You can guess the crossover. Ranma won't wear a fuku, and also no tuxedo. He won't be some re-incarnation. He is just... Ranma. I want to avoid numerous stuff that became the norm in these crossovers but that actually is pretty stupid. I also will make it clear that while Ranma and the Senshi learn new techniques, I won't sink to the insane levels of the canon, where it became an absurd arms race in the later parts of both series. It's a common weakness in anime series that the power level increases to ridiculous levels. (In my opinion, DBZ is the worst offender in that regard in the anime world) I will try to stay on Earth and try to give everything a bit more realistic feeling (as much as it as it is possible) but don't worry... hilarity will still ensure!

Needless to say that I will slaughter the canon of both series, but I guess you expected this. Also I don't have any rights to both series, but I guess you know that, too.

This took a little longer than expected, since I really felt some scenes needed fine-tuning. There's no big batte involving the Senshi in this one, but at least I added a good excuse why they didn't fight. This starts the next arc, the "Golden Crystal"-arc.

I do have a page for the story at TV Tropes, the link is found in my bio. Please help to contribute to it if you feel like it.

As always, I try to answer all reviews and I'm always happy for reviews.

Note that specific notes are at the end of the chapter, to avoid spoilers.


Chapter 34: Secret of the Stones

"I'm really curious what she found out from that book; she did make it sound quite suspenseful after all. Well, at least this time they are not excluding us from the action," Haruka commented while Haruka and her walked up the stairs to the Hikawa Shrine.

It was early afternoon, shortly after schools had finished, and Ami had pretty much told everyone that this was quite important - namely her finally having finished taking apart that book about the old Earth Kingdom, which would help them in their search for Mamoru's Golden Crystal.

"You're still sore about that?" Michiru wondered. "Honestly, why are you so disappointed you didn't get to give this Herb and her lackeys a piece of your mind?"

"I might be a huge tomboy, but I don't hide the fact I'm a woman." Haruka grimaced at what the others had told them about the Musk. "The attitude these jerks have concerning women is insulting me on a fundamental level."

Michiru smiled a little. Haruka might like to wear clothes that were associated with men, but she made it very clear to the world she was a woman. Contrary to the common tomboy cliches, Haruka was proud of her gender and quite willing to wear dresses and feminine clothes when she felt like it - not that this happened too often. Also, Michiru knew by first-hand experience that Haruka, contrary to her otherwise masculine choice of clothes, did use very feminine undergarments, much to her mate's delight.

Finally reaching the top of the stairs, they saw Ami waiting for them. "Good, with the two of you, all of us are present now," Ami said and they walked inside, where they were greeted by the usual chaos.

Considering what she was about to reveal, attendance was quite high. Besides the Senshi and Mamoru, there were Ranma, Akane, Xian-Pu, Mu-Tsu, Ryo, Luna, Artemis, Phobos, Deimos and, surprisingly, Hotaru. On the other hand, none of the adults were present, which spoke for how much they were trusting them. Umino was not yet comfortable with being involved in such matters and had excused himself in advance.

Right at the moment however, everyone were distracting themselves. Makoto was shamelessly flirting with Mu-Tsu, much to Xian-Pu's amusement. Ranma was bragging to Akane and Ryo about something regarding the art. Naru was showing off to Usagi how she could balance her sickle on one finger. Minako was busy with telling Rei hwo she'd seen some boys looking at her butt - considering her having been cursed until recently it was a big development. Finally, Hotaru giggled while listening to Setsuna telling her about some of the misadventures she'd had in her own youth. Everyone else was busy with talking.

Michiru looked at the distracted teenagers with slight amusement. "Ah, I see things are as usual."

Ami sighed, wondering why even now her friends couldn't stay focused.

"Now, you just need to show a firm hand. Imagine you're a teacher in front of her class," Michiru suggested.

"Your attention, please!" Ami called, taking Michiru's advice. Everyone stopped what they were doing and paid her attention. "Thank you. Since you already know why we are here, let's skip that part."

Everyone knew what this was about and it did provide them with something they could do about the current situation.

The Dark Kingdom and the Death Busters were still attacking each other; over the last few days alone there had been three clashes. Two of these had happened in the outer districts and were over before they had been able to interfere. They did arrive just when the third clash had started, thanks to Setsuna, and it had been a messy affair. Regardless how much Youma and Daimons hated each other, the sight of the Senshi reminded them to kill these opponents first.

None of them even wanted to imagine this happening way earlier, at a time when they hadn't been in training. All these hard and tiring lessons were starting to pay off and they had managed to take these enemies down with some effort. Still, they needed more advantages if they wanted to stem the tide, considering the resources their enemies had at their disposal.

Ami had read the book about the old Earth Kingdom from cover to cover, trying to filter out all the important facts - especially those Ranma's great-grandfather could have missed - in order to get as complete a picture as possible. Cross-referencing with data from the Mercury Computer did help, although Ami was annoyed that her previous life clearly had been somewhat disorganized, judging by the gaps in the database and the weird data structure, making her wonder how different that woman had been from her.

"Don't keep up the suspense. What did you learn in that book which can help us find Mamoru's crystal?" Naru asked, unable to wait any further.

Naru had spelled it out. Everyone knew this was about the Golden Crystal and where it was hidden. The need for it had become obvious due to recent events and Helios had underlined that it was important to gain it. Ami had dedicated much of her free time to studying the book Ranma's great-grandfather had given them.

"That's what I would like to know as well. Endymion never got told where to find it, due to his age, but to be fair, it's not like he chose to die young," Mamoru remarked, annoyed that neither he nor Helios could simply know the location. Perhaps that would have been too easy.

"I was about to explain that..." Ami said, sounding a bit annoyed to make sure there wouldn't be more interruptions while taking out the Mercury Computer. "Yes, I finally managed to filter out all the important information and entered it into the computer. Just to make sure, I also made it digitize the entire text for later cross-reference."

"Your computer can do that? Boy, must be great for keeping down library fees," Usagi remarked, making no secret of the fact that the library was a place she avoided whenever possible.

Ami rolled her eyes at her friend's comment. "Usagi, I use the Mercury Computer for Senshi business and other serious things, not for being cheap on the library system. That, and I prefer to read actual books instead of looking at a screen."

Usagi looked embarrassed. Being scolded by Ami of all people was very good to put you into place. That girl was outright intimidating when being in full teacher-mode.

"Good thing you'll never become ruling royalty..." Luna commented snarkily from the sidelines, earning her a sharp look from Usagi. "What? You know where that ended, so you are better off leaving that one alone."

"Luna..." The mooncat was just plain luck that being pregnant shielded her from any kind of physical answer.

"Now, before I got interrupted again..." Now Ami really looked annoyed and everyone shut up. "There of course was the number regarding the first temple's distance relative to the capital: 'It was said, that the first temple is located in the lands 137 kilometers east of the capital.'"

