Chapter 147

In the square, the festival went on long into the night even without the sailor warriors. There were no more special effects, but there was plenty of good food and drink, souvenirs to be bought, costumes to try on, and speeches to listen to. For nearly all the aliens present, it was their first taste of human culture, and they enjoyed it thoroughly – particularly the sake. Awards were given until they ran out of ideas for new categories, and when that was done, without Minako there to provide a musical interlude, many of the partygoers felt inspired to step into her shoes, and it soon turned into a karaoke festival.

But all this was lost on the sailor warriors and the Sisters, who were too drained and too hungry to do anything more than lose themselves in their food as long as it lasted. Then they sat back and relaxed while the waitresses brought round coffee, and Ami got up and massaged the stiffness out of Ruby's neck and shoulders.

"So what will you do now?" said Mamoru.

"We will go back to our base on the moon," said Vateilika. "We have enough resources to survive there for a while. But we will need to make peace with Earth to ensure our long-term survival. Once I have been crowned queen and made sure our people are united again, I will return to Earth to speak with your leaders."

"I'll come with you, if you like," said Ruby. "I may be able to help you get them to take you seriously."

"Thank you," said Vateilika. "But I'm sure we'll see each other again sooner than that. You have to come to our wedding, after all."

"What, all of us?" Minako said excitedly.

"All of you, of course," said Vateilika. She turned towards Liz. "And the other members of your group are welcome too," she said. "I'm sure you wouldn't want me to invite you without them."

"No, that's very generous of you," said Liz. "I'm sure they'll be ever so excited. After all, it's not every day one gets invited to the moon to attend an alien wedding!"

"How about you?" said Vateilika, turning to the sailor warriors. "Do any of you have anyone else you'd like to bring?"

"Well, I'm sure Yuichiro wouldn't say no once he knows I'm going to be there," Rei said with a chuckle.

"Then we'll look forward to seeing you there."

"Are you leaving us now, then?"

Vateilika smiled. "We'll stay a little while longer," she said. "It's a pleasant evening, and somehow – it's comforting to be away from my people and be able to forget about everything that's happened for a while."

"I'm sorry," said Ruby. "It must be sad for you. You lost so many friends."

Vateilika shook her head. "We do not think like that," she said. "They died a good death, and we have won the victory they fought and died for."

"You do not miss them?"

"I will. But we have become used to struggle. It is a rare thing for a friendship to last very long. It will be difficult for us to accustom ourselves to peace again."

Ruby smiled. "Well, I wish you good luck," she said.

"Thank you," said Vateilika. "And what about you? What will you do now?"

"Oh, you needn't worry about us," Minako said with a grin. "We'll have lots to do. I've never been in America before."

"America?"

"That's the part of the world we're in."

"Oh," said Vateilika. "And why does that mean you'll have lots to do?"

"Well, it's always fun to be in a new place," said Minako. "We'll have sights to see, places to explore, food to eat…."

"Speak for yourself," said Rei. "Personally, I just want to get back to the hotel for some good old-fashioned relaxation."

"Relaxation," Vateilika said with a smile. "That must be a human concept."

THE END