Ascension

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters in this story.


The reddish-orange patterns stained to Makoto's wrist, hand and fingers created a sort of disillusioned wonder land of swirls, curls and dips for the bored girl. As of late she'd been highly uninterested in the fractious meetings continually held at Rei's shrine. The persistent bickering from her closest friends and the inimical remarks spewed from the Outer Senshi's mouths only encouraged more fighting and less resolve. Usually she'd be the most effusive one battling against Haruka's sharp tongue or Michiru's staid yet cold comments. However, one day, when she received an especially harsh lashing from Setsuna, her inputs faded into the background and she let Rei's fiery temper and Minako's continuous berating fuel the conversations.

She pulled subconsciously at her khaki shorts, only now aware of how much of her legs they really showed. She liked them but they were small, too small. Clicking her tongue in shame that she'd have to get rid of such a cute pair of shorts, Makoto turned her unenthusiastic gaze back to her hand. She imagined a tiny stick man riding a stick horse over the lumps and twists generated by her henna tattoo.

Her ears perked as she heard a comment aimed in her direction but chose to ignore it and continue on with her little fantasy. She'd call it 'The Heroic Adventures of Kiki'. Yeah, that'd be it. It wouldn't even be a guy on the horse, it would be a girl. A young heroine fighting for the freedoms, justices, and liberties of women all around the world against the patriarchal background of an ancient Japanese society! Kiki, the lone rider. A smile came easily and she could hardly restrain a giggle bubbling on her lips. The three silver rings on her fingers would be the three castles dominated by the evil Japanese emperors; the biggest one on her middle finger would be Kiki's final destination…

I should be a novelist, Makoto thought as she propped her head up on a perched palm, and fixed her tank top's black strap from hanging off her shoulder to resting securely on it. Or at least a children's book writer, her thoughts continued as she looked out of a nearby window.

Her thoughts about Kiki's ride on grasses as green as the ones outside Rei's temple came to a halt when the voices inside the room rose to such a level that it was almost impossible to ignore. Refusing to turn her head from the outdoors, Makoto instead shifted her eyes towards the three standing Senshi. Rei and Haruka were in each other's faces again and Usagi stood between them with a worried frown.

"Will you all just shut up, please?" she demanded. With such a wavering voice and such pure intentions imbedded in her eyes, the Senshi of the future queen silenced themselves. All eyes turned to her as if expecting some sort of compensating speech, something that would calm their nerves and put each one of them back on level, but hot headed, terms. The silence that ensued, however, was uncharacteristic and set Makoto on edge. As of this moment she was nonplussed and so were her fellow Senshi as well as her future queen. Everyone's eyes stayed glued to Usagi as if fearing one shift might cause the newly formed balance to crack or break.

Not being so exposed to the conversation, Makoto was the first to turn her eyes away from her distraught princess and back towards her day dream about her newly created character. The tension built up between them was climbing to a new high and with a new enemy steadily revealing themselves the urge to go out there and train was all too overwhelming.

"Just… please." Even Usagi, now, was at a loss for words. The continuous debates and squabbles were even getting to the most optimistic of the entire collaboration, as she could see Ami's face flushed with frustration as well. The princess's feckless plea went in one of Makoto's ear and out the other, however seemed to have some sort of effect on the other Senshi.

Senshi business was becoming tiresome. It was becoming tiresome, pitiful, harmful, distracting and the antithesis of what the Senshi of Jupiter had once thought of it as. She was becoming bored with her duty, bored with her friends, and bored with this destined life she was supposed to lead. "I want change," she mumbled, more to herself than for anybody else to hear. Makoto felt her ears and face burn with redness as all eyes turned to her.

Usagi tilted her head to the side. "What did you say, Mako-chan?"

Makoto turned her head even farther away from the group in an attempt to hide her embarrassment. "Nothing," she recovered, waving a hand in their direction, "just me not paying attention."

"Your attention," Haruka began, and Makoto could tell she was trying her best to lay rest to the callousness in her voice, "should be directed towards this meeting, not towards whatever's distracting you."

