This is it - the last chapter. But - there could be more. So, if you enjoyed this story and want a continuation, then say so in a review. I have a few good ideas up my sleeve, and if enough people ask me nicely, there will be a follow-up - or maybe even two?



By Doctor-T


A pinpoint of intense white light suddenly flashed from the lowered Silence Glaive of Sailor Saturn, expanding into an all-enveloping glare that was brighter than the sun. The world turned to dazzling white and then…there was nothing. Nothing at all.

This is it! Sailor Moon cried out silently to herself, eyes squeezed tightly shut and locked tightly in the comforting arms of her loving new girlfriend, Sailor Venus. We're all going to die, and then…we'll all wake up again, safe and secure in our own homes last Friday morning, and none of this horror will have ever happened. Goodbye, cruel memories! Goodbye, Minako-chan…my sweet love… Will we ever get back together again in the other timeline, just like we have now, I wonder…?

But then, somehow, the deadly light of quantum level devastation began to contract in upon itself, to fade, to reverse the cycle of the absolute destruction of the Earth and the entire Solar System with it. The intensity of the light began to drop rapidly, the small group of cowering sailor scouts and cats reappeared out of the glare, still alive and unharmed! And then the world was back to the way it had been before Sailor Saturn's Silence Glaive had been dropped. Exactly the same as it had been before!

"What the heck?" Artemis cried out in wide-eyed astonishment, opening his eyes and gazing at the shattered landscape around him with disbelief. "This timeline hasn't been destroyed – we're all still here, and alive! But that's impossible…once Sailor Saturn drops her Silence Glaive, the world is destroyed!"

"Hold on, Artemis," Luna spoke up, no less shocked than he was at their miraculous survival. "Sailor Saturn must have somehow been prevented at the last possible second from destroying this reality. But, by who? The only being that I can think of powerful enough to negate the effects of the Silence Glaive is…!"

"Of course! Sailor Pluto's father, Chronos, the God of Time!" Artemis yelled out, sudden understanding dawning in his blue eyes. "Sailor Pluto did tell us, before she and Sailor Saturn disappeared, that they weren't supposed to change any past events. And that they were going to be punished severely for attempting to do so!"

"But, if they've already changed the events in our past so that Usagi was never attacked, and the other sailor scouts are still all alive, then why is Chronos allowing the timeline that we are now in to still exist?" Luna asked, looking about as baffled as a cat could possibly be. "That just doesn't make sense!"

"Yes, it does, Luna. This is the real timeline, remember, and the events that have transpired here were the ones that were actually supposed to happen to us in the real world. Sailor Pluto and Sailor Saturn may have indeed saved Usagi from her fate, and prevented this whole nasty yakuza war, when they altered the events of last Friday. But, since the real timeline still exists here-and-now, and was supposed to exist, their actions must have instead caused an alternate timeline to branch away from this one, last Friday, as well. That alternative timeline now exists alongsideand hasn't replaced - this one! Do you see what I'm talking about?"

"Yes, but the concept is very hard to grasp…"

"Put it this way – there are now two timelines, and we're still in the original one, the one that was destined for us. But we're in the wrong one, now, because we wanted to wake up in an unchanged world. Chronos banished Sailor Pluto and Sailor Saturn not only for attempting to meddle with our real future in this, the real timeline, but for also creating that alternative timeline last Friday. The only way that their alternative timeline could have totally replaced the real one, the one that we are in now, is if Sailor Saturn had succeeded in destroying this one. But Chronos has ensured that she has failed in her attempt to do so! And since Sailor Saturn has failed, we're all still stuck here. We'll never wake up in their newly changed and better world of last Friday night – the original, correct reality that we see about us is always going to be our world, now."

"Oh, no!" Usagi cried out, her eyes flooding with inconsolable tears of anguish and regret. "So Ami-chan, and Rei-chan, and Mako-chan, and Tuxedo Kamen – my beloved Mamo-kun! – and Yuichiro-san really are dead and gone forever, now? No! That's too cruel, Artemis! That's just too cruel…!"

