Sailor Moon stared in shock at the Sailor Scout at her feet. She didn't have to think, didn't have to wonder if this was the right course of action. She extended her hand, and helped X to her feet. "I would be honored to have you in my Kingdom."
X nodded her head, needing a private moment to remember this moment. Her eyes closed, she sent a private thought to her family, I did it, I am a real Sailor Scout now. Wish you were here mom, dad… here eyes were overflowing with tears, before she could finish the thought. When she looked up again, she saw Sailor Moon before her, and for the first time, she saw a friend. "I asked Queen Serenity once why. She said that the time was not right. I was too young at the time to believe in things like destiny, and that the world wasn't centered around me." She sniffed, and looked up to the stars, letting their light warm her heart.
"Now to the business of the Shadows," Tuxedo Mask said, breaking the silence.
"Leave them to me." X stared at Tuxedo Mask intently. "Please do not try to combat them. You will fail. Stay to the light, even starlight will protect you. You are safe by day, just avoid any darkness."
Moon looked up at Tuxedo Mask then back to Pluto and X. "You can't fight them alone. Please accept our help, were all together in this."
Shaking her head X continued, "I am alone in this, I wont let any of you risk your selves," when Moon began to protest, she spoke louder, "And I cant keep worrying about the rest of you if I am to fight effectively. Please, you would just be a distraction."
Pluto picked up X's staff from the grass, and handed it to her. "Then what can we do to help."
X shook her head, "I don't know if you can." She answered honestly.
After being accepted by Sailor Moon, everything changed. Azrealella met the Sailor Scouts as they were, and in their normal average daily life. And was happy to discover that they were none other then the friends that Amy had introduced her too. Though Amy herself was a little wary of Azrealella. She put it off as not being able to please everyone all the time, and considered it a small victory that she was getting along with most of the Scouts. Azrealella was even introduced to Rini, Serena's daughter from the future, who thought Azrealella was wonderful.
It was Rini who acted as a balm on everyone fears of Sailor X. Rini who would grab her hand and drag her around Rey's temple and chatter about anything and everything. Wanting to know what it had been like in space so long alone, and what other planets were like, and telling her about everything she knew about the future.
"Why does Seiya call you Azreal, and everyone else calls you Ella?" Rini asked one day when they were picking flowers together.
"Well I like to change my name every few hundred years, just a little change." Azrealella answered.
"Really? What have you gone by before," Rini picked a bright purple flower, and added it to the others in her hand.
"Azreal, Areal, Ella, Azrealella, Az.." she trailed off, trying to remember all the names she had had.
"I like Azreal, can I call you that too?" Rini asked.
Azreal smiled, "You may call me whichever you like." She selected a bright yellow flower, and handed it to Rini.
It had been a week since the moon lit conversation with Serena, and Azreal was getting itchy with anticipation. The Shadows hadn't had any other attacks since the one on the Three Light's concert. It was too quiet for her taste, she needed some action, needed to feel useful. Thinking about what to do when the Shadows attacked often distracted her from other things, like what Rini was doing.
Looking up Azreal smiled when she saw Rini skipping back towards her, a full bouquet of flowers in one hand. "Serena will love those, you're very thoughtful to have gathered them for her."
Rini sniffed the flowers before smiling brightly at Azreal. "You really think so?"
"I know so." Azreal offered Rini her hand and they walked back to the temple. They were almost back when Rini stopped and looked up at Azreal. "Why aren't you in the future? All the other Scouts are?"
Azreal froze, her body going cold. She looked down at Rini, not sure she had heard her right. The concern in the little girls face tore at her heart, and she said the first thing she thought of, "Maybe I retired, and I am living a life of luxury in the future. Or I am an old lady who likes to be left alone." She gently tweaked one of Rini's pigtails and smiled at her. "Go on take those inside to Serena, I want to have a chat with Trista."
"Ok, say hi to her for me!" Rini said as she skipped inside.
The drive to Amara and Michele's had never felt longer. Too many thoughts were turning around in her head. She wasn't a part of the future. Did that mean she died, or that she had simply left earth again? Could she die? Every time she gave another back their life it became harder. Did that mean that she was nearing the end of her time? Was she running out of life force? She had never asked Trista about the future, had made it a point to not want to know. Now she needed answers.
She didn't knock on the door, just walked in, Amara and Michele were out, Hotaru was at the Temple with the others, so Trista was the only one at home. Azreal found her in the kitchen, and she didn't look surprised to see her.