The brunette knew that Haruka was trying to be as calm and polite as she could, given the circumstances, but Makoto could hardly restrain her cavalier remark before she turned back towards the window with her peerless gaze. "Oh. I was unaware we'd made any progress."

Before Haruka could respond, there was a shifting from the floor as Ami readjusted her position. She touched the bridge of her glasses farther up her nose and cleared her throat, a known trait of the bluenette when she had something to say. Pushing her hair behind her ear in a discreet fashion, she folded her legs under her butt and clasped her hands within her lap. Eyes closed, she began. "Enough is enough."

The perplexing beginning to her speech was enough to get the three Senshi standing to slowly take their seats as silence ensued again. Ami continued. "These vicissitudes are clouding our judgments and beliefs in one another and what we stand for. Such brazen and deleterious remarks will get us absolutely nowhere and are goading us down roads we don't want to, and don't have to, take. Have we fallen so far that our ideals and morals have become buffeted by our craven feelings and fatuous mistakes? If so," from her pocket Ami pulled her blue wand and placed it on the wooden floor before her, "then I officially abjure my position as Sailor Mercury."

The eyes of each Senshi widened in both surprise and fear at Ami's bold statement. "Ami, no," Usagi pleaded, tears beginning to form in the corners of her eyes. Standing from her seat she padded over to the blue haired Senshi and took one of her hands in her own. "Please, don't."

Ami lightly, and politely, took her hand back from her princess and held it up, as if to say, 'let me finish'.

"If not," she continued, turning her eyes from Usagi and looking at each and every one of her supposed comrades, "then I say we find some rational and pragmatic solution around this debacle, not over it or through it. The bonds between us have been dissipating, I know you all have seen it," she said grimly, "And the reasons stemming from this weakening are pitiful and ridiculous." Her voice rose an octave as her words lost their shyness and passion took its place. "We're supposed to be warriors of truth and justice who uphold some sense of honor, respect, and trust, yet we've betrayed each and every one of these."

It was clear she was trying to hold them back, but the curse of tears now made their way into Ami's eyes and she took off her glasses to wipe the droplets away. "The way we treat each other is unbearable and if giving up the one thing that's truly ever made me feel useful, powerful, or sanguine will solve this situation then so be it. I'm not the diffident girl I used to be, but if I need to revert back to her to escape this pathetic display of teamwork, then so be it. If I am the only one with the audacity to calmly and graciously state my disposition, then so be it!" she cried as she banged one fist on the floor beside her. With the collection of both anger and sorrow within her wavering voice, the words that Ami spoke caused some of the Senshi to look at her in a new light and a new respect.

"This group, then, of so called warriors for truth and justice is more pathetic than I thought, and I am extremely abashed to be a part of it or affiliated with it. So make your decision now, because I'm making mine." Her voice rose even higher now and cracked with the anger of a woman in fury but with the pain of sorrow as well. "Either exercise the rights and powers we've been given for the correct use, with the correct intents, as either friends or associates, or desecrate such a blessing with continuing this pitiable display of egos and destroy something so precious that we've so graciously been given."

The room was unbelievably silent as each girl stared at Ami in different levels of awe. Her air of confidence seemed to diminish as she truly realized that she'd gained each and every person's attention. Eyes cast towards the ground, she wished that somebody would say something. The only sounds she heard echoing in her head were not the bickering cries she'd heard before, but rather, and only, her own brave words.

Ami wished she hadn't cried during her presentation because such a display meant some sort of weakness. Luckily for her, the tears seemed to add a certain something to her vibrant display of character. Her entire speech had been extemporized, she'd hardly planned on officially offering to renounce her position as Sailor Mercury. It was just… something about all of the fighting crept under her skin and fed words to her mouth.

Usagi looked at Ami with a new sort of respect. She'd always known that Ami's acknowledged trait was her smarts, that was obvious with her unbelievably high scores and adamant studies, but to personally be on the receiving end of such a demonstration of pure and utter command of words gave the princess goose bumps. For some reason she felt so…beneath the blue haired Senshi.

