Cyber Moon: Crystal.
Act 1: Crystal City.
Episode 1: Dawn of a new age.
By Razor Knight
Last update: November 6, 2008
Serenity leaned on the balcony's wall, thinking about the past. A past that looked so distant now, but it had only been one year since Crystal Tokyo's birth. One year that had been surprisingly peaceful for her and her friends.
The truth was finally out in the open. The Senshi's identities were no longer a secret, but that didn't matter. No weapon on Earth could harm them, so they weren't worried about surprise attacks. Furthermore, with the magic shield around the city (which Ami had been working to improve lately,) nobody could get in unnoticed by them.
"We've been the rulers of this city for a year now," Endymion said, forcing her mind to return to the present. "I think I'll take some time getting used to this."
Serenity looked at the city and smiled. "Everything is different, but I can still see my friends often. I think I can get used to it."
"Don't you miss fighting?" Endymion asked.
"A part of me does, but... I'm also glad it's over. We beat our strongest foe, and I don't think we'll have to worry about something like that for many years."
"It was all you," Endymion noticed.
"She was strong, I know," Serenity admitted, "but just as with many foes before her, we defeated her as a team, even if you weren't there. I just delivered the final blow, so to speak."
"So, Queen Serenity, have you made any plans for this day?"
Serenity groaned. "Please, you know how much it irks me when you call me that in private."
"Sorry, Usagi," Endymion said.
She smiled at him. "As a matter of fact, today we don't have any official meetings, so I was thinking... Maybe we could go for a picnic at the park?"
"What about our security officers?"
"Hana doesn't mind me walking out of the palace without telling her, unlike Rei... And our dear friend is out of the city right now."
Endymion nodded. "I remember, she was going to meet the Yakuza leaders and try to find a peaceful solution to keep them away from the city."
Serenity smiled. "I told her to not use her powers, unless it was in self-defense."
Several miles away, in the outskirts of the city formerly known as Tokyo, three women stood looking at a nearly invisible barrier.
"There we go. It now works as it should."
"Are you sure this time around, Ami?"
Ami looked at Hana. "Yes, I've finally rid the system of all its bugs. With this shield on, our city will be literally isolated from the outside world."
"What if I feel like running out of the city for the weekend?"
Ami smiled. Despite the initial, and quite understandable, roughness in their relationship, she considered Hana one of her closest friends. An immortal, just like her, though such a word was crearly being misused. In any case, she knew all of the Crystal Tokyo royalty would be very long-living.
"If you want to do that, you can just teleport outside the shield. It's set to let a selected few travel in and out as they please."
Ami looked at Aiko. She might have looked like a little girl when she started, but as time went by, she had 'aged' her body, and she now looked around the same age as all the other 'immortals' did. "If Rei heard you say that, she'd throw a fit."
"Aunt Rei's a bit too... Enthusiastic with her job," Aiko noted. "Wonder how her meeting's going?"
Rei Hino looked at the men around the table with obvious, uncontained amusement. The Yakuza had certainly chosen a 'neutral' ground for this meeting, indeed. There were right now around fifty Yakuza leaders, from each and every city in Japan, and she was the only Senshi in the room.
It was clearly an uneven situation, should tempers flare. Uneven for them, as even in her human form, she was more than capable to defeat them all. But she had made a promise to the Queen, and she never broke her promises, specially not those she made to her best friend. But she had made it clear that, human or not, if they attacked her, she was not going to hold back.
Strangely enough, Serenity had no problem with those terms. Maybe it was that, while as a Queen she couldn't allow one of her soldiers to lower herself to kill humans, as a friend she understood her point of view.
Whichever the reason was, she was right now standing in front of a quite large table, with several men older than her (at least in looks, she looked twenty at most, despite being well into her thirties,) who were staring at her and waiting for her to speak.
And speak she did. "Gentlemen, I'm here tonight because Queen Serenity thinks her standing in this issue isn't clear enough, at least for your group. We've seen many of your employees in our city lately, though with the completion of our dome shield, their entrance into the city unnoticed will become an impossibility. However, there is a chance that you try to pass some of your men through, disguised as civilians, and pollute our city. That will not be allowed, and that's why I'm here. If any of you disagrees with what I just said, you're free to speak. I will pass your words to my Queen, as long as such words wouldn't be insulting to her ears."
