completed his outfit. But Artemis wasn't really looking at what he was wearing –no, she was staring at the stranger, who was staring right back at her.

"Um…sorry about that," Artemis murmured. "I guess I wasn't looking where I was going."

The stranger offered her a hand up. "It's partly my fault, too. I had my nose stuck in my book."

Artemis looked down at her feet and picked up his book. "'The Heart and Its Dissection'…?" She blinked. "A medical text?"

The male shyly smiled. "It's pretty much the only thing you read when you're pre-med."

Artemis nodded, but she found a magazine stuck inside the book when she tried to close it. "'Jazz Modern Classical'?" She saw the embarrassed look on his face, and she quickly turned red, too. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to go through your stuff!" Artemis handed the book and magazine back to the stranger. After an awkward minute, she added: "M-My name's Artemis."

He, too, felt uneasy and spluttered: "Amamiya Soichiro." Soichiro exhaled and the sweat wasn't pouring off of him anymore, but he still seemed a little tense.

Feeling tense and uneasy herself, Artemis smiled. "Once again, sorry, Amamiya-san." She moved away and he stopped her.

"It's my fault, A-" He caught himself. What was her last name again?

As if reading his thoughts, Artemis stated: "I just go by Artemis. It's okay." This time she moved away, but he didn't stop her.

"It's Soichiro, not Amamiya-san," he commented.

She looked over her shoulder, but he had already melted into the crowd. Huh, she thought. There's a different air about him. So…i…chi…ro…

-- -3

Just a few minutes away in the bookstore, Soichiro had his nose stuck in a music book. Yet…he found he had lost focus and couldn't concentrate anymore. Sighing, he put the book back on its shelf and walked down the aisle, not entirely aware of his surroundings. A vivid picture was painting in his mind as the name spilled from his lips: "A…ru…tei…mi…su…"

His heart skipped a beat. She had a different air about her, a refreshing one. Maybe…just maybe…they would meet again.

He sure hoped so.

-- -3

"Urm…" The taupe-haired girl grimaced at the cake she had pulled out of the oven. Well, it would've been a cake if it wasn't burned to a crisp. Hell, she wasn't even sure if she knew it had ever been a cake in its entire –but short- lifetime. Death had come early to it, as soon as Mamoru had touched the mix.

"Dammit!" she cursed, biting her thumbnail and tossing her apron on the kitchen counter. She sulked. "I was hoping to greet Takeyuki at the door with his favorite food, but…" Mamoru's jade eyes fell upon the cake. "Why can't I cook?!"

The girl sadly turned away from the mess and collapsed in a heap on the couch. This is no good, Mamoru thought. I'll never be a suitable wife if I can't do simple things. She pouted and peered at the door over the armrest of the couch. I really do want to be his wife someday…

CLINK.

Mamoru blinked and glanced down at the cushion. Like a hatchling, light reflected back in an innocent manner off her jade brooch, beaming up at her with curiosity. Almost instinctively, her hand crept forward and picked up the item. The shines in her eyes reflected the ones on the brooch, and she gazed at it for a long time, filled with wonder. Only sudden sounds outside the apartment door made her jump and hurriedly conceal it. When she realized how foolish she had been and recalled that Takeyuki would not be home until later, she withdrew her brooch from her pocket. Of course, Takeyuki would eventually come home …

Doubt put a stopper in her throat. It was so hard, having to hide it from him all the time… Maybe I should just tell him, Mamoru thought. She uneasily chuckled. Oh, yeah. Like he'd really believe me when I say that I'm here to save the world by destroying it. Crap. Mamoru sat up and rubbed her eyes. My power's tiring me out. Maybe I'll go rest for a while…

She flopped on her bed after stowing her brooch in her bottom drawer, underneath her clothes. Peace crept over her as sleep beckoned. Soon she was sound asleep and wouldn't be woken by anything –including the rustling in her drawer.

At first, it was a low, muffled sound, like that of a mouse skittering about. Soon, though, whatever was creating the noise was strong enough to shake the whole chest. The furnishing shook and rattled violently until –it stopped. The bottom drawer slid open as if an invisible hand was moving it, and out came a light as small as a seed bead. It was yellow-green first, but then it gradated into a fierce yellow, eventually simmering into a summer orange. Its light enveloped the whole room, but Mamoru didn't stir.

The light darted around the room and glanced about. "Wait a second," it mumbled, "where's my body?" It disappeared into the drawer and made a clucking sound. "No wonder. Of course they encased my soul separately from my body. But…where're Cocytus and Nora and the others?" The light sighed. "Hopefully I'll be released soon."

Mamoru rolled over on her side. The light, scared, hurriedly dove into the drawer. When it realized she was still out cold, it exhaled a breath of relief. "I'll just go back for now." It moved under the cloths and faded into Mamoru's brooch. And all was quiet.

-- -3

She raised her hand to her mouth as she yawned. "Oh, man…," Hikaru mumbled. "I can't believe I stayed up so late last night…!" While, yes, it had been a late night, the hazel-haired genius had to admit she had fun playing Soul Calibur 3 on Genji's PS2. Oh, she could kick his butt just like that! Hikaru smiled contentedly. I'm glad I found some free time, she thought as she gazed at the clear blue sky overhead. With exams and the monsters… Hikaru sighed. I feel like I don't have a life anymore. The genius froze to the ground.

Did I even have one before?

The thought swirled around in her head, and Hikaru felt like she was going to gag on it. No…, she thought, her eyes filled with tears. Before, I was by myself, studying all the time and helping those who would do their work. Even now, with friends, we're still risking our lives every time we fight. Of course it leaves no time for a real social life…

"Hikaru? Is that you?"

The hazel-haired genius turned around and saw Artemis standing behind her. Her eyes lit up. "Artemis!"