"I'm sorry, Usagi, Minako," he whispered back to the two crying sailor senshi as the shock of their now-permanent loss set in. "If not even Sailor Pluto and Sailor Saturn can reverse these changes, then we're just going to have to accept that this is our new life, from now on."

"So you think that Chronos prevented this timeline from being destroyed by Sailor Saturn?" Luna stated, still looking puzzled. "The next question that we have to ask ourselves, Artemis, is why? Why have two timelines running simultaneously into Earth's future, when only one will suffice?"

"The only theory that makes any sense to me is that maybe Chronos knows that this, the real timeline, can still be saved by us, after all! But with the future King of Crystal Tokyo, Endymion, dead, along with Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars, and Sailor Jupiter, as well, I just don't see how that could be so…"

"But, since Chronos has ensured that we are all still existing in the here-and-now, there must somehow be a way! Artemis, we're going to have to look into this in more detail, once we get the time to do so. But at the moment, we're going to be far too preoccupied in dealing with the police and the JGSDF, and also trying to avoid the attention of the remaining yakuza, to give your theory the attention that it deserves."

"I concur, Luna. Our safety must be our first priority."

"Yes. It's just a shame that we didn't consider the girls' safety more before this whole series of events even happened, Artemis," Luna sniffed out, deep regret in her red eyes. "If we had planned better, earlier on, poor Rei and the others might still be alive."

"Who isn't still alive?" A very familiar voice suddenly called out to the despondent little circle, from a short distance away.

"That's Rei-chan's voice!" Usagi burst out incredulously, whirling around to face the direction in which the declaration had come from, her big blue eyes eagerly seeking its source. "I'd recognise that demanding tone anywhere!"

"Rei-chan! Rei-chan!" Minako exclaimed with delighted relief, her smile as wide as her face. The others also let out gasps of joy at their companion's miraculous survival as Sailor Mars limped into sight, Yuichiro's battered helmet on her head, and his bazooka slung across her back. A broad smile of greeting shone on Rei Hino's own face at finding them all still alive, after all. After seeing the white light flaring over the trees, she had feared the worst!

"So, who're you calling 'demanding', Odango head?" Rei shot back, her voice choked up with emotion at finding her friends again, as Usagi and Minako ran forward to greet her. The weeping girls all warmly embraced each other, then Luna, Diana, and Artemis, too, and then Rei was introduced to Vincent S. After that, explanations were in order.

After unslinging the bazooka and sitting down on a handy concrete slab to rest her injured foot, Sailor Mars first removed the oversized helmet from her head. And then she told her very interested audience about all that had befallen her and Yuichiro the previous night, after they had parted from their companions to go on their mission of vengeance. She detailed the hot pursuit of C.M. Oda and his yakuza friend, and finally, her disastrous attempt to kill him at the truck refuelling station.

"When those fuel tanks blew, my power to control fire and project it away from me protected me from the flames," Rei explained. "But the force of the explosion blew me up into the air for at least fifty metres, right up into the top branches of a tree in the nearby park! And my impact with the solid tree trunk must have knocked me out for almost half-an-hour, and it broke my wristwatch communicator, as well, so I couldn't call to you for help. When I finally recovered, I dropped back down to the ground again, and then I searched and searched, but there was no sign of poor Yuichiro-kun, at all, except for the bazooka and his helmet." Rei's violet eyes burst into tears. "I couldn't find him, guys! He's gone…and I think that it's forever! He…he must have been killed in the explosion, and burnt up…"

As Rei's self-control finally gave way under the stress of losing her boyfriend, and she broke down into despairing sobs of pain and loss, both Usagi and Minako ran to her side and embraced her tightly once more. The girls' hugged Rei's weeping form with compassion, until she had cried it all out and finally managed to regain her composure once again.

"I'm sorry, guys," she sniffed. "But I just had to get that out of me… We've all lost so much. Our homes, our friends, our previous happy lives – everything!"

"I'm so sorry, Rei-chan," Sailor Moon whispered sorrowfully into her dear friend's ear. "Things are sure going to be different for us, from now on."

"But we're all here for you, Rei-chan," Sailor Venus added. "And you can count on us to support you, no matter what!"

"Thanks, guys. I really appreciate it…"

"So what else happened to you last night, Rei?" Luna gently prompted her.