Many of the Yakuza started murmuring, and a few of them stood up. "Lady Hino, you're telling us we have to forget about Tokyo. You must understand such a large city is a very important target for us, so... What would happen if we don't follow your advice?"
"Whoever is seen inside the city and identified as a Yakuza member will be sent outside of our borders, and I'll make sure he or she doesn't ever step into our city again."
There was a gunshot, and Rei felt the light sting of a bullet bouncing off her stomach. Apparently, one of the Yakuza leaders though that she was vulnerable while in human form. She had even dropped her shield for the meeting, as she knew she wouldn't need it. "I wouldn't do that again if I were you, mister Yanagi."
Yanagi didn't listen, however, and shot a few more bullets at her, all them aimed at her head. Rei didn't even move, the bullets vanished meters away from her as a small barrier of fire appeared in mid-air to protect her. She didn't need the protection, but it was a nice way to tell these men she wasn't playing. "Damn you, Senshi witch!"
Rei snorted as she saw most of the men in the room were now aiming guns at her. "I'm giving you all one last warning. Leave this room now, leave my city alone, and I will not bother you ever again."
The Yakuza were sure that, in the rain of bullets that followed, at least one of them would hit a weak spot, one would harm or kill the fire Senshi. They were wrong, dead wrong. Still, she wasn't going to kill any of them, as she knew they were no match for her. She could, however, roast them a bit and scare them enough for them to never try such a thing again.
Yanagi was the first to drop his gun as a flaming bird appeared right behind Rei. "What is that..."
Rei glared at him. "I gave you all a warning. Now you'll know why trying to kill a Senshi is a bad idea." She noticed a few men were heading for the warehouse's door, and shot a jet of fire at it, completely melting the metal door into its frame. "Sorry, no one leaves until I feel like you've learnt the lesson."
Two days later, the Senshi of Fire, Sailor Mars, otherwise known as Rei Hino, was back in Crystal Tokyo, and had just finished reporting to the Queen. She knew the Queen wasn't quite happy about how she had dealt with the Yakuza problem, but she also knew she wouldn't be angry about the outcome.
"Rei, I'm quite glad we won't have to deal with Yakuza inside our city in the future, but..."
"We will have to. Those criminals aren't just going to stay out. However, I can tell you that no criminal's going to be roaming freely around the city for a few weeks, at least."
"It was a good thing you decided to heed my request."
"There was no need to kill any of them, and dead men wouldn't relay the horrors of my fire attacks on the rest of their group," Rei said, an amused grin on her face.
Queen Serenity shook her head. "You sound like you enjoyed that, Rei."
"Is it bad for someone to enjoy their job, my Queen?" Rei asked.
Serenity blinked a few times, considering those words, then sighed. "No, I suppose it's not."
"Is there anything else you need?" Rei asked.
"Not right now. You may leave," Serenity said. Though truth be told, Serenity didn't ever force her authority on her friends. If Rei had needed to leave the throne room at any time, Serenity wouldn't have been angry or punish her in any way. After all, she had been friends with them for twenty years now. "But before you leave, how's Hisako doing?"
"She's doing okay, and... She's able to generate fire on her own now, in very small quantities."
"So we will have a ChibiMars around soon," Serenity mused.
"With all due respect, I hope you aren't implying you approve such naming patterns."
Serenity smiled. "Not really, but that will be a choice Hisako herself will have to make."
"Why hasn't your daughter chosen a better name yet?"
"She's used to it, I suppose," Serenity said. "Yet, she's told me about a Senshi called Neo Moon, whom she thinks was herself, during the Dark Moon wars."
"We'll have to wait and see," Rei mused.
"One year of peace," Hotaru said with a smile.
"One year of complete boredom," ChibiUsa said with a long sigh.
"So, I'm not exciting enough for you?"
"You know that's not what I meant," ChibiUsa muttered. "Maybe I'll go on a trip around the world, I know I'll find something to fight against out there."
"Think we'll find alien dogs again?"
"No, I don't think those idiots will come back." ChibiUsa smiled. Yes, the few years they had spent travelling had been exciting, even though the enemies they fought were nothing compared to their power back then. "I wonder, though, none of those invasions would be a challenge right now."
"I don't like where this is heading," Hotaru said.
"No, I wasn't talking about them, but... Think about it, if we had all been at this level back then..."
