-Neptune: Year One-

Disclaimer: I do not own Sailor Moon, nor do I own the character of Sailor Neptune. Both are owned by Naoko Takeuchi.

-I-

-1982-

The child set her violin case down on the floor and turned to the sheet music in front of her. Not old enough yet to read the written word, the five year old heir to the Kaioh diamond fortune showed an early aptitude for music and the violin.

A few weeks ago, after her doting mother bought her a finger painting kit, her other talent was discovered.

As the girl opened the case and took out the trainer violin, her mother looked on from the sidelines with the principal of the private school she was enrolled in.

"Simply amazing," Principal Mifune whispered as the notes flowed from the five year old's fingers. "I've heard of such progeny before of course, but other than your daughter the only other child I've personally known with such talent was an autistic idiot savant. In your daughter's case however… Well, Kiosho-sensei says it was as though the child already knew how to play, but just needed reminding."

The girl's mother nodded. "Has the music teacher explained my position to you yet?"

"Hai, Kaioh-san. She will be treated no different than the other music students for now."

"Good," her mother said. "I'd like to try to allow her as normal a childhood as possible. Her gifts will become known soon enough. I don't wish my Michiru-chan to be exploited, understood?"

Before Principal Mifune could respond, a lanky man in a gray flannel suit came in, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose with his index finger. "Kaioh-san, your husband's divorce lawyer has asked for certain papers which…"

"Shh," the mother scolded, "It can wait until she's done."

Hearing the small disturbance, the five year old looked up from the sheet music and, seeing her beloved mother watching her, gave a large toothy grin. The gap in her smile from her first contribution to the tooth fairy somehow only added to the girl's cuteness.

-October, 1991-

"Michiru-chan, wake up."

Fourteen year old Michiru Kaioh opened her eyes grudgingly as the alarm continued to buzz next to her. Reaching over, she turned it off. "Gomen, Takayo-chan."

"It's alright, I was already up," Takayo Fuji answered, the young redhead stretching her arms out wide before opening the curtain to look outside at the rest of the St. Agatha Girl's Academy campus. "You know," she said, noting the storm clouds collecting off to the southeast, "You wouldn't have such a hard time waking up in the morning if you didn't spread yourself so thin. I mean academics, band practice, the swim team…"

"Yes, thank you," Michiru said rather stiffly as she got out of bed. "I know you mean well, but I can manage."

"That I know," Takayo replied with a smirk as Michiru shuffled slowly into the bathroom. "Everyone's aware of how easy academics come to you."

"Not that easy," Michiru called out as she squeezed toothpaste out onto her toothbrush. "I still have to work at it."

"Not like the rest of us," Takayo called back as the sounds of Michiru brushing her teeth escaped from the bathroom. "All I'm saying is that you need time to relax and enjoy yourself more.

"I already do," Michiru replied after spitting out into the sink, "On the weekends."

"Painting landscapes out in the bug-infested fields is hardly what I'd call enjoyment."

Michiru stepped out of the bathroom clutching her toothbrush in her hand. "It is to me," she replied, "Besides, it's the outdoors. It's only natural to have to deal with the occasional pest."

Takayo raised an eyebrow at that. "Occasional?"

Michiru shook her head in exasperation and went back into the bathroom. "What do you suppose they'll have for us in the cafeteria this morning?" she asked, hoping to change the subject.

Takayo shrugged, "Meh, same thing as every Tuesday morning. Runny eggs, toast, over cooked sausage and orange juice." Suddenly, a thought occurred to her. "Michiru-chan," she called as the shower was turned on, "Did you remember to get permission from principal Ichi to leave campus after classes to attend the audition?"

"Hai," Michiru called out as she removed her nightgown and stepped into the shower, a smile teasing her lips as she thought about the audition she'd be going to. The Takarazuka Review was a musical show that featured girls and women in all the roles, playing both men and women. Her mother had already spoken with key members of the school board about allowing Michiru to join the orchestra and play in after school performances, provided she keep her grades up and not slip in any other extracurricular activities.

A short time later Michiru emerged from the shower, her wet aqua colored locks wrapped up in a towel around her head. "The shower's all yours," she said, "I even saved you some hot water."

"Thanks," Takayo said as she grabbed her bathrobe and a towel. "Remember what I said," she called out before closing the bathroom door behind her. "Mark my words, you're going to spread yourself too thin Michiru-chan."

Michiru didn't answer, instead she simply plugged in her hair dryer to the socket by her bed and, as the sounds of the shower turning on came from the bathroom, she removed the towel from her hair, picked up her brush and began working on her hair, using the full-length mirror on the other side of the room to make sure it came out right. It was funny, other girls would've paid good money to have her wavy hair, but it was natural for her (and on more than one occasion she had wished it could've been straighter).