"Well, I knew that you all were going to head for Arisugawa Park, so after I had recovered a bit, I headed this way myself, as fast as I could on my twisted ankle," Rei continued, wiping at the tears in her eyes as she spoke. "But, with my injuries, I couldn't make it here last night. So I had to stop for a rest in an unlocked garden shed, and I must have accidentally fallen asleep. When I woke up this morning, I heard the explosions and saw that strange black plane flying around, so I made a beeline for the action."

Rei stopped talking momentarily, and a thoughtful look appeared on her face as she remembered something else of interest to them.

"Hey, that reminds me. On the way here, I found this yakuza guy in a funny-looking helmet and camouflage suit, aiming this huge rifle down at you. So I took the time to toast him, comprehensively!"

"That must have been Oyabun Tanaka," Luna stated with delight, looking at Sailor Mars with deep gratitude in her eyes. "Well done, Rei! You've just finished off the head of the Black Cap yakuza for us!"

"Yay!" Usagi and Minako cheered mightily, and even Artemis couldn't suppress a whoop of joy at that unexpected stroke of good fortune.

Despite her sorrow at the loss of her boyfriend, Sailor Mars managed a slight grin at their enthusiastic response to her very satisfying news. "Well, after that," she continued, "There was this sudden white glow in the sky, so I hurried here as fast as I could. And here you all were! The end."

"Well, that certainly fills in a few gaps for us, Artemis," Luna declared. "And at least we have got another of the sailor scouts safely back with us, now. That makes three – but it should really have been four of our girls. But at least Sailor Mars managed to avenge Makoto's death earlier today at the hands of the Oyabun-!"

"What?!" Rei cried out, her suddenly pale and shocked face erupting into tears again at Luna's words. "Are you saying that Mako-chan came back last night, and then got killed this morning?! No…no! I didn't even get to see her again, or to even say goodbye…!"

Once Usagi and Minako had managed to calm her down into a coherent state again, Rei just sat there silently for a moment or two in the safe and comforting arms of her two remaining dear friends, as she fought hard to compose herself once more after this latest cruel shock to her already battered system.

"At least poor Mako-chan got to see you guys again before she…passed away," she finally said, with a loud sniffle. "And she did go down fighting, the way that she would have wanted to go, I guess…?"

"That's true," Usagi agreed unhappily, her blue eyes still moist from her own tears of loss. "Mako-chan was very brave."

"Well, I think that we've all suffered enough pain and loss for one day," Rei declared softly, infinite sadness in her voice. "Right now, I just want to get the heck out of here, and go to a nice, quiet place, somewhere far away, where I - where we - can grieve in peace."

"Rei-chan's right, Luna," Minako said, her eyes turning to the nearer of their three guardian cats. "Over the last few days, she – and I – have been forced to fight almost constantly, and kill, and kill again, time after time. Even though they were enemies trying to do just that to us, what we were forced to do still doesn't sit quite right in my mind. It was a horrible experience, Luna, and we all do need to get the heck away from here, to reflect on what happened to us, and to try to recover from the shock and pain of it all."

"I understand, and both Artemis and I sympathize deeply with the ordeal that all of you girls have been put through," Luna replied. "You do desperately need a break away from all of this death and destruction, there's no doubt about that, at all!"

"So, what exactly are we all going to do now? Where can we go?" Usagi asked, still holding tight to Rei, Minako's arms wrapped around them both.

"Well, the first thing that we're going to have to think about is finding a safe place for you girls to stay, well away from Tokyo," Luna decided, turning back from Artemis and Diana to the tired and upset-looking trio of sailor senshi. "I think that all of you now realize that there's absolutely no way that you can safely go back to your homes, especially under these dangerous circumstances. Even disregarding the police warrants out for the arrest of you three girls, as long as the yakuza know who your real identities are, it's just not safe – for either you, or your families! Even though they've now lost their Oyabun, the remaining yakuza are sure to target them if you try."

"So where do we go, Luna?" Minako slowly asked. "I've lived away from home before, but neither Rei-chan nor Bunny-chan have. And since the police are after the surviving yakuza and us, it sounds like we're going to have to get used to a life on the run. At least, until we can find a safe haven to hide out in for awhile."

