Standard Disclaimer: Sailor Moon does not belong to me. It belongs
to Takeuchi Naoko, Kodansha, Toei Ltd., and tons of other people.
Thank you very much for creating such a wonderful story and please
don't sue me. ^_^;;; However . . . the events of this story and
some of these characters are MY property. No stealing!

In a time of peace . . .

In a time of war . . .

Two kingdoms lived side by side . . .

Two hearts cried out for one another . . .

And thus was a legend born.


by Fushigi Kismet

Jed Raven, Zephyr Mist, November Light, and Kenneth Knight were
lounging around the living room of the latter's apartment. They had
already gone over recent developments and most of them didn't like
the trend events were taking one little bit.
"Now what?" Jed asked, breaking the silence, as he stared
contemplatively at a wall upon which hung a painting, done by a
little known artist, of five men in armor. The face of the man in
the center was heavily shadowed.
Kenneth sighed. "Now we wait . . . plan for the worst . . . and
hope for the best."

The Four Who Wait
And Dream . . .

A voice called out to him in the mist. He ran towards it, not
knowing where to go or what to do, only that he had to reach that
voice . . . he *had* to . . . before . . . before . . .

The alarm rang shrilly at his ear and Mamo Darien bolted upright
in bed. Glaring at the clock radio, he had half a mind to smash it
before he realized that he was running late for work. With a groan,
he hopped out of bed and began dressing.

Usa Serena snapped awake abruptly, glaring at her alarm . . .
before she realized that it wasn't on. She shivered a little,
pulling her sheets closer about her body. What had woken her? She
has been dreaming . . . She had been calling out to someone and he -
He? - had been running towards her . . . She had almost been able to
see his face when . . .
She had woken up.
Strangely disturbed by the overly abrupt end to her nocturnal
wanderings, Serena tossed aside her sheets and got up out of bed.
There was no fighting it . . . It was just going to be one of those

Usa Kevin, Elaine, and Sammy poked their heads around the kitchen
doorway, staring wide-eyed at the sight in front of them.
"Ohayo!" Serena said, setting out the places at the breakfast
table. Elaine noticed with some trepidation that her daughter was
making use of the stove to cook what looked like pancakes, bacon, and
"Serena . . . You're cooking breakfast?"
"Hai!" the blonde teenager replied, pouring hot coffee into her
parents' mugs, then putting away the orange juice. "I decided that I
wanted something more than cold cereal." She smiled.
"Serena, you *do* realize that it's eight-thirty in the morning on
a SUNDAY, don't you?" her father asked, a little frightened by his
daughter's uncharacteristic behavior.
"Yes, why are the three of you looking at me like that? It's not
like I've never gotten up early before!"
"Yes, it is!" Sammy exclaimed, walking into the kitchen and
sitting down at his place at the table.
"Oh, I guess you don't want any breakfast then?"
"Hey! I never said that . . . I think it's great that you're
improving yourself!" Sammy said immediately, the smell of bacon
making his mouth water.
"Why thank you, Samuel," Serena said, hiding a smile as she passed
him his plate.
He gave her a sour look for the use of his full name, but it
instantly turned into a smile as he chewed happily on a forkful of
bacon. "Hey, this ish weelly good, Sewena!"
"Don't chew with your mouth open," she said absently.
Her mother stared at her before walking over and placing a hand on
her forehead. "Honey, are you all right?"
"I'm just fine," she snapped back irritated. "What is *wrong*
with you people?!"
"Well, no fever," her mother said slowly.
"Would you sit down and eat?" Serena demanded, gesturing to her
parents to sit down. Her mother seated herself, and her father
walked over and did the same.
"Mmmm, looks good, honey," her mother said cautiously. After all,
whenever Serena's cooking looked like it had turned out well . . .
was usually when they knew to call the Poison Center.
"Tastes great!" Sammy said, stuffing three pancakes in his mouth
at once.
"Sammy, you'll choke!" his mother said, alarmed.
"A little moderation, son," his father said.
"Can I have seconds?" Sammy asked as he finished his stack of
"O . . . Okay!" Serena said, beaming from ear to ear as she took
Sammy's plate. It had been a long time since she had cooked anything
edible and she was rather proud of herself.
Her father took a bite and his face changed from a nervous one to
a happy one. "Me too!"
Hearing the praises of her husband and son, Tsukino Elaine finally
ventured to take a nibble at a pancake. "Oh, this is very good,
Her daughter smiled even more, filling up Sammy's plate with more
pancakes. Finally! I've done something right!
"Whoever marries you is going to be one lucky guy," her father
said absently.
The plate clattered to the ground, the food spilling out all over
the place.
"Aw man, my breakfast!" Sammy whined.
Immediately Serena was on her knees, cleaning up the mess.
"Gomen, gomen nasai! I'll get it all cleaned up! It won't be a sec!
Then you can have your seconds, Sammy."
"Just leave it to buns-for-brains there to mess everything up
after it was going so well." Sammy rolled his eyes.
"Sammy!" his father reprimanded him. "Apologize to your sister!"
Elaine started getting to her feet. "I'll help, Serena."
"N-No, Mom!" Serena said. "You stay right there and eat your
breakfast! I'll clean this up in a jiffy, okay?"
Elaine sunk back down onto her chair. "All right, dear."
"Gomen . . ." Sammy said sullenly, his father glaring at him.
"Daijobu," Serena said in a tiny voice, suddenly finding herself
fighting tears. Sammy's right. I *do* have buns for brains! Why
do I always do this? Why do I always screw up . . . No, Dad, nobody
who marries me is going to be a lucky guy . . .
Elaine looked at her daughter thoughtfully for a moment before
turning back to her excellent breakfast.

Raye's eyes snapped open in the darkness.
For an instant a wave of disorientation overcame her. Where was
she? This was not her room in the palace . . .
In the palace . . .
Recognition flooded back and with it a strange aftertaste of
terror and sorrow. This was her home. This was the shrine where she
had lived with her grandfather since she was five years old. Since .
. . her mother had died, and her father had made it known that he
would not be burdened with her care.
She stared blankly at her wall, remembering . . .

"Daddy . . . Daddy, don't leave me! Don't you love me? Daddy!"
He whirled about to look at the little girl he was roughly
dragging by the arm up the steps to the shrine. "How could I ever
love someone like you? You're too willful - nothing like your
mother! Kami-sama, how could she do this to me?! How could she die
and leave me with a brat like you to look after?! The elections are
in three weeks!"
"You don't love me. Do you, Daddy?" she murmured quietly,
woodenly, her cheeks streaked with tears. "Did you love Mommy? Do
you care that she's dead?" Suddenly something grew hard inside of
her and she knew that she hated him. Hated him for what he had done
to her mother, for what he was doing to her. "You killed her! You
killed her! You left her to die! When she was sick you wouldn't
even look at her! I hate you! I HATE YOU!!!"
"URUSAI!!!!!" he screamed, slapping her across the face.
Her head snapped back but still she glared up at him defiantly,
using her inheritance from him - his own fierce temper and strong
will - to keep from crying or from touching the stinging red mark
that the blow had left upon her face. She was biting her lip so hard
that her mouth filled with the taste of blood. "I hate you," she
whispered. "You aren't a man! You always run away . . . from
His face grew redder and he growled before turning around, yanking
her quickly, far too quickly - her feet caught on the stairs and she
stumbled repeatedly, skinning her knees - up the last few steps.
"FATHER-IN-LAW!!!" he yelled as he came to the top and the little
old man came rushing out.
When he saw Raye his eyes narrowed and he strode forward quickly,
angry at the father who would treat his only child of a dead wife so
Raye's father shoved the girl at him and spat out, "She's yours
now, old man. I took your daughter and she died, leaving me nothing
but this baggage. I'll thank you to take it back."
Raye's grandfather caught the stumbling girl and looked down at
her anguished face resolutely battling against the desire to cry.
"You wish me to raise this girl, daughter of your own flesh and
blood?!" the priest demanded, looking up. His anger was palpable.
"She is none of mine," the father replied. "I relinquish her to
"And this will not affect your *political* career any? The man
who refuses to acknowledge his own daughter? That of his departed
"I cannot raise her. I am not suited. Here she will receive
adequate care and training, and perhaps she will become a priestess
in time. Who could fault me?"
"I could," the old man replied. "But I cannot fault your words.
Indeed, she will do better here than with you."
"Then you will take her?"
"How could I refuse the child of the daughter of my flesh?"
Raye's father nodded then looked at the girl. "Sayonara, Raye."
She did not look at him, carefully keeping her face buried in her
grandfather's robes.
Her father looked at her an instant longer than left.
When he was gone, her grandfather pulled her gently away and said,
looking into her face, "You can cry now," whereupon she burst into a
fresh flood of tears and cried and cried until her soul felt empty
but for the pain that swallowed her up inside.

Little Raye sat on the curb in front of the Hikawa Shrine. She
stared down at her shoes. The two crows she had befriended stared at
her shoes as well. They were the traditional sandals of a miko. In
fact, Raye was dressed from head to toe in the traditional red and
white robes of a miko. She sighed, kicking at the asphalt. She
loved her grandfather and she loved the shrine . . . what she didn't
love were all the rituals and restrictions placed upon her. She
didn't much like the Catholic school her father had enrolled her in
either. The nuns were too strict and what was the point of a
*Shinto* girl attending a *Catholic* school anyway? She and her
grandfather had puzzled over it for an afternoon before her
grandfather had finally said, "There are many kamis" then told her to
go out and play.
Raye frowned. And then there was the Sacred Fire. Oji-san had
made it her job to tend to it, which she didn't mind . . . but
sometimes it seemed to speak to her and that she found a little
creepy. Sometimes it showed her things . . . images of future
events. It had shown her Phobos and Deimos arriving in the fierce
storm last week a month before the storm had occurred.
A woman had come to the shrine yesterday asking for spiritual help
in finding her lost daughter . . . Raye had been looking at the fire
at the time and had been assailed by a vision. It hadn't been a
pretty one. The girl had been tied up and left in an empty
warehouse. She had told her grandfather who then told the woman who
proceeded to go into hysterics before calling her husband, the Chief
of Police. He had sent out several squad cars to check all the
abandoned warehouses in town and they had found the kidnapper in the
process of tying up the girl. He had been arrested and the police
had come around the shrine asking intrusive questions. Raye knew
that they were asking about her.
She had heard her grandfather yelling loudly, "Leave her alone,
can't you?! Her sight is simply a gift from the Kamis!"
The mother of the girl had put a restraining hand on her husband's
arm and said, "Let's just give thanks that his little girl knew how
to find ours and leave them be." The chief had grumbled, apparently
not that religious a man, and had called off his officers and left.
The incident had troubled Raye greatly. Her visions frightened
her. She didn't want to see the terrible things they showed her. A
tear trailed down her cheek. She didn't want to be here. The other
children had learned about her "power" as they called it, and they
were all frightened of her. She missed being at home with her
friends Seira and Ruriko. But she didn't really miss them either,
because they had simply been daughters of her father's friends and
their main sources of enjoyment were pretend tea parties and acting
like socialites. That and TV. And Raye didn't like TVs. She had
been watching the one at home when it had exploded and her father had
come and struck her across the face until her nose bled. She hated
She hated her father.
"Daijobu?" a hesitant voice asked.
Raye's head whipped up and she stared at the person addressing
her. It was a boy about three years older than her with dark black
hair and ocean blue eyes. He was looking at her with concern.
He's not afraid of me? Raye thought to herself in bewildered
"Daijobu?" he asked again.
Raye smiled. "Daijobu."
He looked at her and smiled back, holding out his hand. "I'm Mamo
She took it. "I'm Hino Raye."
"Wanna be friends?"
"Sure!" She looked at him with wondering eyes. A real friend . .
. "Wanna come in for tea? We have chocolate cupcakes!"
"Yum!" he said, looking at her. "I love chocolate."
"Me, too. Come one, let's go eat some! We've got lots!"
"Do you live here with your Mom and Dad?" he asked her hesitantly.
"No, with my grandpa." She paused a moment before saying, "My
mom's dead and my dad doesn't want me anymore."
He looked at her carefully before saying. "My parents are dead,
"Then where do you live?" she asked.
"At the orphanage." His eyes glowed a dark blue as he whispered
to her, "Well, I *used* to live at the orphanage . . . I'm running
"Running away?!" she exclaimed, her eyes wide and her mouth open
in an "o" of amazement. "Can I come with you?"
"Nani? Why'd anyone want to run away from chocolate cupcakes?"
Raye stared at him for an instant before bursting into a fit of
Oh . . . It felt good to laugh!

