-Neptune: Year One-
Disclaimer: Sailor Moon is the property of Naoko Takeushi, Toei and Kodansha.
Sister Claire wiped a bit of perspiration from her forehead as she stepped out of the consulate and out onto the sidewalk. She'd spent the last hour and a half in the bishop's office, and after the meeting the nun felt drained. She turned to her left and headed towards the bus stop. After having argued with her bishop until she was red in the face, she just wanted to get back to her greenhouse and relax with a cup of tea.
"Get the cat!"
A black cat rushed past the nun, followed by three young boys chasing it. They cornered the poor animal and began teasing it mercilessly.
"Hey cat, bark!"
Sister Claire frowned. Forgetting about her bus, she started to head over to chase the kids away from the poor cat, but she stopped when she saw someone else running towards them from a different direction.
"Hey!" the newcomer, a girl with long golden ponytails, yelled angrily at the three hoodlums, "Stop it!"
The three boys ran away, and the girl began to tend to the poor feline. Sister Claire was going to offer her assistance, but suddenly remembered her bus. She turned away just as the girl was peeling away a band aid someone had stuck on the cat's forehead to reveal a strange crescent-shaped patch of yellow fur. The nun made it to the bus stop just in time, and found a seat near the middle of the bus next to the window.
Half an hour later, Sister Claire arrived back on campus and headed wearily back to her greenhouse. She smiled as she saw a familiar face waiting for her. "Konichi-wa, Michiru-chan. Shouldn't you be in classes?"
Michiru looked up from her canvas and smiled politely. She was painting a still life of some flowers she'd arranged on a small table. "Konichi-wa, Claire-sama. Actually, I've been given the day off to collect my things."
"Oh?" Claire asked as she sat down nearby, "And why do you have to collect your things? You're not being expelled, are you?"
Michiru smirked. "Hardly. I've transferred to another school, the Mugen Academy."
"Mugen?" the nun asked, "I think I've heard of them. They're very selective about the students they accept, but then with your grades I doubt you would've had much trouble getting in. Do you think you'll run into any trouble transferring this late in the semester?"
Michiru put her easel and brush down next to her and turned to give her attention more fully to the nun. "I don't think so. I'll grant you that transferring in the middle of May will take a bit of adjustment at first, but luckily I already have a friend waiting for me there."
Sister Claire smiled at that, "Good for you." Her smile faded a bit as she turned away, her eyes scanning the familiar plants within her greenhouse. "It seems as if today's the day for such news."
Michiru noted the sad tone in the nun's voice. "Claire-sama?"
Sister Claire took a deep breath. "I first entered the novitiate as a young college graduate back in nineteen seventy. The Second Vatican Council was still a very recent memory, and it was a time of change both within and without the church. I was full of grand ideas and dreams… Heh, what did I know?" she asked rhetorically with a wave of her hand. Looking back over to Michiru, she smiled sadly. "I met with the bishop today, Michiru-chan. I'm leaving the order."
Michiru's eyes widened. "You mean, you're no longer going to be a nun?" Sister Claire slowly nodded. "But… Why would the bishop expel you?"
"He didn't, Michiru-chan. I asked to leave."
"Have you told Principal Ichi yet?"
"Not yet, but then I hardly think she'll be broken hearted about it." She noticed Michiru's look and chuckled a bit. "I guess that wasn't very charitable of me to say, was it? Come," she said as she stood up, "Let's toast both our departures with a bit of tea."
"Claire-sama," Michiru asked as she followed behind the nun, "If you're leaving the convent and your consecrated life behind, where will you go?"
"Oh, I don't know," she answered, "The Anglican Church in America allows for women's ordinations, and it looks like the Church of England may be holding a synod on the issue later this year, so I'm hopeful," she said as she set the kettle on the stove.
After spending most of the morning with the nun and finally saying goodbye, Michiru left the greenhouse. Of all the nuns and administrators, she realized with a heavy heart that she would miss Sister Claire the most. She headed back to her dorm room where she already had most of her stuff packed. It was a Thursday. She would have today off from classes to finish packing and tomorrow through Sunday to move into her new residence and prepare for her first day of classes at Mugan on Monday. Looking around at the luggage and boxes scattered around her, she began to feel a bit melancholy about leaving. She took out her violin and began to play something that fit her mood. She heard the door open and looked up to see Takayo enter the room.
"So, it's official," the redhead said, "You're really leaving."
Michiru sighed. "Hai," she said as she packed the violin back into its mahogany case, "I'm transferring."
Takayo came over and sat on the bed next to her. "It's not going to feel the same without you, you know. Sure you could be a bit aloof and all, but I'm still going to miss you."
Michiru smiled. "Thanks. I think I'm going to miss you too Takayo-chan."
Takayo smiled back as the two roommates shared one of their last moments together. The redhead then looked at her watch. "They're serving dinner soon. Want to join me in the cafeteria for a last supper before you leave our school's hallowed grounds?"
A few minutes later, Michiru found herself one last time sitting in her usual spot at the popular table. She was more reserved than usual today, and soon after her fellow students wished her good luck and fond farewell they descending back into their usual conversations.
"…So by the time you get to 'Comfortably Numb,' Pink has totally cut himself off from the world around him, completely hidden behind his 'Wall'."
"Miki," one of the girls at the table interrupted, "Why can't you just talk about J-Pop groups like the rest of us?"
"Don't look now," another girl said, "But the newly elected Student Council President just entered the cafeteria."