"I need to know." Azreal said, not bothering with the niceties. "I don't care about my life, but I need to know that I am able to protect everyone else."
Trista set the trey of cookies she was baking on a cooling rack before turning to her. "So Rini told you."
Azreal shouldn't have been surprised that Trista knew what she was talking about, she was the Guardian of Time, she knew everything that ever or would ever happen. "Please Trista. You know I am going crazy waiting for the Shadows to attack. Please don't make me go into that battle not knowing that I can keep your futures on track."
"Azrealella, in the past thousand years, you have not once asked what would happen. Have not ever doubted yourself, why are you now?" Trista stared at her. Pinning Azreal to the spot.
"I don't survive the Shadows fight." She stared at Trista, not sure if she had come to the right conclusion, and yet certain of it a1 the same time. "The Shadows win." She sat down hard in one of the stools at the bar in the entrance to the kitchen. "But there is a future to this planet, I know there is, Rini is proof of it." Looking down Azreal fought back the tears.
"You know if I tell you the future it will change." Trista said, placing a hand on Azreal's hand.
"I need to know, will this be the last time I get to see Seiya." The pleading in her voice hurt Trista, but she held fast, not answering. Azreal stared at her for a full minuet, before sliding off the stool and heading to the door.
"Where are you going Azreal?"
She looked back at Trista, but didn't have an answer, she was simply going away.
The Shadow crept slowly along the side of the street, carefully avoiding the lamplight. Light, what a terrible concept, everything was so clear in the light. Shadows and shade, where what one thinks could so easily be mistaken for another, where it is so much more interesting. A kitten turns into a lion in the dark, a tree branch scratching a window became a creature from a nightmare. Yes darkness was so much more delightful.
Too bad that Hunter was lurking about. If it only knew what the Hunter's weakness was then perhaps, it would have the upper hand. Kill the Hunter's weakness, drive the Hunter mad. It was almost too simple, now all it needed was to find the Hunter and follow her without her knowing. It had followed the hated scent of the Hunter to the school, where it had lost the scent with so many others. But here it had found the perfect hunting ground. A school was a place teaming with tons of negative energy. All it had to do, was wait until night fall, perhaps a school game? And it would have all the energy it ever wanted.
Let the Hunter appear then, when it was at its strongest, and see how well the Hunter did. Maybe if it was lucky the Hunter would be among the first it would feast off of.
Clinging to Seiya, Azreal refused to wake up, she wanted the night to last forever. They had been up late, playing games with each other, and making love. Now with the sun peaking through the window, she rolled over, and snuggled closer to him. Dam the light, she wanted more night. Seiya smiled at her, gently nudged her shoulder, "We do have school you know."
She ignored him, and snuggled closer, if her time was so uncertain then she was going to stay with him as long as possible. Her sleep that night had been troubled, too many vision as once. And everything had been white, crystal coated or something. Then there had been a strange light, blinding almost, yet warm. A silver light held by Serena, but it didn't look like the same Serena that Azreal knew. This Serena had looked older somehow, wiser, and sad in a way. Shaking her head, she cleared that last shreds of the dream, and smiled at Seiya. "Lets call in sick, I want to stay in bed."
He smiled at her, "You sure that's such a good idea, you look exhausted."
She wrinkled her nose at him, "Weird dream is all." She leaned over and kissed him deeply on the lips, refused to think of the strange dream or her lack of future. She was living in the moment, living in the now. Gently she leaned her weight onto Seiya, till she lay on top of him, he raised an eyebrow, but submitted to her.
"One day off wont kill anyone," he murmured into her hair.
She smiled down at him, and they enjoyed their day in bed, though sleep, and rest were not a part of it.
She could feel the odd tension in the air, like a storm about to break, but was waiting for something. The hairs on the nape of her neck had been standing at full attention since she had set foot on campus. Her day off with Seiya had left her exhausted in body, but full in heart. She had never had a more fulfilling day in her long life. So now feeling the tension in the air she wondered what had happened in that day. Everything looked normal, no more reports of people collapsing of coma in the parks or on the streets. So the Shadow had not attacked in that one day. So why did she feel so tense?
Amy picked up on it in Physics, "Is there a test today that I don't know about?"
Azreal stared at her blankly for a moment then smiled, "No I guess I am just more tired then I thought I was. Maybe I should have stayed home today too."
"No you would miss the game tonight! Its Basketball season, the first game is tonight, we are all going, don't you remember?" Amy stared at her.