Darien stayed with them at the shrine for three weeks. Raye had
done her part in convincing her grandfather, and Darien's good
manners and willingness to help out around the shrine had done the
rest. The old priest was forced to admit privately to himself after
the first few days that Raye had been much more cheerful and a great
deal happier since he had arrived. It made him realize that Raye was
Even though Darien refused to disclose which orphanage he had come
from, Raye's grandfather had made a few discreet inquiries of his
own, and the state of the place he finally found left him more
determined than ever that Darien should never have to return. He and
Raye were more than willing to house the boy for as long as needed.
However, at the end of three weeks Darien felt obliged to go.
Raye and her grandfather worriedly allowed him to leave, expecting
him back within the week. When he did come back, two weeks had
elapsed and he informed them that he had landed his first job and was
working steadily. He had rented a small room above a florist shop.
He had even enrolled in school.
It was then that they knew he would be all right.
And when he promised to visit her every week, Raye knew that she
too could make the most of her life.

She tried. She really did. But it seemed that good intentions
didn't usually work out in the long run. Perhaps it was a mixture of
her father and Kaidou-san's influence that began making her miserable
again. She remembered meeting Kaidou on her eleventh birthday. Her
father had introduced him as, "My assistant, Kaidou-san. He visited
the house several times before when you were younger, but you
probably don't remember him. He will be your escort today."
"Today is my *birthday*!" she had protested, enraged that he was
foregoing his duty to her once again.
"I know. But I also have several important political meetings to
attend today, so I had to readjust my priorities. You're a
politician's daughter, Raye. You should take the situation with good
grace and a smile."
I'm not a politician's daughter because I want to be one! She
looked away from his cold eyes and turned to the young assistant,
taking his proffered arm. "Shall we then?"
He nodded.
She hated him. Hated everything that he represented. Hated all
that he was and wanted to become . . . by following in her father's
footsteps. She hated him with an intensity that almost overcame her
hatred for her father.
When did that hatred turn into love?

He came every year in place of her father. She never saw her
father, only Kaidou. For holidays, scheduled "appointments," and of
course . . . birthdays. In time, she learned to tolerate his
presence and make his arrival an excuse to go shopping with the money
her father sent with him. His quiet courtesy and seemingly genuine
concern for her well-being and happiness little by little softened
her feelings towards him.

They went to a political ball together when she was twelve, but
instead of him walking *her* home, she found their situation to be
exactly the opposite. Dismayed by a failed bill, Kaidou had drunk a
bit too much of the other political party's congratulatory champagne,
and Raye found herself burdened with the task of seeing him home.
"I guess," he slurred, unhappily, "I'm just not cut out to be a
politician. I haven't enough drive to be able to hurt the people
close to me to get what I want. I'm a washout."
"You're intoxicated," Raye said, unlocking his door and helping
him inside.
He shut the door behind them with a bang and she turned around,
startled. "You're what's intoxicating, Raye," he told her, pushing
her against the wall, his hand touching her face.
"K-Kaidou-san," she stammered, flushing. "You don't know what
you're saying. Don't say anything you're going to regret in the
"I'm not going to regret any of this in the morning," he said,
watching her intensely. "You're shaking, Raye. Don't be afraid of
me. I'm not going to hurt you. I'll never hurt you."
"You're drunk," she whispered, "and horribly disappointed. You're
going to regret this."
"Why would I? Now, I can finally tell you how I feel."
"How you feel?"
"I've wanted you for a long time," he said. "You're a beautiful
girl, Raye. Aren't you aware of it?"
"Iie," she whispered. "I'm not beautiful. I'm nothing. I'm
"That's your father speaking," he snarled, almost savagely. "But
he's becoming aware of just how beautiful you are. Would it surprise
you that he's already thinking of ways to use you in his politics?"
"Iie, it wouldn't."
"I'm not like him, Raye. I would never want to use you."
"Why?" she asked him, frightened by the look in his brown eyes.
"Because I love you," he responded, kissing her forcefully, his
hands pulling her into his arms.
She found that her arms were around his neck and that she was
clinging to him as though her life depended on it.
When he finally pulled away, her lashes were wet with tears. "Why
do you love me?"
"Because you're everything that your father and I are not. You're
pure and uncorrupted. You're beautiful, Raye."
Looking into his eyes, she could believe it.

They met many times that year in secret, going out on dates and
spending time together. His kisses were marks of his possession of
her, rather than of his regard for her, but she never realized it
until much later.
Darien worried over her a great deal, because while Raye promised
him that she wouldn't do anything rash or allow her relationship with
Kaidou to become too physical too quickly, there was something about
Kaidou that he didn't like . . . didn't approve of. Perhaps it was
the glint in his eyes as he saw Raye, a coldness in his personality,
the cool way in which he treated Darien, or perhaps it was more
fundamentally simple than that. Perhaps it was the way in which Raye
blindly followed him without regard for the consequences.
He's going to break her heart, was the thought that plagued
Darien day and night, and there's nothing I can do about it.

The way in which he broke Raye's heart made it all the worse.
She had hurried towards the spot for their date today, her heart
thudding in her chest. She had dressed up that day for him in the
new dress he had bought her, and she wondered how he would like it.
Arriving at their meeting place her eyes lit upon a tall figure. Not
Kaidou, but her father.
"Otou-san!" she had said, shocked by his presence there.
Seeing her, he strode over quickly and tightly grabbed her arm,
pulling her over to a nearby bench and forcing her to sit down.
"Kaidou-san will not be meeting you today," he said, sitting down
"You . . . know?" she asked apprehensively.
"Of course I know," he said with a harsh laugh. "That damned
"He's not a fool!" Raye protested. "Don't call him that!"
Her father turned to look at her. "Perhaps you won't think the
same way after I tell you where he is right now." He waited for her
to settle down before speaking. "He's with his new fiancee shopping
for wedding clothes."
"You're lying," Raye said, tears springing to her eyes. "He's
not! He's-"
"He *is*. His new fiancee is a very beautiful and well-bred young
lady. The daughter of the head of the Democratic Liberal Party.* Is
it any wonder he chose her over you? With this marriage . . . he
will have a shining political future."
"But he and I-"
"So you still think that he loves you? He made a deal with me the
other day . . . If I could use my influence to get the head of the
DLP to accept his daughter's engagement with Kaidou, then Kaidou
would not inform the public of his relationship with *you*. Of the
defilement of *my* underage daughter. It would be enough to ruin
both our careers, but for him it was a calculated risk. And it paid
off nicely."
"But we never . . . We didn't . . ."
He laughed again, unpleasantly. "Does the truth matter in cases
such as these? I didn't train him to be an idiot, after all. Kaidou
is a politician. You're a politician's daughter. It's time to be
aware of that."

She saw Kaidou only once after that. He came to Hikawa Jinja the
morning of his wedding day and asked to see her. She obliged him,
but her eyes were cool and the atmosphere of the room was frigid.
"I guess you are fit to be a politician . . . after all."
He had only one thing to say to her. "There was a time . . . when
I really did love you."
"Never come here again," she said quietly. "Never see me again."
"Hai," he said shortly. "Good-bye, Raye."
When he had gone, she burst into tears. Later, she would take
refuge in Darien's arms, but that day she was all alone with her
heartache. It was her thirteenth birthday.
So ended that chapter in her life. Ended as many things did.
Quietly, painfully, without a struggle.

Raye dressed quickly. As she slid open her door, sunlight
streamed into her room. She took a deep breath and stepped outside.
I wonder what today will bring.

Rill languidly stepped out of bed, allowing the sheet to fall from
her body. She stood, admiring her naked figure in the mirror for a
moment. Then she turned to look at her unconscious bedmate and
licked her lips in remembrance. Yes, indeed, he had done very nicely
last night. She did so *hate* to sleep alone.
Of course, she would have no need of him tonight, but last night
had certainly been adequate for her needs. And after she had sated
her more primal needs she had sucked his energy nearly dry. She
wouldn't have nearly enough energy for her needs if she didn't resort
to such methods. And truth to be told, she did rather enjoy watching
the faces of her victims as she drew the energy from their bodies.
She picked up an article of clothing from where she had dropped it
on the floor in her haste last night and proceeded to dress. While
she usually dumped the bodies in a dumpster, this one had done so
well she had even spared his life. It would be a shame to waste him.
Perhaps she would only leave him in an alley and seek him out in a
few months when she felt like tasting his energy again. After she
had sated her appetite by trying a wide variety of others, of course.
She sat down on her bed and raked her long nails across his bare
chest, licking the blood on her fingers. Hmmm . . . yes, an alley it
was. That was enough pleasure for now. Time to work.
Time to kill.

Zephyr sighed, slumped against the couch on the floor, the phone
to his ear. "I'm *fine*, Mom. And you?"
Pause. "That's good . . . I'm glad you're all right now."
Hesitation. "He's not . . . treating you badly is he?"
Pause. "Yeah, I know he's still my "father.""
Pause. "Just take care of yourself, okay, Mom?"
Shock. "Wha-What do you mean I must've met someone?! That's
ridiculous . . . That's preposterous . . . That's . . . downright
Pause. "Yeah, okay, I'll send her your love."
He smiled, his eyes closed, his face at peace. "Do I love her?
Well, you're still my girl, Mom. Always."
Laughter. "No, I won't let that stand in my way."
Tense silence. "Is that him coming?"
Hurriedly: "Better not let him catch you!"
Pause. "Yeah, I love you, too, Mom."

Zephyr sat for a long time, staring out at nothing before he
looked up and over to where Kenneth was standing in the doorway.
"Hey." Kenneth looked at him, worry crossing his face. "Things
okay at home?"
"Yeah. Mom just found a new job and *he's* actually treating her
"Good news."
"I can't help but worry, though."
"Of course."
"You know, she asked me to be as happy as I possibly could.
Because she wanted that much for me."
"You have a wonderful mother."
"Yeah, and an asshole for a stepfather."
"Things like that can't be helped," Kenneth murmured. "You don't
pick your relatives, after all."
"No, I guess not. I suppose you know."
Kenneth grimaced. "Let's not get into that."
A moment, then: "So . . . Who did you meet?"
Zephyr snatched a pillow off of the sofa and flung it into
Kenneth's face. "And there you have the only answer you're going to
get from me!"
Kenneth peeled the pillow off of his face before flinging it back
at his friend and diving at him, grabbing another pillow off the
couch as he went and whapping Zephyr upside the head with it. Zeph
grabbed the bowl of potato chips on the table and emptied it on
Kenneth's head. Keth grabbed a can of soda, shook it up and opened
it so it sprayed out in a foamy gush of caffinated liquid right into
Zephyr's face.
"Oh, I'm gonna *get* you for that!" the dripping blonde growled.
"Oh yeah? You and what army?!" Keth demanded, running a hand
through his potato chip studded hair.
Nev walked into the room, took one look, and walked out. "I don't
even want to know."
Keth and Zeph exchanged a look and Nev suddenly found a barrage of
pillows striking him from behind. "Oh, that was a low blow!"
When Jed walked into the apartment half an hour later he found Nev
using the overturned couch as a barricade, Keth concealed behind the
coffee table, and Zeph using the three potted plants by the doorway
to the next room as cover. All of them were flinging food and
pillows at one another. Zeph had somehow managed to procure a few
water balloons as well and was flinging them about at whatever moved.
All three were yelling at each other and paying no attention to him.
He took that opportunity to try and quietly sneak out. A water
balloon exploding between his shoulder blades drove the notion out of
his mind completely as he whirled around with a berserker cry of rage
and grabbing the nearest supplies, Nev's bowl of pretzels, began
attacking at large.

Downstairs . . .

A geneticist shook his head as he looked over at his fellow
scientist. "I don't even want to know what the boss is up to . . ."
His companion nodded his head sagely as another burst of yelling
from upstairs punctuated the relative quiet of the lab. "That's
best. I've learned in this business that if there's one thing you
never do . . . It's wonder about your boss's business. It leads to
more trouble than it's worth."
His friend smiled. "Come on . . . He's seventeen years old! How
much can a kid like that have to hide, Chris?"
"Oh, I don't know," his friend muttered under his breath. "About
as much as I do."