"Studying the book, I managed to fix the location where Atlantis had been in the ocean after correcting the tenfold error, which really did make all numbers smaller by a factor of ten. That in turn did allow me to calculate, where the temple is located using the distance to the east. Here is what I managed to conclude."

Ami activated a command and the Mercury Computer started to project a hologram of the world, before zooming in on the Atlantic Ocean west of the coast of Portugal. The zoom went further, zeroing in on the island group of the Azores. Finally, the zoom stopped on the westernmost of the bigger islands, a circle surrounding an area on it.

"1370 kilometers east of the former capital, there is only one possible landmass that fulfills the criteria. It's Flores Island of the Azores. This must be where the first temple is located, which can be unlocked by the Sunstone that Ranma's great-grandfather recovered from that demon," Ami came to the point.

Naru took a look at the size of the island. "Please don't tell me we have to search the entire island! That place is quite big and the temple must be well hidden if no one has found it yet."

"Thankfully, no. Once being on the island, I can use my computer to scan for magical traces. Since magic is obviously already involved with the locking mechanism, there should be enough to find," Ami said.

"Boy, I don't even want to imagine how screwed we would have been without you," Rei admitted, knowing none of them would have managed to do what Ami did. "We wouldn't have even known were to start looking."

Ami for her part felt flattered; this was one of these times where she did get the deserved recognition for her high intellect. "Well, that is what I've found out. What we need to do is go to the island and recover the clues for the next temple."

"Call me ignorant, but how are we supposed to get to the other side of the world? After all, that's not like going to another district of Tokyo," Ranma asked, seeing the one big problem with the situation.

Setsuna then noticed the looks. "Sorry. While I can take along others for teleportation inside Japan, that distance here is way too great for me. I could go on my own just fine, but even trying to take a single person along would have really messy results for the passenger."

"Eh... messy? How do you mean?" Minako asked, her imagination getting the better of her.

"Ever watched the first Star Trek film? Remember the scene when the transporter malfunctions and you essentially got the answer what will happen," Setsuna said.

"Ouch..." Ranma commented. He'd seen the movie on TV but found it to be quite dull and too long for his tastes.

Those in the know looked quite a bit sick when remembering what the scene did entail. Hotaru did look quite pale. "I wish I hadn't watched that film..."

Hearing these news, Haruka rolled her eyes. "That's great... How are we supposed to go on this treasure hunt if you taking us along could turn us into minced meat? You know, can't you cheat? Just go to the gates with us first and then our destination?"

"You think I didn't think of this? Sadly, that wouldn't work, either. The rules of teleportation are pretty strict, you know," Setsuna explained, impressed Haruka actually got the idea in the first place. "However, there is a solution. Senshi do have a group teleportation spell they can use to travel to other places. It just needs them to be sufficiently able to control their power and at least five Senshi are needed."

They looked at each other. Since they had almost double the number of needed Senshi available, the teleportation issue clearly would be no problem. Mamoru however did have a question. "Is my magic compatible with that?"

"Yes, though it was never tested due to the political situation in the past. The attempt alone would have caused political unrest. Since you also are bonded to a planet, in this case Earth itself, there should be no issue," Setsuna said.

"Well, then..." These news made Mamoru remember a certain problem which the quest would give them. "Wait, does that mean we can also use it to get the Moonstone? Remember, Endymion had it on himself when he died on the Moon, so it's still there," he asked.

"Most likely, but we would still need protection from outer space, which is not a very healthy place for human beings," Setsuna reminded him, seeing the problem since the artificial atmosphere was of course long gone.

"Sounds like a job for you," Ranma remarked to Ami.

"Thanks for the vote of confidence. And yes, I'm already working on it. Usagi can learn a spell she can channel through the Silver Crystal that protects the entire group. I found it in the data files some time ago." Ami then gave Usagi a knowing look. "She only has to commit herself to actually working hard to learn it."

"Ami, I thought you told me you dislike making fun of others?" Usagi complained, whining a little.

"Oh, that just was a little reminder for you to take this seriously," Ami said, making it clear that Usagi would not get around putting real effort into learning the spell.

"Well, better make sure her thoughts won't drift off while she's learning it," Artemis advised Luna. Hearing Minako giggle at Usagi's misfortune, he then turned to her. "Don't think you can throw the first stone, young lady. Just remember whenever I have to make you do your homework." Now Minako wisely shut up.

"So, this is all good and fine, but what's next?" Rei asked, once this by-play was over.

Some time later...

"Me and my big mouth... I didn't think it would mean right away," Mars groaned.

"That's life. Better get used to it," Uranus told her.

Standing in the gardens behind the shrine - well hidden from curious eyes - they were preparing for their little adventure. They hadn't exactly expected starting the search right away, but Setsuna made it clear the situation didn't allow for any laziness on their side - which Usagi knew was a gentle reminder to her not to let some of her bad habits creep back in.

"I just wish I could come with you," Akane sighed, knowing very well there was a good reason she would sit out this treasure hunt.

After all, even with their group teleport, taking more than one person without magic along with them would be quite a strain; and the only slot was filled by Ranma as the most experienced of them, thus why everyone else had to stay home. This did not sit well with some of them, but that was life and they had to accept the facts.

"I know you want to, but taking along Ranma is already difficult enough," Mercury said, then gave Ranma a look when noticing he looked nervous. "Please, you've teleported with Pluto numerous times. Why are you nervous now of all times?"

"Maybe the fact you girls do this for the first time, and unlike you I don't have any magic to protect me if it goes wrong?" Ranma told her.

Mercury knew where Ranma was coming from. "You do know it doesn't work that way."

"Of course I know. Still can't help but expect something to go wrong," Ranma insisted.

Mercury knew Ranma's first impression of magic had been his curse. While his opinion about magic had improved significantly after meeting the Senshi, the bad first impression had left its mark, even if it didn't come up often. Excusing herself to Akane, she felt some more gentle words were needed to make him less nervous.

Meanwhile, Hotaru stood a little apart from the others, watching the preparations in silence.

Deep inside however, she felt disappointed she wasn't going with them on their quest. She hadn't told anyone, but after the adventure in the realm of dreams, something in her had changed. In her dreams she now regularly watched scenes from her previous life. It was saddening to see how misunderstood the poor woman had been, the powers of Saturn resulting in her leading a lonely life.

Hotaru for her part felt the people fearing her had been stupid. They'd thought her to be some sort of grim reaper, causing death to those around her. Nothing could have been further away from the truth. While it was true that Saturn did have the power to destroy the world, in was drilled into them right away that this meant a huge responsibility to not use that power ever, unless the world was doomed anyway.

They were stupid. As much as Saturn has dark energy at her disposal, she really is about protection and healing, Hotaru thought, then looked to the others again. I'm feeling so much better now and I really want to do something.

Recently, a longing had grown in Hotaru, where the ringed planet called out to her. She had not felt ready to shoulder the responsibility back then, but with her being in a supportive and good environment, she was starting to feel that she would soon be ready for it. Hopefully, it wouldn't be premature.