"Minako's right," Luna agreed, looking thoughtful. "Does anyone have any ideas as to where you girls can go and stay out of sight, for the time being? And it can't be with a relative anywhere here in Tokyo, either, because the police and the yakuza are sure to check them out for any sign of you."

Rei Hino gave the matter some thought. And then, in a flash of inspiration, she remembered someone – a once-close friend who she hadn't seen for a long time.

When she was eleven years old, she had made a good friend at Elementary school. Her new friend was a transfer student from Kyoto Prefecture, who, for family reasons, would be attending school in Tokyo for a year. Coincidentally, the new girl had been a Shinto Shrine Miko in training, like she herself had been at the time, and so both girls had found out that they had a lot in common. Including that they were, in fact, distant cousins on her grandfather's side of the family. But, since Rei had started going to the Catholic Private School, T.A Academy for Girls, as per her now-deceased mother's wish, they had lost touch with each other.

Now, what was her long-lost friend's name again? Oh, that's right, it was Motoko-? Motoko Aoyama? Yes, that was it. Motoko was about a year older than her, and was now living at a boarding house near a place called Hinata Hot Springs, or something like that, down on Sagami Bay in Kanagawa Prefecture. Her grandfather had once mentioned this fact to her – apparently he was related to the long-time owner of the establishment, one Granny Hina, hence the family connection.

Being that they were family, when they were younger, Motoko had always wanted Rei to go down and visit her during the holidays at her family's mountain shrine near Kyoto. But Rei had never had the chance to do so. And now, nearly five whole years later…would Motoko even remember her? Well, there was only one way to find that out!

"Hey, guys. I've got an idea about where we can go. It's a safe place out of Tokyo, and I've got a cousin there. But it's a fair way down south, on Sagami Bay, so we'd better find ourselves some transport."

"No worries, Rei-chan," Minako chuckled, her crystal-blue eyes lighting up with anticipation as she remembered her little secret. "Bunny-chan and I have a cool car stashed away for an emergency just like this!"

"Oh, no?" Usagi wailed, remembering all-too-well their hair-raising escape from the 'Happy Hour' bar. "You're not going to be driving me around again, Minako-chan?"

"You bet! C'mon guys, let's go get it, right now, and then we can hit the road down to Sagami Bay! Oboy, oboy! Road trip!"

Luna and Artemis exchanged worried glances.

"What do you think, Artemis? It would be a good idea for the girls to get out of town for a bit, while we try to straighten this whole mess out with the police."

"Yeah, I agree," the white cat said, frowning as he thought. "And they'll attract much less attention if they do go by private car, rather than by bus or bullet train…"

"Please, please, Artemis?" Minako begged him, her blue eyes large and moist with emotion. "You know that I can handle a car!"

"Is that true, Artemis?" Luna queried, looking skeptically at the pleading, hand-wringing, blonde sailor girl.

"Actually, yes. And Minako isn't a bad driver, either," he admitted with a touch of pride. "Despite her age back then, she used to drive cars all the time – albeit illegally - when we were living in England."

"If I understand correctly, in England they drive on the left-hand side of the road, and they do here in Japan, as well," Luna pointed out. "Not on the right-hand side of the road, like they do in America. Does she know that?"

"Ah? Heh, heh…!" Minako mumbled, red-faced, to the shocked, accusing face of Usagi. "So that's why all the other cars were heading towards us on the wrong side of the road, the other night…"

"What was that, Minako?" Luna asked, swivelling an ear in her direction.

"Oh, nothing, nothing!" Minako hastily reassured the curious black cat. "I just told Bunny-chan that I have to drive on the wrong side of the road, not on the right! Yeah, that's it. Eh-heh-heh…!"

"Well, its fine with me," Artemis declared, having a great deal of faith in his well-trained young charge. "You can go." Immediately he was scooped up by the wildly-grateful Minako and subjected to a barrage of kisses. "Yeah, yeah, you love me! I get the message, Minako! Save some of that energy for the drive, willya?"