Taking Ami's hand again, Usagi looked into her eyes with a sort of determination. "Ami-chan," she said softly, as to not harshly break the air of silence, "I solemnly swear to exercise my powers only for good and for anything that tries to do harm to this planet." She grinned, giving Ami's hand a sort of pat. "This is who I am, this is what I do. This is what we do, and we're all a family." She got a sort of lopsided, silly grin on her face as she continued. "We may just be in the family reunion stages," she started counting things off of her fingers, "we haven't seen each other in awhile, we're learning new things about each other, we just don't agree with each other on certain terms…" Ami giggled. "I can't quite use all of those big words like you, but I can say it in a sort of dumbed down version."

Ami could hardly restrain her smile as she looked towards the wooden floor of Rei's temple. Usagi just knew how to turn a situation around, she was the light of their lives, the light of this entire universe. In relation to any sort of perverse being Usagi stood out as an angel, a beacon of hope amongst wickedness and, in this case, the glue that kept their so-called team together. Ami figured this only because she saw how Haruka's eyes softened at the sight of her giggling princess and Michiru's frown was turned upside down, transforming into a small smirk. As well, Minako was beaming and Rei… well, Rei just didn't look so angry anymore.

The brainiac grinned, putting her free hand atop Usagi's hands grasping hers. "Family," was her single word commitment as she and her princess made eye contact. Ami was her first Senshi, and Usagi couldn't help but feel a sort of deeper understanding coming from the blue haired girl, such an affinity was hard to break.

"Family," Usagi responded.

Such a display of deep friendship and affection was broken as Setsuna pushed herself from the wall she'd been leaning against and stood now, instead of in a dark corner, in the center light of the room. "While it's good we've now recognized that we're some sort of established team," she said in her quiet, yet demanding voice, "I suggest we entertain ourselves with answers to the problem at hand."

Her remark was quiet yet peremptory and caused even Makoto to turn her eyes back towards the group in a certain determination to find an answer. Setsuna's efficacy over the rest of the Senshi caused Usagi to shiver and, momentarily, question her abilities as a head over her friends.

Usagi reached out and grasped Ami's wand in her own hands, feeling slightly strange at the odd power that pulsed through her body. Goosebumps rose to her flesh for the second time in ten minutes as she handed it to the mousy girl beside her. "Now, there will be no need for walking out on this group," she stated, "We're all in this together here, and we need each other. So you three," she pointed to the older Senshi sitting opposite her and her Inner court, "No more hints of separation."

Reluctantly Michiru nodded and Haruka slowly followed suit, though her expression held more of a halfhearted acceptance.

Setsuna's stern voice filled the room once again. "If our recommendations of separation are now null and void then the only option is to stick together," sitting down, the Time Keeper crossed her legs as well as her arms. "However, having eight people, assuming Mamoru-san is considered into this equation, following you around all day may seem a bit suspicious."

Usagi frowned and opened her mouth to respond but paused when she heard Rei's smooth voice interject.

"I understand what you mean, Setsuna, however I don't necessarily think we need to be around each other twenty-four seven." She crossed a finger over her chin. "School will have to be our time apart. If the enemy strikes during those hours then we have a situation on our hands, but for the time being I think we can handle ourselves. I'm by myself at T.A.," she pointed to the Inners, "You all are at Juuban, and you three," she pointed to the Outers, "have jobs."

"While that is a problem," Ami cut in, "it's an issue, for the moment, that we just have to deal with. Concerning after school," she continued, the discomfiture from her speech slowly waning from her voice, "I suggest we meet in a variety of places at different times. I believe it is imperative that we're together in our free time, no matter how suspicious."

Haruka shook her head, blonde flakes of hair falling into her eyes. "I'd have to disagree," she announced. "They already know who Usagi is. If we follow her around in every moment of our spare time then all of our identities would be revealed. Then how effective would we be?"

Minako frowned, the deep lines uncharacteristic on her face. She was addled. "So then are you saying that we should just," she waved her arm dramatically over Usagi's head, "leave her all by herself for the taking?"

Haruka's frown matched Minako's in an instant. "That's hardly what I'm saying," she said in requital, voice rising. "I'm just trying to elaborate on the fact that we'll be ineffective as a team if we serve our identities to them on a silver platter!"

To avoid more problems, Michiru put her hand on Haruka's shoulder. "Calm down, love."