"Yes, I get your point. There's nothing challenging to fight out there anymore. But that doesn't mean we should not fight evil, no matter how weak it is."
"Yes, that's true. I'll tell mom about this later on, but for now, care taking a walk around the city?"
"You think Rei will let you get out of the palace without throwing a tantrum?"
"With you as my bodyguard? Of course," ChibiUsa joked.
Terry Zephyr looked at the figures in his laptop and frowned. "These numbers have to be wrong."
"I thought you would be happy about them, sir."
He looked at his secretary and smiled. "You can drop the formal speech when nobody's around, Kyma."
"I know that, but I also know how much it nags you when I don't."
Terry shook his head at her. Taking Kyma in had been a good choice, the alien girl could literally work non-stop (and didn't complain, either,) and was quite smart when it came to numbers, but she could sometimes be a pest. "I like the numbers, but not what they mean. There's literally no competitors in our main field for us."
Kyma was still not seeing his point. "And is that bad?"
"Fighting to be the best is what makes our race progress... Heck, I bet it's the same for all races."
"So you fear the company will become stagnant with time."
"Yes, that's just what I'm fearing," Terry said, then felt something in his mind, and produced his communicator. "Ami?"
"Sorry, but I had to call you as soon as I knew about this... Can you come home right now?"
"I'd rather tell you in person, Terry," Ami said.
Terry nodded. "I'll be right there." Ami was using her poker face, which made it impossible for him to guess if they were good or bad news. Still, he had to find out as soon as possible. "I'll be back in a few minutes... Or maybe not. I'll let you know if I'm not coming back today."
Kyma nodded. "Let's hope it's nothing bad."
Mako was standing right outside the city, looking at the palace towering above the tall walls. "It's good to be out of there once in a while."
"Out of there?" Karin mused. She put an arm through the nearly invisible barrier. "We're too close to be 'out of there.'"
Mako chuckled. "These last few months were fun."
"What do you mean?"
"The world isn't quite ready for us yet. This will be one fun era."
Karin nodded. "Japan recognized Crystal Tokyo as a separate state, but I've heard other countries dislike this place, or downright hate its very existence. The Fake Utopia, some call us."
"Can't be helped," Mako admitted, "that's mankind for you."
"Think they'll try to nuke us?"
"That would be amusing," Mako said, "and I don't doubt at least one of them will."
"Radiation would be bad."
"It can't get through the barrier."
"Yes, but what about the forests around the city? Moreso, maybe they won't try to attack us, but Japan."
"Now that would be bad," Mako admitted.
"All this talk of war's really ruined the mood, you know?"
"I guess it did," Mako said and leaned closer to Karin, "wonder if we can fix that."
"Oh, I'm sure we can," Karin noted right before Mako kissed her.
"Let's go back home," Mako said.
Karin smiled. "Yeah, I'm not one for outdoors 'activities' myself." Mako looked at her and chuckled before the two vanished.
Serenity had been surprised by the news, but it wasn't an unpleasant surprise at all. Many of the other Senshi had gathered in the throne room to hear Ami's important news, and everyone seemed happy about it. Everyone but one single Senshi, who wasn't showing her true face right now.
Still, Serenity chose to ignore that for now. "Congratulations, you two. I'm sure the rest of our friends will be happy about it too."
"One more member for our big family."
"About time, guys," Rei teased.
Terry smiled, he could only agree with Rei. Ami was pregnant, a couple months in, actually. Technically, it was their second child, but this wasn't one they could build choosing the gender, looks and 'character.'
"Strange," ChibiUsa said, mostly to herself.
"What's the matter, daughter?" Serenity asked.
"Not much, it's just that your future selves told me the two Mercuries didn't have any children in this era."
"Might be a sign that future's still changing," Endymion noted, "or they chose not to tell you about it, for whatever reason they might have had..."
ChibiUsa nodded, then looked at Hotaru. She seemed upset about something, but she couldn't really tell what it was, and she didn't want to ruin the day for the others. "In any case, I'm happy for you two, but right now we had something planned..."
Hotaru looked at ChibiUsa and then nodded. Yeah, she had noticed it. It was one of the curses of knowing each other so well, and she knew the interrogation would begin in a few minutes.
"What's wrong with those two?" Minako asked as Hotaru and ChibiUsa vanished.