Artemis smiled. "Daydreaming, were you?"

"Yeah, I guess so." There was an awkward pause before Hikaru spoke up again. "So, um…did you need anything? I'm on my way to school, though, so I don't have a lot of time."

"Oh! Uh, well…do you think I could come over later? I kinda wanted some advice on something…" From the way Artemis's eyes drooped and how she hung her head, Hikaru guessed it was something personal. Judging by her body language, Hikaru articulated: "Something guy related?"

Artemis looked up, red all over. "I-It's just-" she sighed and averted her gaze from Hikaru. "I met him a few days ago. I ran into him again today and we started talking. Then he invited me to go out to breakfast. I know it's actually my first date, but I don't know what to do because neither of us said it was a date, so-" Artemis stopped mid-sentence. "You're not laughing," she observed.

Hikaru blinked. "No. Why? Should I be?"

"Well…"

"It's okay. You have a serious problem and came to me for help, so I won't laugh. Why don't you come over around four?"

Artemis's mood visibly brightened. "Thank you so much! I won't be late, I promise!" As the silver-haired girl's silhouette disappeared down the road, Hikaru turned around and continued her walk to school.

A pair of lovebirds flew above her, singing their happy little duet. They came to rest on a tree branch on a nearby tree, cuddling each other affectionately. Hikaru faintly smiled. Everyone is in love but me… "Crap! Isn't Kako coming over today?"

-- -3

"No way."

"But-"

"No, already!"

"Come on. I'm sure you'll win. Please!! I wanna know a celebrity!"

Mamoru finally stood up and glared. "I'm not going to enter that stupid contest!"

Miyabi, Harume, Hikaru, and Genji exchanged nervous glances. Finally, it was Hikaru who spoke up. "Look, it's just a contest. It wouldn't hurt to enter."

"I don't care!" Mamoru's chest was heaving; she couldn't believe how infuriated she was right now. "Look," she croaked, her voice raspy as she was shaking with anger, "I've entered writing contests in the past. Each time I've been shot down. I'm not going to enter a contest which is going to be judged by my role model. So just lay off already!!'

Everyone was silenced by Mamoru's sudden outburst. Mamoru deeply inhaled and was about to close her eyes when she saw the twins exchange a guilty look. She wasn't going to let that escape.

"Hikaru, Genji –what did you do?"

Genji reddened and let out a clumsy whistle. "Oh, honestly, it's nothing…"

"It is obviously something."

"You moron," Hikaru called Genji as she pinched his arm.

Mamoru raised an eyebrow. "Where's Kako, Genji? It's not like her to miss lunch with us, and I saw her in passing in the halls, so I know she's here." When the group remained silent, dread settled into Mamoru's stomach. "Guys, what's going-"

At that moment, the door to the roof flew open, and Kako stood there at its opening –panting– but with a smile on her face. "It passed! First round and everything, and now we just have to go to the finals-!" The pink-haired shrimp stopped when she realized Mamoru was staring at her and that the others looked utterly chagrined. "Oh, crap."

Realization dawned on Mamoru's face. Slowly, she turned back to the other four. Her eyes especially bore into the twins' own. "No wonder you were all so insistent on me entering." Mamoru stuck her face in Hikaru's as her voice rose with each word: "You guys had already ENTERED SOMETHING OF MINE!!"

Hikaru closed her eyes, no hint of remorse. "By now, we've each read something you've written, whether from class or your own stuff at home. Be happy. You made it to the last round. You're probably going to be the next Namajima Ayu." And with that, she slurped the rest of her spicy ramen noodles down.

Blushing, Mamoru had no defense. She sat down, but couldn't finish her lunch. ARGHHH!! How could these nitwits have done this?!

-- -3

Hikaru was only at home for about twenty minutes when the bell rang. "Coming!" she called, and she opened the front door to let Artemis in. "Hey, Artemis."

But Artemis looked troubled.

Hikaru, picking up on it, gently smiled. "Do you want anything?" she offered.

"Mmn," Artemis mumbled, and Hikaru went into the kitchen to grab a couple of snacks since the silver-haired girl was indecisive.

When Hikaru came back, Artemis was sitting on the couch with her knees pulled up to her chest, fidgeting with her locket. She looked like she might break if Hikaru tried to touch her. "So," Hikaru began, "is it more than just Mr. Mysterious?"

As if she had just jumped back into the present, Artemis' head shot up and she blinked; her cheeks turned rosy. "I'm so sorry! I didn't realize-" She sighed. "I've just been thinking about the situation with my powers –or rather, power."

"And…?"

Artemis blushed. "And 'Mr. Mysterious'," she finally admitted.

Hikaru perked up a bit. "Tell me. What's his name? Is cute? Do you think he likes you? Do you like him? Where'd you meet? Yadda, yadda… Y'know, the usual stuff."

The silver-haired girl hid behind her knees. "His name's Amamiya Soichiro. I guess he's good-looking… I haven't thought about it much. I first bumped into him the end of last week, but there's something about him…" Artemis' gray eyes looked wistful for a beat and a half. "I don't know if he likes me; I don't know if I like him, but –like I said –there's something about him." She paused and sighed, but not sadly. "It's like I'm pulled in."

Hikaru, who had sat like a school girl (author: oh, wait… She is a school girl…heh) during Artemis' admission, wasn't sure what advice she had to give to her friend. Frazzled, she scratched her head. "Well…," she commented, "whatever you're feeling sounds pretty strong."

Artemis nodded. "When I pile that on top of what we have to do and the fact that I'm limited to one attack –it bothers me. I feel…helpless."

"I'm sorry I'm of no use here," Hikaru stated. "But it's kind of nice just to get it off your chest, isn't it?" She smiled and was pleased to see her grin returned. Hikaru was feeling better herself, in fact. "You know what this calls for?"

