Author's Notes: Here's chapter seven. Hopefully it's as enjoyable as all the other chapters thus far!
Usagi, Ami, Rei, Makoto and Minako all sat around the table in the Crown Center Fruit Parlor, the severity of the situation before them weighing somewhat heavily on all of their shoulders. Luna and Artemis were there as well, but because of the stigma of having them near the table, they were resting in Usagi and Minako's respective bags.
They had discussed the present issue at length, which left them all with a somewhat sour feeling. So far, they had come across two individuals—three if they counted the one met by the outer senshi—all of whom seemed to have very little in common…or if they did, it was unable to be concluded at the moment.
But, after all that had happened, the girls were feeling drained. Between school, clubs and suddenly having to reincorporate fighting into their lives again, things had become once again complicated.
"So let's go over what we know again," Luna suggested.
"We've got three known enemies so far," Rei said. "Two women and one boy."
"They seem to be pretty powerful," Makoto added. "The one from last night dodged all of our attacks…and what he shot back at us was almost overwhelming."
"They've all attacked at night, haven't they?" Minako inquired suddenly. "The first one I battled against happened at night. The one Haruka and the others ran into was in the evening…and then yesterday, you three faced it right after nightfall. Right?"
Ami, Rei and Makoto all nodded their heads.
"Sounds to me like whoever these people are, they don't like the sunlight. Because there hasn't been one attack during the day."
"There have only been a few attacks thus far, though," Luna explained. "So we can't say with certainty that that's the case. But it seems to be our only real conclusion up to this point…"
Ami, who had been mostly quiet up until that point, suddenly said quietly, thoughtfully, "Ambition…superstition…dreams…" It caught the attention of everyone else sitting around the table, all of whom quieted down to listen. Snapping her fingers, the blue haired girl smiled. "I've got it! What do they all have in common? Fear."
Usagi made a strange noise to show her confusion, as well as scratched her head. "Fear?"
"Yes. Don't you see? It makes complete sense! You chase ambition, you hold superstitions, and you dream…and in each and every case, there's usually a want or a fear behind it."
"Why wouldn't it be wants, then?" Rei asked curiously.
"Well," Ami began, "if it were wants that they were chasing after, wouldn't they have much better luck going after people during the daytime? I mean, that's when most people are actively taking part in chasing their ambitions and dreams. Superstitions usually involve some kind of fear, too…the fear that something bad will happen in a certain given situation." After a pause, she added with a smile, "Plus, Michiru said she felt fear in the mirror."
Everyone's faces fell at first, but they all began making agreeing noises afterwards. It was true, what Ami said.
Usagi grinned. "That's our Ami! Always coming up with the answers!"
Ami's face quickly turned pensive. "That still doesn't answer all of our questions, though. Why are they here? What's their purpose for attacking people and feeding off of their fears?"
"Those seem like answers that'll come in time," Makoto said. She took a sip of her soda. "I think we'd be safe in assuming that whatever they want, it's bad…and that it involves hurting people to get it."
"That's another odd thing," Ami continued. "The people that have had their fear taken out of them…they don't turn into the monsters…the monsters come from the fear itself. So why do they just leave the people behind?"
"We'll have to investigate that further when another attack happens," Artemis said. "All we can do now is…well, wait."
"That doesn't sound very positive," Luna said, shooting a look to the other cat.
"Well, if what Minako said is true, then we can't do anything until nightfall, can we?"
Luna growled faintly. She hated it when Artemis was right, although she didn't quite know why.
. . .
"Foolproof plan, huh?"
Dreadma looked at Somasis with an almost haughty expression on her face. It was nice to know that he had failed, after all of his boasting. Not that she wouldn't come right out and say it, of course…
Somasis, who was sitting in one of the run down chairs, said sharply, "Shut up! There were three of those obnoxious girls there, none of which I had been expecting. And last I checked, yourtargets weren't capable of using magic on you if they were mortal. So in a way it was like I was up against four."
"Big deal." Dreadma shook her head. "I went up against four as well, and I still scraped by alive."
"Last I knew, you ran with your tail between your legs before the battle even begun," Somasis said almost acidly. "At least I stuck around and tried to fight them."
Before Dreadma was able to get out another word, Eziret made himself known by clearing his throat and then chuckling. Both she and Somasis quieted down, looking in his direction.
"Catfighting already?" he asked.
"Not funny," Somasis whined faintly. He got up from the chair and moved toward Eziret, almost pouting. "She's trying to make me feel guilty for failing, when really, she failed worse than I did!"
Dreadma was indignant. "I was not—"
"Quiet," Eziret said sternly. "This is neither the time nor the place for you two to start arguing. We have a mission to accomplish here. With three failed attempts, it's a wonder Phantasmos hasn't punished all of us. This is becoming a little ridiculous."
"They're tougher than you think." Dreadma, who had calmed down since her sudden outburst, brushed her hands down her front and wrinkled up her nose momentarily in distaste. "These guardians for the planet, they're always there whether you want them to be or not. Somasis went after them directly after his failed attempt, and he couldn't battle three alone."
Eziret remained quiet and thoughtful in appearance. Somasis, who had again moved closer, brushed off something from the taller man's shoulder. "What are you planning to do, Eziret?"
"I don't plan on failing, for one," Eziret said. Noticing the way that both Somasis and Dreadma stiffened, he continued, "We've been caught off guard by them long enough. Now it's time to set a trap. If these girls have these kinds of abilities, then they likely have strong enough dreams, hopes—anything—that will help our Faras to maintain corporeal states long enough to keep them alive in the sunlight. Without that strength, then we'll have no way of attacking more and more during the day."
"A world without healthy ambitions or dreams is a dark thing indeed," Dreadma said mockingly, with a smile on her face.
Somasis smiled eagerly. "What's the plan, then?"
"If they want to attack in groups, then we'll attack in groups. Or…in this case, pairs."
He stepped away from Somasis, who stumbled after him for a moment before stopping in the middle of the room, while Eziret continued toward one of the covered windows. The swirling black hole that covered it cast a faint glow over his pale skin.
"While Somasis and I attack one part of the city, you and Anxa are going to attack another. We've come across…what, nine of these monstrous girls now? We can handle them better if there's another one of us there. One can keep them occupied while the other continues doing their job: extracting fear from the humans. And with two groups, their focus will be split. Assuming all of them show up for duty, that is. If they don't? Even better."
It irritated Dreadma that she hadn't come up with a similar idea. Then again, it was easy to create such elaborate concepts when all you did was watch while others took chances. Maybe it was smart of him, or maybe it wasn't. Either way, she feared that he was attempting to gain more face with Phantasmos. If he did, then there was a possibility that she would lose herself as first in command. And of course, that was exactly was Eziret was doing. He wanted nothing more than to see Dreadma lose her position and for him to take it. After all, that was what he had wanted for so long…
"A good plan," Dreadma conceded with a guarded pose.
"Of course it's a good plan!" Somasis said. "Eziret always comes up with good plans. Don't you?" He turned toward the taller one, grinning.
"It'll be your duty to chase after who I tell you to," Eziret said. "I'll keep these guardians busy. They won't know what hit them." The tall, dark haired man folded his arms over his chest.
This would work out perfectly.