Basketball? She racked her brain thinking hard, she had heard something about it, but then Rini had wanted to go for a walk so she had left the room. Was it really such a big thing? Looking at Amy she knew the answer. "Sure I remember, season opener, tonight, everyone going." She smiled for Amy's sake, but inside was groaning, great another night in the public eye, where everyone would be staring at her and Seiya. But for the sake of the others, she smiled and cheered with them at the pep rally after school, and promised to be at the game that night. She just wished she didn't have to keep that promise.
Seiya drove her home after school, and stayed with her, while she changed for the game, she didn't want him out of her sight when he didn't have to be, and while changing with him in the room led to expected delays, it was another wonderful memory that warmed her tummy.
That conversation with Rini was still haunting her thoughts. Making her want to spend every possible moment with Seiya.
Dressed in blue jeans and Seiya's lettermen jacket she was ready for the game, and was actually looking forward to it, a night of teenaged normalcy may be just what the doctor ordered.
The parking lot was crowded, with people both coming and going, rival students from the other school calling out good natured taunts to all the students from the home school. Azreal hung on to Seiya's arm and braved the cameras, and stares from everyone there, and was genuinely relieved when she was seated in the stands next to Seiya and Yaten, Taiki on the other side of Yaten and the rest of the Sailor Scouts in the surrounding area.
With a smile she realized that for the first time in years she was among her old friends again doing something that they would have done in their last lifetime together. Tears stung her eyes when she looked behind her and saw Amara and Michele holding hands, Rini and Hotaru dressed as cheerleaders doing their own cheer, she even laughed when she saw Serena eating a hotdog and getting some ketchup on the front of her shirt, and had Darien help her wipe it off. The site of Lita sitting next to Trista made her throat close, and she turned back to the game going on before her, snuggling closer to Seiya. She was home, after a thousand years, and more battles then she would ever admit, she had found her way to a place she could truly call home.
The Hunter was here, it could smell her above all the other scents in the gym, hers was the only one that could make it feel fear. She was here, and she was not alone, there were others who wielded the dark magic. It took another long sniff of the air, then chuckled to itself. The Hunter had done something, its scent had altered. It was no longer an agent of pure darkness like the Shadow it self, the Hunter had changed. Her scent was lighter somehow. Her magic was lighter.
Perhaps the Hunter would not be so great a challenge as it thought, perhaps the Hunter would beg it to finish her life. Laughing to it self the Shadow selected a group of rowdy teenagers that looked good enough to eat. The gym's lights were on full, but there were too many people in the space for there not to be shadows. Silent as a cloud the Shadow drifted below the bleachers, and seeped upward, around its intended's feet, beginning at the bottom and working its way up, it sucked the energy out of its meal, leaving the exhausted victims in a coma, clinging to life by a thread.
"Its here," Azreal hadn't realized that she had spoken aloud, until silence fell around her. Her eyes began roaming over the bleachers, looking at everything and seeing nothing.
"What's here?" Seiya whispered to her urgently.
She ignored him, and continued to search, she saw the wisps of a shadow out of the corner of her eye, but it was gone before she could turn her head.
"Azreal, what's here." Seiya said again, this time he caught her face with his fingers and gently directed her to look at him.
The answer was in her eyes and he knew it long before she whispered, "The Shadow." Her talisman was in her hand before she remembered reaching for it.
Yaten grabbed her hand, "You can't, not here, everyone will see."
She turned to Yaten, "If I don't do it now people may die."
Yaten looked over her head to Seiya. Seiya pulled her to her feet, "Come, we will be back before anyone notices we are gone."
"We are coming too!" Turning Azreal stared at the other Scouts, each of them with a determined look on their face.
"You know I can't fight, and worry about your safety," She pleaded with them.
"And your one of us now, so we fight together." Rey declared.
Shaking her head, Azreal turned to Seiya, who led the way down the bleachers. Once outside, she caught Trista's hand, "send her forward." At Trista's blank stare, Azreal repeated, "Send Rini forward. This battle will not end well. If she is from the future, then that is where she must go. Tonight."
"Azreal the future-"
"Is now, send her Trista. I cannot protect her here." Azreal begged her.
After a brief pause Trista nodded, and went to Rini.
Azreal grasped her talisman, it had been her grandmothers before her, and was the most treasured thing she owned. Holding the odd slightly bent piece of stone with carvings in it into the air she yelled, "Planet X Extreme Transform!"