"What?"

"Karaoke!!" Hikaru stood and turned on the TV and karaoke machine in the living room. She was just taking CDs and lyrics out when the doorbell rang again, and she ran to get it. "Kako! You're here just in time for the party!!"

Artemis smiled. It had been a while –how long, she didn't know –but it had been a while since she had felt this comfortable around people. The silver-haired girl remembered when her life had begun almost a year ago. She had just woken up in an alley, dressed in nothing but a simple shift. In her hand had been the Cocytus brooch, and her locket had been around her neck. She had no idea where she was, but she knew that her name was Artemis. And that was it.

"Geh! Genji, too?! Kako, why couldn't you leave him at school?!" Hikaru whined.

Instinctively, Artemis' hand reached for her locker. She gazed at it. Maybe this time, she thought. She turned it over in her hand before trying to pry it open, but it was no use; the locket still wouldn't budge. Artemis sighed and supposed the locket would open itself when the time was right. She picked her head up and smiled when Hikaru returned with Kako and Genji behind her.

Hikaru grinned mischievously. "Nothing like a little singing contest to loosen up the nerves, right, Artemis?"

Artemis smiled. "Sure!"

Genji put his head in his hands. "You don't know what you're getting into, Artemis-san! No one can ever beat Hika-chan!! And I'm her twin!!"

Kako chuckled as Hikaru began singing what the genius had said was one of her old favorites. "Zutto soba ni ite, watashi mitsumete ite…"

Hikaru's sweet, lilting voice calmed Artemis, and she wondered if she had heard Hikaru's voice somewhere before. Of course I have, Artemis told herself as they applauded the genius and Genji took the microphone, I've known Hikaru and the other senshi for a few weeks, Hikaru the longest out of all of them, so why wouldn't I recognize her voice? But far off in her mind, Artemis heard another lovely melody, and it sounded similar to Hikaru's voice… Artemis shook her head; she was imagining things.

"Artemis! It's your turn!" Genji passed her the mike, and she took it.

"All right, then!"

-- -3

"Mamoru-chan, I think it's the perfect opportunity for you to show your stuff," Takeyuki said the next Sunday morning. "And besides –if you don't want to go, why all the fuss over your outfit? That's the sixth time you've changed this morning!"

"Well, I don't want to look inappropriate or anything…" Her voice trailed off as she eyed herself in the mirror. Since it was late spring and the weather was warming up, Mamoru (as of this minute) had chosen a burgundy, bell-sleeved blouse, light-weight black slacks, and black heels. "Oooh! I'm too over-dressed." She turned in the direction of her room. "I'm gonna get changed-"

"Oh, no, you aren't!" Takeyuki grabbed her shoulders and steered her towards the front door. "You're going to be late soon, and you'll have wasted this golden opportunity that your friends bestowed –if somewhat craftily –upon you." He locked eyes with her and bent to kiss her, then smiled. "You'll be fine, I promise. I know it, because you're wonderful, Mamoru." He gave her another quick smooch then passed her her purse. "Good luck, Mamo-chan!"

Pink, the taupe-haired girl left her apartment complex and walked to the train station, where the girls, Harume, and Genji had said they'd meet her. When she reached the platform, though, only Kako and the twins were there. "Where're Miyabi and Harume-kun?" Mamoru asked Kako as they boarded the bullet into the city.

Kako shook her head. "I tried Harume's house on my cell, but no one answered. My guess is that they're on their way." The shrimp sighed. "If you guys would all just let me do you a favor and get each of you a cell phone, then everything would be more convenient!"

Mamoru half-smiled. "Kako-chan, I know you want to, but we don't want you to feel like you're buying us or something."

"But I'm not! My dad's the chairman for the city board, so we're loaded!"

Mamoru shushed her when other passengers on the train raised their heads or looked at the four of them quizzically. "Try not to draw attention to the fact that you're the chairman's daughter, Kako-chan!"

But Kako merely grimaced. "Anyway, why would it be like I'm buying you guys? Wouldn't you guys have already dumped me if you just liked me because I'm rich? So can I please get you cell phones? Please?!"

Mamoru and Hikaru sighed, and Genji rolled his eyes as her put his hand over Kako's mouth. "Once a pure-hearted shrimp, always a pure-hearted shrimp," he stated; Mamoru and Hikaru nodded.

Kako tried to pry his hand away. "Mfph…!!"

-- -3

MEANWHILE… At the Hiruno residence…

Harume woke up and rolled over, scrubbing the sand from his eyes. Sunlight filtered in through the closed drapes over his window, and he reached to open them to let more light in. Turning to his nightstand, he grabbed a hair tie and pulled back his bleached strands as his eyes adjusted to read his clock. Suddenly, his eyes flew open. 10:53 a.m.?! Shit!! We missed the train! Sighing, he ran his hand over his face, thinking. If Yabi-chan's already dressed and I can change in a minute, we could probably run and catch the next bullet train into the city. We may be a few minutes late to the finals since they start at eleven o'clock, but we'll make it. First things first, though. Gotta see if Yabi's up.

The rocker teen stood and threw on a blue tee, exchanging his sleep pants for jeans and a belt with chains. He left his room in a mess, nearly tumbling on his way down the stairs. Harume stopped at the foot of the stairwell and listened. The TV was on in the kitchen.

"Oi, Yabi-chan!"

Miyabi turned her attention from the TV to Harume and grinned. "Ohayo, Harume."

Harume looked her up and down. Miyabi was still in her nightshirt, sitting at the kitchen table, watching the TV and picking at the ice cream she was eating for breakfast. He furrowed his brow; something was up.

He walked over to her and took the ice cream from her. "Hey! I was eating that!" Miyabi shut up when he turned the TV off.

