Disclaimer: Sailor Moon is as mine as that pretty, sparkly dress hanging in the shop window. Ooh, sparkles.
Summary: Post stars. Mamoru must decide between Usagi or college in America. And while the world seems to be at peace again, the Senshi find a certain lost toddler from the future while Usagi begins suffering mysterious physical pains. These string of circumstances will bring about dark challenges none of the Senshi could ever have imagined facing.
A/N: Right. Soooo... I have far too many works-in-progress. I'm seriously at the point where I'm like, to hell with it! I'm going to post whatever pops into my head, because I've lost far too many a Muse with the mentality that I need to complete all my others first. I will try to update everything as soon as possible, but reality sucks like that.
We'll be following a mix of anime and manga timelines in regards to Chibiusa and Diana. Neither are aging quickly, hence why Diana exists with Small Lady so young. And yes, there are a few made-up words. It's the future, goshdarnit! Use your imagination ;P
Neo-Queen Serenity stretched, marking off the final period on her official court document with a flare of the hand. A languid grin split the corners of her mouth as she considered the implications of free time, mind choosing to linger on certain activities with her ebony-headed husband that would have brought her poor mother to blushing. The blonde monarch of Crystal Tokyo plucked up the papers, shuffling them hurriedly before stuffing the lot into a cryptoscan for Mercury to glance over. When the deed was done, Serenity inhaled loudly, greedy expression about her countenance.
If Endymion completed the finance portion early, then the two had nearly three hours with nothing to occupy them but their luxurious personal quarters, a deep tub, and a soft bed.
Well, almost nothing, the Neo-Queen amended, chuckling. She supposed Small Lady might turn up in an hour or so, claiming hunger or a boo-boo in need of kissing. But oh, was that child precocious! At the tender age of two, the newest Princess had a penchant for mischief rivalling that of a kitten. Prone to flights of fantasy, Small Lady would wander the palace with her electronic companion Luna P, conjuring up specters of her imagination to frolic with. Any other mother might have scoffed at the idea of a toddler roaming unattended, but Serenity knew her daughter was anything but. Thanks to Sailor Pluto, Luna P had a built-in homing device that could alert the Senshi and Lady's parents of the slightest trouble. And then there were the kindly, ubiquitous palace staff who had taken Lady under their wing, assuring the royals that their offspring would be well cared for during the couple's absence. Serenity always fostered a small sense of guilt over how much kingdom duties separated her from Small Lady, but she was mollified by the thought that at least her daughter was protected, tended to, and loved in the wake of her parents' frequent departures.
King Endymion glanced up from a mountain of paper to greet his wife's chary countenance peering in the study's doorway. "Are you busy?"
"I'm never too busy for my wife," the raven-haired man quipped playfully, setting down his pen. He furrowed a brow at the antsy expression marring Serenity's face. "Are you alright?"
"I passed Sailor Jupiter on my way here. She said Small Lady hasn't made her usual rounds about the kitchen recently," the Queen answered, nibbling on her index finger's nail. It was a terrible habit she'd broken years ago, but unfortunately the faux pas seemed to unconsciously resurrect itself whenever Serenity worried herself overmuch.
"I wouldn't fret, dear. You know how charmingly quixotic that child is," Endymion reassured, returning to his notes with a methodical eye. His tone was teasing as the King jabbed, "Rather like her mother in that respect. She'll turn up when she's hungry."
"But Endymion, none of the staff I asked seem to have seen Small Lady either-"
"Have you checked the Time Gate? Small Lady has a habit of wandering off to 'Puu' whenever she's bored."
Serenity stopped to consider that for a moment, then shook her head. "Pluto's on another of those mystery missions of hers. I believe she has Diana keeping guard in her stead."
"There you have it, then. Small Lady must be visiting her little friend," Endymion nodded, gazing up from his transcribing to smile at Serenity encouragingly. "Besides, Luna P would let us know if anything was amiss."
"I'm sure you're right," Serenity conceded reluctantly, "but I still can't shake the off feeling in my gut. Call it maternal instinct, but I fear something is wrong. I want to check up on her."