"Well, okay then," Luna said, somewhat mollified by Artemis's words, although she still looked only half-convinced at the wisdom of Minako actually behind the wheel of a car. "But if you get any traffic tickets, I'm not paying them for you. And don't forget to pick up Rei's clothes from the Crown Game Center before you go!"

"Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, Luna," Minako bubbled, almost jumping up-and-down with delight. "We'll phone you as soon as we arrive there and find a place to stay. And we'll give you both our new address and phone number then, too, so that you can contact us anytime."

"Good. And just be careful, you three! Change back into your normal selves before you go back to the Game Center, and disguise yourselves with your pens so that you look nothing at all like you normally do. And when you get to Minako's car, no speeding, drinking, or picking up hitchhikers, either. You're all on the run, remember, so you have to be as inconspicuous as possible. If the police do pull you over for any reason, they may blow your cover!"

"Got it, Luna," Rei said. "And we'll be very careful, I promise. Oh, man, it'll be good to get out of town and just relax for awhile, after all that's happened to us."

She's right, Luna thought sadly. The girls desperately need some time out to heal. We've lost so many friends…!

"Okay, then, you'd best get going," Artemis said, a lump in his throat at the prospect of being away from them all, Minako in particular. "The rest of us will stay behind here, get to a place of safety, and try to smooth things over with the authorities. So, good luck, and Godspeed to all of you."

"Thanks, Artemis," Minako said, giving him a final hug before placing him back down onto the ground. "Hey, I just thought of something. Rei-chan's got her things, but all that Bunny-chan and I have got now are the clothes on our backs. And it's too dangerous to go back to our homes to get any more of our stuff. Do you – ah – do you have any money that you can lend us? We'll need it for food, petrol, clothing, and to pay for accommodation, as well, you see…?"

"Does it look like I've got any money on me at the moment, Minako?" Artemis told her. "I'm a cat! Where, exactly, are my pockets to keep it in?"

"Oh? Eheh-heh-! Yeah, sorry…!"

"I don't have much money, either," Rei stated, looking frustrated. "And you're always broke, too, Bunny-chan. What are we going to do, guys? We can't leave town without any money!"

Up until this point, Vincent S had been content to just stand back and watch the proceedings. However, on hearing of the girls' financial predicament, he cleared his throat and stepped forward, his right hand digging into his trench coat pocket on that side.

"'Ahem!' Here you go, ladies. I've got plenty, so take this to help you get to where you're going. And take this charge card, as well. It's got a pre-loaded credit limit of two million yen, so you shouldn't run out of purchasing power with this for awhile."

"Two million yen?" all three girls gasped out, as Usagi accepted the thick wad of money and the card in a very shaky hand.

"Wow! Are you sure that you want to give us all of this money?" Minako added. "Don't take that as a sign that we don't want it, of course!"

"Yeah, no problem. I've got an unlimited credit limit here in Japan, because of the organization that I work for. Give me a couple of hours, and I'll have that amount of money again, and more."

"Gee, thanks, Vincent-sama. You're a pal!" Minako replied for the appreciative trio of starry-eyed girls, said eyes getting bigger by the second as Usagi riffled through the bulging bankroll.

"No worries. But now, you'd all better get going. It'd be best if you're well on your way before the police can get around to putting up too many roadblocks."

"But what about you, Vincent-san?'' Minako objected. "How are you going to escape the police, since you've been helping us fight the yakuza? You will be in serious trouble, too, if they catch you."

"Don't worry about me," he laughed. "As far as I know, the police don't even know that I'm involved. It's you three that they're after, not me. So you girls just take care, okay?"

"We will, I promise," she told him, with real feeling in her expression and voice. "You do that, too."

All three relieved sailor senshi gave Vincent S a big, grateful hug of farewell, doing the same to Artemis, Luna, and Diana, as well. Then, after transforming back into their civilian forms, Rei placed Yuichiro's helmet back onto her head, and re-slung the bazooka.

"Are you sure that you want to take the bazooka and helmet with you, Rei?" Luna asked, staring doubtfully at the dual encumbrance. "Artemis can store them safely away for you, if you like?"