"You shouldn't eat ice cream for breakfast, baka." Harume threw away what she had simply picked at and then stood before her. "Something's troubling you. You want to talk about it, or do I have to ask one of the girls?"

Miyabi didn't meet his eyes, and glared at the floor instead. "I'm fine." She looked at the kitchen clock. "If we don't hurry, we won't be able to make it to the final round of the competition." Miyabi moved to leave the room, but Harume grabbed her arm. "I need to change, Haru."

"Not until you talk to me." The look in Harume's ebony eyes was stern, so stern that it was pleading. "I feel like you haven't been talking to me, Miyabi. Did I do something?"

Miyabi saw that Harume was deeply hurt. "No, you didn't do anything, Harume."

"Was it Charon? I don't know what he does when he's in possession of my body, so he might think he can get off scot-free, but if he did something…"

The raven-haired mermaid considered how to answer her rocker boyfriend. It had been Charon she was thinking of, but she simply wanted to question him. Miyabi shook the memory of her last encounter with Charon a few weeks ago. Of course, she meant the one with the kiss. Charon had helped out a few more times between that time and now, but he had always gone back to sleep before the senshi could talk to him. But Miyabi had caught him staring at her with an emotion like longing on his face when he had last helped them, and it made her uneasy, because she now knew why she had felt like someone had been watching her during their battles. Nothing was up with her, but something was definitely up with Charon.

"…Yabi-chan?" Harume prodded.

She closed her eyes and smiled, shaking her head. "No, Harume. I've –The girls and I," she amended, "have been wondering if Charon knows anything else behind our mission, but he seems to be avoiding talking to us."

Harume lightened up some. "Oh. Okay. Maybe I can cajole him into speaking to you now."

"Wait! Harume, I-!"

But Harume had already closed his eyes and was feeling around for the connection with Charon. Hey, ass. Wake up and answer Miyabi's questions.

And if I don't want to?

Tough luck. It'll be hard to search for another host body if you don't answer my girl's questions, don't you think?

"Host body"? There was a sound like a snicker, and Harume sensed Charon was sneering at him. How little you know, boy… Charon paused, smiling to himself. All right, then. I'll speak with her. Are you going to force me back when you think my time's up, "Master" Harume? Again, Harume sensed Charon sneering.

…No. I trust you'll want to sleep after the interrogation, so you'll be back soon. Before Charon could say anything else, Harume's consciousness rested.

A black light enveloped what was Harume's body, and out stepped Charon. He met Miyabi's fierce gaze, unblinking. This shall be fun.

-- -3

"Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for coming to the 23rd Annual New Young Talent Authors' Competition!! We shall now proceed with the judging of the final round."

In the middle of the crowd, Kako, Hikaru, and Genji sat, excited. Mamoru was sitting in the front row with the other four finalists, so they couldn't see the expression on her face as the emcee explained the final round.

"After much reading and critical judging of hundreds of thousands of entries, our three judges have chosen their favorites and will read their favorite excerpt aloud. Then each member of the audience shall have a chance to cast their vote for their favorite. We will break while the ballots are counted, and then gather again to announce prizes. Please join me in welcoming our judges!"

The crowd erupted in applause for the three judges. One was a local city official whom Kako recognized, the second was some famous actor, and the last was Mamoru's idol: Namajima Ayu.

First, the city official stepped up and said a few words and then read his favorite excerpt. Applause followed. Then the actor stepped up and mentioned something about his excerpt being dramatic, and he read it. Again, more applause. Then Namajima Ayu stood at the microphone.

She waited for a dramatic pause, and then smiled. "I chose this entry's excerpt for its detail of the moment. It had just enough description for me to picture the scene, but my senses weren't overloaded, either. I am also proud to see that the entry's author is the same age as I was when I started out, just as she might."

Kako, Hikaru, and Genji sat on the edges of their seats as Namajima-san cleared her throat.

"'The hazy afternoon would've been welcoming any other day, but today was different. I could feel the heaviness in the air, and it coated my tongue and throat. The normally pristine turquoise of the sky had turned pewter, and the usually yellow-green grass reflected the dull color as celadon. The grass shifted, though, as he stepped across barefoot, clad in just his blue jeans. I, in my simple, pale peach summer dress, remained seated on the edge of the porch. Still, I didn't move, even when he bent and kissed me full on the lips. It tasted bittersweet, even more so because I knew it would be our last. He was leaving, and his decision to go felt like a betrayal. Traitors deserve nothing.'"

An audible silence swept over the audience. Kako was grinning ear-to-ear, while Hikaru's eyes grew to the size of saucers and Genji's jaw dropped. Suddenly, applause tore through the crowd, and the emcee came on to the stage to remind everyone to vote for their favorite. After Mamoru's friends all voted for her, they met up with the taupe-haired girl for the break.

Mamoru seemed speechless as Kako patted her on the back. "So far, you've knocked 'em all dead, yanki," the shrimp joked.

"It wouldn't surprise me if you won, Mamoru-san," Genji commented.

Hikaru smirked. "I have a feeling everything's gonna work out in the end."

-- -3

"You wanted to talk?"

Miyabi gulped. She hadn't thought things out this far. "Well, yes…" She averted her eyes elsewhere; what did she begin with?!

Charon misinterpreted her awkwardness. With a wave of his hand, his outfit turned back into what Harume had been wearing before, and his scythe disappeared. "Not as terrifying to talk to, eh?"

The girl reddened. "Oh, no…! That's not why I-!"

"One change, though." He snapped his fingers, and the blue tee turned black. He smiled. "Much better."

"I –We were wondering if you could tell us anything about what were supposed to do, or maybe anything about senshi of the past," Miyabi said.

"Hmm…" Charon raised an eyebrow. "What do I get out of this?"

Miyabi grimaced. This little…! "You don't."