Moments later they ran into the gym together, X held her staff before her ready to create a shield if she needed to. She hadn't waited to make sure that Pluto sent Rini home, but she knew she was right. Everything was going to be decided tonight.
The gym was a transformed place, in the few moments they had been outside, the Shadow had consumed the energy of half the gyms occupants, the other half were running over one another in an attempt to escape. X stood searching every moving shadow, for her prey.
The attack came from behind, the Shadow knocked her forward half the length of the basketball quart, and surrounded her. She stood, staff in hand before her. "This ends tonight." She told the monster.
It chuckled at her. As it wound its way around her, wrapping her in a misty veil of darkness. "Foolish Hunter." Its voice was raspy, but clear even among the yelling people fleeing past her. "You were so strong, so powerful in the darkness, yet you craved light. How pathetic. Couldn't you just be happy alone in the dark? I am."
The full weight of the darkness was pressing into her from all sides, making it harder and harder to draw a full breath.
"Did you think that they could ever full accept you? Sure they like your gifts, you gave them back Jupiter, what's not to like. But will they ever like you for you…" The shadow struck out at a boy running by catching him by the left foot, it lifted him in the air, and drained him of his energy. X could feel the strength of the boy in the monster as it pushed harder at her. "You will never be accepted by others, you are darkness, they are light, the only thing that they can do to you is distort you."
"I make my own way." She struggled to say. "Extreme Assault!" she had never tried to do the spell while being wrapped in the grasp of the Shadow, and found that it had little effect, her cobalt whip lashed at the creature, but its hiss of pain quickly turned into a haunted laugh.
"See what the light has done to you? Made you week." It lashed out at the Sailor Scouts who were running to where she stood surrounded by the Shadow, engulfed in its vaporous hold.
She screamed when it struck her friends, sending them flying through the air to land on the bleachers. The gym was empty now of on lookers, it was just the Scouts and the Shadow creature.
"Light is rather unbecoming on you Hunter. Perhaps you should forget that you ever needed the light, forget that you ever craved its warmth on your face. Feel nothing but the glorious cold of darkness." The Shadow pulsed around her with energy, dark energy. The chilling effect of it causing her breath to fog before her, making her shiver.
Seiya's face flashed before her minds eye, she could hear his laugh, feel his lips against her own. She fought harder, this time seeing Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, and Saturn. She could feel their hands on her own, and one other, Jupiter. They were children spending a summer together on Saturn's home world. They were doing as they always did, getting into trouble. This time it was with one of the old spell books from Planet X. After flipping through the old dusty tome, they had come to a spell that caught their eye, 'binding sisterhood-a spell to make your friends your sisters'. After a few moments to ponder they had decided to give it a go. The spell had been easy enough, and the effect had been instant. When once the looked upon each other and saw a friend, now they saw family. When they looked in the mirror again that night, they saw the faces of their friends staring back out at them. They were sisters bound at the soul forever to be united.
The memory strengthened her, reminding X that those who mattered the most even when she was an agent of darkness had accepted her. Even when she was considered to be a rough scout.
Staff in hand before her she slammed the tip to the ground, "Darkness Defend!" The spell shot out before her, slicing the shadow in two. It dissolved for a moment, disappearing into the shadows all around the gym.
"Sailor X!" X smiled up at the group of Sailor Scouts who came running to her. "Are you all right?" Venus was the first in the group to reach her.
"Its not over yet." X answered grimly, she turned her back to the others, and took a step away, her eyes straining to see what was in the shadows.
A hand clasped her shoulder, she turned to see Jupiter beside her. Tears in her eyes, "I remember." She spoke in a whisper. "I remember you. And the spell, and all the other things that we did together." She hugged X in a desperate way, as though her life depended on that hug. "I am so sorry I forgot."
"Families don't hold grudges." X said with a smile.
"How touching," the Shadow cooed from the darkness around them. "Memories cannot save you now. The Darkness will consume all it touches! My Darkness shall rein complete!" A wind whirled around X where she stood, pushing the others back a few paces. "You gave up the darkness, you cast it out of your heart, embracing the light. That makes you no better then the others, that makes you weak!"
"Silent!-" Saturn began.
"No! Its me it wants, and it is me it shall have." Azreal stared into the shadows, feeling the darkness at the chore of her being striving to be free. "I am sorry Sailor Moon, I will always think of you as my Princess, but I must retire from the Kingdom of Light." She held her staff above her head, and began to spin it, drawing on the dark power at the center of her being, drawing on every happy and sad moment of her life. "I am now and forever shall be, The Lunar Eclipse!" Dropping her left arm she continued to spin the staff on her right palm, "Ebony Encircle!" The staff came to her left side, and a arch of ebony shot from the end of the staff, and wrapped around the Shadow that had a hold of her.