While Hotaru was left alone with her thoughts, others were more vocal.

Jupiter had her arms crossed, looking a little ticked off when having heard Mu-Tsu grumbling that he wish he could travel along with her. "Really? You know I can fight my own battles. Didn't you say yourself you can only get into a relationship with a girl you can respect from being able to defend herself?"

"I know you can defend yourself well and fight your own battles, but I still don't like sitting here and doing nothing. I know I can't always help and you are doing your battles fine, but listening to all this only to then stay behind... I don't like it," Mu-Tsu told Jupiter, not liking how he felt.

She did understand him too well. Uncrossing her arms, she put her hands onto his shoulders. "To be honest, I would feel better as well if you could accompany me. Sometimes it simply sucks to be the hero."

Mu-Tsu had no answer to that. "I know you can't promise it, but please come back unharmed."

"Oh, you!" Jupiter pulled him close and embraced him. "How can such a brutal backwater produce someone as thoughtful as you?" She then giggled when he started to blush.

Moments later, preparations were done.

"I hope nothing goes wrong," Sailor Moon said when they finally started to get into position, still a little unsure about them being able to teleport.

"Please relax. This kind of group teleport either works as intended, or nothing happens at all. We told you, remember? The safety of this method is, why it was adopted in the first place," Luna reassured her.

That clearly didn't do a lot to soothe her fears. "You know, that doesn't help a lot."

Luna sighed. "Just try to not think about it, OK?"

"Easier said than done..."

Moments later the Senshi and Endymion did join in a circle, Ranma standing in its center. They then held their hands to close the circle. As nervous as they were about this thing, they still kept silent and concentrated on working the magic, although they had little idea what exactly they were supposed to do. It was not like saying some specific magic words.

At first, nothing at all happened, making some of them wonder if something had gone wrong. Then however, a white glow started to surround them and finally filled the garden, blinding everyone for a moment.

When the glow vanished, the group was gone as well.

"Well, they are on their way now," Artemis said while looking at the slightly singed grass. "It did work as intended. Now we can only wait what will come out of it."

"I just hope nothing unexpected happens. We don't exactly have the best track record with unexpected surprises," Luna sighed, remembering some past incidents.

"I know you wish you could keep an eye on them, but they are almost adults by now. That, and you have someone else to think about." Artemis poked a paw at Luna's mid-section. "I know despite everything you don't want to endanger Diana."

Luna's thoughts went to their unborn kitten and she knew Artemis was right. Getting into dangerous situations was a no-go with a kitten on the way. It did make her wonder if her own mother had been this nervous as well when she had been on the way. She didn't think often of the past because it was depressing that everything she had known had turned to dust long ago.

They however were not the only ones lamenting they had to stay behind.

"I really don't like that we can't do anything while they are risking their necks," Akane lamented, feeling a bit bad about it.

"Don't be too hard on yourself," Ryo told her, putting an encouraging hand onto her shoulder. "All of us feel bad we can't do more, but that's simply how things are and in this case we can't change it. Have some trust in your friends; they by now know how to defend themselves quite well."

"I wish I could..." However, Akane didn't say this in bitterness. "In my head I know my limits, but my heart is not exactly rational."

Up in a tree, Phobos and Deimos were looking at the singed circle in the grass. While they did have the uttermost confidence in their changes' skill, they nonetheless couldn't help but to still worry about them. After all, being immortal beings, they had watched many Senshi die - either from old age or from battle wounds. They were not eager to have an early repeat performance.

"She's right, you know. Staying behind while our charges set out to adventure is more difficult than one might imagine," Deimos sighed.

"Trust me, I know..." Phobos sighed. "Setsuna is the only one who understands that being immortal isn't as cracked up as it appears to be... Well, nothing we can do now. Before, we could at least observe, but with them being at the other side of the world..."

Deimos knew her brother was right and why they were only now feeling like this.

o

"Ah yes, exactly as our great Master did anticipate. They did swallow the bait," Beryl mused when observing her crystal ball lighting up, alerting her of a certain event.

She looked up to the gathered court of Youma, all of which had become restless as soon the the crystal ball had started glowing. "Call for my Generals! The situation has changed and the time to act has come."

Three messengers left right away to summon Jadeite, Zoisite and Kunzite from their various tasks, each of them currently not present in the Dark Kingdom itself. While waiting for their return, Beryl took another look at the crystal ball, before commanding it to project a three-dimensional picture of the planet into the throne room. The markings on the projected globe did match with what she had expected.

"Excellent," Beryl said to herself.

"You have called for us, my queen?" Kunzite asked when all three of them appeared in the throne room.

"Yes, that I did." She saw with interest that Tethys was again with Jadeite. These two had developed quite a close working relationship. "The situation has changed and the Senshi have made the first move to recover the Golden Crystal. They used group teleportation to reach a different part of the world."

"Which makes perfect sense. As potent as the time-witch's teleportation is, we do know she can't teleport with other people over such a great distance on the physical plane. Even she can't rewrite the rules of how magic works," Kunzite remarked, being very knowledgeable in that field.

"Too bad that with all the trace magic from recent activities, we can't even remotely pinpoint their position in Tokyo..." Jadeite added, still annoyed at this little fact.

"Queen Beryl, you want us to steal whatever these little girls find?" Zoisite asked, still keen on a rematch after the humiliation when the Senshi did snatch away the Silver Crystal.

"No, that would be counter-productive. We do need them to do the work for us, since we do lack crucial information to recover the crystal on our own. What we do need is them feeling the pressure to go forward with the search," Beryl explained.

"Ah, we are meant to harass them," Jadeite concluded.

"Only you, Jadeite. You can do as you see fit, as long as you get results." Beryl then looked to Kunzite and Zoisite. "The constant fighting against the Pharaoh's forces makes it imperative that the two of you replenish our ranks."

Zoisite pulled the Black Crystal out of her pocket, looking at it. "I see the positive side of this. We are starting to weed out the weak from our ranks, leaving only those who at least have some measure of skill."

"Survival of the fittest is helping us along. This reminds me, what about our special case? Your reports made me anticipate once he is available," Beryl asked her.

"Whatever did the damage to him must have been very powerful. We are still confused how someone this old could have held so much power without magic. Nonetheless, it will still take some time. The damage was extensive enough that we need to take the transformation slow. Once it is done however, we have a powerful weapon at our hands," Zoisite reported.

"Good... Kunzite," she now addressed the final General. "You take over the war effort against the Pharaoh's forces during Jadeite's absence. Our enemies can not be allowed to gain ground while our other enemies are busy elsewhere."

Kunzite was not exactly pleased with this development, since commanding bigger numbers of Youma was more Jadeite's specialty. However, he would not disobey his queen. "As you command, your majesty. The Youma under my command will show no mercy to our foes."