Two hours later, fully depleted of supplies and *starving* for
something to eat that wasn't strewn across the floor, splattered
against the walls, permanently staining their clothing, or nested in
their hair, the boys decided on a cease-fire . . . to take stock of
their situation and clean themselves up a little.
"Tell me, Zeph," Jasper said, staring at his shirt, "does
marshmallow wash out?"
"Why're you asking *me*?! It's not like *I'm* the clothing expert
around here. Why don't you ask Nev?"
"Huh? *ME*?!"
"But can't you . . . you know, analyze it with your computer or
"Oh ho, so you're actually *volunteering* for once?!"
"N-No! That's not what I meant . . . and you know it!"
"Darn," Zeph said, snapping his fingers. "Shouldn't have said
anything . . . Nev-"
"I *don't* think so!"
The three of them stared at one another for a long moment, then
burst into laughter. All the tensions that had floated like a cloud
over their heads these past few months had - well, not vanished, at
least not completely - but had certainly been eased. They found
themselves to be, once more, high school boys. Ones with an
important, life-altering mission to perform, but teenage boys
"This isn't the time to be laughing," Kenneth said sternly. "We
have important duties to perform."
"We know!" they chorused.
"Do we have any of the rootbeer bombs left?" Zephyr hissed to Jed
under his breath.
"No . . . I think Nev used the last of them."
"So what do you have planned for us to do, today?" November asked,
ignoring all the chatter behind him.
"The most important thing of all," Keth said gravely.
"And that is?" Zeph said, smirking.
"We've got to go grocery shopping."
The three boys face-faulted.
"Say what?" Zeph demanded, picking himself up off the floor.
"You heard me," Keth said, and this time they could all hear the
joking edge in his voice, "you've used up all my supplies. We've got
to restock or else how are we going to fight properly next time?"
Jed laughed. "Sounds good to me. How 'bout we get some lunch
while we're at it?"
"I'm in!" Zeph and Nev chimed in.
"Okay, Nev pays!" Jed winked.
"Hey! Why me?!"
"Because you were definitely the *loser* in that battle! All your
attacks were *soooo* weak!"
"Like how?! Your retaliatory attacks were pathetic!"
"I'm afraid I'll have to agree with Jed on this one," Zeph said,
nodding his head sagely.
"Nani?! Why?!"
"Because your battle cry was the lamest thing I've ever heard!
"You shall feel my wrath!"? Come on!"
"Hey, hey, I didn't hear *you* come up with anything horribly
original either!"
Kenneth sweatdropped as he herded the three quarreling boys out of
his apartment. "Come on, come on . . . play nice!" He sighed as he
ushered them down the hallway, sparing a pitying glance for his
ruined quarters and furniture as he closed the door. The cleaning
bill's going to be astronomical . . . "I agree!" he said suddenly.
"Nev pays for lunch!"
"WHAT?! But . . . but . . ."
Jed and Zeph laughed at the bewildered protests as Keth smiled to
himself. He's the one who started attacking with peanut butter . .
. It's going to be Hell getting it out of the carpet.

Leaning against the wall on one side of the door, the blonde-
haired, blue-eyed member of the Guardians wondered how it was that he
had been the one picked to watch the parking meter.
Lifting his eyes from the silent, metal sentinel, he sighed.
What's taking them so long? They've had time enough to buy out the
whole store by now! And I'm running out of yen.
His gaze flickered across the street as his ears picked up the
jangling sound of the bell above a cafe door. A slim figure stepped
out, and his heart nearly stopped beating. She was the very image of
a dream he had had not so very long ago. A dream that he always kept
very close to his heart.
The Goddess in his memories seemed to smile a bit.
"Who *is* she . . . ?" Jed breathed to himself, staring at the
dark-haired girl moving with unconscious grace across the street.
"Aw, is Jed smitten with someone?" a teasing voice impinged upon
his thoughts, and someone draped his arm over Jed's shoulders.
"No," Jed growled in response, pulling away.
"Hey, who does Jed like?" another voice asked. Zephyr walked out
of the store with a bag full of groceries.
"Some *little* girl," November responded with a laugh. Time for
a little payback. "Honestly, Jed, she was around the age of my
imouto!" Please . . . don't let them find out about Lita!
"I don't like her!" Jed protested. "It's just - I feel like I've
seen her before somewhere."
"Sure." Nev grinned, laughing.
"Leave him alone," Kenneth's voice rang out.
The three of them turned to meet the hard grey eyes of their
leader. He gazed back at them, unmoving. "We have more important
things to do."
"But-!" Nev protested as Zephyr snickered at his stricken
"What now, O mighty leader? We get the wrong kind of Nachos?"
"Actually, yes. I detest Ranch."
Jed turned away from all of them, tiring of the nonsense, and
proceeded to direct his gaze across the street again . . . but she
was gone. "Ah, damn! You guys made me lose her!"
Nev, Zephyr, and even Kenneth couldn't stop from bursting into
laughter at the comical expression of dismay on his face.

Amy stretched, feeling the kinks in her neck, wrists, and fingers
loosen or crack. Her fingers ached, but she flexed them absently,
placing her pen down in the middle of her workbook and closing the
text with a firm clap. She stood up and briefly marveled at the
stiffness in her legs. Have I really been working that long? She
checked the time on her clock and made a face. Apparently so.
Her stomach rumbled, and she made her way to the kitchen.
Slapping together a fruit sandwich didn't take all that long and as
she seated herself at the table and took a bite, she smiled. It's
really been a long time since I've been able to get this much work
done. Maybe I'll take it easy this afternoon and read a book or
two? Her fingers itched to get around the well-worn pages of one of
her old favorites, Austen perhaps, or maybe the new romance Lita had
leant her the other day. She blushed at the thought. Perhaps she
was better off studying Gray's Anatomy? That thought led to *more*
Mizuno-Anderson Amy! she chided herself. What *are* you
She reached over for the mail so she could soothe herself with the
newest issue of her science journal.
However, she found, much to her dismay, that the basket in the
middle of the kitchen table where the two members of the Mizuno
household dumped their mail whenever one of them remembered to get it
was completely empty. Amy sighed. Okaa-san must have forgotten to
check the mailbox last night. Of course, her mother *had* returned
home at 3:30 the night before and had left again for work at 5:45
that morning . . .
I guess I can't really blame her. I could have checked myself,
but I was simply too involved in those chemistry problems I was
working on yesterday. I'll just pick up the mail now.
Finishing her sandwich, she rose from the table and quickly rinsed
and dried her plate. Finding everything in the kitchen to once more
be in order, she picked up her keys from the nail by the front door
and exited her house.

Amy checked her mailbox, pulling out a packet of letters and some
magazines that her mother subscribed to but never had time to read.
A large brown paper wrapped package was resting outside the door and
she picked it up, looking at it curiously. "To Mizuno Amy . . ."
She opened the door to her condo and walked inside, dropping the
magazines on the counter where her mother would be sure to see them
and placing the letters on the coffee table in front of her. Her
curiosity getting the better of her, she proceeded to open the large
parcel first.
A piece of paper fluttered out and landed on the floor so she bent
over and picked it up, reading it quietly to herself.

Dear Amy-chan,

Here, I've provided you with more throwing material. Work on that
arm and you're sure to become a star pitcher! If you're feeling a
little less angry you might trying looking at it . . .

I'm hoping it'll bring a smile to your face. You're just as cute
when you're happy as when you're mad.

Don't be the kind to hold a grudge, Amy . . . I haven't been
'serious' about anyone in a long time. And I enjoy challenges . . .

See you around,

Zephyr Mist

She sat looking at the note for several minutes. Wha-What *is*
this?! Is this his kind of apology?!
She fumed before deciding to take a look at what kind of book he
had sent her. It was a brand-new book of paintings. Watercolor. By
her father . . .
The dedication page said: To my dearest Amy . . . My daughter . .
. My inspiration.
She shut her eyes and let the tears softly flow.
Thank you Zephyr. Thank you for caring. Even . . . Even a
After a few moments she turned to the other mail, still holding
the book to her chest. As she came to one strangely heavy letter her
hand trembled and she nearly dropped it. The return address was to
one Peter Anderson. 730 Marron Ave. Paris, France.
She tore it open quickly and pulled out the contents. A letter
and . . . a ring of keys?

Mon Ami,

I know it's been a while, moppet. For that, I'm really sorry. I
don't know if you can forgive me for being a bad father these past
ten years. I don't know if you can forgive me for still being one.
I want you to know . . . I love you very dearly, mon Ami. I've never
stopped. No matter how far apart you and I might be . . . I'm still
your father and you'll always be my little girl.
That's why . . . I thought I'd leave this decision up to you. As
you can see by the address, I'm in Paris right now. I have a show up
in one of the local galleries and I'm taking time to paint some of
the countryside. It's really very beautiful here, Amy. I wish you
could be here to see it with me. As it is, I've finally come to a
decision about the old place . . .
I'm not going to be coming back to Tokyo any time soon, Amy. I'm
sorry. I don't know what to say to you . . . only, my life isn't
there anymore. It hasn't been for a long time. The only thing there
that I have to hold on to is you. And I don't know, but I can't help
but feel that, no matter how tightly I want to hold on to you, you're
still slipping away. Please, Amy, don't despise me for this. I'm
such a coward . . . Always running away from my obligations. My
obligations to you . . . to be the father you can count on.
But because I don't want to decide your life for you, and because
I don't want to destroy any memories you might have, the old place .
. . the old house . . . I'm giving it to you. Do what you want with
it. Sell it, keep it, rent it . . . It's yours now. Do whatever's
best for you. It's been ten years since I've seen it so I don't know
what kind of shape it's in, what it looks like . . . I barely know
what *you* look like now.
Please, Amy, I'm going to be in Paris for at least two months, so,
please write to me. Send me pictures . . . Tell me how you're
doing. I miss you so much. I want to see you . . . but I can't.
Again, I'm sorry and I love you.


"Otou-san," she said, staring at the letter in her hands. Wet
spots appeared on the paper and reaching up a hand to her face . . .
she realized that she was crying. "Coward. You were always . . . a
coward. I want to see you! Otou-san . . ." Her shoulders shook as
she covered her face with her hands and cried.

Amy stopped walking when she reached a dull blue house. It hadn't
been lived in for years. She drew a deep breath and pulled out her
key, fitting it into the lock on the gate. The lock fell off and the
wooden gate swung open. She stepped inside, staring at the remains
of what had once been a garden. Now it was nothing but a tangle of
She sighed heavily and walked to the door of the house, unlocking
it with yet another key. She pushed the door in and a rush of musty
air escaped into the outside. She let some air move in before
stepping inside.
It was dark within the house, and she noted the cracked and
peeling walls with disdain. She covered her mouth with her hand to
prevent herself from choking on the dust rising through the air and
she quickly moved aside from a giant cobweb covered in huge spiders.
Taking a cursory glance at the downstairs, she mounted the flight of
stairs. She paused at the top and opened the first door. It was as
large and empty and full of memories as the rest of the house. She
moved down the hall to the next door and opened it.
It was a little girl's bedroom, decorated in light blue. She
could barely make out the faded seashell lettering on the walls and
the slightly less faded ocean wallpaper. Amy glanced at the empty
spot where a bed and desk had once stood. On the floor was a conch
She bent and picked it up, brushing off layers of dust. Its
insides shone back at her, pink and pearly white. And she remembered
. . .