"Then what makes you think I'd feel inclined to part with any of that information?" He smirked, and leaned down so his nose nearly touched Miyabi's. "You aren't much of a bargain dealer, dear."

Her tongue felt like it was weighed down, and she couldn't speak. Don't let him call the shots, Miyabi, she scolded herself. Tough guys only like weak girls. Be strong and he'll back off. With a little rebellious grin, Miyabi regained her confidence. She did have control of the situation.

Charon faltered, and grimaced himself, but then the smirk returned. "Ah, you really have no plan at all, do you?"

"Just answer my ques-"

In the blink of an eye, Charon grabbed Miyabi's chin in one hand and wrapped his other arm around her waist, pulling her to him and crushing his lips over hers. The deep kiss shocked Miyabi and her senses were overlade with…passion, she realized, panting as Charon pushed her back against the kitchen table. He lifted her up so she sat on it, and she shivered as his lips trailed tender kisses down her jaw and neck. Almost as quickly, Miyabi came to her senses.

WHAM!!

Charon stared at the floor, and a silent moment passed. Slowly, he raised a hand to the corner of his mouth and touched it, pulling his fingers away to stare at the blood she had drawn. "That's some right hook you have, Styx-chan." He locked eyes with her.

She reddened. "Look, just like you're different from Harume, I'm different from Styx. And you had no right to- to- Agh! What the hell is wrong with you?!"

"What's wrong with me?" Charon's brow drew downward, and he looked positively peeved. "Let me ask you something: When you transform, you think not about your friends as Phlegethon, Lethe, and Acheron but as their civilian counterparts that you have formed friendships with, am I wrong? And do you not think with the same mind you possess when you are Yoruno Miyabi?" He was smoldering now. "Yes, I have a different soul from your beloved Harume, but your soul has and always will be Styx. You may have a different name, but you. Are. Styx."

"Th-then what happened to you?" Miyabi asked. She gulped and steadied herself. "Why are you in Harume's body?"

"Because." He pushed off from the table and closed his eyes. He sighed as he pulled the black ribbon from his hair, and his long blonde ponytail cascaded down his back, some strands escaping to fall over his shoulder; a few even brushed Miyabi's leg, and she willed herself not to visibly shiver. Charon held the ribbon out before him. "This is why."

Miyabi blinked. "A ribbon?"

Charon's red orange eyes darkened. "I received it from you centuries ago."

"Centuries?!"

He smiled. "Don't ask." Charon pulled his hair back and tied it up again, and Miyabi caught a glimpse of something that seemed like a scar underneath his shirt, but she didn't ask. "Anyway, it was a while ago, back when the powers of the five rivers of Hades still lay dormant in the bodies of water themselves. You girls lived with your river, since you were tied to it, just as you are now. You and I were lovers back then, too." When Miyabi gritted her teeth, Charon rolled his eyes. "Oh, don't get your panties in a bunch. It's the past.

"Anyway, being the guide across the river of Styx, I was always near you. But a war broke out, one that involved all of the planets, and the earth had to be reborn. Knowing that I might not see you again –even if for a long time –hurt me, but you reassured me that everything would be fine, and you took this ribbon from your dress and handed it to me." He covered his eyes with his hand; Miyabi sensed he would start crying at any minute. "Would you like to know what you said to me? With that sly grin on your face, you said, 'Charon, tie back your hair with it, that way I'm always with you. That and so I can see your poppy-colored eyes!'" Charon removed his hand and –to Miyabi's surprise –he was smiling. "That was your farewell before you and the other four Hadean senshi set the world to rights, and your bodies faded for it."

Charon stretched and opened the refrigerator, skimming over the food. Miyabi still sat on the kitchen table, her head reeling from his words. "So," she spoke, "what then?"

He didn't look at her when he answered, but kept his nose in the fridge instead. "We were promised that your souls would be reborn, and that it was inevitable that you would be summoned once more."

"But what if we just die again-?" Miyabi paused. "What do you mean, 'we were promised'?"

"Didn't it occur to you that maybe each river has a guide?"

He gave minute a second to catch up. "Then…the other guides were –are my friends' lovers as well?!"

"Well," Charon began, scratching his chin, "some of them. Only a few of the rivers had a guide. You see, there are five rivers in Hades, followed by the four descending rounds of hell. And everything plays a part in the destruction." Finally, he closed the fridge. "Does that help answer anything?"

"I think I have only more questions now…" Miyabi hugged herself. So Hikaru's myth take on the girls' senshi past was right on the mark. It was eerie, and Miyabi felt chilled to the bone. So they were supposed to destroy the world…

"If you still have questions, then keep asking." Charon smirked at her. "Unless, of course, you don't have the guts to learn anything else today."

Miyabi glared at him. "Like I asked before: Aren't we only going to die again?"

His eyes took on a distant look. "I think I may have found a loophole of sorts, so let me worry about that."

Flaring her nostrils, she continued. "Okay, then. A person can have someone else's soul and still be someone else, so here's another: Why are you so convinced that I'm the same Styx you were in love with?"

"People have a common misconception about what makes a soul," he shot back, returning her glare. "One's soul isn't just his essence; it's everything that makes him himself. Names will change because a person is given one each time he's born into this world."

"That doesn't make any sense!"

He rolled his eyes. "Then let me put it into simpleton terms: Picture a clay doll. It has no defining features, except for the few that let you determine it's human. But you don't even know if it's male or female. A person's soul/essence carries all the details to make that person what they are, looks and personality. Your soul was made at the beginning of time, and each time you're born, you enter a sort of shell, and your soul defines that shell as a raven-haired girl with big, mahogany eyes and a sense of justice that rivals her selflessness." Charon yawned. "Did you get it that time?"

"Eh-heh…kinda. But I get the gist of it, so now I see why might love me, since there's only ever been one Styx, right?"