There was no distraction this time, no looking away, she watched until her ebony magic rendered the Shadow to dust.
"Impressive, and yet so unneeded." A larger shadow crept out from under the bleachers behind her, and enveloped the Scouts and Stars. "You see, that was just a little one that you were playing with, but it did serve the purpose. While you were distracted, I took the liberty of draining every one else in this pitifully small city. There is still so much more energy to had."
X watched in horror as the other Scouts were drained of their energy, and their lives, then dropped to the floor. The shadow pulsed with energy, pulsed with malice for her. "How many of you are there." She demanded, her staff pointing to the shadow.
It chuckled for a moment. "Far to many for you to take on alone. And you are definitely now, all alone. Even your precious Princess fell to me. What chance do you think you have against all the Shadows of the world."
"Plenty, I had an entire planet die so that I could live, their power lives within me. I can't think of a better use for it then against you."
She held the staff above her head, and began to chant, an ancient song she had learned as a child from her grandmother though she had not known what it meant when first she learned it. Translated in the common tongue it was
Those before, those to follow, give me the strength that I shalnt have tomorrow, help me defend, with my life and yours, This I command, For Darkness I Fight, For love I shall die, Protect my friends, From the Darkest of Nights!
She had never fully understood what the spell would do, but knew that it was the time for it to be used. With the final words of the song she slammed the tip of her staff to the ground, where it shattered. As the chips fell to the floor, she watched the Shadow before her shiver. X watched in fascination as the chips turned to a crystal like substance that spread, and spread, covering the entire gym, covering the scouts that were not but a few feet from her. She watched in fascination as they covered everything but herself, the reflection from the lights, and sun left nowhere for the Shadows to hide.
Slowly she moved to the door of the gym and watched the crystals cover everything as far as her eyes could see. Slowly she remembered her dream. And she smiled. This was how Crystal Tokyo was born. She smiled to herself as she walked back into the gym. There were still things to be done.
Standing before the Sailor Scouts she smiled at her friends, and comrades. Drawing in a deep breath she said loud and clear, "Immortal Divide!" The soft warmth enveloped her, eyes closed against the bright she didn't see her star send a single drop to the Sailor Scouts, the Sailor Stars and Tuxedo Mask where they lay before her. She didn't need to see it to know how much energy she had lost. Collapsing to the ground, she curled into a fetal position and hugged herself.
Time passed, but time is a tricky thing when you're the only person in a world of crystal. When X opened her eyes again, she was alone, the friends she had once known were all locked in a state of crystal hibernation, but they were alive. She blinked back the tears that threatened to leak down her face, and reached for her necklace. Closing her eyes, she called to her friend.
Pluto appeared before her, a sad smile on her face. "Even after I asked you not to you saved me."
X smiled, "What can I say I am a slow learner." She coughed violently, but recovered. "I have done what I can, if my dream is true, Sailor Moon will be able to reawaken this world with the birth of Crystal Tokyo."
Pluto just nodded at her. "You fought well my friend."
X nodded, but didn't have the strength to do more. "I fear you were right all along, my life force is nearly gone." She glanced over her shoulder to the frozen forms of the other scouts, and smiled, "But they will live on," she nodded to Pluto, "You will live on." Another spasm of coughs racked her body, and she fell to her knees. She looked back over her shoulder one last time, and crawled to the person she had so loved, Seiya, lay, arms out stretched to her. X crawled into his arms and kissed him one last time, "Tell him I loved him? I don't think I ever did say those words to him." She gently caressed his frozen face. With one last look at her most beloved friend, Sailor X lay her head to rest on Seya's chest, she could hear his heart beating within the crystal cocoon. She had never heard a happier song, she died, listening to his heartbeat, and knowing that he would live on.
Pluto stood over her friend for a long moment before pointing her staff to the sky, they were outside now, no longer in the crystallized gym. She could think of no better place for her friend to spend the rest of time than among some of her best friends, the Stars. Her staff raised to the sky, Pluto called in a favor from long ago. She watched with tears in her eyes, as a light shone down on her friend, and lifted her high into the sky.
Pluto would never forget the location of Azrealella's star, nor did she doubt that Seiya would find her in a thousand years when Serena reawake the world. "Till we meet again, my friend, my sister."