With a frustrated sigh, Haruka roughly shoved her fingers through her hair in an attempt to soothe her nerves. "I'm not trying to be a separatist here," she began, trying a different approach, "but I'm trying to be rational. Usagi," the young blonde looked up at the mention of her name, "first I suggest we really try to delve into what these people were trying to say to you. You said they first showed up in a dream, correct?"

"Right," Usagi nodded. "I remember that he had slicked back hair, brown I think. And his eyes," she bit her lip with a sort of staid expression that was so unbecoming of the Usagi they saw every day, "they held such a cool confidence and power that the answers he demanded were almost impossible to deny—"

"—Wait," Michiru interrupted, halting the next words on Usagi's tongue. All eyes turned to the water Senshi as her usually kind gaze turned skeptic in a flash. "You never said anything about questions or answers, Usagi-chan," she quietly pronounced, gripping her skirt with her free hand in anticipation.

Usagi immediately blushed. Oh goodness. She'd made a mistake. She felt little gentility in Michiru's voice and almost immediately became shamed of her ignominy. Her stomach clenched in sudden fear. She'd forgotten. She'd completely and totally forgotten about his demands until this very moment.

"Umm… I didn't?" she questioned even though she knew the answer. She turned her gaze immediately to the wooden floor in a sort of accepting expectancy of harsh comments of her stupidity. What she'd anticipated came, but it wasn't so cruel or unsympathetic.

"Usagi-chan…" came Rei's worried voice from above her on a chair. The blonde closed her eyes, ready for some sort of verbal torture from her friend and was truly surprised when she felt a hand placed on top of her head. "What sort of things did he ask?"

The blonde blinked, only slowly recovering from her expectation of rude comments. "Um…" she stammered, not able to immediately find her words. "Well, at first he just asked me how many of us there were."

"And did you tell him?"

"I felt inclined to," she responded.

Rei's hand never left her head, and Usagi never turned around to face the Miko. "What else did he ask you?"

Usagi bit her lip and chewed it like a chew toy. "Well…" she mumbled. "He asked a lot about how good my grades were."

Rei blinked uncharacteristically in a sort of stupidity.

The room fell silent.

Minako cleared her throat. "Y… Your grades?"

"Yeah."

Ami looked confused. "No offence Usagi-chan, but why on earth would he want to know about your grades? They aren't even that good." The ice princess could hardly believe that a new enemy would tackle such an issue. A strange image popped into her head of a dark man questioning Usagi like a therapist; And how are your grades, Usagi-san? Do you do well in school? For some reason the sight irked her.

Usagi frowned. "I resent that!" she called out. "I may not be an A student but at least I've pulled it up to the C, B- range," she pouted, sticking out her lower lip in an over dramatized display of hurt.

Rei rolled her eyes. "Focus, Usagi-chan, focus," she tried, only to be the recipient of a comeback of 'I'm focusing, I'm focusing you question Nazi'. Giving a glare, the long haired youth decided to ignore the annoying comment. "Why would he question you about your grades?"

Giving a sigh, Usagi pulled her legs to her chest and rested her chin in the crevice of her knees. "Like I'm supposed to know. Maybe he was trying to butter me up or something. He kept asking me about you guys, actually. Especially you, Rei."

"Me?" Rei asked in surprise.

"Yeah, he seemed really interested in you. Definitely groping at the fact that you're a Miko. Maybe he had some sort of fetish…"

It was hard for Rei to ignore this comment when Minako burst into giggles. "So are you saying that this new enemy is hitting on Rei?" she asked, only sending herself into another wave of giggles. "How rich. He doesn't even know her! Wait until he sees her temper." Minako's grin was feral as Rei whipped her head around quickly.

"Hey, Minako."

"Yeah?"

"Shut the hell up."

"Oh, touchy."

Haruka had had it. "Enough," she interjected, cutting off Rei's retort to the bubbly blonde. Turning her head slowly from the squabbling teens and back towards her grinning princess, she asked, "What sort of other questions did he ask?"

Usagi scratched her eye and yawned. "Well, he also really wanted to know about the Ginzuishou—"

"How much did you tell him?"