"Right."

"Phew! I seemed to have grasped something today." Miyabi hopped down and walked over to Charon. "I wonder, though… Why would you be in Harume's body if you weren't Harume?"

"That, I do not know."

The mermaid raised an eyebrow. "Uh-huh. Well, we'll figure that out in time."

She's the same as always, without even knowing it, Charon thought to himself, and his heart twinged. Would it be wrong to make her mine again? He left the kitchen and headed for the front door, but he had to stop and sit on the couch in the living room. He clutched at his chest and gritted his teeth. Ugh! What's happening?! My memories- My memories are-

"Charon-kun?"

He looked up as Miyabi bent forward and peered at him. His face scrunched up in pain, though, as he huffed. Something's caused a disruption in my memories! he figured. But what? A warm hand on his head stopped the attacks, and his eyes widened.

"You're okay now, right?"

Charon looked up and met Miyabi's eyes, and she warmly smiled at him. He closed his eyes and faintly smiled himself as he wrapped his arms around her waist and rested his head on her abdomen, surprised she let him. Maybe she's been forever mine to begin with…

-- -3

"And now, ladies and gentlemen, we shall announce the winner of the 23rd Annual New Young Talent Authors' Competition!! Drum roll, please!"

As the drum sounded off to one side of the stage, Kako and the twins leaned forward on their seat's edges, and Kako was sure she'd actually tip.

The emcee took an envelope from someone and slowly opened it. "And the winner is…Iwari Shotoku, for his enthralling piece about a lazy detective who happens upon pivotal evidence for a big murder case!! Iwari-san, please ascend the stage to claim you prize!! And thanks goes to all who entered! We hope to see as many entries next year!!"

Iwari Shotoku stepped onto the stage and the crowd applauded him as the emcee described the terms of the publishing contract he had won, and Iwari also accepted the first-place trophy. The whole time, though, Kako, Hikaru, and Genji were searching for Mamoru, who wasn't in the front row anymore.

Kako stood and left as politely as she could while the closing ceremony still commenced, and Hikaru and Genji followed suit. The trio looked around in the hotel lobby, but when Mamoru didn't show, they decided to split up.

"I'll go back to the exhibition hall," Genji said. "Hikaru can check the stairs, and, Kako, you go check the ladies' rooms-"

Hikaru pointed outside. "She's already halfway down the street!" The genius ran out of the hotel's revolving doors, and Kako and Genji stayed right on her tail. "Mamoru-chan!"

The taupe-haired girl's head picked up and she saw her friends. She stopped to let them catch up. Even though she wiped at her eyes, it was obvious that she had been crying. "I'm sorry I left you guys there," she mumbled. "I just had to get out of there."

"We were as shocked as you," Genji said. "I mean, with that delayed applause, we thought that you had stolen the crowd's breath, but I guess it was just force-" He stopped when Hikaru smacked him over the head.

"You really are an insensitive oaf, you know that?!"

Mamoru shook her head. "It's all right, Hikaru. I figured it had been forced applause, myself. I'm kind of used to losing these contests."

"Are you saying that you haven't won a contest yet?" a voice from behind the trio answered.

"N-N-N-Namajima Ayu-sensei!!" Mamoru shrieked.

Namajima smiled. "The one-and-only. But did I hear you right, that you've never won?"

Red, Mamoru let her eyes drift to the ground. "…Yes."

"Well, then those judges must have all been idiots, just like those idiots in the audience who didn't vote for you this morning."

"What?!" Mamoru picked her head up again, fast enough to get whiplash.

Namajima merely raised an eyebrow while still smiling. "Just because you didn't win a contest doesn't mean you weren't recognized. In fact, those morons at that 23rd Annual New Young Talent Authors' Competition can go shove it." She held her hand out to Mamoru. "I think you have the potential, talent, and will to make it as a writer. Both my agent and publishing company –on behalf of my praise of your work –are offering you a contract to be a full-time writer. You up for it, kiddo?"

Mamoru had no idea what to say, and her dropped jaw showed it. Blinking several times in rapid succession, Mamoru grasped her hand and they shook, sealing Mamoru's contract.

"I look forward to your debut," Namajima said after passing her card and her agent's to Mamoru. She turned to go.

"Wait!! I- I want to know… How could you guess all those things about me? You know, what you said about me having potential, talent, and the will to make it?"

Namajima-san had a gleam in her eye as she answered. "It's all there in black and white, Chino-san. You words spoke for themselves. Call the office tomorrow after you get home from school that way we can set up a meeting, okay?" After she gave the four a brief wave, Namajima Ayu headed back to the hotel.

Kako blinked. "Holy-

"-steaming-" Hikaru contributed.

"SHIT!" Genji concluded.

Mamoru couldn't believe it, either. What had felt like her biggest loss had just turned into her biggest win of all time.

-- -

"So…how long are you planning on staying there?" Miyabi asked after several minutes had passed.

Charon quickly turned away so she couldn't see his face, but she was pretty sure he was pink in the cheeks. He didn't say anything.

Miyabi inwardly sighed. That's life. "Charon-kun, can you get Harume for me? We were supposed to meet the others, but it's way past time," she said as she glanced at the clock above the bookcase. "I'm kinda hoping we could salvage our get-together…"

"Hmn." Jealous, Charon closed his eyes and reached out for the rocker teen's consciousness. Boy. Wake up. There was no response. Charon grimaced. Harume-kun?

…Miyabi-chan. She… Harume's voice seemed to be fading in and out.

Hey, what's with you? I'm back to switch places, Charon stated. Don't you want to see Miyabi?

Again, Harume's voice came and went. …soon. I think I figured it out, but I'm not…

Now Charon was agitated. Not what? Come back or else I'll take charge. If you love her, then you don't want to see her taken by another man, correct?