After both girls were done and dressed in the brown skirt and vest uniform of the St. Agatha Academy, they left their shared room for breakfast at the cafeteria, followed by morning classes. At lunch time, Michiru sat at the 'popular table' with a few other freshmen, but mostly with higher classmen. As she sipped from her milk carton, she saw Miyuki Asami from the school's gymnastic team enter with her tray of food. Michiru was mesmerized by the older girl's physique, her lithe yet muscular arms and her long legs coming out from her skirt. The brown haired athlete looked over, her eyes meeting Michiru's just long enough to cause the violinist's breath to catch in her throat.

"I said, isn't that right Michiru-chan?"

Michiru turned toward the speaker with a start. "Nani?"

"The algebra test, wasn't it a killer?"

"Oh, oh right," she responded, trying to ignore the sudden warmth welling up within her body. "I suppose, but then that's Katsuki sensei for you, ne?" The others nodded in agreement before carrying on with the conversation, much to Michiru's relief. She'd have to be more careful in the future. Have to keep up appearances after all, mustn't let one's guard down.

After the close call in the cafeteria, it was a relief to return to the relative safety of the classroom. Once final classes were over, Michiru changed out of her school uniform and into a pretty sea green dress. She then showed her pass to the monitor and was allowed to leave the school grounds. It was a short walk to the bus station, and she soon found herself carting her violin case onto the public bus, leaving the peace of her school and surrounding acreage behind as she headed into the crowded and bustling downtown.

After about an hour, the bus stopped at her destination. As Michiru exited the bus and entered the congested Tokyo streets though, a large crash was heard coming out of a nearby ally. A nearby policeman pushed rudely past the aqua haired young girl to investigate, only to be knocked violently into a corner post office box by a strange looking woman in a cat costume. Ignoring both the injured cop and the throng of stunned bystanders, she turned angrily back towards the alley way. "There is no way you can defeat me, Nyan-Nyan, princess of the cat world! Kill her, my servants!"

The woman very quickly turned and ran, bolting into traffic and weaving her way through the busy intersection as she made her escape. Michiru was about to join the other civilians who were checking to make sure the officer was alright, when a spotted cat flew by close to her face. A reddish tabby likewise was flung out of the alley just before a strange blonde emerged from the alleyway, wearing a red mask and dressed in a sort of sailor costume. She was covered in scratches, six or seven alley cats still clinging to her as they continued the attack.

"Look!" a young boy exclaimed as he pointed at her, "It's Sailor V!"

"Sailor who?" Michiru asked.

"Urgh, get off me!" Sailor V yelled angrily as she grabbed a black cat by its tail and angrily flung it into a nearby dumpster. Ignoring the other cats still clinging to her, she rushed forward into the rush hour traffic, giving a 'V for Victory' sign to the onlookers even as she hopped from car roof to car roof in pursuit of her quarry.

As Michiru watched Sailor V running after the cat girl, something inexplicable happened. She didn't know how or why, but the violinist was suddenly seized with a desire to join in the pursuit of the cat girl, as if it was somehow the natural thing for her to do. Her pulse quickened, her nostrils flared, and she began to edge her way across the sidewalk to the street.

"Miss?"

She turned to see a small elderly woman holding up her violin case. "Miss, I believe this is yours. The policeman accidentally knocked it out of your hand."

Michiru shook her head a few times to help clear her head as the sudden adrenalin rush wore off. "A… Arigato." What on earth was she thinking? Her mother used to refer to her as her 'little porcelain princess' because of how fragile and girly she was, and here she was about to do what? Join some loon in a Halloween mask and chase down dangerous criminals?

She turned on her heels, ignoring the momentary lightheadedness she was experiencing from the adrenalin crash and quickly walked away. There were enough people surrounding the police officer that they wouldn't need her help, and she still had to make her audition. As she hurried off, she was unaware of the statuesque woman watching her intently through violet eyes older than the sands of Egypt. As Michiru rounded the corner, she turned likewise away from the commotion around the police officer, pushing a strand of emerald green hair behind her ear as she was soon lost in the Tokyo traffic.

A short time later Michiru reached the theater in Takarazuka. After having hurried most of the way, she was almost out of breath. Coming up to the doors however, she found them locked. Looking around frantically, she saw a well dressed woman exiting a side entrance. As the woman turned and locked the door, Michiru hurried over. "Miss, aren't the auditions today?"

The woman turned to her and nodded. "Hai, the auditions were today, but they ended ten minutes ago."

Michiru felt like the floor had been snatched out from under her. "No, but… But I… I was set to audition," she said weakly as she held up her violin case.