"No, it'll be fine, Luna," Rei reassured her. "The bazooka and this helmet are all that I've got left now to remind me of poor Yuichiro-kun. I'd like to keep them with me, if it's all the same to you?"

"Okay, fine," Artemis said, sympathizing with her soul-deep pain. "And if you need to talk to us, you always know how to reach us – all of you."

"Thanks, Artemis, Luna. Well, we'd best be off to collect this car of Minako-chan's. Goodbye, and thanks for everything."

With a final wave, the trio of teary-eyed girls turned and walked away towards their new and far-different future.


Far, far, far away in deep space, Pluto and Saturn hurtled on, hand-in-hand, the wormhole created by the god Chronos speeding them away from the rapidly-receding solar system behind them, into the great depths of the unknown. Faster and faster they sped through the endless black void, twisting and turning, now speeding past alien stars and through other strange, wild and beautiful solar systems, through the wispy expanse of nebulae, totally lost in the vast, frightening gulf of nothingness. On and on they would travel, their home planet now hundreds of light years behind them, until they finally reached their unknown destination – if they ever did.

Would Setsuna and Hotaru see the blue-green world that held the Princess that they both loved so dearly, ever again? Both Outer Senshi desperately hoped so. But in the meantime, at least they still had each other.

And they had one other hope. Knowing what her fate would be for her actions, Sailor Pluto had set into motion a secret contingency plan for this very situation. But it was a very long shot, at the best.

Would it work?

Only time would tell.


Only a few miles away from the departing sailor senshi, one last remnant of the feared Black Cap Yakuza gang was encountering his own share of problems. Iwao 'Cream Man' Oda was sure that he must have had a worse day than this one, but he was damned if he could remember just when. What a balls-up!

After recovering from his fall last Monday night whilst underground in the tunnel next to the burnt-out truck stop gas station, the first thing C.M. noticed was that the other man in there with him, hadn't made it. Next, he had found to his annoyance that a huge mass of blackened debris was blocking his escape path out of the tunnel back up to the forecourt of the destroyed building. Lastly, it hadn't helped matters for him at all to then discover that all of the other manhole covers nearby had been securely locked. All-in-all, it had taken the frustrated yakuza hit man just over two whole days to find his way back out of the underground labyrinth and back up to street level again.

So it was Thursday morning when C.M. Oda finally emerged from an unlocked manhole back up into the bright Tokyo sunlight – to stare with blinking eyes upon a much different landscape than he had last seen late Monday night.

Obviously the gas station hadn't been the only building destroyed during the battle against the sailor senshi on Monday night – not by a long shot. Several major fires had blazed through the streets of Juuban, and in some locations, black columns of smoke could still be seen as twisting smudges rising above the cityscape into the hazy sky.

Very carefully, over the course of the next couple of hours, C.M. had managed to work his way back on foot to the vicinity of the 'Happy Hour' bar. He had to be very careful whilst doing so, because police patrols and even heavily armed army patrols from the JGSDF 1st Division, out of Nerima, Tokyo, seemed to be everywhere on the streets. So were a profusion of fire engines, road workers, rescue crews and ambulance crews. Luckily, he did manage to find various items of food and drink along the way, which served to assuage his hunger and thirst quite nicely.

The exhausted yakuza hit man somehow finally managed to reach his destination without being discovered, only to find the bar an ashy pile of twisted, blackened, burnt-out cinders. No rest and respite for him there, he had realized with a mixture of surprise, tiredness, and bitterness.

We've taken a real pasting, alright! Now, what the fuck do I do…?

As he slumped down onto the steps of a nearby shop in search of inspiration, the jangling of a set of keys in his coat pocket suddenly jogged his memory. He still had his own car parked up in the lot out the back of their destroyed headquarters! Leaping to his feet again, he made his way carefully through the mounds of burnt-out debris littering the side alley, to the still intact parking lot behind the flattened building. Once there, he found to his delight that his car – fortuitously parked at the roadside end of the parking lot - had been totally untouched by the fierce conflagration that had totally consumed the bar and its immediate surrounds.

"Now, there's a stroke of luck, at last! I'll get on the radio stashed inside, and see if I can find out where everyone got to."