…same person. I knew we… And then the fading stopped –along with Harume's voice.

Harume-kun? Harume-kun! Charon threw his power around to try and find Harume, but it was no use. He couldn't sense him. Slowly, Charon opened his eyes.

"Later, Charon-kun," Miyabi said, smiling.

But he forlornly met her eyes, frowning.

Miyabi tapped her bare foot on the wood floor, waiting impatiently. "Okay… Where's Harume?"

"I don't know."

"How can you not know?! It's not like you have to go searching Fuji-san Mountain!!"

Charon's brow furrowed. "Something's wrong with our connection. I think he was trying to tell me something, but then his voice just died out." Quickly, his head snapped up. "I sense some of the shadow creatures, and they're heading towards Phlegethon, Lethe, and Acheron. They're on the hunt!"

Miyabi looked at him, then sped up the stairs to change into jeans and a t-shirt, taking two steps at a time. Just as quickly she came back downstairs with her brooch and saw that Charon was about to don his regular outfit. She held a hand up to him. "Uh-uh. You don't leave the house battle-ready, moron, you transform on the way." As she locked the front door behind them, she shook her head. "What would the neighbors think?"

-- -3

SAME TIME (WELL, A FEW MINUTES AGO) IN A CITY CAFÉ

Artemis looked at her reflection in her cup of tea. I guess I shouldn't have hoped for much, she thought.

The waitress came over. "Miss, would you like the check?"

She sighed, giving up. "Yes, I'll take-"

"I'm sorry!!" a male voice said, huffing. "I'll pay for it!" Soichiro hastily pulled out his wallet and paid the waitress, who warily walked away. He turned to Artemis. "I'm sorry, Artemis-chan. I know I'm the one who set this up, but I got caught up with a thing with my parents, and now look –I turned our breakfast date into your brunch. I'm so sorry. Do you think you can forgive me?"

Artemis blinked, overwhelmed at his gentlemanliness. "Uh, yes, all's forgiven." She motioned to him. "Why don't sit and breath for a minute?"

He gladly sat down. "Thank you." Soichiro removed his trademark messenger bag and slid into the booth across from Artemis. "I apologize. I've been so busy with my school stuff that my parents bugged to see me on my one day to myself."

"Oh, you should have said something. If you don't get any free time except for Sundays, then we could've met some other Sunday."

"Artemis-chan, I wanted to meet you today. What I schedule in my free time is my business, and today, I wanted to be here." He smiled, and Artemis felt her insides melt. The waitress came back, though, and politely asked them to vacate the table if they were already done. Once outside, Soichiro chuckled. "I'm not usually this oblivious, so you'll have to forgive me, Artemis-chan."

At that, Artemis tried to hold in her laughter, but found she couldn't. "Soichiro-kun, drop the '-chan' from my name. You make me sound like a little girl!"

Soichiro reddened. "I-I'm sorry, I didn't mean to-"

"It's okay, so stop apologizing all the time!" Again, she kept laughing. I don't remember a time when I laughed like this, she thought. Even way back then… Artemis paused, and the smile fell from her face. Way back then… Brief glimpses of memories fell into the line of sight of her mind's eye, and she was overcome by their force. Five the rivers. The other girls around her. Hikaru and her brother, Genji, running about with Artemis, laughing like they had all the time in the world. Four girls, each one protecting a river with the other girls. And in the middle of the descending rounds, frozen deep below Cocytus' frigid waters, a castle that housed a great demon… Artemis' head snapped up. "So there are four."

Soichiro blinked several times. "Uh, Artemis…? Is something the matter?"

Artemis looked at the med student, and her heart hurt, but she knew she'd have to figure out what that hurt was later. Not only were her memories coming back in bits and pieces, but she sensed that some of the shadow creatures were skulking about. Probably to find the other senshi, she deducted. Even though it went against her heart's demands, Artemis grabbed Soichiro's hand and gripped it. "Look, I'm sorry, but I…have to go. It's something very urgent."

"Wait! Is there anything I can do?"

She thought of the battles the senshi had been through so far, and paled. "…no. I'm sorry."

"Not even for you?" The look in his eyes was indecipherable, but Artemis shook her head. She saw his shoulders droop a bit, but he took out a piece of paper and jotted down two numbers and an address down for her. "The first number's my cell, and the second's my apartment line. That's my address, and I'm usually there studying so…" Soichiro did his best to smile. "Let's go out again, okay? And for real, like to a nice restaurant or so."

Artemis smiled. "Yes, Soichiro-k-"

He shook his head. "Just 'Soichiro'."

She nodded, and left him in the middle of the street. She just hoped she made it in time.

-- -3

Hikaru stopped. "Mamoru, Kako, do you feel something odd?"

Ahead, Mamoru stopped and nodded. "The ground feels different."

Kako gripped Genji's arm. "The air's stopped moving. Almost like death itself is here."

In Kako's grasp, Genji squirmed. "Okay, what are you guys talking about?"

Remembering they had Genji with them, Kako falsely chuckled. "Oh, it's nothing, really! It just feels odd, you know? We should head home, though." We've got to get Genji out of harm's way. Those shadow creatures might show up…

"What shadow creatures?" Genji asked, getting irritated.

Kako was dumbfounded. "No one said anything!"

Genji glared at her. "Don't treat me like an idiot! I heard you clear as day! You said you need to get me out of harm's way!"

The shrimp shook her head. "No, I didn't say anything!! I thought it!!"

Genji faltered. "What the-"

"Genji, Kako, look out!!" The couple didn't have time to finish their argument before Hikaru knocked them down as something big and black flew right over them, missing the genius girl by millimeters. The three cluttered to the ground just in time to see Mamoru duck as it swooped down for her.