"Mon Ami!" her father cried from the doorway, arms wide.
Little Amy ran into them, hugging her father tightly. "Daddy,
Daddy! You're back!"
"I certainly am," her father replied, returning the hug with a
kiss. "And what presents did I bring you!"
"What, Daddy?" Amy asked, jumping up and down. "Mommy bought me
an encyclopedia for my birthday! And she gave me a medical journal."
A pained expression crossed her father's face. "Such serious
things for such a little girl? I brought you toys and books, and a
little goldfish for your new aquarium."
"A goldfish? Where?! Let me see!" Amy cried, excited by the
prospect of a pet of her own.
Her father dug around in his carryon bag for a moment before
pulling out a jar of water with a fancy goldfish in it. It was
bright orange with the puffy face and beautiful decorative tail of a
purely ornamental fish.
"It's so pretty!" Ami exclaimed as her father handed her the jar.
He smiled. "I thought you might like it. You have a fine
appreciation of art, moppet."
The little girl beamed. "Can I put her in the aquarium now?"
"Yes, I'll help you. Where's your mother?"
"Mom went to work. An emergency at the hospital."
"Of course." Her father looked heavenward for a minute before
getting to his feet and saying, "Who's watching you, moppet?"
"I am," Amy replied stoutly. "I'm old enough."
"You're four years old!" her father responded, glaring at a wall
as he took her hand. "You're old enough to be playing with other
kids your age without all this medical journal nonsense."
"But I like medicine. I want to grow up and be a doctor just like
Mom!" she declared as they mounted the stairs.
"What happened to all of the artistic genes I passed on to you?"
her father asked mournfully, pausing on the stairs.
"They must be recessive," Amy decided, looking at her fish.
They reached the top of the stairs and Amy ran to her room to drop
her fish into the new aquarium her father had sent for her birthday.
Right after Amy dropped the fish into the full tank the door
slammed and her mother's voice floated upstairs. "Amy, I'm home!"
She whirled about, grabbing the conch shell she had found at the
beach to show her father that she did have some appreciation of art,
and ran for the door, excited that both her parents were finally home
. . . only to find that the scene before her once she reached the top
of the stairs did not quite meet her expectations.
The temperature seemed to have dropped to absolute zero. Her
parents looked at one another steadily before her father finally
spoke. "Aya."
"Peter." Amy's mother didn't take her eyes off of him. "It's . .
. been awhile."
"Don't give me that crap, Aya! What is Amy doing home alone?!"
"There was an emergency at the hospital!"
"Well, what about at home?! She's FOUR. YEARS. OLD."
"What did you expect me to *do*, Peter?! Take her into the
operating room with me?! When there's an emergency I can't just take
her with me! It's not like I have time to call a sitter. Besides,
Amy can take care of herself. It's not like she hasn't had
"What?! How many times, Aya . . . HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU LEFT
"As though it matters to you! It's not enough for you to run off
for months on end without so much as a phone call . . . you miss her
birthday and Christmas . . . ! Dammit, Peter, I'm sick of it! I'm
sick of it all!"
"If I remember correctly, *you* were the one who couldn't be home
at *ALL* last year! You talk about missing birthdays?! What about
last year when you went out with your friends and missed Amy's
party?! What about that?! You left her waiting for you at the
playground for THREE HOURS!" His face was red and his fists were
tightly clenched.
Mizuno Aya put her hand to her face to wipe away the tears. "You
don't think I was sorry about that?! I *forgot*, okay?! I lost a
patient that day . . . I needed to get my mind off of things . . ."
"What do you mean by that?" Peter Anderson's voice was icy cold.
"Just look at you!" Aya hissed. "Just back from two months in
Europe. A real gentleman . . . And did you even think of us when
you were off "painting"? You know, it would be a hell of a lot
easier to look after Amy if you didn't keep running off to Kami-sama
knows where!"
"Do you know why I have to keep leaving?!" he demanded. "It's
because I always come back to *THIS*! I can't live like this, Aya.
I can't."
"Well, neither can I," she responded, looking away.
"I'm going and I'm taking Amy with me."
"No, you're NOT! Do you really think you'll be able to provide
for her? You can barely take care of yourself! And what kind of
life will she have, flitting from place to place at your whim . . .
never having time to settle down and make friends?!"
"A better one than she'll have here, isolated and by herself. At
least I'll give her a childhood, dammit! Not all of these medical
texts and lonely days."
Aya smiled bitterly for an instant. "Good-bye, Peter. I'll see
you in court."
He turned away and headed for the stairs.
Amy gasped and dropped her conch shell, running back into her room
and flinging herself onto her bed.
When her father walked into her room, he put his hand on her head
and stroked her short blue hair. "Moppet, I . . ."
"You're going away again, aren't you?" she asked, tears trailing
down her cheeks.
"Well, yes . . . But if things go right you'll come to stay with
me very soon. You'll like that, won't you, Amy-chan?"
"What about Mom?"
"Mom won't be with us, Amy, but-"
"Why not?!"
He knelt by her and she turned so that he could see her watery
blue eyes. "Daddy!" And she flung herself into his arms.
He sighed and held her to him, stroking her hair and rocking her
gently. "Amy. I love you very much. I don't know if you'll ever
know how much. Your mother and I . . . we loved each other very
much, once. But people grow apart . . ."
"We won't grow apart, will we, Daddy?"
"No, moppet, we'll always be together." He kissed the top of her
head. "Good-bye for now, my Amy-chan."
Then he stood and left as Amy huddled in her room, her knees drawn
up tightly against her chest as her tears ran down her face. Liar,
she thought, fiercely, bitterly to herself. Liar liar!
"Good-bye, Aya," she heard her father say from out in the hall.
Then her mother walked into the room and shut the door, looking at
Amy. "Your father will be back to see you again soon, Amy-chan, so
don't fret, all right?

"Liar," Mizuno Amy repeated to herself, looking around at the
house. Her mother and she had moved out the next day to stay with
some friends of her mother and her parents had gotten their divorce
and had gone to court over custody of her the next month. Her father
had lost and Amy hadn't seen him in nearly ten years.
She hadn't seen the house, either.
She drew in a deep breath and tried to smile. "Ta-Tadaima . . ."
she said in a broken voice before breaking into tears once more.

Amy stepped outside the gate and pulled it shut behind her,
latching it. She stood for a moment, quietly . . . thinking.
"Need any help?" a gentle voice asked.
She whirled about and stared at the source of the voice. "Y-You?!
What do you want?!"
Zephyr Mist smiled. "Nothing. What I want to know is . . . what
do *you* want Mizuno Amy?"
"I want you to leave me alone!"
The smiled slipped a little. "If that's what you want." He
turned to go.
"M-Matte . . ."
He paused, waiting.
I won't be a coward! I won't drive him away. I'll do what Otou-
san can't. I'll deal with my problems. I won't run away. "Gomen
nasai, Zephyr-san. I haven't been fair to you. I-I wanted to thank
you for the book. It was . . . thoughtful of you."
"I meant it as an apology." He turned to look at her. "Because
you're not the type of girl I can play around with." He leaned in
and whispered, his breath warm against her ear, "I *am* very serious,
Mizuno Amy . . . And one of these days you'll understand . . . how
serious I am."
He pulled away from her and smiled brightly again. "So . . .
until the next time then. Ja! Dear, sweet, little Amy-chan . . ."
He turned and walked away down the road.
She looked after him, her cheeks stained with color and her breath
coming short. What did he mean . . . 'serious'? And why . . . do I
want so much to believe you?
"Zephyr-san!" she called, as a sudden thought occurred to her.
"Hm?" he asked, stopping and looking at her.
"How . . . How did you know my address? And that I'd be here?"
He laughed. "Oh? Is that all? I was hoping for a sudden
declaration of love! But I suppose that will have to wait a while.
There's no reason to be alarmed. Didn't I tell you before, little
Amy-chan? I know all about you. You're not the only one who knows
how to do research!"
"You mean you're keeping tabs on me?"
"Among other things, yes."
"That's not fair," she said, coyly. "I can't keep track of your
whereabouts after all."
"If you ever need me, my lady," he replied with a sweeping bow, "I
will be there." He winked. "If you want my number, you should just
ask for it!"
"N-Nani?" She blushed bright red. "I do NOT want your number!"
"Well then," he said, shrugging, as he turned and continued on his
way, "that's too bad, Miss 538-622-8974."
She stood in bewildered shock for a moment. "H-How did he?
That's my phone number . . ." She blinked and he was gone. "I-I
don't understand," she murmured to herself, turning and starting on
her way back home. "How could he . . . possibly?"
From his perch up in the nearest tree, Zephyr laughed silently.
So I have befuddled that lovely brain of yours, have I? Well, all
to the good, Miss Amy. It'll give you something *other* than
schoolwork to think about.

Rill frowned as she called up the information on the Guardians on
her computer. Dammit! What happened to the "alterations" I made?
What have they done?! She had worked long and hard to make sure
that the Guardians' efficiency would be severely limited and that of
the Sailor Senshi as well. But now . . . All that hard work had
come to nothing! She ground her teeth together as her mind seethed.
She would simply have to take steps to remedy that . . .
Her lips curled in a malicious smile as the thought came to her.
Yes, indeed, that would do nicely. She already knew their everyday
identities . . . why not make use of that knowledge? She would
attack them as only she was capable of . . . mercilessly and
All my hard work will not come to nothing. For once, the four of
you will do as you are told!
Her hand clenched reflexively as her thoughts turned to the one
whom she most wanted to be able to control . . . and could never so
much as dare hope to. Darien . . . Endymion!
Her eyes glittered dangerously. If I cannot have what I want
from you, then I will it take from those closest to you . . . your
Guardians. They will betray you, Endymion. And their power will be

Lita sighed as she placed the bouquet of flowers down on the
"For a boyfriend?" the friendly cashier asked, ringing up her
"No," Lita replied, "it's for an old friend."
As she stepped outside she glanced at the lovely day around her
and sighed again. "At least it's a nice day for it."
Luna met her outside, meowing at her feet. The girl and the cat
exchanged hesitant smiles before making their way to Hana Cemetery.

It had taken a lot of searching on the city databases, but finally
Amy and Luna had located the spot. The spot where Io was buried.
Lita had never really known . . . after Io had been killed, where
the police had taken the body, or what had been done with it. She
vaguely remembered being questioned at the police station and
bursting into tears, but everything afterwards had been a blur. She
had been too much in shock, she supposed . . . and had never fully
realized that the woman who had died was the same as the cat who had
always taken care of her. All she had known was that the woman had
died protecting her, and that Io was gone.
It had taken a while to sink in . . . the events of that day.
Later, after she had returned to her lonely apartment and cried into
her pillow, she would wonder why she had never checked as to what
would happen to the woman . . . to Io.

Present-day Lita sighed. She supposed that it was her own fault
that she had been unable to visit Io before now. That, and that she
had not lived in Tokyo before . . . That day Io had been killed, the
two of them had simply been visiting. Shopping for a present for
Ken's mother's birthday, if she remembered correctly. Silently, she
cursed her former self's desire to find something stylish in the city
instead of settling for the cute items found in the shops in their
town. But then, it was far too late for regrets.
Unknowingly, she strode past November on his way home.
"Hey, Lita," he said, catching sight of her as they passed one
"Oh, hello," she said, her smile full of melancholy.
"Are you all right?" he asked solicitously, noting the black cat
at her feet and the bouquet of flowers in her hand.
"Yeah," she replied. "Just on my way to the cemetery."
He blinked. "Want any company?"
"Arigato, but . . . I think I have all the company I need right
now." She indicated the cat and tried to smile a trifle more
happily. "Don't worry about me, November."
"Are you sure?" he asked her.
She nodded. I don't need a shoulder to cry on right now. But .
. . maybe someday. "I'll see you around, okay?"
"All right," he said, looking at her, his eyes steady. "If you
ever want to talk . . ."
"I know," she replied. "You're a good friend to be so concerned,
November, but I'm a big girl. I'm fine. Now, go about your
He nodded and continued on his way, Lita briefly watching him go.
"You're lucky to have such a friend," Luna said suddenly at her
"I know," Lita said, with a little smile. "I'm lucky to have all
of you."

Arriving at the cemetery ten minutes later, they located the grave
almost immediately. It was in the shade of several large oak trees.
A simple plaque with no writing was placed there to mark the spot.
They took a moment to pray, each alone with her own thoughts.
"It's quiet, isn't it, Luna?"
"Hai," Luna said, sitting down in the grass. "Peaceful."
Lita leaned back against a tree and looked up through the light-
spangled leaves to where the blue sky glimmered above. "She would be
pleased, wouldn't she, Luna? She always loved nature."
Luna shut her eyes. "Today would be what Io would call a
"picturebook picture." Not too cold, not too hot, pretty as can be.
A "picturebook picture.""
"I miss her."
"So do I."
"Why didn't you transform before we came here?"
"Because," Luna said with a brief smile, "on our planet . . . our
forms are usually those of cats. The human-shape . . . is mostly in
deference to those of your solar system. Io and I spent most of our
lives as cats. I wonder if she would even recognize me if I was to
"She would know you, Luna. I'm sure . . . She would know from
her heart."
"As she knew you, Lita. The moment she set eyes on you, I'm sure
her heart was rejoicing in having found you."
"I was five years old . . . could she possibly . . . ?"
"She's known you a long time, Lita . . . Two lifetime's worth of
time. How could she mistake anyone else for you? You were always
the most important one to her, Lita. Because you were her life."