"Good, since I expect no less. Return to you tasks while I give Jadeite his instructions." Zoisite and Kunzite both bowed, before leaving the throne room. "Jadeite, as much as it pains me to admit, but concerning the Golden Crystal we currently are at a disadvantage information-wise."

"So even if we could, we are not allowed to kill them?" Jadeite asked for confirmation.

Beryl had no trouble to hear his disappointment. Jadeite was still very eager to have payback on the Senshi and it was no wonder why he was disappointed by her orders. "Try to see it form the positive side; I did not forbade you from torturing them."

"Your generosity is boundless," Tethys gasped, looking like she'd gotten a present.

Turning to Tethys, Beryl gave her an interested look. "I know you are doing well, Tethys. Giving you to Jadeite on a permanent basis was a good decision of mine. I only wonder why you are still insisting on using your human form this much."

Tethys blushed a little and said nothing. It was an open secret that she didn't like to shift into her true form unless needed to. There even were some Youma whispering, that perhaps the initial transformation into a Youma had had a glitch in her case. None of them understood tht she simply felt more comfortable like this and she'd never gotten used to no longer having a mouth.

"I honestly don't know how to answer this, my queen," Tethys finally admitted.

"Well, as long as you serve faithfully, it doesn't matter. Now, both of you go ahead and gather more information on what these brats are doing. Considering that the Golden Crystal is well-hidden, they are clearly looking for information. Shadow them. Make them feel the pressure that they are in a race to the crystal. This way, they'll lead us directly towards it."

Jadeite bowed in acknowledgment. "By your command, my queen."

He did not know that Zoisite and Kunzite had listened in from behind an outer wall of the throne room.

"This is unfair! We are doing the hard grunt work and Jadeite gets the job that will give him recognition!" Zoisite fumed, very unhappy with how things had fallen into place.

"Please calm down, Zoisite. This is just a temporal setback," Kunzite tried to calm her down, even though he felt slighted as well.

"It still is not fair..." she complained, leaning against Kunzite's broad chest to get herself back under control.

Kunzite took her by the hand and started to lead her away, hoping that being away from the throne room would help. "I know, but we can't do anything against it. Queen Beryl would be furious if she discovers us trying to sabotage Jadeite on this important mission. Also, he's not stupid and would report us to her right away."

"No... you are right. He would rat us out at once. He's no Nephrite..." She then stopped when realizing they'd entered the Hall of Traitors.

The hall was a method of Beryl to show where traitors would end up. There were three dozen of Youma encased in crystal, all of them looking deathly afraid, arranged in some sort of perverse art installment. Failed transformations who had kept part of their human heart and thus had to be removed. The centerpiece was the big crystal in which Nephrite was locked into. However, unlike the others, he did hold a look of defiance, as if not wanting to give Beryl the satisfaction of him being afraid.

"Nephrite was foolish enough to openly defy our queen; I sincerely doubt that Jadeite would ever go against her. The little toad would sooner cut off his own fingers," Kunzite remarked while they looked at the fallen General.

Zoisite gave the frozen Nephrite a close look. "You are right, we have to bide our time. You always are so calm and collected with these things..."

He now knew she was calming down if she was getting back in the mood to give him compliments. He knew her too well and that was why he did love her so much.

o

-uiiii uiiii uiiii uiiii-

Turning to where the alarm came from, Professor Tomoe saw the flashing red light. "Interesting. Looks like our enemy made a crucial move."

"Professor?" Kaolinite asked, putting down the beaker with the nutrient fluid she'd been pouring into test tubes with a new batch of Daimon eggs.

The Professor ignored her question for the moment. Walking to the console, he checked the screen. Now he was glad that he had set up this precaution when seeing what the computer was reporting to him, showing a location on a world map marked with a red X. Interested, he read the numbers beside it and smiled when understanding what they told him.

"Well, well, well... Looks like my little inspiration did pay off," he said with a laugh.

"I don't understand, Professor. Has something important happened?" Kaolinite asked, unsure what this was about.

"Oh, it actually is really easy, my dear Kaolinite. I was getting really frustrated with not knowing more about our enemy, the Senshi. So I rigged up a sensor and linked it to weather satellites, telling me whenever they use an astounding amount of magic. The sensor just detected them doing exactly that," the Professor explained, clearly pleased with himself.

"You are a genius, Professor," Kaolinite said in awe.

"Oh, I know. Only too bad that with all the magic thrown around recently, finding them in the city itself is pretty much impossible," the Professor shrugged.

Kaolinite checked the screen. "The Azores? How did they...? Oh yes, teleportation."

"Oh yes. Certainly not Sailor Pluto; she was seen teleporting multiple times and the alarm never went off. If they go these lengths to get there, it must be important..." The Professor thought about it. "Hmmmm. Oh yes, yes! I got it! Whatever they are seeking, we either need to get it or make sure they don't!"

"Professor, should I go?" Kaolinite asked.

"Uhhh, no. I really need you here. Let Mimette do the dirty work. If she's successful, good for us. If something happens to her... he he he, too bad for her," the Professor giggled.

Kaolinite understood what the Professor was implying and couldn't help but to laugh as well. "Oh, I really love your way of thinking, Professor!"

"Why do you think I selected you to be my right hand? You did so out of loyalty to me and were not afraid to make the final step. Once this world is a dead rock and we both leave these forms behind, we will serve our Pharaoh faithfully! Oh, yes, it will be beautiful... Ha ha ha ha ha ha!"

"I like this, but sadly it still is a little in the future." Kaolinite went to the phone. "I'm going to call the witches bureau to order them to create a subspace tunnel to the target area and for that waste of space Mimette to spy on these girls. Let's see what these Senshi brats are hiding..."

The Professor felt that despite recent setbacks, they still would manage to give their Pharaoh access to this world. They just needed to find the right way to force the Senshi to give up the grail, then their master could enter unopposed.

He stopped, listening to someone only he could hear.

Don't worry. Once I remove myself from your weak form, you can enjoy your final moments as yourself, he gloated, always enjoying the fact it was him who was in charge.


...on the Azores, Flores Island...

Peaceful night ruled over Flores Island, the crescent Moon ruling the dark night sky. The silverly light sparsely illuminated the mountain slopes and forests. Apart from the sound of some insects, silence ruled nature deep inside the island. However, said silence was disturbed when a bright flash of light filled a grassy plain, scaring away all insects nearby. When the light receded, the plain no longer was empty.

The Senshi were a little disoriented, the sudden shift to another place being quite different to Pluto's teleportation. They were amazed it did work in the first place, since they had not used their magic consciously. Apart from a few funny lights dancing in their vision for some moments, they seemed to have made it through without trouble. Too bad the same couldn't be said about their companion.

"Ranma?! Oh dear!" Mercury gasped, running to her boyfriend who had turned a bit pale and seemed to have trouble to stay standing.

"I think I'm gonna hurl..." Ranma groaned, feeling dizzy enough that Mercury had to help him stand uptight.