When the creature missed Mamoru, it flew up and alighted on a nearby fenced. Its violet eyes roved up and down each of them, and its single black wing stretched before wrapping around its body. A screech tore through the air, and Kako was almost transfixed.

"That thing…" Kako licked her dry lips. "I saw that thing fall from the sky only a little while ago!!"

"You saw that thing before?!" Genji asked incredulously. "What the hell is that thing?!"

"No time to explain!!" Mamoru yelled at him, and she raised her brooch into the air. "Phlegethon Rage Fulfillment!"

Hikaru cursed. "I guess there's no choice… Kako, you transform, too! Acheron Woefulness Fulfillment!"

As Hikaru suggested, Kako removed her brooch from her pocket, but Genji grabbed her arm. "Kako, what the hell is going on?"

She felt tears gather behind her eyes, but she fought them back. "There's another aspect of my personality, Genji." Kako raised the Lethe brooch high. "Lethe Forgetfulness Fulfillment!"

After each girl had changed into her sailor fuku, Phlegethon tried her Phlegethon Rage Embodiment attack, but it didn't work, and neither did Acheron's or Lethe's. The girls felt backed into a corner.

Acheron tsked. "Lethe! Take Genji home! Now!!"

Lethe didn't want to leave her comrades behind, but she listened to Acheron and went to Genji. She yanked on his arm. "Come on!! You need to get out of here!"

He pulled his arm free. "And so do you three!! What makes you think you can beat this monster?!"

"We've defeated ones like him before, so we have it under control, okay?! So just get your ass moving!!"

But before they could leave, Phlegethon's and Acheron's screams tore through the day, and Lethe and Genji looked back to see the beast had caught them. At the same time, shadow creatures were rising from the ground, seemingly pouring in from all directions. In no time at all, Lethe and Genji were completely surrounded.

"Styx Hatefulness Epithet!"

A few of the creatures to Genji and Lethe's right were destroyed, and they saw Sailor Styx and Charon appear. Both began hacking away, but they were soon, too, cornered.

"Shit!" Styx uttered. "Why aren't we winning like usual? Even you! You're like the hard ass of the group!" she said to Charon.

He grimaced. "Something tells me that wasn't much of a compliment…" His head turned. "Looks like the last of us has arrived."

"Amaranthine Wail!!" Cocytus' attack freed Styx and Charon, but the three still couldn't reach Lethe and Genji. "I'm sorry I couldn't have been here earlier, but my powers feel different tonight-" Her gaze found Acheron and Phlegethon in the beast's trap. "Hikaru!!" she shouted. And then she felt it. She had been right. A power locked deep inside her released itself and she focused that energy into her hand, which she aimed at the beast. "Silver Scream!!"

The beast shrieked, and its hold on the two senshi was loosened enough for them to drop back down to the ground. Styx, Cocytus, and Charon ran over to them. Phlegethon looked at the couple, though. "Uh, guys…!"

The others turned to see Lethe doing her best to uphold a protective barrier around Genji and herself, but they could tell her power was weakening. Acheron turned to the others. "Well?! Do something!! That's my brother!!"

"That's my brother!!" rang in Cocytus' head, but she shook herself and aimed another Silver Scream in their general direction. The beast intercepted it, though, and the attack didn't seem to hurt it this time. Cocytus cursed. Great. She had more power, but it was useless now. What next?!

Charon swung his scythe around, but some of the shadow creatures broke off from the main horde and began separating the others, trapping him and Styx. The one closest to him swiped at his stomach and he was flung back into a tree. Styx screeched, but turned her anger towards the monsters. "ZAKKENNAYOU!!"

A light poured from her brooch then, and floated in front of her. The shadow creatures drew back from it, and Styx watched as the light's blood red hue changed into orange and then flowed into a pure, canary yellow. A voice came from it, too. "It's that time again, huh?"

Styx gazed at it in awe. "What are you?"

The light buzzed right in front of her nose. "Will you free me, huh? Just say, 'Caina the Cryminle, you are pardoned.' Then I can take care of these beasties, huh?"

Since they were out of options, Styx was willing to go with anything. She cleared her throat. "Caina the Cryminle, you are pardoned."

A separate light flew from Cocytus' brooch and united with the one from Styx's, and the combination elongated to shape into a girl's ethereal silhouette. When the light faded, a small, pretty girl with long blonde hair and sharp eyes stood there, dressed in a kind of yellow and tan outfit that made her look like a ninja miko. Her tan boot heels clacked on the asphalt. "Let's have some fun, huh?"

Charon, sensing Caina's tremendous power, grabbed Styx by the waist and yanked her down, against her protests. "Watch out!!"

He was just in time as sweet little Caina dropped her arms to her sides and her hair flew up. "Filial Betrayal!" she screamed. Light poured from her, and the shadows were torn apart as if they had been burned. The beast was killed just as easily, as if it had been one of the lesser demons. Caina's power flowed into them and eradicated them, and each of the senshi and Charon could feel a taste of it. When the light stopped, everyone slowly rose.

Caina turned around and held her hand out to Styx. "Let's be friends, huh?" she said, sweetly smiling.

Styx gawked at her. "HUH?!"

-- -3

FINALLY! At 36 pages, chapter 10 has been the longest one for this story so far, and I apologize for the wait, as I've been busy and have also been working on other fanfiction! I hope you will all be patient with me as I churn out more chapters at my snail's pace. Sorry! (In only 5 day, though, 12 pages became 36, soo…heh:) )

BTW: What Styx said was in Japanese (Zakkennayou!), and I think I spelled it correctly, but sorry if I didn't. I put it in Japanese to keep the story's rating where it is, but if you know what it means, then you'll know just how pissed she was.

Chapter 11 will be out soon, so stay tuned!

-mew-tsubaki :)