But, after a quarter-of-an-hour of fruitless calling to every member of the Black Cap yakuza who he could think of who owned one of their private, two-way radio transmitters, C.M. finally gave it up. Unbelievable as it might sound to him, it seemed to be more and more likely that he might be the only member of the gang still alive and un-incarcerated.

What the hell has happened to them all? Man, I'd best get outta here. Maybe the sailor senshi are still looking for me, and if they are, this'll be one of the first places that they'll look!

Starting up his powerful car, the hit man drove out of the parking lot, turning the front of the car down the road in the direction of the expressway that led to Kabukicho. Since he couldn't raise any of the local branch members of the gang, he figured that he would find out all that he needed to know about what had gone down from the main headquarters of the Black Cap Yakuza, which was based there.

With shocking suddenness, the radio buzzed loudly on the seat next to him! C.M. jumped involuntarily at the sudden sound, then snatched up the offending device, and pushed the talk button.

"C.M. here," he spoke into the radio's microphone. "Who the hell is this?"

"C.M.! It's me, Nampa."

"Nampa? What the hell is going on? I get knocked out for two days, and when I get back to the Happy Hour bar, the whole fucking place has been burnt down! Shateigashira Fujimori-sama and the others have disappeared, and I can't raise anyone, anywhere!"

"I was wondering what happened to you," the voice of his friend spoke urgently. "Listen, C.M, you gotta get the hell out of Tokyo, right now! Things have really got fucked up over the last couple of days. Half of the 'Black Caps' are dead, the others, who knows? If you're in a vehicle, now, just keep on driving, okay?"

"Yeah, will do. But what the hell happened?"

"The damn sailor senshi, that's what. As you know, they came down on us like a ton of bricks last Monday night. Whoever planned it knew what the hell they were doing, too. The 'Happy Hour' got blown to hell and gone by Sailor Saturn and her Silence Glaive, most of the shabu warehouses got taken out, too, and so did Main HQ on Yasukuni Dori Avenue in Kabukicho!"

"Fuck me! Any idea of what happened to Oyabun Tanaka-sama?"

"Your guess is as good as mine, C.M. But the sailor senshi are only part of our worries. The cops are spitting tacks – they've got orders to arrest anyone - both us and them - that they can catch. The cops think that the sailor senshi have lost the plot, so they're now on Japan's most wanted list, too. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police HQ's Special Assault Team has been called out to do the job, and they're armed to the teeth. So have units of the JGSDF. Half of fucking Juuban is in flames, as you can probably see!"

"You're not joking, Nampa," Oda shot back, his eyes falling on yet another column of black smoke arising from another destroyed building. "From what I can see, here, now, a bunch of our safe houses have taken a pounding, too…hold on! There's another bloody police roadblock up ahead! Give me a second, I've gotta get the hell off this street-!"

Once it was safe to talk again on the long-range radiophone, and drive at the same time, the incredulous C.M. Oda immediately took up the threads of the depressing conversation from where he had left off.

"Nampa? You still there?"

"Yup. You in the clear?"

"So far…! Listen, I can tell that we got well done-over, but what about the sailor senshi? Did we manage to take any of them out?"

"Ah, I dunno, and that's a fact. I was at the 'Happy Hour' when it got hit, and managed to get out through the underground storm drain out back in the alley. Sailor Saturn came down out of the sky in a rainstorm, and just levelled the place! I know she took a couple of hits, but they sure didn't seem to have much effect on that witch. Sailor Mars was there, too – I saw her take a shell, as well, she seemed to stagger, then got up and just fried the ruins of the building. As that happened, I dropped down through the manhole, and got the hell outta there!"

"The sailor senshi are all probably bloody near-on bullet-proof, to ordinary guns, anyway," C.M. mused out loud in a worried tone. "We need something heavier to even the score – yeah, like 'Popeye', your AS-50 Sniper Rifle, like the one that Oyabun Tanaka-sama has. Hey, have you still got it with you?"

"Yeah, I left it in the trunk of my car, Kami-sama be thanked! But I saw the way things were going, and knowing that the cops would hunt everybody down even remotely connected with this fiasco, I kept on driving and got the hell out of that area of Tokyo, two days ago, before too many roadblocks got set up around the ward."

