Hiya folks!

Well, I seem to be the prolific writer lately, huh? Fortunately, this time I had some help - and are we ever having fun! Brace yourself, folks - QS and I have decided to collaborate!

Hey! Stop running! Come back here and take your torture like a man! Um, or . . . whatever.

Anyway, QS would like the world to know that posting this on my birthday is her birthday present to me. Isn't she great? We really are having fun, and we hope you enjoy!

So now, on with the fic!

~Una Moonstar

EMSiT Productions Presents:
To Stand Alone
by: Una Moonstar and Quicksilver
Kick8@hotmail.com and mbsilvana@yahoo.com
standard disclaimers


Prologue: Trial by Fire

Tsukino Usagi and Osaka Naru had been best friends all of their lives- the tell-everything, write-in-an-exchange-diary kind of friends. Usagi and Naru were practically glued at the hip, and they did everything together.

That night -the one that would be the pivotal event of their lives- Usagi was staying over at Naru's house. There was nothing unusual about that, for they had done so many times in their fourteen years of life. No, what made this night so unusual was that it was to be the last night of Naru's life.

Usagi stood looking out the glass balcony doors in Naru's bedroom staring up at the full moon. She sighed. The two of them had filled the night with their usual antics; in fact, they still had to clean up the feathers from their pillow fight. But the night had started to wind down, and now Naru sat reading one of Usagi's romance novels, and the moon had captured Usagi's imagination. For some reason she could feel it calling out to her, delivering a summons her soul couldn't ignore.

Naru's attention to the novel wasn't complete, which wasn't like her. Usagi, while not an observant person, could always tell when something was wrong with her friend. Something was troubling Naru. "Is something wrong?" she asked, her voice soft.

"Why would you think that?" Naru wanted to know.

"The fact that you've been staring at the same page for the last five minutes is a dead giveaway."

Naru gave her friend a sheepish grin. "Was I that obvious?"

Usagi returned it. "Well, yes. So what is it?"

The redheaded girl sighed and allowed her gaze to wander. "I... I'm not completely sure. I have a... feeling. A feeling that something's going to happen tonight." She laughed a bit. "Does that make any sense?"

Usagi tilted her head to the side and really looked at this girl she called her best friend. She noted the wavy auburn hair that fell just past her ears that she remembered teasing the first time they met. She took in the pale white skin and freckles that she had always been secretly jealous of. She observed the lithe, graceful build she only hoped she could someday compare to. The blue-green eyes that changed with her mood caught the moonlight and drew the blonde's gaze last of all. All these things were burned into her memory for the days to come. "I think so," she finally replied quietly.

Naru laughed and dropped the book, leaning over to hug her friend. "I love you, Usagi-chan. It's odd that I'm in such a weird mood- it'll pass. But I just want you to know that."

Usagi smiled back, unaware of how the smile transformed her from being merely pretty to being beautiful. "I love you, too, Naru-chan."

Afterwards, she would be glad for Naru's fey mood... but it took years for that to happen.

At that moment in time, the declaration seemed to free them from the melancholy mood that had trapped the two normally lively girls in its web. Usagi gave her friend one last wink and turned back to the night sky. Naru gave a giggle and actually began to read her book.

A half hour later, Usagi was playing with a small handful of feathers as Naru struggled to finish just one more chapter. "Come on, Naru-chan, I'm tired! Let's go to sleep!"

The redhead looked up from the paperback with half-lidded eyes. "You don't need me to do that. Go ahead. I won't be far behind. Just have to finish this chapter."

"Naru-chaaaaaannnnnn," Usagi whined, "you're being a stick in the mud!"

"I'm not the one who wants to go to bed!" Naru retorted quickly, her eyes shining with merriment.

Usagi grabbed her pillow and was about to launch it at the redhead when they both heard a loud CRASH come from downstairs. They froze, expressions fearful. "What is that?" Usagi whispered. "I thought your mother was away for the evening."

"She is," Naru said. "That came from the shop."

"What do we do?" Usagi whimpered.

Naru, though, had no doubts. "You use the phone to call the police. I'll go see if I can scare the intruder off," she informed the blonde as she grabbed a soft bat from the corner of the room.

"But..." Usagi's voice trailed off as Naru disappeared from sight. She sighed and picked up the phone, quickly dialing in hopes that the police would arrive before Naru would have to do anything dangerous.

It was a short call. Usagi gave the lady all the answers she had asked for and was told curtly that the authorities would be there soon and to do nothing until then. The young girl was quite willing to follow directions, but what about Naru...

The house was eerily silent, and Usagi strained her ears to listen for any sign of movement. Normally she would hightail it for safety, but she couldn't abandon Naru. Biting her lip, she wavered on what to do.