"Do you want me to accompany you?" Endymion inquired, straightening in his chair. Serenity rarely grew so agitated past her benign exterior, and it was beginning to concern him as well. If he concentrated very hard, the King could almost put his own finger on a niggling sense of danger lurking nearby. He was instantly glad for the connection shared between him, Serenity, and Small Lady. The man began to wonder if perhaps his daughter hadn't just decided to go traipsing balconies again... That one time a month ago had given him and Serenity quite the scare, and they'd expressly forbidden the child from pulling stunts like that, much less step a foot outside without an adult nearby. Unfortunately, Small Lady had inherited an awfully scatterbrained disposition, and despite her uncommonly advanced age, the toddler was still mentally a toddler. At least, ninety-nine percent of the time she was. There were always those brief, exciting moments of insight, when Small Lady demonstrated the knowledge intake and physical aptitude of an older child. The majority of her life, however, the princess had spent unable to formulate nary but the simplest of words. It came as no surprise to Endymion, then, that Small Lady probably did not comprehend the maintenance of such a rule. Usually the palace staff or Sailor Senshi could head the princess off before she got caught in flagrante delicto, but Endymion dreaded that this was not one of those times. He was about to stand when Serenity waved him back down.
"No, no; you have a lot of work to do and not a lot of time left to complete it in. I'll go. Like you said, she probably snuck off to the Time Gate."
"Well let me know immediately if she's not there," Endymion told his wife gravely. "Use the bond telepathy and I'll have security searching in an instant."
"I'll hurry," Serenity promised, speeding off down the corridor like the shimmering white ghost of a heavenly deity incarnate. Endymion watched the door warily in her wake, suddenly unable to focus the proper amount of attention on his report.
Sailor Venus tumbled with ungainly... er... fashionably late into the Queen's personal conference room, smoothing out her red hair ribbon as she did so. The woman jumped a foot in the air when a voice snapped from beside her heels,
"Where the hell have you been?"
The blonde warrior of Love smiled jocundly down at her guardian feline. "There's no need to bite my head off, Artemis. I was merely-"
"Never mind," the pale cat interrupted sharply, and Venus frowned at the way her old friend's back arched and hair stood on end.
"Artemis, what's going-"
"They found Diana at the Time Gate, unconscious. She had been attacked," Artemis said stiffly, throat swelling painfully as he related the gruesome details. The cat advisor had to avert his eyes when his charge moaned,
"Oh Artemis; I'm so sorry! Is she-"
"That's not the worst of it," Artemis continued gruffly, refusing to look up and observe the crumbling of Venus' features. "The... the princess has been kidnapped."
Venus gasped loudly, jerking her head in the direction of the thrones, where Sailor Senshi coalesced. She wondered how she'd missed it before; the tense atmosphere... Serenity's quietly agonizing sobbing... Endymion's stony, fury-filled countenance. His grip on Serenity's shoulder looked so tight it had to be painful, but Venus doubted her Queen felt it. She doubted Serenity felt anything other than grief and and an all-consuming fear, at the moment. Without any further ado, the last Inner to arrive raced over to Serenity and Endymion, Artemis on her tail. She inched past hovering Mars and teary Jupiter, currently clutching a battered Luna P. It was obvious to anyone with half a brain that the circuits were fried, antenna fizzling electricity in random spurts. Venus stopped in front of her anguished leader and uttered in a horrified, hushed whisper,
"My God, I just heard the news. Serenity-"
But instead of answering aloud, aforementioned monarch thrust a tattered, wrinkled sheet of paper at Venus. Serenity turned back to weeping as her Senshi read the scribbled message with shaking hands.
The moon is red just before she falls to darkened death.
There's no reaching her once on the other side.
There was a faint smear of blood tainting the bottom of the haunting inscription, immediately beside the strange moniker.
"We've already scanned for DNA," Mercury stated through trembling lips, voice violently choked by emotion. "It matches Small Lady's."
A/N: Yipes, that was dramatic. Hehe. Feel free to theorize away on what Small Lady's kidnapper might be implying, and just who it is. I love reading reviews where people guess until blue in the face. Who knows; you might not be too far from the mark!
Until next chapter,