"Oh dear! Is that our fault?" Jupiter asked, being upset at how sick Ranma looked.

"Not intentionally," Pluto explained. "The first time trying teleporting is always tricky. Though this is the worst that can happen and he should feel better in a few moments. After some practice this should no longer happen."

"Doesn't help me right now," Ranma whined, only to sigh when Endymion touched his stomach and used his healing powers, causing it to calm down. "Woooahh. much better. Thanks, man! I really feared I would barf."

"Oh, it was no problem," Endymion said humbly.

Despite feeling better now, Ranma leaned against a nearby tree. "Funny, I can tank lots of stuff, but that almost mde me keel over."

"Hey, don't feel too bad about it," Uranus told Ranma. "Remember, you can endure stuff that would turn us into paste, if not for our magic. Without our magic, we would be screwed. That, and you are human like all of us. Everyone gets sick once in a while."

"Like the last time you've had the flu? I remember you not being your big and tough usual self then, constantly moaning how horrible you feel," Neptune reminded her mate. She had to smile a bit when seeing Uranus' light blush at not wanting to be reminded of that particular bout of illness.

Endymion meanwhile looked around."Well, here we are. At night in the middle of nowhere. I hope it's as easy as you implied, Mercury, or this will be like the search for a needle in the haystack."

"With this here, it shouldn't be too difficult," Mercury answered, activating her visor and taking out her computer.

While Mercury was busy with scanning, the others looked around a bit, sure that they were alone. This area seemed far away from the next settlement, as the lights of it were quite some distance away near the dark ocean, the crescent Moon reflecting in it. Otherwise, the nature around them was silent and untouched. The mountain slopes and forests gave everything a feeling of being seldom visited. They wouldn't be disturbed, especially not at this time of the night.

However, they were wrong about that; unaware of being watched from two other parties which made sure to be shielded from Mercury's scans.

"I hate that computer," Tethys hissed quietly. "It's insulting that we have to hide from the egghead of the group."

"Patience, Tethys. We can take care of that problem once we got what we want." Jadeite then narrowed his eyes when spotting Ranma. "Well, that must be one of these fools who decided to side with our enemies."

"Too bad we can't hear them as well. Regardless, at least we now know what this one looks like."

"Yes, but that information is worthless." Seeing how Tethys didn't get it, Jadeite decided to elaborate. "He's a teenage snot wearing a school uniform. Nothing does make him stand out. There are literally countless of these in Tokyo alone and we have no clue who he is. Thus the knowledge what he looks like is worthless on its own."

"Oh..."

At the same time, someone else was less than happy.

I can't believe it, they've reduced me to watching duty! Mimette fumed while spying on the Senshi.

While one would imagine that keeping an eye on the enemy would be important, Mimette was not of the same mind. To her it felt like a demotion that she would have to watch these teenage brats doing whatever they were doing in the middle of nowhere instead of leading the Daimons ito battle against the Dark Kingdom. The comments from Tellu, Viluy and Cyprine certainly hadn't helped either.

A 'clueless ditz' they called me... Said it's no wonder I was picked for the shitty job, she thought, really wanting to get even with her co-workers for this humiliation. They should look into the mirror! A chlorophyl freak, a computer geek and a bitch with a split personality. If someone is a loser, it's them.

Despite her anger, however, she continued to observe. At least the Professor's little gadget would hide her from the scans; no need to advertise her presence.

The Senshi didn't know about these unwanted visitors while Mercury was searching for magical traces with her computer.

"Makes me wonder why no one found it before us. I mean, this island is not exactly deserted nor that big and it's been millennia since the temple got abandoned," Ceres remarked, wondering how the temple could still be hidden.

"Oh, you would be surprised how many things stay undiscovered if you don't look for it specifically. You could stand right above it and never notice," Pluto remarked and in an odd sense she was right.

"I've got a trace!" Mercury called, stopping the exchange from going any further. "800 meters to the northeast. Follow me." Reading the data on her visor, Mercury started to walk towards the source of the magic signature.

Everyone followed Mercury while she followed the magical trace. Walking through the night, they walked through the grasslands and dark forests until finally they arrived at a small lake at the foot of the tallest mountain on the island. Mercury scanned the lake with her computer, then frowned when looking at the numbers and what they were telling her.

"Well, the good news is, that there is some sort of gateway into an underground complex. The bad news, it's under water. There is some kind of airlock, but first getting down there is the actual problem."

"Water. Why does it have to be water of all things?"Ranma groaned, then got an idea. "Can't you just freeze the whole thing solid and Mars then melts a tunnel into it?"

"Sorry, as good as the idea is, I haven't yet gotten that good at using my magic. An entire lake is still too much for me," Mercury apologized. She had to admit, Ranma was good at thinking outside of the box - ironically due to his less than stellar school history until recently - but in this case it proved impossible to implement.

"Why so complicated? You forgot what my magic is based on?" Sailor Neptune groaned at them not getting the obvious before pulling out her trident. "Better step back, I'm not yet fully secure with using it."

Using her trident, Neptune started to part the waters like Moses the Red Sea and walked on the muddy path that led down into the lakebed. She couldn't blame the others for staying back to see how she was doing - and with good reason, as suddenly a slip of concentration made the waters crash down on her, pulling her down to the bottom!

"Neptune?! NEPTUNE!" Uranus cried in terror, running into the lake to try and pull her out. However, the water was dark and she couldn't see her

-splooosh- Suddenly water shot up like a geyser and Neptune appeared, standing one the water and not even looking wet. "You won't believe it! I just learned I can breathe water and see in dark water!" She then noticed a very wet and annoyed-looking Uranus. "Ooops, sorry about that." One wink of her trident and Uranus was deposited back on land and dried by removing the excess water.

"You forgot about that, don't you?" Venus asked Pluto, looking rather annyoed with thei adult Senshi.

"Live as long as me and you tend to forget lots of stuff," Pluto tried to apologize and it was clear she was embarrassed about herself forgetting this crucial fact.

Thankfully, things did go smoothly after that. Neptune went back into the lake and a few minutes later the lake suddenly was drained, leaving behind a muddy lakebed and a mud-covered, small stone building at the very bottom. After hearing from Neptune that she'd just pushed a big stone button, Mercury took a closer look at it. Wiping away the mud below the button, she revealed an inscription.

"According to the computer, this sign says that this is the drainage system. If left unattended, the airlock will re-seal and the lake re-fill in two hours. Security measure it says," she translated with the help of her computer.

From afar, Jadeite and Tethys watched the Senshi walk down the empty lakebed and enter the way underground. They would wait a bit before going in as well, but then saw that they were not the only ones spying on the Senshi when seeing someone very specific running to where the Senshi had vanished underground.

"Now, that's interesting. It's that freak who likes to wear a tutu of all things, and it looks like she is interfering into our matters in the name of the Pharaoh," Jadeite said when recognizing the woman from an encounter with the Death Busters.