The loud CRASH and muffled scream decided her. Without thinking of her own safety, she raced down the stairs that connected the apartment to the shop. What met her eyes was a sight out of one of her worst nightmares.

Naru was pinned to the wall by some sort of creature that looked like it had arisen from Hell itself. Her face was turning blue as the creature hissed at her, "Now tell me where the ginzuishou is, girl, and I MIGHT be persuaded to let you live!"

"Naru!" Usagi cried before she thought. "Leave her alone!"

The creature turned sharply and brought the still-choking girl to its chest. "Perhaps *you* will be more talkative. Tell me where the ginzuishou is!"

Usagi swallowed forcefully as she put every effort into controlling her panic. "I don't even know what that is! Please let Naru-chan go! You're hurting her!"

An evil smile made the thing even more hideous. "Why don't I believe you, little girl? Now, no more games. Tell me where the ginzuishou is or 'Naru-chan' becomes as lifeless as the rest of the useless rocks around here!"

"No!" the blonde girl screamed. "If I knew where it was I would tell you! I swear it! I'm telling you the truth! So please let Naru-chan go! Please!" Tears streamed down her cheeks unnoticed.

The next few moments played out as though in slow motion. Naru locked gazes with Usagi for a brief moment, later reflection revealing a look of utter calm, belief, and acceptance. Usagi dove forward, hoping beyond hope she could reach the pair and do something to free her friend. The fiend's red eyes flashed in anger and contempt, and it snarled as its muscles tightened. The thin arm wrapped around Naru's neck twisted sharply, and the resulting crack echoed through the vaults of Usagi's mind if nowhere else. Lastly, the full moon's light broke through the dark clouds that had covered it, and spilled onto the scene, illuminating everything with a supernatural glow. Then, and only then, did time seem to return to its normal pace, and Usagi was left standing there in complete shock and horror.

The monster threw Naru's now lifeless body aside like it was a broken doll, and took two steps towards her.

Something in Usagi snapped.

She stared upwards and whimpered. "It can't end like this. Someone... hear me! I need power... someone get rid of this monster..."

The moonlight wrapped around her, and she felt it embrace her. Words spilled from her lips, "Moon Prism Power, Make-Up!" she called, raising a hand towards the ceiling.

The Moonlight seemed to coalesce at her chest, and she felt a sense of serenity overwhelm her being. Looking down, she noticed a golden locket etched with arcane symbols perched proudly between her small breasts. She touched it with with her other hands, and ribbons exploded, ribbons made of light and... love.

Boots, tiara, skirt, gloves, bows... one by one they appeared as she levitated a few inches off the floor. Finally her transformation was complete, and she locked eyes with the monster that had just slain her closest friend.

She felt the power coursing through her veins, followed by a wave of anger for what this... *thing* had done. She would never remember exactly where the words and knowledge of what to do came from, but she was working on pure instinct at this point.

Her gloved right hand rose to her forehead, and she took the jewel in the point of her tiara between her thumb and forefinger. A bright glow started to emanate from the contact. The newly-born superhero drew the now-glowing disc away from her face and down to her left side. The next thing she knew she was yelling out the words "Moon Tiara Action!" and throwing the disc at the monster like a Frisbee.

The demon, which had been frozen in shock at the unexpected turn of events, watched with mounting horror as the glowing attack sped toward it and made contact. It screamed, a horrible, soul-wrenching sound, and in a blinding flash of light became a pile of dust. A wind came from out of nowhere and dispersed the evil substance.

Usagi didn't bother to think about what had happened, as the light vanished with her new outfit. She raced over to her closest friend and cradled her close to her chest, tears erupting from her eyes.

"Naru-chan... why did this happen?" she whispered, brushing strands of auburn hair that hung lankly across Naru's forehead. Naru looked so calm and peaceful, almost as if she was asleep.

But Usagi knew this was a sleep she would never awaken from.

The blonde's head fell to her friend's chest and she began to cry deep, heartrending sobs as she rocked forward and back. This was how the police found her fifteen minutes later.

It proved impossible to pry the dead girl's body from her friend's arms, and they had the added stress of Naru's hysterical mother alternating from trying to shake her daughter awake to destroying what was left of her store. Eventually, it came down to sedating the distraught woman, and Usagi was finally convinced to let Naru go.

Usagi watched as the stretcher carried away her friend, shedding tears the whole time. She clutched her fingers to her heart and was surprised to find the broach that had led to her unusual transformation still there.

Why hadn't she discovered her powers a minute earlier? Why hadn't she been able to save her friend?

Her tears stopped as she clutched the ornate piece of jewelry. This should not have happened. She wouldn't let it happen again.