Five year old Lita laughed, chasing the butterflies that
frequented the park near her house. Her net swung up through the air
but missed the glittering butterfly.
"Oooh! I'll get you yet!" she declared loudly, determined to
catch her prize.
She ran forward, her mother yelling at her to be careful, but
tripping over an upraised tree root, she fell to the ground with a
thud. Before tears could start, she felt the soft lick of a tongue
on her cheek and opened her eyes to see two dark green ones looking
back at her out of a furry, bewhiskered, brown face.
"Ah, kitty!" she said, sitting up and taking the cat into her
arms, placing it gingerly on her lap. "Are you okay, kitty cat?"
"Meow," the cat said, her eyes shining.
If cats could cry, Lita would have been sure she saw tears
glimmering in the emerald depths of her eyes.
"You're awful beautiful, kitty. Does anybody own you, kitty cat?"
"Will you be my kitty?" Lita asked, petting the cat and listening
to the reverberant purr emanating from deep within the cat's chest.
"Will you be my kitty for forever and forever?"
"What's your name?" The little girl asked, staring deeply into
the cat's beautiful eyes.
When her mother came rushing up to her a moment later, the little
girl looked up with wonder in her eyes, the cat cradled in her arms.
"This is my new kitty, Mommy! Her name is Io!"

They were always together, Lita and Io. She had gotten in trouble
with her school the first day of school every year from kindergarten
on up for trying to smuggle in Io. She was always sounded scolded
and told that cats belonged outside or at home but *definitely NOT*
in the classroom. Afterwards, she had always shrugged. "Hadda try,
after all!"

In the summer of her eleventh year, Lita and her parents were on a
flight headed for America where they were supposed to be vacationing.
Io was tucked away in a cat carrier in the luggage area of the plane.
The flight was proceeding smoothly when the plane hit an unexpected
pocket of air turbulence.
"Okaa-san! I'm scared!" Lita wailed, snapping the oxygen mask
that had just dropped from the ceiling over her face.
"It's nothing to worry about, Lita. Just a little bit of
"I'm worried about Io!"
"I'm sure she's fine, Lita. Stop fussing!"
"Lita," her father said sternly, "don't cause a scene."
The plane shook violently and the overhead lights flickered.
A few of the passengers cried out and Lita shivered. She had a
*bad* feeling about this.
"Everything is under control!" the intercom blared. "Everyone,
please keep calm."
The plane shook again, and this time the windows rattled as though
they were going to break. Lita could have sworn that she heard a
hissing sound . . . as though air was escaping. The plane was
heading sharply downward, she could tell by the extraordinary about
of pressure pushing against her. She knew that they were nowhere
near an airport. They were flying over the Pacific Ocean.
Kami-sama! We're losing cabin pressure! We're going to die
here. She shut her eyes. I'm too young to die! I don't WANT to
die! I'm not ready yet! I haven't even been kissed . . .
"Lita, daijobu?!" her mother asked, and Lita could hear the terror
in the crack in her mother's voice.
"Hai. Daijobu," she lied.
"It's going to be all right," her father chanted like a mantra.
"It's going to be all right."
The intercom blared to life with a crackle of static. The voice
seemed tightly controlled, but there was a nervousness beneath the
bland tone that spoke of unparalleled terror. "We are attempting a
water landing. Please remain calm and do not leave your seats. Make
sure that you are properly fastened in and brace yourselves. Please
put on the life-vests under your seats."
Lita quickly put on the life-vest, then yanked out her plane
headphones and plugged them into the jack in her armrest, changing
the station until it was at the station for cockpit conversations.
In their haste, the pilot and his staff had forgotten to turn the
radio off. As she settled the headphones over her ears, she wondered
how long they had left. There was no way they could perform a
successful water landing . . . not when they were descending at such
a phenomenal rate.
"Dammit, Kutou! Can't you do anything about the engine?!"
"Engine number one is off-line, sir! I can't do anything about
it! We can't do anything . . . half the control panel's shorted out.
The water landing gear won't come on-line!"
"We're descending too quickly anyway. Kuso!"
"There's no chance, sir?"
"No chance. Gomen nasai . . ."
"Sayonara. It's been a pleasure."
Lita shut her eyes, silently reaching out for her mother's hand.
Her mother took it and squeezed it hard, tears in her eyes. "It's
going to be okay, Lita," her mother whispered. "We're going to get
out of this one all right."
"For being such a trooper," her father said, "I'll even get you
that pony you wanted when we get back home, okay?"
"Okay, Otou-san," she said quietly, trying to put as much
conviction into her voice as she could for her parents who were
still trying, blindly, to believe in a happy ending.
"I love you," she whispered, wondering if it would be the last
time she would ever say the words. Her eyes were growing heavy. The
loss of cabin pressure . . . Sayonara . . .
They hit the water with enough force to instantly kill everyone on
board. They had all passed out already, and their passage from one
world to the next came to them like a dream.
There were only two survivors. An eleven year old girl, and a cat
that had miraculously escaped from the wreckage of the plane.
Lita vaguely remembered floating endlessly in the waves, choking
on the salt water. Sometimes there were strong arms supporting her .
. . sometimes the simple lick of a tongue and a plaintive meow as the
waves lapped against her. She couldn't remember how she had escaped
from the plane before it had sunk beneath the waves . . . perhaps she
had escaped after it had already sunk? But that was ridiculous . . .
There would have been no way to survive the pressure. But how had
she survived the loss of cabin pressure? How had Io, for that
She had fever dreams where she had been surrounded by a pack of
circling sharks and a white light had emanated from whoever was with
her . . . rippling outwards in a protective ring about the two of
them. It had been like magic. She dreamed too, that a beautiful
woman with long brown hair with a streak of white and deep emerald
eyes had told her, "Lita, Lita . . . you can't die! You're stronger
than this! You weren't born again to die . . . Hold on to your life
with both hands . . . Wouldn't you, a Senshi, be ashamed to die like
this?! Where's the battle? The sacrifice?! This end is not for you
. . . I won't let you die this time, Lita! Not this time . . ."
When she finally awoke for real she was in a Japanese hospital, Io
curled up at the foot of her hospital bed. When she realized that
but for Io, she was alone in the world . . . she cried. Her tears
were as salty as the sea she had been saved from.

Her years in the orphanage were years that she chose not to
remember. Io had always been with her, and Lita had grown to depend
on her far more than she ever had as a child. Whenever she sobbed
herself to sleep, Io was at her side, licking away her tears.
Through all the hardships in her life, Io was her silent partner and
confident and Lita could only fervently thank the kamis for the
miracle of Io having survived.
Her first day at her new school, the elementary school that all
the younger orphans attended, she smuggled Io in as usual. She was
found out and scolded as usual, and Io deposited in a bush outside
the classroom window. The other children in class could not smother
their giggles or whispers and looked at her slightly in askance, but
she proudly looked away from them and kept to herself.
During lunch period, several of the boys began hassling her and
she did her best to defend herself as they yanked her bento box out
her hands and dumped her lunch out on the ground, trampling all over
it. They pushed her to the ground with a sneer, but found the
expressions on their faces erased as a tall sixth-grader approached.
"Is there a problem here?" he asked, and they shrank back, clearly
"Daijobu?" he asked Lita, offering her a hand up.
She took it and stood. "Yeah . . . I'm okay."
"Good." He turned to the boys from Lita's class. "I take it this
won't happen again?"
They nodded and ran off.
"Thanks for the assist," Lita said, bemusedly. "I'm Kino Lita.
"Shinozaki Kenji. Sixth-grader. Call me Ken, all my friends do."
"Ken-kun, then," she said with a bright smile. "How'd you manage
to scare them all off?"
"I've taken karate all my life and I guess I have a bit of a
reputation." He laughed a little nervously.
"Can you teach me?" she asked, eyes wide. "Can you teach me
"I'm not really qualified, Kino-san."
"Lita!" she said, winking. "I return the favor."
"Lita-san, then. I think you'd do better with a real teacher."
"Oh, please! How 'bout just some self-defense then?"
"Well . . . maybe." He looked at her a moment. "You might need
it. Okay! Come on over to my house after class today! Meet me by
the front gate and I'll walk you."
"Okay!" She smiled. I think . . . maybe . . . I've made my
first friend here.

She and Ken did indeed become friends. Best friends. And
perhaps, a little more. After she had known him a week, she cornered
him in the park during one of their training sessions and kissed him,
"because", she explained, "I don't want to die without having been
"But Lita," he had protested gently, "you were the one doing the
"Well, will you then?" she had asked heatedly. "Will you kiss me,
"Not just yet," he had said with a smile. "Not until it means
In due time Lita became proficient enough in self-defense to make
quite a reputation for herself. It seemed that she was always
getting into fights.
"I might have done you more harm than good," Ken had said
She had shrugged off his concern, and had continued picking fights
when she believed her cause just, fending off bullies, and accepting
any sort of challenge to fight. Problems at the orphanage and at
school escalated. It was a trying time for Lita, and only Ken and Io
saw her through it.
When spring rolled around, she settled down a bit and things
seemed to go more smoothly for her. She soon acquired a series of
schoolgirl infatuations with seemingly every good-looking boy in
school. Ken and Io were rather taken aback by it, but when she
finally acquired her first boyfriend and informed Ken about it, he
smiled. And then he kissed her.
To say that she was shocked was an understatement. To say that
she didn't enjoy the kiss would be a lie. However, it left her
confused and without direction and struggling with her feelings, she
asked her best friend, "Why did you do it?"
"To see if it would mean anything to you, Lita. This time
She shook her head. She already had a boyfriend now. It wasn't
right to do things like this . . . and Lita was a girl who knew very
clearly the difference between right and wrong. "Gomen nasai."
"I see," he said. "Then it's all right. Because I wasn't the one
meant for you, Lita."
"Will you always be my Onii-chan then? Will you always be there
for me?"
He broke into a smile. "Yes, imouto. Without fail."
Ken kept that promise, supporting her through broken relationship
after relationship, and she realized that she valued him more as a
friend then she could ever feel for him as a lover. It was then that
she finally became confident in her choice.

She and Io were released from the orphanage in her thirteenth
year, the day of her birthday. There had been a phone call that
morning, and that afternoon Lita found herself with her own
apartment, her own savings and checking account, and a monthly
monetary payment to her. She hadn't questioned it. She had merely
accepted it as a miracle and moved on. Miracles were what kept her
going, she supposed, amidst all the tragedy in her life. She might
question the tragedies, but never the miracles.

Then there had come the day in the city . . . The intersection .
. . the red convertible and that chilling, still instant when her
world seemed to shatter. It was, as always, burned into her mind.
She wondered, for the umpteenth time, why a miracle hadn't come that
day . . . to save Io.
She saved me from the plane . . . kept me going afterwards. I
owe her my life in more ways than one . . . and in the end she gave
it up for me. Why?
She looked over at Luna's calm reverence. She must be hurting
too. Luna, your sister. Did you really have to give up everything
for me? That's a thought that hurts me. Gomen nasai.
A tear trickled down her cheek. I love you, Io. Sayonara.
"Okay, Luna," Lita said, rising to her feet as she wiped her eyes.
"I think it's time we headed back."
Luna nodded. "Hai."

