-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 also don't own the rights to the Rolling Stones song mentioned in this chapter.
"So, what exactly seems to be the problem?" Toru asked as he followed the young woman with the light blue hair and long peach-colored coat to the tunnel of love. The neon light in front of the ride had been turned off, and an "out of order" sign was draped across the entrance to keep patrons out.
"I'm not sure," Zultan explained as she lifted the sign up for herself and Toru to duck under. "As you know, the boats slide on a motorized track under the water through the tunnel. For some reason, the track is not working properly around the third bend in the tunnel. Here," she said as she led him into the dark tunnel and onto a small section of dry land alongside the water, "Follow me and I'll show you."
She saw the two walk together into the tunnel of love, and her pulse increased as she reached into her coat pocket and grabbed her henshin wand. It was cold against her bare hand, and even as she reached the out of order sign she hoped that she was wrong, that she wasn't really needed.
The man's scream from inside the tunnel wiped out any hope for Michiru. She grimaced as she clutched the wand until her knuckles turned white, slowly walking into the dark tunnel and waiting anxiously for her eyes to adjust to the lack of light. Once they did, she crept up to the edge of where the tunnel curved to the right and peered around the corner.
There were at least five boats stopped in a row, each one carrying an unconscious couple slumped over breathing heavily. On a small shoreline Toru lay on his back, a look of pain and fear frozen on his face as his heart crystal floated above him. Zultan stood a few feet away, coldly looking down at her victim as he continued to groan.
Michiru had seen enough. She stepped back out of Zultan's visual range and held up her wand. "Neptune planet power, Make Up!"
"Damn," the witch grumbled. "Not a talisman. Still, the professor can still probably make some sort of use out of it…"
"Guided by a new eon, Sailor Neptune acts with grace."
Zultan looked up and narrowed her eyes. "You again?"
Sailor Neptune leaped over to her, placing herself between Zultan and Toru. "You shall not have his crystal," she said as the crystal slowly lowered back into the fair organizer's chest, "Not today."
"Maybe not," she said as she reached into her long coat and pulled out a gas mask. "But then, you'll not be interfering with me or my plans after today again, either." Flashing a remote control device, she quickly pushed a button as she put her gas mask on. On the far wall of the tunnel a panel opened in the faux rocky surface, revealing the familiar car with its black five-pointed star painted on the driver's door. Its rear hatch opened up to reveal a large metallic box. As Zultan pressed another button on the remote, the box opened, allowing a daemon to escape.
Sailor Neptune stepped back as she caught sight of the thing. It had a large bulbous head, with dark green and maroon bumps covering its entire body. Clumps of moss and disgusting patches of yellow algae seemed to ooze from its porous flesh, and instead of a face it seemed to just have a single yellow-green blob where its eyes should've been.
"Tripu, tripu," it gurgled as it set its sites on the young Senshi.
"Get rid of this pest once and for all," Zultan ordered as she ran towards one of the boats.
"Wait!" Neptune yelled as she started to follow.
"Tripu, tripu," the thing said again as a brown, foul-smelling gas was released from its body. As Neptune began to cough on the noxious fumes, the witch hopped off the boat she'd jumped onto and off to the opposite shore, pressing one more button on her remote before jumping into her car and making her escape through a secret passage that opened just long enough for her to drive through before it closed again behind her.
"Breathe in, tripu," the thing hissed as more fumes were released, "Loose yourself, give in to the colors."
Neptune's eyes began to burn, and as she continued to cough and her nose started to run, multi-colored strobe lights began flashing within the cave as very loud music started playing out of hidden stereos within the walls. As Sailor Neptune opened her eyes to try to focus on what was going on around her, she saw the walls starting to melt and run into the river in front of her.
Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste
I've been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man's soul and faith
Neptune did more than see the lights and hear the music that Zultan had turned on with her remote; she could hear the colors coming from the strobe lights. Red was the loudest, while yellow had a nasally quality to it, and the purple sounded like breaking glass.
And I was there when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate
"Give in, tripu," the thing slurred out as it began to move forward, "Don't fight it."
Sailor Neptune looked around frantically at the others in the tunnel. Toru now looked like an origami man made out of brownish orange paper. The various couples still unconscious in their boats suddenly had insect heads, with one even seeming to be busy wrapping itself up into a cocoon.
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what's puzzling you
Is just the nature of my game
Neptune couldn't think clearly, not between the music, the lights and the horrifying images she was seeing. Her heart was pounding as she looked back at the part of the cave she'd just come from, only to see that it had turned into the jaws of a great black snake.
I stuck around St. Petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the czar and his ministers
Anastasia screamed in vain
Her lower jaw quivered, and as the youma came ever closer she covered her ears and screamed, watching as her scream flowed out her mouth in bright neon blue dayglow letters.
"Trust in your growing psychic powers. They will alert you to when Sailor Neptune is needed, and will help you to survive."
Neptune's eyes widened as she remembered Pluto's words. Closing her eyes, she desperately tried to reach out with her mind.
I rode a tank
Held a general's rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank
"Illusions," she whispered. Opening her eyes again, she now understood that the youma's gas was causing her to experience the strange hallucinations. She needed to get out of the tunnel, to get somewhere where she could breath and try to fight the effects of the daemon's attack.