Michiru shrank a bit in her chair as everyone turned to watch her former sempai and the new Student Body President Miyuki Asami enter the cafeteria, a group of fellow Student Council members in tow. Trailing closely behind Miyuki was her new freshman she was mentoring, Keiko Kitagawa, carrying her onee-sama's tray.
As the group went to the table reserved for them and sat, Miyuki looked over. Michiru met the other's gaze, both girls silently communicating things they wish they'd said and things they wish hadn't been said through their eyes before Miyuki finally turned away.
Michiru watched her old sempai for a few seconds longer before returning to her meal. As she drank from her milk carton, the young novice Sister Maria came into the cafeteria and walked over to Michiru's table. "Kaioh-san?"
Michiru nodded, "Hai."
"Kaioh-san, coming with me to please will you."
Some of the girls at the table began to snicker. Sister Maria was a novice from France, and she had yet to completely learn the Japanese language. Her broken Japanese had thus come to be quite the source of amusement for many of the girls at Saint Agatha's Academy. Far from being offended though, the young novice seemed to accept the gentle ribbing good naturedly.
Michiru looked perturbed as she rose from her seat and followed the novice into the office, wondering to herself if she might've broken some infraction without knowing it on her final day. Once in the office, however, Sister Maria ushered her to a desk near the back corner of the office. "Phone," she said, pointing to the blinking light on the phone indicating someone was on hold.
"A phone call?" Michiru asked, "Do you know who it is?"
"Cousin," Sister Maria answered as she handed the girl the phone and wandered off.
Once the novice had left the office Michiru pushed the hold button, "Moshi moshi?"
"Ruka-kun? Why on earth did you tell Sister Maria you were my cousin?"
"I thought it would be less suspicious. Are you alone right now?"
"Good. How soon before you could change into Sailor Neptune and meet me on the roof of the Todaimae Mall?"
"Sailor Neptune?" Michiru asked in a hushed tone as she quickly looked around to reassure herself she was alone, "Maybe an hour and a half. Why? What's going on?"
"Michiru-chan, there's… There's something here you need to see for yourself."
There was something in Haruka's voice that was unsettling to Michiru. "Very well. You said the Todaimae Mall?"
"Hai. I'll meet you there in an hour and a half. Sayonara."
"Sayonara, Ruka-kun," Michiru answered as she hung up the phone on her end. She frowned as she left the office and hurried to her dorm room to take care of some last minute details before the move began tomorrow.
An hour and a half later, Sailor Neptune landed on the roof of the Todaimae Mall to find Sailor Uranus already waiting for her. "Alright, I'm here," she said as she walked over to the blonde, "What's wrong?"
"That," Uranus said as she pointed to a neon-lighted billboard across the street from them. Sailor Neptune allowed a gasp to escape as she saw a giant image of Zultan in a bikini sitting on a raft in the middle of the ocean. She was casting a bottle into the ocean. The bottle was a prop made of real glass, and there was what appeared to be a large note inside.
"I cast my message in a bottle," bright neon letters proclaimed, "Hoping that Sailor Neptune hears my call." Underneath the image was a brief ad for swimwear, but it was clear to Neptune that the message was really for her.
"Michiru-chan," Sailor Uranus began, "From the way you described her without the clown makeup…"
"Hai, that's Zultan," Neptune answered, her eyes focused on the rolled-up message in the bottle. She closed her eyes and stretched out her consciousness. "Be on your guard," she warned, "Something's not right." With that, Sailor Neptune ran and leapt off the roof over to the billboard with Sailor Uranus following close behind. At the bottom of the billboard was a piece of scaffolding large enough for the two Senshi to land on.
The bottle was almost as long as Neptune. She carefully reached into the giant prop and pulled out the message written with a magic marker on poster board.
So, you managed to get my message. Congratulations.
As you now know, I can and will turn normal human
beings into daemons. Tonight, at midnight, I plan to do
much more. I'm going to dump hundreds of thousands
of my little pods into the city's water supply. All of Tokyo
will be populated by monsters.
That is, unless you can stop me.
Tonight. Midnight. The Tokyo Water Treatment Center.
Oh, and bring your new friend along. I'm sure she'd like
to try and stop me too.
P.S. There is a small sensor inside this bottle connected to
an explosive detonator. The sensor was tripped when you
first stuck your hand in the bottle, and by the time you're
done reading this message-
"Haruka, run!" Neptune screamed as she grabbed Uranus' wrist and both Senshi leaped off the billboard before it exploded in a huge fireball, shattering windows in surrounding buildings and leveling a nearby newsstand. As alarms rang out, Neptune looked over to see Uranus staring at the wreckage as if transfixed. "Ruka-kun?"
"I understand now," she whispered. "For the longest time, I couldn't understand how you could have accepted this mission and all that goes with it so easily. But this…" She turned to face Neptune, a determined expression etched in her teal eyes. "They have to be stopped. No matter the sacrifice, we have to stop them."
Sailor Neptune brought her hand up to cradle the side of Uranus' face and stroked her cheek with her thumb. "We will, Haruka," she said softly, "We will." She turned away from the blonde as she looked off into the distance of the city. "The Tokyo Water Treatment Center is on the other side of the city. If we're going to get there in time we'll have to hurry."
Sailor Uranus grinned cockily at that. "That shouldn't be a problem on my end. Think you can keep up?"
Neptune smirked as she raised a finely arched eyebrow at the challenge. Without another word both Senshi rushed off from rooftop to rooftop on their way to the water plant. Above them, the full moon peeped out from behind a cloud, lighting their way towards their showdown with Zultan.
-To Be Continued-