"Horrible thing she's wearing. No taste at all," Tethys remarked while being annoyed at this interference. "Should I tear her to strips?"

Jadeite was tempted to agree, but first wanted to know why the Pharaoh's agent was here. "Let's observe her for the moment; find out how much they actually know. Once that's done, you can tear her apart. Let's wait a little before we follow."

Down in the empty lake meanwhile, Mimette was complaining that her feet were getting all muddy.

"Looks quite preserved, considering it's 10.000 years old," Mars remarked while they walked down a long underground stone corridor. "Even the lights are still working."

The corridor was rather bare, with the only decoration being several murals carved into the stone of the walls, showing scenes from the royal court as well as an interesting symbol. The symbol actually got repeated a lot, so it had to be important. Endymion looked at one of them and blinked when a memory form his previous life surfaced.

"This is the symbol of the virtue system. The three big center circles represent the three principles and all the other parts around them represent one virtue each. However, as fascinating as it is, I can always show you later," Endymion said, actually impressed at the symbol's structure.

They finally stopped when reaching a massive door. There was no obvious lock or handle, just smooth stone and metal. The door also looked quite massive and blasting it open would probably bring down the entire structure. Somewhat puzzled, they looked around. The only thing of notice was an axis on the wall beside the door, being surrounded by a smooth circle as big as a dinner plate with an engraving of Earth itself above the very top of the circle.

"Interesting locking mechanism..." Mercury called up some information on her computer. "I think this is where the Sunstone is to be used. Let's put it onto the axis."

Pluto pulled the Sunstone out of her subspace pocket and put it onto the axis. It did fit perfectly. "Now, the passage from the book is important: 'At the first temple, a Sunstone sufficed, if hot sunlight bathed the Earth.' Let me try that..."

Turning the Sunstone until the picture of the noon sun was directly beneath the picture of Earth, Mercury was surprised that at first nothing happened. Then she berated herself, since there weren't that many part to the mechanism and tried to push the axis. It depressed for a moment and when she let go of it, there was a rumbling as if a huge bolt was pulled in. Then the door opened slightly, groaning after years of inactivity.

"Well, I will be... it actually did work," Mars commented, then shut up when seeing the look Mercury gave her while she was removing the stone from the axis. It was obvious she didn't want to hear any jokes about all the research she'd done.

The door groaned loudly when the pushed against it together to get it open, finally entering the underground temple itself. They had expected something akin to a church or a shrine, but this really was something else, as it did look like the inside of a Greek temple.

The huge columns, braziers - though it was clear they were not running on fire - and impressive colorful mosaics on the walls already gave it a breathtaking look. There was more, however. At the far end was another massive gate, this time however being very ornamental. In front of the big gate, a huge virtue symbol was visible on the marble floor. Additionally, two massive statues of guards - one male and one female - stood beside the gate, as if keeping away intruders.

"Wow, now this is impressive!" Ranma said, feeling somewhat like Indiana Jones - a movie series he'd found a real liking to.

"Yes, it would fit right into a fantasy novel," Ceres agreed, looking around. "I guess we have to go through that gate next. However, I don't see any kind of axis."

"Strange..." Mercury checked with her visor, before turning it off. "Sorry, but there's some kind of defense mechanism that scrambles my scans. We need to do this the old-fashioned way."

Carefully, they started to search around to look for anything that could give them a clue. Sadly, they didn't find anything, apart from part of a mosaic that showed two women in a very compromising and intimate position, causing some of the girls to blush. Uranus and Neptune couldn't help but to smile a little at their discomfort, finding it funny that some ancient artist managed to smuggle in some female gay porn.

Stepping closer to the statues, Endymion entered the middle of the huge symbol on the floor and suddenly the braziers started to dim. "Guys, I think I did something..." he said nervously when the symbol beneath his feet started to glow in white light.

"Greetings. We have waited for you a long time." The voice seemed to come from everywhere. "This automated system was prepared for the arrival of one who would seek their birthright."

"Oh, eh, that's good to hear." Endymion wanted to facepalm at his own response, knowing he sounded like a dork right now.

"Your magic proves your lineage, despite no longer holding blood ties to the royal house. Do you seek to gain the Golden Crystal in order to battle forces which are beyond normal means?" the voice asked further.

"Yes, and to keep it safe from those, who want to misuse its power," he said honestly, having a suspicion that lying could have bad consequences - not that he would have any reason to do so.

"Your words ring true, but the question is less that of your worthiness, but one about those that you surround yourself with. As this reflects on you, it is to be tested how your companions understand virtue. Those that are to answer step into the circle."

"Somehow I knew it wouldn't be that easy..." Uranus commented to her mate, feeling this was becoming less of a quest and more of a pop quiz. She had hated those in school.

"First, a question of Honor comes up. You have sworn to always protect your lord, yet you learn that he has committed several serious crimes. When questioned about the matter by law enforcement, will you allow Justice to prevail and honestly tell the truth, or will you keep your vow of Honor to your lord and stay silent?"

At first none of them had an answer to this. After all, it was pretty bad; damned if your do and damned if you don't. Then however, Ranma walked onto the symbol. "You want me to be honest? The question is bullshit."

The voice seemed surprised by this reaction. "Please explain how you come to this... conclusion."

"Honestly, lose your honor you report him or allow him to escape his just punishment? That's why it is bullshit. You can help getting him to justice and keep your honor intact," Ranma said, looking up into the light as if challenging the voice.

Hearing nothing, Ranma continued. "If there is one thing I learned when watching my old man, then that many think honor is just a way to bully others to their will. No, honor is you personal self-worth for doing what is right. What is right and what is expected of you don't have to be the same thing. So I report the lord, knowing that I did the right thing as a decent human being. I helped justice and kept my honor intact against those who tried to misuse it for their own gain."

Everyone was impressed at how insightful Ranma just had been on the matter, but then again, his experiences during his training trip clearly showed him where using honor as a means to force people into doing things would lead to. Mercury couldn't help but to feel that she had helped him to express himself better and more refined compared to his earlier talking habits.

"Very impressive," the voice finally said. "You've understood that the Honor to fulfill your promises and obligations ends once it would mean going against what allows us to live together. Then Honor means to follow what is right instead of what is expected of you."

Ranma stepped out of the circle, then the voice spoke up again. "Next is a question of Spirituality. You promised to marry your sweetheart. When she approaches you two years later full of hope because of your pledge, you have already started a spiritual path. Do you show the needed Valor to the temple to defy them, or do you follow your path of Spirituality?"

This time it only took a few seconds before Sailor Mars entered the circle, looking very defiant since the question clearly was too close to home for her. "Again a false dilemma!"

"Explain your reasoning then."

"You gave two extremes. I do live a spiritual path; I'm bound to become the priestess of a shrine once my grandfather has passed away. Yet that does not dictate how my life has to go. I dedicate myself to religion, but I'm not a slave to it, just like my grandfather isn't. Being spiritual does not mean you have to turn away from the world."