Usagi blinked fiercely at Setsuna's quick exclamation. An odd feeling coursed through her body and the young blonde felt that she'd performed wrong in her attempt to be witty and enigmatic with their new opposition. With Setsuna's comment the entire room fell into a sort of sedated quietness. The anxiety in her voice lead to the belief that there was something that she knew, but wasn't telling them.

Usagi frowned and timidly responded to the intimidating woman. "Well, not much, seeing as how I don't really know much about it myself."

The Time Keeper nodded, leaning forward as if she were now on to something. "Did he ask you about any of us?"

Usagi put a hand to her head and scratched. "Well now that you mention it yeah, he was kind of adamant on getting information on Ami-chan, Mina-chan, and Mako-chan too."

Ami frowned. "Speaking of Mako-chan… she's been rather quiet."

All eyes turned with Ami's towards the table where Makoto sat. Her head was placed awkwardly in the tangled basket her arms created and her breathing was smooth and slow. She was asleep.

A cloud of tension built in the room as Haruka skeptically eyed Makoto's sleeping form. She'd looked tired when she came into the meeting, but sleeping during such an important gathering was agonizingly unacceptable. "Are you serious?" the short haired blonde announced loudly, almost as if she were trying to wake up the slumbering Senshi of Jupiter.

"Don't wake her."

The comment was expected to come from Usagi's mouth, but the dual comment was equally unexpected to come from Setsuna. Haruka's brows furrowed and she stared at her comrade in a sense of betrayal. Setsuna did not look back at her but Haruka knew that the Time Keeper was able to sense her confused eyes burning into her. The fact that she didn't look back struck something within Haruka. The bleak illusion that Setsuna would do anything to harm the Senshi as a whole, drained the thoughts of unfaithfulness to the Outer Senshi from her mind. There was so much Haruka wanted to ask.

"Don't ask questions, just do no wake her."

Once again, the depth of knowledge that Setsuna exuded caused each and every Senshi to heed her orders. It was almost as if it were an automatic reaction when the Setsuna said anything that the Senshi would almost instantaneously become obsequious to her every word. In some cases it irked Haruka that one Senshi could hold such power over the others, but the fact of the matter was that almost every statement Setsuna made in occasions such as this was pithy. Almost always her suggestions were incontrovertible thus she, and the other Senshi, refrained from waking Makoto.

Ami seemed addled by the Time Senshi's ominous remark but refused to question her and waited for the explanation to ensue.

"We're dealing with a whole new level," Setsuna began, face imbued with controlled worry. She folded her hands in her lap and evinced her hidden knowledge. "This might be confusing at first, so I'll go slow," she said, flicking a strand of long green hair over her shoulder. "However, I will not repeat myself." The room grew quiet and grim as Setsuna began.

"My duty is to guard the Gates of Time where, if in possession of a key, one is allowed to travel through time. While you've traveled through these gates, there are things about the vast internal structures of it that you haven't, and never will, experience." She place her hands under her chin. "This is really not allowed, but considering the circumstances I have no choice.

"There is an area inside of the gates called A-47 where all of the times of different places within our world are intertwined."

Rei's eyes flashed to the green haired Senshi. "Our world?"

Setsuna did not look up from the wooden floor and did not acknowledge Rei, however the Senshi stared at her now in both concern and disbelief.

"Next to area A-47 is area C-76. Area C-76 is where the times of different worlds, different dimensions, are intertwined. Each Time is connected in someway with another dimension and it's also part of my job to make sure that those connections don't falter. Each Time is represented by a sort of translucent string, and absolutely none of them touch. If this were to happen then the two dimensions would eventually merge and become one." Setsuna paused for this to sink in.

"I am not the only Keeper of Time. I look over our dimension and make sure that things like the Black Moon do not happen. Together, with the help of many other people, I also help to prevent the merging or interference of different dimensions. The other Time Keepers and I never associate with each other, and we never meet because each of our dimensional webs are located in our own dimension. It was your mother, Usagi, who told me this."

Usagi felt her throat tighten at the mention of her late mother. The information coming from Setsuna hardly met with normality in her brain. Other dimensions? Like, there could be a place filled with rainbows and butterflies, and happy people…or uh, happy other beings? She nodded for Setsuna to continue.