As Jed walked back to his apartment his mind wandered over the
events that had occurred in the previous few months and those that
had not. Stopping, he leaned against a wall, his hands in his
pockets, and stared out at the blue sky. Will I ever find you, my
goddess? That was my original reason for coming here . . . The
dreams directed me here. The first moment my foot set ground on
Japan I knew . . . *knew* that I would find you here. Waiting for
me. He sighed deeply. At least, that's what I thought . . . Now,
I'm not so sure anymore. It seems like my Destiny has changed so
much from what I thought it was going to be.
And what was that? a corner of his mind asked.
I thought that I would find you, Goddess . . . That I would find
you and love you . . . and live out my life with you. But now it
seems that my Destiny lies along another path. That I came to
fulfill the obligations of my past life . . . To find my Prince and
serve him as best I can, with no regard for my own happiness, in
order to keep this world safe.
"Yeah, that's it," he muttered to himself. "Jed Raven doesn't
matter at all . . . It's Phoenix who has a Destiny. No matter what
I do . . . I can never escape my past."
Then again, he mused, thinking of the girl he had glimpsed that
morning, maybe I still have a chance to find you after all . . .
He pushed himself off the wall and resumed walking, passing by a
large sign as he did so.
He paused and looked at it. "Hmmm. Hikawa Jinja? Hey . . .
isn't this the shrine I ran past the other day?" He winced at the
memory of nearly knocking someone over. I really ought to go and
see if that person's all right or not. With that thought firmly in
mind, he began climbing the steps that led up to the shrine.
Upon reaching the top, he observed the shrine with a great deal of
astonishment. It's so beautiful here. He moved over to the giant
bell and wondered if he ought to make a wish or a prayer. He studied
the bell for a moment.
"What do you think you're doing here?!" the strident voice called
out. "I thought I told you that I never wanted to see you again!"
Jed turned around, astonished, and came face to face with two
black crows (which were promptly ignored) and a furious dark-haired,
dark-eyed beauty.
She backed away immediately upon seeing his face and began
apologizing profusely. "Gomen, gomen nasai! I thought that you were
someone else! Gomen nasai!"
Jed could only stare for an instant before recovering his wits.
It's that girl I keep seeing. She looks like . . . "It's all
right. Really! Didn't I bump into you the other day?"
She paused, looking searchingly at him for a moment. "Was that
"Yeah, gomen, sometimes I'm a bit of a klutz. Uh, before this
conversation gets too far off track . . . Who are you?"
She flushed and said in a meek and apologetic voice. "I am Hino
Raye. Um . . . welcome to my shrine."
"Arigato," he murmured.
A confused expression suffused her face. "For what?"
For nothing . . . for everything. Instead, he blurted out,
staring at her beauty, "You have beautiful soul."
Raye smiled, looking questioningly at the mysterious man, her face
slightly flushed and her dark eyes sparkling. "Do I? My thanks for
the compliment."
"No thanks are needed for the truth."
"I sense turmoil within you. A fire that blazes out of control .
. ." Raye whispered the words without quite knowing why.
Their gazes met and locked. "I sense that same fire in *you*,"
Jed replied, drawn to her by more than her cryptic comment.
"Then perhaps we are in the same in more ways than one."
Jed's eyes lingered on her face, the beautiful dark eyes and
delicately sculpted features. Then, he took the next step. He
panicked. "I have to go . . ." He turned and all but ran down the
"All right," Raye said in confusion. "Come again!" she called.
"I will . . . Hino Raye." Jed looked at her for a moment, his
eyes dark and intense, catching her own and arresting them. "I will
come and see you again."
She smiled uncertainly. "Good . . . that would be . . . nice."
It was only after he had left that she realized that he hadn't
said that he would come and see the shrine but *her*.
And her heart leapt a beat.

I always did work best at night, was the thought that drove her
as she mixed the magicks in her mind, and wove in the energy patterns
that she would need. Drawing from her share in Earth's power, she
tapped into lines of mana that had heretofore been and still ought,
by all rights, be closed to her.
With no Fiore to disturb me . . . or any of his worthless race,
this operation should prove *much* smoother than the last.
Rill concentrated, her eyes tightly shut as she focused her
energy. A stone formed in the palm of her hand. Dark green and
black light seemed to flicker over it in violent ripples as she
"You can sense them, can't you?" she crooned to the stone. "You
can sense those of Earth . . . the ones linked to this planet. Seek
them out for me . . . bring them to me. The Four Guardians of Earth.
"I want my playthings returned to me."
She licked her lips, concentrating on the stone.
"Jed Raven. Light November. Zephyr Mist. Kenneth Knight. Bring
them to me . . . Now!"

Four sets of eyes opened in the darkness, dreams interrupted,
sleep fled beyond recall.
But they had been awakened without waking, they were conscious
without consciousness. Their eyes stared blankly out from their
faces as they rose from their beds to answer the siren call of the
Come to me. Earth is calling you. You must obey.

Serena sat on the edge of the park fountain, her only illumination
the street lamps nearby. It was 1:30 AM, Monday morning. She had
school in another few short hours, but there was a Senshi meeting
scheduled for the Game Center at 2:00 AM. They had begun having
these nightly meetings in recent days so their sleeping patterns
could adjust and they could get some needed practice in sneaking out
of the house late at night. They could all sense that in the future
their enemies would most likely begin attacking more at night than
during the day.
'It only makes sense,' Luna had said. 'Who's going to resist when
they're sleeping? And there's a lower chance of us being involved,
It was also easier to meet in the underground base at night, when
no one was around. There was less of a chance of being discovered.
After the meeting they would train for an hour or two and go back
to bed.
"All in order to be stronger," she whispered, staring at her
Luna strolled by on her way to Crown Game Center. "What are you
doing here so late, Serena? The Senshi meeting doesn't start for
another half an hour."
"Oh, that's al-" Wait a second. The cat quickly backpedaled.
"You're WHAT?!"
"Are you sick? Do you have a fever?"
"No, Luna. Why does everyone keep asking me that?! It's like you
all think I don't have a brain or something. I'm just wondering . .
. Why d'you suppose the enemy wants to attack us anyway? I mean . .
. what's their purpose? And why do all of us have to be caught up in
Luna fell silent.
"Tough, huh?"
"Keep at it."
"At what?"
The two sat quietly next to one another, thinking.
"How was it?" Serena asked after several minutes had passed by.
"It was fine," Luna said, looking at her charge. "I think Io
would have approved."
"And you really didn't want me to come?"
"No, Lita and I . . . It was something we had to do, you see."
"I know." Pause. "Still, Onee-chan . . ."
"You know I'm always there for you, ne?"
"Yes, Serena. I know. Thank you." Luna smiled, placing a paw on
Serena's leg. I am lucky to have friends like you.
Serena smiled and stroked her head until Luna began to purr in
contentment. The girl's eyes were still troubled, however.
I was running . . . but running towards what? Towards whom? Why
was it so important that I get there in time? What's going to
happen? I'm so afraid . . . that I'll fail and this will all end.
That it'll be all my fault . . . How can the world possibly depend
on someone like me? I'm not what anyone could term "reliable" by any
means. I'm not qualified for this line of work!
"Imouto," Luna said, her neck craned so she could look up at
Serena. "I can tell by the look on your face that you're worrying.
Don't. Stop it right now. You've been doing - much as I hate to
admit it - a pretty fine job up until now. There's no cause for
concern. And your actions the other night really impressed me."
Serena nodded, forcing the fingers that must have stilled long
moments ago back to work as she petted her mentor. Luna settled back
down in her lap and Serena went back to worrying.
Sure, I've done an okay job up until now . . . but that doesn't
insure that I'm going to keep doing such a wonderful job. I'm a
klutz and a crybaby . . . and while I might have gotten the crying
under control that doesn't mean that I've gotten any smarter or
wiser. What if I mess up next time? Let everybody down? What if
the outcome of this battle is all up to me? I couldn't stand it if
everybody had to suffer because of me . . . Amy, Lita, Raye, Luna,
Molly . . . Darien. I couldn't bear it. I mean, if Tuxedo Kamen
hadn't come in that last battle . . . I would've been toast. And-
The cat's voice jerked her back into awareness.
"You have a very busy mind at times, it seems. Tell it to stop
overreacting. A cat would like a moment to herself to rest without
someone else's ludicrous babble interfering with her own thoughts,
thank you."
"And Serena . . . our self-doubts are our own greatest enemy. If
you can overcome them, I'm sure that you can overcome just about
"Arigato . . . Luna-neechan." This time her smile was genuine.

Amy sighed, looking around at her fellow Senshi who were settling
down in their seats. Well, Serena and Raye seemed to be in a hair-
pulling and squabbling contest, but at least Lita was sitting down
calmly. Or was she asleep?
"Ahem." Amy coughed to get their attention.
They ignored her.
She coughed louder.
Zero percent recognition.
She slammed her geography book down on the table (having brought
it in hopes of salvaging some study time).
That shut Serena and Raye up and effectively woke Lita. All eyes
turned to Amy.
"Can we get started with this Senshi meeting now?" she asked
Three heads nodded in startled unison.
"Well, recent developments are cause for concern," she began.
"Serena-chan, please transform and produce your new sceptre."
Serena did so with a minimum of fuss. Amy stuck some sensors on
it which she had evidently dug up in a drawer somewhere in the base
and let the wand sit off to one side as the computers analyzed it.
"So far, all we know about this new item is that it is composed of
and emanates a combination of Moon and Earth mana. Apparently, the
Earth half of the mana was created from Tuxedo Kamen which leads to
the question of "Who is he really?". He doesn't seem to be one of
the Guardians. Sailor Earth is, so far, the only other known
possessor of Earth mana. She has made use of this in the past to
affect the Guardians. Since the nature of Sailor Moon's new weapon
is unknown, it must remain suspect for now."
"Sailor Moon, with your new transformation you can create an
energy disk with your tiara again, correct?"
"And the rest of us have new, improved attacks," Amy mused for a
moment. "All right. I'll have to check as to the new power levels
of our attacks as opposed to the old ones. Are the rest of you
capable of using your old attacks again?"
Raye and Lita nodded.
"I . . . think so," Raye said slowly.
Amy made a note on her notepad. "Okay, we'll have to check that
Looking at the next topic on her notepad, she said, "Guardian
Dragon was also missing from the last fight. I found that a little
odd, but it might explain why Lita was unable to transform before
Luna's timely deliverance of our new henshin wands. According to the
computer data, he was probably the one who was mostly blocking your
power, Lita-chan."
"That bastard! I'll kill him!"
"Lita-chan, calm down! It was Sailor Earth's doing, remember?"
"Oh. Right."
"Now then, it seems that the Guardians were able to reverse
whatever Sailor Earth did to them, which means that they themselves
became aware of the problem. All to the good.
"What is NOT good at all is the current situation as I see it.
All of our disparate enemies were working against us last time . . .
and it was almost to our downfall. I'm not sure if they're
*actually* all allies, but whatever they are, it seems clear that
they can agree on at least *one* matter. Eliminating *us*."
"Amy-chan, I have a question," Serena said.
"Remember how you identified the two enemies on the computer as
being the blue-haired guy and the pink-haired female?"
"It *was* the two of them. Why was the probability of one of them
being the pink-haired girl only 27.64% or whatever?"
"27.63," Amy corrected absently. "I don't really know. One
explanation could be that her energy patterns had changed so much
that absolute identification could be near impossible." Her brows
furrowed as she thought over the implications. "Whatever the case,
I'm sure the reason isn't anything that'll help *us* any."
"I suppose not."
"Girls," Luna interjected, "it's getting late. Put in an hour of
training in the park and go home to bed."
"Hai!" they chorused, getting to their feet.

