"Wow, this is just like old times again," Usagi Tsukino said as she settled down on a mat on the floor. "You're looking in really good shape, Mako-chan."
Her friend Makoto Kino smiled. She was an attractive girl, very tall, with curls of red-brown hair that floated down over her shoulders. She had surprised her friends by being the first of them to marry, and the last time Usagi had seen her, she had been heavily pregnant with her first child. Since then, she had been busy looking after the baby, and this was the first time the girls had been able to get together again. They were in the private parlour at the Hikawa Shrine, the same room they had met for their study sessions all those years ago. Those years when they had been the five sailor warriors and used magical transformations to fight against the forces of evil.
The parlour door opened, and their friend Rei Hino came in, a blue-eyed, raven-haired beauty whose waist-length hair swept from side to side behind her as she walked. She was carrying a tray laden with a cake and four hot cups of tea. The fourth girl, Minako Aino, who was a long-haired blonde like Usagi, leapt up to help her manoeuvre the tray onto the table, and then Rei cut the cake and dished it out. She played the hostess out of habit, because she was the granddaughter of the head priest of the shrine, and in the girls' teenage years when they had first met, she had lived at the shrine with her grandfather, her father having left her there after her mother's death.
"Long time no see," Rei said to Makoto. "How's Motoki?"
"He's fine," said Makoto. "And the baby's fine too, really bouncy. He takes after his father."
"Is he named yet?"
"Of course," said Makoto. "Three months now, how could he not be? We named him Kenichi, in honour of my friend Shinozaki, you remember him."
Rei certainly did remember Shinozaki; he had once been injured saving Makoto from a monster, and she had undergone a blood transfusion in order to save his life.
"Goodness, I'm sorry," she laughed. "Is it really three months? How time flies."
Makoto smiled. "It certainly does," she said. "I can't believe it's two years since the five of us were all here together." She stumbled over the word "five", and the others couldn't help notice her glance at the empty place that should have been occupied by Ami.
"Actually," said Usagi, "that's what I've called this meeting to tell you about. I got an e-mail from Ami this morning. Did I really forget to tell you that?"
"Really?" cried Makoto, spilling half her tea in her excitement. Minako, who had been stretching her hand slowly forward to nab an extra slice of cake, winced and withdrew it again.
"Yes, I'll read it to you," said Usagi, pulling a printout from her handbag. The others all lowered their cups and looked up at her in excited silence.
"Dear Usagi-chan – and everyone else, for I'm sure you'll all get to read what I'm writing – I hope you are all well, and not missing me too badly. I miss you all very much, as you know, but lately life has just been so busy that I'm afraid I keep forgetting to write as often as I would like. Exams are coming up, and it's awfully stressful, as there's so much to learn, and the more I try to learn one thing, the more I'm worried that I'll forget something else!
"But I'm sure you don't want to hear about all that – I know I bored you quite enough talking about exams when we were in high school. There's something else I want to tell you about.
"There have been strange goings-on here recently. I didn't tell you before because I didn't want any of you to worry, but – well, I spoke to Mamoru about it this morning and we're both agreed. This is a task for the sailor warriors. We want all four of you to fly over to join us as soon as possible, and let us know when to expect you. Mamoru will pay for your tickets. And could you invite Naru-chan to come with you? But don't let her know what all this is about. I'm afraid there is something that concerns her in particular, and we'll need to have a chance to prepare her for the shock.
"I'm sorry, I'll have to sign off now, I can't risk anyone seeing me writing this.
"Yours in love and haste, Ami Mizuno"
"Golly!" Minako exclaimed. The others were all gaping at Usagi, open-mouthed.
"So that's that," said Usagi. "What do you think, everyone? Are we going?"
"What do you think she means, she can't risk anyone seeing her writing this?" Makoto said nervously. "That sounds like she thinks she's in danger…."
"We can't refuse to help her out," said Rei.
"You'll get to see Mamoru again!" said Minako. Mamoru Chiba was Usagi's fiancé; he had gone to America to complete his training to become a medical doctor, and even though she only received a letter from him once a month or so, she would treasure each one, carry it round with her, read it at intervals and quote it in conversation right up until the next one came. She wrote every day.
"I know!" Usagi screeched. "Party with Mamo-chan! But… English…." She had never managed to get very far with English. It was the only school subject at which Minako outshone her, but then, she had lived in London for a while. Rei had struggled with the language at school but was now getting much more confident; Makoto was still shaky, but she was like Shakespeare compared with Usagi.
"I knew something was up," said Rei. "The omens have been getting steadily stronger for a while now. I just hesitate to think what it might be, if I can sense something at this sort of distance."
"Me too!" said Minako. "It'll be just like the old days! All five of us, together at last!"
Makoto started to say something, and then bit her lip. The others looked round at her.
"What is it, Mako-chan?" said Usagi.
"I don't know," said Makoto. "It's just a feeling, I suppose. I know part of it is just that I don't like leaving Motoki and Kenichi, especially so soon after the birth, and when we don't even know how long we're going to be away for. But it's not just that. It's more… well, when we were all sailor warriors together, I was alone, my parents were dead and there was no-one else who would have cared if I'd lost my life. But now… well, it's different now, isn't it? You know what I mean?"
"I understand," said Usagi. "But, Mako-chan, you can take all the time as you need to decide. And if you'd rather not come, none of us will blame you. We're strong enough to take on anything."
"Thank you," Makoto said, nodding slowly as tears started to come to her eyes.
"Well, that's settled, then!" said Usagi. "I'll look up the flights as soon as I get home."
This is a Sailor Moon / Sisterhood of Nine / Iji crossover. The Sailor Moon universe and its associated characters are creations of Naoko Takeuchi. The Sisterhood of Nine and its characters are creations of Jonathan Parkin. Iji and its associated characters are creations of Dan Remar.
This began as just a Sailor Moon / Sisterhood crossover, and the idea of blending Iji into the mix only arose later, so the Iji characters do not begin to appear for a few chapters. In order to fit the Iji characters into the story I had already conceived, their backstory was changed from the canonical version, with the two alien races (Tasen and Komato) replaced by a single race to which all the named characters belong. For more details, see Chapter 50 and my author's note to that chapter. No disrespect was intended towards Dan Remar or his wonderful creation by the way it has been tinkered with to suit the demands of the story.