The Time Senshi's eyes became hard now and she clenched her fist. "I thought I felt something last month and went back to the gates to check on area A-47. There was nothing wrong so I proceeded to area C-76, where our line and another line were too close for comfort. If I had not known better I would have said that they were touching. Our line, however was still placed correctly in the Dimensional Web, but the other was not. This means that somebody in that dimension was strong enough to tamper with our dimension and I believe, Usagi, that it was that man in your dream."

"Are you saying that the Ginzuishou is so powerful that enemies from other dimensions are trying to take it from us?" Michiru asked, perplexed beyond all belief as to how such a thing could happen.

Setsuna's nod was curt. "Yes."

Minako stared skeptically at Setsuna as the rest of the Senshi started to mull about. Her brain was just beginning to come to grips with this outrageous assertion but there were too many questions unanswered. Too many questions that she now believed could not be answered by Setsuna. "Why were we not to wake Mako-chan?"

The room stilled and fell silent and Setsuna finally turned her attention to somebody. "We've had troubles with this time line interfering with ours before. Somebody there seems unyielding in their efforts to obtain the Ginzuishou. Twelve years ago the lines briefly touched."

Ami's hands shook with slight fear. "What?"

"It was enough to allow something through. Four monsters appeared: One in Ontario, Canada, one in Canberra, Australia, one in Paris, France, and the last was here, in Tokyo. I managed to exterminate them all with as little damage as I possibly could, however there were casualties. Two of them were her parents."

Usagi placed a hand to her mouth in surprise and Rei's expression became more grim. The dark haired Miko now knew what Setsuna was getting at. She'd already told Makoto about area C-76 and about the time lines.

"One; I've already told her and two; she's not really asleep."

Minako blinked. "Say what?" she asked as she got up and walked cautiously over to Makoto. Leaning over the brunette's shoulder she was confronted with a sheepish smile. Frowning, Minako slapped the girl's shoulder in both mock and true anger. "You're unbelievable," she growled, trying to hide the smirk edging at her lips.

"Sorry," was her only response.

Rei couldn't help but feel importunate anger bubble in the pit of her stomach as she stared on at Makoto. The attitude of the Senshi of Jupiter had been rather mercurial as of late and it annoyed Rei to no end seeing as how they were in the middle of a plight. She'd become flighty and boring and rarely paid attention to their meetings anymore which were an integral part of the Senshi relationship. She'd have confronted her by now but Rei knew that Makoto was as obstreperous when it came to control as she was. "Why were you faking sleep, Mako-chan?" she asked.

Makoto ostentatiously yawned. "I was tired so I put my head down."

Rei stood up so fast that her chair toppled for a few moments, leaning precariously on its legs. The dam holding back her fury snapped. "Why have you been so cavalier lately?" she questioned, body rigid with anger. "We're in the middle of one of the most dangerous situations we've ever met with, and you're trying to separate yourself from the group! You're so immature Makoto."

Usagi stood and placed a hand on her shoulder trying to placate the infuriated Senshi's temper. "Rei-chan, please calm down," she pleaded.

Minako looked back and forth between the feuding Senshi and saw that Rei's guileless outburst was provoking anger in Makoto as well.

"What, was that some euphemism for bitch, Rei?" Makoto bit back.

"I swear to goodness, Makoto—," Rei began, taking a step towards the girl before Ami stepped in front of her and put a firm hand to her chest and the other to Makoto's forehead, who'd stood at Rei's advancement.

"You two can't be serious right now!" she exclaimed, embarrassed for them. "Did we not just have this discussion? BOTH of you are being immature and we need helpful and mature people to handle this situation. So if you will, please sit down and shut your mouths so we can continue with figuring out what the hell we're going to do if our world is consumed by another!" With an exasperated huff, Ami gave each of them a shove as she sat back down in her spot and folded her hands. "Now Setsuna," she continued, ignoring those who were staring at her, "what do you suppose we do about this problem?"