"Nothing's really wrong," Serenity said. Or at least, that's what she hoped. "Now how will we celebrate this event?"
"Uhm, there's no need to..." Ami started.
Serenity rose from her throne and walked to her friend. "If the Queen says there's going to be a party, there's going to be a party."
Ami smiled. "You're as stubborn as always, Usagi."
Serenity smiled back. "Now if you excuse me, I'll be back in a minute."
"What got into her?" Brad asked.
"When you've gotta go, you've gotta go," Minako joked.
"I knew it, she's slowly being infected by his sense of humor," Rei said.
"Sure, blame the handsome, rich, smart guy," Brad muttered.
"I didn't, I blamed you," Rei countered with a grin.
Minako burst out laughing, but stopped as she saw Brad's face. "Eeeh... Sorry."
"I'll have to punish you for that later," Brad said.
"Promise?" Minako asked with a wink. The others stared at her, and she shrugged. "You guys don't know how to have fun."
"If you say so..." Rei muttered, shaking her head. Definitely, Minako was still the same.
"So, what's the problem?"
Hotaru stopped walking. She just knew it, this girl wouldn't leave the matter alone. "The problem is, there should be no problem, but there is."
"Right, you're talking in riddles, just like Pluto. That's cute," ChibiUsa noted.
Hotaru leaned on a wall and took a deep breath. "You know I love you, but what I need to say might harm us both."
"Hotaru, I've never doubted us. I'm ready to take anything our love may bring along."
"That's the problem... I'm not so sure I'm ready for that anymore."
The princess wasn't as smart as Ami or Terry (by a longshot, and she wasn't ashamed to admit it,) but she could see just what was bothering Hotaru. "I get it. I know what your problem is."
"I feel terrible, I should be happy for them, but... I'm jealous of them, actually. I don't want us torn apart by this, but I don't know what to do."
"Then we should go with our plan sooner than we thought. I'll tell Serenity about it."
"No, I will," Hotaru said. "Are you really okay with this?"
"I don't know, I had never given this issue any thought, but there's one thing I know. I love you, Hotaru, and I'll always be there for you."
"Thanks..." Hotaru smiled. "Now let's tell Serenity about..."
"No need for that."
"Mom, you shouldn't eavesdrop."
"Sorry, but I needed to know what you were so upset about, Hotaru."
"Drop the title," Serenity said.
"Right. Usagi, I really don't know what to say. You must think I'm a terrible person, but I..."
"Not at all," Serenity smiled, "trust me, I understand your feelings. I'm a mother, after all. And I've also thought about this, about what your love meant. There won't be a younger Saturn, or a younger ChibiMoon, but if you really do love each other, you can get through this."
Hotaru looked down. "About that trip..."
"Go ahead," Serenity said, "the city will be okay, you can come back after you've cleared your minds."
"Thanks, Usagi," Hotaru said with a smile.
Serenity smiled as the two turned and walked away. Her mind, however, was quite busy. Was there really no way for them? Adoption could be an option, but she wasn't sure they would agree to that. And what about the other couples, were they also thinking that way? Too many questions without an answer, and she really hated when that happened.
It had been several days since they left the city. Crazy as it sounded at first, they had travelled on foot until they reached Osaka. That had given them both a lot of time to think things through, but once they were there, they saw a new, large cruise ship was going to leave that very day. Using her title, the Princess was able to get two tickets for that ship, and now they were there, looking out to the ocean.
Travelling like this wasn't really something they were forced to do. They were, nowadays, able to teleport several thousand miles at a time, and without much waste of mana. But that wasn't quite enjoyable, and the Senshi did prefer to use normal means of transportation whenever possible.
ChibiUsa could feel it, all around her. Mana flowing freely, unlike before. One of the first things her mother did after her transformation was to free the mana wells, which meant Tokyo wasn't a magic magnet anymore. The whole Earth was now flooded with mana, as it was meant to be.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes, just doing a lot of thinking."
Hotaru smiled. "Me too, I've been doing a lot of thinking myself. I can't go back to the city the way things are right now."
"Then we'll stay away. For as long as you need."
"Aren't you bothered by that too?"
ChibiUsa nodded. "I am, I may not be Queen Serenity's carbon copy, but I... I know exactly how you feel, Hotaru. And I wish there was a way to solve this."