Mars took some breaths to collect herself. "Therefore in your example, it is the temple that is weak if they forbid having a fulfilled life. So if they have a problem with me marrying, I would seek out a temple that is more tolerant or try to seek my enlightenment on my own. One way or another, I'll take both - just like I will for real."

"Good... good." The voice, despite being artificial, clearly was pleased. "You understand that walking the path of Spirituality does not mean to cut your worldly roots. True Spirituality means to also take those around you and yourself into consideration. Spirituality without having a life is barren."

Mars walked out of the circle. "One last question remains; one of Compassion. You and your friends have been routed and are ordered to retreat. One of your companions is injured and thus threatens to keep up the retreat and allow the enemy to kill you all. Do you help your companion in Compassion and risk both your lives, or attack the enemies even though it will cost you your own life in Sacrifice so that the others can escape?"

This was not a question of a life choice, but something that had to be done in the heat of retreat. Surprisingly, it was Jupiter who entered the circle. "You are giving a non-choice. The way you word it, death awaits, no matter what is done."

"An interesting observation. However, it doesn't answer how you would act," the voice questioned Jupiter.

"Well, killing yourself with no guarantee that could help the others is beyond stupid. Of course I would help my comrade, but instead of doing so alone, since this is an ordered retreat, I would have others help me. No one is alone and together we are strong. Fire-forged we are and if one is helping the others, the others help one if he or she is in need," Jupiter said, crossing her arms.

The voice was silent for a moment. "You indeed have worthy companions, Prince. The final question indeed was to measure their loyalty. The Compassion they feel for each other makes them strong - they trust each other without question and no doubts cloud them. You are worthy to have final entrance in order to find your answers."

The voice went silent and the light returned to normal. Endymion had to step aside when he felt the floor beneath himself start to move. They watched the tile at the center of the symbol slide back, then a pedestal with an axis rose out of it. It was pretty obvious this was where the Sunstone had to go, so they placed it there.

"Here: 'Final entrance was granted, if sunset made the Earth red.'," Mercury read off her computer before moving the disk into the correct position and pressing the axis.

If they expected anything spectacular to happen, they got disappointed. The gate simply started to be pulled open, nothing even remotely dramatic. The room behind the gate also was kind of a disappointment. It was rather bare, just holding a stone altar and a huge wall mural. The table was empty, although judging by the circular depression in it and the moon carved on it, it was where the Moonstone had been stored before it got removed for some reason.

The mural was the actually interesting part, since it was split in two. The left half just looked like a third of a circular picture while the right half was a map of the world - though somewhat out of date with Atlantis being visible - with a point in South America being marked.

Mercury held up her computer towards the mural. "I'm making a high-resolution scan of all of this so I can look at it later with all time in the world."

It took a bit before she done. Closing the computer, she noticed Ranma pulling back his sleeve. "Is something wrong?"

"My mark has been itching slightly..." Ranma took a look at it and saw it had reddened a little. "By now I know this means there's trouble closing in. We should better..."

-BANG- A loud explosion echoed through the temple, destroying the silence, followed by something heavy crashing to the floor. Running to the main temple hall, they stopped dead in their tracks when watching the chaos unfolding in it.

Mimette meanwhile felt like cursing up a storm.

She had managed to sneak all the way into this temple, had also watched these cursed Senshi manage to enter the inner chambers. Hiding behind a column, she had observed them looking at a mural that seemed to be of great interest to them and she had overheard some talk mentioning a powerful artifact they needed to find. However, that was when things had gone awry.

She couldn't have foreseen these jerks from the Dark Kingdom showing up and the female monster shooting a compressed water stream at her. Sure, she had managed to dodge, but the column got shattered before she managed to get out her own weapon to defend herself.

Jadeite on the other hand couldn't help but smirk while watching Tethys and the Pharaoh's lackey duking it out, especially since Tethys clearly was the better one. He couldn't help but to feel a deep satisfaction that she had been chosen to help him. Unlike many other Youma, she actually was smart and competent.

While watching these two turning more of the interior of the temple into rubble, he noticed the Senshi watching this chaos after running out of the inner area. "Well, well, well. Look who we have here. Don't worry, you'll get my full attention once this matter is cleared."

None of them knew it was an act. Jadeite knew he would lose a full-fledged battle against all of them easily if it was just him and Tethys. Numbers alone spoke against him having a chance without reinforcements, and these were, as loathe as he was to admit, no longer the snot-nosed brats they'd started as. It however served its purpose to make them feel the pressure and he couldn't help but to smirk when seeing his act was working perfectly.

"Alert! Alert! Alert! Hostile intruders in the temple! Activating defense mechanism!"

Suddenly the two giant guard statues came to life, proving they were some kind of machine instead of just plain statues, drawing their huge swords to cut down the intruders in the temple. Mimette and Thetys had to interrupt their fight to dodge and the swords left huge gashes in the floor

"Oh, looks like things do get serious. I'm right back." Jadeite pulled his sword out of nowhere, then left to attack the guardians.

"Guys, let's get out of here! Fast!" Ceres gasped when everything dissolved into a massive clusterfuck. "I fear they could bring down the ceiling if this goes on."

Pluto grabbed the Sunstone off the pedestal and they all ran into the inner chamber before the gate could close, hoping they could manage an emergency transport out of this chaos. Just before the gate closed, they thought they heard a female scream that this was her favorite tutu.

"Let's hope we can do this in a hurry..." Venus prayed while they quickly closed the circle to teleport away.

"We should also pray the temple doesn't collapse on us first," Neptune added, worried they could be buried alive.


...back in Tokyo...

In a flash the Senshi group reappeared in the garden of the Hikawa Shrine. Right after that, the circle was broken and they were scattered around the lawn thanks to the emergency nature of the teleport and the resulting shockwave which flung them apart. While not being hurt - at least nothing worse than some bruises - it did knock the wind out of them. Ranma however was hit even worse than after a normal teleport, starting to look a bit green right away.

"Oh shit...!" Ranma gasped as soon as they had re-appeared. Running to the nearest bush, he barfed into it.

Two scared crows flew down from a tree, scared by what they were seeing. "Oh, no! I knew something was bound to happen!" Deimos gasped, not liking at all what she was seeing.

"What the...?" Akane had ran out of the house, only to see the current state of chaos. "Oh no! Please don't tell me something went wrong!"

"Not exactly," Makoto groaned while they all dropped their transformations. "We did get what we came for. Only too bad our enemies were looking for it as well and then took offense when it turned out they were both spying on us. We decided to get the hell out of there when they started shooting at each other and huge guard statues came alive."

"It was pretty chaotic. Otherwise I don't think we could have gotten away this easily," Ami added, looking a little pale.

The bond between her and Ranma, while normally being a wonderful thing, was a bit of a problem when they were close together and one of them felt really lousy - like Ranma right at the moment, who still wasn't done with vomiting. Though she was not directly feeling what he did, the general feeling of feeling horrible was strong enough that it did bleed through to her.