Setsuna's visage went from temporarily stunned at Ami's interference between the two Inner Senshi, to stoic in a matter of seconds. "There's only one solution," she provided quietly, earning the attention of her audience once more. She eyed each of the girls before her and idly wondered if she should have just gone and fixed the problem herself. That would have been impossible, however, because the man in the alternate dimension already knew who Usagi was.

"And that would be?" Michiru asked, gripping Haruka's hand in anticipation.

Setsuna let loose a heavy sigh. "The only way to prevent such a problem would be to confront it ourselves."

"Which means?" Rei asked, though the answer was already firmly imbedded in her mind.

"We must enter the alternate dimension to eradicate the dilemma."


There'd been a long stretch of fighting between the Senshi as to whether or not Usagi should enter the alternate dimension. Eventually it was decided that she wouldn't, and would stay behind, instead, with Haruka, Michiru, and the budding Hotaru to protect her. This left the Inner Senshi to tackle what they called 'the issue abroad'.

"I can only take you into the gates, like I did when you traveled to the future," Setsuna began. "Queen Serenity told me that, if in dire need, the safest way to enter would be from inside of the gates. Go left," she instructed, "instead of going forwards like to the future." She stared hard at the four Senshi entering the dimension.

"Hold hands tight and do not let go," she demanded, emphasizing this harshly. "Unlike going to the future, I will have absolutely no way of finding you, you could be lost in another world." She watched as they fidgeted nervously but had no sympathy for them. "When the strings are brought together you will see an opening. Enter it as quickly as possible," she said, then reiterated, "as quickly as possible. If the opening is left awake for too long then it could cause a tear in the dimensional walls and make it easier for this enemy to reach Usagi-chan, and even announce your presence in the world."

Each of the Inner Senshi, fully transformed, nodded and pulled on their backpacks, filled with the fundamentals. "When you get there, the rest is up to you. Communication will be sparse, and most likely through dreams, seeing as how I am not physically allowed to enter another Time Keeper's domain. Understood?"

They nodded.

"Good. Then let's go."

Goodbyes had already been said and only hello's waited for them in the future.

Venus stood holding Mars's and Jupiter's hands as Setsuna thrust her staff in the air and called for the gates to open. She wished she would have said goodbye to her mother or Artemis, or even a bigger goodbye to Usagi as she recalled what Setsuna told her earlier.

"Don't die, Minako," she'd said, "if you die in another dimension I'm not sure the Ginzuishou will be able to bring you back." She'd been amazed that Setsuna had disclosed this information to her and her alone, when the Time Senshi had continued. "Spread the word to the others when you reach your destination, but do not tell anyone else. It could spur unnecessary things." And she hadn't. Only now she wished she had.

Before she knew it, Venus was inside of the gates, the ferocious winds buffeting her face as she gripped Mars's and Jupiter's hands tighter. Left, she remembered and steered her friends in the correct way. On the path they almost lost Mercury twice, but held onto the smaller girl before seeing a small white opening.

"Quick!" Venus called, pulling her friends as hard as she could towards the light. They stepped through and the winds disappeared, the hole behind them closing and enveloping them in a white cloud of nothingness.

It was impossible to breathe. The pressure was so unbelievable that Venus tore her hands from Mars and Jupiter to grip at her throat in terror. Her body felt like it was caving in and it began to jerk with lack of oxygen. Venus looked down to see Mars, Mercury and Jupiter in a similar situation, although Mars and Mercury were still connected by their hands.

Hold hands tight and do not let go.

Venus's eyes widened and gripped Mars's hand tight as their dissention began. She could see that they'd made it to the alternate dimension as the cutouts of a city formed beneath them. She reached out her left hand to grip Jupiter's but the girl was nowhere in sight. At this she panicked and looked up, seeing that she was falling slower than them, due to the heaviness of three people versus one.

She couldn't hear anything as the wind rushed around her ears. Jupiter's helpless cries were lost and all Venus could remember was one of her best friend's pleas as she drifted away from them.

Please find me…

She made a pact with herself and vowed to find her. They were already in the dimension and near their destination which meant that Jupiter would not be lost in another world or on the opposite side of this one. I'll find you, she mouthed back tiredly, and the last thing she remembered was Jupiter's smile of thanks before she drifted into unconsciousness.