"I doubt even magic can help in this one," Hotaru said. "But... Let's just enjoy the trip, okay?"
"Eh, this is actually quite boring," ChibiUsa noted staring out at the sea. "Cruise ships always sounded quite dull to me."
"Maybe we could go for a swim," Hotaru joked pointing at the sea. It wasn't like they couldn't catch up with the ship later on.
ChibiUsa looked to the left and frowned. "Damn, evil approaches."
"Reporters. At least three of them, and all with cammeras."
"Too late to run and hide."
"Maybe we can give them something to write about."
"What do you..." Hotaru was silenced by a deep kiss, and blushed. "Bet Shingo will have a fit about this."
ChibiUsa chuckled, noticing the reporters were still spying on them. Yes, Shingo was in charge of Crystal Tokyo's public relationships, along with Umino, and that included keeping an eye on what newspapers around the world published about the city and its rulers. "Maybe we should have used disguises."
"No, that wouldn't be as fun for me."
"I have an idea. I'll be right back." The princess vanished and reappeared right behind the three reporters. "May I ask you three a question?"
The three were quite surprised by her civil approach. "Yes, of course."
"Were you three following us?"
"Oh, not at all," one of the trio said, "we're here to cover this ship's maiden trip. We didn't expect you to be here."
She knew they weren't lying about that, her senses told her that clearly. "About those picture you took..."
"If you don't want it published, we will destroy them."
The princess shook her head. "I'm not going to bully you because of who I am, but we two are in this trip to take our minds out of some troubles we had." She realized she might be saying a bit too much. "I don't want you to put words in my mouth, either."
"Getting an interview with one of you is near impossible," another reporter noted.
"Here's the deal, then, I'll give you an interview, but only if you don't spy on us for the rest of this trip."
"We weren't really..."
"Do we have a deal?"
"Yes, of course."
"Good." ChibiUsa vanished from their side, and appeared next to Hotaru. "These three are harmless. I'll give them an interview, and then we can keep on enjoying this trip."
"An interview, huh? What about me?"
ChibiUsa smiled slyly. "Oh come on. I'm Princess Serenity of Crystal Tokyo. You're just... Saturn."
Hotaru gave her a half-hearted glare. "Don't make me glaive-slap you, Chibi."
The princess giggled. "Okay, I guess they may be interested in asking you a few questions, too."
"This trip's not going to be so dull after all, I guess."
Several meters below them, a few men were discussing their plans for the cruise. "Is everything ready?"
"Of course, boss. We'll take over this ship and bring it to our base. After that, we will turn all the passengers and crew into our servants."
"Good. Group alpha will take over the bridge. I will await your signal with group beta and then disable the rest of the crew."
"So... Exactly how is it that you look like that?"
"You mean, that I still look like a teenager?" ChibiUsa asked. "I don't really think it can be explained, but the Queen's crystal, and my own, they keep our bodies from aging... And they also work with the rest of the Senshi."
"I've heard rumors pointing to that, but you're the first to confirm them," one of the reporters noted. "We can tell you two are a couple. Doesn't anyone in Crystal Tokyo have a problem with that?"
"Do you?" Hotaru asked.
"You're a bad liar," ChibiUsa noted, "but everyone's entitled to their opinion. I'm sure there are citizens who also think our love is wrong, but that's not going to change the facts."
"Moving on," the reporter said, then saw ChibiUsa stand up. "Is there a problem?"
"There's something in this ship, something evil," ChibiUsa said. "We'll have to postpone the rest of this interview."
As the two Senshi vanished, the reporters stood there, looking at each other. "Something evil, in this ship?"
"It's a good chance to get to see them in action."
The third reporter shook his head at that idea. "You two are insane."
"You can stay here and miss the action if you like," the first reporter noted, "but I'm not wasting this chance."
"I still think you're insane," the third reporter noted as the three rushed out of the room.
The six men had been expecting no resistance from the ship's crew, and that had been quite right. Their kin couldn't be easily stopped by normal humans, and they had been doing this for one year. Still, they never expected to have the kind of resistance they were about to face.
The man closer to the door never really knew what had hit him. The others could see the door flying forwards, knocking the poor idiot down, and blasting through the bridge's front windows. As they turned to see who had attacked, they froze.
"No way, what are those witches doing here?"