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name
"Deep Submerge!" she screamed, sending the attack into the ceiling, "Deep Submerge!"
The two attacks had the desired effect of blowing a hole in the ceiling of the ride. As the caustic brown smoke started to billow out and the music and lights continued on, Sailor Neptune jumped out of the ceiling just before the youma reached her.
Miyuki looked at her watch and sighed. "I'll be right back," she mumbled, remembering Michiru's words. She never meant to scare her freshman charge off like that. Truth was, she'd been experiencing confused feelings for Michiru for close to a month now, ever since the library incident. The comment just came out without her thinking about it. If she could take the comment back, she would, but…
The junior nearly jumped out of her skin at the loud explosion. It seemed to come from the tunnel of love. Miyuki remembered with a sinking feeling that Michiru had gone off in that direction, and began to run past startled parents and children towards the closed amusement attraction.
This time the sky seemed to light up with a bright blue flash, as if someone had set off fireworks. As Miyuki caught Takayo and Chieko out of the corner of her eye, black smoke started to billow out of the top of the ride and a strange-looking girl emerged wearing a tiara and a bright aqua-green sailor themed costume.
"Look," a girl cried out, "They must be putting on some sort of kids show."
Parents and children suddenly came crowding foreward to see the show as Takayo made her way to Miyuki. "What's going on? Are they filming an episode of Kamen Rider?"
Miyuki shook her head, "I don't think so," she said thoughtfully as the girl in the strange dress began frantically running away from the rising pillar of smoke, "That doesn't look like any costume from Super Sentai either."
"Might be a new show," Chieko suggested as she came over. A monster now emerged from the black smoke, some kids booing it while others simply laughed and clapped at the fun entertainment being offered for their amusement.
"Trying to escape, tripu?" the thing asked as it leaped out of the hole after Sailor Neptune, "Silly girl, there is no escape, tripu, tripu…"
Neptune closed her eyes and rubbed them as she continued to cough.
She opened her eyes to find herself in the burning kingdom from her dream again, the pain from her injuries once more causing her to double over in pain. In front of her stood Pluto, a look of grim determination in her face. "You cannot escape your duty," she said authoritatively.
"We know our duty, Pluto-sama," a strangely familiar voice yelled out, "Our duty is to die defending Serenity."
"It's too late for that," Pluto said, "The princess is already dead, as is Endymion. The queen herself has given the word. We must leave the field of battle to awaken the Senshi of Silence."
Neptune tried to turn her head to see the other speaker, but instead of the blonde from the first dream she now saw a woman with red hair and a maniacal grin floating in the air in front of her, laughing.
"You dare laugh at this, Beryl?"
The youma stopped and seemed to tilt its head in puzzlement. "Tripu?"
"You've destroyed the kingdom," Sailor Neptune shouted at the daemon as she shook with rage, "You've murdered the royals and the princess' guardians, thinking yourself greater than Serenity herself. But victory shall not be yours. Not now, not ever!"
"Tripu, what? Wait, I…"
"Deep Submerge!" she screamed, sending the attack at the youma with all her might. The thing let out a shrill scream before dissolving into a clump of poisonous mushrooms, a small pod slowly popping out of it before crumbling to dust.
The burning palace dissapeared as Sailor Neptune sunk to her knees, coughing and gasping for air while the brownish-black smoke from the tunnel of love finally dissipated out into the air. As she sat back on her legs, she became aware of a loud noise to her left. Looking down from the roof, she could see a large group of kids and parents clapping and cheering enthusiastically now that the "show" was over and the hero had won.
Neptune stood up, brushed her bangs back with her hand and leapt into the air, landing behind the ride. "Did you see that?" she faintly heard one boy say, "I couldn't even see any wires!"
After a few minutes, the crowd slowly started to thin out. As a group of security guards were called over to the tunnel of love to investigate the insident, Takayo saw a familiar face coming over. "Michiru-chan, where have you been?" she asked, putting her hands on her hips as she readied herself to scold her roommate, "You missed everything, you… Michiru-chan?" she asked as she got a better look at the other girl, "Are you alright? You don't look so good."
"Michiru-chan," Miyuki said with concern as she saw the girl's blood-shot eyes and put her hand to the girl's forehead, "You feel clammy. Are you okay?"
"I- I think- That I- I…" she didn't get to complete the sentence before rushing away from her sempai and towards the nearest trash can. Leaning over it, she let go and threw up.
A short time later, Takayo, Chieko and a very worried Miyuki brought Michiru to the first aid station. Her three classmen were told to stay in the waiting area as she was quickly escorted into an examination room where a nurse with long hair was already waiting with her back turned.
"We have a very sick school girl here," the receptionist said at the door, "Possible smoke inhilation from that whole kids' show thing over at the tunnel of love, and what looks like symptoms of food poisoning."
"Yes, thank you," the nurse said, "I'll take over from here." As the receptionist left the examination room and shut the door behind her, the nurse turned around. "Hello again, Michiru-san."
Michiru's eyes widened in surprise. "P- Pluto-sama!"
-To Be Continued-
End Notes: This chapter was partially based on a Venus and Saturn story by Shanejayell, in which Minako and Hotaru were actors in a Sailor V TV show.
Thanks again to everyone who has read and reviewed so far. It means a lot, and it really does inspire me to keep writing for you.