"Yeah, that's not a bad idea," Oda admitted, not liking at all what he had so far seen and heard about the fate of the rest of his hapless comrades in the Black Cap yakuza. "I'd best amscray, too, I think. Hey, Nampa, where the heck are you, now, anyway?"

"Down south a bit, on the Tokyo side of Yokohama. I'm heading down to Hinata City, on Sagami Bay in Kanagawa Prefecture, and then on to Hinata Hot Springs, the town that's just over the Hinata river from there. I've got a cousin living there, and I'm planning on hiding out with her. So my advice to you is to get your ass down to Hinata Hot Springs, ASAP, and we'll hang out there for awhile."

"That sounds like a plan to me. So where are you gonna be staying in Hinata Hot Springs? At a hotel, or some such?"

"Better than that, C.M! Much better. My cousin, Mitsune Konno, lives at the Hinata Apartments – just cross the old wood-and-stone bridge when you get to Hinata Hot Springs, and you can't miss it. It's a huge wooden building on the hill, with grey stone steps leading up to it. It's just recently been turned back into an Inn again."

"Hey, you said that your cousin's a girl," C.M. stated, his eyes widening with interest. "So what's she like? Is she a looker?"

"Hell, yeah! You'd like her, she's a real babe and she drinks almost as much as we do. Bottles of liquor all over her room. She gambles, as well, so she and I get on just fine. Last time I saw Mitsune was maybe eight – nine months ago, when I stopped in for a quick visit that time I had to go to Hinata City to collect our cut of the profits from the Ishikawa payroll hit."

"Yeah, I remember," C.M. recalled. "I would have gone down with you, too, but Boss Fujimori wanted me on another job. Hey, does Mitsune know about your line of work? That you're yakuza?"

"Nah. She knows that I'm a bit shady, with my tattoos and all, but she doesn't let that bother her. We've only seen each other once-or-twice in the last six years, but we're family, and family stick together. Especially since we're the last two of our clan still alive, now – well, that we know of, anyway."

"Okay. And don't worry; I'll keep what we do under my hat when I get there. And I won't mess with her, either, being your family and all. So, anything else I should know about the place?"

"Actually, yes. I've saved the best until last. Check this out. The place Mitsune lives at is actually a women's dormitory, as well as an Inn. And from what I saw before, it had a bunch of the cutest girls staying there that you ever did see! And they've got a bloody large, heated thermal pool there, too. And a bar right next door, down by the road. So, I think that you can already see the possibilities! Ha, ha, ha, ha!"

"All right!" Oda whooped out over the radio to his friend, releasing the steering wheel momentarily to smack his hard right fist into the palm of his left hand with glee. "That's the best news that I've heard since I woke up! Keep all those girls warm for me, willya, and keep your cute cousin's best bottle of whiskey in a safe place for me, as well. You and me, we got us some partying to do with her and the others when I get there!"

"Roger. You 'all hurry, now. And watch your ass! I'll be in Hinata Hot Springs in a day or two. What's your E.T.A. gonna be?"

"Probably at least two days travel time from here in Juuban, judging by the amount of roadblocks and army patrols that I've had to dodge. Or maybe even three days, just to be on the safe side. I'd best be very careful. But after what you just told me, I'll be there, even if I have to walk all of the way to the Hinata Apartments by night, on foot! I'll be seeing ya soon!"


In a darker dimension, separated from our own reality by only the thinnest gossamer wall of quantum fabric, the cold wind blew dejectedly through an abandoned, derelict campsite. Gusts and eddies of dust-laden wind swirled through the collapsing hide shelters and stone fire pits, and around and over a huge pile of misshapen bones and scraps of dirt-caked leather, slowly burying the pitiful animal remains beneath a newly forming sand dune.

Amongst the sand-blasted signs of death, two large jewels suddenly sparkled forlornly amongst the heap of discarded feast remnants. One glowed a soft white, the other a much deeper blue. The two souls trapped inside the discarded gems slept peacefully on, unknowingly awaiting their uncertain future resurrection. Then an errant dust-devil swirled past the slowly growing mound, burying the two lonely star seeds into their decaying prison once more…