Saturn walked in casually. "Chibi, it's incredible that you managed to sense their magic. They're weak."
"Weak? Hah!" One of the men shot a lightning arc at Saturn, who just stood there, unphased by the attack. "What?"
"Oh, this is the part where I fall down, twitching in pain, right?" Saturn mused. "Surrender now, before we start attacking you. You won't really like that."
Several beams came out of the other men's hands, all striking Saturn, but none causing any real damage. "Now I know what Galaxia felt when she fought us," the Death Senshi mused to herself.
ChibiMoon, who had been watching the action from the corridor, walked into the room, and the men took a step back. One invincible Senshi witch was already bad, but two of them? And they knew who this one was, her suit's uniform gave it away. Pink would've been something to mock in a warrior, if they hadn't heard tales of how well this girl fought. They knew very well this was Princess Serenity, also known as ChibiMoon, the second strongest Senshi. And second strongest in a group where the weakest of them could vaporize a small town wasn't something to shrug off at.
"This is bad, we have to tell the boss a..." The man froze in fear. The pink-suited girl had appeared right next to him, and was looking at him in a way that reminded him of a hungry wolf looking at a sheep. "... This is not worth dying for. I surrender."
"Good choice," ChibiMoon noted, then felt something poking her back. She turned back to see one of the men holding the knife he had just tried to stab her with. "Not a good choice," she said, pushing the man back and sending him crashing into the far wall of the room. "Oops."
"Fuck this," another man said, "we're not going to win."
ChibiMoon smiled. "That's quite right." She reached out her hands, and the area was filled by a pink dust. As the dust vanished, everyone was unconscious, except for the two Senshi.
"Neat trick," Saturn noted. "So, let's go get the rest of this merry gang."
As the two Senshi vanished, the three reporters walked in. They had been right in time to take a few good pictures of the fight, and were now looking at all the unconscious people around them, both of the gang that was trying to take over the ship, and the crew. "Where do you think they're going?"
An explosion was heard, and the other reporter smiled. "Let's follow the noise."
Saturn was still angry. Angry at herself, angry because she couldn't find a solution to her problem, and unfortunately for these men, they were the only ones she could use as punching bags right now.
ChibiMoon was quite impressed. She had seen her fight, many times, but not like this. She was managing to hold back, but at the same time, she was holding back only enough to not kill any of them.
The reporters had reached the scene of the fight a minute ago, and had seen Saturn use a wraith to throw one of the evil men out of the ship. From that moment on, she wasn't even using her magic anymore, she just used raw physical strength, but that didn't make her one-sided fight with these mysterious men boring to look at.
As the last of them fell, however, Saturn wasn't satisfied. Her eyes were white and she was scanning the room, looking for more targets. The few passengers that were conscious were either too scared or too awed by her to dare moving a muscle.
"Hotaru, it's over."
"It can't be over yet. This was too easy. There has to be a boss somewhere."
ChibiMoon walked to her and smiled. "The boss? That was the first loser you threw out the window. Now calm the heck down before I make you calm down myself."
Saturn looked at her and then closed her eyes. It had happened only once in the past, but she remembered what she had almost done that one time. And right now, she also knew that she couldn't win against ChibiMoon in a fight. No, she didn't want to fight her, unless it was for fun. "Right, sorry about that."
"Don't worry," ChibiMoon said, then looked around. "But I would dare saying we're not going to be left alone for the rest of the trip."
As the crowd started cheering for them, Saturn smiled. "That's the curse of being heroes."
"I see it as a blessing," ChibiMoon said.
Saturn knew that all too well. ChibiMoon didn't search for the spotlight, but she didn't run from it, either. But she wondered what these men were after, and if there were more of them around. She would have to interrogate a few of them once they woke up.
A/N: As you see, episodes in this saga will be longer than those in Chronicles, but don't worry, I don't plan on releasing a hundred episodes for this one. Just ninety.
I kid, I kid.
As for enemies, there will be a few 'major' enemies now and then, but nothing too overwhelming until the final arc (but as usual, I'm not going to spoil anything about that.)
Also wanted to note that there will be a lot of fast-forwards between scenes in this one, since I'm going to show over one thousand years of future.
Disclaimer: Sailor Moon is a creation of Naoko Takeuchi, and I thank her for creating such wonderful universe.