The Guardians stepped within the mystic circle Rill had drawn on
the floor of an abandoned building. The energy inside the circle
crackled with power that washed over them. Earthen power to be sure,
but it was as far from the source of their own powers as the darkest
of nights is from the brightest of days.
"So," she murmured from the darkness outside the circle, stepping
forward to meet them, "you've finally come."
They stood, unmoving.
"Oh," she murmured, looking at them curiously, "how delicious you
are. I didn't notice it before . . . Of course, none of you can
match up to Darien, but I can enjoy you regardless." Her lips curved
in a dangerous smile. "Oh, yes, I can enjoy you . . . once I have
what I *really* want from you, your energy, mind, body, and soul
shall be all mine."
She laughed. "How easy it was to bring you here . . . How
simple. You have no defenses against me, do you? Not when I control
the power of Earth. Let us proceed swiftly so that I may taste your
energy . . . claim you as my own. You refused me once . . . but
never again."
Touching the stone that floated before her, she said softly,
"Somewhere behind those blank expressions your minds might be
screaming for rescue, but no one will come for you this time. I
chose this place for a reason. This building has been abandoned for
fifty years. No one uses this place except for the rats. Here, we
are as far from civilization and notice as we would be in the midst
of the wilderness. My magic has been cast all throughout this area.
Earth amplifies and carries my power as you well know. Everyone will
turn a blind eye to anything I do here. So you see, there is no help
for you. Cease resisting . . . give your minds over to me."
She placed a hand on Zephyr's head. "What? Still resisting,
She whirled away and cupped her hands an inch beneath where the
stone hovered. It began to glow more brightly and she turned
satisfied red eyes on them. "Earth is giving me power. It knows
that I am the only true wielder of its strength.
"Sleep, Guardians. Let your consciousnesses fall into the silent
abyss. Sleep. Do not dream. Let only the power within you wake to
hear me. I seek only that. Let the Earthen power rise to the
surface. You are but vessels for that power . . . I will have what
I want from you."
Any remaining light in their eyes dimmed and Rill felt the
desperate struggle of their minds to retain control fade into
"Can't you feel it?" she murmured seductively. "The pulse of
Earth itself?"
The four of them stared at her, mesmerized.
"Can't you feel it calling you? You were born from Earth . . .
Why don't you return to it? To me?"
Slowly, slowly, a light began to glow around each of their chests.
Brilliantly, flaringly green.
"Yes," she whispered, "return to me, my Guardians. I am the true
ruler of Earth . . . Your true master. Become my servants . . . I
will make good use of you. My cause is yours . . . The world will
be ours once again . . ."
The glow intensified, and shapes began to emerge from their chests
. . . Green stones . . .
"Jadeite," she murmured crooningly. "Nephrite, Zoisite, and . . .
They took unsteady steps toward her, their eyes bright with an
unnatural sheen and completely unseeing . . . glowing blankly with
She moved towards them, her hand outstretched with the stone above
And a streak of red light flashed down, shattering the stone as it
burned past her hand and embedding itself in the ground. Its form
resolved into that of a rose as Rill drew her hand back with a hiss.
"Endymion . . ."
"No," the familiar voice called . . . "Not yet. There are those
who still sleep . . ."
"ENDYMION!" she screamed, looking up at where the shadowy figure
stood, outlined against the dark sky by the silver moonlight.
"Do you dare say his name?" Tuxedo Kamen asked softly,
dangerously. "Do you dare try to invoke him? His power is not yours
. . . It exceeds it. His is the true power . . . yours is but a
dark shadow."
"I am of the bloodline of Earth!" she screamed. "I am the
successor! The true heir to the throne! The power given to the
Royal Family is mine!"
"It is true," he said slowly, "that you are of the Earthen
bloodline . . . as it is true that the blood you possess is that
tainted line that was banished long ago by the Kings of Earth. The
impure of heart do not lay claim on Earth or its power." His blue
eyes were dark and cold. "She is the mother . . . you the errant
child. Repent, Beryl, daughter of the shadows! Repent . . . and you
may yet live."
"Chaos bore me," she seethed. "Bore me and gave me shape and
form. Gave me purpose. I will not rest until I possess all the
power of Earth . . . until all the planets of this solar system . . .
this universe bow before me as their ultimate ruler. Until those of
the White Moon are destroyed."
"Do you hate so much?"
"I will destroy you too, Endymion . . . if you seek to oppose me.
Destroy you and everything that you love. That girl-child . . . I
will pierce her heart and crush it, still beating, in her chest."
"Even so," he murmured, "even so . . . she will still triumph over
you, Beryl. Her eyes are clear . . . Her heart is pure. You cannot
win against that which you cannot understand. You cannot win against
"Do you speak of love? You, who cannot love? You are the shadow
now! I see you, but there is no substance behind you. He is
projecting you . . . but because his heart is divided, you have no
real strength. You cannot oppose me like this, Endymion . . . And
if you ever finally find the courage to choose . . . it will be too
She smiled. "You cannot win."
"Perhaps not. But what I *can* do, I will! Guardians of Earth,
Four Who Guard . . . awaken to your true selves! Earth herself
commands you in the name of your prince . . . Cast off all
enchantments! Purify she who defiles the ground beneath and the sky
above . . . the clear water that flows. I charge you thus!"
Then he vanished in a blaze of light.
Beryl whirled about with a curse to face her four captives, only
to find them still staring blankly ahead. She let out a short laugh.
"So is *this* all you are capable of now, Endymion?!"

Deep within the Guardians' psyches awoke a dream.
Their own voices spoke within them.

She's running . . .
Running . . .
Running to me.

Calling . . .
Calling me . . .

There are tears in her eyes.

-Why are you crying?-

-Didn't you hear me? For so long I have been calling, crying out
to you. I've waited so long. Didn't you hear me, beloved? You
promised that you wouldn't forsake me this time . . . that this time
we would be together forever. Did you forget that promise?-

-No. I didn't forget. I'll never forget. For you alone was that
promise made. I wanted . . . to live for you.-

The four Guardians blinked in unison. I won't forget!
Beryl stepped back, snarling, "So he got through to you after
They looked about in confusion for an instant and she took that
opportunity to fling her henshin wand into the air and shout, "EARTH
The Guardians took that as their signal to power up, their armour
appearing instantly about them in four blazes of light.
Then the two sides were facing off, Sailor Earth smiling, "I will
give you one last chance to join me . . . It would be a shame to
destroy you so needlessly."
The fire flared out, flame tendrils reaching out as she leapt
"Does *that* answer that question?!" Phoenix yelled.
"Indeed. I *had* hoped that you would be more reasonable."
"In your dreams!" Dragon spat.
Again she leapt away, but then Zephyr nodded. "It's been
confirmed at any rate. Go to attack plan B!"
The other three nodded.
A series of explosions followed as their rapid-fire attacks chased
Sailor Earth across the length of the building. One of them blew a
hole in the wall through which Earth escaped, the Guardians quickly
following suit.

No . . . no . . . Goddess . . . the pain is a flame . . . burning
through my body . . . a fire I can't fight.
The cold, slick wetness dripping down the side of my face . . . my
arms . . . my legs . . . I can smell it. The stench of my own life's
blood. Why does the pain . . . the searing never end?
I can't move my arms . . . my legs . . .
My eyelids are heavy, too heavy to lift. Why can't I die?
Why does that voice come to me now? Why does it . . .
Go away! I don't want to hear you.
I want my death to come to me swiftly. I want to be free of my
guilt . . . my shame . . . free of the sense of failure . . . of
obligation. I want to be free of it all!
The tricks my mind plays can't stir me into any semblance of life.
I won't believe . . . I can't believe that he's come for me.
It's too cruel. Not after I . . . not after I . . .
"Rei." The voice is louder now, more urgent. Desperate and
No. Go AWAY! I want to die . . . to slip into a dreamless,
hopeless death. I don't want to be toyed with like this by my own
mind. The mind that longs for what can never be again.
"Rei. Wake up!"
Why . . . ?
"Open your eyes . . . REI!"
Why . . . ?
"For the love of Serenity, if ever you loved me . . . LOOK AT
The awful sense of foreboding . . . of a world about to end . . .
of all my dream shattering . . .
Why . . . ?
My eyes snapped open to meet desperate, despairing blue.
And despite it all . . . I wanted to smile. Because he *had* come
for me . . . despite everything . . .
But my first glimpse of heaven was my last.
The blade came down, shining in the light.
And in the end . . . it was swift and beautiful.
There was blood . . . pain . . . fire . . . a fire filling me . .
. burning me . . . engulfing me in flame. And then I was free . . .
and I fell down . . . down . . . down from the dark crystal spire
that had bound me . . . down to the ground . . . to the fragile
shattered remnants of my dream.
And the fire rose around me . . . burning away everything . . .
the unreality of it all . . . the wielder of the sword who cried out
as his flesh melted away . . . the sky was lit with fire . . . and I
clutched the golden head to my breast . . . kissingly closed the
sightless blue eyes as tears ran unceasingly down my cheeks.
Yes, now I was dead.
But it was a death more painful than I could have ever imagined.

The beeping woke her, tears still streaming down her cheeks. Her
hand shook as she picked up her communicator, but not as much as her
voice as she answered.
"H . . . Hai?"
"Sorry to wake you again tonight, but, Raye-chan, get down here!
Sailor Earth is attacking and-"
"Raye? Are you *crying*?"
"Iie! Of c-course not, Odango-For-Brains! I'll . . . I'll be
right there!"
"Okay, look, it's in the warehouse district . . . *Again*, I
know! Luna sensed it first and woke me up. We're almost there and I
can see the explosions from here-"
"You're calling while running along the rooftops?!"
"Of course!"
"Be careful! You know you can't run and do other things at the
same time!"
"Haha, very funny! Whoops! Slipped a little there. Anyway,
Amy's sending the directions to all the communicators. I have to get
going now. See you soon?"
"Y-Yeah! Of course!"
Raye closed the communicator and stared out the window for a long
instant, when she pulled out her henshin wand . . . she was still

"GUARDIANS!" Rill shrieked. "You were created to serve *ME*!"
"Wrong! We swore no allegiance to you! We were created to serve
our Prince and no other. So return to whatever hole in the ground
you crawled out of!"
Rill snarled. "So be it, Guardians . . . It is your time to
"I take it back," Zeph muttered.
"What?" Nev replied.
"She's got the lamest battle cry. Hands down."

"I WON'T allow you to disturb the sleep of everyone in this city!"
Sailor Moon announced from a nearby roof, Luna behind her. "Ai to
segai no, sailor-fuku bishoujo Senshi, Sailor Moon! Tsuki ni
kawatte, oshiokyo!"
"Sailor Moon!" Unicorn called. "Nice of you to join the party!"
Sailor Earth let loose an ear-splitting scream of frustration.
"When will I ever be rid of you?!"
Sailors Mercury and Jupiter showed up moments later, followed by a
very late Sailor Mars. While they were all shouting out their
speeches, the Guardians took that time to discuss their plans.
"Now seems like a good time to put Plan B in action!" Unicorn said
with a wink.
"Oh, I agree," Griffin smiled. "You think you can handle it,
He winked. "Leave it to me!"
They spread out, unbeknowst to the rather irritated Sailor Earth,
so that she was the center point of the box that they formed with
each standing as one of the corners. It was much like the circle she
had lured their subconsciousnesses into earlier, a magical shape
within which they could concentrate their powers.

Plan B was what Zephyr liked to call their plan of using Sailor
Earth's ability to affect their energy with her own in reverse.
(Since no one can remember the real name!-Zephyr)
'After all,' he had said, 'it stands to reason that if she can
affect us easing Earth mana . . . we can affect her. The next
opportunity we have . . . let's put it to the test.'
'With what?' Keth had demanded testily.
'The Purification Ritual, of course,' Zephyr said, citing the
ancient Earthen ritual used against demons and the like. 'Well, with
some modifications,' he had amended rather hastily at the pale looks
on his companions' faces. 'I'm sure you'd rather *not* cut her
heart/comparable organ out and bottle it, ne, Jed?'
Jed had swallowed. 'At least I don't have to eat it.'
It turned out that none of them remembered the ritual all that
well, but they adapted what they collectively *did* remember with
regards to the formation, patterns of energy flow, and phrasing to
create their *own* version of it, which would hopefully, as Zeph was
apt to say, "prove itself in a pinch."
Since Plan B was their best chance at cutting off Sailor Earth's
source of power and neutralizing her as a foe, they were all willing
to try it.