The woman narrowed her eyes a bit as she studied Michiru more closely. "You look familiar. Have I seen you before?"

Michiru smiled at the faint glimmer of hope offered her. "You might've seen a newspaper article about me in last month's Tokyo Times. My name's Michiru Kaioh."

The woman pursed her lips as she crossed her arms. "Ah yes, the 'prodigy.' Young lady, just because you're talented doesn't mean that the world is expected to stop for you."

"But I… But no, I didn't…"

"There are no handouts in the Takarazuka Revue, no free passes, no matter how talented you are. You should've come to audition with the others during the time set aside for audition. Now, you'll have to wait until next year to audition again. I'm sorry."

With that, the woman left, leaving a crushed young girl clutching her violin case to her as her eyes welled up with tears. Michiru pulled out a handkerchief and wiped her eyes as she slowly headed for the nearest bus depot.

When she arrived back at school grounds a little over an hour and a half later, she was quiet and morose. Takayo tried her best to cheer Michiru up, but the girl wouldn't have any of it. Sleep came hard for her that night, as she tried to imagine what she would say when her mother found out about the botched audition. Exhaustion won the day though, and she eventually slipped off into slumber.

-0-0-0-

She was standing on a hill overlooking the outskirts of the city. The sky was red and the buildings and people were black. All was still, even the birds appeared to be motionlessly floating in midair as she looked on.

The sound of an explosion caused Michiru to jump. She turned around to see a huge column of blackness engulfing everything, leaving death and destruction in its path as it sucked all into itself, making itself bigger. There was no time for her to run, and no place for her to run to. Fear and horror gripped her as she saw it rapidly approaching.

"Courage," a voice whispered. Michiru turned desperately to see who'd spoken. She saw a tall young woman with dark green hair and violet eyes, wearing a sailor fuku and holding a staff of some sort. The woman walked past her and towards the oncoming darkness, lifting her staff as she did so.

"What are you doing?" Michiru cried out. "Turn! Run!"

The woman turned to her, sadness showing in her eyes as the great death was now only a few yards away from her. "I can not, Michiru. I must try to stop it."

Michiru shook her head in disbelief. "No! You can't! Look at it!" she screamed as the blackness finally reached the strange woman. "You can't stop it alone, you need help!"

The woman smiled at the violinist even as her body began to disintegrate into the darkness.

"I did send for help. I sent for you."

-0-0-0-

Michiru woke up with a start, the young girl shaking all over as she sat up in bed. She was wet with sweat, and as she looked over at her alarm clock she saw that it was a quarter past three. "What a dream," she sighed. Maybe Takao was right. Maybe her schedule, to say nothing of the incident this afternoon and the disappointment of the tryouts, really was finally getting to her. She got out of bed quietly so as not to wake up her roommate and went to the bathroom for a cup of water.

Meanwhile, within the Time Gate, Sailor Pluto opened her eyes. It had not been easy to pierce through the young girl's consciousness and into her dreams, and it left her feeling drained. Soon, the time she'd been waiting for millennia for would arrive. The new age would dawn upon the world, and the new kingdom would rise up from the long forgotten ashes of the old. Before that could happen though, it would get much darker before the dawn.

Venus was already revived, and was even now fighting the forces of the Dark Agency as Sailor V, a fight she was destined to win. Also, Queen Beril had recently been reawakened, along with the Shitennou of King Endymion. Venus was not powerful enough to defeat the evil queen and her underlings alone. That would have to wait for the awakening of the others, and the search for their princess.

Then, there were the Death Busters.

Their activities were in secret for now, and even Pluto's Time Gate was having difficulty looking in on their activities, which implied a high level of malign magic at work. Sailor Pluto was doing all she could in the shadows to stave off the oncoming conflicts for as long as possible in order to give the others time to awaken to their powers, but time was running out. If Venus was to effectively deal with the Dark Agency and then join the others against the Dark Kingdom, someone had to take on this earliest incarnation of the Death Busters. Not to defeat it, for its power was growing and only all the awakened Senshi would stand a chance against it and the upcoming Silence, but rather to keep it in check until the others were ready.

She was having difficulty locating Uranus. Today though, she'd confirmed the latest incarnation of Neptune in a fourteen year old Catholic school girl named Michiru Kaioh.

Neptune had to be awakened.

Pluto only hoped that someday Michiru would be able to forgive her for it.

-To Be Continued-

End Notes: the Takarazuka Review, according to wikipedia, is "a musical theater in the city of Takarazuka, Japan. Women play both male and female roles in lavish, Broadway-style productions - most of their plays are Western-style musicals, and sometimes they are stories adapted from shōjo manga and folktales of China and Japan. Their fans are mostly female."