Akane started to feel that maybe she should be glad she'd had to sit that one out. "Sounds like things took a turn for the worse."

"You can say that. Still better than them shooting at us. Thank all goodness the teleport still worked," Mamoru added while helping up Usagi, who was rubbing her bottom due to feeling a bruise develop at this inconvenient place.

"Ow... Though that has not exactly been one of our smarter ideas," Usagi added, feeling a bit too embarrassed to ask Mamoru for healing when the bruise was in such a delicate spot.

"Funny thing is, we could have creamed them, if not for them fact that throwing around destructive magic would have probably collapsed the entire temple onto our heads," Minako grumbled while picking some grass out of her long hair. "We felt running is better."

"I for my part could have lived without getting bruised, however," Usagi complained, now no longer caring that everyone could see her rubbing her bruised butt. "You always made it look so easy," she added to Setsuna.

Setsuna knew Usagi meant her teleporting at will. "Oh, it's not that easy. You just need some practice to get rid of the small quirks."

"Well, I could have lived without these altogether. Small quirks, my ass..." Ranma groaned while wiping his mouth. Ami had to help him up and he leaned heavily on her. "Never thought I would say this, but right now I feel lousy enough that I need your help to get home."

"It's no problem, though I guess you won't warm up to teleporting anytime soon?" Ami remarked, still astounded that normally tough Ranma reacted this sensitive to their group teleport.

Everyone does have their personal weak spot after all, she thought, although she wouldn't say so aloud. Having felt part of his discomfort through their bond, she understood too well that Ranma didn't want to talk about it.

o

"Well, Jadeite, what do you have to report?" Beryl wanted to know when Jadeite and Tethys appeared in the throne room.

"Everything turned out exactly as we've planned. They now think they are in a competition to find the crystal first. Too bad for them that they will do the dirty work for us and we then snatch away the crystal from under their noses," Jadeit said proudly, before looking less pleased. "Too bad a lackey of the Pharaoh made trouble and we had to retreat when out fight set off the defenses of the temple."

Hearing these news, Beryl looked displeased. "I hope you took care of this individual?"

"Oh, Tethys took care of her really well. Too bad the coward managed to flee before she could give her a lethal strike. My queen, please don't hold this against Tethys, her performance was beyond anything we could have expected," Jadeite explained.

Tethys looked astonished that Jadeite would shield her from Beryls displeasure. Beryl in turn did look amused. "You seem to have become quite attached to her, which is highly unusual."

"I recognize competence and high skill when I see it. I plead you to not punish her for something which is not her fault," Jadeite petitioned his queen.

Tethys was thankful she was not in her human form right now, or she would blush up a storm. She was outright moved that Jadeite would protect her from trouble with Beryl and even praised her so much. She didn't even notice that such positive emotions were highly unusual for a Youma, who normally had all good human qualities removed during the transformation. Unaware of this fact, she waited for Beryl to react to Jadeite's plea.

"Interesting, indeed," Beryl finally mused, thankfully not looking angry. "I'll let this drop, since in the end it is to our advantage as well. The Senshi being distracted by someone else only makes it easier for us. You are dismissed for the moment."

Both of them left the throne room, walking through the twilight-lit corridors in silence unitl Tethys couldn't hold it in any longer. "Oh, thank you! I thought for sure our queen would punish me!"

"You don't have to thank me." Though, he wondered a bit why he had defended her so much. Ever since entering the services of the Dark Kingdom, he had cared for no one but himself, thus this was a strange change for him.

"I still have to thank you that you care for my well-being," Tethys said, morphing back to her human form. "It is not often that someone cares for a Youma this much."

That certainly was true. After their transformation, Youma did lose the spark that actually made them alive. They were an affront against nature and normally incapable of such positive things like compassion and caring. Human beings tended to feel something was wrong if the Youma was not in disguise, almost as if feeling that Youma were something not natural. Even the Generals were not completely immune to it, although Jadeite was certainly the one working best with his troops.

"Yes, not often..." Jadeite wondered why he did care for someone who technically no longer was alive and certainly no longer human... He found no answer.

o

"Professor! ... PROFESSOR!" Mimette shouted while running into Professor Tomoe's lab, not even having bothered to change out of her ruined outfit. After all, what she had to tell him was too important and couldn't wait.

"No need to shout, Mimette. We are not deaf," Kaolinite griped, annoyed at the sheer volume this ditz was creating. She then took a look at the woman's tattered outfit. "It seems that despite orders you did more than just observing."

The Professor gave Mimette an unreadable look. "Well, let's hear first what our dear Mimette was up to."

She did try to make it as short as possible, although it was quite obvious she still was way too wound up to give a proper report. Nonetheless, they were able to extract the important facts from it. It did raise their interest that not only the Senshi, but the Dark Kingdom as well were after some sort of very powerful artifact. Although they were still missing details, the basic situation was clear.

"Hmmm, very interesting. This also could be trouble, since the artifact must be really powerful if they are willing to go to these lengths. Looks like we have to spoil their game," the Porfessor mused.

Kaolinite had to agree. "Yes, we can't divert any resources to such a treasure hunt, but we also can't risk our enemies getting hold of whatever they are searching for. Too bad, whatever they are looking for, it would have been useful."

"Here are your orders, Mimette: once you get the opportunity, sabotage their quest. There's no need for them to gain an advantage over us. You said you've heard them mention they need more stone disks. Just steal one of these to make it impossible for them to continue on," the Professor gave his orders.

"Got it, Professor." Mimette then left to change out of the rags that were the remains of her favorite tutu - maybe to take a needed shower as well.

As soon as she was gone, Professor Tomoe chuckled. "Oh my dear Mimette, you are so oblivious to the fact you are just a puppet..."

"Our target is still the grail?" Kaolinite asked, trying not to smile too widely at the thought of another of the Witches 5 getting her clock cleaned. There simply was too much bad between them that she couldn't think of them with anything else but loathing.

The Professor smiled widely. "Yes, no new powers can help them once we have wrestled the grail from from their hands! And then our Pharaoh will find a feast waiting for him! Hm hm hm... HA HA HA HA HA!"

to be continued...

Next Episode:

"Riddle of the Old Kingdom"


Notes:

Here the notes.

As said at the beginning, no fighting on the Senshi's side, but the fact that too much firepower would have caused everything to collapse I think is a very good excuse. This chapter was mainly about setting up the rest of the path to the Golden Crystal. Following chapters will again have more of their private lives.

Now, people might have already guess that I lifted two things from other works to put them in here.

The stone disks are from "Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis", while the virtue system is from the "Ultima"-series. However, beyond that there's no connection to these works. Remember the people that answered the three questions, as this will become important near the end of the arc.

Finally got around to show Neptune's immunity. Thus the immunities of Mars, Venus and Neptune were now shown. Mercury's immunity will be shown next chapter.