Guardians Griffin, Phoenix, Dragon, and Unicorn gathered their
energies together, Griffin using his skill to overlap and weave them
together like a type of magical netting, as they sent them out. They
landed over Sailor Earth and wrapped around her, trapping her tightly
in the individual strands of energy as they twisted and fused
Earth screamed as the energy about her began to crackle.
"Now, Phoenix!" Griffin shouted. "The Purification Ritual!"
"Right!" Phoenix replied. He bent to one knee, his cloak flowing
around him and deepening to a deep shade of crimson from its regular
slate-grey color. His hair also deepened to a brilliant shade of
copper and bronze as did his eyes.
The Senshi watched with startled fascination as he folded his
hands in the gesture of prayer and bent his head. He began to chant.
"I, Guardian Phoenix of Earth, heralding from the Realm of Soul, do
beseech the Guardian Souls of Earth, seven who shall arise, to give
forth thy power unto my use for my need is great."
Phoenix gritted his teeth as power flowed from seven distant
sources to coalesce within him and add strength to his aura. He felt
the brunt of the energy and struggled to find the control within
himself to keep the excess of energy safely contained. Suddenly it
was back within his control and his own strength seemed to have
increased considerably. He turned his head to glance briefly in
Dragon's direction and saw that the dark-haired Guardian's
concentration seemed to be focused inward.
Power amplification, huh? Handy, that. Phoenix mused to himself
for an instant before directing his attention back to the situation
at hand.
"Remove the jeweled trappings of Earth from this Soul! Leave it
as barren of Earthen power as when it acquired its false strength.
We, the Four Who Guard, protectors of this Planet Earth, do beseech
you in the name of our once and future King, Endymion . . . to remove
the pretender in our midst! For the Soul of Earth falsely used in
this body . . . *PURIFY*!"
Sailor Earth struggled, and dark energy flared up around her. The
earth shook violently, a chasm splitting the ground nearby and
causing a nearby building to sink into its depths. The Guardians
each fell to their knees, unable to control their shaking. Phoenix
found himself kneeling on both knees and struggled to keep his
"Damn it!" he shouted. "It's no good! She's not relinquishing
her hold on the power."
Unicorn moved to his side in two leaps and a bound, Griffin
compensating for the move my adjusting his own position so that Beryl
was within an equilateral triangle. Unicorn placed a hand on
Phoenix's shoulder to steady himself more than anything. "It's not
just part of Earth's Soul that has to be Purified, Phoenix," he said,
his eyes scanning the information scrolling on his visor screen.
"It's Earth's Spirit as well. It's Will . . ."
"That's your department!" Phoenix snapped.
"Right! I'll handle it . . . But she's too strong right now . .
"I can't hold her for much longer!" Griffin roared, the ground
underneath him still rattling. "My concentration's shot! Whatever
she's doing to the earth is weakening the energy bonds. Hurry up!"
Dragon growled out that he was losing his concentration as well
and the other colors mingled with Phoenix's aura seemed to waver in
Phoenix and Unicorn exchanged a look.
"Sailor Senshi!" Unicorn shouted. "Can you hit her? Hard?!"
"Can we ever!" Jupiter replied, eager for the chance to actually
*do* something. She hated being on standby.
Sailor Moon nodded, realizing that whatever the Guardians were
attempting to do had, as of yet, to render the desired results.
"Right, team! Let's go!"
"Moon Princess HALATION!"
"Sparkling Wide PRESSURE!"
"Shine Aqua Illusion!"
"Burning Mandala!"
The attacks struck Sailor Earth as one and she screamed more in
anger than in pain as she tried to gather enough strength to repel
them. In doing so, the earth ceased its violent shakings and the
Guardians were able to concentrate once more.
The Sailor Senshi kept up their attacks, Sailor Earth trying
desperately to ward herself against them and retaliate. The greater
part of her attention being directed towards the Senshi, her efforts
to stave off the Guardians' ritual were considerably weakened.
Phoenix and Unicorn nodded at one another and Unicorn began.
"I, Guardian Unicorn of Earth, heralding from the Realm of Spirit,
contend that the Spirit of the earth should not dwell within this
Senshi. For it was never Earth's Will that a Senshi should arise to
defend it. For Mother Earth has no need of such a protector in the
Four Realms of its Lord Prince, Endymion!"
Together they spoke:
"We, the Four Who Guard, protectors of this Planet Earth, do
beseech you in the name of our once and future King, Endymion . . .
to remove the pretender in our midst!"
"For the Soul of Earth falsely used in this body . . ." Phoenix
"And for the Spirit of Earth . . ."
"All evil shall be undone from Earth and from this most unworthy
daughter shall all Earth retreat. Thus shalt we greatly endeavour to
redress the grievance and for the wound we shalt . . . *PURIFY*!"
Earth's henshin wand appeared, floating in front of Sailor Earth,
as the energy she had been gathering evaporated along with the energy
net that held her. She stumbled forward a step and reached out a
hand for the wand. But before she could touch it, the henshin wand
exploded with a burst of black electricity and Rill's agony-filled
shriek as her Sailor Earth fuku dissipated into its constituent
molecules. She fell to her knees as black ribbons flickered in and
out around her, her regular clothes forming about her. Her earth
sign glowed erratically then finally faded.
She turned glowing red eyes on the Senshi. "YOU! You will PAY
DEARLY for this!" Her gaze shifted to the Guardians who were gazing
steadily back at her. She snickered and her lips curled maliciously.
"*I* am the only TRUE RULER OF EARTH! NO ONE will stand against me!
I shall return and when I do, all of you will be BEGGING for
With that, she vanished, leaving everyone else to stare silently
at the spot that she had occupied but moments before.
"There goes one very disturbed woman," Phoenix commented dryly.
"Indeed," Griffin replied as the Guardians turned about and began
walking away.
"Wait!" Sailor Moon called.
They halted. "Yes?" Griffin asked carefully, his back to them
"Will you . . . will you always help us? Are you on our side?"
Griffin shut his eyes wearily, though they could not see it, and
replied in a cool voice, "We serve our leader. That is all."
"Oh . . ."
"Sailor Moon?"
"If you have need of us . . . we will be there."
"Thank you."
"I need not be thanked. In serving you, I am serving him. It is
the closest that we will get for a while."

The shadowy form of Tuxedo Kamen suppressed a grimace. Sailor
Earth's powers are sealed away . . . for now. But she is nothing if
not persistent. However, it seems that they are managing without me.
Even *without* total group cohesiveness. Of course, it would
probably be easier if the missing players were here to attend to
their parts. And on that thought, he faded away.

Atop the roof of a building halfway across the city, the four
Guardians stood, the events of the evening running through their
"Did you feel his presence?" Kenneth asked, his grey eyes intense
with suppressed emotion. "He was guiding us!"
"Yes, it was almost his energy." Zephyr turned troubled eyes on
his leader. "But not quite."
"As we are not the same as we were before . . . so is he
"But why conceal himself from us? Why not summon us to his side?"
Jed's voice was filled with frustration.
"More than any of us . . . he is in danger. It is possible that
like us, he has yet to fully awaken." November's voice said calmly.
Kenneth nodded. "The time for waiting is over . . . Now, we must
act. The only way we will ever find our prince is by actively
searching for him, and until we find him, we cannot ignore our
duties. To this world, to these people, and to each other. Are you
with me?"
"Then pledge yourselves to serve and protect this world and its
High Prince . . . repeat the ancient vows that our ancestors swore."
Zephyr spoke first. "In this, the time of peace . . ."
Jed followed. "In this, the time of war . . ."
November intoned, "In this, the time of troubles . . ."
Kenneth continued, "We pledge ourselves . . ."
"To lay down our lives in the name of our Prince . . ."
"Our kingdom . . ."
"Our world . . ."
"And this solar system . . ."
All four spoke as one, "To protect from threats within and without
. . . Let the power of our mother Earth be granted unto us in as
full a measure as we can possess . . . to be used in defense of this
world and its ruler . . .


We hereby swear ourselves, Guardians of the Golden Kingdom of Earth."
"Guardian Phoenix!"
"Guardian Dragon!"
"Guardian Unicorn!"
"Guardian Griffin!"
"We are the Four Who Guard, keepers and guardians of Earth.
Protect us Great Mother to whom we owe life, Planet Earth. Let this
be a spell to bind us for all time. Here, do we renew our vows, in
the manner of our ancestors . . . in the manner of ourselves."

Green auras rose up and surrounded the four of them, intermixing
and flowing together until they had but one aura, that of the earth.
As they each took one step back from the circle, their aura's color
abruptly shifted.
Jed's from green to a blazing crimson.
November's from green to a dark pine green.
Zephyr's from green to a frosty blue-white.
Kenneth's from green to silver with flickerings of gold.

"And thus are we bound," Kenneth's voice said in the silence that
"Until such a time as you find your prince?" a female voice asked
The four men whirled, their auras blazing up as they took
defensive positions.
"YOU?" Kenneth asked in disbelief.
"Hai, Kunzite, in this life known as Kenneth Knight . . . it is

To be continued . . .

Okay, who's the mystery girl? I'm not telling! See if you can
guess . . .

Apologies for taking *SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO* long (Ack! Over a *YEAR* .
. . and I promised you wouldn't have to wait that long . . . *Sob
sob* I really did try, but Senior Year of High School was really
hectic! Not to mention that I moved 3000 miles this summer and was
without an internet connection for an abysmally long period of time.
On the plus side, University of California, Berkeley, which I started
attending in the Fall (Go Bears!) ^_- has a *very* speedy connection!
^_^ Anyway, this year there's been a lot of stuff going on that I'd
rather not go into, not the least of which was my computer deciding
that it wanted to go insane . . . ^^;;;) to get this part out. This
is going to be the last new part of "IAL:TLB" for a while (Gomen
nasai!!! I know you're mad. :( *Especially* since it took me THIS
long to GET this part out!). . . at least until I'm mostly through
"IAL:GB." 'Cause, it's like this, you see . . . Since "IAL:GB"
comes before "IAL:TLB" everything that happens in *that* season has a
REALLY big impact on this season and on subsequent ones. So in order
not to confuse myself or mess up the plot that I have planned, please
bear with me and support "IAL:GB"! Thank you! Oh, and yes, I will
try and keep up with "C&K" as well. It might not seem like it, but I
*am* working on all of them all of the time . . . Hopefully you'll
be able to see the results soon. ^_- My New Year's Resolutions this
year were to keep in touch/get back in contact with all my long-
neglected friends (*sniffle* Love you all!), reply promptly to all e-
mails, write as much and as quickly as possible, and at the very
least keep my webpage updated as to my writing status! Hmmm . . .
Oh, and try to do well in my classes of course. ^_^;;;

For those disappointed by the *TOTAL* lack of Fiore, Ailan, and Ann
and the *almost* total lack of Darien in this Episode, rest assurred
that the rest of the season will focus on them alone as the only
major villains. Rill will certainly be back, but the joint efforts
of the Sailor Senshi and the Guardians have certainly put her out of
commission for *quite* a while.

Also, for those disappointed by the quality of this piece, all I can
say is, once again, apologies! It went from a non-realized recap
episode, to a let's-remember-our-tragic-pasts episode-and-not-
actually-move-forward-with-the-plot episode *without* my cooperation
and *with* much bewilderment. Matters I had hoped to address and
didn't even touch on will be dealt with in future episodes. The plot
will pick up after this point, since (not counting the oh-so-short-
and-mostly-written epilogue) this episode marks the halfway point in
"IAL" season one! Finally!!!! ^_^ Can you believe this is my
fourth year writing this series and I'm still on season one? ^^;;;
But HEY at least I'm *still* writing it! Hmmm, at this rate it'll
take me, um, 44 more years or so to finish. ^^;;;;

I'm so depressed . . .

-Fushigi Kismet, January 13, 2001

*The Democratic Liberal Party/DLP is the political party that Rei's
father belonged to in the manga.

Usa Serena/Tsukino Usagi
Mamo Darien/Chiba Mamoru
Anderson-Mizuno Amy/Mizuno Ami
Hino Raye/Hino Rei
Kino Lita/Kino Makoto
Mist Zephyr/Zoisite
Raven Jed/Jadeite
Light November/Nephrite
Knight Kenneth/Kunzite
A(i)lan Galaxy/Ail Ginga
Ann Galaxy/Ann Ginga
Fiore Et/Fiore
Doom Tree/Makujii
Bell Rill/Beryl
Mystery Girl/Guess!
Shinozaki Kenji/Shinozaki
Kutou/Original Character

Ai to segai no sailor fuku bishoujo senshi, Sailormoon!=For love and
justice I am the sailor-suited pretty soldier, Sailor Moon!

Tsukini kawatte, oshiokyo!=In the name of the moon, I'll punish you!

Bento=A type of Japanese boxed lunch
Daijobu=It's all right/I'm all right
Gomen nasai=I'm very sorry
Imouto=Little sister
Kamis=Gods (It should probably actually be Kami-tachi, or something
to that extent . . . but it's hard using
Japanese terms in English. So I'll keep it as the
oft-used in fanfiction "kamis.")
Kuso=Shit (It's a curse word. This fits the context.)
Onee-chan=Older sister
Onii-chan=Older brother
Tadaima=I'm home
Urusai!=Shut up!